How Do You Mend A Broken Heart

Ali Vali

Chapter 3

"All rise, the court is now in session, the Honorable Judge Rose presiding," said the bailiff, Rudy Thibodaux. The old courtroom was packed with lawyers and defendants ready to enter their pleas. For his part, Judge Jude Rose hated Mondays.

The filth of the streets oozed into his domain on that day of the week, ready to exclaim their innocence to all who would listen. The worst part of the whole ordeal was he couldn't tell the attorneys apart from their clients anymore. Jude had watched over the years as petty drug dealers and ambulance chasing young attorneys, waiting to carve out their niche in the law industry, had overrun the city.

From his perch high above the fray, he looked out of the big windows onto Tulane Avenue, remembering his first time in this courtroom. As a young law student he had come after classes to watch the trial of Clay Shaw play itself out in the national headlines. It had been a time of good lawyering and a fair debate of both sides of the law. Now the building was full of those who sold nickel bags of crack cocaine, rapists, the big lugs who liked to beat up on their wives, and the new breed of bottom feeding lawyers who defended them.

Seeing the beautifully dressed Serena Ladding with a pile of files on the table made him guess today would be 'She asked for it, your honor,' day. It was such a lovely way to start the morning. "Ms. Ladding, what do you have for me today? Do you think we'll be finished by noon?" asked Jude.

"Forty eight cases, your honor, all pleadings, so we should be out of here by ten if everyone is present and there aren't any unexpected surprises."

"Good, let's get started, shall we." He cocked his chair back a little and adjusted the pistol he kept on his hip. In his time on the bench he'd only had occasion to fire it once, and New Orleans legend had it that the whole building had come to a stand still for almost five minutes.

The first thirty defendants plead guilty after cutting deals with the district attorney's office. No jail time for their crimes, if they signed up for individual and family therapy. Serena wasn't a big fan of therapy, but it was the best they could offer with the jail-overcrowding situation the city faced.

In her opinion, after a few weeks with the shrink these guys came to realize it was all their mother's fault they did what they did. If only mommy dearest had had the foresight to leave dear old dad, then they wouldn't have learned their behavior. As one man had told her once, when she had met with him and his attorney, 'You see, Ms. Ladding, I'm an abuser but I've got a good reason, it's all my bitch of a mother's fault.' It was a crock then and it was a crock now.

"On the last case, your honor, we request the Court remand Mr. Byron Simoneaux into custody due to the vicious, unprovoked attack on his wife, Desiree Simoneaux. Mrs. Simoneaux had to undergo extensive surgery to repair the damage done to her person by Byron Simoneaux. It's the opinion of the District Attorney's office that Mr. Simoneaux would pose a threat to his wife if allowed out on bail. Our office plans to move forward with charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon." Serena finished and turned to Byron and his attorney to see what bullshit issued forth.

"Your honor, Mr. Simoneaux is a law abiding citizen who doesn't even have as much as an outstanding parking ticket. He works hard and is being unjustly accused by a woman who wants out of her marriage, and plans to stick my client with a large alimony tab," started Bradley Blum, Byron's attorney.

The chair creaked as Jude swung it around and looked at Rudy and cocked a brow at the man in question. After spending years working together the bailiff smiled in understanding and adjusted his utility belt. "Bradley Blum, your honor, defense attorney for Mr. Simoneaux."

"Mr. Blum, have I addressed you?" asked Judge Rose, his chair came back down, and he pinned the young man with his infamous glare when he looked down from the bench.

"No, sir," answered Bradley, swallowing hard.

"Then why are you talking?" The tone of Jude's voice, and the way he was now leaning forward showed his displeasure.

"I just wanted to explain our position, your honor."

"You're talking again. My suggestion to you, Mr. Blum, is simple. You should take your cues from Ms. Ladding here and speak only when spoken to. Do you understand me, Mr. Blum?" asked Judge Rose. The way Jude kept repeating his name made Bradley think the judge wouldn't soon forget him. If that were the case, it wouldn't bode well for future appearances in his court.

The courtroom fell silent, waiting for the explosion that would surely be coming from the bench at any moment. Jude was famous for chewing these young guns up and spitting them out, making their clients question the wisdom of their choice of representation. Two minutes ticked by with no sound breaking except the ticking of the clock over the door. "I'm waiting, Mr. Blum, do you understand me?" asked Jude again as he reclined back in his leather chair.

"I'm sorry, your honor, I thought you told me not to talk," explained the now sweating Bradley. From the prosecutor's table Serena was trying valiantly to hide her smile behind her hand. She had been in Blum's place only once, and it had been an experience she never cared to repeat.

"I asked you a question, you idiot," screamed Jude.

"Yes, your honor, I understand you."

"Good, now, Ms. Ladding, what's the extent of Mrs. Simoneaux's injuries?" He never looked at her, keeping his eyes glued to one of the light fixtures in the room.

Serena went on to explain the nature and extent of Desi's injuries, and what Harry had done to repair them. She also explained a baseball bat found in the Simoneaux home had caused the injuries, and currently was in police custody in the evidence room, covered in Byron's fingerprints and Desi's blood.

"Thank you, Ms. Ladding. Now, Mr. Blum, let's hear from you." After laying out the reasons for allowing his client to be released on bond, Bradley judiciously fell silent waiting for Jude to rule on bail. Feeling Byron fidgeting beside him wearing his bright orange prison jumpsuit, Bradley made a mental note to tell him that Jude Rose never heard domestic violence cases, so there would be no repeat of today.

"In deference to this being Mr. Simoneaux's first criminal charge, I here by post bond in the amount of three and a half million dollars in cash or property. Thank you ladies and gentlemen, we're adjourned." With that Jude got up, readjusted the pistol under his robes, and walked out. Serena felt confident that having to put up four hundred and twenty thousand dollars for his share of the bail would keep Byron sitting in city jail for many days to come.

She walked out of the courtroom, through the curses hurled her way by Byron's family, heading toward her office. She had noticed the Simoneaux clan when she had gotten there that morning, thinking Byron and his brother Mike took after their father in looks. His mother looked like a small meek woman who was afraid of the large overweight man sitting beside her. Serena was sure his eldest son had learned how to deal with women from Byron, Sr.

From her office in the building where Jude's courtroom was located, Serena called Harry's house and spoke to Desi about the morning's proceedings. If Byron's attorney fast tracked the trial they could be back in court by the end of the month, which was fine with Serena. That would mean Desi would be sitting on the witness stand testifying with a cast on her leg, making what her husband did to her, that much more real.

"Thank you, Serena, I appreciate you calling me. Is it all right if I call Harry and let her know what's going on? She left early this morning, but I have her cell phone number in case I have to get in touch with her."

The explanation was longer than it had to be, but Serena understood where the need for confirmation was coming from. Women like Desi had learned, through violence, to never assume they could just do something without permission. When they did, it usually meant a beating. Hopefully with time and with Harry's loving guidance, Desi would find her self worth again. "No, that won't be a problem. Call her and tell her whatever you want. It'll be good for you to have someone to talk to during all this stuff. Because believe me, you'll have to deal with Byron's family, as well as your wonderful husband."

"Yeah, when Byron and Mike get together and start drinking, they are a force to be reckoned with. Add their father into that mix and it's total disaster for whatever or whoever gets in their way. Do you think Harry will be in any danger?" She bit her lip after asking, the thought popping into her head for the first time.

"If your in-laws know what's good for them, they'll stay the hell away from Harry. The Goddess of the Bones is a wonderful healer, but on the flip side, she can just as easily break every bone in your body. Harry studied martial arts in college, and when you combine that with her medical training, she knows all the places to hit you that'll count."

She studied her broken leg and thought about what Serena had said after hanging up the phone. Would Harry hurt her, and was she exchanging one bad situation for something worse? She couldn't fathom Harry ever lifting a hand to hit her, but she hadn't seen Harry in years. Sometimes things changed. She put the receiver down, deciding to wait to call the surgeon. There was no reason to disturb her if she didn't have to.

Harry wasn't expected home until eight or nine due to a back up in surgery, so when Desi heard the side door into the kitchen close, she wondered who it was. Looking at the digital clock next to the bed she noticed it was three thirty in the afternoon. She had slept longer than she had planned after her conversation with Serena, and now that she was well rested but still groggy, wondered what she was going to do with herself for the rest of the day.

"Hey there, sweetheart, how are you feeling?" Harry asked when she walked into the room carrying some shopping bags.

"What are you doing here?" She blinked repeatedly trying to focus after just waking up and looked to the clock again, thinking it had to be wrong.

"I live here," replied Harry, arching an eyebrow.

"I know that, wise guy. I just wasn't expecting you until late. Come here, since I can't come to you yet," said Desi crooking her finger toward Harry.

Harry walked over to the bed, leaned down and gave Desi a kiss hello. Having left even earlier than Desi suspected that morning, Harry was able to get through all of her more difficult surgeries by two that afternoon. What were left were cases the students could do with just a little supervision, so she had arranged for another instructor to monitor their progress. Stopping at one of the local medical supply companies and a few other places, Harry picked up some surprises for Desi, and planned on spending the rest of the afternoon enjoying them with her.

"Has anyone ever told you that you look sexy in green?" Desi eyed Harry in her surgical scrubs and smiled.

"Don't try to suck up to me, Thompson. I did bring home a surprise for you, but I don't know if I'll share it with you now." She threw the bags in her hands back out into the hallway.

"Aw, come on, Harry, I was just surprised to see you is all. That doesn't mean I didn't want to see you. What's my surprise?" She rubbed her hands together in anticipation remembering all the times Harry showed up with some little something she thought Desi would like.

"You're going to have to wait until I change before I give it to you."

Changing into sweatpants and a fleece top, Harry went out into the hall to retrieve her first set of surprises. Coming back in with the bags, she approached the bed to give them to Desi. "How'd you like to go to the park with me and feed the ducks? We could do it right after I run." Harry asked Desi shyly holding out the bags in her hand.

"I would love to do that with you, but I can't." She pointed to her leg in a way that showed how amused she was that Harry could forget her current state of health.

"I didn't ask you if you could, I asked you if you wanted to. Now do you want to?"

"Yes, I'd love to." Desi looked up at her in adoration and wondered what guiding spirit had brought Harry back into her life.

Handing over the first bag, Harry wiggled her eyebrows. Opening it while looking at Harry, Desi finally peeked inside. She found a sports bra and a nice fleece pullover similar to the one Harry had on. At the bottom of the bag was a pair of jogging pants with snaps all the way up the sides. They were the kind meant to be pulled off once you got to the track. In the other bag, Desi found several pairs of cashmere socks and a hat.

