EPILOGUE

Lucas found himself standing at his front door, the key in his hand, dreading sliding the piece of metal into the lock. Shortly after her arrival, he had sent Mama Lucy back to her own home so the house was now totally empty, save for the memories of the happy sounds of his wife and children filling the rooms with love. He couldn't help but shake his head ruefully as he recalled thinking, just before he had married Dara, just how large, lonely and empty the old house seemed and just how hopeful he was that she would change that feeling to one of love and happiness. Sighing, he slid the key into the lock and let himself inside.

Making his way to the living room, having closed off his bedroom as well as Caleb's room and the nursery in the hopes of not finding himself constantly reminded of their absence. He had taken to sleeping either on the sofa or in one of the guest rooms and, although he felt the pain of her absence each him he glanced at it, he kept a photo of himself and his wife next to wherever he slept. Turning, he stoked the fire in the fireplace back to life before falling into his chair to stare into the flames in the hopes of losing himself there. He wondered if he had finally snapped under the strain of his loneliness for his wife when he heard;

"It seems such a shame to waste a cold night and a warm fire by yourself."

Turning, praying that it wasn't a trick of his mind, he found himself staring in disbelief at the sight of Dara standing in the doorway, wearing the same negligee that she had worn on their wedding night Lucas found himself afraid that he was simply dreaming or hallucinating until she quickly crossed the space to kneel in front of his chair to take his hands in her own as she looked into his eyes as she confessed in a voice of self recrimination;

"I owe you an apology, my love. Even though what you did was wrong, I set myself up as your judge, jury and executioner. While I can't say that I fully understand what you did and I certainly don't condone it, there are a couple of things that I know, without question. First, you have worked very hard to be a better man since the first day that I met you, and, being honest, you were right; I did know who and what you were before when I agreed to marry you and the promises that I asked of you when you asked me, you've kept them to me. I also know that you truly love me; you could have made me forget that I learned and I would never have been the wiser, but you respected and loved me enough not to do that, even though you would have saved yourself a lot of sorrow and pain if you had."

Shaking her head, she admitted;

"And I can't keep you from the children, you're their father and they need you. Besides, you're the only one who can teach them how to control their 'abilities'."

Placing his hand on her cheek as he looked into her eyes, love brimming deep in his own, he offered;

"I do love you, more than my own life, as far as trying to be a better man; that's not hard to do with your love."

Tentatively, Lucas extended his hand to touch the fabric of her gown as he asked haltingly;

"Does this mean what I'd like to hope that it does?"

Biting at her bottom lip, Dara nodded;

"If you want me back, then yes, it does."

His eyes widening in disbelief and shock at her doubt, Lucas smiled ruefully as he exclaimed;

"IF I WANT YOU BACK!"

Grabbing her around her waist, he lifted her to place her in his lap as he buried his head against her neck and savored the scent of her hair and perfume as well as the feel of her in his arms before lifting his head to kiss her deeply as he savored the taste and feel of her. Glancing up, he questioned;

"Would you be offended if I were to take you upstairs and ravish you?"

Unable to keep from smiling at the joy she saw in her husband's face as well as her own happiness at being held in his arms once more, Dara turned serious as she stated;

"I want two promises from you."

Eagerly, Lucas nodded his agreement;

"Whatever you want."

Shaking her head, she admonished;

"Not so fast, you have no idea what I'm going to ask for."

Shaking his head, Lucas stated;

"It doesn't matter, I came too damn close to losing you and I won't EVER risk that again, so whatever you want, you have it."

Sighing as she shook her head, Dara listed;

"First; I know that our children are, more than likely, going to inherit some curious 'abilities', I want them to be taught how to handle them, safely, and how to control them. Secondly; I don't want you to EVER keep anything from me again, intentionally. I promise that I'll be as understanding as possible if you promise me that you'll be honest and open. I expect that you'll keep some things to yourself, that's just human nature, but I don't expect you to try and hide them from me."

Eagerly, Lucas nodded as he vowed;

"You have my word."

Pulling her close to him, he held her as she wrapped her arms around his neck to pull his head down to kiss him. Lifting his head, he closed his eyes in ecstasy as she began unbuttoning his shirt to play her hands over his chest before looking down at her to shake his head as he ground out;

"I'm sorry, darlin, but I can't wait any longer."

With that he rose from his chair with her in his arms. Seeing his indecision, Dara smiled as she offered in a seductive tone;

"The kids aren't here, Ben is going to stay with them for tonight."

Chuckling, Lucas smiled as he praised;

"Good ole Ben."

With that, he lowered her to the rug in front of the fireplace as he began quickly shedding his clothes before gently sliding her gown down her arms to bare her body to his gaze. Enfolding her in his embrace, he found himself satisfied to simply cherish the feel of her in his arms before he began tracing the line of her jaw with his mouth. Pushing her hair aside and seeing the bite marks that he had left on the side of her throat, he searched her eyes and relaxed considerably as she brought her hand up to caress the back of his neck as she offered him a loving smile;

"It's alright, I understand now; that was your way of marking what belongs to you."

Caressing the line of her mouth with his thumb he asked;

"You're not angry anymore?"

He could see by the look of concentration in her eyes that she was searching her true feelings, but he could also see by look of love in their sea green depths that she was also sincere as she ventured;

"I'm still a little resentful, but I think that I can learn to trust you again."

Burying his head against her neck, grateful for whatever had changed her mind, Lucas gently kissed the healing marks on her throat as he lifted his hand to begin tracing the line of her breasts. Placing his mouth against her earlobe, he began trailing a path down her body with his mouth and tongue. Finally, lifting his head he pleaded;

"Darlin, I'm sorry, but I can't wait any longer."

