In Loving Care…..
Doctor Harris Fraser looked up as two men entered the room. "Well?" he demanded.
The first man shook his head. "Haven't found them yet."
Fraser sighed in annoyance and ran a hand over his chin. "Screw 'em," he decided. "Pack up the house, we're leaving in one hour." He started for the door, then stopped. "On second thought…" He turned back to the men. "Set the dogs loose."
"Yes. The dogs." He started for the door again. "They're mean little bastards…I've trained them well."
Trent Malloy tried to catch his breath as he ran through the forest. "Hold on," he panted as he leaned against a tree for support. "I have to stop for a few…minutes."
Jennifer Hendricks walked back to him. "You okay?" she asked as she touched his face. "Trent."
He looked up at her. "Jenny."
"You're clammy…and hot. How are you feeling?"
Trent tried to smile, but suddenly felt very nauseous. "Besides wanting to throw up right now, I feel great." He swallowed hard. "I just have to rest for a few minutes."
Jenny sat on a stump. "We have to find a road, or house, or someone with a cell phone," she said. "You need to get back to the hospital."
Trent nodded in agreement as he placed his head against the cool bark of the tree. "Talk to me," he said. "Help me get my mind off of feeling like crap."
"Sure, what do want to talk about?"
Trent shrugged lightly as he slowly lowered himself to the ground. "Oh, that feels great," he whispered as he laid down on the hard surface. "Uh, tell me about yourself…your hobbies…where you grew up…are you seeing anyone…things like that."
Jenny smiled slightly. "Well, I grew up in Fort Worth…my mother died when I was young…I have brothers and sisters, both older and younger…" She paused for a moment. "I really don't have many hobbies. I mean, I like doing things, but I'm not a fanatic about any of them."
"What do you do in your spare time, then?" Trent asked from the ground. He rolled slowly over onto his side and swallowed again. Ahhh..that's really starting to hurt!!!
Jenny shrugged. "I don't know. Uh, lemme see…I like cooking, reading, hiking, inline skating…normal things."
Jenny stood. "Are you feeling up to walking again?"
Trent exhaled and stood slowly. "Not really, but let's go." He turned as he heard a sound. "You hear that?" he whispered.
Jenny nodded. "Sounded like…" Her eyes grew wide as the sound became clearer. "Dogs!"
Trent suddenly felt like he could run as he grabbed Jenny's arm and started through the forest again.
"All right, here's what we're going to do," Detective Richard Ryan said as he walked to the front of the small crowd. "Break up into teams of three…team one, go in through the front, team two through the back, and team three around the side."
Tiffany put up her hand, and he nodded at her. "Dick," she began, "I think I speak for everyone when I say huh!?" She pointed at the map on the wall. "There's over five acres of brush and forest out there. You send anyone in from the main road, and we're gonna hafta call in Search and Rescue for them later."
Ryan glared at her. "Why don't you go check and see if the warrant is ready."
Tiffany gave him an amused stare. "Yeah, right…I'll get right on that." She turned away. "Cortez?!"
Anthony Cortez looked up from his desk. "What?!"
"Warrant ready yet?!" she yelled.
"Nope!" he yelled back.
Tiffany turned back to Ryan. "Warrant's not ready yet."
"I suppose you think this is funny."
"On the contrary, Dick," Tiffany said as she readjusted the strap to her Kevlar vest. "I take this very seriously. But, I just can't pass up any opportunity to piss you off."
Trent pushed a branch out of his way as he ran with Jenny through the forest. He stumbled slightly, righted himself, and continued.
"Did I mention that I hate dog?" Jenny panted as she jumped over a log.
"At this moment I'm not too fond of them myself," Trent replied. He stopped as he came to a small river bank. "Upstream or down?"
"Downstream will be quicker," Jenny replied as she jumped in and started to walk with the current.
Trent nodded as he waded in, and joined her. "If we can make it to that bend ahead, we might be able to lose the dogs for a while."
********** ********* ********* Trent helped Jenny out of the ditch, and onto the main road.
"You two led me on quite a chase."
Trent and Jenny spun at the sound of the voice, then slowly raised their hands. Doctor Fraser smiled bitterly. "And I hate having to chase people down."
