All It Took Was You

by

Ali Vali

 

Part 3

"What happened to your head?" Desi had been set to page Harry again when her partner came walking into the cubicle she had been assigned to. The hour since their last conversation had passed with no further labor pains for Desi, and the placement of four stitches into Harry’s left eyebrow.

"Trust me you don’t want to know, but I did try to move my ass here as quickly as possible." Harry teased her partner with a smile on her face. The surgeon was still trying to convince her bruised ego that the accident that had resulted in stitches was because of the excitement of the moment, and not because of clumsiness.

"Harry please tell me, and I didn’t mean to scream at you honey. It was the pain talking." The bandage that covered the cut was small enough for Desi to still see the black sutures. In a move meant to convey comfort, Desi ran the pad of her index finger lightly over the white tape.

"I was running out to my car to get here, when I tripped over my feet and smashed my face into the side view mirror of an ambulance parked outside the emergency room. Nurse Ratchet wouldn’t let me leave until she stitched me up. Told me to tell you, she botched the job on purpose so I’d have a scar to remember the occasion by. Tell me again why you are here?" Harry kissed the fingertip Desi had just run over her brow. The drive to Mercy Emergency had been the longest of her life, and Harry was sure she had run every light between Charity and uptown. She was going to leave with just a tissue pressed over the cut, but Sally had other ideas when she sat Harry down and did a quick patch job. The nurse’s threats were still ringing in her ears.

"Somebody woke me up earlier from a sound sleep to tour the ER at Mercy in anticipation of making a grand entrance into the world. I should have known this kid would have your sense of timing honey. But now, unlike you, the kid is showing reluctance. Does your brow hurt?" The contractions had indeed stopped, as if the baby knew Harry wasn’t there. Having Harry so close had dispelled Desi’s fears of the impending birth of their child and she relaxed into the pillow behind her.

"My kid reluctant, never. Let’s just say they figured out that it wasn’t time yet," said Harry.

"No, your baby is just taking a break cause Miss Desi is three centimeters dilated," said Ellie. For the second time in the weekend, Desi had interrupted a movie she and Sam were watching. This time they were curled up in front of the television set in their den when her pager went off. If given a choice, the doctor would have liked at least another week before Desi delivered, but they would have to sit and wait. "Desi we gave you some medication to try and stop the contractions, but get used to the idea of spending some time with us. No matter what, we are admitting you for at least tonight." Ellie saw the pout forming on the blonde’s face and turned to Harry for help.

"Don’t worry sweetheart, I’m sure Ellie is having another bed delivered for me and it should be arriving any time now." The OB doctor disappeared before Harry finished her statement. Desi’s quivering lip was too much for Harry so she lowered the bedrail and climbed in beside Desi. Her parents quietly followed Ellie giving the couple some time alone.

"I did something wrong didn’t I?" Desi’s worst nightmare throughout the pregnancy, to go the whole term then lose the baby in the end. "I’m sorry Harry."

"Shh, baby." Harry gathered the crying woman in her arms. As much as Harry wanted children with Desi, she would never trade Desi’s life or health for it. "You didn’t do anything wrong my love, babies are just temperamental beings. This one weighs over six pounds and has all the pertinent parts so don’t worry about it, you are both going to be fine."

"Harry I just want this with you so bad," started Desi before two long fingers were pressed against her lips.

"Desi, you and the baby are both fine. Just look at the heart monitor sweetheart. The little guy is just chugging along. Even if he comes tonight there isn’t going to be any problems," said Harry pointing to the box near the bed. The nurse walked in to find the long body stretched out next to her patient. With the low lighting and the fact the person’s back was to her, Mitzy made her second mistake with Harry. The first had been months ago when the young nurse wouldn’t stop hitting on her as Harry checked Desi into a room in the hospital.

"You can’t be up there." Harry recognized the voice right off, as did Desi. The woman being held by the tall surgeon wouldn’t soon forget the nurse that had blazingly flirted with Harry as she laid on a gurney with a broken leg, waiting to be put into her hospital room. Mitzy was etched into the small woman’s memory. After that little display and after Harry’s meeting with the nursing director, Mitzy had lost her cushy ward job to the less desired emergency room post. While there was nowhere near the volume of the Charity ER, Mitzy spent the graveyard shift dealing with more stomachaches than she had her whole career.

"Since when is it against hospital policy to comfort an upset patient, Nurse ‘I Am Dying To Be Transferred To The Psychiatric Unit’?" asked Harry. The question made one woman stiffen at the deep voice of her nemesis, while the other burrowed deeper into her lover’s embrace with a smile.

"Dr. Basantes, I didn’t realize that was you and your little friend. What is it this time sweetheart, the husband leave you with a child to raise alone?" Desi grabbed hold of Harry’s shirt to keep her from bolting from the hospital bed. There had been only one other encounter with the bitter nurse before this, and the comments had been similar. She had ignored them the day she was looking for Harry to take her shopping, and she would ignore her now.

"I promise I’ll be good baby so let me go a second, there’s something I have to do." Harry looked Desi in the eye to show she was sincere.

"You promise?" Desi was skeptical knowing how Harry could be when it came to Desi’s feelings being hurt.

"I won’t even talk to her baby, I swear." Harry rolled off the bed and stormed out of the room. One short phone call later, she was back by Desi’s side.

"Where’d you go honey?" Desi smiled at the raspberry sherbet in Harry’s hand. The only thing she craved more than Moan’s chicken salad was raspberry sherbet.

