Intertwined epilogue





My hands were shaking. I didn’t really realize how nervousI’d been until now. My heart was pounding inside my chest.And the pain I felt was nothing like I’d felt before.

I can do this. I can’t do this. No! I can do this!

Pain slowly built up in my abdomen again, and I knewthat from there, it could only get worse. I closed my eyesand tried not to scream.

“Let’s check again,” I heard a female’s voice say, and Ididn’t even know who she was speaking with. Then I feltsomething down there. A finger, a hand, I don’t know. Andthen an unexplainable pain.

“Son of a gun!” I shouted, and I crushed the fingers Iwas holding. I could only imagine the pain I was inflicting onthat person right now, and I was beyond caring. I would doanything to share even half of my agony.

Instead of cursing or writhing in pain, I felt the personbeside me lean forward to give me a kiss on the forehead.

“I love you, cherie,” I heard Travis’s familiar voice in myear.

I looked up at him, and I saw tears shining in his eyes. Isaw love. He gave me an encouraging smile. I knew that hefelt my pain. And he would do anything to share it with me,too, if that was possible at all.

“Not yet,” the nurse said, after checking me. “A couplemore minutes.”

I squeezed Travis’s hand. “Where’s Anthony?” In spite ofmy pain, I couldn’t help worrying about our little boy.

“He’s with his grandfather,” he replied. “He couldn’t stopcrying—he was worrying about you. Dad had to take him to the toy shop.”

I smiled at that. Travis’s father spoiled his grandchild. Itwarmed my heart to think about the memories of the pastfew months. Maybe remembering all those wonderful thingswould take my mind off the constant pain I felt in all parts ofmy body.

Anthony came into our lives just over a year ago. He wasthe cutest three-year-old, with dark blond hair and beautifulgray eyes. We found him in an orphanage. Both his parentshad died in a car crash, and they left him with nothing, noteven guardians who would be willing to take care of him.

The minute I laid eyes on him, my heart swelled, and for thefirst time, I felt those motherly instincts kick in. I felt thisneed to take care of him…protect him and nurture him.

When I looked at Travis, I knew he immediately understoodwhat I was feeling.


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did all we could so we could bring Anthony home. Hewas ours the very first moment we saw him. Having him inour lives made Travis realize what a father-son relationshipreally meant.

Travis gave up his shares of his father’s company andfinally ended the battle between them. Before that, hisfather found out he has liver cancer and might not last longwithout a transplant.

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Travis’s father didn’t have many friends or relatives. Hewas at the hospital with only his bodyguards for company.

When I showed up at his hospital suite one day, he wassurprised at first. He found it hard to believe that I wouldeven bother to visit him. But after we got past theawkwardness, he started appreciating having anotherperson in the room who wasn’t on his payroll.


didn’t tell Travis that I was visiting his father. But I knewthat he knew. We’d been married for almost two years, andhe still hadn’t stopped making it his business to keep mesafe, twenty-four seven. He knew where I’d been going inthe afternoons when I was not at home painting, or at the studio dancing, or at my mother’s gallery helping out. I’d been making his old man feel that in spite of the things he’d

done in his life, he still had family.

“Thank you, Brianne,” Mr. Cross whispered. “My son isvery lucky to have you.”

I smiled at him and gave his hand a squeeze. “I’m sureforgiveness will come for you someday.”

He smiled weakly. “I’m getting worse. And not on thepriority list for a transplant. We both know I might not evenlive long enough to see that day happen.”

Just then the door opened, and I was startled to seeTravis enter the room. He gave his father a hard look. Thenhe handed his nurse a piece of paper. The nurse passed thepaper to his father. His father read it, and then he looked upat Travis with a wild expression on his face, his eyes almostteary.

Travis took a deep breath. “I’m not going to do it foryou…I’m going to do it for her,” he said, pointing at me.

Then he turned to me. “I’ll wait for you outside.” Then heleft.