"Do you want me to help you put all that stuff on?"

"I think I can manage with the top part but I'll need you to help with the bottom. Now turn around, doctor." Desi twirled her finger in a circle as a way to get Harry to comply.

Harry turned around and waited for the grunting from the bed to stop. Getting the go ahead from Desi, she turned around to help her put the pants on. Harry pooled the sheets around Desi's waist before lifting her a little so Desi could pull the unsnapped pants around her bottom. Once she had the uninjured leg all covered up Harry folded the other pants leg so it wouldn't touch the site of Desi's injury. She then unpacked one pair of the socks and put them on her small delicate feet.

"Ready to go?" Harry was so excited she looked at her like a kid at Christmas.

"I don't know what you have in mind, but I'm ready to go," answered Desi. Harry picked her up and carried her out of the room down the stairs.

"Want a tour while I have you down here?" asked Harry.

"Sure, I didn't get to see much of the house when I first got here. Let's take a look at Tony's handy work."

"You can take notes so you can tell him what you like when they come over for dinner tonight." Harry carried Desi around showing her the main floor of the house, ending the tour at the side door where she had parked the Land Rover.

Putting her in the back seat so she could stretch out her broken leg, Harry jumped into the driver's seat and headed in the direction of Audubon Park. The park was one of the nicest spots in the city of New Orleans for a number of outdoor activities. It had a two-mile track around the park for the local runners and walkers, as well as cyclist and roller bladders. As you made the circuit around the park you could watch the golfers playing on the eighteen-hole course located in the middle of the park. Numerous ponds situated throughout the property were home to large duck, swan and turtle populations. Accustomed to visitors feeding them, the feathered inhabitants of the park were known to eat right out of your hand.

Pulling into the lot located at the back entrance to the park, Harry found a spot close to the track. She went to the back of the vehicle and pulled out her last surprise. Locking the brakes so she could retrieve Desi, she almost laughed at the shocked expression on her face. It was a variation of a racer wheelchair and Harry had picked it because it absorbed bumps better than the standard ones the hospital used. Now she could bring Desi with her when she came to the park to run.

"Want to go for a ride, little girl?"

"Harry, won't that hurt your back to stoop down and push me?" She eyed the chair with a bit of skepticism.

"Nope, I got the one with adjustable handles. It'll be like running holding on to the bar of a treadmill. Let me get your hat, your blanket and the bread for the ducks. You're going to have to hold those until we're done."

Running at a slower pace than usual, Harry pushed Desi around the track five times. From her vantage point, Desi relaxed into the chair and enjoyed the canopy of oaks that completely covered the wide lane they were on. She didn't worry about her leg since it rested on a firm support sticking straight out, knowing Harry wouldn't let anyone anywhere near them.

The cold weather of February had killed off most of the vegetation around them, but Desi still enjoyed being out in the crisp air. With her hands holding the bag of bread and blanket on her lap she was warm and content, letting Harry do all the work.

In the middle of their sixth circuit around, Harry slowed and pulled them off the track and down to the edge of one of the larger ponds. Before the chair rolled to a stop the ducks were heading out of the water anticipating a treat. The winded runner took the blanket off Desi's lap and spread it on the ground, then pulled Desi out of the chair and sat her down so she would be closer to the water.

Sitting side by side they took their time in tearing the loaf into small pieces and tossing it to the now boisterous crowd they had attracted. As the sun was setting and the temperature dropped with it, Harry put her passenger back in the chair and headed to the car. As she leaned down to put Desi in the back seat, Harry paused when she saw the tears steaming down Desi's face.

"Are you hurting?" asked Harry, already cursing herself for this stupid idea. Desi just shook her head but wasn't saying anything to allay Harry's worry.

After the afternoon spent with Harry, and having her think of everything to make her comfortable, made Desi realize something. Her fears after talking with Serena were unfounded. Harry would never raise a hand against her, more likely she would spend the rest of her life protecting her and making her happy if given the chance. Desi felt ashamed for even allowing the thought to cross her mind.

Feeling Harry pick her up and cradle her against her chest, Desi clung to her as if she were afraid Harry was going to disappear. "It's okay, honey, whatever it is, it'll be okay. Just tell me what's the matter?" Harry's voice was low and right next to her ear.

"Please don't let me go," sobbed Desi. How could she have traded anything for this? Harry had always been so good to her, and Desi's gratitude had been abandonment. She should have tried harder to find a better solution for them and not wasted all those years apart.

"I won't let you go, but let's get you in the car, I don't want you adding a cold to your list of woes."

Sitting in the back seat together, Harry put Desi on her lap making sure her leg was clear of getting bumped on anything. Holding the still crying Desi, Harry just ran a soothing hand along her back trying to get her to calm down. "I talked to Serena today about Byron and their appearance in court," started Desi in a small voice.

"Did something happen that Serena wasn't expecting?" With a gentle hand, Harry wiped away the tears that were still falling.

"No, she got the judge to go along with all the charges she filed against him and got a really high bond posted."

She put two long fingers under Desi's chin and slowly lifted up so she could look her in the eye. "Am I wrong in thinking those are good things?"

"You aren't wrong, it's just that when we finished talking about Byron, we started talking about you…" Desi didn't know how to begin this conversation much less end it.

"Is there something I did to upset you? Did Serena say something?" The last question was asked in shock since Harry couldn't believe her friend would say something to make Desi lose faith in her.

She shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut in an effort not to see the hurt on Harry's face when she confessed her fears. "No, she would never do that to you, Harry, you know that. We were just talking about you and she told me you took these martial arts classes and I thought…" Again she stopped, the shame of her thoughts too big a burden to bear.

"You thought I'd come home one day and use you as a punching bag?" asked a surprised Harry. "That's it, isn't it?"

"Yes, but then you did all this and it made me feel like a real moron for thinking that. I know you. I may not know what you've been up to for the past few years, but I know you. Now I feel like an idiot for not realizing how improbable it would be for you to change your basic nature. Can you forgive me for thinking that?"

"Honey, with the experience you've lived through I don't blame you for being afraid and for having your own self interest at heart. In the future if you have any doubts or questions about anything, do you promise to share them with me? If you aren't comfortable talking to me, then just ask Serena or maybe Mona. You might not know them as well as you do me, but I can promise they'll always be honest with you. We have a history, but in reality, we're starting fresh here, so the more we talk, the less chance there will be of getting off track."

Desi reached out a tentative hand and stroked the side of Harry's face. "This is just all so new to me. I have so many memories of you, but I had to bury them so deep for so long that I find myself lost sometimes."

"You take all the time you need and never be afraid to talk to me." The smile Harry was wearing made Desi mirror the action. "And just so you know, I took those classes after Tony, Kenneth and I got to LSU. We were coming home one night when a carload of jocks passed us and saw the guys holding hands. They didn't get out and they didn't throw anything at us, we were lucky in that regard. But it made me realize that because of our choices, we might not always be so lucky. By learning and training, I've at least given myself a fighting chance if that should happen again. I haven't hit anything in a while except the bag in the gym, and the only fights with people I've been in have been in the ring with an instructor near by."

"Harry, you don't have to justify or explain your reasons to me, I know you'd never hurt me. I just wish I could go back and change the past, then maybe I wouldn't be such a wreck." Desi moved closer and sighed when Harry's arms held her tight.

"Nah, you would've hated to be around me in med school, I was a bitch to live with, just ask the boys. You now get to enjoy the mellow Harry."

"I would take you in any state, Harry, I love you," confessed Desi. Harry pulled back and looked at Desi after the words had come out of her mouth. Oh shit that's not a happy face, thought Desi.

"What did you just say?" asked Harry, the words coming out slowly as if she were savoring each one.

"I would take you in any state."

"After that."

"I love you."

"That's it. Do you mean that?"

"With all my heart. I always have you know, since that first day you rescued Rachel and me from those bullies. It's been the one constant in my life."

"I love you, Desi. God, that feels good to finally be able to say out loud. Now there's just one thing left to do."

"What's that, Dr. Harry?"

"You need an attorney, the quicker the better."

"Why in the world do I need an attorney for?"

"You need a divorce, and pronto."

************************************************************************

"Did you have a nice time, sweetie?" Mona tapped a large spoon on the side of a rather sizable pot simmering on the stove then bent down to check the fire. "Though somebody should've known better than to keep you out there so long in this awful weather."

"It was wonderful, Mona. I promise, it was fine." Desi's hands were folded in her lap enjoying the ride as Harry pushed her further into the warm kitchen. "My doctor took very good care of me."

Mona noticed the large smile the comment caused on Harry's face and if the doctor in question had walked out right then, Mona would've kissed Desi for putting it there. "Kept you warm, did she?"

A blush colored Desi's cheeks as she nodded. "She did, and it was nice being outside again, especially there." She cocked her head back so she could see Harry. "Do you remember all our afternoons in the park?"

"I think I remember every day I spent with you, darlin'."

The blush deepened making Desi want to cover her ears they felt so hot. "It was one of the first times in my life I started to notice how incredible you look when you move."

*****

The group was still huddled together as their opponents stood waiting across from them. At the center of the closed circle knelt Harry going over the play one more time. When she stood, they all clapped their hands and yelled, "Break!"

"Blue twenty-two. Blue twenty-two," the center readied himself to hike her the ball. "Hut, hut," she paused before the third trying to gauge which way the defense was going to move. "Hut."

With the ball in play, Harry rolled right looking for her friend Joe. He was as tall as she was and had great hands for catching anything she threw his way. She let it fly and it almost stung when he reached up and snagged the perfect spiral out of the air. Since there was no one around him, Joe sailed easily past the two oak trees they were using as goal posts. The first one there to congratulate him was Harry.

"It's a shame you can't be there every Friday night, buddy. You sure would be better than that butthead Byron," he commented as they ran back to where they had dropped their gear.

"Nah, I just like the occasional pick up game. If I had to go to all those practices I wouldn't have time to help Desi with her math homework." Harry winked at the girl she was talking about then frowned when she got no reaction. Desi was sitting on a blanket in the sun with a far off look in her eye as if she were daydreaming. "You in there, Des?"

The snapping fingers made Desi look up then blush when she noticed both Harry and Joe staring at her funny. "Fine, I'm fine." She ran her hand over her face a couple of times before moving to her knees to start picking up her stuff. Lately it had been torture sittingon the sidelines watching Harry show off her athletic abilities and not jump up and kiss her every time she made a good play.

