Disclaimer: Not Mine.. no profit.
Acknowledgements: Mogs Universe - Thank you.
This idea came from said feedback thanks Meredith and many
of the scenes come from ideas which, although not exactly what was suggested,
stemmed from the minds of others See? I do listen!
Friday 29th June
Team 7 Offices
If you want, I can call around and
find a date for you Ez. Buck Wilmington bounced his eyebrows at the
Undercover Agent. Theres Charmaine Legs Bowen, or
Mandy Mammary Harte, or
Standish pulled a disgusted face. Mr Wilmington please, I do not require
your assistance. Since Miss Recillos has had to cancel, I will simply attend
The Denver Law Enforcement Ball alone.
Each year, on the last Friday in June, the State Governor would hold a formal
ball for representatives of Colorados Law Enforcement Agencies in order
to thank them for their dedication and hard work as well as honor those who
had given their lives in the line of duty. The ATF sent two complete teams
every year, as their contingent, and this year, owing to their lightening
efficiency in clearing up the Neuman Case, Team 7 happened to be on down
time at the crucial moment. Of course, in AD Traviss eyes this made
his top team prime candidates for the function. Much to their collective
Ya gonna go stag Ez? Vin leaned back in his chair, balancing
at a precarious angle, and gazed at the undercover agent over the rim of
his coffee cup.
I am indeed. I have no doubt that I could arrange another escort, one
without the questionable monikers Mr Wilmington favours, but I would not
care to explain it to Inez, or indeed to Rorie. Vin gave him an
understanding look and he pulled a face. Rorie had accepted the Mexican Barkeep
as his steady lady friend but wouldnt look kindly on the sudden
introduction of another woman. He had no doubt that she would somehow discover
his change of partner and he did not intend to subject her to unnecessary
Poor kid had had enough to deal with in the past few months.
You are escorting the fair Doctor Waterhouse? Standish focused
the attention on the Texan, who nodded.
Chris emerged from his domain.
Okay boys. He glanced at this watch. Its four
oclock. Everybody go home and get ready for tonight. You are all expected
at the Governors Residence at 8pm. In Black Tie. No jeans. No boots.
No excuses. He concentrated his steady green gaze on the sharpshooter.
Got me a classy date, Cowboy. Gonna dress the part.
Okay then. Later. He swung his briefcase and headed to the elevator
Rorie balanced, uncharacteristically motionless,
on a stool. Her eyes closely followed Ezras every move as he stood
in front of the mirror in his en-suite bathroom dressed only in boxers.
Hold out your hand. She did as he asked and he sprayed a dollop
of shaving cream on her palm. He then squirted a larger amount on his own
hand and turned towards her.
Are you prepared? She nodded, wide eyed.
Very well. Just do exactly what I do. He turned back to the mirror
and spread the white froth on his jaw in smooth even strokes. Beside him
Rorie splattered her share against her baby soft cheeks, smearing it liberally
with both hands. It oozed thickly between wide spread baby fingers. She grinned
at the sensation.
It smelled good.
It smelled like Daddy.
She clapped her sticky hands together in pleasure.
Ezra raised his brows at the liberal cascade of snow that showered
the mirror, the wall, the floor, the basin and the left side of his chest.
Very nice Dahlin but dont do it again. Youre causing
a blizzard thick enough to be picked up by local meteorologists. She
chuckled and he grinned, quite sure she hadnt a clue what a meteorologist
was. No doubt that question would arise at a later date. Probably when he
least expected it.
Have you finished the first stage? He looked down at her though
the speckled reflection in the mirror and suppressed a laugh. She looked
like a moth-eaten mini Santa. Green eyes blinked seriously at him through
the white clumps clinging to her eyelashes. He snorted.
Okay then. We wipe the soap off our hands with our towels. They
both put actions to words.
Stage two. Pick up your tool in your right hand. The muscles
in the Southerners chest rippled as he reached for his favoured antique
straight edged razor. Rorie mimicked his actions and grasped her own as
Ezra paused, the sharp blade hovering over his left cheek. Smooth straight
strokes Honeybee, one at a time, and then rinse the razor in the basin after
each pass. Are you ready?
Yahuh. Rorie assumed the position and her father winked at her.
Here we go. There was a rasping scrape as he drew the blade over
his skin and a swish as he dipped it into the warm water filling the sink
to clean off the accumulated soap and bristles.
