Disclaimers: Mine, mine, all mine! *insert evil laugh here*

Sex: Duh!! 

WARNING: For those of you "parasite writers" out there who are the cause of such nasty disclaimers: I do NOT give permission for this story to be reposted in ANY changed form: change of character names, title storyline, etc. That is considered stealing and I will seek legal action.

Note: For my precious Sebastian "Bubba" : September 1999 - March 2010. I love you with all my heart, my baby boy. Thanks for coming back to see me.

If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com.

Lost & Found


Kim Pritekel

Part 8 - Conclusion

Night had fallen and there was still no sign of Sam, which was making Claire nervous and anxious. She'd loved the time she'd spent getting to know Tanner and her family, but one part of her mind was always focused on Sam and wondering where she was. She was beginning to become convinced she was never coming back.

Finally, as Mike and Tanner were getting themselves and Sebastian settled in their rooms, Claire wandered down to the second floor. She nearly burst into relieved tears when she noted the light coming from underneath Sam's door. She walked over to it, her heart pounding in her chest and her palms beginning to sweat. Finally, she gathered her courage and knocked firmly. Within a couple minutes the door was pulled open and Sam and Claire stood face to face for the first time in more than two days.

"Hey," Sam said, her own heart pounding in her chest.

"Hi," Claire said. She felt her relief and gratitude flood her and before she could stop herself, she grabbed Sam in a tight embrace. Nothing could pry Sam away.

Sam wasn't sure what she was going to face when next she saw Claire, which is exactly why she'd taken the chicken route and had stayed away until late. But now with Claire in her arms, there was nowhere else she wanted to be.

"Thank you," Claire whispered into the hug. "God, thank you, Sam. You've given me so much back." They both understood her words had so many meanings.

Sam rested her head on Claire's shoulder, amazed at just how happy she was to be there. She still truly wasn't sure what was going to happen or what she could do, but for that moment, she was content.

Claire pulled back just enough to look into Sam's beautiful face. She felt such a strong pull to lean down and kiss her, but she wasn't sure that was such a good idea, considering things still hadn't been dealt with. "I still can't believe you literally ran my sister over."

Sam grinned and looked away, sheepish. "Yeah, it was a lucky accident, I guess. Especially considering I was half asleep."

"She's so beautiful, Sam." The smile on Claire's face was unlike anything Sam had ever seen before. She was struck dumb by the intense beauty of it. Claire, unaware of Sam's perusal continued. "She's so kind and I can't believe I have a nephew!"

"I knew you were going to be excited about that part."

"Oh my god, yes!" Claire exclaimed. "I don't really know what to do with him yet, but he's here! In my home!"

Sam found herself caught up in yet another hug, which she happily returned. She couldn't keep her guilt down as she knew that moments before she'd been busy packing up her belongings. She was just waiting for Claire to ask if she could come in.

Claire found herself getting caught up in her excitement and emotions again. "Oh, Sam," she cried, grabbing Sam's face and bringing it to her own, placing a firm, lingering kiss on soft lips. It didn't take long before the kiss deepened, surprising them both. Claire pulled back completely, dropping her hands from Sam's face, her chest heaving with the thrill of her day and her kiss. "I'm sorry," she whispered, turning away as she tried to compose herself. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," Sam said, resting a gentle hand on Claire's arm. She figured it was a good time for them to talk. "Come in, Claire. I think we need to talk." Claire nodded but said nothing as she followed Sam inside.

Claire looked around, her stomach falling when she saw the suitcases and bags lying open on the bed, some empty, some already filled. "Are you leaving?" she asked unnecessarily.

Sam felt shame infuse her cheeks. "I was considering it. I'm wondering if it might be the best thing, considering… what happened."

"Yes, what happened." Claire sighed, walking over to the bed and sitting on the edge. She couldn't help but remember what happened in that bed the last time she was there. A shiver passed through her body. She looked down at her hands, which fidgeted in her lap. "I'm sorry for the things I said on the phone the other night, Sam," she said softly, her voice contrite.

