Truth & Happiness

Here is the promised update, I will take it down fairly soon (a few days) hopefully I'll put up a new chapter of Hide and Seek at the same time, so it will be a trade. I really meant to get to the current story update, but family, holidays, and life are…well you all know, it's hardly a unique circumstance.

AN- This first chapter was written before I even introduced Shi to the Some Truths Hurt story, so if you do the math this has been sitting around for years now waiting to be posted. I waited because it would spoil too much in the Truth series…but here it is now. This chapter is my happy place.

Chapter 1: Third time's the charm

August 2009

The first time Logan proposed to Veronica was on her 22nd birthday. Both were about to begin their fourth and last year of college.

They were at a club with their friends and Veronica had pulled Logan onto the dance floor as Beyonce's hit Single Ladies played.

Logan was smiling at Veronica's beaming, exuberant face when the words of the song and his own emotions overtook him. He pulled her in close to his body and lowering his mouth to her ear whisper shouted "Marry me!"

Pulling back to look into his face, her stunned look gave way to a sweetly emotional smile. Instead of answering she cupped her hands around his face, now more chiseled and angular that it had been when they'd first fallen in love, and brought his mouth to hers for a lingering kiss.

She never did answer, but it did lead to their first serious discussion about their future.

Logan was hurt that Veronica was still wary of marriage, but he was quickly able to see that her fear was more to do with the institution than with him.

Instead of being upset or angry, he decided that it was a positive step forward.

-VM-VM-VM-VM-

June 2012

The second time Logan proposed to Veronica they were at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, with the wind buffeting them as they stood with their arms wrapped around each other tightly.

Her only response was an enigmatic smile and the words "I love you" whispered against his lips as her arms wrapped around his neck and her body clung to his.

They had been dating for seven years and the trip was their reward for having survived graduate schools on opposite coasts. Logan had one year left at Harvard Law and Veronica had just completed a masters at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism in the Bay Area.

After the internship she did at the FBI following her freshman year of college, she had determined that law enforcement, with all their rules, was not for her. Keith had been somewhat disappointed, but Logan had been quietly ecstatic. He knew better than to voice his objections - that Veronica would constantly be in danger – but he had been hoping that she would choose another career path.

The two years apart had been difficult but they had made it and they were excited to be in the same place again, with Veronica getting a job at the Boston Globe and living with Logan in Cambridge for his last year.

They never would have survived the time apart if it had come during their undergraduate years, but by the time they both graduated with bachelors degrees, their relationship was rock solid. They loved each other and had shared experiences that no one else would ever be able to understand.

But even with all their history and Veronica's calm unwavering belief that her future was with Logan, she still refused to give him an answer.

-VM-VM-VM-VM-

April 2014

The third time Logan proposed to Veronica was on a family trip to northern California. Veronica had fallen in love with the landscape in the northern part of the state during her time at Berkeley and somehow Keith had convinced all of them to take a family vacation. With tents.

The tents and campgrounds had only lasted two days before the united complaints of the whole family (except for Keith and Shiloh, who was in a tomboy phase) defeated Keith's hopeful determination that they would eventually come to love camping.

Logan had wasted no time after receiving the go ahead nod from both Veronica and Alicia in booking them a Victorian rental house on the coast just north of Arcata. The house had four bedrooms and even with its limited two bathrooms, it was a welcome return to civilization for the Mars/Fennel (plus one Kane) clan. The three couples on the trip, Logan and Veronica, Keith and Alicia, and Wallace and his current girlfriend Candice cuddled under intricate quilts on the cold mornings before sitting down to a large full breakfast and a day of hiking, window shopping and one very cold day on the water on a chartered boat. "It's still summer right?" Logan asks sarcastically as he tries to not flinch as Veronica warms her cold hands on his warm back. "We didn't somehow time travel to fall or the ice ages when we crossed into northern California, did we?"

"Baby," she mocks as she cuddles into his chest.

Logan obligingly unzips his jacket and closes it around her. "I'm a baby? You're the one trying to crawl inside me to keep warm."

