Characters do not belong to me, except originals. All belong to Jay Bernstein and others. Don't sue.
Bridges To CrossChristmas and New Years came and went in Houston. The newlyweds took a brief honeymoon with some of the money left to Joey. They went on a cruise to the Caribbean for New Years. The Lundy's spent the time together, building on to their house, adding a nursery/bedroom.
As winter went on, Caroline's due date drew closer and Cassidy looked on in envy. She longed for a baby too, but so far had no luck. For Cassidy's birthday in February, Joey gave her one heck of a gift. He had bought a house. Using the rest of his mother's money, he put a hefty down payment on a 200,000-dollar home in Willow Lake, Houston's upper-class community.
Lundy gave his partner hell over that one, calling him a traitor, moving out of his district. But it was all in good fun. LeVon couldn't have been happier to see his partner doing well for himself. LaFiamma had told him about the money and his anguish over whether or not to use it. Lundy reassured him that no matter what, it wasn't going to go with him, so he might as well use it to make himself and Cassidy just a little happier now. That was just like Lundy. But it made Joey feel better, and he knew his partner was right.
The house was a big two story, three bedroom. There was a gorgeous foyer with marble-look tile and a cascading staircase. The living room was the expanse of the front of the house with huge bay windows overlooking a landscaped lawn. There was an attached two-car garage with a door coming in to the kitchen and a large dining room. Upstairs, the master bedroom had a small balcony overlooking the backyard, which had a high rock fence. The master bath had a huge whirlpool tub and double vanity sinks. Then there were two smaller bedrooms, which Cassidy couldn't wait to fill with children.
Though they had little furniture to move into the house, Cassidy was as excited as Joe'd ever seen her the day they finally finished moving in. Caroline and LeVon had come to 'help' them move in and Caroline was almost as excited as her friend as they toured the place, making discoveries and plans for decorating.
"This is a really great place," LeVon marveled, as Joey showed him the garage, where there was more than enough room for their cars as well as the small laundry center and what might be a hobbyist's work bench along the back wall.
"What'cha gonna do over there?" LeVon asked. "Take up woodworking or something?"
LaFiamma pretended to be hurt. "I'll have you know, I made a lamp in high school shop class."
LeVon laughed. "Well, all husbands have to have some kind of hobby to get them outta the house when their wives get mad. It's a survival rule."
LaFiamma shrugged. "Guess I'll have to take something up," he joked.
That night, in the bedroom, Joey had lit candles while Cassidy took a hot bath. All that was in the big room was the bed, dresser and cabinet with their TV and stereo. He put on a CD, and old favorite from the past filtered out the speakers. "Lady in Red" from Chris DeBurge.
"Lady in red.... Is dancing with me...cheek to cheek There's nobody here...it's just you and me... it's where I want to be I hardly know... this beauty by my side... I never will forget the way you look tonight..."
Cassidy emerged from the steamy bathroom wearing a lacy red and silk camisole top and panties. Her thick chestnut hair was piled loosely atop her head. Joey, clad in black boxers, took her in his arms and held her close, moving just slightly to the music. She reveled in all the feelings: the new carpet under her feet, the fresh paint and wood smell of the new house, the warmth generating from her husband's body. She felt so satisfied.
"I never thought I'd have any of this," Joey told her softly. "A wife, a home... it was all just a dream for someone else. It's hard to believe."
She smiled and kissed his bare shoulder. "Well I'm happier than I've ever been. Who would have thought, back there in Chicago, when we could barely get along, that someday we'd have this? I guess sometimes change is good."
"Yeah. Speaking of change lets change location." He moved her slowly toward their bed. "We've gotta christen the new house and work on that baby."
She laughed and the echo of her lilting laughter, later cries of passion, filled the new house.Later that month...
Joe headed for the Lundy house. It was such a pretty spring like day he didn't even mind the extra drive. Lundy had left some case files at home, but was back at Reasner, swamped with paperwork. Joe had gone out to pick up their lunch from Chicken's when Lundy called and asked him to please go out to his place and pick up the missing files. He knew they'd need the files sooner or later anyway.
