A/N: When I started this story back in April, I never thought it would take 8 months to complete and end up being 38 chapters long. I want to thank everyone who has stuck with this story and given me feedback. Your comments inspire me to keep writing. Thanks again!

Chapter 38

September turned into October much too quickly and the few weeks leading up to Sam and Daniel's grant proposal presentation were so busy that they seemed like mere days. Nevertheless, in that span of time the two of them were able to get much done in preparation for their big talk. They'd double-checked all of their sources, written at least five rough drafts before settling on a decent final draft, and had worked on a suitable PowerPoint presentation. They'd also both taken half a day off the day before they were to give the talk. Luckily, Sam's class was in the morning and Daniel's class didn't meet on that particular day. Sam had the perfect excuse to skip out on this week's colloquium as well, the topic being "Dissolution of Clay Minerals," or something to that effect.

That last day before the presentation, Sam beat Daniel home. She'd just finished a late lunch and was at the kitchen table sipping a cup of weak tea when the phone rang. Startled, she drew in a quick breath and put her hand to her heart before easing up out of her chair and making her way over to the phone. As she picked it up, she neglected to look at the caller ID and half wondered if it was Daniel, calling to tell her he was running a bit late for some reason. "Hello?"

"Hey, Sam, it's me," Sara greeted.

Sam smiled faintly. "Hey," she returned. "What's up?"

"I just wanted to wish you and Daniel good luck on that presentation you have to give tomorrow," Sara said.

"Oh, uh … yeah … thanks," Sam said, momentarily surprised.

"You're welcome. So, you're going before Archaeological Institute of America, huh? Really impressive!" Sara practically gushed.

Sam blushed faintly and coughed. "Um … yeah, I guess it is," she said shyly.

Sara recognized the note of uncertainty in her friend's voice. "Are you okay?"

Sam released an explosive breath in an attempt to quell her anxiety. "Yeah, I am. I'm just a little nervous," she replied in understatement.

"I don't blame you," Sara empathized. "You didn't tell me much about what you were doing, but from the way it sounded it must be something very important. I can only imagine that Daniel is just as nervous as you are."

A smile lit up Sam's face. "If he is, I sure haven't been able to tell," she said wryly. Her smile then faded. "I think he's had a lot more practice than I have. From what he's told me, he's given a lot of talks before. I don't know if he's given any to prestigious institutions like this one, but, with two doctorates and various masters degrees, he must be pretty used to it by now. I haven't given a presentation of this magnitude since …" she trailed off, her memory bypassing the small-scale departmental lectures she'd given from time to time. " … Well, since my doctoral defense, and that was almost seven years ago."

"Hey, don't worry about it. You'll do fine," Sara said gently.

"I hope you're right."

"Enough with this 'I hope you're right' stuff; I know you can do it. You were always such an over-achiever in school," Sara said with a hint of affectionate teasing in her voice.

Sam couldn't help but break out in another smile. "And you would never let me forget it," she chuckled softly. "Thanks for the encouragement. I think I'm going to do some more preparing, then lie down and take a little nap before Daniel gets home."

"Okay. Speaking of which, how have you been feeling lately?" Sara asked.

Sam shrugged. "Not too bad. I'm still a little sick during the mornings, though."

"Did you go to the doctor?"

Sam felt another blush diffusing across her cheeks. "Yes," she answered simply.

"And …?"

"I really don't want to discuss it. I have to do some more preparing," Sam replied after a beat, her tone neutral.

"Uh … sure," Sara said carefully. "But, everything's okay?"

Sam's lips lifted into a faint smile. "Yes, everything is okay. Thanks again for the encouragement, Sara."

"What are friends for, Sam?" the other woman said genially. "Good luck again and be sure to tell me how it went, okay?"

"I will, thanks. I'll talk to you tomorrow," Sam replied before hanging up the phone. She sat down, sighed, and went back to her cup of tea. She soon found herself getting drowsy. The realization that she was working a bit too hard and really needed some rest made its way to the forefront. She finally decided that she would lie down for a little while. She headed for the bedroom and collapsed on top of the bed. Boy, it felt good to lie down. There was a little voice nagging her that she really needed to make sure everything was okay for tomorrow, but she quickly ignored it and drifted right off to sleep.

She wasn't sure exactly when Daniel had gotten home but, when she awoke, she found him standing above her, a tender smile on his face and his deep blue eyes radiating concern. She briefly looked down at herself and found a knitted afghan draped over her. Her gaze returned to him and she smiled weakly. "When did you get home?" she asked.

