Serenade: A Law and Order Love Story

by Anita Pesola
Authors Notes: ****(I couldn't wait anymore...here's the story ..I hope you guys like it.. Keep in mind, I'm strictly an amateur...I can't begin to "demand entrance" into the NetForum's Writer's Club...<< GRIN >>)****


10:40 pm: A Body Lies in the Streets of New York “Looks like a gangland hit,” the officer said to Mike Logan. “Look here. 18 bullet holes directly to the head, another 26 to the chest area. Someone wanted this guy dead.” “Here’s another one for ya--about 6 shots to the groin area,” Logan added. “Revenge killing?” Just then, Lennie Briscoe walked up. “God,” he said,” What a thing to get me out of bed for. I was having a really great dream, too!” “Well,” said Logan, “Here’s your nightmare. Gangland hit, from the looks of it.” “Are we acquainted with the deceased?” Briscoe asked. Logan lifted a wallet. “Well, well,” he said. “Carlo Scali. This is going to get very interesting from here on in!” 9:20 am: Captain Van Buren’s office “This came in from NCIC on your stiff from last night,” Van Buren said, handing Logan a sheet of paper. “Holy Mother of God! Look at all the convictions!” Logan exclaimed and handed the paper to Lennie. “Yeah, well, Scali knew he crossed the line with someone. According to the OC task force, he was an informant,” she replied. “ A mole?” Lennie said. “No wonder he got skragged!” A knock came at the door. It was Profaci. “Cap’n? Some dame is here to talk about the Scali murder.” “We’ll talk to her,” Lennie said. He and Logan walked out of the office and saw the woman waiting in the hall. “Man,” Logan whistled. “She’s a real looker!” Briscoe said nothing, only stared. “Lennie?” Mike nudged his elbow. “You OK?” Briscoe blinked. “Uh, yeah. I was just thinking.” He walked up to the woman. “Ma’am, can I help you?” he said. “Uh, yeah,” the woman said nervously, looking around the room. “You’re a cop?” Lennie smiled. “Yeah, but I know I don’t look like one. What can I help you with?” She looked around the room again. “Is there...some place we can talk? Privately?” Briscoe took her arm and said, “Sure is. Right this way, please!” When they entered the interrogation room, the lady introduced herself. “My name is Anita Maria Scali, sir, and Carlo Scali is my father. Was. I uh..... I saw the murder.” Briscoe sat down heavily in the chair. He wiped his forehead, looked at Anita and said, “Miss Scali, I’m sorry for your loss. I’m even sorrier that you had to witness that. Can you tell me what happened?” Logan walked in at that point. “Mike,” Briscoe said, “Meet Anita Scali. The victim’s daughter. She saw what happened and was about to tell me.” Anita responded, “First, I need to know if I’m going to be protected. If I say anything about what I know....well, you know how the Mob can be!” “Ma’am,” Logan replied, “You are going to be as safe as you can be right here with us. We’ll protect you. Please don’t worry--you’re safe!” “Miss Scali,” Lennie said as he reached out, patted her hand and held it, “I know how scared you must be and I promise you that we will do everything to keep you safe. Please, tell us what happened. Tell us what you know.” Anita smiled. “Only if you call me Anita,”she replied. Then she began. “I was on my way to the Eagle’s Nest Restaurant-- you are aware that’s a Mob hangout?” “Yeah,” Logan replied. “Well, I had just gotten off the bus--I was supposed to meet Dad there--and when I started to cross the street just a block away, I saw the hitman fly out of the club, weapon drawn, and firing. I....”She started to choke up with tears. “It’s OK, Anita,” Lennie said, squeezing her hand. She smiled at him through the tears. “I hid myself so I wouldn’t be spotted. I couldn’t even go over and kiss Dad goodbye. As soon as I thought it was safe, I ran to call 911. I knew, though, it would be too late.” The tears came harder.