How Do You Mend A Broken Heart

Ali Vali

Chapter 4

Across the street from the now darkened house, Byron and Mike sat in the car biding their time waiting to go in and get Desi. Since his release from jail, Byron had been a model citizen awaiting trail, lulling Desi and whomever the woman she was staying with into thinking he'd given up and forgotten about his wife.

It was now time for Desi to come home and forget about the charges she'd filed and drop the divorce proceedings. There was no way he was going to give his wife her freedom without a fight. She belonged to him and it was time she started to realize that meant she wasn't going anywhere until he said so.

"Looks like everybody's finally down for the count," said Mike. He had a bad feeling about what they had planned but his father had sided with Byron on this issue and he had no choice but to help his brother collect his wife or start looking for a new place to live and a new job.

"Let's wait another hour and then they should all be asleep. I don't want that tall bitch calling the cops until we're back home and I've had a chance to talk to Desi. Once I'm done with her, I won't have any more legal problems, and she'll forget about whoever her new friend is.

"It'll take me awhile to forgive that stupid bitch wife of mine for the days I spent sitting in jail with all those animals, but I've got something special in mind for that." Byron had yet to see either Desi or the woman his brother had described coming or going from the house, but from the movement inside he knew they were there. It was a given Rachel was probably staying there too, but he hadn't seen her either and for the moment he wasn't interested in her.

"Okay, it should be all right to go in now. Just follow close behind me and get ready to carry Desi out once we find her. Don't stop to ask questions, just grab her and get moving before the cops get a chance to respond to any calls anyone in the house makes. Got me?" Mike nodded in understanding as the acid in his stomach increased. Even though he'd done some stupid shit in his life, none of them had landed him in jail, but this just might prove to be the one that did.

Cutting the main electric feed going into the house, Byron waited until he saw the green light on the alarm panel near the back door go out, signaling it was all right to enter. Breaking one of the old leaded panes of glass in one of the downstairs windows, he reached inside and unlocked it and slid it open. Listening for any signs of life coming from anyone in the house, Byron motioned for Mike to follow him once he crawled through the window.

Looking around he noticed they were in a study of some sort from the books lining the shelves in the room. I always wondered what the inside of all these big houses were like, thought Byron as he moved from one room to the next looking for the stairs.

Upstairs, one of the sleeping bodies rolled over hearing something out of place deep in her subconscious. "Was that the sound of breaking glass?" The woman was groggy from sleep so her question came out mumbled. She cleared her throat and tried again. "Honey, wake up. I think there's someone downstairs," the small woman said a little louder in an effort to rouse her sleeping companion.

"There isn't anyone downstairs, sweetheart, I set the alarm myself before we went to bed."

Before heading up the stairs, Mike made a quick detour into the kitchen to open the back door for a quick getaway once they found Desi, getting a thumbs up from his brother for his quick thinking. Stepping onto the first step he prayed the old staircase didn't creak and wake someone up before they found their prey.

Reaching the second floor, they paused to let their eyes adjust to the minimal light in the long darkened hallway, and tried to figure out what room Desi was in. The easiest way, they figured, was to start at the end and work their way back toward the stairs. The two brothers moved quietly to the door on the end and opened it as slowly and as quietly as they could.

Standing in the middle of the room, Byron looked down on the bed and let his anger wash over him. Any plan they'd talked about before breaking in flew from his mind as rage swept through him. From the outline under the blankets and the bare shoulders peaking out, he could tell there were two naked bodies lying there and it became quite clear why Desi wanted a divorce. She'd found some rich sugar daddy to keep her in style so she didn't need him anymore.

"You fucking bitch!" The scream caused a flurry of motion to come from the bed.

Without another thought to keeping quiet, the furious man stepped forward and threw the sheet over the small woman on the bed. He tried to ignore the obvious smell of sex that wafted up when he pulled it from the bed. There would be plenty of time to think about that later once he had his wife back under his heel.

Throwing her over his shoulder, Byron headed toward the door, shouting a threat as he crossed the threshold, "Stay the fuck away from my wife, asshole." The older man was right behind him so Byron gave into the urge he'd had since walking in. Without remorse, he cocked his fist back and punched the guy in the face. "I fucking mean it. Stay away from her."

"What in the hell are you talking about? Come back here you idiot. Do you know who you're dealing with?" The man shook his head as if to clear it of the blow before running naked after the two men screaming the whole way, but neither of them stopped.

None of the lights in the house would work as he flipped switches and he ran after the two down the stairs, desperately trying to reach them before they ran out of the house with his wife. Passing the tray where he put his wallet, keys and cell phone the man grabbed the phone as he ran out of the kitchen into the night. Not stopping to realize he was naked and shouting outside of his house, he switched the phone on and called 911.

"911 operator how can I help you?" asked the tired voice on the other end once the call went through.

"This is Judge Jude Rose, I need the police sent to my residence immediately. Two men just broke in and kidnapped my wife. Their license number is NIC 224. It's a late model blue Buick I think and they are driving away now. Tell them to step on it, they're headed toward St. Charles Avenue!" He could still hear his feet slapping along the pavement as he yelled into the phone. The car he'd described was getting further away with no traffic to slow it down because of the late hour.

"Judge, what is your address?"

"4534 State Street."

"Okay, sir, there are units heading toward you now and the units cruising the area have been dispatched toward St. Charles in search of the vehicle you described. Do you have any idea who the two men were?"

"I have no idea, but one of them sounded vaguely familiar." Realizing he was now about a block and a half from his house, Jude turned around and headed back to get dressed.

Every fiber in his body wanted to jump in his car and go after the two morons who dared to come into his home and do this, but would wait by the phone for the officers dispatched to his house. Allowing the police to do their jobs would assure a successful prosecution, and in that arena, he felt he had some say in what happened to them.

"Can you send someone out from the utility and phone company as well, I think the two idiots cut through some of the wires outside. I don't have any power or phone but my neighbors lights are on." Jude watched as the lights in more than one home popped on as he made it back. Figuring they must have heard him screaming as he ran down the street he rushed to make it back and get dressed.

"Sure thing, Judge Rose, there are two units just a block from your house but I'd like for you to stay on the line with me until they arrive."

"I'd be happy to since you're going to give me an update if any of the units call in with a progress report. What's your name?"

"Lee Smith, sir."

"Thank you for your help, Lee, I'll make sure to call your supervisor once this is all over." He remembered the manners his mother had pounded into him as a child even in the face of a crisis.

"Thank you, sir, that's not necessary, I'll let you go since the police are in your driveway. Good luck and I hope Mrs. Rose is all right."

"Thank you and good night."


Byron turned the wheel and skidded on to St. Charles Avenue, but only for a block before he turned off onto one of the smaller side streets. "I said shut up or I'll pull over and make you shut up," he screamed. He still had the image of Desi in bed with that old creep and it was making him madder by the moment.

