All It Took Was You
Please see part 1 for disclaimers.
"Ahh! You arent wearing that to dinner are you?" Tony asked with his hands covering his chest from the small sofa in the master suite. Harry had been ordered down stairs after an appropriate outfit had been found for her, leaving Tony behind to help Desi get ready. Desi held up the outfit laughing at Tonys dramatic display, making Harrys threat pop into her head. She loved it when Harry was overprotective of her, and the look on Tonys face when Harry had called him a fruitcake had been priceless. Tony had been given strict orders not to let her pick up anything that weighed more than an egg, and she wasnt allowed to stoop for anything.
"You are so mean," said Desi sticking her tongue out at him. Harrys parents were treating them all to dinner at one of the French Quarter Restaurants that night. After a vigorous shower, she and Harry had taken a nap for most of the afternoon. It was nice to not have any medical emergencies take Harry away for the weekend since she had talked one of the other doctors into taking her calls.
"And you love it, but believe me girl, Harry would not love you in that. Makes you look fat." Tony pointed his finger at the dress in her hand while shaking his head.
"Tony unless youve missed it, I am fat. As in, Ive gained forty pounds in eight months." Desi waved her other hand along her midsection to make her point. "Its a wonder Harry still sleeps in the same bed with me."
"No, thats pregnant, not fat. And you know that tall, dark and rude is crazy about you. My little love bug tells me she goes around the hospital talking about you and that baby adnauseam. Youve turned our prickly pear into a veritable chatterbox I tell you. Now go get that green number we picked up a couple of weeks ago and Ill zip you up. And for Gods sakes, dont bend down to get the shoes. Im sure Kenneth would find some benefit to me having no teeth, but it would ruin my look." Tony wiggled his blonde eyebrows at her when she arched one of her own at the last comment he had made. "Oh like you dont know what Im talking about Mrs. Basantes."
"You will not be allowed around my child at this rate pumpkin, and I thought you called Kenneth, Sugar Pants?" Desi asked as she stepped into the large closet and stripped off her robe.
"Where did you hear that name?" demanded Tony. Since she was in the closet, Desi missed him stomping his foot for emphasis. These verbal sparring matches with Desi were the highlight of his day. They were planning to open a gallery together as soon as Desi was able, they just hadnt told their partners yet.
"From me, sweet tooth. Go share your company with the others and Ill take over the zipping duties from you." Harry held the dress for Desi to step into as Tony left the room grumbling. As soon as he closed the door, Harry dropped the dress and swept Desi into her arms. Their alone time had been somewhat diminished with all the guests they had been having, so Harry liked to sneak some in whenever she could. "Hows my little mommy doing?"
"Hungry, but thats not unusual. What are you doing up here?" Desi tugged on Harrys belt to make her step closer. "How about you kiss me first, then answer." After they broke off for lack of air, Desi ran her nail along the crisp cotton of Harrys shirt trying to ignore the voice that was screaming at her to go back to bed. "You know Harry, you have a way of turning me on even in this state."
"What, with my hand in your panties? I thought thats how I usually did it?" teased Harry. She wiggled her fingers to drive her point home.
"Stop it. Im already regretting we have to go out after that kiss, dont make it worse." Desi reached around and pinched Harrys bottom. The fingers between her legs werent stopping, and she wasnt moving away. "You could send me into labor."
"Im dying to meet the little guy anyway, so think of something better than that." Harry walked them backward toward the sofa Tony had been occupying earlier. Easing Desi down, Harry dropped to her knees in front of her.
"Promise you wont mess up my makeup?"
"I promise my mouth will go nowhere near your makeup baby," Harry swore. For the next twenty minutes their guests downstairs welcomed all the new arrivals, glad the girls were enjoying some time alone.
"Harry Basantes are you in there bothering that girl again? I swear to you that Im going to start putting saltpeter in your coffee in the morning. Now get your curly hard head out here and go talk to your guests, and let Desi finished getting dressed," bellowed Mona from the hall. She knew better than to just walk in. These two went at it so much that the Lord Almighty could walk in on them and be told to wait a moment.
"I was helping the woman I love into her dress old woman, so leave me alone. Desi will vouch for me Im sure." Harry opened the door and tried to look innocent.
"Yeah? Then why you wearing a different shirt than when you came up here?" asked Mona with her arms crossed over her chest tapping her foot.
"My shirt got wrinkled while I was helping with the dress, besides it didnt match with what Desi has on," Harry shot back tapping her own foot. "Doesnt she look beautiful?"
Harry pointed in Desis direction, in an attempt to change the subject.
"She always looks beautiful smarty pants. Though why the girl wants to bring another one of you into this world is beyond me?" teased Mona.
"That ones easy Mona, its because I think shes perfect." Desi was caught off guard when Harry swept her up into her arms and carried her down the stairs. She was giving her taxi service a thank you kiss when the doorbell rang. "Who are we missing?" asked Desi.
"Just Rach, Serena and their little man." Harry put Desi down but kept her arms around her when they reached the bottom of the steps.