“ My poor Dad died all alone....” She really broke down at that point. Both Briscoe and Logan felt uncomfortable by a crying woman. Logan got up. “I’ll tell the Captain,” he said. “I’ll stay here with her,” Lennie replied. Anita was almost uncontrollably crying by this time, and Lennie could stand no more. He took the emotional woman in his arms and held her as she cried, whispering in her ear, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” When she finally calmed down, Lennie was still holding her hand. “Anita,” he asked, “I have to ask this question: can you identify who shot your dad?” She looked at him with tear-stained eyes. He offered her his hankie, which she took gratefully. “Yes,” she said after some time. “It was a Genovese family hitman named Salvatore Mastroanni. My dad had promised me in marriage to him, but I had other plans.” Logan came back in with an armful of books. He said, “Here’s the mug shots. Can you show us the shooter?” “Way ahead of you, partner,” replied Lennie. “Hitman named Mastroanni. Let’s pull his file.” “What about me?” asked Anita. Logan answered her. “Stay here. We know it’s not safe for you to go home. We’ll find a way to keep you safe. Don’t worry.” Lennie added, “Mikey, I would rather not have her out of my sight. Anita, come back with us to the squadroom, OK?” Logan looked at Lennie but didn’t say anything. He thought to himself, “Hmmm. Len doesn’t usually act this way with witnesses, but something is up here and it involves this looker. I hope Len’s not getting personal here, but it would be nice to see him have someone. 2:30 pm Captain Van Buren’s office “You say this witness is credible?” Ben Stone asked. “Oh, yeah”, replied Logan. “She saw the whole thing go down. I think she knows a lot more than she’s saying, though. I’d like to pump her for more info.” Lennie retorted, “Not until she calms down. She’s really upset over the whole thing. I sent her over to Olivet’s office and she’s talking with Scali.” He started pacing. “Let’s face it folks--if you saw your father kaacked right in front of you, wouldn’t you be a little upset?” “Not MY Dad,” replied Logan. “Hey, Len, what is it with you today? You’re awfully defensive with this woman. It’s almost like you want to be her bodyguard or something!” Stone added, “I hope you’re not getting personal with this--you’ll have trouble being objective about it.” Briscoe stood up. “I am going to find out why that poor girl’s father was butchered in the street and nail the perp who did it. Is that good enough for you all?” With that, he stormed out. “WOW!” said Logan. “He’s never been that adamant about nailing someone before!” “Watch him closely, Mike,” said the Captain. “Find out what’s eating him with this. If he can stay objective, I’ll loan you both to OCTS. If not, you’re going and I’ll reassign him!” 3:00pm Dr. Elizabeth Olivet’s office Dr. Olivet looked thoughtfully at Anita. “Things happen for reasons that we cannot understand, Anita. I was told you saw the murder of your father. Do you want to talk about that?” “Actually, no, Doctor. I do want to talk about something else, though: What is that detective’s name, the one that brought me here?” “Why,” replied Liz. “His name’s Detective Lennie Briscoe. Why do you ask about him?” Anita looked out the window, off into the distance. “ I don’t know,” she finally said dreamily.“But, from the moment I met him, I felt like I knew him from somewhere else. He was, well, comfortable to me, you know, kind of like an old shoe, or a best friend. I feel a lot safer when he’s around.” A knock came at the door. Liz opened it and it was Logan and Briscoe. “How’s our patient, Doc?” Logan asked. “She’ll be fine. Anita, would you go with Detective Logan? I want to talk with Detective Briscoe for a moment. I think we’re done for right now.” Logan said, “We’ll be waiting in the hall, Len.” After they left, Olivet turned to Lennie. “You have a real handful there, Detective,” she said. “That girl is totally fixated on YOU for some reason. The only thing she would talk about was wanting to know who you were.” “Really?” Lennie said, surprised. “Wow. I wouldn’t have guessed it.” He looked at the window, then glanced back at Olivet. “I have a problem. I need to take myself off this case, Liz.” She sat down. “Why, Len?”she asked. Lennie sat opposite her. “Because,” he finally explained, “I’m getting in way too deep here. You know, the last few years, I’ve been alone in my small, cramped apartment. My life has been ordered strictly around work. Liz....that girl is way too young for me, but I think...I think I may be falling in love with her.” “Hmmm...what made you think that, Len?” Liz asked. “Well, when she came into the squadroom and I saw her, it was like I was...I don’t know how to describe it...transfixed. This is the weird part: I’ve seen her before. Before I got the call about the murder, I was asleep in bed, dreaming...about HER. This girl, specifically. I saw what she looked like, who she was. It was as if I knew her