One Final Author's Note: Welcome to the end of my long, twisted journey. I have grown-up so much since I first began writing this story. It took over two years, but here it is. Thank you to everyone who stuck with the tale; you're the ones I do it for!
One Last Summary: Four heirs to vast fortunes disappear under mysterious circumstances. A year later, Mina Aino impulsively adopts four dogs, giving one to each of her single friends. After, each girl faces threats, mayhem, and drama while the mystery of the dogs unravels before them. SenGen, S/D
"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
CHAPTER 13; Without Further Ado
A lot had to be organized before the four men could reappear. Kael had an entire company to takeover and adjust. Neron, too, had business responsibilities he had to claim from his sister; a visit to several of his lawyers was eminent. Zevin collected his research and nearly cried once reaching his laboratory, where he stayed for a long, long time. Jedrek had to deal with his overly enthusiastic family, who all wanted to talk to him about the worry he'd caused them. On top of that, they each had to do all the necessary paperwork that went along with, essentially, rising from the dead.
A week had passed before Ami, Lita, Rei, or Mina heard from the rediscovered men. In that time, they had held a private meeting with Setsuna about her actions, leaving them no more satisfied then before.
"I am not sorry for what I did. Perhaps I should have requested your input, but none of you can think clearly concerning the Generals," Pluto said tightly, resting her body against the wall while the others sat at Lita's kitchen table.
"And you can?" Ami softly returned.
Setsuna sighed. "Maybe not," she admitted, "but my bias is a little more encompassing of the entire picture than yours. These men, once upon a time, betrayed you in every way a person possibly can."
"They were brainwashed," Lita said flatly, pointing out: "Darien was seduced by that same power and we don't blame him for it." The other girls nodded in agreement.
"Except it didn't work fully. He didn't kill the Princess, did he?" Setsuna retorted heatedly. Her tone was one that no one had heard before, showing the amount of pain and sorrow the Senshi of Time still felt. Not that any of the girls could blame her. There was still so much they didn't remember and, quite honestly, didn't want to.
"But it wasn't them, the men who killed us in the Silver Millennium," Lita argued. "Beryl took their souls and left their bodies as vessels to her evil will. Isn't that punishment enough?"
Setsuna's face remained stony. "No. Nothing will ever be punishment enough."
"So, if Mina hadn't found them, you would have kept them away from us?" Lita asked.
"Yes," she answered, seeing no reason to lie now.
Lita thought of several rude things to say, but swallowed it, realizing her feelings on the matter were, as Pluto said, biased.
"Are you going to continue to seek vengeance?" Ami questioned after a pause, having just worked up the courage to ask the cool query.
"It is not my place now."
Rei suddenly spoke. "I may not agree with you, Sets, but I understand. You did what you thought was right at the time. And it seems that everything has worked out," she said, her voice holding an air of finality.
"Fate and Destiny are powerful things," the Time Keeper sighed, "and even I cannot change them."
"What do you mean?" Mina wanted to know, yet the question was almost rhetorical, for she was almost sure of the answer.
Setsuna ignored her. "Thank you for your understanding, Rei. I can see the others are not ready to follow these sentiments. If you girls have any more troubles, you know how to reach me."
"Wait!" Mina yelled, but it was too late, for Setsuna had left with an on-the-spot whirl.
Lita leaned one elbow on the table, using it to rest her head. "She has issues."
Rei rolled her eyes. "We all do. But if you had the additional duty of watching everything go wrong in your loved one's life, and not being able to help, you'd be screwed up too. Just be grateful she spared your boyfriend's life."
"He's not my boyfriend!" Lita protested, sitting straight in her seat and rapidly turning red.
"So you make it a habit of locking lips with random men?" Mina teased, giggling madly.
"Leave me alone," the brunette pouted.
Ami attempted to steer the conversation back to point. "I, also, see her view," she admitted, "and actually find that it was a rather, uh, harmless way to vent her anger. She could have killed them, and we wouldn't have known differently."
Mina nodded solemnly. "Thank the lord for small flavors."
All the girls blinked at Mina.
"Favors, Mina," Ami groaningly corrected.
"So you guys too?" the tall brunette asked the others at the table after a moment of silence.
"Us what?" Ami asked, distracted, because she was thinking of all the millions of ways Setsuna's 'plan' could have gone wrong.
"Don't make me say it," Lita begged.
Mina knew her expression of 'clueless' was perfect—she practiced in the mirror everyday before showering. "Say what?"
