Note: I had planned to do a little more with this story, but I think I am blocked. I know there are still loose ends...especially with the Eric character...so maybe I will continue it or do a sequel later. So for now, here is the final chapter. Thanks for all the helpful reviews.
Twenty minutes later, they were entering Danny's small apartment. He couldn't remember the last time he was there. It seemed like days at least.
"This is nice," she said as she entered. "You have a little more room that your studio in college…and it's not freezing."
Danny smiled remembering his tiny college apartment. He was surprised she remembered anything about it considering she'd only been there twice. "I almost died from living in that death trap. I caught pneumonia one winter…I thought I'd never be warm again."
Katie blushed as she remembered she wasn't cold for long when she was there last. Both times had involved frantic encounters that left them both hot and sweaty. She had only been cold when she had to get up to leave.
Danny stood slightly uncomfortable by the front door as she surveyed the surroundings in his apartment. He watched her stop at the breakfast bar in the kitchen. Her attention focused on his neglected pile of mail. She reached down and picked up a small picture. Danny had forgotten about the picture. His brother's fiancé, Sylvia, had sent him a picture of their son in his thank you card. Sylvia had sent him a note after he testified at his brother's parole hearing. She'd included the picture and an open invitation to one of Nicky's soccer games. He'd received it weeks ago, but hadn't felt comfortable attending one of them. He still wasn't sure how involved he wanted to be in his brother's new life.
"Who's this?" Katie asked curiously. "He looks like a little version of you."
"My nephew, Nicky."
Katie sighed and smiled. "For a second there, I was thinking he was yours. Did you and your brother re-connect? Is that a good thing?"
"Don't get too excited. He spent nine years in prison. He just got out a month ago. I haven't seen him since he got out."
"Then how do you know his son?" she asked holding up the picture.
Danny walked toward her as if to inspect the picture. "His fiancé and son came to see me a while back. She promised me he'd changed and asked me to speak at his parole hearing."
"And you did…"
"And I did."
"So I don't understand…why haven't you seen him?"
"I don't know if I trust him. But I know now we both had it pretty rough as kids and maybe he deserves another chance. And I couldn't look into that little boy's eyes and deny him a chance to meet his father," he said looking at the picture. "So I testified."
Katie put the picture down and put her hand on his. "Well…I hope it all works out. You could probably help each other a lot. He's the only person in your life who really knows what you went through as a kid," she said as she lightly traced the scar on his wrist.
Danny had almost forgotten how much he told her. He'd told Katie almost everything he remembered…every painful detail of his childhood…things he never told anyone else. But he just nodded. "We'll see…"
"You have messages," she said as she pointed to the flashing red light on the breakfast bar.
"I'm sure it's nothing. Probably just telemarketers," he said as he hit the button. He was standing directly in front of her now looking down in her eyes…their hands still touching. The first message was about some dry-cleaning he'd forgotten to pick up. The second was his landlord saying they still hadn't been able to fix the leaky faucet in his bathroom. The final message was from Heather. Danny started to hit the stop button, but Katie grabbed his hand.
"Hey…it's me…Heather. I missed waking up with you this morning. I bet you are fun to wake up with. Maybe we can do that this weekend on our second date," she said with a giggle. "We can pretend to go to a movie again, if you want. Talk to you soon."
"Maybe I shouldn't be here," Katie said taking her hand away from his after the message ended. "I don't want to be in the way, and I don't want to cause any trouble…" she said as she started for the door.
Danny gently grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. "You aren't…in the way. I told you…it's nothing serious."
"It's none of my business…but doesn't she seem a little young for you and extremely perky?" she asked in a slightly mocking tone.
"You're right. It's none of your business, but she's twenty…so don't worry. And she is in a good mood pretty much all the time. There's nothing wrong with that…especially after a day like today."
"You slept with her on the first date?" she asked and then quickly regretted it.
"Katie…" Danny started in an annoyed tone.
"Sorry…I don't know why I asked that," she responded suddenly very aware that he was still holding her arm. "She's a lucky girl."
Danny looked down uncomfortably and let go of her before changing the subject. "Are you hungry? I probably should have asked that before we got up here, because I'm sure I don't have anything here," he said as he walked over to the refrigerator and opened it.
"I couldn't eat a thing. But you go ahead…"
"Nah…I'm good. But I could sleep for at least a week. I don't think I've had a decent night's sleep in over a week."
"Does that have anything to do with a certain perky thespian?" Katie asked in a teasing tone.
Danny smiled. "Nice try. It has more to do with my job."
At the mention of his job, Katie immediately thought about the day's events. "Part of me would like to wake up tomorrow and find out this is some kind of nightmare."
"Just part of you?" Danny asked in surprised as he took some sheets out of a closet to make up the couch.
Her back was to him otherwise she wasn't sure she would have the courage to make her next statement. "The other part of me wants this to be real because it means getting to wake up with you again," she answered as she turned to him.
