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Battle of Britain--Chapter 24
longer, dominic
Rating: R (language and sexual situations)

Author: morgan72uk and rogoblue

Summary: Adelle and Dominic have another go at the adoption agency and Adelle rights an old wrong.

Adelle had no intention of allowing Miss Hartridge, or anyone else at the adoption agency, to persist in the belief that she was ambivalent about adopting Kate. Both Kate and Laurence needed her to demonstrate her commitment in this regard and she refused to let them down.

She did regret the lack of a honeymoon and the inability to spend their first day as a married couple in bed. But it couldn’t be helped, if the adoption was to go through.

Marriage had brought about an enormous transformation in Adelle’s life but paled in comparison to what awaited in the small, over-heated office.

Miss Hartridge’s companion introduced herself as Mrs Latimer and not so casually mentioned that she had met aunt Eunice at a recent function. Normally, Adelle wouldn’t have seen this as a good sign, but in this instance she understood it to be an announcement of a shared social status. She played along with the promising development and held her tongue about her aunt. Relegated to a supporting role, Miss Hartridge sulked.

“I wanted to start by offering congratulations on your marriage,” Mrs Latimer said, smiling broadly. “I understand you were separated by the war. It’s wonderfully romantic that you reunited for a happy ending.” She sighed. “We're delighted that you’ve taken such an interest in one of our children.”

“We’ve considered adopting Kate carefully,” Laurence said, “and believe we can offer her the home she needs and deserves.”

“I was very impressed by your character references,” Mrs Latimer said. “I know there were some concerns about your limited experience of children,” she slid a sidelong glance at Miss Hartridge, “but there are so many orphans we can’t, in good conscience, turn people away when they meet so many of our criteria.” Adelle took Laurence’s hand as Mrs Latimer continued, “I hope you understand the need for thoroughness, even in the case of a decorated officer and his wife.”

“Of course,” Adelle murmured, prepared to be magnanimous in the face of probable victory.

“The information we received yesterday, however, was unprecedented and extraordinary.” Adelle felt the change in Laurence’s body-language and hoped they weren’t about to lose everything. “I was sworn to secrecy,” Mrs Latimer said, leaning forward and lowering her voice. “But, of course, you two are already in the know. I didn’t believe it, until he spoke and then I was quite overcome. Churchill himself, taking the time to speak to me.”

Adelle raised an eyebrow at the unorthodox nature of Churchill’s ‘wedding present.’ “He indicated that your service during the war was as remarkable as your husband’s, Mrs Dominic, but I’m not to ask questions, because your work was top secret.” Mrs. Latimer’s blatant curiosity inspired Adelle to consider what she could say.

“Without my wife and her colleagues, our progress across France would have been far more difficult.”

“Oh my.” Clearly emotional, Mrs Latimer said, “I speak for all of us when I say that it will be our pleasure to facilitate your adoption of Kate. Miss Hartridge has attended to the necessary paperwork and made sure you have permission to travel with her. All that remains is for you to tell her the good news.”

“How do you suggest we explain?” Adelle said. “Kate is happy where she is and it is an enormous change.”

“Tell her calmly and simply,” Miss Hartridge said, speaking for the first time. “She will become upset at some point, perhaps when you put her to bed the first night. Stick to a routine, if possible one familiar to her, and try to ensure one or other of you remains in sight for the first few days, until she settles. She’s young enough to adjust and if you are consistent, the transition should be relatively painless.”

“That’s it?” Laurence asked, sounding slightly shocked. “We can really adopt her?”

Mrs Latimer smiled. “Absolutely.”

* * *

“I’m not sure I should broach the subject, Adelle.”

“Kate dotes on you,” Adelle said, tone patient. “You brought Gustav into her life. She’ll likely be calling you daddy in a week’s time. It has to be you.”

“I don’t know what to say.” A muffled laugh emerged from the front seat of the car. “Something funny, Driscoll?” Dominic demanded.