Mona moved to open the door expecting to find the perpetually late Serena and Rachel. The moment she cracked the door, four-year-old Butch came racing through it straight to Harry and Desi.
"Hey Uncle Harry, guess what?"
"Whats up little buddy?" Harry let go of Desi momentarily to pick the little dynamo up and hug him. He was a little unsure of their feelings now that Harry and Desi were going to have a baby, so Harry had been lavishing more attention than usual on him. In his four years, Butch had enjoyed Harrys full attention, so she wanted him to not feel any less important with the addition of another baby.
"Were coming to eat with you, but you gotta talk to the new lady first." The little blonde kissed Harry then leaned over and greeted Desi. He had come to love Desi as much as he did Harry since Desi would spend a lot of time with the little boy she had come to regard as a nephew in the back studio whenever he come to visit. Together they had created some of the artwork that hung in both Harry and Serenas offices.
"New lady?" asked Harry.
"Yeah sweetie, we ran into her coming up the walk, so we gave her an escort to the door. I just thought she was a friend of your mom and dad." Serena stepped aside to reveal a mature but attractive petite blonde woman dressed in an elegant outfit. When Maria shook her head in the negative, Harry stepped forward putting herself between Desi and this stranger at their door, and her father moved next to Desi. With everything going on, they werent taking any chances with anyone they didnt know.
"Im sorry to interrupt, but does Desiree Thompson live here?" The strap of the womans leather purse was twisted in her hand as she scanned the faces in the room.
"Who wants to know?" asked Harry staring the woman down.
"Her mother," was the quiet reply. Harry was about to tell the woman to get out for playing such a sick joke when she heard her father shout to her.
"Harry come quick!" When Harry turned around Desi was slumped against Raul. Wanting to get as much distance between this loon at her door and Desi, Harry picked up the limp form and carried her back up the stairs.
"Mona, my bag darlin," was the only orders Harry issued as she moved quickly to their bedroom. Raul and Mona followed right behind, a black leather medical bag in the maids hand. Kenneth wanted to go and help but decided to stay behind to provide backup for Maria and the others if needed.
The assembled group downstairs was left stunned by the womans declaration, no on more than Rachel. Just like Desi, the young woman felt faint and leaned heavily on Serena. They had never known their mother, who had supposedly died in childbirth with Rachel, and Desi had been a little past one at the time so she had no memory of the woman. Clyde had kept only one picture of her in the house, claiming that it was the only one left after a roof leak had ruined some boxes he was saving for them in the attic. That fuzzy picture of Clyde and June taken on their honeymoon in Biloxi, sat on their mantle for years. Rachel could never really make out her face, it was taken from so far away, but she imagined from the color of her hair, she looked a lot like Desi.
"Madame, I dont know what kind of game this is, but my daughter-in-law is eight months pregnant and in no position to be thrown this kind of emotional hardball. You had better start praying now, there isnt anything wrong with her or that baby, because there will be no place on this earth you can hide from Harry if there is." Maria turned and looked at Rachel to make sure she was all right, before turning her attention to the blonde in the foyer of the house.
"Maam I know this sounds a little farfetched, but I am Desiree and Rachels mother despite what my ex-husband might have told them. Ive been looking for them since I heard Clyde had died, but havent had any luck until now. I had no idea she was with child, and was married to your son Harry." June knew this first meeting was not going to be easy, but it had spiraled beyond what even she could have imagined.
"Harriet is my daughter Mrs.?" asked Maria. She looked at Serena, who now had Butch and Rachel plastered on each side of her. "Sit her down Serena, and Tony, get her a glass of water."
"My name in June Fontaine maam, and I am truly sorry for springing this news like this. I just want to find my children." June looked at the group again trying to assess what would happen next.
"Well Mrs. Fontaine, why dont you have a seat for a moment while I check on Desi. Kenneth dear, make sure she doesnt go wandering about will you?" With that, Maria turned on her heel and started up the stairs. Maria had never been a woman to be trifled with, especially when it came to her children and her family.
"Did she just say that Harry was a woman?" asked June to no one in particular. Rachel stood across from her wanting nothing more than to start asking the million questions that were running through her mind, but could only manage to stand there using Serena as a lifeline. The shock of the womans statement had almost locked her jaw and knees in place. There was a small seed in the back of Rachels mind that wanted to just unleash the years of anguish she and Desi had suffered on the woman across from her. How dare she leave them for a better life and abandon the two of them with Clyde. Rachel took in the expensive but tasteful jewelry, the designer clothes and smooth skin and had an overwhelming desire to slap the woman.
"Desi baby, come on wake up for me sweetheart. Youre safe now baby, come on." Harry was kneeling on the bed next to Desi wrapping a blood pressure cuff on her arm. Raul was behind her on the phone trying to find their obstetrician to talk over what had just happened.
When Desis eyes fluttered open she found Harry hovering over her with her stethoscope in her ears. The room still looked fuzzy and she wasnt exactly sure how she had gotten back to their room. "Does this mean you want to play doctor again? Do you remember that afternoon honey?" Desi asked in a scratchy voice. When she started talking, Harry almost passed out from relief, and Raul started laughing at the first thing Desi had thought to say.
