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Over four years have passed since the Dark Fall, as most call it now. The consequences of the Darkness we unleashed were far greater than we originally knew. Not only did it rip Talent from the Emperor and me, but also across the whole world, perhaps never to return. The war we feared never occurred. However, the society built on Talent fell into chaos.

The Library stepped up to minimize the pain of the broken society, and did so valiantly, but still the suffering was vast. Many of the formerly elite Talent lost their lives, either by a vengeful mob or by their own hand. Would-be warlords rose and fell. Pockets of hardship became common. Only now has some order been restored to the larger city centers.

It took several months for Will to recover from his physical injuries. The recovery from mental wounds took much longer, the nightmares sometimes still haunted him. He blamed himself for the death and suffering, no matter that it would have been far worse had we failed. I soothed him as much as I could and Pastor Joseph gave his council, but the best therapy came from a rambunctious little girl who absolutely adored her father.

We acquired a house and parcel of land at the edge of Freehold. I became the Public Health Director at the clinic, coordinating greatly needed immunization and medical relief programs. Will became the Regional Chief Engineer, overseeing public utility systems. He refused a seat on the Library to spend more time with his family, a decision that delighted me.

Ginny retired and gave up her community center directorship. She still offered advice to her successor and other local public leaders, whether they wanted it or not. She moved in to a small cottage next door to fulfill the grandma role to our kids, and spoiled them to no end.

Historians recently interviewed us over the course of two weeks, seeking to document the events around the Dark Fall. This dredged up memories that I would rather stay hidden. We only agreed to tell our story only if the notes remained sealed for at least twenty-five years in order to protect our family.

All this seems so far behind us right now, on this perfect day. It is one of those beautiful autumn days that refresh the soul - a cool crisp morning, warm comfortable afternoon, with just a hint of a breeze.

It is late afternoon. With me in the front porch rocking chair is the newest member of our family, Jerin, now almost 6 months old. He is freshly nursed, wearing a clean diaper, and rocking in his mother's arms. Paradise for a baby. A yawn announces that a nap is imminent.

Earlier in the morning Will let me sleep in for a while until Jerin demanded his breakfast. My loving husband then cooked us pancakes for breakfast. I love it when he does this for me! Some of the pancakes had, well, creative shapes since Anna helped.

Later Will took Anna and little Teyo down to the stream to go fishing. Jerin and I follow soon after with a picnic lunch. It turned out that fishing was not very good while two kids splashed in the water. They redeemed themselves, though, by picking a bunch of blackberries to supplement our lunch. The purple stains around their mouths indicated that not all of the berries made it to the picnic.

Now Anna comes running around the front of the house, squealing in delight. Pursuing her is a snarling, but not very scary 'daddy monster', who scoops her up in his 'monster arms'. Teyo chases after them as fast as his little legs will take him with a big smile on his face. It is good to see him so happy. The 'monster' turns and captures him as well.

Teyo came to our family almost a year ago by tragedy. While walking with his parents along the road north of Freehold they came upon an unexploded ordinance. The blast killed his father outright and mortally wounded his mother. That Teyo survived was only due that he rode on his father's shoulders. That damned conflict still claimed victims. It became his mother's dying request that I take care of him. My heart ached for him, he reminded me so much of Benjamin. It touched Will as well and he readily agreed to the adoption. Anna was happy to have a 'lil brudder' to fuss over, and she became therapy for him as well.

The 'monster' stomps up the front porch steps towards me. Jerin wakes to the commotion and gives us one of those full-body smiles that just melt my heart. Will leans down and gives me a kiss, all the more remarkable in that he still carries two squirming kids.

The kiss lingers until it becomes a proposition. I answer 'yes' with my tongue and lips. He withdraws leaving little kisses along my neck, knowing full well what that does to me. Since kids, my husband became a master in the art of stealth foreplay, sometimes frustratingly so.

After baths are taken, story books read, and sleepy little ones are tucked safely into their beds, Will is going to have a horny wife on his hands. Which I think is exactly what he has in mind. After our desires are sated and we bask in the afterglow, I will fall asleep secure in his strong loving arms.

And that will be the perfect ending to the perfect day.

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