Author's Note: This is the last chapter, hope you all enjoy it! I know I did. After this chapter, you might agree with me that this story is so corny, it just might be one of those "Hallmark Special Presentation" movies. But maybe you won't agree. In which case I will love you to death! IMPORTANT: There is a section of this story that I am not sure I want in there. The section can be found in parentheses, so review and let me know if it should stay or go. Thanks!
Heather Long hung up the phone happily. Marshall walked in the kitchen and saw that she was crying and smiling at the same time.
"Everything alright?" he asked.
"Oh yes, it's just fine. We got a call from the social services, they have a real family for Abby."
Marshall frowned. "That's a good thing? And I thought our family was real."
Heather laughed. "No, this is the way it was meant to be. I meant real family to adopt Abby."
He reached for her hand. "You sure you're alright with this?"
She nodded. "Are you?"
He shrugged. "I guess so. How's Jacob going to handle it?"
"Oh, yes, we should tell them."
"Don't…don't you want me?" asked Abby fearfully.
"Oh, Abby. We love you so much and would give anything to have you for our own. But we have to follow the law, and check out this new family."
Abby looked down, face like stone.
"I'm really sorry we have to push you around like this, but I'm sure you'll be happier…"
Abby wordlessly got up from the table and went to her room to begin packing. Jacob looked at them angrily. "Why does she have to leave?"
"Honey, if we get the call from social services, we have to obey."
"But…still. It's not fair."
Heather held him close. "I know, we're pushing you around too. I'm so sorry. I'm sure with her new family, we'll be able to visit."
Jacob shrugged and sulked to his room.
That same day, Susan sat at her deck in the office, trying hard not to fall asleep. Something pushed her from behind.
Carter stood behind her with a paper cup. "I think you'll need this."
"Caffeine?" she asked wearily. He nodded and handed it to her.
"You feeling alright? You've been out of it for a while."
"Yeah, I'm fine, just sleep deprived for a bit."
He lifted his eye brows. "A bit? I don't think three weeks is 'a bit'."
She groaned and leaned her head in her hand. "Abby Pierce isn't happy with the Longs. Good thing no one else has called about adopting her, that's the last thing she needs."
"I'd tell you to take a break, Susan. But I'm not your boss, and I'm not sure if a break would be wise."
"What do you mean?"
Carter leaned closer and lowered his voice. "Your job is on the line, Suz. Everett is ticked off that you've been giving all your new cases to other employees. You're focusing on just one."
Susan was speechless. I knew this was going to happen.
"Sorry for the bad news, but I just thought you'd want to know. You gotta keep up, ok?" He straightened up, smiling. "If you leave, I won't have any more competition."
Susan grinned wearily. She called Carter as he started to leave.
"Can I still take a lunch break?"
He shrugged. "It's a free country."
Susan waited for the elevator impatiently, tapping her bag against her leg and yawning. The doors slid open and she walked in without looking.
"Hey, there." She looked up to see Luke standing in the elevator, leaning against the opposite wall.
"Oh my gosh, Luke. You scared me." Susan took a deep breath. "You stalking me or something?"
"Nah." He grinned nervously.
"How is the back doing?"
"A lot better, but being assaulted by Abby set me back a bit."
Susan smiled, laughing. "What are you doing here, then?"
"Well, I wanted to ask about Abby. Social worker stuff."
Susan sighed but shrugged. "Go for it."
"I'd still like to adopt her."
"Luke…you know you can't. I'm really sorry."
He cleared his throat and stood up straight. "Then… maybe we should adopt her."
"Luke, I told you before, you have to be—" Luke's words hit Susan like a ton of bricks. Married, she thought in shock. We? Her jaw dropped and she leaned back against her wall. She blinked, looking down.
"Did—did you—did you just propose to me?"
Luke smiled. "I hope so."
Susan was dubious. "Huh. Um, Luke, April Fools day was yesterday."
"I know," he nodded.
Susan closed her eyes, and found it hard to breathe. "I….I….."
