Best Laid Plans - Epilogue

Cody scrawled the information on the registration form. Behind the desk, the slope of rock was dotted with cacti just beginning to bloom. Light streamed through the arch of glass. The clerk beamed at him.

"Enjoy your stay with us, Mr. Johnson."

"I intend to." He turned, pocketing the key.

People moved in and out of the lobby, many of them in tennis clothes. Some strolled down the wide, curving staircase, others glided up and down in the silent elevators. Overhead the dome let in the sun in a fantasy of color. He watched it spread over the tile floor. A waterfall tumbled musically into a small rock pool. Smiling, he walked over to it, and to the woman who stood watching the race of water.

"Any complaints?"

Abra turned, tilting her head to study his face. "I still remember how many feet of pipe we needed to give you your little whim."

He took her chin in his hand. "It makes a statement."

"So you always said." She'd tell him later how lovely she thought it was. "Anyway, thanks to me, it's functional." Resting her head on his shoulder, she turned back to watch the water.

"What's wrong?"

"You'll

think I'm stupid."

"Red, I think you're stupid half the time." He sucked in air when her elbow connected with his ribs. "Tell me anyway."

"I miss the kids."

With a laugh he spun her around and kissed her. "That's not stupid. But I bet I can take your mind off them for a while - once we walk over to our cabana."

"Maybe." She smiled challengingly. "If you really work at it."

"I figure a second honeymoon should be even better than the first."

She linked her hands around his neck. "Then let's get started."

"In a minute." He drew her hands away to take them in his own. "Five years ago we stood in here at dawn. The place was empty, and neither of us could be sure it would ever be finished."

"Cody, it doesn't do any good to remember all that."

"It's something I'll never forget." He brought her hands to his lips. "But there's something I never told you. I was going to ask you to marry me here, that morning."

The surprise came first, even after nearly five years of marriage and partnership. Then came the pleasure and the

sweetness. "I guess it's too late now. You're already stuck with me."

"Too late for that." Ignoring the people around them, he gathered her close. They might have been alone, as they had been alone that morning years before. "It's not too late for me to tell you that you're the best part of my life. That I love you more now than I did five years ago."

"Cody." She pressed her lips to his. The feeling was as strong as ever, the taste as alluring. "I'm so happy to have you, to have the family. Coming back here now makes me realize how lucky I am." She traced the faint scar along his temple. "We could have lost everything. Instead, we have everything." For a moment she held him tight. Then, breaking away, she smiled. "And I like your waterfall."

"Praise indeed, from an engineer. Here." He took a coin out of his pocket. "Make a wish."

"I don't need wishes." She tossed it over her shoulder. "Just you." The coin sank slowly into the pool as they walked away together.