She gives him a warning glare to keep it PG with Shiloh hanging off the side of the boat looking at the fish swimming around in the blue grey water. "Yeah, you're a baby. I'm just cold."

On the fifth day after transiting from camp grounds to the rented Victorian house, Veronica and Shiloh snuck out of the house early to catch the sunrise over the nearby coastal mountains and the thick fog hanging over the trees. Veronica sipped coffee and Shiloh hot chocolate as they cuddled together sitting on a fallen tree in the shade of the giant coastal redwoods. Veronica snapped pictures of the landscape and of Shiloh's innocent wonder in the damp earthy environment. Setting the timer on the camera they got several pictures of themselves hugging one particularly large tree.

Walking back to the car, Shiloh hugged her small arms around Veronica's waist. "Can we come back?" Shiloh asked hopefully, her small face open and without secrets.

Veronica smiled down at her ruffling her blond hair and looking into her wide spaced blue eyes, shining with confidence and happiness, so much like Lilly had been at that age. "Of course. This can be one of our special places," Veronica replied.

The sisters had many special places: under a twisted Torrey Pine at the park in Del Mar, the south east corner of the rooftop deck on the Empire State Building, a particular cabana on the beach in Jamaica. They hadn't always seen each other as often as each would like, so they made special memories in special places around the world, documented by Veronica's photographs to remind them of the unique bond they shared during the times apart.

The promise was that they had to revisit each of the places again throughout their lifetimes. Content with the unspoken promise, Shiloh skipped ahead of Veronica on the trail. Twirling around with her head tilted up so the fine mist of the fog settled on her face she called out, "I love you Roka."

Returning to the house, no one bothered to ask where they'd disappeared to, well used to the two blondes disappearing off by themselves and knowing that they would never share the secret of their destination with the extended family.

Taking a fresh, steaming cup of coffee from Alicia, Veronica wanders out onto the deck. Logan's warm arms close around her and she leans back into his hold. "What are you thinking about?" he asks, his warm breath wafting over her sensitive ear.

"I'm thinking that we're seven days into this trip and you haven't managed to steal me away for any alone time yet," she replies saucily.

"I think we've done all right."

Her mind flashes to the second day of their trip when they'd still been in tents. After they had all gone to bed, Logan had led her out of the campsite and into the forest. Against a tree hadn't been on her list, but the beauty of their surroundings combined with Logan's insistent touch had quickly made her reconsider.

Then there was their first night in the Victorian house, when they had discovered that their bed creaked with comic loudness. They had abandoned the bed for the floor giggling like school children the whole time.

"But you're right. I do have something in mind. Tomorrow. I told your dad we'd check out one of the places we haven't been to yet, see if it's worth the drive," he confided.

"And where is this place?"

"Fern Canyon, it's 45 miles up the coast, but it's over an hour drive due to the windy ass roads they have up here."

She turns in his arms to face him. "I've always wanted to go there."

"Always?"

Logan had graduated Harvard Law in the top of his class and passed the bar on his first attempt. They had moved back to Neptune, and resettled back into the beach house. Logan was working long hours at his firm while Veronica was a rookie investigative reporter at the Neptune Register. She also had her own blog where she detailed some of her cases and followed up on the people involved in the more engrossing cases.

Huffing her annoyance, she cocks her head as she clarifies her statement. "Fine. Mr. Lawyer. I've wanted to go there ever since I heard of its existence," she squints at him. "I believe it was February 2010, when Kris told me about her favorite places up here."

"Much better."

Still affecting annoyance she turns her face so his kiss lands on her cheek instead of her mouth. Slipping from his arms she raises one eyebrow in challenge then takes off running as he chases after her. Her family watch with amused tolerance as Logan chases an elusive Veronica through the house, smiling as they hear her squeal as he catches her somewhere upstairs.

In their bedroom on the second floor, Logan's arms close around Veronica and they both fall into their bed. It creaks and groans under their combined weight causing her to laugh loudly. He steals more than one kiss as his reward and she is breathless when he pulls back.

