The Fourth Season

Parental Advisory Rating: L, N, AC

Break out those V-Chips, everyone!


Created, Produced, Directed and Written:

Fanatic and TNovan


Scenes from Last Season

I look around for my babies. They’re not in the room. No one is.

"Huh?" the guard grunts. "I thought we dropped them off here. It must have been the next room."

"It was here," Kels says, her voice flat.

"Can’t be, no one’s here. Let’s get them next door." She walks out and heads toward the next room.

"We left them here, Harper," Kels whispers, her tone now urgent.

I nod mutely. "I thought so too." I look around for another door in the room. Is there a closet? A bathroom? But, other than a window, there are no more entrances or exits.

"She took them," Kels expresses my deepest fear.

<<cut to>>

He turns around and gives us a look. Great. I don’t need this right now. "Ma’am," he says, politely, surprising me. "Can you tell me what happened?"

Kels looks to me. I find my voice and try to be as calm as possible. "We brought our children here for a court supervised visitation with their maternal grandmother. The visit was scheduled to begin at 10 am and last until noon. At noon, we turned here, went upstairs with the guard and found the room empty. We had been assured that Collin and Brennan would not be removed from the premises."

"She took them," Kels adds.

<<cut to>>

I kiss Kels’ hair. "Let’s go home."

"It’s not home without them."

That’s the truth.

<<cut to>>

"Whatever you do, stay alive. I will find you."

<<cut to>>

"I’m afraid that since no call has been made to you, it’s not completely out of the realm of imagination." Kyle’s shoulders slump a bit. "But, I swear to you, that we are doing everything we can."

"Well, everything just isn’t good enough, is it?!" I march across the room and face off with the FBI agent. "Dammit, Kyle! For all we know, she has already sold my babies. Right?" His eyes drop and I grab his arm. "Right!?"

"Kels…" Harper says softly, behind me.

I hear her voice. Someone is touching me. All of this is too much to bear right now. I pull away. "Don’t! Don’t touch me! Leave me alone. Just leave me alone! Don’t tell me any more how it’s going to be all right! It’s not all right. My babies are gone! She took them! It’s not all right. It’ not going to be all right until we get them back and that may not happen!"

<<cut to>>

I sit next to Rene and she leans against my shoulder, handing me a sleeping Kelly. "Thanks," I whisper. I push back a bit of hair that tumbles over the infant’s eyes. I miss my Fuzzy. After a moment, I look at Matt. "I’ve been thinking about our discussion last night. About why Katherine did this."

"I think the woman went off her meds." He reaches out and takes hold of Amanda’s hand. I suppose to assure himself of his better choice this time around.

"I think it’s a ‘fuck you’ to you."

"Seems a bit misdirected, Harper. Why didn’t she take Claire instead?"

For a moment, I almost wish she had, but I catch myself thinking the evil thought and cast it aside. No one should go through this. No one. Especially not anyone I care about. "Because she gets two targets this way. She’s said she’s opposed to Kels being gay. She believes it to be unnatural. In fact, she urged me to take the children away from Kels. But that doesn’t make any sense. So she’s not truly opposed only to homosexuality, but she has a vendetta against Kels." I pause and try to think like the bitch for a moment. "Then she shows up in New Orleans and finds you and Amanda and Claire there. I bet in her mind, you have it all. You kept the money, the prestige, the respectability. You managed to get back Kels, after she thought she had successfully alienated the two of you for life. You remarried and had another beautiful daughter. You have it all. Except now she’s taken away your grandchildren."

"Not for long, Harper. Not for long."

<<cut to>>

"First L.A., now New York. Are we ever going to find peace, Harper?"

"Yes, chér, we are. I promise you, we are."

<<And now …>>


Episode One: Into the Woods

I awake with a start. The babies are crying; they must be hungry. I stumble out of bed, dodging Kam who has taken to sleeping right beside us, and head toward the bedroom door. After I am halfway across the living room, I realize that there are no babies crying.

That was in my dream.

My babies are still somewhere else. Somewhere with Mother Stanton.

Four days. It’s been ninety-six nonstop hours of pure pain. We’ve managed to sleep maybe ten of those hours. Otherwise, this pattern takes place. We sleep fitfully and awaken hearing our children’s cries.

There’s been no word. Mother Stanton hasn’t called. No demands have been made. The social worker, Melanie James, was found yesterday, trying to board a plane for Los Angeles. She admitted to helping Mother Stanton kidnap the babies but didn’t know where they were headed. Nor could she provide any information about a vehicle. The two of them had simply taken our babies away in a cab. She’s under arrest now, and I hope she drops the soap repeatedly in the showers.