Rorie copied him, disappointed that her tongue depressor didnt make
the same noise. Daddy, I think mines broken. Its not making
any noise. She gazed up at him in mute appeal.
You are not allowed to touch a real razor Aurora, as you well know.
Take that look off your face. He completed another pass and dipped
the razor back into the water. Glancing at her again he suggested, use
your imagination and make the noise yourself if that helps.
He reached up to begin another stroke and almost cut himself at the sound
emitting from the tiny delicate blonde standing at his left elbow.
Rrrrr-sssssss-pppppp-rrrrrr-uuuu-ttttt! Rorie chuckled in delight
and he paused his ablutions to watch her wash the sticky white goo off the
slim wood. He grinned under his foamy beard and resumed his task.
Increasingly noisy sound effects were the only thing to be heard from the
room for long minutes.
Finally, Ezra ran some fresh water onto a facecloth and gently wiped the
messy residue off the pink flushed cheeks and out of the little ears.
Excellent! You will now be adequately prepared when you start to grow
your own bristles.
Rorie giggled and poked him in the ribs with a small soft finger.
Youre silly Daddy. Im not gonna have a beard!
Her father raised his brows at her in mock shock. Youre not?
Cause Im a girl!
You are? He tugged lightly on the belt loop of her miniature
jeans. I thought girls wore dresses?
Rorie rolled her eyes and he laughed. Out you go now. Im going
to take a shower.
Can I stay and talk to you? I wont get in the way I promise.
Please Daddy. If youre going out Im not going to be able
to talk to you at all tonight.
Her logic was chronically flawed. Shed be in bed anyway and hardly
likely to miss him. He looked at the desperate little face and
uncharacteristically he caved.
Okay you may stay. But youre not coming in with me. Rorie
showed surprise at her uncommon victory. Usually when he told her to do something
he stuck to his guns. He rarely allowed her to change his decision once made.
And dont touch anything.
Yes, Daddy. He eyebrows shot upwards. I mean, no Daddy.
Ezra stripped off the green silk boxers and stepped into the shower cubicle,
turning on the water and adjusting the heat.
So how was Summer school? Regular school was out and Rorie was
attending summer classes for kids with either a particular talent or a driving
ambition. She was taking piano, dance and acting lessons.
There was a long silence, but for the hiss of the shower. Okay.
Ezra paused, letting the water tumble over his shoulders. Is there
something you want to tell me, Honeybee?
No theres nothing to tell me or no
theres nothing you WANT to tell me?
Rorie pulled a face. Having an intelligent, astute parent was a pain in the
ass, as Uncle Chris would say. She huffed. The second one.
Mmmm. Ezra massaged the shampoo through his hair. You will
tell me anyway, of course. Another pause. He rinsed the shampoo and
reached for the bottle of conditioner. Aurora? Id rather hear
about any misdemeanour directly from you. No secrets, remember?
Its nothing. Really.
Am I going to have to ask you again? His voice held a clear warning.
No Daddy. She took a deep breath. Janice MacKenzie was
being mean to Tansy Delmar and I stood up for her. Tansys littler and
Janice is a bully.
Whilst I approve of your motives, I am still no clearer as to exactly
what transpired. Elucidate. He scrubbed at his skin with a loofah and
peered at her through the steamy glass door of the shower. She was twiddling
her braids. Bad omen.
We had a show for the end of the week. Everyone had to do something.
I played The Sting on the piano without a single mistake!
She tried redirection, not very hopeful that he would become distracted.
He was extremely single minded when he chose.
Well done! Im proud of you sweetheart. He waited a heartbeat.
Now quit stalling. He stepped back under the spray and rinsed
the soap from his body.
Janice plays trombone.
I sucked a lemon.
Ezra bit his lip to keep from laughing. She had a definite flair for revenge.
What happened? He could imagine but wanted her to give him the
It made her mouth water. She dribbled into the mouthpiece. She started
out Okay but by the time she was half way through her piece she sounded like
a cow mooing! She considered that as Ezra shut off the water and reached
for the towel. Quite good really, cause she is a cow. She
sounded smug with her pronouncement. He frowned. There was no way hed
let that slide.