"What in the fuck were you thinking, Desi? Did you think I wouldn't find out you found some old geezer to shack up with uptown? Start praying now that I don't kill you when we get home." Byron gripped the steering wheel of Mike's car and tried to fight the urge to pull over and pummel the crying woman, still covered in a sheet, sitting in the back with his brother. A couple of his knuckles were already swollen and bruised from the punch he'd delivered earlier. "What, he offered to buy you a new dress so you spread your legs for him?"

"Who's Desi?" asked the muffled tear-wracked voice from the back seat. Victoria Rose was trying to figure out who these two men were and what in the world they wanted with her. After agreeing to marry Jude after clerking for him out of law school five years prior, she was afraid the day would come when one of the nuts he sentenced would come after them, but she wasn't prepared for the actual event.

"Don't play stupid, you're coming home and there ain't nothing you can do about it now. We're going to have a little talk about the charges you filed against me and the divorce papers they hit me with before leaving jail." With some effort he pulled his foot back off the accelerator and slowed down. The last thing they needed now was to be pulled over for speeding.

"Sir, I'm sorry you're having trouble with your spouse, but I can assure you I'm not her. My name is Victoria Rose and I'd appreciate if you were to stop and let me out of this car before this situation gets any worse for you than it already is." She was trying to sound calm and confident hoping this guy would listen to reason and not just kill her once he figured out the extent of his screw up.

"Holy shit, Byron, we grabbed the wrong woman! We're going down for this I just know it. Pull over and let her out. We need time to about what we need to do next. I'm sorry, lady, we didn't mean any harm," said Mike. I should've listened to that voice in my head that said this was a bad idea, he thought as his brother made no attempt to pull over.

"Get a grip, brother, before I shove you out of the car too. Let me just think." Byron made a quick decision and headed back to St. Charles so it would be a clear shot to the interstate. "I know there's some fancy hotel up here on the left, we'll leave her there and head home. She doesn't have any idea of who we are and Pop will be our alibi we were home all night," Byron concluded, as he made a U-turn and pulled up in front of the Ponchatrain Hotel yelling for her to get out. Looking in the rearview mirror he noticed no one was following them, and slumped in his seat with relief.

"Sir, there's a call for you from your wife," said the police officer standing in the judge's den. He handed the man the phone and stepped back to give him some privacy.

"Sweetheart, is that you?" Relief washed over Jude when he heard her sweet voice answering him. She was all right and she was coming home.

"I'm okay, honey, just hang on there and one of these nice officers will give me a ride home. Seems this was all a big misunderstanding on the part of our two kidnappers."

When Jude finished talking to her, the police captain standing in his den started explaining what they had found out so far. "The license you reported to the emergency operator is registered to a Michael Simoneaux residing in the Ninth Ward. We tried to ascertain why Mr. Simoneaux would want to break into your house and kidnap your wife, the only connection we could find, sir, is his brother."

"His brother? Who is his brother, captain?"

"That would be Byron Simoneaux who was recently before you in a domestic abuse case. After speaking with the officer who took a brief statement from your wife, the only thing I can figure is that he somehow got the idea that his wife was staying with you, so he decided to break in here to get her back. I have units waiting to apprehend him and his brother when they get home and they're also under orders to look for his brother's car along any route back to either his or his brother's house. The brother, Michael, still lives with his parents so it's my guess that's where they'd be headed," explained Captain Simmons.

When he heard over the scanner who was calling in a kidnapping he had headed out to the scene immediately. The mayor would have his head on the chopping block in a minute if the police department didn't appear to be doing all it could to get Mrs. Rose back. To top it all off, they'd also had reports of a crazed streaker in the neighborhood, he just knew it had to be a full moon.

"Thank you, captain, now if you would excuse me, I see my wife is back." Jude walked out of the back door to greet Victoria, pulling her into a hug while trying to keep the sheet in place. The officers at the house tried not to notice how beautiful she was and that there was nothing under the designer sheet except skin. If Judge Rose was a legend in the law enforcement circles before because of his tough sentences, this would only add to the mystique.

"They didn't touch you did they, sweetheart?"

"Don't worry, love, they just took me for a little ride then dropped me off at the Ponchatrain Hotel down the street. The one named Byron kept calling me Desi, and thought I was having an affair with you."

Now that Victoria was home the reality of what happen hit her and she broke down into choking sobs when Jude explained who Desi was. He tried to remember all the facts as Serena had relayed them to him in court, and the passionate way she had presented them.

If Serena was that involved in this case considering her workload, and this idiot thought his wife was staying with him, taking into consideration where their house was, he came up with a plausible explanation. After getting Victoria calmed down, Jude picked up the phone in their room and dialed the number without having to look it up.

"Hello," the sleep rough voice answered. "This had better be good because I'm looking at my clock and it says four thirty in the morning." Harry's gruff voice was a little more coherent after she rolled over to her side and scrubbed her face with her other hand.

"Good morning, sunshine. I have only one question for you," said Jude. Even though he was furious, his voice sounded deceptively calm and sweet.

"Uncle Jude, is everything all right? Are you or Victoria hurt?"

"Funny you should ask me that, Harry, because no, I'm not all right, and I have a sinking feeling I have you to thank for that. Is there someone there with you, Harry?"

Not realizing the consequences of her answer Harry just responded honestly. "Actually I do have someone staying with me. My houseguest's sister is staying with me too if that's important. Is there a crime against that I don't know about?"

"No, honey, there isn't, but I do have some news for you. Tonight Byron and Michael Simoneaux broke into my house and kidnapped Victoria…" Jude started, only to be interrupted by a now wide awake Harry.

"Oh my God, Uncle Jude, is she all right?" Ready to go their house if Victoria needed medical attention, Harry sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. That woke Desi making her roll over and rub Harry's back in a soothing motion.

"Calm down, Harry, she's all right and she's back home. Vicki's just a little shaken up, but they were smart enough to let her go and not harm her in anyway. There'd have been no escape for them if they had. For some strange reason though, Harry, they thought Desi was living in this house. Care to enlighten me?"

It took a minute for her to figure out the answer, but Harry remembered the afternoon of their lunch and explained why the brothers might have mistaken his house for hers after she had pulled into his driveway when trying to get away from Michael.

She apologized, thinking Byron might only go over and scream at them from the front yard. She assumed that the idiot would figure out Harry had tricked him, and it was the judge who had arraigned him who lived there, he would have just left them alone. She had no way of knowing he would try something so stupid.

For a brief second she felt ashamed from the relief of the ordeal happening to someone else and knowing Desi was safe. Her parents would never forgive her for putting their dearest friend's spouse in danger. Jude and Raul had known each other since college and he was godfather to both of the Basantes children.

Jude couldn't stay mad at Harry long. He never could look into her mischievous blue eyes and hold any animosity toward the girl he had cradled as a baby and watched grow into one of the most respected surgeons in the country. Hell, she had even done his knee replacement surgery, which let him enjoy his golf game every Tuesday afternoon with his wife.

