Here it is, the last chapter for this installment. I wasn't sure it would work when I started this second series track and it proved to be a fun challenge. Thanks for staying for the whole ride! :-)

Chapter 41

New Year's Eve marked the last night in California before Jamie, Eddie and Kaylin were scheduled to fly back to New York the following morning. Spencer had made reservations at a trendy exclusive restaurant only a mile or so up the beach and the four of them shared a delicious meal in a stunning atmosphere as the dining room was set out over the ocean with expansive views of a most breathtaking sunset. It felt a little odd for Jamie and Eddie not to be in the middle of the crowd at Times Square that evening, as they had drawn duty there in each of the years they had been paired together, but this was certainly a memorable way to spend the occasion and Kaylin kept them all entertained with her stories and observations. Now out of her shell, she was the belle of the ball and the delight of the room the whole evening… staying up way past her normal bedtime, and decked out in a sparkling soft gold sleeveless dress with a sequin bodice, and a full tulle skirt. Adele Renzulli had been hard at work again coming up with the perfect outfit for what she knew would be a special occasion.

Just after eleven, Kaylin started winding down and Spencer offered to drive her back and put her to bed while Jamie and Eddie took their shoes off and went for one last walk on the beach back to the home. There were fireworks scheduled to go off just beyond the point at midnight and he assured them that the view would be spectacular from the lounge chairs he'd set up on the dune. The air was crisp with a soft breeze blowing, but the sand felt warm to their bare feet as they held hands and enjoyed the time alone together.

Eddie looked stunning in a simple blue patterned sundress and Jamie was dressed smartly in an oxford shirt and now rolled up dockers. She stared at his tanned and relaxed expression as he was laughing and her heart was filled with such relief and joy as she remembered how different he had appeared that night at the hospital just hours after a harried but thankful ER doctor had come out to give them the news his heart had restarted in a normal rhythm as his body warmed, and that the scans had shown miraculously there were no signs of any internal injuries beyond painful heavy bruising. The family had been permitted to go back and see him as soon as he had been moved to the ICU, but the numbers dwindled after they were assured he was stable and everyone assumed that he would sleep through the night from the drugs he had been given. Frank, Danny and Erin had hurried off... there were important things that needed to be done right away while Henry returned home with Kaylin and the boys. Linda and Nicki stayed for company but had taken a break a few hours later to go down to the cafeteria while Eddie remained and continued to sit with him. She had dozed off leaning forward in a chair after laying her head down on the bed before she felt a small squeeze on her hand. Looking up she was met with a tired, expressionless face and a pair of haunting, utterly blank hazel eyes staring back at her.

"Hey," he'd rasped quietly, still looking quite drugged and out of it. "'m... thirsty."

"Oh, Jamie," she sighed as she quickly stood up to put a hand on his face and kiss his warm forehead. "I'm so happy you've come back," she murmured quietly before reaching for a cup and helping him take a few sips through a straw.

"Me too... I think," he tried to joke before the pain began to flare through his chest with a few deeper breaths as he woke further out of the stupor. "Oh… ow, God... that... hurts," he grimaced as it took a few seconds to regroup. "How… how bad?" he questioned as the worry about the numbness he'd felt the whole time he was pinned came to the forefront, although given his current state maybe that had been a blessing in disguise.

"Just nasty bruises," she quickly assured. "The doctor said you were so lucky, you didn't even break one bone, can you believe that? Nothing serious internally either. Rick said everything must have fallen just right to keep most of the weight from that beam off of you and we got you out in time before that other crush stuff could set in. They're just going to keep you here for a few days or so under observation to control your pain and to run some tests to make sure everything else is fine with your heart. How do you feel?"

"Hurts... like hell," he said his mouth twisted into a tight line as he panted a bit. "Like a building fell on me... and a bunch of people decided to… jump up and down on my chest."

"Well, that's pretty much what happened," she said as she teared up. "I think every single one of your ribs is bruised or cracked and you have a lot of deep bone contusions in your hips and legs from everything that fell on you. Do you want me to get the nurse? The doctor said those are going to be extremely painful for a while and you could have some meds as soon as you woke up."

"Yeah," he said before squeezing her hand tighter. "Wait," he gasped as even that little movement sent agonizing shockwaves up and down his side. "Is George okay?"

"He's fine. Not a scratch. He's with your dad and Danny at the office. Erin too. They've called in the FBI and are working on pulling together everything you told them. Don't worry about that now. They'll handle it. Your dad said to let him know the minute you woke up. Now let me get that nurse so she can help you."

"Okay… love you," he'd agreed and was soon out again as the promised pain medication took effect. The same pattern followed over the course of the next few days as Jamie would wake for brief periods of time before needing to hit the button to deliver some drugs again.

