A/N: Dearest readers:
I am sad to say that this will be the last chapter of Changes. :( You've probably noticed that it's been a while since my last update. I'm afraid the motivation to write just hasn't been with me lately, but it's not fair to my loyal readers out there to not finish this story. So I've decided to go ahead and put out my final chapter.
At this point, I'm not sure if I will write a sequel. I'm not saying I won't, the possibility is always there, and I do have a story that I want to tell, but I wish I could write as fast as my mind thinks. I just don't know if I have the time. So if I feel inspired and I have the time and motivation, I'll write something. But I'm not going to post anything until I can be sure that it will be something I can finish. I don't want to start posting a story just to leave it incomplete. I hope everyone understands, but I just don't want to make any promises that I can't keep.
I want to thank everyone for reading and reviewing. This has probably been my favorite fanfic to write, and I had a blast writing Katrina. If I ever have a kid, I want her. I think she's the coolest (fictional) kid on the planet, and I thank you for loving her as much as I do. I'll miss her, maybe just as much as I miss Rafe and Alison.
Please let me know what you think…and hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer. Thanks again for reading! My fans are awesome :)Chapter 42
Katrina looked out the window for the fifth time that hour. Every time she heard a car, she thought it was Daddy. But it wasn't.
"Is that good, Gabe? Do you like that?" Alison smiled as she fed Gabe his bottle. "Wow, my hungry boy! He's almost finished!"
"When's Daddy going to be here?"
"Where did he go?"
"I don't know. He said he was bringing us home a surprise."
Alison laughed. "I don't know, baby."
"Why don't you go play while you wait for Daddy to get back?" Alison suggested as she stood up and carried the baby into the kitchen.
Katrina walked over to the chair and picked up Bernie where she had left him. "Bernie, do YOU know what the big surprise is?"
Bernie just stared back at her, grinning.
"Bernie, it's not polite to keep secrets!"
Suddenly, Katrina heard a car outside. Tossing Bernie on the couch, she ran to the window to see if it was him.
It was! Daddy's headlights shined into the house as the car turned into the driveway. And it was then that Katrina learned what the big surprise was.
Katrina ran to the kitchen. "Mommy! Mommy! Come look! Daddy's home! He's got the big surprise!"
Alison was busy wiping Gabe's messy face with a wet washcloth. "I'll be there in just a minute, Katrina."
Katrina ran back into the living room, running to the door and throwing it open. "Daddy!"
"Daddy, a Christmas tree!"
Rafe gave her a smile as he began to untie the tree off the top of the car. Finally, he got it down. "Stand back so I can get this into the house."
Katrina moved back and watched as her father carried the tree into the house. "Mommy! Come here!"
A few moments later, Alison emerged from the kitchen with the baby in her arms. "Rafe, you bought a Christmas tree!"
"Thought it was finally time we should get one. Merry Christmas, angel."
"I love it."
Rafe walked over to her, giving her a kiss. "What do you think of the tree, Buddy? Huh?"
Alison smiled as she handed the baby over to him.
"It's your very first Christmas tree," he said to him, walking him over to where the tree was. Although Gabe didn't appear to be all that interested. Rafe laughed, handing him back over to Alison. "Well, it was worth a shot."
"Maybe he'll like it more once he sees it decorated."
Katrina's eyes grew wide. "Ooo! Can we decorate it now? Huh, Daddy?"
"I think that's a great idea. The Christmas decorations are in the attic."
"YAY!" Katrina cheered, running up the stairs.
"I better go help," he said with a smile, following Katrina upstairs.
Katrina opened the attic door and raced up the steps.
"Katrina, don't run."
"I'm not gonna fall, Daddy. Ooo, lookie! So much stuff in here! Where's the Christmas stuff?"
Rafe looked around, trying to remember where they had put them when they moved here. "Somewhere around here."
"Maybe here!" Katrina went over to a big box.
"No, just clothes in there." Finally, he spotted the box that was labeled "Christmas Decorations."
"Ah, here we go," he said, picking up the box.
"You found them?"
"Yep. They're right here."
Alison had just settled onto the couch with the baby when she heard Katrina running down the stairs, singing.
"Here comes, Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus lane! Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm…."
"Ho, ho, ho, we come forth bringing decorations!" Rafe bellowed.
"We need Christmasy music!" Katrina said.
"Oh, get that CD off the shelf, Rafe. It's right there beside the DVD player."
Rafe took the CD and put it into the player. A few moments later, music began to play.
"Ooo! Christmas stuff!" Katrina ran to the ornament box her father had set down and rummaged through it.
Rafe walked over and peered into the box. "Let's see what we've got here."
"Come decorate the tree with us, Mommy!"
