Greetings Everyone! The Guardian has returned for one final chapter. This epilogue was inspired 100% by the song "Count on Me" by Bruno Mars. It amazes me how one little song could write this final ending. Enjoy!
Lizzie smiled in her sleep. She could feel a warm breeze caressing the nape of her neck. Her shoulders. Her belly. She moaned softly with pleasure, slowly coming awake, opening her eyes to find the source that had interrupted her sleep wasn't a dream but very real.
"Rise and shine, my love." Red said, his breath moving towards the heat in her belly that was already flaring.
"I just love sleeping in." She stretched and purred, shifting to her back to grant him full access to whatever he was searching for. Her body shivered with arousal as her hands gripped his head, her thumbs and forefingers tugging at the short cropped hairs on his head as his mouth found exactly what he wanted.
Always. Always it had been like this for them. The passion. The desire. The need for each other that grew stronger with each passing year instead of ebbing and becoming comfortable or routine. She loved nothing in this world as much as loved Raymond Reddington and their last four years together had only reinforced those feelings.
A sharp rap on the bedroom door interrupted Reds exploration and Lizzie groaned in frustration.
Red grinned a wicked smirk and slapped her rump with his hand. "Don't move." He ordered, his eyes twinkling as he pulled on a pair of trousers and crisp white shirt. Liz's eyes followed him as he walked out of the bedroom and through his study.
"Merras online. We have a situation." Liz could hear Jacobs low voice explaining. Sighing, their morning adventure was going to be put on hold, she thought as she climbed out of bed.
Martin Kobalth, Chief Counsel for Global Oil entered his luxurious office on the top floor of the Republic Plaza skyscraper in Singapore. Opening his briefcase he pulled out a file and tossed it down on top of his desk with an angry snap.
"Sir, I have Mr Galbreath on line one." His secretary's voice came through the speaker. With a heavy sigh, he sat down at his desk and answered his employers call. It was going to be along day.
"I want an update." The voice brisk and authoritative. As CEO of Global Oil, his level of tolerance to accept failure from any of the people that worked for him was zero. Especially in a crisis and this was a crisis in the extreme.
"I've reached out to a company called SCOTT and spoken with a Ms. Malik, she's President and former CIA. My sources tell me that this is the absolute "go to" organization for situations like this. They will go anywhere, any county. They were involved in the rescue of the undercover agent three years ago that the Taliban's held captive and the two nuns that were captured in Nicaragua last year, that particular rescue was pro bono."
"What else can you tell me?" Galbreath demanded.
"They've been in business for about four years. The company is completely privately owned and I have not yet been able to identify the owner or owners. Other than than, damn little. Apparently very stringent confidentially agreements are required so no one is willing to say much, other than the group has been successful in their missions. Their fee is ten million plus expenses." Martin let his employer chew on that bit of information.
"Authorize it immediately, no questions asked. Last time we had a situation like this we weren't aggressive and it took years for our stock to recover, not to mention that half of our top executives walked." His decision was made and he expected his order to be carried out immediately.
"Understood Sir. I'm waiting now for Ms. Malik to inform me of their decision."
"Martin, money is not an issue. Do what ever is necessary to get them to accept the job."
"Yes Sir." But he was already speaking to a dial tone.
They gathered in the refurbished ballroom, Red, Lizzie, Dembe and Jacob. Gone were the crystal chandeliers, the intimate tables and chairs. The grand piano had been moved to a smaller room that was now called the music room and Liz used it almost daily. In it's place were rows of long work tables with maps and printers and laptops covering the surface. One section was devoted to rack after rack of servers, hubs and switches. The room, for all intents and purposes was the control center for SCOTT. Red had spared no expense in creating the company. He had invested millions in building the infrastructure, the smallest details accounted for. The company even had two of its own private satellites in space, ensuring secure communication anywhere in the world.
Everyone in the room had their attention fixed on the woman whose image was being transmitted from headquarters in London to the half dozen oversized LCD screens mounted from the ceiling. Meera's chocolate brown eyes were narrowed as she glanced up at the file she had been reading from. "Bottom line is that Vincent Carson, Vice President of Global Oil's International Division, his wife Evelyn and their three children, Daisy 6 months, Justin 5 years and Dillon age 7 were intercepted in their limo outside of Bogota. The driver and Mrs Carson were shot and killed, their bodies left on the side of the road. The kidnappers then commandeered the car, drove 220 kilometers at which point Mr. Carson's body was discovered, it appears he bleed to death. The limo was then found abandoned in Amazonas near Cahuinari Park. Terrorists have been holed up in that area for decades. It's remote, almost impassable. Local police and government are practically non existent and what little military there is, is corrupt." Merra sighed, her eyes staring directly at the group displayed on her computer.