"We have to wait until tomorrow? That's just poor planning, Pookie."

The next day they drive north into Redwood National Park to Prairie Creek State Park. Parking the car, they look curiously at some very large elk grazing nearby they follow the slightly muddy trail into Fern Canyon.

Only a few other people are on the trail and as they enter into the canyon and the soft red dirt walls widen to reveal stunning fern covered embankments with large and (relatively) small redwoods winding along a quietly babbling creek. Both stop and take in the spectacular scenery. They had left childhood behind a long time ago, years before they really should have had to, but in this moment all their jaded worldly knowledge fell away and left only childish wonder, and the somewhat vague belief that there had to be good in the world to create such a magnificent place.

Logan expected Veronica to pull out her camera immediately, but she seemed content to enjoy the place as they wandered farther into the canyon.

Smiling up at him as she curled her arms around his waist she spoke. "I'd say it is definitely worth the drive."

They walk through the canyon, weak sunlight filtering down through the trees forming fascinating displays of light and dark that Veronica can't resist. She checked her memory card register, worried that she would fill the card too quickly. Reading her mind Logan slips his hand into her back pocket squeezing her bottom. Reaching into her pocket with her own hand she pulls out a backup memory card.

"I love you."

"I know."

Later Logan has climbed up a fallen tree, angled against the walls of the canyon. Veronica snaps a few photos of him up the tree before she monkey walks up it to join him. Instead of sitting next to him, she straddles his lap.

He raises one eyebrow. "Miss me?"

She smirks back at him. "Were you gone?" Leaning in to kiss along his jaw line to his ear she stops. "Always."

Their kiss is slow and deep, unhurried under the ancient natural cathedral mostly unmarked by man. The kiss stretches into two, then three, then she loses count.

"Tell me there is somewhere we can go to be alone." She smiles at him, her eyes dark with lust, "Somewhere nearby."

Logan's dark eyes meet hers, but instead of bantering back or hurrying her towards the trailhead he regards her seriously.

"I love you Veronica."

"I love you too," she responds, curious as to where his thoughts have gone.

"And I want to spend my life with you."

Her face is serious as she watches him, waiting for him to continue.

"Marry me. I want to marry you."

She opens her mouth to reply, but shuts it as he rushes to speech again, not allowing her to respond.

"I know you're still afraid of what it will mean, but all that crap about marriage changing you is just that, crap. We're us, and if we've made it this far, a piece of paper won't change anything."

Her expression is one of amused tolerance before she schools it into a serious visage of consideration. Her reply is rote, the argument a familiar one, so familiar that it had lost its heat a long time ago. "If it's just a piece of paper, and it won't change anything, why bother?"

Exasperated frustration peaks through in his voice. "Because I want you to be my wife, I want to be your husband."

"You just want to bind me to you in any way you can," she says with barbed amusement.

"Exactly. You know me so well," he replies easily.

She rolls her eyes.

"So, once again I don't get an answer," his voice is laced with dark undertones, any playfulness falling away.

She cups her hands around his face and looks at him dead in the eye. "Ask me again."

His eyes shining with hope, he leans forward to kiss her. "Love me. Marry me."

Smiling even as her eyes fill with tears she nods. "I do. I will."

He kisses her again, wiping away the single tear that falls from her eye. "Seriously?"

"Seriously."

-VM-VM-VM-VM-

Shiloh doesn't get what the big deal is. When Logan and Veronica came back from their day out alone to announce that they were engaged to be married, Shiloh just shrugged. As far as she was concerned there was nothing more permanent in the world than Veronica and Logan, so she just didn't get it. Old people were weird sometimes.

Lying in bed that night Veronica smiles at Logan in that enigmatic way that only females ever had. Logan pauses and looks at her across the room. "What?" His tone is questioning but calm.

Her response is playful, "I'm surprised you haven't brought it up yet. That's all."