"I sure do baby, only lets talk about that when Papi isnt in the room ok? How are you feeling baby?" Harry smoothed the short blonde hair away from Desis face, and checked the green eyes she loved.
"I feel ok I guess? Did a woman just come in and say she was my mother?" Desi grabbed Harrys hand and kissed the knuckles, still not sure of the sequence of events.
"Yeah, that would be about right, but dont worry about that now. I want to make sure youre ok before we begin to sort that out," said Harry. Behind her Raul had finally gotten Ellie Eschete on the phone. Getting her to hold a moment, Raul handed the phone to his daughter.
"Hello Elli, Desi just fainted on me and I wanted to check in with you. Her pressures a little on the low side, but the rest of her vitals are all right. Should I bring her in?" Harry proceeded to explain the events that had just occurred in their home.
"Meet me at the office in fifteen minutes, the movie I was in wasnt that good anyway. And Harry, keep her away from this woman for the time being. I dont want any more stress put on Desi than necessary," ordered Ellie. The rumpled looking doctor stood in the lobby of the Palace Theater trying to figure out which of the twenty theaters she had come out of. "Give me a minute to find Sam, then well head out."
"Tell her Im sorry to ruin your evening, but this couldnt wait." Harry trusted Desis doctor implicitly when it came to anything medical, but the absent minded woman usually was kept in line by her partner in life as well as in medicine.
"Are you kidding, I think they just keep changing the name, but its the same movie, Im convinced. You blow up something every ten minutes and kill ten thousand extras, end of story. Maybe I could get you to talk to her about what women expect in a date. Get moving," said Ellie. Standing at the bottom of the darkened theater, Ellie crooked her finger at Samantha to get her up and moving.
"Ellie its just getting to the good part," complained Sam, already pulling her car keys out of her pocket.
"I promise to make it up to you later by renting The Godfather, parts one through three, but its Desi my love. Harry just called and theyre meeting us at the office in fifteen minutes." That cancelled any more complaints from Sam as they walked out to the huge parking lot.
Both of them had been highly entertained when the Basantes couple had first come in, and they got to see the big mother hen Harry had turned into. With Desi, Harry was as far removed from the terror that made residents quake in their shoes, as you could get. Sam and Ellie had met Harry and Kenneth in medical school, and while each had chosen different specialties, they had remained good friends.
The day they found the name Desiree Basantes on their appointment roster, it had made them curious as to the relation to their old school friend. Basantes wasnt a common name in New Orleans. Located two floors below Harrys clinic on the Mercy Hospital Clinic Complex, the two partners had to smile when they got their first look at the small blonde dragging Harry behind her. By the look on the tall surgeons face, the two could see it was game, set and match as far as Harrys heart was concerned.
On the way to the clinic, Sam and Ellie discussed what had happened and concentrated on Desi and the babys well being. The other issue of what had caused it could be left for later. At the house on St. Charles Avenue, the tension downstairs was thick, as upstairs Harry got Desi ready to go.
"Mami please go down and keep our guests confined to the living room while we duck out the kitchen," said Harry as she placed the receiver back on its cradle. "Ellies going to meet us at the clinic in a couple of minutes sweetheart, so lets go." Desis color was returning to normal, but she wasnt taking any chances.
When Harry picked her up and cradled her against her chest, the small woman protested, just not strongly. "Honey, I think I can walk on my own."
"Humor me will you baby? Ive had enough excitement for one night thank you. Papi sorry about dinner, why dont you all go without us?" Harry knew it would be a moot point, but it was worth a shot.
"Well be right behind you Harry, so tell the girls to leave the door unlocked. We can all eat some chicken salad sandwiches when we get back, there has to be five pounds of the stuff in the frig." Harrys father moved closer to them and kissed them both on the forehead. Desi could see the worry in the blue eyes that were twins of the ones she loved, and smiled to reassure him.
"Thats my fault Papi, your grandbaby is on a chicken kick lately. I cant seem to get enough of the stuff," said Desi. Turning to Harry she said, "Vamonos." Lets go.
Maria walked in to the room to find everyone sitting and no one talking. Butch jumped up from his mothers lap and ran to his adopted grandmother. All her grandchildren called Maria, Abbi, short for Abuela, which is Spanish for grandmother, and Raul, Papi.
"Abbi wheres my Uncle Harry and Aunt Desi?" Butch didnt understand what was going on, but everyone sitting around him seemed to be either angry or very sad.
"Desi had to go to the doctor baby, and Harry had to go with her. But dont worry, you know Uncle Harry wont let anything happen to her," explained Maria as she held the little boy tight. "The rest of you please go on to the restaurant and enjoy the evening. Raul and I promise to make it up to you, maybe tomorrow."
"Oh dear God," said June through a sob. How had something that was supposed to be a joyous reunion, have turned so wrong? June just sat in the wing-backed chair even though everyone around her was getting up to leave.