“Just looking forward to telling the guys the CO is afraid of a tiny girl, sir. It’ll be good for morale. You’ll see.”

“I’m not afraid of Kate. I just don’t want to scare or upset her, because I say something wrong.”

Dominic’s eminently reasonable response failed to impress Driscoll. Consequently, he brooded. Adelle held his hand but left him to it. He wished she’d intervene, but couldn’t ask without showing an unseemly level of dependence so early in their marriage. When they pulled up in front of Mrs. P’s residence, he exited the car without hesitation.

“You’ll be marvelous,” she murmured in his ear, as he helped her out, confirming she’d seen through his brave front.

“I’ll settle for adequate.”

“Law-rents could never be merely adequate to Kate.”

“You really think she’ll call me something else someday soon?” She nodded and a lump formed in his throat. He stopped as a wave of panic swept over him. “Christ, Adelle, what are we doing?”

“Making a happy home for a very deserving child.”

“What if she doesn’t want to come with us? What if she cries? What if I can’t make myself understood? What if—?” Adelle’s fingertips coming to rest on his mouth silenced Dominic. Smiling up at him, she knocked.

Mrs. P’s eyes darted to Adelle and relief flooded from every pore at the silent female communication. She stood aside and said, “Please, come in.”

“We … um … we’d like to see Kate, if that’s all right,” Dominic said.

“Of course, Laurence. She’s having story time and a snack.”

In the kitchen, Verity and Frances acted out the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears—Verity as Goldilocks, Frances as Mama Bear, Verity providing Gustav’s voice as Papa Bear and Frances lending hers to Mr. Buttons as Baby Bear. Enchanted, Dominic watched the story unfold. He felt Mrs. P’s gaze but couldn’t tear his eyes away from Kate. She sat mesmerized, her snack—some sort of biscuit, forgotten.

When Goldilocks beat her hasty retreat, Mrs. P said, “Bravo, girls. That was very well played.”

“Indeed,” Adelle agreed. Smiling, Dominic added a nod.

Verity bowed and made Gustav do the same. Blushing, Frances waved and handed Mr. Buttons to Kate.

“Kate, Laurence and Adelle are here to see you,” Mrs. P announced. Her smile encompassed the two older girls also. “They were married yesterday. Isn’t that wonderful?” Frances and Verity agreed, but Kate looked puzzled.

“Married like a mummy and daddy?” Kate asked.

Grateful for the entre, Dominic said, “Exactly like that, Kate.” He crouched before her. “You’re the reason we hurried to get married.”

Kate looked from Gustav to Mr. Buttons and then back to Dominic. Her voice very small, she asked, “Me?”

“Sure,” he said, frowning when Kate backed up a step. Searching for an explanation she might understand, he ventured, “We’re skipping our honeymoon, because you’re so special.” He smiled at Verity’s gasp. “I don’t expect you to understand that, but Gustav does. Go on,” he urged, gesturing to the large, sad eyed bear, “ask him.”

Kate held a hushed conference with Gustav and Dominic hoped his gamble paid off. “I little bit special?”

He pointed an accusatory finger at Gustav. “Shame on you if you told Kate she was only a little bit special.”

“You daddy now, because I special?”

Stunned, he managed, “Yes.”

Tiny brow furrowed, Kate huddled with Gustav and Mr. Buttons. When she emerged, she had tears in her eyes.

“What’s wrong, Kate?” he said, fighting panic.

“We wish Law-rents our daddy.”

He reached blindly to his right. Adelle took his hand. “I would be honored.”

Regarding him intently, Kate said, “What on-oared mean?”

“Very happy and pleased,” he said. “Adelle and I would like you to come and live with us. Mr. Buttons and Gustav, too.” Smiling up at his wife, he added, “We needed to be married to be allowed to be your parents.”

The child clutched Mr. Buttons in a death grip. “I live here.”

