The chauffeur shoved Joss into the backseat of the limousine and closed the door behind him. He quickly jumped in the front door, started the engine, and pulled away.
"Come closer, my dear, and let me see you in your lovely wedding dress," said the man shrouded in shadows.
Joss hesitated for a moment too long. A hand reached out and grabbed her strapless dress in the middle of the bodice and yanked her forward until she was on top of him. He kissed her hard, and at first she resisted, but it wasn't long before she responded with the same fervor.
When they finally separated, she fell back into the seat, but he kept his arm wrapped tightly around her.
"How does it feel to be a married woman?" Jung-Su asked.
"You were supposed to get there before I said 'I do,'" she gently scolded.
"A minor complication. Pregnant women are so unpredictable. Besides you will be a Unit widow before long. Think of all the sympathy. You might even find some other soldiers who would be willing to help you through your grief. Your access will be unprecedented. We just have to arrange for your 'rescue.'" When he turned to look at her, she had a sad look on her face. He touched her chin and lifted it toward him.
"What is wrong, my dear?"
"You didn't tell me she was pregnant." Joss was starting to wonder what kind of man she was with. She'd always known that he was ruthless. It made him exciting and powerful, but she'd never thought of him as a murderer of pregnant women and children. The only consolation she had was that William Carson was safe. He mattered more to her than anyone in her life, and she didn't want to see him hurt.
"Jealous? Do not tell me you had feelings for Grey?" He shook his head. "Poor Joss, they were together after the conference on hunger, before you met him."
He misunderstood, but she didn't correct him. "Of course I'm not jealous."
"My dearest Joss, all of this will soon be a memory and you will be well on your way to becoming a most valuable resource. You have played your part admirably."
She nodded and put her head into the crook of his neck, but she hid her face because she was afraid it would betray the feelings of concern she had for the people she had left behind.
Charlie felt the sweat bead on his forehead and run into his eyes as he cut the last of the wires on the vest. Instead of the explosion he feared, he heard the cry of a newborn baby. Kim was wiping the baby as clean as she could and wrapping it in a soft t-shirt volunteered by one of the wedding guests.
She handed the baby to Sara just as Charlie unhooked the vest and pulled the explosive charges away from her body. He had never had a tougher time disarming a bomb, not because it was the most complicated one he had ever faced, but because every decision he made was punctuated by Sara's moans of pain and the movement of her body as she gave birth to their child.
Mack and Bob were making headway with the sensor array that was blocking the exits. He could help, but as hard as he tried to get up and leave Sara and the baby, he just couldn't take his eyes off them. The baby's sparkling blue eyes never left Sara as she ran her hands through the sprinkling of dark hair on his head while he kicked his feet and blew little bubbles.
Jonas reached over, shook Charlie's hand, gave him a pat on the back and said, "Congratulations, son. I'll go help Mack and Bob. You stay here with your family. Now let's see what we can do about these sensors."
"He's beautiful," Kim said. "What are you going to name him?"
Sara looked up at Charlie and said without hesitation, "Hector Jonas Franklin."
Charlie corrected, "Grey. Hector Jonas Grey."
"But…" When she started to argue, he just grinned at her.
"Charlie?" she questioned.
The hair around her face was laced with perspiration, and dark shadows underscored her eyes. He pushed some of the loose strands away from her cheek and kissed her delicately on the forehead. She had never looked more beautiful. He tried to speak, but the words caught in his throat.
She saved him the trouble by saying, "I love you both."
As it turned out, Charlie didn't have to leave Sara and little Hector. Bob, Mack, and Jonas managed to trick the sensors by mixing some women's cosmetics together to form a light, transparent glue. As they attached the batteries to the sensors, the metal blocked the signals while the power generated inside was enough to fool them into thinking they were still transmitting and receiving. They were able to open a hole in the sensor grid large enough to allow everyone to leave unharmed.
Once they made it outside, they were able to get a phone signal and called for help.
Charlie was relieved when the bomb squad arrived followed shortly after by an ambulance. After the bomb squad took the diffused vest away, Charlie started to climb in the ambulance with Sara and little Hector, but the EMT put his hand up and stopped him.
