Skeeter-Savaged Souls MC

THE NEW CHAPTER BOOK IS


Last Of Moose....

Minutes later, the police showed up and took Cindy’s body away. They took statements and finally the clubhouse was quiet again.

Moose looked over at Jackson and shook his head. “I’m still claiming Brinn. She may be your kid but she’s my woman.”

“That may not be up to her. She’s a Morgan and she needs to know what that’s all about.” Bart growled.

“It is up to me Judge,” Brinn told him quietly. “There is no evidence I’m a Morgan and as I’m over twenty one, I don’t ever have to find out one way or the other. I have a man that doesn’t care who I am or where I came from and you know what? I don’t either. I’m old enough to go where I please and I’m happy where I am.”

Bart started to say something when Jackson held his hand up. “Stop dad, she’s right. Maybe now is the time to restart our lives. I’m tired of the rat race of New York. Maybe it’s time to move to a gentler time and place. Maybe Texas should be our new home base.”

Bart turned his head to glare at his son. “Are you crazy boy?”

Janice began laughing. “I think that’s a brilliant idea brother. Mind if I join you? I’m sure I can hang my shingle just about anywhere.” She looked around at the Savaged Souls. “I hear that Bounty Hunters can always use a good lawyer.”

Gunner shook his head as he smiled.

Jackson smiled too, as Liberty threw herself at him. “Do you mean it dad? We could move here and be a family?”

Jackson nodded at his daughter. “Yeah baby girl, maybe it’s time to be a family for a change.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Chapter One

 

Later that same afternoon after everything settled down again, the Judge was sitting off to one side, he was present but not part of the festivities. He refused to see things the way the rest of his family did. He kept checking his watch.

Jackson didn’t care and neither did Janice.

Finally though, Jackson had enough. He turned to him and suggested, “I think it's time you went back to New York, Dad. The girls and I are staying here for a while. Janice is free to do what she wants but I’m staying here. I’m sure you have court and will want to get back for that. Take the plane home.”

“And when will you be back?” Bart asked his son.

Jackson stared at his father for a moment then finally told him, “If you must know, I may never come back and you know what? That would be all right with me. I may move my company down here and I think that would be okay too. In fact, I’m thinking maybe I can start up a second company down here. I'm not sure as I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.”

“The Morgan’s are from New York.” Bart growled under his breath.

“Maybe it's time for a fresh start Dad,” Jackson told him.

“I agree Dad,” Janice spoke up in her quiet way. “New York is a nice place but it is not the end of the world. People do survive living in other places. I like it here too.”

Bart seemed to deflate. “This is such a disappointment.”

“Why Dad? Maybe it's time to slow down a little bit and enjoy life. You should think about it,” Jackson suggested.

Bart turned his head to glare at Brinn. “This is all your fault you know that right girl?”

Brinn just shrugged. “Think what you want old man. But as I was taken as a baby, I really had no say over the events. That was all my mother right? She’s the one who threw me away and you’re doing the same as she did, all over again. You are both rejecting me and blaming me for things I have no control over. What kind of man does that make you?” She reached into her pocket and drew out the small charm she found amongst her mother’s things. She leaned over and carefully set it down in front of him. “This belongs to you and your family. I have no use for it, as you won’t allow me to claim it. You’ve made it very clear I have no right to claim you as family and for once, I’m glad. I don’t want your name or your money. Now, you can go home and breathe easy old man. I never wanted it before and I have no use for it now. Moose told me he’d take care of me and with him by my side, I will learn to take care of myself. If Jackson is my dad all I want from him is the right to call him family. Nothing more, but nothing less either. To me, blood doesn’t mean a damn thing. I would love it if Liberty were truly my little sister and I would love to get to know her as such. Same with Janice being my Aunt.”

“And me? What about me? I’m your grandfather you silly twit.” Bart grumbled.

Brinn shook her head. “See, just saying things like that. No, you are not my grandfather. You will never acknowledge me as such, so I don’t have to acknowledge you either. I’ve lived my whole life with people like you looking down on me and I don’t have to do that anymore. Go back to New York and live your life in your Ivory Tower where none of the little people can sully the bottoms of your shoes. I’d feel sorry for you but it wouldn’t make a difference, so why bother?” Brinn got up from her chair and walked down the hall to her room.