from some other place and time, you know? The weird thing was, it felt COMFORTABLE. When we interrogated her, she broke down crying. Liz, I did something I have never done with other witnesses that I interrogate and for some reason, I couldn’t help myself: I had to hold her, comfort her, whisper that it was all right, that I was sorry. And the odd thing was, it felt GOOD. I wish I knew why I felt that way.” “Len,” Liz said thoughtfully, “You may be right. You just may know her from somewhere else. I’ve had this conversation before, and it was just a few minutes ago. I heard the same words come out of both your mouths. And, here’s the key: you both used the word “comfortable”. Len, this is going to sound weird, but I think you may have found your soul-mate. However, you need to really concentrate on being objective. My suggestion: don’t take yourself off the case. All that will do is bring you greater hardship--you’ll know where she’s at, but you’ll be barred from seeing her. Your best bet is to get yourself assigned as her protector--that way, with all the time you have to spend together, you’ll know whether or not it’s really love or “lust”. Either way, you had better come to grips with your emotional side of this situation, or you could get fired.” “Yeah,” Lennie said. “I’m being way to one-sided about this. Thanks, Liz.” With that, he left. Lennie rejoined Logan and Anita, who were having a very animated conversation. “...and Lennie said, ‘Hey punk, you just bought yourself a one-way ticket to jail!’ It was a scream!” Logan laughed. Anita looked up, saw Lennie and smiled. “Ah, Detective Briscoe. We were just talking about you!” Lennie smiled. “Now, listen, none of this ‘Detective’ stuff. I’m Lennie and he’s Mike, or Mikey!” Logan looked askance at Lennie and complained, “Hey, the only ones allowed to call me Mikey are you, and anyone I date during the heat of passion, all right?” Anita laughed raucously. “You two are a kick! No wonder you work so well together!” Then she got serious. “What happens to me now?” she asked. Lennie replied, “We find you a safe house and you stay there for a while. You’ll have police protection 24 hours a day. You’ll be quite safe.” “Actually,” Mike replied, his eyes twinkling. “We already have a safe house for you! It’s located at 12239 35th Avenue South, Apartment 4B.” He grinned. “Hold it! Hold IT!! Hold everything! That’s MY place!” Lennie said, shocked. “It’s not cleaned up, there’s stuff everywhere, and the important thing is, where’s she gonna sleep?” “In your bed, Lennie!” Mike said, grinning. “Think about it. We (well, really YOU) can protect her really well and maybe you can get your place cleaned up in the meantime! I KNOW there hasn’t been a woman there in a while!” “You’re not taking something into consideration, though: where am I supposed to sleep?” “Lennie, Lennie...you’ve forgotten about your hideabed, haven’t you? I know you still have it. I’ve used it myself a few times, remember?” Logan grinned. Anita watched this banter with amused interest. Then she hung her head, cleared her throat and shyly said, “If you would rather I find someplace else, I can. It’s no problem.” Lennie stared at her for a few minutes. Then, his baby blue eyes softened, he took her hand and said in a low voice, “Well...only for a few days. And it IS a bachelor’s pad. It’s far from clean.” “That’s all right,” she replied. “I’m a very good housekeeper, and, I might add, an even better cook!” Lennie smiled. “I haven’t had a home-cooked meal in I’m not sure how long!” Anita grinned. “Then that’s settled. I’m cooking you a meal you’ll never forget! Will you be joining us, Mike?” “Naaa, I don’t think so,” Mike replied. “Three’s a big crowd, ya know?” Lennie looked at Anita and said, “Would you excuse us for a moment?” He pulled Logan aside and said, “All right, smart boy, what are you trying to do here?” Mike looked innocent. “What, ME? Nothing. It’s only obvious what’s going on here. Admit it, Len: you like this girl, don’tcha? You want her to warm up that cold bed of yours, am I right?” Len looked back at Anita, looked again at Logan, and then hung his head. “Is it that obvious?” he asked. “Naa....only to blind people!” Logan replied. “Look, I think it’s great! You’ve been so long without someone that you were starting to turn into an old geezer!” “I AM an old geezer!” Len retorted. “No, you’re not, Len,” returned Mike. “My God, what are you, 48? That