Chapter 18: Giovanni
“Umm, I’m not sure what to do. What do I do?” Alex said panicking while not trying to show it.
“Time them. If they are four minutes apart then we go to the hospital, but until then we should just stay here. Maybe you should call your mom to watch Natalie and Elena. I don’t want them to be alone,” she said, gaining her composure.
“Yes, I’ll call her. I don’t want them to be alone either.” And with that, he got his phone and called his mom who promised she would drive right over. Maria’s contractions were thankfully still eight minutes apart, so they had a little time. Once the last one passed, Alex took her bag and ran it to the truck, shivering as the snowflakes touched his bare skin.
He shut the door quietly when he walked back in, but it didn’t really matter because Natalie and Elena were both really good sleepers.
“How you holding up?” He asked cautiously.
She was breathing heavily. “Not... good. How long till your mom gets here? There down to six minutes.”
“Soon. Any minute. Just hang in there, babe.”
She winced, and squeezed her eyes shut, but let out a relaxed breath when it passed. “Okay, I’m good. Is everything ready to go?”
“Yeah,” he said, suddenly remembering that this was the moment that could change everything. This was the moment that they were worried about. Maria right now was too focused on the pain that she didn’t seem to remember the big threat, and Alex prayed it would stay that way. He learned from Dr. Martinez that stress made labor much more painful, and no one needed that.
Suddenly he felt a buzz in his hand, and was Armstrong.
“I’m going to go get the car warmed up,” he said, trying to think of a way to get out the house and talk to Armstrong without Maria being able to hear.
He let the door slam this time and walked over to the car, while answering the call.
“Rivers,” Armstrong started, “I think he is here. Adam said he saw a car with the same license plate as the Toyota Tundra in the Otto’s auto repair shop when arresting Otto. Otto is too drunk to tell us anything, so we don’t know if it actually was him, and we can’t check tapes because they don’t have any. I’m sending Enrique and Adam to the shop to look around.”
“Please tell me you are joking. Please, please tell me you are joking, Armstrong, tell me you are joking!” He could feel his voice cracking and voice shake.
“Rivers, calm down. This is good, we can catch him early. No one is in danger right now because we can find him before he hurts anyone.”
“Which would be true, but we don’t have time! Maria went into the labor! That’s why you can’t find him! Oh my god...”
Armstrong paused, “...Never mind, I’m sending Garcia to the hospital and everyone else on call there now. The car can wait. Is anyone coming to watch the girls?”
“My-my mom is.”
“That’s not going to work. You need to bring them to the hospital too.”
“You want me to bring them to where he could be? No way.”
“Rivers, there are police everywhere, and what are we going to do if for some reason he shows up at your house?”
“Alright, alright. Should I tell Maria about this?”
“That’s not for me to decide. Send me the details about the hospital, I’ll see you there. Oh, and good luck.”
Alex growled and smashed his hand on the seat, but quickly stopped when he saw his mom’s car pull up. He’d never seen anyone get out of a car so fast.
“Alexander! How is Maria?”
“She’s okay right now, but I have a feeling we are going to need to leave in the next few minutes because they are progressing fast,” he told her, walking in the house. He led her to the nursery which was where Maria was.
“They’re five minutes,” she said, her forehead glistening with sweat. “Let’s just go now,” she started, immediately squeezing her eyes again and taking Alex’s hand when he held it out. After a few seconds, she was okay again.
“Oh dear, I’m so excited! How are feeling? Do you need anything?” Bonnie said hugging Maria.
“No, no I’m okay. Thank you for coming.”
“Yeah mom thanks. Also, can you wake up the girls and bring them to the hospital? There was a change of plans, and I think we need to get out of here.”
“Yes, yes, of course. Now go and have a baby.”
Alex smiled a little to himself. Despite the fact that he had only known Maria for four months and Natalie for two, he was excited. And even though he felt apprehensive towards feeling that it was like adding to his family, he disregarded those thoughts when he saw the ring on her clenched finger. This was there family. Elena’s was theirs, Natalie was theirs, and Gio was theirs. They didn’t need blood for legal documents to know that they morphed there lives together and now wanted to share everything with each other. In no way did he think of Natalie or Giovanni any less of his. When it came to family, Matthew was non-existent because frankly Maria and Alex both thought of Maria as the mom and Alex as the dad. It didn’t matter who was born to who. They were the parents, and the kids were their kids.
All Alex could think about was how grateful he was that it was a little after midnight so the roads weren’t full of other cars. Maria’s contractions were still five minutes apart and she grew more anxious by the second. She squeezed the door handle tightly, grimacing her teeth while wincing.
