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Where Mustangs Run

Novel By: Marzy Dotes
Romance



Set one year after "Darkness before Dawn", with Fiona in Colorado helping ranchers and Chance back in L.A. will they find their way back to where they belong? View table of contents...


Chapters:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 12

Submitted:Jan 8, 2012    Reads: 29    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


"What's going on," Fiona asked Jed after she opened the door and let him in.

"We received a phone call to watch our backs," Jed said, "Bonnie was the one who picked up the phone."

Fiona and Jed went to sit in the living room.

"Where's Cassidy," Jed asked.

"She must be in her bedroom," Fiona said, "She was just here."

Jed sighed.

"Bonnie was upset but more worried about you," he said, "Have you received anything like that?"

Fiona nodded.

"Two phone calls, both threats within an hour or so," she said, "If I didn't drop the case by tomorrow, something bad would happen."

"Did you tell anyone," Jed said.

"I called Jason and he hadn't received anything but I passed it along."

"We've got to call the sheriff," Jed said.

"That's not an option," Fiona said, "We both know who he's working for and it's not the residents of this county."

"Then we'll call the FBI tomorrow," Jed said, "We can't let this go on."

"Okay, we'll call them tomorrow," she said, "But we've got to be in Silver Lode for that closed session meeting so we'll hear any decision that comes out of it."

Chance stayed up with his paper work and some coffee. He didn't feel sleepy and thought that if he could catch up with updating some of his files, then he might at least see the light at the end of the tunnel. Brody hadn't called back on an update of the list of leads on the jewelry case. Linc had left a message on his voice mail telling him irately that the thief had bailed out within hours. And Chance didn't feel like calling either of them.

He wasn't happy that the thief had been released but knew that was how it usually worked. Now the guy would just disappear for a while before reemerging someplace else, most likely another large city. At least they had some of the jewelry back.

He reached for the next pile of papers to sort thorough and put in smaller piles. His mind drifted to the night of his party.

A few months ago…

The party began winding down and the guests began leaving. Chance looked for Fiona but couldn't find her. He did run into Brody in the kitchen.

"I thought I'd get started on the dishes," Brody said, "I know, not my style to do women's work but I did bus tables and wash dishes before I became a cop."

Chance looked at the tall stacks which more closely resembled the leaning tower of Pisa than dishes.

"I can handle it," Brody said, "But this isn't going to be a regular gig for me or I'll start charging."

"Where'd Fiona run off to," Chance asked, "I know I saw her earlier."

"She said something about taking a walk," Brody said.

"I saw you on the deck with her not too long ago."

"She's a very attractive woman but very complex," Brody said, "She kind of put me in my place."

"What did you say to her," Chance said.

"We had just met," Brody said. "So not very much."

"She wasn't planning to come," Chance said, "She said something had come up at the last minute."

"She showed up," Brody said, "She got through with the grand jury and hopped on an airplane to L.A."

Chance's eyes narrowed.

"Grand jury?"

"That's what she told me after I apologized for my rudeness," Brody said, "She didn't get much notice before she was called."

Chance put his dish down.

"Excuse me," he said.

Brody watched him go.

Chance let that vision go and sat back looking at the pile on his desk, of folders, papers and photographs of the missing jewelry. After Brody told him about Fiona and the grand jury, he had left to try and find her, without thinking. He continued traveling down that path to where it would go but then stopped himself. That trip down memory lane wasn't helping him in the here and now so he shook his head to clear it and tried to return back to the business in front of him.

Mac poked his head in.

"You still here," he asked.

Chance nodded.

"Just sorting through everything that's on my desk."

Mac sat down in a chair across from him.

"Why are you really still up and spending time here instead of at home?"

Chance looked at his uncle, who relaxed in his chair waiting for a response to his question. He knew from experience his uncle was a very patient man.

"I've got a pile of work to do," he said, "that's not going to get any smaller unless I go through it."

"You've always had piles of paperwork, Matlock," Mac said, "That's just an excuse."