He put the sheets on the couch and sat down uneasily. She came toward him and kneeled in front of him. He put his hand on her cheek. "Maybe this wasn't such a great idea…bringing you here."
"Don't say that. You know I still think about you…a lot. I think about those weeks we spent together in high school and the nights before everything went so wrong. Do you ever think about me?"
He couldn't tell her the truth. He couldn't tell her that he hadn't allowed himself to think of her in a long time. He had to block those memories otherwise he would end up drowning all his hurt, regret and sorrow. "Of course, I do," he replied quietly.
She slowly leaned in to him and kissed him for the first time in nearly eight years. Danny quelled the voice in his head telling him to stop by kissing her back. This wasn't like their two frantic encounters before she got married. This was painfully slow like they wanted it to last forever because they were so used to it having to end.
He maneuvered her onto the couch and leaned her back. In between their deep, sensual kisses and touches, they managed to remove most of their clothes. As he continued to kiss her and touch her, he started to realize that something was different. She wasn't responding to him like she used to. Even though she seemed willing, her body wasn't. He stopped kissing her and hovered above her for a few moments searching her eyes.
"What? What's wrong?" she asked breathlessly.
He shook his head. "I'm not sure. Are you okay?"
She lookedat himas her eyesstarted to fill with tears. "I don't know. You don't have to stop…"
He kissed a tear away as it fell down her cheek. He saw fear in her eyes. And then he remembered what she told Sam earlier in the day about Eric, and the way she reacted after she slapped him. "What did he do to you?" he whispered as he took her in his arms and held her.
She laid her head against his chest and tried to control her emotions. She wanted to feel normal again, and she thought she could with Danny, but something didn't feel right inside of her. She felt his fingers in her hair…stroking softly. She felt scared and safe all at the same time.
He tried to ask her again. "You can talk to me. You can tell me anything," he whispered softly.
He felt her nod her head. "I know. But it doesn't matter now. I thought I was ready, but I guess I just need more time. I've been talking to this therapist. She's been helping me deal with it."
Danny had to mentally stop himself from getting up and finding Eric. In that moment, he wanted to kill him. "I'm glad you're getting help," he responded as he held her a little tighter.
They both fell asleep on the couch. Neither of them stirred until the morning when they heard the ring of Danny's cell phone. He blindly reached for the phone on the coffee table and answered in a sleep-filled, hoarse voice. "Taylor…" he answered.
"Hey. It's Samantha. Sorry to wake you," she said hesitantly.
"That's okay. What's up?" he asked noticing it was 6 A.M.
"I thought you'd want to know that Tracey Simon made it through surgery. The doctors say her prognosis is good, but she did lose the baby. I thought maybe Katie Mathews would want to know. I tried calling her home, but the caretaker said she didn't make it home last night. I got a little worried…after everything that happened yesterday."
Danny looked at the sleeping form next to him. "She's fine. Don't worry. I'll tell her about Tracey."
"Right. I'll uh…I'll see you later then?" Samantha asked.
"Yeah…I'll be there in a couple of hours," he replied sleepily.
They said goodbye and then Danny closed his eyes. He really didn't want to go to work. He wanted to stay right where he was holding Katie. After a few minutes, he opened his eyes to find Katie looking up at him. "Morning," she said quietly. "You were just in deep thought."
"Not so deep…I was just thinking that I didn't want to leave you today."
"I'll second that. I'd like to stay like this a while longer."
Danny smiled. "Unfortunately, the paperwork after a case can be more time-consuming than the case itself. Speaking of…Samantha called to let us know that Tracey got through surgery okay, but she did lose the baby."
"That poor girl. She had no idea what she was getting into."
"Hopefully, she can get some help, and move on from all this. I have the same wish for you," he said as he ran his fingers through her hair.
"I feel like I already am moving on…being here with you. Or maybe I am just getting back."
"What do you mean?" he asked curiously.
"I should have left with you that night in the Hamptons…when Eric found us in the driveway. I should have told him the truth right there. Things would have been so different."
"You can never look back, Katie. We make decisions, we make choices, and sometimes we don't have a choice at all. We are just dealt a hand. If I've learned anything in my crazy, messed-up life, it is that you just have to keep moving forward…hopefully a little wiser than you were before. You have an opportunity for a new life, Katie Mason. You stood up to Eric, your mother and your father. You're ready to face anything."
"You think? I'm not sure I'm strong enough. I've never been on my own…never…in my whole life."
"Well then…it's about time. But you really aren't alone. I remember a time when I felt more alone that I ever had before. I was so scared because I had nowhere to go, but then you came to me…my lifeline…my sweet Katie. You saved my life. I'm here for you now…just like you were there for me then. I love you, and I don't plan on letting you go through this alone," Danny said sincerely.
Katie pulled herself up from Danny's chest so she was face to face withhim. "I came to life when I met you all those years ago, and I died a little the day I got married because I felt like I lost you forever. I may have saved your life, Danny…but you gave me life. Just like you gave me life again when you held me last night. I love you, too Danny Taylor."