by Lisa S.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: A HUGE thank you to Antoinette/RiverOtter for quickly and efficiently betaing the story. You are awesome, Antoinette!! Also thank you to Rhonda for helping me work out some of the kinks and providing suggestions and ideas. And, last but not least, a special thanks to Sarah for creating this wonderful AU for us to play in.

DISCLAIMER: Mag7/Las Vegas alternate universe was created by Sarah (aka Midnight Profit) and is based on the "Las Vegas" TV series. This AU is not related to the Mag7/Las Vegas RPG created by Lisa O. and Ruby. Trilogy, MGM, and the Mirish Corporation own "The Magnificent Seven" characters. NBC Studios, NBC Universal Television, DreamWorks Television, and Gary Scott Thompson Productions own "Las Vegas." They are not mine. The only purpose of this story is for entertainment. No money is being made.

Vegas AU Bios
Glossary of Vegas Terms
Putting Together a Security Team (AU Intro)

JD Dunne was on his routine security sweep of Montecito's main floor when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. The Montecito's gift shop was being robbed. A man was holding a gun at the shop worker, Annie Nechaus, while instructing her to empty the jewelry cases.

Hitting the button to send a whispered message on his headset, JD contacted the security control room. "Security needed at the gift shop, there is a robbery in progress."

"Back up is on the way," replied Vin Tanner. "Be careful."

"Will do," responded JD before ending the connection. "I'll wait for backup."

Unfortunately it looked like the man robbing the store was in a hurry. JD was afraid he would get away or worse Annie would get hurt. He decided he couldn't wait for security backup and needed to go in now. Carefully, JD pulled out his stun gun and proceeded into the shop.

"Hurry up!!" demanded the man as Annie opened the last glass cabinet with nervous hands. The man impatiently reached in and grabbed the jewelry and watches and put them in his bag.

The sound of a bell signaling someone had entered the store caused the robber to whirl around while grabbing the girl as a shield.

'Damn,' thought JD who had forgotten the store's door was set up to signal whenever anyone entered or left the gift shop, alerting the workers they had a customer. The robber had turned to face him, holding Annie with one arm and using her as a shield while holding his gun and the loot bag in the other hand. JD held up his stun gun as he said, "Ok, no one wants to get hurt here. Put the gun down and let Annie go."

"If you move any closer, she'll die," said the young man, as he glanced around with crazed eyes looking for a way out. He began to inch closer to the door with the girl positioned in front of him.

"Ok, ok," said JD slowly. "I won't move any closer but let Annie go. You don't need her."

The man was getting very agitated by the unexpected confrontation, and JD had a feeling things could turn ugly very quickly. Seeing a small opening when the man turned slightly to check out his escape route, JD decided to take it. Pressing the trigger, the wires shot out from his taser gun. Unfortunately the robber turned back and pulled Annie in front of him at the same time causing the dart-like electrodes to land on the young woman instead. Before JD realized what was happening it was too late, Annie was hit with a short electrical charge causing her to collapse on the floor.

No longer having a hostage as a shield, the robber made a dash for the exit, attempting to make a getaway. Unfortunately, he ran into the additional security personnel that JD had called for earlier. Vin grabbed the man's weapon, which turned out to be a fake gun, and the bag of stolen merchandise while another security person grabbed the man and twisted his arm behind his back.

Gloria Potter, the gift shop manager, was returning from her break when she saw the commotion. She rushed to Annie's side and knelt by the unconscious woman. "Annie," she said as she tried to wake the woman. When there was no response, Gloria checked for a pulse. Frightened, and near hysterics, she cried out for help. "She's not breathing! She's not breathing!"

JD stood stunned as the hotel's physician on call, Nathan Jackson, rushed in at that moment and moved directly to the injured woman lying in the floor. After removing the taser electrodes from Annie, Nathan quickly checked for a pulse, found nothing and began to perform CPR.

"Nathan, an ambulance should be here in five minutes," said Head of Security Chris Larabee, alerting the doctor that the emergency personnel had been called. "JD," he said as he placed a hand on the young man's shoulder, "let's go outside and let Nathan do his job."

JD nodded as Chris took his stun gun from his hands and walked him out of the gift shop. When they got out into the lobby area, Chris asked, "What happened in there?"