His father was speechless. Then tears rolled down hischeeks. He handed me the piece of paper that Travis hadgiven him. My heart caught in my throat. Just as Isuspected, it was his compatibility test for liver donation.

Travis was his father’s perfect match. He was going todonate a part of himself to extend his father’s life and givehim a fighting chance.


smiled at my father-in-law. He smiled back at me inspite of his tears. “I will forever owe you my life, Brianne,”he whispered. “Thank you.”

I shook my head. “When you get through all this, pleasepromise me you will do all that you can to fix yourrelationship with him. The fact that he’s doing this…itmeans he’s already forgiven you.”

The old man nodded and reached out to give my hand asqueeze.

Travis was leaning against the wall beside the door of hisfather’s room. He was looking down at the floor, his facecold and serious.

I reached out for his hand. He looked at me. “I have todo it, Brianne,” he said. “I’m the only chance he has.”

I nodded. Tears streamed down my cheeks. “Iunderstand.”

“I just want to do it. Then we’ll move on. I don’t want theburden of my relationship with him to be in the way of megiving myself to you and to Anthony completely.”

I reached out and hugged him. “I know. I just want youto promise one thing to me.”

He gave me a squeeze. “Anything, love.”

I took a deep breath. “Just come back to us, alive andwell.”

I felt him smile through my hair. “I promise,” hewhispered.

After a week, we were back in the hospital for theoperation. I was scared as hell. I almost asked Travis tochange his mind about what he was going to do. But I knewhe would fight for us. I knew he would wake up and hewould recover well. I wouldn’t accept any other possibility orending.

Just before they brought him to the operating room, hesmiled at me. “I will see you in a while,” he said.

“You’d better,” I said, tears rolling down my cheeks. Ihugged him.

“Daddy, can we play ball?” Anthony asked, peering up athis father’s bed.

Travis smiled at him. “Sure. Daddy just needs to dosomething for Grandpa. And then we’ll play ball.”

The child’s eyes brightened. “Can grandpa play with us,too?”

It took a while for Travis to respond. Then he nodded.“Sure, kiddo. I’ll make sure he will be able to.”

I wiped the tears that were rolling down my cheeks. Ididn’t want my son to see or feel how worried or scared Iwas.Travis stared at me. He smiled and pulled me to him.

“Don’t cry. I’m tougher than you give me credit for,” heteased.

I giggled. “You better make sure of that, because I don’twant to go nursery shopping alone in a few months.”

He immediately pulled away from me and looked intomy eyes. “You want to adopt again?” he asked. Then hiseyes went to Anthony, who was now happily playing with histoy train on the couch. “He would make a good big brother.Maybe we could get a girl this time.”

I smiled up at him. “Yes he would. But no, we’re notadopting.”

He looked at me questioningly. I sighed and reached forsomething in my bag. It was a plastic pen-type stick with asmall window in the middle. The window showed somethingthat could not be mistaken for something else—a clear blueplus sign.

“Looks like those fertility treatments were working justfine after all,” I whispered to him.

It took him a moment to recover. He was just staring atthe plastic stick in my hand. When he finally looked at me,his eyes were shining with tears again. He pulled me to himand crushed his lips to mine. Then he leaned his foreheadagainst mine.

“I love you, Brianne,” he said. “As if I needed one morereason to fight for my life. You and Anthony were enough.But now…this. I love you, Mrs. Cross. I love you so damnmuch! You always have a way of making things perfect forme when I thought they already were.”

I giggled against his lips. “So do you.”

After that operation, Travis recovered at record speed.His father’s body accepted his liver quite well. Now…hisfather is cancer-free, and trying his best to make amends with his son, starting with his grandchild. He never sawAnthony as being adopted. He was very good to him themoment I introduced them to each other.

Travis didn’t travel for business all throughout theduration of my pregnancy. He was always there, conductingmost of his businesses from home. He shared as much ofthe burden of the pregnancy as he could. It was hardenough to carry one baby—just imagine carrying two.

