A New Year Begins
Liana Wade stood in front of the kitchen sink, watching all the laughter and activity in the yard. She was supposed to be making iced tea, but she kept getting distracted by everything going on out there.
The New Year had been only a few days ago and they'd been busy all day taking down all the holiday decorations. She sighed, thinking what a wonderful Christmas it had been this year in the Glen. Last year, she and Ben had celebrated Christmas alone. Their first year and their first Christmas together. This year, though, their little family had grown.
Outside, taking down the lights they'd put on the house and some of the trees, Ben was accompanied by Dan Evans. Dan had been with them here almost from the start, but he hadn't spent Christmas with them, having flown to the states to spend it with his sons.
This year, though, the boys had come to stay with him for the holiday, visiting him in Australia for the first time. William and Mark were with him outside right now, squabbling over which one was doing a better job of tangling the strings of lights, while Dan stood back grinning as he watched them.
Ben was pulling nails out of the wooden posts of the porch, as he grinned at some remark Frank Parker was making. Liana had begun to teasingly refer to Frank as her 'bodyguard', since her husband wanted him around her at all times when Ben himself was away from her. He worried constantly about her safety. This had all happened after she'd been kidnapped and held hostage by Charlie Prince several months back, while she was pregnant with Olivia.
Olivia. Their daughter. Liana loved the baby with all her heart and Ben--well, it would be accurate to say that Ben worshipped the ground little Livvy walked on. Or didn't walk on, since she was only a few months old right now and not walking yet. When Ben wasn't calling the baby Livvy, he called her Princess, and that was exactly how he treated her.
At the moment, Frank Parker was holding Livvy in his arms as they watched her father. Liana could hear what he was saying to her. "Just look there at your daddy, Livvy. Man can hit any target in the world with gun, but give him a hammer and he can't hit the broad side of the barn!"
Livvy was grinning at Frank as though she understood every word, and reaching up to pat at his face. She was fascinated by Frank, who had the whitest smile in the world against his dark skin. Liana heard her little chuckle as she looked up at the man.
Just then, Ben opened the back door and came into the kitchen. "Tea ready yet, darlin'?" he asked, then saw her standing at the window.
"You know, Ben," she said thoughtfully. "This is one unusual family we have here."
"Reckon you're right 'bout that," he replied, giving her a hug as he joined her at the window and looked out at the little group.
At times it was still hard for him to grasp that he actually did have a family. Having been alone all his life, it was difficult to remember that there was really someone in the world who cared about him. Who loved him, even knowing of all the things he'd done.
"I wouldn't trade them for any other family in the world, though." Liana gave him a quick kiss. "Go tell them all to come in and have some tea and cookies. After they wash up!" she shouted after him, as he went out the door.
As she put cookies on a plate and filled glasses with ice for the tea, she thought about how much she loved all those people out there, especially Ben. Only one thing marred her happiness with it all right now.
In a little less than two weeks, Ben was leaving for a job. His kind of job. The kind of job that involved him taking someone else's property and, thereby, putting his life and his freedom at risk. Liana bit her lip and held back tears as she finished preparing the food.