A/n: Last chapter, loves. I seriously think I'm going to start bawling my eyes out now. I love these characters so much--more so than I ever expected to when I started writing The Covington House. I don't think I've loved any of my other characters more than Reese, Sam, Evan and Gwen (yes, even Gwen! Which is strange, because I normally hate bitches). And I don't think I've enjoyed writing any other story more than these. Jesus... This is saddening. It really is. Damn...

But thank you all for reading/reviewing/favorite-ing! And I hope you enjoy this last chapter!

Part Nine

I light the last candle—the one in the circle part of the cross-thing that Sam is standing on—and quickly step back so I'm right behind him. He looks at me over his shoulder, his eyes the only source of fear and uncertainty in his otherwise determined expression. I place a hand reassuringly on the middle of his back. Instantly, Sam's eyes fall close and he takes a deep breath, reopening his eyes as he lets it out. The fear in them is still there, but the uncertainty has been replaced by even more steely resolve. I smile at him then take a few more steps back into the large triangle with Gwen and Evan. They both are as still and silent as pale statues, staring unblinkingly at Sam. I only give them a cursory glance before I turn my attention back to him as well.

With another deep breath, Sam lifts both of his hands up in front of him. He turns his left one over so his palm is exposed, clenching the knife so tightly in his right one that his knuckles are white. I clench my own fists at my sides as he lowers the tip of the knife to the middle of his palm. It takes a few seconds—and protesting from my lungs—to make me realize I'm also holding my breath. I let it out in a whoosh just as Sam hesitates.

"In the flame?" he asks.

I nod, only to remember afterwards that he can't see me. I clear my throat. "Yes," I tell him. My voice sounds choked.

Sam doesn't respond right away. He just stands there, completely motionless, with the knife-point still rested against the middle of his palm. It takes a few seconds for him to nod back, his voice sounding strange too when he says, "Okay."

And then, without warning, Sam presses the knife into his left hand.

My breath catches as the tip of the blade pierces the skin of his palm. Sam doesn't make any noise; though, it's obvious he's holding back from the look on his face and how his whole body has gone rigid. My poor Sam. I wish his didn't have to do this. It's killing me, it really is. Especially when the blood begins to flow, and pools in the center of his palm. It takes all of my willpower to keep myself where I am and not go over there to wrap my arms around him.

As Sam carefully positions his left hand over the candle and slowly begins to tilt it sideways, it seems like none of us are breathing, not even him. Which makes it eerily quiet in the room. So quiet, in fact, that I swear I can hear the splash of several large drops of blood hit the floor after spilling from Sam's palm, along with the sizzle of the flame as one drop extinguishes it.

I stare at the candle, waiting for some sort of sign that the ritual is working. The journal didn't say what would happen after the seal was activated, so I have no idea what I should be looking for. Though, I'm pretty sure it should be obvious, otherwise…well, you know…

Thirty seconds passes, and still nothing happens. I'm beginning to fear that the ritual isn't going to work. From the way the silence in the room is suddenly heavy and thick with tension, I can tell the others have a similar train of thought. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Gwen start to fidget. In front of me, Sam chews on his bottom lip, staring anxiously down at the candle.

It's only when Evan clears his throat to say something and Sam begins to turn around to face me, that the candle flares back to life—and I mean flares. All of a sudden, it's burning again with a burst of light, the flame brighter and larger than it was before. We all stare at it, our eyes wide and our mouths open slightly in awed surprise.

As we do, though, the four other candles around the seal abruptly blaze too. Then, the lines touching the candles start to glow a warm, pure white light, which quickly spreads throughout the rest of the lines like a lit fuse. I glance from side to side, watching in amazement as the glow leisurely intensifies, until I hear Sam yelp. Instinctively, I snap my head towards him, praying he's all right, merely to blink and then gape at what I see.

The flame from the candle in front of him has turned into this rope type thing of white light and wrapped itself around Sam's left hand and wrist. I look up to his face, to check whether or not it's hurting him, but his expression is one of bewilderment and wonder. I let myself relax a little; I can't describe how relieved I am that Sam's all right and that the ritual seal is working.

But then, the strangest thing happens.

Sam begins to glow purple.

I blink several times to make sure I'm not just seeing things. And—no. I'm not. He really does have this purple light around him. I simply gawk at Sam, confused as hell about what's going on, though unable to help marveling at that the purple glow. 'Cause, really—it's beautiful. I can't bring myself to look away from it (not that I want to). It's like my eyes are drawn to it.

