Disclaimers: The restaurants and places the characters visit in this one are real and some of my favorite places in New Orleans. The characters themselves might remind you of certain people depicted on television but ignore that fact for it is merely a coincidence. If you decide to sue though know that I am a poor person not worth you time and effort.

Now for the sex part, if you find that a relationship between two women distasteful try the alphabet thing I mention in this one, and it might just change your mind about that. But seriously if you are underage and live someplace where that is not allowed move on, literally.

Sit back and enjoy the story and if you have something wonderful to say about it write to me at terrali20@yahoo.com. If you have nothing nice to say then be fore warned that I probably know more curse words than you do so don’t tempt me.

I want to thank Jaden Rose for all her help on this one. She is the master of corrections and suggestions. This one is dedicated to her. Thank you also to Becky and Red Hope for their help and suggestions, it was much appreciated.

Lastly I want to thank the love of my life, you know who you are, for encouraging me to live a happy life. And thank you to all the wonderful bards that I have read for the last couple of years this my thanks for all the wonderful moments of reading you have given me.

Enjoy.

 

 

How Do You Mend A Broken Heart

by

Ali Vali

Chapter 1

The old metal doors leading into the emergency room at Charity Hospital in New Orleans were slammed open by the rushing EMTs. On the gurney laid a small redheaded woman with a badly broken leg. The bone fracture was so severe that it had pieced the skin just below the knee causing the white sheet on the gurney to soak through with the blood coming from the wound.

"Sally get a doc in here stat, we didn’t want to medicate her too much figuring she was gonna be worked up for surgery," said David, one of the ambulance workers that had responded to the call. It had taken them twice the time to get to the hospital because the police had to subdue the young woman’s husband before they were permitted to go into the small shotgun house. David would never forget the bloody baseball bat lying next to the moaning woman, knowing that it was what the son of a bitch had used on his wife’s leg.

"We’re in luck Davie, God just finished up in the OR and should be able to descend from on high. I just paged her when y’all called in from down the street," Sally answered, trying her best to sooth the patient until Dr. Basantes was available to come down and see her. The young woman reminded Sally of her own daughter and thought if something had happened to Mindy, Dr. Basantes would be the one person she would want fixing the problem.

Not yet thirty-five, Basantes was regarded as a prodigy in orthopedic surgery. Many local athletes from high school up to the professional ranks had her to thank for their careers. The head of orthopedic surgery at "Big Charity" as it was referred to in New Orleans, Dr. Basantes also taught at the LSU Medical School located next to the hospital. Between her responsibilities at this hospital, the medical school and her own private practice it had left the doctor with little time for a social life.

Walking up behind Sally with a group of students trailing behind her Dr. Basantes whispered in the nurse’s ear, "Taking my name in vain again I see Nurse Hardass?" The low sexy voice sent a thrill down Sally’s back, and she was sure that if there were less years between their ages she would have made a play for the young doctor by now. "Doc I was comparing you to God, how can you take that the wrong way?" asked Sally. "Uh huh, let’s see what we have here?" asked Dr. Basantes. The doctor stepped around the portly nurse, but not before she slapped the older woman in the butt.

Not looking at the patient’s face first, Basantes’s attention went immediately to the injury on the leg. She let the noise and chaos of the emergency room fall away, her concentration fully on what it would take to fix the problem. Barking out orders for x-rays to be taken and other blood work to be done, the doctor finally moved up to address her new patient. When she looked into the tear stained face and watery green eyes, memories of high school flooded her brain and Harry had to clutch the side of the gurney in shock. "Desi, sweetheart is that you?" asked the doctor.

"Harry! What are you doing here?" asked Desi as she wiped her face again. This would have to be the most humiliating day of her life, injury aside. "I’m here to fix your, let’s see how would your father put it, boo boo. You have a severe fracture just below the knee from what I can tell, and it will require surgery. A couple of pins and you should be good to go. Nurse Sally will give you a shot for the pain and once I get a look at your pictures we’ll head into the operating room."

"You’re a surgeon?" asked Desi.

"No, I’m actually the janitor, but we are a little short handed at the moment so the state expects everyone to pull their weight. Look Desi if you want someone else to do your surgery it won’t hurt my feelings sweetheart, just think about it. I’ll be back as soon as your x-rays are back, ok?"

Not giving the young woman a chance to respond, Harry moved away from the gurney running her hand through her hair, it was a nervous habit she had ever since she was a child. She went to fill out the orders in Desi’s chart by the nurses’s station. The emotions from seeing Desi again, made Harry think that maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to let someone else do the surgery. They had a history, one that the tall doctor had tried to bury. But damn if I don’t find at least a minute of everyday to think about you Desi. I wonder if you have given me a second thought after those caps went flying into the air at graduation?

Lost in her thoughts, Harry didn’t notice Kenneth walk up and stand beside her. One of the few people she did keep in touch with from her childhood was her best friend and also the head of pediatrics at the hospital. The nurses referred to them as the dynamic duo, always wondering if there was a romance to go with the friendship that they obviously shared.

"It’s not often that we see the goddess of bones down in the ER. What gives Harriet?" asked Kenneth. "Don’t call me that Kenneth or I’ll share with Sally what Tony calls you when you’re at home. Got me sugar pants?" answered Harry never looking up from the chart she was writing in. "Ok, I’m sorry it’s just been a long day and I felt like teasing you a little. Someone got their leg coming out of their ass or something, is that what has lured you down here with the little people?" continued Kenneth. He stood leaning against the counter waiting to see what was wrong with Harry, he had noticed the nervous habit right off and it wasn’t often that the confident surgeon messed up her curly locks. Something had set her off and he was there to see if he could help with whatever it was.

"Did you learn that diagnosis technique in medical school? Ken you wouldn’t believe who is lying behind curtain number three," said Harry. The long fingers made another swipe through the dark hair.

"Do I win a new washing machine if I guess right? Tony informed me that old Betsy is about to call it quits. I’ve had that washer since we were in college," said Kenneth wistfully.

"If I bought you a new washer would you shut up?"

"Sorry, who Dr. Harry, is behind curtain number three? I have no clue so you’re going to have to enlighten me." He turned his full attention back on her and gave her an indulgent smile, maybe whoever was behind the curtain was the reason for Harry’s demeanor.

"Desi Thompson. Can you believe that of all the hospitals in the world, she had to walk into mine? Well technically she was wheeled in but it still doesn’t change the fact that she’s here and needs a surgeon."

"What luck, you are a surgeon. Unless you forgot to pay the club dues and they’ve taken away your key and special decoding ring. Did you go in there and sing the song ‘A Kiss is Just a Kiss’ yet, or are you waiting for the post op to do that?" asked Kenneth. "You do realize smart ass that I am bigger than you, thus I can deliver the leg out your ass thing?" asked Harry. She was now tapping the chart with her pen letting Kenneth know that seeing the redhead again was driving Harry to distraction. He didn’t think she even realized that she had fallen back into all her old habits.

"Sorry pal, just go in there and do your job. After you’re done I’ll take you home and treat you to a home cooked meal. You know that Tony’s red fish stew is to die for. The man can’t find a job but is a wizard in the kitchen. Just pretend that she’s one of the hundreds of nameless faces that walks in here everyday Harry, then put those memories of yours back in the box." Just as he finished, another patient with an ear hanging on by just a small piece of cartilage was wheeled into the bay next to Desi’s, just another typical day in the ER, thought Kenneth.

"Doc, your pictures are back," Sally called from the curtained partition. She waved the large yellow envelope in the air and motioned for Harry to come back. Slapping Ken on the back and promising to meet him for dinner, Harry walked back to the girl that had walked out on her so many years ago.

 

"Harry, hurry up or we’ll be late for class. I’m not sure why you need to go to class, you know more about algebra than Mr. Boswell. You have to promise me that you’ll come over this afternoon and help me with this stuff. If I flunk this class I won’t be able to go off to college with you. And if that happens who is going to take care of you?" asked Desi. She was walking down the hall backwards so that she could keep up her conversation with Harry. It was getting harder to talk to Harry without getting lost in those incredible blue eyes and dark hair, so Desi tried whenever she could to face her friend in any dialog they exchanged.

Strolling behind Desi, laughing at all her fussing was Harry. They had met in grade school when Harry had transferred from one of the private schools in town. Harry’s parents had moved into a different school district just before summer, giving them no choice but to change where Harry and her brother went to school. Harry had spent the summer making friends with some of the neighborhood kids, all of which attended the local public school. Begging her parents, Harry talked them into letting her attend the school her new friends did.

As she was getting into her mother’s car on the first day of fourth grade, Harry noticed some of the older kids picking on two small redheads standing in line for the bus. Excusing herself for a moment she ran over and offered the two small girls a ride if they were going to the same place.

"My mom won’t mind so come on. You two don’t want to be late on the first day do you?" asked Harry. It had been the beginning of a friendship that would take them through high school. Harry never noticed Desi’s second hand clothes or the shoes with holes in the soles. Her parents never said anything when the small redhead would come to their house to spend the weekend and eat them out of a week’s supply of groceries. The fact that she made Harry so happy was good enough for them.

 

Time enough to think about that later Harry, now let’s just do what Ken said and get the hell out of here, thought the doctor. Firing up the light boxes attached to the wall Harry explained what needed to be done to fix Desi’s leg. The pain medication had kicked in so the redhead was able to follow what Harry was saying better. During the explanation Desi couldn’t help but notice that time had been good to her friend. Harry was good looking in school but now the tall woman’s features were more refined and the tall lanky body had filled out leaving a strong confident woman standing before her. But for all the things that had changed, some things about the tall doctor were still the same. Like the fact she talked with her hands and when Harry was finished explaining something you understood the problem at hand and the solution.

"Do you have any questions Desi?" asked Harry. Seeing her friend shake her head Harry continued, "Would you like for me to call one of my associates to do this for you. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings I just want you to be comfortable with your care." The only response Harry got were tears rolling down Desi’s face again. Sally directed everyone to the other side of the curtain so that the doctor could have a moment with her patient before heading upstairs. Sally had known Harry since she was a resident tearing up these same halls, and she knew the tall doctor was a sucker for a crying woman.

"Sweetheart don’t cry, it’s going to be all right, I promise. After some rehab you won’t even remember that you got hurt, and I’ll take extra care in my stitching so you’ll still look good in a bathing suit." That got Desi to smile up at her. It was like a fantasy to hold the small woman in her arms again; the dreams she had didn’t compare. "I missed you Harry, I’m sorry I never wrote or called you. I never stopped thinking about you. Always wondered what you had gotten into, it’s good to know that you have done so well." Desi sunk greedily into the embrace that Harry was offering. It felt wonderful to be back in the arms that had given her so much comfort in the first part of her life. After Harry left, Desi never felt safe and cherished, and that had made for a very lonely existence.