"Listen, Im not really sure what to believe, but heres our number. If you like, why dont you give me your number and Ill call you later," said Rachel. The resemblance between this woman and her sister was too uncanny to ignore, but Rachels fist priority was to the person that had taken care of her all her life. June just stared at her like she was in a daze before answering her.
"Thank you young lady," said June with a smile. She didnt recognized the young woman before her since the last time she had seen her was three days after her birth.
"My name is Rachel Thompson, Im Desis sister." Serena stepped behind Rachel and put her hands on her lovers shoulders. She would follow any lead Rachel set, but Serena also wanted to insulate her partner from as much pain as possible.
"You both are so beautiful, I never imagined," stated June. She had found Desi, and through her figured to find her youngest daughter.
"Well have time to talk later, but we have to go. Let me make sure that Desi is all right then well make plans to call you. For what its worth, I really want to believe you," said Rachel. The little girl still trapped inside her wanted nothing more than to cluctch on to what June was saying.
"Thank you, I just want the chance to explain," said June. Rachel nodded her head then walked past June to the door. She couldnt fall apart now that Desi needed her so no one judged her for Rachels lack of emotional response. All that had happened in the months since the girls had come back into their circle had prepared them all to except anything.
Mona led the woman to the front door and locked it behind her. Harrys parents were waiting for the maid by the car at the back. Because of Monas relationship with Desi, there was not question on her coming along.
"Harry what do you want to have, a boy or a girl?" She and Harry were waiting for the parking lot elevator and she had just pressed the floor that would open to the clinic building. Harry as holding her again, and Desi was running the fingers of one hand through the curly hair on Harrys head. When the doors of the elevator slid open, a rush of hot air blew out into the lot. They rode up two floors then stepped out into the long corridor washed in soft ambient lighting and headed toward another bank of elevators at the end that would take them to Ellie and Sams offices.
"I dont care what it is baby, just as long as you both come out of this ok. Why do you have a preference?" Harry looked at Desis face as they moved closer to their destination. They had discussed not wanting to know what the sex was, wanting to be surprised, but they hadnt talked about what they wanted.
"No, not as far as the sex is concerned, but on looks I have some requests. I look at your two nephews and niece, and thats what I want. A beautiful baby with thick black hair, blue eyes and chiseled features. Theyre young yet but you can tell theyre going to be tall. I guess I just want us to push him or her in the park, and have people know you are one of the parents. I think if it looks like you, then maybe theyll inherit your personality too." Desi buried her face in the collar of Harrys shirt to feel a connection with her. The feelings were fading, but Desi couldnt help but think of the first time they had come to the medical campus together. All that was left of that time was the faint scar on her knee.
"I dont know baby, a little girl with blonde hair and green eyes would be nice. Even if the kid looks like you sweetheart, people will figure out the parentage from the goofy look on my face. She could grow up to be a surgeon that makes pottery as a sideline, that is when shes not making the population of the city swoon because of her great beauty," said Harry. The phone clipped to her waist let out a soft ring so Desi reached down and answered it.
"Dr. Harry Basantess phone, can I help you?"
"Desi, is that you?" asked Roger Landry. The search team had just sent back news, and it was good and bad.
"Yes, Im sorry, I dont recognize your voice." Desi shrugged her shoulders for Harrys benefit as she waited for the man to identify himself.
"Im sure you wouldnt remember, its been awhile, but thats a good thing. In my profession that means Dr. Harrys treating you right."
"Roger, God how are you? Tell me you are calling to tell me they found Byron?" Desi felt the arms carrying her tighten slightly.
"Sorry kid, there is some news though. Three of the guys took one look at that hellhole of a swamp and turned themselves in. As for the others the search crew found one of the escapees about three miles from the gate they left out of. His partners in crime left him to die from an alligator bite, and damn if Chuck didnt accommodate them. They have another fifteen or so miles of the same kind of terrain, and believe me, I wouldnt want to wade through it in my underwear. I just wanted to keep you posted, and Ill call back if there are any new developments." Roger and his new partner were out running down leads as to where the men on the run might end up if they made it into the city.
"Thanks Roger, Ill let Harry know and please stay in touch." Desi explained the new developments to her partner, surprising herself in that she was so calm about the whole thing. It seemed absurd all of a sudden, like she had a starring role of a soap opera, all they needed was dramatic organ music in the background. "When we tuned in yesterday, Desi had just fainted as her long dead mother walked through the door. Her abusive ex-husband, and five other prisoners were heading back to get her, dressed only in their underwear. What will happen today? Even we dont know, so stay tuned to As the Beignet Fries to find out." Desi laughed harder at Harrys arched brow after finishing the silent monologue in her head.
Snapping the rubber gloves off and throwing them in the trash Ellie concluded her examination. Sam had assisted through the whole thing watching the fetal heart monitor closely. Desi could in all probability deliver a healthy baby, but the more time spent in the womb the better. "Everything looks fine Desi and soon you will feel junior here start to drop. Were in the home stretch now. While Im not thrilled you passed out, I dont see any complications from it. I have to ask though, are you going to be meeting with the visitor you got tonight?" asked Ellie. They all followed her back to the large office Ellie shared with Sam.
