Chris sighed and hoped that things stayed quiet for the
next few days. Due to some of his newer people being gone on training, he
was working short handed for three days. There was no mandatory level of
training needed for security personal, but Orin and Chris both had high standards
and saw to it that the security staff received the best training and were
kept up to date on the latest methods.
The Montecito made a bit of a to do about Mother's Day and they were full
up with weekend guests treating mom to a little fun and relaxation.
JD was oblivious to the world as he hummed to himself while tinkering away
on a gadget. The things that that kid could come up with as a result of tinkering
was something else. Unless he was needed on the floor for something, he would
likely spend the day up here. Chris knew that the young man still deeply
missed his mother, who had died just before he had come west, and had a hard
time with all the celebrating.
Vin had lost his mother as well, but it was not a fresh or raw wound for
him, since he had lost her as a child.
"Theft reported on the twelfth floor," Vin informed him after picking up
Vin got up to flag JD to mind the monitors while he went to check on the
"I'll go," Chris offered. As long as he could keep his brain on robberies
and other work-related things, he would not have time to think about Sarah
and the five wonderful Mothers days with her. How he had taken Adam along
to pick her first card and after all the careful reading quietly went with
the one that the baby had snatched and started chewing on. Sarah had said
it was perfect, after she stopped laughing at the story explaining the gumming
marks on the corner.
Shaking his head to get it back on track, Chris headed off. Work, if he could
keep his mind on work then he could get through the day without losing himself
in a bottle at the end of it.
Chris double checked, 1432, yep, this was the room. He
knocked. A slightly graying man in his fifties opened the door.
Chris stood open mouthed. It was funny how some things that you thought you
had forgotten could come rushing back like a flood.
"Name's Delmar Ryan, this is my wife, Kathy," the older man said hesitantly,
introducing the slender blonde behind him. Something had just happened and
he had no idea what.
"I, I had no idea you were here," Kathy swallowed, staring at the man in
their door. "I, I'll leave if you want me to, but I would like to see you
if I could."
Chris took a deep breath. "Up to you if you stay or not." He turned to her
husband. "Someone from my team will be right up to take your statement,"
with that, he left.
"Vin, I'm on my way back up, you need to get the Ryans' statement," Chris
told him, trying to get himself back under control. If he wasn't short handed
he would have left for the day.
"Ya alright?" Vin asked.
"Fine, just, you need to take over, there," Chris replied. At least this
was Vin and not Buck. Vin would know something was up, just like Buck, but
unlike his oldest friend, Vin would not pry.
"Just to let you know, we've got a little bit of a situation here," Vin said
"A situation?" Chris cringed. That could mean any one of a thousand things,
none of them good and none of them was he up to facing at the moment.
"We got it under control," Vin hastily assured him.
"Speak for yourself!" He heard JD in the background.
Chris double timed it back to the bullpen. It sounded like the chaos twins
were in need of some help.
Entering his domain, Chris took a deep breath. Vin nearly
knocked him over bolting for the door. JD was in his usual seat, completely
lost and holding a new-born baby screaming at the top of his lungs. The poor
kid was trying to do the bouncy jiggly walk that moms seem have the knack
of for soothing babies. Evidently JD didn't know that newborns don't usually
care for that.
"I can't get it to stop crying," JD almost wailed.
"That's not how you hold a baby!" Buck, who had followed Chris in, informed
the young tech as he deftly plucked the baby out of his arms and, cooing,
held the small bundle securely against him.
Almost instantly the baby began to quiet.
"And JD, it's a him not an it," The Hospitality Host snorted, taking Vin's
usual place as he sat holding the baby. It had been a long time since he
had done this, not since Adam had been a baby. Funny, he hadn't realized
how much he had missed it.
"I'll assume he's not yours, since Nettie isn't here with a shotgun," Chris
JD turned white. "No! I mean, I like kids, but I'd ... I found him in the
dumpster when I stepped out back for a minute."
"Call Nathan so the little guy can get a check up, and then have Gloria send
up some diapers, a bottle, and infant formula. We can at least get that done,"
Grinning, he took the now settled infant from Buck.