"I just called the chief of surgery at home and told him I resigned from the staff here. Stan lives three blocks from the hospital so I give him less than five minutes to get here." The memory of the sputtering Stan Rising on the phone made Harry laugh as she fed a spoonful of the frozen treat to Desi. By the fourth spoonful, a robe clad Dr. Rising was standing in their cubicle.

"Harry this isn’t fucking funny."

"Not meant to be a joke Stan." When she gave her explanation for leaving, Stan reached for the phone himself. He was not about to lose one of the finest surgeon’s in the country to the rudeness of a spurned ER nurse. At the end of the shift, both the sleeping women missed the very public firing as they were being wheeled to their room.

"Harry wake up," said Ellie softly. It was nine in the morning and Desi had made it through the night without another contraction. Their friend found it sweet to find the two wrapped around each other sleeping in the room Desi had been assigned to.

"Mona go away," mumbled Harry. The deep voice rumbling under her ear made Desi shift further into the middle of the bed, sending Harry over the side of the bed onto the floor. Ellie was about to laugh when she remembered the stitches on the surgeon’s eyebrow.

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"Are you all right?"

"Does it fucking look like I’m all right, you piece of shit?"

"Forget I asked cracker. We are about a mile from the main road so y’all have a decision to make here. Either get out and keep heading in that direction," said Tyrell pointing ahead of them. "Or stay in the boat and go that way with me," he said pointing to the left.

"What’s in that direction?" asked Byron as he scratched his chest. The rash they all noticed at daybreak was progressively getting worse till the itch was becoming almost maddening.

"The river, scank. I’m waiting until dark, and then I’m going for a little swim downstream. I’m thinking thirty miles ought to give me a good head start. You stupid shits can do whatever you want." Tyrell had been the only one that had pushed them to this point since the other four had been too busy scratching to help.

"More water?" Gazette had his hands clamped to the sides of the boat since Tyrell had told him not scratching would make it go away faster. Not one of them had made a move to stop Tyrell when he punched the elder Byron unconscious. The man was complaining so loudly, police could have heard them five miles away. Two more hits had taken care of the only other times he had come to. Byron Sr. and Gazette still had the Nutria Itch rash, but it was nowhere as severe as Byron and Mike’s.

"Any fool could figure out the road is being highly patrolled and you’d be caught within the hour. The river is your only chance if you want to make it out. I’ll take you that far then you are free to go on your own." Tyrell had no burning desire to help the three other men, but he needed time to formulate his plans. Having any of these idiots in custody singing his escape plans wasn’t on his agenda.

"So we take the boat?" asked Mike. He heard his father starting to come to again from beside him. There would be hell to pay once he did and realized neither him nor Byron had helped him against Tyrell.

"Sure Mike, we take the boat. I’m sure the water patrol out here will completely ignore five men in their underwear out on the river. We can tell them we fish with our dicks and they’ll just wave us along," said Tyrell. The fact this boy had ended up in prison didn’t really shock him. "Did you two smart asses really kidnap a judge’s wife one night?"

"Shut the fuck up, before I do it for you," hissed Byron. He was still pissed that Desi had just slipped through his fingers, that and the fact the ache in his jaw never really went away. No one said anything when Tyrell put his finger to his lips and cocked his head to the side to listen. Like a giant snake he went over the side and into the water. It was the quiet of the trees that first alerted him as he paddled through the swamp. The area had been alive with the sounds of its inhabitants all morning, but now it was still.

Mike and Byron grabbed their father and followed Tyrell into the cover of the trees, both thinking that Gazette would follow. The almost black water was a perfect camouflage and in moments Gazette lost sight of the four men that had just been with him. A ripple in the water came across the bow so Gazette reached for the push pole to protect himself. The silence closed in on him and Gazette stood frozen with fear. He faced in the direction the men had gone hoping to see a way out.

It happened so fast, Gazette didn’t really register it all at once. One moment he was standing there straining to see a way out when a snake dropped from an overhead branch. When he swung around with the pole in his hand, an overzealous deputy in a boat in the distance shot him. One clean shot through the chest cavity slammed the escaped convict back into the water. The water swallowed the gurgle of Gazette’s last breath as he died with his eyes opened and a stunned look on his face. The men on the boat hadn’t really seen him at first, it was only the quick movement Gazette had made that had caught the sleepy deputy’s attention. His first reflex had been to shoot.

"Why do you suppose they left him?" asked Deputy Voisin. The police officer was still shaking after the excitement of the morning. He had never taken his weapon out of his holster except at the firing range, and now, the first time he had done it on duty, he had killed a man. Gary was young and relatively inexperienced, but he could tell that Warden Miller was not pleased with the morning’s events.

"I guess he can’t tell us that now, can he Gary? My guess is they aren’t too far off." Garrett now had two dead inmates on his hands, and no signs of the other five anywhere. The portly man scanned the area slowly hoping to see something that didn’t belong, but the swamp looked just like it had forever. The only thing Garrett could see that didn’t belong there was the FBI Agent in the boat that had just floated up next to his.

"I say they headed for the river last night and are long gone downstream by now. Pull your men off the road and reposition them," Agent Richard Kind paused before continuing. He asked a question of the other FBI agent he had on the phone then readdressed the local law enforcement that was present. "Twenty miles downstream. With the speed of the current, placing them in the water around four this morning, that’s where you’ll find them," said Richard with authority. His clear voice carried well past their assembled group to the four men submerged up to their chins in the water.

