Jack Romano is a policeman who has just killed in man in the line of duty. As if this wasn’t bad enough, he found out that his bemoaned first love’s wife has died in childbirth and his ex-lover killed himself leaving the sickly newborn to Jack. Carlo Del Monte who has been chasing Jack for nine months uses Bella as an opportunity to get Jack in his house as well as his bed. The two of them set up housekeeping with the help of the Soccer team, their partners and Carlo’s big Italian family then tragedy strikes, little Bella gets the measles.
Four Years Ago
“Beau, get your lazy ass out of bed. I have the afternoon off.” Jack Romano went to the fridge and grabbed a beer and with a smile in his voice he continued, “Unless, of course, that’s where you’d like us to spend our afternoon… Beau? Where are you? Beau?”
Jack walked back to the bedroom of his and Beau’s apartment following the sound of voices. Figuring it was one of the soccer team, Jack walked through the door and glanced around looking for his man. He found him. Beau was fucking Meredith Simmons in their bed.
“I’m sorry that you had to find out like this, Jack. I’ve been trying to tell you, but…” Beau got out of bed and started to dress.
“Tell me what? What is this?” Jack’s voice broke. “This is a mistake. You’re gay. We’ve been together since high school.”
“Meredith, get dressed. We’ll be in the living room. Finish your beer, Jack.”
“No, I don’t want to fucking finish my beer. I want to know what’s going on.”
“It’s pretty straight forward, I’m in love with Meredith and I’m going to marry her.”
“Honey, I’m leaving so you can get this mess straightened out. Don’t let him corrupt you again.”
Meredith let herself out, the door closing quietly behind her.
“How long?” Jack asked needing to know.
“Six months, maybe more.”
“But we made love yesterday.”
“We fucked yesterday. Let’s get down to business. Meredith and I would like this apartment so we’d appreciate it if you found somewhere else to live.”
“No fucking way…it’s my name on the lease, and you’re the one who’s leaving.”
“You’ll be sorry you’re doing this. I was planning on seeing you on the side once Meredith and I are married. You know I love you but I can’t get ahead at work being a fag, I need a wife.”
“No, you’re wrong. Gays are accepted everywhere. Please, we can work this out.”
“We can’t. I won’t put my future in jeopardy.”
“You’re gay. You aren’t going to change that.”
“Actually, I’m bi.” Beau came up to put his arms around Jack. “You love me. We’ll talk about all of this
when I get back.”
Jack broke Beau’s hold and with tears streaming down his cheeks said, “Get the hell out of my apartment. You can move out tomorrow. I’ll sort out your things tonight.”
“You can’t do that.”
“As I said, my name is on the lease. Get the fuck out. You’re leaving me.”
“Jack, be reasonable, we can be together when I come home from the honeymoon. We’ll have to sneak around but—”
“Do you really think I’m capable of that? Helping you cheat? No, just no.”
“You’ll change your mind when I come home. I’ll be back.”
“Get the fuck out, get out of here, right now.” Jack’s voice broke again.
Beau slammed the door on his way out. Jack sat down on the sofa that he and Beau picked out for the living room seven months ago, put his head in his hands and wept.
“Beau, Beau, how can I live without you? But I can’t be with you as long as you’re with her.”
Bobby and Keith’s House
Thursday in June, Four Years Later
Eight in the Morning
Jack was distraught when he came back to Bobby’s. Carlo was with him. “They’re not doing anything to you because you shot Billy are they?” Reggie asked obviously worried. Reggie and Mark were staying with Bobby because of the fire.
“No, but any officer-involved shooting requires a hearing. The captain already called it a good shoot. The rest of the procedure is all technicalities…” Jack still had storm clouds over his face. He and Carlo sat down at the kitchen table and Marla poured them some coffee. Jack appeared dumbstruck.
He finally blurted out, “Meredith died in childbirth three days ago.” Jack’s voice broke. “She had a little girl. Beau killed himself yesterday and left custody of the infant to me in a new will he made after Meredith died. They tried to contact me yesterday, but I was busy with the Billy business. I have to go sign paperwork at Social Services if I accept custody. No one has been there for the baby for three days.