Liberty stared at her grandfather with tears in her eyes. She didn’t say a word but she got up too, and went after Brinn.

Jackson got to his feet and glared down at the man he loved once upon a time. “Go home old man. I don’t think you’re welcome here anymore and you have no one to blame but yourself. I’ll have my belongings packed up within the next few weeks. Liberty and I will be staying down here.” He turned and walked over to where Moose and a few of his brothers were standing while watching the drama unfold.

Janice stood up as well. “I’m staying here too Dad. I can finally breathe what feels like fresh air again. I came here to prove Brinn didn’t belong in our family but I’d rather be part of her family than part of my own anymore. You showed me that much just now, with your hateful words.”

Bart had just lost everything and he didn’t even realize it yet. He just sat there dumbfounded for a moment. He’d come here with the expectation of taking his family back with him and now, he was going home alone. He checked his watch again and looked up at Jackson. “Are you going to take me back to the airport?”

Jackson shook his head. “No dad I’m not, but I will call a car for you. I’ll need the rental to find my way around this week. I have to find a place to live and office space to bring my company down here.” He shrugged. “I’ll get you back to New York but I’ll need my plane to head back this way.”

Bart got to his feet and glared at him. “You’re making a mistake boy, a very big mistake.”

Moose growled. “Brinn is not a mistake.”

Bart didn’t want to start another argument so he clamped his mouth shut and headed toward the door. As he was about to open it, a loud knock sounded on it. He frowned and stepped back.

Gunner and Boone walked around him to open the door.

 A Law Officer stood there with an older woman.

She stepped forward and looking at Gunner she asked, “Is Franklin Kirby Howard here?”

Gunner looked over his shoulder at his men. “Skeet, you got company,” he called out.

The man they all knew as Skeeter stepped forward. Looking at the officer and the woman next to him he addressed her, “I’m Franklin Howard. Who are you and what do you want here?” he asked as he saw another vehicle enter the parking lot.

The other car stopped just outside the doorway. His soon to be ex boss, Captain Dallas Brinkman stepped out of the driver’s door. “Damn it Calista, I told you I would bring him in. You didn’t have to do it this way.”

The woman turned to face the Captain. “Yes I did, Dallas. And you know why. When any officer of your office comes under a threat like this, he can’t just turn his back on it. He needs to be served with the proper paperwork and he needs to be brought in and questioned.”

“What the hell is going on here?” Skeeter asked with a frown.

The woman Dallas called Calista turned back to Skeeter and handed him an envelope. “Franklin Kirby Howard, you have been served.” Stepping back, she motioned for the officer next to her. “Arrest him.”

Dallas moved forward and glared at her. “You don’t need to arrest him. He’ll come in on his own. Just give me a minute to explain what this is all about.”

“What the fuck Dallas?” Skeeter growled. “What is this all about?”

Janice moved forward and when she came to his back, she suggested, “Why don’t we sit down and discuss this properly?” She touched Skeeter lightly on the back.

 His muscles tightened into hard knots as he turned his head to her and nodded at the people gathered. “Come on in and let’s get this over with.” Skeeter turned and made his way to a table.

Everyone followed as they all sat down.

Gunner, Boone and the other brothers of Savaged Souls, all stared at Skeeter then at the Captain.

Skeeter opened the envelope and read the papers he’d been given by Calista. It was a legal form of a court proceeding that turned out to be a warrant for his arrest. He handed it to Janice then looked directly to where Dallas was sitting. “What the everlovin’ fuck is going on here Boss?”

Dallas rubbed his hand over his face and sighed. “Mendoza cartel sixteen years ago.”

Skeeter paled. His past was here to bite him in the ass, only it wasn’t his past, his secret to tell. This was Trace’s secret and Trace died sixteen years ago, thanks to the Mendoza cartel. Trace had been his first partner all those years ago. “Well fuck.” He growled.