"Brought what up?" He keeps smiling but is obviously puzzled as he slips between the covers on the bed.

Her smile grows to an all out grin. "You really don't know?"

Logan rolls his eyes, but decides to play along. "OK, let's see, what happened today that has left unanswered questions?" He continues with an exaggerated tone of discovery, "We got engaged. Should we set the date already, dear? How about August?"

"August? That's in four months."

"Your point?" He levels a blasé look at her, his tone meant to goad her into revealing something.

"My point is that four months is not a lot of time to plan a wedding Logan. And with you working so many hours at the firm, and me trying to advance at the paper…who's going to plan it?

He shrugs. "We'll hire someone. Whatever. Don't tell me you care about all the wedding details, Sugarpuss."

He has her there and they both know it. "I might not care but our families will."

His finger takes up an unconscious drumming on his thigh as he thinks about it. "OK so if it's not the wedding date, and don't think I didn't notice that you didn't suggest a future date, what could it be?"

Her response is smug and said with a superior tone. "It'll come to you."

He glares at her in annoyance but lies down next to her letting her snuggle into his warmth as they settle in for the night.

The question comes to him in the middle of the night, and it is the first thing in his mind when he wakes up the next morning.

"How come you never answered me when I asked you to marry be before?"

She smiles and kisses him, her eyes warm and content. "I couldn't answer you because if I said no, I would have been lying. And we agreed to never lie to each other."

Logan stares at her.

"I was going to marry you Logan, I just wanted us to wait for the right time in our lives."

He smiles and kisses her again, his hands untying her flannel pajama bottoms. Creaky bed be damned.

-VM-VM-VM-VM-

October 2014

The first time Veronica brings up kids to Logan they have been engaged for six months.

Veronica is sitting on the couch in her pajamas with a photo album in her lap when Logan comes in late from work. They are living in the beach condo he had bought back in high school, living and working in Neptune in order to be close to Shiloh and the rest of the family.

His suit jacket is already off and his tie hangs loosely from his unbuttoned collar when he leans over the arm of the couch to kiss her. He drops his suitcase off on the kitchen island and pours them both a glass of wine before joining her.

As soon as he sits down she studies his face. This case has been a tough one. Custody battles always were. And this one hit close to home for Logan. The kid in question and his mother had made serious allegations of abuse against the father but the judge had thrown them out, not allowing the claims which were unsubstantiated by an outside person to be entered into the trial. The father was rich and powerful, with connections to the governor's office. But Logan believed the kid, and had been working tirelessly to find the right strategy to make sure the father didn't get custody.

"Any luck today? Has your moment of genius struck yet?" Veronica always teased Logan about his instinctive tactical brilliance when it came to legal strategy. Years of manipulating people in high school and commanding his forces had come in handy after all.

"Not yet."

Her unwavering belief in him kept him from sinking into despair. She believed in him, that was enough for him. Even if the moment of genius never came, he would outlast his opponent. And as a last resort ask Veronica to dig up whatever dirt his investigators had missed on the guy.

"I'm sorry. It will."

He smiles and kisses her again, his signal that he was changing the subject.

"And what is my beautiful fiancée doing tonight?" He loved calling her that, his fiancée. Not his girlfriend. His fiancée.

"Besides waiting for my fiancée to come home a tuck me into bed?" She smiles. "I developed some new pictures of Shiloh I wanted to add to the book."

Logan smiles, always touched by her completely open love for her half-sister.

"I haven't seen the little munchkin in awhile."

"I know, she was complaining to me on the phone today." She raises one eyebrow at him. "Apparently you promised her a trip to Rodeo Drive next month?"

"It's her first boy-girl party."

"She's ten."

"Yeah. So?"

Veronica is exasperated. "She can go to the Gap and be perfectly happy."

Logan shrugs. Veronica finishes placing the pictures in the album and randomly flips back through the pages to when Shiloh had been younger. Veronica stops to run her finger over a picture of the three of them at the zoo when Shiloh had been one year old. It was the summer before their senior year, when Veronica had still hoped more than really believed that she and Logan could make it together. They looked like a perfect, albeit young, family. Logan was holding Shi with his arm around Veronica. All three were smiling at the camera.