The light around Sam is this deep violet that looks like every other shade of purple originated from it. Looking at it makes me feel extremely good. It also reminds me of warmth, happiness, languid smiles, tight hugs, soft kisses, and some other wonderful things. I mean, those are what I think about and feel when I look at Sam anyway. But this is more intense. As odd as it sounds, it's like that purple is his.

Like that purple is Sam.

I blink, this time as realization hits me. Oh—oh, I get it now. That purple glow around Sam is his aura. Which makes sense. I mean, that purple fits his personality perfectly, and the journal did say the seal draws it energy from the caster. It seems right that there would be a visible sign of such a thing happening.

And sure enough, a few seconds later, the purple starts to seep into rope-thing around Sam's wrist. The color spreads semi-quickly to the other lines of the seal. Even the candles change, their flames turning that lovely violet. Mesmerized, I turn my head as far as it will go to either side, trying to get a better look at everything. I'm vaguely aware of Gwen and Evan doing the same.

However, a sudden gasp from Sam draws my attention back to him. He's staring in front of him, his eyes wide and glassy, and the expression on his face faraway. I recognize it as the look he gets when his clairvoyance goes into overdrive. Though that makes sense considering what this ritual is, there's now a tension in the air that's making me slightly uneasy. I don't know what it is, but—

An angry, high pitched screech echoes through the dining room. It's loud and horrible enough that Gwen, Evan and I all flinch and cover our ears. Then, right in the place where Sam is staring, a poison green mist appears and coalesces into the transparent form of an old woman.

A pissed off and murderous old woman.

With my heart pounding rapidly in my chest, I stare wide-eyed at Widow Finley. That look on her face is so much worse than the psychotic grin she had in the memories, when she was holding the knife to my throat. Seeing it causes me to tremble uncontrollably, although she's not even looking in my direction. Instead, she's glaring directly at Sam. And despite how scared I am, I still want to protect him from her. I can't bear the possibility that she might hurt Sam—my Sam.

The instant the green mist finally settles into her form, though, the purple flames turn into long, smooth and radiant cords that burst out of the candles to tangle themselves firmly around her. Widow Finley lets out another angry scream and starts fighting against them with tendrils of poison green mist. I watch in fascinated horror as the purple and green clash violently, filling the air around us with humming energy.

One of the tendrils sneaks passed the cords and lashes out towards us in the seal. I flinch, preparing myself for the blow, scared of what's going to happen when it hits. Only, it never does, because a previously invisible dome barrier around the seal stops it. I exhale in temporary relief, incredibly thankful to whoever created this ritual. They apparently considered the possibility that a psychotic ghost would not take being forced into the afterlife lightly, and took some precautionary measures against it.

Good thing too, or I have a feeling we would have just been strangled or fried by those vine-like strands of green mist.

But the presence of the barrier seems to enrage Finley more, and, out of nowhere, more green tendrils appear. They thrash wildly about, repeatedly striking the barrier, which sparks a crystalline purple every time the mist connects with it. With each hit, there's also a crackling sound that reminds me of thunderstorm, and the air feels increasingly charged with energy.

The four purple cords of light are considerably outnumbered; they can't keep up with the tendrils. Beginning to get bit anxious, I glance over to Sam to see how he's doing only to see that he's not doing well. Not at all. His entire body is tense and trembling with strain; his eyes are clenched shut; he's gritting his teeth; and sweat glistens on his forehead. He flinches sharply each time a tendril strikes the barrier.

I glance around me, looking for some way that I could help, but there isn't any. There's absolutely nothing I can do except watch Sam struggle on his own. And it kills me, it really does. I hate how I can't do a damn thing for him—I feel helpless and useless, just standing here. It's horrible to have to see him ge—

Another tendril smashes against the barrier and Sam staggers and yelps. I whine in the back of my throat, digging my fingernails into my palms. My resolve to stay where I am is quickly dissolving. Especially when Sam doubles over in pain with the next hit.

And that's when things really start to get bad.

Several vines of green mist merge together to form one large, pointed cord as thick as my body. Two of the purple light strands try to stop it before it strikes the barrier, but they're unsuccessful, and this time the blow brings Sam to his knees. Without thinking, I lunge forward, wanting to go to him to make sure he's okay. Evan stops me, though, by grabbing my arm and holding me back. Which means I can only watch miserably as Sam doesn't even make an attempt to get back on his feet. He stays where he is, leaning on his right arm so he's nearly on all fours. His left hand is in an awkward position because of the rope of purple light connecting him to the seal.

