House Rules

by Luna Dey

AUTHOR'S NOTES: I'd like to thank Sarah for thinking up this great new AU, and allowing us to play in her sandbox. Another big thank you goes to our beta, Antoinette/RiverOtter. Your help and guidance is greatly appreciated.

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)

Pit boss, Ezra Standish, watched as a player at craps table eight switched dice. The untrained eye would never have caught it. He sighed heavily, tired of their attempts to slip one past him. Switching dice was one of the most common ways people tried to cheat, and they never learned that in the end they would get caught. He watched the next few passes of the dice, to be sure that the ones now on the table were truly loaded, before he keyed the mic on his headset and signaled the surveillance room. Keeping his voice low, and avoiding looking directly at the craps player so as not to alert him that he'd been caught, Ezra spoke to Vin Tanner. "Security needed at table eight."

"On their way." Vin was a man of few words, unless the topic was something he was truly passionate about. "Wait, until they get close."

"Don't I always, Mr. Tanner?" The crowd was heavy around the table. People always got excited and moved in to watch when someone hit a winning streak. It took some maneuvering, but he finally reached a spot just behind and to the side of the player and waited for security.

Security was just getting into place when he saw Chris step out onto the casino floor near table eight. Ezra got ready to make his move to detain the player, and he saw his boss step up the pace to be there when things started to happen.

Ezra slipped in beside the player and put a firm hand on his shoulder. "I apologize, ladies and gentlemen. This table is now closed. If you would like to continue playing, table ten will be open in about five minutes." He tightened his grip on his cheater when the man tried to move away with the rest of the crowd. "Now, now...there is no need to be in such a hurry." The dice were still on the table so there was no way the man could try to switch them back. "Let's take a look at these lucky dice of yours. Shall we?"

"I don't know what you're talking about. I was just having a run of good luck that's all." The man looked around nervously and saw the security guards close in on him.

"If it truly is a run of good luck, then of course we intend to see that you get everything that you have won." The smooth southern lilt of his voice did nothing to put the cheater at ease. "But, as I'm sure we'll see, you've been using loaded dice, and loaded dice get you a stay in a suite with bars on the door." Ezra scooped up the dice and relinquished his hold on the man's shoulder when the guards flanked him. It took only a few moments to check the dice and determine that they were indeed loaded. "I think if you check his right pants pocket you'll find our dice. He dropped them in there when he retrieved a handkerchief earlier."

Chris had stopped just behind the man, and he slipped a hand into the man's pants pocket and pulled out the pair of dice. "Wonder how you're going to try to explain these now?" His piercing green eyes nearly burned a hole through the offender, who had realized that there was no talking his way out of this one. "Take him up to holding room three, and ask Vin to notify the police that we have a pick up."

The two guards took the man by the arms and escorted him off the casino floor. When they were out of sight, Chris turned back to talk to his head pit boss. "Good job. No one upstairs caught what he'd done."

"Thank you. However, I was just doing the job I'm getting paid to do." Trust was an issue between them, and he knew that he had not yet gained his boss's full trust. When he thought about it, he really couldn't blame the older man for holding back, after all, he had never gotten over the casino owner cutting him that deal that kept him out of jail. How many times had he overheard it said, 'Once a cheat, always a cheat?'

"Yes...well...I'll have JD go over the surveillance footage to get the tape of the switch. Can you tell us what to look for?"

"A couple passes before he gets out his handkerchief, he palms the dice and slips in the loaded ones. He was shooting left handed but while everyone was focused on the dice he rolled he switched ours to his right hand. He held them for a couple passes then pocketed them when he got out the handkerchief." The cheater had been really slick in the exchange, and Ezra had to give him credit for being good. But, he hadn't been good enough.

"Thanks." Chris did not bother to wait for a response. He just turned away and headed back to the surveillance room.

Ezra watched him go and wondered if Chris would ever admit that Orin had been right when he offered the deal to him. He still held out the hope that the day would come when Chris would realize that he was being straight with him. But that wouldn't happen right at this moment, because his boss was most likely on his way to have a talk with the occupant of holding room three.

"Driver! How much longer until we reach the Montecito?"

"Just a few minutes, Ma'am. It is only a few more blocks," the driver called back to her.

The passenger resigned herself to waiting. She watched the various casinos passing the side window, and reminisced about times she had visited most of them. It was curious that she'd never made it to the Montecito before, but it was a relatively new hotel compared to many of the others. It just took time to work her way down the list to get to it. If it hadn't been for information she got from a friend, this trip might not be happening. This time of year usually found her in Atlantic City.

At last the limo pulled to a stop in front of the renowned casino, and a valet rushed forward to open the door for her.

"Welcome to the Montecito." Greg held out a hand to help her out of the car. "I'll see to bringing in your bags. The registration desk is inside just to the left." He quickly loaded the large, overstuffed suitcases onto a luggage cart and followed her inside, where a bellman stepped forward to relieve him of the cart. "I hope you enjoy you stay."

"Thank you. I'm sure I shall." Before the valet could walk away, she smiled and caught his hand to slip him a very generous tip.

"No. Thank you. If there is anything I can do for you, please don't hesitate to ask." He gave a half bow and excused himself to go back outside.

She watched the young man exit the lobby and smiled when she saw him glance at the money in his hand. He grinned and quickly stuffed the hundred-dollar bill into his pocket. She always tried to ensure that her image as a high roller stayed intact. .

Inside the bellman waited patiently while she got checked in. It didn't take too long to get things settled, and the clerk handed the bellman her key card. "You're in room 1215, one of our best suites. If there is anything you need to make your stay more comfortable or enjoyable, don't hesitate to ask."

"Thank you." She followed the young gentleman and her cart full of luggage toward the bank of elevators. As they turned a corner one of her bags slipped and nearly toppled off the stack. "Careful with those bags young man. Those are Pégase by Louis Vuitton, and I'll not have you damaging them." Her clear voice carried through the corridor.

Ezra's head snapped around at the sound of the voice, startling Josiah and Buck Wilmington, the casino's Hospitality Host. He scanned the area looking for the source of the voice and found it, just about the time that Josiah saw her too.

"Now, that, my friends, is proof that there is a god." Josiah sighed and looked longingly at the lovely woman standing barely thirty feet away.

Ezra moved toward the elevators, a mix of emotions on his face. "Mother?"

"Mother?" Josiah sounded incredulous. "I always thought Ezra was raised by wolves."

