Lots of hugs go out to latetolove for being the best beta in the world! (If any of you read the Stephanie Plum books, you should totally check out her fic.)
I was able to get the spot in the summer course that I needed in order to catch up on my credits. So when the fall semester starts, I'll be at the same place as the rest of the sophomores.
It means we won't be able to come home for the summer. But I promise we'll visit often on the weekends, and of course we'll be there for the wedding in August.
Mom says she and Phil are going to be flying in the week after next. They'll probably stay here on campus. Most of the students will be gone by then, so it won't be a problem for them to take an empty room.
I'm sending an envelope of pictures back with Embry and Leah. Count them. There should be twenty-four (the doubles are for Billy). If there aren't, check Embry's glove compartment. Leah probably stashed some.
I took the pen between my teeth as I folded the piece of notebook paper and slid it inside the envelope I had borrowed from Vanessa's desk drawer that morning. The Stregheria academic emblem—a hand with the earth in the middle of the palm—was pressed into the bottom right corner. Reluctantly I eyed the shiny strip of adhesive on the flap and considered just tucking it into the bottom because Charlie really wouldn't mind.
"Don't be such a baby."
The envelope was snatched from me hands, freeing them just in time for me to grab at the slats of the porch swing as it swung violently under Leah's additional—and abrupt—weight. Propping her feet up on the porch railing, she leaned back with the envelope at her lips as she nonchalantly licked the tacky tab.
I cringed and looked away.
"You gave birth almost four months ago. You're not allowed to keep being picky about tastes and textures. I'm over that shit," Leah muttered and held up the sealed envelope. "Who's this for? Seth? Have you finally agreed to his elopement proposal? I hear Vegas is hot and dry this time of year."
"I've never been able to stand the taste of that stuff," I defended. From the corner of my eye I caught her snickering. "And the letter is for Charlie. But please tell your brother that I thought his note was very sweet and thoughtful, but I think he needs to focus on making it through the next two years of high school."
"Hey, soon he's going to by your brother, too. That means you have to start taking credit for his idiocy."
I shook my head and relaxed back into the bench, allowing Leah to rock us slightly with her ridiculously long legs. "Seth's not an idiot. He's just very…loyal to his brothers, even if the sense of duty was misplaced this time. I thought it was sort of cute the way he asked."
Leah rolled her eyes as she shoved the letter into her front pocket. "God. Maybe you should marry him. No woman is going to think that highly of him ever again."
I laughed, letting the sound linger when it didn't catch painfully in my chest or come out sounding forced. "At least he didn't have a ring."
"You're right. Embry is the bigger idiot."
"I heard that," Embry called from twenty yards away, not bothering to look up from where he stood over the engine of my truck, the raised hood just barely missing the top of his head. He was gesturing and commenting on different greasy bits of metal, his rapt audience a 15-week-old baby happily sucking on one of his large knuckles.
It was a sight that made my heart stumble and chase inside my ribs. Because although he was an inch shorter and tad broader in the shoulders, and there wasn't hair falling into his eyes, Embry bore a remarkable resemblance to Jacob. He smiled just as often. And when I saw him holding our son that way—close enough to protect but not enough to shelter—I saw Jacob more clearly than I had in the past year.
It made my insides ache, and I smiled—because I still could.
Embry turned from the truck and walked up the driveway and porch steps. When he made it to where we were slumped in the swing, he hip-checked Leah's feet off the railing so that he could sit on top of it. "EJ and I have diagnosed the problem," he said to me proudly, running his fingers through fine tuffs of dark that topped a round baby face studded with wide brown eyes.
I opened my mouth to inquire after the condition of my truck—which had stopped running two days ago—but Leah's scowl shut me up. "The next time you call him EJ," she said coolly, "I'm going to rip off your dick and feed it to an orca. His name is Ephraim. If Bella wanted him to be called EJ, she would have named him EJ. But she didn't."
"Well, I can think of lots of names people call you that I'm pretty sure never got Sue's approval. I would say a few examples out loud, but I'm a good godfather and don't curse in front of my godson. I think Aunt Leah needs to have her mouth washed out with soap. Don't you agree, EJ?"
A balloon of spit bubbles dribbled down his chin and onto Embry's hand.
"Clearly an affirmative."
