All It Took Was You
"I mean it Steven, I want you here by eight at the latest. I have a new baby and a wife that are upset because there is a big fricking hole in my roof. If not, the next time you fall off of one, dont call me." Harry had waited as long as she was willing to call the contractor who had done most of the remodeling and repairs on the house when she had bought it. Over the years she had come to trust him after meeting him on the operating table more than once after on-the-job accidents. He was so appreciative of her services, his crew had finished in record time and on budget.
"Come on Harry, I have a million things going on in the city and this weather isnt going to help any." Stephan paused, "Wait a minute, what baby?"
"Desi gave birth a little early, so you dont want my boy shivering in the house do you? Eight oclock Steve, I mean it." Harry took Jack from Desi and burped him while Desi buttoned her pajama top back up. They had made fires in all the rooms the night before and prayed for the rain to stop. The night had passed with them all staying fairly warm, but the rain had not cooperated and was still falling in sheets.
"All right doc, Ill pull some guys and well be over there before the rest of your roof caves in. The way my luck is running lately, Ill break my leg by this afternoon and need you to put me back together. If thats the case, I want it done right." Steven hung up already thinking of who he could send to St. Charles to work on Harrys roof. He picked up his truck keys and his cell phone planning to make the calls on his way to the job site.
"Is he coming?" asked Desi. Harry had been on the phone rearranging her schedule all morning so that she could be there when the work crew arrived. With everything else going on, Harry didnt want her to have to deal with putting the house back together alone.
"Yeah, hell be here
in ten minutes if I know him. Once we get him here, the secret is to keep him
here. Steven is a good guy but a little unfocused. If this was the building
of something like bookshelves, I could see him taking weeks but I want this
done by today if he can do it."
"Honey thats one big hole." Desi took the baby back so that Harry could get dressed. Her partner had a way of doing the impossible and expected everyone else to do the same.
"I just want the hole patched today baby. He can take his time with the rest of it if he wants. Just remember that Maria and Raul will be right next door until the hole is fixed and the ceiling in their room is patched." Harry smiled at the look that crossed Desis face. The visiting Basantes couple had no intention of going back to Florida until the Simoneauxs were safely back behind bars, and the fact that they were only a wall away had just occurred to Desi.
"Ill be willing to run out and get anything he needs. Not that I dont love your parents Harry, I do honey. Its just..." started Desi. Harry pressed two fingers to Desis lips as a smile creased her own lips.
"I know baby, but that still doesnt mean that I want them right next door." Harry pointed over her shoulder to the wall of the bedroom. "Im kind of ready to spend some time alone with you and Jackson without all this stuff to worry about."
"Desi, I love the fact your mother and her partner are here, and the fact that my parents wanted to come to meet Jack, but Im ready for just us. I have you right here and I miss you, does that make sense?"
"Harry, I can honestly say that I now understand why women around this city look at me like they hate me." Harry smiled at her again and leaned down to kiss her.
"Im thinking that we both found what we were looking for and leave it at that." The doorbell broke them apart as Harry checked her watch thinking Steven was ahead of schedule. She sat down on the bed to put her shoes on so that she could go down and meet her friend.
"Harry, are you decent?" asked Mona from outside the door. She had just checked the room that Raul and Maria had been staying in and the plaster on the ceiling was about to burst from the water it was holding. If that happened then the floor would have to be redone as well and Mona was not looking forward to a house full of sawdust.
"It depends on who you ask darlin." Desi slapped Harry in the butt for her answer to their housekeeper. Desi was convinced Mona stayed so feisty because of Harry.
"I swear, one of these days Im just going to walk out that door and keep on walking." Mona slapped Harry on the cheek Desi had missed and laughed at the never-ending comebacks the surgeon had.
"There is no way you could live without me. Is that Steven at the door?" asked Harry. She went to check on the ceiling in her parents old room when Mona grabbed her arm and kept her going down the hall. There was no reason to make a bad morning any worse just yet in Monas mind.
"No, its not Steven, its that detective that is working the Simoneaux case. I left him in the kitchen with your parents having coffee, so I thought I would come up and hurry the two of you along."
"You are feeling frisky today, arent you? My mother will know more about Roger before we get down there than he does about where Byron and his brother are." Harry took the baby and put her arm around Desis waist as they went down the stairs. Jack was becoming more alert by the day and seemed more so when he was in Harrys arms. Desi looked up to see him putting a small finger into Harrys ear while he chewed on her shoulder.
"Well its better than her asking me about what kind of underwear you use, now isnt it bonehead?"
"Good move Mona." Harry laughed as she and Desi entered the kitchen. Roger Landry and another man were sitting with her parents having coffee and breakfast at the table. "Good morning everyone. Roger, what brings you out this morning?"
"Harry theres a big hole in your roof." Roger pointed a finger up and popped a piece of bacon into his mouth.
"And here I thought you made detective because you were so good looking." Both Desi and Mona slapped Harrys butt again as soon as her mouth clicked shut, getting her to take a step forward. "I bruise easily you know."