"No it's not," Chance said, "I've got to get all these pictures of jewelry organized so I'll be ready whenever the LAPD decides to reunite the goods we recovered tonight to their rightful owners."

"That could take time," Mac said, "We both know that they might need to keep it in evidence until the case concludes and it won't until they've brought down the entire fencing ring."

Chance rubbed the sleepiness out of his eyes.

"The jewel thief's already taken off," he said, "Linc said he bailed out."

"He'll turn up again," Mac said, "They always do."

Chance leaned back in his chair.

"So how was the art exhibit after I left," he asked.

"Breathtaking. You missed quite an event," Mac said, "Ginger was a great hostess."

Chance sighed.

"I apologized to her for having to take off like that," he said.

"An oft repeated behavior in your relationships with women," Mac said.

Chance raised his brows.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"I thought it was pretty obvious," Mac said, "You have difficulty separating your professional work as an investigator from your personal life."

"You're one to talk from your job history," Chance said, "At least I'm only living one life, not two or three different ones."

"The life of a covert operative had its challenges and its sacrifices as well as its rewards," Mac said, "And it almost cost me everything and everyone I held dear to me. Which is why I wanted better for you and my own son."

"I got out of intelligence a lot quicker than you did," Chance said, "and I didn't work that side of it."

"Maybe so, nephew," Mac said, "But you are using your career to avoid having a personal life and unlike with myself, that's not a requirement of your profession."

"I'm having lunch with Ginger tomorrow," Chance said, then looked at his watch, "Today actually."

Mac looked at his nephew.

"Who said anything about Ginger?"

Fiona and Cassidy did some riding in the morning, while the sun rose up over the mountains. Cassidy grumbled a bit at having to rise at an earlier hour but after saddling up Sangria and spending a few minutes riding in the brisk, clean air, she began pointing out the horses which grazed in the meadows with their foals.

"So did you enjoy your time with Carter?"

Cassidy shrugged.

"I guess," she said.

"That doesn't sound very enthusiastic," Fiona said, "What happened?"

"He's a nice guy, but quiet," Cassidy said, "Nothing like Spike."

"Is that a bad thing?"

Cassidy looked down at her reins, her face hidden by her hat.

"I don't think he likes me."

"Why ever would you think that," Fiona said, "He just met you."

"I know, but he doesn't talk very much and I have to say everything just to hear him talk."

"Some guys are just like that, especially at his age," Fiona said, "And more often than not, they grow up and become the better men."

"What do you mean," Cassidy asked.

"Carter's spent most of his life working this ranch with his brothers and sisters," Fiona said, "He's never done a lot of the things that most people your age take for granted. He's always had to look out for his family, first."

"So..."

"That means there's a lot he has to learn how to do just like with you," Fiona said, "Maybe you could help each other with that."

Cassidy paused.

"He's really nice guy, he's very helpful when we're out on the horses because I'm not a very good rider" Cassidy said, "and he's funny too."

"Those qualities are very important when you're in a relationship," Fiona said, "Not that you need to worry about that yet."

"What," Cassidy said, "You didn't go out with guys at all when you're my age."

Fiona smiled.

"Of course I did," she said, "And I thought I was ready for a guy that's probably cut from the same mold as Spike."

Cassidy frowned.

"Spike's a cool guy," she said.

"So was Brick, or so I thought," Fiona said, "Look, you're only young once. You have your whole life to be an adult and when you grow up, these years will be something you look back fondly on."

Cassidy wrinkled her nose.

"Brick?"

Chance sat in his office, drinking more coffee. He had drifted off to sleep for a few hours before waking up to find himself still in his chair and his work still in front of him. He got up, showered and then brewed some coffee, before returning to his desk. He tried to pick up where he had left off but his mind kept returning to his conversation with Mac.

His uncle's words had irritated him even after Mac had gone home. And he knew enough that if what Mac said irked him, then his words had hit home. He knew he had been spending almost all of his waking hours working on his caseload but he didn't see where he had a choice. The investigators he had hired were a boon to his business but it was taking him time to get them up to speed and caught up. He had turned down two cases yesterday, something he hated doing but he didn't have the time to take on any more work. But then he also admitted to himself that if the cases had grabbed his attention, he would have added them to his list without a second thought. And neither of them had done that. In fact, none of his cases he had accepted lately really challenged him to his marrow like they would have a year or so ago.

