DISCLAIMER: CSI Miami and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By sinjenkai


Part 29

Natalia woke slowly, the threads of her nightmare on the distant edges of her mind, but not enough to make her nervous. The steady heartbeat beneath her ear was all she needed to feel protected and safe. Moving slightly, she smiled as Calleigh's arms tightened around her automatically.

She felt Calleigh press her lips against her head.

"Mornin' darlin'. Looks like the storm is over and it's going to be a beautiful day. Do you have anything special you'd like to do before Eileen and the boys get here?"

Looking up into pale green eyes filled with such love, Natalia lost her train of thought for a moment before it came back to her.

"As much as I want to stay right where I am right this moment, I forgot to tell you that Dr. Jensen wanted to see me again this morning. She said that she wanted at least one more session before she would clear me, but with what happened last night, I'm betting that it will be more than that."

Scooting down so that she could look Natalia eye to eye, Calleigh leaned in for a gentle kiss. "It doesn't matter how many more sessions that you have to go through. I'm gonna be right outside for each and every one of them."

Bringing Calleigh's face closer to her own, Natalia whispered. "I know. I have no doubts what so ever that you will always be here for me, but you might be tempted to once I remind you that we… forgot to get bacon again yesterday."

"It's ok… I'll deny that I said this if I'm ever asked, but… maybe, just maybe… I have a bacon addiction and… um… I think that I can go a day or two without it. Oh! Wait!" Calleigh gave Natalia a quick kiss before she bolted from the bed to grab her cell phone and hitting a speed dial number.

"Hiya…. Are you on your way over…? Would you mind picking up a package of bacon…? Yeah… I'll talk Natalia into making you breakfast… No, just bacon unless there's something special you want to drink. Oh! We're a bit low on juice right now… Ok… See you soon."

Turning back around Calleigh started to say something to her wife, who was sitting up in bed, nude from the waist up, instead just stood there with her mouth open.


Trying hard to keep a straight face, Natalia swallowed and said. "I take it that we are going to have a guest for breakfast. I guess that I should get up and get dressed, unless I can fix breakfast 'au natural'."

Holding her hands out in front of her in a stopping motion, Calleigh almost shouted. "NO! Go ahead and get dressed. Um.. I asked Horatio to come over as there is something that I need to go over with him, so please get dressed."

Taking the sheet, Natalia seductively slid it from her lap as she slowly rose from the bed to come stand in front of her wife. Running a finger between her wife's breasts, she breathed. "That's too bad Calleigh, I like cooking naked for you." She merely smirked as she gathered her clothing, putting it on as she walked into the bathroom to take care of her needs. Reappearing fully dressed and grinning at Calleigh, she gave her wife a gentle kiss before walking out of the room.

Muttering to herself, Calleigh yanked open drawers, pulling out clothing. 'You had to tell him to be here at eight…. You couldn't make it for nine or later could you…? No, you had to make it for eight'

Going into the bathroom, she got into the shower, turning on the cold water, and giving a tiny yelp as it hit her heated skin. 'Hope that you learned something Duquesne…. Never early morning visits.'

Horatio looked at the grocery bag and just shook his head, smiling. He knocked on the door and scanned their neighborhood as he waited. He smiled, taking off his glasses as Natalia appeared at the door. "Good Morning, Mrs. DuVista. You look well this morning," He proclaimed walking through the door. He offered her the bag. "One order of bacon per a certain blond DuVista resident." He smiled genuinely for Natalia.

"Please tell me she at least offered you breakfast for the trouble of driving over bacon." Natalia laughed, "You look good as well" She leaned in, giving him a hug and taking the bag. She pulled out a few pans, planning on making bacon, eggs and pancakes. Reaching inside the bag, she pulled out not one, but two packages of bacon and a container of freshly squeezed orange juice. Quirking an eyebrow at the bacon, Natalia queried. "I take it that her love for bacon isn't a good of a secret as she thinks, huh?"

Shaking his head, Horatio chuckled. "No, if you know anything at all about Calleigh, you have to know that she loves three things in life. One is obviously you, two is guns and three is bacon."

Calleigh appeared in the kitchen, just in time for breakfast. "Mmm bacon. Ah Horatio!" She walked over, giving him a hug. "Thank you so, so much. What were those three things again?" She smirked looking at Natalia, who immediately offered up the second plate of food and most of the bacon. Natalia ate in a bit of a hurry, excusing herself to take a shower, give a hug to Horatio and a kiss on top of Calleigh's head she disappeared.