“Not for much longer, dear,” Mrs. P interjected, tone gentle yet firm. “Much to our sorrow, you need to move to another home quite soon. Wouldn’t it be splendid if you went with Laurence and Adelle?”

“Here home.” Dominic’s heart nearly broke at Kate’s bereft expression when Mrs. P shook her head. “I go away?” Wiping away tears, Mrs. P nodded.

Kate’s lower lip wobbled. “I go away?” This time the question was directed to Dominic.

“You and the bears will live with me and Adelle.” He took a breath. “All five of us.”

“Law-rents be my daddy here!”

“I can’t, Kate,” he said. “My home is in Berlin. It’s where I work,” he kissed the back of Adelle’s hand, “where we work.”

“We will return to London for visits,” Adelle said. “My family is here, as, of course, is Mrs. P’s.”

“We’ll go to Germany by air,” Dominic said. “I don’t have time for trains and cars.”

“Wow, Katie-cat,” Frances said. “I’ve never flown anywhere.”

“Me neither,” Verity said. “I’m jealous.”

“Me fly?” Flapping her arms like wings, Kate looked marvelously dubious.

“Not under your own power,” he said, laughing. “In an airplane.”

Kate abandoned both bears and launched into Dominic’s arms. Her tiny body trembled. “Are you scared?” he asked.

“Mr. Buttons is,” she mumbled into his shoulder.

“I’ll make sure nothing bad happens.” Dominic tilted her head up. “I promise, Kate.” He risked a smile. “I keep my promises and you should too. It’s the right way to act.”

Hugging him fiercely, she said, “Me ride air pain.”

“We’ll all go together,” he said, lifting Kate as he rose, pulling Adelle closer. Holding both females, he murmured, “As a family.”

* * *

“Does Kate have enough clothes?” Adelle sighed as her aunt watched her pack for their return to Berlin.

“She has hand-me-downs, which isn't surprising. They're good quality, but I am worried she'll be cold. She should have some thick stockings and a good coat.”

“You're going to try to find them today?”

“When I've packed up here.” Feeling somewhat harried and worried by what she needed to accomplish before they departed, she said, “I wish we had another day, but Laurence needs to be back in Berlin and Kate won’t travel without him.”

“I see.”

Juliet’s uncertainty prompted Adelle. “What's on your mind?”

“Are you concerned that she’s so attached to Laurence? You are the one who is going to be looking after her day to day.”

“Honestly, I'm relieved she's attached to one of us. Besides, she doesn't dislike me.” Before Kate her afternoon nap, she had shyly requested a story and Adelle had delivered a new installment in the tale of the brave teddy bear knight. “She remembers her mother, so I won’t become 'mummy' the same way Laurence has become 'daddy'.”

“You do believe you can build a relationship with her, though?”

“She's been living in a very loving household. They've shown her how to care about other people and she's a happy child – she likes stories, fairytales and teddy bears.”

“There'll be tears tomorrow.”

Adelle sighed. “I'm sure there will.” She closed her suitcase, but her aunt's sad expression changed her mind about what she’d intended to say.

“I’m sorry if this is upsetting you, Juliet.”

“I'm being foolish.”

“No, you aren't. When Deborah and the baby died, James lost his wife and son and you lost a daughter-in-law and a grandchild. There's nothing foolish about such grief.” Crossing the room, she kissed her aunt on the cheek, “I hope you and Edgar will visit soon. I’d love if you viewed Kate as your grand-daughter and spoiled her accordingly. No more bears, though. The two she has are quite enough.”

“She sounds enchanting and we look forward to meeting her. I'll mention the moratorium on teddy bears to your uncle, but you know how stubborn he is and Sebastian will want to buy her things as well. She’ll be well supplied with doting relatives.” Patting her niece’s hand, she said, “What can I do to help you, Adelle?”

“Honestly? An experienced nurse would be a great help, provided she could adjust to our household. I will be travelling throughout Europe with Kate. Someone who has worked in the finest houses is of little use. I need someone intelligent, capable and resourceful, who can travel with us and not make a fuss.”

