My goodness, the MAIL I' ve gotten since part 8 was put up! So, you didn' t like it that Rita chose that lout Eric again? Now, I wonder what we can do to remedy that situation. This is a work of fiction, based on the USA series, Silk Stalkings. For all of you who sent supportive emails, and comments, I thank you! This first effort at fanfic has been so much FUN! Now, for the conclusion of our story......Friends, Lovers and Liars, Conclusion
The room was dead silent. Chris was the first to react, rushing to lean over an unconscious Rita, " Oh, Sammy, sweetheart, are you okay?"
He stroked her forehead as her eyelids fluttered and she moaned softly, " My head"
" It' s okay, baby, I' m right here," Chris soothed, forgetting the others for a moment.
"Chris?" Rita' s brow furrowed in confusion as Chris gathered her in his arms.
"Someone call an ambulance," Frannie insisted, her nurse instincts taking over
Judge Martin nodded, reaching for the phone on his desk.
Eric tried to jerk Chris away, but was restrained by George and Harry," Let me go!" he near-bridegroom yelled.
Chris glanced up and said tersely, " Cuff him, Cap!"
Harry shook his head, " Lorenzo, we can' t arrest him just because you don' t want him to marry Rita."
" Didn' t you hear me?" Chris practically spat." He' s a murderer, arrest him for THAT!"
"He' s crazy, man," Eric protested." I never killed anyone!"
"Oh, yes, you did!" Eric' s face blanched as Jillian appeared in the doorway." The bastard was going to let ME take the fall for him!"
Distracted by this turn of events, Lipschitz and Donovan let their guard down.
Eric broke from their grasp, and pulled a gun, " You crazy bitch, I knew I could never trust you!" He grabbed the doctor, putting the pistol to her head.
"Whoa!"Judge Martin yelled. " This crap does NOT go on in my chambers!"
"It does now," Eric laughed coldly
Frannie was sidling towards the door, intending to summon help, when she knocked a book off a small table. Eric swung his gun and barked, " No one leaves!"
That was enough provocation for Cap, " NO ONE points a gun at my wife!" he shoved Jillian aside, and tackled Russell.
As Harry and Eric hit the floor, a shot rang out, and Frannie screamed, " Heschy, NO!
Judge Martin surprised everyone by landing on Eric as well, and taking his gun. Chris tossed him his handcuffs, and the magistrate put them on a furious Eric.
Meanwhile, Frannie was kneeling next to Harry, alarmed at the scarlet shadow seeping through his jacket, " Oh, my God, you' re hit!"
More alert during the commotion, Rita struggled to sit up," Chris, help him," she pleaded. " I' m okay." But her face was still ashen, terror darkening her eyes.
" You sure?" he asked.
"Yes!" she was nearly as frantic as Frannie.
Chris turned his attention to his boss, guilt and fear choking him," Hang on, Cap, the ambulance should be here any minute"
Harry nodded weakly," Frannie, I' m fine," he gasped out, " Don' t cry, you know how I hate when you cry." He tried to smile.
Frannie was sobbing, and she couldn' t stop," Oh, Heschy, how could you do that? He wouldn' t have shot me."
" The hell I wouldn' t!" Eric roared. Martin and Donovan had Eric on the floor on his belly, with their feet planted firmly on his back. The restraint just made him angrier, and he spat out epithets and threats to all in the room.
"I had to protect you, honey," Harry' s voice was weakening.
Jillian held pressure to the chest wound, and muttered, " Where the hell is that ambulance?"
As if in answer, two paramedics appeared in the open doorway. Confusion reigned the next few minutes as Jillian called out orders, and worked frantically to stabilize Captain Lipschitz.
Rita managed to stand, and cautiously made her way to Chris' side. Her knees buckled, though, as she caught a glimpse of the bullet hole in Harry' s chest.
Just in time, Chris caught her and lowered her to the floor." Rita?" he was alarmed. " Hey, could someone help her, too?"
Jillian nodded at one of the paramedics, and he stepped over Eric to get to Rita' s prone form. Adjusting his stethoscope, he asked Chris," Are you a relative?"
"NO" Eric bellowed. "I' M her husband!"
Chris laughed derisively, " Only in your dreams, Russell." To the paramedic, Bobby, he said," I'm her fiancee."
"Has she been ill, lately?" the attendant asked.
Chris stammered, " I-uh, no, I don' t think so."
"Has she ever done this before?"
Chris sighed, "No. What' s wrong with her?"
The paramedic waved some smelling salts under Rita' s nose
She choked and wakened immediately, a little color washing back into her cheeks. Her first thought was for Cap and she tried to sit up.
"No, lay down," Bobby cautioned.
"But, Cap" Rita pleaded.
The other paramedic and two uniforms were lifting Cap onto a stretcher. Frannie and Jillian followed as the gurney rolled from the room.
Chris was beyond angry as he realized the enormity of Eric' s actions. He clenched his fists as Tom and Cassy took custody of Mr. Russell.
"Chris, he isn' t worth it," Rita said faintly, holding his arm.
Lorenzo swallowed his anger, and turned his attention back to his love. Well, at least she wasn' t begging to go with Russell, he thought. He smiled reassuringly down at her, " Hey, you scared me to death. Don' t do that again!"
"What, marry Eric or swoon like an idiot?" she asked wryly.
