GOTHAM HYATT

The following morning, a nervous Jordan arrived at Ashton's hotel suite, belatedly wondering if she was making a mistake.

After I raked him over the coals the other day he may have decided that trying to reconcile with me isn't worth the effort, she mused.

Steeling herself against the Duke's possible negative reaction, Jordan knocked on the door and a moment later Billings swung it open, glancing away from her as he spoke.

"It's about time…" he muttered impatiently.

"Excuse me?" Jordan prompted.

Billings swung his head to face her. "Dr. Wayne…my apologies," he replied. "I thought you were the bellhop."

"Is the Duke available?"

"Of course. Please come in."

Billings gestured for her to enter and Jordan walked past him into the main room of the suite just as Ashton exited the bedroom.

"Robert, please tell me that was the…bellhop…"

The Duke's voice trailed off as he saw Jordan and he gave her a small smile.

"Good morning, Jordan," he greeted. "This is a surprise."

"A pleasant one, I hope," Jordan returned.

"Of course. Is your husband with you?"

"No; Bruce is working out of the house today," Jordan told him.

"I'm glad he let you off your leash," Billings mumbled under his breath.

"Robert!" Ashton admonished irritably. "Show some respect."

Jordan permitted herself an amused smile. "That's quite all right, Your Grace," she assured him. "Bruce would be the first person to admit he is overprotective."

"He said to me that he has reason to be," Ashton recalled. "I'm assuming that he was referring to more than just the excess male attention a beautiful woman such as yourself must receive."

"Let's just say we both have reason to be overprotective of each other," Jordan evaded.

"I'll treat that as your polite way of telling me to mind my own business," Ashton responded lightly.

"That would be best."

"What brings you here this morning, Jordan?" Ashton inquired.

"I'm here to apologize for the way I tore into you the other day," Jordan answered and gave him a sheepish glance. "I have a rather notorious temper and sometimes I get a little out of control before I remember to rein it in."

"That must be your Scottish blood rearing its mercurial head," Ashton remarked. "My maternal grandmother was from Scotland and was known for her fiery temper."

Jordan smiled. "So that means I have you to thank for my short fuse as well as my blue eyes," she remarked.

Ashton smiled back. "I'm afraid so," he allowed.

"I am truly sorry for being so harsh with you when we met," Jordan said sincerely. "While I was understandably angry, that doesn't compare to the guilt you have to carry for what you did, or rather didn't do so long ago, and the indirect part that played in Joy Barrett's death."

"I will never know whether or not Joy might have survived childbirth if she and her family had the financial means for proper medical care," Ashton responded sadly, regret evident in his expression. "Even with today's technology, a few women do still unfortunately die giving birth. But at the very least, if I had acknowledged being the father of her child, her parents would have had the means to give her a proper burial and arrange a formal adoption for you."

"The Barretts' decision to abandon me on the front porch of the Kent farm set the course of my life in motion, so at least one good thing came out of the tragedy of Joy's death," Jordan remarked.

"Are you happy, Jordan?" Ashton asked suddenly. "I know I have no real right to ask, but I would like to know."

His daughter gave him the first full fledged smile he had seen from her. "I am happy beyond words," she responded. "I love my work and I am married to a man who is truly my soulmate. Bruce is a little rough around the edges, but underneath he has the gentlest heart I've ever known."

"He seems like a good man," Ashton agreed. "Alfred did a fine job."

"It's very good of you to say so, Your Grace."

Ashton smiled. "Under the circumstances do you think you could drop the formality?" he prompted. "Please call me Nicholas."

"All right, Nicholas."

"I hate to interrupt, Your Grace," Billings interjected, "but we really must get to the airport."

As if on cue, there was another knock at the door and Jordan glanced at Ashton. "That must be your MIA bellhop," she said.

"Thank you for coming here this morning, Jordan," Ashton replied with a warm smile. "I'm glad we had a chance to make amends."

"So am I," Jordan responded. "Have a safe trip back to England, Your…Nicholas."

"You and your husband are welcome to visit anytime," Ashton offered. "But please leave your black behemoth of a dog at home."