Alex pulled into the front of the hospital, ran inside to get a nurse like they always do dramatically in TV shows and movies. Alex followed Maria who was now in a wheelchair.
When they got to the room, Maria changed into a hospital gown like the one she had worn before.
After an hour, she was able to get an epidural, which helped with the pain for the most part.
Alex sat on the chair next to Maria who was clinging to his hand.
Around 2 am, Dr. Martinez came in with a clipboard and was quit peppy considering it was the middle of the night.
“How are we Maria?”
“Hanging in there,” she said tiredly.
He smiled and walked over to the machine then wrote down a number on the piece of paper. “Okay, so it appears that your labor has stalled. Basically it means your labor has stopped. So we could be in for a long night. Rest while you can, and I’ll come back and check on you in an hour. Call a nurse if you need anything, okay?”
Maria nodded, then scoffed when he left the room. “Great.”
“Did this happen with Natalie?”
Maria rubbed her eyes and tried to adjust her position. “No. She came rather quickly.” Closing her eyes, she smiled but opened them again when Alex spoke. “What?”
“Nothing,” she said, her eyes, that had tiny bags under them, glistening. “I’m just thinking about how grateful I am. You have truly changed my life, and I wouldn’t even be here with out you. And now here we are in a hospital getting ready to have a baby, the girls probably sleeping on each other in the waiting room, a ring on my finger. Who would have thought.”
“Not me. But I knew that once I saw you that case was going to be more that just a case. And I’m lucky it was.”
Both of them smiled, as Alex leaned closer because Maria couldn’t. Soon, the two of them were breathing the same air once again, and they found their lips up against each other. Their foreheads touched, and they could feel their breath against there skin. It sent chills down Alex’s spine. His skin became bumpy as he pulled back the slightest bit, only to lean in again. He brought his hand up to Maria’s cheek and cupped it, feeling her warm skin that was once beautifully battered.
Alex moved his hands further back as he ran them through Maria’s dark hair. His fingers entangled in her brown black curls as he breathed in. He pushed his lips on hers as did she once last time before pulling back for a finale time.
They sat there, just the two of them, basking in the post-kiss sensation that was sifting though the air.
“I hate to ruin the moment, but I have to pee. Again,” she said, interrupting the silence.
Alex smiled while Maria’s eyes continued to sparkle as she looked at the man before him. The person she had been waiting for a couple years after her and Matthew met. He helped her climb out of that hole she was trapped in. Without him, she knew that instead of climbing out, she would only sink further in. She would have drowned.
Alex helped her walk back to the bed when she finished, their hands hands locked in each others grip.
As he pulled the blanket back over her, Maria spoke in a husky voice.
“I don’t know if you have realized this but, it feels nice to have someone say I love you and actually mean it. It kind of lost its lust after Matthew said it over and over again then proceeded to pour himself into me after I told him to stop.”
“You can forget about that, and get used to its magic again because trust me, I will never stop saying it.” He leaned over her and pecked her cheek.
“Alright Rivers settle down; I need to sleep.”
“Since we could be here for a while, I’m going to go check on everyone. Do you mind if you’re here alone for a while?”
“No, I’ll be okay. I’ll call you if I need anything.”
Alex kissed her head this time, the pleasant fragrance of her shampoo that smelled like vanilla filling his nose. “Okay, I shouldn’t be long anyway.”
With that, Alex jogged out the door. He turned around the corner and saw Austin with Natalie, who was sleeping on his lap, Elena and Bonnie next to them. Elena was on her phone and Austin peered over his shoulder, reading what was on the screen and trying to understand what was going on. But when they saw Alex, they all stood up.
“Did she have the baby yet?” Austin whispered, trying to contain his excitement.
Alex ran his fingers through his hair. “No, not yet. Her labor is stalled. Who knows how long it will be. And uh, not to be rude, but how did you know we were here?”
“I was with Enrique and Adam and I asked if I could come along. I hope you don’t mind. I figured I might be able to keep Natalie entertained.”
“Oh yeah, that’s fine. She might need an extra hand anyway,” he said motioning towards his mom who was already drifting off into sleep. “Where did Enrique and Adam go?”
“They went to patrol. You know, scope out the area as you would call it. But I don’t know exactly where they are. They might be looking at security footage.”
Alex raised his eyebrows in unison and sighed. “I’m guessing you’re up to date on the problem now.”
Austin nodded and patted him on the shoulder.
