THREE MONTHS LATER

Sunshine smiled as she carried her small box of oil paints into the living room. She'd been intending to take them to her new studio that overlooked Talon's swamp, but as soon as she had caught sight of her husband hanging her paintings of his old cabin up on the wall, she'd stopped.

He didn't seem to know she was there. He had the hammer hanging out of his back pocket as he lifted the framed landscape and placed it on the wall.

As soon as the two of them had emerged from her loft after Mardi Gras, Talon had decided to build them their own house.

Together, they had designed every detail. An extremely large computer room and a garage to accommodate his toys, and an open, airy studio for her art. They even had a game room with shelves that displayed his massive collection of Pez dispensers. Snoopy took a prime location in the center of the middle shelf.

But her favorite room was the small one that adjoined their master bedroom suite. The one that would hopefully be a nursery someday.

"Did I get it centered?" he asked, surprising her that he knew she was standing behind him.

"Looks good to me."

He glanced at her over his shoulder and caught her gazing at his nicely shaped rear.

"I was talking about the painting."

"And I was talking about your butt, but the painting looks all right too."

He laughed as he neared her and took the box out of her hands.

He brushed his hand though her hair and gave her a light kiss. Sunshine reached around his hips and gave a tight squeeze to his heinie.

"You keep doing that," Talon said throatily, "and we won't get any more unpacking done today."

She gave him a devilish grin. "That's okay. It's not like we don't have the rest of eternity to move in."

"Well, in that case..." He set the box down and scooped her up in his arms.

Sunshine laughed as he headed toward the indoor pool. "Where are you taking me?"

His look was purely sexual. "To the only room we haven't broken in yet."

"You are insatiable."

"I know. Evil to the core."

As they passed the dining room, she made him put her down long enough to grab a small, wrapped package.

Talon frowned, then he tossed her over his shoulder and sprinted with her to the back of the house.

Sunshine was still laughing when he laid her down gently next to the pool.

"What's this?" he asked after she handed him her gift.

"It's a housewarming present for you."

He opened it to find an Eddie Munster Pez dispenser.

A wide smile spread across his face. "I can't believe you found one."

Sunshine lifted his scarred right hand and kissed it. Then, she turned it over in her hands and studied the swirling design of the burn.

The first thing Talon had done when he had taken her to her loft had been to remove the scar from her hand that she had received from holding the medallion.

Now that scar resided on his hand instead of hers.

"I love you, Talon," she whispered. "More than you will ever know."

He fingered her cheek with his left hand as his amber eyes scorched her with their sincere intensity. "I love you, too, Sunshine. Thank you for your strength and for giving up soy products."

She laughed at that, then kissed him passionately.

Talon stepped away from her as he caught sight of the box she'd brought in a few minutes ago. It held a collection of things they had packed up from his desk, including the box that held Nynia's tore.

"I've been meaning to do something." He removed the tore from around his neck and placed it with Nynia's.

Sunshine frowned as she watched him slide open the door to the back porch that looked out over the swamp.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm putting the past to rest. As much as I loved Nynia, I love you more and I never want you to doubt whose eyes I'm looking into when I make love to you."

He drew back to toss the tores.

Sunshine grabbed his hand. She knew exactly what those tores meant to him and what he was doing for her.

Kissing his lips, she took them from him. She pulled back with a smile. "I will never doubt you, Talon."

She took his tore and returned it to his neck.

He smiled tenderly, then placed the other one around hers.

Her skin tingled from the feel of his hands on her collarbone.

Staring into his eyes, she remembered the night she'd met him. The sight of the float running him over.

Even though she should hate Dionysus for all he had put them through, she couldn't.

After all, had the incompetent god backed up, her story would have had an entirely different ending.



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