"How long ago was this?" Red growled.
"17 hours." Her voice cool and clipped.
"Any ransom demands." Jacob asked.
Merra shook her head no. "Not yet and I believe it is extremely unlikely that there will be any. They would have hung on to Carson's body instead of dumping him. Whoever is responsible bungled the entire job. Instead they will utilize the children into other...avenues. It's a far safer exchange for them and almost as lucrative."
Liz's throat tightened and her stomach dropped. Everyone in the room knew what Meera was referring to. The children would be sold into human trafficking. She couldn't stop her hand from gripping Reds shoulder.
"Chief Counsel Martin Kobalth for Global Oil reached out to us in hopes that we could locate the children. They are adamant that should any ransom be asked for, it will be paid. They are also aware that chances of recovering these children are slim. I reviewed our contract and our flat fee and the terms were acceptable."
Red glanced at the two men in the room. "We are all in agreement?" Both men nodded. "Lizzie?" Red turned and asked her.
"Yes, of course." Her voice a whisper, agreeing to the only option there was.
"Meera, how long till you have a team assembled?" Red turned his attention back to the woman who had been with them since almost the inception of SCOTT. Within just a few short years their reputation for success had placed them at the top of a very short list of companies that specialized in rescuing high profile kidnap victims. They had been contracted by major corporations, non profits and several governments. The CIA and FBI had even used their expertise in several situations where government interference would not be tolerated and situations needed to be resolved privately.
Merra along with Jacob, who headed Operations and Security, had recruited a group of men and woman that were considered the cream of the crop of their chosen profession. Former intelligence agents, covert military, MIT graduates, freedom fighters. Even medical and administration personnel had been privately recruited. The mix was varied, the only thing similar was that each and every person in their employ was the absolute best at what they did and were fully committed to the goals of the company.
"Anticipating your answer to be yes, they are already in transit to Bogota." Meera advised.
"Excellent. We'll meet them there. Have Aram contact me once we are in the air."
"I'll advise World Global that we will be accepting the job." Merra signed off.
"Fifteen minutes gentleman, be ready to depart." Red instructed Dembe and Jacob.
Liz waited until they had left the room, "Red, your not going also are you?" Her voice raised in alarm. They had a deal. Red did not go out into the field anymore.
"Yes, I'm sorry. I know you don't like it, but this is a delicate operation, far more complex since the targets are three small children. I need to be there to help ensure everything goes smoothly."
She reached out and grasped his forearm. " Let me come with you. I could help."
"Absolutely not, I need you here to maintain communications. There is no one else I trust as much as I trust you. We'll be in constant contact Lizzie, you know that." He assured her. There was no way in hell he would ever allow her to be placed in danger.
She nodded her head, knowing it was pointless to try and convince him otherwise. She hooked her arms around his neck and pulled him close for a long lingering kiss. "Don't make me have to come in there and rescue you." Her teasing tone belying the intent of her words. If anything happened to him, she would be there in a heartbeat and the world would feel her wrath.
Seven hours later everything was in place. A rough field command station had been set up, located outside the perimeter of the park. Three heat searching drones had already been launched and were currently scanning the thousands of square acres that made up the western part of Columbia and it's many national parks. On paper the purpose of the parks was to preserve the wild life and fauna of the country. In reality, the parks were a safe haven for the terrorists and drug cartels that owned the country.
Five potential areas had been identified as possible locations for the children The drones heat sensors picking up activity that was consistent with what they were searching for. Small, sensitive listening devices, disguised in fabricated nut shells had been dropped at each of the potential sites. Another thirty minutes and they had identified which of the locations was holding the children. The heat sensors showed a total of seven kidnappers and two smaller heat figures in a building.
The rescue team waited until dusk and then made quick work dropping into the area by helicopter. Wearing night vision goggles they moved silently on foot, closing the remainder of the distance to the compound. Everyone in the group had small cameras and mics attached which allowed Liz and Aram to monitor their movements and allow everyone to communicate. In addition, the men attached small wireless cameras to the buildings and trees they passed as they entered the compound. One of the SCOTT satellites had already been moved providing them with the means to communicate. Liz from the island and Aram from London were able to monitor the cameras and report back to the team any movements of the kidnappers that the cameras picked up.