"Only family, sir."
Charlie gave him a hard look. "She's the mother of my son, and you're not leaving here without me."
Charlie sat down on the bench next to Sara and gently kissed her and his son. When he looked back at the EMT he said, "Are we going to the hospital or not?"
The stunned EMT closed the door and tapped on the window separating the driver from the back of the vehicle. Flashing red lights and a loud siren fired up along with the engine. There was a brief jerk forward as the ambulance pulled away. They were on their way to the hospital.
"Should you be out of bed?" Blue asked as Sara hobbled up to the window of the infant viewing room.
"My doctor tells me that exercise is a good thing." She twisted slightly and grabbed her back. "But I'm not sure I agree with him."
They both looked through the window at their newborn son.
Blue smiled, "Thank you, Sara. There's no better gift in the world."
He took her hand in his and squeezed. Sara turned and saw the peace and contentment on Blue's face, but then she remembered that he wasn't hers. He was married to someone else. She tried to let go of his hand, but he wouldn't let her.
"No, Sara. We've been down this road too many times. I'm not risking us ever again."
"How can you say that? You're married and your wife is missing. Shouldn't you be out looking for her?"
He took her hand in both of his and bent down on one knee in front of her. "I'm making a promise to you here and now. I'll do whatever it takes to keep us together from now on."
Sara looked around to see if anyone was looking. "Get up, Charlie. You can't do this."
"I'll leave the Unit, move to DC, whatever it takes."
By the time he stood up, she was crying. "Charlie," she started, but he helped her back to her room and gently set down next to her on the bed. He wouldn't let go of her hand. She just stared at them clasped together in her lap.
"Joss and I aren't really married."
Sara was shocked. "What do you mean you aren't married? I was there. You just finished kissing the bride."
"It was Colonel Ryan's idea that I marry Joss," Charlie said, "but Brigadier General Ryan is no longer in charge of the Unit, so at the last minute, Jonas and I decided to alter the plan. The man that performed the ceremony was an actor we hired to portray a chaplain. The marriage is a sham."
"I can't tell you why, and you can't tell anyone else that my marriage is a fake."
She shook her head. "Joss is out there somewhere thinking that you two are married. What happens if she comes back and wants you to live like man and wife? I don't care how important it is; I won't share you with anyone. Annie was almost more than I could take."
"This isn't like it was with Annie. You won't have to share me with anyone. I promise. I've made so many mistakes and most of them ended up with me walking away from you, but that isn't going to happen again. From now on, no matter what, I'm coming back to you and our baby."
He put his finger under her chin and leaned in as if to kiss her, but she pulled away. How could she believe him?
He looked her in the eye and said, "We're at the end of the line, Sara. It's up to you now, but know this… I will do whatever it takes to earn back your trust."
She felt his arms slipping around her waist, but this time she didn't resist. He kissed her tenderly. "I love you," he said in a husky voice that she remembered from their time together in D.C. After all this time, I finally realized that I never stopped loving you. I lost my way, but I've found it again. I've found you again, and I'm not letting you go."
This time when he kissed her, she felt his carefully restrained passion unraveling.
She pulled away breathing heavily. "I can't…, I can't…, I can't…"
The grin on his face was blinding. In his eyes, she saw the sparkle and mischief that she remembered. This was the man she met in Korea, the one who almost made love to her in a restaurant parking lot on their first date, and the one that she thought might have died with Hector Williams in Beirut.
"I know, Sara. It's too soon, but do you see that the passion is there… just waiting for us to catch up?"
Somehow he would make it work. She had faith in him. It wasn't the end of the line for them after all. They still had a future.
"You know I love you too…" She paused and let the smile on her face grow. "I love you too, Blue."
This time she poured the emotions she was feeling into her kiss and let him absorb them, all of them. She found herself hoping that it wouldn't take long for them to catch up to the passion that was there… just waiting for them.
These stories about Charlie and Sara have been so much fun to write. Thank you to those of you who have read and reviewed them. I hope you enjoyed the reading as much as I enjoyed the writing.