"Im not sure what to expect, but the answer to your question would have to be yes. Dont worry though, Ill have my big teddy bear with me, so Ill be ok," said Desi, as she grabbed Harrys hand. Harry noticed the delighted look that crossed Sams face, and figured the nickname would be all over the building by nine Monday morning. The noise coming from the waiting room got them all to get up and head back in that direction.
"Ok, but I want you to cut off contact if you start getting upset. Call me old fashioned, but I dont think its good for the baby," said Ellie. The two of them walked together, as Harry and Sam followed behind them bumping shoulders and doing a little shoving. "Dont make me turn around Sam Casey," said Ellie in a threatening voice. The two behind them had a way of turning into three year olds when they got together.
"Well?" asked Maria and Mona together when Desi stepped through the door.
"Everything is great you two." Desi stepped up to Rachel and opened her arms. They would have to deal with the events of the evening eventually, but there was still time to enjoy a family dinner that night.
"I say we call the restaurant and ask if theyll still take us," said Harry. When she got nods from everyone, Harry started dialing. She added two more to the list and reached for Desis hand.
"Im starved," said Desi, getting a laugh from everyone in the hallway.
"Well I am."
"Try and not think about it stupid. Were all hungry, but there aint shit to eat out here," said Byron. Mike had been complaining about food for the last hour.
They were now down to five, and were making steady progress through the swamp. They hadnt gotten a hundred yards from where they had left Chuck when a water moccasin had sunk its fangs into Rolands upper thigh, knocking him off his feet. Gazette had pulled it off and tossed it against one of the cypress trees, but not before it had injected a lethal dose of venom into his partner. Roland had tried keeping up with them, but the swelling in his leg was making it difficult. Without his knowledge, Rolands fear was driving the poison through his system that much faster.
"Wait up you guys, Roland cant go anymore," called Gazette. They four men looked back to see Gazette holding Rolands head above water. From where they stood he already looked dead, so had no intention of stopping. It had been six hours since the snake had done its deadly job.
"Either just let him go, or stay here with him, but Im not stopping," said Tyrell. This would not the place he would want to be buried, so he had no intention of dying out there.
"Im with the black guy," said Byron Sr. Gazette kissed the forehead of the man he had known since they were children and let him go. If he wasnt dead, the water would finish the job. As they moved away, there was a stream bubbles that rose from the water before Roland was no more.
"My name is Tyrell Lagrie, ass wipe, try and remember it. On second thought just dont talk period, its bad enough having to go through this without your crazy ass piping up every ten seconds with some stupid shit." The sun had gone down at least an hour ago, but they hadnt run into any more wet or dry land. By silent consensus, they had all just kept moving. There had to be an end to this stinking hell sooner or later.
"What you in for Tyrell Lagrie?" asked Byron Sr. There was something about this man he didnt like but he hadnt narrowed it down yet. One thing, the man didnt have a single hair on his head or chest. What kind of man doesnt have any hair on his chest? Byron Sr. asked himself the question as she watched the powerful looking body plow through the water.
"I beat a man to death outside of his house."
"What cha go and do something like that for?" The old man jerked sideways suddenly as something swam by and brushed his leg. After the fate of the first two men, Byron Sr. had no desire to join them.
"He beat my sister and broke her back. I figured he should have picked on someone that could fight back. I got no tolerance for a man that beats up on women, it aint right. What you three losers in for?" Tyrell stopped so suddenly that Mike ran into his back. The youngest Simoneaux was grateful for the distraction before they all started comparing jail sentences and offenses. It was his guess that Tyrell would not agree with his familys treatment of the opposite sex.
Tyrell looked ahead of them and in the distance could make out a faint light. Now the question was, what was it? It could be a house of some kind, or the spotlights of the search party looking for them. As bad as the swamp was to travel through on foot, Tyrell knew it was their best chance at escape because the authorities couldnt use the dogs out here effectively. The old looking hounds were trained on a daily basis to hunt down scented targets, and they were damn good at their jobs. Once the dogs got their first smell, they shook off their lazy demeanor and looked like the hounds of hell possessed.
From the prison library, Tyrell knew that they had the main road to the prison on their right, and the Pearl River to their left. The river was easy to sweep with helicopters sporting spotlights, and the main road would be heavily patrolled. The book on the prison made no mention of any inhabitants out in the swamp leading into the penitentiary.
"What in the fuck did you do that for idiot?" asked Byron Sr. When Mike stopped suddenly, his father had slammed into the back of him and lost his footing. In an instant he was pawing at the iron band that was Tyrells arm. A large hand had closed over his throat and had shut off his air supply.
"Shut the fuck up old man and I might not have to kill you," whispered Tyrell. In the quiet of the night sounds were intensified out here, and he hadnt come all this way to get caught now. Pressing one finger to his lips, Tyrell pointed to the light up ahead. "Stay here and let me go see what that is. If you see it move, get some cover because it might be the cops."