Jenny sighed to herself as the other man waved his gun towards the road. "What now?" she asked.
"Oh, I think that's quite obvious," he replied. "Now, I kill you both."
Trent lowered Jenny to the ground. "Jenny? Jenny!"
Jenny's eyes fluttered, then opened. "Trent…kick his ass."
Trent nodded tightly, then stood and turned. He looked at Carlos.
Carlos stepped away from Doctor Fraser, and turned his gaze to a tree. "Hmm…interesting vegetation," he commented.
Trent stormed up to the murderous Doctor, stopped a few feet away from him, and turned suddenly.
Doctor Fraser was totally unprepared for the roundhouse kick that caught the side of his face and sent him flying to the ground.
SOT RPG -Jenny and Lillandra-
Darkness. It was all she felt and saw. As suddenly there was darkness, there was light. She saw a woman running down a long street of buildings away from someone. She felt the fear in the woman, knew someone was after her.
The woman continued to run for what seemed like forever until she saw the police station ahead. Turning a corner she began to scream out…
Then suddenly a hand grabbed out of the alley beside her and wrapped around her mouth, dragging her into the darkness and throwing her against the wall.
"No, please…" the woman whimpered.
The man brought out a knife, and the woman could hear the click as it was opened. "Do you know what the secret to "hush" is Jennifer…it's when you shut up where no one can hear you scream," he growled into her ear before lifting up the knife.
"No…no daddy no!" the woman screamed as the knife was brought down onto her flesh.
"No…no daddy no!" Jennifer Hendricks screamed out as her body thrashed about. The covers that covered her body, had long since been thrown off and her clothes clinged onto her as cold sweat ran down her face and body.
"No," she screamed once more before her eyelids popped open and she sat up right in bed, thrashing her hands out at air. It took Jenny only a second to realize where she was before she closed her eyes and let out a shaky sigh of relief. "No…not again…" she whispered.
Opening her eyes, Jenny slipped out of the bed, her eyes going directly to the clock before heading into the bathroom and slamming the door shut.
Tiffany Chamber took a sip of her coffee, grimaced, then set it down as she put her feet up on her desk. She leaned back, checked her watch, and mumbled in annoyance at the time.
"Where's your partner?" Detective Richard Ryan asked as he motioned to Jenny's desk.
Tiffany looked, surprised. "She was here a minute ago, Dick. She musta just stepped out."
"She better not be late again," Ryan warned before he turned away.
Tiffany sighed, picked up the phone and made a call. She waited until Jenny's machine finished its greeting before she spoke. "Jen...you there? Jenny...if you are there, pick up the phone!!! Jesus Jenny, you're late...again...I can't hold Dick off all morning......you there??"*
"I'm right here," Jenny said as she came into the office. She had a pair of jeans on and an unbuttoned down shit on with a tank top inside. She was holding a bag with two bagels and two hot cups of coffees.
Tiffany put the phone down, reached out, and took the coffee. She took a sip, "Perfect....now, where the hell were you?"
"I slept in, I'm sorry Tiff..." she said as she put her coffee down and took out her blueberry bagel with cream cheese and took a small bite.
Ryan walked up, gave Jenny a dirty look, and tossed a file folder down in front of Tiffany. "You show up late, you get the crap assignments."
Tiffany snorted softly, took a bite from her cinnamon bagel, and opened the file. She read for a few minutes, then looked at Jenny.
"Gee, thanks Jenny," she joked. "We get to check on recent parolee's whereabouts...and the first one's a doozy."
"You're welcome," Jenny replied taking another bite then swallowing another sip of coffee.
"Listen to this," Tiffany said as she took another bite from her bagel. She started to read the file, "51 yr. old male, served 15 years of a life sentence, paroled because of good behavior," She paused, took a sip of her coffee, then continued.
"Sent to jail after repeated abuse of his two children, and wife...wife is now missing....wanna take bets on what happened there." She paused to take another drink, but stopped mid sip. "Hey...this is....This is that guy.....the one who they tried to link to those serial killings about 18 years ago....." She glanced up at Jenny, and stopped.
"Jen?" she asked "Jenny! You okay?"