"The little man and I are going in conference," he informed the other two,
carrying the precious bundle to his office.
"How did you know how to get the baby to stop crying?" JD asked Buck as he
stared after his boss.
"I used to watch Adam for Chris and Sarah," Buck answered, sighing. He still
missed his surrogate sister and nephew.
"I bet Chris was a great dad," JD said a bit wistfully.
"The best," Buck answered, squeezing his friend's shoulder. Like Buck, JD
had never known his father, but while it had long stopped bothering the large
man, every now and again JD seemed to feel the lack.
"You sure have gotten off to a rough start here, it'll
get better though," Chris assured the baby. "Guess neither one of our mothers
Looking up at a knock on the door, he called for the person to come in. The
fact that the person was waiting told him it was not Buck..
Nathan came in with his doctor's bag. Josiah was with him bringing the baby
stuff that Gloria had been requested to send up.
"No blessing in the world like a baby, brother," Josiah commented as the
infant blinked up at him.
"Since he trusts you, you hold him while I give him a once over," Nathan
Chris nodded and held the baby while the hotel's doctor checked him over.
"I'm not a pediatrician, but he seems healthy to me. I don't think he was
in there real long before JD found him. Little guy's lucky, he should be
just fine," Nathan informed them while Chris diapered him.
"I'm glad, I was worried about him," JD said, handing a bottle over.
"It's cold," Chris commented.
"Babies don't drink their milk cold?" JD asked looking from one man to
"They like it warm," Josiah said.
"Jeez, am I the only one that doesn't know anything about babies?" JD asked
in frustration. He was trying to help, but so far was hindering.
"I have a much younger sister, Nathan has younger siblings, Chris had a child,
makes sense that we would know how to care for a baby. You just haven't had
a chance to learn," Josiah soothed him.
"Reckon he's kinda cute when he ain't howling," Vin offered, coming in and
handing Chris a theft report and an envelope.
Swallowing when he saw the envelope, Chris nodded his thanks.
"JD, why don't you start going through the tapes and seeing if you can spot
the mother and maybe we can identify her," Chris instructed.
"Right. How any mother could just abandoned their baby like that is beyond
me," the young man said sadly.
"Sometimes life gets hard, JD, and a person gets desperate and does something
foolish," Nathan told him, putting his things back in the bag.
"I know life gets hard, it wasn't exactly easy for mom and me either, but
she sure never tossed me in no dumpster and left," he snorted.
"Not everyone's as strong as your momma was," Buck told him.
"Well, it would appear that I have found the party to welcome our new arrival,"
Ezra commented as he joined the group and placed an incident report involving
someone caught palming cards on Chris's desk.
When was it that his office had turned into the group's social center? Chris
"JD, I need you to get going on that search," Chris ordered.
"Vin, you and Nathan make sure that everyone that needs to be notified is
and all the forms that need to be filled out to report an abandoned baby
are made," The blonde continued.
The two headed out with JD on their heels. Josiah and Ezra followed.
"You can't keep him, Stud," Buck grinned. Maybe his teasing would take the
edge off the pain for his friend. Chris had loved being a father. Adam had
been his whole world and then to have lost not only his son but his beloved
Sarah in the way he did had torn him apart.
"I know that," Chris assured him, smiling down as the baby relaxed and sucked
at his bottle. "I just really miss this."
"Can you take him? I need to read this letter," Chris indicated the letter
Vin had brought in.
"Uh-huh, that letter what has you hiding in here?" Buck asked, taking the
infant. He had known something was up when Chris had retreated to his office
with the baby.
"One of our guests is my mother," Chris explained.
"I've met your mother, and I didn't recognize her among the guests," Buck
"You've met my step-mother," Chris corrected. "My mom left when I was about
five and Dad married again two years later."
"What are you thinking you're gonna do?" Buck asked. On the personal level,
Chris sometimes did not deal with the unexpected, well.
"Haven't decided. Figure I'll read what she has to say and decide from
Buck said nothing but got up slowly so as not to upset the foundling. His
mind mentally ran through the people he had met that weekend and the puzzle
pieces fell into place. "Kathy Ryan, that's who your mother is."