ain’t old, pal. Not by a long shot. Lennie, she’s a beautiful woman! You gotta admit that!” Lennie looked at Anita again, who was waiting by the car. Finally he whispered, “Yeah. That she is.” Then he looked at Logan. “But she’s too young for me! You should take her!” “Uh, uh...she’s got eyes for only one person: YOU! Believe me, I tried! All she wanted to talk about was you....How long have you been a cop, were you divorced, etc. The whole works. She wants YOU--Leonard William Briscoe--no one else!” 4:30pm Leonard Briscoe’s Apartment--12239 35th Avenue South, Apartment 4B Lennie opened the door and walked in. Anita and Mike stood in the doorway. “Well,” said Lennie, “Here we are. Bedroom’s to the right and bathroom’s just inside the bedroom door there. Make yourself at home!” Mike joked, “I thought you said this place was a mess! Compared to MY place, this is immaculate!” Anita added, “It is small though, but I bet it’s perfect for you. Isn’t it, Lennie?” “Yeah,” Lennie replied. “I’m not here that often anyway. Come on in, sit down! Anyone want coffee?” “I think I want to freshen up a bit first. Bathroom’s over here, you said?” Anita asked. “Yep. Help yourself--you’ll be staying here for a while--you better just get used to the place!” Mike joined Lennie in the kitchen. “Man,” Mike said, “You’re as jumpy as a rabbit! Here, give me that coffee pot before you break it!” “What if she doesn’t like me, Mikey?” Len said. “What if I do something wrong?” “I kinda think it’s a little late for that, Len,” Mike replied. “She’s already hooked. All you gotta do is reel in the line!” “But...” “But NOTHING! She already loves ya, and you don’t have to give her any Bud Light!” Mike grinned. “Mikey...it’s uh, um....it’s been so long since...you know...since I’ve been... well, with a woman...I don’t know if um....I’d be any good or not!” “Lennie, Lennie...it’s like riding a bike! Once you learn, you never forget. You just have to let yourself go, that’s all!” Just then Anita came back into the room. Mike cleared his throat and said, “Well, folks, I gotta go beat the street for info. I’ll hit some of our snitches and find out what’s shaking. I’ll check up on you later.” “Mikey....” Len said “Trust me, Lennie, it’ll be OK,” Mike whispered. “All else fails, just stare into her eyes. Melts ‘em every time.” To Anita, he said, “Enjoy yourself , Miss Scali. It’s not everyday Lennie allows beautiful women into his apartment!” He grinned. “MIKEY!!!!” Lennie protested. “See you later, Mike. Be careful out there, OK?” “Gotta. Too many weirdos out there. See ya later!” With that, he left, leaving Lennie and Anita staring at the door. Finally, Lennie spoke. “Well.....uhhh....ummm..” Anita laughed. “Well, now, that’s a great come-on line, Lennie. Do you use that with all your female friends, or am I the only privileged one?” “Well,” Lennie retorted, “It’s kinda like Mikey said. It really isn’t every day a beautiful woman sits on my couch!” “Well, why don’t you come in and join me? I promise, I don’t bite on the first date!” Lennie grinned. “I take it you didn’t want coffee?” “No,” she replied. “Just you to come in here and relax!” Lennie came into the living room, walked over to the stereo and turned on the radio. “Do you like Big Band music, Anita?” “I adore it!” She replied. He walked over to her just as the first familiar strains of “Moonlight Serenade” started to play. He moved the coffee table out of the way and asked, “Would you like to dance?” “Yes,” she said shyly, and stood up. Lennie took her in his arms and they slowly danced around the room. Anita sighed as she put her head on his chest. “What’s wrong?” Len asked. “ Oh, absolutely nothing! You’re a divine dancer,” she replied. She looked up into his liquid baby blue eyes as he bent down and gently kissed her. Then the world flew away from them as the kiss became more intense. Moments ( or was it hours?) later, Anita sighed happily. She breathed, “Oh, Lennie. That was so great. I have never felt so....so...” “Loved? Is that the word?” “Oh, yes, Lennie. I love you with all my heart. I feel like I’ve known you forever!” “Yeah, me too!” he replied. “I felt that way from the first time I saw you in the squadroom. It was a very strange feeling!” “Do you want to know when I first knew that I was in love with you?” she asked. “When?” he replied, searching her eyes. “It was when we were in the interrogation room, when I was crying,” she explained. “You