"At least your sense of humor is intact," he grinned.
"I don' t see anything funny about this, Chris. This is all my fault," Rita sighed, tears flooding her eyes. "Cap.....:"
"will be FINE!" Chris finished the thought. " As soon as we get you to the hospital, I' ll check on him."
Chris insisted in riding in the ambulance with Rita, and she was too upset and heartsore to argue. All the way, he held her hand and stroked her wet cheeks, murmuring words of comfort.
Rita kept her eyes closed most of the way, but she wasn't asleep. How did things get so bad? she wondered tiredly. She was supposed to marry Eric today, and yet it was Chris who was holding her hand and telling her he loved her. Her tears flowed faster. She didn' t deserve to be loved, after all the trouble she'd caused today, she thought, desolate. Cap was the closest thing she'd had to a father for years, and now he might be dying.
The ambulance jolted to a stop, and she was wheeled into a trauma room. As the triage nurse began her assessment, Rita begged Chris to go check on Harry.
Reluctantly, he left her and looked around for their friends. He found Frannie and George outside a nearby trauma room. Frannie was still crying, but George looked hopeful.
"How' s Cap?"Chris was anxious.
"Oh, Chris," Frannie wept, grabbing his lapels. " They say he' s gonna be all right, but he has to have surgery."
" You know, they' re gonna take the best care of him," Chris soothed. Frannie nodded, squaring her jaw," I know that, it' s just that this is every cop wife' s worst nightmare."
George cleared his throat, " How' s Rita?"
"Okay, I guess," Chris said glumly," They' re checking her out now."
"Poor little thing," Fran sighed." I' m glad she didn' t marry that-that" she sputtered.
"Me, too, Fran," Chris sighed. " I-uh-I' m sorry-this is my fault."
"You listen to me young man!" the stout little woman shook him. " The only one who' s at fault is locked up. Now, we need to focus our prayers on Harry and Rita-they need us. You get in there and look after her," she ordered, her natural bossiness returning.
"Yes, ma' am," the detective grinned in relief. He hugged her, and slapped George on the back. " See ya!"
In the trauma room, the lab tech was drawing Rita' s blood, " Jeez, do you need to take so much?" she protested weakly.
"Hey, they' re trying to help you. Let them!" Chris scolded her lovingly from the doorway.
"Hi," she said shyly. " How' s Cap?"
"Going to surgery," he answered. " Frannie said he's gonna be okay, and she told you to not to worry."
"Ha!" Rita snorted.
"So, what about you?" he asked, pulling up a chair, and taking her hand.
"I' m fine, this is a bunch of fuss about nothing," she rolled her eyes.
Silence fell between them. Finally Chris swallowed, " Feel like talking?"
Rita looked away," Maybe." She idly played with his fingers. " I feel like such a fool. Why I thought running away was gonna solve anything...... "
Chris regarded her soberly " You were about to marry him."
She couldn' t ignore the hurt in his voice." I wasn' t, Chris. I was getting ready to stop it all, when I fainted."
She looked down at their linked fingers. " When it came right down to it, I decided to stay and fight for you. Jillian might win, but not without a hell of a fight from me."
Chris hated to ask, but he had to know, " So, did you sleep with him?"
Rita looked at him solemnly."I suppose I deserved that. No, I did NOT. What about you and Jillian?"she countered.
He started to cry," Rita, you are my whole life, don' t you know that by now? I didn' t sleep with her, either. There is no " me and Jillian," and I don' t think there ever really was. This whole thing was set up by Eric and Jillian to break us up for good. She paid him off, and then...oh, hell, it' s a long story."
Rita gasped in shock," Well, tell ME! Damn it, Chris, this is our life you' re talking about!"
So, he told her everything. The original payoff from Jillian to Eric. How their ex' s followed them to Colorado. Eric' s connection to David. The computer hacking that Eric had done. The theft of the love letter. David' s shooting and the events surrounding it. Jillian' s deceptions since their return to Palm Beach...
Rita' s eyes got bigger and bigger, appalled by the chain of events set in motion, all born of greed and jealousy."Chris, how could anyone do that? And Eric killed David?" She began to shake, " I nearly married a murderer."
Chris drew her fiercely to his chest, " That never would have happened. You see, I was going to fight for you forever, and Jillian knew that. I told her that in Colorado." He smiled grimly, " Trouble was, she was so scared of Eric, she kept trying to break us up, to save her own skin."
"That' s sick,"she whispered brokenly.
"Yeah, that' s the nice word for it," Chris said wryly.
Something had been nagging at Rita, and suddenly she remembered what, " I tried and tried to get hold of you, to tell you about uh-the wedding, but I couldn' t find you. I guess I wanted you to talk me out of it," she admitted sheepishly.
"I was on my way back from Tallahassee" he explained.
Then how did you come to be at the courthouse?" she was puzzled."
Chris took her hand," Jillian told me everything this morning, but said that it was too late, that you were marrying Eric. Well, I wasn' t going to let THAT happen!" he was indignant.
She managed to smile," So you stopped the wedding. I get it now."
"I came in at the part where the judge asked, "Does anyone here object?" Well, I certainly did!" he grinned.
Rita sighed regretfully," Sorry I missed it."
Chris remembered the reason that she did miss it," Sammy, have you been sick?"
