When we got to Mama’s I ordered and sent some food to the hospital. We told Mama about Charlie. She was glad to hear he would be fine. And Peter Driscoll cried as he told Mama that it was his mother who shot Charlie.
Mama sat down and pulled Peter into her lap. She hugged him, comforted him, and rubbed his back. Then she kissed him on his cheek.
“Does Charlie hate you?” she asked him.
“No but…” he sniffled through tears.
“Does Daniel there hate you?” she asked him.
“No,” Peter told her. “I don’t think so.”
“Peter I do not,” Daniel told him. Daniel got up and gave him a hug. They both were crying now. Angel and the McCall kids gave them a group hug.
About then Ethan, John, Tally and Alice came in. Ethan saw Peter crying and the group hug. Mama held up her hand to let him know that everyone was okay.
“Well look who’s here,” I said to get there attention. “So alice what are you doing here?”
“Charlie’s getting out this afternoon,” Alice said beaming with joy. “And John’s giving me a horse.”
“That little paint filly of his,” I said. “Smart choice.”
“How did you know?” John asked as they sat down.
“After we found the boys. All you and Charlie could talk about was a first time horse,” I told him. “And Charlie rides very well,as you know.”
“Alice you’ll do fine with that filly,” Daniel told her. “You ride pretty good.”
“Don’t you think Billy?” he asked me looking for confirmation.
“I do,” I told him with a smile.
“Thank you Daniel, Marshal Hickok,” Alice said blushing. “If things had been different.”
“Well things are not different,” Angel reminded her kissing Daniel’s cheek.
“Angel Ignacio Montoya!” Donna scolded her son. While of the others laughed.
“I am just reminding Alice. That Daniel is mine,” Angel told his mother. Then kissing Daniel again. On the lips. Kevin, Peter, and Antonia cheered their support.
“I meant no offense Angel,” Alice told him with a smile. “Besides. I have Charlie.”
“Speaking of Charlie,” I said reading a text message. “He’s asked to spend the night at the ranch.”
“What about you Alice?” I asked her. “My goddaughter is coming in today.”
“Maybe Antonia can join you two?”
“An empty house,” Donna told Antonia. “Sounds nice.”
“That’s because you want to spend some time with Frank?” Alice asked her mother with a smile.
“Frank! Frank Delgado?” Angel asked surprised. All Donna did was smile.
“Alice it’s fine with me,” Cindy, her mother said. “Your dad is off tomorrow. So..”
“Well it’s not often anymore,” Cindy said getting a high five from Donna.
“Mom please,” Alice pleaded. “I’ll go.”
“Tally are you and John going to stay at the ranch?” Katy asked her. Catching Tally off guard.
“Yes Tally always stays on the ranch,” I told Katy. “And so does John.”
“Do you have enough room?” Kevin asked with a smile. Causing Ethan to look up. He knew where that was going. And so did I.
Then Ethan’s phone rang. He told us that his and Sharon’s Parents were coming in that afternoon. So he told his kids they couldn’t stay at the ranch tonight. They were devastated, of course.
“We promise you guys can come out a lot this summer,” I told them. “But you need to be there for your grandparents.”
“Because they’re coming here for you,” Dante added. “And we give you our word about coming out to the ranch.”
“You promise?” Peter asked us.
“We promise you all,” I told them. Then kissing Dante. “Maybe we could get you some help riding.”
“I would be glad to,” Angel chimed in.
“Same with me,” Daniel added.
“I’ll help Katy,” Antonia said. “You in Alice?”
“I would love to,” Alice said fist bumping Antonia.
Peter came around and hugged each of us. Angel even kissed him on the cheek. So Peter hugged him again.
So after eating. We headed our separate ways. Daniel, Dante and I stopped at the Driscoll home. While Donna took her kids and Alice home to pack some clothes. Alice lived next door to the Montoyas. Then we picked up the kids.
When we got to the ranch. Tally was working that pinto of John’s. I held up my finger to keep the kids quiet. Because Tally was in her element. They climbed up on the rails to watch Tally work.
I asked John to watch the kids. While Dante and I went up to the house. We unloaded the kids bags as Andrew stepped out.
He was loading his and Jimmy’s bags into his Power Wagon. I was a little surprised.
