Denver Country Club. Two men sharing a drink on the deck.
Orin Travis held out a photograph of a small boy in a red t-shirt that proclaimed 'In My Defence I Was Left Unsupervised.'. "Evie found this in a catalogue somewhere and bought one for our grandson. I'm thinking of seeing if they have them in adult sizes."
His companion laughed. "That ATF team you supervise." He nodded, understandingly. "Team Seven, isn't it?"
"Yes, appropriately enough, as there are seven of them. Standish is the worst, closely followed by Tanner and Wilmington, though the others aren't far behind. Especially Dunne. Standish calls it 'being creative.' I have my own words for it," he added ruefully, making his companion laugh once again.
"Half of which you wouldn't use in front of Evie," he said.
"Any of which I wouldn't dare use in front of Evie," Travis corrected. "Especially since they were kind enough to help her out by soliciting donations for her fundraiser last month. I'm not asking how they got that donation out of Alderman Cartwright and I don't even want to know how they got Mitchell Planter to play ball," he named two of the biggest, most notorious, misers in Denver society. "I can understand Catherine Marletti - she's known to have a weakness for a certain type of young man - and Tanner does clean up alright, if you can get him into some decent clothes, but the others, well . . . "
"From what I've heard, I wouldn't be surprised if Wilmington had a hand in some of the other female names on the list." Both men laughed at that, picking up their drinks and looking out over the grounds of the club. "I know my Lena has said he could have anything he wanted from her. 'Anything at all,' apparently," he quoted, amused. "And that dark-haired boy that fixed her cell phone for her the other week, when it decided to go all wonky after that update."
"Mmm . . . she thought he was adorable. Which reminds me - she said to tell you that if anything happens to. . . " he paused, " . . . 'that boy,' she's going to hold you personally responsible."
Travis laughed with a mock shudder, thinking of the feisty 75-year-old woman. "Well, I'll try, but there's only so much I can do. They are supposedly adults and it isn't always a safe world out there." He sobered, thinking of the things he'd seen in his past and the things that he was still seeing now. He blinked as he realised his friend was still talking. "I'm sorry?"
"I said, it's just a shame our granddaughter is so young or I think she'd have been trying to fix Dunne up with her."
There was a small snort before another swig of his drink. "How old is Sally now?"
"Fifteen," came back the response, elicting a wince from the other man.
"I remember when she was born. Was it really 15 years ago?"
"Nearly 16. She's quite the young woman, now. Lena's talking about taking her to that charity ball your Evie's holding in a couple of months. Sally'll be 16 by then and apparently your team are going to be there."
"Ye-es," came the reluctant reply. Travis well aware of just how much havoc his team could create in a ballroom. Almost as much as in a warehouse full of criminals with guns. He remembered watching the video of their last bust: Larabee standing, gun in hand, in the middle of the room as the smoke cleared, looking like an Old West gunfighter, with that long duster he insisted on wearing flapping in the breeze.
Tanner - rappelling down from the rafters, his rifle slung over his shoulder by its strap.
Sanchez - the oldest and most experienced, who should have been setting a good example for the younger men - holding one criminal up against a wall with one hand on his neck and a look of unholy glee on his face.
Dunne, supposedly in the surveillance van, but instead, standing just behind Larabee with 'two' guns in his hands, looking around with an expression as if vaguely disappointed that there was no-one left to shoot.
Standish, off to one side, leaning elegantly against a pile of smashed crates, drinking from a flask that he would later innocently claim held, "Fruit juice, Judge, nothing but fruit juice!" (Travis had known better than to ask whether said juice was fermented or not, although he had been tempted.)
Jackson - whom he had always thought marginally more responsible than the others, over against the far wall, with his gun stuffed in his belt, in an argument with Wilmington, who was bleeding sluggishly from a graze to his arm. Both men had looked ready to come to blows with each other, never mind that they were supposed to be on the same team . . .
Wood from the shattered crates was spread across the floor, mixing with cartridges, bodies - none dead, if he remembered correctly, but not all of them conscious - and more than a few of the contraband guns that the lawmen were supposed to have been confiscating. Travis sighed. The clean-up from that one - physical and legal - was still going on.
Although, to be fair, Team Seven would have more supervision in the ballroom . . . He decided to make enquiries about those shirts after all.
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