Carlo’s going with me to identify Beau at the morgue.”
“Why do you have to identify him?” Bobby was incensed.
“There isn’t anyone else.” Jack’s shoulders shook.
“I have to go see her at the hospital if I accept custody. There is no family. If I don’t take her, she’ll go into the foster system. I have to make up my mind right away.”
“What?” Bobby screeched in anger.
“You heard me. Carlo came to my apartment when he heard about the shooting. He’s going to help me with the legal mess. I’ll take that security job with you, Keith, if the offer is still open. Now that I’m going to have a child, I need steady work that doesn’t require me to place my life on the line.”
“Of course the offer is still open.” Bobby put his arm around Jack. “Are you okay?”
“I haven’t had time to think about it. They’re holding a note for me from Beau at his lawyer’s office.”
“Do you need any baby things? I have Kitty’s things, although they’re not the best quality,” Jason offered.
“I have to get some stuff from their apartment. Meredith probably bought things for the baby. I’ll need to purchase a house. My apartment has only one bedroom.” Jack’s face scrunched up in worry.
“Do you need money?” Reggie asked.
“I don’t know Reg. I promise I’ll let you know.”
“The two bedroom across the street from us is for sale. It’s small, but there is plenty of property if you want to expand later,” Jason said. “Stella is going into Assisted Living.”
“I might be interested. Carlo needs to look at Beau’s finances. I’m going to visit her at the hospital now. They’re keeping her for a while, she’s underweight.”
“How much underweight?” Bobby asked.
“She weighs only three pounds even though she was full term. Although she’s finally breathing on her own and just started sucking the bottle, they told me she can’t go home yet. Meredith wasn’t eating much. She wanted to keep her figure,” Jack said, the disgust plain on his face.
Bobby’s jaw dropped. “What a bitch.”
“Carlo’s coming with me. The Billy mess is cleaned up, now I have one of my own.”
Bobby reached out and touched Jack’s arm. “You don’t have to take her. An infant girl is greatly prized on the adoption market. She’d get a home quickly.”
“I have to keep her. She’s all I have left of Beau. I’ve got to go,” Jack choked on a sob. He left with Carlo and the door closed behind them.
“Goddamn Beau, he’s sabotaging Jack’s relationships from the grave,” Jason cursed.
“It’s clear that he’s not going to change his mind about keeping her. Carlo was doing more than a flyby here. I wonder how he feels about this.” Keith poured more coffee.
“Not you, baby, you’re on medication, remember, Greg said limit your caffeine,” Reggie told Mark.
“Have juice with Bobby. He’s on meds too.”
“We’ll all have to help him do this. The little girl is an innocent, she can’t help that her father was a lying, cheating, son of a bitch,” Bobby said eyes moving from Jason to Reggie.
“It isn’t like we haven’t taken care of little girls before, we have Kitty-cat. As far as Carlo is concerned, he was interested. We’ll find out how invested he is now. Let’s see how this all plays out.” Reggie moved to the sofa and sat down in a huff.
Bobby lifted his juice. “A toast to Billy’s fortunate demise. As for Beau, may he rest in peace, if that’s possible for a liar and a cheat whose only good deed was offing himself?”
“Here, here…” They men clinked their coffee cups and glasses.
“We’ll know more about what Jack wants to do once he and Carlo take care of the legalities,” Keith observed.
“I don’t know about you, but to me it looked like Carlo was all in,” Zach noted.
Jason’s face was rife with speculation. “I believe you’re right.”
AC Katt was born in New York City’s Greenwich Village. €She remembers sitting at the fountain in Washington Square Park listening to folk music while they passed the hat. At nine, her parents dragged her to New Jersey where she grew up, married and raised four children and became a voracious reader of romantic fiction. €At one time she owned over two thousand novels, until she and her husband took themselves and the cat to New Mexico for their health and its great beauty.
Now, most of AC’s books are electronic (although she still keeps six bookcases of hardcovers), so she never has to give away another book.