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Nicholas Angel was just putting the finishing touches on the cake when he heard a familiar cry from the backyard.
“Stop! In the name of the law.”
He quickly doffed his apron and grabbed the nearby camcorder, not even trying to suppress his grin. The scene that greeted him as he stepped outside just made his smile grow even bigger.
Danny Butterman, wearing his old cowboy costume, was running around the yard, being chased by an energetic 6-year-old girl in similar Western attire. Irene Angel-Butterman ran after her father, clutching the reins of a plush horse as she did.
“Oh no, she’s gonna get me!” he cried as he rounded a tree, the tiny sprite fast on his heels. Nicholas slunk around to the other side of the yard, not wanting to interrupt the scene playing out on his camcorder screen.
At last Danny went left when he should have gone right (intentionally), and Irene sprang up in front of him.
“Hands up, Papa!” she ordered, aiming her fingers at him like a gun.
“Alright, I give up,” Danny sighed. “I’m no match for you, Sheriff.”
Nicholas let out a chuckle, and his husband and daughter turned, finally noticing him. Irene bounded over in excitement.
“Is the cake ready, Daddy?” she asked.
“Everything’s all set, just need to clean up before dinner,” Nicholas replied, telling Danny more than Irene; she had noticed Nicholas was still filming and had taken off, running around the yard, putting on a show for the camera.
“Just be a few minutes, babe,” Danny said, giving Nicholas a quick kiss. “Don’t think she even understands what we’re celebrating.”
The two men watched their daughter galloping around their backyard, occasionally calling out to imaginary outlaws and deputies. Then, with the attention span of a 6-year-old, she dropped her horse and began skipping around in her pink boots, stopping occasionally to pluck a stick or a dandelion from the ground.
“She’s growing up so fast,” Nicholas remarked. “It seems like just yesterday when I met you, Danny, not 10 years ago.”
Danny nodded and took Nicholas’ hand in his, giving it a squeeze. 10 years ago, Nicholas Angel had arrived in Sandford from London, and forever changed Danny’s life for the better. Sure, his dad was in jail, but the tosser deserved it. The Sandford Police ran much smoother and more efficiently under Chief Inspector Angel, and the members of the service had become as much family to Nicholas and Danny as any blood kin.
Danny had also changed Nicholas’ life, in more ways than one. He’d taught the city cop to relax and switch off every now and then, and when Nicholas fell for Danny, he fell hard. Though if you’d told him when he first met the younger officer, Nicholas wouldn’t have believed it. Their relationship may not have started off idyllically, but now they were married and had a beautiful little girl of their own.
These past ten years had been the best years of Nicholas’ life, and he couldn’t wait to see what the next ten years had to bring.
“Happy anniversary, Danny.”