"I hate you, and all your deceitful faces," Lita muttered, but nonetheless said: "you, uh, like the guys?"
"I hate men!" Rei immediately declared, with the familiarity of a phrase that one recited in their sleep. "Mostly my father, but I'm open minded enough to include the all species with dangly genitals."
"You," Lita pointed, in case any one was in need of clarification, "are sick. And twisted. And very, very sick."
Mina was too busy laughing hysterically to comment.
"Yes," Ami was the only one to give a response to Lita's question. "Of course I like Zevin; he's a very nice man."
Mina snorted, tears of mirth still dripping down her face. "Well, unlike our dearest Rei over here, I love dangly genitals…and the rest of the body attached to it, of course. For example," she dreamily exhaled, "Kael has quite the body…and voice…and body…"
"You're not shallow," Rei dryly remarked.
"I like him for his personality, too!" Mina retorted, defensively. "He obviously believes in a very healthy lifestyle. He eats all his meat and vegetables, and then goes to the gym for endless hours to work out and sweat and build some hunky looking muscles. That's a sign of a very good personality."
"Shallow as a puddle," Rei sang out, dodging a clumsy swipe.
Mina stood. "I will prove you wrong!" she declared, and then flounced out of the apartment with a flare only she could achieve.
"That wasn't very nice," Lita giggled.
Rei cackled, drumming her hands on the table. "I feel bad for poor Kael."
"I wouldn't," the brunette said and laughed again. She stood up. "I will see you girls later. I have a few errands I need to run before dark."
Ami peered out the window, nodding in agreement with the assessment. The sun was waning rapidly.
A catchy tune had lodged itself in Lita's brain and she couldn't seem to make it leave. Whistling the notes as she walked on the sidewalk, she maneuvered the streets to her place of work, intent on picking up her paycheck.
Oh, and perhaps seeing if a certain somebody was there.
But she wasn't going to think on that.
The trip took another fifteen minutes on foot, but Lita eventually arrived at the gorgeous oak doors leading to Riverside Bistro. Normally open at the peak hour of the evening, the sign on the door read: Closed for Evaluation, and the young employee saw no signs of anyone else loitering around, not even any of the cleaning crew.
"Carl!" Lita hollered, after bypassing the closed sign on the door. "Where is everyone? I know you're here, though. I heard you have a bed set-up in your office so you never have to leave," she continued to loudly chat, zigzagging around the tables to enter into the familiar kitchen, and into the meeting room from there.
Upon entering the room, Carl was distinctly not alone.
Neron Cole, Monique Cole, and her fabulous manager were all sitting around a small table, discussing a rather heated matter, if looks were anything to go by. Ms. Cole was most clearly distraught, breathing unevenly, and glaring at both men in turn. Carl looked speechless about something, and Neron was coolly amused.
"Uh," she articulated when three pairs of eyes swung towards her.
Neron showed surprise before masking it and standing. "You must be Ms. Kino," he said smoothly, as if he wasn't well-acquainted with the small dimple next to her mouth, "I've heard only great things about you." He stuck out a hand to shake.
A full beat of unrepressed gawking was only limited to a short length by Carl, who unsubtly snapped his fingers to regain Lita's attention and nodded towards his boss' hand.
Feeling foolish and a little grumpy at Neron's strange actions, Lita nonetheless took the proffered hand.
A tingle was from the contact was expected. Lita was now getting accustomed to the physical attraction between them. But the accompanying caress was so absolutely unexpected that Lita almost flinched in reaction.
She loosened her grip from his and glared at the mischievousness decorating his eyes.
"You suck," she whispered under her breath. The amusement behind his eyes showed he had heard her.
"Pardon?" Neron feigned confusion.
"I said, what luck! That you're back," Lita lied.
Carl then stood too, not noticing the mild bantering taking place between the pair. As far as he knew, they had just met. Monique, too, was hazy on the details and a little preoccupied with trying to get out of her situation with the least amount of damage to her status as possible. "Lita is one of our best and brightest. We're training her in the business, as you well know, and hope to have her as an asset for a very long time."
Lita blushed at the praise.
"If you would," Carl addressed Lita, "wait outside, we should be done shortly."
Before the brunette could respond, Neron spoke. "That isn't necessary. She is every bit a part of this industry as I or you are. You can stay, if you'd like."
She actually didn't care one way or the other; but a look at Neron's face convinced her that he wanted her to stay for some odd reason.
"That would be fine," she replied, taking a sneakily moved seat next to Neron.
