The De Lucas Family

by Animism

I welcome any feedback.


Premise for the story will be a brother and sister raised by 2 fathers. Brother is straight tall dark and handsome fire fighter and sister is lesbian tall dark and beautiful police detective. Nathan is the brother and Ryan is the sister, Fathers are Ed(Dad) and Rafe(Papa). Ryan is Rafe's twin brother's daughter and after the tragic death of her parents, Ed and Rafe adopted 2 year old Ryan and raised her as their own. Through a surrogate Ray and Ed had their second child a year later Nathan. Nathan and Ryan are in actuality cousins but look and act more like brother and sister.

The story opens with Ryan down after a gun battle with a drug dealer, her partner is dead and she has taken a shot to the head. Nathan is a first responder paramedic and manages to stabilize his sister and get her transported to the hospital. Nathan is dating a sexy anesthesiologist Becca at the hospital where Ryan is taken. Upon arrival Ryan is treated by Samantha better known as Sam who just happens to be a cousin of Becca. For months Becca and Nathan have been trying to get Sam and Ryan together with no luck, and now fate seems to be bringing these two hard headed independent women together.

Sam knows Ryan is the woman she has been waiting for, but Ryan is having second thoughts about their relationship, at least until she has things with the drug cartel wrapped up. Ryan feels that her relationship with Sam is only putting her in harms way and she doesn't want that responsibility. Just as Ryan is determined to keep Sam safe, Sam is not willing to let Ryan go it alone. The two butt heads better than any goats.

Ryan gets a new partner via Harry and it is of the four footed variety Sierra is her name and for some unexplained reason the dog and Ryan understand each other. It is if they know what the other is thinking and Ryan begins to feel like a character in the Dr. Doolittle movie. It doesn't hurt that Sierra has taken a shine to Sam as well.

Ryan ends up in a shoot out once again with the Costanos family, but this time she brings down the head of the family himself. Ryan calls out a 999 on the radio that means officer involved shooting and officer down needs immediate help from any agency, and then ends her radio transmission. Unable to contact the Detective De Lucas, dispatch quickly phones Captain Harry Singer. Harry happens to be at the hospital at the time and is standing next Sam and Nathan as the call comes in. That was dispatch Ryan just called out requesting help for an officer involved shooting with an officer down, she is about two blocks away. All parties insist on going and arrive to find that the officer down is Sierra, and she is hurt pretty bad. Sam provides medical assistance.

The story concludes with a very pregnant Sam in labor and delivery with Ryan rushing into the delivery room. Sierra has retired and lives with Sam and Ryan in a ranch style home not too far from Ed and Rafe. Nathan and Becca are expecting their second child. Ryan still works for the police Department is a Lieutenant in investigations and has passed the Captains exam and will be taking Harry's position at the end of the year when he retires.

This is a story about love, friendship and family.



Chapter One

The adrenaline rush is fueling her as she runs flat out almost able to touch the perp just ahead of her. This is it thinks Ryan, the moment Bruce and I have been working so hard to reach. If I can just get this piece of shit we can finally get some answers and confirm our suspicions. As they round the corner Ryan sees the man she is chasing trip but before she can grab him she feels a burning sensation in her right shoulder and then her head explodes in pain, and she is falling. As Ryan's world is fading to black she sees Bruce her partner run by yelling for the citizens coming out of their businesses to call for help, officer down.

The station alarm sounds and Nathan grabs his jacket and heads to his truck, where his partner Wayne is getting into the driver's seat. Over the radio they hear that it is an officer involved shooting and the response is code three. They are also advised that the police department's air ship is enroute with an eta of 15 minutes or less. As the medic van and engine pull up on scene they can see a large crowd gathered around a woman in dark clothing lying on the sidewalk with blood seeping from a head wound.

“Please step back so we can help, did anyone see what happened,” questioned Wayne?

An older woman in ethnic dress explained that there had been a gunman and what appeared to be the woman's partner whom was on foot that ran towards the alley, after yelling for someone to call for help. Wayne turned to check on the downed officer only to see that it was Ryan. “Ryan, can you hear me?”

Nathan stepped just behind Wayne and started opening up the medical cases he had been carrying, when he felt his world come to a crashing stop. This couldn't be happening this was Ryan, his sister and he had just seen her last night at their Dads and there was so much blood.

Wayne could see the panic setting in and knew he needed Nathan's help if they were going to save Ryan. “Nathan pull it together man, I need you and so does Ryan. Get two lines in and start her on O2 .

Years of experience and training took over and the two men began to do everything they could to stabilize Ryan. She had taken a gunshot to the head and what appeared to be another in her right shoulder. Ryan was losing blood fast and the two medics soon heard the sounds of the airship landing in the parking lot behind them as more officers arrived on scene. Ryan, was in trouble and both men knew it and soon they had her on a gurney and rushed her towards the helicopter.

New protocol for serious traumatic injuries showed that the time taken at the scene to stabilize the patients took away precious life saving minutes. In a recent study some patients, showed that a 10-minute delay reduced survival by 10%. Another had shown that patients with gunshot wounds to the torso had a better chance of survival if they came in by private vehicle rather than by ambulance. All of this made every second count if they were going to save Ryan.

“Get in Nathan, and go with her. I will call your Dads and talk to the chief. I think this is her best shot. Just go,” said Wayne as he threw bags of medical equipment to the co-pilot of the craft.

Quickly Nathan jumped into the airship and immediately they were enroute to the hospital where a trauma team was already waiting for them on the helo pad.

Doctor O'Brien was just about to end a double shift when she heard the news, and started at a run towards the roof, where her crew would be waiting. “What do we have, all I heard was an officer was shot and they were bringing her here,” asked Samantha?

Becca stood on the pad and the strain on her face looked almost painful. “I just got a 911 text from Wayne. Nathan's sister is enroute and it doesn't look good. She has taken a GSW to the head and right shoulder and has lost a lot of blood. She is O+ and I have already sent an intern to the bank to get three units. They were able to get two lines in at the scene, have her on low level saturation of O2 and should be here any second.”

‘Damn, thought Sam, Becca and Wayne had been trying to get her to go on a date with this woman for months and now this was how she was finally going to meet her.' “If Wayne knows then, does that mean that her brother is the medic enroute with her?”

“Yes that is what Wayne said, he is going to tell their parents and we have an O.R. ready and waiting.”

“Good job Becca, let's do our thing. Was she alone?”

“No they are still looking for her partner and the gunman.”

“Let's just hope her partner is in better shape.”

The noise from the fast approaching airship could be heard. Soon the helicopter was down and the trauma unit was rushing under the still moving rotors to get to the hurt officer.

Nathan was the first to jump out and informed the doctors what had been done and Ryan's vitals. “Blood pressure is 80/40, pulse rate is 120 and weak, both carotid and radial. Respirations are shallow and gasping, 32 breaths per minute.”

With one look from Sam, Becca reached for Nathan telling him to let Sam and the crew do their job. “You did everything you could now I need you to step back and let Sam do her magic. If I know Wayne he will have your parents here soon.”

“Take care of her Becca, we can't lose her……………I don't think our Dads could take that.”

Becca turned and ran after the racing gurney, knowing that Wayne would be there soon for Nathan. Upon entering the E.R. Becca could hear Sam yelling out orders and monitors were beginning to beep. Becca rushed up and grabbed Ryan's hand as she appeared to be regaining consciousness.

“Anyone see the bus that hit me, damn I hurt.” The six foot well built Italian looked, pale and weak, a sight Becca had never seen before. If ever there was a poster woman for athleticism and good looks it would be Nathan's sister. Even a straight girl like Becca thought she was hot, and only too happy with her male portion of these fine genetics.

“You hang in there you hear. I finally get you and Sam in the same room and of course you have to be dramatic. Wayne is getting your Dads.” Becca is trying to be light, but the strain on her face was evident. Quickly Becca readied the anesthesia that would put Ryan under, so Sam could stop the bleeding and hopefully save Ryan's life. Becca and Ryan were close, they both loved the same man, one as his sister and the other his lover, and hopefully future wife.

“What about Bruce did he get the perp?” Ryan's face was both anxious and drawn.

“I don't know Ryan. I just know the whole city is looking for him and that I need you to concentrate on yourself right now that is what Bruce would want.” Becca looked up to see Sam looking into Ryan's eyes and for a moment it appeared as if Sam was seeing a ghost.

“Sam this is the infamous and busy Detective Ryan,” stated Becca.

Sam is smaller than Ryan around 5'5” with long wavy reddish brown hair and green eyes. She finds herself captivated by the woman before her and wondering why they both had been so busy working instead of seeing each other. “You just hang in there Detective and maybe I'll buy you that drink.”

Ryan felt as if she was looking at an angel. The woman before her was gorgeous. Wow, she thinks have my priorities been off.

Ryan's vitals started to plummet even further and her chest felt like it was being crushed. The monitors began to go haywire and Sam once again became an inferno in the E.R. “Where is that blood damn it, and let's get her into trauma 1 stat!”

Ryan can tell she is in deep shit and grabs Becca's hand. “If I don't-

“Don't you dare finish that sentence Ryan……..I know.”

It is at that moment that Ryan's shoulder wound begins to bleed more profusely. “She has a pneumothorax on the right side I need a 3 way stopcock and a 40 ml syringe.” The blood is drained away and air is refilling the lung as Ryan begins to cough with the sudden inflation. Samantha is massaging the insertion site with sterile gauze to seal the channel into the pleural space. “Breathe officer and you keep fighting.” Quietly Ryan opens her eyes and looks at Sam and says, “you fix me up doc and we'll have dinner.”

“Then it's a date Ryan, I am going to hold you to that.” The crew rushed the gurney down the sterile hallway towards Trauma 1.

Four hours later, two very tired Dr. O'Brien's walk out to talk to Ryan's family. Both Sam and Becca, had been officially off hours ago, but neither were willing or able to leave. Quickly Nathan reached for Becca and his Fathers and Wayne rose anxious for news. “How is she Sam,” asked Nathan?

“We were able to stabilize her and she is holding her own. The next 24 hours will tell us a lot, we have her in I.C.U. She lost a lot of blood and there is some swelling from the head shot, she has a closed skull fracture but her cat scans look good. She is young, strong and in great health, now it is just a waiting game. She hasn't woken up yet, but if you want to go sit with her for a while I will inform the nurses.” Sam looked exhausted in her sweaty scrubs, and curls of damp hair escaping from her surgical cap.

Ed reached out to take the young woman's hand. “Thanks doctor she means the world to us, we would love to sit with her.” Together Ed and Rafe walked with Becca, Wayne and Nathan towards the I.C.U.

Ed and Rafe sat at their daughter's bedside for 7 long days before she awoke. Slowly Ryan's hand began to move and then her right eye opened. “You two look like shit,” said a hoarse voice.

“Well young lady we have both probably aged 7 years in the last week and it is all, your fault,” said Ed with tears welling up in his eyes. Soon both Rafe and Ed were leaning in to kiss their little girl.

“Please don't ever scare us like that again Ryan, we love you so much sweet heart,” stated Rafe.

Ryan was exhausted, but jubilant in the love she felt from her parents. For as long as she could remember, they had been a family and they meant the world to her. Ryan's own parents had died in a tragic accident when their vehicle was run off the road one night by a drunk driver. They had died instantly and Rafe, her Father's twin brother had been babysitting her that night. There was never any question that Rafe and his partner Ed, would take the child in. Ryan was two years old at the time and her parents upon her birth had made Rafe and Ed, her God Fathers. A year later her new Dads had decided that she needed a sibling and through the help of a surrogate, Nathan was born.

Ryan had taken her role as the big sister very seriously and she had always been her brothers' biggest protector. In actuality the two were cousins, but Ed and Rafe were the only parents that Ryan could truly remember. She had vague recollections of a soft spoken Mother and a playful Father, and Ed and Rafe made sure to keep these memories alive for Ryan. It was Ed though that Ryan, remembered bandaging her first scrape, and Rafe holding her at night when she had a bad dream. Ryan had never felt unwanted or like a burden, her childhood had been filled with love and good memories.

Ryan only remained conscious for the nurse to check her vitals before she fell back asleep. This caused both her Fathers concern, until the nurse assured them this was normal and the worst had passed. She would send the doctor in as soon as she was available.

Only minutes had passed before a very happy Dr. O'Brien was walking into the room. “Well gentleman, I hear the princess has finally awakened.”

“You had better not let her hear you calling her that,” chuckled Ed. He liked this woman and appreciated the care and concern she had shown his daughter.