The young man explained what had taken place, ending with how he had accidentally shot Annie instead with the stun gun. "I didn't mean too," explained JD as he ran a nervous hand through his hair. "He pulled her in front of him at the same time I pulled the trigger." His gaze wandered into the store where Nathan was still working on the wounded woman. "This is all my fault," he stated in an emotion-filled voice.

"You did the best you could under the circumstances," reassured Chris. "Don't blame yourself."

The next few chaotic minutes went by in a blur as Head Valet Josiah Sanchez arrived escorting the emergency medical personnel who took over tending to Annie. Not far behind him was Hospitality Host Buck Wilmington, having heard the news of the accident, he wanted to check on his 'little brother', JD.

"Buck, why don't you take JD back to the control room?" suggested Chris.

"No, I want to stay here," replied JD quickly as he watched the ambulance attendants move Annie to a gurney.

"JD, Chris is right, let's go back to the control room while the emergency personnel do their jobs," suggested Buck as he led the young man away from the scene.

After the two men left, Chris turned his attention back to the scene. Las Vegas Detective, Luis Perez, had arrived and Vin was in the process of handing over the would-be-robber to him. Meanwhile Nathan was working with the emergency medical personnel to move Annie to the ambulance.

"We've got Annie stabilized. I'll go with the ambulance," stated Nathan as they began to move Annie out of the gift shop.

Chris nodded and replied, "Be sure to call with an update."

"Will do," said Nathan and then he hurried off following the emergency medical personnel.

"Mr. Larabee," Gloria said, "someone needs to let Annie's husband, Hiram, know what's happened."

Chris nodded and was about to respond when Josiah said, "I can do it, Chris."

Chris turned to the big guy. "Thanks, Josiah. I'd appreciate that."

Josiah nodded and quickly left to take care of the unfortunate task of telling Hiram that his wife was injured in a robbery attempt and was rushed to the nearby Sunrise Hospital.

When Vin was finished turning over the prisoner to the Las Vegas Police Department, he decided to do a quick sweep of the casino floor to make sure everything else was under control. Running into the Montecito Pit Boss, Ezra Standish, he stopped for a moment to talk to him.

"I heard the distinct sound of a commotion emanating from the lobby area," commented Ezra as he kept a keen eye on the tables. "Everything all right?"

"An attempted robbery at the gift shop," explained Vin. "Annie was injured and taken to the hospital."

Ezra nodded and Vin asked, "Everything ok here?"

"Everything's fine," reassured Ezra. "You can continue on your sweep."

Vin nodded and then walked away.

Chris Larabee returned to the security control room after they had everything under control at the gift shop area. Waiting for him in his office were Buck and a very upset JD.

"How's Annie?" asked an anxious JD as Chris walked into his office. Buck had purposely kept the young man in Chris' office so he couldn't watch what was happening on the monitors.

"They got her stabilized and have taken her to the hospital," replied Chris as he shrugged out of his suit coat and loosened his tie.

JD nodded and Chris continued. "JD, why don't you take the rest of the day off? Go home and get some rest. We'll go over everything tomorrow."

JD would have preferred to stay there but he knew his boss was right. After everything that happened it was better if he went home. He wouldn't do anyone any good here with his mind stuck on how he'd hurt Annie.

"I'll drive you," offered Buck.

"You don't need to, Buck," replied JD who was tired of them treating like a 'kid'. "I can drive myself. I don't need a babysitter." The young man walked quickly out of the office.

"What did I say?" asked Buck after JD had left the office.

Chris shook his head and shrugged. "He just needs some time. He didn't mean anything by it."

"I'll give him a little time and check in on him later," replied Buck. He didn't have many clients at the Montecito today so he was able to focus more time on his good friend.

The sound of Chris' phone ringing interrupted their conversation, and the Security Chief picked it up while motioning with a finger for Buck to stay.

"Hello," said Chris. On the other end was Shirley, Orin Travis' special assistant. "Yes, Shirley, I'll hold for Orin." He knew this phone call would be coming. News traveled fast at the Montecito.

A moment later he was connected to the owner.

"Chris, I heard what happened," said Orin. "What's the latest news?"