"W-what...what is his name?" she asked as she tried to keep her voice and body from shaking.
"Uhh...hold on," Tiffany said as she rummaged through the papers. "Richard Hen..." she stopped, looked at Jenny, and finished in a whisper, "Hendricks."
Jenny's eyes slipped shut as a shaky breath escaped her mouth. She opened her eyes, got up and took the picture from Tiffany. Her hands began to shake as she looked at the picture, letting it drop from her hands as she took a step backwards.
Tiffany walked to jenny's side of the desks, took her arm, and led her out of the room. She guided her outside, and sat her on a bench. "Jen...breathe, k." Tiffany said as she took out her phone and made a call.
"Yeah, its Tiff...I need a huge favor." she listened for a few minutes. "Look, Trent...ditch Carly, and meet me at Butch's in 20....because I asked you too....for fuck sakes Trent, I....good...see you there."
"Oh God," she let out a sob. "They let him out!"
She looked at Jenny. "Father, brother....?"
"H-he's my father..."
Tiffany closed her eyes briefly as the words from the report came back to her. "Come on," she said. "We're gonna find out why he's out"
Carlos walked into Butch's from upstairs and went toward the bar where Butch was serving. "Hey ya Butch..."
"Hey Carlos," Butch said as he passed him a coffee.
"How's it going down here? Have you seen Trent?" he asked.
"No, I...wait...yeah, he was here a few minutes ago with Carly," Butch said. "Got a phone call, then left."
"Dammit, Kim needed that report 10 minutes ago," Carlos replied then stopped as he saw Trent come back inside the bar. He was surprised to not seeing Carly clung to his arm either. "Hey buddy...where's your girlfriend?"
Trent gave Carlos a tired look. "She's not here." He walked to the bar and plopped down on a stool. "Speaking of girlfriends," he said as he turned to face Carlos, "want to tell your not to swear at me."
"Tiff? She called you?"
"Yes," Trent replied with a nod. "Told me she needed a huge favor...then to dump Carly...then she swore at me."
"That doesn't sound like Tiffany," Butch said.
"It doesn't...not unless it means something dangerous has come up, and it has," Jenny said from behind Carlos and Trent. Her voice was filled with fear and her face was red from crying._
Trent turned, took one look at his ex-lovers face, and was at her side instantly. "Jenny?" he said softly, "what's wrong?"
Tiffany frowned at him, but covered when he looked at her.* (Carlos saw the frown, and asks about it later...)
"Oh nothing except for my psycho-father is out of prison," she said sarcastically, but her voice cracked at the end.
"What?!" Trent asked. "Pardon?" He looked at Tiffany. "What?"
Tiffany sighed. "Let's sit...this is going to be long."*
Carlos looked at Butch who had told Tony to take over the bar and the two of them followed Jenny, Trent, and Tiffany and sat down in a booth. "Tell us what's going on...who's Jenny's father?"
Tiffany told them what she had read in the files, but Jenny sat silently through the description.
"And he's out on good behavior?" Butch asked. "Amazing."
"How can we help?" Trent asked as he took Jenny's hand and held it briefly.
"Find out all you can about the serial killings," Tiffany said. "We're going to find out if he's where he's suppose to be." She paused. "Trent, could I talk to you...in private?"
Trent squeezed Jenny's hand in assurance, then got up and followed Tiffany to the other side of the bar. "What?"
Tiffany ran her hands over her face. "Trent..." she stopped. "Look, this is really freaking Jenny out, and the last thing she needs is to be confused over you."
Trent looked at her, confused. "What...?"
"You're acting like her lover, not her friend," Tiffany pointed out.
Carly was sitting at the bar when she heard that and looked up. "Her LOVER?!" she yelled enough for the bar to quiet down and for Jenny to hear.
"Fuck," Tiffany whispered as Trent spun around to face his current girlfriend. She looked at Jenny, closed her eyes, then faced Carly again.
"Carly," Trent began. "That's not what she meant...you only heard part of the conversation."*
She started laughing, "I heard everything Trent. I'm not stupid. I even heard about the bitch's father," she then turned and sauntered over to Jenny laughing like a braying donkey. "Well this goes way over the you trying to be a stripper Jenny."
