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I was a nervous, anxious, excited ball of energy. I was pacing back and forth, being careful to not distress my perfectly styled updo or perfectly applied makeup. While my body was maintaining a human pace, my mind was spinning faster than a normal eye would have been able to perceive. In fact, to a regular person's vision, my brain probably would have seemed to be standing still it was processing so fast. I couldn't help the much was going on.

A little more than a year had passed since everyone had made their own choice on whether or not to stay in sunny San Francisco. Once our lives had calmed down from the horrid mess with Malcolm, plans to head out of State took off in earnest.

Mom put her house on the market as a rental, still savvy of the real estate investment of a second free-and-clear owned home, since she also still owned the adorable Victorian house that I'd lived in for a time. She moved in with Teren and me once her house got rented out. Watching someone else live there was...weird, but with Mom in my home, it was okay. Her home would still have a nostalgic place in my dead heart, but Mom was what mattered, and the warmth that I associated with her old place would follow her to the next place, even if that was her own wing at the new ranch.

And yes, once she moved in with us, Teren and I started closing our soundproof door again.

Mom then proceeded to learn all that she could about homeschooling. She and Imogen were going to teach the children everything they would need to know. Until high school, that is. Teren insisted that they be allowed to join society, once their abilities were tightly under rein. High school was when Teren had come out, so to speak, and he'd immensely enjoyed being around his peers instead of his parents. I wanted to give my kids that too, although, we'd be having firm discussions with them about the birds and the bees and how to be safe with your bodies. I didn't need them to have all of Teren's high school experiences.

Teren and I decided to keep our place by the bay. It would be convenient to have a familiar home to go to when we came out to visit Ashley and Ben, and really, I was just too attached to the place to let it go. Smiling at how much I loved what was technically his home, Teren had warmly told me that we'd keep it forever if I wanted. And I did. I wanted it as our secret getaway spot. People have vacation homes, right?

A few months after Julian was safe and sound, Hot Ben kidnapped Tracey. Well, okay, technically he swept her away to Mexico, where they eloped. He just didn't want to wait anymore. I understood. A lot can happen while you're waiting. Being the romantic that I always knew he could be, Ben didn't tell her about it either.

Tracey and I were at work, her diligently copying and collating for me, when he'd shown up in a full tuxedo. And, god, my husband is beyond attractive, but Ben...fully decked out...brought new meaning to the word hot, even I'll admit it.

Watching him walk up to her, Tracey's mouth had hit the floor. Every other jaw dropped too...even Clarice's normally scowling one.

Standing before her, he dropped to one knee. Tracey's heart had shifted into an unnaturally fast pace when he did. I'd worried for her health there for a second, but then Ben spoke and she calmed down.

"Tracey, will you do me the honor of being my wife?"

Tears in her eyes, Tracey had giggled nervously and looked around. "Uh, Ben, you already did this part...and I already said yes."

I'd had to bite my lip to not laugh at the blush on her face. Smiling charmingly, Ben's only response had been, "Will you be my"

Her eyes widening, Tracey's gaze had locked right onto him. The entire office held their breaths - I heard the inhales -waiting for her answer. I swear I could hear every person thinking, 'say yes, you idiot.' Eventually, and with tears dripping down her cheeks, she nodded. "Yes."

Shaking my head, I'd waved goodbye at the pair and didn't see or hear from them for a week and a half. From what Tracey told me later, Ben had taken her directly from work to the airport. Having made every arrangement, even packing everything she'd need, a skill Teren must have helped him with since he was a master packer, they immediately flew to Cancun. By that evening they were married...on the beach... at sunset.

Even now it still made me sigh. My daughter wasn't the only romantic in the house.

A few months after Mr. and Mrs. Hot Ben got back, the two of them moved out of their tiny place and started renting the Victorian that Ashley had been living in. Ashley wasn't there anymore, because Ashley had decided to try living with her man. She and Christian moved in together around wintertime.

As I continued my back and forth strut on the thinly carpeted floor, an irritated voice behind me snapped out, "Would you stop moving! You're making me nervous...and I don't get nervous!"

