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Number 18 in the Let's Pretend Series

Title: Epilogue
Rating: R (violence, language and sex)
Author: rogoblue
Summary: A little over a year has passed and Adelle ponders her ex-Rossum future.
Eighteenth in the Let’s Pretend series (seventeenth is Rossum, sixteenth is A Tortured Path, fifteenth is Roger Number 3, fourteenth is The Domster Projects, thirteenth is Arizona, twelfth is Thief, Saboteur, Assassin, eleventh is The Harding Factor, tenth is Powder Keg, ninth is Cutting it Close, eighth is NSA, seventh is Return, sixth is Flight, fifth is Tactical Maneuvers, fourth is Strategic Planning, third is Parisian Complications, second is Pretending to Pretend. Link to the seventeenth is below this summary. You can get to the others from there or via my live journal. Link to this one is below the dedication.

All armed and properly deferential.

Words: 6,100
Spoilers: Season 1 a tiny bit and 2 a little bit through episode 12.
Disclaimers: The toys are Joss Whedon’s. The idea is mine.
Dedication: To everyone who read to the end. Thanks.

Fourteen Months Later

Adelle DeWitt sat in the window seat of a hotel suite in Paris, France, enjoying her view of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, half listening to Laurence talk to one of his business associates on the telephone. They had been in the City of Lights for almost a week. Laurence spent his long, typically grueling days seeing to the security of NATO facilities and certain high risk buildings designated by the French government. Adelle wandered the city, visited galleries, read and ate marvelous meals at numerous cafes.

“Bored yet?” Laurence asked, sliding his arms around her from behind.

“Far from it,” Adelle replied, turning to receive the kiss she sensed he wanted to bestow, taunting him into lengthening the effort with her tongue.

“Don’t do that,” he murmured. Adelle’s response was a sly smile and sliding a hand from his hip to his ass. “Damn it,” Laurence said before he bent down to kiss her harder, demanding a response she was only too happy to provide. “You know I have meetings this morning, Adelle,” he whispered.

“Agree to have lunch with me,” she said, standing, pressing against him, holding Laurence close. “And perhaps I’ll show you mercy.”

“You’re getting soft,” he said, laughing. “All I have to do is present myself for lunch?”

“No. I require you to stop at the Café Francois after your meetings, purchase a light lunch and some wine, bring it back here and serve it to me naked.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“It will be.”

Laurence kissed her gently and pulled away. “I’ll meet your extensive demands, Adelle,” he said, pulling on his suit jacket.

“I look forward to it.” She smiled inwardly when Laurence kissed her twice more before he left, as though he couldn’t quite believe she was here with him. At times, over the last week, the trip had seemed surreal to Adelle as well.

Ten Days Earlier

Adelle DeWitt stepped into her office at Rossum Corporation for what would be the last time. She had just formally stepped down in favor of Reginald Clarke, a man she’d hand picked as her successor in consultation with a committee of three board members including Laurence Drake. While her speech had been succinct, the actual giving over of the reins drained Adelle, causing her to stare at the open boxes of personal items and files with distaste.

“I’ll finish packing and have the boxes delivered to you,” Judith said, having stopped in the act of putting an ebony picture frame—a gift from Laurence from one business trip or another—into a box. “Are you all right?” Judith asked.

“I’m spent, Judith,” Adelle admitted, raising a hand to her aching head. “These last days have been exhausting.”

“But now you have nothing ahead of you but rest and relaxation.” Judith stared at the picture frame wistfully. “Early retirement sounds nice.”

“I’m not in a financial position to retire,” Adelle said, looking up sharply as Judith laughed. “My lack of sufficient funds amuses you?”

“Your significant other is rolling in cash,” Judith said, spinning the frame to face Adelle as though she might’ve forgotten what Laurence looked like during his current time away. “I get the very strong impression he wouldn’t mind spending more of it on you.”

“Laurence will be in the same boat as I, or worse, when the NSA pulls the plug on this operation,” Adelle said.

“How can they?” Judith asked, placing the framed photograph in a box. “He’s invested some of the money in the new business of his and it’s off and running.”

“And already obscenely profitable,” Adelle said, sinking into the comfort of her plush couch, wondering briefly about the low bass tone she heard.

“It’s not just the money,” Judith said. “The agency has invested a lot of time, effort and manpower into establishing the two of you as a high profile, increasingly influential couple. Why would they just throw that away?”

Why indeed?

Oblivious to having engaged Adelle’s mind, Judith continued, “And how would they with the amount of media interest in the two of you? Fake your deaths?’ Judith frowned and mumbled, “Or not.” Adopting a more normal volume, speaking quickly as if to banish the thought of a dual assassination, she said, “If I were running the show, I’d tell Mr. Dom—I mean, Drake to invest my money wisely, because I intended to recoup it over time and to stay on the guest list for every posh function, political rally, dinner party, barbeque, Bar Mitzvah, tailgate or whatever I might want him to attend.”