"Mother? What are you doing here?"

"Ezra? Why my darling boy. What a surprise to see you here." She leaned slightly closer when he moved to kiss her on the cheek.

"Somehow I doubt that."

"Hey, Ez. You going to introduce us or keep her to yourself?" Buck graced her with one of his most charming smiles.

"Excuse me, gentlemen. This is my mother, Maude Standish. Mother, this is the casino's Hospitality Host, Buck Wilmington, and Josiah Sanchez is Head Valet." As he presented her to each of them men, she held out her hand to each in turn.

"The pleasure is all mine." Buck took her hand and gave her a slight bow in greeting.

Josiah accepted her hand like it was a precious gift, bowing his head; he brought her hand to his lips. "Dear lady, if you need anything...anything at all, during your stay, call me...night or day."

"My goodness! You'll have me blushing like a school girl if you keep fussing over me like that." She batted her eyes and smiled coyly at him.

"Mother. I'd like an answer. What are you doing here?" Ezra had recovered from his shock and managed to keep his expression blank, so as to keep the concern he felt from showing. He knew this woman, and having her show up here now could not be good.

"Oh, all right. A little birdie told me that you were working here, and I just had to come and see my darling boy. Is there anything wrong with a mother wanting to surprise her son?" She sounded every bit like a doting mother.

"Not under normal circumstances. But...."

Before he could continue, Maude held up a hand to stop him. "Now, Ezra, darling. We have plenty of time to catch up. But, at the moment, I'd like to get settled in my room. It has been a long trip."

Josiah took the key card and waved the bellman away so he could take over the luggage rack and escort this extraordinary woman upstairs. "If you'll allow me, I'll see you to your room." He motioned her into the elevator ahead of him and followed with the luggage.

"Thank you. It's room 1215." Maude made sure to say it loud enough for those waiting to hear as the elevator doors closed separating mother and son.

Ezra watched his mother leave with mixed emotions. He had not seen her in over three years and it was good to see her. But, he could not get rid of the sinking feeling in his gut that her arrival would lead to trouble.

"Mr. Wilmington, if you'll excuse me."

He went back to the pits and motioned one of the replacements to him. "Miss Hart, I am going to take a break. I need you to supervise the pits for the next hour."

"Certainly, Mr. Standish. If anything comes up, I'll have you paged." Cheryl Hart, Ezra's second in command when it came to the full range of game pits, stepped in and automatically scanned the area to see which pit boss was working at each individual pit.

"Thank you. I shouldn't be any longer than that."

Without any more hesitation, he headed straight for the elevator and hit the button for the twelfth floor. He had no intention of letting his mother get fully settled in until he had a chance to talk to her and try to determine her true intentions for being here.

As he approached room 1215 he could see the door was still open and hear voices coming from inside. He recognized Josiah's deep rumble. Upon reaching the door he didn't even pause to knock. He walked in just as Josiah finished explaining some of the amenities to be found in the high roller's suite.

"Would you like me to open the drapes for you so you can enjoy a view of the strip?"

"That would be lovely. Do you always give such personal service to your guests?" Maude sat her handbag on the credenza and strolled slowly across the room to stand in front of the large window that now offered a view of several of the Montecito's neighboring casinos.

"Only our very special guests."

"Mr. Sanchez. I'm sure that my mother would agree that as family, she really does not need the red carpet treatment." Ezra watched his mother's reaction and saw a slight tightening of her mouth. He had struck a nerve.

"Yes, well, Ezra's right, but simply because I'm family, doesn't mean that I'm not flattered by the attention." She smiled almost seductively at Josiah, causing a soft blush to creep into his cheeks.

"Any time, Ma'am."

"Oh no, that just won't do. Won't do at all. I'll have none of the Ma'am stuff. It makes me feel old. must call me Maude." Her eyes met his, and she graced him with another sultry smile.

"All right, Maude. If you need anything, be sure to call." Josiah nodded to Ezra on his way out, and he grabbed the now empty luggage rack and wheeled it out ahead of him.

"Now, Mother, we're alone. I want to know what you are really doing here?" Ezra had closed the door, and now moved to sit on the over-stuffed couch.

"Darling, is that any way to great your mother? How long has it been? Two years?" She took a seat next to him on the sofa.

"Try over three years, Mother." He pushed back the feeling of disappointment that he suddenly felt. "Over three years, without a word from you. What do you want here?"

"I wanted to see you, dear." Her hand slipped over his where he had it resting on his knee. "And, of course, I came to play."

"Mother, I must insist that you do not stay here. If you try to cheat the system, I cannot turn a blind eye to that. You must play by the house rules even if you are my mother." He hoped that he could get her to see reason, but this was Maude Standish, and he didn't get his own stubborn streak from a doorjamb. He came by it naturally.

"You can't really mean that you are taking this job seriously?" When he did not respond immediately, she looked deeply into his eyes as if trying to read his mind. "You do! My dear boy, how could you waste your god given talents by working for a living? How on earth did you come to this?"

"As usual, Mother, you don't ask the right questions. How about asking if I'm happy working here? How about asking if I'm happy at all?" He tried to pull his hand away from hers but she tightened her grip.

"Well, of course you couldn't possibly be happy wasting away here. I didn't teach you all I know to have you playing at being an honest employee making money for someone else."

"That's where you're wrong. Actually, I am happy here. I make a good living for myself. I have a steady cash flow, and I don't have to keep looking over my shoulder wondering when I'm going to get busted." Ezra got up, and put some distance between his mother and himself.

"Darling, you would never get caught. I taught you too well for that," Maude said.

"Apparently not as well as you thought. I did get busted. I got this job because they caught me trying to run the tables. I'd done it several times before, successfully, but that time I made one tiny mistake." Ezra leaned back against the desk and stared at the toe of his shoe.

"Never! You'd never make a mistake like that."

"Well, I did, and I was headed for jail. They had me dead to rights, right there on video tape." It still embarrassed him to admit that he'd been caught. "But the owner, made me a deal. If I worked here and taught the staff how to recognize cheaters, he'd not press charges."

"Surely he didn't say you had to work here forever." Maude looked at him, clearly not believing his tale. "You haven't been showing them everything have you?"

"No, not forever. I had to stay a minimum of one year, and yes, I've shown them all I can." He looked up, raising his chin defiantly as she spoke to her.

"But, it's been three years. You aren't bound to stay her any longer," she pointed out.