"Harry, don't worry about it, I understand why you did it. You might just have to take Victoria to lunch and introduce her to this wonderful girl you're so eager to protect. I might come along so I can tell Maria I had the pleasure of meeting the one who finally managed to capture New Orleans' most eligible bachelor and take her out of circulation. Tell Desi I'll take care of this in the morning and she won't have to worry about the Simoneaux brothers for long while. Good night."

Harry had to take a to think of the best way to tell Desi of Byron's latest stunt. Desi was awake and rubbing circles on her back. It was so comforting it made Harry very aware of how hard it would be to live without Desi in her life now. The mere idea of someone like Byron harming Desi made her nauseous. She turned to face Desi and figured blunt honesty might be the best course of action given the circumstances.

She lay down again and gathered Desi into her arms and started explaining in a low tone. Desi winced when she got to the part about Byron and Mike actually taking Victoria out of the house. Desi could only imagine what Byron would have done if he had walked in and found her naked in bed with Harry. Knowing his bigoted views, she was certain he'd have killed both of them for engaging in what he considered perverted acts against nature.

"I'm going to have to leave you, Harry." The way Desi said it made it impossible for Harry not to hear the sadness in her voice, but if Desi had to give up her happiness to keep Harry safe, that's what she was willing to do. It was better to go back to the life she'd shared with Byron than to take the chance of losing Harry to the maniac she would never be rid of.

"Do you want to leave because you don't love me, or do you want to go because you're afraid?"

"You don't know him like I do, I couldn't live with the fear that I'd be responsible for getting you hurt. I love you too much for that. Don't you see it's the only way? How could I ever possibly find happiness again if something were to happen to you?"

Harry stared at Desi's back after she rolled over and faced the bathroom wall. All she could do was to be honest and speak from her heart. "You live one day at a time, Desi, and before you know it, you've built a life. I never thought you'd come back to me so that's what I did. I got up every morning and I went to class, I studied and before I knew what was going on I was standing on a podium in Baton Rouge and they were handing me a diploma. Afterward came medical school, and then a career, but in all that time I couldn't stop thinking about you. There was always the hope in the back of my mind that I'd run into you one day and you'd explain what happened, and maybe if enough time had gone by you'd be willing to give us another chance. That has always been my hope, and for the sake of my own sanity I refused to let it go."

"Oh, honey, I'm so sorry." The shoulders Harry was looking at slumped in apparent defeat.

"I don't want you to be sorry, I just want you to believe in that same hope. Do you know that after I passed my boards, I went to your house thinking that maybe you'd come and celebrate with me? That perhaps enough time had passed for you to have forgiven whatever I did."

"What happened?" Desi rolled back over and looked at the hurt expression on Harry's face. She was shocked to hear Harry had made the effort to contact her even after all the unanswered pleas that had come before it.

"Your father explained to me you were married and happy with your life. He told me I should just leave you alone and get on with my own. I sat there with him on our swing as he slapped me on the back and congratulated me on my accomplishments. He said your aspirations weren't so grand with that small laugh of his. You just wanted to be a good wife and mother."

She reached out and placed her hand on Harry's cheek. "Oh, honey, I really am so sorry."

"I asked him if you had kids, and he told me no but you did have one on the way. That statement, delivered with such a straight face, put a knife through my heart. I left there and just buried myself in work. I worked, I built up my body and I fucked around. That was my life, Desi, and that's what you are asking me to go back to." For the first time since they had found each other, Harry's head dropped in shame. "The truth of who we are, is we're better off together than apart. We're happy because the love we share is real. All I'm asking for is that you not throw it away. Not again." She reached out and ran her fingers along Desi's jaw. "Take a chance this time. We've paid our dues and it's time to collect for our suffering."

Harry finished and bent to kiss Desi, praying she wouldn't move away. The lips Harry touched opened immediately drinking in what she had to offer.

Desi pulled Harry on top of her, trying to remind herself of what she had to lose. She wanted this, and Harry was right, it was time to put fear aside and take the things she wanted out of life. Desi wanted to be happy, and Harry was the one who brought her happiness, but the most important thing was that Harry loved her. She welcomed the kiss and encouraged the hand that had found itself back between her legs awakening her desires. As long as they were together it would always be this way, Desi was certain of it.

"Yes, Harry, touch me, honey. I want you, only you," Desi said as her hips started to buck. Harry wasn't interested in finesse nor in going slow, she wanted Desi in the worst way and she was going to have her. If she'd said it wasn't what she wanted Harry would have stopped, but Desi was as turned on as she was. She could feel it in the way Desi was getting wetter and her movements were becoming more frantic. "God, make me yours," said Desi already losing control.

Harry shoved two fingers inside the wet canal and latched onto a hard nipple sucking in with gusto. As Desi crested, a new set of scratch marks graced Harry's back and Desi was left panting. When Harry pulled out she painted Desi's breasts with the proof of her desire sending Desi into overdrive.

Forgetting about her leg Desi pushed Harry onto her back and maneuvered around so she was facing in the opposite direction. Lowering her head between Harry's legs, Desi had to pause a minute to concentrate on what she was supposed to be doing because of what Harry was already doing to her. Once she grabbed hold of the slick nub with her mouth, Desi gave Harry the same pleasure she was receiving. Desi had to stop as the second orgasm raced through her. When the after tremors started she went back and brought Harry over with her.

Back in Harry's arms she laughed as the deep voice in her ear told her, "I think we should discuss your leaving at least once a week from now until I die. If these are the results I'm going to get, then I'm all for it."

"But, doctor, we have so much lost time to make up for, just once a week is all your willing to commit to?"

"Thank God I work out and I'm relatively healthy, or you could kill me if we did this every night. On the other hand, what a way to go." With a tired sigh, Harry kissed the top of the blond head before she flopped back down to her pillow.

"You really want me to stay?"

"I really want you to stay, Desi. I love you and your little sister too."

"Isn't that supposed to be your little dog too?"

"Well I happen to think Rach is cuter than a dog, but you're the one related to her." The banter had been the main thing Desi had missed over the years. No matter what they had done growing up, Harry had a talent for making her laugh.

"Harry, I sure have missed you."

"So have I, baby, now go to sleep, tomorrow's a school day for me, literally."


Desi rolled over to find the other half of the bed empty, put out that Harry had gotten up without waking her after the night they had shared. She noticed it was still dark outside and was about to call out for her lover when she felt the bed move with Harry's return. "Where'd you go?"

"I had to pee, sorry I woke you up, go back to sleep."

Desi moved until she was lying on top of Harry, loving the feel of the skin under hers. After the phone call from Jude she had a hard time drifting off feeling terrified that Byron would go through all that trouble to get her back. Trying to take her mind off of what he'd done, Desi turned her thoughts to what she wanted to do with the rest of her life if she was going to stay with Harry. She really didn't want to just stay home and wait for her to get back from work, and she hoped her partner wouldn't laugh at what she had come up with.