He pulled into the drive and saw Caroline's car in the carport with the trunk open. She must have just gotten home from the store he deduced. He honked his horn to warn her of his approach as he pulled up. He expected her to come out of the open side door in the carport. She did not.
Maybe she was in the bathroom, he guessed and stopped his Cobra. He got out and walked into the carport. He stopped short when he saw the bag of groceries dropped and spilled just inside the kitchen door. The hair on the back of his neck bristled and he instinctively pulled one of his two holstered pistols.
"Caroline?" he called through the door. He cautiously stepped inside. The kitchen was a mess of spilled groceries; broken eggs, spilled milk, and scattered canned goods littered the tiled floor. He advanced into the kitchen, gun at the ready.
"Caroline?" he called again, louder.
He made his way through the kitchen to the hall and dining room. There, in a corner, huddled in a disheveled mess, was Caroline.
LaFiamma cussed. He went to her, gun still ready; he didn't know if the person who'd done this was still here.
He knelt beside her. She was awake, eyes staring at the opposite wall blankly. Her hair had food residue from the kitchen floor. She was drawn up, clutching her knees, trembling all over.
"Caroline, it's LaFiamma," he told her slowly. "Is he still here?" he wasn't sure she understood him. She was obviously in shock.
But her eyes gradually focused on him and she shook her head, no.
LaFiamma stood up anyway. "I'll be right back. Don't move," he told her, though it looked like there was not much chance of that happening. He did a sweep of the rest of the house, just to make sure. He found a window open in the far spare bedroom. That must be where he went out. Perhaps as recently as when LaFiamma honked his car horn.
As carefully as possible, so as not to disturb any fingerprints that may have been there, LaFiamma closed and locked the window. He grabbed up a blanket from the bed as he left.
He went back to Caroline, who'd not moved. He covered her with the blanket.
"Can you move?" he asked her, not knowing what injuries she might have.
Slowly again her eyes settled on him and she nodded.
"Lets go sit on the couch, okay? I'll help you. Is it okay if I put my arm around your shoulders to help you?" He'd dealt with this kind of thing before and knew some women would flinch or even cry when touched by a man without warning. He didn't know for sure she'd been raped, but the signs were there.
She nodded again and he slowly helped her to her feet. They moved slowly to the living room couch and sat down; he sat close to her, as she seemed not to want to let go of his jacket once she'd gotten hold of it.
"He was waiting in the car port," she said softly. "When I opened the door, he came in behind me," she told him. "He had a gun and his face was covered with a stocking I think. He was big. Tall. He was white. His hands were dirty, like he had grease or dirt under his nails." All this came out in one rush, and then she went silent again. Joe burned with anger. Who could do this to a woman who was nearly eight months pregnant?
"I'm gonna call an ambulance now, okay? And LeVon."
At the mention of her husband's name, she burst into tears and buried her head in his shoulder. LaFiamma held her gently.
"He...he," she sniffled. "He didn't rape me..." she finally told him. "Please...please tell LeVon that...he tried, but he didn't."
"Sshh," he quieted her, softly stroking her hair, despite the mess. "It's okay. It'll be okay. I just want a doctor to make sure you're okay, and the baby."
Gradually her crying subsided enough for him to reach the phone. He called the ambulance first and then the MCU, where he talked to Carol O'Brien. He told her what happened and to get a team out to Lundy's but not to tell him anything, then to transfer him to Lundy.
"Lundy," he answered.
"It's me. I'm at your house."
"Well are you comin' back some time today with that file? I'd like to get this wrapped up—"
"Lundy, I need for you to meet me at Houston General."
"The hospital? What's goin' on?"
"Lundy, I'm gonna tell you and I don't want you to flip out. There was a break in at your house and Caroline got tangled up with the guy. She's okay I think but I want her to get checked out."
"What?! Where is she? What happened?!"
"Calm down Lundy," LaFiamma said. He didn't want his partner to get so upset he wrecked or something on his way to the hospital, therefore he tried to downplay the situation. "Just meet me there okay? Caroline's really going to be fine. I just want to have her checked is all."
"I'll be right there." He slammed down the phone. This was the second call he'd gotten to meet someone at the hospital and he sure hadn't liked the way the first one turned out.
Lundy arrived at the hospital just behind the ambulance and LaFiamma. Caroline was taken in to the ER and LaFiamma caught Lundy.