Sam walked over and sat next to her, both bouncing slightly with the move. "Me too. I was acting like a child and it wasn't fair. However," she said, raising a finger for emphasis, "be glad it did. Because I was pissed at you, I threw a glass of beer against the wall which made me check out early, which made me end up at Denny's."

Claire met her gaze, amused. "Well, if our fighting creates miracles in my life, let's never stop."

Sam's burst of laughter was contagious and soon both had flopped back on the mattress - lying on piles of clothing - as they got themselves under control. Sam glanced over at Claire, who was already looking at her. Sam turned onto her side facing Claire, who did the same. They studied each other for a long moment, the air between them growing thick. Sam could feel her heart beginning to pound and her stomach flipping. She was using all of her will power to keep her distance.

"I don't want you to leave, Sam," Claire said at length, her voice soft and dreamy.

Sam studied her for a long moment before responding. "Why?" she asked. She had to know what was truly in Claire's mind and heart in order to help her make her own decisions.

"Because you're so good for me. You bring out the best in me." Claire reached out and ran one of her fingertips over the softness of Sam's forearm. "I'd miss you terribly, too."

Sam sighed at the touch, feeling it straight to her heart. "All we do is fight, Claire. How can that be good?" She felt herself getting lost in Claire's eyes even as she tried to use logic to get out. "How can that be good?" she whispered again, one of her hands reaching out, fingertips grazing along Claire's jaw.

"Because I need to be honest," Claire whispered back, moving slightly closer to Sam.

Sam also moved a bit closer, their bodies mere inches apart. "What weren't you honest about?" she asked, her hand leaving Claire's jaw and running down over her arm to rest on her waist, pulling Claire just a bit closer.

Claire's heart was pounding so hard she was worried Sam would be able to see it through the thin material of her shirt. "About what I was feeling." She met Sam's gaze. "With you. For you."

Sam felt nervous sweat gathering between her breasts. Her fear was beginning to prickle but she knew she had to hold it at bay as she could very push away something that was meant to be great in her life. "And, how's that?"

Claire took one of Sam's hands in hers, guiding the fingertips to her lips. "You make me feel here," she whispered, kissing the fingertips pressed there. "You make me feel here," she said, placing Sam's hand over her breast, both grinning at that. "But most of all," she moved the hand until it was directly over her heart. "you make me feel here." She leaned forward, placing a soft kiss on Sam's lips. "I don't want to be numb anymore," she whispered.

"I have to warn you," Sam murmured, "I'm not real good at this relationship stuff."

Claire grinned, pushing Sam to her back and moving on top of her, resting her weight on her forearms. "Me neither."

Sam buried her hands in Claire's hair, pulling their mouths together once more. The kiss was deep and passionate, both women moaning softly as their bodies settled against each other, finding the best way possible to fit completely and snugly.

"Sam," Claire whimpered, moving her mouth away from the blonde's and to her neck, licking and kissing. "You know, I think Tanner named my nephew after my cat," she murmured, making them both chuckle.

"I noticed that, too," Sam moaned, her hands running down Claire's back to rest on a shapely behind, which she pressed harder against her.

Claire pushed up from Sam just enough to be able to look down at her. "They're going to move here, Sam," she said, tears in her eyes. "Tanner wants to be closer to me."

Sam's smile was beaming and blinding. "Oh Claire. That's such amazing news."

Claire brushed some strands of hair out of Sam's face. "Sam?" she said, finally allowing everything she felt for Sam - even if she wasn't sure what name to label it - to show through.

Sam basked in the light that radiated from Claire, a blinding beam headed straight to her soul. "Yeah?"

"Do you think I've finally getting the family that I've always so desperately needed but never knew I wanted?"

Sam felt her heart break at the softly-spoken words. She cupped Claire's cheek, nodding. "Yes, baby I do." She returned the watery smile she was given.

Claire suddenly felt the need to be held. She lowered her body to lay flush against Sam's, resting her head on a soft breast. She closed her eyes when she felt Sam's fingers running gently through her hair. "I'm sorry to tease," she whispered, bringing up a hand to swipe at a tear before it could fall. "I just really need you right now."