It was a craft she had learned as a child, and after browsing through some of the shops on Magazine Street she knew there was a market for it. Sprinkled throughout what was known as New Orleans's miracle mile of antique shops, was designer pottery. The shop owners told her they were always on the lookout for new artists since they couldn't keep what was on the shelves very long, no matter what the cost. Taking a deep breath she decided to broach the subject with Harry.

"Baby, are you sleeping?" asked Desi in a soft voice.

"No, just enjoying holding you. Something on your mind?" Harry asked in a deep voice as she ran her hand up and down Desi's naked back.

"I've decided what I want to do." There that wasn't so hard, just remember, Desiree, this is not Byron, she thought.

"Well that's a good thing." Another kiss dropped onto Desi's head. "That's a good thing isn't it?" Harry asked when the silence became prolonged.

"I want to be a potter."

"A potter?"

"You know a potter, as in a person that makes pottery. Why? Do you think that's a stupid idea?"

"Nothing you want to do with your life will ever seem like a stupid idea to me, sweetheart. We should clear that up right off. I happen to think that's a great idea and I'm guessing Tony will be your biggest customer once you get started." Harry had lifted her head a little so she could see Desi's face.

"Are you sure? I could always go back to school like you said."

"I'm happy for you, because I think it's something you'll be good at. Just don't forget about me once you become famous and your stuff is collectable. We'll put our heads together and think of the best way to get you started," Harry promised. She rolled Desi over onto her back and spent some time just slowly kissing her.

The slow affection never materialized into more than an affirmation of the love they shared with small caresses and kisses. They talked until it was time to get up, discussing how best to get Desi started on her new career and what they could do to make it successful. One thing they both agreed on was that it was something Desi could do from home.


Across town the sun started to rise over a dumpster that contained two wet and tired brothers as the police continued their search. They had driven up the back street to their parent's home the night before thinking they could sneak in and shore up their alibi. What they found was a number of police cars parked along the block with the officers sitting and waiting. They had abandoned Mike's car and set off on foot, deciding on their current hiding place because it was full of just cardboard boxes, until they could figure out what they were going to do.

"Wake up, Mike, we gotta get a move on and find a way back into the house without the cops seeing us." Byron was trying to stretch out his back from the uncomfortable position he'd slept in.

"We are so fucked. I told you that was a stupid idea." It was about the fifth time that Mike had said that same sentence.

"You were the asshole who got the wrong fucking address, so just shut the hell up before I do it for you."

"Don't forget, brother, I'm not Desi. You try and hit me and they'll have to scrape you off the floor." With a hard shove, Mike slammed Byron's back into the other side of their hiding place before he got up and jumped over the side.

Walking back the way they had come, Mike was the first one to notice the group of uniformed police officers surrounding his car. This would effectively cut off any chance they had of getting back into the house where their alibi was waiting. "Fucking great, there goes my ride since there's no way we're getting past all those cops." The whisper still dripped with menace as Mike stepped behind a large group of bushes in a neighbor's yard.

"Don't panic, we'll just say we were out late last night with friends. It's not like I'm jumping bail or anything. I'm not due back in court until the end of the month according to my attorney, so we'll just lay low for a while and let things cool down. Come on let's call Pop and see if he'll spot us some money and lend us a car."

Byron was betting the people they had broken in on last night wouldn't have a clue as to who they were. The only reason the cops were looking at his brother's car was the old guy had gotten lucky with a couple of letters off the license plate. They had left behind no evidence of their identity, so the only mystery left was where Desi was really staying.

By ten that morning they were headed toward the Florida panhandle with a borrowed car and five hundred dollars their father had given them. They would stay in one of Pensacola's cheaper hotels for a couple of days and then return to answer any questions the police might still have for them. Byron was glad that he, unlike women, did not panic in any given situation leaving him open to find reasonable solutions to any problem.

They agreed to not call and tell their father where they would be staying, only saying they were taking a couple of days off, in case the police questioned him. The only thing Byron, Sr. would tell the police was that the boys had left two days prior, making it impossible for them to have been the two the police were looking for.

At ten thirty, Jude's clerk informed Bradley Blum he was expected in court that afternoon. He was to appear with his client so the judge could rule on all the motions Bradley had filed with the court. The order came after the police informed Jude that the Simoneaux brothers were nowhere to be found.

After their stake out of the night before and throughout the morning, the only thing they had come up with was the car the two had been driving. More than a little miffed over the abduction of his wife and his now very black and swollen eye, Jude knew the two would not resurface anytime soon without motivation. He figured making Byron a fugitive from justice would be a good start.


"Let me get this straight. Your godfather is Judge Jude Rose?" asked Serena.

Jude's clerk had made two phone calls that morning, one to Bradley and the other to Serena. He informed her that Jude was ready to rule on the motions the defense had filed and the trial would be set for the following morning. She had put her phone down and driven uptown before Harry left for work to find out if she knew what had happened that put this trial on a super fast track.

"It's not something I like advertising especially now with all that's going on, but Uncle Jude and my parents are old friends. This won't be a problem will it? It's not like he's going to hear the case is it?" Harry was free for the morning after a Herculean effort to clear her schedule so she could be there for Desi when Serena said she was coming over.

"No, he plans to pass it on to one of the other judges with directions on how it's going to go down no doubt. Only, you didn't hear that from me. Justice is blind after all." She pointed a finger at Harry before going on. "He doesn't want to comprise Desi's safety by allowing this guy to go free on some technicality, but nonetheless, he is taking a personal interest in this process. After hearing about the stunt Byron pulled last night, Jude Rose will be one of his problems, but not his biggest. I'd be a wee bit more concerned with Victoria Rose and what she has planned. She is after all a partner in one of the most ruthless firms in the city when it comes to civil litigation, so he'd better pray he doesn't own tons of property."

"Everything is in his father's name so she might be upset," added Desi.

"Trust me, honey, she'll find the deep pocket." Serena took a sip of her coffee and flipped open her appointment book.

"What happens now?" asked Harry.

"That's why I'm here. I just wanted to brief you both so you know what to expect. This afternoon after consulting my crystal ball, all of Bradley's motions will be shot down and not worth the paper they're written on. Tomorrow morning bright and early we'll go to trial on the charges Desi filed against this asshole, and when said asshole fails to appear, his problems will multiply.

"Unless his father is lying and really does know where he is and can get him there, Byron Simoneaux will have officially jumped bail. For his father who posted his bail with a property bond, this will translate into having one of the local bail bondsman crawling into his back pocket until Byron resurfaces."

"That sounds like justice all the way around to me." Harry squeezed Desi's hand and smiled for Serena. "Nothing like life giving them tons of shit for a change instead of the other way around."