Mama is asleep on the couch; Robie and Rene are staying up in Brian’s room for the time being. Papa looks up from his book. "Hey, baby girl. Another nightmare?"

I nod and scrub my face, trying to wake up more fully. "I keep hearing them, Papa."

"Go back to sleep. I’m sure Kelsey is missing you already." He inclines his head toward the bedroom door. I follow his line of sight and find my girl standing there. She’s wearing a loose, white, cotton nightgown. It reminds me that I need to make sure she eats today. I don’t think she did more than pick at her food yesterday.

I walk back and gather her up in my arms, holding her gently. I kiss the hollow behind her ear. "Good morning, darlin’."

Sleepy green eyes look up at me. "Did something happen?"

I shake my head. "Not at all. I was dreaming."

"I was too," she whispers. "I was holding Brennan, and you had Collin, and we were so happy -" she breaks off, unable to continue.

My heart breaks all over again. "We will be, chér." God, make this true.


* * *


Neither of us can go back to sleep, so we start preparing breakfast for the clan. Brian is still up at Doug’s, though he came for a visit yesterday and left Kam with us. It was hard. Kels cried the entire time they were here, and I finally had to urge them to leave. It was killing us. Brian reminds us too much of our missing children.

The smell of food gets everyone up and moving. Mama comes in and tries to take over. I wave her out. This is good for us. A task, something we can do. Something to do together. So we’re not just sitting and worrying our minds out. I am in charge of the sausage and the gravy. Kels does the eggs and biscuits.

Robie walks in, clad only in boxers and a T-shirt. "Morning," he mumbles, heading for the refrigerator. He pours a glass of orange juice and downs it in one gulp, a small amount of it trickling out of the side of his mouth. He wipes this off with the back of his hand. "That’s better." He walks over and kisses Kels’ cheek, pats me on the back and disappears from the room.

I look over and see Kels crying. "Darlin’ …"

"I’m all right," she protests, swiping at the wetness on her cheeks.

"They’re fine."

She stirs the eggs angrily. "You don’t know that."

"I do." I reach out and capture her hand. She tries to twist away at first, but stops. I gently place her hand over my heart. "Because if they weren’t, this would have stopped beating. I’m sure of it."

Tears engulf her again, but I pull her to me. To hell with the eggs. I reach over and turn the burner off under them. The sausages continue to cook in their own grease.

She is almost cried out when the intercom rings, announcing another visitor coming up. Papa pokes his head in the doorway. "It’s Special Agent Donovan."

I try not to get my hopes up too much. It could be anything. It could be nothing. I’ve quickly learned in this game that expectations lead to disappointment.

Kels is taking the biscuits out of the oven when Kyle enters the kitchen. The FBI agent smiles and rubs his stomach. "God, that smells good."

"You’re welcome to breakfast," Kels says. "We made plenty." She gives a small, bewildered shrug. "I don’t know why we made so much. It’s not like any of us have any appetite."

"I might be able to help with that."

The baking tray falls to the kitchen floor, but miraculously most of the biscuits stay on it. We both bend down to pick them up when Mama comes in. "I’ll take care of it. You two talk to Kyle."

The three of us sit at the table and are immediately joined by Robie and Papa. "I have good news. As you know, we have been trying to discover where and what type of vehicle Mrs. Stanton used to take the twins away. Our initial search focused on rental car companies. We came up empty. We then broadened our search to include newly leased vehicles."

"Oh, my God," Kels whispers, sensing something important. She reaches out and grabs hold of my hand tightly.

"We now know what vehicle she’s driving."

"What is it?" Papa asks, more out of curiosity than need to know.

"A Jeep Grand Cherokee."


* * *


I finish expressing my breast milk yet again. If I don’t keep up with the twins’ regular feeding schedule, my milk will start to dry up. Also, my breasts ache when I don’t. So, six times a day, for a little under twenty minutes, I prepare two eight ounce bottles of milk.

After five days, our freezer now holds sixty bottles ready for my babies. Robie keeps getting sent out to the drug store to buy more. I made Harper throw out all the ice cream and frozen vegetables. I don’t care about any of that. My babies will be well fed when they come home.

Rene joins me in the room, holding Kelly in her arms. "She wanted to spend time with her favorite aunt."

I take her carefully. She’s as big as Brennan and Collin despite being a month younger. The difference between twins and singles is amazing. "Where are the boys?"

"Still sleeping. They were up late last night. Tante Harper, the evil one, set up her PlayStation 2 on the TV in Brian’s room. The boys played until late. All three of them."

Some things are just written in the Kingsleys’ genetic code. I wonder what our little munchkins will do to us one day.

God, please let me find out.