“Yeah, anyways, could you check on Maria everyone in a while? I don’t want to get scared. Or be alone. She doesn’t know what’s going on so don’t tell her. Don’t tell anyone.”
He nodded again, and Alex asked an employee at the front desk where the security room was.
When he found it, there a few other security guards, along with Armstrong and the Garcia brothers.
“Alex!” The both of them ran over to him.
Adam patted his hair, making sure it looked decent for being two am. “Shouldn’t you be with Maria? Or did she already have the baby?”
“No, not yet. Trust me, we have some time. I just wanted an update. What do you know?”
Enrique exhaled and shifted his weight. “Nothing. All we know is that he said he was coming back, and his car was in the shop.”
“When was the last time you checked the shop?” Alex asked.
“Around eight,” said Armstrong, who was staring at parking lot security cameras.
“A lot could happen in a night.” Alex adjusted his belt. “Maybe we should go and check and see if the car is gone. That way we could maybe see if he left with the car and track him.”
Armstrong looked at the three of them. “I agree. Otto is still in custody and he is the only one besides Gabby who works there, and its been closed since last night after the car was dropped off.”
“When was Gabby working? Was she there when Matthew dropped the car off?” Alex asked, his heart starting to race.
The three other police officers stood there thinking about possible things they could have missed.
“Actually, she might have.” Enrique crossed his arms around his chest. “Does anyone have her number?”
Everyone shook their head, and looked down at their feet until Adam spoke.
“Otto would have her number. And if he is till in custody that means we can get it. If she was working that night, she might be able to, one, tell us if Matthew was the one who dropped the car off, and two, she’ll be able to give us access to client records and open the garage.”
“Yes,” Armstrong started. “Garcia’s, both of you go. Me and Rives will stay here.”
“What? No way, I’m going too.”
“Dude, your girlfriend could seriously have her baby at any moment, and you want to leave and embark on a possible suicide mission?” Enrique looked at Alex as if he was the stupidest human being in the world.
“That’s why I need to go. I need to help her. I don’t just want to sit around and do nothing. If anything happens, we’ll come back. We can take two cars. Please. I want to help.” He pleaded, getting ready to get down on his knees to let Armstrong know how badly he wanted to go.
Armstrong, his face stone cold, stared right through is green eyes for a few long seconds before answering. “Fine. The three of you go. Take two cars. Garcia, if Rivers needs to come back, you two stay there until you find out everything you can. Understood?”
They nodded in unison before walking out the door.
All of them ran to their police cars that were all parked nicely in a straight line, trying to be as quick as possible so Alex would be able to get back with time to spare. Enrique and Alex took one car, and Adam took the other. Sirens were running when they drove out of the parking lot because of the time crunch, and because of their loud scream, they got to the station in three minutes. Alex ran up the stairs faster than both Enrique and Adam and he got to Otto first.
“Was Gabby working Friday night?” He yelled out of breath, not even taking the time to greet Otto.
“What?” He grunted squinting his eyes.
“Gabby, was she working with you Friday night?”
Scratching his head, he only stared. “Why should I tell you?”
Alex briskly walked over to his cell and pulled the collar of his shirt, the smoking mechanics body crashing into the bars.
“Because someone I care about is in danger, and this might help us!”
“Alex, calm down,” Enrique said, catching up with him.
“But he might know something!”
“I know, but telling ag him isn’t going to make him help us.”
Otto smirked while rolling his soulless eyes. “Alright, calm down brother. Yes, she was working on Friday. But I don’t know what time she left because those nut jobs over there had me arrested before I could close shop.”
“Trust me, they’re regretting it now. But I need her phone number.”
Otto obeyed and pulled out a business card out from his shirt pocket. “Her numbers the second one.”
“You’ll be released again tomorrow,” was all Alex said before grabbing Enrique and Adam’s arms and dragging them along with him.
They called the number on the phone and luckily Gabby answered. All they told her was that she needed to get down to the shop right away with the garage keys before hanging up.
When they pulled up in front of the shop, she was already standing outside, her army green jacket and old jeans protecting her from the cold.
“I’m sorry, who are you guys and why do you need me at work at three in the morning?” She said, the rims of her glasses glistening in the streetlight.
“I’m Alex, that’s Enrique and that’s Adam. We don’t really have enough time to explain. We are looking for someone and we just want you to show us the client list, open the garage, and tell us if you’ve seen someone come in.”
Shivering, she said, “Yeah, yeah of course.” Gabby pulled a key out of her pocket and opened the front door and turned the light on. She walked to the back of the desk and pulled out a binder with names written down. Slamming it on the table, she flipped it open.
