"Thank you for the ride," Elaine said.
"You're welcome, Ma'am. You get some rest now," Dan said.
He helped her up the curb and shut the car door behind her.
"Thanks, Dan." I started to close the car door."I appreciate it."
Not being able to drive was probably the worst part of having this damn broken arm.
"Hold on just a minute." Dan leaned against the hood of the car, crossing his arms over his chest. His tie was loose and his blue suit had a coffee stain on the lapel. His usually sharp eyes were tired. "Gio Reyes called the office today."
"Really? What'd he want?"
"To talk to me, actually. Wanted to know how Pilar died. I read into it that his sister - Pilar's mother - was behind the call. Interesting."
"Did he mention Marco?"
"Not at all. I did tell him that it was likely Pilar was behind the attempt on his life. He didn't seem surprised."
"When you're an asshole like Gio, is anyone wanting to kill you really a surprise?" Dan smirked. "Probably not." He took a deep breath and I could tell we were getting to the real reason for this little talk. "By the way, I had a conversation with Art this afternoon."
"Oh, yeah?" I slid the hat off, running my fingers over the brim.
"Yeah." My former boss shook his head. "He's not happy with you. Or me, for that matter."
"I can imagine."
Dan's eyes met mine. "He said if you wanted to stay here in Florida, so that Winona could be closer to her mother, he wouldn't be opposed."
"Is that a nice way of sayin' he wants to get rid of me?"
"Not the first time he's tried." He went for a smile. When I didn't return it, he sighed. "I take it you aren't interested."
I shrugged. "Somethin' to think about. Winona and I have talked a little about it." I didn't tell him we'd pretty much settled on going back.
"You hate Kentucky."
"There is that."
"I get it," he said. "You don't want to leave this way. You want to try to patch things up with Art."
"Art and I go way back," I said. "We taught firearms together at Glynco."
"That was a long time ago."
"Yeah, but…" I leaned on the hood next to him. It was hard to explain, but even though we butted heads and I sometimes - okay often - went against his orders, I had to admit, to myself anyway, that Art's approval was important to me.
"Well, give it some thought," he nudged my good shoulder. "Talk it over with Winona. I'd be more than happy to have you back. You did a good job out there today, even with a bum arm."
"Thanks," I said. "And thanks again for the ride."
I slid the hat off and set it on the dresser. Winona was curled on her side, snoring softly. Tossing my shirt on the chair, I dropped my jeans and boxers on the floor and went into the bathroom, shutting the door as quietly as I could. I wrapped my arm with the plastic they gave me at the hospital, turned on the water, and stepped under the hot spray.
Glen was going to make it. They'd stopped the bleeding in his brain, hopefully in time to avoid permanent damage. We wouldn't know more until he woke up, and they were keeping him sedated for now. I'd finally convinced both Marco and Elaine to go home to rest. Dan showed up about then and offered to drive everyone home. Marco declined, calling a cab, but Winona's mother and I took him up on the offer.
As I stood in the shower I thought about Dan's offer. I was gonna have to call Art and face up to his anger. I probably should be used to that by now. I ran the events of the last week or so over in my mind and decided that given the chance, I wouldn't have done anything differently.
I shut off the water and toweled dry as best I could with one hand. I put on a clean pair of boxers and slipped into bed beside Winona. She rolled over, snuggling against me sleepily.
"How's Glen?" She murmured.
I wrapped my good arm around her. "Docs say the chances are he's going to be fine. We'll know more in the next couple of days. Recovery is gonna take some time, but he's got your mama and Marco to help."
She didn't open her eyes. "Mm hmm. That's good."
I kissed her forehead. "You go on back to sleep." She complied, but I lay awake, staring at the ceiling for at least another hour before I finally drifted off.
"I'm going to head over to the hospital," Elaine said, dumping the remnants of her coffee in the sink. "Do you need a ride?" She smoothed back her hair and adjusted the flowered scarf she wore, then checked her watch. "I hope I didn't miss the doctor on his rounds. I made a list of some questions."
I looked up from the sports section to see Winona shake her head. "You go on. Raylan and I are going to run by Babies 'R Us on the way. I want to pick up some clothes for Franny that might actually fit. The nurse in the NICU said they have a good selection."