"Sir, I was just getting ready to call you," said Chris. He began to fill the older man in on the details of the robbery attempt at the gift shop, how Nathan had accompanied Annie to the Sunrise Hospital, and that Josiah had gone to notify Annie's husband, Hiram.

"Where's JD?" asked Orin.

"I sent him home," replied Chris. "Thought it was best given everything that had occurred."

"Good," replied the Montecito owner. "I want a full investigation on what happened. If we are at fault, I need to know as soon as possible. Also, when there are more details about Annie, I want to know immediately. I've instructed Shirley to put you right through when you call."

"Yes, sir," replied Chris.

"Well, I'll let you get back to work," replied Orin. "If there is anything I can do, just let me know."

"Will do, sir," replied Chris before Orin ended the phone conversation.

"I take it Orin wants to be notified immediately of any new developments," commented Buck.

"Yea, that would be an understatement," replied Chris as he ran a hand through his hair.

Josiah Sanchez pulled up in front of the Chevrolet car dealership and turned off his mini van. Before leaving the Montecito, he got Annie's husband's place of work from the Human Resources department. Now he had the unfortunate task of telling him about his wife.

Stepping out of his vehicle he preceded up to the main building.

"Can I help you sir?" he was asked by a pretty saleswoman with dark brown hair and a friendly smile.

"I'm looking for Hiram Nechaus," replied Josiah. "It's rather urgent."

"I believe he's with a customer at the moment," she replied. "Let me check." She walked away and Josiah waited.

A few moments later a man approached. "I'm Hiram Nechaus," he said. "I was told you were looking for me. That's its urgent."

"Yes, I am. Is there a place we can talk in private?" asked Josiah who didn't want to tell the man about his wife in front of everyone.

"Sure," said Hiram as his brow furrowed; he was now starting to get worried. He escorted him inside and into one of the private offices they used when selling vehicles. "Now what is all this about?"

"I'm Josiah Sanchez. I'm from the Montecito," started the Head Valet. "There was a robbery attempt at the gift shop earlier and your wife, Annie, was injured. She was taken to the hospital."

"Annie?! Oh my God!" said Hiram as he felt his world begin to spin. "Is she ok? What happened to her?"

"I don't have many of the details," replied Josiah. "Just that she was taken to the Sunrise Hospital."

Hiram nodded and Josiah continued, "If you want, I'll drive you over."

"Yea, I would like that," said Hiram, not sure if could drive in his current state. "Let me go tell my boss.

"Ok, I'll wait here," replied Josiah. A few moments later Hiram reappeared. "I'm ready." Together the two men walked out and got into Josiah's van, heading for the hospital.

Sunrise Hospital was a flurry of activity as the ambulance arrived and the attendants brought Annie in with Nathan Jackson quickly following behind.

"We almost lost her on the ride over," stated one of the emergency personnel as they filled in the doctors on what they did to stabilize the young woman.

When the hospital technicians guided the gurney through the double doors to the emergency room, Nathan stopped outside the doors, deciding he would let the hospital's doctors take over while he waited for Annie's husband to arrive. Rubbing the back of his neck, he knew it was going to be a long evening.

An hour later Nathan greeted Josiah as he arrived with Annie's husband, Hiram. "I haven't been able to find out anything," stated Nathan. "She's been back there for about an hour."

Hiram walked up to the nurse's desk with Josiah and Nathan flanked on either side of him.

"I'm Hiram Nechaus, my wife was brought here from the Montecito," said the clearly upset man.

"Yes sir," replied the polite nurse. "Your wife is here. She's currently in surgery."

"Surgery!?" repeated Hiram. "What happened? Is she all right?"

"Sir, I can't answer those questions," replied the nurse. "You will have to wait for the doctor."

Josiah placed a hand on the man's shoulder. "Hiram, let's go take a seat." The man nodded as the three of them moved to the waiting area. As Josiah waited with Hiram, Nathan stepped outside to place a call to Chris with his cell phone to fill him in on the latest news about Annie. When he was finished he went back inside and grabbed three coffees from the nearby vending machine and then joined Josiah and Hiram back in the waiting room.

"How much longer will it take?" Hiram was clearly getting tired of waiting and was anxious for news about his wife.

"As long as it needs to," replied Josiah. "You just have to have faith."

"I just don't understand how this could have happened?" replied Hiram as he placed his coffee down and stood, starting to pace back and forth in the small waiting area. "How could being hit by a stun gun cause so much trouble?"