 

"Do you want something to drink Harry? We have water or water," called Desi from the kitchen. Looking out at the front porch where her tall friend was stretched out, Desi fantasized about what else they could be doing instead of studying for finals. There was something about the way that Harry looked at her that made Desi’s stomach do funny things.

"I think I’ll take water, if you have it," called Harry from the front of the house. "Hey Mr. Thompson how’s it going?" Harry asked Desi father Clyde who was walking up from the bus stop. "Ok Harry, going to take a siesta before my next job. Studying for something with all those books out?" asked Desi’s father pointing to the stack sitting next to her. "Trying to teach Desi word problems in math sir, should make for a long afternoon. Would you mind if I took her and Rachel out for a burger later?" "Nah, just have them back early, it’s a school night." "You got it Mr. T, thanks."

They sat on the swing shoulder to shoulder for the rest of the afternoon, with Harry patiently explaining the concepts Desi needed to solve the problems. When Desi’s younger sister Rachel got home, Harry took them both to dinner. Dining on hamburgers and baked potatoes that were a specialty at the French Quarter restaurant Port of Call, the girls enjoyed each other’s company like they had on many previous nights. It bothered the sisters at times to let Harry pay their way for all the extras in their life, but the big guardian angel didn’t mind.

Harry’s father was a surgeon at one of the local hospitals. Though a foreigner with an accent, Raul was loved by all the patients that he came into contact with. The generous man had on many occasions forgone his fees when it was a family that could not afford the medical treatment that had brought them to the hospital. Many times Raul came home with a payment of an ice chest of shrimp or other food item for a favor he had done for someone. With his dark curly hair, brilliant blue eyes and powerful build Harry had inherited not only her father’s good looks but also his gentle nature.

"Harry, have I ever told you how happy I am that you came to Desi’s and my rescue all those years ago?" asked Rachel as she popped the last of her burger in her mouth. They were sitting in the corner table of the small restaurant with Harry and Desi sitting close enough that their thighs were touching.

"No squirt, but I’m glad you’re glad. You two finish up, I promised your father I would have you home early." Harry paid their bill and piled them into the small car her father had bought her at the beginning of their junior year. It was a two-seater that Harry loved to drive, especially when Rachel came along. That meant that Desi would have to sit practically on Harry’s lap for the duration of the ride. Desi took those opportunities to lay her head on Harry’s shoulder and pretend that they were coming home from a date.

 

The lights of the operating room seemed bright to the small woman looking up into them. She wondered if anyone had told Harry how it was that she came to be there, and after so much time would Harry even care. One of the nurses came over and started prepping her leg for surgery. She checked Desi’s IV and started talking to a young man in a booth on the left side of the room.

"What do you think the doc is in the mood for today Sam?" asked Tyler.

"She’s scrubbing up Tyler, so why don’t you wait and ask her when she finishes up. Are you feeling any pain ma’am?" Sam directed her question at Desi. "No, whatever they put in that drip sure did the trick. Have you worked with Dr. Basantes for a long time?" asked Desi rolling her head trying to keep up with the nurse’s movements around the room. "For a couple of years now honey so don’t you worry none, you are in the best of hands. They don’t call her the goddess of the bones for nothing. Just relax and when you wake up you’ll be good as new."

Desi was about to rephrase her question so that she could learn more about Harry’s life, when the object of her curiosity backed into the room with her hands held out in front of her. "Crank it up Tyler, let’s go," Harry called out to the boy in the booth. "What you want to hear boss?" was the question that came through the intercom. "I seem to remember that Miss Thompson liked the Go Gos way back when, so cue it up my man." Harry requested as she moved over to Desi. Tyler was there to witness her work in the OR as many times as he could. Having met the charismatic surgeon the previous year at a gathering put together by the city to match up professionals with kids from the inner city, he had begun to hang around the hospital eventually getting a part time job working for Harry. Tyler’s dream was to one day work along side the woman who had given flight to his dreams by being his tutor through school when her schedule allowed. When it didn’t, she had one of the residents sit with Tyler and help with his schoolwork.

"Ok sweetheart, I want you to take slow deep breaths and let the medicine do its job. Hopefully we will be out of here in less than three hours if there isn’t any more damage in there once we go in. I promise that it will be all right, so just relax." Harry’s voice was getting softer and softer as the anesthesia started to work its way through Desi’s system. The last things Desi remembered was the sound of that deep voice, the feel of Harry’s fingers running through her hair and the all girl band singing in the background.

"Doc there’s a detective here to see you from the NOPD once we finish up. Said he’d wait," Sam told her as she got into position to start handing over instruments. "What’d you do now Sammy girl?" asked Harry. "Cut the wise comments doc, it’s about her and her injuries," said Sam as she indicated Desi. "I never did ask her how she got here. Was it a car accident?" asked Harry as she got into position. "No doc her husband did it to her with a baseball bat, that’s what David told Sally down in the ER."

Harry had to take a minute to fight back her anger when she heard that. In her mind Desi would always remain the sweet innocent girl from high school, not someone’s punching bag. What happened to you Desi and why didn’t you come to me for help?

The surgery went smoothly and Harry was pleased that there wasn’t as much ligament damage as she first suspected. She felt comfortable with the first diagnosis she had given Desi, in that with physical therapy she would heal nicely. Washing up, the tall surgeon stepped into the waiting room to talk with the officer that had waited patiently for the two and a half-hour surgery.

"Dr. Basantes?" asked the short blonde man. If Harry had to guess by looking at his clothes, the guy had spent his time sleeping in one of the plastic chairs while waiting.

"Yes, and you are?" asked Harry.

"Detective Roger Landry of the New Orleans police department. I know you’ve had a long day but I was wondering if I could ask you some questions about Desiree Simoneaux?" asked the detective as he tried to smooth out his jacket. "Ask away detective, I don’t know what I can tell you, but I’m game." The policeman went on for about fifteen minutes and asked about the extent of Desi’s injuries and about security measures at the hospital. It was a given that Byron Simoneaux, Desi’s husband, would be out on bond before the night was over and the rumpled detective wanted to make sure that the young patient would be all right.

"Tell you what Detective Landry, why don’t I have Desi moved to another hospital once she is out of recovery? I’ll have one of the services move her over to Mercy and into a private room. Don’t worry about security, I’ll take care of that myself. Once she’s conscious again tomorrow you can come by and talk with her. I don’t know how these things work so I’ll leave that part up to you," said Harry. She ran her hand through her hair again then noticed that she was doing it, looking at her hand like it had somehow betrayed her usual cool façade.

"Thanks doc, I’ll see you both tomorrow. It’s a shame what that asshole did to her. The boys in the precinct tell me it wasn’t the first time, but she never wants to press charges," said Detective Landry. "Is there someone we should contact detective before we head out? I knew Desi in high school and she lived with her father and sister then, have they been contacted?" asked Harry. "I’ll check into it doc and let you know tomorrow," Roger informed her as he pocketed his small notebook and stood to make his departure.

Calling Kenneth’s house and talking to his lover Tony, Harry explained what was going on and that she was moving Desi to another hospital. It would make it more convenient for Harry during Desi’s convalescence to have her at Mercy Hospital, since Harry’s house was so close.

"Do you want Kenny to meet you over there Harry? He called a few minutes ago and said he is on his way home. I could get him to make a detour," said Tony.

"Nah Tony, don’t bother. I’m sure the big guy wants to get home after wiping runny noses all day. Sorry about dinner, I’ll call you guys tomorrow," Harry finished the conversation by snapping the small phone in her hand shut. Desi was resting in recovery so Harry found a chair to sit by her bed. The minute it was safe to move her patient they would be heading uptown.

 

"I can’t believe that there is only three weeks of school left Harry. You will be leaving me to go to school and I’m scared," confessed Desi from the circle of Harry’s arms. It was three in the morning and they were sitting on the swing on the front porch of Desi’s house. "What are you afraid of sweetheart?" asked Harry.

Long moments passed without an answer so Harry thought that Desi had fallen asleep because of the motion of the swing. The crying coming from the girl sitting beside her made Harry wrap her arms tighter around her in comfort. "Tell me what’s wrong Desi?" "You are going away and you’ll probably forget me. I just don’t know what my life is going to be like with you not being here," said Desi. "Desi I told you that you are welcome to come with me. It’s just Baton Rouge, so you’ll be close to your family. I could get a part time job and help you through school."

They sat there in silence again except for the symphony of crickets coming from the garden. "Daddy would never let me do that Harry. He needs help with Rachel, and I can’t just run out on him. Without me here Rachel will be all alone," explained Desi. "Ok how about this? Rachel is only a year behind us so for the next year you work and save your money, and I’ll do the same. After that you move in with me and we get you started on that nursing career. I love you Desi, and I don’t want to lose you." It was a chance finally admitting how she felt, but Harry couldn’t leave and not tell her. Not seeing the small redhead everyday was eating away at her so this would give her hope that Desi would someday join her.

"I love you too baby, I have for so long." Desi’s tears dried after finally voicing her secret and found the courage to seal it with a kiss. For the next three weeks the two made plans for the next year, and for all the ones to follow. While they waited for Rachel to graduate they would have to live for school breaks at Louisiana State University, which is where Harry had decided to go. Despite her father’s money Harry was going on both an athletic and scholastic scholarships. She was as good on the softball field as she was at solving math problems.

On their last night together they sat on their swing holding on to each other. The touches and kisses had gotten a bit more aggressive over the last three weeks and Harry was trying to memorize the taste of Desi’s mouth. They never saw the man standing under the street lamp on the corner watching them. For the first time since anyone he worked for could remember, Clyde Thompson had gotten sick and had to go home early.

 

"Harry?" rasped Desi. She tried to lift her head and was confused as to where she was. She remembered being held by Harry and then total blackness.

"Try not to talk baby," said the comforting voice from the chair next to her bed. The twitching of Desi’s fingers woke Harry up from the deep sleep she had been enjoying. After giving Desi a few chips of ice to sooth her throat, Harry called David in to get her loaded. After working at the hospital together for years, the EMT and Harry had gotten to be friends, so she didn’t hesitate to call his service and have him waiting outside.

"Where are we going?" asked Desi. "I’m going to move you to Mercy and into a private room. Charity is where you want to come to get your surgery, but not the best place to heal up. Don’t get me wrong the staff is excellent, I just thought you might be more comfortable uptown. Ready, on two," said Harry as she grabbed on end of the sheet Desi was lying on. "Try to not hit any bumps and jar her leg David. You wouldn’t want to mess up my beautiful work." Following the gurney to the ER entrance, Harry called ahead to Mercy and asked one of the night nurses to get a traction setup ready for their arrival.