Other than the effects is has on Sam, however, the hit doesn't actually do any damaged to the barrier. It's the backlash of energy which ultimately does that by causing a vase to fall off of a shelf on the wall. The vase shatters when it hits the floor, right next to one of the candles. A few shards skid into the candle, knocking it over and extinguishing the flame. Immediately, the purple cords of light fighting against Finley and the dome barrier around us disappear.

Time seems to stop for a second. We all freeze. Even Widow Finley and her tendrils are motionless.

But then chaos ensues.

Finley grins psychotically, her crazed laughter echoing through the room. The green strands start to snake towards us again, moving at a tauntingly slow pace. Sam shouts/gasps for someone to get the candle relit, and seeing as I'm the one with the lighter, I quickly fumble to get it out of my pocket. Only—I end up dropping it in my haste. Fortunately, it lands right next to Gwen's shoe. She snatches it off the floor and turns towards the candle.

Unfortunately, the sight of the lighter enrages Widow Finley. She screeches angrily and the tendrils pull back, preparing to strike. Gwen's too busy trying to get the lighter to light to notice, though. And in the next second, just when a flame appears on the lighter, an incredibly sharp tendril shoots towards her at a blurring speed. I have to grab onto the back of Evan's shirt to keep him from diving in front of Gwen to protect her. Which leaves her completely helpless and open to the attack.

At least, that's what I think until I hear a yipping growl from behind me. A semi-transparent coyote then bounds into view. I can only gape at it as it jumps in front of Gwen, sinking its teeth into the tendril and yanking it sideways before it can strike her.

"George?" Sam says breathlessly, sounding a bit confused along with surprised.

Gwen, who had been frozen with fear and shock just a few seconds ago, perks up excitedly. "George!" she exclaims. Then she actually leans forward to try to touch the ghost-coyote.

But George leaps away before she can and darts towards Widow Finley. With a screech, Finley tries to stab the coyote with her tendrils. George swiftly dodges them and jumps on her, biting and tearing with his teeth and claws. Widow Finley shrieks in irritation and pain then starts to fight back. All the tendrils of green mist are now fully occupied with trying to pry the coyote off of her. I recognize her moment of distraction as the opportunity it is.

"Gwen! Get the candle relit!" I shout, releasing Evan's shirt. He immediately goes over to her, which is fine because I'm already heading to Sam.

He's still kneeling on the floor, unable to move much on his own. I place one hand on his shoulder and the other on his cheek as I crouch down beside him. In front of us, both Widow Finley and George snarl, but George's turns into a yelp at the end. Sam turns towards me with wide, sad and frightened eyes. I run my thumb along his cheek, giving him a sympathetic look. There's no need for him to say what he's thinking aloud—I already know.

George won't win against Finley. The bitch is too fucking strong. We've only got maybe a minute or two left to get the seal going again.

Going as quickly as I can, I slip my arm around Sam's back to pull him to his feet. Sam tries to help, but he's just too weak and tired. Once we're standing, he's literally propped up against me, with my arms around him as the only thing keeping him up. He has his head rested on my shoulder; I can feel each puff of his breath on my neck as he pants with exertion. I notice that his left hand is bleeding again—more so than it was initially—and that probably isn't helping him any. I hold Sam closer and tighter to me as I tilt my head to the side a bit to yell back at Gwen and Evan.

"Fucking hurry up!"

"Reese, we're trying!" Gwen says. "But the lighter's not staying lit long enough to—!"

George lets out another yelp, but this one is louder and more horrible sounding. Involuntarily, my gaze goes back to the struggling raging in front of me. I flinch and pale when I see that Widow Finley has managed to throw George off of her and that he's now pinned down to the floor with one of the poison green tendrils through his front right leg. George rips it out a second later with his teeth then throws himself back at Finley. His leg hangs limply, completely useless and hindering him considerably.

"Oh god," Sam moans wretchedly. "George…no…"

I tighten my hold on him once again, unable to tear my eyes away from the fight, despite how much I want to. Behind me, I hear a sob and I know Gwen's having a harder time than I am with it.

But if the seal isn't fixed soon—before Finley gets done with George—it won't freaking matter, because I'm pretty fucking sure she means to kill us.

And that can't happen—it just can't.

