Julie poked her head into his office. "Dr. Cathcart? I hate to interrupt you, but there's someone out here who says he needs to see you immediately, if possible."
He sighed impatiently. Parents were always impatient and needed to see him "immediately", but he prized the first part of his day, when he organized everything, so he would know what was coming at him and could be as prepared as possible. Especially today, when he was feeling less than on top of anything. And he knew there were already scheduled patients in the waiting room.
"Who is it, Julie? And what is the problem?"
"He says his name is Detective Javvits, or something like that. And he wouldn't say what it was about."
"Thank you, Julie. That would be Detective Jarvis. Show him in, please." He closed the folder he'd been looking at as the door opened, and the eternally boyish police detective sauntered in. "Detective, to what do I owe the honor of this visit? Nothing bad, I hope?" He leaned back in his chair. "Honestly not sure I could take anything worse than yesterday."
Jarvis shook his head. "Nothing about yesterday really. Not about Mrs. Rose or what happened at the preschool, anyway. Speaking of that, you didn't take Harry back there, today, did you?"
"Certainly not," he said flatly. "Laura was able to stay home with him today. Mildred and Grace will hold down things at the office for her. I had to come in to work, myself, unfortunately. But it seems Harry is qualified for another preschool. He and his mother are planning on coming over here this afternoon to check it out." He smiled, then. "We have our own preschool facility right here in the building for our own children, and they had a space open in the two year old classroom. Laura seems to be o.k. with it, so we're going to check it out this afternoon. Harry will not be going anywhere near that place again. Not in this lifetime, anyway." He waved his arm toward the chair at the edge of his desk. "Have a seat, Detective. Tell me what's on your mind."
Jarvis dropped into the chair with a short laugh. "You shrinks, always interested in what goes on in everybody's head. As it turns out, I brought you some new information. I wasn't sure it would help, but I thought I'd take a chance." He pulled a folder out of his own shoulder bag.
"I sent a team out to canvass the neighborhood where we found that one body. The crime scene I had you and Mrs. Steele go over? I'd already talked to the landlord and a few of the neighbors, but most people don't seem to like talking to me much. So I sent out a few teams, hoping they could get more, and darned if they didn't." Jarvis tossed the folder onto the desk. "One of my officers, a woman in fact, managed to talk to the landlord again. And he may not have been willing to talk to me, but he opened up for her o.k. He even remembered our suspect. In some detail, it seems. Take a look for yourself."
One more folder to go through this morning. Cautiously, he opened it and began scanning the pages. His eyes widened. "Detective, how accurate do you think this person is?" he said, finally. "Would you trust this description?"
Jarvis looked at his closely. "Given that Townsend took his statement, I'd be fairly confident," he said. "Why?"
A shudder ran through him as he answered. "Because if this description is accurate, I think I may know this man. Personally. And, if I'm right, I think I know who he's really been killing."
It was all coming together. It was finally happening. The man had gone. He'd come down the stairs and gotten into his own car and driven away. And why was this man driving such a plain car anyway? That was more her type of vehicle.
It didn't matter, he decided. As long as the man was gone. That was all that mattered. The man wouldn't be able to ruin everything. He no longer mattered. Only she did.
And her car was, in fact, still in the lot. She hadn't come down with the man. She was still inside. Alone.
But not for long.
This time, at least, he could be sure it was her. Because this time, he'd looked it up. He'd done his homework, as his mother might have said. She was always scolding him to do his homework. But this was so much more important than algebra.
Early this morning, as soon as the library had opened, he'd gone in and looked it up. There were pictures in the microfiche. He didn't have to rely on memory. Memory could be wrong. This time, he could be sure.
The others hadn't been her. He could see that now. But now he wouldn't make the same mistake. He'd printed out one of the pictures. He had it in his pocket as he stepped out of his car, parked right where the man's had been. All he had to do now was go up the same stairs the man had come down. And then he could end it. And take his life back.
Once and for all.
"What do you mean?" Jarvis demanded. "He's been killing a lot of people. For months. You know who his next target is? How?"
"It's only been one person, the whole time," he told Jarvis, flatly. "He's deranged. And he's been killing the same person, over and over. He's looked for different aspects of her, similar physical characteristics, similar professions, and he's killed them. But it hasn't helped. Because it wasn't her, specifically."
