1 Year Later
The flight attendant’s voice came over the loud speaker. “We are now making our final descent into Paris. Please return your tray tables to the upright and locked position.”
Dani stirred next to Jamie, but she didn’t want to sit up yet. Her head was on Jamie’s shoulder and Jamie’s arm was around her. They had a blanket over them that Jamie kept pulling up with her other hand every time it slipped down. She’d been watching Dani sleep for the past hour, perfectly content just holding her.
“We’re almost there,” Jamie whispered to her, placing a kiss on her forehead.
Dani hummed. “Good. You know how much I hate these transatlantic flights.”
“I know,” Jamie replied softly. “But, I’m glad you slept. And, Hannah and Owen are only getting married once.” She paused. “Well, I mean, it better only be once.”
Dani smiled. “I’m just so glad they finally figured it out.”
“Me too. Took them long enough. I was starting to worry they never would. Owen getting abducted though, it was a wake up call. I knew when he put in a request for a desk job that him leaving the agency wasn’t too far behind. I didn’t quite foresee Hannah resigning, too, though once he proposed.”
“Right?” Dani said, finishing Jamie’s thought. “And now they’re moving to Paris and opening a restaurant together?!”
“I’m so happy for him. He’s talked about that damn restaurant almost as long as I’ve known him. Never thought he’d actually do it. I still think the name’s shite though.”
“A Batter Place,” Dani said, laughing. “It suits him though.”
“It does, it really does.” She grew quiet, pensive. Dani leaned in closer, wanting to hear what she would say next and giving her space to sort it out first. Jamie continued, “I didn’t think we’d all make it. But look at how far we’ve all come. We’re going to be okay, all of us. It all worked out… somehow.”
“It did,” Dani said, reaching for Jamie’s hand as the plane descended, the ground rushing up to meet them. “It really did.”
Jamie and Dani were in their hotel room in Paris, getting ready for the wedding. Jamie was in the bathroom and Dani was in the room, flipping through the TV channels.
“Oi, what the fuck is this shit?!” Jamie muttered from the bathroom, clearly agitated.
“Everything alright in there, babe?” Dani called to her.
“No, Dani, get in here.”
Dani practically ran to the bathroom, unsure of what she would find. Jamie was standing in front of the mirror, holding a piece of hair out to the side.
“Umm, what’s going on?” Dani asked, confused.
“I’ll tell you what’s going on,” Jamie huffed. “I’ve just found a gray hair, that’s what’s going on. A gray hair, Dani! I’m only 36!”
Dani chuckled softly.
“It’s not fucking funny, Dani. I’m gonna pluck it. I have to. It has to go,” Jamie said in all seriousness, stealing herself to pull out the offending hair.
Dani closed the gap between them and gently wrapped her hand around Jamie’s wrist. “Please don’t,” she said.
“Dani, it’s Owen’s wedding today. I’m the best man… woman… whatever. I can’t have this reflecting in all the photos.”
Dani placed a kiss to the side of Jamie’s head. “I love it.”
“What? See, now I know you’re full of shite.”
“I’m serious, Jamie. I love it. And I wouldn’t change a thing about you. This gray hair, it shows how long we’ve loved each other. The odds were against us. But we’re still here. This is proof of that, of the passage of time. Jamie, we’re going to grow old together and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Jamie blinked back tears. “You’re a sap, Dani.” She moved to stand behind Dani and wrapped her arms around her waist, resting her chin on Dani’s shoulder as she looked at their reflections in the mirror. “And I love you so much. Thank you for always reminding me of what really matters.”
Dani tilted her head back, her lips finding Jamie’s and kissing her deeply, one hand reaching up to cup Jamie’s face, her other hand resting on Jamie’s hands around her stomach. Jamie squeezed her tighter, humming in contentment.
Jamie chuckled. “You keep kissing me like that and we’ll miss the wedding.”
Dani smiled. “We’ll pick this up after.”
“Oh, that’s a promise.”