 

Chapter Two

 

Skeeter glared at Calista, then he turned to his boss, Dallas. “I made my report sixteen years ago about what went down back then. What happened? Why the sudden change?”

“A young girl came forward. She was looking for you. She gave your name as her father,” Dallas told him in a nutshell. “She looked pretty beat up, Frank. She said she lost her mom five years ago and was living on the streets and finally, had the chance to get over the border. She claims she’s been looking for you for a while now.”

Skeeter nodded as he didn't look surprised by the claim the girl made. “But how did she get my real name? I went by an alias back then? We both did.”

“You both?” Janice asked sharply. “Both, as in who else was with you?”

“My partner Trace Coulier. We went in undercover in August of that year and I came out the next May. Trance never made it out of Mexico. We were betrayed and he died in a shootout just before we could get out. In fact, we both took bullets just on their side of the border. I made it across but Trace never did.” He curled his hands into fists as he remembered back to that awful day when everything went down. “I waited until after dark, then I went back across the border and dragged his bloody body back with me.” Shaking his head he commented, “Hells bells, they shot him enough to stop him from being able to walk away but then they went back and tortured him until he bled to death. He didn’t die easy, I can tell you that much. I still hear his screams sometimes.”

“Why did you wait so long?” Calista glared at him. “The girl told us her mother said she was watching and he was laying there for many hours and no one got close to him. She claims you didn’t do anything until his screams stopped and you knew he was dead.”

“Lady,” Skeeter growled. “I was pinned down by enemy fire on my side of the border the whole fucking time. Not to mention I had three of their bullets in me at the time. By the time I got to someone who would help me, I damn near died from blood loss, myself.”

“And yet, you survived, didn’t you? When you know Trance Coulier didn’t,” Calista pointed out.

“Ms. Jones,” Janice spoke sharply. “Watch your attitude. He hasn’t been charged with anything yet and your attitude is not helping this situation.”

Calista turned to glare at the other woman. “And just who do you think you are to tell me anything?”

Janice raised an eyebrow. “I’m his attorney and my name is Janice Morgan.”

Calista frowned and Dallas looked surprised. Apparently, even they heard her name and reputation.

“Janice Elaine Morgan?” Calista asked. “Out of New York?”

Janice nodded.

“Do you have a license to practice in Texas? If you don’t, then your opinion doesn’t matter here,” Calista stated. “Don’t forget Counselor, we know the law here in Texas too.”

“Is that right?” Bart finally spoke up. “Then you know enough not to piss off a Supreme Court Judge, don’t you?”

“She’s not a judge, she’s just a lawyer.” Calista got snotty.

“Perhaps not, but I’m her father and I am a Judge,” Bart informed her. “And I do not appreciate your attitude toward any attorney, let alone my own daughter.”

“I do apologize your Honor, but as I pointed out, she has no legal say in this matter if she isn’t registered by the state of Texas,” Calista reminded him.

“That won’t take long lady. So like she said, mind your manners here,” Bart growled. “You really don’t want her as an enemy.”

Dallas cleared his throat. “We do need to treat this right. So Frank, you’ll have to come down to the office for some questions. Some of the information we have is sensitive.”

Skeeter nodded. “Let me get my stuff together and I’ll ride over there with you. I need to get my wallet and some other items.”

Calista stood and nodded at the officer. “Go with him to make sure he doesn’t leave through the back door.”

Janice got to her feet. “That isn’t necessary. He’s already agreed to go with you.”

Calista frowned but for once, she held her tongue. But she still motioned for the officer to tag along with him.

Dallas cleared his throat.

The officer stayed put.

Calista crossed her arms over her chest and glared at Dallas.

Janice looked over at Skeeter. “I’ll go with you.”

“You can’t be with him during the questioning. You aren’t his attorney, at least not in Texas and no civilians are allowed,” Calista pointed out snidely.

Bart growled and reached for his phone. He made a call.

Even Calista knew who he was speaking too. She began to sweat as Bart’s conversation was heard by the whole room.