"True. But I like it here, and I don't intend to let you ruin things for me." Ezra stared his mother straight in the eye. He meant what he said and he hoped she got the message.

"You can't...." She stopped mid-sentence and reconsidered. "Not unless you've been working on an angle of your own. That's it, isn't it? You're just lulling them into believing you've suddenly turned all respectable?"

"No angle, Mother. I'm glad to see you. It has been a long time, but be warned. If you try to pull something, a con or a cheat of any kind, I will turn you in." He wasn't going to turn a blind eye to her actions and give up the good life he had now, not to mention the trust he had earned from his co-workers. He started for the door and paused just as he was ready to open it. "I will be watching you, Mother, and I will catch you if you cheat."

With that said, he left her sitting on the sofa, alone in the room. He knew just what he had to do next, and it wasn't something he was looking forward to.

Chris entered the surveillance room after checking to see that the man in holding room three was secure in the room. He would let the guy sweat a while before going in to question him. In the mean time, he wanted to check with JD and see if he had located the film footage they needed as evidence.

"Found anything yet, JD?"

"Yep. Got it all right here." He hit a button on the console and one of the monitors lit up with the image of their suspect. When the speed was slowed down the switch was obvious.

"Good job, Kid."

"Thanks, but it was Ezra who really did the good job on this one. There's no way I would have seen that switch."

"Yeah, he does have a good eye." It still rubbed him the wrong way to have to rely on a con man for such an important job. He just couldn't totally shake the feeling that he could double-cross them and let someone he knew take the casino for some big bucks. "Speaking of Ezra, where is he? I don't see him down in the pits."

JD studied the monitors and then shook his head. "He's not down there. I see Cheryl in his place. He must have had to take a break."

"See if you can find him." There was that uneasy feeling again.

Images on the screen flipped by in rapid succession as the facial recognition software studied the images from all the cameras. Finally, it stopped on the image of their pit boss exiting one of the guest rooms.

"What the hell is he doing up there?" Chris frowned. "Back up that tape and see what took place before that."

"I can get him coming out of the elevator and walking into the room. Look that's Josiah coming out with the luggage rack. Whoever is in there must really be a VIP or he wouldn't have gone up there personally." JD worked the controls and rolled the images back farther to see whom Josiah had taken into the high roller's suite. "It's a woman."

"One he apparently knows very well, or he wouldn't have just walked into the room like he owned the place." This was really setting off alarm bells. "Follow Ezra back to see if you can tell when he hooked up with her."

"That won't be necessary, Mr. Larabee."

Chris jumped slightly and turned toward the unexpected voice. He felt a little stirring of guilt at spying on one of his own team, but the good of the Montecito had to come first.

"You'll see that I 'hooked up with her' outside the first floor elevators."

"So who is she?" Chris refused to second-guess his own gut reactions, and something about the appearance of this woman did not sit well at all.

"My mother." Ezra stood there calmly while the others in the room digested that little gem of information.

"Your Mother!"

"Yes, Mr. Larabee. I do have one. I didn't simply pop up out of the ground."

Chris realized that he had put Ezra on the defensive, and he thought some damage control was in order. "Sorry, I didn't mean it to sound like that. You just never mentioned her before."

"For good reason." He sighed and plunged on ahead. "I had hoped that she would never show her face here, that perhaps she had not discovered that I now work here."

"You didn't want to see your own mother?" JD asked, and he stared at Ezra in disbelief.

"It isn't that I never wanted to see her again. Just not here." He turned his attention back to his boss. "I feel it necessary to inform you that someone will have to keep a very close watch on her any time she's at the tables. I intend to try to be on hand to observe her myself, but I do have to eat and sleep. Someone very good will need to tail her when I can't."

"Are you saying that she will try to cheat?" Chris was stunned that Ezra would rat out his own mother.

"Mother rarely cheats, at least nothing obvious like switching dice, or palming cards, but she is very adept at counting cards, among other things. Let's put it this way. She taught me everything I know." He clasped his hands behind his back and stood there waiting for a response.

"Wow!" JD's eyes grew wide with wonder. "She's gotta be good then."

"She is. She's the best." A half smile intimated at the pride he had for her skills. "But, even the best can make a mistake. Her's was coming here."

"All right, who do you want working with you to keep tabs on her?" Chris looked over the schedule for all the pit bosses under Ezra's supervision. "Cheryl is your second."

"Yes, but I don't want it to be obvious. If she tries something it will probably be when I'm off duty." He looked over the list Chris handed him. "Let me use Jess and Amy. They have both done extremely well under my tutelage."

"Are you sure you can handle this? It could be a real conflict of interest." Chris wanted to give him a way out of this awkward situation. Plus, he knew he would have to keep tight surveillance on both of them, and he really did not want to face the possibility that Ezra would let them down.

"I assure you, I can handle this. I've already warned her that I will not overlook any deception on her part." The firm set of Ezra's jaw left no doubt that, for him at least, the matter was closed.

"Okay, let's get them in here for a briefing. JD, you keep an eye on her room, and if she comes out, let us know." He nodded toward his office, and Ezra followed him inside.

Orin Travis slit open the envelope marked personal, and noticed there was no return address. There was one sheet of paper inside, and his hands started to shake as he read its contents. The chair nearly tipped over when he jumped up from his seat and began to pace around the office. A second look at the letter changed nothing. The contents were still the same.

"I need Chris Larabee up here, now," he barked into the intercom.

"I'll get him right away, Sir." His secretary's calm voice was reassuring.

A few minutes passed as he waited to hear if Chris would be available. He couldn't stay away from the letter. It pulled at him like a magnet, its words taunting him.

The buzzer on his phone sounded and he hit the intercom button. "Yes."

"Mr. Larabee is on his way up."

"Thank you, Shirley. Just send him on in when he gets here." He released the connection and picked up the letter to read it for the tenth time since he opened it only a few minutes ago.

There was a faint knock on the door, and it opened. Chris stepped inside and closed the door firmly behind him. "You needed me? Shirley made it sound like it was urgent."

"It might be. Here, take a look at this." He handed the letter across the desk and gave him a couple minutes to read it over. "What's your take on that? Do you think there could be any chance this guy's legit?"

Chris didn't answer immediately, instead he read through the message once more. "From what you've told me about your son's death, it sounds like this guy has some knowledge of what happened. Is there anything in this letter that wasn't released to the public?"