"Are you sure?" asked Harry when it was just the two of them.

"Nothing's wrong, I promise." Her math book got crammed into the book bag followed by her notebook.

"Are you in a hurry to get somewhere?"

Desi stopped. "Not really. Why?"

"I just thought we could sit here for a little while now that it's quiet." Harry offered her hand to her and was pulled down for her trouble. From the corner of her eye, Desi spent the afternoon watching Harry's profile as she looked up at the sky and smiled.

*****

"I remember this one day when we were out there just laying and looking at clouds. If we exchanged two words that afternoon it was a lot, but it's a day I think of often," said Harry. She moved next to the chair and dropped to her knees.

"Why that day?"

"Because it was a perfect day with a perfect girl, and it's a good memory to revisit when I need to relax."

Desi's eyes turned glassy and she tried to turn away from Harry, feeling embarrassed by the emotional display. "I'm sorry. You must think you're living with an emotional wreck, but sometimes I can't help it." She wiped her face as if exasperated with herself.

"Hey, you take all the time you want to get all those feelings out." She took hold of Desi's hands and lovingly kissed each finger, tasting the saltiness of whatever had upset her. "It may not register now, but one day the tears won't come as easily for the sad days because eventually your head and your heart will realize you're safe." Harry lowered her head and kissed Desi's palms. "You're safe here with me and you always will be, I swear it on everything I believe."

Mona stepped away to give them the privacy they needed and spotted Kenneth and Tony's car on the front drive. She opened the door and waved them in, wanting Harry and Desi to finish maneuvering whatever emotional landmines they had stepped into without interruption.

"I know that, and I'm sorry," continued Desi. "It's just that it's funny to hear you still think about days like that."

"I love you, sweetheart, so of course I would."

Desi dropped her head until her chin hit her chest. "When we spent that last night together on our swing, it was the last time until now that I've known true peace. The last time I felt desirable to someone who I wanted that kind of attention from."

"Honey, you don't have to do this."

Her head didn't really come up, but Desi shook it. "I want to. I think it's important for you to understand it isn't because of you when I get like this."

"I just don't want you to think you owe me any explanations."

"Please, Harry…"

She ran her hand along the side of Desi's head before bringing it down and linking their fingers together. "You can tell me whatever you like and I promise to listen."

"At first he tried to be nice." She took a deep breath and looked at their hands, which lay on her lap. "Bryon I mean. He talked about playing football in high school and how he gave up any future in the game to help his dad at work."

When Desi paused it took effort on Harry's part not to ask why Byron needed his father and Desi's to arrange a marriage for him. She vaguely remembered him and how he almost preened around campus with that all coveted letterman jacket. He didn't seem the type to need help with women.

"He took my silence as interest in what he was saying, but the whole time I was thinking about you and Rachel. My fear damned all of us."

"Oh, honey," Harry leaned forward and did her best to wrap her arms around her without hurting her leg. "You weren't' even eighteen yet and you did the best with the situation you were dealt."

"Don't make excuses for me, Harry. I think I can handle anything but that." With an almost guilty satisfaction, Desi leaned against Harry and pressed her nose against her neck. The moment's reprieve allowed her to finish what she'd started. "The first time he hit me, I tired to run, and I tried my best to fight back. It was a mistake I quickly learned not to repeat. Byron was then, and still is, a very angry man, and most women figured that out about him before it was too late.

"He's never going to touch you again."

The conviction in Harry's voice was so definite that Desi believed her without a hint of doubt. "Thank you, sweetheart. I don't want you to think it was all bad though. For weeks at a time he'd leave me alone, and that's when I spent time walking around the shops on Magazine or spent time with Rachel and some of her friends. Then I found that if I thought long and hard enough about days like that one in the park with you, when the beatings started again, they weren't that bad. I wanted to survive them if only to find you again so I could apologize."

"There's no need for that."

"Yes there is, and I'm just happy we have a chance at so much more than I realized." Her head finally came up without prompting and Desi gave Harry a relaxed smile.

"What do you mean?"

"I thought you'd be sharing your life with someone wonderful and have a bunch of little cute kids running around by now, and my chance at apologizing would be the last thing we did together. That would be the end of our story and I'd have to face the rest of my life alone with just the satisfaction that I'd said I was sorry for hurting you." She shook her head as if in amazement that wasn't the case. "I don't think I'll ever figure out why you waited all this time, I'm not that…"

She pressed two fingers pressed against Desi's lips not allowing her to finish the sentiment. "You're incredibly special, don't ever think otherwise, and you aren't someone easy to forget."

"But why?"

"Because you were an essential part of my life from so very early on. Do you realize what an honor it's been to share so much of my life with the woman I want to share the rest of it with?" Harry held both of Desi's hands and looked her in the eye. "I'll never be able to change these past years, no matter how much I want to, but I can help you heal those hurts. Just like no one will ever be able to erase the time starting on the day I met a little girl with pig tails and offered her a ride to school. I didn't forget you because to my heart, you were unforgettable.

From the doorway connecting the dining room to the kitchen, Tony wiped his face. He felt like an ass for listening in, but his feet were glued to the floor. As much as he wanted to dislike Desi for causing Harry's pain, she deserved his compassion and friendship. When he heard the backdoor open and close, he did his best to compose himself.

"Are you two at it again?" asked Rachel in a teasing voice. The kiss she'd walked in on seemed charged with something new and for once she wished she'd come in the front.

"Don't you have someone else you could be bothering?" Harry shot back. The doorbell interrupted her from saying anything else. "That must be the guys."

"That must be someone else, sunshine," said Tony as he made his way over to Desi. "You look fabulous and I'm glad to see the tyrant has you up and around. That means you're ready to go shopping with me." He kissed her cheek and winked at her.

"Can I come?" Rachel asked before receiving her own hello kiss from the affectionate man.

"We'd love to have you. Right, Desi?"

Harry kissed Desi quickly on the lips before standing. "I speak from experience when I say, just give in and go with whatever he wants. You'll be a happier person for it."

"Funny, doctor, now get out of here and see who's at the door," ordered Tony.

"It's just us," said Serena walking in on Kenneth's arm. A small rocket streaked past her on his way to Harry.

From her chair, Desi watched and enjoyed the rest of the evening as everyone gathered in Mona's kitchen for a meal of Shrimp Creole. She watched her sister charm Butch into sitting on her lap for most of the night, and the way Serena's eyes would sometimes linger on Harry when she wasn't looking her way.

The one constant through the whole evening was Harry and how she made Desi feel. It was a peaceful sense of belonging, not with the group of old friends, but with Harry. For the first time Desi felt as if she belonged with someone, and from that came the courage to try again. The courage to try living, loving and sharing her life with someone who saw her as someone worth something.

"Who's the cute redhead?" Serena asked Harry when the doctor got up to get Desi's medicine.

Across the kitchen Rachel leaned closer to her sister. "Who's the blonde in love with Harry?"

"Not now," answered Harry and Desi almost together.

"Here you go, baby," Harry dropped two pills in Desi's palm and handed her a glass of water. "One more day and you're done with this part."

"It's this part I'm ready to be done with," Desi pointed to her leg.

"Don't rush it, sweetie," Tony piped up. "Harry doesn't know squat about window treatments or fashion, but bones are another matter. Besides, you'll probably be more comfortable having me wheel you around the stores until you develop some shopping stamina."

"Any more stamina on your part and I'd have to start working double shifts at the hospital to cover the bills," said Kenneth.

"You're complaining about my stamina? Since when?"

The group laughed at the guys' antics as Butch fell asleep on Rachel's lap. It was a little after midnight before everyone was ready to leave, making Harry extremely glad she didn't have an early morning.

"Harry, go on and carry Desi upstairs and I'll help her get ready for bed," offered Mona. "It'll give you a chance to grab a shower."

"I'll help you, Mona." Rachel placed her hands on her sister's shoulders and bent down to kiss the top of her head.

When Harry was done in bathroom, she walked out to find Desi alone. "Do you want me to go and sleep in the guestroom?"

She looked at the object of her desire and for once took a chance and put voice to what she wanted and would make her happy. "Unless you want something else, I don't ever want to spend another night of my life without you, Harry. I love you."

Harry slid into her side of the bed and opened her arms so Desi could snuggle as close as she could. "Then you'll never spend another night alone because I love you just as much."

************************************************************************

Two weeks later, Rachel found herself sitting with Desi in Harry's waiting room after Tony had met them at the house to help Desi downstairs. Harry's private practice was in the clinic building attached to Mercy Hospital and compared to some, was rather impressive in size. Desi and her sister looked around the room taking in the wood paneled walls, dark brown leather furniture, and the long glass case bordering the ceiling full of football helmets and baseball caps that had been autographed by the owners. Obviously people broke a large number of bones in the area and were grateful to the person who'd put them back together.

A nurse came out of the door that led into the exam rooms and wheeled Desi in, inviting Rachel to come along if she wished. "Can I get you ladies anything? Coffee or a soft drink perhaps?" Both sisters shook their heads and smiled. "Then I'll leave you alone. Dr. Basantes should be back from rounds in a minute, so make yourselves comfortable, and ring if you change your minds."

Desi scanned the exam room, noticing that one wall was covered with pictures of Harry, all taken with different people. From the youngest to the oldest, every single person in the pictures had their arm around Harry and was smiling like they had won the lottery. When the next nurse came in to check her vitals, she noticed Rachel and Desi looking at the wall of pictures.

"The wall of fame for the Goddess of the Bones," she commented as she wrapped the blood pressure cuff around Desi's arm.

"Why do people call her that, the Goddess of the Bones, I mean?" asked Desi.

"Because our good doctor has shown a remarkable talent for orthopedic surgery from the moment she picked up a scalpel. Dr. Basantes is known throughout the country for the miracles she's able to perform on a regular basis. All of the people you see up there, and in every room of this office, are old patients that have had their lives salvaged by those talented hands. The nickname came from her professors in medical school, and it just stuck. Ask anyone of those people though," she pointed back to the wall, "and I'm willing to bet they'd agree with the title." The nurse finished up and put Desi's chart in the bin attached to the door.

When the door opened again, Harry walked in wearing the whitest, most pressed lab coat Desi had ever seen. "Remember I told you how sexy you looked in green?" asked Desi.

"Yes, I believe I recall that conversation." The skin around Harry's eyes crinkled from the size of her smile as she answered.

