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Ali Vali - Second Season.docx
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Epilogue

Easter Sunday 2006

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. Our mass is ended, go forth in peace and enjoy your Easter Sunday,” said Bishop Goodman. The ten o’clock service at the St. Louis Cathedral was so full that people were standing in the back, unable to find an empty pew.

Libby and Tully and their family sat with the whole Badeaux clan, including Alma, Gaston, and Tully’s two brothers and their families. Even though they weren’t regular churchgoers except for Alma, they had given in to Alma’s request of a day off from house repairs to give thanks for the blessings that had come from so much misery less than a year before. At Alma’s insistence, Simone and Elijah had joined them.

“How long now?” Simone asked Libby as they walked out together. Their case hadn’t been the only thing that had brought them together, and they had spent a lot of weekends in the city so Elijah could help Tully get the house ready and do some carpentry work.

“Three more months, and I’m thanking God it’s going to be before it gets real hot again.”

“Is Tully ready for this new baby?” Simone asked. They were standing on the slate tile in front of the cathedral with little children running around them in their pastel clothes.

Libby watched Tully as she walked Bailey and Ralph to the corner where Jessica was waiting to pick them up for brunch. She would return them later to the house to spend time with their friends and cousins.

“Since she has a little more experience than I do, I think she’s actually more ready than I am.” Libby laughed at how quickly Tully made it back to her side.

“How are you feeling, Simone?” Tully asked, placing her hand over Libby’s swollen midsection.

Libby smiled at the way Tully’s chest puffed out when the baby gave two quick healthy kicks in response to her touch.

“I’m a month ahead of Libby, but I feel great. Being able to give Elijah a family has been the best thing that came out of all this.”

Simone put her hand on her back in a gesture that Libby recognized as an attempt to balance her load, and Elijah was at her side in an instant.

“After being told for so long there’d be no more children because of my first pregnancy, finding out we’re having twin boys has been the miracle I’ve prayed for,” Simone said. “I still miss my little angel, but this has been a blessing.”

“I feel the same way,” Libby said. “After all that happened to us last year it feels good to create something new that will only bring happiness into our lives.”

“That’s until they turn sixteen, then all bets are off,” Tully joked. “We’ll meet you back at the house to eat the food Mama’s been cooking since Friday.”

Once Simone and Elijah walked off, Tully and Libby stood facing each other, knowing these were their last minutes alone until the door of their bedroom closed that night. With Chase and Dana still with them, they didn’t have much privacy. And during that precious time alone, Libby had shown Tully just how much she’d missed by staying in a relationship that wasn’t working anymore.

“Want me to go and get the car?” Tully asked. At Libby’s request she had put on her seersucker suit and a crisp white shirt, which fit in with what many of the other parishioners were wearing as they welcomed spring Southern style.

“Honey, you do know I’m not going to collapse if I walk a few blocks, right?”

“I just want to make sure you don’t strain yourself.”

“Women have been having children for a long time, so please don’t worry so much.”

Tully took her hand and started walking to Jackson Square. “It’s my job to worry about you.”

“Uh-huh, good-looking.” Libby slid her hand around Tully’s elbow. “That suit still looks fantastic on you, by the way. It was always one of my favorites when you wore it into the coffee shop. I thought you looked hot in it.”

“Thank you, even though this is a smaller version of the one you first fell in love with.” Tully laughed. “It’s nice to know that pregnancy hasn’t killed your libido.”

“You’re complaining?” Libby laughed even harder.

“Like hell. After the last couple of months, those ten other kids you want sound like a great idea.”

Libby pinched her side. “Just a couple ought to do it when you add them to the two Badeauxes we have living in the house already. Speaking of the kids, did they get off okay?”

“Jessica promised to have them back by one, and when they left with her, for once they actually looked like they weren’t being led to the gallows.”

“How’s she doing?” Libby still sounded less than enthused when she talked about Jessica, but the relationship was getting easier. They’d never be best friends, but Libby was willing to make the best of it for Ralph, Bailey, and Tully.

“Jessica’s still a bit lost, but I think she’s coming around. Kara’s still in rehab, and from what I understand they’re not seeing each other anymore.” Tully stopped at one of the park benches when Libby slowed down and helped her sit. “Jessica started working in the emergency room, and the change seems to be good. I never realized just how much she resented her father, but really for no good reason.”

“What do you mean?” Libby rubbed her abdomen in an obvious effort to get the baby to calm down, smiling when Tully took over for her.

“When it came to mapping out her life, he didn’t really put any pressure on her. She put it on herself, using a sort of twisted logic to make him and her mother happy. You miss out on a lot when you try to live up to made-up expectations.” Tully moved closer to her and kissed her forehead. “With the new changes in her life she’s trying to find something she thinks she missed out on after medical school.”

“Just as long as she doesn’t try to find something she had and lost after medical school,” Libby said with another pinch to Tully’s side. “That prize has sailed, Counselor.”

Tully put her hand back on Libby’s middle and kissed her lips this time. “A year ago I was lost. My children were beyond my reach, and the reality of that made me feel like no matter how much I tried to make a family, I was alone.”

“Not anymore, honey.” Libby put her hand over Tully’s. “You’ll never be alone again.”

“I know that because, like I told Kara, you’re my second chance. You found me, and in your eyes and in your arms is where I want to be lost for the rest of my days. I love you.”

“You know what?”

“What?” Tully asked.

“When you tell me things like that, if I wasn’t already madly in love with you and having your baby, I’d do it all over again.”

“You bring out the romantic in me.” Tully stood up, bowed at the waist, and held her hand out. “You ready to go?”

“If it’s with you, then the answer is yes.”

Tully helped Libby to her feet, got as close to her as she could, and kissed her like a woman in love.

“You know what?” she asked when they drew apart.

“What?”

“I’m really glad I love coffee too.”

They started toward the car, holding hands in the one part of the city that the storm had left relatively untouched. Outside the French Quarter, the city needed extensive rebuilding, and native New Orleanians knew the Big Easy would never be the same.

But Tully embraced that realization. Walking next to her was the foundation on which she was rebuilding her future, and just like Libby’s crystal blue eyes, it looked enticingly bright.

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