“I’d like to speak to the Governor please. Tell him it's Justice Bart Morgan.” A moment later he said, “Jim, Bart Morgan Supreme Court Justice here. What does my daughter Janice have to do to be able to be recognized as an attorney at law here in Texas? She wants to represent someone and someone on the staff of the Rangers won’t recognize her as such.” He paused and listened for a moment. Then he looked over at Dallas, “He wants to know her name.”

“Calista Jones,” Dallas told him. “She’s our court rep.”

“Her name is Calista Jones and I understand she’s a court rep for the Rangers.” Bart listened for a moment then handed the phone to Dallas.

Dallas listened for a moment then ended the call. He turned to Janice. “The Governor of the state of Texas has endorsed you as an attorney here temporarily until the paperwork can be turned in to get you certified in this state. You may accompany us to the office and be present in the questioning.” He turned to Calista and told her, “You are now on probation because of your disrespectful attitude, not only with Frank but also with Ms. Morgan. You cross the line again, and you're gone. Do you understand that?”

Calista flushed red and glared back at him, then she turned her glare to Franklin and Janice then finally, to Bart. “Yes I understand. But I was just doing my job.”

Skeeter turned and walked down the hall to his bedroom, when he returned a few minutes later, he was holding a file and he nodded at Dallas. “I’m ready. I’ll drive my own vehicle as I’ll need a way to get back.”

Dallas glared at Calista but agreed to his terms.

Calista kept her mouth shut but she made sure there was no doubt about her opinion. She stomped over to the door but before she went through it, she looked over her shoulder and glared at Skeeter. “You better show up, or I’ll get a statewide warrant for your arrest.”

“And that would be your last act as a Ranger,” Dallas warned her.

“I’ll be there.” Skeeter growled.

Calista stormed out of the clubhouse.

Dallas shook his head.

“Why does she seem to have such a problem with Frank?” Janice asked.

“Calista had a hard life growing up,” Dallas explained. “Then this girl comes into our office looking for Frank. She takes one look at this girl, because that’s all she is, is a girl. She’s all of fifteen and she thinks Frank left her mother and her behind. She was born in July and they left Mexico in May, so she had to think he knew her mom was carrying his child.”

“There’s only one problem with that,” Skeeter stated. “I’m not her father. I never slept with her mom.”

“We can sort this out at the office,” Dallas replied. “Calista wants to hear what you have to say.”

Skeeter nodded and looked over at Gunner. “We’ll be back.”

Gunner gave him a slow nod back. “Good luck, you might need it with that witch.”

Skeeter and Janice walked out and got into his vehicle. They followed Dallas and Calista and her officer followed them.

As they covered the miles, Janice looked over at Skeeter. “So, you have a daughter?”

Skeeter shook his head. “No, she’s not mine. She’s actually Trace’s daughter.”

“Then why does she think you’re her father?” Janice frowned.

“I don’t know,” Skeeter admitted. “Her mother thought Trace would take her with him when he went back to the states. When we left that day, she wanted to come with us but Trace wouldn’t let her. I didn’t even think she was surprised but then, she asked what about the baby she was carrying.” He shook his head. “Trace told her if she would sleep with him, how did he know she didn’t sleep with everybody who asked. He wanted to know if the baby was even his.” His hands tightened on the wheel. “He was a real bastard that day, not only to her but to me, after she ran off.”

“How old was this girl?” Janice wanted to know.

“I’m not sure but I don’t think she was any more than fifteen herself, at the time.”

“Fifteen?” Janice whispered. “Fifteen? That’s a crime in this country.”

Skeeter nodded. “That’s what I told him too. But all he did was laugh at me. Then he told me he was glad we weren’t in our country then, wasn’t he? In Mexico, it was legal, maybe not moral, but they didn’t care about that down there.” He shook his head. “Lelanie was our snitch at the time. She gave us more info on the cartel than we would have gotten on our own. Trace used her and threw her away. Hell, he threw them both away when he left.”

“So how are you going to prove she’s not your daughter?”

“Before we went undercover the Rangers made us do a blood test. A DNA test. I can prove I’m not her dad. I sure as hell never slept with an underage girl, in this country or any other country.”

