“Okay, so, since she’s here on a temporary visa, and obviously has some mental issues, the state doesn’t want to spend taxpayers money on a trial...and institutionalization. They’re going to deport her back to Japan.” Mike glanced around the group gathered in the living room, his sympathetic gaze settling on Tori. “I’m sorry.”
“So she gets away with it. She stole our son, causing indescribable grief and pain and fear, and she gets away with it! No prison, no psych ward....nothing! It’s not right!” Tori growled in frustration. “I should have given her more than just a bloody nose and a black eye!” When the baby started to fuss, she stood and took him from her mother’s arms and left the room to feed him.
They all watched her leave.
“Is there nothing we can do?” Richie asked. The idea made him want to go out and beat the hell out of someone.
Mike considered. “No. The Japanese authorities will be notified about the reason for the deportation, but unless you know someone in Japan in a position to do something.....”
Richie and Jon exchanged a look. Jon nodded. “I’ll make some calls.”
Satisfied – at least as much as he could be having to depend on someone else to achieve justice on his behalf - Richie went in search of his wife. He found her and the baby in the big arm chair in the office. He crouched down in front of them and lifted one large hand to cup her cheek. “Jon’s on it. He and Paul know a lot of people in Japan.”
She understood what he was saying. Her slender hand rose to cover his, holding it against her face. Turning her head, she pressed a kiss to his palm. She managed a small smile as she nodded. “It’s just so damn frustrating.”
“I know.” He gazed down at their son, industriously working for his mid-morning meal. “But we have him home now, safe and sound. Isn’t that the most important thing?” Maybe if he could convince her he could believe it himself.
“Yes.” She agreed. “But I still want the bitch to pay! No! I want her to hurt!”
“My blood thirsty angel.” Richie chuckled. “I know. I’d like to see her get what she deserves too. And if Jon has anything to say about it, I’m sure she will.”
Tori merely grunted in response. She knew she could trust her brother to get the job done, but it wouldn’t be the same as meting out the punishment herself – or at least seeing it done.
“All done little man?” Richie reached for the baby. “Come here. Daddy’ll burp you.” He’d barely put him on his shoulder when a huge belch echoed around the room. Richie’s brows rose in surprise.
Tori just shook her head. “Like father like son.”
“Better out than in.” Richie grinned and held out his free hand to pull her up from the chair.
“Okay Shrek. Just don’t teach him any of your other bad habits.”
“What bad habits?”
“I’ll make you a list.”
Richie sighed. “Mommy’s no fun.”
“I’ll remind you that you said that in about five and a half weeks.”
At that not so subtle threat, Richie cut his losses and kept quiet.
Re-entering the living room, Tori glanced back and forth between Mike and Matt. “Can you get us the name and contact information of the fan who helped us find Zachary?”
“Oh yeah.” Richie nodded his agreement. “We should send her something.”
Tori snorted. “Send her something? For what she did, she deserves to meet you, have her picture taken with you...even a hug if she wants one. She deserves to have her dreams about you come true.” She hesitated. “Within reason of course.”
Richie smiled at her qualification. “Yes dear.”
“Sure.” Matt nodded. “I’ll get that to you right away.”
The time immediately following lunch was given over to organizing the mass departure of their house guests – except Joan who was staying until Christmas which was only a week away.
“You call us if you need anything. Anything at all.” Bill instructed his daughter as he hugged her.
“I will. Thanks Dad.” Her glance included the entire group. “Thanks all of you for your love and support. I don’t know how we would have made it through without it.”
“I’ll let you know how my discussions go.” Jon assured her, kissing her cheek.
“Thanks.” She glanced around at the piles of luggage. “You’ve all got the Christmas presents for the kids?”
“Yes Auntie.” Jim assured her. “I’m still not sure how you found the time to get all this ready.”
“Really?” Michael shot his brother a surprised look. “Did you not grow up in the same house I did? Or did you just forget that she’s an anal retentive control freak? She’s probably had this stuff bought since Labour Day.”
“Have not!” Tori protested hotly.
“Really?” Dorothea spoke up. She’d dealt with Bongiovi’s long enough to know how they worked.
“Really.” Tori insisted. With her whole family giving her sceptical looks she was forced to admit the truth. “Only since Thanksgiving – and I’m not saying which one!” She scowled at the snickers that followed her admission. “Oh go home!”
Standing arm in arm on the front porch, Richie and Tori waved their family off. Tori turned to face her husband, wrapping both arms around his waist and resting her head on his chest. In turn, Richie’s arms slid around her and held her close.
They stood in silence for a few minutes, his hands rubbing up and down her back. Finally, he sighed in contentment, and braced himself for her answer to the question he was about to ask, hoping he had the energy. “So what’s the plan for this afternoon?”
Tori considered, then did something she rarely did. Put herself before her family. “Do you know what I really want to do?”
“Put the kids down for a nap, have a hot, relaxing shower and sleep for a few hours myself.” It had been weeks since she’d had a good night’s sleep. Then she thought about how close Christmas was and how much needed to be done and knew it was just a dream. “But we still have gifts to buy and wrap and food to prepare and....”
Richie cut off her flow of words with a finger across her lips. “If you want to rest this afternoon, then that’s what you should do. There’s lots of time to do that other stuff before Christmas.”
“No buts. You deserve it. Besides, you need to be rested to give us the kind of Christmas I know you want to.” He knew his wife – and her weaknesses - well.
“Dirty pool Rich.”
“Whatever works angel.” At her uncertain expression, he rocked her slightly. “Hey. This is my chance to take care of you. Will you let me? Please?”
When he put it that way, she’d be a bitch if she didn’t. “Okay.”
Keeping an arm around her waist, Richie led her inside.