Happy Reading Everyone!
Happy 4th of July for those of you who are from the U.S.A.
Epilogue- part 2
July 4th 2051- 30 years later
It's interesting what time can do to a person. It's even more interesting what that same time can do to a family like ours... God knows we have had our moments over the years. Moments that have pushed us to our breaking points, strengthened our bonds, given us plenty of heartaches and even shedded some tears along the way. But one thing is for sure, we never stray far away from what matters most in this world, our family.
Yes, indeed family.
No matter what life throws our way we always make time for each other. Every year no matter where we are or what we are doing… We all still make it up to the cabin in Texas to spend two glorious weeks with each other. No matter what, rain or shine, our families always shows up.
It took only a few months after we settled back down in Chicago, so many years ago, that Tobias kept his word to Uriah and Zeke. They all flew out to Texas to fix up the cabin, leaving their partners and children behind at home. Not that we ladies minded one bit, I think we were grateful to have some time to ourselves. You know, lady's time and all. But be as it may, they had their work cut out for themselves. They worked to replace pieces of the flooring that were beyond salvaging from all of the blood stains that were left behind. They also worked on cleaning the rest of the house, along with fixing or throwing out the furniture that was broken beyond repair. Surprisingly, it was a lot to work on. Who knew a violent confrontation could leave such a big mess behind. It took several trips out there for the cabin to be just as it was before we touched it. Seeing not only the repairs done, but also seeing the refurbishing that they did to the cabin made Hana extremely pleased with her boys, all three of them. She knew the cabin was and always will be in good hands.
Sadly we lost Hana over fifteen years ago. She fought her illness long and hard and as best as she could, but in the end her heart was just too weak to go on. We were all with her until her very last breath. Her last request was that she would be cremated and have her ashes spread out in the gardens in the back of the cabin, just like what she did for Uriah and Zeke's father. So that is exactly what we all did. We all felt like it was the right thing to do, to be here. Of course we all held a special service for her in her home with a priest and with many prayers. But in the end, we also wanted to grant Hana her last wish.
The years following Hana's passing were hard on both Zeke and Uriah. Uriah mostly. Zeke took up drinking and had to seek out professional help to get his drinking under control. He started having trouble with understanding what was the point of life if all it did was end in death, but seeing a therapist helped him find his way back to himself. As for Uriah, he was just so angry with the world. When he finally woke up, it was too late, his wife, Marlene and their son T.J. were already gone. It took Marlene and Uriah a while for both of them to be able to be in the same place and not argue. There were even a few awkward trips out here to the cabin. Again, we are and will always be family. Even if you are not in love with that person anymore, it doesn't mean you don't love them or stop being their family. Which I always found hard to believe, that is until I witnessed what they went through. But finally some time had passed and they both realized that although they didn't make it as a couple, they were still good friends and one hell of a team together for T.J. Even now, as they both have moved on and remarried other people, every year they come with their new spouses, showing a united front for TJ. I couldn't be any more prouder of them both.
Zeke and Shauna were more than pleased when they gave birth to a healthy little girl, Ashley Hana Pedrad. I swear that girl is the sweetest thing I could ever ask for in a daughter-in-law. The moment she and Christopher met, I swear those two became inseparable. Of course at the time Shauna and I often joked about the possibility of the one day of becoming in-laws, but never thinking it would actually happen, as Zeke and Tobias both glared at each other. Of course that was when they were barely toddlers, never thinking much of it. That was until the day they graduated from high school together and Christopher got down on one knee in the middle of their joint graduation party. He took everyone by surprise that night. In the end we were all thrilled. Tobias and Zeke then joked about how they were both stuck with each other now, whether they liked it or not. Of course things got complicated from there… From the moment those two said their "I do's," Tobias and Zeke both seemed to be in competition with each other. First with the wedding, then the wedding present, then with the whole grandfather thing. They both always felt like they had to outdo the other one.
I admit the whole thing has always been kinda cute. Of course Shauna and I worked together to make sure neither of them took it too far. I remember their first year as Grandfathers, they were both competing against each other to get the best and biggest Christmas present for little Andy. Shauna and I got worried how far they would take it, so she and I worked a little harder to make sure that they both ended up getting the same exact toy for him. Yup, they got their first grandson for his first Christmas the same large, brown teddy bear... The whole thing was rather hilarious to all of us. Of course neither one of them knew which of theirs got returned.
But be as it may, we all couldn't be prouder of Christopher and Ashley than we are. Tobias took Chris under his wing when he showed interest in advertising. Although Chris went to college for his degree, Tobias kept him on at the office part time. He is now one of the top executives of the D.A.A. firm.
As for Ethan, it was no surprise to us that he pursued a career in the computer industry. He went to one of the finest schools to study computer design. Once he graduated he started working in one of the largest gaming companies in the world. He works long hours, but loves being able to say that he creates games for a living. Tobias and I have both been nagging him about the possibilities of settling down. Although we don't really see that happening anytime soon.