Carl eyed the two suspiciously but dismissed any further train of thought. If it was important to the restaurant, Mr. Cole would let him know.
Neron then picked up the conversation where he had obviously left off. "And due to a deplorable exhibition of character, I feel I have no other choice than to terminate your association with this company, Monique."
"That is unacceptable, I own half the company," the dark-haired woman returned. Aside from similar hair and eyes, the two half-siblings looked nothing alike, Lita noted.
"Not legally," Neron slide a thick collection of papers to Monique.
She took a moment to glance at them before her face crumbled into a hideous front. "I refuse to listen to this a moment longer," she declared, snatching the papers from the table and stuffing them into her purse. "I will continue this conversation after receiving advice from my lawyer." She made to leave.
"You will find," Neron said to her back, before she could leave, "that there is no lawyer in all of Japan who will be able to worm you out of this. Be lucky if this is all the retribution you receive, for you have done terrible deeds."
Monique chose not to answer, and left with a slam of the door.
"Cold-hearted bitch," Neron sighed. "I'm sorry you had to witness that," he said to Carl and Lita. "But I believe having someone to witness having this conversation with her will ultimately provide a back-up for me in case anything is disputed."
Carl only shook his head. "She had it coming!" he exclaimed with a barely concealed grin. "I'm only sorry I wasn't the one able to deliver the news. We are so glad you're back," Carl reached over to give the younger man a hearty slap on the back.
Neron laughed. "Yes, well," he checked his watch, "don't let me keep you any longer. When I said everyone had to go home, I did mean you too."
"Despite rumors to the contrary, I do have a bed at home," Carl raised a brow at Lita, who innocently whistled the tune she'd had stuck in her head on the way there.
"Mind getting my paycheck on the way out?" Lita inquired, purposefully not looking at Neron, a venture that she seemed to be doing a lot more than not.
"I'll do it," Neron volunteered, before her manager could get a word in. "I had hoped to have a private word with Lita, anyway."
Carl, simply grateful to get the unexpected night off, patted Lita's hand on his quick way out.
When the door closed behind the short man, Lita and Neron were motionless for all of ten seconds. Then, an explosion of noise made the progression of limbs hard to track.
The end result made it hard to distinguish one person from the other.
It was a full ten minutes before: "You didn't call," Lita breathlessly accused, so close to his face a hair would be hard-pressed to slip through.
"Busy," he kissed her nose, "getting," another on the side of her mouth, a beautiful bow-shaped one at that…
The couple got a little sidetracked again.
When air became a necessity, he said: "I was busy getting everything back into place. But I was. Going to call you, that is."
"Really?" Lita tried to sound harsh, maybe even cross her arms over her chest. The latter was physically impossible, since Neron had his arms locked tightly around her body, permitting no movement. The former proved too hard to accomplish also; she was feeling such giddy happiness that negativity was beyond her.
"I swear," he grinned. "You see," he traced a finger over the shape of her shoulder blade, causing her to lose concentration with a gasp, "I need a favor."
"Oh?" she managed.
He signed in feigned melancholy. "The apartment I leased was given away a few months after my disappearance. The building has a rather long waiting list, and I don't have any secret desire for living on the streets. It would appear that I'm on the market for a new place of residency."
A secret smile began to stretch across Lita's face. "That is unfortunate."
Neron nodded in agreement. "Very. Not sure what to do."
Resting her head on his broad shoulder, she said in a sultry whisper, "I may have an idea."
The elevator was evil. Mina was sure of it. She had been staring at the dial for ten seconds already, and it had only moved two floors! That was a ridiculous ratio. Climbing thirty-two flights of stairs would be faster than waiting for the wretched, evil elevator to finish its ascent.
The horribly-slow-box-of-movement finally opened its flaps and Mina rushed out, taking a left, then making a 180 degree spin in the opposite direction, before deciding to follow the helpful arrows in a third direction.
Kael Winters, Chief Executive Officer, Room 3110, it read, with a lustrous shine that bellied its relative newness.
Why was she here again?
Oh, yes, to prove Rei and her insipid comments wrong! She was the Goddess of Love, and not shallow at all.
Maybe a little shallow but it was okay if it's your soulmate. They were like the exemption to everything. But even so. Superficiality was tolerable as a vapid front but no deeper.
It was a question of honor. After all they had been through; Mina had liked JB before ever seeing his rather sexy human shell.
But she did not wish to dwell any longer on mundane practices such as thinking when actions could be taken. She cautiously tapped on the door, and when she heard a grunt of acknowledgement, she burst through with aplomb.