Hannah and Owen were at the alter, saying their vows, but Dani couldn’t take her eyes off Jamie. Jamie was standing behind Owen in a black and white suit, complete with suspenders that drove Dani crazy, and her hair in an elaborate updo that Dani did herself. Jamie looked out into the crowd, her eyes immediately landing on Dani. Dani absolutely took her breath away in her blue dress that matched the color of her eyes. Her hair was down, falling in beautiful golden waves across her shoulders. They smiled at each other from across the room, remembering the day they made their own vows, both of them thinking that no one had ever meant those words as much as the two of them. For better or for worse. They’d had more than their fair share of both. Their vows had been tested. But every time, they proved their love to be true, tackling each obstacle together, the way they promised each other they would.
After the ceremony, Dani waited eagerly for the wedding party to join the reception. She couldn’t wait to feel Jamie’s touch and to enjoy the evening with her. As soon as the wedding party made their entrance, Jamie began scanning the room for Dani, who was already running over to greet her, a bright, enthusiastic smile on her face.
“Careful running in those high heels, Poppins,” Jamie cautioned, as Dani practically fell into her arms when they reached each other.
“I knew you’d catch me,” Dani said confidently.
“Always. You look beautiful,” Jamie said, the awe in her voice evident.
“So do you,” Dani replied, pulling Jamie’s closer by the suspenders, their lips meeting in a quick kiss. “I loved watching you up there.”
“Hmm,” Jamie replied. “I did notice you staring quite a bit.”
“Couldn’t help myself. My wife is gorgeous.”
Jamie smiled, took Dani’s hand, and let her to their table. Dani hugged and congratulated Owen and Hannah. Owen looked handsome in his tuxedo and Hannah was stunning in her wedding dress, and Dani made sure they both knew it. Jamie smiled watching their interaction. Dani’s warmth, kindness, and generosity were some of Jamie’s favorite qualities about her. Jamie looked on at her friends, her heart full, and she smiled. Jamie may have lost one family, but she had found another.
When it was time to sit down, Jamie pulled Dani’s chair out for her and helped her scoot it in, her hand brushing Dani’s bare shoulder as she took her own seat, the touch sending a shockwave through Dani’s body. Jamie gave Dani a smug smile as she sat down. She knows exactly what she does to me, Dani thought, flustered. Dani leaned forward in her seat and Jamie slipped her arm around her waist, exactly like Dani hoped she would. Dani’s own hand came to rest on Jamie’s thigh, both of them turning to smile at each other.
“You know,” Owen said, “none of this would have ever been possible if it weren’t for the two of you.” He raised his glass towards Jamie and Dani. “Jamie, you’ve saved my life more times than I can count. But, the two of you together, you saved my life in another way, too. You both showed me how to be courageous in love, not just in life. You showed us the way, and I’ll be forever grateful.”
“Cheers, mate,” Jamie said, raising her glass in response.
“We love you two and are just so happy for you,” Dani added, rubbing Jamie’s thigh.
“And you two are truly special, beautiful inside and out,” Hannah said, smiling warmly. “I’ve never met two braver, more selfless people than you. Thank you, for everything. I never thought I could be this happy. And now I’m just so excited to spend the rest of my life with this incredible man.” She leaned into Owen and kissed him. He couldn’t keep the grin off his face. “I only wish I’d listened to you sooner,” Hannah added.
“Well,” Jamie said sarcastically, “sometimes it takes an international incident. Take it from us. We know all about that.” She winked at Dani, who blushed. “I’m just glad someone else has to put up with Owen’s puns from here on out.”
“Oh Jamie, you love my puns,” Owen teased her back.
“She does,” Dani confirmed.
“Traitor,” Jamie whispered to Dani, and they all laughed.
Jamie and Dani laughed and talked the night away with Hannah, Owen, and the other guests. Jamie gave a speech for Owen and Dani cheered loudly as she got off the stage, causing Jamie to blush. They ate cake and drank champagne and felt such genuine joy. Then the lights were dimmed and the DJ invited everyone out onto the dance floor. Dani became giddy with anticipation. She loved dancing with Jamie. Jamie sensed the shift in her mood and noticed the way her foot was bouncing up and down under the table.