The blonde and red head settled into their meals slowly. Talking about the lab and how backed up they were. Too much paperwork and footwork, but not enough people, and how everyone missed the couple. Calleigh told Horatio about her plan for Mallory, who upon hearing her name came prancing in to greet Horatio. Fifteen minutes into their conversation, the real reason Horatio came over was eating at Calleigh.

She didn't know how to really go about this conversation lightly. After dancing a few ideas in her head, Horatio took pity on her obvious distress.

Putting his hand on her shoulder, he calmly said. "Relax Calleigh, I rarely see you this speechless about something, take your time." He gave her a shy grin. "As long as I can have more orange juice."

"Of course!" She got up, pouring him another glass. It took her a few more minutes, but finally she realized she had to just say it, there was no way around it. "Eric wants me to drop everything for him, Horatio. Drop Natalia and be with him."

Natalia stepped out of the shower, drying off. She put on her undergarments, overhearing Calleigh's last statement. She pulled on her jeans and shirt before the statement sunk in. Missing Horatio ask "Where would Eric get an idea like that Calleigh." Natalia leaned against the wall knowing if she wanted to know, she should just ask.

Calleigh replied, "I don't know Horatio... it's so complicated." Natalia moved off the wall, putting on her shoes. Her heart was racing, nervous she could lose it all, none of this made sense.

Going over to sit down on the bed, Natalia tightened her shoelaces while shaking her head. 'Drop me! No, I must have heard her wrong.' Standing, she straightened her clothes and walked towards the doorway.

Calleigh sighed. "I told Eric I wouldn't tell Natalia... It wouldn't be fair to ruin their friendship, but I don't know how to keep everyone happy. I said a lot of harsh things to prove to him I wouldn't have it any other way."

Pausing inside the doorway, Natalia almost stumbled as she heard the last part. Leaning her head against the wall, she tried to calm all the scenarios, racing through her mind. Swallowing hard, and closing her eyes, she took a few calming breaths before she headed into the kitchen.

Calleigh had given up trying to talk about it in the time it took Natalia to come into the kitchen. Horatio put his hand on Calleigh's shoulder and smiled. A subtle 'It'll be ok.' He walked over and hugged Natalia. "Sorry to rush off ladies, but unfortunately, duty call. I will see you all later." He hugged Calleigh and left as calm and cool as he entered.

Walking over to the sink with the dirty dishes, Calleigh asked. "You about ready darlin'? We gotta get going to your doctor's appointment." She looked at Natalia with the softest, calmest eyes a lover could give their one true passion. Natalia just looked rigid and nodded, not looking at her. Calleigh was about to question her, but she let it go, figuring that her mood would change by the time she got out of the doctors.

Grabbing her keys, Calleigh walked up to Natalia, lifting her chin a little to allow their eyes to meet. "Darlin', it'll be ok. I'll be right outside the room. I'm not going anywhere, you're stuck with me." She produced a hopeful smile, enlacing her fingers with her wife. "Come on, let's get this last visit over with."

Calleigh looked at her quizzically, kissed her knuckles, led her into the garage and opened the car door for her. Making sure that she was in safely, Calleigh closed the door, then went around and got in the driver's side. Pulling out of the garage, she carefully made their way towards the doctor's office. The ride was quiet as Calleigh thought that Natalia was worried about the doctor and Natalia's mind was still racing with what she overheard. She didn't want to believe that Calleigh would drop her for Eric, but she knew how persuasive he could be.

Pulling into the parking garage, Calleigh found a spot, parked and turned to her wife. "Are you ready love?"

Taking a deep breath, Natalia looked at her wife for a long moment, and what she saw made her doubt what she had heard, because she could see the love that Calleigh felt for her, written all over her face. "You're going to be there when I get out, right?"

"Darlin', I'm going to be there every time. You will never have to be alone again, this I promise you." Calleigh leaned over to give her a gentle kiss.

They made their way up to the office and after walking in, Calleigh made herself comfortable in a very uncomfortable chair while, Natalia once again looked at the fish tank.

"Hey babe! Do you ever notice that almost all of the doctor's offices have fish tanks? I wonder why?"

Looking up from a magazine that was four months old, Calleigh thought for a second and then surmised. "Probably because fish are relaxing to look at and when most people come for an appointment, they are any but relaxed. Or that's my best guess."