"No," Leah snapped, "smiles are 'affirmative.' Crying is 'negative,' and spit bubbles are 'someone get me out of the hands of this giant dingo-wishes-he-had-shit-for-brains before I cut a bitch.'"
Embry frowned deeply, looking wounded. "Ephraim would never say that about me. He loves his Papa Embry. We tummy time together."
"He does love you," I soothed, pulling a burp cloth from over my shoulder. I stood so that I could wipe at Ephraim's wet face. "He loves both of you very much and would hate to see you fighting over him."
"Oh, he knows we're just—poop!" Embry launched to his feet, holding Ephraim up in the air with a beaming smile. "He pooped!"
Leah rolled her eyes. "As long as it doesn't come out solid—"
"It's fine, I know," Embry mumbled while rewarding Ephraim with a kiss on the cheek. "But I was a little worried, buddy, when Mommy told me it'd been five days since the last one. I thought maybe Aunt Leah had given you one of the sticks she likes to keep shoved up her—"
Leah was on her feet, and Embry was rushing in the front door before the rest of the sentence ever saw daylight. I assumed that was Embry volunteering to change the diaper.
I bit my lip at the sight of the mud he'd unknowingly tracked inside but reasoned that it wasn't a big deal as long as I got it wiped up before Vanessa got back from Serbia on Wednesday. Leopold wouldn't care; he didn't even use the front door—he planesbent in and out of his room, probably from a desire not to run into me and be forced into human interaction.
When I had arrived in Olympia with Charlie last fall under the pretense of attending Stregheria's new satellite campus there, I hadn't been sure what to expect or how far Vanessa would go to keep up the hoax. So when Charlie had pulled past the security gate onto a gravel private drive that easily rivaled the length and wooded beauty of the one winding back to the Cullens' property in Forks, one of my thumbnails was chewed to the quick while the other was caught between my teeth and disappearing at an alarming rate.
I had gasped when the large, regal structure—that was more mansion than house or professional building—came into view after a final bend through the trees. Two stories of pale stone chiseled into a distinct centerpiece flanked by two large wings. The Entire structure was adorned with large, shuddered windows and topped with an additional floor peeking through smaller panes of glass set into the gradual gray slate roof. It was something I imagined belonged in a European countryside and not on the outskirts of a mid-sized American city that saw more clouds than sunlight. I had been so distracted counting the chimneys that I almost didn't notice the other men and women my age with their families—paid actors, I would later be informed—milling about the manicured lawn or Vanessa walking towards us from the shadow of the front door.
Embry called it the x-mansion. Leah called it the slayer lair. Vanessa called it our cover story.
Standing on the front porch of the renovated guesthouse, which moonlighted as a suite of dorm rooms whenever Charlie or Renee visited, I could just make out the roof of the manner over the barrage of trees that flooded the majority of the "institute's" property. I had only been inside the manner a handful of times after Vanessa gave Charlie and I the grand tour the first day of our arrival—twice to browse the library which accounted for half of the second floor and once during a mistaken planesbending when I had been aiming for the roof but arrived in a third floor bathroom. Vanessa, Leopold, Ephraim and I all had rooms in the guest house where there wasn't so much extra space to make you feel alone.
"Have you figured out how you're telling Charlie yet?"
I turned away from the gray morning to face Leah, who had taken up Embry's vacated position on the rail. I shrugged, trying to conceal the concern I felt over the eminent big reveal. "Sue and I are going to sit down with him together when I go back to Forks after Renee's visit. Technically he's not allowed to be told about the Pack until after they're married, but the Elders agreed that if I'm going to tell Charlie I'm a witch, there's no using hiding the fact his stepchildren are familiars."
"Werewolves," Leah corrected.
"Poodles on steroids. In Quil's case anyway."
I grinned downward with a shake of my head. It would be a rough conversation, I imagined, even with Sue there to temper Charlie's reaction. Telling Charlie about my pregnancy had been painless for me. I knew Charlie. I had known that he wouldn't get angry, or yell, or criticize. With Jacob's loss still fresh and bleeding, the gain of a life was a salve that cleaned grime from the ugly wound. Charlie had been flustered certainly and even upset that I was in that position at all—pregnant, 18, and single. But whenever either of us said the words "Jacob's baby," I saw the same flicker of wonder and hope I felt burn inside of me at the realization that Jacob was going to stay with us a bit longer; we just had to learn to love him in a new way.