“What’s up?” I asked him.
“Jimmy’s mother has asked us to spend a few days at their house,” Andrew told us. “And with all the new guests you have now.”
“Well I’m going to miss having you here,” I told him while shaking his hand.
“So am I,” Dante told him while they hugged. “You take care of him.”
Andrew smiled at that.
“I think I can handle that,” Andrew told him.
“And we’re not totally abandoning you,” Andrew said with a smile. “Peter and Jason are in the kitchen.”
I could smell good food from inside. We went into the kitchen. The stove was full of cooking pots. There were two roasts and chicken on the table. There were potatoes, carrots, and green beans. And Peter’s fresh bread was baking in the oven.
“Peter wanted to cook for you,” Jason told us after seeing us.
“You were there for us when we needed help,” Peter said as he closed the oven door.
“So you have a full house. And here’s dinner,” Peter said.
“Thank you,” Dante said.
“Classes over already?” Jason asked him.
“We only have two classes,” Jimmy said as he stepped in. “We planned it that way.”
I grabbed Dante and kissed him. Which earned us a round of applause.
"Jean and Bob just showed up with Charlie,” Jimmy told us. “They’re down at the corral.”
“Well come on,” Dante said leading me outside. While we walked Dante told me about his two classes. He was pumped up about everything. And I loved him even more than he knows.
When we got to the corral. Charlie was cheering as Alice was working the pinto, with Tally’s help. Antonia was giving Alice some pointers as well.
I heard the crunch of gravel and turned, as did Dante. Jessie’s car was pulling in. Jessie, Shaun, and Linzie got out. Then Bass and Amelia got out. Dante smiled seeing Amelia.
Bass and Amelia came running down to the corral. Bass gave us a high five before going to see Charlie, and Daniel. Daniel introduced Angel, and Antonia. All the while Amelia just stood there staring at Dante.
“Hello!” she said finally. “You’re Dante.”
“Yes Amelia,” Dante answered her. Then he picked her up and hugged her. They cried as they hugged. As did Linzie and truthfully, myself as well.
“Uncle Billy!” she called after hugging Dante. I picked her up and hugged her myself.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered in my ear. As tears still flowed down her cheeks.
“No. No need,” I whispered in her ear. “You did just what you felt you needed to do.”
“Come on Amelia,” Dante said. “I’ll introduce you to the other girls.”
“Other girls?” Linzie and Amelia asked together.
“Other girls,” I confirmed with a smile. “Alice and Antonia.”
But a look from Linzie stopped us. Dante had caught it.
“What?” I asked her. But Linzie looked away.
“It’s not fair!” Amelia said. “Momma!”
“No it’s not fair at all,” Bass added as he walked back with the boys.
“By order of the Attorney General. You will remain suspended pending an investigation by a special council,” Linzie told us. “I’m sorry. I tried to talk him out of it.”
“Do we know who it is yet?” I asked her.
“He hasn’t chosen one yet,” Linzie told us. But the look on her face spoke volumes to me.
Dante and Amelia had their arms wrapped around me. It made feel like I would be fine.
“Is that it?” Dante asked her.
“That’s all I know for now,” Linzie told us. Dante looked to me suspecting something.
“Billy?” Dante asked me.
I hugged him with a smile and a kiss. Much to Amelia’s glee.
“It’ll be fine,” I told Dante. “Amelia. Let’s introduce to Alice and Antonia.”
Charlie and Daniel stepped up with Alice and Antonia. Well and Angel too. The girls hit right off. Daniel was so happy he kissed Angel with reckless abandon.
“Daniel Everett Driscoll!” Jean scolded her youngest. But then Charlie kissed Alice to make a point.
“Charles Robert Driscoll!" as Jean scolded her other son. Bob put his hands on her shoulders. He turned her around to face him and then he kissed his wife.
“They get it from their father,” Bob told his wife when finished.
“Robert Taylor Driscoll!”Jean said. “I love you.”
Turning I see that the girls already have their heads together. What could go wrong? I smiled.
Amelia saw me looking and came running over to us. She got between us. Taking a hand of each of us.
“Well come on,” she commanded. So she lead us back to the corral with the girls. Linzie, Jessie, and Shaun followed.