"Harry I don’t have the greatest medical insurance in the world so maybe it would be best if you left me here," Desi told her as she motioned for more ice. "You can cook me dinner once you are back on your feet. I’m taking care of this so just sit back and enjoy the ride. David, hit one pothole and I’m going to come up there and rip your tongue out."

"How about if I just try and hit all the potholes instead of trying to find a piece of paved street, it would be easier on all of us?" asked David looking back at them from the front cab. "How about I go up there and kick your ass?" retorted Harry as she tried to fold her long frame into the cramped space of the ambulance. "How about I go nice and slow?" replied David meekly.

They drove off the emergency room ramp having to maneuver around the dozens of other ambulances, police cruisers and private cars trying to get in. A Friday night in the ER at Charity in New Orleans was often compared to a triage unit in the Vietnam War. The trauma surgeons this hospital produced out of every class lucky enough to be chosen were the best in the country. It was easy to fathom once you realized that on the weekends they averaged a hundred gunshot wounds, and even more stabbing victims. Your typical night in the Big Easy.

As they drove further away from the chaos of Tulane Avenue, through the deserted downtown area and into the large oaks of uptown, the streets got wider and quieter. Uptown had its own share of crime but here the houses were bigger and surrounded by even bigger fences keeping out the ugliness of what New Orleans had to offer. Most of the mansions along the city’s famous St. Charles Avenue were owned by old money establishment. Among these beautiful old trees was where the rich lived, played and socialized. That had been the way since the city had been founded.

Driving up the ramp at the new hospital, Desi could tell the difference right off. There was no line and no noise. Surprising for a Friday night, but then if you had been shot you wouldn’t be here. Rolling along the professionally decorated walls the gurney stopped on the third floor in front of a private suite. There were two good looking nurses crowded around Harry trying to offer assistance.

"Dr. Basantes your room is ready, and all the equipment you ordered has been set up. Can I help you get your patient settled?" asked Mitzy. She walked up and leaned into Harry trying to get the doctor’s undivided attention.

"Thank you Mitzy, it’s been awhile. How have you been?" asked Harry taking a step back trying to put some space between them. "Waiting for you to call me doc, but alas you have cast me aside since you haven’t made the effort to pick up the phone." "Not the place or time for that discussion Mitzy, let’s keep our minds on the task at hand shall we?" asked Harry giving the nurse a glare that said cool it.

Moving Desi into the room, the team gently transferred her onto the hospital bed. Harry spent twenty minutes getting her leg into the traction position Desi required to help with the healing of the fracture. David took the time to talk to the forlorn looking woman on the bed bidding her goodbye and good luck. Once Desi was comfortable, Harry dismissed everyone allowing Desi to get some sleep.

"How long do I have to be here?" asked Desi. She was having a hard time looking Harry in the eye now, and she looked instead to the blanket the nurses had brought in to cover her.

"We need for there to be some knitting of the bone to happen, then we’ll discuss your release. So sit tight because you are going to be here for at least a week. I know your tired Desi, but do you want to tell me what happened? Who did this to you?" asked Harry. She watched as Desi twisted her fingers into the bedding, and her defeated look now that they were alone.

"Harry, I really don’t want to get into that with you. It’s really not your concern, this is my problem. I’m just sorry you got dragged into the situation because of rotten luck. You have your life and don’t need my complications messing you up," said Desi in a sharper tone than she intended.

"Desi I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want to know. You aren’t a complication, I thought you were my friend. I’m just asking because there was a police officer waiting for me when I got out of surgery tonight, and he had some pretty disturbing things to say about what happened. My offer is genuine and it’s on the table Desi, I want to help you if that’s what you want," said Harry with a sigh. Shouldn’t she be the one that was angry, after all it was Desi that had walked out. But the urge to touch Desi was so great, Harry had to sit on her hands to keep her from reaching out.

"Why would you want to help me?" asked Desi looking up for the first time since being placed in the room.

"Because I care about you Desi, time doesn’t kill that or at least it hasn’t for me. I won’t lie and tell you I understand why you walked out of my life. Why you never returned any of my phone calls or never came to the door when I was home from school? For the longest time I was in hell, but I had to face the fact that you didn’t want me in your life. Maybe it was the thought of living a lifestyle that your family and friends wouldn’t understand. I don’t know, only you have the answers to that Desi, and they can remain with you if that’s what you want." Harry had to use all her willpower not to sit on the bed and take the woman lying there in her arms. Funny how the feelings she had spent so long trying to bury could spring to life with only a look.

"Do you have someone in your life now?" asked Desi as the tears pooled in her eyes again, and she went back to twisting the blanket.

"No, Kenneth and Tony pull me out of my shell every so often but there isn’t anyone that I am seeing. It might have been a good thing for you to walk away from me, I can put someone back together no matter what the damage but I suck at relationships. There have been some that I tried with, but something always got in the way. I work, I teach and that’s good enough for me." Harry put her hands in her pockets and tried to hide the surprise she felt at the unexpected question.

"But you were the most loving person I’ve known in my life Harry. You deserve someone that makes you happy, makes all this work you do count for something."

"My work does count for something Desi, I don’t need a little woman patting me on the head at the end of the day to tell me otherwise. I’ve changed from that person you knew a million years ago, that Harry doesn’t live here anymore.

Enough for tonight about me and my empty life. Think about my offer and we’ll talk about it morning. Ring for Mitzy if you need anything. I’ll be back around eleven tomorrow, I have a two surgeries in the morning so I’ll be up after that."

"You don’t have to bother just for me Harry," said Desi.

"The surgeries are here Desi, so it’s no bother. Charity doesn’t pay the bills, the torn rotator cuffs from the tennis set here do. I’ll leave my cell phone and beeper numbers if you need to talk to me directly. Have a good night Desi." Harry walked out of the room with a quick stride before her emotions got the best of her. She bypassed the nurses’ station without a word, trying desperately to put back the carefully constructed wall around her heart that seeing Desi again had blown holes into. Do I have anyone special in my life? What a laugh Desi.

Riding the elevator down to the first floor was when she first realized that her car was still downtown. "Crap this day just keeps on giving doesn’t it?" she mumbled to no one in particular. Walking out the main entrance Harry thought maybe a jog downtown would calm her down after the emotional roller coaster she had been on. Seeing the woman that had broken her heart was one thing, but knowing that she picked some abusive prick over her was quite something else.

 

"Going my way handsome?" asked a sing songy voice from the car parked on the corner. "I don’t know what do you have to offer?" asked Harry smiling for the first time in what seemed hours. "A fried oyster poboy and a ride back to your house," offered Kenneth. "I need to pick up my car first buddy." "No problem, Tony got the thrill of driving your girlfriend home. We gave her a quart of oil and put her to bed all safe and sound," said Kenneth as he waved her toward the car.

She got in and fell back into the leather of the passenger seat. A fatigue like she hadn’t felt since she was a freshman at LSU fell over her. "It’s going to be ok Harry, just have patience." Kenneth told her soothingly as he started toward home. Her two friends spent the rest of the evening trying to cheer her up, and offering advice on how to handle the situation. Noticing that she had fallen asleep on their couch half way through one of Tony’s takes on the situation, they decided to leave her there for the night instead of waking her and sending her home.

"She picked Byron Simoneaux over Harry? What in the hell kind of choice is that? I tell you Kenny, I thought that girl was one of the good ones back then. It’s a crying shame she turned out to be such a bitch. Christ, Harry would have handed her the world on a plate, what was she thinking?" asked Tony as he jammed another glass into the dishwasher. After hearing what had happened, the short blonde man got more aggravated as the evening wore on.

 

"I don’t understand it guys, she won’t return my calls or answer the letters I’ve sent. The phone is out of the question now, since every time I dial her number I wake her father up. Clyde works three jobs so that’s not fair to him. Two weeks ago we were making plans for our future now she won’t even talk to me, what the hell happened?" asked Harry. The pain she felt was like someone had kicked her in the chest.

"Maybe this is her way of telling you that she doesn’t want to see you Harry. We get to go home in two weeks so why don’t you wait until then to try again? No matter what happens buddy Tony and I will be here for you." Kenneth told her as he held his crying friend. He couldn’t fathom what Desi was up to and if she realized how much it was hurting Harry.

Back in New Orleans, Desi was making it a habit of crying herself to sleep. After Harry had gone home that last night, her father had confronted her about what he had seen. Giving her a choice of being thrown out and disowned or never seeing Harry again, before slapping her across the room. "No daughter of mine is going to be some queer. If that’s what you intend on doing girl, get out now. I want nothing to do with you. And remember; if she is what you want forget about seeing Rachel again. We’ll both be dead to you," railed Clyde as he slapped her to the floor again.

Not having the courage to leave her family Desi chose the only alternative that would make her father proud of her. She married Byron and tried to settle into the life of a married woman. For sixteen years Desi enjoyed watching her sister soar and tried to substitute that for what was missing in her life. When it was late enough, and Byron was sleeping she could admit that it wasn’t what, but who was missing.

 

Chapter 2

"Dr. Basantes, could you answer some questions for my family and me?" asked the elderly lady in the waiting room. They had already had their post operation consultation but were still fuzzy about what to expect from the hip replacement surgery the older woman’s husband had just undergone. The six residents and three nurses with the rolling cart of charts waited while Harry sat in the bright atrium and answered all their questions. As hard as the doctor was on her students, was as soft as she was with her patients and their families. Harry was regarded as one of the most compassionate doctors in the hospital when it came to her bedside manner. It was one of the things she had learned from her father in the years she followed him through the wards. "It takes no extra effort to be nice Harry, remember that when you have patients of your own. These people are scared and are looking to you for answers. Don’t ever let me hear that you blew anyone off because you didn’t feel like talking, or answering questions. You’ll need a surgeon when I’m done with ya," her father had told her.

Finished with the Hebert family, Harry headed up to the wards to do rounds with her staff. One of the good things about being an instructor at the medical school was that even in private practice the students that were assigned to her got to tag along. Some of the patients were overwhelmed when there were that many white coats around their bed until Harry explained why they were there. Pulling Desi’s chart out of the pile and reading how her night went, Harry dismissed her tagalongs and headed toward the cafeteria. Deciding instead on one of the local burger places within walking distance to the hospital, Harry picked up lunch for both her and Desi before heading up to see her.

"I come bearing gifts since I see you’re not into hospital food," Harry teased when she stepped in. Desi was sitting up in the bed staring out of the window looking sad. With the rays of light that were streaming into the room, her hair looked almost blonde, and her face had that youthful appearance Harry remembered.