Natalia was then called in. She took her time walking into the room as she still trying to process all that she had heard and the thoughts floating through her head. Finally she sat down, nodding to Dr Jensen.

"Natalia... you seem distracted, what's on your mind."

Natalia looked up at her, as if she was the first person in her entire life to ask her what she was thinking. "I... overheard my wife and our boss talking about one of our coworkers..."

"About what Natalia?"

"About how he wants to be with my wife... it sounded a lot like she wanted it too..."

Dr Jensen made some notes. "That's a heavy subject Natalia, is there something else? This does not seem like it's the only thing bugging you, though it sounds like the main problem."

Natalia paused looking up at her curiously.

"Miss Boa Vista I'm a psychiatrist... I was trained to read you, whether you allow me or not. Bring your chair over here, look out this window with me, and talk, here is the perfect place to prop your feet up."

Natalia knew she was just trying to build trust and it was working. Natalia needed someone to talk to now; seeing as how everyone is in on something else in her life... the good doctor was it. She started talking about the dream last night. How it was so detailed, it felt too real and she wondered how it could be that way when Nick was most certainly dead.

After listen to Natalia for quite awhile, interrupting only to ask some clarifying questions, Dr. Jensen told her what she surmised.

"What you went through with Nick was unfathomable to most people. The fact you continue to dream about it tells us that somewhere you still think of yourself as less. That you will be betrayed in some fashion, whether it is work, your relationship, friendships. Your mind keeps warning you danger is close, whether it truly is or not, will be up to you."You said that your wife, Calleigh, tracked you down last night when you were at the beach. To me that doesn't seem like someone who's planning on 'dropping you', as you said you heard. So there could be something else."

Leaning forward to look Natalia straight in the eyes, Dr. Jensen stated. "You don't seem like someone whose going to let go of something or someone you care about without a fight. And you keep referring to Calleigh as your wife. Does she do the same?" Natalia nodded her head. "Then there's more to this. Listen to your heart…. Fight for her, for the two of you, because if you don't…you're always going to say, what if?"

Finally upon conclusion, Dr Jensen gave Natalia the stamp of approval to go back to work. Natalia requested to continue the sessions every other week, and Dr Jensen was happy to do so.

Calleigh was there as promised; standing up once she walked out of the office. Offering her hand to the brunette who took it, though it was a little hesitant, she still took it. They drove home, in a calm silence, Natalia processing everything as she watched Miami flash by.

Calleigh stayed in the car once they were in the driveway, wondering how to stop the constant stream of thoughts in Natalia's eyes. To somehow clear her mind. She caught up to Natalia as she entered the house.

"Talia... what are you thinking about? You've been in this deep train of thought since you came into the kitchen" Calleigh lightly took hold of Natalia's hand. Calleigh for being a CSI so many years, couldn't put one and one together. She didn't realize it could've been her conversation with Horatio.

"Calleigh we'll talk later. We need to go get your family." Natalia gave her a light smile, though it wasn't all too convincing. 'I really hope neither she nor Eric pull anything during the middle of the party... pray to god they do it before so I can walk away...' Natalia thought, unable to help her insecurity. They swapped cars out for Natalia's, knowing it'd hold more of Calleigh's family cargo.

Miami was a large airport to get around so when they found Eileen, Cal and Lee, everyone was all too excited. "Everyone, this is Natalia, my wife. Natalia, meet Eileen, Cal and Lee"

Eileen without a second thought, pulled Natalia in for a big hug. "Welcome to the family, we've all heard so much about you! Oh my lord Y'all, we're all so excited!" Eileen was almost Natalia's height, but with Calleigh's coloring, while both of the boys were miniatures of their father, Court and Calleigh. Both were blonde haired and green-eyed.

Lee walked up and tugged on Natalia's pant leg. "M…Miss Natalia, you... you are really pretty…" Natalia's heart melted. "Well, you sir, you are quite handsome, you both are." Her attention turned to Cal and smiled. Picking up Lee, Natalia turned towards her wife."I think I found a new date for our party, Calleigh."

She playfully smiled at Lee, who just blushed that the pretty lady was looking at him, let alone holding him. Calleigh pointed her finger at the young man. "Well mister, you better watch it. You break her heart and I'll have to break you."

Eileen just watched. "Ok, you two are ridiculously adorable together." A wave of calm washed over Natalia when Calleigh replied. "There's no one in this world I'd rather be with than this woman."