Liz watched as Red came behind one guard and swiftly broke his neck, the man falling silently to ground. Another monitor showed Jacob making quick work of terrorist number two. Smoke, Artie and Louis entered the south side of the compound, their rifles silent as they snipped two of the men patrolling the grounds. Liz picked up the approach of another kidnapper and quickly informed Dembe of his location. She watched as he silently approached the man from behind. Dembe also preferred to use his hands rather than his gun or knife.
Liz held her breath as Red and Jacob met up and entered the building that they believed held the children. Her stomach had been clenched with fear ever since word had come back that the baby hadn't been spotted on the infrared. Her attention quickly moved to the screen showing one of the kidnappers as he rounded the corner and started up the steps. "Red, he's coming in!" she warned, her voice urgent. Red and Jacobs camera feeds were either being blocked by something or not picking up enough light for her to see what was happening inside the building and she could feel herself beginning to panic. She quickly warned the rest of the team and Dembe moved towards the ramshackle shed.
"Aram, there is still one more and one in the building." She reminded, eyes scanning the monitors screens that were divided into six segments. Between the two of them they had coverage of thirty-six different views of the compound.
"There he is, view fourteen. Looks like he just tripped over one of the bodies." Aram shouted.
"I have him in sight." Smoke reported back.
She watched as the man spotted Smoke and aimed his riffle, hitting Smoke in the shoulder. "Son of a bitch." She heard him say as he charged the kidnapper and they both went down, fists swinging. Within seconds, Artie joined in and had pulled the man off Smoke and slit his neck. Reaching his arm down, he pulled Smoke up and gave him a bear hug. "You okay, man?"
"Yeah, little prick caught me in shoulder. Looks like the Kevlar did its job." Smoke chuckled deeply.
Lizzie's eyes went back to the building. "Red report." She ordered, nothing, damn him! "Red report now!"
"I'm here Lizzie. Everyone's accounted for." His voice calm coming through the room speakers.
"Thank God! You have the baby?" She didn't even bother to hide the relief in her voice.
"How are they?" She sat down, her knees weak as she sighted the men coming out of the building. Red holding the baby, Dembe and Jacob each carrying one of the boys.
"Alive. They don't appear to be injured, but it looks as if the boys have been drugged. The baby is very small which is why we weren't able to pick up on her image." Liz watched as the team formed around Red. "Stan is already on board the helicopter and waiting to examine them."
"It will be landing in approximately four minutes. Get your asses to the pick up sight." Her words brisk, tolerating no nonsense in wanting to get them out of the area as quickly as possible.
"Really Lizzie, your language and with children around." He teased, he had heard the fear in her voice. "We'll be taking the children to the hospital in Lecheria. I want you to meet me there as soon as Jacob returns. They are going to be frightened and I know your presence will calm them. Have Meera contact Global and tell them we have care and control of the children." It was the same private hospital that had treated Lizzie when he had spirited her away from Washington and the FBI.
"I'll be there as soon as I can. I love you." She added.
"I love you too. You worry to much." Red looked straight into the camera that was stuck on the building in front of him and gave her a wide leering grin and a cocky wink.
Liz looked at the large clock mounted on the wall. The entire operation had taken less than twenty -two minutes.
One of things that Red truly hated was being apart from Lizzie. He had spent to many years fighting ghosts and being alone, living in safe houses and hotels. Those days were behind him, yet he never forgot the depth of the loneliness and despair that had haunted him for so long. Now, every moment spent with Lizzie was treasured and every moment away was a reminder of how his life had once been.
He accessed the villa's security system to check on her, to reassure himself that she was safe. "Don't forget to kiss me goodnight." She had told him earlier in the evening when they had spoken, knowing of his need to watch over her. It was their ritual when circumstance occurred and he needed to be away from her.
The bed they shared was empty, blankets pushed back, much the way it had been most nights that he checked on her. He turned his access to the boys bedroom, watching them sleep with the innocence of youth. He could tell that Lizzie had already been in to check on them, the coverlet neatly pulled up to their chins, to brush their hair off their forehead, to wish them the sweetest of dreams instead of the nightmares that sometimes chased them.