“I'll make inquiries. If I find someone, I'll send her over to you.”

“Thank you.”

“Addie, are you ready?” James asked. “Laurence and father are re-fighting old battles. If they get too engrossed, he'll be here all night.”

“I could buy Kate a coat on my own.”

“Nonsense,” Juliet declared. “Now he's a father, Laurence must help. James, take Adelle's cases out to the car.”

Smiling at James' put upon expression, Adelle followed him downstairs and stepped into the study. Laurence and Edgar poured over an old map – the battlefield at Waterloo if she was any judge. “The Prussians will arrive in time to rescue Wellington,” she said, “allowing us to find Kate a coat and finish packing.”

Laurence helped her into her coat and they said their goodbyes. “Will this take all afternoon?” Laurence asked, as he opened the car door for her.

“Of course not.” Settling into the back seat, she added, “We should be able to find everything we need at a department store. I have extra rations because of the bombing which I haven't used.” He looked relieved. “We’ll return to Claridges to finish packing before going out for dinner.”

“Can't we stay in?” She raised an eyebrow and he smiled.

“I want us to go out,” she said, “not because I wouldn't appreciate a night in, but because I have arranged a surprise, possessing a meaning that you'll appreciate.”

“Sounds intriguing and you already know I can't resist you.”

“Thank you.” She placed her hand in his. “I think Kate might like a brightly coloured coat and some sturdy boots. Do you agree?”

* * *

“Kate will like anything you choose,” Dominic said, smiling at Adelle’s obvious skepticism. Something in her eyes demanded more and he figured he needed to deliver to have any prayer of having a good portion of the evening alone with her. “Colorful would be good. Her clothes seem drab.” Not certain what Adelle expected, he said, “Shopping won’t be so bad. I’ll handle toys. Kate needs more. I didn’t have what anyone would call a lot of toys when I was little, but I had more than her.”

“She has enough teddy bears,” Adelle said, settling back into the car seat with a small sigh.

“Just the two?” Eyes delivering a warning he didn’t comprehend, Adelle nodded. “Not even a girl bear?” She shook her head. “Boy, you’re strict.”

“We shouldn’t spoil her in the first twenty-four hours, Laurence.”

“I’d settle for you spoiling me or allowing me to spoil you, but you want to go out.”

His disgruntlement seemed to amuse her. “I’d like the chance to show you off,” she said, resting her cheek against his briefly. “We’ve been awfully insular and this is supposed to be leave for you.”

“I haven’t complained, Adelle.”

“For that, I’m grateful.” She snuggled against his side.

“Grateful is nice,” he whispered, stealing a kiss, “and this trip has been better than I could’ve possibly imagined.” He tapped Adelle lightly on the nose. “Staying in tonight would be an outstanding finale.”

She laughed. “There is more to life than sex, Laurence.”

“There is?” His tone of abject disbelief earned him more laughter. “Give this serious thought, Adelle. This is the last time we’ll be together without the possibility of an interruption by a child who’s woken up from a nightmare.”

Poking him in the side, she said, “I’m confident daddy won’t allow nightmare-inducing monsters near his little girl, making interruptions of the sort you mention few and far between.”

Dominic considered. “What if I told you I won’t be comfortable with as vocal as things sometimes become when you get creative in bed, once we have a toddler in the house?”

Her lips brushed against the skin just beneath his ear as she spoke. “I’d retort that I look forward to making you uncomfortable on occasion.”

“You should practice tonight, so you’re fully prepared to make good on your intimidating and terrifying threat.”

“Perhaps, I will.” Her smile accelerated his heart rate. “After dinner.” He sighed exaggeratedly and looked away. “I do so enjoy it when you pout,” she observed.

“I’m not pouting.”

