All It Took Was You

by

Ali Vali

 

 

Part 8

Tyrell had watched the man leaning against the oak tree from the top of the fence all day, waiting for him to make a move, only to have his vigil come to an end as soon as the workmen packed up for the day and the sun set. With darkness as his cover, Byron took his chance and started up the ladder that the workmen had left leaning against the house. What the big man couldn’t figure out was where the younger Simoneaux was. The old man was dead but he hadn’t heard of anything happening to Mike.

The reason Tyrell was sitting on the Basantes property fence was a call he had received as he was leaving the hospital after visiting his sister. Tyrell’s friends had succeeded where the police had failed after they had taken turns watching the house for unwanted visitors. Early that morning one of Tyrell’s old posse had watched as one man scaled the fence, followed by another a short time later. As soon as they were on the Basantes property he picked up the phone and called Tyrell. Being an escaped convict himself, Tyrell had wanted to wait until dark to see if he could to do anything about Byron and his brother. With so much activity going on around the house, no one had noticed him sitting atop the fence obscured by a tree, and for that Tyrell was grateful. He wanted help Harry but was determined to stay out of jail as long as he could.

When Byron reached the second floor and slid open a window, Tyrell jumped down from his lookout post and started walking leisurely toward the house. He stopped when he spotted someone moving ahead of him toward the same ladder that Byron had used, and it solved the mystery of where Mike was. Mike had not noticed the large man that had led them out of the swamp since he was dressed in black almost from head to toe.

"What’s that little asshole up to?" Tyrell verbalized the question out loud, but soft enough so that Mike didn’t hear him. Mike just stood close to the top rungs of the ladder not moving. Tyrell stood in the yard watching him, wondering why Mike wasn’t following his brother inside. What are you waiting for Mikey? Mike in a way answered Tyrell’s question when he finished the trip up. The convicted killer broke out into a quick run when Mike disappeared through the same window his brother had used several minutes before. Tyrell quickened his pace when he saw the three women in the house head out of the kitchen to the middle of the house like they were going upstairs. He couldn’t let them go up if the two lunatics were waiting for them.

Byron stood in the darkened bedroom he had entered listening for any activity or alarm around him. There were voices filtering through the door and they seemed to be getting louder making him wish he were invisible. To his relief they were all women and whoever they were, they were laughing at something one of them had said. With a soft click, he opened the large knife he had taken from the house they had slept in the night before and held it tightly in his hand. He held his breath not wanting anything to alert them that he was in the house, but the voices passed his door and continued on their way. Before he let out the long stream of air he had been holding, he could hear his heartbeat thumping in his ears. Byron wondered if it was just from excitement or from fear. It didn’t matter now, he was too close to getting back what was his.

Behind him, Mike also held his breath so that his brother wouldn’t see or hear him. Mike had been ready to leave the city and turn himself back into authorities, but changed his mind when he saw Byron climb over the fence wall. He knew that it wouldn’t help his cause but he wouldn’t let what happened to his mother; happen to Desi or to Rachel, who he knew was in the house. Mike was treading into the unknown now since he had figured the only way to survive this whole ordeal was to walk back through the gates he had escaped from, not into Harry and Desi’s home.

In an attempt to keep the element of surprise Byron sat on the bed and took his shoes off and placed them neatly at the foot of the bed beside him. Before he got up, he picked up the knife and ran the tip of his index finger along the blade to check its sharpness again. He hissed softly as the line of blood quickly appeared where the knife had touched, the pain only resolving him to what had to happen. What he had dreamed about since they had put him in that cell and told him he would never get out. The people that had put him there were just down the hall waiting for his retribution.

With a smile on his face, Byron opened the door softly and looked both ways down the hall before stepping out of the room he had been hiding in. Mike took that opportunity to finish climbing into the room his brother had just occupied, trying to stay quiet. Keeping his shoes on, Mike looked out the door to see which way his brother had headed. He could see Byron just standing outside the door at the end of the hall, swaying as if trying to make a decision. There were voices coming out of the room, two Mike recognized. With Tyrell now at the base of the ladder it was like a chess game played with only three pieces, each waiting for the other to make a move before they countered the play.

"When did Harry say she was heading home?" asked Rachel. The three of them had come up to help Desi put a new diaper on Jack and put him to bed. Rachel had decided to stay and have dinner with them since Serena was staying at work late and Butch was spending the night with her lover’s parents. She missed days spent like this with her sister. They had talked, given Desi a new haircut and held Jack watching him find new things in the world around him.

"In about thirty minutes. If she’s not here by then, I say Mona’s pot roast is fair game. She was waiting for her patient to wake…" Desi’s voice just died away and Mona watched as the color drained out of the young woman’s face. Rachel was pulling the soft blanket onto Jack’s little feet and missed the sight that was making her sister weak kneed with fear. Desi swayed when she saw him but found the strength to stay on her feet.

"She’s waiting to do what?" Rachel waited for her sister to finish, turning around to look at her when she wouldn’t answer. "Desi?" It was like time stood still as Rachel focused only on Desi’s face and Desi focused on the figure standing in the hall.

Mona turned to look at what had scared the talk right out of Desi and was confronted by the sight of a man with a large knife in his hand. He looked different than the last time she had seen him, but Mona recognized him right off. Byron Simoneaux had returned for round two, but Harry wasn’t home to fight it, and the man standing there didn’t look like he was willing to wait for her to get home to begin whatever he had in mind.

"What’s the matter sweetheart, not happy to see me? And after all the trouble I had to go through to come and see you." Byron lifted his arms out to his sides so Desi could get a better look at him. The one thing her eyes stayed focused on was not him though, but the blade that was now reflecting the overhead lights from the hall. "You disappoint me Desiree, but that’s no surprise since you were always good at doing that. I mean you don’t come to see me, you don’t write, hell you wont’ even call." Bryon started talking and couldn’t seem to stop. With each comment that came flying out of his mouth he took a step closer into the room and to the woman he had thought about for all those long months in Angola. Sometimes during the nights filled with screams and moans within the prison walls, if Byron concentrated he could still remember what her skin smelled like.

"If you know what’s good for you, you will turn around and walk out of here and leave us alone. Haven’t you caused this young woman enough pain for one lifetime?" Mona walked to stand in front of the catatonic Desi before the man got any closer to her.

Rachel stood in front of Jack’s bassinet trying desperately to think of something she could do to protect her sister and her nephew before Byron started slashing something with the knife he was holding. Leave it to Mona to step in and confront the bastard like he didn’t frighten her in the least.

Mona’s commanding voice made him stop walking, take his eyes off Desi and focus on the woman talking to him. "Did you hear me ask for you to open your mouth and say anything?"

"I don’t care what you want or who you want to talk, I just want you to turn around and get out. It would be the smart thing for you to do before Harry gets home. I’m just trying to keep you alive, not that it’s worth it, but it would be for the best." Mona didn’t move and thought she was getting to him. Maybe he would remember the beating he had gotten the last time he had stepped foot in the house.

Byron cocked his head first to one side and then to the other and Rachel felt herself shiver from the bones cracking in his neck. It was one of the first things he did before he would start hitting Desi; pop the vertebrae in his neck into place as if it somehow improved his swing. Only this time Byron varied from his normal routine. He started moving before he started talking and in a vicious arch swung the knife upward and buried it into Mona’s abdomen. The one thing that surprised him was she didn’t give him the satisfaction of screaming. The old woman just fell to the ground holding her midsection as blood poured out through her fingers. "If I need your opinion on what I should be doing, I’ll ask. Try and remember that next time, will you?"

He started laughing at how easy that had been and he couldn’t stop. The more Mona bled, the more Byron laughed until Desi just screamed as loud as she could.

"NO! Get away from her, it’s me you want Byron not her." He watched, tapping the end of the bloody knife against his chin, as the tears ran down from the green eyes. Desi’s scream had pulled his attention from Mona, but it had also woken Jack up and the crying made Bryon turn his focus further into the room. In the bed was the baby that rightfully should have been his. The one thing his marriage to Desi had not given him, a son.

"Been busy I see." Desi wanted to find a hole and crawl into it, Byron looked and sounded insane. This had been her worst nightmare since Serena had come to their house and told them that Bryon and his family had escaped. Desi had been confident that the police would have found them long before Jack was born. Whenever Desi had that dream it had always ended with Harry holding her closer and telling her that she would be all right. Harry I need you right now to tell me that Jack will ok, please get home soon honey before it’s too late.

"Byron please, take me and do whatever you want. You’re right, I’ve been a lousy wife to you but please leave the baby out of this. I promise to do everything you want, but I’m begging you to leave him out of this." Desi looked into Byron’s eyes trying to get through to him. Truthfully she had never cared for him. She had just tried to survive him, but now she wasn’t so sure she would come out of this with just bruises and broken bones to show for it. She had never seen him look so demented, so charged up to do harm. And there were so many targets in the room for him to focus that on.