Rachel looked from one to the other, thrilled to see their playful personalities had returned. Harry was good for her sister, and if there was one person who deserved some good luck for a change it was Desi. All she had to do now was provide some more helpful nudges to get the flame between them up to a roar.

"I've changed my mind, I'm thinking white's your color, doctor," said Desi.

"Once you're on your feet you'll have to take me shopping for things in the colors you like. Are you ready for those stitches to come out?"

"Kiss me first then you can do whatever you like." The request proved that some of Desi's shyness and skittishness was disappearing and Harry loved it.

She walked to the exam table and kissed Desi like she hadn't seen her in months. They hadn't taken it any further than the kissing and hand holding stage, due to Desi's injury and marital status, but they were still enjoying themselves. Rachel smiled watching her sister act like a teenager again and could see from the movement through the coat where her hands were located on Harry's body.

"Tell me, Dr. Basantes, is this how you treat all your patients? Because if it is, I might just fling myself down the stairs just to get an office visit," said Rachel as she arched a brow when their mouths finally came apart.

"This is an experimental treatment I'm trying on a test group of one, actually. Next time, you'll have to notify me in advance if you're interested in my work," teased Harry before she gave Desi another small kiss.

Harry kidded around with them while she removed the numerous stitches she'd put in Desi's leg. She cut through the small, precisely placed, black sutures, pleased with the results left behind. There would be hardly a scar left, and if Desi wanted, Harry would recommend a plastic surgeon to remove what there was of one. After checking Desi's latest x-rays, she informed her patient that everything was healing nicely.

"In another week or so, I'll take you out of the brace and put you in a cast, so you can move around easier. For now let's leave you like this so your incision can heal up. You want to be past the itchy stage before I encase it, trust me. See, all that forced bed rest is paying off for you and you're ahead of schedule on your healing process. You should kiss your doctor for being so smart." Not one to ignore her requests Desi leaned over and kissed the top of Harry's head.

"Can I take you lovely ladies out to lunch?" Harry asked, taking off the lab coat and draping it over her arm.

"You have time?" asked Desi.

"Barring any medical disasters, I'm all yours for the next couple of hours."

"Just for the next couple of hours?" asked Desi.

"For as long as you want me in this lifetime, but I do have to work this afternoon. We're teaching the residents some new surgical techniques, so I have to be there."

She put Desi back in her wheelchair and escorted her and Rachel out to the parking lot. Her staff had made reservations for lunch at Commander's Palace uptown. When they were young, Harry's parents would take Harry and Desi there for Sunday brunch in the second floor garden room at least once a month, and it was one of Desi's favorite memories.

Harry was doing her best to bring back those happy times whenever she had the opportunity. She couldn't make up for the life Desi had endured without her, but Harry would do everything within her power so Desi wouldn't have another painful day for the rest of her life.

When Harry parked in front of the restaurant and turned to face the back seat, she knew it had been worth the effort of rearranging her schedule. Desi's eyes were misted over, telling Harry she remembered their times spent here. The valet opened the door and greeted Harry by name.

"Hello, Charlie, how's school?" asked Harry.

"Okay, Dr. Harry, I could use some extra tutoring sessions in chemistry but besides that, it's going all right." He opened the back door as he answered, surprised to find a reclining blonde.

"Charlie, could you or one of the guys carry the chair that's in the back upstairs for me?"

"Sure, but who's gonna carry the person who needs it?"

"Don't worry about that, I can use the workout."

Harry greeted the maitre' d with Desi in her arms and asked to go up the stairwell located in the kitchen. The famous restaurant had another set of stairs in the main dining room but they were steep and narrow, and Harry didn't want to take any chances with her passenger. Going through the kitchen they had to stop and talk with the staff for a minute since they all knew and loved Harry especially when she brought Butch with her. They also greeted Desi, and promised to send up some special treats in honor of her return to the New Orleans landmark.

"It is so beautiful up here," said Desi as she gazed out the floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the courtyard outside. Harry had requested a corner table so Desi would be out of the passing traffic of service staff. They were surprised to find Serena arriving as well to have lunch, accompanied by a beautiful young woman.

"Harry, Desi…what a pleasant surprise." Serena felt the brunette she was with press her hand into the small of her back as if to remind her she was still there. "I'd like you to meet Brenda Bourgeois. Brenda is a local law student at Loyola."

"Student? Helping her brush up on torts and what not?" The question was asked in jest, and Serena could tell Harry was just warming up from the mischievous glint in her eyes.

"She's surviving quite nicely without my help in the academic arena," Serena fought the urge to walk to her table. This was a new relationship and she was hesitant to expose Brenda to Harry's brand of teasing just yet.

"I see," said Harry, getting a pinch under the table from Desi as a warning. "Brenda, it's really nice to meet you. This is Desi and her sister Rachel," she then stuck her hand out. "I'm Harry by the way, an old friend of Serena's."

"Oh yes, I've heard all about you from Albert. Can't seem to get him on any other subject but perfect Uncle Harry when I'm around," said Brenda sharply as she shook Harry's hand.

"Perhaps Albert thinks she's perfect because Harry treats him like the special little guy he is," added Rachel. "I had the pleasure of meeting him the other night and thought he was adorable." Rachel looked Brenda up and down, and from her expression, found her lacking. "Maybe he's figured out you really don't like kids."

"How special for you, Dr. Spock." Brenda turned her displeasure on Rachel.

"Maybe if you stop looking at his mother's…"

"Desi, have you heard from Byron or his family since the hearing a couple of weeks ago? I understand he's still in central lockup so you shouldn't have any problems." Serena interrupted before Rachel could finish or anyone else could chime in after the biting sarcasm her date had uttered.

"No, they haven't bothered me, but that could be because they don't know where I am. Harry introduced me to a good attorney who started divorce proceedings for me, so I'll at least know where to find Byron when it comes time to serve him with the papers," said Desi smiling up at Harry's friend.

"Call me if you need anything or if you have any problems. Harry and Rachel, it was nice seeing you both again," said Serena as Brenda took her hand and they continued on to their table. Harry had to laugh a little when they departed, thinking that maybe Serena had found someone worthy of her, since Brenda seemed somewhat possessive.

"You're bad, Dr. Basantes," said Desi. She had noticed the mirth playing in Harry's eyes and the panic in Serena's when she'd walked up.

Knowing Harry had shared a relationship with her caused a streak of jealousy to course through Desi every time she saw Serena, but Harry was always good about reassuring her. The comforting hand over hers was doing wonders for her insecurities.

"I'm only bad when provoked, sweetheart, don't ever forget that. And I'm thinking I'm no where close to being in Rachel's league."

"Duly noted, doctor."

They enjoyed the lunch served with the usual Commander's flare and the atmosphere of the restaurant. Desi was amused by the number of people who came to their table and thanked Harry for fixing some ailment or another. She had never seen so many pantomimed golf strokes or tennis serves in her life. Harry took it all in stride, listening to what they were saying, all the while holding Desi's hand.

Desi couldn't remember ever being the center of so much attention, or being regarded with such respect as Harry gave her whenever she introduced her. Harry was proud to have her sitting there, she could tell by every single action and word. In the total of their married life together Byron had never shown this much interest in her. To him she was the person who kept his house clean, cooked his food and was the body he could use for sex whenever the urge hit him.

Desi noticed the envy in some of the women's eyes as Harry swept her up into her arms again when it was time to go. It was as if they knew by some secret tally that the name of Dr. Harry Basantes was taken from the available roster and moved over to the taken side.

The car was waiting for them when they got downstairs, allowing Harry to get Desi situated while the valets put the wheelchair in the back. As she tipped the guys for their assistance, neither Harry nor her two passengers noticed the man down the block attaching a car to the tow truck he was driving. He had stopped what he was doing when he saw the person carrying a woman out of the restaurant thinking that it wasn't a common sight. That's when he noticed who the person being carried was.

Dialing the portable phone in the cab of the truck Mike called the local jail and asked for his brother Byron. Forgetting about the car he had been sent to collect, Mike jumped up into the truck and drove off following the Land Rover while waiting for Byron to come to the phone. Missing the traffic light once the SUV turned onto St. Charles Avenue, Mike had to wait hoping the driver would get stopped at one of the other lights along the way. He at least knew she was headed uptown.

"Yeah, this is Byron," a gruff voice said into the phone.

"Byron, this is Mike, guess who I found?"

"Please tell me, little brother, that it's the bitch I'm married to."

"Yep, just saw her and some tall bitch coming out of that fancy restaurant Commander's. Rachel was with them too." Mike kept talking as he turned in the direction Harry had headed in.

"Don't lose them. I want to know where she's staying. Daddy said he has the bond almost raised so I should be out of here by the end of this week. I want to pay my dear wife a visit so I can see how's she's doing since her tragic accident of falling in the kitchen. Didn't think you could get hurt that bad tripping over a chair." He hung up after getting Mike to promise he'd get all the information Byron would need to find Desi once their father posted bail for him.

Talking to his brother, Mike never noticed the SUV turn off before reaching Harry's house in the direction of a specialty store in the uptown area. Harry had promised to cook dinner so she made a detour to get some of the ingredients she would need to make what she had in mind.

"When did you learn how to cook?" asked Desi. She was suspicious since Harry hadn't known how to boil water all through school. She had never seen anyone so inept in a kitchen in her life.

"Tony and I took a class in college, so we wouldn't get rickets from eating each other's cooking. Kenneth, lucky bastard, grew up with a set of parents that were gourmet cooks and made it fun for him to learn, so he didn't need any help. Don't laugh, I bet I can debone a chicken better than you can." Harry shook her finger at both sisters.

"I bet, considering you're a surgeon. It's the whole fire and seasoning concepts that I'm worried about," explained Desi.

"I could always just go and buy a pizza."

"I'm sorry, honey, if you want to cook for me, I'll eat it no matter what it tastes like." Desi used her index finger to make an x over her heart to seal the promise.

Harry left them in the car while she ran into the store. Rachel had taken the day off so she could bring Desi to her appointment, and was enjoying her time with the two. "Desi girl, don't you do anything to mess this up this time. That woman loves you like there's no tomorrow, and I won't sit and watch you walk away again. Hell if you do walk away, I might just make a play for her myself. Just so you know, I love you for wanting to stay with me way back when, but this is the here and now. Let me help you build some happiness for yourself this time," said Rachel. She had turned in the seat so she could look Desi in the eye while she said what she needed to.

"Don't worry, they'll have to remove me from Harry's life kicking and screaming now. There's a God and He loves me, because after all this time, she waited for me. There've been some love affairs along the way, but none of them have stuck. This one will, I just know it."