Without another word he slipped away from them and headed toward what could be his ticket out of there. Tyrell cocked his arm back ready to throw a punch when he heard the water ripple behind him, stopping at the last minute before he hit the younger Byron. "Theres no way Im losing sight of you Lagrie, if thats a way out of here were all going."
From behind the crevices of a cypress tree the two listened to the conversation going on about a hundred feet from them. Along with the sound of two men talking, Tyrell and Byron could hear the hum of a generator and the swarm of the bugs the lights were attracting.
"No sheriff, I aint seen nothin suspicious. Got my trusty security system with me at all times though so you might get them back with some holes if they come tracking through here. Heard yall found one of them with a chunk missing this morning though, any truth in that?" asked Ross Pierre. The man lived in the modest shack two months out of the year so that he could hunt alligators. In the past five years there had been a jump in the market not only for the hides, but for the tail meat and heads as well.
"Yeah, some drug dealer from New Orleans found one of your pets sometime after they started running. Bled to death out on a mud pile like a stuck pig. The only salvation was it aint hot, otherwise the warden says they start stinkin right from the start. No great loss in the long run though buddy, so dont fret over it. Take care and Ill check on you in a couple of days. Radio in if you see anything. The place is crawling with deputies, but they only got seven miles to the road, which is where everyone figures theyre heading. Got some heat waiting for them there though stretched out every five hundred yards. Stay put for awhile, wouldnt want any of those snipers to mistake you for a convict," said Sheriff Tyler. He started the electric trawl motor and pushed off from Ross Pierres pier. The small boat didnt go very fast with the small motor, but it was the best way to get around out here. His spotlight scanned the trees and water line, but found only local wildlife instead of human movement. The two hiding behind the tree held their breath as the sheriff headed back in the direction of the main road.
They heard the heavy boots of the man in the shack as he headed back inside. The dim light coming off the pier showed a flatbed boat with a push pole as the means of propelling it through the water. With a goal in sight, Tyrell waited for the man to close the front door then swam underwater until he came up next to the front of the boat. He motioned for Byron to find the others while he waited for the guy to fall asleep to untie the boat.
Byron moved back in the direction that they had left the others, trying to locate them in the dark. After he was a distance from the shack, he heard his name being called softly from somewhere in front of him. Mike, his father and Gazette all huddled together near a group of cypress knees sprouting out of the water.
"What in the fuck is that smell?" whispered Byron as he got closer to them.
"How in the hell should I know? Do I look like a swamp man to you?" asked Mike. His brother was right, it was like the water they were standing in had turned rancid all of a sudden. Not that the shit smelled great to begin with, but now it was down right ripe.
"Come on, we found a way out of here. Just shut the hell up and dont make any noise. The fucker in there is armed to the teeth it sounds like, and I dont want to find out what kind of firepower he can lay down on our asses if provoked," said Byron in a low voice, cocking his head toward the shack behind him.
When the generator kicked off for the night the darkness swallowed the structure back into obscurity giving the men the cover they needed. They waited a bit longer to give the guy a chance to fall asleep before Tyrell untied the boat and pulled it behind him. Once the shack was out of sight they men climbed on board and Tyrell took the first turn at pushing them along with the long pole.
"What the fuck did yall bathe in while you were hiding?" asked Tyrell. The four others smelled like someone had dunked them in urine and were starting to scratch with a vengeance.
"We smell like you shit head so shut up." Byron felt like someone had lit a fire under his skin and it was spreading.
"Ever heard of Nutria Itch dipwad?" Tyrell asked with a smile that showed perfect white teeth.
"No," answered Mike feeling the same sensations the other two men were.
"Youre going to in just a little while," the man said with a laugh. Tyrell couldnt wait for the sun to go up to the see the results of the infestation that took weeks to get rid of, and was made worse by scratching. With only the white of their underwear showing mutely in the moonlight, they maneuvered their way forward toward the main road with only the sound of the of the pole coming in and out of the water with a plop.
"Whats the first thing you are going to have when we get back to the city?" Gazette asked Mike in a whisper. It didnt seem like you could hear a normal conversation over the din of mosquitoes and other wildlife but Tyrell had warned them about making too much noise.
"Im going to order the biggest steak I can find, with a baked potato and a cold beer. What you interested in getting?" answered Mike.
"Im going to find myself a woman first, before I think about food. Three years is a long time to go with out, but as far as food, Id have to give that one some thought," said Gazette. He tried to make out his toes in the moonlight, sure that it would take three months for them to unprune from being in the water so long. Note to self, next time escape fully clothed, Gazette thought. "I love Mexican, so Id start with well its a hard decision."
"Just pick something to start us off." Serena was ready to eat her napkins she was so hungry.
"Well start with four platters of the seafood nachos, and beer for everyone that raises their hand," said Harry raising her hand. The waitress left with their appetizer and drink orders leaving the long table to talk until she returned. An hour later they were eating almost every specialty dish the Santa Fe Restaurant had to offer and in between bites the conversation was getting louder. Their tab total so far and the fact that they were in a room all alone kept the management from complaining too much, but the other patrons had stopped talking and listened to the lively conversation coming from the last room by the bathroom.