"The feeling is mutual."

"Let's get out of here! There is a lot to do for the party tonight. Ain't nothing like a Southern and Puerto Rican BBQ to be had!!" Calleigh proclaimed, ushering everyone to their vehicle. With everyone loaded up, they drove to the house where Calleigh's brothers and mother were waiting outside.

As soon as the Avalanche came to a stop, both boys hopped out and ran to their father. Kneeling down on one knee, Court took them both into his arms and hugged them fiercely, before standing with one on each arm. Walking over to the vehicle, he leaned down and gave his wife a quick kiss and talked with her for a moment.

Getting out, Calleigh waited on Natalia to come around before they walked over to Calleigh's mother.

"Momma, I didn't get the chance to introduce you properly the other day, but this is Natalia Boa Vista, the woman I'm going to marry. And Natalia, this is my momma, Anna Duquesne.

The older lady smiled and stepped in to give Natalia a hug. "Welcome to the family Natalia."

"Thank you Mrs. Duquesne."

Shaking her head, Anna corrected her. "No, since we're family now, you can call me Anna or momma. Everyone always does."

Grinning, Natalia agreed. "Ok Anna, thank you. Welcome to our home. Come on inside."

The next few hours were a whirlwind of activity as food was prepared, stories were swapped and everyone have a great time. The boys fell in love with Mallory and she with them, so they were never far apart.

Court and Chance had set up a table out on the patio and it was now loaded with grilled chicken, ribs, and corn. Calleigh had talked her mother into making red beans and rice, while Chance had demanded and Calleigh agreed that they needed shrimp and jalapeno poppers wrapped in bacon.

Natalia looked over to Eileen. "Is it a Duquesne trait to want so much bacon?"

Sauntering over to lay her arm about Natalia's shoulders, Eileen drawled. "Chil', ya'll might wanna learn right now to keep bacon in the house year 'round cause they get mighty feisty when they have to go without and it's not a pretty sight to see."

"You should've tried raisin' three bacon lovers in one house. I was our butcher's favorite customer." Anna piped up.

Calleigh had the grace to blush at least a little bit. "Aw momma, it wasn't that bad."

All three women, Natalia, Eileen and Anna turned a dubious look Calleigh's way, so she shrugged and muttered. "Well, I didn't think that it was that bad."

Soon everyone was gathered around the table, reaching for food, eating and having a grand time.

'Duke' Duquesne manages to keep his footing, finding his way through the open DuVista house front door. He looks around their house, shaking his head. The house was surprisingly quiet for there being a party. He was silent as he wandered into the back yard where his entire family plus the Puerto Rican were having what seemed like a good time. "Well, well... doesn't everyone just look so cozy..."

Calleigh's head shot up as soon as she heard the slurring words. "Daddy!"

He sighed, looking at Calleigh. "Hey Lambchop..."

Standing, Anna started to make her way over to her ex-husband. "Duke, now is not the time."

"Hold your tongue woman. I am this woman's father and I have a right to have my say." He shot Anna a look that would knock her on her ass.

"Calleigh, I need to talk to you over here please." His jaw clenched, waving her over.

Both Calleigh and Natalia were standing on either side of Anna. "Daddy, whatever you have to say, you can say it in front of everyone."

"Marrying a woman is blasphemous. This whole idea is insane, child."

Calleigh started to walk over to him, as Natalia whispered for her to be careful. Both Court and Chance were on their feet and Eileen was shielding the boys.

"No daddy, it's not. I love her and I want to spend the rest of my life with her."

His eyes narrowed at his sons, showing them that he was still the head of their family, even if their family was broken. He looked back at Calleigh. "You know that there is a fine young man who is in love with you that you work with, why not date him? He's Puerto Rican, ain't he? I'm assuming she is too. At least be socially acceptable damn it."

Her eyes going wide, Calleigh stuttered. "Wha…who are you talking about daddy?" She turned to look at Natalia and then it suddenly hit her and she snapped her head back towards her father. "Do you mean Eric?"

"He came to me a long time ago, telling me how much he loved you." He ground out in a low husky voice. "Why the hell didn't you notice it? This woman has you too distracted to see the truth. She's been through too damn much to concentrate on you."

"How do you know what she's gone through? There's no way for you to know that." Calleigh demanded. "Hell, the only time that you call me is when you need something, so how in the hell do you know about Natalia?"