"Agent Dick, how in the hell did you come up with that conclusion? The boys left you a note or something before they hit the water in the river?" asked Garrett. When more than twenty-four hours had past with no new leads as to the location of the escaped inmates. Garret had had to call in the feds. To do what the hip boot clad man was suggesting, surmounted to a huge mistake in the warden’s mind. His instincts and experience told him the men were still in the area. This terrain was not that easy to get through that quickly, there was no way the inmates had made it to the river in the time they had been running.

"My name is Richard, Warden Miller, please use it. This is our investigation now warden, so either cooperate or go back to the prison. We are widening our net because you have allowed our fish to swim through the one you set up. Now get me out of this hellhole before the mosquitoes do it for you," said Richard swatting the side of his head. When he got home he was going to burn his clothes.

Three boat lengths from him, Tyrell smiled at the first good news they had gotten since they had waded out here. All they had to do now was wait out the day and move to the river after dark. He would get out before twenty miles and head inland. "Let’s move out," ordered Richard.

"Stay put deputy." Garrett pulled out his rod and reel pulling back and making his first cast. The sound of the reel spinning out line and the drop of the lure made Gary drift off to seep. Garrett didn’t disturb him; wanting to spend the afternoon at the spot where they had found Gazette.

Behind him, a ten-foot water moccasin glided from his perch into the water toward an oblivious Byron. Tyrell moved slowly behind him and clamped his hand over the man’s mouth. Byron was about to struggle when the pit viper coiled around his arm and rested its head on his shoulder. Instinct made him stand still, the only part of his body that wasn’t cooperating was the pulse point at his neck. The forked tongue flicked out as if to taste his fear causing Byron to close his eyes. Mike looked on and couldn’t help whispering out a soft exclamation.

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"Oh my God." The green eyes peering over the side of the bed made the anger of having been dumped on the floor evaporate. "You didn’t tear those open did you?" Desi asked pointing to the Harry’s eyebrow.

"No baby, I’m ok. What were you dreaming about?" The long laugh from the door made them both join in. Both heads turned to see an amused Ellie holding her sides after seeing that Harry was all right.

"Ellie could excuse us for just a minute?" asked Desi. The young woman had gone from laughing to becoming teary eyed in just seconds.

"Sure, I’ll be right down the hall visiting one of my new mothers."

Desi pulled Harry back up on the bed in a request to be held. The doctor had somewhat gotten accustomed to these crying jags since the beginning of the pregnancy. Sam had just said ‘hormones’ and left it at that. "It’s all right baby, come on now."

"Harry I’m just so happy," said Desi followed by a hiccup. It was so weird; she was happy, weepy and excited all at the same time.

"Shouldn’t you be laughing then?" When Desi slapped her arm, Harry just laid quietly waiting for the reason of this latest crying spell to manifest itself.

"It’s just that I can do stuff to you honey, and you don’t ever get mad at me. I can play hit you, knock you out of bed, spend your money and experiment in the kitchen and you take it all in stride. I have never feared your reaction to anything love, and I was thinking what a great thing that is to have. You know what I mean?" Desi’s voice sounded muffled since her face was pressed against Harry’s chest. The deep rumble she associated with Harry’s voice made her cry harder.

"Baby I know what you mean. When we were growing up I spun all these fantasies of what life would be like with you and how we would live. Everything we have now I consider extra because you fulfilled all my fantasies on that porch swing the night you told me you loved me. There is nothing in this world that could happen that you would ever have to fear me baby. And just for the record, it’s our money Desi. Tony told me how much you cleared off that show you did, so you are more than pulling your share." Harry wiped the last of Desi’s tears from her face and got her to laugh.

"Harry you are like a balm to my soul honey. Did Tony talk to you about anything else?" If he had told Harry about their plans, Desi was going to kill him.

"Just where he wanted to go on vacation this year."

"Why would Tony tell you where he wants to go on vacation?" The answer to her question had been so off the wall it had thrown Desi off balance. But knowing Tony, it had to do with some deal he was working. The man was the master of the spin when it came to negotiations.

"That’s easy. Every year the fruitcake, as Mona calls him, picks some exotic vacation location on the globe where he wants Kenneth to take him. The word spa usually appears somewhere in the name, and there are veritably palm trees somewhere in the picture. He tells me four months ahead of time, and then it’s my job to talk the homebody into going. I give Tony a hard time, but the reality is, once I say the words ‘cable television’, Kenneth is all for it. Why, what are you two cooking up now?" teased Harry. Tony put up with all their picking because he knew it was all meant in fun. To Harry, the man had earned her gratitude for the way he had taken Desi into his care. With his flamboyant style, Tony had drawn the wounded soul out into the sunshine to heal.

"How would you feel about our opening a studio?" Desi didn’t look up not anxious to see Harry’s reaction.

"How would you feel about opening a studio?" Harry looked down at the face that was resting on her chest to encourage Desi to answer and look at her.

"I asked you first." The blue in Harry’s eyes looked like if she were to touch them they would be warm.

"I know you did baby, but you are the one that’s going to do it. You are the one that has to fill it up and work at making a go of it. So it shouldn’t matter what I think. You’re a brave soul though, to take on Tony on a daily basis. You do what’s going to make you happy my love. That should always be your first choice, and your first priority," explained Harry.

"I really wanted to give it a try, but the show didn’t make enough to cover all the expenses that’s why I was asking you." The checkbook Harry had given her awhile back came into her thoughts. It contained enough to cover what she didn’t have, but it was Harry’s money.

"Desi would you give me a thousand dollars?" They had known each other for enough years for Desi to know when Harry was being serious, and there was no teasing in her voice.