“Ryan needs rest now and so do the two of you. I suggest you two go home and come back tonight I will stay with her until either Becca or Nathan arrive, my shift is over and I don't have any plans. I will make sure she knows you will be coming this evening, if she wakes before you return.”

Rafe, reached for Sam's hand, and told her thanks. Shortly thereafter both men exited the room with their arms wrapped around each other's shoulder to get some much needed rest. Sam watched fondly, admiring the relationship and love these two strong men had for their children and each other. Her cousin Becca was lucky to have Nathan and his parents in her life.

Sam's own relationship with her parents had been strained ever since she had come out in college some 10 years ago. Distance and a lack of talking kept the strain steady, but Sam wished things were different. Her parents had a lot of preconceived notions about her choice of lifestyle, and it was these differences in beliefs they could not overcome.

As Sam gazed down at the beautiful woman before her, she acknowledged for the first time the worry she had been holding inside. As a doctor Samantha knew that the body would take the time it needed to heal and thus this is what caused Ryan to stay in a coma this past week, but her heart had been captured by this family and their deep commitments to each other. She and Becca were cousins and she had met Nathan on several occasions, but this was the first time she had met all of the De Lucas family. Ed and Rafe were two great looking men, both with professional careers. Ed was a prosecutor in the District Attorney's office and Rafe owned an exclusive Italian restaurant down town. He had opened the restaurant shortly after Nathan's graduation from the Fire Department academy. Ryan didn't know it yet, but this is where she wanted their first date to be and she truly hoped it would one of many.

For over two hours Sam sat by Ryan's bedside, until she felt a hand touching hers. Slowly Ryan's eyes opened revealing that deep rich chocolate color that had captured Sam's interest just a little over seven days ago. “Hello, how are you feeling,” asked Sam?

“Much better, but I would love a little water if you wouldn't mind.” Ryan's voice was scratchy from the lack of use.

Sam picked up the large hospital cup with a straw and directed it towards a set of gorgeous lips. ‘Jee whiz why don't you just go ahead and start to drool while you are at it. I mean really the woman just woke up, it's not her fault you have been able to think of nothing else but her for the last several nights,' thought Sam.

Ryan saw the interest in Sam's eyes and couldn't keep the smirk off her face. “Like what you see Doc?”

Coughing to cover her shock at being caught staring, Sam stammered out, “uhhh, I was just-

“It's ok Doc, I was admiring the scenery myself, before I touched your hand.”

Ryan was a very confident woman. She was beautiful and tall enough to be a model, if that had been her choice. She had a Bachelor degree in Criminal Justice and had minored in psychology. She was currently working on her Masters and was not only a student but also occasionally taught law enforcement classes at the local College when time would allow. She had spent the last six months with her partner Bruce trying to arrest a large drug cartel that had been bringing drugs into the country from South America. The Los Angeles Police Department had several substations and Ryan worked out of the West Division.

Reality came back to Ryan, and grasping Sam's hand she asked about Bruce. “Doc, how is Bruce? Do you know where he is?”

Before Sam even spoke Ryan knew the answer wasn't going to be good by the look in Sam's eyes.

“Tell me Sam, I need to know, and if you don't tell me what in the hell is going on right this minute, I will remove these I.V.'s and crawl out of here if I have to.”

Ryan began to rise up on her elbows, wincing in pain as she did. Quickly Sam reached out a restraining arm, to hold her patient down.

“Ryan, when they found him it was too late. He had been gunned down in the alleyway. Your Captain came by and spoke with Nathan, he thought that the criminal, perp, whatever you guys call them, that you were chasing was trying to lead you both into an ambush. Apparently you got too close and the guy shot at you before he entered the alley way, only the crowd that came out to check on you saved your life. I am so sorry, but from what Harry, said, Bruce never had a chance.”

Tears filled Ryan's eyes, next to Nathan, Bruce was like a brother to her. Shortly after her graduation from the academy, they had been partnered and through various promotions were once again working together as detectives on this latest drug case.

“Damn, he was a good man. How is Shayne, his wife? She must be devastated.” Ryan's face reflected her shock at this awful news.

“Nathan said she left yesterday, to stay with her parents in Detroit. She was taking his body to bury him Saturday near his parent's graves. She left a letter for you and said she would see you soon.” Sam gestured towards the night stand to the right side of Ryan's bed.

“Please read it Doc,” tears ran down Ryan's face.

Sam was worried about the stress Ryan was going through but understood her need to know what had happened and she could tell Ryan was serious about crawling out of the hospital if need be and that would only set back her own healing more.

Dear Ryan, I can't express how sad I feel, not only for myself, but for you. I have to believe you will wake up and read this letter soon. I need my folks and Bruce's brother is waiting for me also. I know you always took care of each other, and Bruce would want you to go on. You two were so alike in many ways, the loss you shared with your parents both passing so young and your need to help people and make this a better world to live in. I love you and hope to see you or at least talk to you soon my friend.

Love, Shayne.


“I am sorry Doc, but I think I need to sleep, and the pain is kind of bad,” said a despondent Ryan.

“I'll be right back with something that will help you, just a minute.” Slowly Sam released Ryan's hand.

When Sam returned with the medication that would help Ryan sleep she was surprised at how sad it made her to see Ryan gazing off, looking so broken and lost. It would take time for Ryan to find peace both emotionally and physically and Sam felt some unknown force pushing her to help with both things. A doctor was not supposed to become emotionally involved with their patients and yet Ryan was already inside of her, making Sam yearn for something that only Ryan could provide.

Later that night when Ryan once again awoke it was to find her family surrounding her and smiling. Rafe was the first to speak. “Hi honey, you sure had us worried. Sam told us that you know about
Bruce, he was a good man and we are so sorry.” Rafe laid his hand on Ryan's shoulder as Ed sat on her other side holding her hand.

“But why Papa, this should not have happened. Poor Shayne,” cried Ryan.

“There was nothing you could have done Ryan. You are lucky to be alive.” Ed's face showed weariness that only time could take away.

“I know Dad, but it just isn't right. I need to get out of here and find the scum behind all of this. We were getting so close.”

Ed and Rafe, exchanged glances, they knew what a hellion their daughter could be and it would take a lot to get her to heal up and not go off half cocked in pursuit of this drug cartel.

Nathan had been taking the scene in for a while and stepped towards his sister. “I know how mad you are Ryan, but Bruce would want you to get better first. Harry came by and said he wouldn't clear you back to active duty until you were healed and released both by Sam and the Department Psychiatrist, and he meant it.”

“Fine, but as soon as I am better those scumbags are all mine. This isn't over and I am going to make sure that Bruce's sacrifice wasn't for nothing,” stated a convicted Ryan.

“Sleep sis, I am taking the Dads home and I'll see you tomorrow. Don't go giving the staff too hard of a time now that you are awake and feeling cranky.”

“I am not cranky,” grumbled Ryan. “Ok, I get it. You three go and get some rest. I love you guys.”

Ryan lay in her hospital bed feeling not only anger, but an extreme sense of loss and failure. She kept thinking that there should have been something she could have done differently that would have prevented Bruce's death. She had nothing but time on her hands and at this rate it was going to drive her crazy. Sleep couldn't come soon enough to the young woman.

Sam had come into work earlier than usual the next day to check on Ryan. She felt tugged by the woman and couldn't let it go. Samantha was worried that now that the detective was awake, but so seriously injured, she might become depressed and that would only hinder her recovery. Maybe getting that psyche evaluation would be better done sooner than later and she knew just the man to call. Flipping her cell phone open she dialed the number that one Captain Harry Singer, had insisted she take.

“Captain Singer, this is Dr. O'Brien at the hospital.”

“Hi, Doc, I heard the patient was awake and cranky. Do you need us to come over and cuff her to the bed?”

“I might take you up on that later. There is another matter though, I am worried about her emotional state. She took the news about Bruce very hard, as was to be expected, but then she just got quiet and seemed very defeated. I was thinking you might want to send your psychologist in sooner than you had planned, and if she isn't available I would suggest we find someone from the hospital staff.”

“Actually I was talking to Stephanie earlier, and she was expressing concerns, she and Ryan are friends and well let's just say she was of the same mindset. Do you think she could come by some time tomorrow?”

“I think that would be fine Sir.”

“Quit that, I told you to call me Harry.”

“Ok, but only if you call me Sam.”

The conversation between the two was finished and Sam was putting the phone into her purse and about to enter Ryan's room, when she heard a sullen Ryan telling the orderly that she wasn't hungry and to just take the bland meal away.

Poking her head around the doorway Sam caught the eye of the orderly, “Don't worry Tom, I will make sure miss grumpy here eats.”

A relieved Tom thanked Sam, and exited the room before the disgruntled patient could respond.

“Well aren't you the confident one,” grumbled Ryan.

“Yes, I am and you will stop with your grumpiness and enjoy a nice visit with me, because to do otherwise would be a waste of your time.” Sam's eyebrow arched and a determined look came over her face.

For the first time since the other woman had entered the room, Ryan really looked at her. Sam's slightly curly hair cascaded down her shoulders and the green color of her eyes was vibrant, her attire relaxed and yet very flattering to the doctor's obviously toned anatomy. All in all a very nice picture concluded Ryan.

“I tell you what Doc, you come over here and keep me company and I will see what I can do about being nicer, deal?”

“You are on as long as you promise to eat something.”

Ryan accepted the terms and started to take a long look at her mid day meal. It helped to have Sam there, she felt comforted and yet stimulated by Sam's presence. “Doc, I wanted to tell you that I am sorry for being so busy and not making time for that date Nathan and Becca kept trying to set up, I would really like to get to know you better.” Ryan snaked out her hand to grab Samantha's and brought her in closer for a kiss.

Sam didn't even think to resist, she just allowed her body to be brought closer to Ryan's. Soon Sam, could smell the spicy scent that was all Ryan, and before she knew it soft, warm lips had captured hers. The kiss lasted only seconds, but it is enough for Sam to admit to herself that she wanted so much more. From the moment Sam, laid eyes on Ryan she had been intrigued by her. This woman awakened something in her that she thought had died long ago. Sam's personal life didn't have the best track record, and she spent way too much time working. With just one kiss Sam, knew she needed more in her life and she knew Ryan was just the woman to give it to her.

Ryan was in her own world of wow, she wanted this woman. Sam's scent was intoxicating and Ryan wanted to feel that silky wavy hair touching her body. ‘I think I am feeling a lot better thought Ryan. Did I really just grab the Doc's hand and kiss her?'

“Doc, I don't know what to say I don't normally go grabbing women and kissing them. I'm sorry,” mumbled Ryan.

Samantha was flushed and caught off guard by both Ryan's actions and her reactions. Trying to make light of what was a very heated exchange Samantha picked up the fork on the food tray and began to feed Ryan, “Ok Romeo, eat up.” Before long the meal was gone and the temperature in the room seemed to have cooled slightly. Sam inherently knew that Ryan needed to feel something good and alive in order to fight her current state of emotional grief, and if she could provide that she was more than willing. “Wanna watch a movie or something,” queried Sam?

“You don't have to baby sit me Doc. I'll behave, I promise.” Ryan winked at the good doctor.

“I don't look at it as baby sitting, as much as some well spent time with someone that I hope to be spending some quality time in the future. Also I have contacts and I figured you might be up for a small Jell-O or a little chocolate.”

“I never refuse chocolate, bring it on Doc.”

Ryan's color had returned and even in a hospital gown she exuded sex. She had a quirky smile and a sparkle was hovering in the back of those dark eyes. Obviously Ryan was a strong woman, and Sam hoped that Ryan would be able to heal both physically and emotionally before she had to go back to her pursuit of the drug cartel.

Across town in a modest bachelor pad Nathan was kneeling down on one knee and holding Becca's hand. “Honey, I had more grandiose plans for how I was going to say this, but I just can't wait a moment longer. I love you with all my heart and nothing would make me happier than for us to get married and start that family you have always wanted. Before you answer I want to assure you that our honey moon will more than make up for the setting of this proposal.” Nathan's face glowed with love for the woman before him.

Looking into his eyes, Becca slowly leaned forward and captured her lover's lips in a passionate kiss. “Nathan De Lucas, I would be honored to be your wife. There is nothing in this world that could make me happier. I love you.”

“Well my Fathers will be happy to hear this. They have been bugging me about grandchildren for a while now, and both of our schedules have been so busy starting our careers. I am up for a promotion later this year and if you wanted you could cut your hours a little and we could start looking for a house.”

“I want to have your children, and I think we already know of a good baby sitter that runs the best Italian restaurant in town.”