A sharp pain in my abdomen took me back to reality,stopping me from reminiscing about the past few months ofmy perfect life with the man who made me the happiest.

The doctor checked me again, and I cursed at her for likethe hundredth time.

She smiled. “It’s time.”

Travis gave me another kiss on the lips. He held myhand in his. “I’m right here, love. I won’t leave you. We can do this.”

A few short breaths, a loud wail, a thousand curses, adozen unsuccessful attempts to push, and then the doctorsaid, “Give it your best, sweetheart, and it will all be oversoon.”

It was my choice to go for natural childbirth. Travis wasnot so much a fan of it. He wanted it to be as painless aspossible for me. But right now, hell! I couldn’t rememberwhy I’d opted for this in the first place!

I took one long breath, and then I screamed at the top ofmy lungs, “Son of a…” I wasn’t able to continue that curse. Iheard a cry that seemed like music to my ears. I looked upat Travis, and his eyes were transfixed on something in frontof me, as if he was looking at the most beautiful thing in theworld.

“Here’s your baby boy,” somebody said, and theyshowed Travis something wrapped in a blue blanket.

Everything was still hazy, I was still drugged with the pain.And the contractions in my abdomen didn’t even feelslightly less painful.

“Okay, sweetheart. I need you to give me another push,”my doctor said, and I could only assume she was talking tome.

Travis turned back to me. “Sweetheart, one more, okay?Last time.”

I glared at him. “Easy…for you to say!” I cursed when Ifelt another huge contraction and I couldn’t help the urge topush.

“Dammit, Travis!” I screamed.

And I heard another cry. Instantly, all the pain I’dpreviously felt was gone. The contraction pains wereimmediately wiped out as if they never happened at all.

I took the time to catch my breath. I felt Travis’s lips onmine and I tasted his tears. When he pulled away from me,he was crying.

“You did well, Brianne,” he whispered. “Thank you. I loveyou so much!”

They brought the baby to him. “A healthy baby girl,” thenurse said.

Travis reached to touch her toes. “Hey, little princess,”he whispered, and I knew just how happy he felt at thatmoment. I knew, because if there was one person who feltexactly the same way he did, it was me.

A few hours later, I was back in our room, cleaned upand dressed in a fresh hospital gown. I closed my eyes andtook a nap. When I opened my eyes again, I found that I wasin a different room. Or maybe it was the same room, only itlooked different. There were flowers everywhere, and a lotof balloons, both pink and blue.

I heard Anthony squealing somewhere.

“She’s awake, Daddy!” he said.

I looked up and found Travis looking down at me. “Goodmorning.”

“It’s already morning?”

He laughed. “Yes. You were out pretty much the wholenight. I didn’t wake you up. You deserved it.” He leaned forward and kissed my lips. “After all, you have given me thegreatest gifts I could ever ask for…aside from Anthony andyourself.”

I smiled. “Labor pains…not a joke, Travis. I’m serious.”

“I know,” he said, raising his fingers to my eye level.

“You have a hell of a grip,” he laughed.

“That was not even half of what I felt during thosetimes,” I said.

Travis leaned forward to kiss me again. Longer this time.When he pulled away, I looked around the room. The hugeVIP hospital suite had been transformed into some sort offlower and balloon heaven. It was absolutely beautiful.

“You did this?” I asked.

“Yeah. Figured you would like it. It was the least I coulddo.”

“It’s beautiful,” I smiled.

“I helped, too, Mommy,” Anthony said, standing ontiptoes beside my bed.

I smiled at him. “I know you did, sweetheart. Thankyou.” I turned to Travis. “So who was here?” I asked.

“Everybody. Your mom, your dad, my father, and mymother…Sarah, Eric.”

“Where are they now?”

“Down at the nursery,” Travis replied. “Drooling over twovery cute minimes.”

When Travis said ‘minimes,’ he wasn’t kidding. Thenurses finally brought my babies to the room. Our parentsand friends had decided to have lunch outside together togive Travis and me some alone time with our new babies.