Something had changed within him, only he didn't know what. His uncle did, but in his usual style, he didn't come out and say what but dropped questions here and there like an ex-intelligence operative would and left Chance to tie the ends of them together.

And maybe he could do it faster if he weren't so damned busy all the time.

The phone rang.

"Hello," he said after he picked it up.

"Oh Chance, I thought I might have called too early but you had to take off so quickly last night."

"I'm sorry about that, Ginger," Chance said, "My partner and I got a lead on a case we've been working on for quite a while."

"Did it work out?"

"Yes, we caught up with the guy, caught him in the act and the police came and arrested him."

"That's good," she said, "Was he a dangerous criminal?"

"He was a jewel thief who had robbed some of our clients."

"I see," she said, "Well anyway, I called and made reservations for today at The Karmic Garden for 12:30 pm. Is that okay with you?"

"The Karmic Garden," Chance said, "Sounds interesting. I'll see you there."

"Good, don't be late."

Chance put the phone down and picked up some photographs of jewelry to look at them again. He tossed them in the pile to forward to the LAPD to see if they matched up with the jewelry recovered last night.

"Hey, what you sitting around for," a voice said.

Chance looked up and saw Brody standing in his doorway.

"Who let you in," he said.

"No one," Brody said, "There's no one else here."

"Oh yeah, sorry I've been very busy this morning."

Brody looked at Chance, then at his cluttered desk.

"I can see that," he said, "Did you ever make it home last night?"

Chance shook his head.

"Too much work to do here," he said, yawning.

"Well pack it up, we've got to get a move on," Brody said.

"Why, what have you done now?"

"I got a lead on who the contact for the jewel thief might be," Brody said, "But we have a very narrow window of opportunity so we've got to get going."

"I've only got a few hours," Chance said, "I promised Ginger I'd be on time to meet her for lunch."

"Sounds serious," Brody said, "Okay, I'll have you back on time for your rendezvous with the luscious art director."

Fiona and Cassidy met Jed and Reed in a meadow near the corner of the ranch. The two men had been tending to a lame mare.

"Is that Willow?"

Jed nodded, patting her.

"She's got a minor stone bruise," he said, "She should be just fine in a couple of days."

"Cassidy and I saw some more horses in the eastern pasture," she said, "A few pair."

"They were grazing," Cassidy said, "They looked so happy."

"They are," Jed said, then he frowned, "I did hear some reports from Flynn that some of the mustangs were being harassed by some men."

"On what property?"

"Federal, where it meets up with the Wyatt place."

"They're not supposed to be there," Fiona said.

"The problem is," Jed said, "An order's been issued but no one here will enforce it."

"Then we got to do it," Fiona said, "Let's go."

They rode off.

Chance and Brody drove out towards downtown L.A. and quickly found themselves in a traffic jam, with horns honking around them.

"We should have taken the freeway," Chance said.

"That's worse," Brody said, "Besides, this is more scenic."

The light turned red in front of them and a crowd of pedestrians crossed in front of them.

"Why are you so concerned about the jewelry case," Brody said, "It's going to be months before our clients will see their jewelry."

"I turned down two cases yesterday because we can't handle them," Chance said.

"You didn't want them anyway," Brody said, "Or you would have snapped them up and then called me and the other guys and told us to get to work on them."

"Point taken," Chance said, "They were just run of the mill cases the kind I've done hundreds of since I started."

Brody turned around to look at him.

"Chance, do you enjoy what you're doing?

Chance looked surprised at the question but Brody thought, not nearly as surprised as he should have been.

"It doesn't look like I'm the first to ask you this question."

Chance sighed as he started inching through the gridlock again.

"No you're not," he said, "My uncle, Mac's been hitting me with it too."

"So what's your answer?"

Chance paused.