Placing her arms around his neck, she offered;

"It's alright, you don't have to."

Glorying in what he thought had been lost to him forever, Lucas found himself lost in his wife's arms as well as the magic he felt as they came together in both body and spirit. Later, after he had taken the throw from the back of the sofa to cover them, he laid holding Dara close to him as he studied her face, relaxed with her eyes closed and watching the play of the light from the fire bringing to life the dark, burnt ruby color in her hair. Cherishing the feel of her body next to him, Lucas decided that he needed to fully bare his soul to her as he asked carefully;

"Earlier, did you mean what you said about being understanding as long as I was truthful with you?"

Sitting up, clutching the cover to her chest, Dara nodded as she promised;

"Yes, I did. If there's anything else that you want to tell me than I promise that I'll listen and to control my temper."

Placing her hand on his chest, she ventured;

"Lucas, if our marriage is going to work, truly work, we have to be honest with each other, no matter what. I don't want us to ever go through what we've just been through again, especially the children. So whatever you feel you need to tell me, do so without worrying about how I'll react."

Sighing heavily with guilt, he began;

"Alright, there are a couple of things that I need to tell you."

Bracing herself for his revelations, she waiting patiently as she nodded;

"Alright, go ahead."

Dara found herself hard put not to chuckle at the sheepish look he wore as he confessed;

"Do you remember when you were thinking about having the babies christened?"

Nodding, Dara had a fairly accurate guess at to what his revelation was about to be when he spoke;

"You didn't change your mind on your own, I gave you a little 'push'."

The look in her eyes remaining even, Dara asked;

"And just how did you do that?"

A look of pleading in his eyes, he confessed;

"Mama practices a little magic of her own and she brewed up something to help make you drowsy, when you were just about asleep, I put you under and I convinced you that it wasn't what you wanted to do. Between me and the cocoa you were extremely susceptible to suggestion so all that I had to do was to tell you no to remember any of it and that you just didn't want to go through with the christenings."

Her voice calm, Dara asked;

"Is there anything else?"

Finding himself hard put to believe that she was being so accepting, he continued;

"Yes, I knew the night it happened when we conceived Rinie. I swear, I didn't do anything other than what every other man does to impregnate his wife, but I knew that night that you were pregnant."

A mischievous smile coming to her lips, Dara offered;

"Well, I guess that makes us even then."

Puzzled, Lucas demanded;

"What do you mean, darlin?"

Offering a slight giggle, she confessed;

"Don't you think that I realized afterwards that I was pregnant again?"

Blinking in shock, Lucas asked in disbelief;

"You knew?"

Nodding, Dara confirmed;

"About Rinie? Yes, I did."

Turning serious she demanded;

"But why was it so important that the babies not be christened?"

Reluctant at first, but knowing that he needed to be completely honest with her, Lucas explained;

"Because, there has never been a baby with Buck blood flowing through their veins that's been christened. When they get older and are able to make their own decision about it, then, if they choose to, that's fine. But, as babies when it's not their choice it can't be done."

Comprehending his explanation, Dara offered;

"I realize t hat there are a lot of dark secrets that you have and I also know that it's a part of their heritage and legacy, but you have to realize that, just as I'm aware that you'll be teaching them some of these things, that I'll also be teaching them the other side of the coin, so to speak."

Lucas shook his head as he ventured;

"Yes, I knew that the day that we discussed children, but as far as my teaching them anything; no. I'll show them how to control their abilities but I won't push them in any direction, that I promise you."

Narrowing her eyes, Dara brought up another issue;

"By the way, as long as you and I live, don't you EVER trick me like that again. You can tell me the truth, but don't you ever try that again. I know that you did it before and that it was for my benefit and I'm grateful to you for that, but don't you ever do it to deceive me again."

Pulling her close into his embrace, Lucas vowed;

"You have my word on it, I swear."

Laying down and pulling her with him, he allowed her to get comfortable and watched her as she fell asleep. Making up his mind, he decided that he wanted his family complete as he lifted her in his arms and carried her upstairs. Pushing the door to their bedroom open, he settled her in their bed before pulling the covers over her, certain that she was sound asleep, he went to the phone and called Ben.

Waking the next morning, Dara had to orient herself to her surroundings until she remember the night before and sat up to stretch in luxury as she realized that she was in her and Lucas' bed. Hearing the sound of the door opening, she turned to find Lucas entering their room, holding Rinie as he advised;

"I think that someone's ready for their breakfast, Mommy."

Puzzled, Dara demanded;

"How did she get here? I left them with Ben."

Grinning broadly, Lucas admitted;

"I know, but I wanted my family together so I called and asked him to bring them home, we got them all settled while you were sleeping. I've already fed the twins and Caleb's already gone to school."

Dara couldn't help but just stare at him, shocked by his efficiency as she took the baby from him to begin nursing her as Lucas came around to sit on the side of the bed. Placing his hand on her cheek he stated solemnly;

"Dara, I love you more than life myself and if had left me, I wouldn't have wanted to keep living. Promise me that you'll never leave me again."

Returning his gaze with equal sobriety, Dara vowed;

"As long as you keep your promises, then I promise you that nothing short of death will ever separate us. You and these children are my life."

Leaning towards her, careful of the baby, Lucas kissed her deeply. As he pulled back he could clearly remember a day that seemed such a long time ago, when he had first seen a tiny woman struggling with a box twice her size. Since then, he had learned that was how she approached life as well; tackling the challenge head on and, despite the size of the obstacle, she usually overcame it. That included finding something that everyone including himself had thought non-existent; his heart. Disproving his old philosophy about the illusion of free will, although he knew that Dara was meant for him he didn't see it as the illusion of choice, he simply saw it as the fact that whatever is meant for you definitely won't pass you by.