Anthony fell sound asleep on the couch. Travis decided to lethis nanny go on lunch break, too. I knew he wanted a littleprivate time just for us, as one family.

“Thomas James. We’ll call him TJ,” Travis said, touchingthe cheek of our new baby boy. He had black hair, and Icould almost tell that his eyes would be blue, just likeTravis’s.

I looked up at him. Thomas James. That’s what he’ddecided to name our boy. I couldn’t help the tears thatslipped from my eyes.

“And the girl?” I asked, looking at our black-hairedprincess.

“I figured you could pick a name for her,” Travis said. “Iwill call her Princess no matter what name you choose.”

“Therese Anne,” I said. “And I’ll call her Thea.”

Travis smiled. “My Princess Thea.”

Tears of happiness rolled down my cheeks as I held bothmy babies in front of me. I felt Travis’s arm around my waistand he gently pulled me to lean on him.

“I have something for you,” he whispered.


He reached for his jacket pocket and handed me a blackbox wrapped in a white ribbon. I recognized the name. Oneof the famous makers of fine jewelry in the world.

I opened the box and found a startling bangle designedwith two infinity signs intertwined together and adornedwith white, blue, and pink diamonds, which are quite rare.

“Travis,” I whispered. I was absolutely lost at the beautyof the jewelry. Travis turned it over so I could see the wordsengraved inside the bangle.Travis & Brianne…til eternity.

I smiled. Tears welled up in my eyes again. It wasabsolutely beautiful.

“What’s this for? It’s not even my birthday,” I said tohim.

He took the bracelet from me and placed it on my wrist.Then he put the screw in place. He pulled a smallscrewdriver from the box and screwed the jewelry in place,so it wouldn’t be removed from my wrist at all.

“This is my thank-you gift to you. For giving me threelittle angels. The white diamonds are for Anthony. The bluediamonds are for TJ. And the pink diamonds are for Thea,”he said, his eyes almost teary. “This is an infinity bangle. I’m keeping the screwdriver, so only I will be able to remove it.”

Then he looked at me. “So you will always remember thatyou and I will always belong together.”

Tears rolled down my cheeks. I couldn’t say anything. Iwas overwhelmed by his words. I reached up and gave hima kiss on the lips.

“I love you, Brianne,” he said to me.

“I love you, too, Travis,” I said when I could finally speak.

“I love you more,” he said.

I giggled. “How can you be sure of that?”

“Because I’m sure no one has ever felt this much lovefor another before,” he replied.

I lay in his arms, all warm and happy. It was perfect. Itwas bliss. I used to be a kid, mourning the loss of mybrother and struggling to keep it together, trying to alwayssee the silver lining even though fate had dealt me a cruelhand more than a couple of times. But Tom was right. Hepromised me I would never be alone in my life, and I have

never been. Travis had always been there for me. Tompromised, too, that I would live a long and happy life. And Iam sure he is right. I have a long and happy life ahead ofme.

With Travis by my side, we would raise Anthony, TJ, andThea with all the love and comfort in the world. We wouldteach them how to love and look out for each other, how tolove and value family. We would teach them all the goodthings in life, and how to live life completely. We wouldteach them how to laugh and have fun, as well as how to betough and strong. And we would tell them about their Uncle

—Tom—the angel who’s always looking out for all of us inheaven.


“Yes, my love?”

“Do you think Tom is happy?”

“Yes,” he said. “I know he is. I know he’s happy youended up with me. I know he trusted me more than he… trusted anybody.” I looked up at him. His eyes were dancing,although they were almost w€t with tears. “I’m thinking nowhe would feel…better me than some random guy who wouldjust break your heart, right?”

I laughed. “Yes. I’m very happy it is you, too,” I said, andI knew Tom was smiling down at both of us in heaven now. Iknew that when he asked Travis to take care of me, he’dmeant for us to be together like this.I raised my head up and closed my eyes. In mythoughts, I spoke to him. Thank you, Tom. Thank you forasking Travis to take care of me…



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