"Susan, you know we have to. 'If not for me, then for Abby'".
Susan looked up fearfully, remembering her words. "I don't know…..I'm so confused.….it's—"
"It's the right thing to do," finished Luke, walking towards her.
"No, it's—it's too much of a risk. I don't want to lose you again." She paused. "What about the Longs?"
"Ok with them if it's ok with you."
Susan gaped. "You called them?"
"I called them."
"Don't you want to be with me, Susan? Don't you want Abby to have the family she's always wanted?"
"I…I guess so, yes, but…there's so much risk… " Susan desperately tired to sort everything out in her head. Have I wanted this? How long have I wanted this? She didn't know.
Luke stopped in front of her, nodding his head. "Well, I'll let you think about it. But….could you answer this question for me?"
"About that Monday night, in Abby's room when we apologized…" Susan looked down and nodded, remembering the kiss.
"You said it wasn't great..."
"Uh-huh." Susan choked, crying as Luke lifted her face. He placed a hand on her cheek and wiped her tears with his thumb. He looked right into her icy blue eyes.
"Do you want to try it again?"
Susan nodded, in a trance, eyes transfixed. Luke leaned closer, and her trembling lips met his. Moments later, Luke looked down at her smiling face.
"Found your answer yet?" asked Luke.
She wiped her tears and nodded. "Yes," she whispered.
He narrowed his eyes at her jokingly. "What about the risk of losing me?"
"That's just a risk I'm gonna have to take." She wrapped her arms around his neck as they embraced again. The elevator bell sounded, and Luke silently reached out his hand and pressed the 'door close' button.
(The office was quite busy, but Abby felt there was no one there at all. She was happy to see Susan behind the desk full of papers, but she didn't show it. She sat in a chair in front of the desk, the Longs standing behind her.
"Hi," she said quietly.
"Did you hear we got a family for you?"
"Well, they're very nice people, I'm sure you'll love them."
"What are they like?" Abby finally asked curiously.
"Well, they just got married, one of them is—"
"Do they have Clark for a last name?"
"Well, there's Mrs. Cavallaro, and—" A door slam, and Susan smiled as Abby looked at her, confused. Does Luke have a sister? Susan spoke again.
"Abby, this is your new daddy." Luke stepped into the room from behind the wall, mouth closed but smiling.
Abby's jaw dropped in disbelief. She looked at the Longs, at Susan, then back at Luke.
"Who's….who's Mrs. Cavallaro?" she whispered in awe and confusion.
"Abby, this is your new mom," stated Luke proudly as Susan stood up from her desk.
"Really? You—you mean it?"
They nodded. Abby jumped off the chair and ran to them, hugging them tightly.
"I knew it was you, Luke! I knew it, Susan!"
"Hey," Luke started, pointing an accusing finger at the little girl. She looked up.
"From now on, it's dad," he smiled.)
One week later.
Four figures walked through graveyard, which was strangely bright and sunny for their surroundings. Luke, Susan and Abby, dressed in Sunday clothes, followed a volunteer from the city, leading them through the hundreds upon hundreds of barely marked stones in the large field. The volunteer pointed, and walked away as Susan thanked him.
They stood by the gravestone, simply marked "Amanda Pierce, 1970-2001". Abby walked closer and laid a flower on the mound of dirt; a daisy. Susan and Luke waited patiently, respectfully.
Time to move on, Abby, something seemed to tell her heart. I miss you, mommy. I won't forget you. She could almost hear her mother singing, her soothing voice floating through the warm spring air. It blew through her hair, and it pulled at her flowery dress.
Abby turned around, and to their surprise, she was smiling, without a trace of sadness.
"Do you think she would have wanted this?" she asked serenely. Luke put his hands on her shoulders as they walked away.
"I think so," said Susan. They walked away from the past, walked through the bright light of the sun. But Abby walked through the light of love. The light that Luke and Susan had shown her. The light from the Lisa, from Jacob, from the Longs.
And the shadow left Abby's heart.