Chapter   Seventeen

Karen came to find out that when the Backstreet Boys were apart, they weren't really apart because they were always calling each other. Kevin was always calling the guys to see what was happening wherever they were and they were always calling him. Brian became a frequent visitor and Karen was introduced to them. They all got the surprise of their lives when they found out Karen was Angela Steele's daughter and that William Davidson was celebrating Christmas with them. But soon they got over the intial shock and became comfortable around them, which put both Karen and William at ease.

Karen also came to find that Leighanne called Brian everyday, kind of like she was keeping tabs on him. Once her and Brian got into an arguement over the phone because Brian didn't tell her that William Davidson was going to spending the holidays with his family, but she was soon over it when he told her that he'd also be at the New Year's Eve concert. Karen was having the time of her life. The Richardsons and the Littrells treated her like she was family within days. She like them a lot, thought they were nice, caring people.

Soon, Christmas came and Karen woke up extra early, just like she used to when she was a kid. She opened her door, looked around to see if anybody else was up, then tiptoed into Kevin's room. She quietly opened the door and let herself in. As soon as the door was closed, Karen ran and jumped on the bed. Kevin awoke with a start and fell back on the bed when he saw Karen.

"Time to wake up," Karen said, sweetly. "It's Christmas."

"What time is it?" Kevin asked.

"5:00am," Karen told him.

Kevin groaned and put the covers over his head. "Wake me up when it's noon."

"Don't you want your gift?"

Something in Karen's voice made Kevin looked at her. "What is it?"

"This." Karen leaned down and kissed him.

Kevin quickly deepened the kiss. Karen got on top of him, straddling his waist and he ran his hands up and down her back. They never broke their kiss. They loved each other until they were both brought to ecstacy and back. Afterward, Kevin held Karen close.

"Thanks for the gift," Kevin said, kissing the top of Karen's head.

"Did you enjoy it?" she asked.

"Oh yeah. Just as I always enjoy making love with you."

"Maybe it'll become a Christmas tradition." Karen smiled at him.

"Now there's a thought." Kevin laughed. "I'm sure it will."

"Good." Karen got her nightshirt and put it on. "Now, let's go downstairs. My dad is probably already up."

Kevin put on his boxers, sweats, and a T-shirt and followed Karen downstairs. They walked into the kitchen hand in hand to find William and Ann having coffee and talking. They wished each other a Merry Christmas. A little while later, Jerald, Veronica, Tim, and Jennifer walked into the kitchen. Everyone said "Merry Christmas" and started making breakfast. After breakfast was over, everyone piled into the living room to open the presents.

They all had fun, seeing what everyone got. The living room was a mess when all the presents were opened. Then they all got ready for church. Karen had never been a really religious person, but she believed in God, Heaven, and all that stuff. She just never went to church that often. To Karen's surprise, she enjoyed going to church. Probably because she could appreciate it so much more after what she'd been through.

Brian and his family stopped by with gifts and they received their gifts from the Richardsons and the Davidsons. But it wasn't until later that night that Karen got the best Christmas gift she'd ever received. Her and Kevin were taking a walk around his neighborhood. They ran into a few of his old high school buddies and Kevin introduced Karen to them. It seemed like all his friends were now married with families, married with a baby on the way, or about to be married. Karen saw the longing in Kevin's eyes as he held his goddaughter in his arms and knew Kevin wanted to have a family of his own so badly. Maybe that'll change soon, Karen thought with a smile.

"What are you smiling for?" Kevin asked her.

"Just thinking about the future," Karen told him. "Wondering how it's gonna be in a few years."

"Me, too," said Kevin seriously. "Actually, I've been thinking about it a lot lately."

Karen looked at Kevin in wonder. "What are you saying?"

Kevin looked deep into Karen's eyes. "Karen, you know I love you, right?"

"Yeah, I love you, too."

"And I care about you, I always want to be with you. When I see my friends with their families, I envy them because they have something that I've always wanted. This morning, when we made love, it made me realize that the person I want to spend the rest of my life with is right in front of me." Kevin reached into his pocket, pulled out a little velvet box and opened it. He handed it to Karen. "You make my life complete. You're everything that I've looked for and it'll take more time than we have to express to you how much you mean to me and how much I love you."

Karen looked at the diamond ring, then at Kevin, then at the ring again. Tears came to her eyes. I can't believe this is happening, she thought joyfully. Kevin took her hand.

"What I'm trying to say is, will you marry me?"

Karen looked in his eyes and knew her search for everlasting love was over, not that she'd really been searching. But isn't that when you're most likely to find that person, Karen thought. When you're not looking? She looked at the ring again. This is what I've been waiting for. Kevin was starting to get worried when Karen hadn't answered right away.

"I love you so much, Kevin," Karen started. "I'll never be able to tell you how much." She paused for a minute. "Yes, I'll marry you."

Kevin let out a big sigh of relief and gathered Karen into his arms. Karen pulled him as close to her as she could. Kevin pulled back, took the ring out of the box, put it on her finger, then gave Karen the most passionate kiss either of them ever shared. All of a sudden, Kevin let out an excited yell and spun his new fiancee around. When they calmed down, they headed back to the house to tell their families the good news.

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