Here's the last chapter! I decided to put it up early because this is the only way I can think of to show how much I appreciate each & everyone of you. Take it as a present from me…hehe! Anyways, I want to thank you all for being such great & amazing readers, and for supporting my story till the end. You don't know how much this means to me. I never thought that TWP would be such a great success! You're the best and I love you all! As you know, I'm working on this new story, but it won't be up till next week. And I do hope to see you again in Bet Gone Wrong (that's the title of my new Mimato fic)...till then, enjoy!

Chapter Twenty-Two

"You have a visitor waiting," the nurse said as she plumped Mimi's pillows. "Elena Ishida. I've told her she'll have to be patient because visiting hours don't start till two...but she's quite happy, looking at your baby in the nursery."

Mimi was glad her visitor was Elena, & not Matt. Her mind had been in turmoil ever since his promise to propose. She still couldn't decide how to answer him. She loved him, with all her heart. And what he had done for her last night had more than made up for his lack of support eight years ago. But…it still niggled that while she suffered alone through such a heartbreaking loss, he got off scot-free. What if they were to marry, & then one day they fought…as most married couples do!...and what if she were to bring it up & throw it in his face, let him know that the bitterness of it still ate her…

"I haven't seen Elena Ishida in here for years." The nurse popped a thermometer into Mimi's mouth. "Not since the time her son was brought in…her eldest son, I mean. He was so bruised & battered that we has almost unrecognizable…and he was in here for weeks. We all said that whoever beat him up that night should have been thrown in jail, but…Matt would never say who did it."

The door swung open & Elena appeared. She was carrying a pot of cream chrysanthemums. "Two o'clock, nurse," she said. "Okay if I come in now?"


Beaming, Elena walked to the bed & gave Mimi a kiss. "Honey, I'm so thrilled that everything went well. Matt called me first thing in the morning & told me the whole story. The baby is gorgeous," she babbled on happily. "He's absolutely adorable. By the way, Matt went to Crestville…he had some errands to do…but he told me to let you know he'll visit this evening."

The nurse removed the thermometer. "I was just saying to this young lady that I hadn't seen you nor your son in here since the last time he was beaten up." She checked the thermometer reading & gave a satisfied nod. "Never did find out who did it, did they?" She gave Elena an inquisitive glance.

"No," Elena said firmly, "they did not."

"Ah well…" With a vague smile to Mimi, the nurse went out.

"Oh!" Elena rolled her eyes. "That one is such a gossip! Be careful what you say to her or it'll be all over town before you know it!" She walked towards the windowsill & moved things around to find the best spot for her potted plant. "Matt never wanted anyone to find out," she added over her shoulder, "that your father was the one who almost killed him. He knew that if it got out, people might think that there could only be one reason why Max Tachikawa would go after him, & since no one else had been aware of your pregnancy, he wanted to keep it that way to protect your reputation so…"

"My father?" Feeling sick with disbelief, Mimi stared at Elena. "My father was the one who…"

"Oh, dear." Elena turned around & her expression was vexed. "You didn't know? You & Matt have been so close, I assumed that by now he would have told you…I mean, you must have asked how he got his nose broken &…"

"I did ask." Mimi tried to cope with what she just learned. "But he wouldn't tell me." She pushed herself up on one elbow & said weakly, "Elena, what happened? Please, I need to know. He was my father & I need to know why he could have done such a terrible thing. Oh, I realize the reason…he must have somehow found out Matt was my baby's father…but Matt could have beaten my father with one hand tied around his back!"

"Matt didn't fight."

Mimi blinked at her. "What?"

"Matt didn't fight."

Mimi stared numbly. "I don't understand…"

"Your father did find out that Matt was the baby's father…he heard Matt had been asking questions in town, asking people if they knew where you were." Elena bit her lip, & then said, "I'm going to tell you what happened because I think you ought to know…although Matt will be angry with me when he finds out." She glanced warily at the door as footsteps passed by, & then lowering her voice, she said, "Do you remember telling me you thought Matt got off scot-free?"

Mimi nodded. "And you…wanted to tell me something, but stopped yourself. Was it…about Matt & my father?"