As for Maddy, she actually went to culinary school. When she graduated she went off for a year to study in France. She absolutely loved the time she spent there. Not only did she learn many different techniques in the art of food, but she also brought home a boy, Lucas. Yes Lucas was a complete surprise to us all. We didn't even know Maddy was seeing anyone until one day she and a man just showed up at our door. Tobias damn well almost killed the poor boy, not that I blamed him of course. I just about wanted to kill our daughter, who showed up with a boy on our doorstep and a ring on her finger. But Lucas proved his worth to both my husband and I and we both soon fell in love with him just as fast as our daughter did.
We had our forth child, a daughter Natalie a few years after Christopher. Tobias was happy he had his two daughters wanting all of his attention, while I had our two sons wanting mine. We were happy and we were done in the kids department. That was until Natalie had turned 12 years old, that is. She needed a physical to join Lacrosse, it was then that the doctors found that something was off. It was then when an Echocardiogram and an EKG led us to finding out that she had a hole in her heart. It was one of the scariest times for all of us.
Life never prepares you for something like that, having a child that is sick and you the parent are helpless to do anything.
I don't think I will ever be able to forget that day. She needed surgery to repair the whole in her heart. The whole procedure took seven hours. They put her under at seven in the morning and had her scheduled to end at noon if all went well. Although she didn't come out until two. For seven long hours we didn't know if our lives would change for the better or for the worse. Tobias paced back and forth in the waiting room, as our family and friends all gathered with us for prayers and support. We were grateful but we were numb. It wasn't until the Doctor came out with relief on her face that we too all felt the relief escape us. She explained to us that all went as expected. Natalie should be able to go on and lead a normal and happy life. Boy, she sure has.
She has been working as a fashion designer in New York City. Tobias hated the idea of our baby girl moving so far away from home. He sure makes a great effort to go visit her every month or as often as he can. Of course, we never call before dropping in. Tobias has it in his head, that it keeps her on her toes. Hoping that he will catch her one day doing something wrong, but he never does, she doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, or do drugs. She's just a really great kid and we are very proud of her.
We were all very happy when Lauren and Lynn finally got engaged. They were so excited and ready to start their lives together that they couldn't wait another minute. They were wed one Sunday morning in February in the Millennium park. They immediately filed for adoption with the state. They didnt care what gender or age the child was, they just wanted to open their home and hearts to a child that needed love. A year later they got their wish. Gio came to them at barely three years old and had a heartbreaking past. Lauren and Lynn worked hard to not only love that child, but they worked hard to make sure he felt safe and secure every day of his life. Within no time he started speaking. It took him longer to warm up to all of the men in the group though. From what little information Lauren and Lynn were told, his father was the one abusing Gio. But again, in no time at all he learned that we were here for him just like all the other children in our group. Together we are stronger than anything. We all have each other's backs. He now works as a detective for homicide in Chicago.
The sound of fireworks popping in the distant sky wakes me from my thoughts. I didn't even realize they started the fireworks. I stand, wrapping myself with my arms. I can't help but look around me at the happy, excited and cheering faces of those I love most in this world. I can't believe how blessed we all are to have each other.
I suddenly feel warmer as larger, strong arms wrap around me, pulling me close to his chest. I melt into his arms, loving the warmth and love that he has always given me. It's been more than 30 years since we have been married. It still feels like the first time when he kisses me, the first time he has held me, I even still feel the electrical zing when we touch each other. Tobias may have some gray in his hair and little wrinkles in the corners of his eyes when he smiles, but he's still the most gorgeous man I have ever laid eyes on.
"Are you cold, Love?" Tobias asks, leaning into my ear. His hot breath sends shivers down my spine like it always has.
"Not anymore," I say smiling, as I turn my head to meet his lips. He doesn't disappoint as the firework display continues to sound off, we pay no mind to them as our tongues collide and dance the familiar dance it has for so long.
"Seriously guys… All of this time together… And you are still making out. There are still children around here," Zeke calls out. Tobias breaks our kiss, turning back towards his best friend with a smirk.
"I can't help it… I love my wife," Tobias says, glancing back down at me. I smile, nodding, I totally agree. I don't think there will ever come a time that I no longer want him. I think back to where it all began, how we all have come together…And just to think it all started out as A Rented Family.
Well there you have it guys, finally an ending to the A.R.F. series, A Rented Family, A Rented Family one-shots, and A Runaway Family. What a crazy road it has been. I hope you all have enjoyed it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I want to thank those that have continued to support and review this story... you have no idea what it means to me as a writer to hear from each and everyone of you.
I also want to take this moment to thank my brain stormer, my Beta and my person FDFobsessed. She has stood by me on all of those long nights, listening to my rantings of ideas and supporting me and this story. She has been my rock and a true friend through these tough few years. I can't ever thank her enough.
On another note; Please be on the lookout come July 13th for the newest release of "I now dare you husband and wife"
About: Tris and Tobias never got together after Tris' initiation. Tris never understood what exactly went wrong, he just cut her off. They kissed at the chasm after Tobias' fear landscape, but nothing ever happened after that. They secretly still care deeply for each other. Tris still feels deeply for Tobias and Tobias feels deeply for Tris. Will it all change during a game of dare. The war never happened.
Like always happy reading, be safe and stay healthy