The old restaurant was located in an old house across the street from Washington Park, and made what Harry referred to as gourmet Mexican food. The seating was dispersed in one large room downstairs and a variety of rooms upstairs in what everyone assumed were the bedrooms at one time. Desi had to laugh at the old claw foot tub in the full sized bathroom that housed only one toilet. With no beepers and no one on call, Harry, Kenneth, Serena and Sam relaxed a bit and started drinking beer. Their partners just sat back and enjoyed the sharp bantering that was flying around the table, all gathering ammunition for a later date. Because Butch was with them, they kept the conversation interesting but clean.
Rachel and Serena had ridden with them to the restaurant to talk about what had happened. The two sisters decided that they would wait for the morning to call the number June had left before leaving that evening. If the woman they had seen earlier that evening really was their mother, the two sisters couldnt think of one explanation for her abandonment. By mutual consent they decided to wait until the next day before they passed judgment.
When Desi emerged from the her third bathroom run, she immediately noticed the tall redhead standing next to the small bar upstairs waiting for a drink right off. The woman was intently staring into the room Desis group was sitting in. The tight, sleeveless blue silk dress she had on revealed a slim, well-proportioned figure that, when combined with the beautiful face, made a devastating combination. Whoever it was, she didnt even turn around when the bartender handed her a Margarita.
"Could I have a glass of water with a wedge of lemon in it please?" asked Desi. As the man scooped ice into a glass she looked up at the woman, who had finally come out of the trance she seemed to be in.
"Sorry, I just saw a page from my past and it surprised me," she gave as an explanation for her staring. She shrugged her shoulders before she went back to her staring.
"Good chapter I hope." Desi squeezed the lemon into her glass and waited to see if her assumption was correct.
"More like the chapter of lost opportunity. Good looking, but too self absorbed to notice anyone else around her. Some people just arent capable of love I guess." The woman raised her glass in salute before taking a small sip and continuing. "Its a shame too. Put the looks together with a considerate nature and it made for a winning combination."
"Oh I dont know. Sometimes people are just patiently waiting for the right one to come along. Stranger things have been known to happen." Desi could see whose back the gray eyes seemed to be glued to. Harry baby, thank God you never figured out just what kind of affect you have. I dont think I would have been so lucky to have gotten you back if you had, thought Desi.
Desi had run into them around town every so often when she was out with Tony. They were the women that had drifted in and out of Harrys life before they had found each other again. The first encounters had left her with an overwhelming feeling of jealousy, until Tony introduced them. All of them flocked to Tony for a Harry update to see if they had a second chance with the successful surgeon. It was then that Tony would take great pleasure in introducing Desi and she saw the jealousy in their eyes. Desi had achieved what they all had wanted. The other thing that occurred to her was the fact that not one of them looked like her, and none of them had green eyes. Tony had explained it in his off the cuff manner in saying, "She couldnt replace you, so why add torture to the torment."
"That honey, would take an act of God."
"No honey, just good sex and no birth control was all it took." The shocked look on the womans face and Tonys ghost wink told Desi she had come a long way in a short time. The best satisfaction came when Harry turned around looking for her. The blue eyes were a little glassy, but still full of love.
The woman was still staring when Desi walked away with an uneven gait to accommodate her load. It was a little mean maybe, but it never hurt to flex a little proprietary muscle for Harry, she was entitled. Desi enjoyed the welcome back kiss near the door as the silk dress slinked away.
"You ok baby?" Harry was far from drunk, but the beer was working up one hell of a frisky mood Desi if the deep voice near her ear was any indication.
"Never better lover."
"Friend of yours?" Harry thrilled Desi with the question without her knowledge.
"Nope, no one important." Harry was so warm and smelled so good Desi stepped closer.
"There are other people in the room," interjected Sam.
"Easily remedied," Harry shot back. The car keys come out of her pocket and were thrown to her father, and then Harry just waved good-bye pointing Desi toward the door.
"I think the baby likes when you do that," said Desi three hours later. If Harry still found her desirable, who was she to argue? The cabdriver that had driven them home would probably concur. "At this rate, I may be pregnant again already."
"I cant help it, you are delicious." With Desi propped up against her, Harrys mind wandered to how different their lives would be when the baby came.
"Im glad you think so honey. You do wonders for my ego, not to mention my back muscles." Desis lower back had been killing her for the past two days, and only walking and Harry was making it feel better. Harry was about to ask about Desis back when the phone rang. They both groaned knowing that the damn thing only rang after eleven when someone had arrived in pieces at one of the local hospitals.
"Basantes here." When Harry answered the phone, Desi took the opportunity to run to the bathroom, convinced their child had reduced her bladder to the size of an acorn.