“If I know Rafe, he will soon have a daycare set up. I feel so lucky, and everything with Ryan has made me realize how uncertain life can be and how important family is and I don't want to waste another moment being too busy to live my life with you. I want my Dads to get to be grand fathers and I think Ryan could really benefit from being an aunt. I am worried about her.”

“I know, but I think Sam has fallen for her and that may be just what Ryan needs. Sam looks at her like I have never seen her look at another. I don't know if she realizes it but she is very much smitten with your sister.”

“Let's hope that this family of ours keeps growing then. Ryan has always been such a tornado and if she ever needed an anchor it is now more than ever. Tomorrow we will go to the hospital and give both of them the good news.”

The next morning found an unhappy Harry talking to an equally unhappy Ryan. “This isn't up for debate De Lucas, you will be seeing Stephanie this afternoon and if you make one step in investigating or going after this drug cartel before I give you the go ahead, you will be sitting behind a desk until your hair turns gray. Do you understand me Ryan, because I am beyond serious here?”

Harry was a stocky, well muscled bloke and gave off the appearance of not only strength but leadership. At sixty his hair was showing more gray than brown and his eyes reflected street smarts that only a cop could acquire after years on the job.

“It's not fair,” said a sullen Ryan.

“A lot of shit in life isn't fair, live with it.” With those parting words Harry huffed out a breath and left the room of one of his best detectives. He had already lost Bruce. No way was the same thing going to happen with Ryan. He had a unit at the hospital and another going by her parents. He had a bad feeling about this one.

At 2:00 P.M. Stephanie entered Ryan's room carrying a yellow carnation, and a white teddy bear. Stephanie was tall like Ryan but where Ryan had dark hair and skin from her Italian roots, she was blonde and blue eyed with a fair complexion. “I thought since I heard how irritating you were being I would make sure you had some company you couldn't offend.”

Stephanie looked into her friend's eyes and saw only sorrow and pain, quickly she masked her own face so Ryan would not see her worry. Ryan wouldn't want Stephanie's concern or what she would see as pity, she needed strength and time to heal and Stephanie was determined to help her with both.

“Very funny Steph. You know I can't sit still for long and I have been doing exactly that for over 10 days now. According to my sexy doctor and overly protective boss, I don't have a choice. I suppose you are here to tell me the same.”

“You know you are not ready to go after that drug cartel. I will tell you, the guys at the precinct feel very strongly that the Costanos are behind all of this. It appears that you and Bruce had a run in with them a while back. Do you remember an arrest of a 20 year old by the name of Daniel Rivera for money laundering and intent to distribute?”

“Vaguely, that was over 2 years ago. Guess Bruce and I really pissed someone off.”

“Apparently he is the son of a Victor Costanos. Usually Victor is in El Salvador, but it appears his son is getting released next month due to a deal with the Feds. I think Tom in Vice is trying to find out what the hell is going on. I promise to keep you updated with whatever I find out as long as you promise not to do anything stupid.”

“Ok, I get it rest, recuperate, and talk to you.” When push came to shove Ryan knew when to quit fighting and this wasn't a battle she was going to win. Everyone that meant something in her life was determined that she get better and it looked as if that was what she would be doing for the near future.

Before Stephanie left a smiling Nathan and Becca entered the room holding hands. Slowly Becca lifted her hand and showed the two women the engagement ring on her finger. Behind them came Samantha with a bottle of sparkling cider and several plastic cups.

“Wow, took you long enough Bro.”

“Isn't that the truth Sis, but I am ready for this and so much more.” Nathan leaned down and kissed Becca ever so gently. “We want to have the ceremony soon, so you need to get well enough to get out of here.”

“Well, talk to the good doctors they are bosses of me for the moment,” said Ryan pointing to Sam and Stephanie.

Sam looked at the hopeful look on Ryan's face and responded. “You are not ready to go back to work of course, but I think if your lab results come back good and your incisions continue to heal like they are you could at least be home and in outpatient therapy by the end of the week.”

“I would really like that. I'll be good, but I would really like to get outside and feel the sun on my face.”

Stephanie knew how much Ryan hated being confined to the indoors. “If it is ok with Sam, I will be glad to get a wheel chair and drive you around as soon as your I.V. is out.”

“I think we could arrange that for tomorrow, as long you get some rest and try not to harass my staff too much tonight.” Sam gave Ryan a pointed look.

The group spent the next 30 minutes talking about the upcoming wedding and Ryan's plans to go to her parents to recuperate for a while. Ryan seemed more at peace and was accepting that she needed time to heal, before she could make things right with Bruce. She would give her loved ones time while she healed, but then those bastards wouldn't know what hit them. The Costanos family was going to learn what it meant to take on Ryan De Lucas.

It was mid morning and the day nurse had just removed Ryan's I.V. “Well you seem in better spirits today and so far the only complaints I heard the staff talking about is the older lady down the hall. Good to see things are getting a little better for you.” Shirley had been Ryan's nurse off and on. She had seen cases like Ryan before, and it was hard for such a vibrant active person to be kept in bed, not able to control what was going on around them.

Looking chagrinned Ryan replied, “I owe all of you an apology. I haven't been my best while I've been here. You won't have any more trouble from me, that's a promise.”

“Believe it or not Ryan, I do understand. I appreciate the apology though, and I will make sure the rest of the staff knows. You just concentrate on getting better, and maybe making some time with the pretty doctor.” Shirley exited the room with a knowing grin on her face.

Stephanie as promised showed up with a wheel chair and even brought comfortable pajamas bottoms and a tank top for Ryan to wear. She knew that not only did Ryan need to just get out of bed and the hospital room, but she needed to start feeling whole and strong again. Stephanie couldn't give Ryan back all the control she was used to in her life, but she could for now help with the small stuff. Little steps was a rule she lived by and it had served her well in her profession of choice.

“Ok, hot stuff are you ready to check this place out? I hear they have some pretty hot females on staff here.” Stephanie was dressed in black silk trousers and a long sleeve white dress shirt. Steph and Ryan had been picking up women for years and Stephanie knew that the best way to get her friend to feel some sense of balance was to help her regain a little bit of normalcy, and what was not more normal than Ryan on the prowl.

“Uhmm, what would you say about just going outside and enjoying the sun after you drive me around the floor and I make a few apologies.”

Now this was a shock for Stephanie, Ryan was actually declining the opportunity for some easy flirting and appeared to just want to talk and enjoy the sunshine. After about 30 minutes of walking around the hospital floor Ryan had charmed the hospital staff,and the two women were now seated in a court yard to the rear of the hospital near a small fountain.

“Ok, slick spill it. Who has captured your attention, because I know something is up?”

Ryan had a grin on her face as she looked at Stephanie, and honestly answered, “Would you believe me if I told you I thought I was falling for the good doctor, and falling hard?”

Stephanie just sat and stared at her friend a little more than shocked. In all the years she had known Ryan, she had watched her go from one uncommitted relationship to another and now here she was telling her she was falling for a woman she hadn't even gone out on a real date with. “Ryan not that I am not happy to hear you are finally really interested in a woman for something other than sex. I have to ask what has brought this on? I mean we have been friends for several years now, and in all that time I have never heard you mention the word falling, are you telling me that you actually think you have finally found someone you want a long term relationship with?”

“I think I might have Steph, Sam is amazing and when I look into her eyes I feel like I have known her before. She intrigues me. Also there is this magnetism that is so intense and her lips just fit mine so perfectly.”

“Wow! You kissed her? I mean how, when? Wait I mean I know how but…..Ok you know I am the therapist here and you have me totally dazed. Ryan De Lucas who is known throughout the department and most of Los Angeles as good time Ryan no permanent entanglements allowed.” Stephanie is now looking at Ryan as if she has grown a second head.

“Hey, I can do relationships, look at my family, Bruce, Becca, you….What do you call those?”

“It is not the same and you know it. I think this woman might be the best thing for you. If you put her in your sights and commit yourself, you might find out what true happiness is.”

“Says the woman that hasn't been on a date for over 6 months,” replied a sarcastic but smiling Ryan.

“Well at least I can say I have been in a steady relationship in the last two years, it wasn't my fault she turned out to be a womanizing, self indulgent, tramp.” Passion and hurt filled Stephanie's eyes as she started to stand up.

A concerned Ryan reached over and grabbed her friend's hand. “I am sorry I shouldn't have said that. I know you are still gun shy and well this is all new to me and you know how I am about teasing when I am feeling insecure. I want her Steph, more than I think I have ever wanted anyone before. I like her smell, her sense of humor, you name it.”

“Then concentrate on this while you heal and put work aside for now. Can you do that?”

“At first I didn't think so but with Harry giving me no options about work and knowing how my family feels, I think I would like nothing more than to concentrate on Sam and see where things go.”

The two women spent several hours outside talking about the shooting and other police issues before a tired, but hopeful Ryan returned to her room. Ryan would miss seeing Sam all the time, but after being outside today she knew that she needed to get out of the hospital and go home.

That afternoon on her rounds, Sam saved her favorite patient for last. She was dressed in jeans with a white lab coat and her hair piled up on her head. Ryan was watching a sitcom on the T.V. when Sam entered with a beautiful smile.

“I have some good news for you, your labs came back and I think you could be discharged tomorrow afternoon. I will arrange for the physical therapist to come by in the morning and set up an appointment.”

“That is great Doc. When do you think, we might be able to have that dinner I promised you?”

“I am free on Sunday and I have Monday off so if you are feeling up for it I could come by and pick you up at 6:30.”

Ryan's face lit up in a smile and she gladly agreed to the time. “I'll write out the directions and give them to you later. I am really looking forward to this Sam. I……………..”

“It's ok Ryan this is new for me too. Let's just take it one step at a time, no pressure. I just really want to get to know you and see where this goes.”

Fondly Ryan said, “I would really like that too Doc. Got a minute to sit and relax?”

“I think I could spare a few for my favorite patient,” stated a grinning Sam.

The two women sat holding hands for the next 30 minutes, content in small talk and just enjoying each other's company. A knock at Ryan's door announced the arrival of her Father's.

“So Sam, any idea when we can take Ryan home,” asked Ed?

“I got Ryan's labs back this afternoon and if things keep going as they have, I see her going home tomorrow afternoon. How does that sound?”

“That's the best news we have heard since Ryan woke up. Of course you will come home with us for a while you'll be needing a little help I suppose, besides you know how much we would both like to be there for you, Ryan.” Rafe looked at his daughter with a hopeful expression.

“That would be really nice actually. My small apartment doesn't sound so great after being in this room for so many days, no offense Doc.”

“None taken I need to be getting home myself, you three have a nice visit and I'll see you tomorrow Ryan.”

“Ok, spill it honey. I see you looking at the good doctor and if I know my little girl, you are interested,” says Ed.

“I am Daddy. I really am. She is planning on picking me up Sunday evening and I am going to take her to De Lucas's for dinner.”

The next afternoon Ryan was dressed in a loose fitting pair of sweats and a t-shirt, sitting on the bed waiting for the charge nurse to bring her release paper work. Harry had called earlier to make sure she didn't need anything and was relieved to hear that Ryan would be going to her parents for a couple of weeks. It gave him a chance to get his plan in place.

The door to Ryan's room opened revealing her Brother. “Aren't you ready yet?”

“I was ready days ago, but the paper work around here seems to take a while,” stated an anxious Ryan.

“Did someone ask for discharge papers, because I just happen to have some, and they even have your name on them?” Sam entered with a big smile and a small bunch of flowers. “Here is a little something to add some color to your day.”

“Thanks Doc, the flowers are pretty. Are we still on for Sunday?”

“Yep, I will be by around 6:30. I am really looking forward to De Lucas's.”

As soon as Nathan had his sister in his truck the inquisition began. “So how is that Becca and I try for months to get the two of you together and it takes you almost dying to get you two to go on a date?”

“I think my priorities have been slightly off. Obviously she is sexy, smart, did I mention sexy?”

“Glad to see that you are feeling better Ryan.”

“Thanks for picking me up. I am so glad to be out of that place. I need to sit outside in the sun for a week. Do you think the Dads would let me sleep outside or are they going to be over protective much?”

“I think you will be getting the royal treatment for a while. I bet Papa brings you dinner home each night. Becca and I might have to stop by and help you eat all of the food he will be bringing, especially now that there is going to be three of us.”

Suddenly it dawned on Ryan what her brother has just said. “Oh my gosh, you're going to be a Dad and I'm going to be an Aunt. Wow when did you find out? Do the Dads know?”

“One we found out yesterday and it was a complete surprise. We are going to tell Dad and Papa tonight after Becca gets to the house. She is bringing your favorite, Chinese.” Nathan was grinning from ear to ear. “Ryan I was so happy to be getting married and now this. I feel like the luckiest man alive.”

