A/N: Okay folks, here is the last chapter of my little tale. I'm sad to see it end but...all good things must end :) I want to send a big shout out to my awesome Beta, who put up with me sending her chapters of this story at all hours of the morning and night and still returned them to me quickly :-) You're awesome! I want to thank those of you who stuck with me and didn't give up on this story! And fear not, I'm already working on another story! It will be another Modern Day setting, but it's quite different then anything I've ever done or have read...hopefully you will all like it! It has a place very near and dear to my heart already!
Thank you again to all those faithful readers, lurkers and those who reviewed my story! Keep an eye out for my new one! Thanks! Ta ta!
"One more push, Christine!"
Christine fell back onto the bed exhausted, sweaty and in more pain than she ever could imagine. Beside Erik was holding her hand looking on at his wife's suffering, hating that he was helpless and couldn't help her anymore than he already was.
"I know you can do it mon amour, just one more," he pleaded, wiping her damp hair away from her forehead.
Feeling yet another contraction building, Christine reared up, squeezed Erik's hand even harder and let out a soul crushing scream that tore through the halls as she gave one final push. Even through her scream, Erik heard the perfectly pitched wail of a baby…their baby. Christine fell back, tears streaming down her cheeks at the effort and emotions that had overcome her.
"Congratulations Mrs. Beauvais, you have a healthy daughter," Dr.Rainier whispered to the exhausted woman on the bed as he handed the squirming infant to her mother.
"Oh my God" Christine cried as she looked her new daughter over. "She's perfect!" the tears continued to stream down her cheeks as she kissed their baby's head.
Erik kissed Christine's forehead then his daughter's, how perfect his life had become! "She is, ind.." but he could get no further because he was overcome with his own emotions. She was so perfect, so beautiful and though he had just met her, he was already deeply in love with his daughter.
Christine cried, kissing her daughter again before looking up into Erik's golden/green eyes and pulling him down for a kiss. "I love you!" She sobbed into his neck for a moment. The doctor took the infant from Christine's arms. "We just want to clean her up a bit and get some measurements. Then we'll give her right back to you, I promise."
Erik took Christine's face in his hands and kissed her again. "I…I don't know how to thank you for everything you've given me. Lord knows I don't deserve it!"
Christine buried her face in his neck and breathed in his familiar scent. "But you do, Erik. You deserve this and so much more!" She kissed his lips, tasting his tears mingling with her own. Neither one of them knew how long they stayed like that in the delivery room; time seemed to stop as they looked into each other's eyes.
"What are we going to name her?" he asked softly.
Christine thought for a moment, unable to remember any of the names she'd thought about for so long, except for one. She looked over at her daughter and smiled. "Erika Marie," she said finally.
"Erika," Erik whispered, his voice wrought with emotion. "Perfect!" he finally choked out.
3 Weeks Later
A sharp, high pitched wail broke through the peaceful night in the Beauvais Manor. Christine rolled over, rubbing her sleepy eyes. Having done this dance every night since they came home from the hospital, she forced herself out of bed, pulled a robe around herself and walked to the other side of the room to scoop up the shrieking baby, who immediately quieted when she heard Christine's whispers and felt her mother's comforting arms. She padded quietly off to one of the adjacent rooms, sat herself in the rocking chair and held Erika to her breast; the child latched on and nursed as if it was her very first nourishment.
Christine hummed a soft tune as she rocked the infant who had stopped suckling and was asleep once more. Christine was almost asleep herself when she felt Erik's hand brush her curls off her neck.
"I would have gotten her, mon amour," he whispered so as to not wake his precious little angel.
Christine smiled up at her husband "You got her earlier, I didn't even hear her. "He bent down to place a soft kiss on her lips before stroking Erika's silky head "She's so beautiful, Christine" he murmured.
"I know. She looks like you." She kissed her daughter's forehead. "She has your eyes," she said after a moment.
Erik took the child from her, changed her diaper and placed her back in her crib, carefully covering her with the blanket. He felt his wife slip her arms around his waist from behind and kiss his shoulder blades. He turned and pulled her to him, kissing the top of her head as they looked down on their sleeping babe.
"I think we did a pretty good job!" Christine joked. Erik chuckled and kissed her soundly. "I agree, although I think we should keep trying! I don't know how we could improve upon perfection but…"
Christine's musical laugh stirred a deep feeling of contentment in Erik's heart as he looked from his beloved wife to his beloved daughter. Life couldn't possibly get any better than this! He led Christine back to their bed and pulled her to him. He ran his fingers through her hair and down over her shoulders "I thought that I would never have this…a wife, a child. I thought that it would be denied me forever because of my face," he whispered, more to himself than Christine, who kissed his neck in response. "But you have us, Erik, and I promise to give you more children."