“You are and I suspect you’ll progress on to brooding, now that I’ve drawn attention to it.”
More disgruntled than the situation warranted for reasons he couldn’t fathom, he lapsed into silence and stared out the car window without enjoying the scenery one iota. “We’ve arrived at the department store, Laurence,” Adelle said. “Why don’t I attend to the clothes while you have a look at the toys?” His shrug sent her off with Mason. Passing Driscoll, she said, “No additional teddy bears,” loud enough for Dominic to hear.

“Sir?” Driscoll said.

“I’m coming. I’m coming.” Harboring rebellious thoughts of purchasing a half a dozen teddy bears, he lengthened his stride to catch up with Adelle and Mason. “I need a moment,” he said, taking Adelle’s elbow to steer her away from the bodyguards. “Give me one half way decent reason to want to go out tonight, please. I’m not sure why I’m balking so much, but I am.”

“I intend to wear the silver dress.”

“The one with no back that nearly caused a family feud?” he barely breathed, calling up pleasant memories.

“The very one.” Dominic kissed her hard. “That certainly seems to have done the trick,” she said, when he gave her a chance to breathe.

“What are my chances of talking you into a relatively early evening?” he asked, as he opened the department store door for her and a heavyset older woman.

“Fair,” Adelle said.

“Do you want me to wear my dress uniform to wherever it is we’re headed?” She nodded. “Why all the secrecy? Is our destination somehow illicit?”

“That depends on how you look at it.” Adelle kissed him on the cheek and whispered, “You know what they say about old habits.” With a wave, she set off with Mason while Dominic realized she’d taken his questions in reverse order.

“Let’s go buy some teddy bears, Driscoll.”

“Mrs. Dominic said no bears, sir.”

“Contrary to what has come to be a popular belief, Mrs. Dominic doesn’t call all of the shots around here.”

“Yes, sir.”

* * *

The large bag drew Adelle’s attention as she searched for her earrings. She sighed, the sight a reminder of her annoyance with Laurence.

“You can’t still be mad,” he said, winding his arm around her waist and across her stomach, pulling her back against his chest.

“I think you’ll find I can,” she responded tartly. “I couldn’t have been clearer, Laurence. I don’t want Kate to be spoilt.”

“It’s not spoiling her. Well,” he amended in response to her raised eyebrow, “maybe it is, a bit, but she’s had so little. You got her a lovely coat and other clothes and I wanted her to have another bear. I bought a rabbit too. You didn’t declare rabbits off limits.” Adelle raised her eyes to heaven and counted to ten in each of her languages. “Are we having our first fight as a married couple about toys?” Laurence asked, as she reached eight in Russian.

“No.” She collected her thoughts, determined to articulate her concerns. “I don’t begrudge you buying her toys; how could I? I don’t want to be the stern disciplinarian while you buy presents and have fun with her.”

“I won’t leave you in charge of discipline.” Leaning his head towards her he added, “You picked out the rabbit.”

Her lips twitched but she maintained her composure. “I didn’t.”

Stepping away from her he lifted the rabbit out of the bag. “How many points would you get for ridiculously cute?”

Glancing at her watch and not letting him off the hook, Adelle said, “We should go.” Retrieving her earrings from the bureau, she added, “I don’t want to be late.”

Holding out her coat for her, Laurence said, “You really aren’t going to tell me where we’re having dinner? Or why it’s such a big deal?”

“Hopefully, you’ll understand when we reach our destination.”

“I’ve been here before.” Laurence murmured, as the car pulled up outside a rather well known restaurant in Soho. His brow furrowed as he tried to remember and Adelle observed when he succeeded. “We ran into Lady Bashford outside. You went in with her and I went back to Baker Street.”

“It’s a very good restaurant, as well as a place to be seen. I thought it appropriate.” Actually, she thought it time to put the past to rest.

“You’re making a statement Mrs. Dominic,” he said, emerging from the car and coming around to open her door.

“I am,” she agreed, “and it’s that I’m very happy.”

Offering her his arm, he said, “You look very beautiful.”