"Don't ever be sorry, Claire," Sam said, placing a kiss atop Claire's head. "Besides, you'd be surprised what kind of wonders that powerful showerhead can work."

Claire grinned, slapping Sam playfully on the shoulder. "Am I too heavy for you?"

"No, ma'am. I don't want you to move," Sam said, pulling Claire even closer.

"Mmm, good," Claire sighed, snuggling in. She'd never in all her life felt so content.


Sam's eyes slowly opened as consciousness seeped into her system. She realized she was curled around Claire, both lying on their left sides, atop her now horribly flattened and wrinkled clothing. Somewhere along the way the suitcase and duffel bags had been knocked off the bed. She lifted her head, noting the bedside clock read that it was just after six in the morning. She felt rested for the first time in days, though was still not 100%.

She turned her focus to the body that lay against her, Claire's warmth like a safety blanket all along her front. Closing her eyes, Sam leaned in, inhaling Claire's smell: soap, shampoo, natural scents. She exhaled, a smile forming on her lips as she nuzzled her face in Claire's hair. Her smile widened as Claire sighed in her sleep, wiggling her way further back into Sam's warmth.

"Good morning," Sam whispered, resting her chin on Claire's shoulder. "Rise and shine, sunshine."

Claire moaned. "Don't wanna."

Sam smiled, utterly charmed. "Your sister probably thinks you were kidnapped," Sam said, running a hand down along Claire's side, resting on her hip as Sam pressed her own hips closer into Claire's extremely inviting body.

Claire moaned again, but then a wide smile curled across her lips. "My sister," she whispered, taking Sam's hand from her hip and bringing it to her mouth, kissing Sam's palm. "Thank you, Samantha," she said into the kiss. "Thank you."

Claire turned around suddenly to her other side and pulled Sam into a long, tight hug, which both of them sighed into.

"You're welcome," Sam murmured, gently caressing Claire's back and hair. "You are so, so welcome." She pulled away and placed a lingering kiss on Claire's lips. "Come on, let's get up. You got a family to take care of."

Claire smiled at the mention of the word but quickly sobered. "Will you join us today, Sam?"

Sam studied Claire for a long moment before she finally nodded. "Okay."


By time Sam - freshly showered and dressed - reached Claire's third-floor home, breakfast was in the works and laughter and enthusiastic conversation filled the space. Sam felt a bit like she was intruding on such an important moment in Claire - and Tanner's - life: the sisters were cooking side by side, the conversation non-stop as they laughed and even threw food at each other.

"Pretty cool, isn't it?" Mike said quietly, stepping up beside Sam, who couldn't take her eyes off Claire. The brunette glowed with radiant happiness, and Sam felt herself falling for that woman so hard it hurt.

Sam pulled herself out of her thoughts and turned to Mike with a nod. "Absolutely."

Mike watched Sam watch Claire and was surprised when he realized what he was seeing in the pretty blonde's eyes. Realization dawning, he glanced over to his wife and new-found sister-in-law. Claire, who was listening to the story Tanner was telling about the day Sebastian was born, glanced over their way, her gaze immediately finding Sam. The look that past between the two was unmistakable: new love.

Mike grinned, feeling like a kid who had just uncovered a naughty secret between his parents. He quietly excused himself and went in search of his son, leaving Sam to continue watching the antics of the sisters.

Breakfast was a loud and boisterous occasion. Sam had never seen Claire that way, and neither had Mike ever seen his own wife so free and alive. The two of them - Mike and Sam - took turns sitting back quietly basking in the warmth while the other joined in the fun and laughter. At the center of it all was three year old Sebastian, who was too cute for anyone to ignore.

After, Sam helped Claire clean up, Tanner giving Sebastian a bath while Mike called the precinct back home to clear up a few things about his final two weeks at the department. Sam and Claire were working side by side: Claire cleaning the waffle maker while Sam wrapped all the leftovers in containers and Reynolds Wrap.

"Do you realize that the smile hasn't left your face since you showed up at my door last night?" Sam asked quietly, her smile in place.