Eddie stayed at his side as the rest of the Reagan family drifted in and out while they attended to the important task of gathering information and arrest warrants as the entire conspiracy ring unraveled with George's insights playing a key role in uncovering the discrepancies that led to the names of all the parties involved. On Sunday though, the whole family gathered once more at the hospital and everyone had a little bit of time with Jamie as he struggled to stay awake for a longer period with Kaylin carefully curled up on the bed next to him before his father forced the issue and had him concede to soft required rest again by hitting the drug delivery button for him. Frank sent everyone else down to the cafeteria to share their dinner while he remained for some needed alone time with his youngest… time that he had thought was all but lost after what they had witnessed. It was a deeply shaken Frank Reagan that Erin reclaimed when she came to find him two hours later as he had finally been allowed the private moments needed to process what had happened and the run of emotions it had generated.

During one of Jamie's more lucid periods two days later, Eddie finally revealed to him exactly how close he had come to leaving them.

"How long," he'd asked after the nurse had been in to take care of business and help him sit up in the chair while Eddie returned from the cafeteria. She looked at him puzzledly before he continued. "How long was I gone for?"

"A while," she admitted with a shudder as she sat next to him. "You were down for over forty minutes before they got you back. Luckily the hypothermia and the soft ground you fell on ended up saving you. Do you remember anything about that?" she asked as a scruffy-faced presence filled the doorway. Danny had come by to check on his little brother again in hopes he would be awake when he arrived this time, but this was not the conversation he wanted to recount. Everyone knew how close they had been to losing him and what Jamie recalled would haunt his older brother.

"Jesus," he'd sighed as he thought about how hard that must have been on the family and what that could have meant for a little girl who had already lost too much. Kaylin was now in Henry's hands back at the family home and he had almost constant company volunteering to help with her. Despite Jamie's best efforts it was apparent that there was no way he was going to be able to make the adoption hearing that day and it was cancelled which had left him rather despondent despite the judge's assurances it could be rescheduled due to the circumstances. "I remember white walls… like sheets that moved and billowed with people behind them… faces I couldn't see. Felt like I was underwater… my mom and Joe. I heard their voices but I couldn't find them…"

"It wasn't your time, Harvard," Danny said gruffly as he walked in the room. "And if you would have found Joe he would have turned around and kicked your butt right back down here. Don't you ever go looking for him again... not until you're a hundred years old and I'm up there waiting too. You've got too much to do yet, and there's more than a few people that need you here. In fact, I came here to tell you that I arrested Denison in court an hour ago and the FBI is sweeping on everyone else as we speak. You did that kid... you and George. Without the two of you a whole lot of good cops were going to be forced to suffer for someone else's greed."

"Thanks, Dan," Jamie sighed as he grabbed his brother's hand. "And I'm not planning on ever going through something like that again. You shouldn't have worried though. I needed to come back… still owe Rick that beer."

"Why'd you do it?" Eddie asked, although she already knew the answer. "You knew Jimmy Michael was up to something. Why did you go inside?"

"He had to, Eddie," Danny answered for him. "It was for his partner. George was… he was being a good cop and doing the right thing trying to follow orders. They knew he was the key to figuring out what was happening. Jimmy Michael sent him to the basement on purpose. Partners always come first, Jamie had to go in there..."

"Hey, are you in there?" Jamie asked as he playfully kicked up a little water at Eddie from the wave that had just rushed over their feet. "Earth to Janko, come in," he kidded.

"Stop that," she grinned as she tried to return the favor and he picked her up instead, pinning her up against him as he reached in to kiss her deeply. "Take that, shorty," he laughed before continuing on as their lips crashed together once more. Her hands slipped under his shirt as she caressed his back and he moaned, knowing what she was asking for.

"Can't," he stopped and set her back down as he tried to focus and calm himself. "We have to be back to Spencer's in time for the fireworks."

"Uncle Spencer is watching Kaylin and we can make our own fireworks," she begged as she looked up in his eyes. "It's our last night here, Reagan," she pleaded.

"I know," he sighed as he pushed off the temptation once more. It wouldn't have been the first time they had stolen away in the darkness on the beach together that week, but Jamie had a plan to carry out and the timing was critical. There would be a moment for this later, he promised himself… lots of them. "Trust me, you don't want to miss the show tonight, Janko."

Eddie tilted her head and squinted her eyes as she tried to figure out what he was up to but he was playing it straight and she decided to let things slide for now as they once again took up each other's hands and started down the beach. Soon Spencer's house was just around the next bend and a quick glance at his watch showed the time to be 11:55. Perfect.

Eddie's eyes widened in amazement as she peered around to see a flickering heart-shaped ring of votive paper lanterns arranged in the sand in front of the house. Suddenly she had no doubt what this whole carefully arranged evening had been about. She stepped across the dune on her way over to the opening with Jamie, never taking her eyes off of him. He shook his head at the sight of her big smile as he took her hand and led her into the center of the candles and dropped down to one knee. Her breath caught as she heard the words she had been longing for… sort of.