"Almost an hour ago," Daniel replied.

At this, Sam's eyes widened. "Oh, my God, what time is it?" she asked, suddenly flustered.

Daniel held up his hands. "It's okay, Sam," he said in a placating tone. "It's only five o'clock."

"We need to practice the presentation again, don't we?" she said.

Daniel shook his head. "I think we have all the practice we need. If you want, we can go over it once more after dinner, but I don't think it's really necessary." He sat on the edge of the bed and leaned down toward her. "Are you feeling okay?" he asked quietly, his eyes colored with concern once again.

Sam brought herself to a sitting position and nodded. "I'm okay. I just needed a little rest. I guess my body decided I was working too hard." She smiled sheepishly.

Daniel smiled back and began stroking her hair. "We've both been working very hard," he conceded. "But all our hard work will pay off tomorrow. We are the architects of a bold theory that could very well question some of their most deeply held beliefs about ancient cultures. Whether they are ready to accept it or not remains in question. I am confident that they will accept it, one way or another."

Sam pulled the afghan off herself and gazed at him lovingly. She was far from completely confident, but his sparkling eyes and self-assured smile made her believe that they would pull it off. They were a true team and she was committed to her team member in more ways than one. "I can't argue with that," she replied. She covered his lips with hers and they shared a slow, tender kiss. Sam felt a comforting warmth flood her body and it helped relax her.

Their lips parted and they gazed into each other's eyes until Daniel finally spoke up, "How about an early dinner and then we can do one more practice?"

Sam slowly nodded. "Okay. I hope you don't mind if I'm not really up to cooking."

Daniel smiled again. "I was just going to suggest we order in some Italian food. Sound good?"

Sam gave him a grin and nodded. "It's a deal," she chuckled.

Sam and Daniel practiced their talk one last time that night, each playing audience for the other and giving advice when they thought something needed to be changed or some point emphasized. They practiced early so they could get to bed early and have a good night's sleep. They went to sleep that night a bit more confident that they would do their absolute best in front of the members of the archaeological society.

The big day was now upon them and Sam's anxiety seemed to increase tenfold. She now couldn't wait for them to get it over with.

"I am so nervous," she said as she watched Daniel go through the slides of their presentation up at the podium. She was sitting in a seat in the first row, making sure that they had the projector set up correctly so that the slides would be viewable to the audience.

Daniel looked over at her and nodded, giving her a sympathetic smile.

Satisfied that they had the laptop and projector positioned in the right spot, Sam rose from her seat and joined Daniel at the podium. She nervously glanced at the screen as Daniel went through the thirty slides one by one, checking them one last time for errors.

"Oh, uh … my father called early this morning while you were out," she said. "He wished us good luck and wished that he could have been here with us." She gave an awkward little smile.

Daniel looked up from the screen and turned to Sam with an appreciative smile. "Your dad is a great guy."

Sam's smile remained as she nodded. She watched Daniel as he went back over the slides, left the podium and walked over to one of the seats to check the projector's position for himself one last time, and then returned to the podium. She noticed how relaxed and generally stress-free he appeared and it made her envious.

"How do you do it, Daniel?" she asked, managing a small grin.

He stopped what he was doing and looked at her curiously. "Do what?"

"You're so calm. Here we are, about to present our theory to the scientific community with our reputations at stake and I've got butterflies in my stomach." She chuckled ruefully. "You're as cool as a cucumber. How do you do it?"

A hint of a smile peeked out of the corner of Daniel's mouth as his eyes darted around the room and he leaned in toward Sam. "Want to know a secret?" he asked her conspiratorially. Sam gave him an expectant look, prompting him to continue, "I'm not."

She furrowed her brow in confusion and regarded him dubiously.

"Well, not completely, anyway," he clarified. "Anytime I worry that I'll misspeak or something will go wrong, I just use the time-honored tradition of picturing the audience in their underwear." He gestured to the multitude of empty seats facing them. "I imagine all these seats filled with serious, stuffy, distinguished academics all in their unmentionables."

Daniel's mock haughty tone sent Sam in a fit of giggles, relieving some of her tension. He was glad to see her relaxing somewhat and it made him smile. "I was never one for packing lecture halls anyway, so it wasn't really anything I had to worry about," he muttered with a hint of self-deprecation.