Claire glanced over at her, her smile increasing. "I suppose that's true."

"If I'd known that was all it would take to make you so happy I would have started knocking waitresses over long ago," Sam quipped.

Claire threw her head back, loud laughter booming out. She nodded. "Yeah yeah, I know. My employees won't know what to do with me."

"Sooooo," Sam drawled, placing the foil-wrapped bacon aside and starting on the waffles. "Is this a permanent thing or will it fade over time?" She felt bad bringing such seriousness into the wonderful morning, but she knew she was quickly losing the battle to stay away from Claire, but knew she could never handle the difficult and emotionally-confusing Claire of before.

Claire sighed with a shrug. "So much of who I've become was from losing Tanner, Sam." She met her gaze. "When she was taken from me, the best part of myself was taken, too."

"And, now that she's back, has that best part returned with her?"

"Not all of it," Claire said, turning to face Sam. "Some of it came back before, and that was because of you."

Sam was struck dumb by the quietly spoken words, deeply touched. She faced Claire, looking into soft, calm blue eyes. She was sure she saw her own feelings reflected back in that gaze. "You, too. The good has been both ways."

Claire stepped closer to Sam and took her in a soft but quickly-deepening kiss. She brought a hand up and buried it in thick blonde hair as her tongue stroked the softness of Sam's. She felt Sam's arms wrap around her waist and she sighed, feeling so complete by Sam's touch and her nearness.

Tanner walked into the kitchen, stopping dead in her tracks, her cheeks immediately flushing. "Shit, I'm sorry," she murmured, turning to hurry and leave the room.

"No, it's okay," Claire said, slightly out of breath. She smiled at Sam then pulled away, squeezing one of Sam's hands before walking over to Tanner. "I need to talk to you about something, Tanner."

Tanner nodded, still feeling embarrassed at interrupting such a private moment. She smiled in apology to Sam before following her sister out of the room.

Sam let out a long slow breath, her hands finding the counter to hold herself up as her heart slowed. "Jesus, that woman can kiss," she blew out, then returned to her clean up duties.

Tanner followed Claire down the hall and into the master suite. "I'm sorry I interrupted that, Claire," she said, feeling foolish.

Claire chuckled as she opened her closet door. "Don't give it another thought, sweetie. It was a bit of a spontaneous thing."

"I didn't know the two of you were a couple," Tanner said, sitting on the end of Claire's massive bed.

"We're… ah hell, I don't know what we are." Claire stepped into the closet, returning a moment later with a strong box in her hands. She sat next to her sister and placed the strong box on her lap. "It's a complicated situation," she continued, "though I think we're starting to sort through it."

Tanner knew there was more to it and would certainly ask, but she sensed for the time being, enough said. "So, what's this?" she asked, tapping the strong box.

"I have some good news for you, little sis," Claire beamed. She unlatched the box and opened the heavy, fireproof lid. She withdrew an envelope which contained the will of their long-dead relative. "When I was a teenager, I found out you and I were heiresses."

Tanner looked at her like she was crazy. "What?" In lieu of a response, Claire handed over the letter from the attorney. Tanner read it over then read it over again. She looked at Claire with huge eyes, mouth hanging open. "Are you serious?"

Claire nodded. "Dead serious. I set aside your portion years ago. It's in a trust, ready when you are."

Tanner couldn't breathe, her heart pounding a million miles an hour. "Oh my god," she whispered. "We could totally start over?" she asked, still unable to believe what she'd just read.

"Honey, you and Mike could do whatever you wanted. You could move to Hawaii and live fat if you wanted to."

Tanner let out a long breath then grabbed Claire in a tight embrace, both the letter and the strong box hitting the floor.


Sam couldn't be happier as she watched Claire lead her sister around, introducing her to everyone at the barbeque, which all of Claire's employees and their families had been invited to. Sebastian ran around with the other kids that had come, Mike mingling and joining Claire and Tanner from time to time before Tanner was drug off to the next group.

"Quite the event, huh?" Richard said, walking up to stand next to Sam, his gaze following the crazy sister duo.