"It's hard to say," replied Nathan who did not want to speculate on the medical reasons why. "But Annie's strong and I know she will get through this."

A few moments later the double doors opened and the doctor emerged. Josiah and Nathan stood, both moving to stand on either side of Hiram, ready to hear what the doctor would say.

Meanwhile JD was waiting in his apartment. The TV was on but he wasn't watching it. All he could think about was the robbery and the horrible mistake he made that might cost Annie her life. He had already called the hospital but they wouldn't tell him anything about Annie. All they would say was she was in surgery.

A soft knock on the door brought JD from his thoughts as he heard his friend's voice.

"JD, it's Buck, are you there?"

The young man didn't answer. He didn't want to talk to anyone. He didn't want to be treated like a child.

Buck knocked again as he said, "Come on, JD, open up. I brought dinner . . . pizza from your favorite place."

Still nothing.

Buck could hear the TV playing but no response from the young man. Finally he continued, "Well, I'll leave the pizza outside your door. You need to eat. If you need me, I'll be at my place. Just call or come by, ok?"

Still no response.

Leaving the pizza box outside his door, Buck turned and left.

A few moments later after he was sure Buck was gone, the door opened and JD picked up the pizza box and then closed the door again. Placing the box on the kitchen counter, he went back to the living room. He wasn't hungry, finding he had no appetite.

Chris and Vin were going over the video footage of the robbery, when Chris' phone rang. Answering it immediately, the Chief of Security was relieved to hear it was Nathan with an update from the hospital.

"Nathan, what's the latest?" asked Chris.

The Montecito doctor spent the next few minutes giving Chris an update on Annie's condition. When he was finished, Chris replied, "Ok, thanks for calling. If anything changes, let me know ASAP."

"You got it," said Nathan before hanging up.

"Annie's going to be ok," announced Chris after he got off the phone with the hotel's physician. "She's out of surgery and is now resting."

"Now that's the best news I've heard all day," replied Vin. They had all been anxiously awaiting word on the young woman's condition.

"I've got a few phone calls to make," said Chris as he stood. "Finish going through those tapes."

"I'm on it," replied Vin as he continued with his task.

Chris headed into his office and closed his door. He then placed a phone call to Orin Travis to tell him the latest news on Annie and then his friend, Buck Wilmington.

"Thanks for calling, Chris," said the Hospitality Host.

"How's JD doing?" asked Chris.

"Don't know," replied Buck. "He's not answering his door. His TV was on and I know he was in there but he won't answer."

Chris swore softly as he ran a hand over his tired eyes. It had definitely been a long day, he thought and now he was second-guessing himself on whether he should have sent JD home alone.

"I'll go back down to his apartment and tell him the news about Annie," said Buck. That was one good thing about living in the same apartment complex as the young man. He wasn't too far away.

"Ok, well, if you can't get him to answer the door, call me back," said Chris. "I'll come over myself."

"Will do," replied Buck as he grabbed his keys and headed out of his apartment, locking the door behind him. Taking the steps two at a time down one floor, Buck quickly arrived at JD's apartment, noticing immediately the pizza box was no longer sitting in front of the door. Well, that was a good sign, he thought as he knocked.

"JD, it's Buck, open up, buddy," said Buck. "I've got news about Annie." He knew that the last part would get the young man to answer and sure enough he heard footsteps and then the sound of the door opening.

Buck walked in; glancing around the room, which looked like a hurricane had hit it. "Chris just called," he explained. "Annie's out of surgery and is resting comfortably.

JD let out a sigh as he collapsed in a nearby chair. The news seemed to lift a huge weight that had been on his shoulders.

"You ok?" asked Buck noticing the young man was very silent.

"Yea," replied JD. "I was just . . . really worried."

Buck nodded as he replied, "That's understandable. You know it was an accident. It could have happened to any of us."

"But it happened to me," replied JD softly.

It was the next day and Chris Larabee was hoping this one would be better than the previous one. Settling in front of his computer with his coffee nearby, he began to plow through the day's e-mail. Unfortunately his quiet morning was interrupted by the sound of his ringing telephone.

"Larabee," he answered succinctly as he held the phone to his ear.