"All set my beauties?" asked Harry when she got back in the vehicle.

"What'd you buy, Dr. Harry?" asked Rachel.

"Something that'll show my insensitive side, squirt, but I'm such a hedonist that I really don't care." A medium sized bag came to rest on the floor behind the driver's seat.

"What in are you talking about, honey?" asked Desi, confused as she eyed the innocuous brown container.

"Veal. I bought veal, and I'm gonna enjoy every milk fed moment of it."

Turning back onto St. Charles again, Harry was singing with the radio when she noticed her passengers stiffen. She didn't think her singing was that bad. "Hey what's wrong?"

"That's the tow truck from the Simoneaux garage," said Rachel pointing to the truck right in front of them. Given that the driver was going very slowly, Harry gave him the benefit of the doubt, and figured that he was searching for the address of his next pick up. That notion quickly died when she noticed him look in the rearview mirror and suddenly slam on his brakes when he noticed who was following him. It became obvious to Harry, the Simoneaux's weren't known for their subtlety.

"Hang on, ladies, let's go home the back way, shall we?" Harry turned on the next cross street, making sure the truck ahead of her had passed it already.

Glancing into the rearview mirror, Harry could see he had put it in reverse and was able to make the turn. Making a quick decision after noticing where they were, she pulled into the driveway and put the Range Rover in park. Getting out of the car and slamming the door shut, Harry stared at the tow truck as it slowly pulled passed the house. Mike just glared back at her and took careful note as to the address on the house so he could tell his brother.

She followed him with her eyes down the street to make sure that he was now out of sight before she got back in the car with Desi and Rachel. "He was looking for us wasn't he?" asked Desi. Half of her was scared, and that half was warring with the half that was really pissed. What if they do something to Harry, thought Desi.

"Looks like it, honey, but none of the Simoneauxs will ever get anywhere near you, that's a promise. Come on, let's get you two home, and make a phone call to Serena and Detective Landry," said Harry.

Serena promised them she'd meet with Desi's divorce attorney and start the process of getting a restraining order against Byron and his family to keep them away from Desi and Rachel. From the beginning of the conversation it had taken some calming maneuvers on Serena's part to get Harry to stop screaming at her on the phone. She agreed that there should be something else they could do, but legally their hands were tied.

"Does it make any sense to you that we have to wait for these crazy assholes to do something before you can do anything about it?" Harry was standing in the middle of the bedroom holding the phone trying to keep her voice down. The last thing she needed was to add to Desi's worry.

"I just work for the DA's office, Harry, I don't get to make up the law as I go along, though what a great concept that would be. I'll meet Jerry and get him to start drafting a protection order to go along with all the other divorce stuff he's writing up. Then I'll see about getting Desi as much protection as we can right now. Trust me, if we do this by the book and Byron screws up, he's going away for a very long time."

"If any of those idiots show up here, I won't need the police."

"Harry, could you put Desi on the phone please?" Serena pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes trying to stop the headache she felt coming on.

Harry handed the phone over without another word. "It's Serena."

Desi smiled and patted the space next to her. "I figured that much, honey." She ran her hand up Harry's arm until she reached the back of her neck. "We're going to be fine, and I'm sure Serena's going to do her best to see that we are."

"God, you're good, Desi," said Serena in her ear after only silence came through the line. "Anyone who can make her calm down that quickly and give up the phone is a miracle worker. But I can see her point. Harry's just worried about you."

"I know and I love her for it." Desi smiled again and squeezed the skin under her fingers. "Is there anything I can be doing to help?"

"Just sign the papers Jerry is drawing up with Detective Landry's help, and I'll take care of the rest. You have to remember you aren't alone in this anymore, so don't hesitate to ask for help when you feel the need."

"Thanks, Serena. That means a lot to me." She ended the call and gladly accepted a hug from Harry. "You okay, honey?"

"I just want these people to leave you alone and I feel helpless in getting that accomplished."

"Harry, none of this is because of you. I know you're going to keep me safe no matter what, but we can't let Byron and his family overshadow our lives. I'm ready to go on with mine and be happy here with you."

"I just love you so much and I don't want any of this to hurt you anymore."

"Hearing you say that makes me strong enough to face anything."

Changing into her scrubs, and waiting for the security guard she ordered, Harry finally left the house after Desi promised to check in every so often throughout the day. Harry had thought the jail time Byron already pulled would be enough to convince him to back off, but she had underestimated him. Bryon cared much more about revenge than he did about his freedom. That's what scared Harry the most.

************************************************************************

"She's got a big house off the avenue, daddy. I don't know who the big bitch is but she stared me down as I drove by, so now they know we are after them. It might be a good idea to lay off the plan for now," explained Mike. He had come back all full of bravado and told his father he had found Desi. But he quickly deflated when he had to confess she'd acquired a new watchdog who looked fairly scary in her own right.

"We have to teach that little slut a lesson, and you're part of this so show some balls and shut the fuck up. I had to put up my business to get your idiot brother out of jail, so the sooner we get Desiree back here, the sooner this will all be over. If you two listened to me more often, and treated your women accordingly, then we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place," yelled Byron, Sr. He wanted his son out of jail, his daughter-in-law to drop the charges, and the bail bondsman to give him his deed back. Hell for all the trouble she had caused, the old man thought about whacking Desi a couple of times himself.

"I'm sorry, daddy, it's not that I don't want to help out, but there's no telling who this woman is, and what relation she is to Desi." Mike was reluctant to face the fact there would be no way he could tell his father no when it came time to go and collect Desi.

"You're going to do whatever the fuck I tell you to do, when I tell you do it, boy, so stop sounding like a weak piss ant. Come on, let's go and see about getting your brother out of that place. Lord knows what'll happen to him if he's stuck in there much longer. And keep your mouth shut once we get there. I'll do all the talking."

They left and drove over to the city jail, located right behind the courthouse on Tulane Avenue. Father and son waited in a very plain, beige room as the police finished processing Byron's paperwork. They shared the area with some other beleaguered appearing people who were either waiting for the release or visitation of their loved ones. No one in the room made eye contact with anyone else, and if a vote were taken, no one would be there given the choice.

When the door clanged open everyone looked up to see if it was the person they were waiting for. Byron stepped out, having traded the orange jumpsuit for the clothes he had been wearing the day he had been arrested. Besides Mike and their father, one other man got up and walked toward the newly released prisoner.

Holding out his hand, the young man wearing the suit asked, "Are you Byron Simoneaux?"

"Yeah," answered Byron.

"The Byron Simoneaux who's married to Desiree Simoneaux?" The young man's smile never faltered as he waited for Byron to nod. "Then these are for you, sir. Have a nice day."

"Wait, what the fuck is this?" Byron held the envelope the guy had given him out in front of him as if he wanted to give them back.

"You've been served, sir. Those are divorce papers and a restraining order from Desiree Simoneaux. You and your family members are ordered to stay a minimum of five hundred feet from Ms. Simoneaux or face legal consequences." That was the only explanation the runner for Desi's attorney was willing to provide.

While getting the file ready for the judge's signature he had gotten a look at the pictures of the young woman's leg, and the thought of this guy spending more time in jail didn't bother him in the least.

"That fucking bitch. That lying, cheating piece of shit," screamed Byron when he realized what the guy had handed him.

There was no way Desi was leaving him, no fucking way. All he needed was some time to explain to her that he was sorry for what he'd done and remind her that they had made a commitment to each other. One he had no intentions of breaking.

"Either keep it down or go back in," warned one of the guards. The reprimand made all three men start for the door.

Byron listened as his brother explained what he had seen the day he spotted Desi, Rachel and their new friend. That night Mike took his brother by the house he had followed the trio to the day before. Byron saw the upstairs lights on and someone moving around.

"Ready or not, Desi, it's time to come home. I'm your husband and there isn't anything in this world that'll make me give you a divorce, baby. Until death do us part is what the guy said and that's how it's going to be, so either you come home willingly or in a pine box. It makes no difference to me."

He motioned for Mike to get moving before any of the neighbors spotted the parked car. "We'll wait until we're sure she isn't expecting us, then we'll come back and take Desi home. What's a couple of weeks more to wait," said Byron looking up into the window as the car started slowly up the street.

************************************************************************

Harry moved around the room getting ready for bed. It had been a long day in surgery trying to get the residents to get their minds around what she was trying to teach them. They could cut up on those cadavers all day long, but it was a different landscape when you had living tissue under your fingertips. She was glad the patients were unconscious during those little learning sessions, if they had been alert they could have added a nervous condition to their diagnosis.

"Come over here and lie down, honey. You're making me nervous. I can't wait until this leg heals and I can kneel down again. Once that happens, on nights like tonight I can give you a nice massage," said Desi patting the bed beside her.

Mona had just left after bathing her and changing the bed linens. Her sister and Mona had come up earlier and had dinner with her since Harry had called and said she was running late. Desi had laughed when, while waiting for Harry to come to the phone, her surgical nurse Sam had told her that if one more resident asked Harry a stupid question she was going to stab someone in the neck with a scalpel.

Sinking into the warm, good smelling body next to her, Desi sighed with contentment. "I just brushed my teeth, want to take my mouth out for a spin?" The question finally got a smile out of Harry.

"Desiree, are you making a pass at me?"

"Well if I have to spell it out for you, then no, I'm not." Desi told her, pouting.

Harry pushed the bottom lip back in with her index finger and leaned over to finish the job with her mouth. She had wanted to come home for hours so she could hold her in case there was any residual fear from what had happened earlier in the afternoon. After all their telephone conversations, and the new security guard Harry had hired, Desi finally seemed to be relaxed and content.

Pulling away from the kiss she had started, Harry closed her eyes and enjoyed the closeness. "I missed you today. I'm thinking one weekend soon we should go somewhere special. How'd you like to go and visit my parents then maybe do a couple of days at a nice resort, just the two of us?"

"That sounds great, but I don't know, sweetheart. Won't they be mad that you're with me again? I can imagine I'm not exactly their favorite person." As she tended to do when she was nervous or unsure about something, Desi twisted her fingers into Harry's shirt.

The thought of facing Harry's parents again raised her stress level, since the one thing she remembered about them was how they felt about their daughter. Overprotective and extremely proud of their children were the first two things on a very long list that described Maria and Raul Basantes.

"Don't worry so much, they loved you before and they'll love you again." Harry kissed her nose before moving back down to her lips. "You make me happy, and that's all they'll care about."

"Okay, if you think it'll be all right, I'm game. Now, doctor, why have you come to bed with a wet head?"