“So…” Jamie said slowly, reaching over and taking a lock of Dani’s hair, twirling it slowly around her finger. “You hoping to dance with someone tonight?”
Dani’s eyes snapped to Jamie’s and saw the twinkle in them. “Hmmm,” Dani said thoughtfully, playing along. She brought her hand to the base of Jamie’s neck, lightly scratching. “There is someone, but she just hasn’t asked me yet.”
Jamie looked down and smiled, remembering a similar interaction six years ago when she had not understood that Dani turned everyone else down because she only wanted to dance with her. Her smile grew bigger as she realized that Dani had not danced with anyone but her since that night. She was special to Dani in every way, and the thought made her feel warm all over. Jamie scooted her chair back slowly and stood up, offering her hand to Dani.
“Would you do me the honor of dancing with me this evening?” Jamie said as formally as she could.
Dani slipped her hand in Jamie’s and stood up, never breaking eye contact with her. “The honor is all mine,” she replied.
Jamie smiled shyly and led Dani out onto the dance floor, making their way through the crowd to dance near Owen and Hannah, who both turned and smiled brightly at them, the happiness on everyone’s faces evident. Jamie put her hand on Dani’s lower back and pulled her impossibly close. Dani let out a small gasp when their bodies touched, her pulse quickening. Dani put her hand on Jamie’s shoulder, lacing her fingers through Jamie’s other hand. The electricity between them was palpable. If anything, it had only intensified over the years as they got to know and appreciate each other more and more. Their love had only deepened.
“I’m never going to get tired of dancing with you,” Dani said, in awe.
“I’m glad to hear that. Because I’m never going to stop asking you,” Jamie replied, twirling Dani and earning a giggle from the blonde.
“Do you remember when we danced like this on our wedding day?” Dani asked, her face beaming, knowing full well that Jamie remembered every detail of that day.
Jamie smiled at the memory. “Of course I do. It was the happiest day of my life. By all rights, we shouldn’t have made it to that day. And then, we definitely should have never made it to this one. But we fought for each other, and I hope you know that I will always fight for you, every day for the rest of my life.”
“Oh, Jamie, I do know that. And I will always fight for you, too. You are so worth fighting for, every hour of every day. I love you, and I love our life together.”
“Me too, Dani, me too.” Jamie placed a gentle kiss to Dani’s forehead, her lips lingering longer than necessary. The tenderness of it brought tears to Dani’s eyes, which she rapidly blinked away, not wanting to ruin her carefully applied makeup. She held on tighter to Jamie. She knew that things would always be alright as long as they held on tightly to each other.
They got lost in each other’s eyes as they danced, both of them thinking about how many times they almost hadn’t made it to this moment. It made them appreciate the beauty of the moment all the more, knowing that it had almost been taken away from them. They both knew exactly how lucky they were; they cherished each other and what they had. They were both still there, still them. And they were still standing, both of them, together.
They danced the night away, and as the last slow dance played, Dani rested her head on Jamie’s shoulder, their arms wrapped around each other as they swayed back and forth, the electricity dancing between them like magic. They felt completely at peace, completely safe, completely known, and most of all, completely loved. When the last note faded, Jamie took Dani’s face in her hands and kissed her deeply. They were both smiling when it ended.
“You wanna get out of here?” Jamie asked, breathlessly.
Jamie and Dani were driving home from the airport. They had spent an extra week in Paris and were ready to be home. Hannah and Owen were off on their honeymoon in the Caribbean and excited to begin their new life together in Paris after. They promised to come visit Jamie and Dani as soon as they could. After all they had been through, they were all truly happy for one another and the peace and love they had all found.
Jamie turned her car into their driveway and glanced over at Dani. She looked exhausted. “What’cha thinking, Poppins? Maybe a nice hot bath? Wash all these planes and airports off of us?”
“Yeah, that sounds nice,” Dani said, smiling. “And then a movie and cuddles after?” She asked hopefully.
“Sounds perfect, yeah.”