As an added bonus, Mr. Drake, please continue to install security systems providing the National Security Agency with a window into the workings of various governments and international organizations. Oh, and branch out into private industry and individual homes in due course, won’t you?

“Do you want these boxes sent to your house or his?”

Judith’s question drew a slight blush to Adelle’s cheeks. “I have been spending an unseemly amount of time at his house, haven’t I?”

“Recently, up until his trip to China, maybe a little,” Judith allowed.

Adelle needed no reminder that Laurence was out of the country. She felt his absence keenly, particularly now that she was effectively at loose ends. “Did you accept his offer of employment?” Adelle asked.

“Gladly,” Judith said. “That man needs someone to keep him in order who isn’t NSA. I mean, I like Adam and all, but you know he reports if Mr. Drake so much as blinks too fast to his superiors.”

“I suspect you’re correct,” Adelle said. Silence fell and Adelle felt no impulse to break it.

Judith looked at her watch and smiled. “Where do you want me to send these boxes?”

“When we last spoke, Laurence said he’d arranged to have an office equipped for me.” Not allowing herself to dwell upon the fact that it had been nearly a week since the discussion to which she referred, Adelle said, “Send the boxes to his house, please, Judith.”

“All right.” Judith regarded Adelle for a moment. “You’re done here. I can finish this in about thirty minutes. Why don’t you head out?”

“I thought I’d keep you company,” Adelle said, not wanting to be alone with thoughts of a future she couldn’t see blurrily, much less with any clarity.

Smiling, Judith approached and offered Adelle a hand up. Bemused and curious, Adelle accepted. Judith steered her soon to be former boss over to the window. Together they stared out at the skyline. Judith tapped her finger low on the window. Adelle looked down. “Is something wrong with the safety glass?” Adelle asked.

“I’d say something is pretty damn right outside, at street level,” Judith said.

Adelle shifted her gaze and gasped. Laurence Drake leaned against the rear quarter panel of a limousine, bouquet of flowers in his hand, looking up in the general direction of Adelle’s office. “He’s back,” Adelle murmured.

“His plane touched down forty seven minutes ago.”

“How do you know?” Adelle asked.

“He called and told me he’d be here as soon as he could and not to let you out of my sight until he arrived.” Judith smiled and gave Adelle a light, one-armed hug. “I suspect he knows a bit about how it feels to be done after devoting full attention to a job for a while.”

“He likely does.”

“Run along then,” Judith said. “I think you’ve kept him cooling his heels long enough.”

“How long has he been here?” Adelle demanded.

“About six minutes,” Judith said. “I told him to text me when he arrived.” Grinning, Judith said, “That was the tone you heard earlier.”

“Why am I suddenly concerned that you will now be working for Laurence?”

“Because we could so easily plot against you,” Judith suggested.

“Gleefully, I imagine,” Adelle said, allowing Judith to help her into her coat. “Is there any encoded message I might convey for you?”

“Tell my new boss I’ll see him Monday morning.”

Adelle laughed. “I’ll have to consider what that might truly mean.” Although she’d never admit it, Adelle did just that on her way down in the elevator. Once she reached the lobby, she attempted to abandon the pursuit in favor of considering how to greet her lover, but other thoughts intruded. Slowing her pace, Adelle took a deep breath. She’d worked for Rossum in one capacity or another for so long it was difficult to conceptualize that part of her life being over and even harder to imagine what the future held. Laurence saw her the moment she emerged and his smile and the habitual straightening of his posture buoyed her spirits.

“Free at last?” he asked when she halted before him. Adelle nodded. Laurence opened the car door and Adelle wondered if it was an ill omen that it came between them.

“Flowers?” she asked.

“My lame effort at an apology for being crazy busy in China.” He held them out in offering. When Adelle took them, he said, “Everything is so spread out and the moment I got a handle on a dialect, I was handed off to someone else I could barely understand.”

“You didn’t get frustrated enough to strike anyone, I hope.”

“No,” he said, gesturing toward the car. When she made no move to get in, he frowned. Almost before the sides of his mouth turned down, his eyes widened. “You want me to get in first to spare you the effort of moving over?” To this nod, he muttered, “Fine.”

Adelle settled into the comfortable seat and regarded Laurence. “Home, sir?” the driver asked. Laurence raised an eyebrow in inquiry. Feeling a bit odd, Adelle nodded again.

“Yes, Curtis, thanks.” Laurence picked up a plastic bag from the floor. “This is my less lame peace offering.”

