Five Years Later:-
As Taylor drove home along the coast road, he let his mind wander. Nowadays, he loved the drive home. They'd come a long way in the last five years and every night he would thank his lucky stars for their second chance, that they had all been able to walk away from Brooklyn and start over. Matty had phoned him at work today, full of talk of the big weekend they had planned for next month. Connie was doing ok, but the new baby was tiring them out. Taylor could tell Matty loved every minute of it. Taylor'd asked after Jerry and Lola and Matty had told him they were both doing fine. Lola had gone back to school and started working as a beautician – what she had always wanted to do. Jerry still worked behind the bar at The Star, working for Alfio and Vito who had bought the bar from Taylor and Matty. Yep, it had been a good day today. He'd even remembered to pick up a copy of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for Meggie. He checked the rearview mirror as he pulled into the quiet suburban road and realized he was smiling. Actually, he smiled a lot these days. He had a lot to smile about, he thought as he pulled up outside the ordinary house with a traditional white picket fence. Getting out of the car, he was serenaded by the shouts of "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" Taylor hopped over the fence and dropped to the floor, ready to catch his daughter, who flew into his arms. "Daddy, I love you! Mommy making pasta and I wanted fries!" "Hey baby! I love you too. Pasta, huh? He pulled a face to match his daughter's. "I tell you what, if you eat all your pasta like a good girl, I'll take you out for fries at the weekend. How's that?" The dark-haired, dark-eyed child thought about it for a minute, "and ice cream?" "And Ice cream!" Taylor laughed and straightened up. "You gonna play nice with Gramma while I go talk to Mommy?" "You're gonna kiss Mommy!" The little girl wrinkled her nose and giggled. "Yep! I'm gonna kiss Mommy, alright." 'And a whole lot more, if she'll let me!' He left the little girl in the sandbox where she would happily play all day given the chance. "Hey Mom," he stooped to kiss his mother's cheek as she sat on the swing on the porch. "Taylor…" she smiled and patted his cheek. "Good day?" "Very good. How was yours?" "Also very good. That daughter of yours has a wise old soul inside her…bless her." "She sure does Mom. Meggie inside?" "Yes dear. She's in the kitchen…making pasta," they both chuckled. "Ok," Taylor took one last look at his daughter in the sandbox before disappearing inside the house. The smell of pasta and meat sauce filled the house and his stomach rumbled. "Meggie? Meggie?" he called, dumping his bag in the hall and kicking his boots under the chair. "Taylor…I'm in the kitchen." She was stood at the sink, washing dishes and looking out of the window when he came up behind her and wrapped her in an embrace. His big hands splayed out over her belly, feeling the new life inside. Kissing her neck lightly, he told her Matty had called and everyone was doing well and he had remembered the newspaper she wanted. "Thank you Taylor," she reached for the towel and dried her hands. Turning in his arms, she stood on tiptoes to kiss him. Her hands ran up his arms until one wrapped around his neck and the other stroked the soft stubble on his scalp. She closed her eyes and parted her moist lips as he bent down to kiss her. His hands cupped her butt, pulling her hips as close to his as he could so she could feel how much he wanted her, how much he desired her.
Taylor woke with a jump as every alarm in the room went off at once. He rubbed his eyes confused and jumped up from the chair as the room filled with people.
Catching the nurse's arm as she passed him, "What's happening? What's going on?"
"Please, Sir. If you could just wait outside and let us do our job…please…" She pushed the big man toward the door and he stepped just outside the room, watching, holding his breath and his heart frozen with fear.
'Damn,' he thought. 'It was just a dream'. He'd been so exhausted to must have dozed off. It had been forty-eight hours since Matty and Meghan had both been shot. The nurse's had told him to go home, but he wouldn't leave her, he couldn't leave her.
He watched them as they switched off the machines, checked her pulse, blood pressure, dressings and whatever else, his mind went blank. Cold tears pricked at his eyes again as he strained to hear what they were muttering about, but only catching the odd word.
The Doctor walked towards him, a faint smile twitching the corners of his mouth. "Mr. Reese?" Taylor nodded. "You'll be pleased to know Miss. Capponi is waking up. We have removed the ventilator but she will have a sore throat for a couple of days and she'll be raspy for a while. She's groggy but she's asking for you and Matty?" The Doctor raised his brow questioningly. "I assume that's your friend that was also shot?" Again, Taylor nodded. "Ahh, another one who'll be just fine with some rest. Ok, you can go in but don't get her excited – she lost a fair amount of blood and she'll be tired and sore for a while."
"Thank you Doctor," Taylor had never been so happy in his life. He'd officially only known her for a week and he was damned if he was going to lose her now.
Stepping up to the side of her bed, he pulled the chair back and sat down, taking her hand in his and caressing the back with his rough thumb.
Meghan tried to clear her throat, "how's Matty?" Her voice was weak and rasping, just like the doctor had said.
"Matty's fine, baby…he's just fine. The bullet just nicked his shoulder, barely broke the skin. It's you we've all been worried about. You had me so fuckin' worried." He moved to sit on the edge of the bed so he could be closer to her.
"I'm sorry." Her voice was croaky and the nurse stepped over to help her take a couple of sips of water. "What happened?"
"It all happened a bit quick, but Gina shot at Matty. Of course, she was as high as a kite and barely nicked him. Next thing, she pointed the gun at…"
"She was going to shoot you. I remember that. She was going to shoot you so I shot her and she shot me! What happened to her?"
"Meggie, she was going to shoot me – you stepped in front of me. That's how come she shot you in the shoulder – she was aiming for my heart…"
"Is she…? Is she…?"