Sam merely nodded as she tried to calm down, and then sighed as he patted her arm and gave her a tender smile, nearly whispering, "It'll be fine." Before she could say anything in reply, the sound of footsteps drawing closer echoed just outside the large conference room.

The two of them turned and found an unfamiliar-looking man standing in the doorway. As he entered and drew closer, Daniel recognized him as Dr. Robert "Bob" Milner, another colleague of Daniel's from the Anthropology department and a member of the Archaeological Institute of America. Daniel had known him ever since he'd first arrived at UCCS and they had become good friends. He was one of the very few people Daniel had told about his theory and perhaps the only person besides Sam who didn't think it was totally preposterous.

"How are you doing in here?" Dr. Milner asked.

Daniel afforded a quick glance down at their setup and back to the older man. "I think we're all set now," he replied before sharing a glance with Sam.

Bob nodded and gave them a smile. "That's good. It looks like people are starting to congregate out in the lobby," he said before glancing quickly down at his watch, "which means you should able to start right on time; not very typical of people in this field." He chuckled at his quip.

Daniel joined him and Sam uttered a short, nervous laugh. "The geosciences people are just as bad, maybe even worse," she said.

"Well, I just wanted to wish you both the best of luck." He looked pointedly at Daniel. "My own personal opinion, I think you have enough evidence to convince them of your theory's implications. You'll do fine."

Daniel smiled and thanked him. Watching the half bald, gray-haired man take a seat in the third row, Sam began to tense up again. Daniel noticed it and he gave her arm a little squeeze. He didn't speak but his eyes and smile were brimming with confidence and gave her the encouragement she needed. She straightened up and returned the smile just as people were beginning to file into the room.

As soon as it appeared that everyone had taken their seats, Bob Milner began a brief introduction of Sam and Daniel and summarized their presentation in about two sentences. He then took his seat and gestured for them to begin.

Here we go, Sam thought to herself as Daniel began his introduction on a somewhat timid note. It didn't take long for him to get into his rhythm and the more he spoke, the more confident Sam became that they would pull this off. She patiently waited until he needed her to elaborate on any of the astronomical aspects of their findings.

"… Thus, it would seem very likely that the beings represented in these pieces of evidence are aliens," Daniel said passionately as they came to the end of the presentation.

He waited for the usual barrage of comments that he'd come to expect by now, but the room was stone silent. It was as if everyone was seriously mulling his argument over and it left him momentarily nonplussed. Sam was less surprised but, given the nature of their theory, she expected at least a few people to have questions.

Finally, a man near the middle row of seats raised his hand. "Dr. Jackson," he began with a slightly crooked grin on his face. "What do you think of these 'aliens'? Are they friendly or not?"

"Ah, well … I'm not sure," Daniel began, completely serious despite the questioner's somewhat flippant tone. "But our evidence from the Mayan hieroglyphs would suggest that they are not. I mean, Zipacna is one of them and, as most of you probably know, he was quite a bad one." He chuckled awkwardly before continuing, "The pictographs from all three cultures depict the civilization in question in service to the gods with the exception of the Egyptian one. It appears that they are coexisting with what we deemed the 'foreigners,' although several cartouches show the indigenous people in service to them as well. It is possible that these 'foreign beings' are in service to one of the gods."

"Which god or goddess do you think they are serving?" the other man continued, trying to mask some amusement in his voice.

"I, ah … I don't really know," Daniel replied, momentarily thrown. "The cartouches don't make it clear. Sekhmet was depicted in one of them but the 'foreign beings' were absent, so it is still inconclusive."

"Do you think Sekhmet is an alien?" Another man asked in a slightly patronizing tone, earning a few chuckles from his colleagues.

Daniel was half expecting this, but nevertheless he was still becoming a bit frustrated. "I don't know," he repeated. "I've … we've … studied it as much as possible and have come up empty."

There were a few murmurs of discontent and some people looked like they were ready to get up and leave. Sam could feel her frustration growing. At first, she wasn't very confident that she and Daniel would be able to convince the audience of anything. However, the more Daniel presented evidence and clearly explained every aspect of their theory, the more it made sense to her. She didn't think she did a very bad job of explaining her part of the research either, almost surprising herself at how calm and confident she was throughout the whole thing.

As several people began to rise from their seats and eye the exit, she realized she had to do something. She tried to explain the astrophysics aspect in as simple a way as she could, since it was not their area of expertise. She now thought that maybe she should go a bit further or at least reiterate the points she made.