"What the hell happened?" his partner demanded. "When I got there, I must have scared him off. He followed Caroline in while she was carrying groceries in." LaFiamma put a hand on Lundy's shoulder. "He attacked her, but she says he didn't rape her. That he tried but didn't."
Lundy cussed. His face drained of color. "Is she...did he hurt her...the baby?"
LaFiamma shook his head. "I don't think so. But I wanted to make sure. She was really shaken up."
They waited together and Lundy filled out paperwork for the ER. Caroline's personal physician Marion Walker, who'd been called down by the ER attending doctor, came out in a few more minutes to speak with LeVon. He'd met her at Caroline's last visit.
He stood up, his hat clenched in his hands.
"How is she?" he asked anxiously.
Dr Walker smiled. "She'll be fine," she assured him. She laid a hand on his arm. "The baby has a good strong heartbeat and that helped Caroline a lot to hear. The ultrasound shows that your baby is just fine."
LeVon was relieved and felt some of the tension slip from his shoulders.
"She'll be a little sore for a few days. She did get knocked down pretty hard."
"She wasn't raped?" Lundy asked for reassurance.
Dr Walker shook her head. "No. Apparently the attacker, if that was his primary purpose, got scared away. He did rip her shirt and paw her. Caroline said he told her something like he was going to get 'back' at you, Sergeant."
Lundy shook his head in dismay. He'd been afraid something like this would happen.
"Can I see her?"
"Sure. She's getting dressed. I think she'd be fine to go home, just have her take it easy for a few days. We have some good counselors available too, if she feels like she wants to talk, or if both of you do."
Lundy shook Dr. Walker's hand. "Thanks so much."
She smiled again. "I'm glad she's alright. I'll see her next week at her regular appointment. If there are any problems before then, don't hesitate to call me."
LeVon went into the private exam room where his wife was in the ER. She had finished dressing and was washing up in the sink.
She turned when he came in. He saw the shattered look on her face and went to her. She came willingly into his open arms. Her tears begin again.
"Oh darlin', I'm so sorry. I can't tell you how sorry I am. I shoulda' been there..."
He comforted her as best he could until she'd regained some composure. She used a tissue to wipe away some of her tears.
"I'm all right,' she finally said. She got a small smile and touched her rounded abdomen. "Dr Walker says the baby's fine."
He kissed her cheek. "I know. That's great. I'm so thankful you're both okay."
She shivered then. "I was so scared. I thought he was going to kill me or...worse. If Joe hadn't gotten there when he did, I just don't know..." she trailed off.
"Yeah," LeVon didn't want to think about it either.
They walked out of the ER cubicle together and LaFiamma waited for them. He smiled when he saw Caroline.
She immediately went to him and wrapped her arms around him. "Oh Joe, thank you so much, for everything. If you hadn't gotten there when you did...and the way you handled things..." she was breaking up.
LaFiamma held her and Lundy looked on at the two most special people in his life, who had now formed a new and closer bond.
"I'm just glad you and the baby are okay," he told her.
LaFiamma had told LeVon the condition at his house and that he'd sent a team over to dust for prints. That wasn't something he wanted to take his wife home to. "Listen," LaFiamma told them "I called Cassie. She wants you to come over and rest while they're finishing up at your house."
Lundy nodded. "Yeah. I want to get this bastard. But I'm not leaving her alone." He turned to his wife. "That okay? You stayin' with Cass for a while?"
Caroline shrugged. "I guess." She was unsure still how to handle the situation and knew as soon as she was alone she was going to bawl her eyes out.
"Just for a bit. Then I'll come pick you up and we'll go home."
After leaving the hospital, they drove to the LaFiamma's home in Willow Lakes Estates. Cassidy waited for them and ran out as soon as they drove up. She immediately took over, taking Caroline with her arm around her friend, and led her inside. LeVon made sure his wife was secure and didn't need him for a bit and then he and LaFiamma left, hell bent on catching the man who'd done this.
But two weeks later and there was still no one in custody for the attack on Caroline. It made the two cops ansy. Especially LeVon. It was like a splinter under his skin. Caroline was doing fine, if only a little shaky at times, but he was taking it personally that he could not apprehend the scum that had hurt his wife. And it made them all a bit more nervous and cautious.