"Because your darling sister is going to cut her hair," answered Rachel from the doorway with a pair of shears and a towel in her hand. "I'm trying to build a new clientele in the medical community and I'm starting with that one there," Rachel informed her, pointing Harry who was now under Desi. She just smiled at both of them and relaxed back into her pillow.

"But I like her hair just the way it is," complained Desi.

"Sorry, sister, I called dibs, so unhand her and let me get started. Come on, Desi, would you want your surgeon's hair falling in her eyes when she was giving you a spine transplant or something?"

"No we wouldn't want that. Your knowledge of new and innovative medical procedures is astounding by the way," said Harry as she got up from the bed and headed into the bathroom with Rachel following closely behind.

"I want to come too. Just to make sure she doesn't cut off too much," cried Desi. That made Harry double back and pick her up.

For the next hour Harry sat in a chair in the middle of the bathroom waiting for the three women around her to decide just how much of her hair should go after Mona joined them. At one point she thought she'd have to separate Mona and Rachel when she had suggested Harry color away the white hair. Mona won the argument only because Desi said she thought the way it was looked sexy.

************************************************************************

"There you go, Desi. I'm sure you'll find this much more comfortable and it'll allow you to move around better. If you wait a moment, I'll run and get you some crutches to go with the beautiful brace you got today," said Beth, one of Harry's private practice nurses.

It had been two months since the accident and the fracture had healed fairly well so Harry was cutting down the size of the removable cast Desi had to wear, giving the young woman her freedom for the first time in what seemed like forever. Harry had been a mother hen with Desi, making sure she didn't take any unnecessary chances that would extend her recovery time. Desi was grateful now, since the report she had gotten that afternoon was that the bone in her leg was almost completely healed. Just a few more weeks and her amorous doctor would let her put weight on it.

"Thanks, Beth, is Harry around?"

"Yes, ma'am, she is. She's filling out your paperwork in her office. I made her go do something else before she drove me and the rest of the staff to drink with all that hovering."

"She is good at that, but you have to love her for it, at least I do. If you get those crutches ready I can go in there and surprise her."

"That, my dear, sounds like a wonderful idea. The girls and I want to thank you." Beth enjoyed the talk as she adjusted the walking aids to Desi's height.

"Whatever for?"

"Well it's not that Dr. Harry wasn't nice before, but being in love has sure mellowed her out. Believe me, she needed some mellowing out." Desi felt her face heat up at the complement, and felt the warm glow that had settled in her chest because of it.

"I'll try my best to make it permanent."

Beth helped her off the exam table, holding her until Desi found her balance. "If I'm not too out of line, I have to say you both look adorable in love."

Life was so good, but Desi hated that she was always waiting for the bad news to come around the corner and blindside her. She hadn't heard from Byron since his release, nor had they seen him and his family in the neighborhood again.

Jerry Castle, the attorney Harry had gotten her, had called to tell them the divorce was going smoothly and Byron had not put in a counter claim. The only slow down was that Jerry was having trouble getting the other attorney to return his calls. It wasn't as if he had bad news for the man, as much as Jerry wanted to ask for spousal support, knowing Desi was entitled to it, she had with Harry's guidance refused to ask for any.

After a long talk together, one night while they were in bed, Harry had explained that she made more than enough to support all of them, even if she had to support Rachel as well. It had taken some doing, but she finally got Desi to agree with her and accept her help. What she wanted more than anything was for Desi to take time to decide what she wanted to do, without any ties to Byron or his family. Desi had to agree it would make the divorce go faster, and it would torpedo Byron's defense at trial that Desi was only a disgruntled woman wanting a lot of alimony out of him.

Her intention had never been to ask for or accept anything long term from him, only something to get to a point where she could take care of herself. With Harry, Desi could now take her time getting to that place, and with Harry her plans had changed. Desi didn't just want to be able to care for herself but for Harry as well. She wanted a full life and a partnership with the only person she'd ever loved, and Desi wanted to start as soon as possible.

The only thing missing was the intimacy she wanted to share with Harry. Because of her injury and her marital status, they had put the breaks on their love life, but after some of their late night make out sessions Desi was about to explode. With a clean bill of health, the lighter cast she had been given, and the fact she was now legally separated, Desi set out to seduce Harry that night.

"Hey there, doc, can I come in?"

Harry looked up from the files she was writing in and smiled at her visitor. She knew Desi would take immediate advantage of walking around, even if it was with the assistance of the crutches. She had a surprise waiting for her at home too; one Mona promised would be set up before they got home.

"Hey you, I see Beth set you up." The leather of the chair creaked as Harry leaned back in her chair and put her hands behind her head.

"She sure did. You have the nicest people working for you, honey. Give me a few weeks and I'll demand a night on the town. A little dinner, a little dancing and you would be my idea of heaven."

"You need a little more than two weeks before you get to go dancing, but I promise as soon as you can, I'll fill up your dance card. To make it up to you, how about I take you out to dinner tonight?" Harry wiggled her brows and gave Desi her best smile.

"As in you're taking me out on a date?" For a woman in her thirties, Desi had never experienced much of what most people considered normal courting rituals. Those few weeks with Harry, once upon a time, when they'd finally admitted their feelings for one another, was it.

Harry heard the excitement mixed with wistfulness in Desi's voice and swore she'd do her best to always try and sweep her off her feet. "As in I'm taking you out on a date. I don't date much and I might be a little out of practice, so if you can stand my company I'd be honored to escort you tonight, Miss Desiree."

"It would be my pleasure."

She rested her crutches on the side of Harry's desk and took a seat on her lap. Desi had been asleep when Harry left that morning so she missed out on her good morning kiss. The more time they spent together, the more she missed the Harry when she left for the day.

To fill up her own day, Desi had been helping Tony finish the few rooms left in the house and shopping to add to what Tony felt was missing from her wardrobe. Harry had left instructions with their moody decorator that if Desi wanted the rooms already finished redone, then to go with whatever she wanted. Leaning over to kiss Harry, Desi ran her fingers through the thick curly hair making Harry instantly relax. Maybe Beth was right, Harry was more content since they had gotten back together.

"Any requests on where you would like to go?" asked Harry as she pulled back to look at Desi.

"It doesn't matter, as long as I'm with you, that's all I care about. I know this isn't the best time to bring this up, but Jerry called today." She pulled softly on Harry's neck so she could kiss her again. "I'd rather kiss you or talk about fun places to go, so forgive me for ruining the mood by bringing up my divorce attorney."

"It's not a mood killer, baby. Just think of Jerry as the guy helping you to the finish line when it comes to the Simoneauxs." Harry went back to kissing Desi's neck, ready to hear what Desi had to say.

Desi's champion had bullied Jerry into looking into every divorce law in the state of Louisiana to see if there was any way to speed up the process. Harry figured if you married an abuse asshole there should be some sort of fast track to get out of the relationship, but there wasn't. The only good news they received on the subject was that the law had been changed from a year and a day of living separate and apart, to six months. Four months to go, then Desi would finally be rid of the bastard she had been saddled with.

"What did he want?"

"He said Byron's attorney still isn't calling him back about all this because Byron in turn won't return any of his calls. He keeps telling his attorney we're working all of this out and there won't be any divorce. I'm getting kinda worried, Harry. What if he decides to come after you and hurts you? I can't stand the thought of something happening to you." It was true that she hadn't heard from her soon to be ex-husband, but it didn't mean Byron had forgotten about her.

She knew Byron well enough to know he wouldn't walk away without a fight, literally. Byron understood only one thing. If he didn't like something he balled his fists and beat it until it either surrendered or died, and every threat he'd ever made was forefront in her mind.

"Trust me, sweetheart, you've seen the last of Byron and his clan. The next time you lay eyes on him will be either at his trail, or your divorce proceedings. I'm getting pissed that this whole thing is taking so long, but Serena tells me his attorney has filed everything he can think of to keep this out of court. I promised her if he gets away with what he did to you, I'd teach him a lesson with a baseball bat he won't soon forget. I just want you to promise me you'll be careful until this is all resolved. Don't go anywhere without the security guy I hired, and stay vigilant of your surroundings." Harry's hands framed Desi's face as she issued her warning. It was an exercise in willpower to leave the house every morning now and not stay to take care of the woman she loved.

"I promise." She kissed Harry once more before moving to get up. "Are you ready to go, or do you have more patients?"

"As a matter of fact I have one more patient for today, then I'll treat my best girl to dinner. Want to come meet him? He's one of the players for the Saints. They had bad luck with broken ankles this past season that ruined their playoff hopes, but we'll always hold out hope for next year." Harry helped Desi onto her feet then stood up to join her.

"That sounds fun. Are you sure he won't be upset if I'm in there with you?"

"Unless he's modest about showing off his foot I don't think so." They entered the exam room nearest the waiting room where one of the largest men Desi had ever laid eyes on was sitting up on the table. It was exciting meeting one of the players she saw on television quite often, but it was a bigger thrill when Harry introduced Desi as her girlfriend.

Assuring Desi they didn't need to go home and change to go to dinner, Harry headed in the direction of one of her favorite restaurants. Before arriving she asked Desi a serious question. "You do like Chinese food don't you?"

"It's one of my favorites actually. Why?"

"I'm just checking. I'd hate to have to end this relationship before it got off the ground if you found it offensive. I love you but I'm not giving up Chinese food for you." The teasing explanation made Desi laugh as Harry pulled into the parking lot of the Five Happiness Restaurant.

The owner, an attractive oriental woman, came out from behind the podium and hugged Harry the minute she saw her. The woman's actions made Desi wonder if there were any women in the city who didn't find themselves comfortable within the circle of Harry's embrace. After seeing the arched eyebrow on Desi's face, Harry introduced her to the woman and her husband, who was still behind the desk. Before they were even seated at their table, Desi noticed an assortment of appetizers awaiting them. It was obvious this was one of Harry's favorite and frequent haunts.

After swallowing the piece of eggroll in her mouth, Desi decided to start the conversation she'd been putting off with Harry. She didn't want to assume anything about their future, but she was afraid of the answers she might get to the questions she had.

"Harry?"

"What, don't you like your food?"

"I love the food, honey, I just want to talk to you."

"I'm all ears, so shoot."

"Harry," Desi started again taking a deep breath before going on. "When do you want Rachel and me to move out? I don't want to overstay our welcome but I need some time to find a new place and a way to pay for it. Now that I have a little mobility back I can start looking for a job. It just might take a while since the only job I've ever had is working as a cashier in grocery store, but I had to quit when Byron decided no wife of his should be working," Desi fell silent as she thought about the door she had just opened. Harry had been quite candid up to now, and she expected she would be so on this topic as well.