* * *


Day six. Langston called today. I could tell he wanted to ask when we’d be coming back to work. I never gave him the opportunity. Like I care about producing a damn thing while my children are gone. Some people bury themselves in work during a crisis. Not me. I bury myself in my family.

I try to tell myself that it’s not wrong to smile at Clark’s stumbling gait, or to go through a thousand knock-knock jokes with Christian, or to coo at little Kelsey. It still feels wrong. Like I’m betraying my two little ones.

Kendra and Frankie stopped by earlier today before going into the studio. It was good to see them, but painful. Everything is painful without Brennan and Collin.

I kiss Kels’ temple. She’s leaning against my chest, and we’re watching the fire. In fact, all the Kingsley couples are in this exact same position. If it were a happier situation, we’d be toasting s’mores for the hell of it.

The phone rings, and we all tense. I spring to my feet and rush to the kitchen. None of us have given up hope yet. If I did, I would die.

"Yes?" I answer the phone. Kels comes into the kitchen behind me. I cover the mouthpiece and tell her, "It’s Kyle." This is either good news, bad news, or no news at all.

"We found her."

My knees give out, and I barely catch myself on the counter. "The twins?" At my question, Kels clutches my arm.

"We believe they’re fine."

"What do you mean you ‘believe’ they’re fine? Why don’t you know?" Kels’ grip on my arm tightens. I want to reassure her, but I can’t. I still don’t know.

"We found Katherine about an hour ago. We wanted to make sure she didn’t have anyone else with her and also that she didn’t have any weapons," he explains. "We believe that she’s alone, and that the cabin is safe. We have seen her carrying one of the babies."

Please, let them both be all right. "Where are you?"

"Vermont. Near Stowe."

"We can be there in a few hours." I love having my own plane. Especially if it takes me to my babies. Hell, I’d crawl.

"Fly into Burlington. We’ll have a car there to bring you where we are."

"When are you going in?"

"It’s early yet. We want Katherine to put the twins down for the night before we do. That way they’re away from her. Obviously, we can’t go in with gas, so we want her to be in another room, if possible, to minimize any danger to them."

That makes sense. "We’re leaving now." I turn to find a sea of expectant faces. "They found the bitch. The babies are with her. They seem to be fine. The FBI is waiting for her to go to sleep before they go in."

My wife is in tears, her shoulders shaking with her sobs. I take her in my arms and hold her tight against my breast. "We’re going to go get them, sweetheart. Our babies are coming home," I whisper in her ear.

She grasps onto my shirt, pulling me closer still. "They’re coming home."

Her words tear at my heart. Home. This will be a home with them here again. "That’s right, chér. How do you feel about a little trip?"

"Anytime. Anyplace."

I tilt her jaw up and place a soft kiss on her mouth. "Let’s go then."


* * *


The plane ride is the longest hour in our lives. We may need to replace the carpeting in the aisle. Kels and I wore it out pacing back and forth. Mama and Papa were only able to get us to sit during take off and landing.

Hustling off the plane, we rush to Special Agent Susan Sawyer, Kyle’s partner. "Do you have them yet?" Kels blurts out. It’s almost nine o’clock in the evening. Surely Brennan and Collin are asleep by now.

Agent Sawyer nods her head. "Yes, ma’am. After the suspect placed both of your children down for bed, we went in. Both appear to be fine. I’m here to take you to the hospital where they are being examined."

Hospital. Safe. Away from the psycho bitch from hell.



"And we’re standing here talking about it, why?" Kels asks, her voice tight with emotion.

Sawyer smiles compassionately. "No reason that I know, Mrs. Kingsley. Let’s go."

We all pile into the SUVs that are waiting for us. Mama and Papa get into the one behind us, leaving us alone with Sawyer and a local cop as our chauffeur.

I am stunned. This is all so sudden, if that makes any sense. Six days of hell. One hundred forty-four hours of hell. Eight thousand six hundred and forty minutes of hell. And, now, it’s all over.

Thank God for that.

My arms are full of Kelsey. We’re practically one skin now. My lips are moving against her cheek, kissing her and whispering words of gratitude. We’re almost complete once again.

"They’re okay, Tabloid," she whispers against my skin. "Our babies are okay. We’ll soon be taking them home where they belong."

"Damn straight." I glance up at Sawyer. "How did you trace them up here?"

Sawyer blushes. "I hate to admit it, but it was that security firm your father hired."

Kels cuts in, her voice laden with anxiety. "How much further?"

The driver answers, speaking for the first time. "About ten minutes, ma’am." His voice is cigarette rough.

"Did they seem okay? Do you know anything?"

Before answering Kels, he leans forward and grabs the police radio. "Mike, it’s Roger. You over at the hospital?"

There’s a crackle of static, and then we hear Mike’s voice. "I am."