And with good reason. Not quite three weeks after Caroline's attack; LeVon and Joe were working in the office on their cases. It was little after ten in the morning. A call was transferred to LaFiamma's desk. "Sgt LaFiamma," he answered.
"Yes, Sgt, this is Meg Palmer, down at the repertoire?"
Joe vaguely remembered her as one of Cassidy's co-workers. "Yeah, hi. What can I do for you?"
"Well, I just wondered if Cassidy was feeling okay, or if everything was alright?" LaFiamma frowned. "Well yeah, I guess so. Why?"
"Well, she's usually so punctual, when she didn't call this morning or come in, I just thought-" "Wait a minute. Are you telling me she didn't go to work?"
"No," Meg confirmed. "She had two classes scheduled this morning. At nine, and ten. Well, she hasn't shown up and I called the house. She didn't answer; I assumed you would know-"
LaFiamma cut her off. "Listen, I'll call you. I'm not sure what's going on." He abruptly hung up on the woman and began dialing. His heart was racing, but maybe it was just a mix up. Maybe Cassidy had forgotten her class days or, gotten side tracked or...bullshit.
His home phone rang until the machine picked it up.
"Cass, it's me. If you're there, answer. Cass?" He slammed down the phone.
Lundy came back from the copier. "What's up?"
LaFiamma was already rising, grabbing his jacket.
"Cass didn't show to work. I can reach her."
They flew out of Reasner and down to LaFiamma's Cobra.
While careening through the streets of Houston, LaFiamma threw his cell at Lundy. "Try her cell," he said. "Just hit the 2 and send."
Lundy did this while trying to hold on for his life. The cell phone rang until Cassidy's voice mail picked it up. "Her mail," Lundy yelled at his partner over the roar of the engine.
They made it to the LaFiamma home in record time. LaFiamma jumped out of the car and bounded up to the front door. Lundy went around back.
The door was securely locked and LaFiamma had to use his key to get in. He had drawn his weapons now, nervous as a cat. There was no sign of any thing unusual in the front rooms. "Cassidy?" he called. The house was silent. As a tomb. He didn't like that thought.
Lundy, using the key from his own ring, had come through the back door and met LaFiamma at the staircase. He shook his head to indicate he had found nothing. They proceeded upstairs.
They entered the master room, prepared for anything. And found nothing.
Cassidy's clothes she'd been planning to wear were still laid out on the bed. Her purse lay untouched on the dresser. They did a cursory search of the rest of the upstairs, still finding nothing.
Now LaFiamma was really worried. "What was she doing when you left?" Lundy asked his partner, now taking over as cop.
"She'd just gotten up. She put on her workout clothes. I thought she was going to use the treadmill. Maybe she went outside for a run instead. Or to the gym."
Lundy shook his head. He'd come in the back through the garage. "Her car's still in the garage. Maybe a friend picked her up?"
LaFiamma tried to bite down the rising fear and anxiety that was building in his chest. "I'm gonna go talk to the neighbors. If she did go for a run, maybe someone saw her. Maybe she's hurt."
"I'll get on the line downtown and get some cars in the area to do a sweep."
LaFiamma tossed Lundy Cassidy's address book from her purse. "She hasn't got too many friends here. Most of the numbers are for Chicago. But try the locals."
"Got it." Lundy sat down by the phone. LaFiamma darted down the stairs and back out the front door.
In two hours, LaFiamma and Lundy had canvassed the neighborhood. Lundy had gotten in touch with Cassidy's friends, including his wife, and the people at the repertoire to see if anyone knew anything. There was no clue. No one had seen her.
Two neighbors had seen Cassidy out jogging early that morning, right after LaFiamma left for work, about seven thirty they said. From what LaFiamma could tell she had taken a westbound course, toward the recreation center and parks in their neighborhood.
Lundy had put out an APB and had enlisted several uniformed guys on patrol to assist. He'd also sent a detail to his home to keep an eye on Caroline.