"How are you Roger? Please ignore Harry, shes upset because theres a big hole in our roof." Desi crossed the room and shook hands with the policeman who had played a big role in bringing Byron to justice the first time around.
"Im great Desi and I dont ever pay attention to Harry, dont worry about it. Who is the little guy Harry is holding over there?"
"Meet my son, Jackson Harry Basantes," said Harry turning the baby around so that Roger could see him.
"What, you have a copy machine in this house somewhere?" Roger looked at the surgeon and baby together and was fascinated by the family resemblance; he knew that it had been Desi who had carried the baby.
"No, no copy machine, only the answer to a lot of prayers on my part in that he look like my favorite person." Desi smiled when Harry pulled out a chair for her to have a seat at the table next to the one she had taken. New Orleans police officers seldom dropped by just for the coffee, so Desi was waiting for the bad news.
"Hes beautiful Desi, congratulations. Let me introduce you both to my new partner Oscar Ravenwing." The tall man with midnight black hair and eyes stood and shook hands with both women before taking his seat again.
"Nice to meet you officer. Now how about you tell us whats going on?" asked Harry. Desi pulled her chair closer to Harry and leaned back into her partners chest before Roger started talking.
"Well you watched the news I assume and saw what happened to the elder Simoneaux. The only thing that was missing from the whole thing is the whereabouts of his two sons. It seems Byron Sr. returned to the house alone and under some delusion that his wife Monique was still alive. The one conclusion we have come up with for sure is that, if he made it into the city then so did Byron and Mike." Harry held Jack in one arm and pulled the other tighter around Desi. It was time for this nightmare to end.
"What are you doing about trying to find him?" Harry spoke for the two of them feeling Desi growing tenser in her arms.
"We are combing the other spots where they might show up. The problem the two are going to face is that they didnt have a close group of friends they could turn to. I am going to make sure your house is regularly patrolled, and if you want I can put you in touch with the dispatcher in charge of off duty cops that pull guard duty." Roger leaned over and took one of Desis hands into his before he went on. "I know what you went through honey, and I promise you he wont get that close again."
"Thank you Roger, Harry and I appreciate what you are doing for us. Its just that with Jack here now, its more important than ever for Byron not to get in here again. I just want to be left alone to live my life with Harry and our son."
"Dont worry maam, Roger and I are working so that you can do just that. I owe you one Doctor Basantes. You fixed up my little brother after a motorcycle accident a couple of years ago." Oscar broke his silence after he saw the lost look on the small blondes face. The doctor he remembered from the consult room at Mercy, he doubted she would remember him since his whole family had been crammed into the space when Harry had come out to tell them how his little brother made out.
"I thought your name sounded familiar. How is Jimmy doing?" Harrys question made the detective smile at the fact she had remembered his little brother. There had been another family waiting along side of them that day for Harry to work her magic on their son as well. After so many patients he found it amazing she would remember one case from another.
"Hes great, only my mother is a little miffed that he bought another bike last month. I wanted to thank you again, my brother looked like a messed up puzzle when he came in and you put him back together just great." Desi patted Harrys leg when the man sitting at their table got teary-eyed thinking about his younger brother.
"No need to thank me, I was just doing my job. Its nice to see such a close family gather around the member that needs them the most." Harry was going to say more before the backdoor opened and a wet Steven walked in.
Harry looked out the windows in the kitchen and saw the troop of men setting up ladders to the roof. The dump truck was going to leave ruts in the grass but at least it was going to haul off the branch that had made a mess of their house. Desi watched as the young looking man with snow-white hair stood dripping in their kitchen with no one saying a word. It was obvious Harry knew him since she hadnt made a move toward him, and Mona threw the man a towel and pulled down another mug from the cabinet knowing what the first thing out of his mouth was going to be.
"Got any coffee?"
"I brewed a fresh pot just for you."
"Thanks." He took a sip and sat down in one of the chairs at the kitchen table. "This is the best cup Ive had in months."
"Anything beats jail coffee Byron, so theres no need to butter me up."
"Im not buttering you up Mikey, just complementing you on your coffee. Is there any luck you are this good with breakfast too, honey?" Bryon put his feet up on the table and wiggled his eyebrows at his brother.
"Fuck you Byron."
"Ah come on, lighten up will you. Im just playing with you. Lets see if these losers left any money or credit cards in the house. If they did we can go out and have a little fun."
"I say we get out of here now. These people wont be back for a week, which gives us a head start somewhere else. We could ditch the car once we are miles from here and the cops wouldnt even know where to start looking." Mike thought he should give it one more shot before he left on his own. There had been no sign of his father for a couple of days and he knew the old man wouldnt begin to know where to find them, and Byron was spiraling out of control. Going to jail for what he was up for already was one thing, but he wasnt about to add the death of an innocent baby to his wrap sheet.
"Mike, you know Im not leaving here until I settle some scores so quit your whining. I want to see the look on Desis face when I take away from her the one thing I wanted more than anything." Byron pulled open a large locking blade he had found in the garage toolbox outside. The owner kept it well sharpened and clean, almost like he had left it for what Byron had in mind.
