By: Elise Noble

It couldn’t be. Could it? I dropped to my knees in front of the child, and under the long fringe and nervousness, it was. My daughter. Tabby had finally come home.

She let go of Floriana and threw her tiny arms around me. “Mama.”

“I missed you too, katyonak. I’ve been trying so hard to find you.”

Tears streamed down my cheeks, and I wiped them away with a sleeve as I picked Tabby up. I needed to find Sam. Eduardo could wait. Everything else could wait.

The house came into view, and Sam was on the ground now talking to Black, who’d finally decided to make an appearance now most of the work was done. Sam looked up and saw me, then saw who I was carrying, and his eyes saucered. Then he broke into a run, meeting us in the middle of the lawn.

“Is this...? Is it...?”

I nodded, and I still couldn’t stop bloody crying. Sam was speechless, and so was I. I hadn’t dared to imagine the moment when I introduced Sam to Tabby in case it jinxed everything.

Finally, I found my tongue.

“Tabby, this is your papa.”

“Papa’s in heaven. You said so.”

Sam thought quickly. “It’s Christmas, so I came back.”

He wrapped his arms around us both and pulled us tightly against his chest. Tabby took a sharp breath because she wasn’t used to that.

“It’s okay, sweetie,” I whispered, kissing her on the forehead. “We’re a family now.”

Behind us, Bradley flicked a switch, and the front of the house lit up in a glittering starscape. It was magical. Bradley’s ridiculous vision was kind of pretty too.

Emmy padded up behind us and rested her chin on my shoulder. “Happy Christmas, honey.”

I turned to grin at her—a proper grin, free from the burdens Zacharov had placed on me for the first time since my mama died.

“Yes, it is a happy Christmas, isn’t it?”

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