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One year later…

Seb and I lay curled in bed together. We’d just tucked the girls in and finished off their bedtime stories. Satisfied that they were out for the night, we retreated to our bedroom where we locked the door and settled beneath the blankets together. After the fiasco with the Ring, we’d ended up taking my friend Blake’s offer to move to Xeniden-Qizade. It’d been relieving to get away from everything.

Aurora stayed behind, but she called us at least once a week to chat about the most recent shenanigan she’d pulled or to check up on Blaine and Maggie. She was the only real connection we had left at our old home, so she kept us in the loop on the current happenings there. While I liked to stay updated on how close IRIS was at setting up a new government, I’d also promised Seb I’d back from it for a while.

Instead of immersing myself in the political and criminal again, I returned to a relatively normal life. I opened another tattoo parlor in the Xeniden-Qizade realm. Seb opened a dance studio. The girls were enrolled in an elementary school in the capital, and everything had moved smoothly.

Seb and I had even melded together quite well. The girls had been thrilled at the idea of moving in together, and Seb and I hadn’t had any major issues from the living arrangement after almost a year of it.

In fact, waking up next to the man that’d become my best friend was spoiling me.

I glanced up from my book to look at him as he stretched, pulling the blankets up to snuggle further into them. Decorating both of his arms were intricate artworks that I’d created. On his left arm was a night sky with birds flying through it, the constellations behind him were some of the few Maggie could name and point out. On his other arm was a sunrise and the colors that accompanied it. It was like the clouds, sun, and sky all danced together to create one large scene.

It’d taken a while to finally do the pieces, but he’d been thrilled once I did them. Actually, he’d been the one that had helped christen the new shop. Once I finished setting everything up, Seb plopped down, rolled up his sleeve, and gave the green light on the last sketch I did for him.

I blinked and looked up at his face as his emotions surged, overwhelming happiness and an almost smothering affection swept over the room. Cocking a brow at him, I slid a little closer, linking my fingers through his beneath the blankets. Finally, he looked up from his book.

Seb smiled at me. “You’re adorable.”

“I’m two-century old man. I am far from adorable.”

With a quiet snort, Seb sat his book down and pecked my lips. “Not that far from it, duckling.”

I rolled my eyes. That was a nickname that was still a long way from dying out. Of course, there was always worse, but it’d earned me a few digs from the friends I’d reunited with once I reached Xeniden-Qizade and had the chance to catch up with them.

Settling against Seb, I leaned my head against his shoulder and fought back a yawn. “You nervous about the dance recitals tomorrow?”

“Nah,” Seb said. “They’re all going to do great. I’m just excited to see how Blaine and Maggie’s goes. They’ve worked so hard.”

“It’ll be great.” I pressed a kiss to his shoulder. “We should probably get some sleep, though. I really don’t want to be cranky in the morning when they’ll be excited. That’d ruin the mood.”

“You got that right. Awkward and cranky is not a good mix.”

As I turned to give Seb a quick kiss goodnight, he took my chin in his hand, holding me steady as he pressed a lingering, loving kiss to my lips. I caressed his cheeks, returning the kiss, and losing myself in him. Moments like those didn’t happen often between work and the girls and still settling into our new, normal lives. When they occurred, though, I never took them for granted.

One day, in the distant future, after Seb and I married, after the girls were grown and gone, I’d use these memories to add to Seb’s growing collection of tattoos. Instead of our daughters, I’d mark myself all over his back and shoulders by remembering right then. The asphyxiating love, the adoration, the gentle burn of lust… Each piece of it would be there, marked onto him by my hand.

Seb pulled back and rested his forehead against mine. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Everything settled and normal and perfect, the drastic turn from every putrid, abhorrent emotion regarding me turned positive and caring… One of the top three best things to happen in my life was Sebastian Keys walking into my studio. For as long as our insane lives would allow, I intended to keep him next to me, with our daughters, and in our seemingly normal lives. If not for a reminder of how good my life was, but to keep it as perfect as it had the potential of being.

~*~The End~*~

A/N: Well, that was a journey... This book was an interesting experience for me, in that it never went along with my planning or did what I anticipated. I doubted it at several points and what it was becoming, so without the lovely comments and encouragements I received from you guys, as well as my lovely beta reader, I probably wouldn’t have finished this book.

So, thank you guys so much for all of your kind words <3 Without you guys, I probably would’ve left this one buried in a file on my computer never to see the light of day again.

If you guys want to know more about Plato’s other friends mentioned in the letter or the epilogue, check out the other Rose Coven Chronicles book on my profile: Kiss Me Goodnight (it's completed, so you don’t have to wait for updates)!

Give me a follow for future updates on other Rose Coven Chronicles books, as well as my next project which is coming out in early July!

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