“You both will make wonderful parents, and I am really looking forward to the look on our Fathers faces. They are going to be ecstatic.”

Nathan had told his Fathers that Becca would be bringing dinner and they had another announcement. Soon Becca had arrived and the whole family was gathered around the living room comfortably eating.

Rafe was the first to speak. “Ok put us out of our misery, we are dying to know what you two have to announce now.”

The young couple looked at each other and Becca nodded to Nathan, encouraging him to tell his Fathers their good news.

“You are going to be Grandparents.”

Ed jumped off the couch and reached for his son and soon to be daughter in-law, let out a hardy cheer and hugged them. “I am so happy. This is wonderful news.”

Next to join in the hugging was Rafe and soon followed Ryan. The family experienced a happiness that seemed a long time coming. Ryan had decided this taking time to heal, and relax might not be so bad in the long run. The men insisted on cleaning up the dinner mess and left the two women in their collective lives to chat.

“So I hear you are finally going on that date I have been trying to set you up on for months.”

“Nathan already gave me a hard time earlier, and if it is any consolation you were right, I really do like her. I am looking forward to Sunday. Sam is amazing Becca. I feel like I have known her forever, she is so easy to talk to and we like a lot of the same things,” rambled Ryan.

“I think she feels the same way Ryan and I am very happy that you are getting to know each other. It is about time you really let someone into your life. Sam is the real thing Ryan. I don't know what she has told you but her relationship with my Aunt and Uncle is poor to say the least. She is more like my sister than my cousin and my parents feel the same way. I am only going to say this once, don't hurt her.”

“I can tell that, and I want you to know that I am taking this seriously, she is not just another fling to me. I wonder if you guys think I am shallow sometimes, but it has been hard to find someone that I could open up to. Somehow Sam has gotten by all of my defenses before I was even aware she had.”

“I think the two of you might really have something, all I ask is that you give it a try.”

“You have a deal soon to be sister.”

Friday evening Stephanie was paying Ryan an official visit. As Stephanie walked up to the front door of the De Lucas's she was thinking about the concern she had for Ryan both as her patient and her friend. They had adjusted to the whole Psychologist thing and the friendship had just developed from there. Stephanie had asked Ryan at the hospital if she would like a therapist that she didn't know or have any history with, but Ryan had adamantly refused and said that it was her or no one. Stephanie's main concern was that Ryan wasn't dealing with the loss of Bruce. It was as if Ryan had put the whole matter in a closet within her mind, and Stephanie knew that this would only lead to a bigger blow up later. Ryan had been expecting Stephanie and had heard her car pull up. As soon as Stephanie was about to ring the bell, Ryan opened the door.

“Want something to drink before we get started,” asked Ryan.

“I wouldn't say no to some of that sparkling water you like so much with a little lime.”

“Go ahead out back and I will be there shortly,” replied Ryan.

Ed and Rafe had a ranch style home in a nice neighborhood just east of Pasadena in the foothills. Rafe's restaurant was in Los Feliz, so his commute wasn't too bad. The backyard was landscaped with lush foliage and a small manmade stream that ended in a small Koi pond, making it a pleasant retreat.

“Well this beats my office any day.” Stephanie could see the tension in Ryan and was trying to decide if it would be better to diffuse it or have her go ahead and let it out. Letting it out seemed the best bet so Stephanie jumped right in. “Ryan, I want to know how you are feeling about Bruce?”

“I feel sad, but also kind of like it isn't real. I mean the last time I saw him he was running into that alley way. I just feel kind of numb to it all I guess.”

“You have been through a lot and that makes sense. You know you are going to have to say goodbye, have you given that any thought?”

“I thought maybe on Monday for our session you could drive me to Griffith Park, we used to meet up there and go jogging on the weekends. I thought maybe if I went some place we use to frequent, that it might make things feel more real to me.”

“I think that would be a good idea if you are feeling up to it. We could always get something to eat at that Mexican restaurant after the session and you can tell me as your friend all the juicy details of your date on Sunday,” said a smirking Stephanie.

Ryan and Stephanie had never dated. They had met as patrol officers and slowly developed a great friendship. While the two women had law enforcement in common, they were also very different. Stephanie's life was more organized where Ryan liked the chaotic everyday life in the station house. Stephanie had been in the training academy class just prior to Ryan's and within 2 years of being a Patrol officer she knew she needed more. Shortly Stephanie began to take night courses in psychology and received her Master's Degree and then later her P.H.D. Stephanie had been driven to help her comrades and had been there through death, celebration of life and the endings of both careers and marriages. The men and women of the department experienced what everyday people did and then added to that were the atrocities and few joys their jobs brought them.

The two women talked for the next hour and made arrangements for Steph to pick Ryan up Monday morning around 11:00 A.M.

Sunday afternoon found a disgruntled Ryan going through the clothes Nathan and Becca had brought over for her while staying at her parents. The restaurant was casual attire but Ryan wanted to take Sam's breath away. Deciding on her black jeans and boots she now just needed a shirt. In the back of the closet in a plastic bag was a brand new shirt with a note on it. ‘Dear Ryan, I thought you might like to wear this. Have fun your little Brother—N'. The shirt was short sleeved and had a plunging v shape neckline in the front, and the bottom was fitted and showed off just a hint of Ryan's toned abdomen.

Sam rang the door bell and was greeted by Ryan. “Wow you look hot,” blurted a blushing Sam.

“You look pretty good yourself Doc.”

Sam was dressed in dark slacks and a button up shirt opened to reveal a lacey camisole underneath. Both women looked wonderful and just stood there admiring each other.

“I guess we should be going,” stated Ryan.

“Yes, I am really looking forward to dining at your Father's restaurant. It seems whenever I eat out lately it is always takeout or somewhere near the hospital.”

“You are in for a treat then, because my Papa is a fabulous cook and his staff is very good. It's been a while since I have taken the time to dine there myself.”

Sam's car was a vintage mustang that had been restored to perfection. The color of the car was a deep midnight blue and the interior was a dark gray. “This car is wonderful Sam. How long have you had it?”

“I actually got her when I was in college and I just couldn't part with her. I have had other cars, but this one kept calling to me so I had her restored last year.” Sam started up the beefy engine and headed towards Los Feliz.

De Lucas was a smaller Italian restaurant that served authentic Italian dishes, and the clientele ranged anywhere from middle class to the rich and famous. The tables were set close together and the lighting was soft. As soon as the women entered they were greeted by the hostess and directed to a table.

“It smells fantastic in here, any suggestions?”

“Well personally I like the basil, mozzarella and olive oil salad for a starter, then for the main entrée if you like mushrooms there is the Rigatoni Al Tre Funghi, and for dessert the list is endless.”

“Sounds wonderful, I would like to try both of those.”

The women were soon joined by Rafe, who was stopping by their table with a bottle of wine. “I think you will both like this, and if I know my daughter she has already talked you into all of her favorites, am I right?”

“Yes Papa, as usual you have figured out my devious plan, to ply her with your excellent food and delicious wine, what more could a woman ask for.” Ryan had a confident look on her face.

“Well you two enjoy and I will put your orders in. If you need anything just ask.”

“I really like your Dads Ryan, they really care about you and your brother. You can tell that you guys are the center of their world. I only wish my parents could be like that.”

For the next hour Ryan and Sam got to know each other better. Sam told Ryan more about her parents and their estranged relationship. Ryan felt it was truly their loss, because the woman before her was delightful. The more they talked the more they each wanted to know. They both liked to jog and go hiking, and as soon as Ryan was up to it they were planning on going to some local hiking trails. Ryan told Sam about her planned trip to Griffith Park tomorrow with Stephanie, and her attempt at saying goodbye to Bruce.

Dinner was over and Rafe was rolling a cart full of desserts in the girls, direction. “Go ahead and pick this is the best part of dinning here.”

Sam looked up at Rafe with a stunned expression. “If dessert is half as good as dinner you will never get me to leave.”

“I'll take the Chocolate Soufflé, how about you Sam?”

“I want that Tiramisu, it looks wonderful.”

“I can bring some coffees to go with those,” Rafe looked at the two with a tilt of his head?

“That would be great Papa. I am starting to feel a little tired, I could do with the pick me up.”

As soon as dessert was over Samantha ushered Ryan to her car and headed back to the senior De Lucas residence. “That was really nice of your Father to insist on getting our dinner.”

“In all honesty he won't let my brother or I buy our meals. He says it is a Fathers' right to feed his children. I have two wonderful parents and I wish you could say the same. My Dads have really enriched my life and allowed Nathan and I to be whomever and whatever we wanted to be. I know the police work scares them and even more so now, but they never let their fear dissuade me from my course. They are always there for me and supportive.”

“I could see that at the hospital they wouldn't leave you alone until you had woken up. Ed took an immediate leave of absence and Rafe said his staff could handle the restaurant and they weren't leaving until you woke up. They were pretty amazing.”

It took about 20 minutes to get Ryan home. “Let's get you settled inside and I will let you get some rest.”

“How about a movie or sitting out by the pond, I really don't want tonight to end so soon, and my Dad was going to the restaurant after his dinner meeting, so we still have some time alone.”

“If you are sure you aren't too tired I would really like that.”

They decided to sit out by the water. Ryan led them over to a large chaise and sat down immediately bringing Sam down to sit between her legs. Sam leaned her head back against Ryan's chest after reaching for the blanket that sat nearby. The stars were plentiful and the two women spent the next 30 minutes gazing up at the sky neither needing to talk but relishing in being so close to one another. Sometime they had fallen asleep and this was how Rafe and Ed found them.

“So what do you think Papa, should we wake them up,” asked Ed?

“It is getting late and I think Ryan needs a warm bed it is going to start getting cold out here soon. Let's go in and make a little noise, I bet that will wake them up,” stated Rafe.

Slowly Sam could hear the sounds of the De Lucas men in the house. She was surprised that she had fallen asleep, and even more surprised at the strong warm arms that held her so securely. “Ryan wake up, I think your Dads are home.”

“Hmm, I think I could get used to this. Are you up to driving home or do you want to crash here,” queried Ryan?

“I am due at the hospital early, I had a change in my schedule, so I better head home. Tomorrow will go fine, try not to worry about it and get some rest.”

After telling Ed and Rafe goodnight, Ryan walked Sam to the front door. “Ryan I really had a good time tonight and I want to see you again.” Sam was clutching onto Ryan's arm waiting for a response.

“I want to see you again too and soon. You make me feel things I wasn't sure I would ever feel. You make my chest tight and it has nothing to do with my recovery and everything to do with you.” Slowly Ryan reached out and brought Sam in closer to her where she could once again taste those soft and yet firm lips. “You take my breath away with just one kiss.” Ryan's forehead rested on Sam's.

‘Wow, wow, and again I say wow, can that woman kiss.' Sam felt hot and flushed and new she would be taking a cold shower before bed that night. With her hand now flat against Ryan's chest, Sam looked up into those eyes that had captured her with their passion and intensity. “I am going to go home now and I'd like it very much if you called me tomorrow afternoon and let me know how your day goes. Sweet dreams Ryan.” With one last chaste kiss Sam turned and walked to her car while her legs were still able to carry her.

Ryan was surprised to see only the kitchen light on low, when she walked back into the house, apparently her Fathers were going to give her some time, before they asked her about her date. Ryan expected to be greeted in the morning with breakfast and two very interested Dads. ‘Now off for a very cold shower so I can get some rest thought Ryan'

Stephanie showed up the next morning and the two headed out to Griffith Park. Ryan was still healing and they had agreed to a short walk near the place where Ryan and Bruce usually met for their runs.

“I am going to leave you here for a half hour and then I will return and we will talk about how you are feeling. We can come here as often as you need to, just take your time. I don't expect you to work everything out today and you shouldn't expect that of yourself either.” Stephanie knew that Ryan pushed herself in all aspects of her life more than anyone else.

“I understand, and thanks for the time. I'll see you in a half hour.”

The spot Ryan had picked out was on a knoll and there was a bench where she could sit and look out at the city below. It was not long before Ryan was talking to Bruce. ‘How did this happen, one minute we think we are about to get the evidence we need and them boom everything changed in an instant. I talked to Shayne on Saturday, she sounds emotionless, but I guess she would after two weeks of you being gone. I think or at least I hope it is helping her to be with her parents and your brother. I promise you Bruce, when I am better I will get that evidence and take the Costanos Family down. Your sacrifice will not be in vane if it is the last thing I do, you have my word.' Ryan was surprised to feel the warm wetness of tears running down her cheeks. ‘ I love you Bruce' With the sleeve of her shirt she wiped the tears that wouldn't stop as they attempted to run down her neck. Ryan didn't know she could cry so much and suddenly she felt so alone.