"Hello, darling," she cheerfully drawled. "How is your day going?"
The question was, in hindsight, rather rhetorical. Kael was slumped over his desk, squinting at some paperwork that was one in an enormous stack. He had dark circles under his eyes, and a trail of take-away bags littered the floor around him. Mina rolled her eyes, wondering how many days he'd been sitting there. Why, he probably hadn't even been to the gym to work on his physique. How could he hope to keep it perfect if all he ever did was paperwork?
"Mina?" he was only a bit startled, mostly due to the concentration he was giving the dead trees in front of him. "What are you doing here?"
She waved a hand airily. "The better question is, what are you still doing here?" She turned critical eyes around the room. "I would guess you haven't left that spot for anything other than nature in about, oh, three days?"
"Four," he corrected wearily.
She winced. "This is worst than I thought," she muttered to herself and began to clean up a bit of the mess around the office.
The glassiness around Kael's eyes lifted to one of alarm. "Mina, you really don't have to—"
"Don't be silly," she scolded, picking another bag up by the wrong side, causing the half-eaten contents to fall and spread themselves out even more messily than originally. But the blonde didn't take notice; her attention was already on the next bag where a similar event occurred.
Kael thought fast. "If you do that Mina, then there will be nothing left for the janitors to do."
Mina paused, considering. "True. And then they would get lazy and possibly slack on the other offices which would lead to their eventual termination. And maybe they are supporting a family of three and the poor children would go without food, causing the janitor to despair of his—or her!—duty in life. And—" she would've continued with the tragedy but a large hand was covering her means of speech.
"Exactly correct," Kael loomed over her, in an almost intimidating manner, if not for the stain on his shirt, or unhooked belt. "Now why are you here?"
Mina glared at him and jabbed a finger towards the hand covering her mouth.
"Fine," he conceded, "but no more monolithic tales."
"I'm here," she huffed once he had removed the offending appendage, "to ask you on a date."
Mina had the satisfaction of seeing him completely shocked. If she thought about it, she had this effect on him quite often.
"Why?" he suspiciously asked after regaining his bearing. It was becoming easier with practice.
"Well it all began—" Mina almost launched into the story about Rei's comments and the unfairness of them, but saw his hand itching at his side and reconsidered. "That is, I want to get to know you better. Personality-wise," she elucidated.
"Right," a slow smirk was stretching across his face. "Is this exclusive to my personality?"
Mina bulked. "Heavens no!" she burst.
"Then I accept your date. How about tonight? I still have a few things I need to finish," he motioned towards the overwhelmed desk.
"Uh no. You have been here four days. I really must be firm on this point. I want my date now."
But Kael was already being pulled out the door by his little whirlwind, who was chattering nonsense about some evil elevator (what?), her likes and dislikes, his cute actions as a dog, and other generalities that he could definitely get use to.
The phone was insistent on being picked up. Rei was sure it had been ringing for at least ten minutes if not more. But after the events of the previous week, all she wanted to do was keep in the stasis of a colorful dreamland. She rolled over in her bed and resolved sleepily to ignore the phone.
Five minutes later, it continued its marathon.
Rei stubbornly refused to move, despite the annoyance.
She tuned it out with thoughts of a question that had been circulating through her mind. Did she like Jedrek? What kind of question was that? Of course she didn't like him. She hated men. But did he count as a man, since he had been a dog to her first? Wow, that entire thought sounded so completely wrong.
Yes, Rei decided after some logical reasoning, since he was a dog first, and a man second, I am allowed to not hate him, maybe even like him a little bit.
The ringing had finally died done and all was silent enough for Rei to drift back into a half-sleep while debating the morals of her decision.
Then a loud banging startled the priestess straight out of bed and over the side.
"AH!" she shrieked, hitting a pitch that only mythological banshees were believed to have achieved.
"Thanks for inviting me in," the dog man of her mind stepped into existence, with a radiant smile. If Rei weren't a man-hating, banshee-sounding, extra-hyphenated reincarnated princess, she might, if she were about to die, have melted at that smile.
But, since she was all those things, and not about to die, she merely pursed her lips sourly and glowered. "I despise you."
Jedrek's smile grew. "I missed you too, baby," he cooed.
Rei stood up and stomped a foot in childish frustration. He was just so…so…ah! And to think she had almost deemed him all right to like. Ha! As if that was going to happen now.
For some reason though, she felt thoroughly aware that she was still dressed in pajamas, while he was immaculately clean in a rather fetching blue suit that brought out the color of his eyes.
