Back in New York
. . . . .
Lanie virtually hummed in anxiousness as her BBQ wound down. There was a completely different taste to the air now, one that spoke of relief and contentment with having Danny home safe and sound. Danny had seemed unaffected by the entire thing, laughing and joking with his family, tossing MK in the air and racing around the backyard with the rest of the kids. Lanie was glad that his time in jail, is time being an accused murderer, hadn't really dampened his spirits.
"How's my girl?"
Lanie smiled as she turned and mirrored the kiss her father pecked to her cheek. "Better," she admitted. "Ma?"
Grayson Parish was a tall, built man, sharing Lanie's dark skin tone and easy smile. He took in the strained look of his eldest's face with pride and sympathy. He knew Lanie had been charged with a lot as she'd grown up and it seemed like it had carried through to her life today. There was no other explanation as to why she'd be so keen on protecting Danny, on standing beside Evelyn. "He's fine."
Lanie blew out a breath. "I know."
"It makes your mother happy. Why the long face?"
"Nothing," she replied, flashing a smile at her father. "I'm good. Glad everything can go back to normal."
"Including you and your cop?"
"Dad!" Lanie hissed. "Who say anything about a cop?"
"Evie," Grayson replied with a chuckle. "In between her understandable bouts of hysteria she saw you with the officer working the case."
"Detective," she corrected. "It's good, Dad. I don't want to screw it up."
"You should have invited him."
She laughed. "No. I don't think that would be the best of ideas. You guys are a lot to take in when you're not used to it."
"Can I know his name?"
"So you can give it to Ma and she can do a community background check?" It wouldn't be the first time Claire had butted into her daughter's love life. All it took was a few questions to the right people and Lanie knew her mother could gather every tidbit of information about Javier. She didn't like the idea of her mother knowing things before she did. She shook her head. "I don't think so."
"Your mother means well."
"And I love her to bits, but this is the one place I'm putting my foot down." Her cell ringing caught her attention. "Excuse me."
Grayson smiled as he watched his daughter's face light up, then soften. Whoever this cop was, it was obvious Lanie was quite thoroughly smitten. He was okay with that.
Lanie had put a lot of time, effort and a lot of herself into their family, into keeping things running smoothly and ensuring that her siblings grew up well. There was a part of Grayson that resented the hand fate had dealt his family, first with Alice's cancer, then with Evelyn's. Each time, Lanie had stepped up to the plate, using her connections to get them the best doctors, pulling strings to get favours… to this day, Grayson wasn't sure what lengths his eldest had gone through to ensure the family was okay and whole. But that was over. They were all old enough to fight their own demons and their family network was big enough that Lanie wouldn't always have to step in. More importantly, it meant that Lanie could have her own life, could work on her own relationships and, admittedly, Grayson was happy that there was someone more permanent in her life.
He watched Lanie, the phone pressed to her ear, as she talked in a low voice to the person on the other end. There was a light in her eyes that Grayson knew hadn't been there in a while, as stupid as it sounded. His eldest had had her fair share of boyfriends, yes, but no one she'd brought home had really been able to put that light in her eyes, to make her smile and lower her voice to that intimate tone he couldn't make out over the noise of his family. Lanie had grown up too fast, he sometimes though, and he was glad she was taking time for herself. Which is what spawned his few quick steps to her side. He caught her attention with an easy hand on her shoulder.
"Go," he murmured when she looked up at him. "You deserve the break."
She eyed him for a moment before letting loose a beautiful smile that made his daughter look years younger than the stress lines. "I can come now if you're done," she said into the phone. There was a beat before Grayson watched her entire face soften. "Yeah, I can do that too. I just have to say my goodbyes." The smile stayed on her face as she hung up.
"Go," Grayson urged again with a smile. "I'll make your excuses to Ma."
Lanie's smile was equally as relieved as it was happy. "Thanks, Dad."
Then she was gone. He smiled fondly, remembering those days of early love. His smile widened when two arms wrapped around his stomach. He pulled his wife around until he held her in his arms.