Now the two partners canvassed the park in the community. It was a large man made area that covered about three acres in rolling green grass, ponds, sidewalks, benches, playgrounds and pools. The rec center was in the center and had programs for neighborhood children and teens. The LaFiamma's had recently attended a neighborhood community meeting at the newly opened building and had seen the new indoor pool and basketball courts.
They spoke to everyone they saw and looked for any trace of evidence. Most of the park vendors were just setting up for the day to sell everything from ice cream to hot dogs to balloons. But one looked like he had been there awhile. A middle-aged man in a baseball cap was selling kites and pretzels from an open sided truck.
LaFiamma flashed his badge. "Say, we're looking for a woman who might have been jogging here earlier this morning. Have you been here long today?"
The man nodded and scratched his head. "Yeah, since about seven thirty. I open early Friday through Sunday." LaFiamma placed Cassidy's picture, a snapshot taken just a month ago that he'd had blown up into a 5x7 of her in front of their new house. It was a head and shoulders shot and she wore a blue denim shirt and a big smile.
"Pretty," the man commented. "She would have been wearing black running pants, a red tank top and her hair was in a ponytail. White running shoes."
He squinted at the photo. "Well, she does look familiar. Yeah, I did see her!" he surprised himself. "Maybe about 8. She had on those swishy pants. Not sweats. Cause those swishy pants make noise when they go by. I looked up. That was her all right. She was wearing sunglasses too. Those wrap around jobs all the runners wear."
LaFiamma's adrenaline was pumping now. "Do you know which way she went, or where she might have gone from here?"
He scratched his head again. "Well, she ran down that way, alls I know. I don't think she ever came back past. Least not that I saw."
"Was she alone? Or was anyone behind her, like following?" Lundy put in.
"She was alone. But maybe someone was following her. A man was jogging not too far behind her. He didn't have swishy pants though. Just grey sweats."
"White? Black? What color hair?"
"Oh, a white guy. Brown hair. That's about all I remember. Sunglasses too." "If you think of anything else, please get in touch with one of us," LaFiamma handed him their business cards. "That woman is my wife and she's missing right now. Anything you can do I'd really appreciate." "Oh lordy," he said, taking the cards. "I'm sorry I can't be more help."
"You've been real helpful," Lundy assured him as they walked off in the direction the man had said he'd last seen Cassidy heading. LaFiamma was beyond hope that she'd fallen and injured herself, or worse been hit by a car and taken to the hospital. He was living his worst fear: Cassidy had been kidnapped. Maybe by the same person responsible for Caroline's attack.
It was a long, gut-wrenching day for LaFiamma. After the vendor, they hadn't come across one clue to Cassidy's whereabouts. It was mid-afternoon when Lundy got a call on his cell phone. It was Hatch.
"Lundy, couple of uni's picked up a woman fitting LaFiamma's wife's description. Roughed up pretty bad. They took her to General."
"Thanks LT. We're on our way."
Lundy broke the news to his partner after they were already driving toward the hospital in Lundy's Ford.
In the ED, the attending MD met them as soon as they flashed their gold.
"We haven't been able to get much out of her," the doctor said. "She's in and out of consciousness. No ID."
"Let me see her," LaFiamma demanded.
"She might be his wife," Lundy told to Dr who'd been caught off guard by LaFiamma's growl.
"Oh." He took them to the room the unidentified injured woman had been placed in. An IV ran into her arm and her head and left side of her face had been bandaged. But for Joe there was no mistaking the woman. It was Cassidy.
Lundy too recognized her. Barely. She had been badly beaten, her face a mottled blue hue with severe swelling.
Joey went to her, his eyes tearing. He took her free hand, noticing her torn and broken nails. He caressed her arm.
"It's her?" the doctor asked. Lundy nodded. "What's her condition?"
"Severe concussion, contusions and abrasions to the face. Her bones are intact though. No fractures. No signs of rape. The guy that did this just did it from hate. He used open hands in my opinion. Looks like she put up a good fight though. The sooner she regains full consciousness the better. We've done a CT and it's not showing any internal head trauma or bleeding. That's good."
"He'll want to stay with her."
The doctor nodded. "Of course. Can you fill in some blanks for the charge nurse, name, age, address?"
Lundy nodded, seeing his partner was engrossed with his wife. They left the dim room.
