What does one say after leaving a story unfinished for as long as this one has remained unfinished? I've been trying to get over my sadness about losing this show and get back to this story but, for a non-writer, I had a serious case of writers block.
But, then I started to read a few stories in another series on here and found myself let down when a story I enjoyed was left unfinished. It made me sad that I hadn't given closure to Eddie, Janet, Nick, Hannah, Physical Phil and the rest of our friends in the Ridge. I know there are a few people who still wanted to know how this one ended up - I wanted to know how it ended up - so here is the second to last chapter. I'm hoping to post the final chapter within the next week.
I'm not promising much, but I do want to finish this story for those who enjoyed it and wish they'd gotten their happily ever afters.
"What the heck?" Eddie growled, as he gently pressed his lips to Janet's collar bone and growled, "Not gonna happen…"and then raising his head added in a loud, gruff voice, "We're not home!"
Janet giggled as Eddie ignored the knocks on the door and went back to tracing a path of kisses down her neck. Within seconds, the door bell rang several times with deliberation, and then they heard his cell phone begin to ring in the other room.
"Eddie," Janet smiled at Eddie's agitation and pushed against his chest reluctantly, "Doesn't seem like whoever's at the door has any intention of taking a hint, so please …just go check it out, sent them away, and get your sweet ass back over here."
A grumbling Eddie kissed Janet softly on the lips and then pulled himself away. After getting up off the couch and making his way to the door, he swung the door open to find his parents and his sister Jillian standing on their door step. He may have glared at them but he couldn't hide the hint of humor in his eyes.
"You guys seriously have, the mother of all… bad timing," Eddie said, shaking his head, as he motioned for them to come in.
"Don't listen to him," Janet yelled towards the front door, as she quickly rose from the couch. She kept her back turned to the crowd for a moment as she reached down to quickly refasten the buttons on her shirt that, until that moment, she hadn't even noticed Eddie had so smoothly undone. The realization brought a blush to her cheeks.
She turned with a smile and walked over to offer welcoming hugs to her house-guests. Hugs and greetings buzzed in the air, as Janet headed to the kitchen to make coffee for her houseguests.
The Latekka family gathered around the dining room table.
"So, how'd the drop off at rehab go?" Eddie asked glancing back and forth between his parents and sister.
"He did well, he really did. I thought maybe he'd try to back out at the last minute, but he didn't waiver," James offered, in a subdued tone, while JJ offered clinically, "He was beginning to go into DT's on the way there; cold sweats; mild shaking. The clinic staff could see his condition and they got him admitted quickly."
Marie continued, "The facility appeared well kept and if the clinic staff is any indication, he picked the right place for his recovery. But, it's all up to Ryan now."
There was noticeable ebb in conversation as each family member reflected on the past few days.
"I was just about to start dinner…" Janet offered, coming back into the dining area and placing her coffee carafe, mugs, spoons, creamer and sugar on the table.
"Actually… Marie and I would like to take our family out to dinner tonight. It's been… to put it mildly… a long couple of days. And, to be clear, our aim is to cause you as little inconvenience as possible during our stay with you. Janet, tell us, where would you like to go for dinner?" James asked with perfect kindness in his voice.
It didn't escape her attention that in that short speech… James had included her as a member of the Latekka family.
It didn't escape Eddie's attention either, as he squeezed Janet's hand, and felt the long held animosity he had held for his father begin to dissipate as a new, previously foreign, feeling of respect for his father began to emerge.
"A toast," Eddie said, holding up his beer, as he, Janet and the rest of the Latekka family sat around a large round table at the steak house in the neighboring town of Jasper Creek.
"Yes, a toast," Marie echoed, holding up her glass of Pinot Noir, "To Ryan's health."
"To my other children, for being on the right path," James said quietly, holding up his sold water with lime.
"To my new favorite friend, Janet, for putting up with the lot of us," Jillian said, holding up her vodka and tonic, as she winked at Eddie.
"To all of you, for making me feel like a member of your family," Janet said, as she leaned into Eddie, and raised her glass of caffeine free soda.
Eddie leaned over and whispered in Janet's ear and Janet nodded slightly. Eddie raised his glass of Paul Revere beer.
"To Janet, who knew me during my worst years, and yet she still took a chance on me when not a lot of women would have. She's made me happier than I've ever been… and… that's not all. She is about to do something… something amazing. Mom, Dad, Jill… Janet and I… we're having a baby." Eddie said, stumbling with his words a bit, but smiling with hope and pride.
Janet couldn't take her eyes off of Eddie's, his eyes glassy with tears she knew he wouldn't part with in this company. She leaned in to nuzzle against his neck.
A few seconds of palpable silence were quickly followed by a buzz of excitement.
"Eddie?" Marie asked her one word question, a wide grin spreading across her face as she reached over and took her husband's hand, "Janet… You're pregnant? James, I can't believe it… we're going to be grandparents."
"Who'd have imagined it? Eddie Latekka is going to be a father. Wait. I'm going to be an aunt?" JJ squealed loudly, grinning at her brother, not hiding the shock or excitement from her voice. She then excitedly turned to Janet, "When? When am I going to an aunt?"
That set off another buzz around the table. James kissed his wife's hand, and then sat back with a content look on his face as he took in beautiful picture in front of him. His excited wife, daughter, future daughter in law (he hoped) and his son, whom he noted looked happier than James could recall ever seeing Eddie before.
"Cheers," a very happy James said as the buzz died down a bit, and with that they all lifted their glasses, clinked them together for good luck, and drank their toasts.
Janet stared down at the phone and after wiping her hands on a kitchen towel, answered the phone.
"Hey Hannah, what goes on?" Janet said, sticking the phone between her ear and shoulder, freeing her hands to get back to the mission at hand, frosting Eddie's birthday cake.