Sam nodded. "No joke. I still can't believe Claire met your wife for the first time tonight."

Richard chuckled. "Yeah, it's a sad, sad world." He glanced down at the blonde. "Though not so much anymore." When Sam met his gaze, he gave her a genuine smile. "I wasn't real sure what to make of you at first, Sam, but you've certainly proven yourself to not only be a fine worker, but a fine match for Claire Hobbs. I have to admit," he said, his gaze finding his boss, "I wasn't entirely sure her match even existed."

Sam grinned. "Yeah, well life's funny that way."

"Hmm," Richard agreed. He bent down and placed a kiss on Sam's cheek. "Thanks, Sam. I always knew Claire had a heart somewhere. `Bout damn time somebody brought it out." With those words, he walked away to go join his wife, leaving an amused Sam behind.

As the barbeque began to wind down as night fell, guests began to leave, hugs all around. Claire started to clean up when she was stopped by Tanner's hand on her arm. She looked at her sister in question.

"Let us take care of this, Claire," Tanner said softly. "You've done enough. Go spend some time with Sam." She nodded toward where Sam had begun to collect trash. "She's been watching you all night. Something tells me she'd like some time alone with you."

Claire was stunned by her sister's words, but she wasn't about to dispute them, as she'd been dying to be near Sam all night. "Thanks, Tanner." She gave her sister a quick hug then walked over to Sam. "Come on," she said, taking the armful of empty cans and beer bottles from Sam and handing them to a surprised Mike.

Sam followed Claire into the building, unsure of their destination. She was surprised to be led through the warehouse and ultimately to the third floor penthouse suite, and Claire's bedroom.

Claire shut the door behind them, her heart pounding in nervous excitement. She turned and looked at Sam, who stood in the center of the room, looking for all the world like she had not a clue what she was doing there. Claire smiled and walked over to her, taking both Sam's hands in hers and bringing them to her mouth, placing a soft kiss on both.

"I missed having you near me tonight," she said, tugging Sam closer as she placed the blonde's hands around her waist, her own hands smoothing up strong arms until they tangled in her hair. "A lot."

Sam sighed into the kiss, her hands clutching handfuls of Sam's shirt as she pulled Claire closer. "I missed you, too," she panted after the deep kiss. She looked up into Claire's eyes. "What are we doing, Claire?"

"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm about to make love," Claire murmured as she placed a string of kisses on Sam's neck.

Sam grinned, her stomach flipping at the words even as her head tipped to give more access. "I mean us," she indicated the two of them. "Who are we?"

Claire lifted her head and studied Sam's face for a long moment then she smiled. "We are two women who lost so much, including ourselves, and then were finally found." She placed a soft kiss on Sam's lips then whispered, "I love you. It wasn't until the day I met you that I could get to a place where I could finally say those words."

Sam was nearly moved to tears at the declaration. At one time - like twenty-four hours ago - those were words that scared her to death. But now, hearing them from Claire's lips, she felt all the tattered pieces of her life coming together to form one thought, one need and one love. "I love you, too," she whimpered, surprised by just how much she meant it. She pulled Claire down into a heated kiss to match her emotional need.

Claire couldn't wait anymore so she pulled away from the kiss, tugging her own shirt over her head then getting started on her pants. She couldn't look away from the fire that was Sam's gaze, even as the blonde began to pull her own clothing off.

Both fully naked, Claire pulled Sam to her, her need at a dangerous level as she took Sam in a savage kiss, which left them both panting for breath. "I need you, Sam," she whispered against Sam's mouth. "I need you so much."

Sam responded by tugging Claire to the bed and gently pushing her down on the mattress, following as she lay atop her. She slowed things down, looking into Claire's beautiful face. "I'm scared to death, Claire, but I'm willing to give this a go."

Claire smiled, running her fingers through Sam's hair. "I'm scared, too but we'll ride this out together," she said, echoing Sam's words from their first encounter, though they both knew her words had nothing to do with sex. "Give us a chance."

"With all my heart," Sam promised, leaning down for a soft kiss, her lips moving with and against Claire's, her tongue licking quickly at Claire's top lip until she was let inside, the kiss deepening.