Rei attempted to wait for him to state his reason of visiting so early in the morning, but he remained curiously silent, staring at her with an intensity she found uncomfortable.
"Why are you here?" she snapped out, patience gone.
"I tried calling," he said slowly, not looking away from her, "but there was no answer. I was in the neighborhood anyway, so I figured I'd stop by." That wasn't strictly true. He lived a good thirty minutes away, but he had driven down to her district, putting him in the neighborhood to see her.
Thirty measly minutes was worth the damned trip just to see the outraged expression as he all but knocked the door down. He loved waking her up. She was just too adorable for words. Not that he'd ever tell her that, of course. He valued his manhood and life.
At that moment, she was cutely sulking. "Why?"
"Oh, I wanted to ask you something," he shrugged, like it was unimportant. He would give her thirty seconds before she cracked and asked him what.
Twenty seconds. Ha.
He laughed, and she walked towards him with the intent of slapping the smugness off his face. He anticipated the move, however, and gathered her slight frame into his arms instead. This served the dual purpose of restraining her from harming him and he got simply to experience having her close to him.
"Let me go," she wiggled, then demanded, "and tell me why you came!"
Jedrek brought her closer, mostly to avoid a dangerous elbow, and said, "There's a party next week that my parents are throwing on my behalf," he downplayed, "and you're coming with me."
"What! For some reason, I didn't hear a question in that," she hissed, dangerously close to his ear. Jedrek wondered if she would bite him…and decided that having a bed so near was not so good.
"I wouldn't do that, sweetheart," he whispered silkily, a challenge in his words. For once, Rei didn't rise to the occasion, to Jed's disappointment.
"Jerk," she muttered instead, pulling back for the red zone.
Jedrek straightened. "Be ready by seven, a week from today," he was about to walk out before a thought occurred to him. "I believe," he began wickedly, "that a Mr. Hino was on the invitation list."
Rei managed not to flinch. "So?" she asked flatly, wondering what he was playing at. He knew she wouldn't go if her father was.
"Oh, my poor, sheltered girl!" he jovially clucked. "What better way to strike out a politician than to ruin his politics? His connections? His very image to the rest of society?"
"Let's not get dramatic," Rei said sarcastically, but the idea had merit. She wasn't above a little bit of vindication.
"You could say my family is the eyes and ears you have to impress to do well in high society…and that my word has a lot of weight right now. Reappearing does have its benefits."
"So, let me get this straight. You are going to take me to this party," she said the word with distaste, "dressed fancy."
"We will have a marvelous time, while simultaneously trashing…"
"…my father's reputation."
"Right in one."
Rei inwardly accepted the invite. Outwardly, she saw that Jed was getting a big head by receiving her agreement so often. She couldn't let that happen. "Maybe," she sniffed. "I will have to think if I really want to spend an entire evening as your date."
Jedrek clasped his hands to his chest. "You wound me, I'm a great date," he playfully pouted. He went to the door, stepping through it and calling over his shoulder, "I guess I will have to come back tomorrow to convince you some more."
"Don't count on it," Rei bantered.
Jedrek had a shine to his eyes. "Oh, my dear, I can be very persuasive," he winked in innuendo, and quickly exited before the little spit fire could clobber him.
Pursing her lips, Rei decided that this man had potential to be quite unlike anybody she had ever met before.
"Thanks for meeting me here," Zevin pulled Ami's chair out for her, waiting until she was seated before taking his own seat.
"This is a nice place," Ami commented, looking around the small café that she had never been to.
"They have the best coffee in town," Zevin confided.
"That is a very important attribute," she agreed.
The waiter arrived at their table with a smile and what-would-you-like. They both ordered a cup of coffee, no cream.
"Oh, you brave the unsweetened too?"
"More satisfying that way," Ami shyly admitted.
A twisted smile graced Zevin's face. "Hm," was all he said.
Adjusting her purse suddenly brought her reason for meeting him to the front of her mind. "Oh!" she exclaimed, "I have your book." She reached in her bag to retrieve the aforementioned item, slightly sad to part with the treasure.
"Amazing, isn't it?" he asked, watching her expressive eyes light up with passion as she nodded enthusiastically.
She was about to launch into a detail that had been nagging her about the vector for one of the diseases when Zevin carelessly waved a hand and told her: "Keep it."
A heavy crashing sounded in her head, making her jerk in surprise. "What?" she stuttered.