"Edit Katalin Janko, you're a real pain. I mean you're always trying to tell me what to do. You eat too much, you're opinionated, you never listen and you're constantly making plans for me without consulting me... but you are also the most beautiful woman I have ever known. I adore you in every way possible. You are my best friend… my partner, and I am utterly, madly, and completely in love with you. Will you marry me?"

"Oh, Jamie," she glowed, all caught up in the perfect breathtaking moment she had been dreaming of since she was a little girl. The soft white sand was sparkling like sugar in the moonlit air and the beautiful diamond ring in his hand glittered in the light of the flickering candles surrounding them as she was lost in the look of his dancing hazel eyes. She felt like a princess in a Disney tale. "Yes, of course I will marry you… lambchop," she replied, letting that last word roll off her tongue slowly and with emphasis although her heart was pounding in that instant. "I can't believe you did all this!"

Jamie smiled, carefully sliding the ring on her finger. It was a halo setting and had been specially made using the stones from his mother's engagement ring and his grandmother's old pendant. "I'm ready to spend the rest of my life with you, Edit, right from this very second forward. I told you once that you were a girl that deserved to be properly wooed," Jamie explained as he rose to his feet, brushing the sand off his knee and bringing her left hand up to kiss the ring softly. She smiled as she remembered the conversation that first night in his apartment. "You told me later if I wanted you to say yes I needed to do something spectacularly romantic," he added. "So I did. I promised you. There's so much more to come."

Eddie's smile grew as her heart now pounded in her chest, "You are the most handsome and amazing man I've ever met, Jamison Henry Reagan. I love you with all my heart and soul."

Jamie reached down to kiss her and lifted her off her feet, twirling her around in a small circle. Suddenly the fireworks began to explode across the sky and rain down over them from the point out by the jetty where he had commissioned the display with Spencer's help once again. The night flashed in vivid hues of reds, greens, purples and pinks as a set of thunderous shells exploded, marking the arrival of a new year and another level of their relationship. A little girl was soon running across the sand towards them after Spencer brought her down from the house and she was quickly scooped up and peppered in hugs and kisses as the three of them laughed and stood mesmerized by the moment. They would soon be a real family all together, something that Jamie wanted more than anything to share and Eddie and Kaylin were desperate for.

It wasn't until after they had boarded the plane to return to New York late the following morning and were settled in their seats with Kaylin between them waiting for it to taxi down the runway that Eddie glanced down once more at the beautiful engagement ring on her finger and had a sudden sinking feeling that maybe the fairy tale had a major wrinkle no one had yet considered.

"Oh, crap, Reagan," she sputtered. "I just realized something... you're gonna to have to meet my mother."

Jamie just smiled as he leaned back against the headrest with his eyes closed. After all they had been through in the past few months that seemed like such a non-issue. "Nothing to worry about, Ed. Mothers always love me…" he murmured. "How bad can it be?"


Poor Jamie. Once he meets Eddie's mom, Eva Janko (remember mommazilla, as I like to call her, from the first series?), he might wish that he had opted to stay in New York and pull off that instant Valentine's Day wedding at the old monastery as he did in "Follow Your Heart," but what fun would that be? This gives me a whole new set of circumstances to write about in the next installment of this series as our Jamko pair plan for the big event and settle on a place to live while a new threat to their happy family life emerges. For those of you who love the brotherly interplay between Danny and Jamie, I promise you'll see them together in a very memorable way. Look for the new story "It's all in the name…" when I have it done.

Fair warning… that one is turning out to be an angst-ridden, sometimes dark roller coaster ride and I'm not even in sight of being done with it… so much possible material... some sad, some silly and you'll have to thank lawslave for one suggestion in particular to include in the later chapters which just spawned so much more that I am practically dying myself to write my way up to that point.

Also in the werks (ha!) I intend to do a few more of the original "Snapshot" pieces which have been neglected a little as I've been concentrating on these monster stories while the creative juices were flowing, and I also have an idea for a similar kind of thing called something like "Milestones" which will hit some of the lifetime highlights of the Jamie/Kaylin father/daughter relationship and possibly little Joseph from the first series. First day at school, lost tooth, dating (gasp!), off to college, weddings… stuff like that. Haven't started it yet but PM or put any requests in the reviews and I'll see if I can add them to the list.

And thanks again for all who have read, reviewed, fav'd and favorited! You guys are flippin' awesome!

**ETA: Seems like some of you couldn't get enough of this story. See "Snapshots II - from the second series" for missing scenes from the three weeks between the blast and the trip to see Spencer, including how Ms. Adams met her downfall as well as a special Valentine's Day treat with Frank and Kaylin!