"That’s rich Desiree. I’ve waited years to hear you beg me for anything, and all it took was you having that dyke’s baby to do the trick. It is hers, isn’t it?" Bryon was now running the bloody knife along his cheek in a soft line so as not to break the skin. The coppery smell just below his nose was making him want to cut someone else just to renew the pungency of it. Cutting the old woman open had felt like sticking a hot knife into a stick of butter it had been so easy. Now that he considered it, it was what he should have used on Desi instead of the baseball bat.

Please forgive me Harry for denying what is yours, but I am sure you will understand. "The baby is mine Byron, and he hasn’t done anything to hurt you so please just let Rachel take him downstairs so you and I can talk."

"No, I want to see him." Bryon put the knife down to his side again and walked to the bassinet. When Rachel wouldn’t move he closed his fist and slammed it into her face knocking her back onto the bed. Desi stood completely still, not wanting to alarm her ex-husband in any way as he reached into the bassinet and picked up Jack. Every fiber of her being wanted to hurt him for touching Jack, but Desi knew she could never overpower him.

Desi could only look on as Bryon held Jack in the air to look at him. The baby, who was red from crying had his eyes closed shut, and his little body was shivering from the screams he was letting out. The knife in Bryon’s hand was pressed up against Jack’s back and the tip was so close to the back of his head, it was making Desi crazy. She tried again to get Byron to put Jack down because if something happened to their defenseless child, Desi would never be able to face Harry again. "Please give him to me Byron, he’s very upset."

"I guess so you bitch, being born into an unnatural house like this, no wonder the little guy is crying. Look at him Desi, the little bastard looks just like that bitch you live with. And that’s what he is, isn’t he? A little bastard born to a woman that’s nothing but some sick fuck. I see being away from me for so long has made you go back to your lying, whoring ways, but that’s going to change. I won’t bring up my son with a woman like you, isn’t that right my boy?" Bryon talked to the baby like they were ready to attend some father and son events together.

"Please Byron just give him to me so he will stop crying. He doesn’t belong to you, put him down if you don’t want to hand him to me." Desi held her arms out ready to do anything the man wanted as long as he would put the little boy down. Jack’s screams were getting louder and Desi wondered if the knife at his back was cutting into him somehow. She had never heard him cry like this, not even when he was hungry or wet. It almost seemed like he had inherited Harry’s complete hate for Byron and was expressing it in the only way he knew how.

"And I said no, now make yourself useful and pack my boy a bag. The two of us are going on a little trip as soon as I deal with you." Byron put Jack down and turned to Desi to say something else to her. He didn’t get the chance as Mike ran into the room and tackled his brother to the ground breaking a small table in the room on the way down. The knife Byron had been holding went flying out of his hand toward the balcony doors. The open blade was followed by the two brothers who went flying through the doors leading out to the balcony as they continued their struggle. The cold air from outside rushed into the room but Desi could only watch the bizarre turn of events, her feet feeling like they were glued to the floor.

"Run Desi run." Both she and Rachel heard Mike’s voice before it was cut off by what seemed to be a blow to his chest. As much as they wanted to leave, they couldn’t just go and leave Mona behind, so Desi tried to take control of the situation.

"Rachel take Jackson and get the hell out of here. I won’t lose my son. Get out of the house and call the police and tell them to bring an ambulance. Go on, get out of here!" Desi screamed the last part to get her sister to move. The one thing she was grateful for besides the opportunity Mike had surprisingly given her to save her child, was the feeling that no matter what, this would all end tonight. And no matter the outcome, Jack would be safely away from Byron and his rage.

"Desi, I can’t just leave you here please don’t ask that of me." Rachel was crying now as much as her sister, blood from her split lip poured down her face and mixed with her tears. Mona had stopped moving and neither of them wanted to even look at her chest to see if she was still alive.

"Please Rach, just go. I won’t put Jack in the middle of all this, please don’t ask that of me. Take him so that I’ll know he’ll be safe." She tried to act brave and smiled for her sister. Rachel just nodded and picked the crying baby up as the fighting outside intensified. "Thank you Rach, I love you. Tell Harry…" Rachel started shaking her head and Desi stopped not wanting her to change her mind about taking Jack out of the house. If something happened, Desi knew Harry would know what she felt without having to be reminded by someone else.

"You stay safe and I’ll get help. Promise me." Rachel kissed her sister and waited the moment it would take for her to promise to live. It was one of their old customs when they shared a house with Byron. Desi would take the beatings, and as much as she craved the peace lasting darkness would bring her, she always promised Rachel she would fight back by living.

"I promise." Desi continued to smile as she pushed her sister out the door with Jack. The noise from the balcony stopped abruptly and Desi’s only hope was that Rachel had decided to run down the stairs instead of walk. Her thoughts brightened for a moment when she considered that the silence might be because Mike had killed or wounded his brother, but seeing Byron standing amidst the broken glass dashed that hope. There was one thing they had all missed in the noise that Mike and Byron had caused with their struggle, and it was about to turn the tide again.

Harry opened the door of her vehicle just in time to see a man land in her yard after flying off her veranda. She was about to start joking with Stephen for being so clumsy when she heard the crunch of bone when he landed. The long legged doctor jumped the hedge and ran to the injured man to attend to his wounds when she saw who it was.

Blanching with pain, Mike gasped, "Please hurry and get upstairs before he hurts anyone else. I’m sorry Dr. Basantes, I tried to stop him." Mike pointed to the upstairs room and tried not to move any more than necessary. There was something wrong with his legs and the pain in his hip area was about to make him pass out.

"Try not to move until I get back. Is your brother armed?" Harry wanted to know what situation she was going into before she went up the stairs. It wouldn’t do Desi and Jack any good if she got killed going through the door.

"Just a knife, please hurry he’s lost his mind and I know he just wants to kill her."

Harry didn’t wait for Mike to say another thing. She jumped over the bushes again and headed for the back door. Not bothering with the key she kicked the locked kitchen door in and started making her way to the stairs. In the kitchen she ran into Rachel running out with Jack in her arms.

"Get into my car and take off, the keys are in the ignition. Just ignore the moaning guy in the yard for now and get Jack out of here." Harry took a second to hold the hysterical woman before heading up to save her partner.

"He’s up there Harry. The son of a bitch got into the house. Please don’t let anything happen to her."

"Don’t worry about that runt, just get the baby out."

Byron moved back into the room stopping to pick up his knife on the way back in. The handle was picking up the light of the moon and it felt sticky in his hand. Desi was kneeling over the black woman on the floor when he stepped back into the room through the splintered door. His wife was pressing a towel, with what looked like a bear on it, to the wound he had inflicted with the blade in his hand.

"Miss me?" Byron smiled until he flinched from pain from the split lip Mike had given him before he had pushed him over the side of the railing. The smile disappeared when he realized the baby and Rachel were gone. "Where is he, bitch? I’m not play games here Desiree, where is he?" Not wanting to wait any more he moved quickly toward Desi intent on making her pay for all she had done to him and for all she had taken away.

He was a hand length away from grabbing Desi by her new short haircut when the deep voice stopped him like an invisible hand. There was no fucking way he was hearing that voice now that he was so close to his goal.

"You know Bryon, as I spent my time locked up in that small cage they put me in, you know what I did to pass the time?" Tyrell was standing in the doorway waiting for the weasel to make his move. He had made a promise to the doctor and he wasn’t about to go back on that.

"What boy, did you do to pass the time?" Desi could hear the frustration in Byron’s voice as he answered. Byron rolled his head and looked in Tyrell’s direction trying to hurry the answer along. He didn’t have time to waste playing stupid games with the idiot.

"We’ve had a previous discussion I believe about the use of the term ‘boy’ if I recall, but we’ll get back to that later." Desi watched and listened to the, what seemed like, polite conversation and hoped like hell the new player was here to help. Mona’s breathing was getting shallow and she couldn’t wait that much longer for help. "I read a lot. All kinds of books actually, which surprised my sister since I wasn’t much for books when I was in school, but in jail, I had all the time in the world to kill. I read in one of them books that a man like you needs something in place of his penis since you are what they called fucked up in the head. That big knife in your hand would be it, if I guess correctly." Tyrell nodded his head toward the object he had been referring to. He wanted to make Byron mad enough to go after him and away from the two women in the room.

"Just shut up Tyrell before I use this big knife to carve a piece out of you." Bryon pointed the tip of the knife toward the other man in the room falling for Tyrell’s tactics when he forgot about Desi and Mona with his arrival.

"Yeah, the bigger the knife means the smaller the dick. Shit man from the looks of it, you couldn’t screw a cat and satisfy it." As Tyrell held up his thumb and index finger close together to make his point, Desi recognized the laugh that came from behind him and wanted to faint from the shear relief of living to hear it again.

