Hello All! I'm back again with another story titled Shield's Bride. It's set in an Alternate Universe and has nothing at all do do with powers, sailor moons, greek mythology or the like. It's simply about two of our favorite Anime characters- Serena and Darien.

You may notice that the title is similar to a published novel by Allison Leigh. Though it is a similar title, and the idea is totally hers, I have changed many things to suit my needs and desires. I've elongated parts of the tale that I wish had been elaborated and expanded on the characters interactions. On a whole-her idea and vision yet totally revamped by what I LOVE to play you have a problem with this- call your lawyers and they can see me for a toothbrush or maybe my collection of peacock feather earrings.

I do hope that you enjoy this one. It'll be a short ten chapter or so. Hope you enjoy it!

Send me your reviews and you can always find me on Twitter at MizzJae_Ann

"I suppose you heard."

"Hmm?" Serena Shields finished folding the last bath towel and added it to the neat stack sitting atop the shining oak dresser. She wanted to get the laundry put away so she wouldn't have to do it the next day before going to her part-time job at the retirement home. Waiting for him to elaborate, she glanced up and in the wide mirror over the dresser saw the reflection of her husband, Darien, standing on the other side of the bedroom. He'd unbuttoned his chambray work shirt and as she watched, he yanked the tails from his jeans and shrugged out of it, balling it up in his fist.

He wasn't looking at her, though, and she stifled a longing little sigh at the sight of Darien's bare chest. Her husband was nothing if not a magnificent-looking man, though he'd likely figure she'd lost her mind if she told him so.

She scooped up the stack of towels and walked past him to the linen cupboard tucked in a corner of their bathroom. She juggled the high stack and opened the door. The shelves were jumbled, as if Mattie had been rooting through for one of her toys. She knew it was more likely that it was Darien who'd left the disorganized mess. He did that when he was searching for an old towel to turn into a grease rag for whatever engine he was trying to fix around their small spread. She spied a relatively neat corner and began fitting the stack of clean towels into it. "Heard what?"

Darien didn't immediately answer and she raised her voice a little. "You suppose I heard what?" She glanced over her shoulder, hearing Darien's soft footfall behind her.

"Diamond's back," he said in his quiet voice.

Serena blinked. She was aware of a slow tumble of pale blue and peach terrycloth as the towels she'd been putting away slid from the shelf to the cool white-tiled floor. Her stomach clenched. "I…excuse me?"

Darien watched her, his intense blue eyes unreadable. "You heard me."

She swallowed. She'd been married to Darien for nearly seven years now. In fact, their anniversary was just a few days off. She'd knitted him a cable-knit sweater in a beautiful silvery gray color. It had taken her months and she'd had to bribe Mattie with a bag of chocolate-covered peanuts to extract her promise that she wouldn't tell her daddy what she'd been working on every afternoon between the time she picked Mattie up from school and when she put on dinner before Darien came in for the day.

She reached for the towels, automatically refolding and stuffing them in the cluttered closet. One of these days she'd pull everything out and organize it properly, she thought stupidly. "How, uh, how do you know? Did you see him? Talk to him?" Did you tell him about Mattie? She wanted to ask the question but didn't. Couldn't.

"Lenora told me."

Serena relaxed a little. Lenora Shields was Darien's stepmother, having married his father when he was but a teenager. "So he's in Gillette, then. At Lenora's." A few safe hours away from Weaver, Wyoming, where she and Darien and their daughter, Mattie, lived. Their daughter. No matter what circumstances had led to Mattie's birth, she considered Darien to be Mattie's father in every way that counted. She believed that Darien felt the same.

She realized Darien hadn't answered her. "Darien? Diamond is…in Gillette. Isn't he…?"

"Yeah. He's in Gillette," Darien finally said.

Serena eyed her husband, thinking that she should feel more relief than she did.

If only she could read Darien's thoughts! But even after all these years, she couldn't begin to hazard a guess. He'd never been one to wear his emotions or his thoughts on his sleeve. Not with her, anyway. Darien…well her tall, dark, and determined husband usually gave new meaning to the idea of one keeping their thoughts to themselves.

She realized she was chewing the inside of her lip and deliberately made herself stop. She wished Darien wouldn't stand in the doorway like that. It made her feel decidedly edgy. Even after all these years she was still overwhelmed by the feelings he roused in her. It wasn't just sexual, either. It was something entirely more complicated.

And it was something she, alone, felt.

She forced herself to focus on the topic at hand rather than the mystery that was her husband. "Do you think Diamond will come to Weaver, then? To see you, I mean?"

"To see you, more likely." Darien lifted one sun-bronzed shoulder in a faint shrug.

"He has no reason to want to see me," she said carefully. She couldn't help but wonder what that shrug meant. So uncaring, yet somehow a hair too casual. Or maybe she was just looking for signs of…of something that wasn't there. "You're his brother, Darien."


She'd always thought it odd how both men had always made that particular distinction when referring to one another. They'd shared a father, with Darien nearly 10 years older than Diamond, but the two men were as different from each other as night was from day. And they'd never gotten along. At all.

"Half, then," she allowed. "But it's been seven years since he went away. Of course he'll want to see you." Just because she found the idea abhorrent didn't mean it wasn't a possibility.

The corner of Darien's mouth curled, but the movement held no amusement. "Yeah. Maybe if he's screwed up and needs me to clean up the mess."

Serena stiffened, feeling a pain deep down inside her. A pain that was with her always, even though she managed to ignore it for the most part. Time seemed to have a way of doing that, she'd learned.

She pushed to her feet and looked up at Darien. Her husband in all ways save one—he didn't love her. He never had. And the pain inside stemmed from fear that he never would.

She moistened lips gone dry. "Like you had to clean up the mess he made with me, you mean," she whispered even as her heart silently cried out for him to deny it.

But only silence, thick as a humid summer day, hung between them…