“What day do you think they came in?”
Enrique glanced at the book. “Umm, we’re thinking last night.”
“What’s their name?”
“Matthew Parks. But it probably won’t be under that name.”
“You know what,” Alex started, taking out his phone and pulling up a picture of Matthew. “Here. Did he by any chance come in?”
She looked closely. “He looks familiar. His hair was shaved and he had more of a beard, but yeah, I’m pretty sure he was the guy who came in. Name was something Reed, if I remember correctly.” She looked back through the book, and found a last name Reed. “Yep, Jonathan Reed. He needed a tune up.”
“Is the car still here?” Adam asked.
“It should be. No one ever came back to get it. And it’s only been here since earlier today.”
Alex was growing impatient, and he started fiddling with his fingers. “Can you open the garage for us? We need to see if the car is still here.”
“Yeah, sure.” She walked over to the end of the table and grabbing a key that opened the garage to where all the cars were. Opening the door, she turned the lights on.
“This is all we have right now.” She pointed out.
The three cops weaved their way through the six cars, each checking the car and license plate.
“How many cars can this place fit?” Enrique asked, fiddling that none of the cars matched Matthews.
“Yeah, he came must have come back sometime in the night for the car. He was trying to make it to the hospital without us knowing,” Alex said, rejoining with everyone else. “The question is where is he now?” Enrique added
There was a silence within the group because no one had any ideas besides the hospital, but no one wanted to say it. Instead, Adam said, “We need to leave and get back to the hospital. Right now. Call Armstrong and tell him we didn’t find anything. Thank you for your help Gabby, you can lock up now.”
“Uh, no problem.”
Running back to the car, Alex’s felt his phone ring in his pocket. Quickly, he grabbed it and answered, expecting to hear that Maria labor had started again. But instead, he was greeted by a very panicked Austin.
“Alex! You need to get back right now!”
“Why, is she in labor again?”
“No,” he started, “She found out about Matthew, and she is freaking out. No one can get her to calm down and Dr. Martinez is saying that it could cause problems during delivery.”
“How did she- never mind. We are on our way,” Alex finalized before hanging up. He turned to Enrique and Adam. “Now we really need to get back. Maria is freaking out, and she isn’t calming down.”
The sirens wailing, they returned to the hospital empty handed. Enrique had ensured Alex that he, Adam, and Armstrong had it all under control and that Alex shouldn’t be worried, but he was anyway. It didn’t matter what anyone told him. The fact was that they still didn’t know where Matthew was and it was getting down to the finale hours, was making him anxious.
Enrique pulled up in front of the doors allowing Alex to get out before everyone else and run inside.
He found Austin standing in the middle of the waiting room waiting for him. The younger man ran over when he spotted him.
“Oh, thank god you are here. Your mom tried to go in and help but its not helping. I did too, but you are the only one who can calm her down.”
Alex nodded and ran down the hallway till he came to Maria’s room. He heard light sobs outside the door, his heart immediately breaking. She had come so far, and here Matthew was getting ready to ruin it all again. He hated how even when he wasn’t here he could still cause her so much pain. Opening the door, her cries increased in volume, but when she saw him she quieted down just a little bit to speak.
“Alex!” She bawled, Dr. Martinez next to her.
“I’m here, it’s okay, it’s okay,” he reassured, wrapping his arms around her. She buried her face in his neck, and he felt his shirt become moist with her tears.
“No, no, it’s not. He is coming back, and he is going to take them from me! I can’t have that happen again. Please don’t let that happen. He can’t take him away!”
“He won’t, I promise you, I won’t let him. Everything is going to be okay babe. Just take deep breaths. You need to relax. Just focus on Giovanni.”
She breathed in the best she could, and then breathed out. After a few more times her breathing had returned to its normal pattern for the most part.
“Okay Maria, how we feeling now? You’re ten centimeters dilated and your contractions started again so we can start pushing.”
“No, no,” she said, her eyes darting from the doctor to Alex and back again.
“Hey,” Alex took her hand and squeezed it in his. “You are going to. I will not let anything happen. You are safe. Remember what I said, just focus on Gio, okay?’
“Push Maria.” Dr. Martinez waved a nurse over and whispered something in their ear. Dr. Martinez then lifted up a blanket that covered Maria’s lower part of her body.
Maria turned to Alex nervously. “Alex, I can’t. I wish I could, but I can’t. Once he is born Matthew is going to take him from me.” Tears swelled in her eyes and fear glowed within them. “I don’t want to lose my baby again.”