"Can you give me the status on the Kingsley twins?"

"Give me a sec." After a few long moments, Mike comes back to the radio. "I spoke with the doc. He says they’re fine. The boy is a little dehydrated, but, otherwise, they are unharmed."

"Thank you, God." Kels manages to squeeze me tighter.


A few minutes later, we can see the hospital ahead. It’s a small, three story, brick building, but it’s the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen in my life. My children are inside there.

There are a swarm of official cars in the parking lot. It looks like the police, the FBI and press are all here. Nothing will stop us from getting to our babies quickly. "Ready to go see Fuzzy and Brennan?" I ask my wife softly. It’s a rhetorical question, of course.

She looks up at me with determined eyes that brook no questions. "You know it. I hope they are prepared for the fact that nothing will be taking me away from them."

The car slows to a stop. Before Roger can put it in park, Kels and I are already out of the vehicle and running toward the entrance. A reporter makes the mistake of trying to step in front of my wife. Kels does a quick kick to his shin and shoves him aside when he lifts up his leg to rub it. I flash him an apologetic smile, but continue behind my girl.

We spot Kyle at the moment he sees us. He waves us over. "This way." We go around the corner, step behind a curtain and there are the two most beautiful sights in the entire world.

"My babies. I want them. I want to hold them." Kels hesitates, I assume from fear of possibly harming our angels.

Kyle smiles kindly. "They’re all yours. In every sense of the word."

Without any remaining restraint or barrier, Kels swoops over to them. She first picks up Brennan and conducts a quick inventory, much as we did at her birth. Fingers, toes, all accounted for. She strips off the T-shirt Brennan is wearing and checks for cuts, bruises, anything abnormal. Convinced our daughter is fine, she hands her over to me. Next up is Fuzzy.

In my arms at last, I hold my first born. She’s bigger. Damn, she grew in the past week. And I missed it. I kiss her eyelids. "Mama loves you, baby girl. Mama loves you so very much." I kiss her chubby cheek and am rewarded with a giggle.

My heart swells with joy. I look over her and see Kels finishing inspecting Collin. He too seems all right, but not as chubby as our girl. He begins fussing, but calms quickly when Kels pulls him close to her. "I want to talk to the doctor," Kels says to Kyle. He nods and leaves.

I reach over with one hand and touch Fuzzy’s hair. "Hey, little man."

"They’re okay. They’re home. It’s over," Kels pronounces solemnly, like a benediction. She regards me seriously. "I’m going to be hard-pressed to leave them alone anytime soon. You know that, don’t you?"

"Darlin’, I don’t plan on going anywhere myself. The rest of the world can bite my ass. For all I care, the universe consists of you, me, Brennan and Collin." That is so the truth. We’re camping out in the apartment until some of the pain subsides.

"Good evening. I’m Doctor Stevens."

We look up and see a man who must have graduated med school in the early eighteen hundreds. The two surviving strands of hair on his head are pointing in different directions, though he does have ample ear hair, and he has age spots covering his hands. His thick glasses, however, highlight compassionate eyes. "How are they, doctor?" I ask.

He smiles and reaches out to touch Brennan’s small fist, snuggled against my shoulder. "They’re fine. This one has a little diaper rash," he indicates Brennan, "but otherwise is in perfect health. Your son is good, but he’s a bit dehydrated. Are your breastfeeding?"

"Yes," Kels answers. "When can I start again?"

His eyes crinkle when he smiles. "I think your boy would appreciate immediately. I believe he missed you."

"Not half as much as I missed him." Kels immediately finds a chair and unbuttons her shirt.

"I’ll sign the discharge papers, and you’re free to take your children home." He shuffles out.

I drag a chair over and sit beside my wife and son. I put my arm around Kels’ shoulders and hold Brennan near her brother. This is how Mama and Papa find us when they enter.

"Look at that!" Mama exclaims, tears rimming her eyes.

I do as told and see Collin latched happily onto his mother’s breast. He makes contented sounds as he eats to his heart’s content for the first time in a week. Kels has a blissful smile on her face. Heaven.

"Beautiful," Papa says, reaching out to touch my daughter’s hair.


* * *


I hold my little girl close to me as I feed her for the first time in nearly a week. I’m so relieved, I can’t even cry. I’m all cried out; there are no more tears.

I sigh.

But that’s all right, because there’s no reason to cry. Our babies are home with us. This part of the nightmare is over.

Now, of course, there will be a new nightmare in the form of the prosecution and trial of my own mother for abducting my children. Once the press gets a hold of that, they’ll hang on like bulldogs. There won’t be any easy outs now. No plausible deniability for the network. Harper and I will no doubt be completely outed now.