"Hes just a baby Byron. You cant hurt him."
"He was supposed to be mine. I cant forgive the bitch for that. Desi betrayed me in the worse possible way. Unlike you, Im a man, and this is what men do." Byron threw his coffee cup across the room and watched it shatter into pieces and the black liquid drip down the white wall of the kitchen. Mike looked at him and wondered what had happened to both his brother and his father in jail. The smallness of the cells seemed to have pressed in on the two of them and killed what little sanity they had going in.
"I dont want any part of hurting a little baby Byron, you can forget that. Im not saying I agree with what Desi did, but she made her choices and I can understand it. I am ashamed of the fact that Im not a man like you." Mikes watered at the memory he was reliving.
"At least we agree on something little brother."
"No, Im ashamed of the fact I never stepped up and helped mama. Jesus, he killed her and you want to be like him? What kind of sick shit is that? Maybe, just maybe a real man is someone who doesnt get his kicks out of beating the crap out of women." Mikes tears ran down freely now as he thought of all the times he looked the other way when his mother walked into the room with a black eye and split lips. How many times had he seen Desi in the same condition?
"Youve never been married, man. You wouldnt understand. Sometimes you have to keep women in line just so that they know whos boss." Bryon saw that something changed in his brother when his shoulders slumped and he turned away from him. They sat in silence for the rest of the morning listening to the driving rain outside.
"I want out of this." Mike broke first and confessed his greatest desire.
"Dont worry about anything, Ill take care of us."
"Thats what Im afraid of Byron. What you dont understand is that this time, theres no fixing it if you kill someone. Theyll find us and theyll fry us when they do."
"Nothing has happened that I cant fix."
"Well thats a comforting thought."
"Im telling you, three four days tops and we are out of here."
"Steven, you did notice the rather large tree limb sticking out of the roof on your way in?" asked Harry. Rachel walked in from the front of the house just as the towel fell away from the contractors hair, and the man found the hairdressers fingers running through the wet strands almost immediately.
"I could make you look even better if you come by and see me."
"He doesnt have time for that, he has to fix our roof so get your fingers out of his hair. Speaking of which, answer my question." Harry shifted Jack to the other shoulder and turned her glare on Steven.
"Yes I saw the hole in the roof and I have a crew going up there as of right now. Well cut up the tree limb and get rid of it and then start on the repairs. I figure by this afternoon it wont be raining in your attic if its still raining outside. I pulled my best guys off a couple of different job sites around the city so have no fear Dr. Harry, you are in good hands with Steven." The contractor turned his attention to Desis attractive younger sister and turned the talk back to his hair. "Forget what the grumpy one with the hole in her roof said, I am available to you anytime."
"Unless you are a very butch woman under all those work clothes, I would forget the flirting Steven," Harry chimed in from the table, earning her another slap to her anatomy from Desi. She turned her glare to her partner and Desi just winked and ignored her.
"Dont even think about it Harry, I went through childbirth thank you very much, so your dirty looks arent doing a thing for me. Now give me your son and let me get him ready for his day." Desi reached over to retrieve Jack and Harry noticed the dark circles under the small blondes eyes. With all that had been going on, the last thing they had needed was a tree limb falling through their roof. During the night they had slept with Jack between them in an effort to keep him warm, which had resulted in Desi keeping an eye on him all night long. Probably thought I was going to roll over him or something, thought Harry. Desi swore Harry ran a marathon every night in her sleep since she moved around so much.
"Ill come with you to help." Harry pointed to Steven as she followed Desi out of the kitchen. "And you, stop trying to pick up my sister-in-law and get on my roof. Its a lost cause anyway."
"Well dont make it sound like Im so undesirable Harry. If I was interested, Steven looks like quite the stud muffin." With Rachels comment the contractor snorted into his coffee cup and walked out side. Rachel then turned her charms and attention on Harry. "Though, the real stud muffin in this kitchen is you Dr. Harry."
"Keep this up and you will never get to spend any time alone with your nephew, runt. Help your sister up those stairs while I fix us something to eat." Harry pulled out a tray and started to put breakfast items on it.
"Ill have my eggs over medium." Rachel put in her order and left before Harry could tell her anything else.
"Rach dont make me hurt you. I can mess with Harry all I want, but shes off limits to you." Harry could hear Desis admonishments to her sister as they made their way upstairs.
"Hows she doing?" Roger took the opportunity to talk to Harry now that Desi had left the room. His initial meeting with the small blonde had steeled his resolve to bring her ex-husband to justice. Roger and his partner had volunteered for the assignment once they had heard the entire Simoneaux family had escaped.
"Desi is a strong woman Roger. Shes had to be to get to this point in her life. A life I might point out that hasnt shown her a great deal of fairness, but she bore it all with the same grace she has shown for everything else she tries." Harry leaned against the counter and looked at the man she had first met after coming out of Desis surgery. Roger still looked like he slept in his clothes, but Harry could tell he still cared about what happened to Desi.