"She left without saying goodbye," Claire said with only the slightest pout.
"She's in love, Claire. Let her have her time."
"In love?" Claire asked, looking up. "You mean I may actually get some grandchildren out of her yet?"
Grayson laughed and kissed his wife's temple. "We can both hope, Darling."
"You know more than you're letting on," Claire accused eyes narrowed.
"Maybe I do, but you know how close our Elaine plays her emotions," Grayson replied. "Come on. Let's go back to our family."
Javier was surprisingly anxious as he waited for Lanie's knock. It had felt a little bit like a dam they'd had to plug over the last few weeks. He couldn't take her out, hold her, kiss her… and now that the options were on the table Javier found himself missing the freedom. But now… Now, the case was finished, her family was whole again and they were finally going to get the chance to spend the evening as a couple.
And, over the last few weeks, he'd decided that was what he wanted. It had shocked him, at first, the desire to announce their relationship as official, and the need to put a label on what they were doing. Especially with Lanie, someone who mattered to his non-blood family and could screw up everything. But he enjoyed spending time with her, enjoyed her sharp wit and sarcastic humour. He liked that he could see her mind at work, that their jobs – one of the things he was positive had affected both of them and their relationships – weren't the usual detriment it had been in the past.
He tried not to jump up when the knock sounded on his door and forced himself to take even steps. Out of habit, he peeked through the peephole and grinned. Lanie was there, bouncing on her toes and it made him feel almost relieved to know she was as anxious to see him as he was to see her. He forced himself to open the locks methodically, his brain running over a handful of flirty and witty greetings. All of them fled when he pulled open the door and looked at her in the flesh.
Instead of a witty remark, Javier yanked her through the door and fastened his mouth to hers. She stumbled into his body and he wrapped an arm around her lower back to steady her as he shoved the door closed. It was Lanie, hands having balled a handful of his t-shirt in each fist, that pulled him back to take advantage of the support of the door. He took advantage, pressing his body weight fully against her petite form and snaking his fingers under the edge of her sweater. He thrilled when her breath hitched and her hands stuttered, but he had the presence of mind to recognize that they were both losing control. Lanie eased their kiss, recognizing his intentions, as he moved his hands over the sweater, smoothing it back down again.
Her eyes were glazed when they fluttered open and her swollen mouth turned up in a dreamy grin. "They teach you that in the Academy, Detective?"
There was relief as well as amusement in his responding laugh. He took her hand, tugging her to the couch. "Can I get you anything?"
"Oh yeah," she said with a slow, sexy grin. "More of that." She settled on the couch. "But water will be just fine for now."
His blood pounded through his veins as he watched her curl up in the corner of his couch, that smile almost too much to resist. "Sure thing."
"My family says thank you," she began when he returned to the room and handed her a tall glass. "We're in your debt for what you did for Danny."
"I did my job, Lain," he replied, reaching for her hand.
Lanie's short curls bounced as she shook her head and squeezed his hand. "You dug deeper. Most cops wouldn't have gone through all of that to prove Danny's innocence. Most people would have seen the case as a gift on a silver platter and closed it." She squeezed his hand again when he opened his mouth. "Just say you're welcome."
Javier leaned towards her until his mouth just brushed hers. "You're welcome, Cariño."
Lanie shivered pleasantly as they kissed slowly, and grinned when they parted. "You're already so well trained."
He laughed with her, extracting the water glass from her hand and setting it on the coffee table to kiss her properly. The implications of her statement weren't lost on him as he lost himself in her. It was corny, but he'd missed her. He leaned back into the couch cushions, pulling her with him until she rested on top of him. He intensified the kiss, burrowing her hands in her hair to hold her steady while he plundered her mouth. She responded, matching his every move with equal passion.
When the ringing started, they both took a few minutes to realize it.
Lanie was the first one to pull back with a groan, realizing it was her phone trilling a familiar tune. Javier kept his hand in her hair, holding her close.
"Ignore it," he murmured imploringly.