"Um, I'd like to repeat something that's very important here," she spoke up. She quickly glanced at Daniel and noticed he was slightly surprised for a brief moment. She turned back to the audience. "If this whole theory was supported only by archaeological evidence, I would agree that it might not be entirely viable. However, the astrophysical evidence is quite strong. As I mentioned before, astronomical data confirms that the position of the planets depicted in the pictographs is strikingly different from any alignment of the planets in our solar system during these periods of time. And, as Daniel mentioned before, the Akkadian glyphs are quite different from the ones in the Sumerian relief, which is quite reliable in itself."

She paused briefly, realizing that she was sounding almost as passionate as Daniel had been moments earlier. She knew that this theory was just as important to her as it was to him. "In short, the evidence reveals that the planets depicted in each bit of evidence are not planets in our own solar system. The writings and pictures combine with this notion to make our case very strong."

She stepped back and glanced over at Daniel. The leftover surprise in his expression faded and was replaced by a soft smile. A few mumbles of dissent were heard before Daniel took his spot at the podium once more. "Questions?" he asked.

At that instant, a flurry of hands and pointing fingers went up. Daniel pointed to a woman at random and gestured for her to speak.

"I … I'm sorry, this is all just a little hard for me to believe," she said, a hint of weariness in her voice. "I honestly don't see how –"

"Dr. Jackson," a portly bearded man cut in brashly, gesturing toward Daniel.

Daniel shot an apologetic look at the woman and then turned to the man, raising his eyebrows.

"I vaguely remember reading a paper of yours that detailed these Akkadian writings," he began thoughtfully. "I believe it mentioned that famous Sumerian relief back then as well."

Daniel nodded. "Yes," he answered.

The other man adopted a smirk and shook his head. "Your wild suppositions made for some entertaining reading. I just can't believe you decided to rehash it all for yet another preposterous conjecture."

Sam worried her lip as she glanced over at Daniel. She thought she saw a spark of anger briefly flare up in his eyes, but it quickly dispelled.

"With all due respect, sir, it was completely appropriate for me to bring this up because it relates to our theory one-hundred-percent," Daniel replied calmly. "I'm sorry that you find it preposterous, but that does not mean that I shouldn't have included it with our evidence. I can understand why my ideas back then might have seemed preposterous to you, but I now have more evidence to back them up. Next question?"

The portly man harrumphed quietly as he sat back down. A rather short, bespectacled man sitting on the aisle edged slightly up out of his seat and raised his hand. Daniel nodded at him, prompting him to speak.

"Despite what my colleague here has said, Dr. Jackson," he began, gesturing subtly to the portly man. "I have to agree. I just don't see this theory as being viable. I mean, Earth being visited by aliens hundreds and thousands of years ago, at different periods in its history? And furthermore, important mythological figures are included among these aliens? It's just way too out there." He shook his head sadly.

"Exactly," another man spoke out of turn. "Evidence from highly-accredited sources just does not support this."

All this time, Sam had been quietly taking in all the criticism, growing more dismayed and even annoyed. Daniel began to hem and haw a bit while she walked up to the podium again. "Excuse me, can you tell me what sources?" she broke in, her tone stern but still passing for diplomatic. She folded her arms across her chest.

The man regarded her blankly before he threw out a name of a scientist who'd argued that the Sumerian relief was unreliable because it included an extra planet. Sam inwardly scoffed, as she knew that the extra planet did not belong to the solar system, but was a body with a very elliptical orbit that would pass through the solar system once every few thousand years or so. This man had no basis for his argument and she realized that he and his colleagues were just trying to come up with any excuse for rejecting her and Daniel's theory.

She gazed at them incredulously as they began rising from their seats and making their way out of the room. "How could this be preposterous?" she asked. "This is hard data!" She gestured to a slide showing the astronomical data on the position of the planets.

The short, bespectacled man who previously asked a question was still seated. "I don't doubt that you are correct as far as the position of the planets not depicting our solar system, but the archaeological evidence is just too murky," he said lamely as he got up and made his way toward the exit.

"Murky?" Sam mouthed to Daniel. Daniel briefly rolled his eyes and shrugged. She watched in futility as the room emptied out, leaving them to close out their slideshow, shut down the laptop, and disconnect everything in silence.

Sam groaned softly when she spotted Bob Milner making his way back into the room. Great, insult to injury, she thought as he drew closer to them.