Until she had reached 6 years old, Shiloh had looked remarkably like Veronica, and had similarly been able to wrap Logan, Keith, and Wallace around her little finger. Alicia and Veronica did better in resisting the small girl, but with her wide blue eyes and easy smile, she usually got what she wanted.

In the past few years she had begun to look like a combination of Lilly and Veronica. But in personality she was completely unique.

"She looks so much like you in this one," Logan points out a picture of Veronica holding a three year old Shiloh at a 4th of July celebration.

Veronica smiles and runs her finger over Shi's small face. Her expression becomes contemplative.

Her face is cautious as she sets the album in Logan's lap and turns to face him on the couch, wanting to be able to see every flicker of emotion on his face when she asks this question.

"Logan. Do you ever think about kids?" His surprised eyes meet hers. "I mean about us having kids."

He looks apprehensive, but doesn't speak immediately. His eyes study her face just as intently as she is studying his. "I don't know," is his guarded response.

She knew today, during this case was not a good time to bring this up, but the case had been dragging on for months now, and with planning the wedding and for the rest of their lives, the question was on Veronica's mind quite a bit these days.

"That's not an answer," she sighs.

Seeing that if she wants to have this conversation that she is going to have to take the lead, she prepares for battle. He smiles seeing her straighten her shoulders and tilt her chin up, a look of stubbornness on her face.

"Answer the question."

His smile fades. He may not be ready for this conversation, but it appeared they were having it regardless. "Yeah, I think about it. Especially now. But if you're asking if I want kids, I really don't know Veronica. Do you?" His tone is vulnerable, and it breaks her heart that Aaron is still able to make Logan doubt himself.

"Yeah. I think I do. For years, I thought I didn't. You know." He nods. They were both well aware of the damage a bad parent could cause to a child. Both wary of what they could pass along of their own parents, either genetically or through the way they were parented. "But when I think about you, and me, and a baby that came from us…"

There is a long pause and he takes her hand squeezing it. Her eyes come back up to his face. "We could be good parents Logan. We would be good parents. You'd be fun and so full of love and over-protectiveness you'd drive our daughter crazy, and I'd get mad at you because I'd have to be the disciplinarian all the time, but we'd love and protect our kids Logan. We'd –"

Quirking one eye brow he interrupts her emotional speech. "First we have a daughter, now we have kids? You're moving kind of fast here Ronnie."

He is teasing, but she only smiles briefly. "Will you think about it Logan? You'd make a wonderful father." She sees his doubt. "You would. And you're an idiot if you doubt that. I've seen you with Daryl and Shi." She tried to force herself to step back, to not push. It was against her nature, but she had learned there were some things that were better done with patience. Not that she didn't still hammer on Logan for other things. Like leaving his clothes everywhere.

She took a breath ready to retreat, strategically of course, but his look of doubt or fear threw her 'be patient' plan out the window.

Her tone is now adamant, with an edge of anger. "You love them and they love you. Their lives are better for having you around and if you doubt that then you're an idiot and I wouldn't marry an idiot -"

He cuts her off with a kiss, and she allows him to change the subject. She wants to batter down the last remaining walls of his self doubt, but instead of being upset or angry, she decided that it was a positive step forward.

-VM-VM-VM-VM-

July 2015

The second time Veronica brings up kids to Logan they have been married for three weeks. She doesn't tell him, but their enthusiastic celebration of their marriage on their honeymoon voyage on the yacht had led to her current moment of uncertainty. Veronica was a few days late and didn't know if she should be hopeful or scared.

She is standing on the deck off the bedroom of the beach condo, staring out over the blue horizon when she asks him again. "Have you thought about it? About us having kids?"

