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Don’t Think I’m Not

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epologue


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Don’t Think I’m Not
by Lar

     

Epilogue

Hank helped his wife of 25 years up the old porch steps. Thanksgiving always brought a smile to her beautiful face, and he couldn’t help but smile himself. They, his family and his brother’s, were having a traditional Bennett Thanksgiving dinner, complete with fabulous cooking and plenty of football.

He opened the familiar door for his wife and walked in, holding her hand. Even though they were in their young fifties, they still acted like the lovesick twenty-somethings.

The rich vanilla smell sent a wave of memories floating through Hank’s memory. The fondest being of their first time eating a family dinner with Sam, Grace, and the girls. It was right after Gwen was released from the hospital.

"Sam! We’re here!" Hank called out from the back door. He helped Gwen walk in and sat her down at the kitchen table. The fine china was already set out, and Hank mentally shook his head. He had told Sam not to go all out. Gwen just wanted a simple family dinner.

"Hank. It’s okay." Gwen smiled, sensing what he was thinking about.

"Are you sure? I told Sam not to do this." Hank knelt down in front of her. Her hair was pulled back into a loose pony tail, with a few locks slipping out. Wearing a deep blue sweater and light khakis, she looked absolutely stunning to him.

"Yes. Go find your family. I don’t think they heard you the first time." Gwen smiled, leaning forward to kiss him lightly on the lips.

"Sickeningly sweet doesn’t work here honey. They’ll see through that." Hank warned, grinning from ear to ear.

"I’ll remember that for the future." Gwen countered. Her eyes connected with his for a few seconds, but a movement behind him caused her to loose focus, and greet the person. "Hello Sam. How are you?"

"Fine Gwen. Glad you could make it." Sam greeted, folding his arms across his chest and leaning against the door frame.

"Hey, move outta the door!" Came the muffled reply from behind the door which Sam was blocking. Immediately Sam jumped out of the way, and allowed Kay access to the kitchen. "Jeez dad, do you always have to block traffic?" Kay rolled her eyes.

"There’s my girl. See the likeness?" Hank asked Gwen.

"Uncle Hank! I didn’t see you over there!" Kay smiled, walking lightly over to hug her uncle. "Hello Gwen. It’s good to have you here. Thanks for dragging my uncle, otherwise it’d be absolutely boring!"

"I was happy to come here Kay." Gwen replied. "It smells positively wonderful in here, where’s Grace?"

"So you assume she’s the cook?" Sam joked.

"Brother, don’t kid yourself. You know how to cook a few things, and I don’t smell eggs or oven pizza." Hank kidded.

"They’re always like this." Kay scoffed to Gwen, "Just wait ‘til the start talking about their childhood." Kay added, accenting the remark with an eye roll.

Hank looked over at his niece and Gwen, smiling from ear to ear that they were bonding. For a moment he caught Gwen’s eye, and watched as a loving smile appeared on her lips.</I>

"Hank honey, where are you?" Gwen called out, taking off her coat and handing it to him.

"Sorry, I was just thinking." Hank smiled and shook his head. Gwen rolled her eyes and walked into the living room, greeting her sister and brother in law. Quickly Hank hung up the coats and joined them. More family would be arriving any minute.



Gwen gazed around, looking at the mass of people now inside Sam and Grace’s house. Kay, her husband Robert Crane, and their child were seated on the couch talking with Jessica, who had just came in from Honolulu. Her husband, Reese, was talking with Noah and Paloma over in the corner.

Next Gwen’s eyes landed one her children, Jennifer. She had just turned 23 and was home from UCLA. Gwen’s eyes brimmed with tears for the pride she felt. Her daughter was smart as a whip, but had the cockiness of her father. Gwen’s eyes sifted to the man standing next to Jennifer. Christopher was the spitting image of his father at the young age of 20, but still, he was his own man. Gwen’s heart once again swelled with pride. Both her babies were home.

"They are wonderful, aren’t they?" He breathed as his arms wrapped around her waist and his head landed on her right shoulder.

"Yes. They are." Gwen smiled, her motherly pride overwhelming her. She scanned the room, and this time her eyes landed on the stairs. The place where Hank proposed.

Gwen looked at the apparently nervous Hank. Sweat was forming on his brow, and he looked as though he was about the faint.

"Hank? What’s wrong?" Gwen asked, furrowing her brow.

"Wrong? Nothing’s wrong." Hank shook his head adamantly.

"Okay, if you’re sure." Gwen cautiously replied, still concerned.

"In fact, everything’s right." Hank commented. Gwen shot him a puzzled look at his last comment.

"Hank are you feeling alright? Maybe eating dinner here tonight was wrong." Gwen asked, lifting her hand to his forehead.

"No, I’m fine. Really. I’m just nervous." Hank rebutted.

"Well, why are you nervous? We eat dinner here every Thursday." Gwen skeptically answered.

"Um, I’ve never really done this before, so bare with me." Hank replied, clearing his throat. "Gwen you know how much I love you. We’ve already talked about spending the rest of our lives together."

"Oh Hank." She breathed, finally catching on to what was making him so nervous.

"I can’t imagine my life without you, and I don’t want to. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife? Spending the rest of your life with me? Allowing me to make you as happy as I can?"

"No." The hurt and shocked look on Hank’s face made her break out into a huge smile. "Not just the rest of our lives, but the rest of eternity." Gwen pulled him in for a steamy kiss. As they broke apart, she watched his hand go into his pocket and pull out a small jeweler’s box. He opened it and showed her the tear shape diamond. Pulling it from the box, he slipped it on her finger, and pulled her in for another kiss.

"Mom! Dad!" Jennifer called out, approaching her parents.

"Hello sweetie." Gwen smiled.

