Epilogue

Ric fired, his face a mask of satisfaction. He turned to me and handed me his gun with a smile. Smiling back, I took it, but not before using the opportunity to quickly give him a deep kiss. Finally, I broke it and pushed him away from me so I could take my shot. Slowly, I raised my arm and pointed the gun at the one thing truly responsible for my near death experience in the Sahara.

I pulled the trigger.

God, that felt good! Gloating triumphantly at my victim I laughed. "Take that!" I exclaimed with satisfaction and, just because it was such a good feeling, fired another shot at it.

With a smile I turned back to Ric and handed him his gun back.

Stealing a kiss himself he gave me a lopsided grin while he tucked the gun away and turned to Tank, who was already waiting impatiently, and gave him the green light to go on ahead.

Tank signaled back and disappeared through the hatch. Ric took my hand and let me away so we wouldn't be in Tank's way. He slipped his hands around my waist while I leaned against his strong chest to watch the show. Almost immediately I felt his fingers slipping under the rim of my shirt to rub small circles on my stomach. I shuddered, need flaming up and I couldn't help but moan, leaning more into my husband. I heard as his breath caught and most importantly felt his own growing need pressing against me. Closing my eyes, I wriggled myself against him and now it was his turn to moan.

A discreet cough from the side though stopped us before we got lost even more in our own little sex filled world. With a deep sigh I looked over to my dad. What did he want? I've been ordered rest, naming no sex, for the last three weeks and Ric and I only had been able to make love again last night. Needless to say that we were both pretty sleep deprived, not that we had any complains about that. And one night hardly could make up for an entire month of no sex! We had a lot to catch up on. Especially after what we both had to go through! So I thought our control was even ramarkably right now.

But Dad just gave Ric this look fathers give the men of their daughters since the beginning of humankind and Ric promptly loosened his hold on me and slipped his hands out from under my shirt.

I glared at my father. "Dad!" I growled.

His stern eyes turned to mine. "I cut Ricardo a lot of liberties, but I will not stand here and watch him groping my little girl."

"Well, then why don't you just go and safe the world somewhere far away so we can make out all we want?" I grumpily suggested.

Ric's chest behind me rumbled with silent laughter.

Dad shrugged. "Because I'm your father and supposed to make Ricardo's life a living hell. And because I want to see this show. Besides, the world is safe for the moment," he added with a smile.

I gave him another glare, but smiled inwardly. I think Dad loved that he could talk freely about his job with me now. Well, as freely as a NSA agent can do that.

Unbelievable. My dad the spy! I didn't believe him when he had told me at first. It took a lot to convince me that this was really the truth and not some joke of the guys. Only after I saw his badge, spoke with his men and let Mom and his boss confirm it to me did I finally believe it. But how cool was that?! My father a spy, untiringly saving the world time and time again! No wonder I fell so hard for Ric when I met him. And found my way to bounty hunting for that matter.

It was in my blood.

That didn't mean though that I wasn't still angry with Dad for not telling me the truth earlier. Really, that I first had to get kidnapped and nearly killed by one of his enemies before he spilled the beans to me! I was a bit disappointed about that. It hurt. But I knew that soon, the sting would disappear. And it was actually excellent 'guilt-evoking' material! So yeah, I'll forgive him – soon. First I wanted to let myself get spoiled a bit more though.

The deafening roar of a motor made me look back over to the slowly approaching Tank. Eager to not miss a second of the show I straightened up a bit, quickly looking up to Ric, whose eyes held a strange shining. I looked inquiringly at Dad, only to see that he wore an identical expression. Like totally gogglying. I frowned, looked back to Ric and he nearly had saber coming out of the corner of his mouth! Shaking my head, I turned my head back front. Men! Really, give them a tank and they go all dopey gooey, even the best of them…

Though I had to admit it had something to see the massive vehicle rolling towards us, picking up speed by the second. I guessed it really must be an exhilarating feeling to have such power under you, in your hands. Hmm, actually strange that Ric let Tank have the honor and had not insisted on driving the tank himself. On the other hand, we were here to take revenge and you really saw the final death of the damn cucumber way better from the outside. Besides, I think we had to return the tank only tomorrow. A lot of time for Ric teaching me the ropes and making a little trip in the tank. After all, you never know when it could come in handy to know how to steer a tank. Perhaps I could even convince him to let me shoot something to hell.

With a smile I snuggled closer to Ric, his hold tightening automatically. He laid his chin on my shoulder and silently we watched as the panzer mercilessly squished the damn cucumber once and for all. My heart lightened and I let out a loud whoohoop! Finally! Ric laughed and quickly gave me a lingering kiss onto my neck, right over his mark there from last night, sending jingles all through my body. We watched as Tank made a turn and came back, rolling another time over the last remains of the stupid cucumber.

Probably it was crazy to feel such euphoria at taking revenge on a cucumber. But really. First the damn thing caused a major fight in my marriage, a fight that could have put a real rift between Ric and me. Because of that fight, namely because of the damn cucumber, I've went on a run and Ric let me go and it was a child's play for Moknar to kidnap me and nearly kill me. Now, I knew that Moknar would probably have found a way to get me anyway. And it was nothing new for me to nearly die, though it had been real close this time. Not to mention the long healing process after the merciless sun of Africa had nearly burned my entire skin and the heat stroke. The doctors in the hospital in Alger had told us that only a few more hours in the sun and there would have been no rescue for me. If not for the Kel Rela…

Before we've flown back to the States we had gone back to them to thank them for saving me. Locals had told us that they would take affront if we offered them something for their help, but still, Ric and Dad had organized a cargo load of medicines. And indeed they first didn't want to know anything about that. But Ric simply said that this was not a gift for their help but for all the people in the future they could safe like they had saved me. Finally, Andais accepted them.