"What do you want Carly," Jenny said in a strange calm voice.
"Oh I just wanted to let you know that's probably why Trent broke off with you. You were born to a psycho maniac and your whole family must be like him." she leaned forward. "I wonder if your mother is like that."
"Why don't you get out of my face you "nazi" cow."
Carly turned to Trent. "Are you going to let her talk to me that way?"
"Carly," Trent stopped as every mean thing Carly had done surface in his brain. "I think it would be better if we never saw each other again." He turned and walked back to the table.
"What?!" Carly shrieked.
"Carly," Tiffany said. "I think it's time you left."
Carly walked up to her, and stuck her face into Tiffany's 'space'. "You don't tell me what to do."
"Carly," Tiffany said. "Two things...first, use mouthwash, k? And second...you are a bitch...but, lady, I'm an even bigger bitch, so get the hell outta my face, and the hell outta this bar."
Carly glared at her, then turned her glare to Jenny. "You haven't seen the last of me, you psycho's daughter." And with that, she walked out of the bar.
Tiffany sighed, and went back to the table.
As Jenny watched Carly walk out of the bar she watched as the woman pushed a man who had been standing at the door out of the way and walked out. "M-Michael?" she whispered.
The man looked around the bar, stopping when he spotted Jenny. He rushed to her, hugged her, and held her tight. "You always told me that if I ever needed help, to come here." He let go of her, and stepped back. "Well, little sister, I need help...we both do."*
She let out a sob, "I know."
Michael looked at the others with her. "Do they...know?"*
She nodded. "Tiffany got the file from Det Ryan today...oh God Michael where are the others?" she suddenly asked.
"Everyone's fine," Michael assured her. "I called each one as soon as I found out. I couldn't get you on the phone, so I decided to drive in and see if you were okay." He paused. "Colleen is taking the kids to her mother-in-law's in Phoenix for a few weeks."
She nodded. "He doesn't know she has kids...what about Collin? Is he going to take little Jenny with Colleen?"
"Collin thinks that he's safe," Michael said. "But, he might think about it if you called him." He ran his hands over his face. "But then again, he wasn't the one who testified against...Richard." He smiled sadly at his sister. "You and I are targets."
"He won't stop until we're all dead, you know that don't you." she said.
Tiffany put a hand up. "Excuse me for interrupting, but what are you talking about?"
Michael faced her. "Jenny and I testified against him after mom...disappeared. We were the only two home at the time, and..." he broke off, not wanting to complete the sentence.*
"He...sexually molested us..." Jenny looked down. "We were the only ones...our sisters and brother got out before us...they're the lucky ones..."
Silence came from the others at the table, each one unsure of what to say.
Tiffany finally broke the silence. "What the hell is he doing out on parole?" she wondered aloud. She inhaled suddenly, and grabbed her cell phone off of the table. "Be right back."
"Wait..." she motioned for Tiffany to put the phone down. "Didn't we sneak out one night into dad's...Richard's truck and saw him...k...kill four people?"
Precious Time By Lillandra Thunderfic@hotmail.com "So, are you in, or out?"
Tiffany Chambers looked at the other person at the table, regarding him coolly. She thought for a few moments, weighed her options, then nodded. "I'm in," she said as she tossed a poker chip to the middle of the table. "Raise you fifty."
The other person coughed lightly. "Too rich for my blood. I fold."
Tiffany smiled as she laid her cards down and collected the large amount of money from the table. "Night's getting' late, and I'm quitting while I'm ahead."
"Hey," the other person said as he looked at Tiffany's cards. "You only had two jacks?"
Tiffany nodded. "Yeah, I bluffed."
Tiffany snorted softly. "Sore loser." She got up from the table, grabbed her coat, and headed for the door. "I bid you all a fond adieu."
"Hold on," someone said. "I wanna talk to you for a second."
Tiffany sat on the railing that ran along the back of the house, lit a cigarette, and leaned back slightly. "What did you want to talk about?"
Detective Jason Habyre smiled at her. "During the bust today."
"When you were counting the drugs."
"Yeah?" Tiffany said as she took a drag from her cigarette. "Look, Jason…why don't you get to where you're going, and cut out the scenic route."