"Chris, its Rafael Martinez, from the Palms," said the voice on the other end. "Heard about what happened yesterday at the Montecito and wanted to see if you all wanted to postpone the big game this weekend."

Chris leaned back in his chair as he listened to his counterpart from the Palms. With all the events of yesterday he had totally forgotten that the Montecito softball team had a big game this weekend against the Palms' team. "Well, I don't think that will be necessary," replied Chris as he smiled.

"Well, I just wanted to check," replied Rafael. "'Cause we wouldn't think any less of you all if you wanted to postpone it or forfeit the game."

"Oh, now that won't be necessary," countered Chris. "We'll be ready on Saturday."

"Good," said Rafael. "I just don't want to hear any excuses after we win that your minds weren't on the game."

"Don't need to worry about that since we're gonna win," countered Chris.

The Palms Chief of Security laughed. "Well, I guess we will see on Saturday won't we?"

"Yes we will," replied Chris.

After the phone call, Chris walked out into the main security area. "Vin, tell the team the game is still on for Saturday," said Chris.

Vin looked up from his work and nodded. "Good! I'll let them know," he replied.

"I'm gonna go check on our star pitcher," said Chris. "Make sure he is ready for the big game this weekend."

"Ok," replied Vin as he grinned.

Several moments later Chris was on the casino floor. "How's the arm?" he asked to his star pitcher and Montecito's Pit Boss.

Ezra tore his gaze from the tables for a moment to glance in the Security Chief's direction. "It is quite well," replied Ezra. "I take it this is in regards to our match against our rival foes on Saturday?"

"It is," replied Chris. "They are a little over confident that they are gonna win."

"And that will be their downfall," stated Ezra as he smiled. One thing that Ezra didn't like was to lose, and he would do everything in his power to make sure his team won on Saturday.

JD Dunne arrived at work, his eyes diverted from the gazes of the other employees. He could feel their eyes on him and knew they were watching him. His pace slowed as he walked by the gift shop, his gaze wandering to check out what was the crime scene yesterday. He could still see Annie lying there in the floor. Blinking away the image, he noted it looked like the shop was back to normal; like yesterday never happened he thought as he continued through an employees' only door and down the corridor to the security control room.

Sliding into his chair, he started his job, his fingers flying over the keyboard as he found the video footage from the day before and began to play it. He pressed 'slow motion' on the keypad watching the scene unfold as he looked for the mistakes he made.

"You shouldn't be watching that," commented Vin as he returned from his coffee break with donut in hand to find JD at his desk watching the robbery footage from the day before.

"Why shouldn't I?" replied JD.

"'Cause you can't change what happened," responded Vin.

"But maybe I can learn from my mistakes," countered JD.

Annie slowly woke up and found her husband asleep in the chair by her bed. "Hiram," she whispered, finding her throat dry and it difficult to speak.

The soft sound of her sweet voice caused her husband to stir and his eyes flickered open, his gaze finding hers. "Hey, you're awake?" he murmured as he moved close to her, one hand resting lightly on hers while the other gently caressed her brow.

She nodded. "Where am I?" she whispered finding the events of the past day a haze.

"You're at the Sunrise hospital," answered Hiram. "There was a robbery at the gift shop."

"JD!" she whispered as the events from the past day came back to her in a rush.

"That's right," whispered Hiram. "He shot you with that blasted stun gun of his . . . nearly killed you . . . I tell you we should sue the Montecito for his stupidity."

A light tap on the door interrupted further conversation as the doctor appeared. "Mr. and Mrs. Nechaus, I'm Dr. Watson," said the handsome man with a slight British accent. "I wanted to stop by and check to see how my patient is doing."

"Much better, Doctor," said Annie as she smiled.

"Well, you are indeed one lucky lady," responded Dr. Watson. "If you hadn't been hit by that stun gun we would never have known about your pre-existing heart condition. It's called arrhythmic disorder and because of the situation you were in when you arrived we had to perform surgery and install a pacemaker." Over the next few minutes the doctor went into more detail on Annie's heart condition and what it meant now that she had a pacemaker. When he finished he said, "So, being hit by a stun gun was sort of a blessing in disguise."

"Oh my!" replied a stunned Annie. "Did you hear that Hiram? A blessing in disguise."

