He drew her into him and pulled her on the sofa. "I've loved you since the moment you walked into my glass room at The Centre. You won my heart from the very beginning. There were so many times, so many moments, I wanted to tell you. How many times I came close to kissing you, even when you had your 9mm pointed at me. But, I thought I'd lose you if I did or that you'd shoot me. I would rather have you in my life chasing and running, than live without you. I could never love anyone else."

"I love you," she told him as she sat on him. "I've loved you ever since the moment I stared into your beautiful chocolate browns. I saw kindest in your eyes. I loved you at that very instant. Sydney always knew. He would rub his chin and just look at me like I was one of his patients. You know, sort of analyzing me? I knew what he was thinking. And I would hate him at that very moment because he was right. I'll always be here if you need to sort out your feelings, he had said. I remember yelling at him. Feelings for whom? I asked. He would just smile and just walk away."

Parker got off of Jarod and lied back as she stretched her legs on him. Gently, he massaged her feet. "Tired?"

"A little. Umm, that feels good." She smiled, closed her eyes enjoying their time together.

Jarod leaned his head back and stared at the ceiling. "There's a postcard from Michelle and Nicholas on the kitchen counter. They're fine. Said they'll probably be in town for a visit within the next few months."

"It'll be nice to see them. I'll plan a luncheon or dinner for them."

"Okay," he answered softly still massaging her feet.



"Where are you? You seem so far away."

He sighed. "Just thinking."

"You still miss him."

"I still miss him."

"I know," she whispered. "I miss him, too."

"I'm sorry for the heartaches I caused you before his death." He turned and looked at her.

"Were you actually going to leave and never come back?"

"Yes, I was leaving, but, I would have been back at your doorstep within a few minutes. That is, if you still wanted me."

"As angry as I was, I still wanted you. I've always wanted you." Parker sat up and kissed him tenderly.

Jarod returned her kiss and squeezed her tightly. "I want you now, right here." His eyes locked with hers. He kissed her hard on the lips, then moved his mouth down to her neck.

The front door slammed and the sound of pitter patter of footsteps caused them to jump and pull apart.

Jarod laughed. "Party's over."

"Sydney!" Parker called out. "Sydney Catherine Russell!"

"Here I am, mommy!" Piped out their three year old with Debbie running after her.

"Did you have fun with Debbie at the park?"

"Uh-huh." She ran into her mommy's arms, kissed her, then squiggled out.

"Missed me, daddy?" She placed her tiny hands on his face and gave him a wet kiss.

"Always, sweetheart. Thanks, Debbie. Where's your dad?" Jarod asked, as his daughter climbed on him.

"Uncle Broots! Pizza!" Sydney yelled out.

"Daddy thought pizza would go well with our cookout. Besides, it was Sydney's idea. Right, sweetie?"

"Pizza!" She said again.

"Okay, sweetheart, play with Debbie. Honey, I'd better start the fire before Broots gets here."

Jarod watched his loved ones as he flipped burgers. Parker and Debbie were busy setting up the outside table. His daughter hopped onto Broots for a piggyback ride. It's been four years since his life changed. The nightmares stopped. Love and happiness filled his empty heart. But, it saddened him that Sydney would not be with them as head patriarch to the once Pretender and the Ice Queen along with a little princess of their own.

Sydney will always be the missing piece of their puzzle.

The End