Making love took on a whole new meaning for Sam that night: it took a meaning at all. As she touched and tasted Claire's skin, slowly making her way down her neck and upper chest to her breasts, she was transformed and transported. She'd never known true want or need before that: lust and love were two entirely different entities, one she'd known many times, the other new and unexplored territory. The sound of Claire's moans and whimpers as Sam took a rigid nipple in her mouth was like food to Sam's very soul, and as she felt Claire's wetness on her fingertips , Sam felt her soul open and accept what was meant to be.

"Oh, Claire," she whispered as she kissed and licked her way down between Claire's legs, her tongue meeting her fingers that had already slid inside.

"Mm, baby," Claire moaned, a hand reaching down to tangle in Sam's hair. "Yessss…"

Sam took her time, using her tongue to find every single sensitive spot Claire had, probing and tasting, all the while her fingers continued their easy rhythm, hot liquid pouring out with each withdrawal.

Claire was lost, her body floating high above the clouds, only pulled down as her pleasure began to build, threatening to erupt and take her with it. A low keening sound began in her throat and grew until a loud cry escaped her lips, her chest heaving as she tried to calm her racing heart.

Sam kissed her way back up Claire's body, humming into the fullness of Claire's breasts and then warmth of her neck. "God you taste good," she whispered, kissing her way up to Claire's mouth.

Claire kissed her back then grinned, running her hands up and down the glorious softness of Sam's naked skin. "You know, I think all I needed all these years was to get laid."

Sam laughed, kissing her again. "Again I say, if I had known that's all you needed…."

Claire slapped Sam playfully on the ass then looked into her gorgeous face. "So, when are you moving in?" She broke into laughter at Sam's expression. "I'm joking!" She kissed Sam again, thoroughly amused. "I'm so joking," she murmured against her lips, "though I do expect you in my bed every night."

Sam nearly purred at the request as she was slowly pushed onto her back, Claire following. "I'm sure we can work something out though we might scare the hell out of Sebastian with all the noises coming out of Aunt Claire's bedroom."

Claire chuckled as she began an oral exploration of Sam's glorious body, her tongue flicking over a rigid nipple. "You have the most amazing body, Sam," she murmured, taking the nipple into her mouth and suckling.

Sam moaned, the wetness between her thighs growing with her need. "Better than the sculpture?" she breathed.

Claire lifted her head, looking into Sam's flushed face. "You saw that?"

Sam grinned. "Oh yeah."

Claire quickly pushed her embarrassment away. "I needed something," she explained, returning to Sam's breasts. "I had to vent my frustration."

Sam's eyes fell closed, her hands finding Claire's thick hair. "Oh baby," she moaned, sensation rushing from her breasts to her clit, making her hips begin to move. "The sculpture's beautiful but - " Sam gasped as wandering fingers found her wetness, "now you've got the real thing."

Claire hummed against Sam's flesh as she kissed and licked her way down, her tongue meeting and then taking over for her questing fingers. In physicality she had no idea what she was doing, but she wasn't allowing herself to think about physicality: she was going on pure instinct and her own need. She wanted so badly to touch and taste the pinnacle of Sam's need and pleasure.

"I've got the real thing," Claire murmured against Sam's sex before her mouth stilled and her tongue continued.

Sam sucked in a breath and waited moments before she exhaled, pleasure stretching throughout her entire body, her hands buried in Claire's hair. It felt so amazing, so utterly right as Claire made love to her. Sam had a naturally passionate nature, but something about Claire brought that out even more, made her want to give and not just receive, as was her normal habit. Instinctually she knew that for Claire to give her sexual pleasure was for Claire to give her heart and soul, two things Sam knew she required to survive.

After hours of making love, Sam was finally curled up against Claire, her head resting on her shoulder. Even in her days of having sex with men, she had never been one to curl up against someone, as she felt it was a sign of weakness. With Claire, she felt she could be anything and anyone and it was okay.

Claire was utterly content as she held Sam, a hand absently stroking over her back. "I hope you can be patient with me, Sam," she said softly.

