Chapter 37

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The house was dark and quiet as Sam opened the front door and went inside. She dropped her suitcase against the wall and shrugged off her jacket, tossing it on the back of the couch. She had to admit that she felt mildly disappointed that there was no one rushing up to welcome her home but she wasn't surprised considering it was near midnight, way past the kids' bedtime. She started towards the living room when she heard the unmistakable sloppy gallop of her favorite Labrador. She smiled as Milo rushed up to her, panting happily at the sight of her.

"Hey boy," she whispered as she reached over and scratched him behind the ears.

Satisfied that he had done his doggly duties he got in step alongside her as she walked down the hall to the bedroom, picking up some discarded clothes and toys as she did. She neared the master bedroom and recognized the flickering blue lights from the television through the doorway. She walked in and her lips curved up into a smile at the sight that greeted her: they were all slumbering peacefully as Martin lay in the middle of their bed with Nate and Grace tucked under each arm as the Disney channel played on the TV.

She grabbed the remote from the nightstand and clicked off the TV as she toed off her shoes before sitting on the edge of the bed near Nate. The sudden silence roused Martin awake and he looked at her though sleepy eyes. She watched as his eyes adjusted to the darkness and whispered, "It's just me."

He blinked and said, "You're home."

"Yeah, finally," she whispered as she scooted closer. Their plane left 45 minutes late and they almost missed their connecting flight. She was starting to think she would never get home.

"The kids wanted to wait up for you," he said; his throat husky from sleep. "They lasted until about ten o'clock." He smiled and added, "I lasted until eleven."

She chuckled softly. "Really? Because the TV was on the Disney channel…" She couldn't imagine him laying there for an hour watching cartoons.

"I had a kid under each arm and couldn't reach the remote," he teased. "I was trapped watching reruns of Kim Possible. It was hell." He laughed softly adding, "Of course, it was even worse that I knew they were reruns…."

She laughed at him as she leaned forward to examine her little boy's face. His forehead had a bruise but whatever bump may have existed was virtually gone. She brushed some hair out of his forehead and watched his little sleeping face, his mouth hanging slightly open. With her eyes still on Nate she said, "He looks pretty good."

Martin shifted slightly to face her. "Yeah, the bump was gone in a few hours just like the doctor said. He was disappointed though, I think he liked the way it looked."

She nodded her head and looked over at Grace. Her daughter was snoring softly, the arm in the cast resting under Martin's large hand. "And how long did the doctor say she would have to wear the cast?" she asked as she reviewed the messages and drawings that were sketched on the cast.

Martin slowly shifted his arm out from under Nate's body and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. "At least two months."

She sighed, relieved to finally be home and see for herself that the kids really were okay. With slumped shoulders she finally glanced up at Martin and that's when she noticed the big red welt on his cheek. She reached up to touch it and he winced. "What happened to you?"

He smiled and replied, "Grace." He moved his hand on top on hers, pressing her hand to his cheek and said, "She was flailing in her sleep and hit me square in the face." He nodded to her cast and finished, "Be warned: our daughter has a weapon attached to her arm for the next few months."

Sam laughed softly, her fingers gently caressing the stubble on his jaw. "Thanks for the heads up."

She pulled her hand back to stifle a yawn, her eyes droopy and tired. He lifted his head up off the pillow and said, "You must be exhausted. Come on, we should put the kids in their own beds." He started to maneuver out from under the kids saying, "You take Nate and I'll take Gracie…"

"No," she said softly. He stopped and looked at her. "They're already asleep; they can stay with us tonight."

He cocked an eyebrow and asked, "Are you sure? I know you discourage them sleeping with us…"

"I think we can make an exception just this once," she said as she moved to lie down next to Nate.

He gave her a curious look but let it drop. He shifted a bit so that she would have a little more room. She spooned behind her son but her head was able to rest near Martin's. She took a deep breath, inhaling the sweet smell of Nate's shampoo and closed her eyes, a pang of guilt in her chest. With her eyes still shut she whispered, "I should have been here."

She could feel him watching her, his free hand moving to gently tug on a lock of her hair as he breathed, "All that matters is that you're home now."

She finally opened her eyes and gave him a grateful smile as they just laid there looking at each other. Waves of light from a passing car outside illuminated the room before making it dark again. She rested her cheek on the pillow and said, "I know I have been acting weird lately and maybe said some things I shouldn't have but I do love you and the kids, you know that right?"

"I know you do," he replied; his blue eyes looking dark and smoky in the dim light. "I just wish you would let me in, tell me what's going on."

"I know and I want to but I'm just not ready yet. I can barely figure it out myself." She licked her lips and said, "I just don't want to say anything to you that I can't take back."

"I'd rather you say something mean than shut me out," he replied, hurt evident in his voice.

"I'll try but you have to give me a little slack," she reached over and laid her the palm of her hand over his heart and said, "Because I realized something today." His eyes met hers and she finished, "That I will pull away sometimes, I will want a little time to myself so I can gather my thoughts and I will still get moody…"

"Please tell me there's a 'but' coming up," he interrupted with a smirk.

"But," she said with emphasis, "But I promise you this: I'm not going anywhere. I meant what I said on our wedding day, you are stuck with me until death do us part."

He grinned, leaning in close whispering, "I can live with that." She smiled and then he kissed her.

End Book I

To Be Continued in Book II

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A/N: This book was pretty fluffy, even for me. But I should warn you that the next one will be darker so please be prepared.