Chris nodded. Buck had the kind of memory that allowed him to keep track
of the guests he had met. Since Chris tended to look like his mother it wasn't
surprising that his friend had made the connection. In spite of the front
he put up, Buck was far from dumb.
Walking out the door, Buck turned to look at him. "It's funny. Her oldest
daughter looks a lot like you, too. Looks to be about five or six years younger,
though, closer to me in age."
Buck left and Chris sighed, looking down at the letter. Was this something
he really wanted to resurrect in his life? He had passed almost his entire
life without his mother, so why let her in now? He could still remember his
dad telling him that his mother wasn't coming home and how he had cried himself
to sleep for three nights. Why should he open that letter and re-open that
Buck settled in one of the empty chairs, carefully placed
the little one on his shoulder and gently patting and rubbing his back while
his tummy sorted out the meal.
From his seat where he was carefully going over the security tapes, JD grinned
at big tough Buck, and the little bitty baby. Someday, his friend was going
to be a great dad, if he ever decided to settle down and have a family.
"Okay, looks like I got something here!" JD tried not to whoop in deference
to the almost sleeping baby. "That.. that.. That's not ..." JD for once was
Josiah, who like Buck saw most of the guests and had been sitting next to
JD, looked over one shoulder and Buck the other as the tech brought up the
scene on the camera covering the loading dock and dumpster area.
"I knew things were bad, Sally Jo, but why didn't you say something?" Josiah
asked softly. The large ex-preacher had known that the young woman was in
a hard place with her no-nonsense parents on one side and a young and
irresponsible boy-friend who had walked out on her on the other. She hadn't
mentioned things getting to this state, though.
They all turned to look at the gentle and soft spoken preacher. His voice
was soft, but it was even colder than Chris in a rage.
"Josiah?" Buck asked.
"Who's Sally Jo?" JD blinked.
"A young girl with no hope and not many options."
Buck nodded. Having grown up in Las Vegas with a show girl and occasionally
hooker mother, he knew how hard things could get for a girl in her place.
His mother had been one, but thankfully had been strong enough not to give
in to the circumstances.
"Buck, JD, I'd like you to meet Hank Aaron," Josiah introduced them to the
baby sighing contentedly as he nestled into Buck's arms.
"Daddy must be a baseball fan," Buck chuckled at the little tyke's name.
"No, Sally Jo is," Josiah responded while he pulled out his cell phone. "Sally
Jo, did Marcus take the baby? You lost it and he took the baby for a couple
of hours so that you could get some sleep? No, no, just relax, Hank is fine.
Do you know where Marcus was planning to go? Honey, he, he left Hank in one
of our dumpsters. JD found him and the little guy's fine. Sally!" Josiah
pulled he cell phone away abruptly in order to save what was left of his
hearing in that ear.
Both the other men had clearly heard her outraged yell at being informed
where her son had been.
"You stay put and I'll have someone come and get you," Josiah instructed
hastily. There was no way he wanted her lose on the streets in that state.
JD picked up his cell phone and arranged for a car to pick up the distraught
mother at the address Josiah scribbled down and thrust at him. He had just
assumed that it was the mother who had dumped the baby; it never occurred
to him that the baby's father dumped him. He had never known his father,
but while the man had walked out on his mother, he had never dumped JD in
a dumpster like so much garbage.
Josiah went to bring Nathan and Vin up to speed on the latest developments.
Buck thankfully didn't have any whales at the moment and the conventions
were underway and running smoothly, so he was free to stay up there with
the baby and help monitor screens with JD.
Chris picked up the letter and opened it. As much as
he did not want to open this letter and reopen a wound he thought long healed
and in the past, he had to. His mother had been young and he knew there were
plenty of things from his own late teens and twenties that he looked back
on and cringed. He could not think of anything that would justify her having
left him when she protected herself by leaving his father. To say that Anthony
Larabee was difficult to live with was an understatement. He had understood
her leaving his father, what he had never understood was her leaving him.
| Dear Chris,
Please believe me that I did not know you worked here. It was not my intention
to force my way into your life. If you never read this letter or read it
and choose not to contact me in any way, I will totally understand. I have
never given you a reason to read this or contact me. I only want to tell
you why I did what to you must seem unforgivable. I hope that after you read
this, if you read it, you will allow me the chance to maybe at least meet
and maybe be a part of your life in whatever way you would choose.