Stepping from the steamy cubicle with the towel wrapped snugly around his
hips Ezra glared at her. I am truly appalled that you could even think
up such a reprehensible description, much less voice it. Dont you EVER
let me hear you refer to anyone as a Cow again. Is that
Rorie thrust out her lower lip and hung her head muttering, but its
Aurora! He didnt raise his voice, he never raised his voice.
His tone, however, she had come to recognise, and to respect.
It meant business.
It meant he was losing patience.
It meant Dont argue with me or you will regret it.
She peeked at him warily from under her brows. Okay Daddy. Im
sorry. I wont say it again.
Good enough. You didnt tell me what Janice did to Tansy that
She told her, right before she had to play for the whole school, that
her piano playing wasnt worth
Im not sposed to say. Tansy made even more mistakes than usual
cause she was crying so hard. I told Janice shed make an even
bigger mess of it when it came to her turn. She did too.
I would imagine it is incredibly difficult to play the trombone whist
salivating excessively. Ezra picked her up and threw her over his shoulder,
carrying her into his bedroom, swinging her back and forth in his arms several
times before tossing her in the middle of his bed in a chortling heap.
He was moving to the dresser to find some clean boxers when there was a knock
at the door. Ez? Kin I talk ta ya fer a minute?
Standish nodded to his daughter and she climbed off the bed and threw open
Hey Uncle Vin!
Hey yerself pumpkin pie. Ez, Terri just called. Olivia got hit with
a bat at little league and had to go get X-rayed. Shed just left for
the hospital but says she probably wont be back bfore eleven
at the earliest.
Damn. The undercover agent looked non-plussed. What about
Tanner shook his head. Teaching a class at the Adult Education Centre
in Purgatorio. I called both neighbours but their teenagers are all out
tonight. He shrugged and gazed at Rorie who was following the conversation
You could leave me here with a phone and a movie
Not a chance. You have to wait at least ten years to be home alone
Baby Girl. She huffed.
Well then, you just have to stay home. She looked pleased at
this prospect. The two ATF Agents exchanged glances.
Mr Tanner, dont even voice that thought!
What? She can be yer date. No reason why not. There was that kid last
year escorting his mom and I know of two who are going this year.
They are young adults Mr Tanner.
Stop calling me that, Mister Standish. Rorie can behave like a young
lady if she chooses ta. Whaddya say Pumpkin? Can ya be on yer best behavior
an be yer Daddys date?
I can! I can! In her excitement the little girl was bouncing
up and down on the bed as if it were a trampoline. I can be good as
gold if I want to! Please Daddy! Please let me be your date! She looked
at him imploringly.
Ezra released a slow breath. It would solve both the problem of a babysitter
and the problem of an escort.
Rorie at the Governors House.
Rorie at a formal Dinner
with all the Senior Law Enforcement Personnel
in the State.
He must be completely insane.
Miss Standish, would you do me the honor of escorting me to this
In keeping with long-standing tradition,
the Standishes were late. Team 7 and their partners were all loitering around
near the entrance, as far away from the orchestra as possible. Waiters bearing
hors douverves and glasses of champagne moved silently through the
Chris just shook his head at his debonair Undercover Agent when Ezra attempted
to excuse his tardiness. Stop babbling Ez. Vin explained the
problem. He glanced down at his favourite little prankster.
Good evening. He bowed formally from the waist, catching hold
of the little girls hand and placing a soft kiss on her not yet
in evidence knuckles. As with all small children she merely had dimples
where her knuckles would eventually appear. I dont believe we
have been introduced. Im Senior Agent Christopher Larabee and you must
be Agent Standishs charming escort.
Rorie giggled and he chuckled in response. Its me Uncle Chris.
She tugged his bowtie and he raised his brows.
You bear a striking resemblance to a small mischievous urchin I know.
I have never seen that particular munchkin dressed so beautifully, however.
You cannot possibly be the same child. He shook his head and squinted
at her comically.
It was true, she did look gorgeous. The blonde curls on either side of her
face had been caught up in a black velvet scrunchie which perched on the
back of her head allowing the main cascade to tumble down her back in artful
disarray. Her emerald green silk dress flowed down to her calves from the
middle of her chest where it was held back with a black satin ribbon tied
in a bow at her spine. The deep shade perfectly set off the gleam in the
emerald eyes. She twinkled at him.
You also look very handsome tonight Uncle Chris. Black is a good color
on you! Chris laughed out loud, causing more than a few heads to turn
at this unusual occurrence.