"Just checking in. Everything is ready to go for the party, what time do you want me there?" Hannah stood in her own kitchen, placing tinfoil on the 4th container of food. She was technically catering this party for, and with, Janet as the two best friends were doing a test run to see if they were up to starting their own catering business.
"Can you get there at 5pm? Ikey is supposed to have Eddie there by 6:30pm…" Janet said as she put the finishing touch on the cake.
"Oh, hold on a second Janet, that's my door," Hannah said, not waiting for a reply as she put the phone down.
Within a moment Hannah was back on the phone.
"Janet…." Hannah said, her voice shaking a bit.
"What goes on, Hannah Jane? Who was that?" Janet said, concern creeping into her tone.
"Fed Ex… the DNA tests. The results. I have the results." Hannah's voice drifted off.
"Want me to come over?" Janet asked, looking around at her messy kitchen, but knowing that despite her clean house OCD, she'd leave the mess to be there for her best friend.
"Um, no Janet, it's okay," Hannah sounded more sure of herself, "This is something that Sam and me have to do together. I'll call you though. And I'll see you at 5pm. I promise."
"Okay…. Call me if you need me," Janet sighed and hung up. She stood there for a few minutes, contemplating Hannah and Sam's situation before shaking it off to get the cake ready to go.
She then got to work cleaning up her kitchen.
"Rock Star?" Hannah shouted out the back door.
"Yah?" Sam yelled from next door where he was making some money painting a shed for the elderly couple who had moved in a few months back.
"Can you come here, please?" Hannah shouted. She could see him start to climb down off the small ladder he was using and head towards the house. She went into the living room, envelope in hand, and sat down on the couch.
"What goes on mom," Sam asked he cleaned his hands off in the kitchen.
Hannah looked up at her little boy, her growing boy, who seemed to have sprouted up a foot in the past month. This past week he had his hair cut shorter and, with the new look, his face was seemed thinner, more defined, and more teenage like.
For a minute she wished he was still that toddler that would crawl up on her lap and hug her for dear life.
"Results came," Hannah said glancing back and forth between the envelope and her son. Knowing this truth could change everything, she daydreamed about taking the package in her hands and tearing it to pieces. She wished she could forget that she ever approached the three men who could be Sam's father. She wished she could make the envelope disappear.
She fought all her fears and held it up and offered it to Sam.
He hesitated before taking it from her, holding it away from his body and gripping it with the tips of his fingers, as if it would burn his skin if he let it any closer. He then looked at Hannah, confusion filling his young face, "You do it, please, … Mom."
Sam quickly put it down on the coffee table in front of her.
"I…. I …. I really don't know if I can, baby," Hannah said, holding out her arms to her son. Sam sat down beside her and let her hold onto him. They both stared at the envelope as if it were a bomb just ticking away, ready to explode if they made the slightest wrong move.
Janet stopped by Hannah's on the way to the party – just in case. Sam and Hannah helped her load the food into her car. Closing the back of her SUV, Janet turned to Hannah who was shaking her head.
"I swear I would have gotten it there Janet, you type A , control freak, OCD stricken best friend of mine," Hannah teased, but Janet could tell it took effort to put a face on for even her.
"Hey, I totally own being a type A, control freak with OCD and you know you love that about me – but I also know that you don't need any more pressure than what's sitting in that envelope on your coffee table unopened. So, you gonna show that Hannah Jane 'take no prisoners resolve' and open that thing or what?" Janet pushed. Hannah let out the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
"Take no prisoners resolve, huh? Janet… It's… harder than I thought. And do you want to know the worst part? I keep thinking… I want it to be Phil. Not for Sam's sake, but because Phiz is such a sweet guy. I mean, he'd be ecstatic and he wouldn't be awful to me. He wouldn't try to steal my son from me. How selfish am I? I mean, Big Cat will take over both Sam's and my life if it's him… and Nick….." Hannah couldn't say it.
"Say what you want, Hannah, but you know, and I know, and I'd bet Sam knows, that you want it to be Nick. Nick loves that boy," Janet said with conviction, "And he loves you, even if the two of you refuse to own up to your mistakes and just work it out."
"So says the girl that won't marry Eddie Latekka," Hannah fired back; bothered by the direct attack her friend was taking. Janet smiled.
"But at least I'm WITH Eddie Latekka. Married or not, we're happy. You could be happy too. I have seen you try to pretend that you're not lonely without him. But you've been lost since the day Nick left Knight's Ridge. You were going to marry a man you didn't love because you knew that anything after Nick would require settling. You love him. You love him, love him, love him. I'm not promising that it will be easy, but you can get your happily ever after. Nick and Sam? You guys as a family together? That is your fairytale ending."
Hannah just stared at Janet, her arms curled protectively around herself, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. Then she watched as Janet's eyes became distracted, looking over her shoulder, down the street behind Hannah. Hannah turned to see what caught Janet's attention and there he was, Nick Garrett, walking down the street towards her. Judging by the look on his face and the determination in his step, she knew he was coming there to seek answers.
She flashed back to the day dreams she used to have about this very scene unfolding running through all the various ways each of those day dreams had ended. She didn't realize that she had been staring until Nick stopped short in front of her, arms crossed, his eyes on Hannah and Hannah alone.
With some difficulty Hannah broke eye contact with Nick and turned back to Janet.
"Be good," Janet whispered smiled, and leaned in for a hug, and then walked off towards her car. Hannah felt herself drawing on that 'take no prisoners resolve' Janet insisted she possessed and turned back to a still silent Nick.
"Come in, Nick," Hannah said and held out her hand to him.
Nick looked at her with confused eyes, but something in him melted on the spot. He dropped his defensive posture, took her hand and walked towards the house.