"Truer words, Harry. What lesson should Byron and his family carry away from this you ask? Never, and I mean never piss off one of the most powerful people on the bench in this city. Unlike all the famous witches and voodoo priests New Orleans is famous for, Jude Rose can really make it rain misery in your life with a nod of his head and a rap of his gavel." Serena smiled at the couple sitting across from her and took another sip of her coffee.

Something had changed since the last time she'd been over and she wasn't leaving until she knew what it was. The clues were there in how they sat close together and that Desi couldn't keep her hands to herself any more than Harry could. Serena's smile only faltered a little when the pain of knowing Harry would never look at her that way popped into her head, but for the most part she was happy for her friend. She only hoped Desi realized just how lucky she was. To Serena, from the day she had met her, Harry had epitomized everything she had wanted in a partner.

"So tomorrow it will all come to an end?" asked Desi.

"I wish that were true, but not really. Tomorrow we'll begin again in a way, but for Byron it'll be the beginning of the end. After the smart move our friend here pulled off in front of the judge's house," Serena pointed to Harry. "There's no way possible I see for Byron to get anything but a long jail sentence. That may not be fair, and as an officer of the court, if you repeat what I just said I'll deny it. That's the reality of the situation. Then again, you didn't ask to be brutally beaten with a baseball bat, but it did happen and he deserves to be punished for it."

"I just don't want anything to happen to Harry because of this."

Serena reached over and put her hand on Desi's knee. "This isn't just about you anymore, Desi. The fact that Byron decided to compound his stupidity by dragging a naked Victoria Rose out of the bed she shares with Judge Rose in the dead of night then punching said judge in the eye is just what's called lagniappe. You know, a little something extra. From what I hear, if Victoria asked Jude to stand on his head for a whole trial he'd do it because he's that crazy about her, but you didn't hear that from me either. I can only imagine having Jude's ear in the most intimate of ways does not bode well for Byron's future if Victoria has any say in this. Well, ladies, enjoy your breakfast and I'll call you this afternoon with the details." Serena kissed them both before following Mona to the door. Mona gave her a sympathetic pat on the back as she saw Serena out to her car.

"Not much longer now, honey, then you'll be rid of these people forever," said Harry as she leaned over and kissed Desi. With still a few hours of freedom, Harry decided to try and get Desi's mind off the upcoming events.

"I guess. Harry, I just want to apologize again for dragging you into all this. You shouldn't have to be made to suffer for all my past mistakes. And believe me, honey, Byron was one big mistake. I hope God has forgiven Clyde for getting me into this marriage, because I sure in hell am not going to anytime soon. But you know something?"

"What's that, love?"

"Even after all I've been through, I'd do again in a heartbeat if at the end of the road I knew you'd be waiting for me. I love you." Desi leaned further into Harry's embrace and kissed her back.

"No more long hard roads for you, my love, come on grab your crutches and walk with me. It's come to my attention you've lived here close to three months and you still haven't seen the whole spread. And since you're going to be the lady of the house, it seems only fitting the house meets with your approval. If not, we sell it and find one that does." Harry stood up from the table and bowed deeply from the waist.

She had wanted to show Desi something on the property ever since she had told her what she wanted to do with her time. Slowing her gait down to accommodate Desi's pace, Harry showed her parts of the garden that were coming to life with the onset of spring, or what passed for spring in the humid city.

As they continued their leisurely stroll, Desi realized the house actually took up almost a whole block along the avenue it faced. In addition to the house and gardens, the property had a pool with an outdoor kitchen, a bathhouse, and a large hot tub. Harry walked them in the opposite direction of the pool to where another small building stood. It seemed ironic to Harry now that the wife of the couple she had purchased the house from was an artist.

The place she was walking Desi to was the studio her husband had built for her as an anniversary present after the sale of some of her paintings. The woman had given Harry one of her canvases as a housewarming gift after she had admired it. Harry had been drawn to it when she went out to look at the studio when she was considering purchasing the house. Because the vivid watercolor brought back a flood of memories, she'd had it framed and left it out in the studio. From then till now she hadn't looked at it again.

When Desi stepped through the doorway it was the first thing that caught her eye. The painting in the old cypress frame Harry had gotten for it was a depiction of the front of a house in New Orleans and it's small yard. It could have been any house really, since so many of them shared the same characteristics, but this one had a big swing hanging from the end of the porch in front.

If you replaced the azalea bushes the artist had put in front of the railing with daylilies it could have been the house Desi grew up in. She knew immediately why Harry had kept this out here and not in the house where it really belonged. Looking at it everyday would have made it impossible to forget what they were on the cusp of all those years ago and then lost.

"The lady who spent so many days out here creating things like that told me this part of the garden was home to a special muse that was her friend and companion for all the work she created. Her hope was I find someone who would keep this special spirit happy and give it company. The only reason she left her behind to inspire the next artist to grace this space was because of her age. Arthritis wouldn't allow her to hold her brushes long enough to finish anything else."

Desi leaned into her crutches so she could bring her hands up to her mouth. "You're like a dream, Harry."

"From now on I hope to be your reality, baby. Consider this is my gift to you. Whenever you're ready you can work out here and create whatever Francine's muse will help you with. It needs a little work but I happen to know a good decorator who'll help you make it your own space. May you be as happy here as Francine was, and for just as many years." Harry walked up to Desi and wiped away the fat tears rolling down her face. For once the doctor joined her in a good cry and they just held each other in the sunny room that overlooked the back garden. It felt good to just be happy.


"All rise," said the bailiff as Jude took the bench. They had gotten through most of their business that morning so the courtroom wasn't as crowded for their afternoon session.

For a brief moment a brilliant smile broke out on Jude's face, but it disappeared before anyone really took notice of it. The thing that had brought Jude such pleasure was the sight of Bradley Blum sitting alone in the first row of seats just behind the low railing that separated the attorney's table from the courtroom's spectators. Bradley appeared a tad bit red in the face as if his tie was pulled too tight.

"Your honor, we're set to hear the defense motion filings for docket number LA6689. There are twenty-eight in all unless Mr. Blum has anything else to add," said the bailiff, Rudy. After working for Jude for years, Rudy could tell this was one of those moments that made all the long hours and low pay worth it.

"Mr. Blum, are you and your client ready?" Jude leaned back in his chair and glared at the bumbling idiot from over the rim of his glasses with his one good eye.

"I was unable to get in touch with my client, sir. His father has informed me he's out of town on vacation for a couple of days and can't be reached. If your honor would be so inclined, we'd ask for a couple of days delay so we can be better prepared." Bradley smiled at Serena when Jude leaned forward and didn't say anything for a long while. To Bradley's untrained eye the judge seemed to be contemplating his request, and he was certain the old bulldog would grant his motion.

"Mr. Blum, are you aware that because Mr. Simoneaux is out on bond, the court has a right to know where he is at all times? Or did you miss the day when they taught that in law school?"

"No, sir, but…"

"It wouldn't be my problem or concern that he's facing charges today and has decided to take a vacation despite all that. Most intelligent folks would sit at home and think of the error of their ways. You know, act contrite and such."