Good evening Mrs Travis, it is a pleasure to see you. She turned
the dimpled smile on Mary who chuckled.
Good evening to you too Miss Standish. Are we to expect any surprises
tonight? Rorie shook her head, making the red-gold ringlets shimmer
with fiery highlights.
Im to be a Lady under any and all provcayshun and
not embarrass Daddy. We made a deal.
Do you know what provocation is Rorie? Josiah, standing
tall and dashing in his tux, joined the conversation.
Yahuh. It means I cant fight back! Everyone laughed and
Ezra rolled his eyes.
It means you act with dignity and decorum regardless of the words or
actions of others. Her sartorially elegant parent frowned at her.
By the time they were all seated the group were beginning to think the child
in their midst was a small pod person. She was perched daintily at the table
on a pile of cushions, her hands folded neatly in her lap, making polite
conversation with the Gentleman seated to her right. He was the current Director
of Denvers Police Academy, a stocky, older man with a booming voice
and a rumbling belly laugh. Ezra sat to her left and Vin and Doctor Jo, between
Nathan and Casey, were directly opposite.
She gazed across the table at Nathan. Yes Uncle Nathan?
Nothing Sugar Plum. I was just checking it really was you in that pretty
The child bit her lip. Ezra was watching her out of the corner of his eye
and could see her desperate attempt not to throw a quip back at Nathan. He
exchanged knowing looks with the smirking Texan.
It certainly is me, Uncle Nathan.
The Southerner chuckled and leaned slightly in her direction. Well
done Dahlin! His voice was low so only she heard him. He winked
when she sent him a pleading look.
Daddy this is hard!
Ah know. Youre doing wonderfully. Ahm extremely proud of
you! His accent thickened with the emotion choking his throat. He really
did feel immense pride in his little girl. She was outstandingly cute, incredibly
intelligent and perfectly behaved. He had his doubts as to whether it would
last but at this moment he was proud fit to bursting.
The slippery slope began to beckon with the arrival of the first course.
Daddy? She turned to him in a hushed whisper.
My soups cold!
It is supposed to be served chilled. Its gazpacho. He grinned
at her are-you-kidding-me? expression. You dont have
to eat anything you dont want. Just place the spoon on the side of
the plate underneath and leave it.
Thanks Daddy. She did as he suggested, pleased that the you
will eat what youre given rule seemed to be in abeyance tonight.
When the soup plates were cleared away and the next course was laid before
her, Rorie turned to the waiter and asked politely, Excuse me, do you
have any ketchup? There was a snort from Tanner as the young servers
mouth dropped open. Jo Waterhouse elbowed him in the ribs.
Never mind. Thank you. Rorie turned back to her plate, casting
a quick look at Ezra. He just raised his brows but didnt comment.
I think I can help you there, Rorie. Vins date was fishing
around in her bag. She produced two MacDonalds ketchup sachets. The
men around the table gaped at her. What? Im a Paediatrician.
Youd be surprised what kid friendly things I routinely carry around
Mary Travis, further down the table, laughed at the looks of amazement. She
reached into her bag and pulled out a handful of ketchup sachets, a selection
of plastic utensils, straws, paper napkins and some individually wrapped
wet wipes labelled Pizza Hut. Me too! Billy always seems
to need something or other thats not available, I have learned to be
Ladies, while I admire your Boy Scout tendencies, I do
not consider ketchup a suitable condiment to Filet Mignon. Ezra shook
his head. Ketchup made Rorie even more hyper than usual and he didnt
need that in the current circumstances. He glanced at Rorie. One packet.
Vin took a sachet from Jo and handed it over the table to the Undercover
Agent. He tore the top and passed it to his daughter to squeeze onto the
edge of her plate. If hed thought about it hed have done it for
her but his actions were automatic. She loved to do as much as possible for
He didnt count on the interference of Murphys Law.
The little girl gripped the sachet in her right hand and squeezed.
At the same moment, her neighbour was expounding upon a particularly thrilling
tale regarding the notorious one-that-got-away with increasingly
expansive hand gestures. He threw his arms wide to illustrate his point knocking
the small child completely off her seat and into her startled fathers
lap. Unfortunately, the blow to her elbow struck just as she tightened her
fist on the ketchup packet. Her hand shot upwards, stopping abruptly at the
end of her reach. The loose contents continued their forward momentum and
flew from the container in a perfect arch straight across the table to land
with a squelch on the bared cleavage of Doctor Waterhouse.