"My savior. You were always that Harry, weren’t you?" As she asked the question Desi couldn’t help the tears that spilled out. She had been sitting there all morning going over the choices she had made and what they had cost her.

"I can be again Desi, if you let me," said Harry as she gave into her inner most desires and sat on the bed next to Desi. "It might be too late for that baby. Who would want me now? Look at me," replied Desi pointing to her leg.

Thinking that Desi needed time, Harry changed the subject and asked about Desi’s family. It was nice to hear that Rachel had become a hairdresser and was now working at one of the more posh establishments in town. Desi’s father had died five years before that of lung cancer, so besides Rachel, Byron was technically the only family she had left.

"Do you want me to call Rachel and tell her where you are?" asked Harry.

"Don’t bother tall, rich and good looking," Rachel screamed from the door. She had cancelled all her appointments for the day after getting the call from her sister that morning. Rachel had driven to the hospital with a smile on her face when she heard who the dashing surgeon was that had been on call when Desi was brought to the hospital. With any luck Harry wasn’t hooked up with some skinny uptown bitch that would have to be taken out of the picture.

"Squirt, look at you. You look great. Is it true, do blondes have more fun?" asked Harry as she rose from the bed to greet Desi’s sister.

"Come out with me some time doc and I’ll let you know. How’s my big sister?" asked Rachel as she turned her attention to the bed.

"I’m ok Rachel, come here and give me a kiss. My leg’s broken not my lips," said Desi. "Not this time anyway sis. I hope now you will listen to me and get away from that asshole once and for all. What’s it going to take Desiree, him killing you?" asked Rachel with her hands on her hips. "Be quiet Rach, Harry doesn’t need to hear all that," chastised Desi.

"I’ll give you two some privacy. Eat your burger Desi and drink the entire shake I brought. You need all the calcium you can get at the moment. Rachel it was nice seeing you again, take care."

It’s none of your business Harry, leave it alone. She doesn’t even want you in the room when she talks it over with her sister thought Harry as she walked down the hall to the atrium. Sinking into one of the comfortable chairs in the empty room, Harry closed her eyes for a moment thinking about the rest of her day. She had another ten hours of work minimum, and she had to figure a way not to think about Desi in all that time.

The hands that came around her neck were familiar so she didn’t need to look up to see who it was. The fingers massaged the tense muscles they found there, and in her shoulders before the blonde came around to the front of the chair and slipped into her lap. "Rachel darlin’ how have you been really?" asked Harry as she cradled Desi’s sister in her lap.

"You still smell the same Harry, how is that possible?" asked Rachel as she put her head on Harry’s shoulder.

"I’m a creature of habit Rachel, you know old boring Harry."

"No Harry, you are no such thing. I missed you so much, I don’t think I can ever forgive my sister for what she did to you. You were so good to us both growing up. I was so angry with her for so long, but then she finally confessed her reasons to me Harry, so I’m here to ask you for a favor. Give her the time she needs to explain what happened, it’ll be worth it trust me. She married that ass Harry, but she never stopped loving you, I know it. She won’t admit it but it’s in there. Kiss me goodbye doc, I’ve got to get back in there and take my lumps." Pressing her lips softly to Harry’s, Rachel got up and walked back to her sister’s room leaving a more confused Harry behind.

 

Sitting with Desi for the afternoon, Rachel tried to make her comfortable and pull her out of her funk. Rachel washed Desi’s hair and put on a light coat of make-up for when Harry came back. At five, Detective Landry came back to interview Desi about what had happened in her house the previous day. Between the policeman and Rachel’s urgings Desi decided for the first time to press charges against Byron. It wasn’t the first time he had sent her to the emergency room, but this was the first time she needed surgery and a long hospital stay to get recover from the beating. Rachel only asked that the officer give her enough time to go by the house and get her and Desi’s things before they issued a warrant for Byron. Desi’s husband would have to be rearrested, since his father had posted his bail the night before. It was her salvation when her younger sister had moved in after their father died, it was the only thing Desi could attribute to Byron not having killed her by now.

Walking in as the interview was concluding, Harry wanted to check the settings on the traction Desi was in before heading home. Desi looked tired but better since that morning, and Harry figured Rachel had been playing hairdresser. Harry was about to walk out to let them finish their conversation when Desi asked her to stay.

"Ms. Simoneaux where will you and your sister be staying once you are released? For your own safety, I recommend you not returning to the house you share with your husband. Just call my office with an address and number where I can reach you and I promise to keep you informed. Take care of yourself ma’am, no one deserves this kind of treatment.

Doc it was nice seeing you again. Maybe next time I’ll schedule more time so you can look at this bad knee I got. We can trade, I’ll take care of any outstanding parking tickets and you can fix my leg," said the detective with a chuckle. He held his hand out and shook Harry’s hand before bidding them all good bye.

"You got it Detective Landry, thanks for stopping by today and talking with Desi."

"So you ladies need a place to stay?" asked Harry, praying that she wasn’t about to make another huge mistake.

"Yes," said Rachel. "No," said Desi at the same time. Desi glared at her sister for answering for her.

"Rachel, feel free to come and stay with me. You can help your sister find some place to go after she gets discharged," said Harry addressing Rachel and ignoring the fuming woman on the bed.

"Harry you mean it? Do you still live around here?" asked Rachel.

"Yeah, I bought a house over on St. Charles last year. I hired Tony to decorate for me, he just didn’t know at the time that he had to pick out the house too. Kenneth was so thrilled with the contract and the fact that it kept Tony so occupied that he sent me to Barbados last Christmas. It’s almost finished, just a few dozen more fights and I’m sure we’ll agree on something. Tony doesn’t understand the concept of white walls, and I don’t understand the difference between mauve and pink so it makes for interesting dramatic outbursts. If you can live with that, you can stay," said Harry as she rocked on her heels.

"You live on the Avenue?" asked an impressed Rachel.

"Two blocks up from Napoleon trailer trash, so I should expect you?" asked Harry. "Harry we have never lived in a trailer so take that back," whined Rachel stomping the floor with her foot. "I take it back and you can stay with me if you talk hardhead over there in to coming with you." Desi couldn’t help but laugh at their antics. Being around Harry again was like balm on her soul.

They spent the next week developing a routine. One that had Harry coming by everyday with lunch and then seeing the girls together at night. The day they decided that the two sisters would be coming to stay with her, Harry had driven Rachel to the small house she shared with Desi and Byron to collect their things. Tony was thrilled with the developments; it gave him a reason to go shopping for new bedspreads that were more suitable to ladies. Accompanied by Rachel, Tony made sure that all of the clerks in the more exclusive shops in town would never forget them.

"Ready to head out tomorrow?" asked Harry. "You sure we won’t be in your way Harry?" asked Desi as she put the last spoonful of ice cream that Harry had brought her in her mouth. "Desi I have lived with Tony and your sister for the past week, believe me you will not be in the way," answered Harry from her position next to the bed. They were slowly returning to the comfortable relationship they once shared, Desi realized, as she looked at Harry’s socked feet propped up on the bed. When did I put my hand on her foot and I wonder if Harry noticed, Desi asked herself?

"Desi can I ask you something?" asked Harry. "You know you can," said Desi.

"I have a friend that works down in the D.A.’s office who handles most of the domestic abuse cases for him. Would you be offended if I called her and asked her to come and talk with you? It would make me feel better if you knew what you were in for, and what to expect. Serena’s been doing this for awhile and can walk you through the process."

"Sure, I’d like that. So Harry, what color is my room?" asked Desi trying to steer the conversation away from her miserable marriage.

"Magenta was the last I saw." They both laughed having formed a picture in their head of Tony and Rachel together.

Not wanting to take any chances with Desi, Harry arranged for an ambulance to take them home. She had rescheduled all of her surgeries for the next day, wanting to be there when Desi came home. Pulling through the gates of one of the larger homes on the block Harry heard the driver let out a long slow whistle. I have to give that boy credit; Tony knows how to pick a house, thought Harry. As soon as they made it through the side doors Harry’s pager went off with the number from the OR at Charity.

"What you got for me Sam?" Harry listened as Sam went through the list of accident victims expected in emergency any minute as she watched the two men unload Desi. It would take three rooms most of the night to get through the list of patients in need of surgery she realized as she listened to the list of injured Sam was ticking off. "So much for my day off. Call in Smith and Butler then separate my babies in between all three rooms, I’m on my way. Tell Tyler to cue up something hopping to keep me awake." "You got it doc," said Sam.

"Sorry Desi I have to go. Sounds like some drunk caused a forty-car pileup on the interstate coming into town, and he’s the only one that walked away unscathed. Rachel and Tony are here if you need anything. Mona will be back tonight to pitch in." Said Harry as she kneeled next to the gurney Desi was lying on taking a hold of her hand.

"Mona?" asked Desi.

"She’s my housekeeper slash right hand. She gets off every Sunday through Tuesday so she can visit her kids. After two days she’s ready to come home, and then I don’t seem that bad."

Desi watched Harry go for as long as she could from her reclining position then turned her attention to her friend’s house. Tony had indeed done a great job in decorating, including both his and Harry’s taste into one livable space. She thought the idea of a decorator was to blend in the owner’s taste but she remembered Tony from school, compromise wasn’t a word high on his priority list.

"Desi, darling you look positively horrible," called Tony from the sunroom doorway as he clutched his chest. "Thank you Tony it’s nice to know that some things in life never change. I have been admiring this room, nice work. Doesn’t scream Harry though does it?" asked Desi rolling her eyes at him.

"Girl that woman would live with a box in the middle of every room given the opportunity. Harry should fall on her knees and thank God for me everyday for giving her a little class. Let’s get you up to your room and then we’ll get caught up on old times. This way James," Tony told the two ambulance workers.

"My name’s Henry sir," said the man in front. "Of course it is, how good of you to remember," Tony snapped back. "Tony cool it would you, these guys have to carry me up those stairs. I don’t want them dropping me." "No one has a sense of humor anymore I swear," replied Tony dramatically throwing his hands in the air.

Tony led them into a large room in the corner of the second floor of the house. The hardwood floors were covered with muted Persian silk rugs and there was a balcony that overlooked the back gardens of the house. Taking up the middle of the room was the most beautiful antique four poster bed Desi had ever seen. The dark wood in the room was accentuated with dark blue paint on the walls, giving it a comfortable but rich look. The two men moved her to the bed then took their leave. Tony put a little medal tent looking piece down by her feet so that he could pull up the goose down comforter without putting pressure on her injured leg. One picture on the mantle grabbed her attention and brought tears to her eyes that Harry had kept it.