Ryan wasn't sure how she felt inside, but she knew what she needed to do, and that was get healthy and then take down the Costanos Family. Their reign as drug lords and their position in high society was going to fall. If it took her dying breath she would expose them to the world for what they truly were. She wasn't afraid of them and her anger was fueled by her desire for justice.

When Stephanie returned to get Ryan she could see that peace was not what Ryan had gotten out of her time. If anything the rage and anger was clearly shining in Ryan's eyes. “Hi Ryan, why do I feel I have my work cut out for me,” asked a concerned Stephanie.

Ryan looked up at her friend from her place on the bench and patted for Steph to sit next to her. “I know that you want to hear that I feel better, and in some ways I think I do, but you and I both know that I cannot leave things the way they are. I promise you that I will give it time and let myself heal, but when I am able the Costanos Family is going down. I am a cop Steph, and no offense, but you decided to change your career and go into psychology. I am doing what I have always felt driven to do, and at least you should be happy that I am finally dating someone. After Shelly, I withdrew and wouldn't allow myself to feel for another that wasn't already in my heart.”

Stephanie knew this was the best response she was going to get from Ryan at this time, and with any luck by the time Ryan was released back to active duty her temper would be more in check.

By Wednesday Ryan was able to drive to the physical therapist that was next door to the hospital. For the next hour Ryan worked both her shoulder and back muscles, and was surprised by how weak she was. The therapist assured her that this would improve quickly and that right now the best thing they could do was increase her flexibility and use ice and heat to calm the trauma that had been done to her body. There was a lot more to physical therapy than Ryan had first thought. Originally she had gone in thinking she would be using weights and building her muscles back up, but she soon learned that physical therapy was as much a part of the healing process as her stay in the hospital had been. Each of Ryan's sessions would begin with a hot pack, followed by ultra sound, stretching and then finally ice packs.

After her therapy appointment Ryan decided to make a stop at the hospital and see if she could catch up with Becca, Sam or maybe even both of them. Ryan walked into the reception area and was greeted by the friendly guard, his name was Jack and he had met Detective De Lucas on numerous occasions.

“Good to see you detective, you are looking like you feel better, than the last time I saw you.”

“Thanks Jack I actually feel a lot better. You haven't by any chance seen Dr. Becca O'Brien or Dr. Samantha O'Brien have you?”

Actually Becca, just stepped out with your brother, he was on a call bringing a patient in and I bet you can find the other good doctor in her office.”

“Ok, thanks Jack. If I don't see you on my way out you have a good rest of the day.”

“Good luck with your search for Doctor O'Brien detective.”

Ryan went up to Sam's office but she wasn't there. Next Ryan went to the nurses' station. A young nurse that recognized Ryan from her stay a week ago directed Ryan to the lounge area. Sitting in a chair by the window engrossed in a book was Sam.

“Want some company Doc?”

Sam looked up and her face broke out into a huge grin. “When said company is you, anytime Ryan.”

Ryan took the chair opposite Sam and they fell into a conversation about Ryan's physical therapy and Sam's choice in reading material, anything to avoid the lustful feelings that were growing between them. One of the floor nurses walked in and the sexual tension in the room made it feel as if an electrical storm was about to break out. Quickly the nurse got her lunch and decided to go elsewhere to eat, she exited smiling at the two women.



Both women began to laugh and Ryan reached over and grabbed Sam's hand. “Please have dinner with me tonight, I've missed you and ……….”Ryan didn't know what more to say this was new territory for her. She didn't just want to date Sam and have a casual fling, for the first time in a long time Ryan wanted more.

“I would like that too Ryan. I have to be honest, my past choices in dates and relationships have never really worked out, I have been very focused on my career, but I find myself thinking of you all the time. I wonder how you are feeling and when I will see you again. I want to do this right, I don't want to rush whatever this is between us, but by the same token I want to explore us.” Sam shrugged her shoulders not sure she had conveyed in words what her heart and mind were trying to say.

“This isn't casual for me either, let's just take it slow and get to know each other, no pressure. How about I pick you up at your place after work and we can go down to the beach, I know a great Seafood restaurant.”

“Sounds good, I just happen to like seafood,” responded Sam with a quirk to her eyebrow.

Ryan walked out of the hospital with a spring in her step that had been missing from her life since Shelly. Shelly and Ryan had started dating shortly after her graduation from the academy. They had fast become friends and soon lovers. Shelly had an ex boyfriend that didn't understand Shelly's relationship with Ryan. He had been abusive to Shelly and this had led to their break up. It was on a midnight shift when Ryan had gotten the call. There had been a domestic dispute at Shelly's loft and it appeared to have resulted in a murder suicide. Ryan had vowed at the time to not let anyone else close to her heart, the pain was just too much, and till now she had maintained that belief. Sam had gotten inside Ryan's mind and heart without her even knowing how. Ryan could remember her first look at Sam while she was lying on that gurney and fighting for her life, ‘I think it might have been love at first sight' she thought. Ryan knew how corny that sounded, but it was the way she felt.

The beach was cool and refreshing after the long day Sam had spent at the hospital. It was obvious to her that Ryan was healing physically and with that more of the cop in Ryan that had seemed subdued was coming back to the surface.

“Being a cop isn't just a job for you is it,” asked Sam?

“I don't know how to describe it but it's who I am. Just because the work day has ended doesn't mean I can stop being a law enforcement officer. Maybe it started with the training but, no it isn't just a job it is everything.” Ryan hesitated but decided she needed to be honest with Sam if their relationship was going to stand a chance. “I have had girl friends, acquaintances, in the past that said I didn't have room in my life for anything but my job……maybe they were right. I just know that it isn't something that I can just switch off. I don't even think about it but I hear the conversations going on around us, I know who all the players are in this restaurant right now, and I have this overwhelming need to keep you safe and protected and all of those things are occurring at a subconscious level. One person even accused me of having a hero complex and maybe they were not far from the truth.” Ryan reached out to take Sam's hand in hers. “I do know though that along with those instinctual qualities I consciously am all yours right now. I-

Sam placed her finger on Ryan's lips stopping her explanation. “I understand that being a cop isn't just a job to you any more than I can turn off being a doctor, but I have to admit there is a danger to your job that is not inherent in mine. It doesn't bother me that you unconsciously decide to put yourself between me and the street when we take a walk and I understand needing to know what is going on around you at all times. I don't feel resentment for your job just concern for your safety. I have treated several cops and you all seem to have one thing in common and that is the inability to see yourselves as victims but only as protectors. I think that is because in a way you are all warriors. I can't lie Ryan, some nights I wake up seeing you on that stretcher and bleeding and struggling for breath and with our relationship I am experiencing some feelings I have not had to before. I will work them out, just give me time and if I appear to withdraw just let me work through things. I know your training keeps you safe just as it makes me a better surgeon. In stressful situations we rely on that training to give us direction and make snap decisions.”

“Thanks Sam. I've tried to change in the past and I can't totally turn it off, I'm not even sure that would be wise ………….I can learn to be more open and I have learned to relax, but as much as I am Ryan the woman, I am also Ryan the cop and for the first time I want Ryan the girlfriend to fit in there and succeed. Just promise to tell me if I am screwing up or closing you out. I don't tell Nathan or my Dads everything about work. Some of it you just have to lock away and try to not let it affect you and other stuff you know would just upset your family.”

The two women were now sitting as close as their chairs would allow and holding each other's hands.

“Ryan it sounds like we both have relationship issues we need to work on and I think as long as we can keep the lines of communication open then we can make this work.”

Dinner was over and Ryan had Sam under her arm and they were strolling down the beach enjoying the setting sun. Sam's hair was tickling Ryan's nose in the ocean breeze but beyond that Ryan was able to smell a scent that was all Sam. It was hard to explain, but Ryan was mesmerized by this smell and she knew she could hold Sam and inhale her very essence for hours and not be bored.

“I need to kiss you Sam. I want to kiss you.” The hairs on the back of Ryan's neck were tingling and her stomach felt fluttery inside.

Sam stood up on tip toe and grasped Ryan's head from behind and brought their lips together. Their lips touched and soon Ryan could feel the soft texture of Sam's tongue demanding entrance to her mouth. The kiss went on for what seemed like forever and when the two women stepped apart they were both struggling to catch their breath and kept gazing into each other's eyes.

Ryan was the first to speak. “Did we say something about slow because I am feeling an adrenaline rush here that usually comes after a foot pursuit or a code 3 car chase.” Ryan wrapped her arms around Sam bringing her in close to her body. “I think we need to take that walk now and talk some more.”

“I like that idea and for the record I am perfectly happy with the pace we are setting.” Sam's eyes had a smoky green quality to them and her face was flushed and vibrant. After a quick peck to Ryan's lips Sam took her hand and continued their walk enjoying both each other and the beautiful sunset.



Ryan and Sam had been dating for over a month and today Ryan was picking up Sam for Nathan and Becca's wedding. It was going to be a small ceremony with family and just a few friends followed with a reception at the De Lucas Trattoria. As Ryan raised her hand to knock on Sam's front door it was opened and quickly a stunning Samantha was in her arms. The two began to kiss and Sam moaned out, “God how I have wanted to do this all day.” The rush she was experiencing was definitely about to cloud her judgment.

“Well, we can you know. Do this all day and night if you want,” said Ryan whose eyes appeared to have a glazed look about them.

With a swat to Ryan's good shoulder Sam replied, “We have to get to the ceremony, but I have plans for you when we get done tonight, I think we have been plenty slow and I am more than ready to take this relationship to the next level if you are.” Just one touch or even a look from Ryan and Sam felt an unknown force pushing her into Ryan's arms.

“You have no idea, how hard it has been for me. I feel like my brain turns to mush with just one kiss and then I start to feel so warm, and well maybe you do know, if the expression on your face is anything to go by.” Ryan had a sheepish look to her face. ‘Now if she could only keep herself under control until tonight.

Becca and Nathan's wedding was truly spectacular. Becca wore an off the shoulder white gown and Nathan had on a dark navy tux, alongside him stood Ryan in a long slender strapless navy dress and Sam was next to her cousin in a navy mid length gown that was open in the back. Both Ed and Rafe and Becca's father Samuel were in dark suits and Becca's mother Cami short for Cameron was in an off white suit dress. The family looked wonderful and smiles were rampant in the group. As the wedding goers arrived at De Lucas they were greeted by waiters carrying trays of appetizers and flutes of champagne. The first dance of the night began and Becca stepped into Nathan's arms, shortly the beautiful couple was followed by a very impressive looking Ryan and Sam. The two women contrasted in height, but similar in their dark beauty and athletic bodies making for one striking couple.

Rafe and Ed were standing nearby and watching their children. “You know Ed, if the look on Ryan's face is anything to go on I think we might be doing this again soon.”
“Gets my vote, I have not seen Ryan this happy in a long time. She needs to settle down. I just hope she can stay this way after she is released back to duty, I am really worried about that Rafe.”

“All we can do is be there for her and support her Ed, she is a big girl. A strong headed girl too.”

As the evening came to a close Sam and Ryan couldn't say their goodbyes and head to Sam's fast enough. Nathan looked down into his brides eyes and said, “I don't think you will be the only one getting lucky tonight with a De Lucas.”

“Watch it that's my cousin you are talking about, and it is about damn time. I thought you were going to have to talk to your sister if my talk with Sam didn't work out,” said Becca.

“Come on cupid I think I want some time with you alone.”

The girls entered Sam's condo a mass of flying legs and hands as they tried to disrobe one another. “I know we should slow down, but I just can't,” said Ryan.

“I need you now and later we can work on slow. Please Ryan just love me, like this now, take me.”

Those were the last words either woman spoke for a long while. They expressed their emotions in moans and awes that were elicited by the touch of a finger, lips, tongues and any other appendage they could manage to use. Ryan started at Sam's ear and worked her way down her neck, finding all kinds of sensitive areas. Soon Ryan descended to Sam's breasts where she lavished each nipple and sucked until Sam was a wriggling mass beneath her. Ryan quickly lowered herself to the apex of Sam's thighs and slowly began to take in the scent of her lover. Sam's moans began to get louder as Ryan began to taste her, it was not long before Ryan's fingers were deep within Sam and her tongue was swirling around her clit. It took only moments for Sam to reach orgasm and when she did there was no doubt in her mind that she was truly and forever in love with this woman.