"You don’t know shit." Bryon continued to hold the knife pointed at Tyrell hoping to make the man back down, but his fellow jail mate looked like he was waiting for a bus he was so cool.

"I’m a doctor, and I would have to say that Tyrell’s diagnosis of your problem is right on the money. The medical opinion is free, now get the hell out of my house." Harry moved into the room and closer to Byron showing no fear. She was so mad that Desi would swear later that Harry had gotten a couple of inches bigger everywhere from her height to the size of her hands. Tyrell had moved out of Harry’s way and kneeled next to Desi to help her with Mona.

"Thank God you are here bitch. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since they put me in that hellhole." Byron took a deep breath and puffed out his chest. Last time was different, was the mantra running through his head. Every time he had run through this scenario in prison, he was the one that came out on top. Last time it was just a lucky break on her part because the house had been dark.

"Dreaming of what?" Harry moved closer causing Byron to take a step back toward the broken balcony doors.

"Of opening a can of whoop ass on you." Bryon tried to sound menacing as the woman moved closer into his personal space. He didn’t move thinking if he did it would be a sign of weakness on his part. Once she noticed the knife she would back down.

"Can of whoop ass? What are you, in the third grade? Who in the hell uses the term, ‘can of whoop ass’ any more?" Harry asked the questions in rapid succession using air quotation marks when she got to the last one. Desi laughed behind her thinking that only Harry would use dry humor at a time like this. It was funny in a way that Desi had never felt more terrified but safe all at the same time. Harry looked like a large animal of prey toying with its food before tearing into it. The temperature of the room had dropped at least fifteen degrees since the door had been shattered, but Desi noticed the beads of sweat that had broken out on Byron’s lip. They had only made an appearance when they were married when Byron had done something to anger his father.

"We are going to be all right Mona so don’t you dare die on me now old girl. Harry will see that we are ok." She whispered the words into Mona’s ear as she pressed the towel into the wound hoping the bleeding would stop. Tyrell moved after he had pulled the afghan on the sofa to cover Mona so that he would be a barrier between the two women on the floor and Byron. He would have offered to subdue Byron for Harry, but the look in the surgeon’s eyes when she walked into her bedroom told him it would have only resulted in both him and Byron getting the shit kicked out of them.

"Shut up now before I hurt you." Byron was losing control of the situation and tried the one thing he had left. Without warning he lunged at Harry’s chest with the knife willing it to hit it’s target. Harry grabbed his wrist as it flew past her and landed a swift kick to Byron’s chest causing a long exhale of air to come out. He looked up through watery eyes to see Harry bouncing on the balls of her feet. "Lucky shot."

"Sure it was. Let’s try it again and see how lucky I can get?" Harry taunted him into lunging for her again. As he swung the knife again, Harry grabbed his wrist and held it above his head as she grabbed the other hand and started snapping fingers one at a time. "This little piggy went someplace he didn’t belong." She listened for the snap and went on. "This little piggy liked to beat up on women that couldn’t fight back." Snap. "This little piggy should match the other two." Snap. "And this one is screaming at you, ‘you moron didn’t you remember the jaw incident?’" Snap.

He screamed as she broke each individual bone but refused to go down. Byron had to think of something to turn the tables on her. "Yeah but just remember you bitch, who got to taste that sweet thing over there first. Desi may not have loved me, but she was a wild woman for me in bed. She couldn’t wait for me to come home and stick it to her. She couldn’t get enough." Byron started to do some taunting of his own as he held his broken fingers under his armpit still holding the knife in the other hand. Harry moved so quickly that he didn’t see the blow coming until his head snapped back and he spit his two front teeth out on the carpet when it whipped back into place. Tyrell could tell she had pulled her punch at the last minute so as not to drive his nose into his brain. The doctor seemed like a very interesting person. This was not the compassionate woman that had held his sister’s hand a few days ago, this is who had he met that day at the free clinic.

"That should make you popular in the shower Byron." Harry took deep breaths to rein in her temper knowing if she didn’t, she would kill the pathetic man standing before her. She pointed at the missing teeth in case he had not understood her reference. "I mean, Tyrell over there says there was more than one big Bubba that was sweet on you at Angola. Now that I have you bleeding and in pain, let’s get something straight. You don’t talk to, talk about or utter Desi’s name again now or in your lifetime and I will let you leave this house tonight alive."

"If she’s half as good as putting people back together as she is at taking them apart, Harry must be one hell of a doctor." Tyrell held the makeshift bandage to Mona’s wound trying not to use too much pressure so as not to cause any more damage. Desi kept trying to split her attention to the fight behind her and Mona to make sure she was still breathing. She could tell Harry was trying to find her focus as the big hands opened and closed repeatedly. Desi had seen the action numerous times at the hospital when Harry was losing patience with her students. Maybe if she tried that breaking fingers trick, it would get them to study harder before rounds.

"She’s a better doctor since she gets more practice at it. Trying to break that many bones all the time would be murder on those beautiful talented hands." Tyrell nodded his head at Desi’s answer, taking a moment to look at the woman kneeling next to him. As much as he disliked Byron, the big man could understand how this woman could take up so much of the man’s thought process. Desi was one of the most beautiful women he had ever encountered.

"I hate you." Bryon ran at her again and Harry aimed her kick to the groin this time. Before he could recover from the blow, Harry grabbed the hand that was holding the knife and twisted his arm around and up until she heard the bone snap. The instant overwhelming pain caused Bryon to finally drop the knife in his hand and it landed with a muted thump on the carpet. Harry stepped around to the front and followed up with a right upper cut that dropped Bryon like the knife before him.

After he fell, Harry left him alone. She had decided on the way upstairs that she wouldn’t kill him no matter how much she wanted to. Her path and the oath that she had taken was to try and protect life not take it, and Byron Simoneaux wouldn’t deter her from that. Only after she had neutralized him did she turn to face Desi.

"Harry please, help her." Desi pointed to Mona and Harry quickly moved to try and stabilize their wounded friend.

"Desi go into the closet and get my bag." Desi got up to get what Harry had asked for as all three conscious people could hear the sirens getting closer.

The scream from the closet doorway caused both Harry and Tyrell to look up. The last memory Harry had was of Bryon standing over her with a wooden club over his head before she watched him swing it downward toward her head.

The crack caused by the table leg connecting with Harry’s head sounded fatal, and both Tyrell and Desi watched as Harry fell like a dead weight onto Mona. When the police ran into the room moments later, they found a crying Desi cradling Harry in her arms and Tyrell Lagrie pressing a baby wash cloth to another woman’s stomach.

A few feet from them laid Bryon Simoneaux, Jr. with a knife buried to the hilt into his midsection. The knife had been driven in with such force that it had pinned him to the floor. To the officer that arrived first, the man looked like a butterfly he had seen in an exhibit once. The shocker was that he was still breathing, but no one in the room was giving him any attention. They were actually acting like the man wasn’t even there.

"In here hurry." Desi could hear Rachel screaming at someone as numerous feet pounded down the hall in an apparent stampede. The blonde was still in shock from watching Harry go down like a bag of wet cement and in her panic hadn’t checked for a pulse so convinced that she wouldn’t find one.

Behind the running Rachel, two sets of paramedics came rushing in, not sure as to what they would find. Another group was loading the crying man with an apparent broken leg and maybe hip fracture down in the yard. Whatever had happened in the house, had apparently been some brawl because there seemed to be injured people everywhere. In addition to the medical help there were a squadron of police personnel combing the property for any other intruders. Among the ones that had secured the house were Roger and his partner Oscar.

Roger took in the scene in the bedroom the second he could make it out from the hall. It seemed so vastly different from the last time he had answered the call at the same house. He was in disbelief that Harry was one of the people the paramedics were checking out. They were having trouble prying her out of Desi’s grip to check the extent of her injuries and Roger stepped in to intervene.

"Come on honey, let her go and let these people do their jobs. She’s going to be fine, just let her go." Roger spoke in soft even tones trying to calm the hysterical woman down. The rumpled detective tracked Tyrell as he stepped into the bathroom to wash Mona’s blood off his hands. From the way the big man was acting Roger didn’t think they would have any trouble taking him back into custody.

The three paramedics working on Mona were busy hooking up I.V. and monitors to various parts of her body while one of them was on the phone with the emergency room doctor at Charity. As in all trauma cases, that would be the first stop until the patient was stabilized, then they would be moved to the hospital of their choice. Desi’s crying only got louder when suddenly one of them yelled ‘clear’ as the heart monitor showed ventricular fibrillation, the quiver of a heart gone away.

"No please God no. Please don’t take her." Desi buried her face in Roger’s chest as the medics on the floor ripped open the shirt in their way in a fight with time now. The body moved in an unnatural arch as the current ran through the chest, but after only one shock, Mona’s heart was beating as it should again.