"Harry anything that I have is yours, you don’t have to ask me for it. I knew I shouldn’t have brought this up if we are having financial problems. If you want, I can get a real job once the baby is born." Harry kept her from sitting up by hugging her closer when Desi tried to sit up.

"Baby you already have a real job, and we are not having financial problems. What we are having is a problem communicating. If you are so willing to share then why can’t I be so generous with you?" Harry caressed Desi’s cheek with her fingers trying to get her to realize there was nothing she couldn’t ask for.

"Because I don’t deserve you."

"No Desi, you deserve much better than me, but I promise you will never find someone who loves you more. I think working for yourself is a wonderful idea. That way you can give me a job when this medicine thing doesn’t work out." The more they talked, the more veils of hurt were shed from Desi’s heart.

"Harry you are going to make such a great parent."

"You both will be wonderful parents to my grandbaby," said Mona from the door. She walked in with a bag in her hand and headed for the bed. Not having them both at home to take care of had driven Mona to the hospital.

"Please tell me that there is some of your chicken salad in that bag Mona?" The last food Desi had eaten was at the restaurant the night before, which was hours before.

"Of course there is sweetie, Mona’s going to take good care of you, and you bonehead, what you doing up there? Desi needs to be resting, not being pawed by you. Sit in that chair and let the poor woman eat. I swear to God Almighty if you haven’t been a troublemaker since the day they brought you home. I hope for your sake Desiree that your sweet baby doesn’t take after this one." Mona pointed at Harry. Harry was sitting in the chair Mona had assigned her to and was shaking her head at the woman’s complaints about her.

"I’m still in the room you know. You complain you old goat, but you love me just the same. And you know what? My kid will too," said Harry. Mona was fixing to retaliate for the goat comment when a small whirlwind flew into the room. Desi and Mona looked and listened to the little boy that talked as fast as he ran.

"Dr. Harry I knew it was you, I told my daddy. Hi my name is Charlie and I’m five. Dr. Harry fixed my owie I got when I was a baby. Soon I can move all my digitals." The blonde headed little boy had made himself comfortable on Harry’s lap and was just as comfortable explaining the flex cast on his arm to the other two women in the room. A fall from his changing table had left Charlie partially paralyzed in one arm, but it hadn’t stopped him from becoming the out going child that he was. "What are you doing here Dr. Harry? We came to visit my new baby sister. I really wanted a brother but daddy said we can’t return her for one."

"Congratulations Charlie, I know you are going to be a terrific brother to your new baby. How about you move your digitals from me." Harry’s medical school professors would pass out at the use of terminology but it was what Charlie understood.

"I can’t too good yet Dr. Harry, but I’m still trying," said Charlie with a slump in his shoulders. After a pep talk from his tall friend the recovering patient felt much better about the movement he did have, and somewhat understood that he would get more with time.

"You’re doing great little buddy. Now go see your new sister and I’ll see you next week."

"Is Dr. Harry taking care of you too? She’s the best you know, my daddy told me so," Charlie told Desi. His father stood in the room to make sure the little boy didn’t wear out his welcome.

"That she is Charlie, and yes, Dr. Harry is taking care of me. We are going to have a baby," answered Desi. She hadn’t considered having a child that looked like her until Charlie had walked in. I wonder if I talked this much, thought Desi as she listened to his unending monologue.

"That’s great Dr. Harry, I’ll draw you a picture for your new baby" The lady on the bed seemed as nice as Dr. Harry. "If it’s a boy can I come over and play with him?"

"You bet Charlie buddy. You can teach him how to draw," said Harry. The little boy smiled at her as Harry picked him up and carried him over to his father. "Hey Stew, congratulations on your new addition. Tell Karen I’ll come by later and take a look."

"Thanks Harry, sorry to barge in on you but once Charlie heard you there was no stopping him. Doesn’t seem too long for you two huh?" When he and his wife had first brought Charlie in, Harry had mentioned her partner was expecting as well.

"Actually we’re a little ahead of schedule so I’m trying to talk Desi into waiting a few more weeks." Harry introduced them then walked the father and son to the door. Desi felt warm inside to be able to witness this side of Harry. She knew Charlie through Harry’s explanations of his procedures, but the medical analysis didn’t portray the young life that had just filled their space. Nor did Harry brag on her bedside manner with her patients. To them, Desi could see, Harry was more than the goddess of the bones. She was their friend and someone that they could talk to. Age was unimportant.

When Harry walked back in Desi crooked her finger at her to get her to move closer. Harry looked behind her then pointed a finger to her chest. "Yes you, come here." The kiss Desi bestowed left Harry dazed for a moment and a little weak kneed. Mona turned and looked out the window, not wanting to intrude on the tender moment the women were sharing.

"What was that for?"

"Cause I wanted to, and because you are simply the best thing around Dr. Harry. I love you honey." They kissed again until Desi pulled back and looked at her strangely.

"Are you having another contraction?" Harry asked, poised to hit the call button.

"No, but I swear the sandwiches in Mona’s bag are calling my name. Could you bring them over here so I can talk back?" asked Desi with a smile. She was hoping that her bigger than normal appetite was going to disappeared once Harry Jr. was born, if not she was going to have a serious weight problem to deal with. As it was, Desi was hoping the baby weighed about twenty-two pounds. Then it would explain the weight she had already put on. The laughter coming from Harry didn’t deter Desi’s appetite and she just smiled around the bite she had just taken.

"I’m wondering if this kid is going to be born with feathers?" Harry got a glare from both women in the room and decided it was for the best if she just stopped talking all together. The fact that most women put on the majority of their weight in the last month was not something Harry was willing to bring up now.