"Evan!" I shout, knowing Gwen's not going to be of much help now. "I don't care how you fucking do it, just get that candle l—"

The chalk and salt lines around us suddenly flare white again, and I exhale hard in relief. The one flame from the candle in front of Sam and me turns into a cord of light, latching onto Sam's bleeding left hand like a leech. Sam whimpers and his head lolls back on my shoulder as the purple aura starts to glow around him and seep into the lines of the seal. I stare down at him, horrified and realizing a little too late that doing this all over again might drain him entirely.

Before I can think too much about that and what it may mean, however, another tendril strikes and stabs George. Right through the middle this time. There's nothing any of us can do except watch George go motionless and then fade away.

We don't even get a second to mourn him, either, since Finley is already attacking the newly reform barrier. Sam cries out and becomes limper in my arms. I hug him closer to me, feeling tears prick my eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Sam," I tell him in a whisper. "But just hold on, baby, please."

Sam tries to reply, but there's another hit to the barrier just then and he can only flinch violently. I press my face into his hair, wishing more than anything that there was something I could do. That I could help him and—

I go rigid as it suddenly feels like cool water has been poured over me, as well as replaced the blood in my veins. It's energizing—but only for a second. Then I feel the energy rush out of me, like the opening of a dam. The coolness remains, however, and it's bloody uncomfortable. I force myself to lift my head so I can see what's going on, merely to stare at my arms in perplexity and amazement.

Because there's now also a glow around me. But instead of it being a deep purple like Sam's, it's a brilliant sapphire blue.

I spend a moment gaping at it before I notice that the blue—my blue—has joined Sam's purple in the lines of the seal and candle flames. Then I gape at that for a while. Because, I…I don't know. It's just…just…you know.

After a get over the initial shock and wonder of what's happened, I notice Sam is no longer flinching every time Widow Finley strikes the barrier (though, that might be because he's so weak he's barely even conscious anymore). I also notice that she's having a harder time keeping the cords of blue and purple light away from her with her green tendrils. Seeing that, something immediately clicks in my mind.

"Gwen! Evan!" I call over my shoulder. "Come here!"

"Reese, what's going on?" Gwen asks hesitantly. Nonetheless, I hear her approach with Evan. "Why are you blue? I thought only one person—and a virgin—could cast the ritual?"

"Yeah," I say. "And Sam did cast it. But apparently the seal doesn't just have to draw energy from him. It can draw energy from me too. I mean—it is drawing energy from me. And it's making it stronger."

"What do you m—?"

"He means that the more energy the seal has, the stronger it becomes," Evan says helpfully, appearing on my left. I glance at him with a look that I hope expresses how glad I am that he caught on to what I was getting at. "The stronger it becomes, the more likely it is than it can overpower Widow Finley."

"And what does that have to—oh. Oh," Gwen says, and even though I can't see her, I know the look on her face is one of sudden understanding. "That means Evan and I can help."

I nod. "Yes."

"All right then," Gwen says, stepping forward so she's standing next to me on my right. She's staring at Widow Finley, who's still struggling with the purple and blue strands of light, with eyes full of hate. "Just tell us how."

"Through touch," I say quickly. "That's all I'm doing with Sam. I'm pretty such you just need to touch either of us."

Gwen nods in response, her eyes still locked on Widow Finley, and then places her hand on my shoulder. On the other side of me, Evan places his on Sam's. And within only seconds of doing such, both of them gasp and go wide-eyed. Their auras start to glow around them too—Gwen's a fiery orange and Evan's a sunny yellow. I watch as the two colors join mine and Sam's in the lines and cords of lights, entangling and twisting around each other.

Widow Finley screams loudly as one of the cords wraps itself around her middle, pinning her arms to her sides. The tendrils of green mist try to pry it off, but they're unsuccessful. In fact, the instant they touch the multicolored light, they evaporate without leaving any trace behind.

Soon, there isn't anymore green mist left. It's just Widow Finley thrashing uselessly about as the rest of the cords bind her. She screams, screeches, and shrieks like a dying animal, but I have no pity for her. Why the fuck would I when I know what she's done? Not only to her family—to us as well. I mean, the fucking psychotic bitch is getting what she deserves. I relish in her being destroyed/forced into the afterlife. In all honesty, I think I even smile a little as one of the blue/purple/yellow/orange tendrils pierces the middle her chest, right over where her heart should be.

I'm not really sure, though. Because right after that happens, there's a blinding flash of light and energy. It's so powerful—or maybe I'm just so drained from the ritual seal—that it knocks me out.

But the last thing I remember before I fall unconscious is the sight of Widow Finley dissolving and fading away into nothingness.