He gave a piercing look to Natalia, who was standing next to his ex-wife. His eyes wandered back to Calleigh's. "That boy takes better care of me than you or those two boys right there."

"What do you mean daddy? What exactly does Eric do for you?" Calleigh ground out as her eyes grew colder.

"He talks about you an awful lot. He takes care of me like a goddamn son should! Helps me around the house when I can't, we go out, have a beer now and then, we work on the car together, he takes me to the shooting range. Damnit Calleigh, he is the perrffect son. I know he'd be the perfect huband." His words were slow coming due to drunkenness, but they were said forcefully.

Calleigh cast a quick look in her brothers direction and the look on their faces told her that they were fine and for her to go ahead. Turning back to the man that she called her father, she could barely keep the disgust from her voice. "Daddy, you don't know what you are saying. Eric is not the perfect man. He's still a little boy and he doesn't know what he wants. Right now it just happens to be me. Would you believe that before he decided that I was his perfect woman, that he actually dated Natalia?"

Duke was beginning to sway a bit now. "I know exactly what I'm saying Calleigh. From Natalia not covering her own back, to gettin' kidnapped, to keepin' your mind on her so much that even Stetler out tricked you. And I know he had her, cause you missed every sign he'd shot you so finally he gave up and took Natalia. You're too blind to see any of this."

Fisting her hands, Calleigh clinched her jaw, trying to get her anger under control as it was threatening to boil over. "Daddy, are you telling me that the only reason that Eric was with Natalia was because I wouldn't be with him? I wasn't even with Natalia at that time. I was seeing Jake every once in a while, but there wasn't anyone else in the picture."

"At the time I figured Jake would do, but I've always wanted you to be with Eric." He leaned against the wall the alcohol really setting in now.

Breaking away from Natalia, Anna headed towards Duke, patting Calleigh's shoulder as she passed by. "Let's get you home Duke, before you do any more damage to your family, even though there's not much left of it."

"I'm not leaving until this fuckin' engagement is offf." He slurred.

With a growl, Calleigh stepped between her mother and Duke. "Yes you are. You are getting out of my house right now. You want to disown me, you go right ahead. I am in love with Natalia and I'm going to marry her no matter what you or that little boy Eric tries to do."

"Don't you raise your voice to me, young lady!" He stepped forward in a threatening manner, his face was stern, almost cruel. His hand was at his side, ready to slap the hell out of her if she spoke to him like that again.

Before either Calleigh or his sons could move, Natalia was between him and Calleigh, holding his wrist in a vice like grip. "I told you once before, I don't care if you are Calleigh's father. That doesn't give you the right to hit her.

Yanking his hand from her grasp, he snarled."Unhand me, damn spic." His hand straightened again, this time ready to slap the brunette into next week.

Without a second thought and before Court or Chance even thought about moving, Calleigh reached out with one hand and turned her father to face her and slapped him hard with the other. "No… One… Touches… My…Wife… Get the hell out of here, right now, before I call the police and have you arrested for trespassing."

His face whipped to the side, he was slow to look back at her, taking her wrist, turning her around and slammed her into the wall. "Touch me again... so help me God." He took Natalia by the shoulder, throwing her up against the wall next to Calleigh. His eyes bore through Calleigh's green eyes.

Court and Chance rushed over to drag their father away from the two women, while Eileen ushered the children inside.

He fought against his son's death grip, trying to force them closer together to push himself off them.

Calleigh caressed Natalia's face gently, asking if she was alright and smiled weakly at her answer. Turning back to her father, her face became hard as stone as she reached into her pocket and drew out her phone. Opening it, she hit the speed dial that she had used just that morning.

"Horatio… I hate to bother you, but a situation has come up and I have to ask you another favor… I have an unwanted guest at our home that is trespassing and I would like to have him arrested… My father… I also want his charged with assault and drunk and disorderly…. Yes, I'm sure….Would you mind…? Thank you….See you in a bit."

Looking the red-eye man, dead in the face, her voice as cold as steel. "You said the other night that I would be dead to you as a daughter if I went through with this, well let me tell you now. Natalia is already my wife and has been for quite awhile, so guess what? You're dead to me. I no longer have a father and… My God! What a relief it is to say that. Good-bye Duke."

He looked at her, his jaw went slack. His eyes filled with tears. He didn't want to disown her; he didn't even want to physically hurt her. His eyebrows gave him the look of hopeless, but he said nothing, he just stood there, his arms captured by his sons.