At this point, I don’t care. I look at my daughter, and I don’t care about anything but her and her brother. I can leave the air and be fine. I have lots of other things I can do. And Harper is a producer, not an on air personality. She’ll be fine. She’s too good at what she does for the network to get rid of her.

Brennan ceases in her nursing and turns her little head to look at me. Her green eyes seem to sparkle when she licks her lips. "Hiya, Sweetpea." I stroke her cheek with my finger. "You all done?"

She blows a milky bubble at me then returns to my breast for more. "Hmm, somehow, I didn’t think so." I stroke her head and realize her hair has gotten thicker. "Pretty soon you’re gonna have a fuzzy head like your little brother."

She could care less. She’s perfectly happy right now, and so am I. "We’ll be okay, won’t we? Yup; you, me, Mama and Fuzzy. We’ll make it."


* * *


I carry Collin with me while Kels nurses Brennan. Mama offered to hold him, but I can’t let my babies out of my arms just yet. I tuck a blanket around his small form and take him out into the hallway. We’re looking for Kyle. Collin yawns and begins chewing on his fist. "I love you, Collin Lee," I whisper in his ear. He missed me saying that for almost a week. I have a lot of those comments to make up for. "You’re such a good boy."

I see a cluster of cops at the end of the corridor. One of them notices me, and he nudges Kyle. He turns and sees me and my son, his mouth crinkling up in a smile. I know not all of his assignments go so well. He moves away from the others who are busy congratulating each other on the job well done, and approaches us. With a large hand, he reaches out and smoothes down Fuzzy’s hair. "He seems happy."

"He’s well fed and in my arms." Truth is, I don’t know which one of us is happier right now. "What happened to Katherine Stanton?" There, to the point.

"She’s in custody. Federal charges of kidnapping will be filed against her."

I sigh. There’s no end to this. There will be a trial. More publicity. More of our private life exposed to the public’s eye. "You couldn’t have shot her?"

Kyle gives me a smile. "I’m afraid not, Harper. Not from lack of desire, though."

"Where is she now?"

"In the Burlington police department’s jail. We’ll be transferring her to New York tomorrow. There will be the standard psych evaluation -"

"That bitch had better not get off on a fake insanity plea!" I growl. I can picture her at a country club prison, spending her days playing bridge and plotting how to harm my babies in the future. The image burns through me, leaving me angry, ready for a fight.

"No matter what, I think her visitation request is dead in the water. With any luck, she’ll be put away for a long time."

I kiss my boy’s head. I drink in the smell of baby powder which clings to him. It soothes me. He makes a soft sound in his sleep, and a fierce surge of protectiveness courses through my veins. I hold him closer to me, my hand covering his back. So tiny. So fragile.

"We’ll need you and Kelsey to make a statement."

"Not tonight." Nothing will intrude upon our reunion. "Not tomorrow," I add.

"Harper …"

"I’m serious, Kyle. We’ll cooperate fully. In two days. Right now, my babies and my wife and I need some time alone." That even extends to my family. Tomorrow morning, I will gently ask if we can come visit them next weekend. Then I will snuggle down with the three I love best.

"It can’t go more than two days."

I nod, satisfied with our bargain. "You know where we live. We’re going home now."


* * *


We sleep the sleep of the righteous – and the reunited – on the flight home. Kels stretches out on the couch, and Collin sleeps on her chest. My baby girl and I are on the floor, laying beside them. For the first time in a week, I can totally relax. All is right with the world.

When we touch down in New York, Mama touches my shoulder gently. "We’re back," she whispers.

Brennan wakes up, not too happy at the interruption in her sleep. She begins crying, awakening her brother and mother at the same time. Collin fusses for a moment, but then realizes who is holding him. That calms him almost instantly. It works for me too, son. My boy and I have a lot in common.

"Shush, baby girl," I tell her. I bounce her gently.

Papa follows the pilot off the plane. I presume he’s going to get our car. Kels trades me Collin for Brennan. Silently, other than Brennan’s cries, the five of us make our way to the Range Rover.

Almost home.


* * *


I meet with Robert Bains, head of Executive Assurance. You would never pick this guy as the head of a worldwide security concern. He is slight of build, with almost delicate features. His hair is so blond it almost appears to not be there, his eyes a gentle hazel. There is a trace of a European accent; I can’t place it exactly. "I am most happy that our team contributed to the safe return of your children, Ms. Kingsley."

"Thank you, Mr. Bains. I will be forever indebted."

He brushes off my comment as if it were so much lint on his expensive suit. "Mr. Stanton is an old friend of our firm. We have been more than adequately compensated by him."