Orin nodded. "Yes. It was never released that there had been a note left with Steven's body."

"Then I would say this definitely needs to be followed up. Let me see if I can get us some help. I have a few favors I can call in." Chris's gaze turned hard and cold. "If someone has information about who killed your son, we'll find him."

"But he wants me to contact him today."

"Go ahead and make the call, but when you do I want to be on the line too." Chris was back in his own element, back to his FBI days. "I can feed you the responses we need you to give him so we can try to stall for time. We'll need as much time as we can get to try to trace anything back to him."

"Okay. I'm trusting you on this. I know you've dealt with this kind of thing before." Orin was still visibly shaken, but he still commanded an air of authority. "Do what ever you have to do. I want my son's murderer caught."

"We'll do all we can. I need to take this, but I'll leave a photocopy of it for you. I'll be back when it is time for you to make that call." Chris took the letter and the envelope and started out the door.

"Chris..." Orin paused a moment until Chris stopped and turned to look at him. "Thank you."

"No problem." He nodded to the older man. "If he can be found, we'll find him."

After stopping to talk to Cheryl to let her know he would be off the floor longer than he had originally anticipated, Ezra headed to Mystique to take a break. It was still early in the day, so the nightclub wasn't open to the public yet. Fortunately, he was on good terms with Inez, the club manager, and he knew she wouldn't mind if he ducked in there to find a quiet spot to think.

Once inside, he slipped into a booth in the back where he hoped he wouldn't be noticed. He was such a jumble of conflicting emotions, and he knew that he had to get his head straight again to be able to be focused enough to do his job. He leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. He knew he had done the right thing by warning Chris, but that didn't make it any easier to deal with the knowledge that he had put security onto his own mother.

He dreaded facing her again, but before the evening was over she would most certainly make her way down to the casino. She could not resist a chance to hit the poker tables, and he would have to be there, and be on the top of his game.

"Ezra?" The soft Hispanic voice pulled him out of his reverie.

"Inez! Please excuse my intrusion." He graced her with one of his smiles that showed off his dimples and a flash of gold from his gold tooth. "I needed somewhere to think and this was one of the quietest places I could think of for this time of day."

"I hope I didn't disturb you," Inez said as she took a seat opposite from him. "You looked like you could use someone to talk to."

"Thank you, my dear. I appreciate your concern, but I am afraid this is something I have to handle myself." He reached across the table to take hold of her hand, and he gave it a gentle squeeze. "But, I know I can always count on you to lend a friendly ear when I need one."

She squeezed his hand in return. "Any time."

At that moment their attentions were drawn to a lovely dark skinned woman who entered the club. She carried herself with such poise and grace that it was difficult to take your eyes off of her.

"Oh, I very nearly forgot that I had an audition scheduled. Would you like to help me? A second opinion is always a good thing." Inez smiled and motioned for the newcomer to join them. "Ezra, this is Rain Gennessee, she's auditioning for the vacant spot in our evening line up. Rain, this is Ezra Standish, the Montecito's head pit boss."

"Very nice to meet you, Miss Gennessee."

"It's nice to meet you too, Mr. Standish." Rain held out her hand to shake his and smiled at his gentle touch.

"Ezra, please."

"Did you bring any music with you?" Inez looked at the small purse in the other woman's hand. "I doubt that you could fit much in that."

"No." Rain laughed, and it was almost music in itself. "Anyone can audition with music to cover their mistakes. I always audition with my voice alone."

"All right. Let's hear what you can do." Inez settled back in her seat and made herself more comfortable.

Rain moved confidently to the stage. She laid her purse aside on one of the front tables before going up the four steps and then turning to face them. "Is there any type of music that you would prefer?"

The next fifteen minutes passed quickly as Inez and Ezra took turns playing stump the singer, but no matter what title they tossed her way, she knew it. She had a superb voice, and eventually Inez stopped her with her applause.

"Excellent! How soon can you start?"

Trying to stay unobtrusive while the ladies worked out the details, Ezra slipped away to get himself a cup of coffee from behind the bar. When he returned the two women were just wrapping up.

"Thank you, Miss Recillos. I'll see you Monday evening."

"Are you leaving so soon?" Ezra asked, and she nodded in reply. "I'll walk out with you. I need to be returning to work." He held up the coffee cup. "I'll bring your cup back later when I can get away for a few minutes." Falling into step next to Rain, he pushed the door open and allowed her to exit first. "Congratulations on the new job. I'm sure you will like it here at the Montecito."

"I'm sure I will. Thank you." She looked back and waved as she walked away.

"Who was that?"

Ezra turned, startled by the voice that came from directly behind him. "Mr. Jackson, you should know not to go sneaking up on people like that. It could prove to be hazardous for your health."

"Uh who was that?" Nathan wasn't the slightest bit put off by Ezra's comments.

"That, my friend, is Rain Gennessee. She's going to be a new lounge singer at Mystique. She just finished her audition for Inez." He grinned at the stunned look on the doctor's face. He hadn't been able to take his eyes off the lovely young woman until she was completely lost in the crowd.

"Now that's one act that I hope I get a chance to see." Nathan finally pulled his gaze away from the spot where she had disappeared in the throng of people.

"I am sure you will enjoy it. She has an amazing voice," Ezra said. "I hate to cut our little chat short, but I really should get back to the pits. I've been away too long as it is."

Chris pulled his attention away from the monitor, where he had been watching Ezra's mother, and took the steps up to his office two at a time. At the top he made sure to close the door behind him before taking his seat behind the oversized desk. Across the room he could still see the activity down in the main surveillance room through the glass wall of the office.

"Chris Larabee here," he said. "Frank! Good to hear from you. I didn't think we'd hear anything this soon, it's only been a couple of days." As he spoke he rummaged through his desk for the pad he had been taking notes on about Steven Travis's murder. "Did you find anything that might help us?"

He scratched out notes as quickly as he could in an attempt to keep up. "Hold on. Are you saying that you actually got prints off that letter?"

As he listened to Frank's explanation, he picked up his cell phone and tapped in a text message to Buck, asking him to come to the office. Buck was never going to believe this.

"Frank, I owe you one. This is definitely good news and I'll be waiting for your agent." He breathed a sigh of relief. When Buck knocked on the door he motioned for him to come on in. "Thank you, Frank. I'll catch you later."