"Doc, thats something you have a lot to do with. The woman I saw here this morning is a far cry from the one I saw in that hospital room all those months ago. Im glad to see you two are doing well."
"Ill be honest with you Roger. We would be doing a hell of a lot better if Byron and Mike were back where they belong. Desi cooperated with the system throughout all the arrests, the trials and everything else you asked of her. What I want now is to see the system give her the same thing back. Desi and Jack are now and will always be my priority, so if I see either of the Simoneaux brothers on this property, I will drop them on sight." Mona patted Harrys back after her comments. Both Roger and his partner had nodded their heads as she had been talking. If the two remaining members of the convict family met the same fate as their father, the two police officers would close the file without a problem.
"I dont blame you for feeling that way Harry. The baby and Desi should be your first priority, but you do realize that I want the same things you do and will do everything I can to see that those two bastards dont come anywhere near this place." Roger had come to care about the two women who seemed so perfect together. He was still a little pissed with the Angola authorities who had let the scumbags he was looking for just walk out the back door of the place.
"We have quite a few people out on the street looking for these people doctor, dont worry about that," Oscar added. Rogers partner reached across the table and poured himself another cup of coffee.
Upstairs Desi and Rachel poured water into the small baby tub in the bathroom and stripped Jack down for his cleanup. Harry had left the heater in the bathroom on so the baby wouldnt get sick with the chill present in the rest of the house. Rachel held her nephew and wondered what it would be like to have one of the little guys around.
"How do you like motherhood so far sis?"
"I get less sleep than I used to, my body looks like hell but I would recommend it to anyone. After Harry and I got back together there was nothing I thought that could make me happier, but I was wrong. Sharing Jack with Harry is the ultimate in happiness." Desi took Jack and lowered him into the warm water wanting to finish before he got hungry and fussy. Rachel looked on as her sister ran a soft washcloth along Jacks legs. The clinking of dishes in the other room alerted her that Harry was finished in the kitchen. She hoped that whatever else the police had to say was encouraging.
"Come on buddy that sounds like your mama out in the other room with breakfast." Desi lifted the baby out and handed him to Rachel who was waiting with a warm towel. In a few moments they had him diapered and dressed in a flannel outfit. When they stepped into the bedroom, Harry was striking a match to light the fireplace.
"You know Desi, you could make a fortune if you could clone her." Rachel was impressed with the breakfast setup by the couch and the coziness of the fire. Serena was wonderful to her, but she didnt have quite the romantic streak in her that Harry did.
"Nah, having a corner on the market makes her all that more valuable." Desi handed the baby back to her sister so that she could reward her big baby with a kiss.
"Wheres your barrister this morning runt?" asked Harry.
"Shes got pleadings all morning so I wont see her until late tonight. She was telling me a very disturbing story Harry dearest. Would you care to elaborate on it?"
"What story is that?" Harry tried to act dumb not wanting to get another lecture about not turning Tyrell in when she had the opportunity. Now that she had Stephen working on their problem she was planning to drive into Charity and see if Dianna had settled in for the surgery the next morning before heading across town to a full afternoon of surgeries at Mercy.
"You helped one of those creeps stay free?"
"Come on Rach, it isnt like I helped the guy escape. I had Serena look into his past crimes and what he was serving life for and I cant say that I wouldnt be in the same position he is if the same thing had happened to Desi. Besides, after introducing his head to the top of the desk where I was sitting at I dont think hes willing to mess with me again. Im going to try and help his sister tomorrow and then well see what happens with Mr. Lagrie."
"But he was the one that helped Byron get back into town Harry."
"Harrys right Rachel, whats done is over and no one can go back and change it. But its Harrys job to try and help his family now. Byron and Mike wont hurt us, I promise." Desi rubbed her hand up and down Rachels back. She knew her sister remembered what living with Bryon was like and the conversation they were having centered completely on fear.
"Thats right runt, I wont let anything happen to you. You are my family Rachel, and I will protect you like I will Desi and Jack."
"I just get scared sometimes. He was so angry when they dragged him off to jail. Having his jaw wired shut prevented him from saying anything, but you could just tell by the way he looked at you Harry that he would kill you given the opportunity. I just dont want it to come down to that."
"It wont sweetheart. The thing you and your sister never saw in the man is that he is a coward. All men who beat on women are, but Im not your average woman. If he has the cojones to walk back in here, his jaw will be the least of his problems." Harry took her son from Rachel in one arm and hugged the small woman to her side with the other. Harry winked at Desi over her sisters head getting her partner to smile. Seeing that her sister was doing better, Desi looked down to see what Harry had brought up for them to eat. Looking at Harrys plate her smile disappeared and her right brow when up instead.
"What is that?"
"Looks like someones left themselves open for trouble."
"What do you mean?" Byron looked at his brother like he was crazy. The gapping hole in roof across from where they were standing was their ticket into the house. With so many workmen around it would be easy for the two of them to blend and get in.