"Not another word out of you bonehead." It made Mona feel good that Desi’s appetite was good throughout the pregnancy. There were women that had nine months of hell, but the little blonde had sailed through without any complications until the early contractions. "Not one more word out of that smart mouth of yours."

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"If you make a sound I’ll snap your neck and be done with it," whispered Tyrell. The snake hadn’t moved and was busy cleaning a patch of Byron’s neck with its tongue. The surprisingly warm smooth body had tightened its hold on his arm and had no intention of moving. Less than one hundred yards in front of them the warden and the deputy that had stayed with him were still in the flat-bottomed boat with their backs to them. Tyrell could hear the spin of the reel from the man’s fishing gear every time Garrett cast out into the dark water. Garrett wasn’t really interested in catching anything, he was just passing the time until he heard or saw something out of the ordinary. His gut was telling him there was more swimming out there than fish.

Tyrell could feel the breath escaping Byron’s nose start to even out as the killer so close to his neck made no move to do him any harm. Until the two lawmen decided to move on they were stuck in the position they were in. The two other Simoneaux’s could only stand and watch knowing that any sudden movement on their part would alert the cops in the boat as to where they were.

"Warden you copy?" The radio cut through the still quiet of the swamp. The deputy heard the noise and was rousted from his nap. He shielded his eyes from the glare and wondered how long they had been floating in the same spot.

"Go ahead," said Garrett after he had unclipped his radio from his belt.

"We found another one warden. The boys headed back toward the back gate said they found him floating about two miles from where you are. If you pull out your GPS I’ll give you the coordinates of where they are."

"Go ahead," said Garrett with a sigh. It had been his intention to find all seven men alive. Once the information had been relayed to the warden, the deputy with him put the small electric motor over the side and headed in the direction where they were pulling Roland out of the water. The boat was far away enough for Garrett and Gary not to hear the relieved sigh escape Byron’s mouth once Tyrell released him from the chokehold he was in.

The dark brown eyes had tracked the progress of the boat and struck as fast as the reptile wrapped around Byron. Before the snake could react, Tyrell closed his fist around the neck close to the head and squeezed. He applied so much pressure that the blood squirting from its head covered Byron’s face. The two police officers never looked back as Tyrell threw the snake against one of the trees to get it away from them.

"Thanks man, I owe you one." Byron scooped up a handful of water to clean the blood off his face. The fear that had over taken him when the snake had swum up had even taken his mind off the itching.

"Remember that pretty boy. Relax for awhile cause we got some more swimming to do tonight. I say we go down about twelve miles or so then walk the rest of the way until we can get to some place we can call for help. If the current is moving as fast as that FBI guy says, then we should cover that before the sun comes up again," said Tyrell. The two brothers started to follow him as he started on the last mile to the river, only the older Byron stayed behind. The ache in his jaw was winning out over the itch that prevailed over his whole body.

"Who died and left you in charge boy?" asked Byron Sr.

"Daddy shut the fuck up and let’s go," said Byron Jr. The situation they were in didn’t thrill him either but Tyrell was their best bet to get out there and back into the city alive.

"I ain’t in charge you old shit. I’m just getting the hell out of this cesspool. If you want to stay here then that’s your choice. Ain’t nobody tellin’ you to follow me, but let me tell you, call me boy one more time and there’s only going to be three of us walking out of here. Got me old man?" Tyrell got only a small nod from Byron before turning again and continuing his trek.

What they all wanted to do more than anything was sleep. They had been moving for hours without any thought to shutting their eyes in these surroundings. It would be important to try and get some before getting into the more turbulent water that night. To try the swim without rest would be suicidal, and Tyrell hadn’t come this far to die now.

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"Are you sleeping?" The socked feet resting beside Desi on the bed hadn’t moved in the last hour, and she wondered if Harry had drifted off as a result of their active night.

"Yes."

"Well would you consider waking up for a minute and help me get to the bathroom?" The ever-smaller bladder would not be something that she would miss from this whole experience. Now that it was coming to an end, Desi wondered how long she would have to wait before they could try it again. Her relationship with Rachel was so important to her that she wanted to give her child the same gift. With Harry she was now in a position of dreaming of a family knowing that they would all be safe in the tall surgeon’s life.

Desi thought back to the day they had left Ellie’s office after their first try to get pregnant and how Harry had looked and acted. They had gone home and taken a nap together and had talked about their future that night as the picnic dinner Harry had brought up surrounded them on the bed. Over two weeks had gone by before Desi worked up the courage to try one of the pregnancy tests that they had bought.

Harry had been paged earlier that morning to go in for an emergency surgery at Charity. Two of their attending surgeons were away at a seminar and Harry had volunteered to take calls in their absence. Even though she had promised to wait, Desi was anxious to see if there was a baby in their future. Sitting on the edge of the tub she waited for the blue line to appear at the end of the stick, praying the whole time that their first try would be a charm.

At six that night Desi sat in the surgery waiting area along with the family that was waiting for Harry to come out of the swinging doors with news of their daughter. The distraught mother had told Desi that on her daughter’s way home from the late shift at her job, a man who had fallen asleep at the wheel had hit her. The impact of the other car hitting her daughter’s just in front of her driver’s side door had severed six of her fingers as well as broken both of her ankles severely. The paramedics had retrieved all of fingers and since early that morning Harry had been meticulously reattaching them before moving to repair the ankles.

"Do you know Dr. Basantes?" asked Bridget, the young woman’s mother.

"Yes, Harry and I live together. Not that I’m prejudiced but your daughter is in the best hands in the city after what’s happened to her. Harry will do her best to make sure she’s all right. What’s your daughter’s name?"