I don’t doubt that. Matt was over here this morning showering gifts and affection on my babies and my girl. "I’d like to retain you as well. Naturally, Kelsey and I are concerned, even more than before. I would like to make sure our apartment and car are protected. I’d also like to arrange a bodyguard for when we go out."

He inclines his head. "That is easily done. We would be most happy to provide those services." He meets my eyes. "You will have complete peace of mind."

I glance toward the living room and wonder if I will ever feel that way again.


* * *


This is the way life is supposed to be. I’m in my sweats, stretched out on the floor, laying on my stomach. I’m having a staring contest with my son. He’s blowing at me and reaching for my face, trying to get hold of my nose. He raises his head and pushes up on his hands, giving a frustrated little yell. He acts just like his Mama some days.

"Come get me, Fuzzy." I place my hand out there for him. He knows he can’t reach for it without putting his head down, and that makes him mad too. His tiny brows come together in a scowl. That, I think, he got from me.

And joining us from the bathroom is a freshly showered Mama and older sister. They join us in front of the fire. Looking very happy and smelling good, Harper puts Brennan down next to her brother, then plops down next to me and starts rubbing my back.

"Oh, that’s nice."

"I aim to please."

Rolling over, I reach out and caress her face. "You succeed very nicely, my love."

A loud yell from Brennan indicates that her Mama and I are paying far too much attention to each other, and not enough attention to her and her brother. "Well, I’m sorry, little miss cranky," I tease, holding my hand out to her so she can grasp at my fingers. She immediately pulls them to her mouth and tries to use them as leverage to roll onto her side. She wants to so badly. It won’t be much longer. When this one starts crawling and walking, we are doomed.

I can feel her tugging on my hand. Harper stretches out and blows bubbles on Fuzzy’s tummy, causing him to squeal and giggle.

My family. God, having them back and being together - it doesn’t get better than this.

I know Harper was truly in hell when they were missing, but my soul was dying. These little people are a part of me. Flesh of my own flesh. I carried them. I nurse them. They are a part of me, and I am a part of them. I experienced a pain in my heart and soul like no other that I have ever felt before. Nothing I have ever felt compared to the way I hurt when my children were missing.

Harper was a rock, as I expected her to be, but I’m not sure how I would have survived if the outcome had been different.

Thank God, I’ll never know.

I smile when I find Harper once again at the mercy of a child who thinks her hair is for pulling and chewing. She untangles Collin from her head, garnering more protests from our boy.

They are so vocal since we got them back. I think they missed arguing with Harper. I’ve certainly missed listening to the three of them. There is no denying the bond they share; they all simply light up when they are together.

My guiding lights, my greatest gifts. I’m keeping them close to me and protecting them with everything I have now. No one had better try to get near my family for less than loving reasons.

Because next time I’ll be ready, and I’ll tear them apart.


* * *


Somehow, I’m not surprised. It’s the middle of the night. We should both be sleeping, but Harper and I are standing in the twins’ bedroom. Our little ones are fast asleep, snuggled under their blankets.

Harper took the clothes we brought Brennan and Collin back home in and burned them in the fireplace. Neither of us wants any remnant of my mother, though it galls me to even admit that association with her, in our house.Since she’s never given me anything, I didn’t have to purge my closets. I so hope she’s put in a cell with the biggest, meanest, hairiest butch that has ever graced the federal prison system.

I shake thoughts of the woman I hate out of my mind and focus on the woman I love. She’s not aware that I am in the room with her. Her back is to me as she looks over Brennan’s crib. Harper murmurs something in French that I can’t quite hear. When she turns to walk over to Collin’s crib, she sees me in the doorway.

I shrug and smile. We’re both hopeless. That’s part of what I love so much about Harper. She cares about family. Totally. Completely. Unconditionally.

Especially our family. She was insane with grief and worry while our children were gone, but she held it together because she knew I needed her. Need her. I do need her. She’s become as indispensable to me as air.

I remember my time with C.J., and it never felt like this. Of course it didn’t. I was able to walk away. I know, without a doubt, I could never turn my back on Harper. I had never believed in forever.

Until now.

I walk over to Harper and slide my arms around her, pressing my cheek against her breast, feeling the beat of her heart against my skin. "I love you," I whisper, needing to speak my feelings out loud.

Harper’s hands are warm on my back, heating my skin through the thin cotton of my nightgown. Her touch is gentle. "And I love you." Her hand slides up into my hair, and she tilts my head back so she can place a kiss on my lips.

"How are they?"

She glances down at Collin’s sleeping form. "Perfect."

I laugh softly at her assessment. "Of course, they’re yours."

Her arms tighten around me. "Exactly." I am rewarded with a dazzling smile. I had missed it this past week.

"You want to go back to bed?" I suspect I know her answer.