Recognizing the spoils from a duty free shop at Heathrow airport, Adelle snatched the bag from him. A rapid inspection revealed a treasure trove of items from England. “Thank you, Laurence,” she whispered before rewarding him in another way with her lips. Smiling, she said, “We’ll have tea and biscuits when we get home.”

“You can have tea. I need some Scotch.” He sighed, looked out the window, then turned to Adelle. “I’m sorry I was out of touch for so long.”

“You were busy.”

“You were winding down a highly stressful time in your life. I wasn’t here to help you or available by phone so you could talk through things. If I could’ve rescheduled the Chinese, I would’ve, Adelle.”

“Laurence, Clyde has been pressuring you to open the China market for months.” Adelle took his hand. “Rescheduling wasn’t a viable option. I wouldn’t have asked it of you.”

He nodded. “I’m glad you’re in an understanding mood, because there’s something we need to discuss,” he said, staring at their clasped hands.

Heart rate accelerating in anticipation of a leap into the unknown, Adelle said, “Go on.”

“I got the NATO contract.”

“You did?” Adelle said, smiling in pleasant surprise at the news. “You thought they’d decide to stand firm with their security system.”

“Surprised me. Shocked Clarice. Sent Clyde into the stratosphere.” Kissing her softly on the cheek, he said, “I have to go to Europe in three days. I have no idea how long I’ll be there. I’m going to try to combine the NATO deal with the government contracts I haven’t had the time to fulfill yet.”

Adelle felt the loss of every bit of wind welling in her sails. “Oh.”

“Will you come with me, Adelle?”

“To Europe?” she asked.

“Damn, what was I thinking?” he muttered. “I withdraw the question.”

The thought of being alone in three days was unbearable.

Smiling, he said, “Pack a bag, Ms. DeWitt. We’re going to Europe.”

Startled into a laugh by the reference to the words she’d spoken so many months ago, she murmured, “You don’t seriously expect me to travel to Europe with a single bag?”

“I harbor no illusions of getting underway with anything less than ten suitcases.”

“Thank God the man sees reason.”

* * *


Adelle DeWitt spared a moment to wonder what frame of mind Laurence might be in when he returned with lunch. Things had been progressing rather smoothly, but she’d noticed his increasing frustration as he became enmeshed in the massive, exhaustingly slow machinations of the French government—a state of Laurence’s being with which Adelle was familiar.

* * *

Just Over Five Months Ago

From a very comfortable reading chair in the spacious living room, Adelle heard Laurence Drake step into his house from the garage and raised an eyebrow at the uncharacteristic slamming of the door behind him. Adelle’s car was in his driveway, so she knew he knew he wasn’t alone. Someone has had a bad day. I wonder if a drink might help. Adelle knew she needn’t make her suggestion when she heard ice drop from the ice maker into a glass.

“Good evening, Laurence,” Adelle said, stepping into the kitchen holding the book of essays she’d been reading. “How was your day?”


She nodded as though the information was welcome. Frowning, Laurence moved past her, heading straight for the liquor cabinet. Pouring a healthy measure of bourbon, he drank half of it in one go and headed out onto the large, wrap around deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Following slowly, deciding upon her approach, Adelle slid her arms around him from behind and pressed her chest against his back. “Shall we see if your evening makes an improvement?” Smiling at the shudder her sensual whisper sent surging through Laurence, Adelle took his hand and led him to a deck chair. “Sit down and let me see if I can do something about the tension in your shoulders.”

“Adelle,” he muttered, as he submitted to her removing his suit coat. “I’m not going to be good company tonight. Awful to describe my day was an understatement.”

She exerted gentle pressure on Laurence’s shoulders. Taking the hint, Laurence sat. Adelle flexed her fingers and clearly surprised him by settling on his lap. Smile slowly developing, Adelle opted to rub his shoulders gently, endeavoring to soothe rather than address his obvious tension. The instant he relaxed the slightest bit, she rewarded him with a kiss that seemed to engage his attention enough to dial down the volatility of his temper. Satisfied that he was primed for a more serious effort, Adelle stood, moved behind Laurence and began to search in earnest for knots in the muscles in his back. “Lean your head back for a moment,” she suggested, smiling when he complied without delay. “Let me take care of you.”

Laurence tilted his head back further and smirked up at her. “You’re going to take care of me?”

“Do you doubt it?”

His smile a poor relation of the one Adelle enjoyed immensely, he murmured, “I wouldn’t dare.”

Closing her eyes, Adelle relied on feel. My word, Laurence, your back is what my masseuse calls a wreck. What on earth happened today? Undaunted and undeterred by the enormity of the task before her, Adelle took her time, working his muscles, slowly, surely, loosening what was tight, soothing what was painful, smiling at his barely breathed, “God,” when a large knot lost its battle with her hands.

“Better?” Adelle asked, lips on Laurence’s ear.