The house was dark and quiet when they got in. Jamie went around and flipped on the lights while Dani began bringing their suitcases in. Jamie had to force herself not to think about the time a year ago when they came home to find Viola waiting for them. It had been the worst night of both of their lives— the night they had almost lost each other. Jamie glanced around their home. There was no trace of that night. By the time Jamie had made it home from the hospital that week, their friends had fixed all of the damage and put everything back together, even reframing the picture frames of them that had been broken during the fight. Jamie would be forever grateful that she and Dani had been spared having to clean up their home after what had happened. The memories were so painful and still haunted them in their nightmares.
Jamie walked over to the fridge and smiled when she opened it. Maria had come by and stocked it for them. There was even freshly made baklava on the counter. Jamie took a piece immediately, savoring the sweet flavor. Dani came over and joined her.
“Oh my gosh, Maria is the best,” she said, taking a piece and biting into it.
“Looks like they all left us a card, too,” Jamie said, pointing to the counter. Maria, Luis, and Amber had all signed a “welcome home” card for them. “Guess they missed us,” she said warmly. “I’m gonna go run us a bath. Is that okay or did you want to wait a bit?”
“Now is great. Thank you, Jamie… for always taking such good care of me.”
“I think you’re the one who takes such good care of me,” Jamie said as she walked away, not seeing the soft smile she earned from Dani.
A few minutes later, Dani joined Jamie in the bathroom. She was just adding in the bubbles and lighting a few candles. Dani smiled at her thoughtfulness. Even after a long day of traveling, she wants to do special things for me.
Jamie caught her smiling. “What is it?” She asked, genuinely curious.
“You just make me feel so special.”
“‘Cause you are,” Jamie said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Dani just shook her head and began undressing. No matter how many times Jamie saw her do that, it never got old. She stopped what she was doing to watch. Dani smiled, enjoying the effect she’d had on her since the beginning.
“Are you going to stand there fully clothed and stare, or are you going to join me?” She asked playfully as she glided under the water.
Jamie began frantically removing her clothes, earning a chuckle from the blonde.
“Want me to get behind you?” Jamie asked as she prepared to get in.
“I was thinking you could get in front of me,” Dani said, tentatively. “I just want to hold you and make you feel as special as you make me feel… if that’s okay.”
“Blimey,” Jamie said, caught off guard by Dani’s tenderness. She stepped in the tub and scooted back against Dani, who placed her hands on her shoulders and gently helped her settle back against her. She didn’t know how Dani could make her feel the way she did, so loved and cherished with just a few words and gentle touches.
“Is this okay?” Dani asked.
“It’s more than okay,” Jamie said, relaxing against Dani’s chest and sighing contentedly.
Dani wrapped her arms around Jamie and hugged her close. She frequently just needed to remind herself that Jamie was here, that she was alive and safe. That they both were. Her fingers began tracing the scars along Jamie’s body, each one telling a story. They were stark reminders of how close they had both come to death, of not being here together in this moment.
In front of her, Jamie was enjoying the feeling of Dani’s fingers exploring her body. She knew what Dani was thinking; she felt it, too. They’d had too many close calls. And she knew that those close calls gave them a perspective that many couples didn’t have. She and Dani did not get hung up on the little things. They understood that life was fragile and they had an unspoken promise to appreciate each other in every moment. They knew that the little moments mattered and that sometimes the little moments were really the big moments. They understood that their lives were made up of series of moments, all of them significant, and they were not going to waste one single second of their time together. They learned that moments turned to memories all too quickly, and they wanted all of their memories to be good ones.
Dani began gently massaging Jamie’s shoulders and Jamie rolled her head forward to give her more access. Dani hands skillfully began working the knots out and Jamie moaned in appreciation.
“This alright?” Dani asked.
“It’s perfect,” Jamie replied, resting her hands on Dani’s legs under the water, lightly running her hands up and down them.
