Epilogue

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As I exited the U-Haul, the blazing summer heat scorched my back and shoulders that were exposed in my tank top. I shielded my eyes from the sun's relentless rays and looked back at Melissa, who was climbing out of the truck.

"I forgot how hot Phoenix was," I said. "But it still feels like home."

Melissa stood next to me and stared at our new house. We had talked about renting, but I wanted something of my own. I wanted a place to call home, and you really couldn't do that with an apartment.

"Have I told you how much I love this house?" Melissa asked as her arms wrapped around my neck.

We kissed for a moment, ignoring the heat rising from the concrete surrounding us. For a moment, I felt like a teenager as my heart fluttered in my chest.

I pulled back and spotted the burn scars on her right shoulder and upper arm. The rest of them were hidden under her tank, but they extended down her back and stopped mid-way.

That night would forever be etched on her body, but it was something she had to learn to deal with. And I had no problem helping her through the struggle.

A car pulled up next to us and Anna's head emerged from behind the window.

"Get a room!" she teased.

Melissa and I parted as Anna and mom emerged from the car.

"You know, Anna's gonna be at your house every day, right?" mom wondered.

"Of course." I smiled. "That's why I bought three houses down from yours."

Anna moved in and hugged her arms around me.

"She's definitely gonna be taller than you," Melissa said.

"No way," I protested.

"Yes way," Anna included. "I'm only fifteen. I've got time."

She was right. We had so much time. After everything we had been through, there were so many instances where I had feared we wouldn't have enough time. But we were safe. I still had to remind myself.

"How's dad?" I wondered.

Mom smiled. "Napping at the house. Moving wore him out."

Even though dad and I still had a rocky relationship, I couldn't ice him out. Mom wanted to repair what was broken, and both mom and dad wished to be there for Anna as much as possible. They would never be able to make up for lost time, but they could give her everything she needed now.

As we waited for Derik and Willi to make it so we could start moving in, all four of us talked about the future. Anna's new school. Mom's new job she had scored, which was a miracle in itself. Melissa and I were financially fine for a while considering Chapman had granted us a nice sum of money for not only bringing Anna home, but for saving the world from war.

Alvin of course had his own payout, but I hadn't seen him since that cold December morning. But I knew he was fine.

After locating Victoria, NIA officials had taken extensive measures to fight against the ones who were attempting to start a third world war. Courts were held, people were arrested, and for now, our world was safe. Yet, It was only a matter of time.

But as of now, things were calm and normal and it was everything I could've wished for.

I hugged Melissa into my side as I felt a wave of love and content surround me. Anna couldn't help but smile at me as mom talked to Melissa about something I had missed.

After years and years of fighting to stay afloat, we were at the top, at least in my book. We were rich, in the sense of health and family. I had everything I wanted, and there was nothing threatening to take them away from me.

But if anything did arise and threatened that...

Youbet your damn life I'd jump into the line of fire and fight like hell.


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