“Well Amelia which one?” Dante asked with a smile. Bass looked at his sister. While Amelia looked puzzled at Dante.
“Which one what?” she asked him finally.
“Which horse do you want,” Bass told his sister. “I know which one I want.”
“Bass Reeves Graff!” Linzie scolded him.
“He hasn’t said anything more,” I pointed out. “Now Amelia take your time.”
“That spotty gray one,” Amelia finally said. “What do you think Uncle Dante?”
Which got me elbowed by Linzie. Who was grinning at me. Amelia had asked Dante. Not me. Which I was actually happy about.
“Well let’s get a better look at her,” Dante told her with a smile.
“Tommy can you guys ease the Dapple gray over here?” Dante asked Tommy and Sebastian.
They both nodded.They eased her our way. She was smart and knew what was going on. But she walked our way.
“Get her to trot for us,” Dante called to them.
They got her to trot. Then to gallop. She stopped in front of us at one point. Reaching her nose out to smell Amelia’s outstretched hand.
The dapple smelled her and pricked her ears to listen. Dante smiled at the expressions rolling across Amelia’s face.
“Amelia she’s sound and smart,” Dante told her. “She moves quick and sure. Right Uncle Billy?” Causing me to smile.
“That’s right Uncle Dante,” I answered. Dante looked at me with narrowed eyes.
“Bass which one do you want?” I asked him. All the while Tally just watched.
“The leopard,” he said with a smile of his own. “The leopard appaloosa.”
“What do you think Uncle Billy?”
“I think you’ll have your work cut out for you Bass,” I told him. “But she’ll be a great mount. If you can win her over.”
“Billy’s right. She has the heart of a war pony,” Tally said listen to us talk. “But she’ll be yours if you can win her.”
Bass looked at Tally for a few minutes. He was thinking about what Tally had said.
“So I can’t rush breaking her?” he asked Tally. And Tally smiled.
“No Bass,” she told him. “You take your time.”
“I’ll be here till they’re all saddle broke.”
Angel got into the corral to work his palomino colt. The colt could step. He was quick and nimble. Then Angel put out his hand. He was allowed to run his hand slowly from his shoulder to his rump.
Alice and Amelia wanted to applaud. But we kept them from doing it. We explained that they would set Angel back if they did.
Just before supper we gave out rooms. Daniel and Angel had the second room they had spent the night in. The girls were in the next room. It had a queen size bed. Linzie had the next room. With Jean and Bob taking the biggest guest room. Jean planned on staying for the kids.
Dante and I went to say goodbye to Andrew, Jimmy, Jason, and Peter. I won’t lie. It was sad to see them go. But they were still here in Bernalillo county. Daniel and Angel came to say goodbye to Andrew and Jimmy.
The boys hugged them. Angel shed a tear. Jean gave him a hug to comfort him.
“They still live here,” Dante told them. “We’ll see them from time to time.’
Supper went well. We talked, we laughed, and became an extended family. The girls became inseparable. Charlie and Bass were right back where they were before they had to be separated. Daniel and Angel were, well you could guess.
We all went to bed early. Dante and I talked. He knew me so well by then.
The next morning I woke early. As I started to slip out of bed. Dante put his arms around me. He leaned over my shoulder and kissed me.
“Oh no you don’t,” he said before giving me my kiss. “We share our problems.”
“Okay.” Was all I could say. But not all that I could do.
When we finally got dressed. Linzie and Jean were cooking breakfast. I smiled as did Dante. The girls came in from the patio.
“And I’m guessing you girls were setting the table,” I said to the girls.
“You’re a good guesser,” Amelia said as she hugged me.
We did a buffet. Jean and Linzie did a fine job. Scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, and sausage gravy. With fresh biscuit and a little toast. Some fresh fruit as well.
It wasn’t long before Jimmy arrived to pick Dante up. They were then off to class. Linzie, Bob and Charlie rode with me to the county courthouse.
“Dad,” Charlie said.
“What is it like testifying?” he asked Bob.
“Testifying the first time is scary,” Bob told him. “Like many things in life. But you’ll handle it like you handled being shot.”
“Thanks dad,” Charlie said taking the complement.