“Thank you.”

“Miss DeWitt, how good to see you again.”

Adelle shook her head and corrected the maitre-D. “It’s Mrs. Dominic, a recent development.”

“Congratulations ma’am, Colonel. Your table is ready, if you’ll follow Rogers.” He summoned a waiter with a look.

Adelle smiled as Laurence rested his hand possessively on her bare back, as though he anticipated the attention her dress would provoke and made her rejection very clear.

“Adelle!” Margaret Bashford sat at the bar with her husband.

“Did you know she’d be here?” Laurence whispered.

“I used to be in intelligence.” Smiling apologetically at their waiter, she changed direction, greeting Margaret with a kiss to the cheek.

“I thought you were in Germany,” Margaret said.

“I returned just before Christmas. We go back tomorrow. You remember Laurence?” Margaret’s face stiffened.

“Good evening, Lady Bashford.” Laurence’s toneless voice read perfectly polite. “Lord Bashford.”

“Have we met?” George Bashford asked, looking confused.

“We have,” Laurence confirmed, “a few years ago.”

“He wasn’t a Colonel then.” Margaret added acidly. “An American officer attached himself to Adelle’s unit. He worked for her.”

“Of course, of course. How are you?”

As Laurence shook his hand, Adelle said, “Laurence and I were married yesterday.”

“What!” Margaret’s shock prevented her husband from offering any form of congratulations. “Have you lost your mind?” she demanded, glaring at Adelle. “If you were determined to marry, I could have produced a list of eligible men for you to choose from; men with pedigree.”

“I chose Laurence.” Reaching for his hand she continued, “Can’t you be happy for me Margaret?”

“You’ve thrown yourself away on an American. Ridiculous!”

“Things have changed.” Adelle said, her patience running thin. “You’re burying your head in the sand, if you think otherwise. This country is exhausted. We’ve made promises about the post-war world we’d like to see, but keeping those promises is not necessarily within our gift. Pax Britannica is giving way to Pax Americana. I’m only doing what scores of our ancestors did; marrying a member of the conquering power; one I’ve been in love with for several years.”

* * *

“You’d have passed me over for a German, if things had gone differently?” Laurence Dominic observed, his tone light and amused. “That’s humbling.”

“Would that it were,” Margaret muttered, her eyes never leaving Adelle.

Leaning into him slightly, Adelle said, “Don’t be absurd, Laurence.”

He lifted her hand to his lips. “What was I thinking? I’d have lost you to an Italian.” Because he had no desire to continue to interact with either of the Bashfords, Dominic fingered the material of Adelle’s gown. “Probably someone who designs dresses like this.”

“A bit scandalous for a married woman, don’t you think, George?” Grudgingly, Dominic admired Margaret’s determination to needle.

“Not so long as she’s with her husband, surely,” Lord Bashford gamely replied.

Inwardly applauding, Dominic noticed the waiter shifting from foot to foot. “This might be hard to believe,” he said, pitching his voice low and confidential, risking Adelle’s ire, “but representatives of conquering powers get hungry just like everyone else.” Exerting gentle pressure on his wife’s back, he angled her toward the waiter. “You should say goodbye, so this patient man can seat us for dinner.”

Normally, farewells would be considered pleasantries. These weren’t, although Lord Bashford and Adelle made an effort. Dominic said nothing, meeting Margaret’s glare with as bland an expression as he could muster.

When comfortably ensconced at a table in the center of the main dining room with drink orders placed, he asked, “Are you angry?”

“At your blank stare at a woman determined to antagonize you, no.”

He recognized that tone. “Are you mad about something else?”

“You know full well I wouldn’t have cast you aside.”

“So you claim,” he said, “but Margaret would’ve suggested just that.”

“Margaret is nearly the last person I would consult on a matter of the heart.” She sighed. “I’m not certain whether I can call her a friend anymore.”