But there was no consolation in learning that his daughter had stopped aging and was part of a world he would never like to dream of and could never be a complete part of. I had decided that Charlie only need know the basics of my circumstances, just enough information so that I could safely continue to see him face-to-face 10 years down the road—I wanted him to keep being a part of mine and Ephraim's life. But there would be no talk of Hell and no talk of my impending run-ins with vampires.
Vanessa, even though she was reluctant about me coming clean to Charlie at all, had agreed with my tactic; the less he knew, the better.
Renee was a battle for another day.
"I think he's going to have a hard time accepting it," I sighed. "Charlie likes things to be simple."
"Then he's marrying into the wrong family." The amused quirk of her lips softened the comment.
"No," I disagreed, "I think having you guys there will be helpful. He'll see the good side of things in person."
Leah seemed to consider that. "So you're really not coming back to stay, are you?"
Beside her I leaned my palms against the railing, felt the support of her proud tone in the solid wood beneath my hands. "No. I've only just started here. And," I said a bit more hesitantly, "I kind of like this place. I'm actually good at this." Gesturing to the yard and trees, I indicated the thirty acres of land that had become my alternate training ground and home over the last several months. "I feel like I could really do this, and I could do it well. I need to do it well. And Vanessa…understands that."
"Don't you get bored out of your mind? Vanessa's gone half the time and Tall, Dark, and Silent up there is only good for looking at—when we even see him at all. You know, that teleporting thing is really fucking annoying and rude."
I rolled my eyes, ignoring her last comment. In the sizeable amount of time she and Embry had spent at Stregheria over a number of weekends, Leah had developed some unexplainable attraction to Leopold. Her complete inability to own up to the crush resulted in the buildup of frustrated energy, which she always unleashed on me at opportune moments. "I have Ephraim," I said. "He keeps me plenty busy."
"The boy's disgustingly cute, but he doesn't speak English."
"Well, I always have the trees to talk to," I muttered sarcastically.
Leah leaned back and let out a bark of laughter. "You said it; not me."
"Hey, I did it once, and it was an exercise to learn how to connect to the physical plane of—"
She held up a hand to stop me. "Please don't ruin the mental image I have of you sitting in front of a tree, reading it Thoreau while discussing the devastating effects of deforestation in the North West. Okay? It's my happy place."
I huffed and turned around so that our elbows were nearly brushing as we looked at the front of the house. "I think Embry really is planning on moving down here for the summer."
"I know he is."
"And what about you? What are you doing after classes end this week?"
"Forcing Embry to let me drive because I am not spending another 3 hours listening to him bang away at the steering wheel to Styx and Heart. He hums like a freight train. This is why I never let him drive us in the first place."
I straightened, the building anticipation causing me to bite my lip. "You're coming down for the summer, too? What about helping Sue plan the wedding?"
Bobbing her head, Leah shrugged. "It's going to be small. She just wants something simple on the beach. Low maintenance."
A detailed mental image flashed briefly across my consciousness. The beach of La Push. Jacob standing, the setting sun at his back. A stranger holding a small book. Ephraim, several years older, standing at his father's hip. Jacob reaching out toward me, smiling.
"Plus," Leah continued on, unaware, "Vanessa's paying an indecent amount of money to get the chance to 'study' us while we're here. When she offered I had her show me what she meant to do on Embry. All she did was meditate three feet away while he watched the Clone Wars. Embry was just as dumb afterward as he was before hand, so I figured it was safe. I'll be able to afford mom and Charlie a nice wedding gift."
I closed my eyes and tried to see Jacob and the beach again, but there was nothing. Letting out a shaky breath, I forced myself to refocus on Leah's words. "And…and Sam's okay with you guys being here for that long?"
"The fuck should I care?" Her eyes hardened.
"I only meant as far as the Pack…"
"We've had a run in with one vampire in the last year. They don't need the numbers anymore."
And that was the end of that conversation.
We stood in silence until Leah almost begrudgingly mumbled, "It's raining in Binghamton."
I sighed, but nodded gratefully for the heads up. I hadn't thought to check the weather before leaving.
The front door opened and Embry emerged with Ephraim lying against his left shoulder, the car seat and diaper bag in his free hand. Ephraim was fighting sleep, his eyes half closed and his tiny hand grasping weakly at the sleeve of Embry's t-shirt. As he was transferred into my arms I felt the warm spike of relief and security that meant I was holding the most importing thing in my world.