"Rachel why don’t you take your sister downstairs until this is all over. While you are down there try and get in touch with Harry’s parents and Mona’s family if you have the numbers." Roger stood up and pulled Desi along with him. Desi was shaking her head violently from side to side and Roger knew it would be a struggle to get her out of the room.

"No, I won’t leave her, she needs me." Desi tried to get back to Harry’s side. It was scaring her that those blues eyes hadn’t opened yet. The medical orders being thrown out, Harry’s silence, the baby crying and Bryon’s now constant moaning were starting to drive Desi out of her mind.

Roger and Rachel both got concerned when Desi just stopped. As if someone had flipped a switch, she stopped struggling, stopped crying and stopped talking. There on the ground not that far from where Bryon laid bleeding was Harry looking up at her. The doctor looked a little disoriented, but managed a half smile to make Desi feel better.

"I promise to do whatever you want from now on, just don’t hit me so hard next time." Harry couldn’t get her voice to go over a whisper but Desi heard her just fine.

"I didn’t hit you, baby, Bryon did." Desi was down on her knees and holding Harry’s hand as soon as Roger let her go. Harry looked over and listened to the great debate the two medics were having as to how to unpin the man from the hardwood floor.

"If you have to pull that knife out, please do me a favor and twist a couple of time first," requested Harry before she closed her eyes again. "Oh, and I predict he has a broken arm, the possibility of broken ribs, some missing teeth and all the fingers on his left hand are broken." Desi laughed knowing from the list Harry had just rattled off, there was no permanent damage to her head.

"I’ll do it myself if necessary Harry. Now get out of here so I can sort all this out." Roger directed them out of the room with his thumb now that they had Harry loaded on a stretcher. From the sound of the sirens Mona was already on her way to the hospital and from the speed of the ambulance, the feisty woman was still with them.

"Go on Desi, I’ll be there in just a few with Jack and the rest of the family." Rachel was still clutching onto the baby who was fine but still letting the world around him know his displeasure.

"Call Serena before you head out Rachel, that way you’ll have someone to sit with until all this is finished," Desi added as she followed Harry’s stretcher out of the room.

The last thing all the women heard as they made their way out of the house was Roger giving the uniformed officers orders that would piece together what had happened in the house before they arrived. For the moment at least, Tyrell was the only witness that was in any condition to talk so they would start there.

"Ok, let’s take it from the top, what happened here and better yet, what are you doing here?"

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"I was using the bathroom if you really want to know. As for the rest, I didn’t care for the breakfast selection they brought in." Harry was standing at the small sink in the room brushing her teeth and trying to get her hair to do something besides stand on end.

"You are not supposed to be out of bed Dr. Basantes, and stop terrorizing the staff by throwing jello at them. I swear, doctors make absolutely the worst patients." Harry tried directing a scowl at Desi but her head hurt so bad that she could only manage a weak smile.

"I don’t like stainless steel bedpans, and it is unnatural to have jello for breakfast Mrs. Basantes so leave me alone." Harry shuffled back to the bed and tried to look contrite.

"I’ll have them put bacon in it next time. Now behave or I won’t let you visit with your favorite person." Desi removed the blanket that was covering Jack and brought him over to the bed.

The night had been a whirlwind nightmare for both of them as Mona’s surgery went on for hours to repair all the damage Byron’s stabbing had done. Harry refused to be taken from Charity until she knew Mona would be all right, so they had all sat together down in the waiting room. Sally humored the bunch that consisted of all the parents, Rachel and her group, and Harry and Desi who were lying together on the stretcher with Jack. Once all the arrests were made, Roger had promised them a report in the morning as to how things had gotten so far out of hand.

"Come here my boy." Harry held her hands out waiting for Desi to deposit Jack into them. The moment he heard Harry’s voice, Jack picked his head up off Desi’s shoulder and looked toward the bed. In it was the person both he and his mother had used as a mattress the night before. The E.R. nurse Sally had made the comment when he had come in with Rachel, screaming his head off, that Jack was a doctor in the making.

"How are you feeling?" Desi sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed Harry’s leg through the thin gown she was wearing. The effects of the night before hadn’t worn off yet and she couldn’t seem to stop touching Harry.

"I’m ok baby, stop worrying. The important thing here is that we’re all ok, just a little bump on the head, nothing we can’t handle." Desi was about to protest when Dr. Harold Hebert walked in and backed up what Harry was saying. The chief of neurology at the hospital had been looking at the scans of Harry’s head for the last hour.

"She’s right. It seems from looking at all the film that I have been right about this patient all along." Harold rocked on his heels and smiled at the young cocky surgeon. Harry wasn’t all that different from him when he was her age.

"What?" Desi tightened her hold on Harry’s leg expecting the worst.

"Thick skull wrapped around a pea brain." The last of the strawberry jello hit with dead on accuracy on the left lens of the older doctor’s glasses.

"Harry I can’t believe you just did that." Desi laughed at the way the man calmly took off his glasses and wiped them down with the handkerchief he had pulled out of his back pocket.

"Despite the display of childish behavior, I’m releasing you to the beautiful woman sitting on your bed. And just remember, when you least expect it, you will find some hideous flavored jello somewhere where you don’t want it." Harold turned and left before Harry could respond to his threat.

"Come on menace, let’s get you dressed and we’ll go check on Mona. She’s down in intensive care, but her doctor let me know that she can be moved by this afternoon. I just hope she can forgive me all this when she comes to." Desi took the baby back and handed Harry a bag Raul had packed from home. Harry’s parents had been so supportive the night before as they had waited with Mona’s family for word of her progress. There was always that fear that the couple would just try and convince their daughter that she might be better off alone than with the baggage Desi had brought with her into Harry’s life. It made her feel good that the couple had fussed over her and Jack before they got to Harry and her injuries.

"What’s the matter my love?" Harry saw the flash of insecurity that marred Desi’s face for an instant. "I promised you and Jack would be all right, and I was right."

"I know, it’s silly but I just think you would have been better off with someone else after everything that’s happened. Who else could say that their lover’s ex-husband has broken into their house - not once but twice - trying to kill them?" Desi felt the long body press up against her back and she and Jack leaned into it.

"You, young lady are who I want to be with, and if the bastard lives and wants to break in again, he will meet with more of what he got this time and the time before that. You do realize that if you hadn’t come back to me, that we wouldn’t have this little guy in our lives? Just like his mommy, Jack is perfect and a very welcomed addition into my life." Harry put her arms around both Desi and Jack and squeezed just a little. They were still pressed together when the door opened and someone stepped into the room.

"Should we come back later, like when you are wearing underwear?" Roger’s voice was filled with humor when he saw the short hospital gown Harry was wearing, showing off more than she would want considering she was facing away from the door.

"And you don’t knock, because why?" Harry pulled her gown closed as she asked the question.

"I have a big gold badge, that’s why. It’s one of the perks of the job."

"Give me a minute to get dressed and we’ll head out and have some coffee for our little talk." Harry left Desi with the two officers as she went into the bathroom to get ready.

Harry bought them all something to drink and walked them out to a well-kept garden area that was deserted and a surprise to all but Harry, considering where they were. The doctor laughed at their expression when they took in the winter grass, wooden benches and tulips that were plentiful in the gardens that were mulched and weed free.

"How did you find this place in all this madness?" Desi pulled the fleece hat Jack was wearing over his ears and made sure his bunting was zipped all the way to the top.

"In my first year of residency here, I was walking around trying to stay awake and I took a wrong turn in there somewhere. I found this place, and I found Charlie." Harry sat along side Desi and put her arm around her to keep the smaller woman warm.

"Charlie?" Desi looked up at Harry whose head was haloed by the sun.

"He was one of the ground’s keepers here at the hospital. He was an older gentleman who had lost his wife and spent most of his time out here working in the gardens planting the kinds of flowers that were his wife’s favorites. In my four years of training here at the hospital, Charlie and I celebrated his wife’s birthday, their anniversary and all the other important dates he kept track of. We talked and got to be friends over the years, and it made him happy when I would come out to sit with him and brought a sack of some kind of bulb or another with me. They bloom all year long now and I still think I’m the only one who sees them." The softness of Harry’s voice when she spoke of the man told Desi that her lover cared for the man a lot.

"Does Charlie still take care of the flowers love?" Desi welcomed the soft kiss that Harry pressed against her lips. The two detectives were as curious as Desi to hear the end of the doctor’s story but didn’t want to interrupt the sweet moment they were looking on.

"No, he died three years ago. That’s why you never heard me talk about him, and with my schedule I don’t get out here as much as I did before, but I try and come out and plant at least one bulb in memory of he and his wife’s anniversary. The state doesn’t know it but I have our yard people from the house come out here once a week to keep it looking like Charlie did. I’ll bring you and Jack out here in the spring to see the wildflowers that come up every year." Harry kissed Desi again then turned to Roger and Oscar for answers. "Well?"