"Different aspects?" Jarvis blurted. "These women were nothing alike! A sculptor, a pianist, a coroner's assistant, a paralegal, a rookie cop, a dance student, a handful of others. This last one turns out to have been a court transcriptionist. There's nothing that connects them in any way."
"That's the problem with mental illness," he informed Jarvis, amazed that his own voice was so steady. "It scrambles and scatters all the normal markers you could use to see the pattern. And there is a pattern, Detective. It's only one specific woman that he's trying to kill. He just hasn't gotten to her yet. He's been killing off different aspects of her legal aid, law enforcement, artist, dancer, even the legal transcriptionist and the coroner's assistant fit in, given how often she deals with courts and coroners. She's also done metal sculpting, she studied dance and she used to own a piano." He looked steadily straight at Jarvis.
"He's been killing Laura Holt. Over and over and over. I know this man. I've met him. And if I'm right, I may even know why he's doing it. We just have to find him and stop him. Fast."
"Mommy! Joji wants juice!"
She smiled down at the brown head at her elbow. "Oh, he does, does he? Well, I suppose one more glass of juice won't hurt him. He's a growing monkey, after all." His answering giggle brightened her as she pulled out the juice carton and a small sippy cup. They'd been working on using regular glasses for a few months, but she thought it might be best not to have to deal with any liquid disasters this morning. She set the sippy cup next to his place at the table and added a handful of grapes on a napkin as well. "There you go, buster. Don't let that monkey make a mess, now?"
"O.k., Mommy." He scrambled up on his chair, with the elevating phonebooks on it, and began chewing happily on a grape, the ubiquitous Joji still clutched upside down under one arm. She watched him covertly as she squirted dish soap into the hot water in the sink. His face was free of clouds this morning. Thank God for the resiliency of children. He had been overjoyed to hear that he wasn't going to school that morning. He had been beyond excited to hear that his Mommy was staying home to play with him. And the living room was now littered with almost every toy he owned. They could be seen clearly in the light of the cartoon still showing on the tv there.
"C'n we play cars after this?"
She smiled ruefully. "After I get the dishes done. We can play cars or read a book or anything else you want."
"Goody!" His tiny cheer made it all worthwhile.
He was waiting. Still. No need to rush. He'd checked before. There was only one door to her apartment, the front door facing the parking lot. She couldn't leave without his seeing her. And that stupid car of hers was still parked in its own spot. She was inside. Alone. He'd been watching the curtained window, but had seen no one pass near it for the past 20 minutes. A small object, down low, moving there once. But she owned that stupid cat. He thought it had been lost, years ago, but apparently it was back.
The cat didn't matter. She did. He'd seen her shadow against the curtains once, after the man had left. Now, nothing. So he'd wait a bit longer. She might be changing clothes. Oddly enough, he wanted to wait until she was put together properly. You shouldn't interrupt a woman in the midst of her toilette. And he could wait, even standing here, next to his car.
He knew the neighbors on either side of her had left for their own jobs. She was on the top floor, so there was no one above her. The apartments on the floors under her were empty as well, their occupants gone for the day. There should be no real noise from her apartment, even at the height of his activities, but even if there were, there would be no one near enough to worry about. Now it was just a matter of time.
He was good at waiting. Especially since he didn't have to wait much longer.
Jarvis was on the phone, while he waited impatiently, listening to half the conversation.
"Yeah, I know, name changes. But yeah, but o.k. Phone records are worthless. But DMV records should still wait, what?" The detective heaved a sigh. "Yeah, o.k. Get back to me if you come up with anything."
He slammed the receiver down and then grimaced. "Sorry about that. I just get frustrated. They've got nothing for us. He's covered his tracks too carefully. No arrests, no unpaid bills, not even a parking ticket to go on. I know what make and model his car is, and his license plate number. But beyond that, I've got nothing. And the car he's using is now in the name of one of the aliases he used four murders ago." He shook his head. "All this technology and intelligence and it's all worthless. I've got an APB out on his car, and that's one needle in a big LA haystack. We've got nothing."
He lowered his head for a moment before speaking. "Not nothing, detective. We have one thing. We know where he'll go." He looked up into Jarvis' eyes. "Laura. He'll have to go to her eventually. Soon, even. He's hit his crisis point. It almost has to be her next."
He had his coat on and was halfway across his own waiting room as Jarvis struggled to come to grips with him. "Stee---, Doc--! Wait!"