"Your father came hammering on our door one night. Matt, TK, & I…we all heard him, so we got up, went downstairs together, & looked out the window. And when we saw who it was, Matt said, 'He's looking for me.' He sounded hard & grim. He grabbed me & TK and said, in a voice I never heard him use before: 'What happens out there, I want you to stay inside & do nothing. Promise me that.'"

"Did you know why my father was there?"

"Not until after the fight. Mimi, Matt didn't defend himself. Your father…well, you know how big he was, but Matt just stood there…like some sacrifice. And he did nothing but take punches your father gave." Elena brushed a hand over her eyes. "We stayed inside, as he wanted us to, until…after it was all over & your father had gone, leaving Matt alone…& unconscious on the sidewalk."

Mimi realizes tears were pouring down her cheeks, she felt their warm salty taste at the corners of her mouth. She also felt as if her heart was breaking. "He could have knocked-out my father," she whispered.

"I know," Elena said softly. "Honey, I know. But he knew he did something wrong & he wanted to pay the price."

Matt never felt so nervous in his life. As he walked along the corridor toward the maternity wing, he clutched the bouquet of pink roses so tightly he felt the thorns stab his flesh. Damn. He loosened his grip. He thought of buying red, for true love, but he knew that pink was Mimi's favorite color.

He also knew that amethysts were her favorite gemstone, so the ring he bought that afternoon in Crestville…before he visited the bookstore in search of the book he wanted!...was an amethyst set in platinum. Now all he had to do was convince her to accept it. He was glad she was in a private room; he didn't want anyone around when he asked the question.

But when he walked into her room he discovered there was a person to be around when he asked the question. One little person, who nestled in the arms of his radiant mom. And Mimi, though she looked pale & her hair was limp & she was wearing only a simple leaf-green hospital gown, was to him the most beautiful sight in the world.

He cleared his throat. "I brought you some flowers," he said. "Where do they go?"

"You'll find a vase over there." She pointed to a glass vase by the sink. "They're lovely, Matt. Thank you."

He placed the roses into the vase with some water & set it on the windowsill next to the pot of cream chrysanthemums his mother gave earlier.

"Pull over a chair," Mimi said, "and come say 'Hi' to my little angel."

He was sound asleep. As he sat down, all he could see from him was a pink face, a dainty nose, & wisps of hair a shade or two lighter than his mother's. Matt leaned over & brushed a kiss over his smooth brow. He smelled milky sweet. The baby stuck a fist into his mouth & started to chew it.

Matt stared at him happily for a long time. And then he turned his attention to Mimi. "How are you feeling?" he asked. "Is everything okay?"

"I feel wonderful," she said. "Just great! It's such a huge relief to have it all over safely, to have such a perfect little baby!"

"Have you decided what you're going to call him?"

Her eyes were dreamy. "At first I decided to name him after the man who'll be helping me bring him up, but I have to ask him first how he'd feel about that, & if he doesn't agree, think I'm going to call him Shinori Nicholas. I like combining Japanese & American names, and we can either call him Shin or Nick. Is that okay with you? If not, I'm open for any suggestions." She said gaily.

Matt blinked. This man was going to help her bring up her baby? But Mimi Tachikawa…the new Mimi Tachikawa, the one who came from New York with the light of battle in her eyes…intended to bring up her child alone. She made that quite clear. Unless…

He tried to fight a growing feeling of apprehension. "Have you…you haven't been in touch with…that guy in New York…have you?"

She made a totting sound, & with lips twitching, looked down at her sleeping baby. She kissed him before saying, in a soft voice, "You don't really want this man to be your dad, do you? He seems awfully thick…and that maybe all right in a father, but not in a husband…well, the way I see it, intelligence should be right up there as a non-negotiable quality, along with a sense of humor, a sense of responsibility, a…"

"Mimi Tachikawa." Matt could hardly speak for sheer happiness was soaring inside him. "You're talking about me? Does that mean…is this a yes?"

She kept him in suspense for a full ten seconds. And then she nodded, her eyes were shining.

He was speechless for a few moments, he was so happy. When he finally got his act together, he said gruffly, "You're bold as brass, woman! You might at least have the decency to wait till you were asked!"