Janice was quiet the rest of the trip to Dallas. She had a feeling that this wasn’t the end of it and it wasn’t as black and white as Skeeter thought it was. She’d seen that same look in Calista’s eyes in so many of her defendant’s eyes and it usually, meant they were hiding something.

~*~

Back at the clubhouse, Bart was seething. How dare these minions question his family? When he got back to New York, he was going to ruin this Calista Jones. He was just a little peeved that his daughter was willing to represent this man, the MC called Skeeter. What the hell kind of name was that anyway?

“What’s wrong now, Dad?” Jackson asked with an exasperated sigh as he walked over to where Bart stood.

“What the hell is your sister doing?” Bart snapped. “She shouldn’t even be here with this riffraff.”

“Excuse me?” Jackson stared at him.

“You heard me,” Bart insisted. “These men are not the sort I want to be associated with and neither should you, or your sister.”

“Dad, these men are good people,” Jackson replied. “You don’t even know them. So how the bloody hell, can you just dismiss them like that?”

Bart shook his head. “They're are bikers, son. You don’t know what they do under the table. They could be running drugs, guns or just about anything. They could be suckering you in to exploit you. You won’t know until it's too damn late.”

“Dad, they’re bonded bounty hunters. They run the risk of their business if they break the law. Use your common sense here.” Jackson shook his head.

“That’s another thing.” Bart snarled. “What kind of man is a bounty hunter?”

“It’s an honorable job,” Moose spoke up from behind Jackson. “We hunt down dangerous criminals and bring them in to face justice. We work with the police, the US Marshals office, and the Rangers. What’s wrong with that?”

“And you’re telling me the police, the Marshals and the Rangers always trust you to do the right thing?” He shook his head. “Why would they trust bikers? Isn’t it usually the bikers breaking the laws?”

“So your problem with us is that we’re bikers?” Moose asked.

“Well, even you have to admit bikers are notoriously bad news,” Bart reasoned.

Moose nodded. “That’s true enough but then, we’re not your regular bikers.”

“So you say.” Bart snorted.

“Dad, these are the men who rescued Brinn. Moose vowed to protect her, when he didn’t have to do that. He could have walked away but he didn’t,” Jackson pointed out.

“And he probably took her to his bed without her consent too,” Bart griped. “She’ll end up being a whore like her mother. The only difference is she won’t have anything to call her own, whereas her mother at least lived the life she wanted until you smartened up to see her for what she was.”

Moose curled his large hands into fists as his rage grew.

Jackson looked over at Moose and said, “Allow me.” Then he turned to his father, reared back his fist, and let it fly.

When it hit, Bart flew back a few feet and ended up in a heap on the floor. He groaned and stared at the ceiling for a long moment then sat up. Blood dribbled from the corner of his mouth as he gaped at his son. “What the hell did you do that for?”

“My daughter is not a whore, nor will she ever be a whore.” Jackson seethed. “She’s with him because she wants to be with him. All you have to do is look at her to see that. He didn’t force her. You have misjudged these men and you have worn out your welcome here. Even if they have allowed you to be here, I demand that you get the hell out! Go home and live in your ivory tower, old man. I’m so done with you and your ideas of what is acceptable and what is not.” Jackson then turned his back on his father and stormed away.

Bart huffed as he got to his feet. He calmly dusted off his slacks and walked to the front door. He knew he’d just lost his son’s respect. And that bothered him slightly. It bothered him because he felt like he was losing his family and he’d be damned if he was going allow that.

He might walk away for now, but he would be back.

 

Chapter Three

 

Skeeter and Janice walked into the Rangers offices in Dallas.

Calista and Dallas were both waiting for him as well as several other officers.

Dallas seemed agitated but he didn’t say anything, instead he motioned for them to follow him down the hall to the questioning rooms. He opened the first door and ushered them inside.

Calista joined them and she took the seat on the other side of the table from where Skeeter and Janice were sitting.

Dallas looked unhappy as he pulled the only other chair in the room up to the table.