"Sir, Mr. Simoneaux is innocent until proven guilty," added Bradley.

"Thank you for pointing that out, Mr. Blum, but unlike you I actually showed up for all my classes in law school and was already aware of that. Again you might want to follow the rule I set before and speak only when addressed." Keeping his mouth shut, Bradley simply nodded. "Another point for you to keep in mind is that it's a courtesy to your client to be here for all proceedings that take place in his case. A courtesy he's forfeited by not appearing, I might add, so we shall just add that to his list of charges for ignoring my order to appear today. What does all that tell you, Mr. Blum?" asked Jude who was now pinning the man with a deadly one-eyed stare.

"That we'll proceed without him?" Bradley stated it more as a question than a response. Despite the air-conditioning in the room sweat was trickling down his face, and Bradley kept sticking his finger in his collar to try and loosen his tie.

"That's correct, Mr. Blum, we're proceeding without him. If Mr. Simoneaux doesn't agree with me there's always the state appellate court. They might be more compassionate towards his plight. The thing about that avenue though, if you are familiar with my record on the bench is what, Ms. Ladding?"

"In twenty-two years his honor has only been overturned on appeal once," supplied Serena.

"And why was that?" prompted Jude.

"His honor was on his honeymoon and someone else was filling in."

"Thank you, Ms. Ladding, superb as usual. Now, Mr. Blum, twenty-eight motions on this case, I'm impressed. Shall we begin?"

Bradley mopped his brow with his handkerchief and nodded. Remembering in a panic his courtroom decorum he weakly added, "Yes, sir, the defense is ready to proceed."

"The last motion is denied," Jude said ten minutes later.

As Serena had predicted, all of Byron's motions filed by Bradley were shot down in short order, with sound case law to back him up. Now came the killer, and she had another premonition Jude's clerk hadn't shared with Bradley this next little tidbit of information. Jesus loves me this I know because I'm not Bradley, kept ringing through her head with more delight than she should be feeling for the poor man's plight, but hell, it wasn't her.

"Ms. Ladding, I want to thank you for appearing here today on such short notice. I take it the people are ready to proceed with their case against Mr. Simoneaux?" Jude's demeanor completely changed when he turned away from Bradley and looked at Serena. He never could figure out why his goddaughter never ended up with this beauty. Rising out of her chair Serena graced him with a smile of her own.

"Yes, your honor, the people have been ready for weeks now. In my opinion, had it not been for the mountain of filings brought forth by Mr. Simoneaux's attorney, we'd be finished with the trial by now. Whenever your honor would like to put it on the docket we'll be ready to proceed." Serena finished by batting her eyelashes in Bradley's direction. She swore if the man pulled on his collar anymore they would have to call in paramedics when he passed out.

"Due to some 'pending police matters' let's call them, I'll be recusing myself from the case forthwith." Jude flipped his book open as if to look up another date, making Bradley smile over at Serena.

"Thank you, your honor, I'm sure my client…"

"You're talking again, Mr. Blum, when no one of importance has asked you to do so. As I was saying, I'm recusing myself but have made arrangements for this case. You're set for trial starting at eight tomorrow morning in Judge Carleton Reaper's court. If there's nothing further we're adjourned. I trust you have nothing further, Mr. Blum?" The expression on Jude's face warned Bradley to just say 'no sir' and get the day over with. Any other motions or requests for delays would surely land him next to Byron in central lockup with a contempt of court citation.

"No, sir, we'll be ready," answered Bradley with a confidence he didn't feel.

"Good, remember eight tomorrow morning across the hall, Blum. Don't be late, and if you can stand any more of my advice, have your client with you, Mr. Blum."

When Jude had cleared the door that led to his private offices, Bradley turned and glared accusingly at Serena. "The Grim Reaper is going to hear this case? What did you have to do, sleep with the old bastard to get that?"

"Why, Bradley, haven't you heard? Judge Rose is married and I'm gay so it was the sheer force of my personality that got me the Grim Reaper. But the next time I'm having lunch with Jude, I'll make sure and mention to him you think so highly of his sexual prowess. See you in court," said Serena in a sugar sweet voice.

"You wouldn't dare."

She looked at him and just laughed. "Just a heads up since I like you so much, Bradley. You might want to pull the police reports for last nigh then up the retainer you charged for representing Mr. Simoneaux."


"Like I said, just a heads up." Serena gave no further clues and all Bradley could do was watch the sway of her butt encased in the sleek black suit as she left the courtroom. Now all he had to do was find Byron before eight the next morning, and find out what the irritating ADA was talking about.


"You know, anymore days like today and I might find myself unemployed," said Harry from the floor of the studio. After giving Desi her surprise, Desi had decided to thank Harry in a way only she could deliver. They were both naked on the floor by the big windows overlooking the gardens and both were smiling despite the hard wood floor beneath them.

"Then I could spend all day with you, so that's not an incentive to make me let you go, Dr. Basantes." Harry rolled over and hovered over Desi a moment looking at her face before kissing her. She would never get tired of looking at Desi's beauty and took every opportunity to do so.

"I think tomorrow you should call Tony and go shopping for all the stuff you're going to need to get started. Then Mona will have to get the cleaning service out here, there has to be two inches of dust on everything in here, including me." Harry pecked Desi's lips one more time before getting to her feet and walking across the room to retrieve her pants. Desi just sat up from where they had been lying and admired Harry's naked form, and let a bit of pout form on her face when she saw the cell phone materialize in Harry's hand. Maybe this is what it meant to be a medical widow.

She punched one of the numbers on the memory pad and spoke for a few minutes looking back at Desi's miffed expression. "Yes I realize there were surgeries scheduled for today but I had something come up, and besides nothing was earth shattering enough that I can't take care of it this afternoon. Just make sure the OR is ready to go when I get there, which should be in about fifteen minutes, so go ahead and work up Mr. Benson. He wants to get back to his golf game and needs some new knees to hit the greens, so I'll see you in a few."

Harry walked back to where her lover was now glaring at her, but with the sun streaming in from the window Desi still looked like an angel. "I'll only be gone for a few hours, my love. Only two patients and they're right down the street, so no catastrophic emergencies waiting for me today. Come on, Des, don't look at me like that. Cut me some slack and I promise to make it up to you." She walked around Desi and came to sit behind her making it easier to pull the smaller body against her.

"I just want to spend time with you. Is that selfish of me? I mean I have you to thank for my own recovery." Desi reveled in the feel of Harry's skin behind her. It was so easy to be intimate with Harry, so easy to get lost in the passion she had awoken in her.

"That's not selfish, honey, since that's how I feel about you. Now that you're here with me maybe I'll even consider early retirement. Don't you want to hear how I'm going to make it up to you?" asked Harry as she folded her body around Desi's and felt her nod. "I'm going to take you out to dinner tonight with no beeper, no phone and no distractions. I'll get someone else to take my calls, and that way, you won't have to share me for the evening. How's that sound?"