"Bailey. She is our only child, but she’s been such a blessing I never did mind that I didn’t have any more. Do you have any children Desi?" The conversation that they were engaged in eased Bridget’s nerves for her daughter.

"No ma’am, but I’m holding out hope that one day soon I’ll be able to experience the happiness you’ve had in having a child. Harry’s a little messy around the house, but I’m betting she’s going to make a wonderful parent."

"Oh, that’s the type of relationship you have." The woman next to her didn’t look gay, but she did talk about the doctor like the woman had hung the moon.

"I’m sorry if I misled you as to what Harry means to me. Believe me Bridget we are not much different than you and your husband. Our love isn’t any less real," said Desi gently. The woman had enough to worry about without any lectures from her.

"I’m not being judgmental Desi, I just assumed when everyone said Harry Basantes, that well you know, I thought she was a man."

"When it comes to shopping and coordinating clothes, I’m not so sure she isn’t, but Harry is most definitely a woman." When Harry walked out to the waiting area, she found Desi and Bailey’s mother laughing about something. She wasn’t sure why Desi was here, but if the older woman found some comfort in her lover’s presence then Harry was glad she had come.

"Mrs. Priest I wanted to talk to you about Bailey," started Harry. Desi moved over a chair so that Harry could sit down and talk to Bridget and fill her in on what they had accomplished in the operating room. Twenty minutes later Harry had answered all the woman’s questions and was still trying to get her to understand the reason she would find leaches on Bailey’s fingers once she was moved to a room.

"Trust me ma’am, they are not voodoo medicine. They are an accepted medical treatment, which while not used often, is quite effective for what Bailey needs. The leaches are only used once then disposed of. They will rid Bailey’s fingers of the old blood cutting down on infection, and will excrete a blood thinner to help with circulation. That will be beneficial to getting fresh blood to flow into the reattached digits. I only have your daughter’s best interests at heart Mrs. Priest." What Harry was suggesting had lost its appeal somewhere after the dark ages, but sometimes Mother Nature knew best.

"That’s what Desi said, so I guess I’ll go with her opinion," said Bridget. The dark arched brow thrown in Desi’s direction finally got the mother to smile and release the air she had pent up in her lungs. Harry’s low calm voice had soothed away the fears of Bailey’s recovery and Bridget was ready to see her daughter. It would take months, but after physical therapy the young woman would be fine.

"It’s nice to have such a good PR department working for me in the waiting room," said Harry with a smile for Desi. She was surprised to see the blonde sitting there when she had walked out, but was glad Desi had been there to keep Mrs. Priest company during her daughter’s surgery. It had been a long day trying to put back the pieces that had been torn off not in the neatest of fashion, but Harry was confident that most, if not all, the fingers would be saved.

They walked off together toward the locker room so that Harry could collect her stuff before making rounds with her students. The staff at the hospital had all gotten to know Desi in the past months when she came to visit Harry, and waved to her as she walked by with the surgeon.

"Not that I’m complaining, but what are you doing here?" Once they were in the locker room Harry pulled Desi into an embrace and kissed her. Desi had gotten Rachel to cut her hair, at Tony’s urging, into a more stylish shorter look and Harry had had trouble keeping her fingers out of it ever since. Not that Desi had looked old before, but the cut had taken years off her face, and to Harry, she looked like the young teenager she had left on the front porch swing years before. Only now the teenager had on a casual but stylish DKNY outfit, and wore makeup that was only found at the counter at Saks.

"I thought that I would treat you to dinner tonight. In case you don’t remember tonight is our anniversary."

"Anniversary?" asked Harry trying to put on a confused face.

"Yes, this is the night that you first screwed up the courage to kiss me. I, of course, had been wanting for you to do it for years before that, but sometimes Dr. Basantes, you aren’t too swift on the uptake. Unless you have a date with some other blonde in the hospital tonight, I want to take you out. Who knows, if you’re good I’ll let you kiss me again on that same swing later on." The fact that Harry had not forgotten that momentous occasion had filled her heart with happiness that morning when she answered the door to the surprise Harry had ordered. The deliveryman from the florist had a bouquet of two-dozen pink roses, each with a chocolate kiss attached.

"I would love to go out with you my love, if you don’t mind making rounds with us first." When they were done, Harry changed into the outfit Desi had brought with her, saving them a trip home. Desi had made reservations at the Bella Luna Restaurant in the French Quarter. It was one of their favorites since the windows of the second story eatery opened to the Mississippi River allowing its customers to hear the river traffic floating by. The good food was accentuated by the romantic surroundings of Venetian glass light fixtures and candle lit tables.

There was an ice bucket by their table with a bottle of champagne awaiting their arrival when they sat down. One waiter came to open it while another brought a small gift wrapped box to the table and placed it on Harry’s plate. Desi smiled when Harry looked truly surprised by the unexpected gift.

"What’s this?" Harry asked as she picked up the small box. The box was wrapped in white paper with a white ribbon not giving the surgeon any hint as to what was inside.

"Open it and find out." Desi picked up her glass and held it out to the middle of the table. "But first let’s have a toast." Desi waited for Harry to pick up her glass and clink it against hers before continuing. "Here’s to true love and the gifts that it brings to our lives."

"Amen," said Harry. She tore through the paper and the ribbon and lifted the top off before just slumping back in her chair. It took her a minute to find the strength to pick up the white stick in the box and look at it. Desi saw the hands that had soothed away so much pain in the past shake as Harry held up the pregnancy test so that she could see the blue line running down the center of the test area. They were going to have a baby in about eight and a half months. A child that the two would love unconditionally even though their conception had been anything but conventional.