Joey continued to talk to Cassidy and caress her hand and arm. He was afraid to touch her face. Nothing looked like it wouldn't hurt.
"I'm here babe," he would tell her. "Wake up and look at me." Periodically, "I love you so much. Come on Cass. Come back to me."
Several hours later, Joey hadn't moved. He saw the first flicker of her eyelids as she began to come around.
"That's it babe. I'm right here." He squeezed her hand.
She opened her eyes as much as her swelling would allow. She focused on her husband. She moaned.
"It's okay. You're safe. I'm here. Joey's here," he comforted. Her eyes finally came into focus on him.
"I..." she struggled to speak with her swollen and split lip. "They grabbed me..." she took a breath. Every word was painful. "Near the park. A grey van. The guy...white...brown hair. He kept hitting me..."
"It's okay. You don't have to do this now. Just rest."
Her hand, under Joey's pulled away and went to her face. She gasped in horror and pain.
Joey took her hand again. "It's gonna be okay. Dr says you'll be fine. Nothing broken. Just banged up a little."
"My face!" she cried.
"It'll heal babe. You're gonna be okay."
She cried and the tears stung the open places on her cheek. Joey held her.
Joey wanted to stay with his wife, but he also wanted to follow the leads they had to get this guy. There was no doubt in either partner's mind that it was the same one who'd attacked Caroline. The doctor said they were going to be running more tests and that Cassidy would probably be sleeping most of the afternoon, so LaFiamma and Lundy went back out on the streets.
The van had been found abandoned and was on the stolen vehicle reports. LaFiamma had a forensic team going over it inch by inch for clues to the man's identity.
Carol called on Lundy's phone to tell them she'd gotten a hit on a potential suspect. One of their collars, from several years back had been released from prison back in September. Ted Cohn had been arrested for stalking by the partners and gotten out of Huntsville, and hadn't been heard from by his parole officer since. They were headed to Cohn's apartment when the hospital called La Fiamma. It was Dr Newman, who'd been attending Cassidy since she came in.
"Mr. La Fiamma, I have some news about your wife. She's doing a little better, but I do have some bad news."
"What? What is it?"
"Cassidy was pregnant. The trauma caused a miscarriage. I'm very sorry. She was extremely upset and we had to sedate her. I thought you'd probably want to be here when she wakes up."
Joey felt like he'd been hit with a bat. He sighed. "Yeah. Thanks Dr. I'll be right down." He snapped the small phone shut and put it away.
Lundy glanced over, concerned. "You want me to head to the hospital?"
La Fiamma nodded. "She was pregnant," he told his partner quietly.
Lundy knew that the couple had been trying for a few months to conceive. He'd heard the way LaFiamma said was. He couldn't imagine what it would be like to have such difficulty and then to have it end like that.
Lundy changed lanes and turned toward the hospital. "You gonna be okay?"
Joey nodded. "Yeah. I will, but this is gonna be hell for her. She wants kids so bad. I feel helpless."
Lundy couldn't find words to help console his friend just then, so he just stayed quiet.
At the hospital, Lundy dropped LaFiamma off. He promised to call with any news about Cohn. Joe went to Cassidy's room. She was still sleeping after being medicated. He held her hand and did the only thing he could for her then-he sent her his love.
Forensics had found a partial print in the van and it matched Cohn's. Lundy was told on the radio. His team of backup had arrived and they descended on Cohn's apartment. The ex con was arrested without a fight. He then rolled over on his ex partners, Rick Deets and Mike Davis, who'd been the home invasion team doing the robberies back in the fall. They were also the ones who broke into the LaFiamma's apartment back in October and roughed up both Joe and Cassidy. While the detectives had been able to put away Rick Deets, they'd never been able to get his partners, Davis and Cohn. Now they had Cohn and were about to have Davis.
Lundy wanted to finish all the paperwork on the case before calling LaFiamma. He was at his desk in the early evening when his phone rang. It was Caroline.
"Hey darlin'." He'd told her earlier about Cassidy and he knew she was planning to go see her friend tomorrow.
"LeVon, I think you'd better meet me at the hospital."
"I thought you were gonna see Cassidy in the morning."
"Well, hon, I don't have much choice. I'm in labor."