“Push Maria,” he repeated.
She did nothing but lay there and squint her eyes through the pain.
Dr. Martinez spoke again when he realized Maria had done anything. “Maria, you have to push.”
A cry broke from her full lips as she clung to Alex’s hand again. “I can’t,” she panted as she turned to look at him. “Please don’t make me. I can’t. I’m going to lose him. I’m going to lose him.” She squeezed his hand tighter as another contraction came and passed.
Dr. Martinez stood up growing frustrated. He gave Alex a look that said ‘Get her to push.’
Alex got the signal as he leaned in further to Maria whose cheek’s were turning bright red.
He wrapped his arm around the brunette’s should in a protective manner as she cried out in pain. “No, it’s going to be okay,” he told her, tired of having her be worried about Matthew. Yes, he hadn’t hurt her in a while, but he was still out there putting people at risk. And even if they did catch him, Alex could feel it in his bones that it was going to take Maria her whole life to even come close to forgetting all the pain he inflicted on her. Even then, how could she? How could she move on with her life and forget? That was certainly not possible. All the black and blue he painted on her, all the scars he had engraved on her skin would eventually wither away. Some of them would be forgotten while others would remain a simple faded line. But it wasn’t just her skin that had been marked. Alex knew that from the start. Because as those scars and bruises would fade, the memories wouldn’t. She would still remember everything. Still picture her life she once shared with him, feel the pain he perpetrated on her. That was all still there. It wasn’t the bruises or the marks he painted on her skin that she had been drowning in. It was the memory. The fact that she knew it happened. That was what she was drowning in, and even if she saved herself, it would always be apart of her. No matter how much she or Alex wanted to pull her out freely, she would always be in that pool waiting for something to pull her back down into the dark depths of the water so she would be lost there forever.
Maybe that wouldn’t happen, maybe it would. It didn’t change the fact that Matthew put her in that water without knowing how to swim. As time went on, it would get easier. But it still happened. That was something she couldn’t be saved from.
“You are going to have Gio,” Alex continued. Tears of hear and hop filling in his eyes too. “And you are going to hold him, and you are never going to be worried about Matthew every again because you’ll be too worried about making sure Gio is sleeping and that he is fed on time.”
Maria winced, and put her hand up against her stomach and rubbed it, imagining what Gio would look like. His eyes color, his hair color, how Elena and Natalie would react when they saw him.
Dr. Martinez cleared his throat. “We ready now?”
But that wasn’t enough.
The world was a dangerous place. A dangerous place she found herself drowning in.
She gasped for a breath and adjusted her position in the bed. Maria looked up at Alex one last time, taking in his reassuring eye that were full of love.
“I can’t,” she panted, sweat dripping down her face.
“Yes, you can.”
She swallowed hard, and winced again, her head falling on the pillow. “No... please. Please don’t... make me.”
Dr. Martinez motioned a signal to a nurse and she came over to Maria with an oxygen mask that Maria surprisingly let her put on.
“You know I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t have to, but I really need you to push, babe.” Alex felt desperate. He could see her getting weaker by the second, and nothing was encouraging enough.
Dr. Martinez shook his head. “Detective Rivers, what if you try sitting behind her. It might help her push.”
With a second thought, Alex unclipped his belt and then put his hands on Maria’s back and used a little force to sit her up. He swung his leg around her and pushed himself on the bed. He adjusted his position and leaned his body against Maria’s.
Dr. Martinez crouched down, lowering himself so he wasn’t visible. “Okay, push.”
“Come babe, don’t you want to hold him? I bet he looks just like you,” he whispered in her ear, trying to motivate her.
Maria leaned her head back, feeling his body against her own. She breathed in, her whole body aching.
With her lips quivering and her body body radiating with sweat, she grabbed Alex hand in one of hers and squeezed her eyes shut as she finally pushed.
“That’s good, now another,” the doctor said.
She pushed again, and again, and again. An hour had passed, and not much progress had been made. Maria was growing even more tired and even more uncomfortable. Now her face was beet red, and her whole body was sweating.
“Any time now Maria. Give me a few more.”
“Alex,” she panted. “I can’t... anymore. I am so tired. I’m so tired,” she cried, exhausted.
“It’s just a few more babe. You can do it. Come one, you can do it. Just a few more and you’ll be able to meet our son,” Alex said, his chest beginning to sweat.
That was all the encouragement Maria needed to hear, and taking a deep breath in, she pushed, this time a small screech vibrated through her throat when she released.
She pushed, but quickly fell back against Alex’s chest.