Jo leapt backwards and gazed down at the blood red splatter standing in stark
contrast against her pale skin. It was slowly surrendering to the forces
of gravity and disappearing between her breasts, tightly moulded together
in the fitted bodice of her black evening gown. Beside her, Vin grabbed his
linen napkin and thrust his hand into her dress to stem the flow before it
could damage the taffeta. Jo, for her part, gasped at the initial contact
but made no move to halt his delving fingers. She looked up into his face.
The Texans blue, blue eyes sparkled at her in humor. He grinned as
he withdrew his fingers, carefully wrapping the sticky mess in the cloth.
Bin wondering how ta git down there! His words were low and intimate.
She chuckled and swatted his hands away. She whispered back at him.
Devious man! If Id known ketchup was an aphrodisiac, Id
have let you take me to MacDonalds on our last date!
Vin chuckled and turned back to the table. Nice shot Pumpkin!
Rorie was sitting on Ezras knee and he was rubbing her elbow comfortingly
while glaring at the profusely apologising man who had swatted his daughter.
Rorie? Are you all right Honeybee? He looked down at the bent
head. The curls danced as she nodded. Ignoring the fact his steak was rapidly
cooling, he lifted her chin and looked at her face. The green eyes shimmered
with unshed tears.
Dahling, are you hurt? Now he was worried. If that oaf had caused
her any pain
She shook her head and turned to look across the table at Jo. Im
sorry Doctor Jo!
Ever astute, Ezra concluded from her panicked tone that she was more concerned
by her actions than by any pain. He glanced over the table at the Paediatrician,
inclining his head towards the child and raising his brows. She nodded at
Hey Sweetheart! It wasnt your fault, it was an accident.
Theres no harm done. Uncle Vin managed to mop it up for me. She
shot the smirking Texan a smouldering look, making him shift uncomfortably
in his chair. Hes right though, it was a very good shot!
Rorie blinked at her and turned to look up at Ezra. Im not causing
an embassment? He shook his head and winked. It really
was an accident, Daddy.
I know. These things happen. Everything is fine Rorie, youre
doing beautifully, I promise. Are you ready to eat your dinner? She
nodded and he set her back on the pile of cushions. Perhaps, if the
good Doctor wouldnt mind, we could have that other packet? Jo
nodded and reached again for her bag.
Thank you, but I think Ill eat it as it is. Ezra grinned
and leaned over to cut up the food for her so she could manage without the
sharp serrated knife by her table setting. He removed the dangerous utensil,
just in case.
Dinner progressed without further incident until it was time for coffee and
the dreaded Annual Performance Overview speeches.
May I have coffee?
Ezra raised one eyebrow and she subsided. He grinned inwardly. Now the boundaries
had been established in their relationship he found he could control her
with a simple change in his expression. A frown or a raised brow was usually
enough to get her compliance. She was always eager to gain his approval.
Ezra handed her a wafer thin mint in consolation and smiled at her painfully
polite thank you. She was trying so hard to be good.
There was a tap on the microphone at the raised podium behind the head table.
The Governor spoke into the microphone. Ladies and Gentlemen, if I
may have your attention, please. The crowd murmur subsided until only
the occasional clink of a spoon against a cup could be heard. Thank
you. As you all aware, over the past year Colorado has been facing a notable
increase in the number of reported violent crimes. It is with these statistics
at the forefront of our minds that we are
His voice droned on.
JD sat in his chair and made paper animals from the invitations and menus.
With permission from Ezra, Rorie slipped over to his side and climbed on
his knee, delighted with the miniature Zoo he had created, and particularly
with the origami frog which jumped when she pressed his bottom. This game
kept her amused until the speaker started speaking about losses.
Many of you will recall that at last years Ball, in memory of
those who had given their lives for the Preservation of Law and Order in
the State of Colorado, we were treated to a rendition of Eternal
Flame, performed by the wife of one of our Aspen based Police Officers,
Mrs Gillian Redman.