He went down on his knees. "Mimi, my dearest precious Mimi, I love you with all my heart, now & forever more, so will you please put me out of my misery & marry me!"

"My answer," she said primly, "is exactly the same as it was a moment ago!"

"And that's your final answer?"

Laughter bubbled from her; music to his ears. He kissed her then, & she returned the kiss with such passion that if she wasn't holding little Nick, he'd have climbed right into bed with her. Instead he brought out the ring & slipped it on her finger.

"Oh, Matt," She hazed at it mistily. "It's perfect."

They kissed again, slowly this time, with the promise of thousands of tomorrows shimmering ahead.

After a while, Matt said, "Mimi, about the house…"

Her eyes told him that ownership of her former home was something that no longer needed to be discussed. Laurel House wasn't going to be his; it wasn't going to be hers; but it was going to be theirs. "Why did you buy it, Matt? I know it had to be something more than just the wonderful view…"

"Yeah," he said. "It was something more. I didn't admit it myself at the time, but I know now that in my heart, I dreamed that one day you'd come back home again. I dreamed that the past would be forgiven & forgotten and…we'd be together again."

Mimi framed his rugged face with her hands, & gently kissed him. "Your mother," she whispered, "told me how you received your scars, Matt. I'm so sorry."

His breath caught sharply, & then he felt the quick tension ease. It was just as well Mimi knew; he didn't want to keep any more secrets from her…ever. "Don't be, my princess, it's over…the past is over."

Tears sparkled like silver sequins in her beautiful eyes. "Yes," she agreed huskily. "It is finally over. Now you have me, our baby, & our house."

"Yes, I now have the whole package. And the future is right here, in your arms."

As if the baby sensed he was being talked about, he stirred & looked up hazily at his mom.

"Look, Matt," Mimi said excitedly. "He's smiling!"

"Uh-uh," he shook his head. "It's just wind."

"Really?" she stared at him, surprised. "How do you know?"

He took her left hand & ran a fingertip lovingly over the amethyst engagement ring that proclaimed her as his own. "Chapter One," he explained grinning, "page 17, the Handy Hardback Guide For Brand-New Parents."

..: The End :..

AN: To all my readers, thank you so much! I'm very grateful to all of you, especially my loyal fans (you know who you are.) Hopefully I'll be seeing all of you again in my next story: Bet Gone Wrong, coming up next week! I love you all! – Paola :)

Angelic Eyes – you was the one who gave my first review! Thanks! Koumi – even though we don't agree on many things, I still wanna thank you. Angel – you're so great! I can't wait to see my special cheer! Remember when you asked me to name the baby Nick? A Fire Inside – thanks for all the advice. When are you gonna update? MaRoNcOoL – thanks for everything! Janay & Riven – you guys have been so great! You've been a consistent reader & reviewer, thank you! Jack-e, Hippie Pot Smoker, beth, Queen of the Sugarplum Fairies, bitten back, K14princess-ROCK, Mimato Fan, EUR3K4, Gabumon 700, Xichiathik, Arte-chan, Amelia-Black, xObUNni, Lysia Croft, Mrs. Ishida-to-you, Veronica, ghikiJ, Zionne – thank you all so much! I hope to see you all in my next story. PnkSaKuRaSyAoRaNS2 – to my #1 fan, you don't know how much you're wonderful reviews have inspired me. You're the best & I wanna say, from the bottom of my heart, how grateful I am to have you here. Thank you, Rachelle! Love ya!

"Bet Gone Wrong"

"You've had a lot of crazy ideas in your time, but this one definitely gets the award."

He folded his arms across his chest & waited.

"I mean, you & me…a couple? Who's gonna believe that?"

He sighed. "Mimi…"

"And to suggest that we'd ever be able to fool anyone…I mean, there are days we have difficulty just getting on well enough to still like each other as friends!" She started pacing in front of him.

He sighed again. "If you'd just…"

"We'd have to be able to look at each other without sniggering every two minutes. And as for the kissing thing…" She stopped pacing long enough to waggle a finger at him. "You do realize if we were actually dating we'd be expected to kiss &…well, other stuff like that…"

There was a deadly silence as they stared at each other in shock. Matt swallowed hard. "I know that…"