"I'm just asking because in this line of work, you have to be focused at all times and you have to really be into what you're doing, keep that edge up because it's dangerous, the hours stink and the conditions can be lousy."

"The pay's good…"

"Yeah, but somehow I never got the impression that you're in this for the money."

"I started my agency because I wanted to help people," Chance said, "And I have but lately, it seems that it's mostly about helping wealthy people recover property that most people can't afford and to stop people from blackmailing people who probably deserve it."

"Ah yes, the latest guru of relationships with the girlfriend on the side being threatened through begonias."

" Fiona got out of this line of work and she's doing something to help other women," Chance said, "She seems very happy doing it and it's kept her very busy."

"Would you really want to go through what she did just to get at that point?"

Chance looked out his window.

"If I could undo what happened to her, I would," he said, "But she took something that was a nightmare and used it to change other women's lives."

"You can do that without the nightmare part," Brody said, "Maybe you should take a step away from it and think about it."

"I'm too busy," Chance said.

"That's why this vacation thing in the Rockies is so perfect. It would give you a chance to get away to think about it, to help Fiona on a case which she's passionate about and to get out in the fresh air where it's nice and quiet and away from this chaotic mess which will still be here when you get back."

Chance looked at Brody, thoughtfully then at the wall of cars stretching endlessly ahead of them and no doubt, behind them.

"I'll think about it."

The four of them rode across the land until they reached the federally owned property. They saw three men with rifles waving them at a group of horses which had taken off leaving a cloud of dust behind.

Jed turned to Cassidy.

"You'd better not come any further," he said.

She nodded.

"And if anything happens, don't ride up. Just take off and get back to the ranch as fast as you can," Jed said, "Alice will know what to do."

"Sure," she said, her eyes widening, "Be careful."

"We will, Cassidy," Fiona said, reaching into her jacket to pull out her gun.

"We'd better go on over and talk with those yahoos," Jed said.

Jed nodded and the three of them rode their horses to where the men were standing. At the sound of the approaching hoof beats, the men looked up and saw them.

"You're on federally owned property going onto a property that's under a protective order by the courts," Jed said, after they pulled up their horses within several yards.

The men put their shotguns down at their sides and one of them walked closer to them.

"What are you going to do about it," he said, "You know these so-called orders are nothing more than paper with writing on it."

"If you violate the order, you will be held in contempt of court," Fiona said.

The man aimed his shotgun at both of them.

"This is the only thing that carries any weight in this situation."

"That's real good to know," Jed said, "Because we brought our arsenal along too."

He, Reed and Fiona pulled their guns out and aimed them at the man.

"By the way, the three of us are expert shots," Jed said, "Are you and your guys?"

Fiona kept her hand steady and looked at the three men closely. They were looking at each other but their leader kept his gun raised and aimed at them.

"You are in violation of the court order and I'm sure the federal government is not going to be happy that you're on its land," Fiona said, "So you need to go off and tell Kilroy and his boys that you are going to abide by that order no matter what instructions you are receiving otherwise."

"How do you know we work for Kilroy?"

Fiona pointed at one of the men standing behind him.

"He was sitting behind Kilroy at the meeting the other night," she said, "and talking to him afterward."

"They're bluffing," that man said, "They'll never shoot us."

The other two men raised their guns again to aim at them.

"Don't count on it," Jed said, "I've been shot before and I don't intend to go through that again in this life. I just got married."

"If you're going to shoot us," Fiona said, "Then do it quick. I've survived a lot of injuries and they all hurt like a son of a gun. I'm not going through that experience of getting shot."

They stared at her.

"Sorry, bad pun."

"I don't believe you," the leader said.

"We can compare bullet scars if you like," she said, "Jed's got a nice one on his shoulder from a professional hit man hired by an international human trafficker, I've got a few. How about you?"

"And don't think that women are the weaker sex," Jed said, "Because this one's taken down two of those professional hit man herself."

"They're lying," one of the men said.

"No, I think I heard about them on the news," another said, "and watched them on 60 Minutes."

Fiona and Jed looked at each other.

"So what's it going to be," Fiona said, "Are you going to leave quietly or is it going to come to a shootout with the quickest trigger pullers winning?"

