There was nothing more satisfying than the clink of handcuffs around a perp's wrists or the clang of the holding cell's door as it locked for the night. As much as Ray had complained about his job over the years, he had missed it far more than he'd realized on the Island. He'd now officially been Detective First Grade Raymond Vecchio for a little under two weeks and he already had two arrests under his belt. Joint arrests, on the same day for the same crime, but that didn't matter. It was quantity, not quality that mattered right now. Taking bad guys off the street, putting them away and heading home feeling like he'd done a good day's work, that he'd made the city a better place.
Today, home had had to wait for...Ray squinted at his watch as he fumbled with his door key. Four--what? Four hours. How was it nearly midnight already? He was fairly sure, even after a few drinks, that he'd clocked off work at 7pm, so how could it possibly be nearly the next day? Unconvinced of his watch's accuracy, he dug his cell phone out of his pocket, giving it a shake when a black screen gaped up at him. No battery.
The lock gave way with a click and Ray spent a few moments attempting to get the key out of it before stepping over the threshold with a grateful sigh. There was a special feeling that came with knowing he'd earned good money today, that he was providing for his family, for Asher's kids. Kids he hadn't seen since sometime yesterday morning because they'd already been in bed by the time he'd gotten home last night and he was out the door before they'd woken this morning. Work was work though. It put food on the table, clothes on their backs and maybe one or two drinks in Ray's hand tonight. Three max.
Two criminals behind bars, three or four drinks in him and a wage that would hit his bank account any day now. Nearly midnight or not, today really was a great day.
Ray turned in a circle, instant anxiety in his voice.
From between two skirts, a blond head popped out, followed by two arms and two legs and Ray's heart started beating again. The supermarket wasn't busy but the magazine aisle backed onto the greetings card aisle and there was a noticeable gaggle of people around a stand covered in hearts.
Rather than scolding her for disappearing, he took a deep breath, reminded himself that he was trying to strengthen his relationship with her, and gave her a smile instead. "What have you got?"
Clutched to her chest was a bright red envelope, the card's face hidden. "Something!" When Daniel tried to take a peek, she twisted from side to side to stop him.
Ray's smile slowly became a more natural one, tinged with good humor. When a gap appeared near the stand, he watched as Daniel sneaked in, pawing at a card of his own. "Someone's a lucky guy. Who are you gonna give that to?"
"Daddy," she replied matter-of-factly, like it should have been obvious, eliciting a low laugh from Ray.
"You're gonna show me up, kid," he commented, joining Daniel at the display.
"You're not allowed to give Daddy one! I'm only allowed to give Daddy one!"
"I'm giving Daddy this one," Daniel announced, showing his sister his choice, undeterred (for once) by the pout on his sister's face. Ray couldn't help feeling a little proud and he turned to pluck out the first card he saw. "And I'm giving him this one."
A little finger waved in his direction. "You can give him that one but none others, okay?" Celia stepped in close to her brother then, wrapping an arm over his shoulders and pressing a finger to his card. It was both intimidating and sweet. "Daniel, you can give him that one but I'm giving mine first. I'll tell you when you can give it to Danny but I get to go first."
It was only after Ray had paid for everything that he looked at the front of the card he'd chosen.
I love every inch of you.
Later that evening, after supervising the twins writing theirs, he uncapped a pen and scrawled inside his card.
But some more than others.