Epilogue: Twenty Years Later
Conners moaned, rolling over to hit the alarm.
6:20… Entirely too early in the damn morning.
"Is he up yet?" he heard from hallway.
"Come on," Jessica said. "Let's start some coffee, otherwise it'll take him all day to go."
He smiled, thinking of his wife as he looked down at the band around his left ring finger. A small, yappy dog interrupted his thoughts by licking his feet insistently.
"Manlius!" he hissed. "Stop it! Stupid mutt."
Manlius yipped excitedly as Conners got off the bed and put his feet into his slippers and shuffled slowly into the kitchen.
"Coffee…" he moaned in his usual zombie impression. "Coffee…"
"All right, it's coming!" Jessica said smiling softly. "Lily, if you want him to take you today, bring him his coffee."
Conners smiled, accepting his daughter's gift of the heavenly caffeinated drink. She smiled at him and he thought back to when he'd first watched Jessica hold the newborn babe. She was already getting ready to go to college…
Sighing softly, Conners took a sip of the coffee, letting it warm him up and cause his brain to start spinning again.
"What's on the schedule today, pretty lady?" he asked Jessica.
She kissed his check gently, taking her place next to him on the couch and checking her phone.
"Well first, you have to take Lily to Depaul for her interview."
"Yeah!" said the young woman excitedly. "If we don't leave by nine, I'll miss the interview! I have got to get into Depaul. Jack and Rachel are both going!"
"You could go anywhere in the country you wanted to go," he said, feeling like a broken record. "Even without us for parents, you're a brilliant girl. Hell, you've had over a 4.0 GPA ever since you were born!"
Lily rolled her eyes at him.
"Very funny, dad. I'm serious!"
"We'll get you there in time. Maybe I should have Josh take her just so I don't have to hear about this all the way there."
"Come on! Uncle Josh keeps calling himself Bass Cannon and never tells me any cool stories about your detective work!"
"Because you're not supposed to be asking anymore!" he said, trying to sound stern while smiling to himself. "I seem to recall that being the deal for someone's car."
"Most parents would be grateful to have to daughter who's interested in their work!"
Conners laughed as Jessica looked pointedly at him.
"She gets that from you!" his wife said.
"Please, a mouth like that is all you!"
She kissed him softly.
"Go get changed… and wear something nice!"
"My coat is nice!" he responded, heading to their bedroom.
"Not the coat! For once, this day isn't about you! I know that's hard for you to wrap your head around."
"Of course! I'm made of pure awesome!"
A couple hours later he was heading out the door (not in his trench coat) to drive his daughter off to the college of her choice. As he opened the car door he took a moment to think about all the people he'd known and lost over the years.
Bill… His father… Jessica's sister and mother… He saw Lewis, Harriet and Josh before him… all growing older now, beginning to start families of their own.
He saw Hunter, Kingston, Kelsey and Elizabeth…
He'd do right by his family, at least… he swore it.
"Hey grandma," said Lilly, talking on the phone. "I'm just calling to let you know we're leaving now. At least we will be when dad finally starts driving the car! I love you!"
He laughed, heading off to another stage of his life.