Chapter 12

Two months later

"Owww! Steven!"

"Sorry."

"That's the second time you've let me bang into something. Right, I'm taking this blindfold off."

"Jacks, we're almost there. Trust me."

"Famous last words," muttered Jackie, but her grumbling was not convincing. When Steven had picked her up from work in the El Camino and handed her the blindfold, butterflies of excitement had taken up residence in her belly and they were still fluttering madly.

"OK, you can take it off, now," Hyde announced. Eagerly she tore at the fabric to find herself facing a mud brown apartment door with the brass number 5E dangling precariously on it.

"Where are we?" she demanded, looking around to find herself on the fifth floor of a shabby apartment building.

"Our new home," Hyde replied proudly, pulling out a doorkey and twisting it in the lock.

Jackie gasped in wonder as he pushed the door open revealing a one-bedroom flat decorated in true 1970s fashion (that is, shades of brown and orange). Before she could step over the threshhold, he had hefted her into his arms and carried her across. She gazed adoringly at Hyde in appreciation of his romantic gesture, causing him to colour up and quickly deposit her onto the threadbare carpet. "So, what do you think?" he asked casually.

In response she raced through each room, exclaiming in wonder at the faux marble laminex in the kitchenette, praising the view of the tyre factory from their bedroom, becoming lyrical at the discovery of a linen closet in the hallway. In conclusion, she launched herself into Hyde's arms, kissing him enthusiastically. "I love it! I love it!" she cried.

"Thank God for that because I signed a one year lease this morning," Hyde answered.

"Wow, you're taking on a commitment for an entire year?" Jackie teased. "I will have you ordering dinner in French any day now."

"Yeah, in your dreams."

"But how will Mrs Forman take it? First Eric, now you. I think she was starting to look on you as a permanent fixture in her house."

"Hey, I haven't been there that long! It's only been a couple of years."

"Feels like seven," murmured Jackie.

"So, Jacks… I know you're a girl who likes traditions which brings me to the old tradition of christening a new home."

"What, like breaking a bottle of champagne on the door?" Jackie questioned, being deliberately obtuse. The hunger in Steven's eyes told her the kind of "christening" he had in mind but she had been taking particular delight these last two months in making him spell out his meaning when it came to romancing her.

The day he had come back from Kelso's apartment and haltingly emptied his heart out to her had been the beginning of a new level in their relationship. That day he had told her how much he loved her and had always loved her. Painfully, he had revealed some of the insecurities which made it so difficult for him to trust in her love or trust in the concept of the kind of love that lasts a lifetime, but her proud Steven had asked for her help in working towards that goal. She in turn had opened up about her own fears which made her hold on too tightly to what she most dreads losing. Their reconciliation had been both scorching and melting as they made love to each other with their bodies, their words and their souls. In the aftermath of their passion, as she was cradled in his arms, a feeling of contentment she had not known since she was a small child settled upon her. It was as though Steven somehow transmitted some of his own "living in the moment" philosophy to her. Now that she was secure in the knowledge that Steven loved her, she was happy just to let go of her worries and plans because she knew it would all work out perfectly in the end.

"How can you say something like that?" Steven reproached (referring to the champagne breaking remark), "That's like me suggesting to you we light the fireplace with cash. No, I mean the other kind of christening."

Jackie gave him her wide-eyed innocent look as though his meaning was incomprehensible to such a sweet, gently nurtured girl, an attitude contradicted by her feet which were backing up towards the bedroom, closely followed by Hyde. When he suddenly grabbed her around the waist her smooth face broke into laughter and she showed herself as eager as he to christen their first new home.

Well, it's been a slow creative process but I've finally made it to the last chapter. Thanks to all the people who gave me their reviews and to all the new people reading this story, keep the comments coming – I am a whore for reviews.