"You know, sweetie, I think I'm just going to sit here with the baby and watch you two. He's kind of gassy," she whispered, patting the baby's back.
Katrina laughed. Gabe always had gas. "You do the high-ups, Daddy! And I'll take the bottom!"
"Sounds likes a plan!" Rafe said, taking a few ornaments out of the box.
"Where's my gingerbread man?"
"I think it's in here, Princess." Rafe rummaged through the box and grabbed the ornament out.
"Oh boy!" Katrina gladly took the gingerbread man, then ran to the tree to pick out a spot for it.
"How will Santa know what to get Gabe for Christmas?"
"Santa Claus knows everything," he winked.
"Gabe probably wants a new rattle," Katrina decided.
Alison laughed. "Probably so."
"Can we go see Santa tomorrow? Gabe's never seen Santa before!"
Rafe smiled. "Sure. We'll go tomorrow."
"Yay!" Katrina ran over to Gabe, sitting contently in his mother's arm. "Hear that, Gabe? You're going to see Santa tomorrow! You better think about what you want for Christmas because Santa knows!"
Rafe thought about last year when Katrina saw Santa. He smiled, thinking of the memory. It was then that Katrina had asked for a baby brother or sister. She had also asked for a pony, and got one. This year would be tough to top. Rafe looked across the room, watching Katrina sit by the tree and digging through the box of ornaments, singing some song about Santa to herself.
It was that very moment that Rafe happened to look out the window. First, he saw one, and then, he saw another. A few seconds later, several little snowflakes were stuck to the glass.
"It's snowing!" Katrina hopped up from her spot on the floor and ran to the window to see for herself.
Alison joined them, walking over to the window to look out with the baby.
"Look, Gabe! Look at the snow!" Katrina pointed out the window excitedly.
"It's so beautiful," Alison said.
"Yes, it is," Rafe agreed, putting his arm around Alison.
Katrina was glued to the window, pressing her nose against the glass, watching the flakes fall to the ground.
Gabe, oblivious to the snow, was already asleep.
Christmas morning had arrived. That was obvious, as torn wrapping paper littered the carpet and all that could be heard were the sounds of toys that made a lot of noise. Even Tiger was having fun as he chased a crumpled ball of wrapping paper around the room.
Alison took the baby upstairs where it was quiet. He looked like he was getting sleepy and was ready for his mid-morning nap.
Katrina stood up and walked over to the window, gazing out. It looked like Christmas. More snow was falling from the sky, covering the ground in a smooth, white blanket.
Daddy said that later that afternoon, they would go out and make snowmen, and then come back inside and drink hot cocoa. But the snow was coming down too fast right now, so it was best to just watch from inside, Daddy had told her. As she watched the snow, she yawned. All of the hard playing with her new toys from this morning had worn her out.
Katrina headed up the stairs to see what her mother was up to. "Whatcha doing, Mommy?"
"Putting up these new clothes Daddy gave me," she said with a smile. How had Rafe known that clothes were at the top of her Christmas list? She had been dying for some new clothes since she got back down to her normal size. It felt like she had been wearing maternity for ages.
Katrina climbed up on the bed and gently touched her baby brother's cheek, being careful not to wake him up. "I think Gabe likes his presents from Santa," Katrina said.
"Me too. Sweetie, can you do Mommy a favor?"
"Can you watch your baby brother for a moment? I've got to run downstairs but I'll be back."
"I can watch him, Mommy. I'll make sure he doesn't fall off the bed."
"Thank you, sweetie," Alison said, giving her a kiss on her cheek.
Katrina looked down at her little brother and kissed his fuzzy head. "I love you, Gabe."
Alison stood in the doorway to her bedroom, watching them. Katrina was fast asleep in the middle of the bed with one arm protectively over her sleeping baby brother.
Alison heard footsteps behind her and turned around. "Rafe, come look at this."
Rafe poked his head into the bedroom, smiling at the sight of them.
"I told Katrina to keep an eye on Gabe while I went downstairs to take some muffins out of the oven, and when I came back, they were like that."
"Well, like I always say. They get their love of sleep from you," Rafe said with a laugh, kissing the top of Alison's head.
"Oh, Rafe, we have such beautiful children. Don't you think?"
"The most beautiful children in the whole world."
Alison took Rafe's hand and led him into the room. "I think they have a good idea. I could take a nap right about now too. Come join us."
Rafe smiled. "Well, I guess I could rest for a little while. I am a little tired."
Alison and Rafe got into bed, Alison on Gabe's side, Rafe on Katrina's. They reached out for each other's hands, lacing their fingers together as their children lay sandwiched between them. And not long after that, the wind howling outside was the only sound heard, and the four of them were all sound asleep.