October 26, 2009 at 04:27 PM EDT

The secret’s out! S. Epatha Merkerson’s mystery lover on Law & Order is none other than Winston Zeddemore Ernie Hudson!

Merkerson’s cancer-stricken Van Buren recently revealed that she had met the love of her life, but the identity of her new suitor has remained a secret. All that will change this Friday when Hudson begins a multi-episode arc as her new boyfriend.

News of Hudson’s hiring follows my scoop that Van Buren would soon be getting a visit from former colleague Rey Curtis (Benjamin Bratt).

All of this attention being paid to Van Buren has me wondering: Should we be worried that she won’t surv… Nah, Dick Wolf wouldn’t dare.

PHOTO CREDIT: Virginia Sherwood/NBC; Hudson: Brandi Pettijohn/PR Photos

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