"I just talked to Jake, guess what! He’s coming in tomorrow! Isn’t that wonderful!" Jennifer spoke of her fiancée with a twinkle in her eye.

"Yes honey, that’s fabulous." Gwen replied.

"Wait, you mean now I gotta share you with him! No fair!" Hank playfully whined.

"You’re pathetic dad! What are we gonna do with you." Jennifer shook her head.

"Well, you know me, I’ve got rotten kids syndrome!" Hank teased.

"Whatever dad, whatever." Jennifer replied with an eye roll.

"Hey Jenn! You wanna come help me with the baby?" Kay asked her cousin.

"Of course!" Jennifer hollered back. "I’ll see you two later." Jennifer left them, and they walked over to the couch. Hank watched his baby girl walk across the room, and felt a wave of memories overcome him.

Hank felt a wave of nausea overwhelm him as rushed through the hospital corridor. Why the hell did he let the FBI talk him into leaving. He knew Gwen was due within weeks. Now he might have missed his first child’s birth. He rounded the corner of the maternity ward, and almost smacked into Luis.

"Luis man, I’m sorry. Where’s Gwen. Has she delivered?" Hank asked quickly.

"Um, Hank, come with me." Luis slowly stated, leading Hank to a row of chairs.

"What’s going on Luis?" Hank nervously asked, sitting down in the seat next to the one Luis was in.

"The baby’s heart rate dropped, and they’re doing an emergency c-section as we speak." Luis calmly stated.

Hank felt as though his entire world had fallen apart. His child was in trouble, and there was nothing he could do.

"Gwen’s doing alright, she’s just worried." Luis continued. "They waited as long as they could, but had to do it. Sher’s in there with them."

"Oh God." Hank mumbled. Tears sprung to his eyes, and he glanced at Luis. "If anything happens Luis, I..."

"Don’t think it Hank. Nothing will happen. The hospital has a wonderful staff. Nothing’s gonna happen." Luis replied.

"Is anyone else her besides you?" Hank meekly asked.

"Sam and Grace are on their way. We tried to find Gwen’s parents, but their on a trip in Paris." Luis explained. Hank nodded and sat there, letting the shock of the whole situation overcome him. The silence sat around them until Luis jumped up from his chair. Hank turned around and recognized Sheridan in scrubs.

"Sher?" Hank asked, tears still brimming in his eyes. Sheridan looked at him as she walked to hug him.

"She’s okay." Sheridan whispered in his ear.

"I knew Gwen would be." Hank said back.

"No, both of your girls are okay." Sheridan replied, breaking apart the hug.

"Serious? You mean it’s a girl! And she’s okay!!" Hank smiled as he hugged her again and twirled her around.

"Hank, put me down so you can go see your girls!" Sheridan laughed during the twirl. Hank immediately set her down and ran past Luis into the room. He was stopped by a nurse, who made him put on the proper attire, but after that successfully made his way into the post delivery room.

"Gwen!" He called out when he saw her. She looked heavenly, leaning back on the bed. In her arms she held a tiny pink bundle.

"Hello daddy. Come say hello to your girl." Gwen lovingly called out. Hank ran across the room, and paused over Gwen. Gwen sifted her arms slightly, so he could get a better look at his child, and the tears that threatened before spilled out onto his cheeks.

"She’s so beautiful." He whispered.

"I know." Gwen replied, crying lightly herself.

"You did excellent honey." Hank stated, kissing the top of her head.

"And we’ll do good as parents." Gwen replied. A nurse appeared and looked the couple over.

"Sir, how ‘bout you take a seat and you can hold your daughter." She suggested.

"Can I really?" Hank asked in astonishment.

"Of course!" Gwen laughed lightly at his behavior. Hank smiled and walked over to the chair near Gwen’s bed. The nurse gently took the baby from Gwen and placed it in Hank’s arms.

"Support the head." She informed him, and he followed her orders. The baby looked up at him and started a small wail.

"Oh, yeah, cry for you dad." Hank joked as the tears ran down his face.

"What should we name her?" Gwen asked.

"We both liked Jennifer. I say we stick with that." Hank replied.

"I was hoping you’d say that. What about a middle name?"

"Sheridan. She helped you through this whole process." Hank replied, still focusing on his daughter.

"Jennifer Sheridan Bennett. It fits." Gwen stated.

"How did we get so fortunate?" Hank asked his wife.

"We’ve earned it." Gwen smiled back at him.

Christopher had been the complete opposite. His birth was easy, and Hank was in town. But he loved his son just as much as his daughter. He couldn’t imagine his life without them.

"Attention everyone. Dinner is served!" Grace said, stepping into the kitchen doorway like she did every year. Hank helped Gwen to her feet, and together they walked into the kitchen. They walked to their traditional seats and sat down. They glance around and took in the familiar settings. The carved turkey sat in the middle, surrounded by mash potatoes, creamed corn, pickled beets, yams, salad, bread, and a relish tray. Each setting used the finest china, and wine was poured in each glass for the adults.

Sam sat down at the head of the table, and once they were sure everyone was in place they grasped hands, and offered a prayer.

"Dear Lord, thank you for allowing us to be together for this blessed holiday. You have bestowed so many gifts on us, and we thank you. Help us to continue to do good in your eyes. Allow us a long life, and the company of the ones you love. And always keep fresh in our memories how thankful we should be to you. Amen."

"Amen!" The group collectively replied, squeezing each other’s hands.

"Happy Thanksgiving everyone!" Hank yelled out to the group, and got many answers back.

"Happy Thanksgiving honey." Gwen whispered in his ear. "I love you."

"I love you too." Hank whispered back, placing a kiss on her cheek.

THE END

       
     

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