"She's dead. Died instantly, they said. Why did you do that, Meggie? Why did you step in front of me? You could have been killed."
"I love you, Taylor Reese…I love you. After just one week…I love you. I couldn't let anything happen to you, not now…" she squeezed his hand gently, too tired to make any more effort to speak.
"I love you too, Meggie," his lips brushed hers with the briefest of touches. "Rest for a bit. The Doctor said you'd get tired quickly."
"Talk to me…I want to hear the sound of your voice while I sleep…" Meghan gripped his hand and closed her eyes, dropping off to sleep straight away.
Not knowing exactly what to talk about, he recounted his dream for her, telling her exactly as it happened while he watched her sleep.
When he was sure she was in a deep sleep, Taylor slipped next door to check on Matty. Connie was trying to convince him to get back into bed and Matty was trying to convince her he was discharging himself.
They both stopped when they saw Taylor. "How is Meghan?" Matty asked.
"Well, she woke up and they took the tube out of her mouth. She asked how you were, wanted to know what happened. She's asleep again now so I thought I'd see how you are."
"He's trying to escape. Tell him, Taylor," Connie sighed, knowing she was going to lose.
"Taylor, tell her…I'll rest better at home, where she can wait on me hand and foot!"
Taylor smirked, "I'm keeping out of it!"
"Fat lot of good you are," she pushed Taylor's chest and giggled. "I'm going to get us all a coffee and you," she looked at Taylor. "I'm going to find you something in this hospital that's half-way edible."
Taylor was about to tell her he was fine but Connie had already left.
"Does Meghan know she's been unconscious for two days?"
"No, I didn't tell her everything. She doesn't know about Corbinelli coming here. I'll wait till she's stronger. At least he did the right thing by her and kept the police out of it." Taylor sank into the easy chair by the side of Matty's bed.
"Do you think it's over now?"
"I hope so," Taylor thought about his dream. Ok, it was a bit twee but that was what he wanted…with Meghan.
"Man, I have to get out of here…it's gonna drive me nuts. You gonna stay with Meghan?"
"Yep. Take it easy Matty…I know how much it hurts!" He laughed as Matty pulled a face reaching for his clothes.
"I know…hurt like fuck and barely nicked the skin. Listen, one of us will come by every day till Meghan gets out of here so just let us know what you need beforehand." Matty was struggling to dress himself with the clothes Connie had bought him when she came back with coffee and a box of donuts.
"It's all they had, sorry Taylor. I see you didn't manage to talk him into staying then?" She smiled and shook her head at them both.
"Sorry," Taylor took the box of donuts and the coffee she was holding out to him.
"I'll get one of the boys to drop you off a proper meal later on tonight," she said as he headed out of the door.
"Thanks. I'll see you guys later."
Taylor sat back down next to Meghan's bed, took the lid off the coffee, and sipped it – not bad for hospital coffee. He opened the donuts and wolfed three down without tasting them, followed by the coffee to wash them down.
Taking Meghan's hand in his, he first kissed the palm before holding it against his cheek. No one – not even Matty – had ever shown him such selflessness. It overwhelmed him. He wondered if this was how you felt when you found your soul mate. He couldn't believe how close he had come to losing her. Now he knew how his parents must have felt, the love they shared was unbreakable, forever. Now he realized the pain his mother must have felt when his father had been killed.
"Taylor…" Meghan's thin rasping snapped him out of his thoughts and he looked up, rubbing the moisture from his eyes.
"Hey, baby…you want some water?" he wiped his fingers down his jeans and helped her sip some lukewarm water.
"Tell me everything, Taylor…I want to know everything that happened." Taylor nodded and began telling her all about the last 48 hours, from the moment he caught her after she'd been shot to her father turning up at the hospital, sorting everything out with the Police and telling them it was all Gina's fault and he took full responsibility for all the events. Meghan listened intently. He told her how Corbinelli had told him he would walk away forever now, that he would never contact her, never search for her…that he would let her go.
"So, finally, it's over?" she whispered, tears ran down her face and into her hair.
"Yes…he promised he'd let you go. Let you live the life you want."
"I want you Taylor…"
"Meggie, you got me…" he leaned across the bed and kissed her lips softly. "You had me from the very first moment I saw you!" And she had, he realized. From the first moment in the bar when he thought she was a scorned housewife having a business meeting with a PI to the minute she put herself in front of a bullet to save him, he was hers.
"Your dream?" she whispered.
"You heard that?" Had he realized she had been able to hear him, he would never have shared it.
"Yes…I heard all of it. And that's what I want…your dream…for us."
"I can make that happen, Meggie," it felt like his heart would burst. "I can make that happen. I thought you'd laugh if I told you about it."
"You thought I'd laugh?" Her eyes widened. "No, Taylor…I can't think of anything I want more. A house by the beach. You. A baby."
"A wedding?" his voice was so low, so deep that it rolled over her body like velvet.
"Are you asking me to marry you?" She fought to stop holding her breath.
"Would you say yes if I did?"
"Ask me." Meghan held her breath.
"Meghan, will you marry me?"
Meghan looked at Taylor, the gold flecks in his dark, dark eyes shone in the afternoon sun. He was looking at her with a world of uncertainty whirling around as he searched her for the answer he wanted. He really was her Knight in Slightly Tarnished Armor, a rescuer of Damsels in Distress, after all, he'd saved her from the huge void that she had been living in all these years.
Or was it she that had saved him from an empty life, a life of frozen microwave meals, a life of fighting just to make a name for himself in a world where he would never be a made man just because of who his parents were…saved him from a lonely life.
"Yes, Taylor. I will marry you."
Nothing else mattered now. For either of them. Love. Sealed with a kiss.