Disclaimer: I own nothing.
We have reached the end of the ride for this particular story. It's been a thrill writing it, and I appreciate all who have read and reviewed. My next story will be coming soon, this one a Morgan and Garcia story. At some point I will do another Hotch and Emily story, but my muse just has to come up with something for them. Thank you again for all your support, and I hope you enjoy the ending to this story!
1 Year Later
"What time are the kiddos going to be over at our house?" Penelope asked Emily over the phone. Two days ago had been Emily and Hotch's second wedding, and while they went on their honeymoon to Bora Bora. While they were gone, Penelope and Derek would be watching Declan and Noah.
Emily sighed. "We're bringing them around your place in about two hours," she replied. "I hate to leave them."
Penelope smiled. "Oh, I know you do sweetie," she said. She tapped her fingers on the patio table of the coffeehouse she was waiting for Derek at. "But think of all the great honeymoon sex you'll be able to have without them being there. And we'll take good care of them for you."
"Oh, I know you will." Emily laughed. "If I trust you with being my maid of honor, I can certainly trust you with watching my children," she joked.
Chuckling, Penelope sipped her latte. As she looked up over her coffee cup and down the sidewalk, she caught sight of Derek approaching the shop, their almost two year old daughter in his arms. He looked at the grinning little girl, pointing toward Penelope at the table. Mina's head shot in her direction, and she began to clap excitedly.
Penelope's face brightened, and she returned her attention briefly to the phone. "Well, my darling Emily," she said, "I have to be going. My fiancé and daughter are almost here."
"Well, we'll see you in just a few hours then," Emily said.
"Okay, Black-Haired Beauty," Penelope chirped before hanging up the phone. She waited until Derek had set their daughter on her feet so she could dash over to her.
Mina hurried toward her mother. "Mama!" she cried happily.
Picking Mina up, Penelope kissed her cheek. "How's my sweet girl?" she asked, She rubbed noses with her daughter to give her an Eskimo kiss.
Mina giggled at the touching of their noses. "Hi Mama," she said, wrapping her arms around Penelope's neck. She buried her face in her mother's hair. "You're prettiful today, Mama."
Smiling, Penelope replied, "Why thank you, missy. But I think you're even more prettiful." Mina had decided "prettiful" was her new favorite word, and she had been using it everyday to tell her mother she liked her outfit. Penelope set Mina on her feet again and looked at Derek. Her lips tilted upward in a smile. She allowed him to pull her close for a kiss. "Hello to you, too." She gave a short purr, winking at him.
"Hey, Baby," he said, resting his hand against her hip.
She nodded to the coffee on the table that she had bought for him. "Coffee for you, Handsome," she said with a smile. She sat down again and was ready to open her lap for her daughter to come sit. Instead though, Mina hopped right on Derek's lap before reaching for the milk her mother had bought for her.
The sight of Derek with their little girl never ceased to warm Penelope's heart. Since he came to Vermont to find them, he sought to embrace his role as a father. In the beginning, he feared constantly he would do something wrong. Everyday though, Penelope managed to find a way to convince him he was wrong and his fears were irrational.
Mina's deep love for him did more than anything Penelope could tell him, though.
As their daughter sucked down her milk through a giant yellow straw, Derek looked back up at Penelope. "Did Prentiss tell you what time she was going to bring the boys over?" he asked. Ruffling Mina's curls, he added, "Miss Baby Doll here is excited to have them with us for two weeks."
Mina merely blinked as she continued sucking down milk.
Penelope reached over and stroked her daughter's cheek a moment. "I bet she is," she said. Rising to her feet, she kissed the top of Mina's head and pointed to the coffee shop. "I'm going to use the restroom. I'll be right back, sweets."
The straw released from Mina's tiny lips. She grinned toothily at her mother. "Okay, Mama," she chirped.
Smiling, she kissed the top of Derek's head, too. "I'll be back, Baby Boy," she murmured.
Derek nodded. "Hurry back, Baby Girl," he said.
Heading inside, Penelope walked straight to the back to the bathroom. As she entered the hallway, she ran smack into someone. And when she saw who it was, she damn near gasped.
The woman she ran into stopped, too, staring at her with wide eyes.
"Penelope," Savannah said. Her face remained neutral as she stared at Penelope. Nothing lit up her eyes, no recognition, no anger, no hatred.
Penelope could hardly understand why there was no reaction from the other woman. She knew her own emotions were raging with guilt. The feeling had dulled over time – she had Derek and Mina in her life to keep her joyful – but that did not alter the fact she still bore self-resentment toward herself for destroying a woman's life.
Still shocked into silence, Penelope noticed something different about Savannah. Her belly protruded outward; she was pregnant. Around five months if Penelope was correct. She must have gone through the fertility treatments.
"Savannah," Penelope said hoarsely. "How – how are you?"
To her great surprise, Savannah nodded. "I'm doing fabulous, actually," she replied. Resting her hands on her belly, she added, "I went ahead with a very successful treatment." She paused, as if pondering what she was going to say to say next. "Sam donated his sperm. We're not together, but we thought maybe we could raise a baby together." She pursed her lips. "We both wanted one before our significant others said they didn't want one."
There was the reaction Penelope had expected. She bowed her head momentarily before feeling brave enough to look Savannah in the eye again. "Savannah," she murmured. "I – I never got to really say I'm sorry to you after…" She swallowed hard. "After you found out. And I am. I'm truly sorry."
