The fate of Palm Beach’s most dynamic duo hangs in the balance. Their public wedding is scheduled for the day after their hearing…will they be walking down the isle as partners???
Timeframe: end of Classic 5th season. For my personal preference, the amount of time in between this season’s eps has been condensed. Oh yes, and I have omitted the minor detail of a fatal shooting.
“Lorenzo, get into my office now!”
Chris rose from his desk, never looking up from the report he was reading, and blindly maneuvered his way toward the voice. Reaching the office, he shut the file and leaned up against the doorframe. “You wanted to see me?” he inquired.
“Your partner is finished with the reports for the Robins and Reynolds cases, where are we with the Montoya paperwork?”
Chris just smirked at his commanding officer, and replied, “I have the completed report right here…case closed.”
“Very good, Sergeant -“
Chris and Rita burst into laughter as their game was put to a halt. “Hmm…I’m not sure who does that better,” Chris stated in mockingly deep thought, as he moved from the doorway so his wife and Lieutenant could lead the way to the next office over, which was their Captain’s. His comment had earned him a playful jab in the ribs, so both officers were still laughing upon reaching their destination five steps later.
“Yeah, Cap?” they asked in unison.
Captain Lipschitz just shook his head, rolled his eyes, and tried to hide his amusement with them. “Okay you two lovebirds, shut the door and park it in those chairs.”
With innocent shrugs they did as they were told. All playfulness ceased as Harry explained his latest phone conversation. “I just got a call from the Commissioner’s assistant. The Review Board has granted your request to fight for your partnership, and will hear your case at 0900 hours next Friday. That gives us eight days to perfect character witness testimony, and compile the case histories that will be used at the hearing.”
“Five years,” Chris mumbled almost inaudibly. “Five years entrusting our lives to one another, and placing them on the line for each other, and they expect that to be summed up with a couple high profile cases.”
“Chris,” the Cap remarked soothingly, “the highest profile cases will be discussed at the hearing, but the board will be reviewing your service records and entire caseload as partners before making their decision.”
Chris’ somber attitude remained unchanged, while Rita for her part had placed a hand to her neck, and tilted her head back in an attempt to ease her tension. With eyes closed, she tried in vain to pinpoint exactly how it was that everything began spiraling out of her control. Well, maybe not “how”…she knew how it happened…
She had been partnered with a hot shot, ex-Chicago P.D detective to work a Homicide/Narcotics case, and Chris had flown to Boston to decide whether or not he should rekindle his relationship with Dr. Jillian Dupree. The next time Rita saw him, he was racing toward the ambulance where she was being checked out after sustaining minor injuries from the explosion that had killed her suspect. She would never forget the look of fear that had etched Chris’ face, nor the tight embrace he offered once he reaffirmed the fact that she really was okay. That night at his loft, five years of denying their true feelings for each other came to a close. The barriers, which had served as masks for those feelings, and had kept the Sams at the safe level of best friends all those years, were finally dismantled as destiny intervened and love triumphed. Initially, it had taken some time to move beyond the debris of doubts and fears, but true love had united Chris and Rita’s souls and they were prepared to fight any force that threatened to separate them.
And their first battle had descended all too quickly. Rita discovered she was pregnant, and she and Chris had decided to follow their hearts and take the step that would join them for all time as husband and wife. Their only wedding guest had been an unnoticed and unwanted tabloid photographer, and now that his story had reached the attention of the Palm Beach Police Department, the infamous partnership of Lance and Lorenzo lay in jeopardy.
No, “how” wasn’t the question…what Rita wanted to know was “why” they were in this position. Why it was that exchanging her life for a badge just wasn’t good enough, why she also had to sacrifice her happiness as well. Why did she suddenly have to defend their worth as a team now that their partnership had extended to every aspect of their lives? She knew they were invaluable to the department; they held a virtually perfect arrest record. Rita had achieved her dream of becoming a cop - she had even earned the rank of Lieutenant - but now her anger flared inward, as she couldn’t fathom why she loved this job so much.
Rita’s eyes flew open as her hand was gently removed from her neck. Her husband’s voice infiltrated her thoughts, massaging her soul as his hands massaged her shoulders. “I promise you, Rita…we’ll get through this together.” To lighten the mood he quickly added, “and what did I tell you about storing baseballs back here?”