"Like heaven, and I was just kidding, no early retirement for you, baby. I owe you for my recovery like I said and I won't deprive anyone else of that. Too many people need you. Get going, the sooner you start, the sooner you finish." They shared one more long kiss before getting up and getting dressed. Walking back to the house Harry bid Desi goodbye before jumping in the Land Rover and leaving for the hospital. She was planning on a quick shower in the doctor's lounge before heading into surgery.

While waiting for Harry to come home, Desi decided to try out that big claw foot tub in the bathroom upstairs. Her date for the evening didn't tell her where they were going but she did say jeans were out. Sitting in the hot water Desi mentally went through her wardrobe and tried to pick something Harry would like. The soft knock on the door broke her thoughts away from her closet and Harry to Mona. She was the only other person in the house and she hoped everything was all right, knowing she wouldn't disturb her without a good reason.

"Yes, Mona, what's up?"

"Sorry to bother you, sweetie, but Serena's downstairs and she wants to talk to you. Said to tell you it's important."

"Thanks. Tell her I'll be downstairs in a few minutes." She was already regretting having to cut her bath short, but if Serena came over it must have something to do with Byron and his legal troubles she guessed.

Desi threw on her jeans and a shirt Harry had tossed across one of the chairs in the room and headed downstairs on the electric lift Harry had installed. Serena was waiting for her in the sunroom with another visitor Desi didn't expect, but was happy to see.

"Desi, hey, is my Uncle Harry here?"

The little boy came over and hugged her good leg looking up at her with his big blue eyes. If I didn't know any better I'd have to say Harry fathered this kid, thought Desi as she smiled down at Harry's biggest fan. "Sorry, Albert, but Uncle Harry's working today."

Serena looked on with great amusement. Desi appeared different every time they talked, it was as if someone had removed a large weight off the young woman's shoulders making her look lighter and younger. She was starting to show more confidence and the fear in her eyes that had been there before was gone. Serena could see that Desi was beautiful inside and out and it definitely softened the pain of losing.

They sat together while Serena told her of the day's events and what had been scheduled for the next morning. The relief in Desi's eyes now that this nightmare was perhaps coming to an end was more than evident. "You do realize though, that Byron and Mike have skipped town. My guess is they're trying to formulate some sort of alibi clearing them of what happened last night. But if Byron fails to appear tomorrow morning, then he has officially jumped bail."

"What will happen then?"

"His bail bondsman will send some big goons to find him and bring him back kicking and screaming to face trial. If he doesn't show it'll also mean he'll become a fugitive in the eyes of the law, and if I had to guess, I'd say that's what Judge Rose had in mind all along. I heard through the grapevine Jude is still pissed about your ex dragging his naked wife out of bed and into the night, and using him as a punching bag."

Desi nodded as well as shivered. "Byron was always good at making his point with his fists."

"Something you wont' have to worry about again, sweetie." Serena reached over and rubbed Desi's knee in sympathy. "The other plus to having him not show tomorrow is, when he does come back he'll most probably go back to jail while the court proceedings are taking place. Once Judge Reaper gets a hold of him, I'm sure he'll want Byron someplace he can keep tabs on him."

Desi had been thinking about what would have happened to her and Harry had Byron and his brother found the right house last night. She shivered again and jumped when the phone next to her rang. "Hello," she said, hearing the music in the background told her who it was before the deep sexy voice came over the line.

"Hello, beautiful, just wanted to tell you we're heading into our next surgery so I'll be home in about two hours." Harry tried to hold the phone and change scrubs before starting on Mr. Benson's right knee replacement.

Desi filled her in on what Serena had come over and explained. Considering the upcoming court date they both realized they would have to postpone their visit to Harry's parents that weekend but there would be time enough to discuss that later. Harry could hear Desi needed a hug just from the sound of her voice and wished she could just run home for a moment and deliver.

"You want to stay in tonight, honey?" asked Harry.

"Not really, but I have someone here who's dying to see you, so would you be opposed to company at dinner?" Desi smiled at the excitement on Butch's face at the prospect of spending the evening with Harry.

"Is my favorite person under five there with you?"

"That he is, love, and he misses you, so call and up our reservations for two more." Desi hung up and offered Serena and her son an invitation to join them for dinner that evening. Accepting, much to Butch's delight, Serena promised they would be back as soon as they went home and changed.


Sitting in the Palace Restaurant on Canal Street downtown, Harry tried to hide the smile threatening to come out in full force once she noticed that Serena was developing a crush on their last minute addition to dinner. Rachel had arrived as Desi was getting dressed and waiting for Harry to come home, so she had asked her sister if she wanted to join them. The siblings had had a long talk about Serena and her part in Harry's past as Rachel fixed Desi's hair and makeup.

"Doesn't it bother you that she slept with Harry?" asked Rachel as she put Desi's hair in a twist. Experience told Rachel that you shouldn't tempt the fates by having dinner with one of your partner's old lovers. It was going feel funny enough sitting at the table knowing you were the only one in the group who hadn't seen Harry naked.

"Yes it bothers me. Have you seen her? The woman is gorgeous, and everything else I'm not, but Harry loves me not her. Even Serena is quick to acknowledge that fact, but it doesn't change me wanting to gouge her eyes out if she looks at Harry a little too long. Butch just loves Harry to death though, so I couldn't deprive her of that relationship. It's too important to the both of them." Desi lifted the linen dress Tony had helped her pick out on one of their shopping excursions over her head then slipped into one flat shoe. It would be nice to finally be rid of all her medical equipment so she could go back to wearing matching footwear.

"Well if you want, I'll keep an eye on her too. I've waited as long as you have for you and Harry to get back together and we don't need any wrinkles now."

"Uncle Harry, can we order our special dessert now?" asked Butch from his seat next to hers. He had been a perfect gentleman all night sitting quietly with his blue blazer and slicked back hair. Desi had looked at him often, thinking that maybe she was ready to have children now that she had a loving partner to help her raise one.

"Yes, my man, we can do that. We have a special tasks before us, Butch," said Harry seriously. She lifted Desi's and kissed the knuckles before putting it back on the table. Desi smiled at Harry's affectionate side, amazing herself in how quickly she had come to crave it.

"What?" asked Butch just as seriously.

"Let's go to the bathroom and I'll explain," said Harry noticing, that while Butch was well behaved, he was also squirming a bit in his booster seat. Excusing themselves from the table Harry escorted him to the bathroom after they had made a detour to seek out their waiter to talk to him a moment.

Back at the table Desi watched Harry walk around the room with Butch by her side as they made their way to the restrooms. She wished now she'd gone with them, not because she had a need to go, but because with all the flirting going on at the table, her tablemates didn't know she was even there. It seemed obvious to Desi, that while it bothered Rachel that Harry had gone out with Serena, it didn't bother her enough to prevent her from flinging herself at her. If she keeps any closer an eye on her, they'll be sharing a chair, thought Desi.

