(Seattle, Washington/June1993)

Annie Reed stared into the rare star-filled sky from the deck of the Lake Union houseboat. She could barely believe that she was here; Sam Baldwin's arms wrapped around her, holding her close.

"Isn't this beautiful?" She sighed.

"You're beautiful." Sam whispered as he kissed her neck. At his touch she turned to face him and they shared a kiss that she'd remember all of her life.

"I love you, Sam."

"And I love you, Annie."


The young boy's voice that trailed down from the second floor startled them out of yet another kiss.

"Yeah, Jonah?"

"Can I have a glass of water?"
Sam and Annie exchanged knowing glances.

"Yep, it's about that time." Sam said, eying his watch.

"DAD!" the voice came again, louder this time.

"Be right there, Jonah." Sam called to his son. To Annie he said. "I'll be right back."

"I'll go." Annie said.

Sam smiled. "Oh, okay. Well, tell him I'll be up to check on him in a little while."

Annie knew that Jonah would much rather have his father tuck him in, but she liked spending a few minutes alone each night with the boy responsible for her happiness.

She went into the kitchen and filled a glass with ice water, and then proceeded up the stairs.

"Where's Dad?" Jonah asked as Annie entered the room.

At his disappointed look, Annie's smile disappeared. "He'll be up in a few minutes. In the meantime, here you go." She said, handing Jonah the glass.

"Thanks." He took the glass and drank down the contents in one gulp.

"Wow, you must have been thirsty." She said with a smile. "Would you like some more?"


I'll be right back." She kissed his head, feeling a bit shaken when he flinched. When she passed Sam in the hallway minutes later, it was nearly impossible to hide her disappointed look.

"Is everything okay?" Sam asked, putting a gentle hand on her arm.

"Oh yeah. He must have been thirsty." She said handing Sam the glass. "Drank the whole thing in seconds."

Sam smiled. "That kid... Won't drink a thing at dinner but when it comes to bedtime, he just can't get enough."

"I'll be downstairs if you need me." Annie said as Sam kissed her.

When Sam took Jonah the glass of ice water, Annie walked into the living room and curled up on the leather sofa, and covered herself with a blanket. As much as she wanted to be in Jonah's room, sharing the special moment, she knew that it was wrong. Sam and Jonah needed to spend the moments before bedtime alone.

Still, she was part of the family now. Well, almost.

She'd moved in just a few months earlier, feeling strangely like an intruder. However, Sam and Jonah made her feel welcome and loved.

The move from Baltimore to Seattle had been difficult; leaving Becky, her job, her family. But fortunately, Becky understood and her mother couldn't have been happier about Annie's destiny waiting for her in Seattle.

She'd only visited Seattle once-when she'd crazily hopped on a plane in order to catch a glimpse of Sam and Jonah Baldwin-and almost gotten herself run over by a car in the process!

Even now, she shuddered at the thought, but she and Sam often laughed about it. One thing was for certain... It definitely got his attention!

She turned when she heard footfalls coming down the stairs.

"Sorry it took so long. He took a little longer than usual to settle down." Sam explained.

"Anything wrong?"

"Oh no. He's fine now. He just-."
"It's me, isn't it?" Annie said the words so softly that she wondered if Sam had heard them.

But judging by the look on his face, he had.

He took her in his arms and held her close.

"Jonah loves you. It's just taking a little time to get used to-."
She looked at him worriedly. "Sam, was this a good idea? My moving in here with you and Jonah? I mean, we barely know each other and-."

Sam put his fingers to her mouth to silence her. "You being here with us have made me happier than I've been in a very long time. And Jonah's happy too, even if he doesn't show it. I just hope you're not disappointed."

Annie looked at Sam in surprise. "Disappointed? I could never be disappointed in you." She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him toward her in a kiss.

Sam's face reddened. "Well, that wasn't exactly what I meant. I know you miss your family. And Becky."
"Annie smiled. "Very much, but from the first moment I heard you on the radio, I knew we were destined to be together."

Sam crossed the room and turned off the light before returning to Annie. He held out his hand.

"Come on. It's getting late."

They walked up the stairs and into the master bedroom. Annie glanced around at the room. It was her room now; hers and Sam's, but she still felt like a visitor. She sighed, wondering if she'd ever feel truly at home.

Hours later, she climbed out of bed and crept into the hallway. She padded down the hallway until she came to Jonah's room and slipped inside.

He was sleeping soundly, and she smiled, watching him for a moment. Silently, she bent down and kissed his cheek, causing him to stir.

"Goodnight, Jonah." She whispered.

"Night, Mommy." came the reply.

Annie knew that the name wasn't meant for her, but as she returned to her bedroom, she couldn't help but smile.