Ephraim's dark hair was soft down against my cheek. His scent was all baby, and I thought that as he got older that—the clean, tiny scent of baths in the sink—would be one of the things I would miss the most. His scent and the slow, toothless smiles that he shared as if they were secrets.
Tightening my hold I briefly closed my eyes and wished he would stay small and all mine forever.
"Your truck will be running by the time you get back," Embry said confidently, and I thanked him again for agreeing to take a look at it in the first place. It had been making strange, wailing noises when I drove it to and from the grocery store earlier in the week. He and Leah had used it as an excuse to spend a couple of days at Stregheria, something they did often on the weekends that I didn't borrow one of Vanessa's more baby friendly cars to take to Forks.
"Make sure you don't leave too late," I cautioned. "You have school tomorrow. Both of you."
"Such a mom," Embry teased as he leaned over to grab me in half a hug. His lips brushed the back of Ephraim's head. "Bye, buddy."
As he stepped away, Leah slid in to take his place, gently peeling Ephraim from my shoulder before crouching down to lay him in the car seat. I breathed a sigh of relief when he didn't start crying—he hated the car seat—and as Leah did up all the buckles of the harness, she talked to me in low tones.
"You sure you want to do this, B? No one expects you to. You don't owe th—"
"I want to go," I said quickly. I had woken up this morning wanting to go, and I couldn't come up with a reason why I shouldn't. It would be nice, I told myself. And they had left an open invitation.
"You're nothing if not masochistic," Leah muttered wonderingly. With Ephraim secure in his seat and the shade pulled up, she stood and gazed down at him with a soft expression and relaxed hands. It was as close to adoring as Leah came.
"Thank you," I said earnestly, and she nodded absently.
"Oh," Embry said, "don't forget these." He handed me the diaper bag and the red umbrella that Vanessa always tucked in the front closet.
Unfurling the large canopy, I held it above my head and bent to grasp the handle of Ephraim's car seat. I smiled at Embry and Leah who were standing expectantly a few feet away. "I'll see you guys soon. Have a safe trip back."
I cast a final look at the driveway where the Rabbit was parked silently beside my rusty old truck. I felt my lips quirk as my eyes slipped closed.
The soft pelting sound of rain against nylon was the first discernable clue to my success, followed quickly by the temperature drop that was emphasized by a swift up-swirl of wind that batted at my hair. Eyes open, I quickly readjusted the umbrella so that it more effectively shielded Ephraim's seat from the light drizzle.
Then I risked looking up at the stately, red brick house looming before me. A tingling sensation crept along my spine, and I knew I was at the right place. Pride swelled fleetingly inside me at having managed to successfully planesbend across the country with such accuracy. It was the third longest distance I had ever attempted, and even though Vanessa had taught me early on that distance meant nothing next to purpose and concentration, I considered it no small accomplishment and took a moment to enjoy the small thrill that sent my fingers trembling.
But then my nerves were quick to set in, and the shaking moved to my legs as I moved stiltedly up the steps to the front landing and jabbed tentatively at the doorbell. The door was pulled open before the musical intonation was even complete
Esme's surprised smile was a ray of sunshine that soothed away all lingering anxiety. I stood taller under its warmth and didn't feel that my attempt to return the gesture was feeble. "Esme, it's so good to see you."
"It's been too long," she agreed, and began to maternally wave me in out of the rain. "Oh, come in! I'll take your—" Her gaze fell to the Ephraim, who had started dozing off in his seat. She raised a delicate hand to her chest as if her heart had suddenly leapt back to life from its dormant state. "Yes," she whispered, eyes still on the baby, "I'll…I'll take your umbrella for you and put it in the mud room to dry."
Slowly stepping inside, I hesitantly relinquished my damp umbrella to Esme, who received it almost absently as she rotated her body to continue staring at Ephraim in amazement. We stood silently in the entryway for several moments longer than was customary, the distinct sound of water drops rolling off the umbrella and onto the hardwood as an empty, staccato tune. It might have been uncomfortable had I not been able to completely comprehend—and empathize with—the wonder and longing that rooted Esme to her spot.
It took Carlisle's smooth voice to break the spell of our vigil. "Bella, we weren't expecting your visit," he said but looked immensely pleased as he moved toward us from the wide staircase he'd just descended.