At the courthouse we were introduced to the prosecutor for the grand jury. The county prosecutor, Brad Bozeman turned around. He was handling this personally. Tom and Eric, who met us in the lobby whistled.
“Mr. Black, Mr. Blackburn,” Mr. Bozeman said.
“Mr. Bozeman.” First Tom said then Eric. as they shook his hand.
“What brings you here?” he asked them.
“Marshal Hickok’s council,” Tom told him.
“I didn’t call you,” I said. “How did you find out?”
“Dante called us yesterday to let us know what was going on,” Eric told me. “He also called this morning.”
“And you should have called us yesterday yourself,” Tom scolded me.
“I’m going to have to spank that boy tonight,” I said a little to loud.
Linzie and Bob smiled like they knew something they shouldn’t.
“Dante will like that,” a grinning Charlie said. Then he had a thought.
“Mr. Black. Do I need a lawyer?” he asked Tom.
“Charlie I assure you,” Mr. Bozeman told him. “You do not need an attorney.”
“He’s right Charlie,” Tom said. “You’re not the accused, as it were.”
“Charlie, if you want,” Eric told him. “I’ll be your attorney.”
Charlie thought about it for a minute. Then nodding his head.
“I'd like that Mr. Blackburn,” Charlie said. “Is that okay Mr. Bozeman?”
“If you want an attorney Charlie. It’s fine,” Mr. Bozeman told him.
“Now I hope to have you in before noon Charlie,” he told us. Then Marshal Hickok after lunch.”
“Why the wait?” Tom asked.
“Well I plan on the Deputies, the Detectives, and Crime Scenes first,”
Mr. Bozeman said. “Oh. And Marshal McCall has asked to testify.”
“What!” Linzie asked. “Ethan has asked to testify?”
“Yes I have,” Ethan said as he and an older man walked up from the elevators. “This is Sharon’s father’s idea. He wants to help you Billy.”
“That’s right,” said the elderly man. “Sharon had a problem because of her brother Julian. Which I do not understand.”
“This is my father in law Philippe Haas,” Ethan said making the introduction.
“I’m Marshal Hickok, sir,” I said offering my hand. “I’m sorry I had to…” He took my hand and we shook.
“Understood Marshal,” he said. "Say no more."
“This is Charlie Driscoll and his father Marshal Bob Driscoll,” I told him. “Along with our Boss Director Linzie Graff.”
“My family and I are sorry Sharon felt this way,” Philippe Haas said to us. “We didn’t raise her that way.” Tears starting to trickle down his cheeks.
Charlie stepped up and hugged Mr. Haas.
“Mr. Haas I’ll be fine,” Charlie told him. “So like I told your grandkids. You can’t be sorry for this.”
“She did this,” I said. “Not you.”
“Thank you,” he stuttered and he hugged Charlie again.
While we waited to testify, Ethan and Mr. Haas told us the story of Sharon and her brother Julian. But even they couldn’t answer exactly why she felt the way she did. Then someone arrived who could.
“I know why,’ said a lady about Mr. Haas’ age. “It’s something you both should have known a long time ago.”
“What is it Sarah?” Mr. Haas asked the lady. I took to be his wife. “What didn’t you tell me? Tell us.”
Sarah Haas sat down next to Charlie with her burden. She hugged him.
Sarah told us about a boy that was a friend of Sharon’s. Nicholas Wellman had been a friend of Sharon’s. She saw him more as a boyfriend. But he turned out to be gay and fell in love with a new classmate.
Sharon was devastated by this. She came to hate him. And then her brother came out. She despised him.
“Charles Robert Driscoll is called,” said a bailiff.
“Time to go Charlie,” Eric said as he stood to go in with him.
“Thanks Eric,” Charlie said. Then he told the bailiff. “He’s my attorney.”
They were gone about a half and hour. Lunch was called as they stepped out. So we went to Mama Fernandez’s. Ethan was almost to quiet. But finally we got him talking.
I testified after the grand jury was reconvened. I was in there maybe twenty minutes. Then Ethan was called. At one o'clock it was given to the grand jury.
George called to see how it was going. Linzie told him that the grand jury was deliberating. Then Sherry called. But she sounded as if she wanted us to need George for a little while longer.
“Well Amelia wants to see the baby,” I told her on the speaker phone. “How about a cookout this weekend?”