"I’ll start with what’s definite. Tyrell Lagrie is in custody and has admitted to pinning Byron to your bedroom floor with the knife that we found sticking out of him. Byron is in the prisoners’ ward with broken bones and a stab wound to the abdomen, and will remained chained to his hospital bed until he can be arraigned on new charges. His younger brother Mike is keeping him company in that ward with a severe fracture in his hip and left leg, and he is awaiting the same fate." Roger was about to tell them about the request Mike had made once he had been stabilized, but Desi interrupted him.

"He wasn’t there to help Byron, Mike was there to help me and Rachel." Harry looked at her partner in shock and it almost came close to the shock on Desi’s face for having said it. From the instant she saw the two brothers together, Desi had thought all of the lives in the bedroom the night before would be lost until Mike tackled his brother to the ground. His warning to run was still ringing through her head.

"What do you mean baby?"

"Just that Harry, Mike came in and got into a fight with Byron and that allowed Rachel to get out with Jack. That’s how all the furniture and doors got damaged."

"Baby if you had the chance to run out, then why didn’t you?"

"I couldn’t run and leave Mona there alone. Mike fought him long enough for Rachel to get out with the baby and that’s what was the most important thing to me at the time. He’s just a baby honey, I couldn’t let Byron touch him."

"He won’t ever get that chance Desi, when the system is done with him he won’t ever get out." Roger looked directly at Desi when he said it then lifted his eyes to Harry for the next part. The tall doctor was the more explosive of the two. "Mike asked to see you Harry as soon as he was brought in to the hospital. Don’t kill me for delivering the message, but I thought that you might want to know. He didn’t tell me what it was about, all he said was he wanted to see you. I know this sounds crazy now, but what was Tyrell doing in your house?" Roger asked the question of both of them, and Desi was grateful when Harry answered for both of them.

"Tyrell’s sister is a patient of mine and is currently in this hospital. Why and how he got into our house last night, I don’t know."

"Did you have any contact with Tyrell before last night?" asked Oscar.

"I didn’t really have contact with him last night detective, I was unconscious at the time. But to answer your question, yes I did." Their attorney would want to kill her if anything came of this, but Harry wanted to be honest.

"And you didn’t think to tell us about that?" Oscar leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees.

"You didn’t really ask me, and the conversations I’ve had with the man were about his sister’s care, which is not the police’s business. Are you accusing me of something detective?"

"No doctor, we are just trying to piece together what happened. The Simoneaux angle in all this makes sense to me, but the big guy was a mystery. He has been a model of civility since we brought him in, but again, he asked to talk with you too." Oscar closed his notebook and put it back in his coat pocket, as far as he was concerned the case was closed and all the bad guys were accounted for.

"Well it looks like I’ll have a busy afternoon." Harry stood and shook hands with both police officers before they left she and Desi alone. When the door back into the hospital clicked closed Harry sat back down and took Jack from Desi. She carefully put the sleeping baby’s head on the shoulder opposite Desi and turned toward her partner. Harry ran her hands through Desi’s new haircut and pulled the sweet face toward hers. They didn’t share any more words as they reconnected with lips and touch trying to convince their hearts that they had come out of the war unscathed.

Desi couldn’t help but touch Harry wherever she could reach. The lips that were coaxing hers open were driving her crazy but at the moment she didn’t care. Harry was alive and she had beaten Byron again at the physical game he loved to play. Harry, the woman who loved her so much was not the weak woman the man Desi had been married to was used to. Harry Basantes was passionate and strong at whatever she tried, but the most important thing Desi loved about her was that the good doctor belonged to her. This gentle giant would make it her life’s mission to see that Desi was happy and wanted, and Desi poured her feelings of happiness and belonging into her kiss.

"Do you like it?" Desi asked when their lips parted.

"Your kisses. Yep, always have."

"No goober, my hair. It’s not too short, is it?" She ran a hand through the short locks Rachel had cut the day before. Desi had gone shorter when she and Harry had gotten back together, but now it was way short.

"I love everything about you sweetheart, but if you need a definite answer, I love it."

"I want to go home honey." Desi leaned into the warm body again and felt so relaxed she could take a nap.

"Your wish is my command love, let’s go." Harry kissed her one last time and held her hand out for Desi to take.

"Are you sure that Mona will be all right?"

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"She’ll be fine. It will give us an excuse to wait on her for change of pace."

"I should have moved faster to get into that room before he had the chance to do that to that poor woman."

"Don’t worry about that now, like I said, she’ll be fine." Harry tried to find a comfortable spot on the chair she was sitting in and decided there wasn’t one, so she tried to make the best of it.

"Thanks for agreeing to see me."

"That was easy Tyrell, you gave your word and you kept it. When you showed up last night, you guaranteed that my family was going to survive. I am certain that if I had not shown up last night, Desi and my son Jack would have still been safe from that son of a bitch." Harry drummed the fingers of one hand on the Formica topped table while the others held up the phone she was using to talk to Tyrell.

"I had your back doc, after all, like you said, I gave my word. Did you keep yours?" The prisoner on the other side of the Plexiglas window looked even more imposing with the orange jump suit he had on. His brown eyes, so much like his sister’s, looked at Harry as if begging for good news. To hear it meant the weeks he spent out of jail would be worth the years they would tack onto his sentence.

"I kept my end Tyrell and she’s going to be fine. There was a lot to fix and clean up in there, but when Dianna’s done with me, I promise it will be because she’s better." Harry smiled to show she was sincere, but there was something that was still bothering her. "What happens now?"

"Legal aid will send some young pup over here who will hopefully work out some deal that won’t leave me bleeding too much. I had to try to get out doc; I hope you can understand that? Trust me, Bryon and those others were not in my plan. Hell I didn’t have a plan, it was mostly the circumstances of the moment."

"Yeah I can understand that and I don’t blame you for Byron." Harry hesitated a moment then asked, "Are you a prideful man Tyrell?"

"What are you talking about Dr. Basantes?" Tyrell leaned forward toward the partition with a confused look.

"There’s somebody outside who I want you to meet with and I don’t want you to worry about his fees because Desi and I will take care of that. Now call me Harry and agree with me without having to send my partner down here to get you to agree." Harry smiled and put her hand up to the glass since she couldn’t physically shake his hand yet. Tyrell smiled back at her and put his much larger hand up against hers. "Damn Tyrell, you would have been an awesome surgeon with hands like that."

Harry motioned the guard on her side to let Jerry in to talk with Tyrell. When the attorney entered she gave up her chair and was about to give up the phone when she told him one more thing. "He’s no young pup, but he knows his way around the courthouse. This is Jerry Castle, and he’s here to help you Tyrell."

"Thanks doc." Tyrell smiled at Harry. "Give Dianna my love when you see her."

"Will do." With a last pat to Jerry’s shoulder and a smile at Tyrell, Harry left them to their business and worked her way out of the building on her way to make one more stop before she went to meet Desi.

"How did it go?" asked Desi. She was spending the day with Rachel until they decided what to do about the house. Harry had gotten hotel rooms for everyone else staying with them and had instructed Stephen and his crew to continue working on the roof repairs.

"All right I guess. I got to tell him thanks for keeping an eye on all of you until I was able to get up there, and I got him to talk to Jerry. Now I have just one more visit to make and I’ll be done for the day, so save me a spot on the bed so we can take a nap later."

"That spot is permanently reserved honey, don’t worry about that." Harry laughed before ending the call as she pulled into the parking lot at Charity hospital. She entered the building through the main entrance and walked all the way to the back of the building headed toward another separate building on the campus. Most of the general public in New Orleans never knew of its existence, and it was known by those who did as ‘Little Angola.’ The guards who were responsible for its security worked for the state prison and all the patients taking up beds were state inmates.

The guards had put Mike and Byron at opposite ends of the room and Harry could see that the medical personnel had Byron heavily sedated. His brother Mike was awake and watching the tall doctor make her way toward his bed. They had never officially met and had only seen each other on a handful of occasions, most of which were during the trial that had sentenced the brothers to Angola. It was that lack of knowledge of what kind of person Harry was that was giving Mike a hard time reading the expression on her face.

"You asked to see me?"

"Yes, thank you for coming. You don’t know me Dr. Basantes, not really, but I wanted to apologize to you for what happened. I was there last night to try and stop my brother from hurting anyone in your house, especially Desi and the baby. Something happened to my father and him in prison and they kinda lost their minds, it doesn’t make what happen right, but I just thought I would tell you." Mike wanted to shift in the bed but was in so much pain he just tried to ignore the lump he was lying on.

"Why would you want to help my partner and my son?"