Esme blinked and seemed suddenly to remember herself. She raised her eyes reluctantly from the car seat to me and then to Carlisle but mustered a genuine smile. "Yes, we're so happy that you came. I'll just set this out to dry." Clutching the umbrella with renewed purpose, she set off down a hallway to my left.
Carlisle watched her go with gentle understanding. "Esme loves children," he explained. "But she doesn't often get the chance to indulge in spending time with any so young."
I nodded and silently contemplated an existence where having children was impossible and Ephraim didn't exist. It was a painful fantasy.
"May I?" Carlisle gestured to the handle of the car seat, which was growing heavy in my arms.
I relinquished my hold gratefully. "Yes, thank you."
He led us around a wall into an open, modern living room that was done with the same hardwood floors as the hallway but decorated with a couple of light, sophisticated area rugs. I was quickly able to ascertain that this house was not as large as the one they kept in Forks, but it was just as elegant and well-kept.
Esme returned to join us just as Carlisle set Ephraim on the coffee table, and she hovered over his sleeping form almost anxiously, her hands clasped tightly in front of her as if restraining them from reaching forward.
I smiled. "You can take him out if you want."
She looked slightly nervous at her desires having been so easily assumed. "He's sleeping. I really shouldn't."
I sat down on one end of the couch, visibly relinquishing any desire to take him for myself. "If he wakes up, he might cry, but I'm used to it, so as long as you don't mind…"
"No, no," Esme said quickly. "I really don't mind crying. But I don't want to make him cold."
"I have a blanket." I pulled the flannel like material from the diaper bag.
She accepted it but continued to dither uncertainly.
Amused by his wife's behavior, Carlisle smiled and moved to undo the harness's buckles himself.
Esme swatted his hand away. "I've got it."
Chuckling, Carlisle retreated to the couch as well, sitting on the end opposite of me. We both watched Esme work carefully to release the clasps and then lift him slowly from seat so not to startle him awake. She swathed and cradled him expertly in her arms, supporting his head while the majority of his weight rested against her forearms. Eyes round with adoration, Esme eased herself down into Carlisle's side.
"Oh, Bella, he's the most beautiful thing." She smiled as Carlisle used a finger to brush dark lock of hair that was beginning to curl. "He looks just like his father. Except for the ears. Those are yours."
"He's got a lot of Jacob in him," I agreed, my voice tripping almost indiscernibly over his name.
A shiver shot down my spine and all three of us turned toward the front of the house. A beat later there was the distinguished sound of a garage door opening.
Esme sat up a little straighter. "The kids are home from their trip."
My anxiety made an impressive comeback. "Hunting?" I tried to ask casually, and Carlisle nodded.
"They spent the weekend in Vermont."
I quickly tried to gather my composure for the encounter about to occur. I wasn't expecting it to go badly by any means, but it had been nearly a year since I had seen any of them in person, and the prospect of coming face-to-face with Edward always managed to release a rabble of butterflies inside my stomach.
A door opened down the same hallway Esme had disappeared through earlier with my Umbrella. Emmet's carefree voice carried to where we were seated. "Why does it smell like Bella in here?"
Already wound tight with nerves, I laughed sharply. In a flash of speed, Emmet's broad form appeared in the entrance of the living room. His eyes widened when they landed on me. With a loud guffaw and without a moment's warning he swooped down to pick me up, holding me against his body as he spun us in a jubilant circle. I clutched at his shoulders with a yelp.
When he'd set me back on my feet he gave me a look-over from an arm's length away. "You've filled out nicely," he commented in surprise.
"Emmet," Rosalie's and Esme's voices hissed simultaneously.
Shaking my head, I waved away their concern. "It's from the pregnancy. I'm still losing baby weight."
"Baby?" His eyebrows crinkled momentarily before shooting up to his hairline. He pointed an accusing finger at my stomach. "You had a baby."
"Emmett, you dolt, you knew that already." Rosalie, who remained standing—a model of perfection—in the hall, scowled at her husband.
"Well, yeah," he said with a roll of his eyes. "I knew that in theory she had one, but I didn't think about her actually having it. I never even got to see her all big and round. Where is he—man! Look at him! What a shrimp." Emmett moved to his mother's side not occupied by Carlisle and peered down in curiosity.