"It doesn’t really go in here but I thought I would allow her one little indulgence. Does it bring back memories for you Desi?" asked Tony in a sarcastic tone, he was trying to be nice but seeing the person that had brought Harry so much pain was making it difficult. In the old gilded frame stood her and Harry with their cap and gowns from graduation. Both smiles lit up the room, and Harry’s arm was draped over Desi’s shoulders. It was supposed to be the beginning of their life together not the end.

"Yes Tony it does. I want to thank you for being Harry’s friend all these years. It’s good to know that she wasn’t alone after everything that happened," said Desi, her eyes never leaving the picture sitting on the mantle.

"You hurt her Desiree, so deep it took everything in our power to help her get past it. And here you are, and I see that she still hasn’t gotten over the hump. You learn to read her eyes after awhile. There is so little that brings life into them, but you do, and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad you’re back and I’m glad you’re ok, but if you plan to walk out once that leg is healed tell her now. I’m not nineteen anymore and I don’t think she is either. It won’t be so easy to get over it this time.

She has carved out a life for herself Desi, don’t take that away from her. It’s what will happen if you just walk out without so much as a goodbye again. Harry has her parents, her work and us. It’s not enough, but for her it is. No one has ever come close to that picture she has in her head about you, so I’m here to tell you, hurt her and I’ll make you regret it." Tony finished his speech and sat next to the bed regarding Desi’s reaction to it.

"Fair enough Tony, thank you for being honest with me. Was it really that bad when I left? I figured Harry would move on after a few weeks and find someone more in her caliber. You and I both know I was not in her league in school. It was like second hand Rose meets the Vanderbilt’s, she was better off," said Desi afraid to face the man sitting next to her.

"Bullshit, she was the one who had the right to make that choice not you. While you were busy cozening up to the ape Byron, Harry was going through hell. She’ll never tell you that because she’s not the kind of person that would want to make you feel bad. Tell me Desi, when did Harry ever make you feel less than what you were because of your clothes or your house?" asked Tony in an angry tone.

"You are right Tony she didn’t do that. Would it help to know that it wasn’t my choice to leave? That I have been just as miserable for all this time too, because I have Tony, I have. It came as a big shock to me too that she offered to do this. I would have thought that she would have handed me off to the first doctor that walked by when she saw me lying there, but she didn’t."

"Wake up Desi. Of course Harry wouldn’t have done that, she loves you stupid. There have been plenty of women that wanted to be in your shoes Desi, but Harry has turned them down gracefully. I asked her once why. Given my sexual choices in life doesn’t mean that I can’t spot beauty when I see it, and some of these girls were real lookers. I asked, why not just pick one and live her life? You want to know what her answer was?" asked Tony softening his tone.

"Yes I do," said Desi in a low voice. She was nervously running her fingertips over the pattern on the comforter Tony had pulled over her legs.

"She said she couldn’t in all good faith enter into a relationship no matter how wonderful the girl, because she was damaged goods. ‘You can’t give away a broken heart,’ is what she told me. I stopped asking after that, I care about her too much to keep reminding her of the pain. Kenneth and I have finally gotten her to go out with us and cut up like we use to, but only starting about five years ago. And now like I said, here you are," said Tony again throwing his hands in the air.

"Love have you been rude to Harry’s guest? I have to keep reminding him that our pal is bigger than the both of us, and I’m fairly sure that she can beat me up, so I apologize on his behalf if he was," said Kenneth as he stepped into the room. He had been standing out in the hall listening to the conversation quietly cheering his lover on. Someone had to explain to Desi what she had done and how wrong it had been, leave it to Tony to rise to the occasion.

"No Kenneth, he was just explaining the choices he made in the house and why. It’s nice to see you again. I know what Harry and Tony have been up to, now tell me what you’ve been doing with yourself since we last saw each other," said Desi.

"I’m a pediatrician here in town. I actually do what Harry does in that I work and teach at the medical school. It’s been nice and it reminds me on a daily basis why I don’t want kids, but I love all the ones I see in the clinics. I leave all the blood and glory to Harry; I just deal with rashes and runny noses.

Time for you to get some sleep Desi, after you take your pills. Get some rest then Rachel and I will bring you up some late lunch when you wake up," said Kenneth.

"Is Harry coming home soon?" asked Desi trying to sound casual.

"No, don’t sit up and wait on that one. I heard about the accident on the way over here, her fingers should be cramped by the time they are done. It’s days like this one that make Harry wish for a simple country practice I’m sure, but then she is addicted to that OR so it’s for the best we live in a fast town." The two men left Desi alone with her thoughts and her memories for the afternoon. She wondered what it would be like to live here with Harry without the fear. Wondering if after a long day at work Harry came home in the mood to beat the one she supposedly loved?

 

"I’ll talk to you later daddy, Byron should be home soon and it’s our fifth anniversary today. His favorite dinner is cooking and I just have a couple of other things I have to get done before he gets here," said Desi. She was trying to get excited about the evening but so far her efforts hadn’t gotten her any closer to that feeling. Her life had become somewhat mechanical, moving from one thing to the next only because it needed to be done and not because she had a burning desire to do so.

"Desiree, you done good for yourself girl. You got yourself a good man with a good job to take care of you, now you just need to make me a grandfather. Aren’t you glad that I introduced you to Byron?" asked Clyde.

"Thanks daddy we’re working on it. Byron’s just been so busy lately down at the garage we barely see each other. His dad’s business is picking up since their main competitor, old man George, retired. Talk to you soon, bye," said Desi as she hung up the phone.

"Five years of my life gone. Harry do you still think about me? Would you think my life was as much of a joke as I do? I miss you baby, and I love you," whispered Desi out the kitchen window.

"I didn’t realize you thought of our life here as a joke Desiree. I was the best you were going to get you stupid bitch, so stop complaining about it or I’ll give you something to complain about," screamed Byron from behind her.

When he saw the tears on her face, it sent him over the edge. Having his father call him stupid all day then coming home to a woman that was crying over someone else was more than a man should have to put up with. All the beer he had had at the corner bar couldn’t drown out those feelings. "I work all day to give you a good life and this is the thanks I get?" he roared. Byron didn’t remember too clearly when he balled up his fists and sent them into Desi’s face, but there was no denying it the next morning. He apologized and promised it would never happen again, but there was always his father and there were always those tears in Desi’s eyes. How was he supposed to ignore that?

 

Chapter 3

The house was dark when the blue Land Rover pulled in. It had been a long night, that had culminated with Harry having to amputate a young girl’s leg because the dash of the car she was riding in crushed it beyond repair. Why did the very young sometimes have to deal with such tragic circumstances so early in their lives? Grabbing a Yahoo out of the refrigerator Harry headed up to bed. The hospital staff promised they would cover rounds tomorrow for her, since the doctor had been on her feet for sixteen hours straight.

Heading up the stairs, Harry forgot about her houseguests and started stripping as was her habit. Living alone did have some perks. Naked by the time she reached her bedroom, she headed into the bathroom. A hot shower so I won’t feel so grimy then I can go to bed. When the light from the bathroom illuminated Harry’s sleek form Desi thought she would swallow her tongue. Oh my God, what is she doing in here? The answer came in its own form of illumination as Desi realized what room Tony had put her in. It was the only room she saw on her way up here that was the sole reflection of its occupant; this was Harry’s room. Tony you idiot I’m going to remove some body part when I see you again, thought Desi as she tried to figure out what to do.

When the light in the bathroom went out, a tired and sleepy body rolled into bed not noticing the woman that was already lying there. Please God let her be wearing pajamas wished Desi. The breathing that was coming from Harry’s side of the bed was already deep and even, indicating sleep, giving Desi the freedom to look. Seeing the stark white t-shirt and boxers was disappointing in a way to Desi, but the light coming in from outside gave her a good view of Harry’s profile.

At thirty-four, Harry still looked like the girl Desi remembered. Taller than everyone else all through their lives, Harry stood at six one now. The only difference now was the visible muscles that went up her arms and into the sleeves of the t-shirt. Lifting the blanket a little so she wouldn’t wake Harry, Desi could see the continuation of muscle down the long tan legs. The black curly hair on Harry’s head was shorter than it was when they were together, and at the temples there was a sprinkle of white. Desi could remember Harry telling her that her mother’s side of the family turned gray prematurely. Harry’s eyes were closed but Desi didn’t need them to be open to know what shade of blue they were, that color had been seared into her brain. "I love you baby," Desi whispered as she moved one unruly curl off Harry’s forehead.

In Harry’s dreamscape she visited the girl that held her heart. There Desi would always be waiting with open arms and a soft kiss. The sides of her face around the green eyes would crinkle when she smiled, and her hair was always soft to the touch. It was the one place that everyday of Harry’s life she could hear Desi say, "I love you baby" just like now.

When Desi woke up she noticed that Harry was still sleeping, telling Desi that the tall woman must be tired, and she noticed too that they were holding hands under the blanket. Harry hadn’t moved all night and was snoring softly next to her. Another noise coming from in the room forced Desi to open her eyes, almost crying out when she saw the old African American woman picking up articles of clothing from all over the floor.

"If you think I’m going to be around to pick up after you for the rest of my life, you got another thing coming. I wonder if you this messy when you are sewing people up, God only knows what you are leaving in there once you’re done," Mona kept up her monologue as she picked clothes up off the floor. It was well rehearsed since she had been using the same one since she came to work for Harry six years prior. "Then she let’s that fruitcake buy this big old house like I got nothing better to do than to pick up after her in thirty rooms instead of ten."

"Good morning, you must be Mona?" asked a clearly amused Desi from the bed.

"Sorry Miss I didn’t see you there. It’s a wonder I can see anything in here through all the clothes that one leaves around. I didn’t mean to disturb you. Do you need anything?" asked Mona cocking her head to one side, sizing the girl up knowing in a second who she was.

"I really need to go to the bathroom, could you see if my sister is up, maybe she could help me?" asked Desi. "Nonsense girl, you got that big moose sleeping beside you. She can help you." Before Desi could protest Mona came over and slapped Harry in the head.

"Goddammit Mona what did you do that for?" cried Harry lifting her head up and squinting her eyes together. "What have I told you about taking the Lord’s name in vain in my house? Don’t make me go get a switch from the bushes outside. Now get your lazy butt out of bed and help your lady friend go to the bathroom," ordered Mona with her hands on her hips.

"Lady friend? What lady friend? Have you finally gone off the deep end Mona?" asked Harry as her eyes closed and her head hit the pillow again.

"For someone who has as many degrees as you do, you sure aren’t too bright are you? No wonder you don’t have anyone in your life if you can’t even remember spending the night with a lovely girl like this. Get moving Harry, the girl’s got to go," ordered Mona making shooing motions from the foot of the bed.