Her eyes were drifting shut, but she answered him honestly," No, not really. I' ve been really stressed out with work and missing you and....everything. I haven' t been sleeping very well. Never fainted, though," she added.
The trauma room door opened, and Dr. Anderson came in smiling."Well, young lady, I think I can safely say you' re gonna be all right." He noticed the anxious young man holding his patient' s hand.
"Well, something must have been wrong, Doc," Chris protested. " She's never fainted like that before."
"Chris!" Rita laughed." He said I' m fine, so I must be. We have a friend in surgery, so can we go now?" she asked.
" Now, hold on, Ms Lance," the doctor said sternly."I said that you were gonna be all right, but you still need to rest and reduce your stress level."
"My stress? Why?" Rita was mystified.
"Your blood test did show one thing. According to this," he tapped the chart in his hand, " you' re about seven and a half months away from two AM feedings and shrieks in the night. You' re pregnant," Dr. Anderson grinned.
"Pregnant?" Rita whispered in disbelief.
"WOW!" Chris whooped with joy.
"Almost two months, from what I can tell. I take it this is a surprise?" the doctor was kind.
"Yes, but a welcome one," Chris laughed happily.
Rita was still in shock, " I never even thought...."
Sweetheart, this is wonderful! Aren' t you happy?" Chris hugged her close.
"Yes, of course," Rita fumbled, not wanting to spoil his happiness. She managed to giggle, " I' m just so shocked"
"Pregnant! Wow!"Chris was awed.
Dr. Anderson spoke," I hate to interrupt, but we need this room for really sick people," he teased. "Ms. Lance, the nurse will give you your discharge instructions and some samples of prenatal vitamins. I' d recommend seeing your own OB-GYN in the next couple weeks. Any questions?"
Rita gulped, " No, I don' t think so. Thank you"
The doctor grinned, " You' re welcome. And may I be the first to say, congratulations!"
"Thanks, Doc," Chris was beaming.
"You take good care of them," The doctor admonished, laughing, as he left the room.
"Them," Chris whispered."Oh, you can bet on that!" Suddenly he realized that Rita was awfully quiet." Sammy, this IS good news, isn' t it?" he asked anxiously.
"I-uh-yes-I suppose," Rita faltered.
"We' re gonna be parents, Rita," he smiled encouragingly."
"Think about it Chris. Look what almost happened today. Do we dare drag an innocent...." she sniffed, trying to stem a sob, " BABY in the middle of this?" she burst into tears
"You don' t want my child? he asked, hurt.
" I never said that,"she objected, reaching out to stroke his cheek. " I just think we need to discuss this, come to a decision TOGETHER."
"Okay" his voice was nearly inaudible.
Just then, the nurse came in with instructions. Rita was to see her doctor as prescribed, get plenty of rest, no alcohol, drugs, or smoking, take the prenatal vitamins daily, and avoid stress. The nurse handed her a package of pills and a peach box, "These are enough vitamins to last you a month, plus this is a gift from the Birthing Center. It contains a book and a video tour of our facilities. Any questions?"
Rita looked at the things in her hand, trying to absorb the fact that she was going to be a mother, " Uh, no. Thank you," she remembered to add.
The nurse smiled," Then you may get dressed and leave. I know you want to see your friend."
Chris and Rita were startled, remembering Harry in surgery. Hastily, Rita dressed and they hurried to the elevator.
George and Frannie were in the surgical waiting room. Involuntarily, Rita shivered. She and Frannie had waited here before, with Cap, when Deborah Bouchard shot Chris. Through that long and terrible night, the Lipschitzs had held her hand and offered her encouragement. Tossing her jacket and the peach box on a chair, she went to Fran and knelt in front of her. Words escaped Rita as she looked into the older woman' s teary eyes, and all she could do was hug her." Oh, doll, I'm glad you' re all right," Frannie quavered.
"Fran, I am so, so sorry for putting you through this," Rita sniffed.
"You listen to me, this is not your fault. If anything, I blame myself. If Eric hadn' t pointed the gun at me...Harry wouldn' t have...." she broke off, sobbing.
"Frannie, he loves you more than life itself," Rita said firmly. " Of course he would put himself in danger to save you-that' s how he is. You know that in your heart.
"Just as Chris would for you," Frannie stroked the younger woman's wet cheek.
"I guess so" Rita admitted.
"He stopped the wedding, did you know that?" Fran smiled.
"Yes, he told me," Rita said, taking a seat next to Fran, and motioning Chris to sit beside her.
"You' re SURE you' re all right?" Fran pressed.
"She' s fine, Fran. The doctor said ...ouch!" Chris felt the jab of Rita' s elbow in his ribs.
"I' m fine, don' t worry. It was uh-just a stress reaction to the situation. See, I was about to tell Eric I couldn' t marry him and I just....fainted. Really embarrassing," Rita added dourly.
Fran caught the look that passed between the partners, and immediately was suspicious," Well, I' m so glad you didn' t go through with it," was all she said.
"Me, too," Rita said fervently.
George gave her a searching look. "I' ve never seen anyone faint to get out of a wedding" he commented," But in this case it was the right move. Tom and Cassy have booked Russell on attempted murder of a police officer. They' re holding him downtown.