Turning away from the man, Calleigh went back over to her wife. "Are you sure that you're alright. He didn't hurt you, did he?"

"Calleigh... come here." Duke looked over at her with cold, lifeless eyes.

Ignoring the man, Calleigh took Natalia's hand and together they walked inside their home.

"Calleigh!!...." He looked down defeated. He looked at his sons and nodded to let him go. he was harmless and completely disarmed now.

Court walked away, shaking his head while Chance just stood there looking at the man that he had called father. All his life, he had dealt with his father's drunkenness; the times that he had literally crawled home when he couldn't drive, times that he had lashed out with his fist and caught all of his children in some sort of fashion, but never had he seen his father this defeated. And it scared him because he didn't feel sorry for him in the least. He didn't feel anything for him at all.

He leaned down until he could look the man in his eyes. "Calleigh's right, once again. You are dead to us all." Disgusted, he sat down in a chair, waiting for Horatio to arrive.

Soon Horatio showed up and after quietly talking with Calleigh, he went into the back yard and escorted Duke out the side gate.

"Mr. Duquesne, I do believe that time for you to leave. Calleigh and Natalia have decided not to press charges."

He looked around, and whispered "God love them..." He took out the letter he had written Calleigh and handed it to Horatio. Containing the rest of the money he had after selling things off. "Do this... last thing for me... give this to Calleigh for me." He handed over the letter and started making his way down the street away from the family he'd now officially lost. He knew the letter would mean nothing, not after that. He could never show his face around here again.

Watching him until he reached the end of the block and hailed a cab, Horatio then, turned back to the DuVista home and walked back through the side gate closing it quietly. He walked through the yard, past where Chance still sat with his head in his hands and Court was petting Mallory. Inside he found Natalia and Calleigh in the kitchen washing dishes, neither one saying a word.

Calling Calleigh's name softly, Horatio handed her the letter when she turned around. She stared at it for a few moments, then turned to her wife. "I can't read it. Would you please?"

Drying her hands on a dishtowel, Natalia opened the envelope, unfolded a single sheet of paper and began to read aloud.

Reaching back inside the envelope, Natalia found eight hundred, and fifteen dollars. Looking over at her wife, she saw her standing there with barely contained anger.

Calleigh put her hand on Natalia's arm before walking into the backyard, standing there alone, furious. Betrayal wasn't even a fathomable word into what she felt for Eric. Natalia felt both brothers put their hands on her shoulders. Everyone wondered where... how this distrust, this hatred came from that their father needed to ruin their sister's life, now it was finally pieced together so carefully.

Natalia looked at them with a sad smile before walking out to join her wife. The whole family knew there was only one person that could save Calleigh from eating herself alive.

Natalia walked up beside her wife, arms folded across her chest, closed off, trying to guard herself from the pain and anger in Calleigh's eyes. She reached out, moving a few strands of hair away from Calleigh's eyes before pulling into a hug. Her fingers sunk into blond hair, hugging her tighter and more protective than ever before. She kissed Calleigh's forehead and stared into jade eyes a moment before walking back into the house. She walked right up to Horatio and whispered. "I've lost her."

Horatio hugged Natalia as tight as he could as she broke down, so lost and confused. "Shh... Natalia.... Natalia listen to me. Nothing will keep you from marrying Calleigh. Do you understand me Natalia..." Natalia clung to him. Motioning to Anna, Horatio gently passed his friend to her.

He left Natalia clinging to Anna as he made his way outside. If Calleigh needed anything, it was her 'father-like' best friend and only man beside her brothers, she trusted. He simply stood next to her as she wiped the tears away. She always felt her strongest next to Horatio. She straightened herself out and looked at him. He'd never seen her so vulnerable, even after losing her sight, nearly losing her wife and even her own life. Horatio lowered his head, looking at her with wise eyes. At a glance, he simply said it'd all be ok.

Giving Horatio a weak smile, Calleigh leaned against him for a moment before mentally shaking herself and settling down.

"Thank you for coming by. Once again we owe you. Listen, why don't you sit down and join us. We have plenty of food and you don't want it to go to waste."

Horatio had a grin on his face as he nodded. "Oh course I'll stay. I wouldn't want to miss out on those bacon rolls I saw."

Calleigh had started to walk towards the house, but paused and turned back to him, hearing his reply.