And of course I know that we probably would have had that fight sooner or later. The topic would have come up sometime, like it had after Ric's comment about my craving for a cucumber that morning. We would have discovered our so profound different views about this particular question and had gotten into the same big fight. The only good thing about it was that it had happened before it already had been too late, giving me time to work on a solution for the problem. I know I havn't changed my opinion, never would. But if that near death experience had shown me anything then it was that I simply needed Ric. And as he couldn't live without me, as this experience had shown loud and clearly to him as well, I'd need to find some compromise with him. The next time something like this happened, Ric would have more to live for than just me, more reasons to not simply despair and give up. I needed him to. What the guys, especially Dad and Tank, had told me about how Ric had reacted to my kidnapping and even worse to believing my supposed death… it scared the hell out of me. I didn't want that responsibility, literally holding his life in my hands. So I'd talk to him. We'd find a way to combine his needs with mine.

We had avoided the topic so far. We've talked about a lot of things, about my kidnapping, my experience in the Sahara, his search for me, his desperation. But we never talked about the fight that had started everything, nor did we approach the tricky issue. Still, I sensed that like me, Ric was thinking about it as well and I actually thought that this episode had made him become at least a bit more open about this special topic than before. That, and perhaps also to see how Dad had managed to solve the same problem Ric had. I wasn't sure, but I think Ric once even went to talk to Dad about it. And I felt that all would turn out good in the end. It would still take some time, long talks and discussions, probably also a few more fights, but in the end we would overcame that obstacle like we had every single one else in our relationship. I just knew it.

But it was still the damn cucumber that triggered all these events and after cursing it time and time again it just felt good to kill it once and for all as some sort of closing. Besides, who could guess what the damn cucumber would cause next? Nope, it was best it got taken care of.

Tank had stopped the tank and had climbed out of it with a big grin. He studied the remains of his victim on the ground, then turned proudly to us. "Now that's what I call compost!" he exclaimed and high fived with Ric.

Ric just grinned.

I freed myself from Ric's arms and went to Tank to give him a big hug. "Thanks, Tank."

He returned the hug. "Nothing to thank for, Bombshell. That was fun," he said as he released me.

Dad nodded. "Yeah, fun it was. And I hoped you enjoyed it, Forrester, because this was the last time for a while to come. I believe I owe you a lesson," he casually said, his eyes hardening so that even I shivered a bit in fear. "The lesson starts now. Get into the car," he ordered and turned to me and Ric. "Manoso, don't lose my little girl again."

"I won't, Sir," Ric responded seriously.

"You better," Dad calmly said then hugged me. "See you at dinner tomorrow, Kitten."

I nodded. "Thanks, Dad," I whispered in his ear and gave him a kiss onto the cheek.

His hold tightened. "Love you," he whispered back.

Tears swam in my eyes and I quickly closed them. "Love you more," I whispered back, like I had always done as a kid.

Dad released me then and gave me a last smile before he cleared his face to a stern, irritated mask and turned back to Tank, frowning. "What are you waiting for? Move your lazy ass," he ordered, walking away.

I have to say it's almost scary to see a man Tank's size blanching like that. Tank threw us a panicked, pleadingly look.

Ric shrugged his shoulders. "Can't help you there, buddy," he said sympathetically.

I suppressed a giggle and made an effort to look compassionate as well.

"Forrester!" Dad bellowed from his car.

Hanging his head, Tank slowly started for that direction. A few feet away he turned back to us. "Remember, I want a cremation. And look after my plants, yeah?" he said to Ric.

Ric solemnly nodded.

"Forrester!"

With a sigh and a last sad puppy dog look toward us he trotted over to dad's car. I waited until they disappeared before I burst out, laughing hard.

Ric smiled as well, but indeed looked a bit worried. "You think he'll survive?" he asked, only half joking.

I shook my head, laughing even harder. "Ric, of course. Dad won't hurt him." Ric still looked doubtful. Calming down, I raised my eyebrows. "You don't really think that my father would hurt him, don't you?"

"Babe, I've seen Icewolf in action. That man is capable of anything."

I rolled my eyes. "Tank will only get a lesson." Remembering some of the 'lessons' I had received from my dad in my life, I shuddered. Dad really knew how to make his point. "A lesson he'll never forget. But Dad won't hurt him. He likes him."

Ric just looked incredulously at me.

"He does," I assured him. "And he likes you."

Now he raised an eyebrow. "Hardly. I'm the one banging his daughter, remember?"

At the word 'banging' I suddenly got flashes from the night before and I'm pretty sure I blushed, judging Ric's cocky wolfgrin. I stepped to him and stroked with my fingers over his chest. "Legally banging me, remember. That's all it takes. That, and being an ex soldier, liking sports, driving good cars even if they are not American and being nice to me," I said hushed. "Besides, I don't see you banging me right now."

His wolfgrin turned predatory and he lowered his face towards me. "That I can change right now."

I smiled suggestively, raising my lips towards him. "Ever made it in a tank?" I asked innocently.

"Babe." His eyes darkened, his arms seized me against him and he crashed his lips against mine and I forgot everything but my man in my arms.

The End


(Author's Note: Voilà, this baby is finished! I hope you enjoyed it! As it is, thank you so much for all of you who reviewed and let me know how you liked it! It's the salt in every writer's motivation I think.

I still have some old stories on the backburner and I'm planning to post them all - along with at least one new one I'm working on. For now, those who liked this one, look out for 'Charming the Wizard'. Thanks again and until soon!)