"I’d rather stay here. Wouldn’t you?"

In reply, I tug her over to the rocking chair and push her down into it. I slide onto her lap, wrapping my arms around her neck. "I want to stay right here."

"That can be arranged." She kisses the tip of my nose. "How about for the rest of our lifetime?"

I chuckle. "You read my mind."


* * *


I am laying on my back, Collin perched on my feet, dangling over my body. His mouth is open wide, and he is happily drooling all over me. I do some leg presses, moving him up and down, and he laughs. "You’re such a good boy," I praise him, glad he’s not frightened or cranky.

Kam thinks I’m talking to him, and he pushes himself up from his doggy bed. He hangs his big snout over my face and starts drooling on me as well. As he bends over me, I notice that we need to get him to a doggy dentist and deal with that bad breath.

"Ack! Go sit down, Kam."

Ever obedient, he bends down and begins licking my face industriously. His rough tongue tickles as it scrapes against my skin.Since my hands are holding onto Collin’s, I can’t swat him away. Ah, the joys of motherhood and dog ownership.

"Aaaa …" Collin vocalizes.

"Need a hand, Tabloid?" Kels’ voice is full of good humor.

I look over at the entryway and see her there, a freshly diapered Brennan in her arms. "My savior! Think you can get your dog off me?"

"Oh, I probably could," my wife teases me, not moving from her spot. "What’s the magic word?"

I consider teasing back, but Kam’s tongue nearly slips into my mouth. Through clenched teeth, I reply, "Please." It is the most pathetic cry for help I’ve ever heard.

"Kam, be nice," Kels manages to say through her laughter. "Be a good boy; go lay down."

He whimpers, clearly not wanting to leave his human lollipop. However, he’s well trained, and he obeys his master. "Thank you, darlin’. I was teaching Collin how to fly, and Kam decided to get involved."

"Since Collin doesn’t have wings, I’m glad Kam is watching out for him." My two girls sit down beside me, Brennan happily settled on her mother’s lap. Kels jerks her chin toward my happy son. "Could you get him down from there, please?"

I do one last leg press, eliciting happy gurgles and a fresh stream of drool, and then I lift him off. "You liked that, didn’t you, son?"

"Aaaa," Collin replies.

"Harper, he likes to put his hand in his diaper and then put it in his mouth, but I don’t let him do that either." She lifts Brennan’s clean hand and places a series of kisses on it.

I start laughing and shake my head. "You are such a mom." I take Collin and place him in her lap, beside his sister. "It’s so wonderful."

Kels is so busy pressing kisses on our children’s heads, she doesn’t hear my comment. "What is?"

"You are." I notice that my voice is husky, sounding like scotch and cigarettes.

Kels now pays attention. She looks up at me from under pale eyelashes, giving me a smile which quickly warms me through and through. "You think maybe it’s time for our little darlings to go to bed?"

My stomach clenches, and I nod enthusiastically. "They look tired."

"They do, huh?" She bounces them on her knees gently. "Let’s tuck them in, and then we’ll see what we can do for you. You look tired too."

I’ve missed this. Missed her. My toes are tingling. "Chér, I need to go to bed." I quickly add, lest she get the wrong idea, "And I need you to tuck me in."

"I figured it was something like that. So let’s see if we can get these two down for the night, and see about putting you down for the night."

"Mrs. Kingsley, the things you say." I am on my knees in front of her, leaning in for a kiss.


* * *


The twins don’t need much encouragement to fall asleep. A couple of stories, a song, and quite a few kisses, and they are out like a light. Kels and I stand over their cribs for a few moments watching them sleep, eternally grateful to have them home, before, turning, I take Kels into my arms. She leans into me, her weight insubstantial. I hook my thumbs into the waistband of her jeans and pull her tight against me. Her hips are pressed against mine providing delicious contact.

She looks up at me, her eyes a shade darker than normal, her breathing more rapid. I press my lips to hers. My tongue traces the outline of her lips, requesting entrance. She opens up to me, and I eagerly taste her. She’s sweet, like the honey she puts in her tea. I explore her mouth with gentle strokes, touching her tongue and inviting her to play.

I feel, more than hear, her moan under my gentle offensive. She stretches her arms out, linking them behind my neck. This brings her up against me, her breasts pressed under mine. I can feel her nipples harden, and I imagine taking them in my mouth. My knees weaken.

Kels eases away from me and rests her forehead against my lips. "Nice …" So why did we stop? "But can we not do this in the twins’ room?"

Ah, okay. I can understand that. Best to not give our children any more reason to spend their lives in therapy. "I know of a soft bed calling our names." Without waiting for her reply, I scoop her up in my arms and begin carrying her toward our room.