But he was out the door and halfway to the elevator before Jarvis really moved. Waiting was not an option.
She took the two wineglasses they had ended the long night last night with and walked over to the bookcase on the far, outside wall. She glanced out the window as she placed them on one shelf. Wait, who was that?
Cautiously, she moved the edge of the curtain back an inch. She could see him clearly now. But what was he doing? Just standing there, next to a rusty BMW. Motionless, looking straight ahead at nothing.
He'd always been a bit odd, but this was odd behavior even for him. And what was he doing there at all? She hadn't laid eyes on him in many years. Not since she'd given up her loft. Before then, even. He'd moved months before she had, even.
She stepped back quickly, and couldn't have quite said why. He was moving, suddenly. Still not looking up. Just straight ahead. He was walking across the parking lot. Sauntering, almost. Heading straight for the stairs. The stairs that ended almost at her own door.
Panic rose in her. Panic she couldn't explain. One out-of-place old acquaintance shouldn't cause this reaction. But it did. She looked around her. Harry.
The toddler was bending over a small mound of tiny metal cars. She bolted forward and snagged him by one small elbow. "We have to move. Hurry!"
The little boy protested as she started up the stairs, but she hissed out a shushing noise, looking franticly around. Where to go? Where? Inside her head, fragments of his voice ricocheted through her memory. "Short. Compulsive. Able to self-decieve."
Invisible puzzle pieces were clicking into place. None of them made sense yet, but they were definitely clicking into place. And there was no time to figure out the picture. It was too late for that. There! She reached out and pulled on the doorknob.
She stopped, drew a breath and crouched down to his level. "Sweetheart, you have to help Mommy now. We have to play a game. You know hide and seek? That's the game where you have to hide and stay very, very still and quiet and hope nobody finds you. You know that game?" He nodded at her, his eyes wide. "Well, you're going to hide in here. And I'll come get you if we win. O.k.? But you have to stay absolutely quiet, so you aren't found. That's really important, o.k.?" She picked him up and put him on a shelf. He was tiny. He fit perfectly. She pulled a pile of sheets off the shelf above him in the linen closet and laid it over his small shoulder, as he laid on his side, looking out at her. "Now, remember, shhhhh!" She started to close the door on him.
She looked down and retrieved the beloved Joji from the floor, and tucked him into the waiting arms as a loud knocking started at her front door. The linen closet door didn't quite slam shut, but it was closed quickly and firmly.
The knocking continued as she walked down the short flight of stairs, finding herself staring at all the toys on the floor. No weapon she could reach. She considered breaking her one remaining wine bottle, but decided it was too risky. Makeshift weapons were used against the people wielding them more often than they were used by them.
As she passed them, she kicked half the toys into the closet next to the tv, switching it off as she did so, and the rest were kicked under the couch. She gave one hopeless glance toward the phone laying on the table next to the couch, but the knocking had turned to hammering. And how long could her small son stay tucked in the linen closet? Time was not on her side. She reached for the doorknob.
They were in his car, not the police-issued Crown Vic Jarvis had brought with him, a decision Jarvis regretted as soon as he'd thrown himself into the passenger side of the vehicle. His car at least had a portable bubble light he could have attached to the roof. His car had a siren. And this car
"A Chevy?" he heard himself say, incredulously. "You? Driving a Chevy?"
His teeth seemed to be set on permanent clench. "Is there a problem with that? The car drives. It moves forward, backward and turns corners. It has brakes. What else do we need?"
Well, backup would be nice, Jarvis found himself thinking. But there had been no time for that. There's been no time for anything. And why was this guy so sure that everything was happening right now? He was a good psychologist. He was not a psychic, however.
Jarvis checked that his seatbelt was secure as their car hurtled toward the first set of lights between them and their objective. This might be a short trip, but it couldn't end soon enough. For either of them.
"Mr. Bartholomew," she said, hoping her voice could stay level. His eyes seemed to glitter.
"Miss Holt. Giving up on the disguises, I see. That's good." Nestor Bartholomew stepped past her and looked around, disinterested. "I think it's time to let the disguises go, anyway. We need to finish this little game of ours. Not that it hasn't been fun, but everything ends sometime." He looked at her directly, then. His eyes were definitely glittering. "I'm surprised you remembered my proper name. I shouldn't be though. Everyone knows how bright you are. You've always known, haven't you?"