"You'll have to fight me and my brothers for those. It's every person for himself."

Stepping away from Anna, Natalia sniffed and wiped her face before saying. "Horatio, I'll make you your own batch."

"Aw darlin', that's not fair. I was gonna save those for later on."

Walking up to her wife, Natalia took her by the hand and led her inside. Turning briefly to her new family, she simply stated. "Help yourselves to the food, drinks and whatever. I need to talk with Calleigh for a few minutes." And they walked into their bedroom and closed the door.

As soon as the door was closed, Calleigh drew Natalia to her, needing to feel the heartbeat of her love. Holding her close, she chided herself for not realizing that Natalia had heard part of the conversation that morning and she had thought that Calleigh wanted to be with Eric. Threading her fingers in caramel colored hair, she whispered. "I love you Natalia. There is no one else in this world for me. What we have… This love… I'm not going to give it up without a fight… Not now… Or ever."

"I love you too Calleigh... I'm sorry I held so much doubt... the things you said this morning... so quietly to Horatio... I was lost. Not even visiting the doctors and telling her about it, did it give me hope. I didn't know what to think say or do....So I ask you to forgive me when I doubt, when I falter, and know that I love and trust you with my heart… Now and forever"

Pulling Natalia's head down, Calleigh crushed her lips to hers in almost feral manner. She was desperate to feel her wife against her, pushing up her shirt, Calleigh groaned as she came into contact with smooth skin. Pushing her hands even higher, she teased Natalia's breasts through the silky covering. Swallowing Natalia's moan, Calleigh moved her mouth from satiny lips along a jaw line to nibble beneath her ear.

"Quiet baby. We need to keep this to ourselves."

Dropping her head so that she could suckle the spot between Calleigh's neck and shoulder, Natalia groaned as one of Calleigh's hands slid past her waistband to dip between her damp curls. Drawing her head back, she stared into dark green eyes, intent to not look away, no matter what.

In and out, again and again, Calleigh filled her love while torturing her breast with her other hand. Watching with wonder at the depths of love that she saw in those hot chocolate eyes and the flashes of emotions across her wife's face. Emotions like love, need, want and hunger. It was the hunger that she felt for Natalia that drove her to flick the tiny little bud finally to see the release in her eyes, in the parting of her mouth to sigh and the way that her knees went weak, pulling them to the floor.

Withdrawing her hand, Calleigh gathered her love within her embrace and cradled her to her chest. Kissing the top of the head that nestled near her heart, she quietly spoke. "I have so much to make up for with my family. I should've never kept them in the dark this long. I should've never hidden you and our life from them. I was being selfish because I wanted to keep you to myself for as long as I could. Even now, I don't want to tell them everything."

Leaning back so that she could look into Calleigh's eyes, Natalia replied. "Calleigh... we need to tell everyone... everything. everyone is here... calm now and settled. I know it'd seem too much but they have a right to know why we've blown them off so much, protecting them from us... we are a family now... they just never knew we always were.."

"Do you think that they will understand why I kept it from them?"

Reluctantly moving away and standing up, Natalia held out her hand to help Calleigh. "Babe, you didn't keep it from them…. We did. We thought that we were protecting them from what we see in our daily lives, but what we were actually doing was making it easier for ourselves by not facing it. And that was wrong because on the whole, both of our families have been very accepting. We short-changed them by not being honest."

Taking her wife by her hand, Natalia went into the bathroom and they cleaned up, getting presentable to go back out. Before they walked back out, Natalia pressed Calleigh against the wall and kissed her hard, not breaking off the kiss until they had to breathe.

"I'll never doubt you again Calleigh. This I swear."

Cupping Natalia's face, Calleigh swore. "And I will never give you a reason to."

Walking out of the bedroom, hand in hand, they went out onto the patio and joined their family and Horatio. For the next hour and a half, everyone sat dumbstruck as both Calleigh and Natalia explained to them what had happened over the past six months with Horatio clarifying every now and again. Anna cried when told about the explosion and Chance swore at Stetler, telling Natalia he would've shot him.

Everyone finally stood up and stretched out their muscles after sitting still so long. Anna went over to Horatio and thanked him for always being there for her daughter.

"It is my pleasure ma'am. She's part of my work family and that's what we do. We take care of our own."

Quickly the back yard was cleaned up, extra food boxed up and divided among everyone. Taking Chance aside, Calleigh gave him instructions on his part of Natalia's gift. Looking down at his sister, Chance smiled.