The men looked at each other and slowly lowered their guns.

"Good decision," she said, "Now this is where we say goodbye and you leave."

"You're not going to get away with this," the leader yelled as they headed back to what Fiona and Jed saw was a faded black pickup truck.

Fiona put her gun away and glanced at her watch.

"Look at the time," she said, "We'd better hurry if we want to make that closed session meeting."

"There he is," Brody said, pointing to a thin man with a pony tail standing next to a tree in the middle of the square.

"I hope you remember where we left the car," Chance said as they walked into the square.

"I always do," Brody said, "Now this guy might be a little bit jumpy."

The man glanced right and left with his hands in his pockets as they approached him.

"Hi, this is my partner, Chance Montana," Brody said, "We're working that jewelry case."

"I heard your guy made bail and split," the man said, "Do you have a cigarette?"

"No man," Brody said, "You know L.A.'s a smoke-free city."

"I only smoke once in a while to calm my nerves," the man said.

"Yeah, well Mac what did you bring us all the way across this fine city to tell us?"

"The vendors are all lying low," Mac said, "Until this latest arrest blows over."

"Why," Brody asked, "It was just one small jewelry dealer who got busted."

"Everyone else is waiting to see if that guy will resurface and talk," Mac said, "I don't think he's going to spill anything. Probably split town."

"You may be right," Chance said, "but eventually if there's merchandise, those vendors are going to sell to satisfy the market."

Mac nodded.

"But they're waiting orders," he said, "From the guy in charge."

"Who's that," Brody asked.

The man looked fearful.

"I can't tell you," he said, starting to walk away.

"What," Brody said, "You brought us all the way out here and you're not going to tell us?"

"He's…I can't," the man said walking away, "Leave me alone."

Chance and Brody looked at each other.

The man rushed off.

Chance looked at his watch.

"That didn't tell us very much," he said, "Except that whoever this guy was going to snitch on is a bigger predator in this food chain than he is."

"I wonder if it's some kind of inside job," Brody said, "Who would he be afraid to implicate?"

"He's clearly not telling us who's in charge of this operation."

"Are you going to be late to your mid-day liaison with Ginger," Brody asked.

"If I rush now, I should make it," he said.

Fiona entered the kitchen and saw Alice there on the phone. When she hung up, she shook her head.

"That was Reed's mom, Carol," Alice said, "She said there was some excitement on federal land."

"Some guys showed up harassing a small group of mustangs," Fiona said, "We took care of it."

"She said there were guns involved," Alice said.

Fiona served herself some soup from the stove.

"We brought ours too."

"This is getting ugly awfully fast, Fiona," Alice said, "We really want to win this fight but we don't want you or anyone else to get hurt or killed over it."

"That's not going to happen," Fiona said, "They're just trying to scare us so we won't push for a permanent injunction."

"They might not stop with threats," Alice said.

"They won't do any good once the permanent injunction is granted by a judge."

"That's going to happen right away if it happens at all," Alice said, "We all know the stakes here and what it means for Silver Lode not to mention the valley. We just want you to be careful."

"The problem is that no one will enforce the temporary order because the feds aren't bringing people down here and everyone locally who should is in cahoots with Kilroy and Parker."

"You know, Parker used to be a good guy," Alice said, "He was close with Gordon before he died but he's changed since."

"Maybe he thinks he needs their backing if he runs for mayor again," Fiona said, "I guess we'll find out what the city council's response is going to be to our legal reaction in a couple of hours."

"We're all going to be there."

Chance and Brody got off the elevator and saw Mac sitting in the lobby reading a magazine. He looked up at them.

"Difficult day at the office?"

Chance glared at Brody then removed his jacket.

"What happened," Mac said, putting his magazine down, "Fall into a ditch?"

"We ran into a little trouble on the way to the Karmic Garden."

"I can see that," Mac said, "I don't think such an upscale restaurant like that one is going to let you in unless you shower and change."

"I didn't know that the truck driver would drive so close to the puddle," Brody said, "No one could have seen it."