Her husband shook his head, all thoughts of suing the Montecito now gone from his head. "Unbelievable," he whispered.

"Now, I want to keep you here a couple days for observation," finished Dr. Watson. "So, try to get some rest and I will be back later to check on you."

"Yes, Doctor," replied Annie as they watched him leave the room.

JD was seated on an outside bench taking his break. He wanted to get away from the prying eyes of his coworkers. He could hear their whispers and knew they were talking about him and the stupid way he handled the robbery attempt yesterday. Shoot, he wouldn't blame Chris if he fired him, he thought. He nearly killed a woman.

"Is this seat taken?"

The sound of a deep baritone voice brought JD from his troubled thoughts as he looked up to see coworker and friend, Josiah Sanchez, standing there.

"No, it's free," replied the young man as he glanced down at his clasped hands. He really didn't want company at the moment but thought it would be rude to tell his friend to leave.

"It's been quite a few days, hasn't it?" commented Josiah as he kept his gaze forward, enjoying the view.

"Yea, you could say that," replied JD. "A pretty lousy couple days."

"JD, you need to stop being so hard on yourself," commented Josiah.

"How can I not be?" asked JD. "Shoot, I wouldn't blame them if they fired me."

"Fire you?" repeated Josiah. "Now why would they do that?"

"I nearly killed a woman," replied JD quickly in a raised voice. "My stupid mistake nearly killed Annie."

"Annie's fine," replied Josiah. "In fact I just talked to Hiram when he called from the hospital and he said the doctor told them that Annie being hit by the stun gun was a blessing in disguise."

"How could that be? She nearly died?" countered JD as he looked over at Josiah like he was crazy.

"Well, it turned out Annie had a pre-existing heart problem she wasn't even aware of," explained Josiah. "The episode with the stun gun brought it to the doctors' attention and they were able to correct it before it had a chance to become fatal. So, you see, your actions probably saved her life in the long run."

JD took a moment for the information to sink in. Finally he said, "Still doesn't change a thing . . . I handled the whole situation wrong."

"True," replied Josiah. "But don't get caught up in what you did wrong. Take that information and make sure you never make this same mistake again."

JD nodded as he contemplated his friend's advice. The sound of his phone ringing interrupted further conversation as he answered it. When the call ended he announced, "Chris wants to see me."

Josiah nodded as he replied, "I'm sure it will be ok. Have faith." He watched as the young man got up and headed back inside.

"Knock, knock," said Gloria Potter as she peaked her head inside Annie's room. "Are you up for some company?"

"I'd love some," said Annie who was sitting up and looking much better than the day before.

"Where's Hiram?" asked Gloria as she noticed the man's absence while walking into the room carrying a huge bouquet of beautiful flowers.

"I sent him down to the cafeteria to get something to eat," replied Annie. "He's been by my side since yesterday and thought he needed a break and some food."

Gloria nodded in understanding, imaging it had been difficult for the young woman to talk her husband into leaving. Gloria knew he had been so worried about her that he didn't want to leave her side.

"Well, these are for you," explained Gloria as she set the flowers on the nightstand by her bed. "They are from your family at the Montecito. We all want you to get better and come back to work real soon."

"Thank you," said Annie. "They are gorgeous."

"So, how are you feeling?" asked Gloria. "You look great by the way."

"Much better since they installed a pacemaker," replied Annie. "I didn't realize just how tired and weak I had been feeling. It had come on me gradually I guess. I had no idea that it could be a symptom for something more serious."

Gloria nodded as Annie continued, "The doctor came by earlier this morning and explained I had a pre-existing heart condition called arrhythmic disorder." Over the next couple minutes Annie explained to Gloria everything the doctor had said and how being hit by the stun gun alerted the doctors to it so they were able to quickly fix it.

"Oh my!" said Gloria as she placed a hand to her chest. "How unbelievable is that?"

"I know," said Annie as she shook her head in amazement.

"Well, everyone at work is so worried about you," commented Gloria as she placed a hand over Annie's. "And I know they will be so glad to hear you are doing better."

Annie nodded as she replied, "Everyone has been wonderful . . . Josiah and Nathan stayed with Hiram the whole time I was in surgery and they have been checking in with him routinely to get updates and to see if we need anything."