"Buck, have a seat. I've got news." He plopped the phone receiver back in its cradle, and grinned as he leaned forward resting his arms on his desk. "They got a clear thumb print from the letter."

"After all you and Travis handled it? How is that possible?"

"They got it from the center of the back side of the paper. Right where the sender held it while he stuffed the folded paper into the envelope." He watched his old friend while he pondered on the possibility and saw the smile turn up the corners of his mouth the moment he realized just how it could happen.

"We have to be dealin' with one stupid crook. I mean the guy didn't even wear gloves?" Buck shook his head in disbelief. "Did he think that Travis wouldn't try to find out who sent it?"

"That was what I thought too. Anyway, Frank has already dispatched an agent from the Vegas office to go pick him up and bring him here." He paused, deep in thought for a few moments. "What do you think? Should we bring Travis in now, or wait until we talk to this guy?"

"I'd wait." Buck rested his chin in his hand and stroked his upper lip as he considered the situation. " Who knows, he might just be some kook who overheard someone 'in the know' talking about the note. He might not know a thing, and there is no need to put Orin through all that."

"I agree. Just wanted a second opinion." Chris fiddled with the pen he'd left lying on the note pad in front of him. "So, you in a position to be able to stick around for this, or do you have someone you need to be catering to?"

"I don't have any whales coming in until tomorrow. My other high rollers are all busy with their favorite games or have headed off to a show. I've got some time on my hands." He settled back into the chair and stretched his legs out in front of him. "Any idea when they'll be here?"

"Hopefully, soon. Want a cup of coffee while we wait?"


Before he could hit the intercom to request their coffee, it buzzed, and Chris punched the button. "Yes."

"Mr. Larabee, there is a man here who says you are expecting him, but he won't give me his name." Chris could hear the exasperation in her voice. She was a stickler for details, and she didn't like it when someone didn't cooperate with her in her effort to do her job.

"Thanks, Sally. We'll be right out." He nodded to Buck and pushed himself up out of his chair. "Looks like that coffee will have to wait. It's show time."

Out in the reception area a man waited, standing tall with his hands clasped in front of him. He watched Chris and Buck as they walked toward him. Once they were close enough, he held a hand out. "Chris Larabee?"

"Yes, I'm Chris Larabee. This is my associate Buck Wilmington, and you are?" He clasped the offered hand and gave it a firm handshake.

"I am Agent Jeffrey Talbot. I understand that I have someone with me that you are anxious to talk to." He reclasped his hands and resumed his former stance.

"That you do. Where did you put him?" Chris motioned toward the outer door to the reception area and allowed Talbot and Buck to go out ahead of him.

"One of your security officers had me leave him in holding room one. I've been instructed to stay while you question him, and I've been given authority to make some offers if he proves to have information we can use." Talbot stopped outside the holding room door and waited for the guard to unlock it. This time he held back and let the Montecito men go in ahead of him.

At the table in the center of the room sat a small man, skinny, with thinning sandy hair. His face was gaunt and his dark eyes had a haunted look to them. Chris wasn't sure if his appearance was from over three years of wrestling with the demons formed by terrible memories, or it he was just another drug addict looking for a way to earn a quick buck.

"Gentlemen, this is Frasier King," Talbot said.

Chris took a seat on the opposite side of the table, and tried to assess King while he waited for Buck to join him. The little man reminded him of ferret, small beady eyes, and a nervous disposition. He sat and stared without saying a word, watching King start to shrink down in his chair under his intense gaze.

After a few minutes Buck sat forward, leaning across the table slightly. "I think you'd better start talking, because my friend here has a lot less patience than I do."

King looked quickly from one man to the other and swallowed hard when he saw the menace in Chris's eyes. "I didn't do anything." He looked toward the locked door and the FBI agent who stood impassively beside it.

In a quick, sudden movement, Chris lunged across the table and grabbed the seedy rodent of a man by the front of his shirt. "You sent a letter to Orin Travis offering information about his son's murder. There was information in that letter you couldn't have had if you weren't there."

Buck stood slowly and put a restraining hand on Chris's arm. "Easy... Let go of him. We need to listen to what he's got to say. Maybe he's got some other explanation other than that he's the killer."

King's eyes grew wide and he gasped when he heard the word killer. He looked down at the fingers that still clung to his shirt, and then back at Buck, shaking his head. "No...No...I didn't kill anybody, but I know who did."

"Then I suggest you start talking." Buck made a show of getting Chris to let go and sit back down. "What do you know about Steven Travis's murder?"

"I worked at the news station. I was the night janitor," he began with a nervous glance at Chris. "I didn't do anything. I swear I didn't."

"If you didn't do anything, then why wait this long to speak up?" Chris growled, causing the man to flinch.

"I was afraid. I've been laying low since that night." He licked his lips nervously. "C..c..can I have something to drink. My mouth's so dry."

Buck nodded to Talbot who opened the door slightly and asked the guard to bring their 'guest' a drink. Within a couple minutes King had a Coke sitting in front of him and he hurriedly popped the tab and took a big gulp, causing him to hiccup.


"Yes, thank you." King answered Buck, and clearly tried to avoid direct contact with Chris.

"What do you mean you've been laying low?"

"The ones that did it, they'd kill me too if they found out I saw anything." He shifted in the chair and glanced back at the door, obviously wishing he was on the other side of it.

"Then why send a letter to Steven's father offering him information?" Buck asked.

"I needed money." King took another big slug of his coke. "I've not had a steady job since that night, just odd jobs that I could get for cash. I've been afraid they might realize that I was in the building and come looking for me."

"So why not just move?"

"I'd have moved, but I couldn't afford to. It takes money to move." King slumped in his chair, rubbed a hand over his face, and sighed heavily. "I was tryin' to sell what I know so I could get away from here."

"Who killed Steven Travis?" Buck kept his voice calm but firm.

"You gonna help me get outta here if I tell you?"

"No promises. It depends on what you tell us whether we can do anything to help you or not." Buck leaned farther across the table and lowered his voice. "But you are going to tell us what you know. Because if you don't tell me. You'll tell my friend here."

King glanced back at Chris and thought better of pushing his luck. "All right. I had finished with that floor and had moved on upstairs, but I'd run out of bags for the trashcans. I'd gone back to the supply closet to get some and stopped back on that floor to put them in the cans that needed them, when I heard an argument coming from the office next door to the one I was in." He paused to take a drink, his hands shaking as he sat the can back down. "I thought about just going on about my business, but I got a gut feeling that I'd better stay put. I heard one of the men tell Mr. Travis that his boss had warned him to back off the story he was doin' but he hadn't listened. Mr. Travis told him that the public had a right to know about the criminals in their midst. He didn't get a chance to say anything else. I heard two gunshots and then two men left the office."