The older man looked at Daniel and Sam apologetically. "I'm sorry," he said. Daniel gave him a tiny shrug and then smiled, witnessing the look of encouragement in the other man's eyes.

"Keep up the good work," he said quietly to them before turning and exiting the room.

Sam sighed heavily as she watched Daniel resume disconnecting his laptop from the projector. She brought the laptop case over to him and then sat herself down in a front row seat, her hand resting against her chin. "I can't believe this," she said, her expression a mixture of disappointment, dejection, and even leftover anger and disbelief.

Daniel stopped what he was doing and looked at her. Concern filled his eyes as he made his way over to her and sat down next to her. He sighed audibly and then turned to her, intently meeting her gaze. "It's not the end of the world, Sam," he said gently.

At this, Sam looked up at him incredulously. "How can you say that when a room full of people just ridiculed us?" she asked quietly. Her voice then turned bitter. "I feel like I've been spit upon."

Daniel gazed at her sympathetically. "I know," he said, despite the fact that she was overreacting a bit. "There have been times when I've come out of lectures feeling less than two inches tall myself. But at least we tried." He pulled her close to him and began stroking her hair. "We took what we had and, knowing that there was a chance we might not have been well-received, we presented our ideas anyway. We just have to keep trying."

Sam realized he was right and nodded.

"We have to keep trying," he continued, his tone resolute. "In our fields, those who give up are better off not even trying in the first place. When you have something really amazing to share with the world and you believe in your heart that it's true, you don't give up. There might be a few rough patches along the road, but we don't end the journey. We'll just keep trying and, one day, we will succeed."

Sam's lips lifted into a tender smile. Daniel could read the emotions that filled her eyes and danced across her face. She was in complete agreement with him and wasn't about to give up on the journey that began the day she met him. She wrapped her arms around him and initiated a tender kiss. Once their lips parted, they gazed soulfully into each other's eyes and Sam silently reaffirmed that she was with him every step of the way. Daniel smiled, rose from his seat, and reached for his laptop. Giving her arm a squeeze, he said, "I'm starving. Want to get some lunch at O'Malley's? It won't be a victory party by any means, but we can think of it as a thanksgiving meal."

Sam lifted an eyebrow and looked at him oddly. "Thanksgiving isn't for a whole month," she said with a hint of a grin.

Daniel grinned back. "I know that. I meant thanksgiving with a lower case 't.' We have a lot to be thankful for. I know I do, especially for meeting someone as amazing as you. Sam, I'm thankful that I spilled a mocha triple latte on you," he said teasingly.

Sam snickered softly. "I never thought I'd be thankful for a guy spilling half a cup of hot coffee down my blouse, but there you have it," she returned.

Daniel's grin eased into a tender smile and his lips covered hers for another tender kiss. He gazed lovingly at her and caressed her cheek with his hand before kissing her softly on the forehead. "I'll be right back. I just want to lock this in the car," he said, gesturing to his laptop.

Sam nodded and then watched Daniel exit the room, smiling at his retreating form. She stood for a few minutes, lost in thought before she glanced down at her belly and stroked it gently. A content smile spread across her face and she thought, Yes, I do have a lot to be thankful for.


April 2002

Daniel paused to brush his hair out of his face as he sat hunched over the desk in the office, poring over some more archaeological evidence. This time it was from the southern Peloponnese region of Greece. He and Sam had spent a week there during the university's spring break studying some ruins. Daniel had speculated that the god Pelops who was depicted in murals might have had an extraterrestrial origin and the pictures basically confirmed it.

Daniel smiled as he went over the writings and pictures. In the almost five years that had passed since they had found the amazing discoveries in Egypt and Belize, they had more evidence to support their theory. Incidentally, Daniel had revisited the evidence from Egypt and was able to find something that he didn't the first time around. It pointed to the likelihood that Sekhmet was an alien and the "foreign beings" might have been in service to her. He and Sam had tried several more times to get funding but had failed. Just over a month ago, Sam had mentioned in passing something about trying for government grants. Daniel didn't think all that much of it, but admitted that government grants were pretty lucrative and they'd be fools not to try for it.

He made a few notes in a notebook and then looked up as he heard someone bounding into the room. A little boy with large, blue-gray eyes, a mop of dark blonde hair in a style similar to his father's, and an infectious smile hurriedly made his way up to Daniel.

"Hey, Jake," Daniel smiled.