“Yeah,” he said, groaning in what sounded like relief as her fingers found another knot to work out. “Much. Thanks.” When Adelle bent down to kiss him on the top of the head, Laurence murmured, “Don’t stop. Still hurts some.”

“I will resume,” she said, taking his hand. “Once we move into the bedroom.”

Smiling up at her, resisting her slight tug, Laurence said, “Finally, her ulterior motive is revealed.”

“Perhaps you should fall asleep while I work on your back and foil my nefarious plans to have my way with you afterward.”

“What fun would that be?”

* * *


Adelle DeWitt turned from contemplation of something outside the window of their hotel suite when Laurence Drake stepped inside with bags of food that smelled so good he’d been tempted to sample them on the short walk from Adelle’s favorite café. Holding up the bag containing the small hearty rolls Adelle enjoyed, he said, “Lunch is served.” Sighing softly, he added, “Or will be once I get the damn meal organized.”

“And undressed,” Adelle said, approaching in the predatory way that never failed to engage his attention.

“Undressed?” he asked, putting the bags on the coffee table and opening the package of napkins he’d bought in lieu of plates.

“I clearly stipulated you were to serve me lunch naked.”

Laurence chuckled. “I can’t, Adelle. I need to be back in an hour and I’m starving.”

Adelle’s sigh was eloquent in its dismay. “You skipped breakfast again, didn’t you?”

Arranging the rolls, fresh fruit and three kinds of soft cheese on napkins, Laurence said, “I was running late.”

“I see I’m going to have to limit you to one kiss goodbye in the future.”

“What?” he asked, deftly removing the foil covering the cork of the burgundy he’d chosen. Adelle merely smiled as she brought two glasses and a corkscrew to Laurence. Rising to her unspoken challenge, he thought back to that morning and shrugged. “I was already late. Kissing you a couple of times didn’t make much difference.” Removing the cork with practiced ease, he poured for them both. Adelle accepted the glass he offered. Her eyes were sad. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Nothing,” she murmured, sitting on the couch, focusing on spreading cheese on a piece of a roll.

Stroking her cheek with the back of his free hand, smiling in the way Adelle seemed to like, Laurence said, “I’m sorry I didn’t serve lunch to you naked.”

She laughed, yet the sound struck Laurence as off. “It isn’t that,” Adelle said. “Not really. I was under the impression that you had meetings this morning but were free in the afternoon and I’d hoped to spend it with you.” The smile she gave him held more than a hint of sadness too. “I’m disappointed. That’s all.”

“It’s not like I’d rather go back and sit in a windowless room with French government middle managers than walk around Paris with you.” He gestured toward Adelle with a half devoured roll. “If you think anything remotely like that, you’re nuts.”

“I know, Laurence. Don’t fret. I’m fine.” Her decided lack of enthusiasm for one of her favorite simple meals spoke more eloquently than any words.

Laurence pulled out his cellular phone and scrolled down his contact list. Finally arriving at the number he wanted, he initiated the call. Seconds later, Pierre Merten answered. “I can’t meet with you this afternoon, Pierre,” Laurence said. “I know we agreed to try and press forward but, frankly, I don’t see much in the way of commitment from your side. I’ll send an email to Jean and let him know that I’ll see about security for his building the next time I’m in Paris, if his people can get their act together.” Laurence listened to the very beginning of the litany of excuses before he interrupted. “I’ll be in Paris for another 36 hours, Pierre, but I’m unavailable until tomorrow morning. If you have anything new for me, leave a message at my hotel.” Rather than give Pierre another shot at trying to explain how complicated the matter of signing a contract for a new security system is in the great nation of France, Dominic hung up. Grinning, he said, “It felt really good to do that, Adelle. Thanks for giving me a reason.”

“We have all afternoon?” she said, sipping her wine, smile tugging at her lips.

“As soon as I send this email, we have all afternoon, evening and night. Just us.” Munching on his roll as he walked to the desk and his laptop, he said, “We can stay in or go out. I don’t care. Whatever you want.”

“I’ll consider while you complete your task,” Adelle said. Laurence was looking at his laptop rather than her, but Adelle’s tone suggested a pleased smile.

A few moments of rapid typing later, he asked, “What’s the verdict?”

“For now, I want to sit right here, eat this delightful meal and stare at the man who has just made me quite happy.”

“That works for me,” Laurence said, raising his glass. “To sitting, eating and staring.” After they both drank to his toast, Adelle leaned forward and whispered, “I suspect I’ll want to kiss him as well.”

Laurence kissed her, tasting the soft, deliciously decadent creamy cheese she’d just consumed. “What if he beats you to it?”

“I’ll pretend to be cross with him for a moment or two.” Smiling, she added, “Then I’ll resume staring and finish my lunch.”