Arriving there, I gently lay my precious bundle down on the bed and follow her onto it. I settle over her, putting most of my weight on my elbows and knees. My fingertips stroke her cheeks, her neck, her collarbone, reacquainting myself with her soft skin. I kiss where my fingers travel.

Kels arches up under me, pressing herself more fully against my body. I slide one arm under her, supporting her lower back. Her hands go to tug my shirt out from the waistband of my jeans. She’s satisfied when she’s touching my skin. I, however, am not satisfied. I push myself up and, with her help, remove my shirt and bra entirely.

Kels surges upward and captures my breast in her mouth, her tongue swirling around the nipple teasingly. Under her delicious assault, I sit back on my heels, Kels attached to me. I cup the back of her neck with my hand, holding her in place, though I doubt she is planning on moving anytime soon. Since having the babies, she makes love to my breasts differently. Instead of a harsh suction, she now softens the pressure with the flat of her tongue pressed against my nipple. She takes more of me into her mouth, drawing me deeper into her. Thank you, Brennan and Collin. "Darlin’," I groan.

Kels nips me. When she speaks, her breath is hot against my already feverish skin, "Yes?" Without waiting for my reply, she blows softly on my wet skin, and I feel my nipple tighten even more.

My reply is a deep groan. I feel every movement of her mouth between my legs. I stroke her cheek and neck, encouraging her to continue, and she switches breasts, her right hand coming up to massage my now neglected one. I curl over her, pressing my lips to her hair, breathing in the scent of strawberries and kiwi. My arms run up her back, disappointed at the feel of cotton and not skin.

I work a hand between us and begin unfastening the buttons holding the soft chambray shirt closed. Easing it off her shoulders, I lean my weight against her, lowering us both to the mattress.

I am surrounded by softness. Our featherbed is welcoming in its embrace, gently cradling our bodies. The Egyptian cotton of our duvet caresses our skin, and I want to feel more of it. And Kels is incredibly soft and welcoming. I press my thigh between her legs, parting them gently. I begin a slow grind against her, hoping to convince her that naked would be really good right now.

"Harper," she breathes.

I push up, reluctantly breaking the delicious connection between my breast and her mouth. "I love you," I whisper back. Holding myself up on one arm, I reach down and undo the top button of her jeans. I tickle the sensitive skin below her bellybutton, eliciting a low moan.

"Harper," she says again.

I love it when she only knows my name. I bend down and taste the skin recently exposed. Her hands go to my shoulders, urging me down. "Patience," I tell her, knowing it will do no good. I close my eyes and enjoy the sound of the zipper of her jeans sliding down. I tug at the denim, pulling it over her slim hips. She kicks her legs, helping me remove it, taking her socks along with it.

I drink in the sight of her. Luscious. Perfect. Sensual. Motherhood has only served to make her more beautiful, more desirable. I breathe in the scent of her arousal. And mine. I am filled with a need for her that defies expression.

She begins rocking against my leg, not caring we have yet to remove her underwear, anxious to begin. She pulls me down against her. My face is pressed in the hollow between her neck and shoulder, my lips against her hot skin, coated with a light sheen of sweat. She claws at my back, desperate to increase pressure, holding me close. Her hips are moving rhythmically against me, and her panting breaths indicate that she is getting closer to her release.

I grind my leg into her center, unable to suppress a moan at the wetness which permeates my jeans. I give her what she wants. I slide my left hand down the side of her body, under the thin band of fabric at her hip, moving under to cup her buttock. I use this leverage to bring her to the pleasure she now blindly seeks.

She arches up, her back and neck thrown back, and she exhales her release. She stays bowed for a long moment and then collapses back into the mattress, her breathing ragged in my ear. Her body is limp beneath mine, and the only pressure now is her arm hooked around my neck. She kisses me languorously, too tired to do much else.

I wait for her to catch her breath before I roll off her and remove the remainder of my clothing. I kick it off the bed and come back to rest on top of her. She welcomes me into her arms, now focused on meeting my very obvious need. Her leg bends, and I settle against it, moving slowly up and down.

Her hands cup my butt, guiding me. My weight rests on my forearms, and I pant in her ear. A groan escapes me when she turns her head and licks my bicep, following the outline of my muscle with her tongue. She gently bites the tender skin, and I feel the swirling heat increase in my gut.

"Come on, baby," she encourages me. "Be mine."

Hers. God, I am hers. Heart. Soul. And, as I fall over the edge, embracing the pleasure she so readily brings me, body. Our movements slow and then stop. I collapse partially on top of her, exhausted in my release.

Kels reaches over and folds the comforter over our intertwined bodies. The warm weight settles over us, and I fall asleep in her arms.


<fade out>



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