Pushing open the door to exit Iola's Eats, Emmie paused at the top of the ramp leading to the parking lot

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Pushing open the door to exit Iola's Eats, Emmie paused at the top of the ramp leading to the parking lot. The fragrant aroma of heirloom sweet peas wafted over to her from the terracotta pots Trisha had positioned along the walkway. Her large belly swayed as she took a step forward. In only a few more weeks, this little one would be making its way into the world.

Clamor from the diner met her as the door opened again. A little girl with dark hair swept up into high pigtails held back by red bows came running out, throwing herself around Emmie's legs.

"Daddy won't stop talking to people. And I want to go to the park now!"

Emmie stroked her forehead. The little girl leaned into her touch. "Patience will be rewarded, Anabelle. Give him five more minutes. The park will still be there."

"Can my reward be ice cream?"

Emmie laughed. Anabelle seemed to take this response as affirmation. She ceased her complaints and entertained herself by swinging from the railing.

She watched her daughter, thinking of how, over three years ago now, this precious life had almost been taken from her—how this funny, smart, adorable girl, had almost never come to be. In the years that had passed since that terrible day, she still couldn't remember the car going off the cliff or the crash that followed. But she remembered everything else vividly, as well as the weeks of uncomfortable bedrest and the uncertainty of whether her daughter would be born healthy... or at all. The tedium and anxiety were broken up by frequent visits from Ryker and Trisha and her friends, as well as by agents from the FBI and the US Marshall's Office. Agent Georgia Marcos, in particular, had spent a great deal of time talking to Emmie. They'd developed a bit of a rapport. Both knew and remembered Sam as someone other than the desperate, murderous man he'd spent the last hours of his life as. Both struggled for a long time to rectify the good Sam with the bad. It was therapeutic for Emmie to talk with someone who understood this confliction. Georgia wasn't quite as understanding about another confliction Emmie faced, however...

During their first interview, the agent confirmed what Ryker had told her: Ian had given his deposition, despite the Brothers' efforts to stop him.

The Chamberlain Brothers were in prison for life, and Ian was serving a lengthy term as well. That didn't mean she was completely out of harm's way, however. Agent Marcos' advice was, as Emmie had predicted, for her to stay in WITSEC and relocate as soon as it was medically safe for her to do so. Emmie listened calmly to Georgia and then politely refused. She brought up the fact that her minor bout of internet fame would make it difficult for her to stay hidden no matter where she went.

"And then there's them." Emmie motioned to the two men, as big as linebackers, visible just outside her hospital room doorway. Those men weren't local law enforcement. They weren't federal agents either. The agents who had been assigned to guard her room had been replaced with what Ryker believed would be a more permanent solution. He had hired them the day after Emmie woke, and these were just two of a fleet of bodyguards that would eventually flank Emmie and her daughter wherever they went. Emmie had been opposed to this at first. Having them around would surely be invasive. She would never feel like she was leading a normal life as long as they were present. But Ryker's reasons for keeping them had proven convincing.

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