Ryan felt such joy in just being able to hold Sam. Her own body was still very much heated but it had simmered just enough to allow her to really bask in the afterglow of what the two women had just shared. Before long Sam was getting her chance to love Ryan. The chemistry between the two women was fluid and sensual. Sam was exploring her lover's body and mapping out in her mind all the places that elicited moans and gasps as she touched and kissed Ryan. Soon Ryan's own orgasm was washing over her and with it came a peace that she had never felt before.

“Wow, I don't know if I can put in words how wonderful that was. I want to hold you all night in my arms and just let your scent surround me. When I kiss you Sam, it is if I can taste you.”

“I get it Ryan you do the same to me. I know we have only known each other for a little over 2 months, but I love you and I am more affirmed of that than anything else in my life. You are the best thing to ever happen to me and I want to spend forever loving you if you want the same thing.”

“Sam I think I fell in love with you that first day in the Emergency Room, looking up at you was like coming home.”

Ryan's therapy was going great and Sam knew it wouldn't be long before Ryan was released back to full duty. This scared Sam for a lot of reasons. Stephanie had given Sam her card just last week and said if she ever needed to talk she should feel free to call. Sam was looking at Stephanie's card now and seriously thinking about placing that call. She needed to talk to someone that understood and her fear was growing exponentially about Ryan returning to work. Harry had stopped the patrols by both Ryan's residence and her parents, since nothing had happened in the last 2 months. It was as if the Costanos family had just gone off the grid. Supposedly they were vacationing in Europe, but they would have to return sometime. Sam took the leap and put the call into Stephanie, where they arranged to meet at Sam's office near the end of her shift.

Stephanie knocked on Sam's closed door and could hear Sam call out for her to enter. “Hi Stephanie, I really appreciate you making time for me and coming over here to boot. I am pulling a double tonight and I have about an hour before I go back on duty.”

Sam face was etched in worry and fear. Stephanie had seen this same look on too many faces throughout the years and they either learned how to live with their fears or they had to walk away from their relationships.

“Well let's get down to business then, I assume this is about Ryan going back to work, and knowing that the two of you have a relationship and the past history with how you met, you are experiencing some very valid fear right now.”

“That about sums it up. When I think about her going back, I get this icky hot feeling and then the bottom of my stomach feels like it wants to drop out. It is getting so bad that I am even having some anxiety, when I get called for a Trauma. I know Ryan is safe right now, but you and I both know deep down she is just waiting to get back on duty so she can take the Costanos family down. I even talked to Harry last week and his crew isn't any closer to wrapping things up than they were a month ago.”

“I won't sugar coat it, your fear is valid, but if you are going to have a relationship with Ryan you are going to have to learn how to deal with it. At least being a detective she has a day schedule for the most part, she does get called in sometimes at night but that is rare. There are support groups for the spouses and significant others of police officers that I want you to consider joining. You will find other men and women that are going through the same stuff you are. You love her don't you?”

“More than I ever thought possible, but I feel like if I tell her about my fear it might push her away. Maybe it is just me, but Ryan is the best thing to ever come into my life and if something happens, I am afraid I will go crazy. She knows I love her and I want that to be enough for her to make good decisions and stay safe, but if she decides to go after the Castanos's…”

“Sam from the moment you met Ryan you knew she was a cop, and that isn't going to change. Ryan is a true believer in justice and fighting the good cause. Ryan is a true warrior in every sense of the word. I don't think you would really want to change her do you?”

“When you put it that way, no, but I am still scared. I need this fear to go away or at least I need to learn how to live with it.”

“You can't live your life in fear. You have to trust that Ryan knows what she is doing. You can't make a person change who or what they are. To make a relationship work a couple has to grow together or else they just grow apart. Off the record I don't want her going after the Costanos family anymore than you do, but I can't see how we can stop it.” Stephanie looked as frustrated as Sam felt.

The talk was good for Sam and she would take the time later to check into the support groups, but for now she didn't think she would tell Ryan about it. She needed time to wrap her head around all of this.

Harry had called Ryan and asked if he could meet her at her apartment to talk about her upcoming return to active duty. Harry knew Ryan would need a partner and he had the perfect partner lined up, and even Ryan would not be able to refuse his offer.

“Good afternoon Harry, you wanted to talk,” stated Ryan. She was leery of what Harry wanted to discuss, she figured it either had to do with a new partner which she wasn't interested in or the Costanos'.

“I'll get right to the point you need a new partner-

“No way Harry, not going to happen,” stated an adamant Ryan.

“You are going to listen to me, and unless you want to be assigned to a desk for the rest of your career then you will do as I say. Hear me out Ryan I have an idea, and if you can put your stubbornness aside for one moment you might even like what I have to say.”

“Ok, Harry sorry,” said a chastised Ryan.

“So you remember that training course you took a few years back, out in Riverside?”

“Sure it was the canine class, but then the budget got cut.” Ryan's face was beginning to light up as she realized what Harry was going to offer.

“Well it seems with some private donations we are going to be getting a fully trained drug dog and I thought the two of you might make a good team. It would mean at least three weeks of training but I would be willing to bring you back on duty with a medical and psyche release as soon as you got both of those.” Harry was smiling, he knew he had Ryan now and at least it would buy him and her loved ones a little more time and with any luck his staff would have found something on the Costanos family by then.

“Your funding wouldn't have come from one Italian restaurant would it,” queried Ryan?

“Would it matter if it did?”

“No, I just wanted to know who to thank. You've got a deal Harry. I see Sam for a check-up Friday morning and Stephanie later in the afternoon. So when do I get to meet my new partner”?

“How about Saturday if you get the all clear your training would start on Monday in Ventura”?

“That sounds good Harry. Tell Sue hi for me, I've been meaning to call her and let her know how much I enjoyed the cookies she sent over last week.”

“She was going shopping this afternoon, but here is her new cell number, give her a call, she has been asking about you and to be honest the dog was kind of her idea. You know what they say, behind every good man is a better woman. Speaking of women how are you and Sam?”

“We are good, but I don't think she is too happy about my return to work. I heard from Bob in fraud that his wife had met her at a gathering the other night. I am glad she is talking to someone, but I wish she would talk to me.”

“Give her time Ryan, those groups really helped Sue when I first started on the force, at least now I spend more time in the office than out in the field and I think that helps a lot. With a little studying you could take the lieutenant's test, you would still be in the field, but in a different capacity.”

“I just might do that Harry. Thanks for the advice and the offer of the canine, it means a lot that you understand how I feel. It's just too soon after Bruce to be responsible for another officer at least the human variety.”

“Unless I hear otherwise how about I bring Sue with me and we meet at your folks say around 11:00 A.M. on Saturday. You could bring that cute doctor of yours if she is available? I kind of told Sue you were finally dating.” Harry knew Ryan wouldn't be offended by this, she had become almost an adopted daughter to him and Sue.

“Sam has the day off and I think my Dads would really like that. Plan on lunch I will have my Papa bring some meatball sandwiches home from the restaurant.”

“Sounds good, see you Saturday Ryan,” says Harry.

Harry exited Ryan's apartment and let out a relieved breath. That had gone much better than even he had hoped for, guess he better pick up some flowers on the way home. Damn his wife had done it again, she was right more often than she was wrong.

Later that evening Ryan pulled up in front of the Emergency Room and picked up a waiting Sam. The two women had spent almost every night together since Nathan and Becca's wedding, except when Sam had to work the occasional night shift.

As soon as Sam was in the car she reached over and gave Ryan a kiss. “Hmmm, that was nice,” purred Sam.

“Very. How about a night in? I thought we could get Chinese, I know how much you like those Crab Rangoons.”

“You read my mind. Afterwards I have some thoughts on how to spend the rest of our evening.”

Chinese takeout cartons littered the coffee table of Ryan's apartment. The two women sat on the couch nearby but not touching. Ryan's home was comfortable despite its' Spartan look.

“Sam, there is something we need to talk about. You may not want to, but it has been bothering me and I need to ask you a question.”

Sam wasn't sure where this conversation was going but she could see by the look on Ryan's face that it was important. “Sure Ryan, what do you want to know?”

“ I went into the station the other day to check my mail and say hi to my co-workers, and while I was there Bob in fraud told me that his wife Betty had met you in a support meeting last week and it felt odd that I had to hear this news from him. Wait before you say anything, I want you to know that I am happy that you are seeking some help, but I don't understand why you wouldn't talk to me about it.”

At this point Sam rose from the couch and began to walk around the living room. “I wanted to talk to you, it just seemed as if I did it would just make it more real and I was already having a hard enough time. I don't want to change you I just want to work through my fear. I really love you Ryan and to be honest I don't understand why you have to lead this vendetta against this Costanos family. Why can't you let the other detectives in the department handle this?”

“I have to do this for myself as much as for Bruce's memory. I don't want you to be scared, but this is who I am.”

“Don't you think I know that damnit! It is my fear here that is part of the problem, but your anger and determination is also part of it Ryan. You won't let this go and your passion for revenge scares me as much as the threat of this Costanos family. I wish I had never heard their name before.” A very frustrated Sam looked out the window.

Ryan sat on the couch wanting to comfort the woman she loved and yet, she was not sure how. “What if I promise to control my anger and make sure Harry is informed of what I am doing and what if I was to take on a new partner, would that make you feel any better?”

With tears in her eyes Sam turned to Ryan and launched herself into her waiting arms. “I am sorry I didn't talk to you and yes those things would help. I also think the group is helping.”

“Good, now how about a good soak in the bath to help you relax and then I will give a massage a la Ryan?”

“Why do I think that has more of a sexual connotation to it, than therapeutic?”

“Maybe because when it comes to you, my thoughts very easily become passionate and heated. I want to love you Sam and make you relax. I want to try and make you feel better and this is the best way I know how.” Ryan gave Sam her famous quirky eyebrow look.

Saturday arrived and the entire De Lucas clan, Sam, Harry and Sue were at the senior De Lucas home. Everyone had quickly fallen in love with Ryan's new partner, Sierra. Sierra was a yellow Labrador retriever that had been kicked out of two homes before she had found her niche as a drug dog.

Harry handed Sierra's leash to Ryan. “You might need to find a bigger place to live in with a yard if you don't want to have to be going for walks to the park at night. I heard of a place not too far from here that is for sale. A real fixer upper, but who knows.”

“Give me the address Harry and I will check it out. That apartment of mine is kind of getting old, and a yard would be nice. So how come such a well behaved dog has been kicked out of so many homes?”

Sue took this question as the breeder was a friend of hers. “It seems that Shannon had another dog years ago with the same problem. His name was Winston and he had all this restless energy and finally a detective friend of hers took the dog and paid for his training and the rest was history you might say. Every now and then a dog comes along that needs a job or another focus, and for some that is drug detection, bomb detection, or even just being a companion helper. Sierra took to the program and passed training with flying colors.”

“I have you signed up with the Ventura Sheriff's department and you will be staying at the Marriot. I figured you might want to come home on the weekends, but according to the staff Sergeant, the training runs late on Friday's and on the last week you won't finish until late Saturday afternoon so you have the room through Sunday of the final week.”

Ed and Rafe looked on watching the scene while Becca and Nathan introduced themselves to Sierra.

“How about relocating this party to the backyard, I think Rafe might have brought lunch home,” said Ed.

“Why do you think Becca and I are here Dad, it's definitely for the food,” remarked Nathan.

With an elbow to her new husbands stomach an agitated Becca walked into the house with Sam quickly excusing herself and following her cousin.

“Hey cous, want to explain what that was about out there?”

“You know how I feel about overly hormonal women, and I think I have become one. I am sick all the time now and my body is changing so fast.” Becca's eyes were moist with tears.

Sam walked over to Becca and wrapped her arms around her. “Shush, honey it will all get better you and I know that. Half of the battle with hormones is knowing they are trying to call the shots and not letting them control you. If I know Nathan he will have some ginger tea made and some of those wafer crackers or maybe even some French bread from De Lucas.”

“Oh Sam, sometimes I feel just awful about these mood swings.”

“Everyone out there cares about you Becca come on it will be fine.”

“I am going to just freshen up in the bathroom and then I will be right out.”

Sam walked out to the back porch and was greeted by an understanding Nathan.

“She really is trying her best to deal with all of these changes, but for some reason she couldn't sleep last night and she has been pretty sick all morning,” says Nathan.

“She is lucky to have such a doting husband I see you made her some ginger tea.”

Becca walked out with a sheepish look and quickly was wrapped in Nathan's arms.

“Forgive me,” asks Becca?

“Nothing to forgive darling, I know this morning and last night have been hard and we all care about you.”

“I have never had children of my own, but both of my sisters did and it gets better, this time will pass,” stated Sue. She then leaned over and whispered to Becca, “It also keeps these partners of ours in line, they need to have some compassion and understanding it is good for them, don't worry Becca.”