"For sleeping with my husband?" Savannah's face still remained calm, but she kept a firm gaze.
Penelope paused before she could answer. She wanted to say the proper response to this, that she was sorry for sleeping with Derek, but she could not find the words to do that. The truth was – the truth that was about to come out – she was not sorry anymore for sleeping with him. She had Mina, and she loved Derek too much to say she was ever sorry she had him in her family now.
"For hurting you," she responded, managing to keep her voice from shaking.
Savannah stared at Penelope one more time before speaking. "I forgive you," she said simply.
Penelope blinked in disbelief. "Wh – what?" she choked. Even though she was not sorry for sleeping with Derek, she could hardly imagine Savannah forgiving her for this.
Nodding, Savannah answered, "Yes. I do. Derek would never give me children, and now I can have the baby I've always wanted." She placed both hands on her belly this time and rubbed a loving circle on it. She smiled. Looking back up at Penelope, she tilted her head to the side, her face returning to its same neutral stance it had been in before. "Even though I forgive you, though, I'm never going to forget that pain I went through. So I think it would be best if you never speak to me again. I appreciate your apology, but this is where we part ways."
Penelope had nothing she could say. Her brain lost all thoughts, and she became immersed in the moment in front of her. Unable to speak, she merely nodded. Acceptance washed over her. The fact Savannah could forgive her somehow lightened her heart, and a heavy weight was now lifting from her shoulders.
Without another word, Savannah moved around her and left the coffee shop.
When Penelope returned to Derek and Mina, she stopped beside him and cupped his cheek. Leaning down, she gave him a gentle kiss. Whenever she looked at this man, she would feel a constant sense of gratitude. Their circumstances for being together had not been conventional, nor had they been right. But the truth was, her love for him was too strong to truly be sorry.
Guilt no longer mattered. All that did matter now was the love had for him and their daughter.
That was the truth.
When she broke the kiss, he looked up at her with a smile and arched a brow. "What was that for?" He grinned wolfishly. "Not that I'm complaining or anything."
Running her fingers through Mina's curly hair, Penelope smiled. "I just want you to know how much I love you," she murmured. She never wanted to keep anything from him, but she decided she would not tell him about her final encounter with Savannah. He did not need to know about it.
All he needed to know was she loved him.
"And I love you," he whispered back, reaching his hand up to stroke her cheekbone.
Night descended upon Bora Bora, the full moon rising high in the sky. The inky night sky turned the normally aqua water a deep azure. Emily sat on the white sand, enjoying the warm breeze that tousled her black hair. She smiled with happiness, staring out at the water. Aaron came up and sat beside her. She reached over and ran her hands over his shoulders and chest. She leaned her head against him.
"You feeling any jet lag?" he asked, kissing her forehead.
"None whatsoever," she said.
Reaching for her left hand, Aaron held it up to admire the ring on her finger. "This really was the perfect fit for you, wasn't it?" he remarked.
"It looks damn good," she replied, giggling a bit. The diamond twinkled beneath the light of the moon. She really did love this ring. Some might say this ring was a symbol of his love for her. But Emily did not need a ring as a symbol of his love. She felt it every single time she was around him. It twinkled in his eyes every time he looked at her, and touched her every time they made love.
"I miss the boys already," she murmured.
He nodded in agreement. "I miss them, too," he said. "Think we should give them another sibling?"
She thought about it a moment. "Should we give them a little baby sister they'll torment and protect at the same time? And in turn, she'll pester them?"
He slid behind her so she was positioned between both his legs. She leaned back against his chest. His fingertips trailed up and down her arm.
"Maybe," he commented. "Or maybe we could give them a baby brother. You never know what will happen."
"Garcia said we were right to leave Noah and Declan at home so we could have tons of hot sex. She was very insistent on it. Maybe she wants us to work on that number three."
Aaron chuckled. "That's because that's what she and Derek are going to do when they go on their honeymoon," he laughed.
Emily shook her head in amusement. "You know, I'm betting you're right," she said. "But enough talk about Morgan and Garcia's sex life. I really, really don't want to think about that."
"You know, you're right," he said, laughing lightly. "I think we can find another sex life to focus on." Aaron's lips started to trail wet kisses up her shoulder. She closed her eyes. Tingles ran up and down her spine, and she knew what awaited her in a matter of moments. She sighed, her head falling back against his shoulder.
"This feel good?" he asked, running his hand up her thighs. He applied pressure, massaging her flesh in sensual circles.
She purred low in her throat. "You know I do."
Abruptly, he flipped her over in the sand and stared down at her. He kissed her soundly, running his hand to the apex of her thighs. She moaned. Before he continued touching her though, he pulled back and moved her hair behind her ear.
She smiled up at him, and he returned one. "I love you, you know that, right?" he murmured.
Emily nodded, a burning filling the back of her eyes. Happy tears. "I know," she whispered, kissing him lightly. "And you know how I know?"
"How?" He arched a brow.
"Because I trust you," she said. "I trust you more than anyone in my life. And because I can trust you, I know that means you love me. You earned my trust, and now I'll always tell you the truth."
Aaron kissed her soundly. "I love you so much, Emily," he said in her ear.
Emily responded by kissing his throat. Even after all the lies she had told him in the past, he still found it in himself to love her. This was all the proof she needed that when the truth came out, love would be stronger than ever.