were so tender, so loving. I already knew what kind of man you were, that you had to maintain a gruff exterior to keep from getting hurt and because of being a cop --trying so hard to be objective. I knew then, as you held me, that I had touched your heart, and, more importantly, your soul. I knew that no other woman you ever knew had touched that part of you.” “You know, Anita, before I went to the murder scene, I was asleep. I had this dream, and YOU were in it! I knew it was you...I could see you, hear your voice, almost touch you....and I heard another voice say ‘Take care of her’, and that was when it ended, because that’s when the phone rang. That’s why when I first saw you in the squadroom, I stared for a long time. I couldn’t believe it was actually you, that you actually existed! In fact, I had realized that I had been having that particular dream for a long time now.” “Really?” She responded, surprised. “Then the psychic I had been seeing was right! She had said that I would meet a man who had been dreaming of me for a long time, and that my father would bless the union. She had also said that I will have known this person before, and that he was my soul-mate, and to never let him go!” “Really? It may interest you to know that Dr. Olivet said basically the same thing. However...don’t you think we’ve done enough talking here?” He took her in his arms and, as they were kissing, the world fell away again. 6:00pm The phone woke them both up. Lennie picked up the receiver. Anita went back to sleep. “Briscoe,” he said sleepily. “Len? You’re in bed?” Mike replied. “Oh. It happened. How was it?” Lennie looked at the still sleeping form of Anita lying next to him. “She’s still here, Mikey.” “Did you think she wouldn’t be, Len?” Mike said jokingly. “Actually, no, I didn’t. She’s still sleeping. Mike, I can’t describe it. I have never felt like this before--certainly not with either of my ex’s. It’s like we’ve known and loved each other forever. Can you understand what I’m trying to say? “Yeah, I do...and I’m jealous of you!” Mike replied. “Katie’s the closest one I’ve found that makes me feel that way. Did you and Anita talk about going out to eat with Katie and me?” “Well...not quite. We, ah, didn’t talk much,” Lennie said sheepishly. “Lennie Briscoe...You STUD!!! You mean--YOU DID IT???” “Can I plead the 5th?” Lennie replied, grinning. “NO! I have to have details of this!” “Not now, Mikey. Maybe later. I gotta go. Talk to you later, OK? Bye.” He hung up the receiver and looked for a long time at Anita sleeping next to him. Shaking his head, he thought, My God. I’m old enough to be her father, and yet I love her. She’s the part of me that I’ve been missing for so long. Just then, Anita turned over, stretched, yawned and opened her eyes. For a moment, panic went through her mind and body because she woke up in unfamiliar surroundings. “It’s OK, sweetheart. I’m here,”Lennie said soothingly. “Ohhh...Lennie. I’m so glad I’m here with you. I had a bad dream. Would you mind holding me?” Lennie reached over and took her in his arms. “I’ll hold you forever, my darling Anita!” He said. She sighed as he gently caressed her face and kissed her. 10:00am “Have you found out anything at all, Mikey?” Lennie questioned. He had woke up to a doorbell ringing incessantly. It was Logan. “Naa...no snitch knows anything. It’s like, snitch on the Mafia, you’re dead!” Lennie got up and paced the floor. “Someone’s gotta know something!” Just then, Anita called through the shut bedroom door. “Lennie? Who’s there?” “It’s just Mikey, honey. It’s safe,” he replied. The door opened and Anita came out wearing one of Lennie’s white shirts. “The rest of my clothes are back home. I didn’t think I would be staying,” she said sheepishly. Lennie grinned at the sight. Logan said, “Hey, Len, she’s going to put bumps in your shirt, you know!” Lennie replied quietly, “At least they’re nice bumps....” Anita quickly changed the subject. “Mike, do you want some coffee?” “Sure,” he replied. “I’ll take a cup.” She went into the kitchen and Lennie watched her go. Seeing the byplay, Logan commented, “ Lennie...she’s become someone very special, hasn’t she?” “Mikey, my very good friend,” Lennie replied, “You have no idea how special. Do you know, there was a part of me I never knew existed--until she came along. I don’t know how I got along without her as long as I did!” At that point, they heard a gunshot, breaking