Grateful for the reprieve from thinking, Rita managed a rueful laugh and concentrated on her dissipating tension.
“That’s better,” the Cap interjected. “You’ve got the whole department pulling for you, and we’re gonna give that board a hearing like they’ve never seen, so don’t be giving up, that’s an order.” “Now,” he continued, “enough of that. Let’s move to a happier subject. Since you two have graciously decided to have a normal wedding - and actually invite your friends to it - why don’t you fill me in on the latest developments.”
With a gesturing of his head, Chris offered Rita the floor as he sat back down, and earned for himself an approving “you’re learning” wink from the Captain.
“Well, Diana and I spent the weekend shopping and getting last minute fittings out of the way. Donnie had his father’s tailor shop make all of my bridesmaids’ dresses, along with the most perfect dress for me that I have ever seen. And so long as my figure can hold out for just nine more days, the dress will stay that perfect.”
Rita’s voice took on a teasing tone as she turned toward Chris and continued, “as you can imagine, though, I have had quite a time trying to keep Christopher here away from it. Thought I’d have to store it at your place, Cap.”
“See, Rita? I told you so. You are going to make the world’s greatest mother - bar none. Look how much experience you’ve had keeping Lorenzo in line.”
“I don’t know why I take this abuse!” Chris whined. “All I can say, is I can see me and the bambino both getting into trouble with the same ‘that’ look and ‘that’ tone which Rita has down so perfectly.”
Rita laughed in response to his accusations, as she too could foresee herself having to deal with the double trouble that Chris and their child would provide her. “Well, Chris has been a very good boy helping with all the wedding plans and everything, and with all our friends taking care of things for me, I really haven’t had too much to worry about. And for the baby’s sake, I am really trying not to get myself too worked up over this whole partnership situation. In fact, it’s probably the only reason I’m not flying off the handle every second of every day - God knows I’d like to. It’s obviously impossible for me to be totally unaffected, but I’m attempting to stay as calm as I can.”
“That’s my gal!” Chris beamed, directing toward his wife the most dazzling Lorenzo grin he could muster.
Once again the Cap was forced to shake his head and roll his eyes at the couple before him, ending his conversation with them the same way he started.
Confined to desk duty until the fate of their partnership was decided, Chris and Rita would have been borderlining insanity had it not been for the huge loads of paperwork the Captain had dug up for them, or the stacks upon stacks of files that needed organizing for the hearing. As for Lt. Lance in particular, she was exceptionally thankful for the added responsibilities which accompanied her Chief of Detectives promotion: the less down time she had, the less time she would have to think about her and Chris’ situation.
Suddenly feeling restless, Rita dropped her pen onto the file she was working on, and leaned back in her chair. Looking out into the bustling Homicide Division, she noted that her partner - yes, he was still her partner - was still down in Records. Rita walked over and closed her office door, an idea of the perfect challenge for herself taking form in her mind. She sat back down and removed two cards from her rolodex, her thoughts returning to the night she and Chris had made up the guest list for their public wedding.
“Well, I think that about covers it, don’t you, Sam?”
“Ah, not quite, Chris.”
Chris winced at the subtle emphasis Rita had added to his name, knowing full well what she was implying. Catching her expression, he knew that any attempts of feigning innocence would be futile.
At his continued silence, Rita softly pointed out, “Sam, they are your parents. I use that term loosely, but they still are.”
Chris knew the importance family held with Rita, but he just didn’t trust having both of his parents at his wedding. “Rita, you don’t understand what happens when my folks are in the same room - the same coast - with each other. I’m not going to let them ruin our day.”
“Look Chris, just invite them. Don’t say anything about them both being there; just promise me you’ll invite them.”
Rita snapped out of her trance; yes, this was the perfect time to solve Chris’ problem. Rolodex card number one: Anna Alexis. Anna had given Rita the number to her private trailer in Hollywood the last time she had been in Palm Beach.
“Anna, hi, it’s Rita.”
“Rita, darling! How are you?”
“I’m fine, ah, do you have time to talk?”
“Well, I’m in between scenes at the moment, but I think I have a few minutes to spare.”
“That’s fine, it won’t take long. Can you hold for a sec? Great, thanks.” Rolodex card number two…
“Law Office of Lorenzo, D’Antonio, and Filadelfo, may I help you?”
“Yes, I’d like to speak with Benny Lorenzo, please.”