Smiling, I twisted around to look at Halina. She was scowling at me, but with what she was wearing, I laughed, my nerves spilling into the sound. Frowning even more, she adjusted the floor length dress she had on. It was the most modest thing I'd ever seen her wear, full sleeves, empire waist, fabric lightly draping along the floor. She looked highly uncomfortable being so well covered.

Scratching her head, she also looked uncomfortable with her hair being secured into an updo as elaborately twisted and pinned as mine was. Adjusting her stance, she muttered, "I can't believe I agreed to this. I haven't been a part of a wedding ceremony...for about a million years."

The sound of a piece of bubble gum snapping behind her shifted our attentions to Starla, leaning back in a chair watching us. Smacking on the obtrusive thing, she laughed out, "Million years, huh? Sounds about right, Grandma."

Already nervous and agitated, Halina stepped towards her, her gown rustling against her body, the light color clashing with her ebony hair. "If you call me that one more time, little girl, I will end you," she snarled.

Smiling unafraid, Starla popped another bubble in her face. "No you won't. Father loves me and you love him." Smirking she added, "Face it, you're stuck with me, Grams."

Sighing, Halina rolled her eyes. "Yes, until old age finally claims you," she muttered.

Standing, Starla smoothed the tightly fitted designer dress she had on over her hips, like she was emphasizing the outfit that I knew Halina would have preferred to be in. "I wouldn't bet on that." Tilting her perfectly piecy head, she smiled slyly. "Father is brilliant. He'll find a way to help me convert." She leaned into Halina, her grin a wide one. "Then we'll be together forever."

Halina groaned as she looked back at me. "What did I get myself into?" she muttered pitifully.

I smirked and laughed, resuming my endless pacing. Starla snickered and left the room to find Jacen. Those two didn't separate for very long. They were a constant thorn in Halina's side as they stayed at the ranch with Gabriel. She made them stay in a side building, as far from her as she could get them, but with our ears it wasn't far enough. Gabriel found it all humorous. After awhile, I did too.

Halina had already informed them that they were getting their own place in Utah...preferably miles away.

Teren and I were looking for places to live in Utah too. Just last week, Teren had shown me a three bedroom home that he liked, about twenty minutes from the new ranch. Shaking my head at him, I'd finally asked him what had been rolling around in my head for awhile. "Why don't you just give it up and admit that you like it at the ranch, and you want to live there with your family?"

Dropping the real estate magazine that he'd been holding, he shrugged and looked away. "Well, yeah, I like it, but...I want us to have our own place, our own lives." Looking back at me, he'd shrugged. "Plus, a house near the city would be closer to our jobs."

Shaking my head even more, I'd sighed and slung my arms around his waist. "And why don't you just admit defeat and work at the ranch?" Ducking down, I'd met his eye. "I know you love it." If there was one thing that always happened whenever we visited his parents, it was Teren turning into a cowboy. If we were starting new lives with them, it just made sense to me to finally give in to what he loved.

Looking down and smiling, he'd shaken his head lightly. "Yeah, I do, I'll admit it." Peeking back up at me, he'd shrugged and said, "I don't know, at first I just didn't want to do the family business. I wanted to see who I was away from what I was, away from the others." Smiling wider, he rocked me in his arms. "Then I found something that I loved to do, and Dad does all right running the place with Mom and the girls."

Kissing my head, he'd held me tight against him. "Some day, when my dad can't handle it on his own, then I'll take over." Pulling back, he'd raised an eyebrow at me. "That should make you happy, right?" His smile turned cocky. "Since you secretly enjoy watching me as a cowboy."

Kissing those cocky lips, I'd sighed contently. "That I do...but you really do need to buy a hat."

He'd laughed pretty hard, kissing me tenderly when his chuckles subsided. "And what about you? Would you want to do what my mom does? Help me run the place?" His smile had been warm and soft as his fingers tucked loose strands of my hair behind my ear. The warmth in his words melted me all over, even just remembering them now.