“It’s just one more babe, just one more. You’re so close.”
Maria pushed for the final time, then breathed heavily against Alex, her lips stretching into a smile through all the pain.
“Do you hear him.”
Maria looked up, and saw the doctor holding the tiny person that she had been waiting for for nine months. The person who has been through so much with her.
Dr. Martinez walked over to her, the baby crying in his arms. She took Gio from him, and felt warm tears fill her eyes as she looked down at him, the nurse taking her mask off.
“Hi baby,” she said, mesmerized at how perfect he was. She felt her eyes burn at the sight of him. Suddenly nothing else in the world mattered. She wasn’t thinking about Matthew, or about her kids being taken. It was as if everything had simply disappeared, and it was just her and him. All she was thinking was the tiny human she had brought in this world. He was a sign she made it.
“I told you he would look like you,” Alex said in her ear, and Gio really did. He had dark hair and the same olive skin tone, and Alex hoped the same honey eyes.
All Maria could do was stare. When Natalie was born, she became the only reason she had to live. To fight. But now she had so many more. Natalie, Gio, Elena, Alex, along with so many more.
Alex got off the bed, his eyes never leaving the two of them. He stood next to Maria, who laid on the bed exhausted, but so deeply in love.
“He’s perfect, isn’t he?” She whispered, rubbing her thumb on his skin.
Alex kissed the side of Maria’s face while he ran her fingers from her scalp to the end of her dark hair. After a few minutes, the nurse took him to get weighed and do whatever else doctors needed to.
“He still needs a middle name you know,” he pointed out, leaning his head on Maria’s as she closed her eyes, envisioning Gio’s face.
“Yes, I’ve been thinking about that. I can really only think of one name,” she said tiredly.
“And what’s that?”
He jerked his head away and stared into her eyes. “You want to name your son after me? Really?”
“Our,” she corrected. “And yes, I do. I don’t think I would even be here with out you and your help. You saved me and him in the process, and you really changed my life.”
He leaned in a kissed her lips repeatedly, only pulling away in the end to tell her, “I love you.”
“And I love you,” she hummed. “But, there was something else I wanted to talk about. Last names.”
“Right. You should do Romano. Maybe you can get Natalie’s changed too.”
“But now we are engaged and I consider them to be your kids. What if we did a hyphen,” she offered.
“Romano-Rivers? It’s kind of long.”
She sighed in thought. “Yeah, I agree. Maybe... it could just be Rivers? Would you be open to that? I know he’s not your child by blood, but I think it makes sense. And to me you’re his dad.”
“I would love that. Giovanni Alexander Rivers, Natalie... err, what’s her middle name?”
“Natalie Sophia Rivers. Maria Anna Rivers. It sounds perfect to me.”
“Hmm?” He answered, pushing her baby hairs off her forehead.
“What are we going to do about Matthew?”
Taking her hands, he sat next to her on the bed. “You aren’t going to do anything except focus on Giovanni. Armstrong, Enrique, and Adam are security are all here. Don’t worry, okay? That is my job.”
“Relax, babe. I will make sure nothing happens.”
“Do not get yourself hurt, or in trouble, or try to be heroic and do something dangerous, okay? Be careful. I need you.”
“You should get some sleep too,” she murmured. “I might need your help with him when he gets back.”
“Don’t worry, I was planning on sleeping and helping. But I’m going to go tell everyone he is here first.” Alex got up sluggishly and walked out to see Austin, the kids, and the brothers if the two of them were there. Alex figured that they probably went to the security room. His face lit up when he saw them all. Everyone run over to him when he came out of the hallway.
“Did she have the baby?” Austin said, Elena running behind him.
“Is Mar... Mom okay?”
“She’s fine, and the baby is good too. They took him up for testing,” Alex explained, lifting up Natalie and putting her on his hip, and wrapping his free arm around Elena.
“So does he finally have a name, or are we just going to keep calling him the baby?” Elena asked.
“Maria should be the one to tell you guys. Let her sleep a little then we can all go and visit.”
Before anyone could say anything else, Alex phone went off. It was Enrique and Adam both screaming at him over the phone to go to the security room.
“I need to go. I’ll be right back,” he said running away from the group and up to where everyone else was. He could feel a sense of urgency in their voices when they spoke, so he let his feet take him as fast as they could.
When he got there and opened the door, everyone’s eyes eyes were glued to the screen. But it wasn’t the security screens they were watching.