“One moment please, who’s calling?”
“Rita Lorenzo.” Rita was positively beaming as she heard herself say the name. She would never tire of it.
“Rita, sweetheart!” Benny boomed.
“Hi, Benny, I need to talk to you. Got a minute?”
“For you, Rita, of course!”
“Great. Hang on…” Rita hit several buttons on her phone, and took a deep breath. “Anna, Benny, you there?”
“WHAT?!” came the stereo reply.
“I’m impressed, Detective Rita, you were able to track down the infamous Anna Alexis! Anna, you’re gracing us with your presence, how lovely! What, no more movies?”
“Don’t you start with me, you old goat! Unlike yourself, I am still working, not sitting behind a desk pretending to work!”
“Excuse me,” Rita interjected, massaging her forehead. She was already getting a headache from the two of them, and her patience was running thin. “Your greetings are out of the way, so you can listen now. I wouldn’t be subjecting myself to this conference call if your son’s happiness wasn’t at stake. You both know that we were married, and that the full wedding is next week. What you don’t know is that you both have been invited. Now, Chris is nervous about that as it is, and you’ve already proven to me how you act on the phone to each other. So, if you don’t want to be uninvited, you’re both gonna give me your word that you won’t be carrying on like this, ruining your son’s day, simply because you’re both in the same state!” Rita’s tenacity, while useful in her job, blazed most brightly when she was defending her loved ones, and was never more vehement than when it came to Chris.
It wasn’t long after Rita’s speech that the frustrating three-way call ended in her favor, with Anna and Benny vowing that they would not cause any problems at the wedding. As she triumphantly put the phone back down, Rita looked up to see Chris sauntering back to his desk. She smiled sweetly to him, and returned her attention to the file in front of her.
Rita opened the sliding door of the beach house, and stepped out onto the deck. Crossing over to the railing, she leaned her arms against it and marveled at the calming influence the wind and sight and sound of the surf held over her. Only one other place on earth possessed the power to give her the serenity and security that the ocean did…..Chris’ arms. Rita smiled lovingly at her soul mate, who sat in the sand on the beach below her, watching the waves as she watched him. God, she loved him. Pushing off of the railing Rita moved to join him, and silently descended the stairs that led to the beach.
“A sand dollar for your thoughts,” she offered, announcing her presence as she approached him.
“Hey, beautiful,” Chris replied, melting Rita’s heart as he flashed the smile he reserved only for her.
As was their way, Rita took her place slightly in front of Chris so she could lean back against his chest, and he could wrap his arms around her and rest his head on her shoulder. Neither of them spoke as they enjoyed the welcomed solace of each other’s company, and the soothing, hypnotic effect of the tide.
Finally, Rita indignantly broke the silence. “If they want a fight I’m up for it. I’m not about to stand by and let them take you from me.”
“’Do not go gentle into that good night…’” Chris recited absentmindedly.
Rita threw an astonished look over her shoulder. “Dylan Thomas? Christopher, I’m impressed!”
“’Rage, rage against the dying of the light,’” he continued with a boyish grin. “See, it was one of my Grandma’s favorite poems - and Rita, I will fight that Review Board to the end to keep our partnership from dying. I’m not going to lose you now,” he concluded, tightening his hold of her.
“I know rules are rules, but jeez, Chris! These people used to be cops with partners! They should know instinctively that we could never trust anyone else but each other out there!”
Silence once again returned. The sun began to set, casting a mystical shade of red to the twilight time, it’s magic providing the couple with a brief escape from the troubles that plagued them.
“Mr. Lorenzo,” Rita exclaimed, turning to face Chris. “Can I interest you in a quiet evening of ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Double Indemnity’?”
“Why yes, Mrs. Lorenzo, you can - only if you promise that we do not have to pay any attention to either movie…” He leaned in to kiss her but she eluded him, and ran off toward the house.
Halfway there she stopped and whipped back around. “I was hoping you’d say that,” she called seductively, beckoning him with a single finger before taking off again.
“God, I love her,” Chris thought to himself as he jumped up to follow her…
The week proceeded to fly by, yet somehow time stood still. Assistant District Attorney, George Donovan, was virtually a phantom as he locked himself away in his office to build Chris and Rita’s case. Used to prosecuting, George was more than happy to bring his lawyer tactics to the aid of his longtime, close friends, stating theirs as the only case that would ever make him switch to defending. Twenty four hours preceding the hearing, he finally resurfaced in the Homicide Division, ready to pick up the case files which composed the entire professional life of the notorious Lance and Lorenzo team.