They shared a laugh. Laurence sobered first and could see the question in Adelle’s eyes. Uncertain how he felt about responding, he concentrated on lunch. Adelle watched him closely and ate hers. When he poured them both a second glass of wine, Laurence said, “I never thought it could be like this for us.”

Laughing eyes softening the order, Adelle said, “Elaborate, please.”

“Like this,” he said, gesturing vaguely at the couch on which they sat and the coffee table before it. “You and I sharing a casual meal and laughing together. Nothing awkward or overly formal.”

“Having fun?” Adelle ventured.

“I’m thinking more along the lines of being comfortable in each other’s space.”

Eyes on his, Adelle moved closer and placed her wine glass on the coffee table. “I enjoy being in your space.”

Setting his wine glass down also, Laurence whispered, “I enjoy you being in my space too.”

Staring became kissing. Kissing somehow, this moment, this day, became an end in and of itself. Relaxing together, half reclining on the couch, they focused completely upon the task at hand. Lips, tongues, teeth moved in harmony and counterpoint simultaneously. Giving and taking became one and the same. At the same instant, they both pulled back. Laurence cupped her chin in his hand. Adelle stroked his cheek. Smile threatening to slip into a smirk, Laurence said, “This beats sitting in a freezing cold conference room listening to another hushed side bar conversation in rapid French.”

“Damning me with faint praise, Laurence?”

“This also beats being stuck on a deserted island with a supermodel, a spacious tent and a high quality air mattress.”

“Somehow I doubt that,” Adelle muttered, sitting up.

“We,” Laurence said, pulling Adelle back down on top of him, “have room service, hot water, wine and high thread count sheets. All the comforts those on deserted islands covet most.” Pausing briefly to gauge his audience, Laurence said, “And one or two other things those on deserted islands never even consider, being focused on survival.”

Chin resting on his chest, Adelle said, “A sense of humor is important.”

“To what?”

“A … relationship.”

He nodded. “It can help smooth over some rough patches.”

“And can make a rare, free weekday afternoon all that much more enjoyable.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself,” Laurence murmured.

Smiling as widely as he’d ever seen, undoubtedly harkening back to earlier in their conversation, Adelle mimicked him and said, “I’m glad I’m enjoying myself as well.”

Now’s as good a time as any. “Let me up,” he said.

“Why?” Adelle asked, making no move to rise.

“I … um … I have something for you.”

Clearly incredulous, Adelle sat up. “You’ve brought me a gift?”

“Not exactly,” Laurence said, maneuvering around her to stand. Trying not to think too much about what might happen in the next few minutes, he disappeared into the bedroom of the hotel suite to retrieve the item in question. Upon his return, he handed Adelle a small black bag. To her inquiring raised eyebrow, he shrugged. “Open it,” he said.

Her soft gasp when she looked inside the bag wasn’t unexpected. A ring box doesn’t look like anything else. “Laurence?” she said.

“I’d open it if I were you,” he said.

Adelle lifted the ring box out of the bag as though it might detonate at any second. She lifted the lid and smiled.

Thank Christ!

“It’s beautiful,” Adelle whispered, examining the large emerald in an oddly hued setting. “Is this titanium?” she asked.

“Yeah.” Oh, just spit it out for Christ’s sake. “The green is for your eyes and the titanium represents your will.”

“Where did you get this?” she asked, taking the ring from its protective foam and holding it up so the sun streaming into their room could catch the faceted stone.

“Copenhagen,” he said. Smiling slightly at her surprise, he said, “I’ve had it for a while. Just … I don’t know … waiting for the right moment, I guess.” Laurence gently took the ring from Adelle. Watching her, he slid it onto the ring finger of her left hand.

“Thank you,” she murmured. Holding her left hand in his, Laurence kissed her firmly. “May I ask why you gave this to me, Laurence?”

“Sooner or later, Clyde’s going to suggest that his power couple make things more formal between them.” Laurence swallowed hard, straining his tight throat. “I wanted you to know that keeping my job isn’t the reason I’d agree to it.”

“So this is—.”

“No, it’s not,” Laurence said, speaking quickly but, hopefully, not too quickly. “Clyde isn’t good with being preempted. It’s easier on all concerned to go with his timetable.” Tracing Adelle’s bottom lip with his forefinger, Laurence asked, “But if it was, what would you say?”

She kissed his finger. Moving his hand slightly aside, Adelle wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him thoroughly. “I would say it is exceedingly unfair that I do not have the option of pretending continued employment is my reason for acceding to Clyde’s wishes.”

Smiling in a strange mixture of relief and pleasure, Laurence said, “I could pull a few strings and maybe get you on the payroll.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Adelle said. “I don’t believe I could bear to have Clyde exert more influence over my life than he already does.”