"No Willy, Im not taking calls this weekend, besides I had about three beers earlier. I have every confidence in you to do a good job. You did learn from the best after all." Harry smiled up at Desi as she padded out of the bathroom back to the bed. A line from an old Robin Williams concert Harry had seen popped into her head as the naked body curled back beside her. One day you get home and while you were at work your wife got a visit from the titty fairy, or something along those lines. They did look like theyd be a little uncomfortable to carry around, but that didnt take away from how good Desi looked. Harry found the whole package adorable.
"Listen Willy, just go in there and order all the scans and tests youll need, Sally will help you out there, then prep for surgery. Its that simple."
"Come on Dr. Harry, the kids only ten and someone hit him with a truck. Im not asking you to scrub in, Im just asking for a second opinion." William Franklin was one of Harrys surgery fellows, and had been with her since the beginning of his surgical residency.
"All right Ill meet you in the emergency room in twenty, so start those tests and put rushes on all of them." Desi let out a long sigh and hoped she could get some sleep with Harry gone. "Im sorry baby, but the kids only ten. I wont be long, I promise."
"Im not mad at you Harry. I just dont sleep great when youre not here, so hurry it up. And be careful," called Desi into the closet. She shook her head wondering what the little boys parents would think when they got a load of the young doctor in jeans and a t-shirt.
"What we have here Willy, is multiple fractures in the right leg, and a major fracture close to the left with knee complications. You need a pin here and here, then go in with the scope and clean all this up," said Harry pointing at the screen in front of them. The slow trickle of film was finally piecing the extent of the young boys injuries an hour later. "As soon as the scan of his head comes back, call Harold in neurology and have him take a look. Scrub up Willy, you got a long night ahead of you. Ill stop and bring his parents up to speed before I head out. Call me if you run into any complications." The coffee in Harrys hand tasted like someone had made it sometime last year, but it was keeping her alert. The events from the night before and earlier were finally starting to take their toll. The fact it was now two in the morning wasnt helping any.
"Thanks Dr. Harry, I appreciate your input. Have a good night." William slapped her softly on the back. He, like many other, were grateful that Harry had decided to teach as well as carry a private practice. Harry was a hard taskmaster but once her students finished their rotations, they had the necessary skills and knowledge for almost every case they would ever encounter.
"Hell be off his feet for about four months, but after that with no set backs, Bobby will be back to normal. Dr. Franklin will come out after hes done and talk with you. Ill have Sally come out here every hour or so if she can to let you know how its going. Do you have any questions?" asked Harry. The two solemn looking people shook their heads and continued to hold each other. "Ok then, just walk to the desk over there if you need something." Harry got up to find the ER nurse Sally standing right behind her. The older woman had waited for Harry to finish, and Harry could see she looked a little anxious.
"Harry you have to head over to Mercy right now," said Sally. The Land Rover was waiting right outside after Sally moved it, and she was pulling the tired doctor toward the door.
"No way, Im going home. Desi will kill me if I take another call instead of heading back home."
"Believe me honey, shell kill you if you dont show up in that ER in the next fifteen minutes. Your parents are on their way over there with her Harry. Desis in labor," said Sally along with some more pulling.
"Yeah right, Desis not due yet, she cant be in labor."
"Harry this is your kid right?" asked Sally. They stopped for only a moment by the desk.
"Yeah," answered Harry bringing her eyebrows together.
"And you are so well known for your patience and calm demeanor. Ill bet twenty-five years from this date my youngest, who wants to be a nurse, will be having this conversation with someone who looks just like you. He or she, God forbid, will have the same exasperating personality," explained Sally. Harrys phone and pager went off simultaneously as the color drained from her face.
"Just so you know, I dont hate you JUST YET, but the night is young and if you dont get your ass moving right now, all bets are off," said Desi in a deceptively calm voice. Labor, she had figured out, was now tops on her list of most unpleasant ways to be brought out of a deep sleep.
"Desiree Basantes, you cannot be in labor. That does not happen for another two weeks," said Harry pointing a finger in the air for emphasis. She pulled the phone away from her ear with the same confused look she had just given Sally and handed the phone to the nurse. "Here she wants to talk to you."
"Yes Desi, shes standing right next to me. Are you sure? Well ok," said Sally as she whacked Harry on the back of the head before giving her the phone back.
"Move your ass Harry," was the last thing Harry heard before Desi disconnected the call.
Springing to the door like someone had lit her feet on fire, Harry left the chaos of the Charity Emergency Room and headed uptown. Even the distraught parents Harry had just spoken to had to laugh at the exchange between doctor, phone and nurse. "That resident has a lot to learn about children," the young mother told Sally.
"That resident, is the head of orthopedic surgery here at the hospital maam. The most important lesson shes going to learn tonight though has nothing to do with children. It will have to do with women and labor. Hopefully Desi, her partner, will stay away from those talented hands."
"We thought Dr. Franklin was in charge," said Bob, the young boys father.
"No sir, Dr. Franklin works for her." Sally pointed toward the swinging doors Harry had just run out of. Since Harry wasnt there to do it, Sally let a little laugh escape at the mans assumptions. Sallys laugh died just as quickly when she heard the crash outside. Oh, it couldnt be, thought the nurse.
Continued in Part 3.
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