AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks for the reviews and the solid support! All of you! This is the final chapter for this story but right at the end is the synopsis for the sequel, which will begin appearing soon. Please be patient with me, though. I need to update the "Take Me From This Pain" series and "Another Journey Begins" while I write the rest of the sequel to this one.

Thanks again and please stay with me. The fun definitely doesn't end here.


Chapter 51

Shannon watched Tara in quiet amusement. She was trying desperately to reinvent herself as the perfect wife and struggled to handle as many tasks as she could at once. He'd just come home from a weeklong road trip to find her cooking dinner, loading a wash and fighting with someone on the phone all at the same time. He just dropped his bag and settled back in one of the kitchen chairs smiling, waiting for her to notice his arrival.

"No, I told you the driveway needs to be fixed sooner than that," she said through gritted teeth as she sliced a fat red tomato. Her back was to him and she balanced the phone between her chin and shoulder as she wielded the small knife. "My husband called you before he left last week and you TOLD him it would be done before he got home. Unless you plan to use Star Trek technology, that isn't happening. He'll be here any minute."

Shannon could picture her frown as she listened to the other person, probably Frank as that was the man he'd spoken to before he'd left. He chuckled silently to himself as he kicked off his shoes to sneak up on her.

"I'd rather he didn't have to bother himself with you when he gets home as he'll have been on the road for twelve straight hours and could probably use a rest," she hissed and listened again. "Massachusetts, but I don't see what that has to do . . . EXCUSE me? You'd better watch that attitude, you son of a . . . HEY!"

Shannon laughed as he held the phone away from her. She glared at him hotly for a second then went back to slicing her tomato.

"Frank, ol' buddy, I KNOW ya weren' insultin' my beautiful Yankee wife," he said sternly into the phone. It was one thing for him and his friends to kid with her about her accent but quite another for anyone else. He knew she could handle herself but he was determined not to let her fight any more battles if he could help it; literally or figuratively.

"Um . . . naw, Shan," the man responded in a surprised tone. Shannon was aware that the guy was known for disrespecting women in general and Northerners in particular. If only Frank knew about Tara's stint as Rio, he'd be a hell of a lot less likely to mouth off at her. Shannon grinned just thinking about it.

"When's my driveway gittin' patched up?"

"Like I was tellin' yo' wife," Frank said uncertainly. "I ovabooked my crew an' cain' git out there 'til nex' week."

"Uh huh," Shannon answered noncommittally taking the opened bottle of beer Tara handed him and smiling his thanks to her. "Well, I hate thinkin' my business is a botha ta ya, so maybe we should jus' cancel it. I'm sure Tommy can git to it."

"No, tha's not necessary," Frank said quickly. "I was jus' gonna tell 'er that I can git 'em out there tamorra."

"Ya were?" Shannon asked skeptically. "Tha's not what it soun'ed like when I came in."

"Really," Frank assured him. "Tamorra is perfect."

"Okay, I'll be seein' ya then."

"Ya'll be home?"

"Yep," Shannon said watching Tara pull a chicken out of the oven and baste it before returning it. "I'm home fo' a few days. Tha's not a problem, is it?"

"Naw, man," Frank said in resignation. "See ya then."

Shannon hung up the phone and turned back to Tara who was now folding a set of sheets from the dryer in the room next to the kitchen. "Hey, superwife," he called good-naturedly. "Can I 'ave a hug?"

Tara laughed and ran into his arms winding her own around his neck as she kissed him.

"Miss me?" he asked casually.

"More than you know," she giggled rubbing her nose against his. "I've been waiting for you all day!"

"All day, huh?" he asked snagging her lower lip between his teeth and tugging gently. "I'm sorry, baby. I'd o' been 'ere soona bu' my flight was delayed."

"I know you would have if you could have," she said happily arching her neck to give him easier access to it. "I kept busy planning a menu straight from the Food Network. I wanted to make sure your homecoming was perfect."

"Long as yo' always 'ere, it is."

"Always," she whispered. "That was a nasty bump you took on Smackdown!"

"I didn' git 'urt fo' real," he sighed. "I'd o' called ya from th' 'ospital if I did." He promptly ducked the swat she aimed at his head. "Hey, li'l girl," he groused. "Tha's spousal abuse."

"Not yet it isn't," she teased. "How's Matt? His eye looked pretty swollen."

"It was," he nodded. "Bu' not ta worry. I's not swollen shut. 'E says 'e can see fine."

"You two worry me more than Jeff," she frowned.

"We worry ya mo' than th' daredevil?" Shannon laughed. "Tha's impossible."

"It's true."

"So, any luck on th' ovulation front?"

Tara scowled up at him momentarily. "You're worse than my parents," she huffed. "According to the tests, it's too late for this month."

"Tha's it," he growled nuzzling her ear. "Yo' comin' back on th' road wit' me 'til yo' pregnant!"

"Do you really want the baby," she asked suddenly very serious. "Or is it another, more permanent way for you to make sure I never enter the ring again?"

He looked down at her earnest face and his heart skipped a beat. He couldn't deny that motherhood held that benefit. But he also wanted to have a child of his own to love and teach things to. And he knew that Tara was the one he wanted to have that child with. "Yes, ta both," he said firmly.

Tara searched his face carefully before smiling and pulling him in for another kiss. "Welcome home," she said. "I guess we'll both be packing in a few days, huh?"

"It'll be fun," he grinned. "We're back in Boston. We can see yo' family."

Tara's smile widened. "Okay, but we stay in a hotel," she insisted. "I can't imagine us conceiving a child with my dads in the next room."

Shannon let out a loud bark of laughter before covering her mouth with his. Life was definitely good, he thought.

THE END . . . . . . . of this story anyway. Look further down . . .


ANOTHER NOTE: If you think I'm done with Jeff, think again! He didn't get the girl here but that doesn't mean I'm letting him off the hook. Soon I will be introducing you to his new nemesis . . . Eden. As good as Rio was, Eden is BAD! I wonder how Jeff's going to handle her . . . Tune in to find out.