The boys had been interviewed by the best child psychologists he could find. From what they had determined, it appeared as if they had not actually seen their parents murdered, but instead had been chloroformed immediately and spared that gruesome memory. He was grateful for that information. It would take time and counseling, but Red felt hopeful that with support and continued counseling, the boys would recover as much as possible from the trauma.
There was only one place left for his Lizzie to be. The baby's room. The child was a lightweight, born healthy, but premature at a little over three pounds. Her stamina and the disruption of her life impacting what little schedule she had been able to maintain. His face softened and the crows feet on his face deepened as he was proved correct.
Lizzie, sitting in the soft upholstered glider near the crib. Her eyes closed, her face content. He would have thought she was asleep except for the gentle movement of the glider as she pushed off with her toe every so often. She held the sleeping baby close, the baby's cherub face resting on the soft pillow of her breast.
Madonna. She was so incredibly beautiful, he felt his heart tighten and his throat thicken.
The baby tucked her butt up in the air even further if that was possible, her tiny hand finding her mouth as she suckled on it and Lizzie, with her eyes still closed, placed a soft kiss on the top of her head.
Red couldn't stop the smile that came to him every time he said the baby's name. It was truly a delightful name. A happy name. A name given to a child that had been loved greatly, along with her older brothers.
Daisy with her thick shock of dark curls, a cowlick at her forehead and such, tiny, tiny seashell ears. So very small, even at six months the child still weighed less than twelve pounds. Nothing at all like his own beloved daughter who had weighed in at eight pounds at birth with golden hair and plump cheeks. Both babies so incredibly beautiful and fragile in their own way.
"Goodnight my love." He whispered, kissing his forefinger and touching it to Lizzies face. His eyes became reflective as he stared at their images.
"Good night princess Daisy." The smile reappearing as he said her name, his finger sliding down the screen to touch her small form.
Martin Kobalth, sipped on his very, very expensive glass of scotch, taking in the view in front of him. He was comfortable with wealth, what money and power could provide, but this island, this villa, this lifestyle went beyond that. He watched Scott's "associate", translation for obvious bodyguard, exit the house carrying two bottles of beer, joining another man, just as intimidating who stood under a large shade tree. An older woman and young man lounged on garden chairs, chatting, but he found his gaze continue to return to the young woman sitting on a large blanket fussing with the baby as the Carlson boys wrestled with each other. The scene of domestically was something he hadn't been expecting.
To say he had been concerned about the situation with the children would have been an understatement. He hadn't known quite what to do when Malik had informed him that according to the terms of the contract he had signed, the children would remain under the care and control of SCOTT until the next of kin had been located. Carlson's brother had been named guardian in the will, but unfortunately he had been killed a few months before in car accident and Carlson hadn't yet updated his will. Surprisingly enough, his employer hadn't balked at the arrangement and to give Raymond Scott his due, he had keep them updated with the condition of the children and they had worked together in the search of the next of kin. No one would deny that everyone had the best interests of the children front and foremost.
Martin had spent a considerable amount of time with the man named Raymond "Red" Scott, an alias he suspected but had no intention of trying to prove. Especially after Interpol had interviewed him at 3:00 am one morning - their advice to him had been that any inquires regarding the man that owned SCOTT would be considered "dissident" and was he aware of what that word meant to his future. Needless to say, he had wisely stopped his inquires.
The man made him nervous, uneasy, not an easy task for someone to accomplish. Scott had "suggested" that he return with him to his home to finalize the last of the remaining details regarding the children and of course Martin wasn't foolish enough to refuse. And he would admit to being curious about the man who had the ability it appeared, to almost move mountains. He glanced to his side, watching him out of the corner of his eye. It was obvious that the cold, harsh man that he had dealt with these last weeks was entirely different than the man he saw standing beside him now. His demeanor relax and pleasant. For the first time in many years, Martin found himself surprised.
Red stood on the terrace his expression gentle as he watched the woman he loved. Baby Daisy, a floppy white hat on her head, cooing in her seat and bouncing occasionally, Lizzie, those silly sexy cutoff shorts that she still continued to wear, now paper thin and faded to white. A cotton peasant blouse with rich hand stitched embroidery, one side slipping off, exposing a bare shoulder. The boys, the younger one, Justin, hanging on her neck from behind, while Dillon, sat cross legged in front of her, their attention rapt as she picked up the guitar that was laying beside her and started to pick at the strings and begin playing.