“I’m sorry for causing a rift between you.” Adelle waved away his apology. Sensing that a change in subject wasn’t yet in the offing, he said, “What does Lady Bashford have against Americans in general and me in particular?”

“America is too young to her mind to truly have a sense of history and over there, as we’re given to understand, prestige is earned rather than inherited.”

“Not always,” Dominic muttered.

A slight inclination of her head acknowledged his point. “Margaret is a terrible snob,” Adelle said. She stroked the inside of his wrist with the nail of her forefinger.

“That feels nice,” he whispered, as sensations leapt along his nerve endings. A slowly forming, wickedly seductive smile rewarded the admission.

“I enjoy how you respond to my touch.”

“I enjoy your touch, obviously, and I’m also interested in your response to the other part of my question.”

Lowering her eyes, she said, “Colonel Laurence Dominic is an unwelcome anomaly and possibly the embodiment of Margaret’s greatest fear.” Maintaining the increasingly pleasant caress, she said, “You’re knowledgeable and respectful of the lessons of history and have risen to your station in life on your own merits. You’re a success without a title, an over abundance of wealth, an influential family or an impeccable pedigree.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my pedigree,” he said.

Adelle said, “Agreed,” the same way she’d request him to kiss her and Dominic leaned forward in response.

He cleared his throat. “How would she know either of those things about me?”

“First,” she said, holding up one finger of her idle hand, “you have risen from Captain to full Colonel with an impressive alacrity.” Adelle extended another digit. “Second, I wouldn’t have accepted the advances of anyone who lacked the former.” Laughing, she added, “My family has exerted that much influence upon me.”

“I’m glad their exacting standards worked in my favor.” The drinks arrived and Adelle conferred with the waiter about appetizers.

“You look a million miles away, Laurence.”

Having lost track of time, he met Adelle’s amused eyes and raised his glass. She matched him. After they’d both taken a sip, Dominic said, “I can’t decide whether Vandermeer or Williams would make a better babysitter.”

“Kevin is well organized, would have many activities planned to occupy Kate and would certainly put her to bed on schedule.” She smiled at his grin occasioned by her pronunciation of the final word. “William would tell her tales and play with her a bit more, I imagine.”

“Does that mean you’ll choose based on what you’d like for her on any given evening?”

“I so admire intelligent men, but I believe we will be choosing.”

“Nope,” he said, sighing softly when she changed the pattern she drew on his wrist. “Division of labor—you’ll decide what’s best and I’ll give the order.”

Smiling sidelong at him as their appetizer arrived, she asked, “Don’t you mean make the request?” Adelle laughed when he shook his head, drawing attention from several nearby tables. “I feel exposed,” Dominic muttered. Suspicion sprang into existence. “Is this actually a nefarious, yet extremely clever, plan to arrange for gossip about our marriage to reach Judith and eliminate the need for you to tell her?”

“In part, perhaps,” Adelle allowed, offering a piece of bread covered with melted cheese and some sort of herbs or spices to him. He missed her touch even as he accepted the plate. “Primarily, we’re here because I’m proud and happy and desire to show it openly.”

“Because we couldn’t before?” She nodded. “I hated that.”

“It pained me to treat you as a mere colleague in public.” Smiling somewhat ruefully, she said, “You resented Margaret’s attitude most. Hence, my decision to come here tonight to see and be seen, hopefully demonstrating that I have no doubt I’ve made an excellent match.”

“After taking your time, despite being in love with me for years?” he added, not quite able to bend his mind around the concept.

“I simply admitted it to myself long before I did to you.”

“You were waiting to see if we won,” he said, taking another piece of cheese covered bread. Risking a smirk, he raised his glass, “To Pax Americana.”

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Ah, there's an epilogue! That's awesome!

It's been a pleasure reading this from the beginning. I love the universe you've both created.

There was a tiny bit more to tell. Hence, an epilogue was born.

Thanks for taking the time to comment as well as read. It makes the whole posting thing more fun.

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