"Can't," she replied, closing her eyes as he trailed his mouth down her neck. "Javi…"
"Come on, Querida," he said into her neck.
Lanie shivered, both from the new endearment that made her heart beat faster and from the breath across her neck. "I wish I could," she replied, pulling his head up for a gentle kiss. "But that's Kate's ringtone."
Slightly placated that it wouldn't be work calling her away, he released her, grinning when she stumbled slightly towards her purse. He leaned up, supporting himself on his elbows as he watched Lanie answer the phone and wander back towards him. He watched her face contort in concern as she returned to the couch. He moved until he was sitting, giving her room to sit beside him.
"Alexis exploded," she murmured, apology written all over her face. "I have to take this."
Javier pressed a kiss to her cheek then stood and headed for the kitchen. He couldn't be upset, not really. Lanie was a good friend to his surrogate sister, and it was one of the things he admired about the ME. If she needed some time to talk to Kate, he wasn't about to try and distract her just yet. Plus, the look on her face told him that it was a serious problem, and not something that could be shrugged off.
It took her about fifteen minutes before she came and found him in the kitchen, elbow deep in soapsuds as he did his dishes. They'd been sorely neglected due to the case and she smiled at the domesticity of the moment. He looked over at her with a half-smile as she approached.
Lanie's smile was small but there. "I think they will be." She picked up a dishtowel.
"You don't have to do that, Lain."
She chuckled. "You're going to fill the dish rack and then what are you gonna do?" she replied, picking up one of the dishes. The fell into a rhythm, working in silence for a few minutes and Javier found himself reflecting on wanting her here more often. He liked seeing her in his space, standing beside him, her scent wafting into his nostrils. She moved with flawless grace beside him, piling plates and organizing cutlery.
That broke his resolve. He turned to her, leaning his hip on the counter.
"Be my girlfriend."
Lanie almost dropped the plate she was drying in surprise. "What?"
"Be my girlfriend," he repeated. "We've talked about moving towards something more official and I want that. I want the labels, I want to be able to tell Ryan, I want to know that it's you and me and no one else… I want it to be real." He paused for a split second, his heart in his throat. "I want you."
With careful movements, she set the plate down and tucked the dishtowel into a nearby handle. If he was honest, it was making him anxious to watch her move so deliberately. She stepped closer to him, and he had to look down because she'd slipped off her heels while on the phone. Her head tilted up.
"It is real," she said finally. "And I want you too." Then, it was her turn to pause, her eyes warming. "Yes. I want to be your girlfriend."
He kissed her then, holding her head back with a hand once again woven through her curls. He loved the feel of her against him.
"I missed you," she whispered when he pulled away to press kisses down her neck again. "It was hard to stay away."
He pulled away, his hand coming up to cup her check while his thumb stroked over her cheekbone. His eyes were intense as he looked down at her, absorbing her face. "I missed you too."
So, those of you who read Hamptons know I've been struggling with what to do with this. I was trying to decide between ending this and starting a second one or just continuing through this one. And I've made my decision. This is ending here. Literally. There's no more chapters. They've battled through their first obstacle, their relationship is official and everything is settled, at least for the time being. Having said that, (and SERIES SPOILER that isn't show related) there's another installment to the Caskett side of things that'll be coming post-Hamptons and then another installment of this series once this is finished. So yes, there will be a sequel to this. Because it will take place at least months after this one, it made more sense to stop this story and pick up the next one further down the line. I felt that the jump would have been too big for this story.
So! Story over: yes. Sequel: yes. Quality summary, eh?
Review and let me know your thoughts please. I've had a lot of fun playing with Javier and Lanie and I'm excited to (eventually) start working on the sequel. That one's going to explore more of Javier instead of Lanie.
Most importantly, thank you to everyone who's left a line on this one. As I said, it's been fun, but it's been a real challenge, so your response has been especially heart-warming as I worked my way through kinks and the blank slate that Javier and Lanie present. I hope you enjoyed yourself, and I definitely appreciate every single review you guys have left in my inbox. It means the world to have followers :)