"I saw you pocket some of the precious."
Tiffany tensed slightly, but stayed where she was. "You saw me pocket some of the drugs?" she asked. She jumped to her feet when he nodded. "I have no idea what you are talking about."
"Cut the crap, Chambers," Jason said. "I just want to know if I saw what I think I saw."
"What the hell are you…IA?" Tiffany stabbed her cigarette out in a large ashtray. "Get a life, Jase," she said in a low voice, "cause if you told anyone what you think you saw, then I might just get pissed at you."
Jason watched as Tiffany walked to the patio door, opened it and went into the house. He then lit a cigarette, turned, and flicked the match into the back yard.
Tiffany closed her eyes as the wind brushed lightly through her hair. She heard a vehicle approach, glanced over her shoulder to confirm who the visitor was, and then looked back over the city below her.
The silver pickup stopped a few feet away, and a tall man got out. He walked across the rooftop parking lot, and took up position beside Tiffany.
"Pretty impressive, isn't it?" she asked, motioning to the city below them.
"It certainly is," Texas Ranger Cordell Walker said. "Any luck?"
Tiffany smiled as she looked out at the city. "It was easier than I thought. Jason Habyre asked me about the Precious that I...uh…borrowed."
Walker's eyebrows went up in mild surprise. "That was quick. You just took that yesterday."
"I know," Tiffany finally turned away from the Dallas skyline. "I wondered why he invited me to the poker game last night. Guess he couldn't wait to see if I'm dirty."
"Are you sure you still want to do this?"
Tiffany shrugged lightly. "Well, I don't like the Internal Affairs feel that it gives me, and I'm not overly interested in being a Serpico, but other than that."
Walker took a step back from the guardrail. "If you're not one hundred percent behind this, then tell me now."
"Let's just say that I'm 95% behind this, and leave it at that." Tiffany smiled. "Besides, it might be interesting to pretend to be dirty for awhile."
"Tiffany Chambers? Are you sure?"
Detective Jason Habyre nodded. "I saw her pocket it. She basically admitted it last night."
"I don't know," the other man said slowly. "Smells like IA."
Jason laughed. "Oh, trust me...Chambers is the last person that would go IA." He paused. "I think we should see if she's like us."
Detective Harry Kilner laughed. "Like us? You mean dirty?"
"Dirty...rich…ambitious." Jason said with a shrug, "take your pick."
The morning sun was just peeking through the curtains when the aroma of fresh brewed coffee filtered its way into the bedroom. Tiffany sniffed a few times, inhaling the delicious scent, then rolled over and opened her eyes. She stretched lightly, luxuriating in the feel of the silk bedsheets.
She heard a small noise, and looked up to find Carlos Sandoval leaning against the bedroom doorframe. He had a mug of coffee in his hand, and he was watching her intently.
"Into voyeurism now, are you?" she asked playfully.
"You never know," he said cheerfully as he stood and walked over to her. He took a sip from the mug, then offered it to her. She took a drink, then fell back against her pillow. "Up, up, up," Carlos said. "You have a busy day."
Tiffany took the coffee again, downed over half of the liquid, then got out of bed. "Do I at least have time for a shower?" she asked innocently.
"Oh, I think you might."
"Hey! Wait a minute!" Tiffany interrupted. "What's going on here? It's Saturday…my day off!" She headed back for the bed and climbed in under the soft sheets.
Carlos smiled at her. "Yes, it is Saturday. And do you remember what is happening today?"
"Yeah…I'm gonna sleep in...that's what's happening. Wanna join me?"
Carlos walked to the head of the bed, and crouched beside it so he was looking into her face. "What comes to mind when I say these three things: airport… Houston... 9:15 am flight."
Tiffany's eyes went wide, and she jumped out of her bed. "Damn it, Carlos! Why didn't you remind me."
Carlos sat on the bed and laughed. "Because, if I reminded you, I wouldn't get the fun of seeing you panic like this."
Meet with FBI agents who originally asked Tiffany to go undercover to get bad drug steeling cops...
"Your boyfriend's an ex-cop."
"Oh, for fuck..." Tiffany turned away in annoyance. "Jesus, Harry," she said as she turned back. "What does that have to do with anything."
