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It has been 8 years since the appeal and the start of our new life together and I could not be happier. We have had our ups and downs like any other couple but the ups definitely out weigh the downs. It took Nikki a while to adjust to not being locked up anymore to be free again. She still has the odd nightmare but not near as often as when she first got out. We have not spent a night apart since that eventful day and our love for each other has continued to grow even further than I thought possible. Every day I find out something new about her that makes me love her even more.
After the appeal, we lived at my home for a while but we found that we needed a fresh start and to get away from the busy part of the city. We ended up finding a place in a quiet neighborhood that allowed us to live above the new store that we bought that has a spacious back yard (room for a potting shed) and plenty of room if we want to expand. I still do some consulting work on the side but I actually just like spending time in our shop but I especially like to spend as much time as I can with Nikki. We couldn't decide on whether we wanted to open up a small book store or a garden shop so we combined the two and added a coffee bar as well. It gives our customers a place to relax and have a coffee, meet up with friends, enjoy a book or even pick up some flowers for on the way home. It also gives me a place to meet any of my clients if I need to. Our shop is simply called "Hope".
The one thing from her time being locked up that has stayed with her is her internal clock and waking up at 6 am every morning even on our days off. However, her alarm clock has now become mine. Before she would just get up, have a coffee, read the paper and then come back to bed, but now it is a little bit different. And I am definitely not going to complain. Being woken up by that smiling face with that twinkle in her eye that says "I love you so much" and then proceeds to make love to me in the way only she knows how and every time is just a little different a little bit more special. I actually look forward to the mornings now and being "woken" up. Beginning your day with a grin on your face and then continue with a jump in your step is not something to mind at all. One of the advantages of living so close to work and owning your own shop is the fact that you can open when you want, close early if you want to or even take a little longer lunch break, if the urge arises.
We both still crave the need to be close to each other, to be able to see the other or to touch the other. Whether or not we are busy or talking to a customer, we still look to find out where the other one is. That part of our relationship has never changed, ever since the beginning when we first met. Even now, the strings to my heart are pulled ever time she calls my name or gives me that wink, and oh how that smile of hers can make my heart skip a beat.
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