Chris scowled,"Well, we gotta notify the Feds. He' s also guilty of murder of a Federal agent, forgery, wire transfer felonies, and God knows what else."
"I know you hate the guy, Lorenzo, but what proof do you have of any of that?" George asked laconically.
"I have computer printouts at home,"Chris moved restlessly around the room." Jillian needs to make a statement about the rest."
" Jillian?....She' s assisting in Harry' s operation right now!" Fran' s voice rose in panic.
"Don' t worry, she won' t let anything happen to him,Chris soothed her.
She may be a despicable human being, but she' s a skilled doctor," Rita put in, wryly.
George left to see that some legal eagle didn' t spring Eric, " Call me when Harry gets out of surgery."
Time slowed to a crawl. Two o' clock, then three. A surgical nurse came out and said that Harry was stable, the doctors were just finishing up. A sigh of relief raised the room temperature considerably. Within minutes, Jillian and another surgeon came out to the lounge. Dr. Beloit told them that while Harry had lost a fair amount of blood, no vital organs were hit, and he could be expected to make a full recovery. Jillian was silent, wary of the reception she' d get.
Frannie, Chris and Rita thanked him and shook Dr. Beloit' s hand warmly, ignoring Jillian.
Dr. Beloit said, " If it hadn' t been for Dr. Dupree's quick thinking, we could have been looking at a very different situation.
"If it hadn' t been for Dr. Dupree, this never would have happened in the first place," Rita snapped.
Frannie shook her head slightly at Rita, but her words to Jillian were not exactly kind," Dr. Dupree, I do thank you for helping Harry, but Rita is right-this shouldn' t have happened.
Jillian looked at Chris and Rita sullenly, " So, are you going to arrest me?"
Chris regarded her soberly, " Not us, but I'm sure the federal authorities will want to speak with you. Plus, you need to go downtown and give a statement about Eric' s involvement in all this, if you expect them to hold him."
"I' ll do that," she agreed meekly, and left the lounge.
Dr. Beloit looked puzzled, but just said, " Captain Lipschitz will be out of recovery in just a few minutes.
They were allowed to see him briefly as he was wheeled out of recovery. He smiled groggily at his wife, " See honey, I' m gonna be okay
She leaned on tiptoe to kiss him, " I love you Harry." Her tears spilled onto his cheeks.
"We' re here, too, Cap," Chris and Rita stood on the other side of the gurney.
Harry managed to nod, then drifted off. The nurse asked them to wait in the third floor lounge while they settled Harry in his room.
Chris picked up Rita' s discarded jacket, the vitamins, and the peach box and handed them to her as they all got into the elevator.
Quickly, Rita covered the box with her jacket, but Fran noted her subterfuge.
" You should go get something to eat," Fran fussed, as they rode up to the third floor.
"We' re not hungry, really," Chris said." Besides, we couldn't leave you alone here.
"Would you at least go get something and bring it back? I could really use a decent cup of coffee and maybe a sandwich," Fran wheedled." You can go across the street to that deli, and Rita will keep me company, won' t you, dear?"
Rita looked trapped. I' m in for it now, she groaned inwardly- the Jewish mother third degree. They stepped off the elevator.
Chris barely suppressed a laugh at Fran' s bossiness,"What kind of sandwich would you like?"
They make an excellent chicken salad, Chris, and I'd like a cup of their cappuccino-mocha is good."
She reached for her purse, but Chris waved her hand away." It' s on me," e grinned." Rita, what do you want?"
"Um, iced tea, that chicken salad on whole wheat, maybe some chips and fruit," she replied.
"Be right back" Chris nodded and left.
Why don' t we sit here?" Fran indicated a small table in the corner. "That way we can sit and talk."
Rita fought a sinking feeling. Oh, yeah, she was dead. She casually put the box and jacket on a nearby chair, but the package of vitamins slipped out."Oh, you dropped something," Fran handed her the vitamins.
"Thanks," Rita said shortly, tucking them in the jacket pocket.
They sat at the table, and there was a little silence. Finally Fran spoke," Rita, you know I work as a volunteer at this hospital."
" Yes, I know," Rita replied warily.
"Well, one of my jobs is to assemble educational materials," Fran got up and took the box from its hiding place under Rita' s jacket."I helped put these together for expectant families.
Rita' s eyes filled with tears,' I guess that' s what we are."
"You and Chris, right?" Frannie was hopeful." Not you and....?"
"Eric? Oh, no! God, no!" Rita answered. She picked at a cuticle." I just-the timing is so bad," Rita confessed." I love Chris so much, but was so unsure of his love, that I almost married another man today. How can I bring a baby into this...mess?" she fretted.
Fran looked at her soberly," You know babies don' t always wait to come at the perfect time, Rita"
"I know that," Rita sighed, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"How does Chris feel about it?" Fran asked.
"He's...over the moon, Fran. You should have seen the look on his face," Rita smiled in spite of herself. He' s thrilled"
Fran laughed in relief, " That' s how it should be! I' m so happy for you, doll!"
Rita' s brow furrowed" But we don' t know anything about being parents. I grew up in a foster home and Chris comes from a broken home."
Frannie regarded her troubled face," Don't you want this baby?"
"Yes, I do, I guess I just wanted it....later," Rita sighed." Chris is so impulsive, he looks before he leaps, not seeing what the consequences could be."