"You've got it bad, but I have to admit that Natalia's something special and I'd do the same thing if she was in my life. I'll have it done by six in the morning."

Eileen was carrying Cal out to Court's rented car with Natalia close behind carrying a sleeping Lee. Court opened the back passenger door and carefully took Cal, putting him in his child seat and buckling him in, then doing the same on the other side with Lee. Quietly closing the door, Court put his arms about his wife's waist and turned to Natalia.

"So we'll call y'all in the morning around ten and talk with Calleigh. She'll jump at the chance to go. And on a personal note." Court took Natalia's hand in his. "I just want to say, that I think that you are the best thing that has ever happened to my sister. And my sister means the world to me and now you do too."

Looking up at the man who looked so much like her wife, Natalia got teary-eyed. "Thank you for that and thank you for being so understanding about everything."

Reaching up, she placed a gentle kiss upon his cheek, just as Calleigh was walking out the door with Anna, Chance and Horatio.

"Hey brother! Flirting in front of your own wife with mine! That takes some guts."

Pretending to preen, Court just said. "Well, when ya got, ya got it."

Natalia looks around at all the green eyes surrounding her. "Well, blonde hair, green eyes and gorgeous smiles do turn me on." Wiggling her eyebrow, winking at Eileen who agreed immediately.

Eileen walked over wrapping her arms around Calleigh. "Spouse swap for a night? Pplleeaassee, I always wanted to try it once." She merely smirked when Court's eyebrows rose, wrapping his arms around Natalia. "Looks like you are all mine Darlin'!"

Chance looks around. "Aw, come on guys, no love for me??!" Both Eileen and Natalia walk over to Chance, hugged him tight and ruffle his hair. "Sorry gentlemen, but I'd be missing my wife too much. And I must say, I'd be awfully jealous!"

Going over to stand next to Natalia, wrapping her arms about her waist, Calleigh settled the discussion. "And I don't share."

"Well, Calleigh you are the one with a badge and a gun, you win, and your boss is here." Chance chuckled at Court taking his wife back. "Alright everyone out of here, these girls have a lot to do the next three days. Let's roll!"

Kisses and hugs went all around as good nights were wished and promises to see each other on the morrow were made. Finally Calleigh and Natalia were standing out in the front yard alone.

Turning to her love, Natalia could see how tired she was in her eyes. Nudging her with her hip, Natalia softly said. "Come on." And led the way into their home. "Go ahead and start the shower. I'll set the alarm and be right in."

Nodding her agreement, Calleigh headed into the bedroom while Natalia made sure that everything was locked up and the alarm set. Mallory was sound asleep next to the patio door as Cal and Lee had worn her out.

Standing at the glass door, Natalia turned her thoughts to Eric and what he had done. Shaking her head, as she knew that that situation was far from over as Eric didn't know how to quit when he was ahead. She started to beat herself up for thinking that Calleigh would leave her, but she stopped because it wasn't Calleigh that she didn't trust. She realized that she had a hard time trusting men. Other than Horatio, and her father, every other man in her life had lied, cheated or abused her in some form of fashion.

Mentally and figuratively, Natalia shook her head and muttered to herself. 'Never again.'

Turning off the light, she went into their bedroom, shutting the door while starting to remove her clothing. By the time she reached the bathroom, she was nude and she once again found Calleigh standing underneath the shower. Putting her clothes in the hamper, she quickly joined her wife under the cascading water, reaching for her body sponge and the liquid soap. Lathering up the sponge, she began to bathe her wife, taking her time to make sure that every inch of her was clean.

And even though Natalia took her time, this was not a sexual act and Calleigh knew it. She knew that it was sensual and healing, a close calmness no one else was worthy of receiving. A taking care of you because your day was a difficult one and she loved Natalia all the more for it.

After Natalia made sure that there wasn't any lingering soap on her wife's body, Calleigh stopped her by placing her hand on Natalia's chest and whispering. "It's my turn now."

And Calleigh took her time, giving Natalia the same attention that was given to her and loving every minute of it. She finished the rinsing just as the hot water started to turn cooler, so they got out and dried each other off. After brushing out their hair, they put on the nightclothes and crawled into bed with Calleigh resting her head above Natalia's heart, listening to the only true thing she knew. Love.

Soon both women were fast asleep and gentle breathing filled the air.

Part 30

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