Calista made a big deal of turning the recorder on and then she sat back and glared at the two of them. After a moment of silence she cleared her throat and started, “I’m obligated to inform you that you are being recorded and anything you say here may be used against you in a court of law. I am Officer Calista Jones. I’m interrogating Officer Franklin Howard and his attorney, Janice Morgan, who by the way is not certified by the state of Texas yet. Also present is Acting Chief, Dallas Brinkman. We will be discussing a report made by a minor child. A young girl born from an incident when Franklin Howard raped this minor child's mother, seventeen years ago. Leaving her in Mexico with said child not yet born. He turned his back on her and returned to the United States with no support for said woman or the child she was going to give birth to.”

Skeeter glared at her for a moment then looked over at Dallas. “Are you going to sit there and allow her to say whatever garbage she likes?”

Calista growled herself. “I am just stating the facts as we know them. This will be your one chance to make your case before you are arrested and charged with rape of a minor.”

Janice sat back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest. “It almost sounds like you’ve already made up your mind about the fact he’s guilty or do you plan to let him prove his innocence?”

Calista glared at her and stated, “I’m just stating the facts as we know them ma’am.”

“Watch your tone Jones, or you are out of here,” Dallas stated. “She’s got a point here and you well know it.”

Calista turned her head slowly and glared at him. “To my mind, she shouldn’t even be allowed in here. As I stated before, she’s not certified to practice law here in Texas and she’s only here due to the pressure her father brought down on the governor. That smacks of something less than legal and you know it.”

Skeeter turned to Dallas. “I will answer any questions as long as she’s not the one who asks them. She doesn’t seem to want the truth here and I will not be railroaded into something that isn’t mine to carry.”

Dallas knew he wouldn’t either. He’d known Skeeter a very long time. Calista Jones was usually a good agent for the Rangers but even he had to admit she was very close to crossing an invisible line here. “Jones, maybe you should stand down here.” Dallas suggested.

“No sir, I will not,” she argued. “I don’t care if he likes me or not, that’s not the issue here.”

“No, you are the issue here,” Dallas countered. “Like he said, you have already tried and convicted him and we don’t know the facts yet. I said stand down.”

“If I go, so does she.” Calista pointed at Janice.

“You cannot make demands here.” Dallas got to his feet and glared down at her. “He’s here to answer questions and so far, he’s not under arrest. She’s here as his legal representative which has been given to her as a courtesy by our governor.”

“As his legal representative, I would like to request a copy of the tape covering this Q&A session,” Janice requested.

Calista made motions as if she were going to tell her no.

Dallas then overrode her objections, “One will be provided to you, as it’s the law.”

“Thank you.” Janice acknowledged his statement.

“Now that we got the pleasantries all sorted out, can we get this questioning started?” Calista stated snidely.

Skeeter sat back in his chair and glared at her. He then crossed his arms over his large chest.

 Dallas could tell Skeeter would refuse to cooperate with this woman. Calista Jones could ask all the questions she wanted to but Skeeter wasn’t going to answer them. Dallas shook his head, he didn’t really blame him, but he had to follow the rules too. “Jones, I don’t think you should ask anything. Frank has already said he won’t answer your questions and honestly, I don’t blame him.”

“Captain,” Calista argued. “As you know, I took the girl’s statement and this is my case. You can’t kick me off because the subject is one of our own. If he did something wrong years ago, then he has to pay for his crime, just like the next guy.”

“And if I didn’t commit any crime? Then what?” Skeeter wanted to know. “You plan to browbeat me until I plead guilty to something I didn’t do?”

“I don’t have to browbeat you. I have the statement of the girl you left behind.” She sneered.

“Lelanie knows the truth. She’ll straighten this out.” Skeeter nodded.

Dallas frowned. “It wasn’t Lelanie that came to us. It was her daughter Mercy.”

“Mercy?” Skeeter frowned. “The last I knew Lelanie was still pregnant. After Trace was killed by the cartel and I was still in the hospital. I never heard from Lelanie again. I never knew what happened to her or the baby.”

“Your daughter?” Calista sneered.

Skeeter ignored her. Instead, he looked at Dallas. “So Lelanie had a little girl huh? That’s nice. Did she get out and come here too?”

Dallas shook his head. “No, she didn’t…”

“Your underage girlfriend died five years ago.” Calista snarled. “She left behind her eleven year old daughter. Before she died, she made the girl promise to find her way to you and let you know she was your daughter.”