I was not even out of high school when I got pregnant with you. I loved you
more than words could say. If you have a child, you likely understand what
I mean. The sad reality is that I was not ready to be a mother. We lived
in a small farm town where it was understood that unmarried pregnancies happened,
but if they did you got married. Since I was related to most of the men in
town and your father, while a good many things, was not stupid, so we got
married. I was young and in no way ready to be a wife or mother, and your
father, while older, was not ready, either.
We tried to make a go of it for your sake, but we were about as badly suited
to one another as any couple could be. I hated how he treated you, Chris.
It was bad enough when he was hard with me, but to see him treating you that
way was breaking my heart. I wanted to leave and take you with me, but I
think we both know how possessive he is, and there is no way that he would
have let me take you. He didn't love me, so if I left, that was fine, but
you were his son and if I left, it could not be with you. Because of that,
I stayed, and was glad to do it for you.
When you were five I found out I was pregnant again. I could protect that
child in a way that I could not protect you. I could protect her by leaving
before he found out I was expecting. There are laws now days to protect abused
women and children, back then there were none. It was stay and see both of
my children hurt and abused. Or leave and at least save one of them. For
right or wrong, I left. I never contact you out of fear that if I did your
father would find out about Vicky.
I offer no excuses, only the facts behind why I did what I did. I hope that
you can understand and forgive me.
My family has known about you forever and would gladly welcome you in if
you would want to be a member.
I do love you.
Kathy, your mother.
Chris leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. He
tried to remember his mother being happy, but couldn't. He saw that she had
jotted her address, phone number, and e-mail addy on the bottom of the letter.
There was also a note saying that he knew their room number and extension
if he wanted to contact them that weekend.
The day after he graduated from high school, Chris had joined the Navy. In
his own way he supposed he had run away from his father as soon as he was
able to, as well. His father and step-mother were both still alive but he
hadn't seen them in years. His mother had been right about what life for
his sister, Vicky - that must be the daughter Buck had seen - would have
been like with their father. There was nothing he would not have done to
protect Adam. He shuddered to think what he would have done if the only way
to protect one of his children - Sarah had been pregnant with their second
when she was killed - had been to walk away from the first. He would have
found a way, but honestly, back when he was a child there would have been
few options for his mother.
He picked up the phone.
Just as he began dialing, there was a knock on the door.
Vin came in. "Got a situation out here that you probably need to be in on,
Chris hung up the phone and followed his right hand man out to the bullpen.
"Check out what JD found on the security tape," Vin told him, nodding towards
a viewing monitor.
Chris watched as a man that was barely old enough to be called that stepped
outside and placed the baby in the nearest dumpster and left.
"Who is he?" Chris asked coldly.
"Marcus Delmar, the baby's father. The baby is Hank Aaron Delmar, his mother
is Sally Jo Mackenzie. A hotel car and driver are getting her," JD informed
"She goes to my church, she had no idea he was going to dump the baby," Josiah
assured the blonde.
"Hey! There he is! There's Marcus! At table three!" JD was almost shaking.
Sure enough, the same man from the tape was calmly sitting at Blackjack table
three and telling Ezra, the head pit boss, to hit him. If Ezra had known
the man had abandoned his own infant in the dumpster Ezra would have hit
him all right, that and then some.
"Ezra, make certain that the young man at your right does not leave the table,
security is on the way," Chris informed him.
Ezra brushed his eyebrow in a two fingered salute to signaled he had heard.
Five minutes later, Marcus Delmar had the head security team of the Montecito
descending on him like starving wolves on a caribou.
He protested at Vin, JD, and Chris's suggestion that he follow them to a
holding room, until he got a look at Josiah and Buck. The holding room would
be better then where those two might send him. Seeing Sally Jo between them
holding the baby had him begging to be put in the solitary room. She wouldn't
be able to kill him in there.
Chris looked up as the door to the security bullpen opened
and Vin came in with Lieutenant Luis Perez of the LVPD. Luis had been here
more than once and was on good terms with the security staff.
