Chapter 23

Gabby brought all of them home within two days of Hunter's call to Anna. Upon seeing all of them again, Anna rushed forward and hugged all of them, smothering Hunter with kisses until he pulled himself away, groaning irritably. Nascha chuckled as she hugged Anna as well.

That night, Anna brought Thomas home. Tanya was waiting with his mother outside his house. When he stepped out of the car, Tanya rushed forward and threw her arms around his neck, planting a kiss on his lips. In the backseat of the car, Hunter's hand tightened around Nascha's as he looked out of the window at them. She placed her hand on his shoulder, but he didn't turn. Becoming irritated, she reached around and grabbed his collar, pulling him into a kiss. In her hand, his hand loosened, and she felt him become calmer.

"All better?" she asked, once they had broken apart.

"Always," he murmured with a smile, and he leaned in to kiss her again.

When they reached home, Nascha and Hunter went downstairs to watch a movie in the home theater. As it played in the background, they played their own, little made-up game in the front seats. Eventually, they paused for a minute, laughing to each other as they settled down.

"You will have to talk to James, you know," Hunter commented, holding Nascha's hand.

"I know," Nascha sighed. "I wish I didn't, though."

"Why did you go out with him?" Hunter asked.

Nascha was silent for a minute. "I guess I really thought I liked him a lot."

"But…you didn't."

"No. I guess I might have unconsciously heaped my feelings onto him, because I had just decided that I didn't like you."

"Yet…you do."

"Yes. With all my heart, I do. I did, then I thought I didn't, and then I proceeded to realize that I do."

Hunter chuckled. "Too many do's and did's!"

"Well, my point is that I love you with all my heart, and nothing will change that." Nascha looked over at him with a gentle smile on her face. He looked back into her eyes through the darkness.

"And I cannot explain how much I love you," he replied.

"When did you realize that?"

He thought about his answer for a minute. "Unconsciously – probably that first time we sat through a storm, or when I first saw you. Consciously – once you had left. You know…you never know what you've got 'til it's gone?"

"Yeah. For me, I guess it was that first storm, too."

Hunter chuckled. "It sounds like such a fairy tale...disaster brings true love together."

"My life is made up of fantasy," Nascha muttered.

"My point is proven," Hunter said. "A fairy tale." And, as in fairy tales, he leaned across the armrest and kissed her gently, cementing the foundation of their true love come real.