It's dawn when I finally come to. I squint against the muted light shining in through the widow. My whole body hurts, and I'm exhausted. Which makes sense. I mean, really—after everything that's happened over the last several hours, of course I'm going to feel like this.

The only problem is, with how tired I am, I honestly don't think I have the energy to get up off the dinning room floor. The most it seems I can do is stare up at the ceiling, blinking occasionally.

There's someone lying very close to me on my left. I already know it's Sam, but I turn my head towards him anyway. He's lying on his side, facing me. His are still closed and his skin is still a bit pale. I wish I had the energy to reach up to touch his cheek.

On the other side of me, someone groans quietly. It's Gwen. I look over at her just as she pushes herself carefully and slowly up into a sitting position. Wincing and pressing the heel of her palm to her temple, Gwen glances around the room. After a couple seconds, she fixes her gaze on me. I notice she looks as disoriented and drained as I feel.

"Where's Evan?" she asks, her voice barely louder than a murmur.

"What?" I say, bolting upright in alarm. Which is the stupidest I could have possibly done right now. My vision swims and my head throbs and my stomach churns. I groan and collapse back down on the floor. Once I'm able to focus again, I give Gwen a confused and questioning look.

"You mean he's not on floor on the other side of Sam?" I ask. That's where I expected him to be.

Gwen shakes her head. I can tell from the look on her face that she wants be worried about him, but she's just too tired to be. Instead, she decides to use what little energy she has to help me sit back up, something I'm beyond grateful for.

And as it turns out, the moment I'm upright, Evan appears in the entranceway of the dinning room. He's looks extremely exhausted too, with dark circles under his eyes and his movements languid. Compared to the rest of us, though, he's definitely the best off.

"The doors are unlocked," Evan says as he walks over to Gwen and I. "We can leave now. I already got our stuff already to go…" He kneels down next to Gwen and critically looks her over. "Are you all right?" he asks.

"Relatively speaking, yes," she replies, staring at him with her head cocked to the side. She has a peculiar expression on her face. "What about you?"

Evan smiles at her and nods. "I'm fine."

A relieved smile flickers across Gwen's face for the briefest of seconds before a line appears in the middle of her forehead. Frowning slightly in confusion, she looks away from him to face me again. I raise my eyebrows at her.


"Can you stand?" asks Gwen.

I think about it for a moment then nod. "Yeah." I feel stronger than I did a few minutes ago, and I'm pretty sure I can stand. I mean, I may need a little help. But once I'm on my feet, I'm sure I'll be fine.

I could really care less about whether or not I'm okay, though. What I'm really concerned about is whether or not Sam is okay.

I turn back towards him, hoping he's coming back to consciousness. But no such luck. Gazing sadly and worriedly down at him, I brush the hair out of his closed eyes. I leave my hand gently against his cheek as I lean down to press my lips to his forehead.

"Sam?" I say quietly. "Sam—wake up, baby. C'mon." I kiss his forehead again and then his lips. Sam makes a small noise in his throat and starts to stir. I grin as his eyes flutter open, indescribably happy that he's all right.

"Reese?" he mumbles. He still looks a little dazed and unfocused, but that's understandable. "S'over?"

"Yes," I tell him, nuzzling my nose against his. He smiles wearily up at me, humming contently and happily. "It's over. We can go home now."

"Good," he sighs before his eyes fall closed again.

"No, no, no Walker," Gwen says suddenly. "You need to stay conscious—we can't carry your ass to the car."

"M'conscious," Sam replies.

"Yeah," Evan says. I glance over to him to see there's a bit of amusement on his face. "But can you stand or walk?"

Sam doesn't answer. A couple of seconds pass in silence before he opens his eyes again. They look a lot clearer than they did when he first opened them. I also see a determined glint in them when he meets my gaze.

"Help me up, please," he then says to me. I smile and nod to him. Thankfully, I have regained enough energy in the passed few minutes to stand on my own, as well as help Sam.

Once we're both on our feet (with Sam leaning heavily into my side), I glance around the room, really taking in what I see for the first time since I woke up. The place is trashed. The salt and chalk lines are smudged, and the candles have melted into wax lumps. Everything on the shelves has been knocked to the floor and is for the most part broken. Grimacing, I look back over at Gwen and Evan, who are now also standing.

"We're just going to leave it like this?" I ask.

Evan raises his eyebrows and blinks at me. "What other choice do we have?" he asks. "Technically speaking, we have no right to be here. And the longer we are, the more likely it is that we'll be caught. We don't have time to clean the place up."