Erik laughed."For now, let us just stick with the one!" Christine giggled "Agreed. As much as I love Meg, I don't know if I could survive her for much longer!"
"Well, it was you who wanted her to stay for a while after the baby was born!" Erik insisted.
"I know, hindsight being 20/20 and all," she teased. "I didn't realize she was going to take her role as godmother so seriously."
Erik laughed at the understatement. If Erika cried Meg was usually the first one there. They had to convince her they 'didn't' need her sleeping in their suite to help with the early morning feedings. While they appreciated her love for their daughter, she could be over the top sometimes. Nadir was, as always, the strong, silent one, who never voiced his great affection for his newest little charge but adored her nonetheless. They were an odd family…but a family.
5 years later…
"Erika Marie!" her mother shouted across the yard "If your father sees you doing that…" She let the sentence trail off knowing the youngster's imagination would adequately fill in the blanks.
Christine groaned when Erika scampered off before she could get to her. She was as precocious as she was adorable and what's worse…she knew it! She pulled Alexander's fingers out of the cake and caught Christopher before he fell head first into the bowl of punch.
Meg walked up behind Christine and laughed. "Never have enough hands, eh?" she asked as she sat one of her two toddlers, Stephan, next to the two-year-old twins. Christine laughed. "Never, though it would be helpful if their father was here to help corral them," she murmured as she tried to set plates and cups out.
"What's this muttering about the children's father?" Erik called from behind her. Christine spun around, surprised that after nearly six years of marriage he could still sneak up on her like that. "Nothing, my love," she said, quickly taking a fork out of Chris's eager hands and setting it down out of his reach.
"Remind me again, whose idea was it to have a combined birthday party for five children here?" an exasperated Christine asked.
"Yours!" Meg, Erik and Nadir chimed in unison.
Christine glared at the lot of them but was interrupted by a small form barreling into her leg. She looked down at the ebony haired little girl and smiled; she had inherited her father's golden/green eyes along with his temperament. She picked up a resisting Erika and balanced her on her hip while she continued to arrange the table with one hand. The squirming child managed to free herself and hit the ground running toward her brothers and 'cousins'.
"Oh lord, they'll kill themselves before they're six!" Meg exclaimed as she hastened as fast as a seven months pregnant woman could to try to pull both of her boys, Stephan and Gavin, off Christopher and Alex before Erika could get in the mix. Erik hurried behind her to help.
Christine laughed, as she saw Erik and Meg trying to corral the little munchkins. Nadir chuckled as he walked up behind her. "It looks wonderful Christine! I know we don't tell you how much we appreciate you often enough, but you've been invaluable to Meg and me."
Christine smiled at Nadir. "Meg's been my best friend forever. I'm glad you two found each other!" She hugged Nadir just as her husband approached with a twin under each arm and Erika hanging from his leg.
"I believe these rascals belong to you, Madame," he said sarcastically as he dumped Christopher into his mother's waiting arms.
"Well I will say one thing, they certainly take after their father - in a lot of ways," she said, winking at her husband.
"Indeed, though I don't remember being 'this' precocious when I was their age," he said, feeling the need to defend himself…slightly.
Meg waddled on over to Nadir with their two little devils toddling close behind. Christine grinned at her. "Are you sure you can handle a third?"
Meg groaned as she eased herself into a chair, accepting a soft drink from her husband with a smile. "Thanks, babe."
"I truly hope so. But you've managed so far without killing anyone or your head exploding so…how hard can it be?"
Christine laughed at her logic. "It's not easy, sometimes!"
"Well, the problem is," Meg paused to prop her swollen feet on a bench. "That they are way too smart and way too beautiful for their own good. And what's worse is they know it!"
Christine looked down at her three children and couldn't help but agree. Erika had her mother's dark curly locks and her father's unique eyes while the twin boys were almost carbon copies of their father, save their sparkling blue eyes. Yep…they were all going to be heartbreakers!
After dinner, which most of the kids didn't eat because they were too excited, the adults sat back and talked. Andrew and the rest of the staff had kept a close eye on the children so the Beauvais and Salomans could relax.
Christine looked around her, at her family and knew there was heaven on earth. She felt it when her husband looked at her and when her clan was gathered around her as they were right now.
Six years ago Christine had been a lonely orphan, working hard and barely managing to sustain herself. Then she'd met a reclusive musician and architect and felt as though she'd found the other half of her soul. She'd been nothing but an ordinary girl, but through Erik's love, perseverance and dedication she was anything 'but' ordinary. In fact if you looked at Christine Elaine Beauvais now, you would see an extraordinary woman…