Author's Note: I want to thank our loyal readers that are sticking with us. I know my postings are sporadic these days and I apologize for it. I've received a couple of negative anonymous reviews over that very issue. Real life, especially mine, is complicated. Going from a loving two parent household to a single parent with a husband fighting in a dangerous war is difficult. I'm not asking for sympathy, just please be patient. I promise, I'm writing as fast as I can, but I want to bring you guys something of quality instead of garbage I wrote on the fly.

Also, we have two new open discussion threads. One is called, "Cyclones, Snowmageddon, and Egyptian Uprisings, OH MY!" Feel free to leave your best wishes for our friends in Australia and throughout the US suffering from the ravaging affects of Mother Nature.

And finally, as some of you may or may not know, there are some changes coming for our favorite show and we have opened a "Show Spoilers" thread for readers and authors to discuss their take on episodes and upcoming plotlines.

As ever, I don't own Criminal Minds.

*This is the conclusion in a trilogy. This story follows "The Story Behind the Story" and "Mischief Under the Mistletoe". I hope it doesn't disappoint!


A Love Revisited

Chapter One

As David Rossi climbed the steps to Erin Strauss' brownstone, his heart thumped against his chest, rapidly counting the passing seconds. It had been a week…a very long, question-filled but amazing week…since he'd stolen a slow and passionate kiss from her in a darkened corner of the BAU.

And for seven days, he'd relived those moments again and again.

Repetitively.

In the shower. On the drive to work. While writing reports. And like clockwork, every night when he closed his eyes.

It was her hauntingly beautiful face he saw behind his closed lids...her lips he remembered moving beneath his, meeting every thrust of his tongue with one of her own. And if he concentrated, he could still catch a whiff of that alluring perfume she wore.

He found himself concentrating a lot these days.

If someone had told him a year ago that he'd be standing on Erin Strauss' doorstep, nervous as a teenage boy, complete with sweating hands and butterflies in his stomach, he'd have laughed his ass off at the sorry, misguided fool. Of course, due to recent life-changing events, namely Erin's massive heart attack and the startling revelation that the woman he'd once loved with an unrivaled passion was not the demon in human form that he'd assumed she was for a quarter of a century, the joke was on him.

In reality, he'd been wrong on a level that even now was incomprehensible to him, months after he'd learned the truth about the events of twenty-five years ago. For years, he'd blamed Erin, believing she'd aborted the child they'd created together. She'd endured his taunts and insults with dignity and grace, rarely firing back with ammunition of his own shortcomings and idiotic behavior. Though she'd had it...the ultimate trump card.

But, she had never played it. Not once in all those long years he'd made her suffer had she chosen to level the playing field.

He had learned the truth accidentally. Between a hospital nurse, Jason Gideon, and Erin's own fiercely loyal assistant, David Rossi had pieced together the horrible truth. And it had very nearly crippled him.

A violent home invasion had ended his child's life. Not her. She'd simply let him believe the story his own emotional mind had concocted at the time, believing it best for him in the long run. When the assault had robbed Erin of her ability to bear children, she'd thought it would leave him free to pursue the family he'd always wanted with another woman.

Another cosmic joke.

He'd never wanted another child after his life with Erin had ended; he never felt that desire again. And that was that.

Now, over two decades later, here he stood, fully cognizant of the truth and wondering if the woman inside the house in front of him would ever allow him close enough to apologize...to beg forgiveness down on one knee, if necessary.

When he'd finally pulled away from their embrace a week ago, she'd ran, figuratively and literally. Far and fast, fleeing to her eldest son's home in South Carolina, ostensibly for a long overdue visit. But he knew the truth. It had been too much, entirely too fast, for her. But, damn it...they'd wasted so many years that they could have spent together if only the lies and misconceptions hadn't stood between them. This age old animosity they'd shared had been completely pointless.

He'd tortured himself with if onlys...If only she hadn't married that idiotic jack-off….who had, indeed, been able to give her children after a series of treatments. If only he'd married her instead. If only he'd asked the questions that had hovered on the fringes of his mind for years.

Of course, none of that did him any good. He couldn't go back and alter their shared past, but he could influence their present and, hopefully, preserve what was left of their future.

Once he managed to convince himself to raise his hand and knock on the damn door, that was. Inhaling deeply, he focused on some potted plant on Erin's brick stoop, the red blooms almost mocking him and his indecision. He could have sworn the stupid flower was actually winking at him as he tried to find a pathway in his jumbled thoughts. How many women had he romanced over the years? Hell, he'd married three of them.

And never had he been this anxious.

What's the worst she can say, he asked himself. She'd agreed to try friendship; that was true. And for months, that's exactly what he'd focused on doing - being her friend. He'd carted her to and from to cardiologists and assorted other doctors. He'd hired a damn chef to prepare those heart conscious meals that she despised, and then forced her to eat every freaking bite. He'd talked and listened (a novel experience for him) as they'd attempted to rebuild the trust between them.

And then he'd pushed too hard, kissing her at that damned Christmas party. But, hell, he was who he was, and she'd known him a long time. She had to know that his motives weren't purely altruistic. This dance they'd been doing had been leading somewhere. At least for him, it had.

Until she'd run from him.

Again.

Well, enough was enough, he thought grimly, tightening his fingers around the bouquet of tulips he'd brought with him. Patting his jacket, he double checked that he had her Christmas gift. Smoothing his fingers over his trimmed goatee, he sent a hasty prayer heavenward. If ever he'd needed the help of a Higher Power, whatever deity it might be, it was now.

But he couldn't and wouldn't deny what was happening to him anymore. For the second time, he'd fallen head over heels in love with Erin Strauss. The difference was, this time he had the courage to fight for what he wanted. Even if it meant humbling himself.


Dedicated to my husband and all our heroes fighting overseas!