"How do you know it was two men if you were inside another office?" Chris demanded.

"The door was still cracked open. I hadn't closed it all the way when I went in. I was standing to the side of it where I could see out. Two men left." King stared at his hands in his lap.

"You know who they were?" Buck asked

"Yeah. They worked for Eddie Lamb, the owner of the Tropicana Casino.

At the sound of that name, Talbot moved away from his post at the door and joined the men at the table. "Eddie Lamb? Are you certain they worked for him?"

"Yes. Everyone knows Eddie's goons. It was the twins, Ford and Arthur Ryan." King resigned himself to cooperating and pulled himself back upright in his chair. "Nobody ever wanted to have to face those two."

"Mr. King," Talbot began, "We've been after Eddie Lamb for a very long time, but we've not been able to pin anything on him. You definitely heard the Ryan boys mention their boss?"

"Yeah. They said their boss had warned him to back off the story. When Mr. Travis said people had a right to know, they told him since he wouldn't back off on his own, they had orders to shut him up, and they shot him." King picked up the Coke can, and realizing it was empty, clanked it back down on the table.

Buck went to the door and asked the guard to bring them all more drinks, and turned back to the men at the table. "Got a feeling this is gonna run way past dinner. You all want something to eat?"

"That would be a good idea, Mr. Wilmington," Talbot said. "We won't be leaving this room for quite a while."

After sending the guard off for sandwiches and collecting the cans of soda he'd brought for them, Buck took his place back at the table.

"Mr. King," Talbot began, "based on what information you've given us already, I've been authorized to offer you a deal."

"What kind of a deal?" For the first time since they had entered the room there was a look of hope in Frasier King's eyes.

"Immunity on the charges of concealing information on a felony murder charge, and participation in our witness protection program, in exchange for your testimony against Eddie Lamb, Ford Ryan and Arthur Ryan."

The interview of Frasier King lasted for over four hours, but in the end Talbot was satisfied that the information he had would be instrumental in finally stopping Eddie Lamb and his henchmen. He'd called his superiors who had already sent agents out to pick up Lamb and the Ryan brothers.

"Mr. Larabee, Mr. Wilmington, thank you for your assistance." Talbot shook hands with each man in turn. "When you called in about this extortion letter, we hoped it might lead back to Lamb. The agency felt all along that he had something to do with Steven Travis's murder, that Steven had found a connection to organized crime and was going to expose it, but we couldn't prove it. Steven had a habit of poking his nose into places that he shouldn't."

"I wasn't here then to know him, but he sounds like someone I would have liked," Chris said.

"He was a good man. I'm glad that now we can give his father the peace of mind of knowing that his killers have been identified." Talbot joined two other agents who had arrived to help him transport King to a safe house, in preparation for getting him out of the city while they waited for Eddie Lamb's trial. The three men fanned out around King and followed one of the Montecito's guards, heading for a back door and a waiting car.

"Well, I should get back down there and check on my high rollers. They haven't paged me, so they must still be wrapped up in their games." Buck glanced at his watch and saw that it was after nine p.m.

"Sure, you go ahead. I'll go call Orin." Chris started to walk away but stopped. "Oh, and Buck, it was kinda like old times wasn't it. You being the good cop I mean?"

"Yeah it was. Just like we used to do it." Buck slapped his friend on the shoulder and grinned. "Tell Orin he can rest easy now. We got 'em."

"Will do." Chris watched his friend go out the door and then he headed for his own office. He had a call to make.

"Still nothing amiss?" Ezra asked.

"I haven't seen anything yet." Amy Sweetwater sighed and shook her head in exasperation. "I've watched her like a hawk and I just haven't seen anything at all wrong. She's up only a few thousand, not enough to set any alarms off. Do you think that maybe you were wrong, and she won't try anything with you working here?"

"She will try something. I have no doubt of that, and it will have to be tonight. She's scheduled to check out tomorrow." Ezra was getting tired. This was the third evening he had worked several hours longer than usual so he could keep a close eye on his mother. "You've been here long enough. Go ahead and go home, and I'll take over here."

"Are you sure? I can stay longer if you need me to," Amy offered.

"I'm sure." Ezra stood watching the pit where his mother was playing. "I was certain she'd try something when I wasn't nearby, but perhaps I was wrong. I wouldn't put it past her to be waiting to match her skills against mine."

"All right, but if you need help it takes me less than twenty minutes to get back here." Amy turned over her clipboard and slipped past him to go to the back and clock out.

"Well, Mother, it's just the two of us. Let's see what you've got." Ezra murmured to himself as he hovered near the pit where his mother was playing. There was absolutely no way she could resist the amount of money that had been flowing across that table.

Ezra blinked to clear the haziness from his tired eyes. Three hours and still he hadn't caught her at anything. What was she up to? He was beginning to think that she was going to end up just making him look like a fool for telling everyone in security to keep a close watch on her.

Wait! He must be tired to have missed it, but wasn't that the third big pot she'd won? He watched her out of the corner of his eye while he pretended to look over the clipboard in his hands. She raised her bet and watched the other players fold as their turns came, and she raked in another pot. There must be thirty thousand dollars in chips in front of her at the moment. The next hand was dealt and she won again. Ezra watched her pull the pile of chips toward her and begin to stack them. Then he saw it. She was counting cards. The design in the two large rings she was wearing could be changed by rotating various bands, and she was using that design to count the cards. Counting wasn't as reliable for poker as it would have been for blackjack, but she was doing it none-the-less. He continued to watch her through three more hands just to be sure he was right.

"Chris, you better take a look at this." Vin motioned to the monitor in front of him.

"What do you have?" Chris asked.

"I'm not certain, but I think she's counting cards." They watched as the next hand was played. "There, did you see that?"

"Yes, and by the look on Ezra's face, he saw it too."

"Should we go on down?" Vin looked up, waiting for Chris to decide.

"No. Let's see how Ezra handles it. I want to give him a chance to take care of it himself." Chris watched the screen intently as another hand was dealt and then won by Maude Standish.