"Hello, Daddy," the almost-four-year-old Jacob Melburn Jackson replied shyly. The way his face lit up was identical to the way Daniel's did when he smiled.

Sam wasn't far behind and was also smiling. Daniel's gaze shifted up to her and he smiled lovingly. "How was the park?"

"Terrific," she replied. "Jake found a spot all to himself in the sandbox and went straight to town, digging away. Then he tried to build a little pyramid out of it. I think he gets it from your side of the family." She gave him a teasing grin and a wink.

Daniel chuckled and reached down to affectionately tousle his son's hair. Jake giggled and then looked at Daniel expectantly. Daniel bent his head down and let the little boy muss up his own shaggy mop of hair. Jake giggled some more and squealed with laughter as Daniel began tickling him.

Sam watched them contentedly. As their laughter subsided, she spoke up, "It's a beautiful day, Daniel. Why don't you take a break from that for a while and join us?"

Jake looked pleadingly at Daniel. "Can you come to the park with us, Daddy? Please?" the precocious child asked.

Daniel afforded a fleeting glance at his paperwork and the small VCR and TV on which footage of the Greek mural had been paused. "Aw, why not?" he finally said. He turned off the equipment, pushed his chair back in, and picked Jake up. The little boy laughed happily.

"To the park," Daniel declared as the three exited the room.

Sam and Daniel sat on a bench, watching Jake play in the sandbox. He managed to create something vaguely resembling a pyramid and then pretended to "excavate" a toy he'd buried in the sand. The two of them gazed at him fondly.

"Mrs. Marcello says that he's an extremely bright child," Sam said, referring to Jake's nursery school teacher.

"Mmm. He always shows such an enthusiasm for learning. It's wonderful to see," Daniel agreed.

Sam nodded. "I'm glad that I'm only teaching part time now so that I can spend more time with him. I can't bring him to the school with me and I don't want him to end up like those kids who spend all day everyday in daycare and then become latchkey kids when they get older. Before she died, my mom always spent a lot of time with me and Mark and I want the same for Jake."

"I know," Daniel said quietly. "Remember, my parents were the same way with me when I was a little boy. I wouldn't want any less for Jake. Oh, speaking of which, I heard from them last night."

Sam looked at him curiously. "And…?"

A smile spread across Daniel's face. "They will be able to fly out here for Jake's birthday next month."

Sam's face cracked wide open in a smile. "I'm really glad they'll be able to make it. Dad already said he would be getting some leave so he'll be here as well. I really hope he'll get that transfer to Peterson so he'll be a little closer."

Daniel nodded and then placed an arm around her, stroking her now shoulder length blonde hair. Sam's smile faded as she leaned a little closer to him. "So, have you made any progress on that mural?" she nearly whispered.

"Sort of," he replied. "I cracked some more of that code and I think I know what Pelops' winged chariot represents."

Sam's eyes widened and she looked at him expectantly.

"We'll talk about it later," Daniel said.

She nodded. "By the way, I think we might be getting that government grant," she said with a hint of a smile on her face.

Daniel looked at her curiously and furrowed his brow. "What? Are you sure?"

Sam's smile grew and she nodded. "A representative from the Air Force wants to meet with us next week."

Daniel raised his eyebrows but said nothing. His surprised expression prompted Sam to laugh softly. Once she calmed down, she continued, "I didn't give them a definite date because I wanted to talk to you first. But a Major Paul Davis wants to discuss something with us. Oh, and he's bringing a Dr. Catherine Langford with him. Do you know her?"

Daniel's brows drew together in thought. "That name sounds vaguely familiar, but I can't place it," he replied after a few moments. He looked at her a bit uneasily and said, "I'm not too sure about this whole thing."

"Daniel, you said yourself that military contracts are pretty lucrative. There's no harm in trying for one, is there?"

He looked at her intently and then shook his head. "No, there isn't. It's just that, after our streak of not so great luck, I'm surprised about this. It seems too good to be true."

Sam nodded. "I know. They left a phone number, so I think we should call them back first thing tomorrow."

"Okay," Daniel said, smiling softly at her. "There are no classes on Tuesday, so maybe we could do it then."

Sam smiled at him and then sought Jake out. "Jake? We're going home now," she called to him.

The little boy reluctantly fished his toy out of the sand with a small shovel and made his way back to his parents. Sam laughed and smoothed down his hair as she gathered him up in her arms. They each exchanged kisses before making their way out of the park and heading back home.