She closed the door behind him with real reluctance. A glance into the parking lot had shown her no help in sight. This late in the day, her neighbors would all be gone as well. A lot of noise might reach someone's ears, somewhere. But it was doubtful. And right now the only thing she could concentrate on was her son, and keeping him safe. She had to maintain some type of control over this situation. She had to think her way out of this.
"We were neighbors for quite awhile, and it's been a long time since I've seen you, but of course I remember you." She stepped away from the door, but didn't sit or reach for anything.
"You think a few days is a long time?" he sneered. "Really, Miss Holt. You disappoint me." He reached into the pocket of his windbreaker and took out a small glass bottle and a cloth. "But that's all right. Because this game is finally over. And I win." He smiled again. "You weren't expecting that, were you?"
"Nestor Bartholomew?" Jarvis' voice was skeptical. "Who names their kid Nestor'? Are you sure you got that name right?"
"It was written on his mailbox and I passed that mailbox almost every day for a few years, going to and from Miss Holt's loft. I met the man twice, I believe. Remember back when someone tried to burn down the loft? We met Bartholomew on his way out of the building. I'd met him before, of course, when he was part of a group of tenants trying to get Miss Holt thrown out. He was leading the group, in fact."
"So he always hated Mrs. Steele, I get that. But why?"
He shook his head. "I never knew why he didn't like her then, but I can guess at what his issue is now. I think that Nestor Bartholomew has never been entirely comfortable with who he really is. And I strongly suspect he's never had any friends. He's some kind of financial analyst. He produces stock reports for investors. But when the loft opened up, in the artistic community, he moved in, bought himself a beret and started passing himself off as a writer." He laughed, briefly. "Since everyone is taught creative writing' in school, everything thinks they can write. And he didn't need to do any actual writing. He just had to talk about it. Instant personality. Instant friends. Or so he thought, I assume."
"I think he only gained some form of real acceptance when he got the other tenants in the building to support his effort to get Laura thrown out. And even that failed when the others realized that she'd saved the building, and their lives." He sighed. "And then they were all on her side and aligned against him. At least that's how he must have seen it. After that, he kept to himself. As far as I know, he never talked to anyone until the day he moved out. Laura said she saw him on the stairs, carrying some boxes down to his car, and he only sneered at her for getting what she wanted' in the end. And I think that's the problem now."
"Now?" Jarvis echoed, feeling stupid. "How many years has it been? Four at least since she moved out of the loft. How is there a problem between them now?"
"Because he obviously tried to do it all again, and failed miserably. He was bound to, of course. What people like Nestor never understand is that you can't make friends by pretending to be someone you aren't. The pretense never works. And Nestor Bartholomew was a bitter, unhappy man. That would always drive away any potential friends he might make, no matter who he pretended to be."
He paused for another light. "The day of the fire, Laura and I came across Nestor trying to save a few things from the fire that were important to him, a handful of financial print-outs. He admitted his real work, and accused Laura of planning to tell everyone else about him. But she told him that telling the truth about it would be up to him. The thing is, she meant it. I don't think she ever told anyone what he really did. She wouldn't have."
"But the damage was done. And when he realized that no one wanted anything to do with him, he fled. He couldn't stay there anymore. But I'm sure that, wherever he went next, he tried again. It had worked once, he figured it had to work again. The thing was, it had never really worked at all. And he never realized that. But now he had a scapegoat. Laura. It was all her fault."
Jarvis held up a hand to stop him. "Wait, how would she have stopped it? He moved away. She wasn't even there anymore, so how could she have had anything to do with it?"
He gave a mordant chuckle. "You still don't understand disconnected thinking, Detective. Nestor Bartholomew doesn't think the way other people do. And he can't face the truth, so in his mind, there has to be an enemy. In this case, Laura became a perfect excuse. He wasn't failing. She was plotting against him. In his mind, she simply found out where he was and then went and told everyone he met the truth about what he did. So of course he never made any friends. She was behind it all. Which meant she had to be stopped. She had to be destroyed. Which is what he's been doing, or trying to do, for months."
"So all these women he's been killing," Jarvis put in, "he thought they were all Miss Holt?"
The man beside him nodded. "But even that lie is failing him now. One by one, every time, it turns out to not have been her. And the failure continues. And he can't stand that. I think at this point, he has to find her. For real. And that is frighteningly easy, Detective. All he has to do is look in the phone book and there she is. So where do you think he is right now?"