No one must have noticed he walked in because no one turned to face him, and the only thing you could hear was the voices coming from the news castors. The woman was talking about a fatal car accident, but he couldn’t put his finger on why it really mattered to them.
“Uh, guys. Maria had that baby. If anyone cares,” he said, no one noticing him a few seconds after he finished his sentence.
“Oh, Rivers, you’re here. Come look at this.” Armstrong waved his hand over towards him.
Alex jogged over to him and planted his eyes on the screen just like everyone else. He squinted his eyes trying to get a better look at the crash sight. When he caught glimpse of the totaled car, he widened his eyes and covered his mouth with his hand. “Oh my god is that...”
The fellow police officer’s nodded.
“Matthew’s car,” Enrique said.
Adam scratched the back of his neck. “It was crashed into a building. They said there was one person in the car and he was dead before the ambulance even got there.”
“So,” Alex whispered, “Matthew’s dead?”
“He was the only person who could have taken the car, and if he was on the route to the hospital then it had to be him.” Adam put his hands on his hips and shook his head. “Who else would it be? Everything adds up.”
Alex stood there quietly, lips pursed while his eyes were back on the TV.
“Why aren’t you running to go tell Maria? This is the moment you have been waiting for,” Adam said.
“I know. It’s just... can we go to the scene first?”
The brothers looked at Armstrong waiting for an answer.
“Yes. I’ll drive,” Armstrong offered. “I want to talk to the paramedics and other officers.”
The four of them drove down to the scene, other emergency personnel and a smashed car waiting for them.
There were four paramedics standing and talking to one of the two police officers. The other was strayed from the group and instead was inspecting the car.
When Alex, the brothers and Armstrong got out of the car, the one isolated cop left the crashed vehicle and strutted over to them.
“Been a while Shaun,” she said.
“Yes it has Cheyenne.”
She stuck his hand out and he shook it firmly. “That’s Thompson to you. What are you doing here anyway?”
“I believe the person that was killed in the accident is involved in a case we are dealing with. We are trying to find out if its him or not. Is there any way we can take a DNA test?”
“Yeah. The body is still in the car. I would let you take a look, but there’s no point. The guy’s face is too swollen and there is too much blood and bruising and cuts to tell.”
“Alright. Maybe they should take him to the hospital to get the DNA test done,” he said motioning towards the paramedics who were standing around talking to the other police trying to figure out what they were going to do next. We need his sample right away.”
“I know. We are going to get over there now. The results are going to take 24-72 hours.”
“Thompson, have you forgotten? We are both cops. I know all about that stuff.”
“We both may be cops, but I’m better,” she teased, punching his shoulder playfully. “I’ll see you later,” she said before telling the other people to take him to a hospital. They got their gear together, and the ambulance pulled out, sirens from both police cars and ambulance howling.
Waiting was the worst part. Twenty-four hours was too long to wait to find out if everything was finally over. But he had plenty distractions. Giovanni, despite how adorable he was, was a very fussy baby. He wouldn’t latch on Maria’s breast which made feeding time a struggle, and getting him to sleep was even harder. The first twenty-four hours went by pretty fast. But even then the results still hadn’t gotten back to him.
It was nearing eleven o’clock pm when Gio had finally started eating without stopping in between.
Maria looked down at him and smiled, rubbing his soft skin while humming. “Alex?” She said, turning her attention to him now.
“Yeah?” He answered, still anxiously looming the results.
“I was thinking, maybe sex isn’t completely off the table anymore. Now that we are getting married, not any time soon of course, but now that we are, maybe its something that we think about in the future.”
“If that’s what you want. I don’t want push you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.”
“I know we just had Gio, and I love him with all of my heart, but I also want to go through the entire experience with you, and also finally enjoy it all of it. I’ve always wanted a lot of kids ever since I was little.”
He raised left brow. “I think we could make that happen.” Before he could go and kiss her, Armstrong walked in.
“Rivers, a word?”
He stood up and followed him of the room, shutting the door behind him. “I’m guessing you came here because you have the results.”
“Yes, I did. I got results for Matthew’s DNA, and then I got the results back for the person in the crashes DNA.”
“Okay, and?” He stared into Armstrong’s crystal blue eyes that were so light they almost look like a cracked ice cube.
“They were a match. Matthew is dead.”
Alex leaned against the wall and let out a breath, staring at the floor, the past four months flashing back in his mind. “So, case closed then I guess?”
“Yes. Case closed. And Rivers, I would like you to start shadowing me when you come back to work.”
He nodded. “You proved yourself as a person, a detective, a police officer, and showcased that you are hardworking and caring person. I want to promote you.”