“Amen to that.”

Adelle’s eyes unfocused slightly, making Laurence wonder what she was thinking. “Do you truly suppose Clyde will want us to marry?” she asked.

“Yes.” Kissing her lightly, he said, “He’ll likely want more than that but, don’t worry, Adelle, we won’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with.”

“More than …? Oh, dear God, children?” Glaring at Laurence, she announced, “I will not have children pursuant to the dictates of a … an emaciated spymaster.”

“Nor should you.”

“Who does he think he is? And why are you smiling like that?”

Trying unsuccessfully to adopt a more sober expression, Laurence said, “It’s interesting how a woman who controlled the lives of so many people for a long time balks at the reversal of fortunes. The reaction’s completely expected and understandable, but interesting nonetheless.”

“Perhaps that’s been my mistake all along,” Adelle asserted. “Interesting you.”

“I wouldn’t call it a mistake,” he said.

“Why ever not?”

“Because you didn’t choose to interest me. You just did, because of who you are. You couldn’t help it, Adelle. You’re you.” He sipped his wine. “If you didn’t have a choice, you couldn’t have made a mistake.”

“There is logic to your position.”

“Of course there is,” he said, smiling. “So what do you want to do with the rest of today, Adelle?” Laurence grinned. “Anything goes.”

* * *
Several Hours Later

Breathing a bit hard, sweating lightly, Laurence Drake leaned over an equally breathless and naked Adelle DeWitt. Gently moving her hair out of her eyes, he whispered, “So how was your day, Adelle?”

“As fabulous as my latest orgasm,” she murmured, catching his hand in hers.

Fighting a grin and losing, he asked, “How fabulous was that?”


Laughing, he lay beside her on their hotel bed and pulled Adelle into his arms. “I’m glad because I’m going to have to deal with Pierre tomorrow. He left a message with the front desk for me while we were out.”

Rolling on top of him, Adelle demanded, “When did you pick up messages?”

“The manager handed it to me when he asked you how you were enjoying your stay.”

Adelle frowned. “Being discreet in case the message was from your mistress, I imagine.”

“I’ve given very specific instructions as to how my mistresses are to contact me,” Laurence said. “Via hotel employees is not on the approved list.”

“Carrier pigeon?” Adelle suggested.

“That’s a good idea,” Laurence said, stroking slowly along the small of Adelle’s back. “I’ll have to add that one.”

Leaning an elbow on either side of his head, Adelle brought her lips tantalizingly close to Laurence’s. “Since I have no desire to compete, perhaps I’ll leave you to your own devices at your next European destination, return to England in a huff and let Clyde punish you for your indiscretions.”

“Since you know you have no competition, you should come to Brussels with me like we planned.”

Dropping a feather light kiss on his cheek, Adelle asked, “Will you be as busy as you’ve been in France?”

“It depends on what you mean by busy.” Tightening his hold, Laurence said, “I don’t have as much security work to do, but the social schedule Clarice sent to me is a bitch.”

“That’s a bit of an overstatement,” Adelle said.

“How do you figure?” he asked, moving his hands over her ass. “We have at least two things going on every night with some kind of weekend long deal both weekends we’re there.” He sighed. “I haven’t committed the details to memory yet, Adelle. I have to focus on getting out of Paris with as much of the work behind me as possible.”

“Then I suppose it is fortunate Clarice sent me our full itinerary several days ago, allowing me to augment our wardrobes appropriately.”

“You shopped for me again?” he asked.

“You have neither cause to pout nor room to complain,” Adelle said, running her fingers through his hair. “You look marvelous in everything I have chosen for you thus far.”

“I look like a fashion model, rather than a security consultant, when I wear anything you’ve picked out.”

Smiling, she kissed him firmly. “That, I assure you, Laurence, is a very good thing.” He tried a pained look but had to laugh when Adelle did. “If we are to continue as we’ve been, you simply must accept that I will be forced to shop for you from time to time.” The serious look appearing on her face grabbed his attention.

“What is it, Adelle?”

“You said earlier that you believe Clyde will wish us to marry.” Speaking slowly, as though she were carefully choosing each word, Adelle said, “Laurence, how long do you think we will be together like this?”

“As long as possible?” he said, grinning.

“I don’t mean naked and wrapped around each other in bed,” she said, smiling in return. “I mean using your security systems to gain the NSA access to massive amounts of information and attending social functions to further Clyde’s many and varied agendas.”

“I don’t know, Adelle,” Laurence said, responding just as carefully as Adelle had posed her original question. “But I’m reasonably sure Clyde will propose indefinitely, so long as I don’t get made and I can keep your interest.”

“Surely, there will be an opportunity to gracefully decline to continue to play along at some point in the future,” she said.