Jarvis looked straight ahead through the windshield. Two blocks ahead of them, the light turned red.
"I think you need to forget about the rules," Jarvis said. "Screw the traffic lights. If we get pulled over, it means we have instant back-up. Punch it!"
For once, they were in perfect agreement.
She watched him, but he didn't move. He just stood there, fingering the cloth, clutching the bottle. Why didn't he move?
Laura needed him to make the first move, to commit himself to some kind of action. Then she could react appropriately. To move first was to give him the advantage, and it was an advantage she might never gain back again. She only needed him to move.
She swallowed. "If you really want to win, don't you think I should know what game we're playing first? Otherwise, how can you call it a real win?"
His glittering smile never faltered. "It doesn't matter," he said quietly. "You lost this game before you rolled the dice the first time. You just didn't know it."
"I'd still like to know what game I'm losing. I should at least be able to understand that much, don't you think?" She was aware that her voice was level, she just couldn't believe it, as taut as every nerve in her body seemed to be. She kept her gaze focused on his dark eyes. She didn't dare look at anything else. He couldn't think of looking anywhere else but right here. Her son wouldn't be safe if he started to wonder about the rest of the apartment. She needed to keep him focused on her.
"You really want to do this?" he asked, his voice mildly surprised. "At this late stage, you still want to play stupid?" He smiled again. "But then, you always liked playing stupid. Silly little Laura Holt. Harmless little Laura Holt. Too foolish to be a threat to anyone. So friendly. So nice."
He spat once on the rug and Laura found herself unaccountably offended. Her son played there!
"You fooled them all, didn't you?" He wasn't smiling now, and his tone was harsh. "They all bought your act. But you were always a conniving bitch. Always. And I was the only one who ever saw it. Saw through you. And you couldn't have that, could you? Even after I left, you had to keep going, keep grinding me down. Nothing was good enough. You had to have it all."
She was floundering now and that was dangerous, but she didn't have a clue. "Have what? What did I have to have?" She was aware that she'd unconsciously spread her hands wide at her sides. He looked at them and snarled.
"My life, that's all. Just my life. You had to have that. You had to destroy it. Over and over again. Following me. Telling them. Telling them all." He rocked back on his heels then, and his voice dropped back, calmer. The glittering smile was back. "But that's over now. I'm taking it back, all of it. And that's why you lose. And I win."
He shook the glass bottle in his hand lightly and spread the cloth out over the other hand. She felt her gaze straying to his hands. No! Stop that! She fought to keep her eyes trained on his face.
"But how do you know you win?" she asked him, lightly. "How do you know I haven't put something else in place, something for later? Maybe I win after all."
His hand faltered, trying to take the stopper out of the bottle. "Because you don't. Because you won't be here to do anything else. Ever."
She thought she knew what this was about, finally. But she had to play it carefully, because she couldn't be quite sure. She forced herself to laugh softly. "What makes you think I have to be here to do anything? Don't you realize? Of course you don't."
The hand under the cloth clenched into a fish, the cloth crumpling into it.
"You see, Nestor, you think you've won. And you'll leave here, sure that it will all go back to the way it was. The way you want it to be. But it won't. And you know it won't. And nothing you can do will change that. That's why you can't win. No matter what you do now."
She could feel the sweat collecting at the nape of her neck. Either this would work, or it was the worst possible play she could make. And there was no knowing which.
"You're lying!" he snarled. "You always lie. Do you think I don't know that?"
She laughed again, her mouth dry as a bone, her tone still light. "Oh, Nester, what you don't know could fill an ocean. And that's why you lose. That's why you'll always lose." Was that faint pounding just her pulse in her own ears, or was it really coming from outside? Coming closer? She couldn't stop now. She didn't dare.
"Do you want to know what happens next, Nestor? Do you really want to know? Or would you rather just trust to chance? Like you always have. Right before it all falls apart." She could see a sheen of sweat on his forehead. Was that a good thing or not? She couldn't decide.
Jarvis was scanning the parking lot, even as he wrestled himself free of his seatbelt and wrenched the door open. They hadn't been pulled over. There was no backup, there was only-- There! He didn't have to check it. After nine dismembered bodies, he had that license plate committed to memory.
"Steele!" he called. "You were right! He's here!"