"I was told that you had a baby dumping."
"I found him about eleven when I stepped out back on break," JD explained
when Chris indicated that he should explain.
"Do you have the dumping on tape?" The officer asked.
"Right here, I made copies for you of the dumping as well as of my finding
him," JD said as he brought up the sections of tape that showed the father
dumping the baby. A second section showed JD finding the baby and bringing
him inside. The timer on the tape showed the time of both events.
"Where's the baby now?" Luis asked.
Chris pointed to two monitors. One showed Sally Jo sitting and holding Hank
while talking to Josiah. A sandwich and coke had been brought in for her,
as well as the baby supplies.
Luis blinked at the other one that showed Marcus sitting in a holding room
alone. Nothing had been brought in to him.
"You caught him?" Luis commented, shaking his head.
"Name's Marcus Delmar. JD saw him at one of the tables gambling and recognized
him from the tape, so we grabbed him.
"Okay, let's see what they have to say for themselves," Luis took the DVD
from JD that held the imagines from the security cameras.
Chris smiled predatorily and led the way out.
Five minutes later, Luis and Chris walked into holding
Sitting across from him, the lieutenant showed him the disk.
"This disk has footage taken from a security surveillance camera that covers
the dumpsters. Would you care to guess what it took a picture of this morning?"
The young man gulped and licked his lips.
"Sally Jo wanted me to get rid of him for her. She said she couldn't handle
it and was sorry he had ever been born."
"Sally Jo's the baby's mother?" Luis asked, pulling out his notebook.
"Yeah, my ex-girlfriend."
"And you are the baby's father?" The officer continued his questions.
"She never said I wasn't and she's not really the cheating kind," Marcus
Chris was willing to bet that the same could not be said of this piece of
"When was this? When she asked you to get rid of the baby?"
"Did you take the baby a lot?" Chris asked.
Marcus snorted. "She never lets the thing alone, always fussing and everything
over him. And the baby never shuts up."
"Babies can be demanding that way," Chris agreed. Good cop was NOT his natural
role, but he could do it if he had to. "She gets a baby and it's like you
"She used to like having fun, now she just wants to sit home with the baby.
And when I go and have fun she screams about me leaving her alone all the
time," Marcus whined.
Luis was quietly writing. He would buy Chris a beer, later. Who would have
thought that Mr. Intensity could play good cop so well, usually Buck played
"Bet things were a lot better before it came," Chris sympathized. Sarah had
been that way, as well, but his greatest joy had been a quiet evening at
home with his wife and playing with his new son.
"Sally was always ready for a party or a good time back then."
Marcus had been so relieved to have someone on his side that while talking
to Chris, he had never noticed that Luis had gotten up and come around behind
"Marcus Delmar, you're under arrest for attempted murder. Please stand up
with your hands behind your head," Luis instructed, and began reading the
man his rights while cuffing him.
"She told me to do it!" Marcus protested
"If she did, then she'll be arrested as well, either way you were the one
that actually dumped the baby and that's attempted murder, as well as child
abuse," Luis growled. As a father himself, he had no tolerance for this kind
Chris looked on, smirking in satisfaction. It was too bad the cretin had
never given his son a chance. Fatherhood could change a man in ways he never
Marcus was hauled out of the room and handed off to a waiting uniformed officer
to escort him to the station and processing as a criminal.
Luis and Chris headed into the other holding room for the other side of the
Sally Jo was eating the sandwich while Josiah held Hank.
A female officer had entered with them and was quietly seated by the door.
The LVPD had a rule against male officers questioning females without a female
officer present, so she was present.
"I'm Lieutenant Luis Perez," He introduced himself and took the seat opposite
"I'm Sally Jo Mackenzie."
"I need to ask you a couple of questions, just routine, to clarify some points,"
Luis assured her smiling.
"Okay," she said nervously.
"The baby is yours?"
She nodded. "I'm calling him Hank Aaron."
"If the kid can hit like him, he's got it made," Luis chuckled.
Sally smiled shyly.
"Marcus Delmar is his father, correct?" The lieutenant asked.