His mouth fell open. “You’re promoting me?”
“Well I love my position, and I will keep my position, but I want to train you because you are next up. I won’t be at this station forever, and I need someone to rely on. Someone that I can trust, and someone that I know will be there when I need them. I want to start teaching you to run the station because you fit the criteria.”
“Thank you, sir. You won’t be disappointed.”
“I know I won’t be,” he said turning away.
Alex watched him disappear around the corner as he thought about everything and nothing at the same time.
It was over. It was finally over. Matthew was officially dead, and now they could fill out a death report. Not wanting to keep the news to himself any longer, he went back into the hospital room.
He stared at her sitting in the bed holding Gio in her arms that were almost at their normal skin tone.
“Why was Armstrong here?”
“He had some news to tell me.”
“I hope it was good, or else I don’t want to here it because I’m happy right now and I don’t want anything to ruin it.”
“No, it’s good news.”
“Go on then.”
“Armstrong said he wants to promote me. Or start training me so I can take over his position if he was to ever leave. But here is the really good news.”
He went and sat down next to her. “Matthew is dead.”
Her eyes widened, and she felt her breathing quicken. Soon tears streamed down her face of confusion. Alex walked over to her and cupped her cheeks.
“I don’t understand,” she said her voice cracking. “How do you know he is... dead?”
“After you went into labor Armstrong called and said they found a license plate that matched his. Armstrong, Enrique and Adam came here before we got here and they had people on back up so if he came we would be able to get him. But when your labor stalled I went to talk to them and we started reviewing what we knew, and pieced some things together. We knew he said he was going to come back, and also knew the last place we saw his car was the shop. So we drove drove down to the car shop to see if the car was there or not because we had some time on our hands. When we got to the shop, the same car we’ve had our eyes on before was checked in but never checked out, and that car wasn’t there. It was just gone. We figured it was most likely him, so we drove back here because at that point you had found out about him and I knew I needed to get back to you. But after Gio was born, I went back up to the security room, and everyone was watching the news because there was a car that ran into a building, and it was the same car. So we went to check out the scene and whoever was driving was dead before the paramedics even got there. We asked them to take his DNA, and it was a match. He is dead, and he is never going to hurt you, or Gio, or Natalie ever again.”
Her lips parted and she let out let out a few heavy breathes before looking down at Gio, then back up at Alex.
“It’s over?” She asked, the feeling of his fingers warm against her skin. “We’re safe?”
“Yeah, it’s over. It’s all over.”
Her head fell against his chest and rested his head on hers. “Thank god.”
They stayed like that for a few seconds until Gio started squirming, and loud feet running into the room.
“Mommy!” Suddenly Natalie came running into the room, Elena following behind her.
“Hi, love!” Maria said, handing over Gio to Alex, who was happy to spend a little quality time with him.
Natalie climbed in bed with Maria and snuggled close to her.
“Oh I missed you so much.” Maria kissed her head repeatedly and hugged her tightly. “Do you want to meet your brother?’
She nodded her head up and down, her ponytail bouncing up and down.
Alex leaned in with Gio and Natalie stared at him, observing all of his little features she was seeing for the first time.
“Come here, Elena,” Maria said, holding her hand out for the teen who was distantly standing near the wall taking everything in. She took her newly appointed mothers hand and stepped closer to them, looking at Gio who had his eyes closed. “Everyone, this is Giovanni Alexander Rivers.”
Everyone, with the exception of Natalie, were thinking the exact same thing. This really was their family. Here they all were together meeting the newest member of their family. This was how it was meant to be. Maria, Alex, Elena, Natalie, and now Gio all together. Each of them went through their own individual hardships, but they faced them and got to this good place in their lives where if any adversities were to come up again, they would have each other to lean on.
“Rivers?” Elena asked, her attention switching towards Maria, who held up her left hand. “Is that a ring?”
Both Maria and Alex blushed, Maria then holding up her left hand so Elena could see.
“Oh my god it’s so pretty! When did you do it?! Where did you do it?! When are you getting married? This is so amazing! We really are family now.”
“That’s right, we are,” Alex said, feeling tingly inside at the thought of one day in the future standing and seeing Maria walk down an aisle to him with a white dress on. Then standing in front of one another while the guy spoke. They would exchange vows, and seal their life long love for each other with all their friends and conjoined family together. He could picture it so well in his mind that they didn’t even need to live it for it to seem real.
Neither of them believed in happy endings, but this certainly proved that no matter what you have gone through, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Now they were in the light, and they had no intention of ever turning back.