Five years pulling a Silk Stalkings detail in the illustrious setting of Palm Beach makes for a rather enormous load of back files, but Chris playfully slapped Rita’s hands away from every stack, and refused to listen to her whining that she wanted to help. Instead, he dubbed her supervisor and insisted that he and George could handle it. Between their three trips a piece, every last file - except those dealing with the cases that would be presented at the actual hearing - were delivered to the Commissioner’s Office where they all would be thoroughly inspected by the Commissioning Review Board.
“Would you guys believe me if I told you that you have nothing to worry about?” asked a slightly winded George as he and Chris rejoined Rita at Chris’ desk. “Because I’m telling you, we’ve got enough tricks up our sleeves to make that board wish that they had never messed with the two of you in the first place!”
Intrigued, Rita cocked her head and exchanged Cheshire cat grins with Chris. “Tell us,” she coaxed.
“Ha ha! I’ll plead the fifth on this one, detectives. I tee off in a half an hour, so I’ll see you kids bright and early tomorrow morning.”
The night was alive with the songs of chorusing crickets. A light wind whistled through the trees, creating a restless quality to the music of the night, and providing an appropriate backdrop to the fitful sleep and fleeting dreams that enveloped Chris and Rita. Their unconscious minds prepared to handle the outcome of the following day, the fate of their exceptional partnership locked away and known only to the brilliant moon and twinkling stars, which shined down upon them from the heavens above.
Rita fought her way out of her disturbing sleep, back to consciousness. “This is ridiculous,” she chided herself.
Not wishing to re-enter the rather unpleasant realms which sleep was dragging her through, Rita silently slipped out of bed and gave a lingering glance to her slumbering husband. Her mind was set at ease, and she smiled at the realization that he was her reality. Reaching the bedroom doorway, she turned around once more to whisper a heartfelt “I love you, Sam” into the darkness before heading down the stairs.
Once in the kitchen, Rita began rummaging through the cupboards. “Oops,” she laughed, putting a large, blue can back on the shelf. “No coffee for mama, little one, how does some orange juice sound?” She turned to the opposite set of wooden cupboards and removed a tall, clear glass - stopping in mid-air as her gaze fell upon the single rose and small note that lay on the counter.
Placing the glass down, Rita gently picked up the delicate flower and inhaled its beautiful fragrance as she read,
Open your heart,
hold out your hand,
and let me help you through this.
You are never alone…
Remember forever that I love you.
Just as she had closed her eyes and allowed a tidal wave of unconditional love to wash over her, Rita heard a soft voice call to her. “I meant every word of it, Rita.”
The note in one hand, the rose still in the other, Rita’s dazzling green eyes glistened with not-so-unexpected tears as she gazed up at the mirror of her own soul, who stood beside her, smiling lovingly.
Chris had sensed her absence from their room within seconds of her departure, so as he pulled his better half into a tight embrace he was able to feel complete again. He wished with all his heart that he could just keep the love of his life safe in his arms, and shield her completely from the difficult predicament that had been dealt them. Not only did Chris know that the very suggestion of being split up as partners made Rita rage, but he also realized that it broke her heart as well. And he himself was becoming quite accustomed to these emotions. Chris had never in his life known anyone stronger than Rita, and while as usual he was utterly amazed at the characteristic, silent dignity with which she held her frustrations, he was desperate to convey to her that this - like all the other obstacles they had encountered in their five years of friendship - was a battle she did not have to fight alone.
Rita easily sensed this protective concern and care, and so she remained locked in the arms of her true love, eager to return the simple, yet powerful gift she more than appreciated. Finally, she laughed off her emotional state and inquired, “how long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough to hear you catch yourself about caffeine. You ready for me to instruct that you and the bambino should head on back to bed? We have a big day ahead of us, you know.”
“Yeah, we’re ready, and yeah, I know,” Rita chuckled, no longer needing orange juice.
Holding each other close as they climbed back up the stairs, Rita poked Chris in the side and teased, “you know, Christopher, your neighbor is gonna call the cops on you if you keep vandalizing her rosebushes.”