"I think you're working for Internal Affairs."
"Internal Affairs?" Tiffany glanced at Jason. "And what do you think?"
Jason shrugged. "I'm not sure yet. It is kinda suspicious." He started to count points off on his fingers. "You're sleeping with and ex-cop…who happens to be a PI now. You're chummy with Rangers. Up until three days ago, I never saw you do anything remotely crooked."
"Yeah...well, I've never seen either of you two do anything crooked," Tiffany pointed out. "How do I know that you're not Internal Affairs?"
"This is getting us no where," Harry said. "Tiffany, excuse us...we have to have a little chat."
Tiffany got up from her chair. "You two are very weird," she said as she went to the back of the bar. She smiled to herself. Those two are nearly falling over each other to get me to join them.
Stereo played Thunderstruck by AC/DC, Tiffany hummed along with the hard music. Carlos winced slightly. "Uhh...could you possibly turn that down?"
Tiffany rolled her eyes as she lowered the volume. "Honestly Carlos, you need to get a broader taste of music."
"My taste in music is fine," Carlos said. "At least my music is listenable."
"Listenable? Is that even a word?" Tiffany teased. "Besides, haven't you heard? If your ears aren't bleeding, then it isn't music."
"Charming," Carlos muttered. He reached out and changed the radio station, smiling in approval as a song came on. "There, that's music."
"Carlos," Tiffany said pleasantly. "If you don't change that station back, then I am going to slam this car into a wall."
Carlos put his hands up in mock defeat, and laughed as he change the stereo back to it's original setting.
"What are you doing here?!" she demanded at the same time as the other person.
Detective Jason Habyre sighed in disgust. "So you're the cop the Feds put in."
Tiffany, unsure of what to say, just continued to stare. "What?"
Jason walked to her, put a hand on her arm, and guided her down the hallway. "Relax, Chambers…I'm not the bad guy here."
Tiffany's head finally finished spinning, and she dug her heals in to the floor. "Hold on, Jase…I'm not going anywhere with you."
Jason shrugged, let go, and entered the office in front of him. Tiffany stared at the name on the door. It was the same office which she was suppose to have a meeting in.
"This is bull," Tiffany whispered as she opened the door.
"Internal Affairs?" Tiffany asked as she looked at Jason.
"Yep," he replied. "But don't worry, I'm not there to bust you…anymore."
"Wha?!" Tiffany sat straighter in her seat. "Bust me??"
"Well, you did steal a hell of a lot of Precious," Jason pointed out. "That made you look dirty."
"I'm getting ethic lessons from a guy who shakes down hookers," Tiffany said with a disgusted shake of her head.
"Would you two please be quiet."
They both looked at the man seated behind the desk. "Detective Habyre, I apologize for any hardship our placing an agent may have caused your case." He paused, then looked at Tiffany. "Detective Chambers...in light of recent activities, we still need you undercover."
"Fine," Tiffany said as she glanced at Jason. "Is Harry IA, too?"
Jason shook his head. "No…and he's the reason I'm there. He's dirty as they come."
Tiffany parked her car in front of the old warehouse, got out, and went to the door. She tried the doorknob, and finding it unlocked, entered the building.
"Hello?" she called out. She jumped as a shadow passed in front of her. "Okay, this isn't funny," she said as she reached for her gun. She pointed it at the shadow. "Move out into the light, nice and slow…hands where I can see them."
The shadow moved into the light, and its features became recognizable.
"Jesus," Tiffany said as she lowered her weapon. "You damn near scared the life outta me."
"That was the idea," the man said, and instant before he reached behind him and pulled out a small gun.
Tiffany raised her own gun quickly, and fired, but she was a fraction too late. Pain erupted in her shoulder and her body swung back from the impact. She straightened, put her hand over the wound, and looked at him with surprise as she sunk to her knees.
"I can't believe you shot me," she whispered as she tried to raise her gun. The man reached out, took the gun from her useless hand, and stepped back. "Fuck."
"Nothing personal," the man said as he aimed again, and fired. The bullet entered just below her ribcage, causing her to scream out in agony.
