A Many Splendored Thing

Chapter Eighteen: Present of a Future

A/N: This is the last chapter, and as a result it will be shorter than the others. I hope you have enjoyed my first attempt at both a romantic drama and NaNoWriMo. *Grins* There may be a sequel coming. *Grins wider*.

Rachel lounged against Lucas, staring into the fire. Joyce and Adelina had gone into to town to look at the Christmas lights, leaving the two lovers alone. As soon as Joyce's car pulled out of the driveway, Lucas had hauled Rachel upstairs and into their bed, where they had been as loud and rough as they wanted, with no fear of being overheard. After, Rachel had lured him back downstairs with the promise of hot chocolate with marshmallows, something Lucas could never resist. They had made the hot chocolate, then gone into the living room and stretched out on the couch, Rachel leaning against Lucas. He held his mug with one hand while the other stroked her hair, twirling the ends between his fingers before releasing them and starting the process anew. "Rachel?"

"Hmm?"

"I'll miss you when you go back to school."

Rachel tilted her head and smiled up at him. "Lucas, I'll be living here."

He huffed. "I know, but there will be a great chunk of the day when you won't be here, and I'll miss you. Now don't get me wrong, I won't brood and pout all day long and call you every five seconds to see what you are up to, but I will still miss you. Plus…I…" he gulped, unsure of how to word the rest of his sentence. "I'm a bit scared."

"What of?"

Lucas sighed. "Not what, who. I….worry that a dashing and athletic man closer to your age will come along and…." He sighed deeper, and Rachel set her mug down on the coffee table and turned to face him.

"Sweep me off my feet?" Lucas nodded sadly, and Rachel took his mug and set it down before pulling him into a deep and passionate kiss. "Lucas Black, I want you to listen, since I do not want to have to repeat myself. I love you. I love you completely, utterly, madly, and totally. I love your smile, the way your eyes light up when you look at me. I love the way you hold me after we make love. I love the way you smell, even. I love that you never once in the time I have been here talked down to me or treated me like anything less than a human being. I love that you opened up your heart, hearth, and home to me. I love that you have given me the hope of a bright future and pulled me out of the darkness caused by my past. I love you. Nothing will change that. And I'll miss you when I am back at school too, but at least the separation won't be permanent. And you had better not call me every five seconds. I enjoy love, but not obsession." She turned back around and snuggled against his chest, and he stroked her arms through her sweater. "Obsession isn't love, it's psychosis. If you ever act that way towards me, I will drop you like a hot potato. Clear?"

Lucas laughed. "Well, you don't have to worry about that with me. I know that you are perfectly capable of being apart from me and taking care of yourself. You are a strong and capable young woman who will go far in life, and I plan to be there to cheer you on and support you every step of the way. If you are in a play, I will come and sit in the very front row and clap loudest just for you. I will support you in any decision you make, and will share both triumph and tragedy with you. You are the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, you know, and I will be forever grateful to Adelina for talking me into letting you stay here over the break. I didn't want to at first, you know."

Rachel leaned up to look in his eyes. "Why not?"

Lucas sighed and kissed her forehead. "Mainly because I was worried that you would be like the last roommate Addie had, a vapid and ditzy blond named Helena Jones. I met her when I went to visit Addie at the beginning of her freshman year, and my impression was…less than favorable. Helena was supposedly studying Interior Design, but she had no head for math, or anything else for that matter." Lucas paused, and then chuckled. "No, that isn't true. She kept well abreast of the latest fashions and she knew where all the best parties on campus were, according to Adelina. She even dragged her to a couple. Addie would write and tell me stories about the shenanigans Helena would get up to."

Rachel grinned. "Such as?"

"Oh, things like going to four different frat parties in one night and coming home drunk and high, then 'forgetting' to go to classes the next day. She would also bring home a different boyfriend each night. Usually a member of the football team. Addie told me that she took to sleeping with earmuffs on to block out the sounds. Helena wasn't any better in class, apparently."

"So what finally happened?"

Lucas laughed. "Helena skipped one class to many and got kicked out for excessive absences. Adelina was thrilled that she was gone and also happy that she would be getting a new roommate. She told me, 'I really hope this one is an improvement!' And as it turns out, she was right."