"Now you listen to me, young lady. You have been given a gift from God, one that Harry and I never had. We'd have given anything to be blessed with children. We lost one.... Frannie' s eyes welled with tears." And never got the chance to have another. Life is a leap of faith, and you' d better take your blessings when you get them."
A nursing assistant came to the doorway," Mrs. Lipschitz, you may see your husband now."
"Thank you," she rose from her chair, and hugged Rita gently." I' ll keep your secret for a while, but you think about what I said," she whispered, and she left the room.
Jillian was dejected as she walked out the staff entrance. She had just learned from Rita' s medical record that she was pregnant. Any tiny hope that she had a chance with Chris was gone. She' d probably lose her career over her other misdeeds, and bring disgrace to her family. Her mother was more concerned with appearances than helping her daughter. So she was unaware of the figure lurking in the shadows.
"Make a sound and die, bitch,"Eric hissed into her ear, as he held a cloth over her face."
Barely a whimper escaped her lips as she fell unconscious, and was dragged to a nearby van.
Rita sat and thought about what Fran had told her as she waited for Chris to return with lunch. Slowly, she opened the peach box, and pulled out the book," What To Expect When You' re Expecting." She leafed through the book, marveling at all the things she-no, they' d-have to learn. So absorbed in her thoughts, she didn' t notice when Chris sat down beside her.
" Interesting reading?" he asked softly, making her jump.
"Uh-yeah," she smiled a little, and squeezed his hand.
"You' re feeling better about this," Chris stated, seeing something different in her eyes.
"Fran gave me a lot to think about," Rita assented.
"So she knows?" a grin spread across his face."
"Yeah, well, you know how she is," Rita sighed." She helps put these together," she indicated the box
"Ah-ha!" Chris was still smiling." So if Fran knows, we can tell everyone."
"No, Chris," Rita objected. " Fran promised to keep quiet about this, until you and I work some things out."
His face fell.
" But.... Listen to me" Rita said intensely."I love you and I want this to work. But we already have enough to deal with; our histories, trust and commitment, the job, and now a baby."
Rita, uh, George and Cap already know, too. Not about the baby, but...When I stopped the ceremony, I told everyone I loved you," Chris admitted. " So, it' s not exactly a secret anymore.
"Oh," was all Rita said.
"Are you mad at me?"Chris asked.
"No, but I' m hungry," Rita grinned. " Where's my lunch?"
He laughed and produced a large paper bag, " Come sit with me over here." He led her over to a couch, and put his arm around her. " Much better" he sighed, opening her sandwich. Playfully, he tore off a bite and fed her.
Rita giggled and fed him his chilidog, liking this style of dining.
Eric drove to a nondescript motel in West Palm. Jillian had regained consciousness, but did not fight Eric as he led her to a second-floor room.
"Eric, this is stupid. You can' t get away with this," she said, as he threw her on the bed.
"Oh, yeah? Well, I just escaped Palm Beach' s finest, didn't I?" he said derisively.
"What do you want from me?" she started to cry.
"You, my sweet liar, are my ticket out of here. You see, you are gonna admit you killed David, and tried to pin it on me." Eric sneered.
He interrupted her with a slap across her face. " You' ll do what I say!" Start writing"
With a shaking hand, Jillian took the pen,"What do you want me to say?"
Impatiently, he dictated her confession, and watched to see that was what she really was writing.
Choking with fear, Jillian complied.
Eric snatched the pad, and ripped off her confession, nodding in satisfaction. He slipped the papers in his briefcase. He scowled as he heard sirens in the distance, but wasn' t going to lose out on one more opportunity. " We ought to celebrate" he grinned cruelly, unbuckling his belt."I'd hoped to be doing this with Rita by now, but since you turned her against me, I guess you' ll have to do."
Jillian pleaded," Don' t hurt me, please!"
Shut up!" he snapped, ripping at the surgical greens she still wore, forcing himself inside her.
Afterwards, she lay sobbing, wanting to die at how he humiliated her." Oh, it wasn' t THAT bad, was it?" he crooned in her ear." Not bad for an ice princess."
Jillian looked into his eyes, and knew she was dead. Even if she escaped him, this nightmare would never be over.
He handcuffed her, and went to take a shower.
While he was under the running water, she managed to grab the legal pad and pen with her toes. Frantically, she scribbled two letters, heart pounding. When the water shut off, she tossed the pad and pen under the chair. She pretended to be asleep as Eric came into the room.
"Good girl," he laughed coldly."Now, I' ll let you have a turn in the shower. Of course, I' ll have to watch you. Don' t want you running to those cops out there." He looked out as the crowd of uniforms grew in the parking lot below.
At the snap of the cuffs unlocking, Jillian took a chance. She broke free from Eric' s grasp, and tried to run for the door.
She was nearly there, when he grabbed her arm. Viciously, he threw towards the bed, but she tripped, her head catching a corner of the bedside table. She slumped to the floor.
Livid, Eric shook her, thinking she was faking.
He turned her over, and saw the blood trickling from her temple. Checking her pulse, he found none. Furious, he tossed her aside like a rag doll. His only ticket out of here was dead. He sat on the bed, trying to clear his head. God, he needed a drink. Then, a thought occurred to him. He picked up the phone and dialed PBPD.