“I know how tense your back gets when we travel. I just want to make you feel good. If you go to bed like this, it’s going to be worse in the morning. And we can’t have that.” The care in Dani’s voice almost took Jamie’s breath away. No one before Dani had ever treated this way. And she had come so close to losing Dani. But I didn’t lose her. She’s right here. With me. Where she belongs.
Dani continued working on Jamie’s neck, shoulders, and back, enjoying the appreciative sounds Jamie was making. When she was satisfied that she had worked all of the tension out of Jamie’s back, she lightly ran her hands up and down Jamie’s arms. She knew Jamie loved it when she did that. And Dani loved anything that involved her touching Jamie. She needed the constant reminder that Jamie was there with her. I came so close to losing her. But I didn’t. She’s right here. With me. Where she belongs.
“We’re so lucky, you know?” Jamie said, as if jumping into Dani’s internal monologue. “Six years with you now and I still can’t believe this is my life. I wake up every day feeling like the luckiest woman in the whole world.”
“That’s funny because here I was under the impression that I’m the luckiest woman in the world,” Dani said, her brow furrowed in mock confusion, her hands coming to rest on Jamie’s stomach.
Jamie rested her hands on Dani’s forearms, lightly rubbing. “You’re so silly, Poppins.”
“Am I? Because from where I sit, I married the most badass, sexy agent in MI5 history, who also turned out to be the most kind, caring, and gentle person I’ve ever met.”
“You forgot ‘great in bed,’” Jamie said, smirking.
Dani nuzzled into Jamie’s neck from behind. “More like mind-blowing in bed,” she whispered in her ear, causing Jamie to shiver at the compliment.
Jamie leaned back to kiss Dani, just barely brushing their lips together.
“Just in bed?” She asked seductively. “Have you forgotten how good I am in the tub?”
Dani’s eyes darkened. “Hmmm,” she said, playing along, her own hand sliding down Jamie’s body to settle between her legs. “I seem to have forgotten. Perhaps you can refresh my memory?”
“Be glad to.”
Jamie and Dani were sitting in bed after their bath, pillows propped up against the headboard, watching a movie.
“My long awaited cuddles,” Dani said, sighing, as she snuggled into Jamie’s side.
Jamie smiled and put her arm around Dani, pulling her flush against her side. She tangled her legs up with Dani’s under the covers.
“Our long awaited cuddles,” Jamie confirmed, kissing Dani’s head. “There’s nothing like being in our own bed again after a long trip. No matter where we go, this is always my favorite place. Being right here, with you, in this home we’ve built together.”
“I love our life, Jamie,” Dani whispered. “I love you.”
“Me too, Dani. I love you so much. More than I can say. We’ve been through so much. Too much, really. But it’s all only made me love, appreciate, and respect you more. I couldn’t do any of this without you.”
“I feel the same,” Dani said. She wrapped her arms around Jamie’s waist, holding her tight and breathing in her scent. Home. My home. “And we have our whole lives ahead of us, Jamie. This is still only the beginning. There’s nothing stopping us. We have so many more adventures ahead of us.”
“Aye, we do. Whether those adventures are here at home or out there in the world, there are so many more chapters in our story, and I can’t wait to live them all with you. But Dani?” Jamie asked, softly.
“Yeah, Jamie?” Dani said, her eyes shining up at Jamie, full of love and promise.
“I just need you to know, that no matter what we do or where we go, you Dani Clayton-Taylor, will always be my greatest adventure.”
Dani smiled brightly and leaned in to kiss Jamie with everything she had, as if willing Jamie to understand that she felt the same way. Me too, Jamie, me too. My life with you is everything I dreamed it would be and more. I love you completely and you love me the same.
When the kiss ended, they stared into each other’s eyes, both of them overwhelmed by the depths of their feelings.
“You know,” Dani said, “you said this was an adventure, but it’s not only that, is it?”
“No? Then what is it?” Jamie asked, genuinely curious.
“It’s a love story,” Dani said so softly, her voice full of awe.
“Hmm,” Jamie replied, thoughtful. “Same thing really.”
Dani smiled and kissed her again. Because it was and the truth of it settled deep in their hearts. Their love story was an adventure, and it would go on… forever.