Chapter 25

Karen knew that she had to keep the party small or Greg would rebel and never attend another one.

She called Donna first.

"We're going to have a little dinner party, can you come?"

"Of course I can!" Donna had been thrilled that everything had worked out between them and she was looking for an excuse to come and visit.

"And," Karen began, "Guess what?"

"I don't like guessing."

"James is single. If you're interested."

"Really? Well, I'm not sure, but that will certainly affect what I wear."

They both laughed and Donna agreed to come for the entire weekend of the party.

Karen walked across the lawn to knock on Kathy's door. Rocco greeted her with happy barks and a few licks as she told her neighbor about the party.

"Oh, I'd love to come! But would it be alright if I brought a date?"

"If you mean Rocco, of course it's okay. He and Daisy can play together."

"Well, thanks, and of course, I'll bring him, but I wasn't talking about Rocco. I've actually started dating someone."

"Ooh, tell me!"

"Oh my God, he's gorgeous. He looks a lot like Hugh Jackman, just without the accent."

"Wow! Hey, any guy that looks like that is always welcome in my house."

"As if you have anything to complain about."

"Nope. But it's still nice to have good-looking men around."

After some giggles over that, Karen gave her the particulars and left.

Karen also convinced House to invite Rita and her husband. He'd talked about the woman to her, so she wanted to meet her. He grumbled some more, but finally agreed.

Rita was surprised by the invitation, but was pleased as well and happily accepted.

The evening of the party was cold, but clear. Karen and the kids had spent the previous few days cleaning and scrubbing the house, and Karen had decided on a Mexican theme and had made salsa, guacamole, enchiladas and burritos, among other dishes. House was amazed that despite claiming it would be a simple party, she had still managed to cook a shitload of food.

Still, as he stole some, he wasn't complaining.

Donna arrived late in the afternoon of the party and helped Karen get everything ready. Then she went to get dressed and came down looking dazzling in a low cut top and skin tight pants. She was New York chic and very sexy.

When House saw the conspiratorial looks between the women, he had an idea what they were up to.

"You didn't have to go to that much trouble." He told Donna. "He's going to be very needy. You could wear a sack and he'd still be an easy target."

"I don't dress for men, I dress for me." She said. "But if I want a man to sit up and take notice, I may enhance the outfit a bit."

"Whatever," House said, bored with talking about women's clothes.

The party was a success. Donna managed to distract Wilson and although he arrived with a hangdog face, he soon lost it under her attention.

Kathy had been right about her date – he was gorgeous. Having three handsome men in her house made Karen smile, although she was sure hers was the best of all of them.

Rita and Karen hit it off right away, both moms and patient woman who understood Gregory House. Rita's husband was a friendly, down to earth guy who fit in with the other guys.

The kids had each been allowed to invite two friends and Karen prepared some trays of snacks for them to take to the family room with sodas where they could watch movies or play video games.

The adults talked and laughed and even managed to convince House to play the piano for them.

When everyone had gone and Karen was finished putting away the leftover food, she stopped and reflected how much fun the evening had been. Everyone had gotten along and House seemed to enjoy himself. She wondered where he'd gone and peeked into the living room and family room for him, but he wasn't there. Then she saw a dark form out on the deck.

House sat on a chair on the deck, staring out at the dark yard. Yes, it was cold, but he really didn't care. He was sipping a tequila. That wasn't his favorite drink, but Karen had served it with the Mexican food and somehow he ended up with one. He thought about tequila and a bottle he'd had in Mexico once with the worm in it. Where was the worm now?

He'd taken several big steps over the past year since Karen had come back into his life. Several big gulps of the tequila, a drink he never really chose, but somehow ended up with anyway. Where was the worm in his life? Would it appear?

Actually, the more he thought about it, the more he realized that the two of them, no, make that the four of them had faced many worms. Each had been conquered as they continued to sip the tequila.

He stood up and walked over to the railing, looking at the property that belonged to them. He smiled when he thought about that. As he stood there, he felt arms go around his waist.

"Watch out." He said. "If Karen finds you here, she's gonna be mad."

"I can handle her." Karen said with a smile. "Aren't you cold out here?"

"Nah." He turned and pulled her into his arms.

"What's up?" She asked him.

"Nothing. I was just thinking."

"About what?"

"Thinking that it's good to be home."

She smiled and pulled away, reached for his hand and led him into the house.

The End

A/N: Thanks everyone for reading and commenting. I do appreciate it. This is the end of House and Karen's saga, unless they decide to pop up in a one shot here or there. If the muses allows, hopefully, I'll have another story in a little while. Until then, take care. Feel free to contact me if you want - I love hearing from my readers.