"My father killed my mother and I didn’t do anything about it. That says something about the kind of man I am, don’t you think?"

"Does it really matter to you, how I feel about that?" Harry just stood looking down on the man who in her mind had helped Byron get away with terrorizing Desi for so long.

"In a way it does, because I tried to act differently now. I don’t want anything from you Dr. Basantes, I just wanted you to know that I was sorry before they send me back to prison for all of this." This time he couldn’t hide the pain in his face, but he still had another hour to go until they would give him more pain medication.

"Thank you for what you tried to do last night. We will never be friends Mr. Simoneaux, but I do appreciate that you put yourself in danger to keep my family safe. I figure your brother didn’t throw you off our balcony because you were helping him." The admission had not come easy because it killed her to be indebted to anyone in the Simoneaux family, but this guy seemed different from the others. Harry picked up the chart at the end of his bed and looked it over before saying anything else. Mike watched as her eyebrow arched dramatically when she read something in the file. "You haven’t gone into surgery yet?"

"No, they said I had to go through a regimen of antibiotics first before they would take me." He was surprised when she fished her phone out of her coat pocket and connected with someone in the hospital.

"Yes, for tomorrow’s schedule. No, don’t bump anyone just add one to the front end, thank you." Harry snapped the phone closed and wrote some orders in the file before she addressed the man again. "I’ll do the surgery tomorrow, then we’ll be even, you and I."

"I won’t have a limp because you do it, will I?" Mike tried to sound light never figuring the woman would be so generous. No wonder you never had a chance brother.

"I promise, but don’t tempt me." Harry laughed at his attempt at humor then shook hands with him. She dropped the file off with the duty nurse who looked at it and prepared a shot of painkiller which he injected into Mike’s I.V. over an hour early. Yep, not a chance in hell Bryon. It was the last thought he had before a morphine cloud took him away.

Harry took a detour upstairs before she headed to the car, but she figured Desi wouldn’t mind her being a little late. The charge nurse behind the counter gave her a little wave as she went into one of the cubicles filled with monitors and medical equipment.

"You old fool, you should have tried and stayed out of that lunatic’s way." Harry whispered the sentiment around the lump in her throat as tears ran down her face. With a shaky hand she picked up one of Mona’s and kissed it. "You get better and come back to me, do you hear me?"

"I hear you just fine bonehead, and don’t you worry, I am not going anywhere just yet." The voice was weak but it gave Harry hope. She laughed through her tears and pointed a finger at the old woman.

"You were awake the whole time, weren’t you? I think you just wanted to see if I would cry."

"I figured if I lived long enough, it would happen. You have given me enough grief over the years, I thought it was time for you to shed some tears." Mona blinked her eyes against the light in the room and tried to make out Harry’s face. "Don’t cry my precious, I really am going to be all right."

"Thank you Mona for being there for my girl. I’m just so sorry that you got hurt." Harry put her hand on Mona’s head and couldn’t stop the river of tears now flowing. Mona was in a sense her oldest friend. She was one person in her life who had always been on her side and had always been there to turn to, no matter what the problem was.

"Harry, Desi deserved no less from me. She’s my family just like she was one of my own. Now stop all that crying and give an old woman a kiss." Harry did just that then sat with her and did all the talking. Mona just closed her eyes and listened to all that had happened after she got hurt, and the richness of Harry’s voice lulled her to sleep. With another soft kiss to Mona’s forehead, Harry left her to rest. By tomorrow Mona would be resting comfortably in a room at Mercy.

The only other request she made before going to sleep was making Harry promise to sneak Jack and all her other grandkids in to see her. As Harry made her way back to the car she smiled thinking that the staff on whatever ward Mona ended up on wouldn’t know what hit them before it was time to discharge her.

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"Are you sure you don’t want to stay here and just take it easy?"

"Honey you were the one who beat the crap out of Byron not me. I want to go with you so stop trying to talk me out of it. Do you remember when we first heard that all those guys had escaped?" Desi lay on top of Harry and waited for her partner to answer the question.

"Yeah I remember."

"What did I tell you and your parents then?" Desi ran her index finger along the middle of Harry’s forehead to smooth out the crease her thinking of the answer was causing.

"That you wouldn’t let Byron run you out of your home."

"That’s right honey, so why do you suppose I would change my mind now. I can’t say that I won’t think about what happened every so often, but the memories will always end with you coming out the winner, so I think I can live with that. Besides, you gave me that house and I don’t want to give it back. I want to grow old there with you, I want to raise Jack and whatever other children we are blessed with and I want to get back to making pots in my studio. Please don’t make us give all that up now." Desi gave Harry her best puppy dog look and hoped for the best.

They had gotten up early so they would have the chance to talk before Harry headed to the hospital to begin a long day of surgeries. Harry had given Desi the option of selling the house and looking for a new place that didn’t hold so many bad memories, but Desi felt like if they did that, Byron ended up winning.

"How about we compromise and find a place until all the repairs are made? That way if you want to redo the place it will give you the opportunity to do it without too much hassle for Jack and us. Tony will love you if you say yes." Harry lifted her head off the pillow and kissed Desi to get her to agree. If she did it would make the surprise she had all the more special.

"The thing is, do you love me?"

"Always and forever Desiree, you know that."

"Even if Tony and I spend all your money?"

"Even then. Did you forget our little talk about money already?"

"Ok, will you love me if I spend all of our money?"

"I answered that already love, so does the lure of spending money mean your answer is yes?"

"I will be home anywhere Harry as long as you are right where you are now at the end of the day and in the morning, so the answer is yes to moving temporarily and to spending money." Desi laughed as Harry rolled her over and kissed her. When she opened her eyes there was a set of keys hanging from a key chain with a globe on it. "What’s this, are you giving me the world?"

"Only a small part of it, but if I could, it would be the world and all that goes with it. Tony will be by later so that you both can go and explore, but for now kiss me and let me go to work."

"Honey, why are there so many keys on this thing?" Desi spoke loud enough so that Harry would hear her in the bathroom but hopefully not everyone else in the house. She had been holding the Tiffany key chain while Harry had been in the shower and thought there was too many for one house.

"I don’t know baby, maybe it’s because you have a lot of doors to open." Harry came out and sat on the edge of the bed to put her shoes on. She was going in to work wearing jeans and a sweater figuring she would change into scrubs at Charity. When she was done she kissed both Desi and Jack before grabbing her own keys and leaving Desi to wonder what she meant.

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"She didn’t tell you where we had to go?" Tony sat in the kitchen at Serena and Rachel’s while Desi finished her breakfast. Desi had asked him where they were going and figured she had slept through part of her conversation with Harry that morning when he didn’t know where the keys fit either.

"I thought you knew where we were going. All Harry did this morning was give me these keys before she left."

"Is that all she gave you this morning?" Tony looked at her and touched the ring of keys Desi held up.

"What did I tell you about behaving or you won’t be spending any time with Jack?" Desi pointed her fork at Tony and tried not to laugh at his near constant innuendos.

"Come on, I just figured any woman who could father a child that looks just like her is insatiable. Are you going to call her and ask what lock these fit?" Tony touched the keys still in Desi’s hand in an effort to get her to pick up the phone faster. He couldn’t believe that she wasn’t as curious as he was as to what Harry had in mind.

"She’s working Tony, I don’t like to call during surgery unless it’s an emergency and I don’t think this qualifies."

"Come on you know she’s waiting for you to call." Before he could try any more tactics to get Desi to call, the doorbell rang. Tony got up to answer it since they were the only two left in the house besides the baby.

He opened the door to an attractive young woman in a business suit and a large organizer under one arm. She smiled at him showing off white perfect teeth and the hand she held out sported a perfect manicure. "Tony?"

"I’m sorry, do I know you?" Tony asked as he shook her hand.

"No not yet, but Harry told me where to find you. And if you are here hopefully Desi Basantes is with you. May I come in?"

"Sure, Ms…?"

"Please call me Georgia."

"Nice to meet you Georgia, come on back to the kitchen, I have a feeling that you hold the secret to the keys Harry handed Desi this morning." Tony led the way through the main hall back to the kitchen. When he arrived with their guest Desi had finished eating and was beginning to give Jack his breakfast. Actually it was his second meal of the day, but he had given her an extra hour of sleep after Harry had left for work so he was due.

"Ms. Basantes it’s nice to meet you, I’m Georgia Easel a friend of Harry’s." The young woman held out her hand and Desi looked at it like she was holding a rattlesnake in it.

"Mrs."

"Excuse me?" The young woman put her organizer down on the kitchen table and wondered where she took a wrong turn after stepping into the room.

"It’s Mrs. Basantes, not Ms."

"I’m sorry, it’s nice to meet you Mrs. Basantes, I’m Georgia Easel." Tony stepped in and picked up the book the woman had put down and escorted her into the living room.