Fran stood in the doorway of the waiting room, heartened to see Chris and Rita snuggling together, laughing."So, did you forget my lunch, Christopher?" she scolded affectionately.
Rita looked sheepish, "I' m sorry, Fran. I was so hungry, I ate yours, too."
The older woman laughed and shook her head," Well, I' m sure that the baby was hungry, too."
Their laughter was interrupted by Chris' cell phone ringing."Yeah, Lorenzo."
There was a long pause." WHAT? Well, how the hell did that happen? Uh-huh," he glanced at Rita." NO, Tom, that is the last place she should be."
Rita gestured wildly, trying to ask what was going on.
After a few more minutes, Chris ended the call and turned to Rita, " That was Tom. Eric busted free of the guards at his arraignment, and grabbed Jillian. They' re holed up in some motel in West Palm. Cassy' s there right now. He has one request-he wants to talk to you, Rita."
Rita was appalled," We just SAW Jillian."
That was nearly two hours ago," Fran reminded her. "Chris, it could be dangerous for you two to go there.
Rita squared her jaw," The last person I want to see is Eric Russell, but if he' s holding Jillian...Let' s go!"
Chris tried to stop her,"Rita, NO!"
She whirled and looked at him, " I am still a cop, Chris, and I want to do this."
Chris threw up his hands, and gave in, " Fine, but we stop and get vests."
"Agreed," Rita said, halfway out the door. They took a cab to Chris' car, and made a side trip to the shop.
It was a quiet and tense ride to West Palm. Dusk was falling as they crossed the bridge, and followed the beach, until they came to the dive where the fugitives were holed up. The street was blocked off, and black and whites filled the small parking lot. A hostage negotiator was talking via cellular phone to Eric, and a fine rain beaded on the windows. Floodlights illuminated the scene. Rita and Chris ran up to the negotiator, and flashed their badges.
Rita took the phone, and spoke to Eric, trying to keep her voice calm, "Eric, it' s Rita. You wanted to talk to me?"
Russell moved the curtain aside and saw her, standing next to Chris, " Get rid of Lorenzo" he snarled. " I only want to talk to you."
"I can' t do that, Eric. You were a cop, you know how this game is played. Give yourself up. You don' t want to die like this," she pleaded.
"Oh, I'd rather die in prison?" he replied sarcastically. " No, better it ends here."
"Well, at least let Jillian go,"Rita requested." She doesn' t deserve to die over this."
"Funny YOU should say that. She paid me to wreck your life," Eric laughed contemptuously.
"She didn' t take any lives, Eric. She' s sick, she needs help. So do you," Rita added.
"She' s beyond anyone' s help," Russell replied.
Rita paled and grabbed Chris' arm, "I think he killed her, Chris," she whispered, covering the receiver.
Chris was sickened, but he remembered his professional obligations,"We need to get him out of there. Maybe he' s just lying to bait us.
Rita pleaded with Eric, " Eric, if I come up to talk to you, will you let her go?"
"Rita, NO!" Chris gasped
Eric chuckled, "Okay, come on up! I' m unarmed" The line went dead
Chris was heartsick, " Sammy, he' ll kill you. He' ll kill our baby!"
"No, he won' t," Rita said. " I' m not the one who' s going up there."
Cassy appeared behind them, clad in a trenchcoat, and wearing a brunette wig, " I' ll go up the side stairway, while everyone gets into position."
Chris took a SWAT vest, and a rifle," I' ll cover you, Cassy.
Rita felt her knees shake, " Be careful, Chris. I love you!"
"Love you, too," Chris mouthed as he followed Cassy
The confrontation was mercifully brief. As Cassy topped the flight of stairs, Chris was coming around the opposite staircase. Eric emerged from the room, with a 9-mm pistol secreted under his jacket. Cassy was quite close, before he realized the deception. He raised his gun and fired, missing Cassy by inches.
"Give it up, Russell!" Chris yelled.
Eric spun around, drawing on Chris.
Chris fired twice, before Eric could get a shot off.
Russell crumpled in a heap. Cassy checked his pulse, and nodded at Chris." He' s dead."
Cassy gave the signal, and Rita flew up the stairs. Warily, the detectives ventured into the motel room. Jillian lay next to the bed, partially clothed. Chris leaned over her, and smoothed her hair, now sticky with blood. He felt sad, but an odd sort of relief as well. All the demons that possessed her were now gone, too.
"Chris?" that was Rita. "She's gone, isn' t she?"
"Yeah, Sammy," he blinked back a few tears, and turned to her." It' s all over."
"You okay?" she whispered.
"Yeah, I guess," he answered, realizing how pale she was. He put his arm around her, and led her from the room.
At the shop, they filled out witness statements and submitted to the usual IA debriefing. It was nearly two o' clock before they were finished.
Rita was beyond exhausted as she and Chris walked out to his car, "We should stop and tell Cap and Frannie what happened. You know how they worry," she yawned, her head on his shoulder.
"The only place we're going is home," he insisted, turning the key in the ignition." Home...." Rita murmured, but was asleep before she finished the thought.
Chris carried her from the car, to his loft. She barely wakened as he laid her on the bed and undressed her.
"I' m too tired for that," she groaned, as he slipped off her bra and panties
Chris laughed softly, kissing her." This may be a first in the history of the world, but so am I. You don't want to sleep in your clothes, do you?'