If you ever find yourself stuck in the middle of the sea,
I'll sail the world to find you
If you ever find yourself lost in the dark and you can't see,
I'll be the light to guide you
Find out what we're made of
When we are called to help our friends in need
You can count on me like 1 2 3
I'll be there
And I know when I need it I can count on you like 4 3 2
And you'll be there
Cause that's what friends are supposed to do, oh yeah
She looked up from the children and saw that he had returned, her face lighting up with a smile of welcome. Blowing him a kiss, she continued on with the song.
If you're tossing and you're turning and you just can't fall asleep,
I'll sing a song beside you
And if you ever forget how much you really mean to me,
Everyday I will remind you, ohh
Find out what we're made of
When we are called to help our friends in need
You can count on me like 1 2 3
I'll be there
The song finished, she laid the guitar down and reached behind her back to pull Justin on to the blanket, tickling him and Dillon, their shrills of laughter as beautiful as the song she had just finished. Standing, she scooped up the baby and placed her in Sophia's waiting arms. Peter, taking those first steps into manhood stood and started to entertain the boys with a game of kick ball.
She had missed him so much these last few weeks. He had been gone more during this time than in the four years they had been married, only returning for a day or so at the longest before leaving again. Even though Red had explained that he was tracking down leads and working with World Global to try and identify next of kin, she was certain it was really because of the change in their life style with the arrival of the children. While she knew quite well that Red would never express the words aloud or by any deed, Liz could only imagine what the introduction of three young children was doing to Red's seemingly impenetrable nerves of steel.
He closed the space between them, meeting her halfway. "I have missed you so much!" She whispered, stepping into his embrace. Their lips came together in a deep kiss and his arms wrapped around her waist, spinning her around, her laughter like the sound of bells in the wind. He had felt so ill at ease away from her and he welcomed the rush of contentment and peace that he felt the moment he had arrived home. Even though they spoke twice a day, it would never replace the feeling of just holding her in his arms.
"We have guest Lizzie". His lips trailed down her neck before he finally broke away. She glanced at him, the unasked question in her eyes. Taking her by the arm he led her up the terrace steps.
"Martin, this is my wife Elizabeth."
Martin hadn't known what to expect of Scott's wife. An older woman he had assumed, one closer to his own age. A cold blond sophisticate perhaps. He certainly hadn't expected this beautiful, young woman, sitting in sunshine, singing to children. He couldn't help but be skeptical of May to December romances, his own personal experience with a younger wife had taught him that lesson, but then his wife had never looked at him the way this woman looked at Raymond Scott.
"Welcome to our home." She greeted him with a handshake and a smile that didn't reach her eyes. A knot forming in her stomach at the introduction. Red had neglected to tell her that he was bringing a guest and she shot him a sideways glance. She assumed this was the Martin that Red had been working with all month. She could only think that he was here to transport the children to their new home. She felt nauseous at thought, even though she had been expecting it. After all, that was the reason why Red had been gone all month.
"Will you be staying long Martin?" Already she was feeling separation anxiety.
"No, just a short visit." He answered politely.
"You'll excuse us Martin? I need to speak with my wife." Red placed his arm around her shoulder and led her from the terrace and into the gardens. She was silent and Red wrapped his arm around her waist as they followed the path that let towards the ocean.
Lizzie took a deep breath. She could do this, she was strong. She had everything she could possible want in Red. He adored her and she him. It would be wrong, selfish of her to think she needed or wanted anything more that what she had already had.
"What did you find out about the children?" She finally asked, breaking the silence between them.
"They are now officially wards of the state of Georgia."
She shook her head, confused. "Why wards?"
"There's no one to take them, Lizzie. It's the law." Red explained.
They walked hand in hand, Liz deep in thought as she tried to absorb what Red was telling her. This was even worse than she had imagined. She had expected Red to tell her that he had found an Aunt or Uncle or grandparent or some loving able family member that would welcome the children into their life. She hadn't expected to hear that they would become wards of the state, foster homes, possibly being split up. She could feel her body breaking out into a fine sweat.
"Lizzie, I need to ask you." Red stopped and placed his fingers under her chin, forcing her to look up at him. "How do you feel about adopting them?"
Her response was immediate. "No!" The shake of her head sharp, her throat closing unable to say anything more as she pulled away from him and continued to walk.