It was one of the only times that Desi had seen Harry cry sporting one of the brightest smiles she had ever seen. In the months after that night the good doctor had become a walking cloak of protection when it came to her partner. There was never a time that Desi felt uncomfortable asking for anything that she craved or needed, no matter the time or trouble.

"I’ll bet you’ll be glad when you get rid of that pressure on your bladder won’t you baby?" Desi was having more trouble sitting and getting up by herself as time progressed in the pregnancy.

"Considering that everyone in your family except your mother is a big ox, I’m surprised the baby hasn’t flattened the thing by now. But you’re right, how in the world will I be able to fill my day when I don’t have to go to the bathroom two hundred times an hour?" Harry knew Desi was teasing, since her partner had loved every aspect of being pregnant and carrying their child.

"You could always paint the house," said Harry. They laughed as they walked around the room for a bit to stretch out the muscles in Desi’s back. The one thing that they were both grateful for was that the contractions seemed to have stopped and maybe Ellie would let them go home.

"Hey sis, how are you doing?" asked Rachel when she walked in. The couple was standing by the window kissing as Harry rubbed her hands along Desi’s lower back under the hospital gown. "Isn’t that how you got in that condition to begin with?"

"You are just a laugh a minute runt." Harry didn’t let Desi go, but did close the back of the gown now that the door was open.

"I wanted to talk to the both of you about what happened last night if that’s all right? I don’t want to put anymore pressure on you Desi." Desi’s sister walked to the window to be near them and waited for Harry to respond. As the doctor in the family Rachel would go along with whatever medical opinion Harry gave.

"We might as well do it while we’re in the hospital just in case my wife goes into labor," teased Harry. They hadn’t brought up the subject of the girls’ long lost mother until now. Whoever June Fontaine was, they would have to deal with her. "What do you remember about your mother?" asked Harry to the both of them.

"I would think Desi would be the one to remember if there is any memories to be had Harry. The woman supposedly died in child birth with me remember?" Harry moved Desi back to the bed to make her comfortable before they got any deeper into the conversation. When Harry went to move to the chair she had been sitting in while Mona was visiting, Desi grabbed her by the belt and shook her head.

"No I want you with me honey." Desi pouted a little and gave Harry her best puppy dog eye when she saw reluctance on the face Desi knew so well. "Please?"

"OK, but if Mona comes back in here you had better take up for me." Harry teased her as she climbed into the bed behind Desi.

"I promise I’ll protect you honey," said Desi. The feel of Harry’s warm chest against her cheek made her feel instantly better.

"I don’t really remember anything about our mother Rachel, and since daddy didn’t have any pictures of her lying around I just have an image in my head as to what I think she might look like. The thing I always found kind of funny was that daddy never really talked about her. I would just think that he would want to so that Rachel and I would have some clue as to what she was like, but that never happened. The pain of her loss was the only thing I could think of why he wouldn’t want to do that."

"Did he ever tell you where she was buried?" Harry laughed a little when Desi’s hand slipped into the front of her shirt and scratched the skin on her abdomen. Before the baby hadn’t allowed Desi to sleep on her side anymore, Harry would always find Desi’s hand stretched out on her midsection when she woke up every morning. The act seemed to center them both.

"No, again I should have questioned myself when the graves weren’t side by side, but I didn’t. It just never occurred to me that she would still be alive. Why would he have to lie about that?" asked Desi to no one in particular.

"I don’t know honey, but I think maybe we should talk to this woman and find out what Clyde’s ulterior motives were. Knowing daddy, she forgot his dinner one night and he sold her into slavery," said Rachel. The look on Desi’s face made her sister smile. Desi looked so happy that it was hard to remember the times when it would be weeks before a smile would crease her face.

Every night before Rachel went to sleep in the house she shared with Byron and Desi, she would pray that Desi would find happiness in something or in someone else. For the longest time Rachel had harbored ill feelings for Harry for leaving them alone after heading off to college. It wasn’t until she had said something in front of Desi one day that her sister had finally told her the truth.

Looking at the two of them now, it was hard to conceive that they had been separated for any time, much less years. Rachel remembered the first time she had come home and found the same dreamy expression on Desi’s face she had lost so many years before.

The bedroom door was open which could only mean that Harry had been called out to the hospital. From the light of the full moon Rachel could make out her sister’s form on the balcony looking out into the gardens. Her crutches were resting beside her and Desi had a peaceful look on her face as she took in the fragrance from the sweet olive trees that were planted under the structure she stood on.

"Mind a little company?" The shop had closed hours earlier, but Rachel had accepted a dinner invitation from one of her clients and had spent the most of the evening talking to the woman that had treated her to a night out.

"Hey you, no come on out here and take a deep breath. This place is like magic," said Desi.

"You always have loved those trees haven’t you Desi?" The hairdresser had a feeling that the house’s owner hadn’t bothered to tell her sister one of the main reasons she had decided getting the house they stood in now.

"Yeah. Don’t you remember there was a grove of these in that little park Harry and I used to take you to?" Desi relived more pleasant times from their past.

"How could I forget, Harry was the best swing pusher in the world. Want to know a little secret Tony told me? Only you have to promise not to tell," said Rachel.

"What? Come on I promise, now tell me."