Guess not," she smiled as she watched him shed his clothes
"I love you" he whispered, as he cuddled her under the covers.
" Love you too," she sighed.
Any thought of sleeping in was gone as the phone began ringing at 7 AM. Rita yanked the blanket over her head, and refused to acknowledge it.
It was Cassy, asking them to get over to see Cap,"He wants to hear what happened from you and Rita," she insisted
Chris sighed, and agreed, "I guess we can' t put this off any longer."
Rita was awake, but barely," No," she groaned, as her stomach protested the early hour.
Flying from the bed, she barely made it to the bathroom in time
As soon as he hung up, he followed Rita and held her head while she was sick," You gonna be okay, Sammy?"
She sat back on the cold tile floor, face sweaty and pale, " Don' t take this the wrong way, Sam" she managed to say, wiping her face with a damp washcloth. " But this is not the fun part of being pregnant."
Chris laughed softly, tucking her head into his shoulder, " I' m sorry. But, being sick doesn' t last very long, does it?"
Rita sighed," Like I' d know."
He looked a little hurt.
She realized she' d hurt him, and stroked his cheek," I' m sorry, Chris. I just feel tired and a little scared right now. This has been an awful few weeks."
"For both of us," he mused." Feel up to facing Cap?"
Rita used his shoulder to lever herself up, and got into the shower, " As ready as I' ll ever be," she groaned.
Harry was sitting up in his hospital bed, trying to keep Fran from fussing too much," No, no, I' ll drink these liquids later," he grumbled
"Now, Harry, you need to keep yourself well-hydrated," she scolded, plumping his pillows for what seemed the hundredth time.
"Is this a bad time?" Rita asked cautiously, as Chris knocked at the door.
"Not at all," Harry beamed. " Come on in!"
"How are you feeling, Cap?" Chris and Rita took chairs next to his bed.
"I can' t WAIT to get out of here," he groaned. He looked at the two detectives." I hear you had quite a day yesterday."
"Oh, yeah," Rita said, exchanging a glance with Chris.
"SO?" the captain prompted.
Sighing, Chris began talking, outlining Jillian' s confession, the standoff with Eric, and the bitter end of the story, with Rita adding details when Harry asked.
The room was quiet after they'd finished. Finally, Lipschitz offered an observation," Rita, I' m glad you' re okay. I was pretty worried when you fainted. The doctor didn' t find anything wrong, did he?"
Chris and Frannie held their breaths, but didn' t speak up.
Rita, however, was tired of lies in her life, " Cap, the reason I fainted is that I' m pregnant, with Chris' baby."
" WHAT?" their boss bellowed." Am I the last person to find out these things? Huh? And it' s Lorenzo' s baby? Just what went on in Colorado?"
Chris smirked, "Well, Cap, aren' t you a little old to be asking where babies come from?"
Rita elbowed her lover, muttering under her breath," We are already on thin ice, here, Sam."
Lipschitz scowled, "Be the comedian, Lorenzo. I just hope you' re going to make an honest woman out of Rita BEFORE you become parents!"
Everyone laughed, knowing that Harry' s bark was worse than his bite.
They spent the rest of their day going over evidence from the motel room in West Palm, reading the contents of Jillian's two letters. One was addressed to her mother, and the other to Chris and Rita.
The two detectives read the words, feeling a strange sense of pity. In the note, Jillian apologized for her actions, and gave an account of Eric' s illegal activities. Soberly, Rita asked Chris if he needed time alone.
Chris carefully folded the note, and replaced it in the evidence bag, " No, I' m fine. I' m sad for what she did, for what she became, but it' s over now. What about you?"
"I' m all right" she said softly. " The Eric that died yesterday isn' t the one I knew a few years ago. Or if he was, I didn' t see it, " she admitted.
"Put it in the past?" he looked into her eyes.
"In the past," she smiled reassuringly.
He withdrew another letter from his pocket, and handed it to her," Rita, this was the letter I wrote to you in Vail, soon after we made love for the first time"
"The one that Eric stole?" Rita wondered.
" He only stole part of it. I recopied it and added a few things. I want you to have it," Chris grasped her hand.
"I' ll treasure it," she smiled. " I know where I want to go to read this!"
They sat on a blanket on the beach, and Rita leaned back in his arms. She unfolded the pages, and began to read
I' m writing this, because I can' t sleep. My head is filled with all these wonderful feelings, that I never thought I'd be able to share with you. I' ve never been any good with fancy words, but I' m going to try to tell you how I feel. I have loved you since the very minute I met you. These past few days have shown me that dreams do come true, except you' re not a dream. It' s more than making love with you, although I' ve never felt greater fulfillment in my life, with your body next to mine. It' s waking up, and seeing you asleep beside me, with your hand on my chest. The little way you sigh in your sleep sometimes, and the beat of your heart under my ear.
You know, I'm sorry for all the time we spent apart. I ran from my true feelings for you, even when I could see in your eyes how you felt. You always told me I could never commit to anyone long-term, but as time goes by, I find that' s not true. Those other women in my life NEVER measured up to you. I knew for sure from the moment I saw your face in the hospital, after I was shot. I heard you say, " I love you." You're right, I was scared. It took time for me to realize that you ARE my life. Those feelings stopped being mixed up the night we made love. We belong together, forever. I can' t promise you a life without tears or conflict, but I promise that I will always be your best friend and partner in love. Love, Chris
Rita was sobbing by the time she' d finished reading, " It' s perfect, Chris!" She flung her arms around his neck. "I' ll treasure it forever"
He was crying, too, " It didn' t spoil by keeping, did it?"
