Well, this is the last chapter. I'm sad that it's over, but kind of relieved, as well. Anyway, thanks of course to kasper, who has helped me tremendously, not only with this chapter, but with all the others as well. I couldn't have done it without you, sweetie!

And thanks to all who have read and/or reviewed. You all rock!

May 10, 2010

New York

"Ryan, what are we doing here?" The building was empty, there was no one left here to disturb, yet for some reason Alex felt the need to whisper as she followed Ryan into the arena.

Ryan just shook his head and pulled her along with him. "You'll see."

Alex smiled at his mysterious tone and followed behind. The past seven months had been a whirlwind of activity; she had spent every moment she could with Ryan. It hadn't been easy, but through intense therapy, and with a lot of patience and understanding on Ryan's part, she had finally begun to believe that they could have a future together. She had never been happier.

Ryan stopped finally, dropped the bag that he had been carrying, and turned to her. "I just wanted to take one last skate on the ice for this season." He leaned down and pulled her skates out of the bag. "Care to join me?"

"Sounds great." She reached out and took the skates from him, smiling. He smiled back with a playful look in his eyes. She looked at him suspiciously. He was up to something, she just knew it.

They quickly pulled on their skates. Ryan held her hand as he pulled her down the walkway and past the Rangers' locker room. She scrunched her nose up and Ryan laughed.

"What's that smell?"

He pointed to the big bin of equipment sitting in the hallway. "That." She peeked over the bin and saw red and blue decorated equipment.

"I hope that your stuff doesn't smell that bad."

"Nah, not too bad." He looked down at her skates. "Are you sure they are tight enough?"

"Yes Ryan. I do know how to tie my skates." They reached the end of the tunnel and stared at the rink. They were in the visiting goal's corner, and as she looked around, she couldn't help but be impressed. She was jarred back to reality when Ryan slammed the door open. He offered her his hand and they stepped on the ice together. When Ryan was assured that she was fine, he skated off, speeding down the ice. Alex laughed as she watched him go. She looked around at the arena. Only hours earlier, the place had been roaring with fans as the Rangers went for the playoff run. Now it was empty, which suited her just fine. She couldn't imagine skating in front of over 18,000 people. She skated to center ice and looked down at the Rangers emblem, then up to the scoreboard that still showed the losing score.

A sad smile played across her face as she looked at it…Flyers 3, Rangers 2. It had been a heartbreaking overtime loss; the end to a great season. It was sad to think that Ryan's first season was over, yet she couldn't help but feel just a bit happy; after all, now they'd be able to spend more time together. She looked up as Ryan skated towards her, stopping just inches from her. "Sorry about the game."

Ryan shrugged. "Oh well, these things happen. There's always next year." He smiled down at her. "Besides, there is one bright spot to losing."

"What's that?"

Ryan grabbed her hand and pulled her close. "More time to spend with you."

Alex laughed. "Still. I'm sure you wish you had won."

"Sure." He shrugged. "But having you puts it all in perspective."

"You're crazy." She leaned her head on his shoulder and sighed.

His arms tightened around her. "I may be crazy, but I'm also almost the happiest guy in the world right now."

She pulled back and looked up at him. "Almost?"

"There's only one thing that could make me happier."

"Winning the Stanley Cup?" she asked.

"Nope." He shook his head as she looked at him, a question in her eyes.

"Really? What could be better than that?"

"There is one thing." Reaching out, he brushed a lock of hair back from her face. "Before I met you, hockey was my life. Being on the ice gave me more pleasure than anything else. Then I fell in love with you, and all of a sudden, none of that mattered anymore. I still love it, but it's not my life. You are."

Before Alex could even react, Ryan had pushed away from her and knelt down on the ice. "The only thing that could make me happier than I am right this minute would be spending the rest of my life with you." Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a ring and held it out to her. "Alex Reilly, will you marry me?"

Alex felt like she couldn't breathe; tears filled her eyes as she looked down at him. She hesitated a moment; all that they'd been through flashed before her eyes, but in that instant, she knew exactly what she wanted, and she wasn't afraid. Reaching up, she brushed a tear from her cheek and smiled down at him. "Yes," she whispered.

Ryan's heart lifted at her answer. He knew that she loved him, but with all that she had been through, he hadn't been sure she would agree to take this step. He had been scared to death that she would run away again, but she hadn't. Taking her hand, he slipped the ring on her finger, then stood and pulled her into his arms. "God, I love you," he whispered, leaning down to capture her lips with his in a soft kiss.

Alex wrapped her arms around him, putting all her love into returning his kiss. After a few moments, she pulled back.