"You aren't moving out and neither is Rachel. Well, Rachel is free to go whenever she finds someone special she wants to live with, but you're stuck with me." She put her hand up as if she'd thought of something else. "What I mean is, if you don't have any objections to staying with me, you aren't moving out. In the mean time if you want to find a job because you're bored sitting at home, and want something challenging to do, then go for it. I just ask that you wait until your leg is completely healed, especially if it's something that would require you to stand or move around at all."

"But I just can't stay with you and live off you forever. It isn't right, and I can't ask you to do that for both me and my sister."

"God you're stubborn, Desiree, that hasn't changed one bit since we met. You didn't ask me, I offered and there aren't any strings attached. I want to live with you and I know your sister comes as part of the package. That's why I bought a big house. Don't you want to live with me?" She pushed her plate away a little and dropped her fork.

Desi noticed Harry running her fingers through her hair and knew Harry was worried about their leaving. "You know I do, but I want to contribute something to this. You took care of us growing up and it shouldn't always fall to you to do that, honey."

"What are you talking about? You and Rachel do plenty for me, then and now. In school you were both there all the time cheering me on when I was playing whatever, and you took care of me all the time."

Desi blushed and shook her head. "I didn't do all that much."

"Are you kidding? My mother always got a kick out of watching you serve me dinner. I'm not sure where you picked up that little Spanish custom, but it made her happy to know I was in good hands, but not just because of what some might consider a subservient act. In our culture it just means you love the person you're doing it for, and that's how you always make me feel. You made sure I took care of myself then, and you're doing it now. But most important of all is that you love me. That was always payment enough for me and it would be no different now."

Desi held out her hand and Harry took it without hesitation. "I do want to take care of you and I want to build a life with you. After all that's happened, and all the years that were stolen from us, I just ask that you're patient with me. If you are, I promise to do everything I can to make you proud of me and happy that I'm a part of your life."

"I love you, Desi. I'm already proud of you, sweetheart. Now all I want is for you to be happy and find the things in life that'll keep you that way. Just lean on me when you need, and that'll make you strong enough in the future for me to be able to do the same in return. Think of it as a loan, not a monetary loan, but an emotional one. And I plan to collect on it for the rest of my life, if you'll have me. Life has been cruel enough to us, don't make it any harder by trying to separate us again. Unless you find my company horrible, I want you to stay. Besides, Mona would never forgive me if you left. She'd find some way to blame it all on me, and I know you don't want that." Harry reached over and placed her other hand against Desi's cheek, trying to convey the truthfulness of what she was saying.

"You're right, I don't want to leave, but I don't want you to think I was taking advantage of you. Did you really mean that I could get a job?" She felt selfish, but she leaned into the warm hand and soaked up the affection Harry was offering.

Harry could tell it was going to take some time for Desi to come to think of herself as a useful person. To see herself as someone who had something to offer the world, instead of an animal that was beaten when it did something its master didn't like. Her self worth and esteem was something that son of bitch had obviously taken away from her, one beating at a time. No matter how long it took her, Harry would try to build both back in the young vibrant woman.

"Honey, that's up to you. Just because you live with me doesn't mean I own you. If you really want a job, then go out and get one. What do you want to do?"

"I don't know, I don't have any experience doing anything," said Desi in a dejected voice. Besides graduating from high school, she hadn't taken any other form of training or continuing education because Byron wouldn't allow it. He always told her it was a waste of time and money.

"Why don't you give some consideration to going back to school? It would take some brushing up on the basics, but you could do it if you really wanted to. That way I can brag I'm going out with a coed. It doesn't even have to be college if that's not what you are interested in. You could go to work with Rachel for instance. Just think about it, you don't have to decide this very minute," said Harry.

The more they talked the bigger the smile on Desi's face got. That fact lightened Harry's spirits knowing the Desi she remembered was still buried under the abuse Byron had heaped upon her. As much as that thrilled her though, she was looking forward to getting to know the woman Desi had become, and would eventually grow into.

The drive back to the house reminded Desi of their days in Harry's old two-seater. With the new brace on her leg she was able to ride up front with Harry, and they took advantage of the fact by holding hands. They had made plans to fly to Florida the next weekend to visit Harry's parents and her brother, Raul, who was practicing medicine in Fort Lauderdale. Having Raul live so close made Harry's mother, Maria happy, since she got to see her three grandchildren all the time. Desi was apprehensive about the trip, but Harry had assured her that her family held no ill will toward her in any way.

Holding the door for Desi to enter the house, Harry led the way to the stairs and the newest piece of equipment she had Mona install that afternoon. It was a motorized chair that would carry Desi to the second floor so she wouldn't have to maneuver the steps with her crutches. "You do think of everything, don't you, honey? Are you tired of carrying me up the steps?"

"That would be one of my most favorite parts of the day, but when I'm not around you can use this. I promise one more month tops, and you'll be getting around just like before, it's my money back guarantee. I just didn't want you to feel trapped upstairs when I'm not home."

Leaning Desi's crutches against the banister, Harry lifted her up into her arms and started the trek up to their bedroom. It had become just that in the past month, with the changes Tony and Desi had made. Tony explained to the doctor that since Desi was living there now, and it would be technically Desi's bedroom and she was allowed to redecorate.

The blue walls and comforter on the bed were gone; replaced by light cream walls and matching silk bed linens. They had added an antique dresser for Desi, and with Mona's help, rearranged the closet to accommodate the room's new occupant.

Harry had taken the changes all in stride, not caring what they did, just as long as Desi was happy with the outcome. Passing in the hall in the morning Harry noticed their room wasn't the only one that had been redone. Rachel's was sporting a new look that suited her better, and giving Harry the impression Rachel was in for the duration.

"Sit for a minute and I'll run down and get your crutches. Do you need anything while I'm downstairs?"

"Why don't you bring back a bottle of wine and two glasses? We could relax a little and talk some more before we go to sleep." Desi was done with the regimen of antibiotics and painkillers Harry had prescribed so she felt safe in asking.

"Excellent suggestion. I'll be right back."

Harry walked out of the room and headed down the stairs into the kitchen, where she found Rachel eating a sandwich. "Rough night, squirt?"

"Actually the night's looking up, it's just been a bitch of a day. If I have to look at one more strand of hair I'm going to scream. What are you doing down here?"

"I'm getting some wine for your sister and I to finish off our evening with. We're retiring for the night, so unless you fall in the tub and break your leg, I don't want to hear from you until the morning. Good night," teased Harry as she removed one of the bottles from the rack in the wine cooler.

"Just one thing, Harry."

She stopped and turned around. "Is something wrong?"

Rachel took a deep breath and held it as she shook her head. "Nothing's wrong, I just want to talk to you for a minute."

"Whatever it is, it's all right, just tell me."

"I just want you to be…" she blushed losing her usual bravado.

"You just want me to be what?" Harry wrapped her arms around Rachel's back and felt the her breath through her shirt when Rachel buried her face against her chest. "It's all right, sweetheart, tell me what's on your mind."

"You promise not to be mad?"

"I promise."

"Desi's never had a pleasant time with intimacy, so I want you to be gentle if she's willing to try. With Byron, sometimes I wanted to stop what was happening, but it would've only made it worse for her." Harry held her tighter when the tears started from the memories. "But now I see how happy she is and how her confidence is slowly coming back. Please don't do anything to ruin that for her."

Harry placed her hand on Rachel's cheek and looked her in the eye. "I love her, sweetheart. That means if I only get to hold her, for as long as it takes for her to get comfortable with more, I'll be happy. I promise I'll be gentle and I promise I'll cherish her for as long as she'll let me.

"I didn't tell you because I don't believe in you, Harry."

"I know, you said something because you love your sister," Harry finished for her, wiping away the tears on Rachel's face. "I'm glad you were there for her, keeping her whole until we found each other again."

"Thanks for not getting mad at me, and could you not…" Rachel stopped again not knowing if she had the right to ask any more.

"Just between us, sweetie." Harry kissed her forehead and hugged her one last time.

"Thanks, you're the best, Harry. Good night, and good going," said Rachel as she laughed at the retreating back.

Walking back into the bedroom, Harry almost dropped the wine bottle when she saw Desi sitting on the bed. Their latest shopping trip had obviously taken Desi and Tony to other places besides the paint and fabric store, if the nightgown she had put on was any indication. The navy blue silk material hugged all of Desi's curves in just the right places, and the thin straps that held it up where begging to be pulled down.

Although Harry had been waiting for years to come into a room and find Desi in this position, it seemed as if her feet were glued to the floor and her brain had seized up, rendering her immobile. Standing there opening and closing her mouth like a trout out of water, Harry was frantically trying to get her feet to cooperate with the part of her brain that was screaming at her to run over to the bed. Her talk with Rachel was still fresh in her mind though, so she went slowly.

Desi sat there amused at the reaction she was getting. She was fairly certain the look Harry was giving her was one of wanting and not of repulsion. It had taken some persuasion on Tony's part to get Desi to purchase the sleepwear, but now she was glad he had been so persistent.

"Come closer, honey," said Desi. Harry could only nod her head and stare. If she raked her eyes over Desi's body one more time, she was going to get dizzy and fall on the floor.

With one quick shake of her head, Harry was able to move forward until her knees were butted up against the mattress. Desi never broke eye contact with her as she removed the bottle and glasses from Harry's hands. "Sit with me for a minute?" Harry was now grinning and nodding like an idiot, making Desi want to break out in a deep laugh.

"I think we've waited long enough for the things we really want. Don't you? Those nights spent on my front porch swing were nice, but I think it's time we took things a little further. Would you like that?" As she had been talking Desi had been running her nail along the fabric of Harry's shirtfront, listening to the scraping sound it was making on the cotton material. When Desi reached the collar she slipped her fingers into touch the skin on Harry's neck, she watched for any reluctance on Harry's part, but Harry's eyelids only fluttered closed at first contact. She pressed her lips to Harry's and then pulled away as her hand continued to massage the strong neck.

"Are you sure, Desi? I don't want to hurt you, you're too precious to me," said Harry in a whisper. The look in Desi's eyes was driving her libido into overdrive, but she needed to be sure. There was no way she would ever treat her like Byron had for all those years. When they made love, if they made love, it would have to be by mutual consent.