"NO, I appreciate it even more now" she smiled, drying his tears with her hands.
The sun was setting that Saturday as Chris blindfolded Rita. She was laughing, demanding to know where they were going. "Sammy, just be patient. It' s a surprise," he took her by the hand.
In the car, she tried to keep track of the twists and turns, but lost track of where they were. Finally, they came to a stop.
Chris removed her shoes and led her down to the beach, deaf to the threats that Rita was whispering in his ear. He guided her down to a blanket, and removed the blindfold," Surprise!"
A lobster dinner was spread out in front of her, with candles and a huge bouquet of red roses, Tears of joy stung her eyes as he fed her the meal, bite by bite. After dessert, he reached into his pocket and asked her to close her eyes.
"Another surprise? I don' t know if my heart can take it," she teased, trying to fight a wave of nervousness. But she closed her eyes
She felt something cool slip on her finger, and heard Chris say, " Open your eyes."
On her finger, glittered a swirl of diamonds, on a slim gold band. She was breathless, realizing what was to come.
Chris was on his knees in front of her, his voice choking with emotion," All our lives, we' ve been looking for something. I think we knew from the moment we met that it was each other. Trouble was, it took us so many years to admit it. And it' s about so much more than a job, or a baby or what other people think. It' s about you and me and the rest of our lives. I love you with all my heart and soul. Rita, will you marry me?"
Rita looked at him, her whole heart in her eyes. The time for waiting was over. Life was too precious to let happiness pass by. She hugged him tightly, crying happily.
"Uh, Rita, could I have an answer?" he asked, laughing nervously.
"Yes, I' ll marry you," she giggled." I love you so much, Chris."
There was a trail of discarded clothes, from the doorway of Chris' loft, all the way up the stairs. Candles glowed on the window ledge, and on the nightstand, their flickering light revealing bodies, twined together. Rita pulled Chris closer, reveling in the feel of his body next to hers. He handled her possessively, using his hands and lips to bring her to the brink of ecstasy, then easing back a little, to tease her.
"Chris!"she moaned, trying to pull him inside her aroused body.
"Rita, weren' t you the one who said we had the rest of our lives?" he gasped, laughing.
"You won't have a life if you don' t give me what I want," she threatened, chewing his bottom lip, and putting her hand between their bodies, urging him on.
Chris couldn' t argue with that, and the erotic dance began again.... Much later, Chris lay with his head on Rita's belly, a hand stroking her thigh.
Her fingers were tangled in his hair, and she wondered aloud," Are you still gonna love me when I' m big and fat?"
He turned his head and grinned up at her." Some parts have already started to grow," he reached for a breast, and got his hand slapped.
"You, of course would notice that," she laughed wryly.
"It' s appreciation, Sammy.... " he crawled up to kiss each nipple lightly.
"Two-fisted appreciation," they said in unison.
"Have I told you that before?" his puppy-dog look intact
"Many times, Sam," she giggled.
"You know me pretty well," he reflected, pulling her on top on him." Think we should get married?"
Rita pretended to consider the question as she nibbled at his chest," Mmm, okay."
March first dawned sunny and warm, with a light southwest breeze. The little section of beach was closed off to the usual crowds, for a wedding.
Rita and Chris took their places in front of the minister, shortly before two PM. Frannie and Harry were their honor attendants, and other friends gathered close by. Anna and Benny, Chris' parents, were there, along with George, Keisha, Diana, Taylor, Derek, Tom and Cassy. Karen Krain, who'd known Rita from childhood, attended. Even Donnie Dogs watched from his limo
Rita' s pale ivory silk and lace dress fluttered around her ankles, and the breeze ruffled her curls. She wore a small comb of white roses in her hair, and carried a bouquet of pink and white roses.
Chris was resplendent in a new charcoal gray suit, with pink cummerbund. A white rose adorned his buttonhole.
The age-old words somehow seemed new as they repeated their vows " I, Christopher, take you, Rita, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part," his voice was tender but confident.
Rita smiled up at him, love and joy shining in her eyes," I, Rita, take you, Christopher, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, and until death do us part."
The minister smiled as they exchanged rings." With the power vested in me by the state of Florida, and as a minister of the Gospel, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride."
Their lips came together passionately, not once or twice, but about five times, until Harry tapped Chris on the shoulder, "Hey, save it for the honeymoon, Lorenzo!"
Everyone was laughing, including the newlyweds, as the minister announced," I' m very pleased to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Lorenzo!"
A shower of flower petals rained on them, to cheers and applause..............
And that' s the story! Happily ever after for our Chris and Rita, they deserve nothing less. Many thanks to Lisa for having the faith in me to post this LONG story, and to all of you readers for your great feedback. And, once again, thanks to Rob and Mitzi. Without them, we wouldn' t have known Chris and Rita as we did, and we are forever grateful for their talents. I'd love to hear what you think about the conclusion. Address any comments to CSFan95@AOL.com
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