"You parked us next to a tar pit," Chance said.

"No actually those are in West L.A.," Brody said, "Technically it was just mud and a lot of water."

"I'll be back," Chance said, leaving them.

Mac chuckled.

"Eventually he's going to run out of suits in that closet of his," he said.

"It's all my fault," Brody said, "His dry cleaning bills were probably much cheaper before he hired me."

"No, Brody," Mac said, "You've been a great help to him and a good friend."

"He's a good guy," Brody said, "A little wound up. Was he always like this?"

Mac shook his head.

"The opposite," Mac said, "But this is what happens to you when you get off track. He needs to remember why he got into this business to begin with."

"He's got to stop treating it like a business," Brody said, "And more like a passion."

"Agreed," Mac said, "But that means going back to the basics which means the beginning."

"Maybe not," Brody said.

A few months ago..,.

She reacted when Brody had reached for her arm and he withdrew it.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean…"

Fiona looked at him, came back from where she had gone in her thoughts and smiled.

"It's nothing personal," she said, "It's just that people think because they read about you in some newspapers that they know everything about you."

"Chance talks a lot about you too," Brody said, "How you both started this business and built it up to where it is today."

"It was something he needed to do to live," she said, "To balance out some horrible parts in his life. To bring justice for others if he couldn't get it for himself."

"He did catch up to the man responsible for his kidnapping when he was a child."

"Yes eventually, but he kept at it because he really wants to help others especially those who have no one else to turn to when they're in trouble."

Brody nodded.

"And you worked with him when any law firm in the city, hell the country would have had you?"

She looked at him pointedly.

"He's my best friend," she said, "And he's always been there when I've needed him without asking. We're family."

"But you moved away and now I'm doing your job."

"And doing it well, I've heard," she said, "So I've left it in good hands."

"The guy has enough money to start his own country, a small one," he said, "But he turned over entire company to charity to focus on being an investigator."

She smiled again.

"Is this 20 questions," she said, "Because these are things you should really ask him."

"Man, look at the crowd," Cassidy said, looking out the window as they drove into the parking lot near City Hall.

Fiona and Alice looked and saw people standing all around them.

"It looks like the entire town came out," Alice said.

They parked the car and left it to join the others in front of the building. Jason and Maggie came up to them.

"They just started the meeting," he said, "It could be a while or it could be done in 10 minutes."

"What's most likely to happen is that the council's going to come out and say it's going to fight the order, unless enough council members vote to stop that."

Jason looked troubled.

"I think there's several members on our side who at least want to keep the town's coffers out of it," he said, "But I think that Parker and Kilroy have a couple in their corner."

"They probably spent the last 24 hours lobbying hard for votes," Maggie said.

"They violated the order already," Fiona said, "Jed, Reed and I ran into several of Kilroy's guys who wanted to compare caliber size."

"Oh my God," Maggie said, "What happened?"

"We ran them off, but we have to find some entity to put some teeth in this order until we can get a more permanent one."

"We could get some ranchers to stand guard on the areas covered by the order which are more vulnerable," Alice said.

Jed nodded.

"I'll go talk to the ones here and get this started."

"FIONA, are you sure you're going to be okay," Jason said, "It was never the intent to have you act as an enforcer."

"Our intent was to do what we needed to do to help the ranchers save their valley and everything that lives in it."

"But isn't that going to get someone hurt," Maggie said, "I know Jason and I have faced trouble in the past but we may need some help."

"We're short that right now Maggie, "Jason said, "We'll be fine."

He walked off to join Jed. The rest of them saw Bonnie setting up a food stand with the employees from the diner and went to help them.

" Fiona, how dangerous do you think this will get?"

"Maggie, I think right now it's more bark than bite," Fiona said, "But that doesn't mean we don't take precautions."

"I'm worried about Jason," Maggie said, "He seems to be brushing this off."

"I think he's just doing that so we'll feel better," Fiona said, "I think he knows how serious this could get."

"I hope so," Maggie said.

"You really care about him," Fiona said.