"Yeah. I have. But I'm still not sure." Her face tenses with his words, and she turns away from him. "It's not something we have to decide now, is it?" Her silence worries him and he turns her face up to his, but a blank mask hides her true thoughts on the subject. "You really want this don't you?" She is still silent. "You know I'll give you anything you want Veronica. If you want kids…"

She tilts her chin up, and he worries about not being able to read her expression he looks into her eyes. Her words are forgiving, but he can see the disappointment in the blue pools of her eyes. "I don't want it if you don't. That's the worst thing I can imagine, forcing you to have a child you don't really want. The worst thing for all of us."

She wants to step away from him, get some space, lick her wounds in private, but she curbs the old instinct, allows him to hold her, but she feels the disappointment of his continued doubt keenly.

When her period came a few days later, she didn't know whether to be happy or to cry.

-VM-VM-VM-VM-

November 2016

The third time they talk about kids, Logan brings it up. Shiloh is no longer a child, at 12 years old she is definitely a tween- a precocious mix of kid and pre-teen. For the last three weeks she had waged a campaign to live with Veronica and Logan for six months while Jake is in China setting up a new business venture there.

Unbeknownst to Veronica, Logan has been looking at new, larger houses for the three of them. He knew Shiloh, and once she got what she wanted, which was to live with Veronica and Logan, it would be hell to get her to move back in with Jake.

Logan wanted to get Shi alone to discuss the issue. He took her out for ice cream and a day at the batting cages to talk about it. Shiloh was transitioning out of her tomboy phase, but still enjoyed sports. She was wearing a cute skirt and pink tank top as she took her turn with the bat.

Later, sitting at a picnic table behind the batting cages Shiloh sets her small chin and tilts it upwards, a pout on her face. Seeing that she wasn't going to be able to manipulate Logan, she resorted to the flat out truth, and she looked so much like Veronica in her expression, that Logan knew he would give in to her, even if he wasn't already agreeable to the idea. Her eyes are sad, but burn with determination.

"I don't want to go to China. I don't want to live with Jake. I spend most of my time with you and Veronica or at Grandpa Keith and Alicia's anyway."

When Logan just holds her stare, his expression unwavering, his parenting skills having advanced over the years, her eyes well up with tears, but she manages to glare at him through the waterworks.

"Fine. I'll come up with another plan. You don't want me, whatever." Now she sounds so much like Lilly that Logan is catapulted into the past for a moment. His non response rips through her and her expression reveals that she is truly hurt by his refusal to let her live with them. Her chin trembles, but she holds herself together with a strength Logan wished she didn't have to have yet. "I should be used to it by now."

The display of real emotion, brings Logan back to the present. "Stop it." His hand cups under her chin then slides up her cheek to wipe away a tear that had escaped. "You know that we love you, and I'm fine with you coming to live with us."

Her face lights up, her tears and temper instantly forgotten. She is about to leap up to hug him when his words stop her.

"But, I want you to be honest with Jake and Veronica about this."

She smiles, all innocence and sunshine again. "About what?"

"Don't even try it Munchkin." She grimaces, but tries to recover, looking as angelic as she can. "I have to spell it out? You don't want to come live with us for six months, you want to come live with us."

Shiloh tries to read his expression, having learned from Veronica that if you could read someone's emotions then you were better able to give them the rationale needed to get what you wanted from them. But Logan was hard for her to read. He had a poker face to rival Keith and Veronica.

She decides to go for blasé and sarcastic. "Well, yeah. No duh."

Logan tries to hold his stern face, but her cuteness in combination with her brazenness makes him smile.

"Just as long as we all understand what we're getting into. And you're going to have to tell your dad this up front."

Shiloh looks unhappy with that idea. "Fine, but he won't care."

Logan looks sad for the small girl they all loved so much, who despite their best efforts still felt the absence of her parents. Jake was around, but so involved in his work he didn't really spend much time with Shiloh, who was a constant reminder of his failures. He had failed to keep Lilly safe, failed to keep Leanne happy and sober and with him, and failed to ever regain Veronica's trust.