But Zevin wasn't paying attention, opting to look over her shoulder. "That will cost a lot," he motioned at the server who had just dropped a tray full of dishes.
"Yes," she agreed distantly, then, "why are you allowing me to keep this?"
"I have another copy," he studied his nails.
"Right," she breathed, practically hugging the book to her chest. "Thank you, then."
"It's no problem. I've been cooped up all week with my lab partners, who are just grateful to have me back. We've pretty much re-written the entire book—with spare copies this time—and added a few new ideas I thought of during my year of missing in action," he said, their coffee arriving a second later.
"Yes, I noticed that your thoughts on the structure of…"
They chatted about bio-chemistry and DNA for a while, eventually taking out pens and drawing diagrams on the napkins. It was two hours later, as well as several cups of coffee, before the energized pair wound down.
"That must have been an enlightening experience," Zevin said, referring to Ami's time as a lab technician in Germany.
"It was. If you ever have any questions about the genetic defects of primates, I'm the one to ask," she giggled, whether from the caffeine (which, if Ami thought about it, had never really affected her because of her alien genetics) or from intelligent delight, she wasn't sure.
"I do have one question," Zevin leaned forward, causing Ami to subconsciously do the same.
She waited in eager anticipation and was entirely gob smacked when he asked:
"What's your favorite kind of ice cream?"
Serena lay contentedly in her husband's arms on the couch, snuggled as close as she could get. "Do you think everything will work out?" she whispered into his chest.
Darien, who had been almost dozing peacefully, sighed in lazy resignation to having to talk things over.
"This entire business was absolutely crazy. But the girls really like the guys, even if Rei won't admit it," she continued, tracing odd shapes gently over his heart.
"They plan to escalate contact with each respective girl, if I remember correctly," Darien admitted. Then, "Hey!" as Serena jerked up excitedly.
"Really?" she breathed, "just like that?"
"Apparently," Darien huffed, trying to drag the pretty girl back into his arms where she belonged.
"I know Ami was going to lunch with Zevin…"
"He plans to get to know her," he mumbled.
"That's so sweet!" Serena cooed. "And Lita called me this morning to tell me about her new roommate!"
"Oh, right. Ner mentioned he had found a place to stay."
"Ner?" she teased. "Getting a little friendly?"
"Yes," Darien ignored the good-natured ribbing. "In fact, we plan to go out for drinks tonight."
"Really?" his wife, and commander of all things, raised a threatening brow.
"Yes?" he cursed himself for half-asking. So much for exerting what Jedrek insisted was supposed to be his 'manly requirements.' But what did he really know? He had to deal with Rei, after all.
Serena giggled and tweaked his nose. "Have fun, then. I think I will go visit with Rei. I missed her call earlier this morning since you were so persistent in your efforts to keep me hostage in bed!"
"Sometimes, you just can't have too much of a good thing."
"It was good, wasn't it?" Serena mock boasted.
"Very," Darien made a move to start something, but Serena deftly dodged, still wanting to partake in marital discussion.
"I know I'm irresistible to you, sweetie, but listen to me for a moment please."
"Mina stormed through Kael's office last night and…"
"…asked him on a date, I know."
The blonde pouted. "Unfair. I'm never going to be able to tell you anything, because you will already have heard it!"
"I doubt that. Guys don't talk that much."
"Will you seem to, and you only just met them, what, a week ago?" she pointed out. "But," she went on before he could get defensive and his masculinity ruffled, "it is rather adorable."
"Like a puppy. Speaking of puppies…"
"No. We've had enough dealings with dogs for at least a few years, if not decades."
"I don't know how you manage to work in a request for a puppy into every conversation we have. Didn't you learn from the cats and bunnies?...Don't look so shocked, of course I know about the bunnies. I don't think that smell will ever leave our bathroom."
"Oh, come on…"
And they lived, more or less, happily ever after.
One Very Last End Note: I am still stunned to have finished this. I had initially broken this chapter down into smaller ones, but decided it would be nice to read them all connected like this. I know that a lot of people wanted to read some more romance but it occurred to me that this story, the action/adventure/mystery, was already solved and over. It would be a disservice to the rest of the story to extend it now. So I gave a snap-shot of everyone's life at the moment, and how it will progress. That should do it.
I'm not sure what to do now, but I've been having some strong urges for another, very different, multi-chaptered story. Maybe, at one point in time, I will do some sequels to BM but not right away.
Thank you, everyone, for reading. I would love to answer any and all questions/comments. As always, reviews are never turned away. Happy days, folks.