“I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable, Laurence,” Adelle said, kissing him with utmost gentleness. “I’m trying to understand just what I’ve taken on.”

“You haven’t done that before?” he asked, not bothering to hide his incredulousness. “We’ve been at this power couple thing for over a year. Tabling contemplation of your situation for that long isn’t like you, Adelle.”

“I was enmeshed in righting Rossum to a degree where I felt comfortable saddling someone else with it.” She ran her fingers over his right bicep. “Then I allowed myself to prepare for our trip and enjoy Paris.”

“And in the aftermath of … fabulous sex, you’re thinking about the future.” Laurence laughed, playfully slapping her on the ass. “Aren’t you supposed to be satisfied, sleepy and contented with your lot at this very moment in life?”

“Perhaps,” Adelle allowed. “But what if a sharp NATO computer person discovers the back doors you’ve opened to the NSA with your security programs, Laurence?”

Meeting far too serious green eyes, he said, “The back doors won’t be linked to my programs, Adelle.” Risking a small smile, he said, “I pulled a Topher.”

She clearly hadn’t expected to hear that name. “I beg your pardon.”

“I used Topher’s clean up protocol to remove any evidence that my code launched an independent infiltration spike to create and maintain the back door.” Drawing tight circles with his thumb at the base of her spine, he said, “Clyde has so many layers of code between him and the doors that it would take someone as smart as Topher to trace the trail anywhere close to back to him, assuming they find the doors in the first place. I made this mission as safe as humanly possible.”

“For us.”

“Yes,” he said, pulling her down for a kiss. “For us.”

“You have done much on our behalf.” Not seeing where Adelle’s thoughts were heading, he remained silent. “Why is that, I wonder?” she mused, raising an eyebrow at him.

“To have a day like this once in a while,” Laurence said.

“Is this day and possible others akin to it worth all you have risked?” she asked.

“You are.” The gamut of emotions fighting for supremacy on Adelle’s face amazed Laurence. Not wanting merely to watch and see which won, he said, “I’d risk anything to be with you. Clyde knows that, so he has me right where he wants me, but he doesn’t get that I want to be here. Not really.”

Curiosity obviously engaged, Adelle asked, “You want a life where Clyde pushes your business to expand in the directions he wants and dictates how you spend your evenings, weekends and the rare vacation you permit yourself?”

“In an ideal world, no, but we don’t live in one, Adelle.” He took her by the shoulders. “Clyde’s involvement is the price of having you. A price I’ll gladly pay. I only wish you didn’t have to pay too.”

“I am not permitted to contribute to this relationship?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You do every time you shield me from whatever it is Clyde wishes to achieve from the social contacts he sets up for us.” Adelle’s eyes dared him to match her intensity. “I enjoy the sort of games Clyde plays. I wish to participate going forward.”

“Clarice will screech about security clearances.”

“She won’t be able to argue with the results we’ll achieve. We brought down Rossum together, Laurence. In a sense, we’ve separated for a time to allow me to complete the Rossum project and you to successfully launch your new endeavor.” Shifting to lay beside him, facing him, hands on his chest, Adelle said, “Let’s work together with regard to the things Clyde wishes to accomplish via our social connections.”

“Until you get knocked up,” he said, keeping a perfectly straight face.

“Bite your tongue,” she said. “Even better, allow me to do it for you.”

“You want in the game on the social side?”

“I do.”

“Consider yourself in.”

Adelle kissed him soundly, making a sound suspiciously like a giggle when he resisted the temptation her tongue offered his. “I won’t bite your tongue, if you’re serious about working together,” Adelle said.

“I am.”

“What about Clarice’s future screeches?” Adelle asked.

“I’m used to them.” Laughing, he drew Adelle into his arms. “I’ve repeatedly broken rules of covert operations since you first whisked me off to Paris. What’s one more?”

“You won’t regret this,” Adelle whispered, pressing against him, smiling.

“I hope you won’t.” To her quizzical look, he said, “You could do so much better for yourself.”

Adelle regarded him for a full minute. “I don’t want anyone else, Laurence.”

“Things would be far less complicated with most guys.”

“Complications intrigue me.”

“Lucky me,” Laurence said.

“Well said.” Smiling happily, Adelle slid her leg between his and whispered, “Prepare to get luckier.”

“I’m prepared,” he murmured.


Laughing, he said, “Not quite yet, but I’m inspired so don’t expect much of a delay.”

“Thank you, Laurence.”

“For what?”

“Letting me in.”

They kissed, then lay staring at each other. “Thanks for knocking down the door,” Laurence said.

“You’re most welcome.”

“So are you, Adelle.”


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That was perfect!