This year, while we remember our fallen comrades, she planned to perform
Tears in Heaven. It is with considerable courage that Gillian
has agreed to fulfil her promise. I say with courage, because Officer Derek
Redman joined the ranks of those we honor when he was shot dead in a gangland
battle in April. He turned to the wall screen behind him where the
faces of five officers were shown in stark black and white. Ladies
and Gentlemen, our fallen friends, Agent Martin Chance, Officer Francine
Delmoine, Officer Derek Redman, Agent David James Tilman and Deputy Ted
Zillanski. We salute you. He raised his glass to the photographs.
We salute you. Every Officer, Agent and Lawman in the room joined
The haunting opening bars of Eric Claptons Tears in Heaven
floated softly from the orchestra on the band platform. Standing at the
microphone in the harsh glare of a spotlight, a small brunette began to sing
Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven
Would it be the same
If I saw you
Her voice cracked and she faltered, grinding
to a stumbling halt. The Orchestra trailed off.
She started again but this time didnt get past the first line.
There was a painful silence.
Suddenly a small child with tumbling strawberry blonde ringlets and a green
frock materialized at her side. The child took the hand of the distraught
woman. Their quiet conversation was audible to everyone in the room, captured
by the microphone.
Its hard isnt it? Will you let me help you?
Wiping the tears from her eyes Gillian gazed down at the tiny solemn child.
You know the words?
Yahuh. I sang this song at Mummys funeal. She died in March,
right before Easter. It was really hard to sing cause my neck was all
Your Mummy died in March?
Yahuh. She was very sick. You know where she lives now? The tearful
woman shook her head. She lives in here. Rorie tapped her chest.
Thats where people we love go when they die. Slong as we
remember them thats where they are. Its kinda cool really
cause theyre always around if you want to talk to them.
The bereaved wife of Officer Redman let out a strangled whimper and leaned
down to hug the small child who was trying to comfort her. Thank you
Sweetie. Whats your name?
Aurora Standish. You can call me Rorie.
Are you ready to help me sing Rorie?
The orchestra started for the third time and the two clear voices rang out
over the room full of stunned spectators.
Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven
Would it be the same
At Team 7s table Chris Larabee pinched
the bridge of his nose between closed eyes, attempting to stop the prickle
of moisture threatening to spill over. Mary Travis held tightly to his other
hand, trying to swallow the lump in her throat.
Vin held a tearful Jo against his shoulder as they listened to the song and
remembered those they had lost.
Nathan thought about his father, who had died less than a year before. He
wished hed taken the chance to tell him how much he loved him before
he passed away. He leaned over and kissed Raines brow. She stroked
his sleeve with the palm of her hand.
Buck watched JDs doleful brown eyes glisten, giving him a reassuring
smile when their eyes met. JD silently thanked his dead mother for sending
him six older brothers. He returned Bucks smile.
Josiah watched the green-eyed Southerner, concerned by the depth of loss
etched into his shadowed face.
Ezra sat in a daze, completely unaware of the tears pouring down his cheeks.
He grieved in painful silence.
Not for the slain officers, tragic though that was.
Not for Celeste who, even in death, had given him the greatest gift any woman
Not for his father, killed before Ezra really knew him, nor for the mother
hed never really had.
Ezra grieved for Rorie.
The intense love he had for his daughter overwhelmed him. How could he have
been so blind?
She had had to suffer the prolonged death of her mother, alone. At her tender
age she had had to learn to deal with her profound loss, alone. She had had
to cope with having her life completely altered, alone.
He, Ezra P Standish, a man who prided himself on being able to read anyone,
had been so caught up in the joy and wonder of new parenthood that he had
ignored the fact that the child who gave him such immense pleasure every
moment of every day was still mourning the loss of her mother.
How could he have forgotten that?
Ezra blinked as a heavy hand came down on his shoulder. He turned to the
Dont Ezra. Dont think you havent been there for her
while she grieved. Youre wrong.
Josiah, how can you say that? I have done nothing to help her.
Yes you have. You have been there for her every step of the way. She
loves you. If and when she wants to talk about Celeste she will tell you.
In the meantime shes doing great. He gestured towards the stage.
She is able to help others through their own loss BECAUSE shes
coping so well. She knows you are there for her if she needs you. You are
her rock. If she were in trouble she would either rant and rave or bottle
it up. She does neither. Celeste prepared her before she died, I have no
doubt about that. You have helped by simply being her Daddy.