The fog of sleep lifted enough for Harry to realize that she wasn’t alone in the bed. Duh, what gave it away Sherlock? Maybe the fact that you have one more hand than you had last night, thought Harry. "I’m sorry Desi. What are you doing here?" asked Harry turning her head and facing Desi.

"Tony had them put me in here, I’m sorry I didn’t realize this was your room. After I go to the bathroom you can move me into one of the guestrooms. Could I bother you for a lift before I mess up your lovely bed?" asked a now squirming Desi.

"Get up slow britches, and you are not moving out of this room Miss Desi. Tony put you in here because it’s the only room in the house with the type of bathing facilities you need. Doc, the girl’s eyes are turning yellow," Mona reminded her. "You know I could just call a maid service and be done with it," said Harry. "Yeah right, like anyone in their right mind would put up with all your shit," said Mona.

Harry rolled out of bed and walked over to Desi’s side and pulled back the comforter. Desi’s leg was starting to look better, or so Harry told her. To the small woman it didn’t look that pretty. There was the large incision running up the side and the angry looking bruise that covered her knee in black. "Hold on to my neck Desi and try not to move around too much, let me do all the work," Harry instructed. Getting into the bathroom was a cinch, how to get her ready to use the toilet was not.

"It’s ok Dr. Basantes, I’m sure it isn’t anything you haven’t seen before," Desi told her trying to make them both feel better. Setting Desi down on her good leg, Harry had the injured woman keep her arms around her neck so that Harry could pull the nightgown up so that she could sit. Lowering her down slowly, Harry gave Desi some privacy by stepping back into the bedroom after extracting a promise not to move until she got back. Desi relieved nature’s call while looking around the big bathroom. There was a double sink set up with a glassed in shower in one corner. The one thing that got her attention though was the large claw-foot tub with the brass fixtures that was across from where she was sitting. The thought of sharing that with Harry flew into her brain causing a blush to crawl up her neck.

Settled back in the bed, Desi watched Harry collect some clothes before heading back into the bathroom for a shower. "Once I’m done I’ll have Mona come in and give you a sponge bath. I don’t want you on your feet for at least another week, so get use to the idea of a little pampering." Desi smiled as an answer, not remembering the last time someone wanted to pamper her.

"Harry when you’re done, Serena is here to see you and she has Albert with her," said Mona from the French doors leading out to the balcony. She was opening the doors to let some fresh air into the room since it wasn’t too cold out that morning. "What in the world was that girl thinking when she named that sweet child Albert? Might as well tape a note to his forehead the first day of school that says, ‘Hi I’m Albert, please feel free to beat the crap out of me and steal my lunch money.’ With all the names in the world why pick that one?" asked Mona shaking her head the whole time.

"Because it is her father’s name Mona, and he became a Federal Judge so it can’t be all bad. Besides you know we all call him Butch behind Serena’s back. Somehow I don’t think she’d think, Federal Judge Butch would have the same ring to it."

"Thank goodness for you and the two fruitcakes being in that boy’s life. Without you he wouldn’t have any friends," commented Mona, grumbling again as the sleepwear Harry had been wearing came flying into the room. "Mona you do realize that I am a fruitcake too, don’t you?" asked Harry over the sound of running water. "Yeah I know that bonehead, and I call you that too when you aren’t around," Mona yelled back, offering Desi a wink before she left the room.

Coming out of the bathroom in perfectly pressed chinos and a button down shirt; Harry looked like all the other yuppie looking folks Desi had seen going into the better restaurants and stores in town. The only difference between them and the woman standing in the bedroom was that all those others Desi had seen were wearing shoes.

"I’ll be right back Desi. Want some coffee? Mona is a pain in the ass but makes the best coffee I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting," asked Harry smiling down at her. "I heard that," yelled Mona from the stairwell. "As I was saying, Mona is a pain in the ass but makes good coffee. Would you like some?"

"Yes I would love a cup. Could I bother you for some toast too, I can’t drink coffee on an empty stomach," requested Desi smiling back.

"One toast and breakfast coming up, and since you asked so nicely I’ll bring Butch up and introduce you," said Harry.

Leaving Desi to wonder who Butch was, Harry headed down the stairs. After a few moments Desi heard the delighted squealing of a child. That must be Butch. Her eyes drifted back to the picture on the mantle, trying to remember what it was like to be that happy.

Daydreaming, Desi didn’t hear her visitors come in, and only looked up when she heard the sweet voice ask, "Uncle Harry who’s that lady in your bed?" "That is an old friend of your Uncle Harry’s baby boy. Can you go and tell her hello? She has a big owey and I bet it would make her feel better," said Harry pointing one of her fingers out from the tray she was carrying.

Walking over with an outfit surprisingly like Harry’s, only with shoes, the three-year-old stuck out his hand and introduced himself to Desi. "Hi, my name is Albert Hubert Ladding, it’s nice to meet you." "Hello Albert my name is Desiree Simoneaux, and it’s nice to meet you too." "Miss Desiree my friends call me Butch, would you like to call me that too? Just don’t do it in front of mommy, it makes her upset then she yells at my Uncle Harry." "Ok Butch, but my friends call me Desi so how about you call me that instead of Desiree." "Deal," Butch agreed then spit in his hand to seal the pact. "Did your Uncle Harry teach you that too?" asked Desi smiling up at the uncle in question. "Yep, my Uncle Harry teaches me all kinds a neat stuff," said the beaming boy standing next to the bed. He looked in Harry’s direction with a clear look of adoration on his small sweet face. "I thought so," said Desi as she put less spit into her palm and shook the little boy’s hand.

Harry laughed as she placed the large plantation tray across Desi’s lap with her breakfast. Butch was trying diligently to climb up on the bed from the other side, failing until Harry came over and gave him a boost. "Now you promised sweet boy to not jump around. Desi has a hurt leg and it would not be good for her to have you do that," said Harry. "I promise Uncle Harry I’ll sit here and drink my coffee with Desi until you get back. Granny Mona made me some cinnamonny toast to go with it," said Butch as he picked a glass of milk Mona had stirred a tablespoon of coffee into. "Ok enjoy your cinnamonny toast while I go and get your mother to talk with Desi," said Harry. Turning to Desi and offering her a smile Harry told her, "I’m going to get Serena to come up and talk with you. If my buddy here gets rowdy, you have my permission to whack him one." "I’m sure we’ll be fine Uncle Harry. Go on so the two of us can enjoy our breakfast," said Desi with a smile.

 

"Serena, baby how is it that you always manage to look like you stepped out of a magazine every time I see you?" asked Harry when she stepped into the sunroom. If there had ever been anyone that could have come close to being a permanent fixture in Harry’s life, it was Serena. The blonde hair and blue eyes had turned the doctor’s head the minute she had laid eyes on the young attorney at a political fundraiser.

Serena was getting out of a bad marriage when they had met, and only after her ex-husband skipped town leaving them in major debt did she find out she was pregnant with Albert. Harry had seen her through her crisis and together with Kenneth and Tony got Serena’s life back on track. Her adopted nephew loved the tall doctor with abandon, and had from the minute he started talking called her Uncle Harry. He explained in his own way that Aunt Harry just didn’t sound right to him so he persisted with uncle.

"It’s my way of reminding you honey of what you are missing out on. You could have this," the blonde ran her hand down her body, "And Albert comes as part of the package." "You never did fight fair did you baby?" asked Harry bending down to place a kiss on Serena’s lips. "No doc, with you it’s all or nothing. That does tend to raise the stakes of the game."

"Why have you had me drop everything on a Wednesday morning, good doctor? I’ll have you know I had a date last night and didn’t get until two, so this better be good," said Serena with a playful scowl on her face. She was trying to ignore the tingle Harry’s kiss had left on her lips.

"Thrown me over already have you? You are such the slut Serena, but I love you anyway. I have to keep telling you that or you won’t let me see my boy Butch," said Harry plopping down on the sofa next to her friend. "Stop calling him that, daddy has a perfectly wonderful name. I don’t know why I’m the only one that sees it?" "Of course baby, that’s why everyone calls your father Hubbie. Now stop complaining and listen," said Harry.

Harry spent some time explaining the circumstances of her houseguest and what she was facing. Serena had heard the story countless times before from every shape of woman the city had to offer. It was encouraging to her that Desi was willing to press charges, it would make her life that much easier as a prosecutor if the victim wasn’t spending all her time defending the perpetrator. Juries had no patience for women who didn’t want to help themselves, much less the district attorney’s office. People often saw this as not a crime against society, but as something that happened behind closed doors that didn’t effect them directly.

"Stay here Harry I can handle this, if this woman is a friend of yours she might not feel comfortable talking with me with you in the room. I’ll send down Albert to entertain you until I’m done. You can pull out that insipid video game you think I don’t know about and play something with him," said Serena with a flip of her blonde hair before leaving the room.

Watching from the hallway outside Harry’s bedroom, Serena knew why Harry had left her son upstairs with this woman. Butch had a way of drawing a smile out of anyone. The foundation she had provided her son with the help of Harry and her family was one that the boy drew strength from. No matter what came in Butch’s life, he would always know that he was loved.

"Have you been a good boy?" asked Serena. She stood leaning against the doorframe with her arms crossed over her chest. Taking one look at Desi registered in the attorney’s mind who this woman was. She was the winner, and Serena tried to bite back the bile that was rising in her throat because of that fact.

"Yes mommy, Desi was telling me a story. I ate all my cinnamonny toast that Granny Mona made me, so we had to find something else to do," Butch informed her turning his attention in his mother’s direction. "That’s my big boy, how would you like to go downstairs and play with your Uncle Harry? She said to tell you that she wants to play your secret game. You want to tell me what that is?" asked Serena as she combed his hair back in place with her fingers. "No mommy, I promised Uncle Harry and if I tell we won’t be able to save the world together. You wouldn’t want that would you mommy?" "No Albert, I wouldn’t want that now scat."

"Remember it’s Butch when she isn’t here," whispered the little boy to Desi. She gave him a thumbs up before he tore down the hall heading for the stairs. "Don’t run down the stairs Albert, you’re going to hurt yourself," yelled Serena after him.

"I’m sorry, I’m not sure when it happened, but I seemed to have turned into my mother ever since Butch came along. I’m Serena Ladding, it’s a pleasure to meet you, even under these trying circumstances," said Serena holding out her hand.

"I’m Desi Simoneaux, it’s nice to meet you too. You have a beautiful son, but I thought it upset you to have him called Butch."

"Well there are a lot of things about me that Harry doesn’t know but I like to keep her guessing," said Serena shrugging her shoulders.

"How do you know Harry, Mrs. Ladding?" asked Desi.