glass, and Anita screaming. “HIT THE FLOOR!” Lennie bellowed as Logan tore out of the apartment and ran down the stairs. Lennie drew his gun, flattened himself against the wall and peered out of the window, only to see a black Lincoln 4-door driving away. He then knelt down to check on Anita. “Are you all right? Anita?? SPEAK TO ME!!!” He pulled her into his arms, looked her over and saw blood on the sleeve of her right arm. “L-Lennie?” she whispered. “Oh, God---Anita! I thought...” “I’m Ok, I think. There’s pain in my arm, but otherwise, I’m all right.” He hugged her close and kissed her forehead. Logan came back in, saw them on the floor, and was immediately concerned. “Is she all right?” he asked. “Yeah,” Len replied. “She’s got a cut on her arm from the flying glass. Did you get a plate on that Lincoln?” “Yeah,” Mike said. “ I’ll run it through DMV. Does she need to go to the hospital?” Lennie looked at Anita, who was shaking her head . “No, I’m all right. It’s just a little cut. I’m more scared than anything.” “You’re sure, honey?” Lennie questioned. “I’m sure. As long as you and Mike are close by, I’ll be fine... nothing’s going to happen!” Lennie grinned. “I appreciate the vote of confidence, honey! We have to keep you safe. I don’t want ANYTHING happening to you!” Mike said, “I’m going to go run that plate, Len. Call me if you need anything, OK?” “Sure, kid. Talk to you later.”Mike left and Lennie immediately turned his attention to Anita. “Let’s take a look at that cut, ‘Nita,”he said. Anita did a double-take. “What did you just call me, Lennie?” Lennie stopped. “ I called you ‘Nita. Is that all right?” She got up unsteadily and hugged Lennie. “Honey, I don’t care what you call me, as long as you still love me when you say it!” He reached out and caressed her cheek. “To think I could have lost you today...I....” She placed a finger on his lips. “Don’t say it. Don’t think it. I’m not going anywhere and neither are you. Now that I’ve found you, you’re stuck with me, Lennie. I love you.” With that, she removed her finger and replaced it with her lips. Afterward, Lennie said, “I love you too, ‘Nita. I think I have forever. Let’s take a look at that cut...I don’t want it to get infected and leave a scar!” 10:00am, 2 weeks later “Yeah, Cap’n...She’s fine. She needs clothes, though. Yeah, I know I should have requested that from the beginning, but some of my ex’s clothes were still here and she’s been wearing them. I don’t know what she needs! Size? Ummmm.....I’m not sure--hang on, I’ll put her on the phone!” Len covered the mouthpiece of the phone and called, “‘Nita? My captain’s on the phone--wants to talk to you about clothes.” She took the receiver and kissed him. “Thank you,” she whispered. “All part of the service,” he replied. “Hello?” she said. “Yes. Ah, another Anita? How rare! Yes! I could use a few. Size? Hmmm...You better go with an 18 or 20. Sure. You’re sending Logan over? Great! Thanks, Captain. OK. Bye!” She replaced the receiver and smiled at Lennie. “Are you getting tired of me wearing your clothes?” she teased. Lennie grinned and playfully grabbed at her. “I’d rather see you without clothes!” he said wickedly. “You know, that can be arranged!” she said with a mischievous look in her eye. “OK!!!”cried Lennie and embraced her. “LEN-NIE!!! You’re acting like an 18 year old! Mike’s going to be here any minute--what is he going to say?” “He’s going to egg me on, probably!” Len flopped on the couch and patted the seat next to him. Anita sat down where he indicated. “Oh, ‘Nita. These last 2 weeks have been the best of my life! I never knew I had, or could have, so much love, so much passion for one person.” He gazed into her eyes. “God...I love you! I thought I was going to be a lonely old man for the rest of my life. Here you come, out of the blue, to turn my life upside down. I feel like a kid again--young, vibrant, alive---and it’s all because of you.” Anita snuggled next to Lennie, and he embraced her. “Len,” she said, “I never thought I would ever find you. I knew you were out there somewhere waiting for me, but I didn’t know where. Now, here you are, and I am the happiest woman alive. I love you so much.” She looked up at him, and they kissed and caressed each other. Then-- “Ahem. Excuse me!” It was Mikey, who had a key to the apartment and had let himself in. Len looked at Mike while still kissing Anita. They separated reluctantly, Anita furiously blushing. “Here’s