“What about our folks?” Sherry asked me.
“Bring them. I’m hoping Ethan will bring his family. All of them,” I said looking at him.
“That sounds wonderful,” Sarah said getting his attention. “The kids have talked about nothing else.”
“We will be there,” Sherry said.
“I’ll have to let you know later,” Ethan said to me. “It comes down to when we can get Sharon’s funeral set up.”
“Well I’ve released her body Marshal McCall,” Mr. Bozeman said as he stepped out with a smile. "They ruled the shooting was justified.”
Just then Linzie’s phone rang. But before she could hide her face. I saw it fall.
“What?” I asked her.
“Problem?” Mr. Bozeman asked.
“The A.G. has suspended me until a special council concluded their investigation,” I told him.
“You’re shitting me?” he said in total disbelief.
“No he’s not,” said a woman’s voice. I hoped t never hear again.
“Serena Baker,” Bob said not impressed at all.
“Serena what are you doing here?” Linzie asked her
“Well I’m going out on a limb And guessing she’s the special council,” I said calmly. “Right Miss Baker? It is still Miss Baker?”
“You are correct on both counts Marshal Hickok,” Serena said with a smile. “I’ll be interviewing everyone involved with the last, so called, investigation.”
“Charlie, are you doing okay?” she asked after seeing him
“Fuck off, bitch,” Charlie said to everyone’s surprise- not really. “I’m not stupid.”
“You’re looking to get back with Billy,” he said.
Serena wasn’t expecting that from Charlie. Her eyes narrowed as she decided what she should do. But she never gave in to her feelings. I knew that much.
“He’s in love with Dante. Not you!” Charlie finished
“Dante, huh?” Serena asked.”Is that the little boy’s name?”
“He’s a fine youngman,” Linzie corrected her. “And you need to watch your mouth.” Serena’s head snapped around to stare down Linzie, or tried to at least.
“Especially around me,” I told her. It took her aback.
But she smiled that evil smile I had seen before. And I didn’t like it.
Serena walked over and whispered in my ear.
“Remember lover,”she said. “Your career is in my hands.”
“And?” I asked her.
“I want you back or…” she said in my ear. Her threat was crystal clear.
“Well you lose,” I told her. The detectives handed me my Colt.
“It’s time for us to go,” I told her loud enough for everyone to hear.
We walked down to the elevators. Serena followed us.
“Marshal Hickok,” she said as we got to the elevators. “Your still suspended. And if your armed…”
I took off my jacket. While I had holsters on. They were empty. And I smiled at her.
“Marshal Driscoll has my Colt 'til I’m outside of the court house,” I told her. “New Mexico is an open carry state.”
The elevator opened and we all got in. Serena started to get on.
“Sorry young lady,” Mrs. Haas said. “But I think we’re full.”
As the doors closed. Ethan leaned over and kissed her cheek. And Charlie gave her a one armed hug.
“I’m guessing you all don’t like that lady,” Philippe Haas said.
“That is and understatement,” I told him.
“Ethan. You keep me informed,” Linzie said giving him a hug. The doors opened to the lobby.
“I will director,” Ethan said. “And Billy. It’s your turn to tell me about AUSA Baker. I’ve heard stories.”
“Do you know her?” Bob asked. ”She’s been in Chicago for about five years now.”
“I will. After this… goat rope is over,” I told him. Charlie just smiled.
“Come on,” Bob said. “Jean and Donna are cooking tonight.”
“How did you know that?” Charlie asked his dad.
“Your mother has sent me a list of things we need to pick up,” Bob told him. I tossed Bob the keys.
“You can drive then,” I told him taking my Colt as we walked outside.
Bob and Linzie looked at me. They could tell I was worried. And I needed help with one thing.
“How do I tell Dante about Serena?” I finally asked as we turned up the road to the ranch.
“You tell him straight up,” Charlie told me. “He’ll not like it. But he will like it less if you hide it from him.”
“Besides, we're there for you.”
“Are you sure Charlie?” I asked him.
“Yes. Because Dante can handle it,” he told me. “He loves you.”
We were quiet as we pulled up to the house. I smiled.
“Thank you Charlie,” I said.
“Charlie?” Linzie asked him.
