The final chapter!
First, I want to thank you all for reading, and a special thanks to those who have reviewed. I would have continued writing even without knowing this was being enjoyed, but it makes me so happy to know that, even in this "fandom" that is now quite dead, there are still people around and active. So really, thank you for reading and for taking the time to review.
I will do my best to continue writing as time allows, as I adore Crossing Jordan. I may have an idea for another chaptered story; we'll see if anything comes of it.
Thank you again, and I hope you enjoy the last chapter!
"I'm not sure anymore, Woody," Jordan muttered unenthusiastically, staring out the window of the car and watching the Boston suburbs fly by. "Maybe we should just give up. I mean, this is going to be the twenty-third house we'll have looked at. And my - our - apartment isn't that small, is it?"
"It's the twenty-third house because we've been through five real estate agents, thanks to you," Woody retorted good-naturedly. "People don't really take kindly to you and your...attitude."
"Well, if they would just listen to what I was telling them I wouldn't get so angry!" She scowled and sank down into her seat, arms crossed over her chest.
He glanced over at her briefly. "You've kind of been asking for the impossible, you know that, right? And besides, it wasn't your anger that drove one of them away. Beatrice was not very taken with your innuendo at every turn. We only got to see one house with her."
"That lady was practically a nun. I didn't like her." But then she let go of her feigned annoyance with the situation and they both burst with laughter, remembering the encounter with the stiff woman in her fifties the month before. Almost immediately, Jordan had begun to comment on every inch of the house where she and Woody could do something...inappropriate. Things had gotten even worse when it had come to light that they were unmarried. They had never seen Beatrice again. "But this house that we're seeing today, it seems too good to be true. How did you hear about it again?"
"It was taken by the police a while back," Woody reminded her when his laughter subsided. "Since there was no next of kin for the deceased found inside and the house was not willed to anyone, it was about to be sent to auction. I asked to take a look first. It's also starting at half the cost than most of the others we were looking at, too."
"Natural causes, but the police wanted to make sure. I have the coroner's report if you want to see it."
Jordan pursed her lips at that and sucked in a sharp, agitated breath through her nose. Woody noticed his mistake at once. "The house isn't in the Boston city limits." It wasn't a question, but a pointed statement. If the case had gone to any other morgue but hers, it had been out of her jurisdiction. "Woody, I thought we -"
"You're right, Jo." This was something he was going to bring up later - much later - and, knowing he'd been caught Woody instantly tried to placate her and correct the situation. "We talked about it a lot, and I know how much living near the city means to you. But this one is right on the city line, and it's so perfect. Just take a look. Please?" He flashed her a dimpled smile and watched as her resolve cracked the tiniest bit.
"Fine," she said under her breath. "I'll look at it. But no promises."
"Thank you." He reached one hand from the wheel and touched her thigh, but was not at all surprised when she continued to stare out the window instead of looking at him again. He just grinned. Not two minutes later, they had arrived. "We're here. See? I told you it wasn't far."
Jordan got out of the car wordlessly as the real estate agent, who had gotten there first, made her way over to Woody to shake his hand. She looked up at the old brick house and was suddenly glad she had agreed to give it a chance. There was wisteria climbing up a trellis along one side of a gorgeous, open front porch that would likely smell incredible when it began to bloom, and a wooden swing was nestled among the vines in the shade of the overhang from the upstairs balcony. Lovely flowerbeds and a wide, healthy grass yard in the front gave way to a yard in the back that was just as nice. The first impression was a good one – even if that wisteria would have to be looked after.
Still, though, she couldn't resist walking up to Woody and leaning in to whisper sarcastically, "Where's the white picket fence and all the desperate housewives?"
He turned to glare at her and was taken off guard by the small smile playing on her lips as she continued to look around the outside of the house. He put his hand on the small of her back. "Diana gave me the key. Want to go inside?"
She nodded and walked up the brick stairs to the large front door. Woody handed her the key, content to let her take the lead, and watched as she unlocked it and stepped inside. Even devoid of furniture, which had already been divided per the deceased man's will or sold at previous auctions, the house felt like a home - like it had been lived in and loved for a very long time, now ready for someone new. The big windows let plenty of sunlight into what was likely the spacious living room. The kitchen was beside it, separated by an arched walkway. Granite countertops, wooden cabinets, a nice island. The stairs leading to the second story were down a wide hallway with a few other doors off of it.
"Do you two, erm..." Diana paused and bit her lip, frightened of watching another property slip through her fingers with this very stubborn woman. "Do you know the history of the house?"
"Someone died here. We know," Jordan shot back without even bothering to look at her as she made her way into the kitchen.
Both Diana and Woody were keeping a careful eye on her as she ran a hand over the granite and looked out of one of the kitchen windows. It gave a wonderful view of the yard through the wisteria. "There's a half-bathroom at the end of the hall and a mudroom right here," the real estate agent began to explain timidly, gesturing to a closed door off the kitchen beside a huge pantry. "There's also another empty room on this floor that can be a den or an office."