"And frankly," Gwen adds, "who the fuck cares? The bitch is dead and it's not like she has any relatives to inherit her stuff. Everything here, including the house, will probably be auctioned off by the county." She suddenly starts smirking. "There's just a few less things to sell than there was twenty-four hours ago. But, oh well!"

Evan snorts. So does Sam. And after a couple of seconds, I feel myself begin to smile too. Then the four of us just burst out laughing. It definitely shows how overtired we all are.

But there's also relief in the laughter—relief that this hellish night is over and despite being worn-out and a little bruised, we're okay. It gets rid of the pent up fear and nervous energy that's left inside us.

"All right," Evan says once we've all managed to calm down. "Let's get the hell outta here."

Wordlessly, the rest of us agree. We head out of the dinning room with Gwen and Evan leading the way down the hall, pausing only to grab our stuff from the living room. I follow behind them with Sam, who's quickly recovering his energy. Within minutes, the four of us are out of the house and into Evan's SUV. Sam and I cuddle close to each other in the back as Gwen relaxes back in the passenger's seat with a sigh and Evan starts the car.

None of us give even the smallest of glances back at the house as we pull from the curb and drive away.


A few hours later, Sam and I are snuggled together on his bed, both of us showered and in (his) pajamas. The TV is on, but we aren't really watching it. It's just there for background noise as we lay half-asleep in each other's arms with our foreheads and noses touching. I can't remember ever feeling happier or more comfortable in my life. Last night already seems like it happened ages ago because of it.

Because of Sam.

I lean forward just a bit to lightly press my lips to his. Sam grins lazily and tightens his hold around me. I pretty much melt into him as he then trails his mouth across my cheek, up to my ear. His breath ghosting over my skin as he breathes makes me shiver uncontrollably.

And I absolutely love it.

"Reese," Sam whispers, and—fuck, that nearly undoes me. My eyes fall close and I feel like moaning. But I restrain myself. Barely.

"Yeah?" I somehow manage to sigh back.

"What else did you see besides her memories when she attacked you earlier?"

My eyes flare back open at the question and I jerk slightly away from him. I stare incredulously and a bit shocked at Sam. 'Cause really. Way to ruin the mood! He seems to get that too, if the way he's looking at me ruefully and sheepishly is anything to go by.

But there's still a serious edge to his expression, which is how I can tell he wants an answer and isn't going to let it go until he gets one. Averting my gaze, I fidget uneasily, not sure what to do. I mean, I know I should tell him, but I just…I don't know. It's just hard. And I really, really don't want to right now. Especially not with how wonderful everything was and felt just a few seconds ago. I want that back. I want to forget about what happened at Finley's house. At least, for a little while, until it feels less raw and difficult to think or talk about.

"Reese?" Sam says gently. "Please tell me." He nudges his nose to mine, trying to get me to look at him. I give into him, because what else can I do?

Besides, he's right. I need to tell him something. It'll probably make me feel a bit better if I do, anyway.

So, after taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, I describe to Sam how Finley made me relive my worst memories. I tell him how she altered the one of Chris breaking up with me so it was Sam instead, as well as how I saw him, Gwen and Evan dead in the last memory before Sam got me to wake up.

When I'm finished, Sam immediately tugs me nearer and places soft kisses on my left cheek, brushing his thumb along my right. It makes me realize that I'm crying a little. I huddle even closer to him, hiding my face in the crook of his neck, more grateful for the comfort than I could ever describe with words.

"Reese…" Sam murmurs compassionately into my hair, hugging me tightly. "Oh, Reese. I'm so sorry, love. I really am."

Wait a second….what? Am I hearing things correctly? Did he really say…?

I lift my head up from him shoulder so I can look deeply—searchingly—into his eyes.

"Love?" I ask him. Sam blinks a few times in bemusement before a light flush takes over his face. Then he gives me that charming, shy smile of his and nods.

"Yes," he says. "Very much."

Grinning, I let out a delighted laugh and lean forward to kiss him soundly. When I pull back, I rest my forehead to his and gaze unblinkingly into his lovely chocolate brown eyes.

"Me too," I tell him.

Sam beams at me so brightly that it leaves me a bit dazed. Which might explain why I find myself suddenly pinned to the mattress by him, being thoroughly kissed without really knowing how I got there. Either way, I still kiss him back just as passionately, wrapping an arm around his shoulders while I tangle my other hand in his hair. Sam laughs happily into my mouth, and it makes me feel incredible.

It also confirms the fact that yes—yes, I am indeed a sap when it comes to him.

And it's absolutely wonderful.