"Thomas will always be between us—-"
"Listen to me, please."
And to Tahey's shock, Dmitry dropped to his knees in front of her. Her proud Dmitry, kneeling in the middle of a stable, and her heart just couldn't take it. "Don't do this, Dmitry, please—-"
"I went to see your father."
The rest of Tahey's words died.
"And he's the reason why..." Dmitry swallowed hard. "I'm working hard to forgive him, Tahey."
A sob caught in her throat.
"Talking to him, I realized...I was lucky. Because when I started Strakh Inc., it only took a short while before I became desensitized to all the death. It became all too easy to get used to playing judge and executioner. It's a slippery slope, when you think you know what's best, and if I didn't have Sasha and the others...if we didn't have each other..." Dmitry's jaw clenched anew. 'It would've been all too easy to fall into the same trap your father did and start thinking that the ends would justify the means."
Tahey's tears were falling nonstop, but this time...
She clutched at her chest. It was hurting more than ever, but the pain...
"We were lucky," Dmitry repeated forcefully. "We had someone to pull us back before any of us could ever cross the line. But your father...he didn’t have anyone. You were too young, and after losing your mother...he made a mistake. A mistake that killed my sister and so many others, but..."
Dmitry waited for Tahey to say something, but all he could hear was her sobs, and he wondered if perhaps...
What if he was the fucking exception, he thought dully, rather than the rule?
He tried to imagine a life without her—-
And it was just fucking impossible.
Just fucking impossible.
And he could only squeeze his eyes shut at the pain of it.
He hadn't prayed for years, but for his Tahey...
And when he opened his eyes—-
Tahey was kneeling in front of him.
And he could only ask in a voice raw with fear and regret-—
"Am I too late, baby?"
Her arms wrapped around him. "Never." Her arms tightened, and it was then he heard God answer his prayer as Tahey choked out, "I love you."
He closed his eyes. Thank you. And then his own arms wrapped around his heaven-sent gift. "I love you, Tahey. I love you. I love you."EpilogueIt was the last Sunday before Christmas, and Tahey had just lied to her husband. She had told him she was flying to Wyoming for a quick visit, but in truth, she had taken a commercial flight to Arizona.
Unlike before, Tahey was now certain of Dmitry's love, so certain that she knew Dmitry would never say a word against her father again, much less keep her from seeing Thomas anytime she wanted.
But all the same, she wanted to cause as little pain to him as possible. She knew, even without him saying a word, that Dmitry - along with Sasha and Drake, too, who used to date their little sister - would always grieve his sister's loss. She knew this because her heart had never healed from losing her own mom.
So even though Dmitry kept telling her he and Thomas - with the help of a grief counselor and an Anglican priest - were making strides on their attempts at forgiveness and reconciliation, Tahey had only nodded but never allowed herself to ask about it.
It was enough, she always told herself, that she had both men back in her life. This alone was more than she had ever hoped for, and to ask for anything else would be the definition of greedy.
She had a gorgeous, loving husband in Dmitry, and in Thomas...
"Hey there." The warden at Thomas' prison greeted her with a smile. "Does your pa know you're coming?"
"Nope. Let's keep it that way, though. I want to surprise him." She was about to head to the visitors' room when the warden shook his head.
"No, that one's closed."
"You can head over to the room down the hallway." Warden Joe pointed her to the right direction. "Last door on your left. Just give me a minute, and I'll get someone to take Thomas to you."
She gave the older man a grateful smile. "Thank you, and in case I forget - Merry Christmas, Warden."
"You have a Merry Christmas, too, kid."
Tahey couldn't help glaring the moment she turned her back on the warden. Sheesh. The man had just greeted her a Merry Christmas, and here she was, already close to bawling her eyes out.
Get a grip on yourself, T.G.!
Because if she didn’t, then she was likely to put on a grand show of waterworks the moment Thomas showed up.
Tahey took a deep, calming breath.
No tears, T.G. No tears.
By the time she reached the room Warden Joe had directed her to, she was somewhat composed, and her fingers barely shook as she tried the knob. It turned easily, but the room inside...