Shiloh felt Jake's emotions even if she didn't understand them. She had resorted to calling him Jake to his face as a rebellion. It was so much like Lilly that Veronica and Logan were both enchanted and simultaneously worried about what that kind of distant relationship would lead to for Shi as she entered her teenage years.

Leanne had disappeared again before Shiloh's second birthday, coming back into town unannounced over the years for short visits that rarely ended well. It had been 18 months since any of them had heard from her.

The happy smile that is the perfect combination of Veronica and Lilly, transforms Shiloh's face into a pure expression of happiness. "So you'll let me come live with you? You promise?" Her eyes well with tears again, but she blinks them back. Shiloh was a lot of things. A window into their past. A perfect mix of Lilly and Veronica. A reminder of what could go wrong, and a promise for the future. But most of all she was herself. Logan and Veronica were more her parents than Jake and Leanne ever were. Her presence in their lives had made them stronger.

Logan nods and hugs her as she throws herself into his arms squealing with laughter. Having Shiloh full time would be a commitment, but he knew it would make the whole family happy. She might be a Kane by name and genetics, but she was a member of the Mars/Echolls/Fennel clan, and had been from the moment they had met her.

Shiloh didn't know it but Veronica and Logan had both turned down good career opportunities to be in Neptune after grad school so they could be close to her and part of her upbringing.

-VM-VM -VM-VM-

The realtor lets Logan into a large house, rambling on about the five bedroom seven bath structure. It's in the foothills only five minutes from the beach, and Logan thinks he might have finally found a house that Veronica will agree to live in. It's not too big, but with a backyard large enough for them to build her a dark room and art studio, and a total acreage large enough to afford them privacy. The heated pool is a bonus for Logan who doesn't get to the beach as often as he used to despite living five feet from the sand.

They are upstairs, in one of the smaller bedrooms when the realtor points out a beautiful old oak tree outside the window.

"This would be a perfect room for your little sister," she says.

Logan peers at the tree, which comes too close to the window, allowing a determined teen to either climb up or down it from the bedroom. He shakes his head, "I don't think so. Shiloh's almost to that age where a shotgun is going to be required to keep the boys at bay." He nods meaningfully to the tree outside.

The realtor smiles. "My daughter is getting to that age. It seems just a short time ago that she would demand I hold her and tell her fairy tales until she fell asleep on my shoulder."

Logan smiles, his mind drifting back over the years to Veronica holding a much younger Shiloh in her arms whispering secrets and jokes in her ear as she rocked and swayed to calm the much younger girl. A pang of wistfulness cuts through him, as he realizes he could see Veronica like that again, only this time it would be their baby resting on her chest.

Stunned with the emotional response he had to that image, he wanders to the next room, this one right next to the master suite.

The following day he blindfolds Veronica and bundles her into the Audi, smiling through her complaints and threats as he drives them to the new house in the 90909 area. Stopped at a red light, he leans across to her seat and silences her with a passionate kiss.

Pulling into the house, he feels the jump of nerves, realizing he wants the house and the family, and maybe even a damn dog. Backup had died the year before of old age, and no one had been able to stomach the idea of getting a new dog yet.

Logan stands Veronica in the driveway and turns her to face the house when he takes off the blindfold.

"Logan, what -" She frowns, seeing the house then realizes that the blinds are all up revealing that it is empty. "Tell me you didn't," her tone is prohibitive.

He smiles, undaunted by her implied threat. "I didn't. But I want to. All you have to do is say yes."

He leads her inside and shows her each room saving the small bedroom off the master suite for last. Pushing open the door, he leads her inside with her hand in his. "I was thinking this room would make a good nursery."

She stills, searching his face to see if he is just humoring her or if this is something he really wants. Seeing the answers there, she doesn't reply with words, but throws her arms around his neck and kisses him reverently.

"So I guess you like the house?"

"Shut up."


AN I get all kinds of emotional when I read this chapter. And since it's been done, I've reread it several times. If you noticed in the note at the beginning of the story the first draft of this chapter was written before STH ended.