"Yeah, we've been best friends since I started working with him," she said, "I was a waitress for years before I started going to paralegal school. He was the only one who would give me a chance and hire me."

"It's hard to tell him how you feel because you're worried it will all change, isn't it?"

Maggie turned her face around, startled.

"How'd you know?"

Chance walked into the restaurant and the maitre `de looked at him.

"May I help you sir," he asked.

Chance looked around at the plush surroundings which included a fountain as a centerpiece with wind chimes playing melodies and then looked at his watch. 10 minutes to 1. He almost made it on time.

"I'm here to meet Ginger…" he said, before realizing he couldn't remember her last name.

The man's face brightened.

"Ah, you must be here to meet Ginger Winslow," he said, "She's a regular diner."

"Yes, I'm a few minutes late," Chance said, "I had to stop by the office."

"Follow me," the man said.

He led Chance to a corner table where Ginger sat, looking at her organizer. When she looked up and saw Chance, she smiled.

"Good to see you," she said.

He sat down.

"Sorry I'm late," Chance said, "It's been quite a morning."

"Well, as long as you can promise me an hour of your time," she said.

"That I can do," he said, picking up a menu.

"I've taken the liberty of ordering the house wine."

"That's fine," he said, "What do you recommend here?"

"The pasta dishes are very good," she said, "But the salmon and endive salad are extraordinary. Felix is a master."

"It all looks good," he said, "So how was your morning?"

"Spent cataloging acquisitions from all different places," she said, "We had some exquisite shipments come in from in this morning from Bangkok."

"Nice city," Chance said, "I spent some time there when I was in the military and several trips on business."

"The woman I replaced was much more knowledgeable about Far Eastern art than I was," Ginger said, "She left some good notes behind before her death and that's really helped."

"She was murdered, right?"

"Yes," Ginger said, "I don't know the details but something to do with a drug smuggling ring."

"Donna Singer…"

Ginger looked at him, surprised.

"Yes," she said, "How did you know?"

"She was a former girlfriend of mine" Chance said, "Fiona and I tried to stop them from going after her but we couldn't get there in time."

"How awful," she said.

"Yeah it was really hard on Fiona."

"Your business partner."

Chance nodded.

"Your friends mean that much to you?"

"Fiona nearly got shot trying to help her," Chance said, "One of the scariest days of my life."

"I can imagine."

Jason came up to Maggie and Fiona who were eating some French fries being served at Bonnie's table courtesy of the diner.

"It looks like it won't be much longer until they come out with an announcement," he said.

"Here, have some of these," Maggie said, passing him some fries.

"Thanks," he said, " Fiona, so what do you think's going to happen?"

"They'll come out, we'll listen to what we have to say and then we go back to work," Fiona said.

"We've got a lot to do," he said, "Are you free tomorrow?"

Fiona nodded.

"We could work down in the diner again," she said, "Maggie's made great progress on the documents for next week. And I think after today, we'll have more declarations coming in this week."

Jason shook his head.

"I can't believe they violated the order," he said.

"I can," Fiona said, "These guys are obviously desperate to get their hands on their land and they're not wasting a minute to get ready in case it goes their way in court."

"And if it doesn't?"

Fiona rubbed her forehead.

"I don't know what's going to happen then after today."

A distance away, Kilroy stood next to his partners when a man walked up to him.

"I told you not to come up to me in public," Kilroy said, "After that stunt today, we can't be seen together."

"It's too late boss," the man said, "The woman remembered seeing Bob with you at the meeting the other night."

Kilroy cursed.

"We've got to do something about these outside agitators or we're going to lose this fight."

"We don't have much time to do anything," another partner said, "If there's going to be a hearing on the permanent."

"We've got enough time to do something," Kilroy said, "I'm not losing that land and I'm not leaving it up to Parker and his boys to handle this mess."

"So what are you going to do?"

Kilroy looked at the group of lawyers standing in the distance.

"Whatever it takes to get that land and get moving on this project."

"Threats haven't stopped them" the partner said,"They showed up here after being in an armed standoff with some of your men."

"Then it's time to start taking some actions."





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