But there was no one to hear him. He scrambled to catch up to the taller man, already at the stairs leading up to what he hoped wasn't a really nasty crime scene.
"One last chance at being clever, Holt? Really? I think not. I think it's just going to end. Here and now. No more games. I'm taking it all back and you can't stop me this time."
His eyes were glittering fiercely as he tipped the bottle over, the cloth clamped to its open end. She kept her eyes glued to his face and forced herself to laugh.
"Oh, Nestor, this game' as you call it was over long ago. And you lost before you began. You just never understood that." She wanted to back away. But the stairs were directly behind her. And if a tiny figure had come out to see what was happening, all Bartholomew had to do was look up. She couldn't let that happen. So she held her ground as he took a step toward her. Was that a hint of confusion in his eyes? "The final victory is mine. It always was. And no matter what you do now, it always will be. You lose, Nestor. You lose."
The glittering smile grew wider. "Like hell I do. One entrance, one exit. And none of your neighbors are home right now. You've got nowhere to run."
"Run?" This time her laugh was almost genuine. "Nestor, I have no intention of running away from you. Why should I? You're hardly a threat." She eyed his disproportionately large upper body and tried to gauge the strength in those arms. She suspected it might be considerable. She kept her face as neutral as possible.
But sheer rage had flooded his. "Enough!" he shouted and lunged toward her, the drugged cloth outstretched. He was easy to dodge. Laura headed to the right, toward the dining room and the kitchen. Where the knife block was hidden in the farthest cabinet.
There was a crash from behind her. She wanted to stop and see what it was, but she didn't dare. She hurtled through the dining area, knocking over Harry's chair, spilling the phone books on the floor. Good! That might slow Bartholomew down a bit. There was a furious roaring from behind. When had Bartholomew's voice gotten so deep?
Her hand slapped down on the counter just past the sink, and she pulled herself to a stop. That wasn't Bartholomew! She twisted around to see.
He had the smaller man around the throat, and no matter how solid Bartholomew might look, he had him dragged backward off his feet. He was still roaring, almost incoherently. And now Jarvis was coming through the door, his gun already in his hand.
She felt herself sag. It was over.
Jarvis had hold of Bartholomew now and was cuffing him. Laura straightened her shoulders and headed back toward the living room. He met her halfway there and slid both arms around her waist.
"I've never been so terrified in my whole life," he murmured in her ear. Not quite the sweet nothing' she would have expected, but she felt a faint flush in her cheeks. He never admitted to fear. Not like that. She leaned forward and burrowed into the warmth of his chest.
"How did you know?" she asked.
"Once I knew it was Bartholomew, I knew what he was doing. It all made sense. Every woman he'd killed was a brunette. Every one of them had associations with law enforcement of some kind, except for the pianist, the dancer and the sculptor. He was living in the loft when you did that metal sculpture, remember? The Lovers? And you had that ballet barre mounted on your wall. I know it was mostly for exercise, but Nestor probably didn't know and didn't care why. And there was the grand piano right when you walked in the door. He had to have heard you playing that." He drew his had back from where it had been resting against hers. "Whatever happened to that, by the way?"
"I was trying to sell it online. I needed to fix the Rabbit and I needed rent. I got an anonymous buyer and it was taken away by a moving company. And that's the last I saw it until the next time I visited Frances and Donald. It was right there, in their living room. They say they're "holding" it for me until I move into a place large enough for it. And the funny thing is, I believe them. I've been unfair about Frances all these years. But we're doing better now. We have been, actually, ever since Harry was born."
She stiffened. "Harry!" He let go of her and stepped back, looking around.
"Where is he?" he said, but she was darting past him and flying up the stairs. He had to use his legs to full advantage to keep up with her as she hurtled down the short hallway to the linen closet at its end. She wrenched open the door and sagged a bit. Looking over her shoulder, he saw a tiny head sticking out from a pile of sheets, one tiny thumb tucked into his mouth, a thin line of drool connecting him to the sheets below on which he slept.
Laura laughed. "Keep him still long enough and he's sure to fall asleep! Frances and Mother keep telling me that. How could I forget?"
His arms slid around her again and she leaned back against him as they both watched their son dream peacefully.
"I don't think you've forgotten anything. And I don't think you ever will," he told her. She lifted her face to his and the kiss he'd aimed at the top of her head landed on her lips, and she returned it. And that kiss was long and deep and perfect.