"Wake up stupid, we just act like we belong there and we get in through that hole you see there. See Mikey, its like God wants us to go in there and get Desi back." Byron looked on as the man with a large coffee mug in his hands called up orders to the dozen and half or so workers crawling along the roofline. Three of the men had chainsaws and they were making good progress on the large tree limb that had caused the damage.
"You are crazy if you think Im walking into that yard in broad daylight." Mike had gotten up that morning and foraged through the closet in the master bedroom for some clothes. The man to whom they belonged to was a little taller than he was but thank God they werent swimming on him. In the closet by the front door he had found a pea coat that had come in handy after the temperature had dropped overnight. Mike had cut his hair with a pair of scissors he had found, but had opted to keep the beard. Looking toward his brother, he could see that the prison food had put more than a few pounds on him and the pants and shirt he was wearing under the jacket he had taken were a little tight.
"Thats why it will work little brother, no one is expecting us just to drop out of the sky. The attic was damaged and you know there has to be easy access to the house from up there. We go in, hang out for the day, and tonight when no ones expecting it, BAM we go in and take care of business." Byron pounded his fist into the palm of his hand to make the point.
Mike continued to look at his brother and decided this would not be a good time to tell him that he had decided the previous night to leave town without him. The younger Simoneaux had come to the conclusion that Bryon, just like their father, was too much of a liability to his freedom. His plan was to take the car the couple had left behind and drive himself back to Angola. The only money Mike was going to take from the house was enough to buy a steak dinner somewhere along the way.
"Im not going with you Byron. If you decide to do this, you are on your own. You have to accept that the girl doesnt want you anymore."
"She would still need me if that big freak hadnt come between us." Byron was struggling to keep his voice down considering that they were standing fairly close to the fence surrounding the property.
"The big freak, as you call her, is who she wanted all along. Im thinking marrying you was the last thing Desiree wanted to do, and I think she would rather die than to come back to you." Mike turned around and started walking back to the house they had spent the night in; it was time to get going.
"If thats what you think, then thats the way its going to have to be. Ill give her the choice and if its not what I want to hear then she will be joining mama." When Mike heard what Byron had said he stopped walking and turned back around to face his brother. Byron was already scaling the wall and was close to the top. It was time to make a decision that could change his future forever.
If he were caught now he was sure the authorities would put him in the hole so long he would forget the color of the sky before they let him out. A quick scan of the area showed no cops so he walked forward with a confident step trying to act like someone that belonged there.
There was so much activity around him that no one looked his way as he got closer to his goal. The man he was following made steady progress toward the same destination, but again no one noticed either of them.
Tyrell stepped into the elevator in the lobby of Charity behind one of the numerous maintenance people working in the building. The older gentleman with a tool belt strapped to his waist pressed the button for the eighth floor then turned and looked at Tyrell. The escaped convict cocked his fist in case he had to make a quick get away as the man continued to stare at him.
"What floor you need man?"
"Sorry. Seven, please." The man turned back to the panel, punched the number Tyrell wanted and never gave his fellow passenger another look as he stared up at the readout watching the floors progress upward.
Tyrell stepped out onto the floor Dianna was on and walked with his head down toward the room she was in. He had waited until she was finished with the tests they had run that morning before coming to see her. Dianna had wanted him to stay away until at least she was done with her surgery, but Tyrell had wanted to come and offer her moral support.
There were another two people sharing the room Dianna was in. She looked up when the door opened and found Tyrell filling the opening. Clutched in his right hand was a bouquet of flowers and there was a smile on his face. The other two patients in the room were napping so they never saw the visitor enter and close the privacy curtain around Diannas bed.
"I told you to stay away from here until tomorrow night Ty. What if somebody sees you, I dont want to have to worry about this surgery and you at the same time." She looked around nervously. "Im just planning to sit here all day and read some of the magazines you bought me yesterday, Ill be ok Ty."
"Arent you even going to thank me for the flowers I brought you woman before you start fussing at me?" Tyrell smiled wide enough that his sister saw his dimples appear. Ever since their father had died in a work related accident when they were young, Tyrell had been looking out for her. Tyrell had done everything within his power to help his mother make sure neither of them ended up like so many others in the inner city. The one blessing that had come from the aftermath of Tyrells killing of Diannas boyfriend was their mother had died before watching her only son being sentenced to life in the state penitentiary.
"Thank you Ty, now get the heck out of here. And remember that I dont want to see you until tomorrow night. I promise that Ill ask Dr. Basantes to call you and let you know how Im doing." Tyrell stood next to her bed and pointed down to the front of the gown she was wearing.
"Why is there bacon on your plate?"
"Because I like bacon." Harry tried honesty since she knew nothing else would work. Desi had gotten a hold of her last cholesterol numbers and had become a hound after Harry for her eating habits.
"Get into the shower before you get into any more trouble Harry." Desi pointed toward the bathroom after pulling the plate away from Harrys reach. "I want you around for a long time honey, that means watching what you put in your mouth." She looked into the twinkling blue eyes just dying to say something, but cut her off before Harry could knock her comment out of the park. "Nothing Harry, you say nothing."