"It’s Ms. Ladding, but please call me Serena, and we aren’t here to talk about me Desi. We are here to talk about you. Desi, I am here to help you get out of a bad situation and make that as pleasant as possible for you. I won’t lie or try to sugar coat it; it’s not going to be easy. Your husband doesn’t want to go to jail. Your husband’s family doesn’t want him to go to jail. Face it, they’re not idiots. No one wants to go to jail, especially in this state. His attorney will put you on trial, and if he’s good or if he was up against anyone else the jury will want to break your other leg when he’s done. But there isn’t anyone that good in the city practicing law Desi. Not to toot my own horn but I’m the best at what I do, and what I want to do is send Byron Simoneaux to jail for what he did to you. What I need from you is a bit of information," finished Serena, sitting back to gauge the small woman’s reaction to what she had just said.

"What do you need to know?" asked Desi.

"First, are you still in love with this man? Because if you are then this will be a waste of my time, Harry’s time, and yours. If you are planning to go back and want to renege on the charges then it won’t matter how good I am, we won’t win. If that happens then we repeat this process in six months tops, if we are lucky you will still be here then to testify against him."

"You are a very blunt person Ms. Ladding. I don’t love Byron, I never did. Maybe that’s why he beats me, who knows? I know you probably don’t like women like me Ms. Ladding, probably think of us as weak and stupid. You can’t know what it’s like to sit and wait for someone to come home and wonder who will walk through the door. Will it be the guy that tried to romance you on your daddy’s front porch or will it be the guy that likes to find new places to put bruises that no one will ever see? I’ll do whatever it takes to get out of this so don’t worry about that," said Desi with conviction. She looked back at Serena and raised her jaw in a defiant pose.

"I can imagine Desi. I was married to that guy, and now I’m not. You aren’t stupid and I don’t look down on you, I stand up everyday in court and defend women like us against men like the ones we married. Don’t squander this opportunity Desi; use it to get back on your feet. I want to be your friend here, please don’t look at me as the enemy," said Serena softening her tone.

"Who is going to want me now Serena? I don’t have any skills, and my body looks like a roadmap of injuries. I use to have dreams, but even those have faded away. Byron saw to that didn’t he?" asked Desi.

"Desi you are only thirty four years old. You have lost a few years in the hell you’ve been living in but you have so much to look forward to. Let me help you start your journey," offered Serena.

"You don’t understand, you have a family, you have Butch and you have Harry. I made my choices so long ago, and now I’m just going to have to live with them," said Desi looking at the picture on the mantle again. It represented to her all the things she could have had if she had stayed with Harry.

"Darlin’, I don’t have Harry, I wish I did but I don’t. Hell every woman that comes into contact with Harry wants her, if only for the night. There’s only one woman in her bed though, and since I’m sitting here talking to her that would make it you. I don’t know how you did it, cause honey I have tried for three long years but you have snagged our Dr. Basantes but good. It’s up to you to reel her in now," said Serena.

"I have done no such thing Serena, look at you I don’t have a chance." "Desi I could taking you shopping and in one afternoon you could look just like me. It’s not the clothes Desi; it’s the fact that you were her first love. I know Harry. She’s loyal to the bone, so you have a better chance than anyone else does. You are the girl from high school aren’t you?" asked Serena. "Come on you’ve seen the picture haven’t you?" asked Desi. "To tell you the truth this is the first time I have been able to breach the inner sanctum so no I haven’t," said Serena turning around to look at the picture Desi was referring to.

"You’ve never slept with Harry?" asked Desi.

"I didn’t say that Desi, I just said I’ve never been in her bedroom. Don’t be jealous, we just met at a time in our lives that required the kind of relationship that we had. When I decided that I wanted more, Harry decided that we should be friends for the sake of my son. You would swear that the woman was allergic to long term commitment. Mention it and she breaks into hives, but I’ve always known that she was holding out for someone special. Took you long enough to get here. I love Harry, so please promise me that you will be good to her. Get to know her again Desi, she’s turned out to be the most extraordinary person."

"I’m glad that she had such good people taking care of her all this time," said Desi.

The sound of running feet could be heard down the long hallway, bringing to a close their talk. "If you break something I’m taking it out of your hide," the two women heard Mona screaming from one of the guestrooms. "I’m sorry Granny," said Butch. "I’m not fussing at you Butch baby, I was talking to that overgrown piece of trouble that’s chasing you." "Ha ha Uncle Harry she called you a piece of trouble," laughed Butch. "I know that’s why she’s going to go and live with you and your mother," said Harry.

The two women in the bedroom laughed at the maid, and the fact she was the only one that could get away with talking to Harry in such a manner. Their short talk had opened doors for one, and closed forever the hope of the other. Serena knew that now with the dream Harry had held onto for so long living in her house, she could hang up the notion of her and the doctor sharing a happy ever after scenario. She knew that what she had told Desi was true, Harry was loyal to a fault and that was a good thing if you were the subject of that loyalty. Sure Harry was Serena’s friend and they had been lovers, but the good doctor’s heart would always belong to another and Serena wasn’t willing to live with anything less than all of Harry. It was the one thing that Harry had taught her after the breakup of her marriage – Serena was a special woman and should hold out for the person that would treat her as such. Life is such a fucking bitch sometimes, thought Serena as Harry’s big form crossed the threshold of the room.

"Need more time, or could I interest you in some more coffee out on the balcony? It’s a beautiful day so we should enjoy it while it lasts," Harry offered along with the smile both women in the room found irresistible. "Mommy could we?" asked Butch. "No we have got to go. Did you forget that we are having lunch with Grandma and Papa?" asked Serena getting up and straightening her skirt. "No, Uncle Harry we are going to eat at the place that has that pudding with the sauce we like so much. You’re not coming though, so mommy won’t let me lick the plate." "Serena, life is too short to not let the boy lick the plate. Tell Papa, and he’ll let you do it I bet," Harry said as she watched the little boy’s face light up. "Harry by the time the child is twenty he won’t be allowed in any of the restaurants in this town. I swear between you teaching him to spit on his hand, and licking plates I’m going to have to stop coming over here," said Serena. "No way mommy, Uncle Harry is the coolest person I know," said Butch leaning his head back to look up at Harry.

"I’ll be right back," Harry told Desi. She walked Serena and Butch to the door, letting Serena take the lead on whether or not she wanted to tell Harry about her talk with Desi. Serena walked the distance of the house to the door keeping Harry in suspense, but did bring it up before they left.

"Harry that is a very special woman you have up there. The next few months are going to be hard on her, so I want you to make sure that she understands that you will be there for her. I want to get us into court before she gets her leg out of all that stuff you attached to it. This asshole did it, so we might as well use it in our favor.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this but here goes. I’m happy for you Harry, you’ve waited a lifetime and I think you are finally going to get the girl. You do understand though, that a part of me is throwing a major tantrum at the moment but I am happy for you both. Tell Desi that I’ll call her later on in the week with the details of the case and where we are in the process," said Serena.

"I love you Serena, you know that right?" asked Harry. "Yes baby, I know you do and Albert and I love you too." "Yeah Uncle Harry I love you," piped in Butch. "Me too big guy. Cut your mother some slack and don’t lick the plate this time. I promise I’ll take you back next week just the two of us, and we can indulge in a little plate licking." "Deal," the little boy screamed in her ear as he hugged Harry around the neck. Harry put him down next to his mother taking the opportunity to take Serena into her arms and kissed her goodbye. It was an intimate kiss between two people that had shared a relationship, but both were aware that it was a good bye to that relationship forever. It was time for both of them to move on.

"Harry, you must have been burned at the stake or something in your past life," said Mona. "Why do you say that?" asked Harry looking out the front window watching Serena buckle Butch into the car. "Because I have never in my life seen one person who was so blessed to be loved by so many special women. That girl was right in saying that Desi was a good catch, don’t you go running scared girl, your mamma and I didn’t raise you that way. It’s time for you to settle down and start filling this house up with some kids. I’m tired of picking up just after you," said Mona as she came up and hugged Harry. "Thanks Mona, I love you too."

Desi and Harry spent the rest of the day relaxing out on the balcony off Harry’s bedroom. Each getting comfortable to be in each other’s company again after so many years apart. Desi listened as Harry told her stories of her time in medical school and her residency. Kenneth and Tony had been there with her every step of the way. Since Desi told her that Serena had divulged the relationship she and Harry had shared, Harry told her about that time in her life too. In all her time as a doctor Harry hadn’t gotten as much satisfaction as she did the day that Butch had been born, and she had been there to see it.

"He let’s you see the good there is in the world Desi. I never really gave any thought to having kids of my own, but if I could have one like Albert I would enjoy the chance. It’s just with my lifestyle it would be hard on the child," Harry explained. "Why because you are gay?" asked Desi. "No because my work is so unpredictable. I wouldn’t want to make that commitment then have a paid staff person raise the child. It wouldn’t be fair to either of us. The gay part is getting better, even a city like New Orleans that is proud of its religious roots would be tolerant to the idea of a gay person raising a child I would think. I mean it’s not like being gay is contagious or anything. How about you, no thought to having children?" asked Harry turning her head to look at Desi again. "No, I never told Byron, but I took my birth control pills faithfully. It wasn’t the type of relationship to bring children into. I don’t think I could have stood by and let him beat my child. Besides it’s too late for me I think," said Desi. "Nonsense Desi you are under thirty five, more than capable of having a child. It’s not to late for you sweetheart if that’s what you really want. I don’t think I know a better person to be a mother," said Harry.

Harry excused herself in the late afternoon. She changed into some running apparel and left to run her normal circuit around the neighborhood. Mona, who was finished with her dinner preparations, came up and kept Desi company. Desi watched the tall form run steadily down the street, in the smooth form that she remembered watching on the track many times in high school.

"Penny for your thoughts Desi," said Mona sitting in the location Harry had just vacated. What Desi was thinking was written all over her face but Mona was in the mood to play. "I was just admiring Harry’s running form Mona, nothing that you should have to pay money for." The blush on her face telling another story. "Uh huh, got a nice ass on her don’t she?" "MONA!" "Hey I’m old but I ain’t dead."

"Mona, how did you meet Harry?" asked Desi. She had taken a real liking to this outspoken woman. She was ornery, but Desi could tell that she loved Harry.

"I’ve worked for the Basantes family since I was a young woman. Had all the weekends off, and that is when I understand you and Rachel would come to stay at the house. Once Dr. Raul and Maria moved to Florida I came to work for Harry. She bought a house a couple of blocks from the one she grew up in, but for some fool reason she decided to buy this place. I think it was a favor to Kenny and to give that boy of his, Tony, something to do. I’ll never admit it in front of him, but I love that boy. We are forever and a day going round and round about some of the things he picks to put in here, but he grows on you after awhile. It’s my job to make sure that he don’t go over the top.

