“Mom?” Freya says, in that way that lets me know I’ve been off in the clouds.
“I said, are you excited, about the awards show?”
“Hey.” I pick up a spatula and aim it at her playfully. “I thought we said no work talk, huh?”
“It’s awesome though,” she smiles. “You’re going to win another award.”
“Your father has won awards, too,” I point out.
“Yeah, but for business,” she says.
I smile, shaking my head indulgently. Despite their many similarities, Freya gets bored by business talk, even when it turns to the innumerable accolades Torsten has won for his charity work and fair business practices since emerging from the shadows and properly taking the helm of Fenrir Industries.
Harry – Harald, named after Torsten’s father – and Sebastian, named after mine, are set to be the little dominating businessmen, once they get past the wrestling and playing stage, that is.
They’re both seven years old now, so any day now …
As if sensing that I’m thinking about them, they come charging through the house, chasing each other with big foam swords. Harry wheels on his twin brother and ducks low, aiming for his legs. Seb leaps back and grins widely, his mop of unruly brown hair bobbing around his freckled face.
“Yeah, right,” he laughs. “Like you think I’m that slow.”
A moment later, Torsten appears, looking rugged and handsome with his silver beard clinging to his jaw, his hair swept sleepily and lazily and freaking handsomely to the side.
He’s cradling Charlotte to his chest, rocking her softly as he walks into the kitchen and leans across to lay a gentle kiss on my cheek. Old Chipper walks loyally at his side, protecting the youngest child as he always does.
I turn and find his lips instead, and we both smile as Freya makes gagging noises. Gray-haired Chipper yips softly.
“Dad, do you have to?”
“Mommy, when’s breakfast?” Harry calls merrily as Seb leaps on his back, trying to wrestle him to the floor.
“Nah uh, naughty boys don’t get breakfast,” I laugh.
I giggle. “Both of you. Now come and sit down like civilized people and maybe I’ll get you something to eat.”
I feel Torsten smiling at me as more sunlight fills the kitchen, and we share a look, one of our secret looks. I know we’re both thinking about the past, about my scent on the wind that led us together, about his skin that used to shimmer blood-red, and about a Halloween that brought impossibility into my life—about the years, the long years, a thousand years of waiting.
Yes, we’re both thinking about that.
But we’re also thinking about the future.
The sun-bright future.
And things can only get better.
“I love you,” he whispers.
“I love you,” I say, almost at exactly the same time.
“Jinx, jinx, jinxie-jinx,” Seb giggles, leaping up and down on the stool.
Chipper howls softly and happiness riots through our hearts.