“Thanks Sue. Tea and bread sounds good to me and since we are eating outside the flowers will cover up the smell of your guys' lunch.

Ryan had a week to get everything ready for her and Sierra's training in Ventura. After a short discussion with Sam, it had been decided that it would be easier for Sam to come to Ventura, than for Ryan and Sierra to come home. They had decided to drive up together on Saturday and spend a couple of days together getting to know Sierra better. Due to Ryan not needing a vehicle while she was at the Academy, Sam would drive back to the hospital during the week and, on the weekends drive up to see Ryan. It took some juggling with her schedule but Sam was able to free up her next three weekends.

Monday found Ryan a couple of streets over from her parents' house looking at the property Harry had mentioned over the weekend. Just as Ryan pulled up the Realtor stepped out the front door of the older residence.

“You must be Ryan I am Sheila, nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too and thanks for making this appointment on such short notice,” said Ryan.

“It was no problem I had to be in the area anyway. This place needs some work but all in all the foundation is solid and there is a lot of potential in this parcel. Just go ahead and look around I have some calls to make and will be in the kitchen area if you have any questions.”

“Thank you. I see that the house is empty, so what kind of escrow would we be looking at?”

“Normally anywhere from 30 to 90 days but because this house is owned by an elderly couple who have already moved to a new home the escrow could be even shorter if you wanted.”

“Okay sounds good.” With that Ryan first headed out to the backyard. The residence was located on a corner lot so the backyard was quite large but in desperate need of some landscaping. Looking from the outside the structure of the house appeared solid but definitely in need of some painting. Soon
Ryan was walking up the steps to the second floor which was made up of four rooms. Three of the rooms appeared to have been bedrooms and the fourth looked more like a study or office, with lots of built in book shelves. Ryan could see Sam and her in this house, making it theirs painting, remodeling, and maybe even someday filling two of those bedrooms with children. They hadn't talked about children yet but it was obvious how excited they had both been for Becca and Nathan and Ryan just couldn't see life without a little Sam running around.

After some discussion with the realtor Ryan made arrangements to bring Sam with her to look at the property on Thursday and she planned to have dinner with her on Wednesday and bring up the idea of the house. Ryan wanted more than anything for the house to be theirs together but even if Sam wasn't ready for that next big step she was going to buy the place and make it a home. She was tired of the old apartment and coming home to it after being shot just made her life feel so empty. She wanted a real home to return to at night and a place for Sierra to run outside to pee, not a walk to the park every night.

Wednesday night arrived and with it an expectant Sam. “Ok so you said you had a surprise and I am ready, lay it on me.” Sam had expected flowers, a kiss maybe even a small piece of jewelry, but what she was getting was a very nervous Ryan. “Why are you nervous? I just spoke to Becca so I know everyone is fine, so what is going on?”

“I want you to sit down and I don't want you to feel pressured by what I have to say, although hearing what I have to say I hope you might have some interest” Ryan's rambling was interrupted by a bounding Sierra who had been asleep in the other room. For some reason when Sam was in the room Sierra would defer to her over Ryan and this both amused and sometimes frustrated Ryan.

“Sierra sit,” commanded Ryan.

A prime example of their new relationship had Sierra looking to Sam to see if in fact she needed to sit down.

“Sierra, sit down before you get us both in trouble.” The dog quickly sat next to Sam. “Ok honey, just tell me what has got you so excited, we are all ears,” said a saucy Sam.

“Well I have been thinking about this apartment and I really don't want to live here anymore and we never talked about it but your place is too small especially with Sierra and I looked at that house Harry mentioned last weekend and Imadeanappointmentforyoutoseeitomorrow.”

“Wow I think you said most of that in one breath. Why are you so nervous I love you Ryan and I want to live with you and I would like nothing more than to go look at a house with you tomorrow that would fit the three of us?”

“What about a house that could fit the 5 of us or more or less.” Ryan slowly got down on one knee and took Sam's hand in her own. “Samantha O'Brien would you make me the happiest person in this whole world and not only find a house where you want to live with me but also a house that you would make a home with me? I love you Sam.”

Sam wrapped both arms around Ryan's neck and was kissing her for all she was worth. Soon Sierra was barking and running around the couple. Ryan taking a quick breath asked, “so I guess that was a yes?”

“Yes Ryan De Lucas I would love to be your wife, build a home, have children with you, and grow old together for better or worse. I love you more than I ever thought I would love someone. You are all that I ever dreamed a partner would be and I can't imagine a day without you in it. Oh and one more thing I want to be a De Lucas for real all legal and such, that is important to me.”

“I think you will make the Dads cry yet. Oh Sam you make me so happy.” Tears of happiness began to run down Ryan's cheek and in complete understanding of her lovers emotions Sam brought Ryan up on the couch with her and the two just held on to one another basking in their love.

Before long dinner was forgotten and the two lovers were lying back on the big couch with legs and arms entangled as they touched and stroked one another. It was a dance that their bodies knew well and yet each time they made love it was fresh and intoxicating. Ryan could not get enough of Sam she loved her scent, the feel of her warm skin and the flash of desire in her eyes.

Thursday morning Sam, Ryan, and Sierra were at the house with the realtor. Since Ryan had already had a look she left Sam with Sheila and took Sierra out to the backyard. With a look to Ryan, Sierra was soon asking for permission to go off and check out the yard. Go ahead girl free dog. That was all Sierra needed to hear and she was off enthusiastically checking out her possible future home. Ryan was anxious to hear what Sam thought of the place, she really hoped that she could see past the age of the house and see the potential. Ryan didn't see the peeling paint on the exterior of the house she saw what it would look like painted and with flowers in the beds and a new lawn in the front and back yards.

Sam was upstairs checking out the bedrooms and knew this was the place for her and Ryan. She already saw the smaller bedroom as a nursery and the master bedroom would be wonderful with some elbow grease and remodeling. ‘A little hard work never hurt anyone and maybe it would take her future wife's mind off of work that would sure be a plus'.

Soon Sam was walking out the back door alone in search of Ryan. “I told Sheila to get the paperwork started. I definitely want to live here with you and have a family. Sheila said the escrow could be done in a couple of weeks depending on our finances and I assured her that was not a problem.

Ryan had Sam in her arms and was kissing her. “I love you Samantha O'Brien or should I say Dr. Samantha De Lucas?”

“I really like it when you say it and I think we should tell your family soon, maybe before we head up to Santa Barbara for our weekend. I made reservations at a place that said Sierra being a police dog and all would not be a problem. Do you think if we met everyone at De Lucas tonight that would work out,” asked Sam?

“I will call them right now and you see how Sheila is coming along. It would really be nice to get someone in to clean the place up while I am up at training and then when I get back you and I could start painting and planning our future.”

“I think that sounds wonderful Ryan. Oh I think your partner might need a bath it seems she found a mud hole back there.” Trotting towards them was a very happy Yellow Labrador with very black feet.

“Oh Sierra, sometimes you are such a water dog. Come here I think I saw a spigot back here.” Ryan called her Dads and Nathan after she had cleaned Sierra off as well as she could. They were all to meet at the restaurant around 7:00 P.M. and Sam had the midnight shift tonight so that would give them time to get a nap in and pack for the weekend.

Rafe and Ed were overjoyed at the news. Sam was a perfect match for their daughter and she could hold her own with the De Lucas clan. The fact that Sam wanted to officially become a De Lucas had brought tears to both men's eyes. Their family was growing and they couldn't be happier.

On the way to Santa Barbara they made one pit stop for coffee and a pee break for Sierra. The hotel Sam had booked overlooked the ocean and had a walkway down to the beach. Since Sierra was an official officer she had pretty much carte blanche to go wherever Ryan and Sam wanted to take her. The two women spent the weekend soaking up the sunshine and enjoying each other's company. By the time Sunday night rolled around Ryan was beyond relaxed and looking forward to her classes with Sierra.

“I will miss you Sam, but it sounds as if we will both be very busy and the weekend will get here again before we know it.”

“Don't worry, I will have more than enough work during the week to keep me occupied in order to get the next three weekends off.” Sam reached for Ryan and took her down with her onto the couch for some very heated kissing and touching. Before Ryan knew it Sam was standing up adjusting her clothes and picking up the car keys.

“Where are you going? You can't do that and just leave, I I I –“stuttered Ryan.

Sam reached up and kissed Ryan's lips one last time and said, “Think of how I am going to finish that this weekend. I love you.”

Monday morning saw Ryan and Sierra in class. It was amazing the different breeds of dogs used for drug detection. One agency had a Beagle, another a German Sheppard and a third even had a Chihuahua they were planning on using at their airport. All of the dogs seemed to know that they had a job to do and worked well with their handlers. The days passed quickly and soon Friday night had arrived and with it Sam.

The two women rushed to each other and Ryan picked Sam up and twirled her as she kissed her. “God I have missed you Sam. I never knew what it was to have someone become such an integral part of your life. I feel as if my life truly became complete when you came into it.”

“I know Ryan I feel the same way. The only thing that made the nights alone ok were the fact that I was too tired to either care or too busy trying to stay awake to do a double shift. Would you be opposed to room service and an early night because I have only three things on my mind, food, you and sleep and probably in that order too?”

“Sure honey, let's go on up to the room and take care of your things,” said a smirking Ryan.

The training weeks and short weekends passed very quickly. The last weekend Sam was delayed at the hospital due to a commuter train crashing into a freight train. The hospital had been flooded with injured and the surrounding agencies had provided mutual aid. Sam had only time to text Ryan that she would either have to find another ride home or wait for her to come later that night. It had not taken too long for Ryan to text her back that she had a ride and would see her tonight.

Ryan had been able to catch a ride back to L.A with another officer that said he didn't mind having Sierra in his truck he and was more than happy for the company while traveling to L.A. to see family. As soon as Ryan got to her apartment she went in grabbed her car keys, loaded Sierra, some of her toys and headed to her Dads house. Soon Ryan had left her two smiling fathers whom were fawning all over an excited Sierra and telling their daughter to go on that they were happy to spend time with Sierra.

As soon as Ryan walked into the Emergency Room she could tell that something was wrong. The normally busy E.R. that even now seemed to have more people in it than she could ever remember seeing there at one time was deathly quiet. Looking towards the security desk Ryan saw that the normally manned area was empty and that lying to the right on the floor was a guard looking up with a blank stare and around the corner was a teenager on the ground clutching his stomach and holding a gun in his hand that was aimed at a small statured nurse.

Before Ryan knew it an annoyed Samantha was walking up to the man and demanding he put the weapon down so that she could treat him.

“Listen, I can't just give you a band-aid and fix you up. We also need to anesthetize your friend and find out where all the bleeding is coming from or he is going to die.”

Ryan didn't care if the men lived or died. Ryan caught Sam's eye and knew that she was not going to be able to get her out of harms way easily. Unable to stay quiet and watch her lover face a lone distraught gunman Ryan started to speak. “The doctor is right why don't you put down the gun and then they can help both of you.”

“Listen bitch I already put a bullet into Barney Fife over there and I can do the same to you so just shut up this is between me and the doc.”

Sam was staring daggers at Ryan and willing her to stay out of the way. All she needed to do was get the young man and his friend into the next room and personnel could lock the door keeping the hundred already distraught persons in the large lobby safe.

‘What a day and to make it worse now Ryan is here and I can see she wants to help but I am afraid she is going to get hurt and I can't deal with that not now. I almost had the punk willing to go with me, damn it.'

“I told you all we have to do is take your friend into the next room and I will fix you both up, but if you wait too long I will not be able to help your friend so the next move is yours.”

Ryan could not believe what she was hearing. ‘Is the woman crazy no way in hell I am letting her go alone into that surgery room with that nut job.'

“I could help carry your friend if you want,” said Ryan.

“I remember you now. You are that bitch detective that arrested Jay a couple of months ago he had two strikes against him and you put him away with a trumped up piddley ass drug charge. I should just shoot you now.”

“You shoot her and your friend dies you don't have any time left it is now or never. Look at me,” yelled Sam. We go now or it is too late do you understand me you can deal with her later now is the time to think about your friend. You can lock the door from inside and the windows are bullet proof no one can hurt you in there.”

Ryan was going wild inside how could this be happening and Sam just kept bringing the danger back to herself. ‘What will I do if she gets hurt thought Ryan? Shit I feel dizzy what the hell, get it together DeLucas think.' Before she even had a chance to do anything else the young man was on his feet and the orderly had a hand wrapped around the waist of the more seriously injured teen that had been lying on the floor by the nurse. The last thing Ryan saw was the look on Sam's face and her eyes appeared to be pleading for Ryan to understand and forgive her and then she went into the room and the door shut and the click of the lock was the last thing Ryan heard.