Entertaining herself by looking at the murals of famous musicians adorning the walls, Desi waited for her date to get back. It had been a pleasant evening so far with good food and good company, but she was looking forward to getting home and spending some time alone with the good doctor.

Noticing the object of her desire coming out of the restroom with her little charge, Desi was temporarily distracted from watching them with the arrival of two of the wait staff. They placed before everyone at the table the specialty of the house, a white chocolate bread pudding drenched in a creamy sauce. Desi looked up from the delicious looking plate in front of her when she heard Harry putting Butch back into his seat.

"Now, ladies, Butch has something very important to tell you," said Harry as she tapped her water glass with her butter knife. The look in Harry's eyes told Serena her friend was getting ready to have a good time and her son was part of the plan. "But before he can explain this very important thing, you must first pick up an eating utensil and finish this little piece of heaven they have placed before you."

Harry and Desi exchanged looks as they continued to watch the interaction between Rachel and Serena. The bread pudding was wonderful and once everyone's plate was empty Butch started with his instructions. "This is the best part, Desi, Uncle Harry says so. Watch me okay?" Picking up the sides of the plate with small hands, Butch lifted it and gave it a healthy lick.

Serena just dropped her head into her hands as Harry picked up her plate next. The other diners seated around their table had to laugh at the strange behavior going on at the table of laughing adults and one child. In the end Desi could see the pride in Butch's eyes that he had introduced her to the fine art of plate licking.

They offered to take Butch home with them so Serena could accompany Rachel to a small jazz club Rachel liked, hearing no complaints from the two as they waited for Harry to settle the bill. Desi promised they would leave Butch with Mona in the morning and they would meet her in court. Kissing her sister goodnight, Desi got into the elevator with Harry and Butch.

They both told him a story before putting him down for the night when they got home, then retired to the comfort of their own room for the evening. Harry helped Desi with her dress, then kneeled down to take off her brace. "You know, honey, I think you can start to walk a little without this thing on now if it doesn't cause you any pain. Now that the weather has warmed up you can start working out in the pool to help with your recovery." Harry was looking at the leg with a physician's eye noticing the way Desi balanced without the brace.

"I owe it all to my brilliant surgeon. I plan to run away with her you know," said Desi. She stood before Harry without anything on and waited to see what the reaction would be. Any fear about her body was swept away by the fact that she was being carried to the bed in Harry's arms. They spent the night just holding each other and sharing a series of long kisses. There was no need for anything else.


"You don't seem to understand, Mr. Simoneaux, if he's not there tomorrow morning at precisely eight you stand to lose a lot. If you have any idea where he is then it'd be in your best interest, not to mention your son's, to be there," said Bradley into the phone.

He had been home for over an hour and his wife didn't look pleased that he'd brought his work home with him. She had been stuck in the house all day with a twenty-month-old and a three-month-old, both of whom had been screaming their heads off all day for some reason or another. So the fact that Bradley didn't seem keen on the idea of taking care of them was working on her last nerve.

Bradley was aggravated himself that his wife couldn't understand his mushrooming dilemma. The simple truth was if he managed to piss off two judges in such a short span of time, he could kiss his budding career goodbye. And that's exactly what was going to happen if the stupid grease monkey he was talking to didn't come up with any better answers than he had given him so far.

"I keep telling you, you goddamn idiot, I don't know where Byron is, so how in the hell can I call him. If I did, I'd kill him myself and save the court the trouble of having to deal with him, and believe me, Bradley, that's what's gonna happen if I lose my garage. What's got this judge all in an uproar all of sudden anyway?" asked Byron, Sr.

"Your sons broke into Judge Rose's house last night and kidnapped his wife thinking it was Desiree Simoneaux." He was beginning to believe the missing link theory of evolution the more time he spent on the phone with his client's father. The only talent the old man seemed to possess was knowing his way around an engine. "Then in a moment of pure genius, Byron physically accosted the judge before making off with his wife."

"What in the hell does that mean in English?"

Bradley looked at the receiver as if to verify he'd heard the man correctly. "If you want it in simpler terms, I'll give it a shot. Last night your boys broke into Judge Jude Rose's house…with me so far?"

"All right, smart ass, get on with it."

"They broke in, dragged the judge's naked wife out of her bed then punched the judge in the eye." He pulled a copy of the captain's report from the night before so he wouldn't miss out on any of the details. "Before they could make their getaway, the judge was able to read the license plate off and call it in. If that wasn't enough, they called each other by name while they rode around in their car with the judge's wife. They wanted to make sure the one witness who could testify to the whole thing could verify their identity so that could be added to the mountain of other evidence they left behind. Did I leave anything out?"

"They did what? Those fucking idiots! I am going to lose my livelihood over this I just know it," screamed Byron Sr. into the phone. Now it didn't seem like such a good idea to not demand to know where his two sons where going.

They had failed to mention this interesting bit of information when they asked him for the car and money to leave town. They had told him they had broken into Desi's new house and the cops were on to them, not that they had kidnapped some judge's wife then attacked the guy. The only thing he did know was they were in Florida somewhere, but there was no way he could call every dive hotel in Pensacola before the next morning.

"Just try and get in touch with them before tomorrow, and if you do, tell Byron to meet me in the morning," Bradley told him before hanging up. Once the receiver was back in the cradle his wife handed him his youngest son who promptly spit up on him. Life just sucked sometimes.


"Mike, I think that chick over there is giving you the eye, man," said Byron from his barstool. They had spent the majority of the money their father had given them bar hopping since they had gotten to Florida. The sun and sand made it easy to forget the trouble that awaited them once they got home. The drunken man only hoped things had calmed down since their departure.

"Forget that, Byron, don't you think we should call the old man and see if the police have come by and questioned him about what happened? Maybe things are all right now and we could kick back and enjoy ourselves." The thought of a long prison sentence was killing Mike's need to be with any woman who might be interested in him, and driving his need to drink.

"Let's wait a few days, little brother. I mean, what could happen before that? If the police are looking for us it won't make any difference if we keep them waiting. Because trust me, this little vacation is our ticket to staying out of jail. That loser old man and his young play thing have no idea who it was in their house, so relax and have a good time." He lifted his hand to get the bartender's attention and ordered another round of drinks.

"I guess you're right. What could happen in the next couple of days to make things worse?" agreed Mike as he took a large gulp of the drink placed in front of him.

Back in New Orleans, a night clerk started compiling names for a grand jury to weigh in on the new charges being filed against the Simoneauxs. The police had finished their investigation and felt they had enough evidence to hand over to the District Attorney.

Serena's boss offered to second chair for Serena if she needed assistance, which was a miracle since once he was elected he rarely stepped foot in the courtroom. But in this case, the DA thought there was no way officers of the court were going to tolerate the insult and injure Jude and Victoria had without handing out severe penalties, so he was pulling out all the big guns.

Concluded in Chapter 5

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