“How did you get so wise?” she asked him. His dad turned to look at his eldest.
“Dad quiet,” Charlie told his dad with a smile.
“Let’s get this food inside,” Bob replied. I noticed that the Green’s car was there.
The four mothers came out of the house. Lead by the three girls.
It looked like the boys, Sam, and Alice’s dad were down at the corrals.
Alice was so glad that Charlie was back she kissed him. Despite the fact that her mother was there.
“Antonia,” Donna asked her daughter. “Would you go get everyone”
“Supper is almost ready. And they look like they want to tell us something.”
“Well I want to see what they’re up to down there,” I told the girls. Stopping them.
“Sounds good,” Bob said. So the four of us walked down to the corral.
Dante saw me and ran into my arms. We kissed but I guess I didn’t smile fast enough. Dante stepped back.
“What’s wrong?” Dante asked. Seeing the look on Linzie’s face. “What’s wrong Linzie?”
“Was he indicted?” he asked in a panic.
“I’ll tell you all in a little bit,” I told him with a kiss. “And no I wasn’t indicted.”
“But if you think I’m not telling you all you can ask Linzie or Bob.”
“We’ll tell you Dante,” Charlie said as he and Alice came down.
“You promise me Billy?” Dante asked me.
“My love I promise to tell all,” I told him. “I just don’t want to have to tell it over and over.” He smiled.
“That makes sense,” he said. “At least you weren’t indicted.”
“No. I wasn’t indicted,” I told him. “But we found out who the special council is.” Charlie huffed at the thought of Serena.
“And we know her,” Linzie told him.
Charlie dropped a few unpleasant remarks. He did substitute witch for bitch as his mother got close. To Bob’s delight. But I think Jean had an idea what had happened.
“Supper’s ready,” Amelia said.
“I think we can talk up there,” Jean said. Then she called to the others to come on an eat.
Dante picked Amelia up and kissed her cheek. Then we all walked up to the patio. And we sat down to eat.
“I love you,” I told Dante with a kiss. A cheer went up.
“Isn’t that cute!” said that voice again. Serena stood at the edge of the patio. An amused smile on her face.
“Is that her?” Dante asked me.
“It is,” I told him. “Dante this is the special council. AUSA Serena Baker.” Dante’s head snapped around at the last name.
“You can leave!” Dante told her taking a step toward her. But I held onto hIs hand.
“And what do you have to say about it Billy?” Serena asked with a smile.
“Dante said it. And Dante has every legal right to,” I told her. Serena took a step toward us, toward Dante.
But Amelia and the girls were up to cut her off. Serena stopped.
“You heard Uncle Dante and Uncle Billy!” Amelia said quit sternly. “Leave! Now!”
“Little girl you need to...” Serena started.
“She needs to what?” Linzie asked backing her daughter up. With Donna and Cindy on either side of her.
“Well I’ll see you all tomorrow,” Serena said amused by it all.
“I emailed a list to you lover. And you director,” Serena told us. “Have everyone there early. I’m in my of offices at the US Attorney’s office.”
The girls followed Serena to her vehicle. Tommy and Sebatian brought them back.
“What’s that lady’s problem?” Tommy asked me. “She almost slapped Melly (Amelia).”
“But she didn’t,” he said seeing Linzie’s head came up.
“What isn’t,” I told him. “She isn’t allowed on the place.”
“Unless she has a warrant,” Bob added. “She is still an AUSA.”
“Good point,” I said turning to Amelia.
“Melly?” I asked her. Amelia smiled back.
“They’re cool,” she said giving Tommy and Sebastian a hug.
“Amelia Jane!” Linzie said with a smile.
“I’ve been meaning to ask. Melly?” Tommy asked. Linzie, Bass and I smiled.
“Bass Reeves Graff don’t you dare!” Amelia threatened her brother.
“When Amelia and Bass were little. Bass couldn’t say an ess (S) to well,” Linzie told them.
“So when Linzie would ask Bass to check Amelia’s diaper. He would say Melly if she needed a change instead of smelly,” I said. Amelia hit me in the arm. I just smiled. “Needless to say, it stuck. And Amelia allows only certain people to call her that.”
“Thank you Amelia,” Tommy said getting a hug.
“Ladies we need to set the tables,” Antonia said.