Not paying much attention, Jordan went down the hallway, also flooded with natural light due to the open layout, and went up the stairs.
"There are three bedrooms and two bathrooms," Diana called, rushing after her. "One connected to the master suite and another at the other end of the hall. The, um, the master bedroom is to your - your right. Oh -" She had caught her foot on the carpet runner on the stairs in her haste not to let her very difficult client out of her sight.
Woody followed them both, holding back a chuckle. He was already in love with the house, so now it was just a matter of getting Jordan to agree. That would be the hard part. Perhaps twenty-third time's the charm? He fingered the new ring box in his pocket. He'd been carrying it around for almost two weeks now, waiting for the right time. This certainly wasn't it, but it just cemented in his brain what he already knew - he would follow her anywhere, even back to that tiny apartment.
"Those French doors there? Those lead to the mater suite," Diana was calling from the hallway, where she had removed her shoe to make sure her toe was still a normal color. "But please, Miss Cavanaugh, wait just a second!" The frazzled woman gave Woody a pleading look.
"Calling her 'doctor' instead of 'miss' might get you somewhere," he whispered, walking by her and through the open double doors into the master bedroom.
"Woody," Jordan murmured, "look."
She had immediately gone to the upstairs balcony on the far side of the room and opened the door. She hadn't stepped out, but something had stopped her in her tracks. There, just over the short treetops and neighboring roofs, they could make out the city skyline.
"I take it this is the one, then?" he asked, coming up behind her to kiss the side of her hair.
"Yeah. I guess it'll do."
"There are only a few boxes left," Kayla informed them a few months later on a bright spring afternoon as she set down a light box of clothes on the landing by the stairs. "It's mostly furniture now, and I'm not touching that."
"Thanks, baby," Jordan whispered, taking her into a sideways hug and kissing the top of her head.
"I'm so glad my mom let me help," the teenager said cheerfully, smiling up at her friend and moving out of her grasp to take a swig from a bottle of water. "This house is awesome. And did you see that hot guy across the street?" She was gone again, back outside, before Jordan had a chance to respond.
"We have an extra bedroom now," Woody said quietly, coming to stand beside her and wrapping his arms around her waist as she reached after the girl who had almost become her adopted daughter. "She can come stay whenever she wants when she comes home from college."
Jordan turned in his embrace and gave him a playful smile. "It's a good thing we already have a spare bed, then. There is no way I'm letting your ratty thing into our new master bedroom." She said those last words with such a flourish that he couldn't hold the barb about his bed against her. They had just bought a house – a house they were currently moving into. But then her lips turned down again in concern. "But, uh, did Kayla really just say something about our neighbor? A few months ago she had a boyfriend."
"Teenagers," he whispered soothingly, his gaze darting out one of the large windows to see Kayla now in the driveway across the street talking to that 'hot guy'. "Relationships never lasting as long as it takes them to…well, what do teenagers do now? But I guess I can't really talk; I almost married my high school sweetheart. Man, I still can't really believe Kayla was almost your daughter."
"I'm glad you didn't."
"What?" Woody looked at her again, confused at the abrupt change in topic.
"Didn't marry Annie," Jordan supplied lowly, crossing her arm over his chest to run the backs of her fingers over his cheek. "Guess that makes me kind of selfish, huh? I know you loved her."
He caught her hand in his and held it against his face. "I hated that damn reporter with every fiber of my being. Does that make us even?"
"Sure." She smiled widely at him, everything else around them fading away as he kissed her knuckles and then opened her hand to press his lips to her palm. "So romantic," she murmured, eyes on their fingers. "But I think I'd like this a little more right now…" Without another word, she extracted her hand from his easy grasp, threaded her fingers through his hair, and kissed him full on the mouth.
His lips opened obediently under hers, his hands slipping under her shirt to rest against the warm skin of her lower back. She pressed closer to him and slid one of her legs between his – only to jump apart as though they'd been shocked two seconds later.
"Oh, my God, that's so gross!"
Kayla had come back inside with one of the last boxes and she dropped it dramatically at her feet with a loud huff. "I mean, really? There are people outside and you're supposed to be an adult."
"Yes, Jordan," Nigel said slyly, coming inside as well and setting another box on the island in the kitchen. "You should be setting a good example for this sweet, virtuous child. Showing her to preserve her innocence rather than lose it at such a young age. You know, not to repeat your mistakes."
"Nigel!" Jordan barked, throwing the first thing she could reach – which happened to be a small telephone book – in his general direction. Her temper interfered with her aim and he easily danced out of the way with a laugh. "Shut your trap. You know I was in college when I…when I 'lost my innocence'," she added for the benefit of Kayla, who groaned and walked away.
He just chuckled and went back toward the open front door, where Bug was about to drop another, larger, box. "Any word from Garret yet?" she asked.
"No," the entomologist replied breathlessly, "but at this rate we'll be done by the time he gets here. You should take advantage of having professional movers here, though, and get your furniture inside. It'll be hard to do by yourselves."
