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Helania blinked back tears as she took his dagger hand and placed his big palm on her belly. “I really want to be, too.”

“What’s changed?” he breathed.

As she thought about everything the last couple of nights had brought, and then remembered her sure shot as she had protected her sister’s one true love from a madman, she shrugged.

“Like I told you when you asked me if I could stand on my own downstairs”—she stared into his beautiful eyes—“I’ve found my two feet. I don’t need to be Wonder Woman, and I don’t have to always get it right . . . but when you know who you are and that you can take care of yourself, then you’re free to love whoever you want honestly and completely. Whether they’re a male or a female . . . or a young you birthed of your own body.”

Boone’s smile was a sunrise that illuminated not just his face, but clearly his soul, too.

“Well,” he whispered against her mouth. “If that isn’t a blood truth . . . I don’t know what is.”

Two nights later . . .

Boone traveled through the winter air in a scatter of molecules, tracing the trail Helania left for him by virtue of their having fed from each other. As he re-formed, he found himself in a snow-covered, wooded glen, the forest of pine trees thick until they parted for some explicable reason to create a perfectly circular clearing.

Helania was standing off to one side, her red and blond hair free and teased by a soft breeze, her face somber, her eyes trained on the ground.

When she noticed him, she smiled, the haunted look leaving her stare. “Hi.”


Walking through the snow, his boots packed a pattern of prints into the pristine fall of tiny flakes, and as he came up behind his female, she settled back against his body. With his arms wrapped around her, and his eyes on the same spot as hers, he was content to wait until she spoke.

“This is where we buried Isobel,” she said after a moment. Then she laughed a little. “In case you haven’t figured that out.”

Boone kissed the top of his love’s head. “Thank you for bringing me here.”

“I wish you had known her.”

“Me, too. I think I would have loved her.”

“Oh, I guarantee you would have.”

The wind that traveled through the clearing was gentle and not as frigid as it had been, as if it had warmed itself and slowed down out of respect for the dead.

“I want to believe she’s in the Fade,” Helania said, “and not just . . . you know, under the earth.”

Boone found himself looking up to the sky and measuring the stars that twinkled in the great black expanse overhead. As he considered the chances of him and Helania finding each other, and of Rochelle being who she turned out to be?

“It’s like Isobel found one last way of taking care of me,” Helania murmured.


“I don’t know. It’s just pretty remarkable, the whole story. You ending up in my life as you did. Rochelle—”

“Being who she is in it all,” he finished. “I was just thinking the same thing.”

Helania leaned to the side and smiled at him. “I love when we do that.”

“Me, too.”

She straightened again and refocused on the ground. “And yes, I kind of think my big sister had a hand in all this.”

From out of nowhere, a waft of fine French perfume entered the forest, and there she was, Rochelle appearing in the snow. She was in a raspberry coat and heavy, fur-trimmed boots, and as she tromped over, she, too, stared at that spot in the middle of the clearing.

As the female came up to them, Helania reached out and took her hand. “Hello, friend.”

“Hello, friend.” Then Rochelle sighed sadly. “I’m sorry. It’s hard to come here.”

“I feel the same way.” Helania went back to looking at the ground. “But it’s an important night.”

“We have some news to share,” Boone said. “And we want you to be the first to know.”

Rochelle craned around, her eyes lighting up. “No. Are you serious? You’re serious?!”

“We’re pregnant,” Helania said. “We just found out—” As Rochelle let out a triumphant shout, the happy sound flushed an owl from its perch. “You’re pregnant!”

Rochelle all but tackled Helania in a hug, and then the female was squeezing the breath out of Boone. “I’m so happy for you guys! Oh, my God! The two of you are with young.”

“Thanks.” Boone stepped back. “But listen, there’s no ‘we’ here, okay? Helania’s the one who’s doing all the work. The whole ‘we’ thing is nuts. I’m the luckiest male on the planet, and she is carrying my young, but it’s her body that’s going through it, not mine.”

Rochelle threw her head back and laughed. “Laying down the law, I see. Fine. And I like your attitude, Boone.”

Helania linked her arm in his. “Yup, me, too. What can I say, he’s a keeper.”

“We’re going to name her Isobel,” he said. “If she’s a girl. And either way, we want you to hop on a human train with us. They do this thing—”

“It’s called godparents,” Helania finished. “We want you to be the godmother, no matter what kind we get.”

Rochelle’s gloved hands went to her cheeks. “You are making me cry right now.”

“Please?” Helania said. “You’re the closest tie I have to my sister, and I want you in our young’s life as an official member of the family.”

“Not that you aren’t already one,” Boone tacked on.

“Amen to that.” Helania glanced over at the clearing. “It’s why I wanted to tell you here. It’s like . . . Isobel’s with all of us, you know? Because if she were alive, we would have told the two of you at the same time. So what do you say?”

Rochelle’s answer was a group hug.

And really, that was the best affirmative there could be.

As Boone wrapped his arms around the two females who were laughing and crying at the same time, and as he thought about how he was making his own family, something above, in the night sky, got his attention.

Way up in the heavens, a brilliant shooting star was traveling in an arc . . . that made a perfect smile formation directly above them.

Lifting a hand, Boone waved to it as its trail faded and mouthed, Nice to meet you, Isobel.

Something told him it would not be the last time, and he was relieved by that. After all, death was not stronger than love, and the signs of angels were all around.

You just had to look for them . . . and know that big sisters always did their duty, even if it was from the Fade.