Rosalie looked almost as if she was considering joining the impromptu gathering but ultimately turned on her heel toward the stairs. I sighed but hadn't really expected anything more from her.
Chatter filled the house as the distant door opened once again, but it was caught off as by Alice's high, inquiring voice. "Bella?"
Alice, still dependably small and bright, hastened to my side with a ballerina's grace. She pulled me into a hug with a strength belied her dainty size. I squeezed back, grinning into her shoulder. "Didn't see me coming?" I teased.
"Oh, you think you're so clever." She pulled back far enough to beam at me. I knew that it irritated her that I had eventually faded from her foresight completely, but as long as we talked on the phone regularly she didn't threaten me with impromptu visit—which Vanessa would have been less than fond of.
"And we wouldn't know of anyone else who thinks herself particularly clever," Jasper drew lazily as he entered the room.
"Jasper," I greeted, and he tipped his head in acknowledgment.
"Well, I am known to do some very clever things on occasion," Alice twittered with a raised chin. "You have that fact to thank for your new boots."
"Alice," a familiar, brazen voice began, "obviously is as modest as you left her."
Biting the inside of my cheek to keep from grinning too suddenly and too widely, I turned to see Edward standing by the living room window, several paces away from the rest of us. His hand was resting easily on the frame of a familiar, sleek piano. He was watching me with almost shy eyes as he contemplated my reaction to seeing him after so long.
I moved to join him and laid a warm hand on top of his cold one. His lips turned up into their natural half smile. "Bella, you look beautiful."
I shook my head because I was wearing jeans and a green t-shirt, and my hair needed to be brushed. "Thanks."
"And Ephraim…he's…" Edward's mouth opened, but the words just weren't there. I watched him silently search a hundred years of experience for the right phrase, but finally he just grinned in a small way that echoed realized dreams. "He's everything I could've wanted for you."
I followed his stare to where Ephraim was beginning to stir in Esme's arms. "And I want so much for him now. For us."
I felt his golden eyes on me. "You'll do it, Bella. I know you will."
"I want to. But sometimes I wonder what if—"
He shook his head, frowning. "Don't do that. You can spend all of your time driving yourself mad with 'what if's, but really all that matters is what you have at the end of the day. And you still have him."
My eyes shot back to Edward.
His regarded my puzzled expression curiously. "What is it?"
"Nothing. It's just…someone told me that once before." I smiled. "And he was right."
- fin –
AN: I'm not a real big fan of epilogues that just read like extended summaries, so I tried to write this like I would any chapter-minus the meaty plot. Maybe it wasn't what you were hoping for, maybe it was. Let me know. For all of those interested, keep an eye for a Zenith outtake that I'll be posting in about a week or so.
I've noticed from the reviews and PMs that I've been receiving that there seems to be some general confusion about genre or, more specifically, Zenith's genre. Here's the deal...When I pick a genre for a fic here on FFnet I ask myself, "What does this story focus on?" In Zenith, I chose 'romance' and 'mystery,' and I think that's pretty darn accurate. Choosing 'romance' as a genre does not mean I'm signing a contract to fulfill genre "conventions" (whoever gets to decide what those are). A story marked 'romance' does NOT have to deliver a HEA, and I'm not quite sure where that expectation came from. Readers have been complaining that it should have been labeled a tragedy because of the death that occurred. If that's the criteria for choosing a genre, then I guess Zenith should actually be labeled a comedy because there's a heck of a lot more comedic relief than there is tragedy. The actual ending of the story itself isn't even tragic. Bella is not a tragic character. She doesn't let herself become consumed by her grief and live out the rest of her life in misery. She stands on her own and sets out to accomplish something meaningful, still surrounded by people who love her. I don't see a lot of tragic elements in that. If this had been Jacob's story, then, yes, I could see why people would call it a tragedy. But this wasn't Jacob's story, it was Bella's. And I don't think I was ever deceitful about that.
Thank you to everyone who read this far. Your encouragement throughout has been invaluable, and I hope you thought the journey was worth it. :)
I've recently posted my Jasper/Bella oneshot called "Shoot the Sky." Check it out if that's your flavor. If not, I hope to see some of you again when I start posting my Jacob/Bella/Embry story over winter break. It recently went through a title change and is now called "For I am Captured Straight to You." Very different from Zenith and not nearly as long, but I've had a blast writing it and can't wait to share.
Again, thank you all.