"What do you mean?" Sam asked with a contented sigh, her own fingers running over the softness that was Claire's stomach.

"I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to love."

Sam raised her head, looking deeply into concerned blue eyes. "Neither do I,' she whispered, placing a soft kiss on Claire's lips. "This is new for both of us. We'll be okay."

"Do you truly believe that?" Claire whispered, so worried she would ruin this relationship, which was something she wanted more than life itself.

"Yes. I do."

Claire studied Sam for a long moment, running a hand through her hair. "Want to know something terrible?"

Sam smirked. "I'm not sure."

"When I realized who Tanner was in the store, all I could think about was `where is Sam'. I looked for you, but you weren't there."

"I was there," Sam admitted. "I watched the whole thing. I stayed away because I wanted you and Tanner to have your time-" she cut herself off, trying to move away from Claire, but was stopped by a firm touch to her lower back, making her stay where she was. "Yes, that's true, but the whole truth is, I didn't know how to face you."

"So you were going to run away, leave me a note or something?" Claire asked, a brow raised.

Sam gave her a sheepish smile and nod. "Essentially."

Claire shook her head. "Not acceptable."

"I know, I know. I was being a coward but you caught me and then ended up spending the night with me."

"Isn't life cruel?" Claire asked against Sam's lips.

"Immensely," Sam agreed, deepening the kiss.



It was the grand opening for Creation Mayhem's new look. The warehouse area of the store had been divided in half, the two halves cut off from the other. One side was for storage and supplies, the other converted into a wonderland for every season and holiday. Together, Claire and Sam had designed and created a virtual town of scaled down proportions, though they were large enough for children to run in and out of and for adults to wander through hunched over. Even the insides had been outfitted with scaled down furnishings to match the décor and style of each building, the outsides landscaped and magical.

Claire's local clients and customers were invited and wandered from scene to scene, children running and laughing, awed and inspired by the magical wonderland that surrounded them. It was no longer evident that they were in a warehouse, as the walls had been painted and theatrical lighting had been added to create another world.

Sam and a very pregnant Tanner helped to ensure everyone had refreshments and anything else they needed, as well as answered any questions. Six-year old Sebastian led the charge of children and fun.

"I think this has been a success," Tanner said proudly, one hand resting on her lower back, the other on her huge stomach.

"I agree," Sam nodded, arms crossed over her chest, gaze traveling across the room until she found Claire, who was already looking at her. They shared a moment and a smile before Claire turned back to the small group she was speaking to.

"How's the new house coming along?" Tanner asked, groaning as she lowered her heft into a nearby chair, smiling her gratitude as Sam helped her.

"Wonderfully. I have to say, it's a little strange leaving the warehouse, but the house is beautiful."

"I love old Victorians," Tanner said with a wistful sigh.

"You mean like the one you guys bought last year?" Sam grinned, sitting next to her sister-in-law.

"Just like it."

"Sam, Claire needs your help real quick," Richard said, hurrying over to the co-business owner.

Sam squeezed Tanner's knee then hurried after their employee. After helping to bring out more food and drinks, Sam stepped up beside Claire, placing a hand on her lower back. "How goes it, gorgeous?" she asked.

Claire smiled at her with a happy sigh. "I think this has been a resounding success."

"Mm, I agree." Sam was quiet for a moment, watching a group of children play around Santa's Workshop. "Soooooo, I've been thinking," she finally said.


"What you proposed last week." Sam looked at Claire, meeting the guarded blue eyes.


"And I think you're right. I think it's time." Sam nodded back towards the kids. "Let's do it."

"Can we start trying right now?" Claire purred into her ear.

Sam grinned, a shiver running down her spine. "Bad girl. No, but I got no plans for tonight."

Claire laughed and grabbed her partner in a tight hug. "I love you, Sam, and there's no one in the world I'd want to have children with more."

Sam returned the hug. "I love you, too." She pulled away just enough to look into Claire's excited face. "Let's do this, baby. Let's have a baby."

Claire nodded. "Okay."


Return to the Academy