"Alight," she kissed Winona's cheek and patted my shoulder. "I'll stop by the NICU later to see that pretty girl."
We heard the door slam and the hum of the engine as Elaine backed out of the driveway. Winona refilled both our cups and sat back down.
"Babies 'R Us, huh?" I said, frowning. It wasn't exactly how I'd pictured spending the day.
"Ye-a-sss," she drew the word out, giving me the eye. "I'm stopping there, and since you can't drive, I guess you're stuck with me."
I sighed. "I suppose I'd better get used to doin' some girly things."
"Girls play baseball, too - well, softball." She said. "I played in junior high."
"You did not," I said, surprised.
"Yeah, I did. Gayle played and I wanted to do whatever she did," she went on. "But I wasn't very athletic. I would much rather be reading a book or shopping." She shrugged. "When I didn't make the high school team as a freshman, I wasn't all that upset. With any luck, Franny will have your athleticism."
"As long as she has your looks," I said, then considered something. "But if she does, we may have to lock her in her bedroom until she's thirty."
She rested her chin in her hand and looked across the table at me. "You are going to absolutely terrify her boyfriends."
"I can just see you cleaning your gun at the kitchen table when they come to pick her up," she laughed. Then just as suddenly, her eyes filled. "You're going to be a great daddy." She swiped at her face with a napkin.
"Baby tears," she said. "Stupid hormones."
"You're already doin' great at the mommy thing."
"I hope so," she said. "Speaking of which…" she pushed up from the table. "I pumped earlier, but we should get going. I want to be able to feed her when we get there."
"So it will be a quick trip through the baby store?" I asked hopefully.
Winona rolled her eyes. "Yes," she said. "Today, anyway."
Franny was alert and hungry when we got to the NICU.
"She's been really active today," Jancey, the nurses' aide said. "The doctor was amazed."
"That's my girl." I ran a finger over the soft fuzz on the top of her head. Her blue eyes locked on mine and she grabbed for my retreating finger. Winona got settled in the chair with a pillow on her lap to support the baby.
"Here," Jancey said, stepping around me. "I'm gonna give her to Mama." She lifted Franny from the incubator. The only wire she wore now was attached to a monitor that would send an alarm in case she stopped breathing, a common problem with preemies. Once in her mother's arms, the baby turned her head and latched on with little prompting. I leaned against the wall and watched. It was amazing.
"There's the star of the NICU." Dr. Morgan beamed at us. "She is doing fantastically well," she said. "I don't toss around words like that lightly. She's in the 98th percentile in almost every stat. If she keeps this up, I'd say you're going to be going home by the first of next week." She opened her chart and made a note. "That's just unheard of."
"The first of next week? Really?" Franny had fallen asleep and Winona kept her voice soft. Her eyes met mine. "I guess we'd better decide where we're going to live."
"I know you all aren't from here," the doctor said. "I'd say it's going to be at least eight to ten weeks before we'd okay her to travel. Then you should be good to go."
"Thanks, Doc," I said.
"You're welcome. It's nice to be able to share good news."
"So," I said, sitting down in the chair opposite Winona. "About a place to live." I told her about the conversation with Dan.
She bit her lip and gazed down at our daughter. "You really don't want to leave Art right now, do you?"
I dipped my head. "Not really, no."
"Okay," she said. "Then we'll go back as soon as she's released."
"I might have to go back before that," I said. "Even with the arm, I could be on desk duty. I've got a week an' a half left on suspension, but after that…"
The aide came and took Franny and Winona buttoned up her blouse. "I can stay with Mama until she's released, then you can come get us. We certainly can't fly with all of her stuff."
"No, I guess not. I'm gonna have to rent a U-haul." I chuckled.
"Well, I was thinking. Maybe I should trade my car in for something a little bigger. If we got a van you could drive that down."
"A van? You mean a mini-van." I shook my head. "No way am I driving a mini-van."
A laugh bubbled out of her. "You should see your face!"
"Do I look like a soccer mom?" I swiped a hand across my mouth. "A mini van," I muttered. "No fucking way."
A/N I apologize for the long pause between chapters. The show kind of stymied my creative juices, and another story, co-written with RomantiquetheOriginal took up what was left. This is going to wrap up in the next week or so, and then I already have something else in the works, along with the continuation of 'Father Knows Nothing'. Thanks for being patient!