"You knew he had the baby with him this morning and he had your permission
to have him, is that correct?"
"I, I kind of lost it this morning, so he said he would take the baby for
a few hours. I didn't question it, I was just grateful for the break. He
never has anything to do with Hank, so I should have figured that something
was up," she sighed.
"Sally, you had no way of knowing he was going to do this, it is NOT your
fault," Josiah told her. This was obviously not the first time he had to
reassure her of that.
"Did you at any point ask Marcus to get rid of Hank or tell him that you
didn't want the baby or were sorry you had had him?" Luis asked.
She stared at him. "It's been really hard trying to deal with my family,
the baby, Marcus. Towards the end of last week, I lost it and I said that
I was sorry the baby had been born. But I never, ever, asked him to get rid
of the baby! That was when I figured out that I had to do something, but
not that! I decided a couple of days ago to give the baby up for adoption,
so I would hardly dump him now and if I were that desperate I would have
gone to a hospital, police station or one of the other safe places the hospital
told me about when I had him."
"You were planning on giving him up? Had you told Marcus that?"
"I haven't had a chance to, because he's never home," she explained.
"If you call the New Life Homes and Family Services Adoption center, you'll
see that she had an appointment for tomorrow to give up the baby," Josiah
Luis raised an eyebrow.
"Josiah is one of the elders in my church, he and Mrs. Nettie have been helping
me sort some things out. I don't have a car, so Josiah was going to give
me a ride there. He's one of their volunteers, so when I told him I had decided
to give the baby up, he suggested it and a few others and I picked New Life
because they let me choose the family so I know he'll be in a good home,"
Sally Jo said all at once.
Luis nodded. As far as he was concerned, it was evident that she had had
nothing to do with the mess. "I'll need an address and number where I can
get hold of you if I have further questions."
She gave him both.
"You're going to your sister's?" Josiah asked, beaming.
"I called mom and dad last night and we agreed that a lot of things were
said on both sides that were not meant. They said for me to come home and
they would help with the baby, but I said I was giving him up, I'm just not
ready for this. I'm going to live with Dave and Barb until her baby comes
and help out, since she's having a really hard time. And I'll be going to
college in the fall," Sally explained.
"I'm glad you all got that worked out," Josiah said, relieved, He was fond
of the family and had hurt with them at the problems they had been having.
"You'll need to take him to a hospital for an official check up, when you
do, have them call me at this number so we can have it on file for the case,"
Luis handed her a business card.
"I'll have someone give you a ride to the hospital and then home," Chris
"I've got it covered," Josiah volunteered. Greg had been handling the door
almost all day anyway, so he would take the rest of the day to get Sally
settled and take one of Greg's days at the door.
"Thanks, I'm really sorry about all the trouble, but thank you for saving
Hank. I, I don't know what I would have done if he had died," Sally said,
snuggling the baby she had taken back from Josiah.
Chris nodded and headed out. He had failed Adam, but little Hank would be
Chris was heading back to the inner bowels of the hotel
where security was housed, when he saw a blond boy on his way to the pool.
"Hurry up, mom! Come on Grandma!"
"Adam, trust me, the water isn't going anywhere," a woman's laughing voice
called after him.
Chris gave a slight grunt as the boy collided with him.
"That's why I said not to run," The boy's mother reminded him as she and
her mother came up to them.
"Sorry," The child apologized sheepishly to him.
"It's okay," Chris assured him.
"It's good to see you," he told Kathy.
"It's good to see you too. This is my daughter, Vicky."
"Chris Larabee, head of security," He introduced himself.
"Mom's mentioned you. Are you going to be joining us?" She asked hopefully.
"Not this weekend, but I would like to get to know you," He replied. He had
wanted to handle this with a phone call. He did want to talk to her, but
not on Mother's day and not when her whole family was here.
"I'll be here again in October for the Old West Restoration Association
Convention, you could come along," Vicky said, looking at her mother.
"Would that work for you?" Kathy asked the man she had no right to call her
son even though he was. Maybe someday she would be given that honor, but
not right now.
"That would be great," Chris told her. He was still not sure how he felt
about what she had done, but he understood why, and now had two reasons to
look forward to the Old West Convention.