Gloria nodded as Annie continued, "I do appreciate everything."

"Well, we're family at the Montecito," said Gloria. "We like to look out for one of our own."

"That is indeed very true, Mrs. Potter," said Orin Travis who had heard the last part of the conversation from the doorway. "Is it all right if I join you?"

"Mr. Travis!" said Annie who was surprised to see the owner of the Montecito in her room.

"I don't want to stay long because I know you need your rest," explained Orin. "But I wanted drop this off." He placed a small dish garden in a bamboo pot on the nearby dresser. "This is from me and Evie," he explained.

"Thank you, Mr. Travis," said Annie. "I really appreciate you taking the time to come by and see me."

"Well, it's the least I can do," said Travis. "Like Gloria was saying we have all been very worried about you and we want you to get better real soon."

"Thank you, sir," said Annie.

"And, don't worry about the medical bills or your job," continued Travis. "Everything will be covered under the Montecito's insurance and you will be compensated for your time off. Also, we will hold your job as long it takes for you to get better."

Annie smiled as she said, "I appreciate that very much." At least she didn't have to worry about money and whether she still had a job while recuperating.

"And if you need anything at all, don't hesitate to call me," explained Travis as he left his business card on the nightstand. "My work and home numbers are on this card . . . call me at any time if anything comes up."

"Thank you," said Annie, touched by the owner's words.

"Now, I know you must be getting tired so I will leave," said Orin and Gloria nodded as she said, "I should be going too."

"Well, thank you to both of you for stopping by," said Annie.

"I'll come by again tomorrow, if that is ok," said Gloria.

"I'd love to see you again," said Annie.

"Please tell Hiram we send our regards," said Orin. "And I am sorry I missed him."

"Oh, I know he will be sorry he didn't get to meet you, Mr. Travis," said Annie. "I had ordered him to go down to the cafeteria to get a bit to eat."

Orin chuckled softly and suggested, "Well, maybe once you are out of the hospital and at home, Evie and I can stop by for a short visit."

"I would like that, Mr. Travis," said Annie. "Thank you."

The owner nodded as he said 'goodbye' and headed out. Gloria gave her good friend a careful hug and said, "I'll see you tomorrow. Call if you need anything."

"I will," said Annie and then watched the older woman leave her room.

The soft sound of a knock on the door made Chris look up from his paperwork. There standing in the doorway was JD Dunne.

"You wanted to see me," said JD as he swallowed the lump in his throat.

"Come in, JD," instructed Chris. "And, close the door behind you."

The young man nodded as he did what he was told and then took a seat across from the Security Chief. Rubbing his damp palms on his pants he waited.

"JD, we went over the footage of the robbery from yesterday," said Chris and JD held his breath. This was it. This was the moment he was going to get fired.

"It wasn't your fault," continued Chris. "You did what you had to do. You had no idea that his gun was fake . . . sure, you probably should have waited for backup but I can understand why you didn't. You thought Annie was in trouble."

"But I was wrong," countered JD. "I made a mistake and it nearly cost Annie her life."

"JD, none of us are perfect," replied Chris. "We all make mistakes or wish we could have done things differently but what matters the most is what you do with that mistake. If you learn from it or if you repeat it. What I hope is you learn from this."

JD nodded as he replied, "Yes, I have."

"Now you see why security doesn't carry guns in the Montecito," commented Chris. "There are too many people around and too many opportunities for something to go wrong."

JD nodded as Chris continued, trying to lighten the conversation, "So, are you going to be at the game tomorrow?"

"I don't know," replied JD honestly. "I didn't think you all would want me."

"Of course we want our star left fielder there," replied Chris. "You're part of the team. We're gonna need you if we're gonna beat the Palms."

JD smiled as he replied, "Ok, I'll be there."

"Good," replied Chris. "Now get back to work."

"Ok," said JD as he stood quickly and headed out of the office.

Chris shook his head as he watched the young man leave.

It was later that afternoon when Orin Travis entered the security control room to pay them a visit. "So, how are my players doing? Ready for the big game tomorrow?" he asked.

"Yes, sir, we are" said Chris.

"Good, good," replied Travis as he rubbed his hands together. "'Cause I don't want to lose the bet."

"Bet?" repeated Vin Tanner who had a sinking feeling that this wasn't good.