Placing light kisses along his lips, I'd considered that future. Truly, I was still considering it. "Hmmm...although a part of me will miss office life, I think I'd really like that someday." Pulling back, I'd cupped his cheeks. "But whatever I do, whatever we do, my eternity is with you."

Remembering how heated things had gotten between us after those words had left my lips, I paused in my pacing and felt for my husband. His presence was a few rooms over, tucked away in a room with our children and the other men in our extended circle of family. I suddenly wished we had an emotional connection like our twins did, so I could let him feel the level of love for him that I had. Not that he didn't already know...I just wanted him to feel it.

As our group was leaving town in the next couple of days, the old ranch was completely cleaned out. All the cows were gone, all the hired help was gone, a new crew already waiting at the new place. From what Jack had told me, Peter Alton, their trusted crew leader for years, had everything up and running in Utah. All that was missing...was us.

Teren had finally accepted a writing job for a local magazine. He preferred the small publications, more anonymous that way. I stuck with his pattern and took a job with a small accounting firm. The hours were less, the pay was less, but that worked out just fine for us. It was a way to have time for my family but still be regular-Emma too. And for now, I still needed that, and I understood why Teren wanted to keep his day job for a little longer. We would have a lifetime ahead of us of running ranches around the Country. For now, having our own lives felt nice.

Tracey bounded into the room while I thought about our upcoming move. A part of me couldn't believe it was here already. This past year had flown by. Luckily, it had passed peacefully.

The blonde's do was as meticulous as mine and Halina's. Her outfit exactly matched ours too. Beaming at me, she giggled. "Everything's ready, Emma, is she?"

I smiled as the glowing woman stepped over to me. Her hand was instinctually covering the adorably cute, six-month baby bump. She and Ben had indeed wasted no time in starting their family. A part of me was incredibly sad that I wouldn't be her friend by the time the baby was born. I mean, I would always be her friend, until the end of her life, but she wouldn't remember it.

But for now, she did, and I slung my arm around her, my hand going over the child I could hear kicking in her stomach. Silently thanking the woman for always being there for me, even when she didn't realize that she was being there for me, I nodded at her question. "Yeah, she's ready."

As one, we both twisted to look over at my sister. Sitting in front of the vanity with our mother, doing last minute touches on the half of her head that still grew hair, she was a vision in white. Today was her wedding day. The last thing I had to take care of before we left town, was watching her walk down the aisle. I wasn't leaving her behind, until I knew for certain that she was safely in the care of another.

And she was. Christian had shown on numerous instances that he genuinely adored her. Not bothered by her looks in the slightest, he lavished her with affection. It warmed my chilly body, knowing that she would have the life I'd always hoped she'd have. And, always the strong one, she'd done it on her own terms.

As Tracey, Halina and I - her bridesmaids - walked over to her, she stood up. Tears threatening to ruin the perfect makeup around her eyes, she smiled at me. "I'm getting married today, Emma," she giggled, clasping her arms over mine.

"I know," I whispered, cinching her in a hug. "And it's about time," I added with a laugh.

Pulling back, she laughed and smacked my arm. Searching my face, she shook her head. "I love you, Emma...I'm gonna miss you."

Swallowing back the huge lump in my throat, I willed my eyes not to water. If I cried, she'd cry, and then we'd both have to get our makeup redone. And she didn't have time for that...she was about to get married. "I'm gonna miss you too, Ash." Carefully dabbing a finger under my uncooperative, watering eyes, I smacked her arm. "Now stop that, it's not like Teren and I won't be bringing the kids down every couple of months to visit with their Aunt."

She laughed and pulled me tight. "You'd better."

The small group of us got quiet as we all watched my sister for a moment. Then the sound of a church organ filled the space. Halina glanced over at me at hearing the sound, smirking. When Ashley had told us that Christian wanted to get married at a church, in a formal ceremony, I'd asked Halina if she'd be able to go. You know, being a pureblood vampire and all, churches just seemed...forbidden.

