Author's Note:Many thanks to Melinda (SamandDianefan10) for suggesting I write a sequel to her wonderful story. My obsession with Frasier has taken me away from writing TN stories, but I had a lot of fun doing this! I hope people like this, so of course I would appreciate reviews! :)
As they walked in the front door of the Sheffield mansion, Fran kissed Max one more time. "Thank you," she whispered.
Max kissed her back. "What for?"
"For so many things, Max. I was just about to give up on us, and just at the right moment, you show up and save the day. It's like a dream come true!"
"I thought your dream was to meet Barbra Streisand," Max teased. After living with Fran for so many years, he was well aware of her obsession with the famous singer.
"That was my other dream," Fran replied. "This one has already come true."
"Oh, Fran," Max whispered. "I've been alone for so long. After my wife died, I thought I was supposed to just focus on my work and trying to raise my children. I couldn't risk being hurt like that again. But you've opened my heart up to a world of possibilities. For that, I will love you for the rest of my life."
Fran gasped. This was the first time he'd ever said anything about forever. She'd always wanted that, to spend her life here with him and the children. But up until tonight, it had seemed impossible. How funny that one conversation had changed everything. Fran put her arms around him, resting her cheek comfortably on his chest. "Where do we go from here?"
Max looked into her eyes, surprised by her question. So far, he hadn't thought beyond this moment. But he saw now that everything was different. She was no longer just his nanny. No, she was the woman he loved, and he needed to make sure she knew it. He needed to make sure everyone around them knew it, too. "Niles!" Max said loudly, knowing his butler would not be far away.
Niles appeared almost instantly. "Yes, sir?" He could not hide his grin.
"You've been eavesdropping again," Max observed. His tone held no anger. "Would you be willing to watch the children for a couple of days?"
"Of course," Niles replied. The children were primarily Fran's responsibility, but Niles was more than willing to look after them on her days off. Before Fran had entered their lives, he'd practically raised Maggie, Brighton and Grace while Maxwell dealt with his grief.
"Good," Max said with a smile. "I believe I will be going out of town this weekend, and I'll be taking Fran with me." He put extra emphasis on her first name. After so many years of addressing her formally, he found that he liked saying her name.
"Oh, Mr. Sheffield!" Fran exclaimed at the news. When she caught herself, she giggled. "I mean Max. Where're we going?"
Max looked at her, feeling himself get lost in her eyes. "Hm...I'm thinking someplace in the country. A secluded little cabin, just the two of us. How does that sound?"
Fran kissed him deeply. "It sounds like heaven. I can hardly wait."
Max ran his finger along her cheek. He knew that he would be spending the rest of his life taking care of her. It seemed only right, since she'd rescued him from a life of loneliness and grief. Now, when he looked out into his future, he saw light and happiness ahead, rather than darkness and pain. And he had Fran to thank for it. "I promise to give you everything you've ever wanted," Max said.
Fran sighed, then laughed as she once again rested her cheek near his heart. The rhythm of it comforted her, let her know that she was safe. "That's all I could ask for Max. I love you."
Niles stood there for a moment, unable to believe his eyes. His boss, who'd been so over-cautious in his relationship with Miss Fine, had finally given in and found happiness. Niles had never told anyone this, but his habits of listening in and otherwise meddling in his employer's life had been for a purpose. He'd done everything he possibly could to fix what was wrong in Maxwell Sheffield's life. And in the end, it seemed Niles hadn't needed to help at all. Maxwell had fixed things for himself. Niles let out a contented sigh as he turned and left the room. Now he could leave them alone. His job was done.