"You don’t mind giving us a few minutes, do you Georgia? We’ll be in as soon as Jackson changes sides." Georgia shook her head and made herself comfortable on one of the wingback chairs in the room. She pulled a slender phone out of her date book still shaking her head at the woman in the kitchen strange behavior.

"What in the hell was that?" Tony asked when he crossed the threshold. He was talking through his teeth so Georgia wouldn’t hear him.

"Who is that woman?" Desi had taken one look at the attractive well-dressed woman that had walked into the kitchen and felt like a cow all of a sudden.

"We may never find out now darling, after the reception she got when she came in here. What’s the matter Desi?"

"Look at her Tony, she’s beautiful." Tony wanted to laugh but the trembling lip made him stop.

"Honey so are you. She said she’s a friend of Harry’s, not that she wanted to sleep with Harry. You need to get a grip on reality here." The phone rang and Tony moved to answer it.

"Hey Tony, is the love of my life around?"

"Hang on, I think you are just the person she needs to talk to." Tony handed Desi the phone and left the room to check on Georgia.

"Hi beautiful, did you get my surprise yet?"

"Should I apologize now or later?" Desi bit her bottom lip wondering how good a friend Harry and Georgia were, and how mad Harry was going to get when the woman told on her.

"For what baby?"

"I wasn’t on my best behavior when she came in, that’s all I’m willing to admit to right at the moment."

"Baby, the woman is a real estate agent. Georgia is the person that found your house and she’s there to help you find the locks those keys I gave you fit. Now stop biting your lip, finish feeding Jack and go get ready. You have a full morning ahead of you. I love you, but I got a man I got to see about some steel rods."

"I love you too honey, and I’m sorry."

"Come on Desi, you’ve been through an ordeal the last couple of weeks. It’s time you cut yourself some slack. Kiss Jack for me, I have got to go."

"Bye honey." Desi finished feeding Jack and was ready to face Georgia again an hour later. The woman accepted her apology with a genuine smile, but wouldn’t give either of them a hint as to where they were going.

They drove down St. Charles in the direction of Desi and Harry’s house, so both she and Tony figured they were going to survey the damage before they went anywhere else. When the house came into view they could see that Stephen and crew were still up on the roof working and there were a couple of police cars parked in the driveway, but they didn’t pull in. Georgia pulled into the drive next door.

The house was just one story and had an impressive yard. Desi could see the roof of her studio over the solid brick fence that surrounded their property from where she got out of the car. Tony was carrying Jack and Georgia pointed them toward the house.

"Desi you might want to use the gold key on that ring on the front door locks." Desi pulled the key ring out and unlocked the front door of the empty house, and their footsteps sounded loud on the hardwood floors when they all stepped in. "Welcome to your temporary home Desi. I have strict instructions to find something else if you don’t like it, but Harry thought you might want to be close by to supervise the renovations next door."

Desi didn’t say anything as she walked through the brightly lit house. The large windows throughout the back of the house overlooked the gardens in the back, which at the center had a beautiful large pond. The cold weather had killed most of the vegetation, but she and Tony could imagine what it would look like in the spring. "We can live here until the house is finished?"

"Do you like it?" Georgia opened the organizer to a specific page and waited for Desi’s answer.

"I love it. This will be perfect for us to live, and you’re right, I can just walk next door to work." As soon as Desi had given her answer Georgia called the homeowners and told them it was a done deal. "Harry bought this place? I thought this was a temporary arrangement?"

"You have to ask your partner that one. Until we meet up with her to finalize all the paperwork, can I ask how you managed to carbon copy Harry?" Desi laughed and followed the woman back to the car. Driving away from the uptown area, Georgia took them to Royal Street in the French Quarter. Desi had spent countless hours in the antique shops and art galleries with Harry on the weekends, but couldn’t figure out why they were there now.

Georgia pulled up to a reserved parking space in front of a empty building. The space looked like it hadn’t been utilized in a while, but the architecture of the old space was beautiful to both Desi and Tony. The front windows were painted to hide what was inside, but the one thing that caught both their attention was the sign hanging from the overhang in the front.

It wasn’t a permanent sign. Actually it was a piece of cardboard that someone had written on with a wide marker on and hung it up with string, but to Desi it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. ‘IT’S YOURS JUST LIKE ME’ was all it said, written in the big bold print Harry was known for since no one outside the hospital could read her handwriting. She signed it ‘love Harry’ and that’s what got Desi crying.

"She loves you so much Mrs. Basantes, I hope you like it. We looked at so many properties before she decided this might be the place you would be interested in, but I promised not to give you a hint as to why. Just try the silver square headed key and see if you can figure it out." Georgia took the baby from Tony and waved him to go with his friend with a nod of her head. "Come on beautiful boy, let’s go see your mama be happy."

The inside was all exposed brick walls, wide cypress plank wood floors and pillars every twenty feet to hold up the roof and loft offices. There was paper piled up everywhere and there must have been a foot of dust on everything in sight, but Desi didn’t see any of that because her eyes where glued to the back corner of the room.

"What was this before?" asked Desi.

"It’s the weirdest thing, it’s been a general store, a furniture store and an Oriental rug shop."

"What’s weird about that?" Tony asked as he was already running through decorating themes in his head.

"No one could explain that." Georgia pointed to where Desi was still staring. "No one claims to have put it up, but none of the tenants ever took it down." It was a swing, almost the twin to the one they had hung on the balcony at home and this one looked like the condition that one had been in when Harry had brought it home. After four weekends of scraping, stripping and refurbishing Harry had gotten it as close to its original state as it was going to get. She had first romanced Desi on the one they owned, locking away memories Desi loved to relive.

"Look Des, there’s something on it." Tony pointed to the swing at the back of the space after Georgia had shown him where the main power switch was.

Desi made sure that Jack was all right before she walked to the back of the gallery. On the seat of the swing was sitting a large checkbook with a letter on top. The envelope, that she knew with out looking had both their initials on the flap, just had the words ‘My Love’ written across the front, which Desi traced with her finger before she turned it over and opened it. She pulled out the letter, sat on the swing and set herself in motion to read it.

Desi,

I know it’s a little dirty and it needs a little work (that’s what the checkbook is for), but I saw this place and it was as close to perfect as I was going to find. The seat you are swinging on now was the clincher for me, sort of like fate or destiny.

People come to me and expect me to fix what ails them, and every so often I am able to pull a rabbit out of my hat of tricks, but there was only one cure for what ailed me for the longest time and that was you. You complete the person that I am, and no material thing I could ever buy you, could repay you for that. My wish is that you fix this place so that it becomes a reflection of who you are, a place that will give wings to the dreams you have inside. Whatever it looks like in the end, I’m sure that it will pale in comparison to the beauty you have both inside and out.

Have fun always, and always know that whatever you try in life, no matter how scary, look right behind you and there you will always find me. Thank you baby for what you have brought into my life, I love you with all that I am and that will be the one constant in my life.

The name of the place I will leave up to you, just as long as it’s not Tony’s Place so tell him to forget it. Now get busy, there are some people in the front who want to meet you. Oh, one more thing, happy birthday my love.

H.

Desi wiped her face but was still having trouble seeing past the tears in her eyes. With the letter clutched to her chest with one hand she accepted the tissue Stephen was holding out for her with the other. "Thanks."

"You’re welcome. Could you tell the good doctor that less dust next time would be better for my allergies?"

"Hey, aren’t you supposed to be fixing my roof?"

"I’ll be fixing your roof, remodeling your house, bringing this place back to life as well as a couple of other projects Harry has lined up for me. By the end she’ll accuse us of having an affair we’ll be spending so much time together."

"Not a chance buddy."

"Can’t blame a guy for trying." Stephen laughed as Desi folded her letter and tucked it into the book Harry had left for her. The two talked as they walked back to the front so that Desi could sign some papers Georgia had ready for her.

"Will the landlord mind if we make extensive renovations?" Desi asked Georgia as the other woman pointed out places for her to sign.

"I don’t know, will you?"

"Will I what?"

"Mind making extensive renovations?" Georgia smiled waiting for her statement to sink in.

"I’m the landlord?"

"Only technically if you rent to someone else, in our business you are called the owner. Well, you will be called the owner as soon as you crack open that checkbook and write me a check. I believe Harry filled it out for you, but it needs your signature to make it valid." Georgia pointed to the large binder under Desi’s arm. The bank called a couple of days later to verify the signature since Desi’s hand was shaking so badly, but Georgia handed her the title as soon as she had signed granting her ownership of the building and the swing.

They spent the rest of the morning going over just the basics of what had to be done on both places before June and Bobbie stopped by to pick up Jack for a four-hour baby-sitting job. Harry’s parents had wanted to take them all out to dinner as a celebration, but understood when Harry had told them her plans for the night.