She'd actually snorted at me. "It's a we need to have the conversation about me being able to go into any building I want to go into again, Emma?" I'd dropped it after that. Apparently that myth wasn't true either.

Ashley let out a quick exhale, smoothing the white satin over her flat hips. "I guess that's my cue," she said softly.

Mom hugged her and grabbed her arm, already crying a little as she prepared to walk her youngest daughter down the aisle.

Halina smiled at Ashley, gave her a swift kiss on the cheek, a very rare sign of affection from her, and then twisted to face the door. "Let's get this over with then," she muttered.

Her escort, a male friend of Christian's, met her at the door with wide eyes. Halina was intoxicatingly sensual, and men picked up on that, especially human men. His eyes glanced down her modest dress as Halina sashayed through the door. Looking back at us, she winked as she laced her arm though his. "Well, aren't Christian's friends just...edible?"

She grinned slyly and disappeared. Tracey harrumphed, still not overly liking Halina, and not really understanding her comment anyway. Mom, Ashley and I exchanged quick glances. I hoped Halina didn't mean that literally. Not that she would really take a bite of a groomsman at my sister's wedding. Well, not before the ceremony anyway...

Tracey was next, meeting up with Teren at the door. I sighed that my husband wasn't walking with me, but I was the Maid of Honor and Teren was only a groomsman. Christian had asked him to be in the wedding as a show of welcome, of melding our families together. I thought the inclusion was very sweet of him. Plus, it gave me the chance to ogle my husband in a tux again.

Smiling crookedly at him, I raised an eyebrow as he extended his elbow to Tracey. She giggled up at him as she took it. His dark hair matching his dark clothes, he looked back at me and muttered under his breath, "You look amazing in that dress...I can't wait to get you out of it." His eyes smoldered at me before he turned and left with my best friend.

I closed my eyes, feeling a flush that I knew was imaginary. My body didn't flush anymore. But Teren's words always made me feel it anyway. He was...talented in that department.

Neither my mom nor sister having heard what he'd said, they only smiled warmly at his broad back leaving. I carefully bit my lip, hoping this ceremony wasn't overly long.

Eventually it was my turn, and as Christian's brother turned up at the door, I looked back at my sister. She had tears in her eyes, watching me leave with her new family. They were in mine too as the vision of her hazed before me, softening into an angel. "I'll see you up there, sis."

What I could see of her nodded, and I twisted to the middle-aged man holding his arm out in a gentlemanly way. Smiling politely at me, he led me to the main chamber filled with pews. Each pew had a bouquet of white and pink roses attached to the end, the pale pink flowers matching the shade of the bridesmaid's dresses. Swarms of people were sitting on those benches, eyes trained on me. Some I knew, some I'd seen a couple of times, some I'd never met before in my life.

My mind blanked them all out as I stared at the altar before me. It was decked out in white chiffon, more roses, and a few tall candles. It was simple, yet gorgeous, much like my sister. My eyes drifted to the people assembled there. Halina looking uncomfortable as she held her small bouquet of flowers, Tracey looking perfectly at ease, her flowers resting right over her baby bump. The minister waiting patiently in the center, a debonair Christian standing right beside him. Last in the line of men was Christian's good friend, who was still staring at Halina, and next to him, was my husband.

After being escorted into the position next to where my sister would stand, my hand was sweetly kissed as Christian's brother slid over to stand in his appointed spot, between Teren and Christian. I couldn't keep my eyes off of Teren.

Even though we'd already done this, even though it wasn't our ceremony, it felt that way standing up there. It sort of felt like a second wedding for Teren and I. He smiled at me, tilting his head. His eyes drifted down my body for a split second and a rush of desire hit me. I narrowed my eyes at him, trying to stop the sensation. He really shouldn't be turning me on in a church. That was most definitely...forbidden.

He chuckled a little, biting his lip. I shook my head at him, loving him, warmed by the bond that was seeping into me ever since I'd started walking up the aisle. It ached to complete the connection, along with other, more intimate connections, but that could wait until after.


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