Red hide his surprise, mulling over her words. When had Lizzie stopped wanting children? He knew it was something they had never discussed, but at one time it had been important to her, before, when she had shared her life with Tom Keen. He recalled her words of four years ago when she mentioned she wasn't ready for children, didn't know if she ever would be. He knew her too well, he had seen that burning desire and excitement she had when she had thought she would have a child of her own. He had watched her in the middle of the night as she held Daisy to her breast. Red's eyes narrowed at her retreating back and within a few strides he had caught up to her, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her to a stop.
The silence between them stretched and Red realized she wasn't going to be anymore forthcoming. "Once upon a time you dreamed of children Lizzie. What happened to that dream?" His voice low, seductive.
She shook her head, indicating she didn't want to talk about it. Truth be told, she knew if she tried to speak her words would be tear choked and Red would push her into telling him her deepest thoughts. She didn't want to talk about this, it hurt to much. She looked out at the ocean and in her mind she listed all the reasons why it could never work.
Red was caviar and fine wine, the children were peanut butter and fish sticks.
Red was pressed trousers and crisp shirts, the children were sticky fingers and scraped knees.
Red was flying to exotic locations on a whim, the children were nights spent by their side, holding their hand till the nightmares drifted away.
She would never in a million years ask Red to accept three children. Already he had been away more than any other time in their marriage. She was certain it was the chaos and confusion that was the reason. She didn't doubt that he loved her, didn't doubt that he would do this for her, but she loved him to much to ever ask him to change his life like this.
"Talk to me Lizzie, We always tell each other everything." He coaxed, his hand finding the small of her back, his thumb pressing circles on her skin. She turned away from him and she felt him step behind her, his arms tugging at her waist, pulling her back against his chest. Finally she was able to whisper, "It's to much Red."
"Hmmm," he murmured into her ear. His mouth gently kissing the nape of her neck. God how he had missed her. "I know raising three children suddenly won't be easy Lizzie, but it's not like we don't have help." Red whispered into her ear, his mouth still placing soft kisses on her neck, her shoulder. He could begin to feel some of the tension ebbing out of her.
Liz felt a tear spill over. She was overwhelmed that he would even consider this for her. He had lost one child and she didn't think Red would ever want to put himself in the situation where he might lose another. It was the reason she had never brought up the subject of adoption with him. "Red, you are the most important thing in the world to me. I could never ask you or expect you to make a change of this magnitude."
He brushed his lips against her hair. "Is that what you think you would be doing?" He purred in her ear.
She nodded, her eyes closed, still unable to face him. He brushed away the silent tears that were streaming down her face.
"Look at me." He coaxed, waiting until she finally met his gaze, "Your not asking me to accept these children. I am asking you to accept these children. I already have. What do you think I have been doing these last few weeks?" His voice curious.
"Hiding?" She told him, her tone serious and sad.
He chuckled and placed a kiss on her forehead. "Never. Never in a million years, my love. I have been to the States, spoken with every living relative I could find, which by the way consisted of one third cousin who slammed the door in my face, a maternal grandmother in a nursing home that forgot my visit before I even left her room and a Uncle of very questionable integrity. I stood in front of an underpaid and overworked Judge. Been interviewed at least half a dozen times by children services and had to cajoled Howard into writing a glowing letter of recommendation. Not to mention swear to him that I wouldn't steal anymore of his employees away - good thing Ressler has already given his notice." He stared into her eyes, his tone becoming solemn, "I've done all these things Lizzie, because it was what I wanted. Now I need to know if this is what you want?"
"Are you serious?" Her hands gripped his forearms as she felt her knees weaken, eyes wide with shock. "That's what you've been doing?"
"Why not? They need someone to love them and to care for them and I think we would do a wonderful job of it. Together." He was full of confidence and assurance.
"Are you certain Red?" She still couldn't believe what he was saying to her. Raymond Reddington wanting and willing to become a father of three? "This will change our lives forever. This is a lifetime commitment."
"Yes, it is. Just like my commitment to you is for a lifetime."
She felt a shudder run through her and something inside of her broke free. All the fear of the last month, the uncertainty of what would happen to these children she already loved, vanished. He had done this for her, but even more he had also done this for himself. A wave of emotion broke free and she pulled him tight against her body, tears streaming down her face.
"We are going to fabulous parents, Lizzie." He said smiling at her, hands brushing away the moisture of her tears. "Let's not leave Martin waiting any longer. He has some papers for us to sign."
"Have I told you recently how magnificent you are?" She laughed, pulling at his hand and tugging him towards the house.
"Not recently, but actions speak louder than words and you can show me later." He offered, his voice a low seductive promise.