Desi dropped her parents off at their hotel with Jack and all his stuff before heading to the hospital to pick up Harry. She slid over to the passenger side when she saw Harry coming out the emergency room entrance. Her partner had changed back into the jeans and sweater she had left with that morning, adding only one thing to her outfit. In one hand she carried a long stemmed pink rose, the shade that was Desi’s favorite.

Harry hadn’t gotten her door all the way closed when Desi launched herself across the seat and kissed her until Harry’s lungs were burning. "Gosh if this is how you react when I buy tons of real estate, we may have to go apartment hunting tomorrow."

"Doc have I ever told you, you are the most romantic person in the world?" Desi asked the question as she ran her index finger along Harry’s bottom lip. It wasn’t six weeks yet, but she didn’t care if she ruptured something, Harry was getting lucky tonight.

"I believe no, you have not told me that before, but hold that thought, you may change your mind." Desi frowned not wanting to do anything not fun before they had to go and pick up Jack.

Harry drove them to the new house they had purchased that morning and walked Desi to the front door. After Desi had unlocked it Harry swept her up into her arms and carried her across the threshold. She indicated for Desi to lock it from the inside before they ventured further into the house. In the master bedroom there was a mattress on the floor covered in pink rose petals, an iced bottle of apple cider next to it and dozens of burning candles sprinkled throughout the room.

"You expected me to change my mind?" asked Desi going back to their conversation in the car.

"I was shooting for universe, but if the world is as good as I’m going to get, I’ll have to settle." Harry let her down slowly until Desi was standing on her feet again. She pulled off the leather jacket Desi had on slowly and dropped it to the ground. Harry stood behind her and ran just her fingertips up Desi’s arms in a slow soft touch that left goose bumps in their path. "I want so badly to touch you."

"Yes." It was an answer as well as a plea from Desi. Harry moved her hands from her arms to her stomach, sliding them up just as slow until they cupped breasts that were full and heavy to the touch even though Desi had just fed Jack. When she gently pinched the nipples that had become erect, Desi fell back against her. "Please Harry, touch me."

It seemed like it had been years since they had been together but Harry wanted it to last so she undressed Desi with gentle unhurried movements. For every piece of clothing she would take off her partner, Harry would remove one of her own until she got to her pants. When Harry reached to undo her own belt, a naked Desi turned around and pushed her hands away. "No let me baby." The tone of her voice and the sureness of her hands told Harry what Desi wanted.

Desi followed the pants and underwear to the floor until they pooled at Harry’s feet. She didn’t want to wait any more so she pushed Harry back until she landed flat on her back on the mattress. The force of her landing made the rose petals fly up momentarily making Harry laugh as Desi unlaced her shoes. The laughter ended abruptly when Desi buried her head between Harry’s legs and sucked in a very alert part of Harry’s body without warning.

"Oh my god." You can lie to yourself and say you can do without the touch of the person you love when it isn’t possible for them to provide it, but it doesn’t mean you don’t miss it. In that first touch Harry knew how much she had craved it. With long steady strokes of her tongue, Desi was driving her crazy. When she added her fingers into the mix, Desi held on to one of Harry’s ankles for the ride of a lifetime. She could feel the orgasm start as the warm walls surrounding her fingers tightened their hold and Harry was beyond words. At the end Harry just grabbed a fistful of short blonde hair and held Desi in place.

As ripples of excitement were still coursing through her body Harry flipped Desi onto her back and pinned her to the bed. When she pressed her lips to Desi’s mouth she could taste herself there and it only drove her to want to do the same to her partner. "Please baby now." Desi wanted Harry to touch her but she felt so good stretched out over her like she was. She could feel the hours Harry had spent in the gym trying to pass weeks of time where she couldn’t be doing this in the muscles rippling through her back and butt. Desi kept her hands on Harry’s body as it moved further south on the mattress then let out a small moan when Harry had found her mark.

"I want you to go inside lover." Harry’s tongue felt great but it was time to feel all of what she wanted. Desi was climbing to the place Harry had just been, and the doctor only pushed her up higher when she took the hard nub and sucked it into her mouth as far as it would go before stopping.

"Are you sure?"

"Harry honey, this isn’t a really good time for me to stop and have a conversation with you. You’ll just have to trust me on this one, and do whatever I tell you to. Do that, and you won’t get hurt." Harry went back to where she was before she stopped slowly running her finger around the slick opening that was trying to do some sucking in of its own. "Please don’t tease me Harry, I’ve waited long enough."

Harry went slow, controlling the pace no matter how much Desi wanted to speed them up. Desi was still healing, so Harry kept her touch slow and gentle while her tongue and lips were anything but. It was the combination of the two that drove her to come with such force that it reduced her to tears. Harry always worried when that happened, but Desi assured her they were just an overload of emotions, good emotions.

Being careful, Harry crawled back up to Desi and gathered her up into a hug. "I love you baby."

"Even after the last couple of days we’ve been through, I am so happy. Having you love me does that for me, my goal is to love you a little more every day."

"I can’t ask for anything more than that."

"Nothing?"

"Just one thing." Harry picked up one hand and held a finger in the air.

"What?"

"I want you to name a bowl after me." Desi laughed so hard that it started her tears over again. It was one of the best things about being Harry’s lover. She could take you from mind numbing orgasms to laughing over stupid things in a matter of minutes. In all their time together, Desi had always looked forward to this part of their relationship. The special part that made them unique, that was theirs alone not even shared with friends. Here she got to know a Harry that no one else saw, it made Desi feel special in that, it was a part of her partner belonging only to her.

"Is that all you want?" Desi sat up and straddled Harry leaning back on her upraised legs trying to give her other ideas that did not involve bowls.

"I don’t know, something is starting to come to me." Harry ran her hands up Desi’s legs until they came to rest on her hips. Desi looked down into smoky blue eyes before putting her own hands under her breasts.

"They sure do miss you."

"Are you sure?"

"Harry, I know you’ve been dying to try, so go for it." Desi felt the abdominal muscles she was sitting on tighten as Harry folded her body into a sitting position to accept Desi’s invitation. "Well?" She asked after Harry had brought her nipples to rock hard attention.

"My boy’s got good taste. It reminds me of the sauce they pour over the white chocolate bread pudding at the Palace Café." Desi smiled at the analogy knowing that in a few years Harry would introduce Jack to plate licking after dessert just like she had with Serena’s son Butch.

"I’d like to think I have good taste as well honey, and I’m in the mood for something other than bread pudding."

"Really, do tell?" Harry gave the left nipple a soft bite before lying back down. Desi didn’t verbally answer as she positioned Harry’s hand under her. She got on her knees for a moment so when she slid down, Harry had filled her up.

"Move your thumb over a bit honey."

"With pleasure my love."

"You have no idea." Desi bit her bottom lip as Harry positioned her fingers just right making her want to move. Harry held her other hand up and Desi entwined their fingers, leaned forward and continued the slow torturous rocking of her hips. She wanted to enjoy the exquisite feeling while she could, even though in the end Desi knew she never could hold out.

The position allowed Desi the freedom to move at the pace she chose, but feeling Harry in her and under her always drove her to a frenzied pace at the end. The end that was coming way too soon, but still felt just as good.

"Harry do you have any clue how good you are at that?" Desi had been lowered slowly back onto Harry’s chest by big comforting hands, and it had taken her a while to get her breathing back to normal.

Harry kissed Desi’s damp forehead and pulled the blanket over both of them. The candles were putting out a good amount of heat but she didn’t want to take the chance Desi would get sick. "I’m glad you think so baby."

"What happens now honey?" Desi’s head was propped up on her laced fingers so she could look into Harry’s eyes while she talked to her.

"We move in here for as long as the house takes, you and Tony work on the gallery and we go back to that living happily ever after thing we had going."

"Are you happy honey?"

"Yes, I am. I was thinking about that as I was pounding on Byron." Desi laughed and arched her eyebrows up after what Harry had said. Thinking about happiness and breaking someone’s bones didn’t make sense to her.

"What were you thinking about during all that lover?"

"I’m confident that you don’t think I’m a violent person unless my family is in danger." Desi nodded her head in agreement so Harry would continue. "The thought of how wonderful you are to me and how happy you make me, made me want to hurt him for making you so miserable. It would have killed me if you had found what we share with someone else, but my head would have known you were happy."

"But not your heart." Desi tapped the chest below her.

"That’s right, not my heart. Byron, had he really loved you, would have let you go to find your happiness. That’s what I try to do and it makes me happy in return. I want a life with you where we are both free to grow and continue to do the things we love to do. That way, when we blend those together it will always provide a firm foundation to whatever life we build together."

Desi kissed Harry’s chest over her heart not needing to add anything else. It wouldn’t matter what happened with Byron, the house or anything else, she had Harry and that balanced the scales.

Continued in Part 9

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