Rachel smirked, and then kissed him. "So how soon after I became her roomie did she start…?"

"Singing your praises to me?" Lucas grinned at her, and Rachel nodded. "About a month after. At first, she just told me that she had a new roommate, and that you were, and I quote, 'very different from Helena.' But then she started embellishing, telling me that you were smart, and nice, and pretty. She focused on the smart aspect the most. But she also told me that you were…I don't want to say an ingénue, but it's the best word I can think of. Even now, knowing what your past was, I admit that I was shocked at how optimistic you were and are. A lesser person would have become extremely jaded by all that you have been through."

Rachel sighed. "I nearly did a few times, believe me. But then I remembered something Mrs. Sharp told me. She said that there are two types of people. Those that constantly look backward at the past and those that look forward to the future. The ones that look back are never able to see what they can be; only what they were."

Lucas nodded. "Smart lady. I can see why you admired her so much."

"She was like the mother I always wanted but never had. I would never have survived high school if not for her. She gave me the love and support I never received from my parents, and I was devastated when she died."

"When did she die?"

"Right before I started college. I had actually spoken to her the day I got my acceptance letter, and she was so proud of me. She told me that of all the students she had over the years, I was the one that she was proudest of." Rachel smiled in remembrance, and Lucas kissed the crown of her head. She turned in his arms, kissing him, and they soon became lost in each other.

Adelina and Joyce arrived home a few hours later, and Addie grinned at the sight of her father and Rachel stretched out on the couch, sound asleep in each others' arms. She nudged Joyce, pointing towards the sleepers, and Joyce smiled, speaking in a low voice so she wouldn't be heard. "Do you think we should wake them up?"

Adelina shook her head. "Nah let them sleep. They look so peaceful together. Rachel's the best thing that ever happened to Dad, you know. I never thought that he would find someone worthy of him after Mom died."

Joyce raised her eyebrow. "Didn't you tell me that you were the one to introduce them?"

Adelina nodded, grinning. "Yeah, but I didn't know if they would hit it off. At most, I was hoping that Dad would view Rachel as a friend. I was rather pleasantly surprised when he fell for her, and I hope they get married when she finishes school. After all, she's only got six months left to go."

"There's quite an age difference."

Adelina shrugged. "So what? They are both adults, in love, and not related. They can get hitched if they want to."

"That's right, we can." Adelina jumped, and then glared at a grinning Rachel. Lucas was awake as well, smirking at them.

"How long have you two been awake?"

Lucas grinned wider. "Oh, since we heard the front door open. I keep forgetting to oil those hinges. Now, you were saying something about Rachel and me getting married?"

Adelina nodded. "Well, I think it's a marvelous idea, but Rachel may not."

Rachel giggled. "Well, I am not against marriage, but I am not marrying you until I finish school. Plus, we have only been together for two months and a week. I think we need a bit more time together before we make a huge commitment like marriage. Also, we haven't really been apart at all these past few months except when Addie and I would go into town to shop. I think that being apart from each other will gauge just how strong our relationship really is." Lucas gave her a downcast look, and she sighed, giving him a quick kiss. "Lucas, I am not saying that this relationship isn't strong, and Lord knows it is not based solely on sex. I love you, and I know you love me. I can definitely see myself becoming your wife in the future. Just not now. But I promise, I will remain faithful to you no matter what. And maybe, someday….we can have a child."

Lucas beamed and kissed her. "Rachel, when I propose to you, you will remember it for the rest of your life, I promise. You are my future, and I do not plan on giving you up for anything."

Joyce wiped her eyes. "Oh, all this talk of weddings makes me misty-eyed. I do so love weddings."

Lucas gave her a mock glare. "I know you do, but we're not getting married yet. Rachel still needs to finish school, and as I said, when I propose to her, it's not going to be on a shabby old couch in my living room. I have more respect for her than that."

Rachel smirked at him. "I should hope so. By the way, thank you for the present."

Lucas cocked his head at her, confused. "What present?"

Rachel kissed him as hard as she could. "The present of a future. I don't know what's up ahead, but knowing that you'll be by my side through it all makes the path so much easier to tread. So thank you for coming into my life."

"You're welcome."

There's an old song that states that 'Love is a many splendored thing.' For Rachel and Lucas, that proved to be perfectly true.

THE END.