Tiffany fell to her back, and stared at the ceiling of the warehouse as her brain tried to catch up with what was happening to her. Somewhere, behind her pain, she could hear Carlos' voice telling her to close her eyes...play dead. She willed herself to obey.
She was vaguely aware that no important, life-altering thoughts passed through her mind as she gasped for air; no regrets, no wishes, no 'if onlys'. In fact, the only thought that actually occurred to her was that Carlos had been right...she should have backed out of this long ago.
The man crouched by her still body and put two fingers on her neck. He felt a faint pulse, shrugged, and then got back to his feet. Tiffany cracked an eye open, and watch as the man went to a corner, picked up a large can, and started to pour the liquid contents over the floor.
"Oh, shit," she whispered and tried to get up. Come on, body…MOVE! Panic started to overtake the pain when she realized that her body would not comply with her wishes.
The man turned, lit a cigarette, then flicked the match onto the floor. Flames sprung up, and quickly spread throughout the area. He took one last look at Tiffany, and then walked out of the building.
Carlos turned away from the office window and went back to his desk. He looked at a few papers, sighed, and put them away in a folder. He stared at his computer screen for a few minutes then logged onto the Internet. Carlos checked his e-mail, and not finding a letter from Tiffany, logged back off. He looked up as the door opened and Trent entered.
"Any word?" Trent asked.
"Nope," Carlos replied. "No messages, no e-mail, nothing." He stood again. "This isn't like her."
"Maybe she couldn't get to a computer," Trent offered. "Or, it might be too dangerous for her to contact you right now."
Carlos nodded slightly. "That must be it. Man! I hate this case Tiffany is working on .it worries me sometimes."
"Oh, before I forget," Trent said, "Alex invited Jenny and me to dinner tonight…and she wants you to come too."
"Sounds like you're trying to change the subject."
Trent nodded. "Yep, I am. So.?"
"I don't know."
"Oh, well, if she insisted, then that's different," Carlos said. "Wouldn't want to piss off an Assistant D.A."
Cordell Walker held the phone in his hand, stunned by what he had just heard. He put the receiver down slowly, then turned to the group behind him.
Trent stood straight, concerned by the look on Walker's face. "What?" he asked, not really knowing if he wanted to hear the answer.
"There was a fire in an old warehouse downtown two days ago," Walker said slowly. "There was a body found..." he trailed off, not wanting to complete the sentence.
Jenny closed her eyes and turned away. She put her hand over her mouth to stop the protest that she was about to say. Trent put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. He looked at Carlos, saw the worry on his friend's face.
"Tiff?" Carlos asked in a soft voice.
"I'm sorry, Carlos," Walker said.
"Fuck," Jenny whispered. She turned to Trent, welcoming the feel of his arms around her. "No," she said into his chest. "It can't be."
Carlos was silent as he stared at the Texas Ranger. His mind reeled, and it took all his will power not to sink to the floor and cry. "Are you sure?"
Walker nodded. "We just got the identification from her dental records." He took a step towards the other man. "I'm really sorry, Carlos. If there's anything I can do."
"Maybe later," Carlos answered, then turned and walked out of the room.
"Carlos," Jenny called after him.
"Let him go," Trent said.
Carlos leaned against the side of the house, staring at the star filled sky. "We just got the identification from her dental records." The words echoed through his mind. That means she was burned beyond recognition. He shut his eyes tight against that image, but it assaulted him anyway.
He put his hands over his eyes and slowly sank to the ground. "Damn it," he whispered. "Damn it…fuck." He put his head back against the wall and closed his eyes as he suddenly became angry.
"Why did you have to do it, Tiff?" he asked. "You could have backed out, and let the Feds handle it. But no…you had to be the hero...and now you're dead!" He swung his arm back, pounding his elbow against the hard wall. "How could you be so fucking stupid!!"
He pulled his legs up, so that his knees where almost to his chest, and hugged them tightly. He rocked slowly back and forth as his anger eased. "I'm sorry, Tiff," he whispered. "Oh, God, please…make this just a bad dream."
But, he knew with certainty that this had not been a dream. Dreams were never this painful. Part of him wanted to just crawl into some crevice and die, but another part, the part that he now turned his concentration to, wanted to end that pain. That part wanted vengeance.