the clothes the Cap’n sent. She hopes they fit all right,” Mike said, handing Anita the bags. “Thanks so much, Mike, and please thank your Captain also.” She stood up and immediately a wave of dizziness swept over her. “ ‘Nita?” Len said, catching her. “I’m Ok. I just got up too fast. Ugh, my stomach has butterflies today. Hope I’m not coming down with anything. I think I’m going to go lay down, if you all will excuse me.” Len replied, “Are you going to be all right, honey?” “I think so. I just need a little rest.” She went into the bedroom. “That wasn’t cool,” Mike said. “I think you better call a doc and have them look at her, Len.” “I think maybe you’re right, Mikey,” Len agreed. 12:30pm Len and Mike waited until the doctor finished her exam of Anita. The doctor came out of the bedroom. “How is she, doc?” Len asked. “Oh, she’s fine,” the doctor replied, grinning. “It’s really nothing. Nine months, she’ll be as good as new.” “Nine....MONTHS? Then she’s....she’s....” “Oh, yeah, Detective. She’s pregnant. No doubt. She’s about 2 weeks now.” Lennie stood there, speechless. Finally Mike said, “Thanks for coming, Doc. We really appreciate it.” “Just make sure she gets her rest and sees a doctor once a month,” the doctor replied as she walked out the door. Mike nudged Lennie. “I think you had better get in there and see her,” he said. “Yeah.” Lennie walked into the bedroom, where Anita was lying in bed, her eyes red from crying. “ Don’t look at me!” she cried and turned her head. “ ‘Nita.” he said. He sat on the bed and patted her hand. “Honey, I’m not mad at you. Why are you crying? I think it’s wonderful!” She sniffed. “You--you do?” she said, astonished. “Yeah. I really do. This only gives me more assurance that you do love me--you DO want to carry my child, don’t you?” She started crying harder. “OH, LENNIE!!!! I love you so much, I want to bear all your children! I was just so afraid that if you knew, you wouldn’t love me anymore!” Lennie embraced her, got up and walked over to a chest of drawers, opened a top drawer and took something out. He walked back to the bed, knelt down, and said, “ ‘Nita, this also helps me make a decision I needed to make.” He opened his hand and there, in his palm, was a beautiful diamond engagement ring. “ Anita Maria Scali--would you do me the honor of marrying me and becoming my wife?” With that, he slipped the ring on her hand. Mike peered in through the door and heard Anita say, “Yes, Leonard. I will marry you!” Then they sealed their decision with a kiss. Mike then thought, Ah, Lennie, third time’s the charm, eh? He tapped on the door, cleared his throat and asked, “May I come in and congratulate the happy parents?” “Please, Mike, come in, come in!” Anita replied. “I think you may have overheard, but I’ll tell you anyway: Anita has consented to become my wife!” Lennie said with a smile. “I would like you to be my Best Man. Would you?” “Lennie, my friend, I would be honored!” “Lennie,” said Anita, “We have so much to do! The license, the minister.... Hey, I have to have a Maid of Honor!” “Uh, Anita,” Mike said with a twinkle in his eye, “For your maid of honor, may I suggest my “significant other” Katie? Besides, I have this suspicion she will need the practice soon!” “Mikey!!!” Lennie said, shocked. “You’re not seriously thinking about settling down, are you?” “Well,” replied Mike, “Seeing how happy you two are has made me stop and think. Katie is the only lady who has given me that kind of happiness. Yeah, I’ve dated a lot of women. Even seriously considered a few. Lennie, you were the biggest influence regarding that!” “I was? How?” “Well, after the second one divorced you, you never stopped looking. Sure, you didn’t go out on dates with anyone, but you didn’t stop looking. Here’s your reward, Lennie: a beautiful woman, in YOUR bed, I might add, ready to marry you and bear your child. I need someone like that, and I think Katie is the one. She has her own mind, and I like that. However, she’s devoted to me--something I need. Now, the problem is, I have this reputation of being a ladies’ man, and I wonder how seriously Katie-O would take me if I did propose to her. “Mike,” said Anita, “ If she really loves you, nothing is going to stand in your way. Besides, I don’t see why she wouldn’t want to marry a sweet, good-looking guy like you.” Lennie just looked at her. Mike laughed.
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