You have not avoided talking about her mother but you have not made a big
scene about it either. Look at it this way. You give her the space to be
herself and yet at the same time she knows you are there in silent support
if she does need you. Short of bringing her mother back, what else COULD
Ezra gave Josiah a watery smile, pulling out his handkerchief and wiping
his face. Thank you Mr Sanchez. As always your eloquence gives me great
comfort. I am grateful you managed to refrain from finding an obscure story
to illustrate your point in some oblique way only you can fathom.
Josiah grinned. Youre welcome. I think!
As the music faded away Gillian Redman bent down to the little girl and gave
her a big hug. They exchanged a few words, inaudible over the applause and
stepped off the podium into the main body of the room.
A few moments later, Rorie appeared back at Ezras elbow.
Daddy? Are you angry with me? He shook his head and pulled her
onto his lap, tucking her head under his chin and cuddling her against his
The Governor rose to close the speeches.
Thank you Mrs Redman. I assume Miss Standish belongs to Agent Standish
of ATF Team 7? He received a nod from AD Travis who was seated at the
main table. Thank you Young Lady, for sharing your wisdom with us.
You are correct. We will remember them. Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for
your hard work this year. I hope to see you all safely back here in twelve
months. For now there is dancing in the courtyard, cards in the dining room
and the Bar is open, have an enjoyable evening and thank you all for
Chairs began to scrape against the floor as many of the three hundred odd
guests rose to their feet to move around. The noise level increased dramatically.
The group at Team 7s table split up. Casey, JD, Vin and Jo headed out
to the courtyard where a DJ was beginning to blast out the latest dance music.
Everyone else moved towards the bar.
Standish turned to Buck. I can take Rorie for a while if you want to
He was tempted. Rorie?
Can we dance Uncle Buck? If thats okay with Miss Stacey?
The redhead nodded, saying she intended to play cards at some point and this
would be the ideal opportunity if Rorie would entertain Buck.
Outside they joined the hoards thundering around on the flagstones. Buck
clasped the giggling child to his chest and gyrated to the beat, swinging
her round with great enthusiasm.
Rorie! He had to shout to be heard. She nodded and mouthed
I just wanted to tell you what you did tonight for that lady was very
kind. I was very proud of you.
She grinned at him, bobbing her head to the music, and kissed his cheek.
He swung her around again and they moved off for a circuit of the dance floor.
They were halfway round when they came across JD and Casey. With mutual agreement
the men swapped partners.
JD propped the little girl on his hip and clasped her hand out in front of
them, arm stretched. They proceeded to perform a parody of a Tango. They
were both in fits of hysterics when Vin and Jo literally stumbled over them.
Hey Vin, Jo. JD grinned at them.
Jo decided to take a rest, she was no slouch in the fitness department but
frankly the Texan had her beat. JD offered to escort her back to the bar
to find the others and Vin scooped up Rorie and set about jiving.
The two had danced together at home quite a lot, to various types of music.
Ezra had a huge range of musical styles in his collection and when she danced
with him she liked to slow dance, just because she didnt actually have
to dance but got to cuddle up to his chest while he rocked her. With Vin
she liked jiving the best. Hed throw her around with abandon, turning
her upside down, sliding her across his shoulders or around his back. Their
preferred music was Elvis but the current tune, Queens Crazy
Little Thing Called Love, was okay too.
By the time the music changed again theyd gathered quite an audience.
Hurriedly shuffling off to one side, the color staining his cheeks owing
more to embarrassment than exertion, Vin came face to face with the elder
Good evening Mrs Travis, Sir. Vin pinched Rories leg and
she parroted Good evening.
Hello Vin. You must be Rorie. Evie Travis smiled at the flushed
little girl on Vins hip as she nodded, yes. Ive heard a
lot about you. Ill be looking forward to getting to know you better
at Chriss 4th of July barbeque. I have to tell you though,
before Vin bears you away, that I think the things you said tonight were
very nice. My son died a few years ago and your words made me remember him
fondly. Thank you.
Rorie looked at the attractive grandmotherly woman solemnly. Youre
Taking their leave Vin grew concerned at the childs silence.
Pumpkin? Ya okay? She nodded against his shoulder but remained
quiet. Ya wanna take a walk around the garden with me?
She raised her head and looked into his concerned blue eyes. Yahuh.
Thatd be good Uncle Vin. Specially if you carry me.