Jordan shook her head. "Like father, like son," she muttered.

"I'll take that as a compliment," Ashton stated. "Be well, Jordan."

"You too, Nicholas."

Father and daughter exchanged a handshake before Jordan bid farewell to Billings and exited the room. Once she was gone, Billings glanced at Ashton.

"Well color me surprised," he quipped. "It would seem a leopard can change her spots."

"I'm sure Jordan would appreciate your choice of analogy, Robert."

"Are you certain you don't have any more illegitimate daughters running around in the world, Your Grace?" Billings pressed. "If any of them are like Dr. Wayne, I'll marry her out of hand and give you enough grandchildren to make you blush."

Ashton laughed. "I understand the sentiment, old friend, but unless you want your life to come to a premature end I suggest you refrain from those kinds of comments in the presence of Bruce Wayne."

"I quite agree."

WAYNE MANOR – FOUR MONTHS LATER

Returning home after a long day at the office, Bruce was looking forward to spending a quiet evening at home with his wife. Alfred was out for the evening on a date with Leslie Thompkins and had given the staff the night off to allow Jordan and Bruce a rare opportunity to spend time alone. As he wandered through the house, Bruce could hear Jordan's muffled voice coming from the backyard and he made his way there to join her. She was playing fetch with the dogs when he arrived and glanced over expectantly when she heard his approach.

"Hi, Handsome," she greeted.

"Hi yourself," Bruce returned.

"How was work?" Jordan asked.

"Busy," Bruce responded. "I'm looking forward to spending a relaxing evening in the company of my beautiful wife."

"Works for me. Alfred had one of the cooks prepare a salad and some pasta before he left so you won't have to choke down one of my sad attempts at cooking."

"Remind me to give him a raise."

The dogs came over to greet Bruce then, and Hero obediently sat down beside him to await attention while the puppy Jordan had dubbed Trouble fell into a wriggling mass at his feet. As he reached over to pet them, Bruce glanced at Jordan.

"How come you don't fall at my feet in a slobbering heap when I come home?" he asked dryly.

"I must have missed that part of the wedding vows," Jordan quipped in return. "If your keen mind isn't too tired from your busy work day, I have a riddle for you."

"I'm listening."

"What do you get when you cross a pretty little farm girl from Kansas who has a temper that can draw blood, with an intelligent, handsome billionaire who has a slightly milder temper of his own?" Jordan inquired.

"A rich farmer with a high IQ who is prone to temper tantrums and looks good in a dress?" Bruce prompted drolly.

"No. There are actually two possible answers: a boy, or a girl."

Jordan's tone was deceptively nonchalant so it took a moment for her remark to register. As soon as it did, Bruce's eyes widened in surprise.

"You're pregnant?" he asked in a near whisper.

Jessica nodded. "About ten weeks."

Bruce shifted his gaze downward and ever so slowly extended one of his hands to place it on her still flat stomach. "Is everything okay?"

"Everything is perfect," Jordan assured him. "I saw Dr. Talbot this afternoon and he says I should have no problems carrying the babies to term."

Bruce lifted his gaze back to hers. "Babies?" he echoed.

"I'm carrying twins," Jordan revealed with a delighted smile.

"We're really going to be parents," Bruce said in wonderment.

Jordan gently placed her palm against his cheek. "Yes, we are."

EPILOGUE

Six and a half months later the following announcement appeared in the Gotham Herald:

"First time parenthood is twice as nice for Gotham's own reformed playboy Bruce Wayne. The billionaire industrialist and his wife, Dr. Jordan Wayne of PEACE Corporation, welcomed their first children early Friday morning. Fraternal twins Evan Alfred and Kaya Martha entered the world about two and half minutes apart, weighing in at 5 lbs. 2 oz. and 4 lbs. 8 oz. respectively, following a relatively easy labor for their mother. No word yet on whether or not the Waynes infamous oversized family dogs Hero and Trouble will be recruited for babysitting duties. However, one wonders if the sales price for pictures of the newest members of the Wayne dynasty will be a figure worthy of the GNP of a small European country."

Finis.