An hour later Harry was dressed and standing back in her kitchen. She had given Roger and Oscar the use of the sunroom to make some calls and found them still working when she walked through. Rachel had decided to spend the morning with Desi and the baby knowing her older sister was going to have a hard time keeping Jack happy with all the noise filtering through the house.
"She didnt let you eat that bacon did she?" asked Mona.
"Nope, dont rub it in."
"Im not going to rub it in hardhead, Im just going to give you the bran muffin your little muffin bought for you." Mona held up the bag and laughed that much harder when Harry glared at her.
Byron watched her toss the bag in her hand into the passenger side of the SUV and waited to see if Harry was indeed leaving. Not one of the workmen or anyone in the house had noticed him in the yard. The tree that had lost a branch to the roofline had been partially blocking his body and Byron thought it best to just lean against it until the opportunity opened for him to get up the ladder not that far away from him.
Harry noticed the downed limbs littering most of uptown as she drove to the hospital. A call to her service told her that all the tests had been completed on Dianna Lagrie and she would be ready for surgery in the morning. The state had fought her on the MRI she had ordered, but the test confirmed what she thought she might find. Nothing made Harry angrier than doctors who gave less than half of their best because the patient was indigent, and that was what she figured had happened to Dianna.
The first thing Harry saw when she entered the room was the bouquet sitting on the windowsill. Bright wild flowers looked out of place not only because it was cold outside, but also because of the drabness of the room they sat in. "How are you feeling?"
"About the same as the last time you saw me doctor. My world doesnt change much, just what I get to look at sometimes."
"Well I think we are getting ready to change that for you Ms. Lagrie. I cant eat bacon, but Im confident that I can fix what ails you." Dianna looked at the tall doctor trying to decipher the last comment she had said getting Harry to laugh. "My wife wont let me eat things she thinks are bad for me, so for now, bacon is off my list. Id offer to share my muffin with you but I moved up your surgery time and we are going to roll in just about an hour. Wheres your brother, I figured he would be hanging around somewhere close?"
"You just missed him," Dianna said in a low whisper. The fact Harry was moving up her surgery probably meant that she had found something worse than she first suspected. "Im not going to die am I?"
"One day yeah, it happens to all of us, but thats not going to be today." Harry grinned at her patient. "I just looked at all of your results Dianna, and called to rearrange my schedule at the other hospital. You and I have a date for the rest of the afternoon. Is there something you want before we begin?"
"Could you call Tyrell for me? I promised him I would ask you to do it tomorrow so he wont get into trouble for coming here." Diana handed Harry the number where Tyrell could be reached before the orderlies came in with a stretcher.
"Ill take care of it Dianna. Now just relax and Ill see you down in the theater." Before they transferred Dianna to her gurney to go into surgery, a nurse walked in and handed Harry a syringe. Harry wiped the medication port of Diannas I.V. with a swab before she punctured the end with the needle and pushed in the contents. "Just a little something to relax you for the ride downstairs."
The phone on Tyrells hip started emitting a low ring as he was taking the stairs to the first floor.
"Yeah?" He didnt recognize the number and didnt want to give away to much information about himself before he knew who was calling him. Tyrell listened to what the caller had to say as he quickened his steps.
"When did this happen?" Tyrell stopped walking and listened to what the caller was telling him. This was a definite change in plans. "Dont worry Ill be there as soon as I can."
Harry pressed the end button on her phone looking at it with an amused face before scanning to the first number in memory and connecting a new call. "Hey baby."
"Hello good looking, are you on your way to Mercy?" Desi was glad for the respite of noise from the chainsaws timed perfectly with the ringing of the phone.
"No, thats why Im calling. I getting ready to take Dianna into surgery and Im not real sure how long thats going to take. So dont worry if Im a little late getting home today."
"Did something happen that you are going a day early?" Desi put another blanket on the sleeping Jack and moved back toward the sofa to join her sister. They had spent their morning talking and Rachel had offered to fix her sisters hair.
"No, I just saw the extent of damage the poor woman has and couldnt see having her suffer another day if she didnt have to." Harry moved into the elevator and pressed the second floor key. Her staff had taken care to round up her students and by the time she arrived in the surgical suite she used, they would be waiting for her.
"Harry if I didnt know any better I would have to say that you are the sweetest person alive. Did you eat your muffin?" Desi gripped the phone tighter and smiled at the restraint Harry was showing.
"Yes I did, and we will have a long talk about that when I get home. If Im that sweet then I should be allowed to eat bacon."
"Harry I refuse to have this conversation with you again. Get your cholesterol level under 220 and then well talk. Have a good day honey and do good."
"Thanks sweetheart, Ill try my best." Harry slipped the phone into her lab coat and hung it in her locker. Dianna was stretched out on the operating on her stomach trying to relax and let the medicine they had given her do its job. There was some soft music playing in the room and she found herself humming along.
The hand on the back of Diannas head made her want to try and turn her head to see who it was. "Dont worry its just me, Dr. Harry. How are you feeling?"