"Touch me, Harry, I want you to touch me. I want you to erase the memory of the time we've been apart, and I want to start on the life you promised me." With each word Desi tugged Harry closer, wanting more than anything to feel like a desirable woman who was loved.

The touch of their lips, after Desi's request, was electric, so different from all of the other kisses they had shared up to now. Harry scooted closer, making sure not to bump Desi's leg as she went. She ran her fingers across the skin exposed by the low cut negligee watching as Desi's nipples hardened.

"Your hands are so soft, honey," said Desi in a low voice.

"No manual labor will do that for you."

Slipping a finger under one of the straps and pulling it gently off Desi's shoulder, Harry watched it fall, exposing more of Desi's chest. For a split second a flash of fear crossed Desi's face, and Harry stopped all of her advances thinking she had changed her mind.

"What's wrong? If you want to stop it'll be all right. Hell I waited all this time, I really don't mind waiting until you're sure. Don't think you owe me this, I want it to be good for both of us."

"I don't want to stop but I'm just afraid of what you'll find once you take this off. I'm not a young girl anymore, and I don't want you to think I still look eighteen." Desi's face turned red at the admission. She had never thought of herself as beautiful, but if she had given herself to Harry back then, she would have gotten the best she had to offer. Not to mention the small reminders of Byron that now marred parts of her body.

The willing new lover thought the best way to handle the situation, and put to rest Desi's fears, was not through words but through action. Taking her eyes from Desi's for a moment, she lowered the other strap and exposed, to Harry's eyes, two perfect breasts with rosy pink nipples now standing at attention. Easing Desi back onto the pillows lying against the headboard, Harry took her time and looked at Desi's half naked body.

Slowly she dragged one hand over the skin of Desi's abdomen finding it as soft and smooth to the touch as it was easy on the eyes. Leaning over her with a straight arm, Harry took her other hand and ran her fingers down from Desi's throat to the undersides of her left breast, leaving goose bumps in her path. Before she went any further, she silently requested for Desi to lift her bottom a little by tugging on the nightgown so she could slide the garment all the way off. Getting the full picture, Harry was anything but disappointed.

Standing next to the bed Harry pulled her shirt out of the waistband of her pants and slowly started to unbutton it. When she went for the button on her pants she started talking to Desi again. "Love, you're so beautiful. I want to touch you and have it feel good to you." She stepped out of her pants as they hit the floor, and bent to pull her underwear off. With the last of the clothes she had on now on the floor, Harry stood there giving Desi the same opportunity to look at her.

"Make love to me, Harry." Trying to be confident, Desi raised her hand and offered it to the woman who held her heart and her future.

Lowering herself slowly to the bed, Harry felt the flood between her legs intensify once the length of her body pressed down on Desi's. Holding her weight off of her by her forearms, Harry ducked her head down and pressed her lips to Desi's. They kissed for a long moment, giving them the opportunity to get comfortable with the fact they were pressed skin to skin. Harry was the first to pull away, drawing a disappointed moan from Desi.

"Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere." Harry promised as she carefully nudged Desi's legs apart with her knee, pressing their sexes together. She could feel the heat and wetness coming from Desi's most private area, and she took a moment to relish the effect she had on her.

"You feel so good, honey, I've dreamed of this for so long. I'd given up on ever having you on me like this, except in my imagination. I thought you would've found someone else by now," admitted Desi. She ran her hands up and down Harry's back, loving the feel of the firm smooth skin.

"No one else was you, my love." She sucked Desi's bottom lip into her mouth, cutting off any other conversation for the moment. Harry had waited almost twenty years, and she was anxious to give herself over to loving the woman in her arms.

She pushed the top part of her body up a little so she could bend her head and look at Desi's chest. All the while they had been kissing, Desi's nipples had been pressing up into her chest driving her mad.

"Please, baby, let me touch you," the want in Harry's voice made Desi arch her back up to feel Harry again so intimately.

"I'm yours, Harry. No one else will ever touch me again." Having Harry ask for the right to touch her broke down the last of Desi's fears. She didn't really need it but it was verification that her life would never be the same again.

When Harry pressed up on one arm, the muscles along her chest and arms stood out in relief catching Desi's attention to the perfection of her body. Before she could continue to admire Harry's physique, a persistent mouth latched onto one of her nipples and the instant sensation of pleasure made her eyelids flutter closed. Harry wasted no time in giving both breasts equal attention, before her explorations turned to points further south.

She moved her fingers slowly down Desi's body until she reached the very top of Desi's sex. "I love you so much," said Harry.

"Please, honey, please make me yours." Desi reached down and ran her fingers through Harry's hair, and looked into her blue eyes, the mere memory of which had gotten her through the beatings, and everything else life had thrown at her.

Harry smiled for her, her eyes showing the sincerity in her heart. "Tonight, we'll give ourselves to each other, and it'll be that way forever," she promised before the need to touch Desi won out.

Hearing the hiss of pain mixed in with the pleasure made Harry stop and get a pillow for Desi's injured leg before moving back to the end of the bed. With her two index fingers she spread the wet lips of Desi's sex, noticing right off that she could have taken Desi's pulse by putting her finger on the protruding clitoris.

Not making her wait any longer Harry closed her lips around it and sucked, almost falling off the bed when the exclamation came. "Holy Mother of God!" was wrenched from Desi when Harry's lips closed around the point of her need, and Harry wasn't the only one who heard it. Small hands came down and grabbed two fists full of hair keeping Harry in place, so even if she had wanted to come up and make a smart comment it wasn't going to happen now.

In her room a couple of doors down from the master suite, Rachel smiled and pumped her fist in the air. "You go, Harry," Rachel said in a soft voice. She had never heard that kind of passion in Desi's voice.

Placing her hands under Desi's bottom, Harry made it easier for her to move her hips to the suction she was creating, without Desi having to put stress on her leg. "I need to feel you inside me, Harry, please. Please make me yours," panted Desi. Harry was taking her up so high and so fast that she didn't want to come without feeling everything Harry could give her.

Without breaking her mouth away, Harry pulled one hand free, and slid one long finger in slowly. "Uh, yes, baby, yes. That feels so good," Desi was able to grunt out. Harry kept moving her finger in slowly as she changed what she was doing with her mouth trying to extend Desi's pleasure. As Harry started to move her finger in and out she formed a point with her tongue and circled the hard clitoris with it, coming close but not touching it.

"Baby, please don't tease me," begged Desi.

"Relax, honey, and go with it. Feel me loving you," Harry said as she moved up the bed to lie next to Desi. Putting her thumb where her tongue had just been, she started whispering in Desi's ear. "Let yourself go, you're safe here with me. I love you, and that's never going to change. You belong with me, Desi. You own my heart and my love."

Desi grabbed her by the hair again and pulled Harry's mouth down to hers, kissing her in a way that would show Harry how much she loved her. Tasting herself on Harry's mouth sent her flying even higher. When the feeling welling up in her was too great, Desi let her head fall to the pillow as she grabbed onto Harry's shoulders to keep herself anchored to the bed. It all felt so good, the hand between her legs, the feel of Harry's breathing in her ear and the feel of her solid body pressed to hers. Desi did what the doctor ordered. S

She relaxed and let go.

The orgasm took her by surprise, and she just stopped moving for a second to let the sensation wash over her. Desi had never felt something so intense, and so good. Harry had given her something Byron had never even come close to. It seemed to be over too fast, yet when the tremors stopped, they were both covered in a light coat of sweat, Harry was sporting a fresh set of nail marks down her back and Desi felt she could repeat the whole thing with little encouragement. Reduced to a mass of panting quivering flesh, it took her a long while to get her ability to form coherent sentences again, and Harry was happy just to hold her.

"That was, well I don't really know how to describe it."

"Did it feel good?"

"Yes, doc, it felt good, but I think we need to try it again as soon as possible just to make sure it wasn't a fluke," teased Desi. She had turned a little so that she could lie on Harry, and felt the strong arms hold her tight.

For the moment her own need was sated, but there was something else Desi had a burning desire to try. She never moved from her comfortable perch, considering it left her in a position where she could run a hand down Harry's body reaching the wet heat waiting for her. She was dying to try and please Harry, and Desi only hoped she could deliver the kind of bliss Harry had.

Sex had never, before this night, been one of her favorite things. It was something Byron expected of her and not something she looked forward to or savored. After what had just happened between them, Desi was seriously contemplating buying some handcuffs and keeping Harry prisoner in the room.

Feeling brave, Desi slid her hand further down and parted the wet folds she found. Sucking on the strong column of throat under her lips, Desi started a steady stroking motion from the top of the curly patch down to the opening of Harry's sex. Her stroking got more concentrated until her fingers were only on the hard point that signified the center of Harry's want. Desi's fingers were so slick from the wetness that her fingers slid downwards as she pressed down on it making Harry's hips rise off the bed. She realized she would have to move with Harry so she could keep her fingers where she wanted them.

"Does that feel good, honey?"

"Please don't stop," Harry panted. Desi kept her hand in place but moved so she was lying on top of Harry, wanting to feel the heat of the doctor's body under hers. Without missing a beat Harry latched onto one of the breasts swaying in front of her face causing Desi to jerk her hips dragging herself along Harry's hip. The sharp intake of breath told Harry all she needed to know, Desi's libido had awakened again, and this time they would come together.

"Move your hand a second, baby," Harry requested.

When Desi looked up with a sad face, thinking she had done something wrong, Harry quickly remedied the situation by sliding a long leg in between her thighs doing the same with Desi's leg. Bending her leg up took the pressure off Desi's knees and with a quick thrust Harry pressed up and encouraged Desi to come down. It didn't take much stimulation to reach their goal, and they swallowed the sounds of their climaxes in the kiss they were sharing.

When Desi went to move off of Harry, she kept her in place with the hand she had on Desi's back. Not really wanting to move, Desi sunk back into Harry's embrace and relaxed as Harry drew figure eight's on her back.

"What are you thinking about?" asked Desi.

"That I need to turn down the heater if this is going to become a habit."

"Do you want it to become a habit, or was this a one shot deal?" The way she had asked, Harry got the impression that she was afraid of the answer.

"Yes I want this to become a habit, and yes this was a one shot deal." Harry's answer only confused Desi more. "We are going to engage in this behavior every chance we get, and now that we have, there's no turning back for me, Desi. You're the one I've always wanted, and now you're stuck with me so I hope you liked it. You aren't going anywhere now."

"Oh, trust me, baby, I'm not going anywhere. I love you, Harry."

"I love you too, baby, now go to sleep."

Continued in Chapter 4

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