Jordan nodded, starting to feel a little overwhelmed again. Woody noticed immediately. "I've got this, Jo," he said. "I'll go tell them were to put our stuff and then we can rearrange it later, if you want. Hey Kayla! Go upstairs and decide which of the spare bedrooms you like more!"
She watched thankfully as Woody went outside to talk to some people, and then as Kayla ran excitedly upstairs. Bug and Nigel cleared out as well a moment later and she was alone downstairs. In her home. She smiled softly, running a hand over her hair as she looked around the living room, filled with boxes and just her couch so far, and made her way into the kitchen to find her purse. It was sitting on the counter under a lovely row of cabinets that were also hers now. Her smile widening, she opened the bag and began to rummage through it for something.
That something was a letter to her father. She had actually written it four weeks ago, after all of the paperwork had been finalized and a move-in date had been set, but she hadn't sent it. The envelope was crinkled and a little crushed in places from having spent the between-time in her purse, though it was already stamped. All the letter had was her new address and telephone number, and a small note hoping he was well. But that was enough.
Taking a deep breath, she followed Woody outside and went past the moving truck to the mailbox at the end of the driveway to slip the very first piece of mail inside. They had already spoken to the Post Office, so it would be picked up on Monday. She looked up to see Woody watching her, and he gave her a loving, supportive smile that made her feel as though everything were going to be okay. One he had given her so many times during the course of their friendship, and one whose meaning had never changed. One that had gotten her through many rough times and many more to come.
She turned her gaze back up to the house – the home where she was going to spend the rest of her life with him.
"How's the move going?"
"Garret!" Jordan spun around to see her friend getting out of his car. "We're almost done. You're, like, five hours late!"
"Yeah? And when was the last time you showed up on time for work?" He took her into a tight hug as she started to laugh. "This is a gorgeous house, Jordan. Though I must admit, I'm surprised you let Woody talk you into moving outside the city."
She shrugged and looped her elbow with his, guiding him up the walkway to the open front door. "There was no sweet-talking involved, man. Let me show you my new home. I think you'll understand."
A few more hours later, after everything had been moved in, the truck and cars fully unloaded, and goodbyes said, Jordan and Woody were finally alone. They stood in the living room, where Jordan's couch was pushed up under the windows and his was beside it across from the fireplace. Not a matching set, but movies had been watched on both of those couches – not to mention the other things they had done – and neither wanted to consider looking for a matching set yet. The television, still not hooked up, was on a stand across from both. And, as if pulling everything together, her mother's upright piano sat against the wall. Jordan hadn't asked permission to take it from her father's house, but she didn't think he'd mind; she was the only one that played it now. The room already looked warm and inviting, even with the mash of furnishings.
"Well. What now?" Jordan asked with a soft sigh as she looked around.
"I dunno," Woody replied, coming up behind her to wrap his arms around her waist. She fell back against him easily, a lazy smile on her lips. "Does this feel surreal to you? 'Cause I can't quite believe it's actually happening."
"Believe it, Farm Boy," she said softly. "Still feel like you're gonna break my stuff in here, or is this new house big enough for ya?"
Woody craned his neck to look down at her in confusion. "What're you talking about? I..uh, I never told you I broke anything in your apartment. Did I?"
"No," Jordan said with a quiet chuckle. She hadn't told him about his drugged hospital confessions, and she likely never would. It would only embarrass him silly. "Not really. Say...if we move this coffee table out of the way..."
She wiggled playfully out of his grasp and darted lightly over to the table in the center of the room, only to push it up against the sofa - leaving a great empty space in its wake. Before he could ask what she was doing, she walked over to the large inset bookcase where the only plugged in electronic was: her CD player. It took just a moment to find the CD she wanted, and she popped it into the player and selected her song. A few seconds later, Dirty Water by The Standells filtered through the speakers and she grinned slyly as she sauntered back to the center of the room, beckoning Woody forward to join her with one finger just as she had done many times before long ago.
He stepped forward and quickly pulled her back into her arms, laughing as they spun around and began to sway to the music.
"Do you remember dancing to this in my dad's bar…what? Almost eight years ago now?" she asked ask they pushed away from one another and then spiraled back as the music played.
"Oh, yeah," Woody mused, tugging her close again so they could stay in place and dance there. "I was already madly in love with you then, even if you wouldn't give me the time of day. Your dad told me to be careful, did you know that?"
"I always did, Woody," Jordan said softly, looking up at him as they moved together.
"Always knew he told me to back off?"
She chuckled and glanced away, a smile on her lips. "No. Always gave you the time of day. Or wanted to, at least. I seem to have chickened out at the last minute most of the time and by the time I wasn't afraid…well, you were there; you saw what happened. Things got complicated."
Woody laughed at that last sentence and held her against him tightly, continuing to dance. "I think you're always going to be 'complicated', Jordan. I'm going to have my share of issues, too, and if I remember correctly? We made that whole situation a mess jointly. I'm just glad we can work through life together now despite all that. Go into the rest of our lives without that fear."
"Yeah," she agreed softly, leaning her head against the side of his. "Me, too. But right now? I just wanna dance for a while."