LeVon dropped his pen. "What? Where are you? It's still three weeks early!"
"I'm already on my way to the hospital. Time doesn't seem to mean much to this baby. I called a cab. Just meet me there, okay? Erik's at home and he's fine."
"I'll be there," Lundy said, filled with nervous excitement.
He left MCD on the run.
It was four hours later in a hospital bed through joy filled tears that Caroline gave birth to a healthy 8-pound son, Dalton James Lundy.
The moment LeVon's son was placed in his arms for the first time, his heart was overcome with a happiness and contentment he'd never felt, as well as a fierce desire to protect the small body so dependent on him. Caroline had never looked more beautiful in his eyes, as she did when she held the baby to her breast. Finally, LeVon felt complete. After watching the two most important people in his life for nearly an hour, Lundy got up from beside his wife, who was dozing while the baby nursed.
He left to find his partner.
Hatch had called LaFiamma and told him then news about Cohn and Davis' arrest. He also told Joey about the Lundy's news. LaFiamma was happy in different ways about both events.
Cassidy had been in a fitful sleep on and off throughout the evening and when she was briefly awake, all she did was sob. Joey could do nothing to console her, which made him feel even worse.
When LeVon finally stuck his head in to Cassidy's room, Joe was relieved for a break from his heart wrenching watch.
He got up and went into the hallway, which was quiet now, all the other visitors gone and the night shift on.
"I'm a Daddy," Le Von told his partner, with both pride and amazement.
LaFiamma smiled and shook his friend's hand. "Congratulations, man."
"It's a boy. Eight pounds and two ounces." Lundy couldn't wipe the grin off his face.
"Wow!" LaFiamma said, with a chuckle. "Big guy. I'm so happy for you."
Lundy sobered. "How's Cass?"
Joe shrugged. "She's in and out. Dr said it's kind of like shock. They're hoping tomorrow she'll come around."
Lundy patted his partner on the arm. "It'll take some time, but she will make it. She's a tough lady. And she's got the best man she could ever hope for." LaFiamma blushed. He stared at the tile.
"Hey, why don't you take a little break? Come see the baby. Maybe it'll cheer you up a little. Cause I know, God help us, that you're gonna have some little LaFiamma's running around in no time at all." LaFiamma appreciated his partner's attempts to cheer him up. He looked in on his wife, who was sleeping peacefully, and then followed LeVon to the next floor. They went to Caroline's room, which was pleasantly dim and warm.
Caroline smiled when she saw Joey. He went to her and kissed her softly on the cheek. "Congratulations mama," he said.
The baby was sound asleep in the hospital bassinette beside the bed. Joey looked at the tiny person in wonder.
"He's gorgeous," he whispered, then not wanting to show his sentiment, he winked at LeVon. "Good thing he took after his mom."
LeVon couldn't even think of a smart reply. He just took the ribbing and stared at his son in wonder. After a few minutes, LaFiamma said his goodbyes and went back to Cassidy.
It was very late or very early in the morning when Cassidy finally woke up. She looked over to find Joey sleeping on two chairs at her bedside. She cried some silent tears for the baby she'd never known, but slowly started to recover. By the time Joey woke up, Cassidy was sitting up propped with pillows and she gave him a tentative smile.
He sat down beside her, still stiff and groggy.
"How ya doin' babe?"
"I'm better. I'm not okay, but I'm better."
It was several more days before she was released from the hospital, but the first thing Cassidy wanted to do was go see Caroline and the new baby. Joey drove her to the Lundy's home.
Caroline was settling in to motherhood, gracefully and beautifully as ever. LeVon on the other hand looked a little sleep deprived. First Joe held the tiny baby boy, now clothed in a soft blue sleeper, then Cassidy took him and her heart melted. She sat and held the baby, inhaling his baby scent, and feeling his warm body close to her chest. She rocked him in Caroline's chair until he was fast asleep.
Lundy and LaFiamma sat in the kitchen, drinking coffee.
"Man, it's amazing," Lundy was saying.
"I bet. Looks tiring too."
Lundy chuckled. "Yeah. That too."
LaFiamma looked at his partner with sincerity. "You're gonna be a great dad Lundy."
LeVon smiled. "An' someday, you are too."