After two more hands, it was beginning to look like Ezra was going to let his mother get away with it. Chris let out a sigh and shook his head, disappointed. He had really hoped that he had been wrong about Ezra, but once a cheat always a cheat.

"Mr. Tanner. I need security at table four." Ezra's voice came through the speakers.

"On our way. Stay cool, Ez." Vin jumped up and grabbed his jacket. Chris was right behind him and they dashed down the hall that lead to the casino, collecting a couple guards along the way. They hit the casino floor about twenty yards from table four.

Ezra watched them approaching, and when they were close enough he walked around behind his mother and put his hand out over hers where she was about to pick up her cards. "My apologies ladies and gentlemen, but this table is now closed. For those who would like to continue to play table seven will be open in about five minutes."

The men waited until the crowd had cleared before closing in on the table where Ezra and his mother waited.

"I'm sorry, Mother, but I'm going to have to ask you to come with us." He took her by the arm and drew his mother up out of the chair.

"Ezra, Darling, you surely don't mean to imply that I..."

"Don't even try it, Mother." Ezra could barely make himself look at her as he led her toward the holding area in security, followed closely by Chris, Vin, and the guards. "I told you when you arrived that I would not allow you to cheat here, but you had to try it anyway. What made you think you could possibly get away with it?"

Chris watched as Ezra opened the holding room door and stood aside to allow Maude to enter first then followed her inside. "Vin, I can handle it from here. Just have one of the guards stay on this side of the door in case we need anything." He went inside and closed the door behind him.

"Well, Mrs. Standish. It appears that we have a problem," Chris began as he motioned for Maude to take a seat, and he sat on the opposite side of the table with Ezra. "We have you on tape."

"I honestly don't know what you are referring to." Maude flashed him one of her seductive smiles.

"Mother, drop the act. You were counting cards."

"I don't understand how you could do something like that and put your own son in the position of choosing between his mother or his job." Chris was appalled at her actions, and didn't even try to hide that fact from her. "Listen, I'm not a beast, contrary to what some people might think. I'll make you a deal, and you get only the one offer, so don't waste it." He glared at her, attempting to drive his point home. "I'll not report this, this time. But in return, you forfeit your winnings, and you are never to gamble at the Montecito again. I won't tell you not to come back, because I won't keep you away from your son, but if I ever see you gambling, even one coin in a slot machine, I will take the evidence I have from today and I will turn you over to the police."

"Mr. Larabee, would it be all right if I have a few minutes alone with my mother?" Ezra still avoided looking Maude in the eyes, and Chris could tell that he was hurt and embarrassed by his mother's actions.

"Sure. I'll go grab a cup of coffee and be back in about five minutes. You want me to bring you one? You look like you could use it." Chris pushed back from the table and got to his feet.

"Yes, thank you. Black and strong."

"When I get back I'll need an answer," he told Maude as he went out the door.

Mother and son sat and looked at each other for a minute before either of them could speak. The tension was so thick in the room that it was almost palpable.

"What were you thinking?" Ezra asked. "How could you do this to me?"

"Darling, I was just trying to show you that you are wasting your talents here. I thought maybe there was a way to get you back out on the circuit with me." She reached for his hand but he pulled it back out of her reach.

"You wanted to get me back by getting me fired?" She had to be kidding. "You're deluded to think that that would win me back. I told you when you got here, that I like it here. I'm happy with my job and my friends." He clenched his fists and thumped the table, startling Maude. "Why can't you get that through your head?"

"I thought if you saw me win big it would remind you of what you're missing." Maude dabbed at her eyes with the corner of her handkerchief.

"Oh, don't even try the tears, Mother. I know you can turn them on and off at will." He looked at her and shrugged. "Why am I even trying to get through to you?"

"Ezra, darling..."

"Stop!" He held up a hand for silence and his tone said he meant business. "Now, you'll listen to me. Chris will be back in a couple minutes and I strongly suggest that you take his offer. If you don't, you will go to jail. All things considered, he's being remarkably generous, and it has to be because you are family. I've never seen him do this for anyone before."

Chris stepped back into a silent room, and looked from one to the other. "Well, what's your decision?" he asked Maude as he handed a cup of coffee to Ezra.

"I still proclaim my innocence, but for my son's sake, I'll accept your deal," Maude said, and watched her son's reaction to her words. "I won't put my son through any further embarrassment on my account."

"That is a wise decision." Chris nodded his approval. "Ezra, why don't you escort your mother back to her room, and once she's settled, come back up and see me?"

"Thank you." Ezra got to his feet and held out a hand to his mother, who took it gratefully. "I won't be long."

A soft knock got Chris's attention and he looked up to see Ezra stick his head in the door. "You needed to talk to me?"

"Yes, come on in." He waited until Ezra had taken a seat to continue. "I know it's late, and we are both tired, but I wanted to let you know that you did a good job tonight. I know that had to be hard for you to do."

"It was difficult," Ezra admitted. "The sad part is that in her own way she thought she was helping me."

"How could that be helping you? That doesn't make sense."

"She thought if she got me fired, I'd come back out with her." Ezra rubbed a hand across his face and let out a tired sigh. "I think I've finally gotten through to her that I have no intention of returning to that life."

"I'm glad to hear that. Now get out of here. Go home and get some sleep." Chris watched Ezra rise wearily from his chair and reconsidered. "Wait. You are way too tired to drive. Country Club Towers isn't that long of a drive, but I just can't see turning you loose behind the wheel of a car."

He grabbed up the phone and called down to the reception desk. "This is Chris Larabee. I need a room for one of my men for the night. What have you got free?"

"That really isn't neces...." Ezra was cut off when Chris motioned for him to be quiet.

"That will do fine. Just put it under my name as a comp. No we don't need a key card. I can let him in with my passkey. Thanks." He hung up the phone and got up to join Ezra.

"Mr. Larabee..."

"No argument. You are going to stay here tonight." Chris put an arm around his shoulder and started easing him toward the door. "Then when you get up tomorrow, I'll have breakfast sent up to your mother's room for the two of you. After you've said your good-byes then you can go home for a change of clothes before you have to be back here to work."

A huge yawn cut off Ezra's attempt to complain. "I think you are probably right. Thank you, not only for the room but for what you did for my mother tonight."

"You're welcome. Just don't make a habit of needing me to bail your family out of trouble." He turned off the lights as they left his office, intending to head home himself once he got Ezra into his room.

"I assure you, nothing could be further from..."