"Im confident that you are going to fix me doctor. Ty wouldnt have done all he did if he didnt believe in you. If I havent said it before, thank you for doing this for me." Dianna finally did relax feeling the warm hand on her that would be responsible for taking away her pain.
"Thats why we are here. What is your favorite kind of music Ms. Lagrie?" The anesthesiologist started his job as Diana was thinking of an answer for Harrys question. Her limbs felt so heavy and her mind couldnt focus on the name of any songs much less a type of music. "Thats ok, how about some easy listening today?" Once the music started playing again Harry got to work.
With precise cuts they got the largest problem area clear so that they could start the cleanup in earnest. Pointing to the newly exposed area their teacher decided to ask for opinions and diagnosis of the damage. "What would you do?" The teacher pointed to the first student to the right.
"I would cut away and start from the untouched part."
"What would you use to patch?"
"The old stuff looks like cypress so thats what I would use on the new section we need to build. It will take it a while before it hardens to the point of the rest of this stuff, but it will give it the same stability the roof line has had for over a hundred years is my guess." Quint had been an apprentice with Stephen for over four years and had counted himself lucky to learn from the master carpenter.
"Good work Quint. The reason the whole structure didnt come down in last nights storm was because of the materials the original builders used. Cypress gets hard as cement as it ages and is the only thing dense enough that our little termite friends find unappetizing. Call the lumber yard and tell them Ill be down in two hours with the order." Stephen pulled out his tape measure now that the massive oak limb had been reduced to firewood and the extent of the hole was evident. They would cut away at the splintered wood like Quint had suggested and start at a place where the seams would cause no future leakage.
Down below them one man watched the activity in and around the attic while another watched him closer to the fence. Each waited for something to happen to make their move. Mike was closer to Desis studio and when he wasnt watching his brother by the large oak tree, he was watching the windows in the kitchen to see if there was any activity in the house. The only one he had witnessed moving around on the main floor was a black woman who looked like she was cooking a meal.
As the afternoon progressed the sky became more and more overcast, driving the temperature down even further. There was no more rain but there was a dampness in the air that made being outside miserable. Byron got to the point that he couldnt really feel his feet and fingertips, but was loath to move now that the inside of the house was becoming more defined from his vantage point. At a little after six in the afternoon the hole in the roof was closed and the workmen started packing their equipment. There was still plenty of work ahead of them before the job would be complete, but at least there was a barrier between the upstairs ceilings and the elements.
Byron stood leaning against the tree trying to figure out how he was now going to get into the house when the object of all his planning walked into the kitchen with Rachel in tow. His sister-in-law was carrying a bundle against her shoulder and she was running her hand along its length in a methodical fashion. He focused so much of his attention on watching her and Desi that he forgot the cold and the smoky breath that was coming out of his mouth in shorter spurts.
Desi looked so different to him and to Mike, who wasnt that far behind him. Her hair was lighter and shorter, her body looked fuller and she couldnt seem to stop laughing at whatever the maid and Rachel were saying. Byron was mesmerized as his wife took the bundle from Rachel and unwrapped the blanket covering her son. From where he was standing it looked like a large baby with big hands that he was waving at his mother.
"I know what you want big guy, just hold on. Rachel would you please fix me a glass of water while I give Jack his dinner?" Rachel moved to get her sister some water unaware of being watched. With her back to the window Desi unbuttoned her blouse and lowered the flap on one side of her bra. Jack latched on with a small whimper and started feeding with his mother running a gentle finger along his head. "You look so much like Harry its amazing to me." Desi ran her finger through black hair that she was sure would start to curl eventually and then dropped her hand to pick up one of his smaller ones. "Do you think Harrys hands looked like this when she was his age?"
Mona looked up from the pots she had going on the stove and answered Desis question. "I didnt know Harry at this age, but to hear Maria tell it this little sucker is the spitting image of a certain doctor we all know and love. She told me once when I was screaming at the troublemaker for taking apart the vacuum cleaner, that Raul took one look at her hands when he first held her and declared they would work miracles. Damn if he wasnt right." Mona tapped the spoon she had been stirring the pot with along its rim and turned the fire down. The fact Harry wasnt home for all these feedings made her heart heavy sometimes. Her old friend would miss a couple of Jacks firsts, but she was confident they wouldnt be many.
"What happened to your vacuum cleaner Mona?" asked Rachel.
"She was seven at the time I think and after she apologized to me, she put it back together. There were six screws left over when she was done, but I swear the thing worked better without them. I kept them in a box that I still have in a drawer upstairs somewhere. Sort of a memento to show her whenever that little boy there gets into trouble one day." Mona pointed to Jack who was getting a little drowsy after his initial feeding frenzy. Desi ran her finger along his cheek to get his attention focused back on his meal.
"Not yet little man, you have to finish, if not youll be hungry again in an hour." Desi got him eating again and looked back at Mona with a crease in her brow. "If she was seven, why keep them all this time? There was no way you could predict the future."
"Desiree Basantes I dont need a crystal ball to tell me the future. Harry was never going to end up alone without a family. It wasnt in her nature."