Vin laughed. It aint a walk if ya ride, pumpkin, but since yer
m favourite short person Ill give ya a lift. Vin strolled
around the grounds, the little head on his shoulder, telling her about the
stars and the animal noises they could made out over the muted sounds of
the party. By the time he arrived back at the bar where the rest of the team
were gathered she was sound asleep and drooling on his tux.
Ezra smiled at the picture they presented and made his excuses. Taking the
slumbering bundle from the Sharpshooter he bade everyone goodnight and left
to retrieve the Jag.
He came awake abruptly, recognizing another
presence. Sensing no threat, Ezra glanced around and saw his pyjama clad
daughter, standing silent and still in the shadows beside the bed. Wordlessly
he lifted the covers in invitation, waiting until she climbed in beside him.
Rorie shuffled around getting comfortable, finally settling flat on her belly,
straddling her fathers chest.
Ezra could feel the gentle huff of her breathing against his skin. He knew
she was still awake and waited patiently to find out what was bothering her.
Eventually, after considerable time had passed, she spoke.
Daddy? Are you awake.
What for? You havent done anything wrong.
I woke you up.
Thats okay dahlin. You can talk to me whenever you want,
even in the middle of the night, you know that. Are you ready to tell me
whats on your mind?
She was silent again for a minute.
Why did everyone make such a fuss about what I said to that Lady? It
was only the truth.
Ezra paused. Josiahs words ran through his head. He needed to downplay
it, not make more of a scene, or as she termed it, a fuss.
Yes it was the truth. It wasnt so much what you said, honeybee,
as how you said it. Mrs Redman was sad because her husband had died. Many
grown-ups dont know what to say to people who have lost a loved one.
You had the courage to express what most adults dont.
Why dont they? Is it bad to talk about it?
No. Its good to talk about it, if you can say whats in
your heart without causing more pain. Most people are afraid they will say
the wrong thing and so they say nothing at all. You stood up there tonight
and the manner in which you spoke, straight from the heart,
gave comfort to someone who was hurting. I was very proud of you. I know
it must still hurt when you think about your mom.
Sometimes I guess. I miss not having her to cuddle and the way we did
stuff together. We had a lot of fun. But yknow its true that
I can still tell her about my day and show her my work and play piano for
her. I just cant see the soppy look on her face when I do it. Sometimes,
when Im having fun with you, or with Uncle Vin or Uncle Buck or one
of the others, I think about her and how she must be laughing at my mischief.
She laughed a lot.
He placed a gentle kiss on her curls. I know. I remember her too.
But then I remember shes here, she squished her hand between
their bodies and tapped her chest, and I know shes having fun
with me on the inside.
Ezra smiled at the innocent way she expressed herself. Things were so much
clearer to a child.
I bet she is.
She used to say youd bet on anything! Ezra chuckled. Rorie
pressed her ear tight against his skin and listened contentedly to the rumble.
There was another long pause. Sensing she hadnt finished he waited
Daddy? Her voice dropped to a whisper.
Can I tell you something awful?
Craning his neck he looked down at the top of her head with concern.
Sweetheart you can tell me anything. He held his breath.
Im glad she died. His mouth fell open and he snapped it
shut. This was dangerous ground. Hed have to tread warily if he
wasnt to alienate her completely.
Why would you be glad Rorie? His voice was gentle.
She was very sick. She pretended that she was okay when I was there
but her face was grey. I think shes happier now.
I see. So youre glad because she doesnt hurt anymore?
Yahuh. I dont have to be sad. I can still be happy and have fun.
Do you see? He nodded and then realised she couldnt see him.
Yes I understand. Thats not awful, honeybee. Thats a good
thing. You would rather miss her than have her here and in pain. It means
you loved her a lot.
Yeah. I think its kinda cool cause shes happy now
and so am I.
Of course. I have you and Uncle Vin and a whole big family. Theres
always someone to play with, or talk to or play pranks on and thats
fun to have. Mummys still here even if I cant see her. And now
Ive got you to give me cuddles and kisses and
Punishments, dont forget those, and vegetables, and trips to
the dentist, and
Daddy! Youre silly. She chuckled and he laughed.
I had fun tonight, Daddy. Thank you for letting me be your date.
She yawned widely.
I had fun too Honeybee. Thank you for coming with me. You were beautifully
behaved and I was very proud of you.
Gnight Daddy. I love you
Good night, Sweetheart. I love you too. But she was already asleep.