Chris's laughter caught Ezra by surprise. "That was a joke. Lighten up!"

The sound of the telephone ringing pulled Ezra out of a sound sleep. At first he couldn't remember where he was, but then it all came back to him. He dragged himself out of the soft bed and trudged to the phone. "Hello. Oh, yes. Thank you."

He didn't remember calling for a wake up call, so he decided that most likely Chris had done that too. A quick call to the restaurant told him that breakfast would be delivered to his mother's room in half an hour. That left him time for a shave and a shower. It was too bad that he didn't have a change of clothes, but he didn't have to be back in to work until later in the afternoon so he had plenty of time to go home and change.

The hot water felt heavenly, and he stood there letting it run over his weary body. After a few minutes, he forced himself to grab the razor and hotel sized shaving cream and get busy getting rid of the stubble. A leisurely shower followed, and when he got out he had time enough to blow dry his hair and get dressed. His reflection in the mirror looked as good at it was going to get considering he was in yesterday's clothes, and he still had dark circles under his eyes from letting himself get so tired.

A quick glance around the room assured him he hadn't left anything behind, and he left after one last wistful glance at the large comfortable bed. He had slept a full eight hours but it seemed like he'd barely gotten any sleep, and that bed just kept calling his name. He headed to the elevator and hit the button for the twelfth floor before he could change his mind and dive back between the sheets.

Maude opened the door almost immediately when he knocked. "Oh, Ezra. I thought it was room service."

"Afraid not, Mother, but I can leave if you prefer." He stood back from the door and waited for her to ask him in. "It was Mr. Larabee who told me he'd arranged breakfast for the two of us."

"Of course I want you to come in, dear." She allowed him to step in past her.

Just as she started to close the door she heard the elevator door open and a room service cart clatter out of it, so she held the door open and waited. In only a minute the server was rolling the cart inside. "You can put it over there," she said and indicated the area where there was a small table with a couple of soft chairs."

Ezra waited patiently while the trays were transferred to the table. His mother tipped the server and he was on his way back to the kitchen. "Shall we see what Mr. Larabee has planned for us?" he asked.

"Yes. I'm famished." Maude took the covers off the trays to reveal an assortment of breakfast items; soft-boiled eggs, muffins, fruit, bacon and more. It looked like enough to feed at least four people instead of two.

They both filled their plates and ate in silence for the first few minutes. At last, Maude spoke up. "Ezra, I know you are very upset with me for what happened last night." She looked at him, her eyes pleading for forgiveness. "I should have listened to you when you warned me. I should have realized that you wouldn't say that to me and not mean it."

"Mother, this is more than you not listening to me." He took the chance to say what was on his mind while he actually had her attention. "It is about you not caring what I want. It's always about what you want."

"I promise, next time I will come to visit, not to gamble," she said with a smile.

"Did you forget already?" Ezra leaned toward her, and said in a more intimate tone, "You are not allowed to gamble here ever again."

"I know, darling," she said, "but he didn't say I couldn't gamble at the other casinos."

"Mother...." His eyes flashed with reproach.

"All right. I'll behave when I come to Vegas, as long as you work here." She sighed in resignation. "I'll just have to do my gambling in Atlantic City or Reno, or any of the other casinos across the country."

"Thank you." Ezra gave her hand a squeeze. "And I would love for you to visit sometime. Next time you can stay with me."

"I'd like that."

"Good. Now do you have everything packed?" He glanced toward the bedroom and saw a pile of bags at the foot of the bed.

"I'm ready." She eyed the trays on the table and shook her head. "I can't eat another bite, so there is no sense in delaying the inevitable." The phone was on the table beside them and she called down for a bellman to come up after her bags.

In a matter of minutes, they had her loaded and on the way down to the lobby. Ezra was surprised to see Josiah waiting there; he usually didn't come in that early. When the bellman rolled the luggage rack in behind them, Josiah stepped forward to take it from him, but not before Maude managed to slip the man a tip.

"Josiah, you are here early." Ezra smiled at the big man. He couldn't help but notice the light in his eyes when he looked at his mother. Chalk up another conquest for Maude Standish.

"I heard your mother was leaving today." He took the cart and escorted them both out the door, signaling for the limo to be brought around.

"Why, Josiah, you didn't have to give up your much earned rest to see me off." Maude turned on the charm. "But I must say, I am flattered that you thought to do so."

"Ma'am....uhh.. Maude, I..." He swallowed hard and gathered up his nerve. "I wanted to wish you a safe trip, and say that I hope you come back to see us real soon."

"I'm sure I shall." She eased up on tiptoe and surprised him with a kiss on the cheek. "Perhaps next time we can find a chance to get better acquainted."

"Well, Mother, this is good-bye. Please try to stay out of trouble." Ezra wrapped his arms around her and kissed her on the cheek. "Remember, next time you come to town, I want you to stay with me."

"I will, darling." She slid into the open limo door and waited for Josiah to close it for her. Quickly, she rolled down the window so she could wave good-bye as they pulled away.

"That is one mighty fine woman." Josiah's love struck puppy look made Ezra smile.

"Indeed she is, my friend. Indeed she is." They stood together and watched the limo until it was lost in traffic. "Well, now I think I will go home and freshen up. If you'll excuse me, Josiah."

A car caught his attention before he could get away and he thought he recognized it. Josiah hurried to the driver's side and opened the door. "Welcome back, Mary. It's been a while since we've seen you."

"Yes it has been, hasn't it?"

Ezra joined the two when they stopped on the walk to talk. "What brings you here today, and without Billy?" He was a sucker for kids, and he especially liked Mary Travis's young son. He was a very bright boy.

"Orin called me late last night and insisted that I meet him for lunch today, alone." Her brows furrowed as she concentrated and at last she gave up. "I can't ever remember a time that he told me to come alone. He always wants to see Billy."

"He didn't give you any indication as to the nature of the visit?"

"No. All he said was that it was very important." She shook her head and half smiled at Ezra. "I guess I'll find out when I get there."

"Then you'd better get on your way. You know how he hates to be kept waiting." Josiah reached the door first and held it open for her.

The two men stood in silence for a while, both knowing what it was that Orin Travis wanted to talk to his daughter-in-law about. "It's about time she gets some closure."

"Amen to that, Mr. Sanchez," Ezra said.

"Hey!" Josiah couldn't suppress a chuckle. "That's supposed to be my line."


#5 No Good Deed Goes Undone