"Whats Harrys nature Mona?" Monas smile after her question made Desi tear up from the emotion of it. She knew that Maria had given birth to Harry, but Desi always figured that the one person that knew her partner the best, besides her, was the wise woman standing in her usual place cooking dinner. This is the one person in the world Harry had told all her secrets and desires to and knew them to be safe.
"That is a complicated and easy question to answer. As a doctor it is to heal what she can and make bearable what she cant. Thats the hardest part for me to answer because I dont always understand whats she talking about when it comes to that. The easy part is the three of you and the rest of her family. Harrys nature is to love those who are fortunate enough to share her life. You two are her family along with that baby and she will love you forever." Mona smiled at her again and went back to her pots.
"And shell be mine forever." Byron muttered to the wind outside as he watched Desi switch the baby to the other side after Rachel had burped him. He was close enough to hear the phone ring and watched as Rachel answered it. Whoever was calling had her laughing within moments after she picked up the receiver and when she handed the phone to Desi he knew who it was.
"When will you be home?"
"Give me an hour then Ill be walking through the door. Im just waiting for my patient to wake up then I can be on my way. Whats happening with the house?" Harry was working on a stack of patient files as she talked with Desi. Diannas surgery had lasted over seven hours and Harrys eyes had gotten fatigued by the end. The delicate sutures she had put in had required the use of optical enhancements and looking into the eyepieces for that long always did that to her.
"Its no longer raining in the attic and Stephen says it will take about two weeks before we are back to normal. Thats because once the roof and attic are done the ceilings in rooms over that part of the house will need replastering and painting. The good news is that since they held the water and didnt leak, the floors dont have to be redone."
"How did you do with all that hammering today?"
"I did fine, Jack on the other hand gotten thrown off his schedule a bit, but again Stephen says it wont be that bad from here on out. I have a surprise for you when you get home." The break in the suction on her breast let her know that Jack was done and Desi handed him back to Rachel while she got her clothes back in order.
"Harry if I tell you it wont be a surprise. Call it an incentive for you to come home earlier. How did Dianna make out?"
"Poor woman, after getting an eyeful of what the damage was, no wonder she was in pain. There was so much scar tissue pressing on the nerve endings in her back, no amount of painkillers was ever going to do the trick. It was a bitch but Ill be willing to bet shell be feeling much better when the swelling goes down in a couple of weeks."
"How did her brother take the news?"
"Thats the funniest part of all this." Harry leaned back in the chair in one of the dictation rooms forgetting about the files for the moment.
"What do you mean? He didnt threaten you again, did he?" Desi was about to cross her arms over her chest when she remembered it wasnt the most pleasant of feelings and chose to mimic Harrys pose on the other end without knowing it.
"No, I have never been able to get in touch with him. I called him a couple of times before we started and just got a busy signal. Maybe when I get home Ill try him again. It just seems funny to me since the guy is always so concerned about his sister and now that she needs him the most, the guy pulls a disappearing act on her. Think Roger and Oscar caught up with him?" A nurse from recovery tapped on the door before going in. Seeing that Harry was on the phone she waited to deliver her message.
"Im sure they would have picked you up for aiding and abetting by now honey, so Im sure thats not it. Whatever kept him away must be important since he cares so much about Diana."
"True, well baby there is someone here that needs to talk to me so Ill see you and Jack in a little while. Love you."
"Love you too honey, be careful."
Harry hung the phone and turned to the waiting nurse, "Dr. Basantes, I just wanted to tell you that Dianna is coming around."
"Thanks Ill be right there. Could you call Dr. Nova and tell him to come and get these files for me. They are the ones they will need for tomorrows rounds so tell him not to dawdle." The nurse nodded her head along with a chuckle as Harry got up and left the room.
"Dianna how are you feeling?" Harrys low voice made the brown eyes flutter open as Dianna tried to focus on her.
"Tyrell?" Her voice sounded like her mouth was stuffed with cotton and it felt like her tongue was glued to the roof of her mouth.
"Ill try him again later and maybe I can sneak him in tomorrow to see you. You rest now and let the nurse know if you need anything. Im only a phone call away so if you get scared or dont understand something have one of them call me, ok?" Dianna listened to what Harry was saying, but was more focused on the heat of Harrys hand on hers. It was as if the doctors hands were infused with a life all their own. She never noticed the absence of the hand since Dianna slipped back into a peaceful sleep before Harry got up to leave.
She dreamed of when she and Tyrell were children and they would play in the empty field near the apartment they grew up in. The two of them would crawl around and climb on all the deserted cars on the lot making up stories of faraway adventures they would go on when they grew up. Dianna watched Tyrell climb up first to check to see if it was safe before he extended his hand down to her. "Come on Di, our ship is waiting to sail." She grabbed his hand and moved her right foot to find a hold to make her climb easier.
The nurses at the station missed the movement under the blanket of the patient in bed eleven. In a deep sleep Dianna acted out her dream as much as she could as she saw Tyrells face from his perch above her. He was smiling and waiting.
Continued in Part 8
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