Frankly, I don’t know what I’m doing here sometimes except to bother Harry into taking better care of herself, and to make sure the hired services to their jobs. I have Harry, my kids and grandkids that’s what makes me happy," said Mona shaking her head at the thought of Harry.

"You have a maid?" asked the amused Desi.

"A maid service and a pack of gardeners too. The only thing I do now really is cook and wash Harry’s clothes. The first time the new people did that, they ruined all of Harry’s underwear. Ooh lord, she was fit to be tied because you can’t drag that girl in a store if her life depended on it. That would be my other job, I shop for her. Stuff like socks and underwear, the rest I have to pull her by the ear to go and try on.

All in all, it’s a good life I got here. This is my home and that’s how Harry treats me. My family is here all the time visiting me, and catching up on Harry’s latest antics. She thinks I don’t know, but she helps both my daughters send their kids to private schools around here. Tells them that it’s not safe to send kids to the public schools no more. Funny how life is, she went to public schools but my grandkids are going to class in those spiffy uniforms. Harry was a good kid and that hasn’t changed a bit. Enough about me, I got to go and finish dinner before the road warrior returns. After the run, she goes in that gym downstairs and lifts weights so by the time she’s finished she could eat the whole pot of whatever I’ve cooked. Do you want me to have her come up and move you back before she starts pumping?" asked Mona.

"Yeah Mona, that would be great." After Mona left Desi’s wrapped herself in the blanket Mona had brought out and then her thoughts turned to the woman still out running. Harry, how do I even begin to think of having a relationship with you while I’m still married and there are all these other issues. If only I could turn back the clock and thought of a better way than what I picked. Desi fell asleep thinking about the future and the possibility of sharing it with Harry. It was so peaceful here under the ancient oaks. The garden below her offered up some delightful aromas from the large trees of sweet olive planted throughout the property. They were Desi’s favorites, and unbeknownst to her, it was one of the reasons Harry had decided on the house.

 

"Hey sleepyhead you ready to head inside?" asked Harry softly. "Hey, yeah it’s getting a little cold out here," said Desi blinking her eyes open. "Let me run in and put on a clean shirt first, I don’t want to get you all sweaty," said Harry tugging on her shirt. "It’s all right Harry," said Desi. "Nope, Mona would never let me live that one down. Hang tight for a minute."

Returning a short time later with a t-shirt that said ‘Orthopedic Surgeons Do It With Backbone’ Harry picked Desi up with little effort. The only tremor Desi felt was when she put her arms around the tall woman’s neck. The reaction sparked the hope that Serena had told her about. Maybe Harry did want her in her life. After putting Desi down and getting her situated on the bed again, Harry disappeared into the gym but not before sending Mona in to give Desi a sponge bath. She promised to help Mona change the sheets after her workout.

For dinner Rachel, Mona and Harry joined Desi in the bedroom eating off TV trays so the redhead wouldn’t have to eat alone. Mona heard for the first time some of the stories of their childhood that she was certain Maria Basantes, Harry’s mother, had never heard. With each moment Harry and Desi spent in each other’s company, Rachel and Mona witnessed the spark return that had been there when their love had first blossomed. Both women hoped that Harry and Desi didn’t blow this opportunity at their second chance. Rachel offered to help Mona carry down all the dirty dishes leaving Harry and Desi alone.

"It’s getting late Desi, how about we give you your medicine and you hit the sack. Need a bathroom run before you turn in?" asked Harry. Desi would force her kidneys to function, if it meant getting another ride in Harry’s arms. Sometime during dinner she decided that it was the one place in the world she longed to be, and Byron and the rest of the world be damned.

Putting the tent back in place and pulling the comforter up in place, Harry bid Desi a good night. The small woman was disappointed that Harry wasn’t staying with her like she had the night before, but decided not to push it. "Night Harry, and thanks for all this. You may never get Rachel to leave at the rate we’re going." "You and your sister are welcomed here Desi for as long as you like. Mona loves having someone else to spoil besides me, and I’m taking a liking to having you here too. Don’t think about that anymore and start concentrating on healing that leg. We’ll take it a day at time, and before you know it you might not want to leave." When Harry left the room Desi whispered, "I don’t want to leave, and I don’t want to lose you."

In the middle of the night Harry woke up in the guestroom next to her bedroom thinking that her pager was going off. It was a low soft sound but it wasn’t coming from the small black square sitting on the nightstand next to the bed. Getting up to investigate she came to the doorway of the bedroom that was usually hers. It was Desi and she was having a nightmare. Not wanting the woman to cause further injury to her leg Harry stepped in and sat on the unoccupied side of the bed and reached over to wake her friend. When her hand touched the sleeping woman’s shoulder, Desi visibly shrunk away from Harry.

"No please get away from me, don’t hurt me anymore," pleaded Desi.

Harry let go immediately thinking that she had frightened Desi, causing her to think that the small woman was afraid of her. "Desi it’s me Harry. You are safe here. I’m not going to hurt you. I just wanted to wake you up before you hurt yourself."

"Harry?" said Desi in a confused voice. She slowly blinked her eyes open and looked at the woman sitting beside her on the bed.

"Yes sweetheart it’s me. Are you ok now?" asked Harry. "I’m sorry I woke you up, I was dreaming of Byron and I couldn’t get away from him." "That’s ok, he’s not here Desi. No one here wants to hurt you, but you have to be careful with that leg. I know you probably think I look good in those scrubs, but I don’t want to have to take you back to surgery. Do you think you could go back to sleep now?" asked Harry.

The last thing Desi wanted was for Harry to leave her alone. It was one of her recurring dreams that all too often was her reality. The feeling of having her feet stuck in molasses while he moved closer, fists clenched tight, that mad look in his eyes. He won every night in that dream. She couldn’t get away, and he was free to hit her as many times as he wanted, with no one to stop him. "Could you sit with me for a little while? You can lie down if you want, I mean you don’t have to if you don’t want to but I would appreciate it if you did," babbled Desi. "I will be happy to sit with you Desi," said Harry.

Harry laid down and reached under the blanket for Desi’s hand. After wrapping it up in her own large hand she felt Desi relax. They didn’t need words between them and soon Harry heard Desi’s breathing even out. In her sleep, Desi pulled Harry’s hand up onto her chest so she could hold it in both her own. Harry was touched by the sentiment; it made her worry that Desi wouldn’t be there when she woke up and that this was all a dream. How can I get you back in my life? I think that it is time for us to have a long talk Ms. Desi, the sooner the better.

 

The next morning found them back out on the balcony sipping coffee and eating pastries that Harry had gone out for that morning. "Do you treat all your houseguests this well?" asked Desi as she bit into her second croissant of the morning. "No, no I don’t. Once you are well enough to walk, you will be expected to pressure wash the house. Have to get a jump on that summer mildew build up, and now I won’t have to call the usual guys I have do that," said Harry with a straight face. "I’ll do it if you stand outside in a white T-shirt Dr. Harry," Desi’s face turned crimson the moment the words left her mouth.

"I’m sorry Harry I don’t know why I said that," she tried to explain.

"Desi if I ask you something, would you promise to be honest with me even if you think it will hurt my feelings?" asked Harry. She swung her legs off the chaise lounge so that she could face Desi while they talked.

"Yes, I can do that," said Desi.

"Was stepping out of my life your idea? It’s ok if you tell me you fell head over heels for Byron, well it won’t be ok but….well hell you know what I mean." Harry sat waiting for the answer as she ran her hand through her hair, afraid of what the truth might be.

Desi looked at the fidgeting woman across from her and decided to just come out with the truth and not make Harry wait anymore than she had to. "It wasn’t my idea Harry, it was my father’s. He threatened me with not being able to see Rachel again ever. I love you Harry, but after mamma died she was my only family. The only family that I cared about besides you that is. She needed me Harry. You know as well as I do that Clyde wasn’t the best father in the world, and God only knows what would have happened to her.

I don’t expect you to forgive me Harry. How can I when I can’t even forgive myself? But I know this Harry; not one day has gone by in all these years that I haven’t thought about you. Not one single day Harry, when I didn’t talk to you and tell you that I missed you. I loved you with all my heart back then Harry and I still do. It was like waking up from a nightmare when I saw you in that emergency room. I don’t deserve it Harry but I want to be a part of your life again, even if it’s just as your friend." When she finished speaking Desi tensed up as if waiting for a blow to her body waiting for Harry’s reaction..

The tall doctor just looked at her from the chaise lounge she was sitting on not saying anything. Great you’ve scared her off now Desi, was the thought that was playing over and over again in Desi’s head. Stuck there because of her injury, Desi had no choice but to wait and see what Harry would do next. In typical Harry style it wasn’t what Desi expected at all, but the soft lips on hers were familiar. Giving in to what they had wanted to do from that moment in the hospital, the kiss deepened. It felt glorious to Desi to sink her hands into those thick black curls and to feel that talented tongue mapping new locations in her mouth.

"No walking out on me this time Desi. You do and I’ll be lost," whispered Harry into Desi’s ear.

"I missed you Harry and I’m not going anywhere." Desi told her as she leaned in to kiss Harry again. "I may never want to stop doing this now," said Desi. "You taste so good baby," said Harry as she leaned back to look into Desi’s eyes. The one thing about Desi that was the hardest to try and forget. Those soft green orbs that were like summer grass that spoke volumes as to what was in the young woman’s head and heart. They had little flecks of gold sprinkled in them that Harry had always thought held a sort of magic that Desi used to snare her love. Expanding her line of sight out a little, Harry took in Desi’s face. There were little lines around her eyes, but that was just from all the smiles that had creased Desi’s face over the years. Desi’s creamy skin hadn’t changed much since the last time Harry had run her fingers over the surface.

"What are you looking at Harry?" asked Desi leaning into Harry’s touch.

"I’m looking at you. Do you realize how beautiful you are to me? I have seen this face in my dreams for so long now, I think I have it memorized. But I find myself looking at you now, and falling in love all over again."

"Thank you for the sentiment baby, but I think my time of beauty has past. I’m not eighteen anymore Harry. I’m reminded of that fact every time I look in the mirror. It seems like every day something sags a little lower than it was the day before, and I’m so tired," said Desi.

"Desi, honey you are thirty-four years old, not exactly grandmother material. I love looking at you, so don’t argue with me. And if you want my official diagnosis as to why you are so tired, it’s because you were unhappy sweetheart. Not to worry though I have a prescription for that, guaranteed to perk you up permanently."

"Oh yes doctor, what might that be?" asked Desi. Her answer came in the form of a kiss and two strong arms that held her tight. By making Desi happy it was a case of, physician heal thyself, for Harry. They would start over on a foundation they had built on a swing so many nights ago. Would it be enough?

 


To be continued.

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