I loved the initmacy that Adelle and Laurence shared (him blowing off meetings to spend the day with her, agreeing to their 'power couple' agreement with Clyde so he could stay with her, buying a 'engaged to be engaged' ring) and I also loved that Judith is moving on from Rossum to working with Laurence (and together plotting against Adelle).

This was a wonderful epilogue.

Thanks. The scene with the ring was the one in my head that I didn't want to let go of, but couldn't make it fit in the final chapter. Hence, the epilogue. I'm glad it worked. I was a bit concerned I was in danger of tipping into unacceptably sappy.

I also wanted to make the intimacy flow naturally to show that they're now comfortable with each other.

I couldn't let Judith go and I think she'll keep Laurence and Adelle on their toes.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Especially at the end of a long haul like this one.

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I always thought Adelle could have used someone female to talk to, so I tried to do that with Judith in this series.

Who knew the crazies would get 17 sequels!

Thanks so much for sticking with me. It was fun!

This was a very satisfying ending. As much as I like the romance of it (the ring buying and the goodies from England for her) I actually think there was an element at the end which was quite uncertain and unresolved. The enormity of Clyde's plan and its very nature is a little distasteful - and not that different from Rossum in many ways. You have the sense that they are still somewhat caught /trapped but that for both of them it is a price worth paying.
You also have Adelle with no defined role and no actual job. I know she is helping out with the social aspect of their mission and I imagine she'll be excellent at it - but I don't know that I see her shopping, socialising and travelling for the rest of her life.
You didn't tie it up with as neat bow - you did give them a relationship that seems strong enough to work for both of them and their circumstances. It works perfectly.

I'm glad it was satisfying despite my leaving my neat bows off of the package. I, too, enjoyed the romantic bits, but also recognize that they're in a strange situation. Clyde does indeed not think small. However, in some ways, the NSA is in too far to back out, so they should, going forward, be able to exert some leverage. Particularly, once the security system business gets more and more "satisfied" clients.

Clyde's master plan does have Rossum-esq qualities, but I think here the "trap" is acknowleged and accepted. Rossum was something of a trap as well, but was never openly referred to as such (that I recall anyway).

Adelle is going to take command of all of Clyde's various machinations on the social side, which are many and varied. As she becomes more familiar, she will suggest alternatives and additions and begin to drive the process. Clyde will say he envisioned this. He did not. But he also isn't adverse to hitching his wagon to a good thing. Rest assured, in the mix with shopping, socializing and traveling, are theft, spying, blackmail and manipulation of many other ilks, sabotage and such.

This story, more than anything, is about their relationship. If that is strong enough (and I think it is) the story is successful.

Thanks for coming with me on this journey and embarking on one or two others!

Well I can honestly say this has been one hell of an amazing journey. I love how you tied up their loose ends, without going harlequin on us. Once again, the story stayed true to the characters yet it was plausible enough to be entwined within the dollverse.

Smiling, he said, “Pack a bag, Ms. DeWitt. We’re going to Europe.”
-LOL, and here we've come full circle. I still can't believe how incredibly awesome this series has been from that initial chapter when she asked him to pack.

A funny thing happens when a ring is brought into any fic. It takes the classic cheesy route and looses most credibility. So imagine my surprise when words like "oh my god, Laurence, you've made me so happy" "Will you marry me?" & "I do" didn't appear in this chapter. That was very well done! I've never seen genuine gratitude at such a 'ties that almost bind' event, conveyed more realistically. Amazing work!

Thank you so much for giving 2 outstanding characters a plot they so totally deserved. And thanks for sticking with us, and keeping regular updates all this time.

I wish you the best of luck on your upcoming projects. And you can definitley count on reviews from me in the future.

You know, they didn't have many loose ends. I just wanted to show a bit of what life as a power couple looked like. I'm glad the sap quotient stayed within acceptable levels.:)

I almost collapsed when I realized he was, in essence, asking her the same thing she'd asked him at the very beginning. Coming full circle is an excellent thing.

The ring scene is the one I had in my head that I couldn't give up. The fact that Dominic went out and bought a ring that symbolized what he admired about her to tell her how he felt (truly felt) about the future without (Heaven forfend) preempting the future. I'd never seen anything like this. I'm so glad it played for you!

Do you know me so little as to think I would set forth on paper such things as this (at least without very good reason)? "oh my god, Laurence, you've made me so happy" "Will you marry me?" & "I do"

I know you don't because I've shared with you my 24 musings where I take what's there into the statosphere--I'll have to send you my "evidence" because I didn't just make that up out of nothing.

This was their commitment--regardless of what comes next. It's you and me and we've decided we're committed to each other. Who cares what a church or the state of California or an emaciated spy master has to say about any of it.

I wanted Laurence and Adelle to have their day in the sun (and so did all the crazies who demanded 17 sequels).

Thanks for everything. I mean that.

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