"He told me that when he walked Harry through this house, she stood right here for about an hour not moving. Tony was worried sick that something had finally snapped in her head when the tears started streaming down her face, but he didn’t want to interrupt whatever memories she was reliving. When she finally turned around she gave him a check to accompany her bid without another word. Weeks later Tony said he finally worked up the nerve to ask her about that day when he was helping her unpack. Harry told him that if you ever came back she knew this would be your favorite place in the house. It would be her way of letting you know that she was thinking of you as part of her life even when you weren’t here."

It was like a sense of déjà vu from Tony’s story when she looked at Desi standing there. Her sister wasn’t talking and there were tears running down her face. The space Desi stood in was a gift from a tortured soul that hadn’t forgotten the touch of her love. The greatest gift that Harry had given her was the strength and patience of her hope. The hope that Harry had clung to that Desi would share in her life again in a house that was purchased just for her.

Rachel felt the strong arms pull her against an equally strong body that still felt the same after all those years and she joined her sister in a good cry. The younger sister that had never mattered to Byron, was as loved by Harry as she was by Desi. Rachel should have walked away when Harry let her go and walked toward Desi, but she stayed if only to see what loved looked like. When Harry’s hand cupped the side of Desi’s face, her sister never opened her eyes but her lips parted in expectation. The kiss wasn’t one of passion or seduction, but one that conveyed all the feelings both had missed for so long. It told of the loneliness each heart had suffered while they had been apart, and it promised a lifetime of future happiness. Whenever Rachel caught the faint scent of the small white blossoms of the sweet olive trees, she thought back to that night. To her it would always be the night that her sister finally accepted the fact that Harry would hold her like that forever.

"Clyde had a reason for everything he did Rach, you should know that by now. This one would have been a whopper of an explanation if the old man were still with us I’m sure. Only one way to find out though," said Harry. The thought of digging Clyde up and beating the shit out of him anyway crossed her mind as she held Desi. The thought of wanting the best for your children and protecting them was becoming a reality in her life, but Harry wondered if Clyde realized how much pain he had brought his girls with the decisions he had made. He had long ago negated all the respect Harry had had for the man when his bigotry had stolen years from her and Desi.

"Would you be there when we did this Harry?" asked Rachel.

"You just try and stop me runt. You and your sister are my family and I take that responsibility seriously. Let’s give June Fontaine a call and see what her side of the story is and what she wants," said Harry.

When Ellie walked back in she found both Harry and Rachel up on the bed with Desi. The one that needed rest was the only one not sleeping, but Desi looked quite content to be sharing Harry’s embrace with her sister.

"How are you feeling?" Ellie asked Desi. The doctor spoke softly so as not to wake Harry and Rachel.

"Pretty good actually. Thanks for telling them I could eat something, if not I would have been afraid for the staff. No more contractions since last night, but what happens to the dilation that I already have?"

"The trick is to stop the body from wanting to spit that sucker out, and stopping the contractions is the first step. Now what we have to do is confine you to bed for the duration and see how much time that gives us. If you promise to be good I’ll send you home," said Ellie.

"She promises to be good," said Harry from under Desi. Sleep had vanished as soon as Desi had started talking, and Harry knew that Desi would be more comfortable at home in their room. With Mona and her mother there would be no way that Desi would be allowed to do anything that would start the process over again.

"Ah, my voice of reason," teased Desi. The thought of spending more than two weeks in this room was depressing her, so she would do anything that would allow her to go home.

Later that day Harry propped her up on the headboard with extra pillows so that Desi could see the television better. Mona had brought up lunch for both of them and now they were going to watch a movie. Rachel had called the number June had left and they had made arrangements for her to visit the Basantes home again that night.

As the opening credits rolled on the screen, Desi leaned further into Harry and enjoyed the hand that was rubbing her stomach. "Honey do you think that this woman is really my mother?"

"I didn’t really get a long look at her before I had to rush you up here last night love, but from what I did see she looked like you two could be related. What I don’t understand is how a mother could just walk away from her two children? I mean could you imagine us leaving the baby at the hospital and just walking away?" The body resting against her own shivered at the thought. This was something that they had both wanted and had planned for, the thought of giving up on that dream seemed unimaginable.

"Must have been something important enough to her to spook her away. Daddy was a little heavy fisted when we were growing up, and the thought of me being with you was something that he wasn’t going to tolerate. The beating I got wasn’t enough to keep me away, but the choice of never seeing Rachel again was too much for me to take. I had always been the buffer between them and I didn’t want her to have to face him alone. In a way he was a good training ground for Byron, only even daddy wasn’t that cruel. The one bright spot the both of us could always count on back then was you Harry. I don’t even want to imagine how pathetic my life would have been without you to pull me through," confessed Desi.

"That my dear is my job, back then and now. Only now you get to whack me in the head with a wooden spoon if you aren’t happy. Mona told me those were the rules, so I think it’s best if you just nod and go along with her," teased Harry.

The end of the movie played without an audience as the two women slept. Their dreams that afternoon revolved around the life they were building together and the newest member that would join them soon. Miles away at the edge of the swamp four men waited for the opportunity to continue their journey home. They slept fitfully in the mud and dreamed of all the things they missed the most since being locked up in a cage for their crimes. Closer, a woman prepared to meet the children she had left so long ago, and prayed that they would understand her reasoning for leaving.

Before Harry’s eyes had closed to join Desi in sleep, she laughed thinking that the pattern they represented on the Fates loom must have been quite colorful in the particular section they took up. All these new threads and intricate knots may have been fun for the weaver, but for those it represented it made for interesting theater. Only they were not actors on a stage, and it was their lives they twisted. One thing the tall surgeon promised her sleeping companion was that they would have the happy ending no matter the cost.

 

Continued in Part 4

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