Ryan grabbed her cell and called dispatch requesting Swat and asking that negotiators and the Watch Commander be notified. Next Ryan looked over to an exhausted elderly lady and asked why there were so many people in the lobby.
“Commuter train derailed this morning and all of the hospitals are overflowing with people trying to find their families and friends and then this happens. These doctors and nurses have been working to save so many lives, I just can't believe this.” The woman was overcome with tears and unable to answer any more of Ryan's questions.

‘I need to get these people out of here now and see what can be done to secure the other floors.' Looking at the reception area Ryan could see a head pop up over the counter.

In a subdued voice Ryan spoke to the crowd. “I need all of you to quietly as possible go out the door and get as far away as you can from the entrance. Those of you that are able help those that need help. It is important that you stay calm and don't make too much noise go.”

A steady stream of people were soon exiting the lobby and several able bodied persons were carrying and holding up those that needed help.

“You behind the desk what is your name?”

“Kristen,” squeaked out the woman.

“Kristen I want you to get out of here too but first I need to know if we can lock down the other floors”?

“Yes main security can do that.”

“Ok get them on the phone and tell them what is going on and to lock the other floors down.” Ryan was amazed at the orderly and quick way the civilians were exiting the ground floor.

“Detective the other rooms on this floor are being locked also so anyone left inside should be safe and I told security to lock the other floors and let them know that you had already notified the police.”

“You did good Kristen now go behind me and exit through the front before the door shuts, can you do that?”

“Yes but aren't you coming?”

“No I need to help the others. Talk to the first officer you see and tell them what is going on.”

“Yes Ma'am and good luck.”

As Ryan turned a gun shot rang out and she was sprinting towards the trauma room. Before Ryan reached the door Sam along with the orderly were pushing the more seriously injured man towards the operating room and Sam was handing Ryan a hand gun and telling her to secure the other man that she would have someone back shortly to deal with his injuries. Sam was then on a radio ordering security to open doors and giving authorization codes that told security that the scene was truly secure and the suspect was in police custody.

Within seconds Ryan had the man in cuffs and knew he wouldn't be going anywhere it appeared somehow they had drugged him or something because he was out cold and didn't have a mark on his head or face.

Police personnel were running through the front doors and quickly Ryan gave the code 4 and turned over the gunman to the other officers. Ryan sat outside the surgery room and waited.

When Samantha and Becca exited the room 50 minutes later the first thing they saw was a very irritated and disgruntled Ryan. Ryan's button down long sleeve shirt was pulled out at the waist of her dark jeans and slightly wrinkled, her hair looked as if she had ran her fingers through it one too many times, and overall she just looked angry and exhausted.

Ryan stood as the two women approached and was relieved when Becca said she needed to go take care of some stuff.

“Becca, you also need to go and talk to the detective in the lobby, ok?”

“Sure Ryan I will go do that first.”



“Sam be quiet. What in the hell do you think you were doing. You could have gotten yourself killed. I am trained for this and yet you just….” Ryan threw her hands up in the air in frustration and now at a lack for words.

“Are you through? I did know what I was doing, we train for just this type of event and as the lead trauma surgeon on duty today it was my responsibility to handle the situation. I did everything by the book, I isolated the suspect away from hospital personnel and patients, we tazed him and then sedated him also. They are both in custody, patched up and everyone is ok.” Sam was fuming mad at Ryan for questioning her training and abilities. “Even if everything had gone to shit in that room hundreds of lives would have been saved and no one was in there that was not willing to be. You expect me to trust you and now you have the gall to second guess me at my job.”

Ryan felt her legs start to give out and she just slid to the floor having trouble catching her breath and her face was the color of ash. ‘What the hell is wrong with me, I don't feel so good,' thought Ryan. There was a darkness closing in on Ryan's vision and soon she was slumped over half on and half off of Sam's lap.

Sam was pinned under her tall lover's long muscular frame and knew either Ryan would have to wake up or that someone would need to help her. ‘Way to put a quick stop to a heated argument honey.'

Within minutes Ryan began to push herself up onto her forearms and realized that she had been lying on top of Sam. ‘Oh my God, Sam I could have lost her I still could. I'm not ready for this first Bruce and now Sam. ‘The walls around Ryan were closing in and without conscious thought Ryan jerked to an upright position and bolted from the room.

It had been 3 days since the incident at the hospital and no one had seen Ryan. A message had been left for her Dads thanking them for watching Sierra, Harry had spoken to Ryan briefly when she had informed him that she was taking a two week vacation starting immediately that she had some things to sort out, and a last message had been left on Samantha's home machine stating, “I need time Sam a lot has happened and I don't know if I can be what you need. I am not sure of anything right now. I gotta go, I love you.” Ryan's voice was quivery and it had sounded like she was crying.

It took Stephanie 3 days to locate Ryan, out at an old cabin of Bruce's where the two of them would go fishing from time to time. Stephanie was driving her Jeep Liberty up the dirt road to Bruce's rustic cabin and had complete faith in her vehicles ability to make it over the rough and weathered terrain. About two years ago Bruce, Ryan, several other officers and Stephanie had made a trip up to the cabin for a weekend of poker, beer and relaxation. Steph rounded the corner in the road and could see Ryan's truck parked to the right of the wood shed along the side of the cabin. Smoke was wafting up from the potbelly stove pipe and scenting the air with its smoky flavor.

Stephanie was not sure of the welcome she would receive from Ryan. Hesitantly she stepped to the door and knocked. “Ryan it is Steph and I want to talk to you please let me in.”

Within moments the door opened and a disheveled Ryan stepped out onto the wooden porch. “I figured you would find me sooner or later. Not so sure you want to be around me right now though,” grumbled Ryan.

“Ryan we need to talk and I am not going anywhere so get over it, you are stuck with me for a while till we get things figured out. You are not in this alone, let me help, please. I brought a four footed friend of yours.”

“So I guess I am going to be stuck with the two of you for a while from the sounds of it get your bags and I sure hope you brought some kibble with you for Sierra.” Ryan could see Sierra's head sticking out the window of Stephanie's Jeep and just to piss Steph off she gave the command for the dog to exit through the window and run to her.

“I knew the two of you were trouble the first day I saw you together in your dads' backyard.”

Ryan didn't look exactly happy but the lines in her face seemed to have relaxed a little with the bounding of the big canine.

“I missed you girl.” Ryan stroked the yellow Lab's back and began to scratch her at the top of her tail which in turn caused Sierra to stretch and wag enjoying the attention.

Ryan grabbed her fishing pole and a small back pack from inside the cabin door and told Steph that she would be back for lunch and that they could talk then. The two partners turned down the small path behind the wood cabin and headed for the nearby rushing creek. The departure of her friend afforded Stephanie the chance to call home and let the others know that she had found Ryan and to give them some space.

“Thanks for calling, Sam is kind of going stir crazy and she has plans to go see that psychologist you recommended. Stephanie, tell Ryan we love her. I also think you should know that I heard from Shane this morning, it seems like she heard through the grapevine about Ryan's leave and she will be here Friday with the kids, she said that it was time for Ryan and her to have a talk plus Steve and Annie have been asking about their aunt,” said Rafe.

“I hope Ryan and I can make some progress in the next three days then.”

“Good luck with that pig headed daughter of mine Stephanie.” The big man on the other side of the phone began to lose his composure as he thought of the grief his oldest child was going through.

“You know I will do everything I can for Ryan and I have complete confidence that she will get through this.”

“I am really glad Ryan has you Stephanie give her a hug for us.”

“Consider it done Rafe.”

The conversation was ended and Stephanie went out to her Jeep to get her luggage and groceries. Bruce's cabin was very rustic on the outside and yet had all of the modern conveniences on the inside. There was a large sitting area with a potbellied stove that when lit gave off enough heat to warm both the downstairs and upstairs sleeping loft of the cabin. The kitchen had a stove and oven that were run off of propane and a solar setup with a generator in case of emergencies to handle all of their electrical needs. Double paned windows throughout allowed light to filter inside the cabin and yellow lacey curtains and plush rugs added a homey touch to the rustic appearance.

In less than two hours Stephanie had unpacked her belongings, restocked the kitchen and she had just finished preparing sandwiches when she heard Ryan and Sierra approaching the front porch.

Ryan walked through the door looking more relaxed and as if she had come to terms with needing help from Stephanie after her excursion to the stream. “Here is a stringer of trout I thought we could have them for dinner if you'd like.”

“Uhmm, fresh trout one of my favorites I am going to put these babies in some salt water and I have lunch ready if you are hungry.”

“Sounds good let me get changed and washed up. Steph…..thanks I know I am not always the easiest person but I do know I really need your help right now and I value our friendship more than I can say.” With those words said Ryan walked off to the bathroom and Stephanie allowed her friend some space.

Lunch over Stephanie was curled up on an overstuffed recliner and Ryan's long lithe body was draping over the arms of the couch. Sierra happily munched away on a rawhide provided by Sam in Sierra's travel bag. Sierra was not a moody dog but she could sense the stress her mommies were going through and didn't like that they were apart, she missed Sam.

“Why did you run Ryan”?

“I felt like it was happening all over again, I had no control over anything and I was so scared.” Ryan curled her legs up against her chest and began to sob. “I love her Steph and I am afraid of how much I love her. She has become everything to me.”

Stephanie rose from the chair and went to Ryan and wrapped her in a hug. The two women sat this way for almost an hour, Ryan crying and purging all of her grief for Bruce, Shelly, her parents, and the numerous injustices her job brought her into contact with. Years of pent up grief and frustration flowed from Ryan and with them came an exhausted sleep that she succumbed to. Stephanie carefully layed her friend back fully onto the couch and placed a nearby blanket over her legs.

Stephanie smoothed back the hair on Ryan's forehead. “Sometimes it is the family that we choose who touch our hearts the most and you Ryan De Lucas are the sister of my heart and together all of the people who love you will get you through this, rest my friend,” whispered Stephanie.

Ryan slept peacefully for the first time in weeks. The scent of homemade stew and bread floated throughout the cabin. Sierra was patiently waiting next to the kitchen island for her bowl of the delicious smelling food.

“You are a beggar you know, I am not even sure police dogs are supposed to eat real food. I am probably breaking K-9 rule number 4 or something.”

“More like rule number 1,” softly replied and stretching Ryan.

“Should I take it back,” asked Stephanie?

“No, drug dogs can get away with more than the patrol dogs and the Labrador there has a cast iron stomach and gets moody when she doesn't get to eat with me so we have kind of made a bargain. She gets to eat with us but has to run 4 miles with me every morning.”

“Ryan let's eat and then I think we need to get to work.”

“Sure thing, Steph I feel ready for that.”

For the next 5 hours Ryan talked about her fears, hopes and dreams. She realized with Stephanie's help that by running from her relationship with Sam she was not protecting herself only making her fears become a reality. It was too late to save her heart because Sam already had it just as Ryan held Sam's heart. There were not any sure things in life except the old saying ‘taxes and death'and Ryan knew she could not live her life in fear but that her only option was to rejoice in what she had found with Samantha and to take the good and the bad that life would deal them. It was an easy choice really when it came right down to it, they would have their ups and downs all couples did but the ups would far outweigh the downs.

Ryan awakened first and started the coffee and put some bacon on to cook. Soon she could hear Stephanie rustling around in the loft and began to fill two mugs with coffee. A squinty eyed Stephanie trudged into the kitchen reaching blindly for the coffee.

“Come on sleeping beauty let's go outside so you can drink that and come back to the land of the living.” Ryan knew Steph would not be able to function until the caffeine hit her system.

“How come you wake up so chipper and yet I feel like crap,” grumbled Stephanie?

“I think we are getting a little too old for the all nighters we used to pull, believe me I am only this lively because that is the best 5 hours of sleep I have had in a long time.”

“Shane and the kids will be home on Friday. Do you think you will be ready to head back to civilization by then?”

“Truthfully I want to go now, but I know you and I still have things to discuss. I want to do this right Steph, my anger over Bruce's death, my fears, I want to work on those relaxation techniques you were talking about last night and I want to try the hypnosis thing today to see if I can remember anything more about the day of the shooting and then tomorrow I want to go home to Sam if she will have me that is of course.”

“Are you kidding the woman said to tell you she was giving you until Friday at the latest and then if you hadn't come to your senses she was going to find you herself and kick you “ASS” back home where it belonged.”

“Got love a woman with gumption,” stated Ryan.

Stephanie felt the worst was behind them and believed Ryan was ready to finally deal with the emotional issues before her.

Part 2

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