Ryan looked down into her eyes. "Now I'm the happiest guy in the world." He smiled. "I know my mother would love to help plan the wedding, if you don't mind. You'll have plenty of time. I'll have to see if…"

"No," she interrupted.

"What?" Ryan looked at her incredulously, his heart sinking. "But you said…"

"No, I mean, I don't want to wait. I want to be your wife before the next season starts."

Relief flooded through him, then her words really sank in. "But that's only a few months away."

"I can do it." She nodded confidently. Smiling, she pulled him along, and they started to skate around the rink. "There's just one thing I have to do first."

xxx

Epilogue

June 8, 2010

Anaheim CA

Alex stood in the warm California sunshine, Ryan beside her, her hand in his. She took a deep breath, trying to calm the butterflies in her stomach. Feeling a slight pressure on her hand, she looked over at Ryan, smiling gratefully.

"You sure you don't want me to come along?"

It was the third time in the last five minutes he had asked her that, but she shook her head. "Thanks, but this is something I have to do on my own."

"Okay. But I'll be right outside if you need me."

Alex just nodded. Throwing him a nervous smile, she pulled open the door and went inside.

Frank Linden was debating on what to order for lunch when he heard the commotion outside his office. Standing, he was about to investigate when the door burst open.

"I told you, Mr. Linden is not to be disturbed…"

Frank barely noted his secretary's words as he stared at the woman standing in front of his desk.

Alex smiled; a cold, calculating smile. At least she hoped. "Hello dad."

"I'm so sorry, Mr. Linden! I tried to keep her out, but she insisted!" The poor woman looked near tears.

"Forget it, Mary. It's fine, you can go." He waved away her apology, and she practically ran out the door, pulling it shut behind her.

Frank stared at his daughter, a mixture of fear and loathing running through him. "What are you doing here?" he demanded, trying to sound stern, when in reality, he was unsettled. Why would she come here?

"Surprised to see me?"

"I…"

"I just thought I'd drop by to say hello," she interrupted. She needed to keep him off guard or she'd lose her nerve.

"What do you want Allie?"

"Funny you should ask that." Alex took a step toward him, hiding her uneasiness. "I actually came here to tell you a few things."

"Look…"

"No, you look!" She was starting to get angry. "You are going to listen to me!" He looked shocked at her tone, and when he didn't answer, she went on. "First of all, I want you to know that I'm not afraid of you anymore. Whatever power you had over me is gone. I'm not letting you win anymore."

"I want you to know that I really struggled with the decision of whether or not to turn you in for the things you did to me." He started to protest, but she held up her hand, silencing him. "In the end, I decided that I'd rather not have people know what kind of monster my mother married."

Alex saw him visibly relax, and her anger grew. "But don't think for one second that you're getting off that easy. I'm not that scared little girl hiding in her room anymore, and I want you to know, I'll be watching you." She smiled tightly. "Well, not me, exactly. But just know that if I hear anything at all that makes me think you're up to your old tricks, I won't hesitate. I'll file charges so fast, you won't know what hit you. And believe me when I say I will."

Frank had listened to all this with a sinking feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach. This was not the meek little girl, or even the scared teenager she had been. She was confident and sure of herself, and that scared the hell out of him. She meant what she said. But at least he was safe…for now. "Is that all?" he questioned, trying to keep the relief out of his voice.

"Just one more thing." She smiled, and this time, it was a genuine smile. "You may want to find another place to stay tonight. My fiancé and I had a lovely chat with your new wife this morning…" Alex delighted in the startled look she saw in his eyes as her words sank in, before she turned, yanked open the door, and walked out, not even bothering to close it behind her.

xxx

Ryan paced the lobby anxiously. He had lasted five minutes outside, then he had opted to wait for her inside. He knew this was something she had to do, and that she was strong enough to do it, but still… He clenched his fists angrily. When he thought of what that bastard had done to her, all he wanted to do was go up there and beat the hell out of him. He supposed it was a good thing he hadn't gone with her, otherwise he probably wouldn't have been able to control himself.

Hearing the elevator doors open, he glanced up hopefully, his anxiety turning to joy when he saw her beautiful face smiling in triumph. She walked over to him, and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. "Everything okay?"

"Couldn't be better." Pulling back, she took his hand and they walked towards the door. "Let's just say it was good to be on the giving end for once. I don't think he'll be bothering me anymore."

Ryan reached over and held the door open, then followed her out into the bright day. "Good. So, what now?"

"Now we let Jack handle it from here." They had located the investigator that her father had used to find Alex, and had hired him to keep an eye on Frank. Alex looked up into Ryan's eyes and smiled. "Now let's go home, and start the rest of our lives."

I hope that ending wasn't too sucky…I really seem to have a problem with endings! Lol. Thanks again for reading!