"Well, the Palms owner and I placed a small wager that our respective teams would win," explained Orin.

"And what's the wager, sir?" Chris asked the one question everyone was wondering.

"Oh, it's nothing," said Orin as he tried to make light of the bet. "If the Palms team loses they have to put on a show here at the Montecito."

"A show?" repeated JD as his brow furrowed in confusion. "What type of show?"

"A drag show," explained Travis.

"What the hell?" "You've got to be kidding?" "Holy crap!" Were just a few of the phrases that could be heard around the room after Travis' last words.

"And if we lose?" asked Vin who already knew the answer.

"Well, then you all have to put on a drag show at the Palms," explained Travis quickly.

"Well, that ain't gonna happen," said JD. "We're not gonna lose."

"That's what I want to hear," said Travis. "So, you've got nothing to worry about!" The last sentence was a very poor attempt to try and easy the gentlemen's concern.

"Sir, don'tcha think you should have included us in the discussion of this wager before you made it?" asked Chris who was not pleased at all. "Especially since we're the ones who have to dress up in drag if we lose."

"Well, the wager sort of happened unexpectedly," said Orin. "Anyways, you all aren't going to lose so there is no need to be worried, is there?"

"No sir," said Chris who could feel a headache coming on. "No need to be worried."

"Good," said Orin as he smiled. "I have a meeting to go to but will see you all at the game tomorrow. I will be routing you all on to victory!"

After the resort owner left, Vin said, "Wait 'til the others hear about this?"

"Oh, they won't be pleased with this at all," said JD.

"You think?" replied Vin who shuddered at just the thought of having to wear a dress and get on stage.

"Ok, guys, let's stop the chatter and get back to work," instructed Chris as he headed back into his office to contemplated Travis' announcement and take two Tylenol.

It didn't take long for the news of the wager to make it to the other team members who each sought out Chris to express their disbelief and refusal to dress up in drag if they lost. Chris' response was the same to each and every one of them. "Then don't lose."

Montecito's softball team was seated around the tables at Mystique, pleased about their recent victory against the Palms team and especially happy they didn't have to dress in drag and perform on stage for their rivals. Instead that unpleasant experience was going to the Palms softball team who was getting ready to perform their "skit" for the Montecito employees and the audience in Mystique.

"Here's to JD for making that winning catch," stated Nathan Jackson as he held up his beer.

"Amen," chimed Josiah.

"To JD!" said the others as they held up their beers for the toast.

It seemed during the big game it had been the bottom of the ninth with two outs and two men on base, Rafael was at bat with a full count (three balls and two strikes) against him. And it came down to the final pitch of the game as to who would win and who would lose. Rafael solidly connected with the ball, sending it flying high into left field. Everyone stopped to look, watching as JD took off running to catch it. When he dove, barely catching the ball in his glove, the crowd and his team members went wild.

Now, over drinks JD grinned as he enjoyed the playful camaraderie of his buddies.

"Thank God, you caught that ball," said Vin. "Otherwise it would be us up on stage." Just the thought made the man shudder.

"Yes, I too am very thankful we were victorious in our game," said Ezra as he enjoyed his imported beer. "I definitely wouldn't look good in a dress."

"I don't know, Ezra, I think purple may be your color," joked Buck as the others laughed.

The lights flickered to signal the "show" was about to begin.

"Got the video camera ready?" asked Chris.

JD checked the handheld device and said, "Yep, it's all set. Batteries are completely charged."

"Good," replied Chris. "I think this footage might come in handy. Never will know when we might need it in the future."

The crowd began to cheer and laugh as Palms Security Chief, Rafael Martinez, and the other players stepped out onto the stage wearing dresses while the song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" began to play.

"Oh man, I think this is gonna cause nightmares," remarked Vin.

"Boy do they make for some ugly women," countered Buck as he cringed at the sight of the bearded catcher in a red halter top dress that displayed his hairy chest, back, and arms. "I think the catcher needs to get some waxin' done . . . he looks like a wooly mammoth out there," continued Buck after taking a swing of his beer.

"I think we need more beers if we're gonna get through this," stated Josiah as he motioned for Inez to bring another round.

"Amen, brother," said JD, using one of Josiah's frequent lines and causing the others to laugh.


#7 Natural Instincts