Skeeter ignored her outburst and just stared at Dallas. “When did she get here?” he asked quietly.

“She crossed the border two weeks ago,” Dallas told him. “She found her way to us three days ago.”

“She was alone out there for almost two weeks trying to make her way to this office.” Calista sneered. “She didn’t even have your phone number. Way to go there, daddy.”

Again, ignoring Calista and her attitude, Skeeter asked Dallas, “Where is she now?”

 Calista looked angry about being ignored. She slammed her hands down on the table and shouted, “I have her in a safe house. She’s a scared kid and she needed to know she was safe. She thinks the cartel will come after her, even after all this time.”

Skeeter’s eyes never left Dallas’s and he growled. “What the hell is she talking about? What about the cartel?”

Dallas turned his head and stared at Calista. “I’m not sure. Ms. Jones has been in charge of the girl and no one has seen her for the last two days. Calista won’t even tell us where the girl is.”

Janice turned her head to study Ms. Jones. “Where is the girl? He has the right to face his accuser.”

“His accuser?” Calista snorted. “Don’t you mean his own damn daughter?”

“Where is she?” Janice asked again.

“She’s safe and that’s all he needs to know for now.” Calista crossed her arms over her chest and glared at the other woman. “I’m not about to subject her to his temper or allow him the chance to intimidate her.”

“Officer Jones.” Dallas sighed. “The Counselor is correct. Franklin has the right to face the girl. She also has the right to face him. I’ll give you an hour to produce the girl.”

“And if I refuse? Refuse to subject her to this man? What will you do then?” Calista challenged.

“I will arrest you,” Dallas assured her. “And then you’ll get to spend time in a jail cell until you turn the girl over. If Franklin is her father, he deserves the chance to get to know his child.”

“He doesn’t deserve to meet this girl!” Calista snarled. “Her mother was fifteen years old when she gave birth to his daughter. He had sex with a child and that’s against the law. Why would she ever want to meet a man like that?”

“That’s not your call to make,” Janice informed her. “She’s made some serious charges against my client and she has to back them up.”

“She’s a minor child and she doesn’t have representation by an attorney,” Calista argued. “I think before she sees him, she should have legal representation, don’t you think? After all, he has legal representation, she should have some too. It's only fair.”

Janice nodded. “I agree. Do you have anyone in mind?”

“Not right off hand.” Calista shrugged. “It takes time to pick the right attorney. She has to trust them and it isn’t easy to trust someone you’ve never met before.”

“I can recommend some great attorneys who deal with kids all the time,” Janice offered.

“That won’t be necessary, besides isn’t that a conflict of interest, considering who your client is?” Calista scowled at her.

“Then you better work fast Jones,” Dallas demanded as he glared at her.  “You now have fifty minutes to produce the girl.”

“That just isn’t going happen.” Calista shook her head. “I will not subject that girl to any more trauma.”

“Then I want your gun and your badge,” Dallas informed her. “You’ll be booked and put into the system. I’ll try to get you a single cell but I can’t promise anything.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” Calista narrowed her eyes at her boss.

Dallas crossed his arms over his chest. “Oh yeah, I would. And you know any arrest would go on your permanent record and you would essentially lose your job. Is it really worth it?”

Calista refused to say anything.

Dallas glanced down at his watch. “Tick tock Jones, what’s it gonna be? You now have forty five minutes.”

She looked over at Frank and seethed. “You are a bastard aren’t you?”

Skeeter just stared her down.

Calista got up from her chair and stomped over to the door. “I’m doing this under protest, I want that on the record. This is just so wrong!” She opened the door.

Dallas got up and accompanied her to the outer office.

He grabbed two officers and told them to go with her and then bring them both back within a timeline.

Calista nearly hissed with disgust but there was nothing she could do.

~*~

Dallas shook his head and went back to the interrogation room. When he closed the door and sat down at the table with Skeeter and Janice, he shook his head. He turned the recorder off. “What the hell did she think she was doing?”

“I have no fucking clue,” Skeeter grumbled. “You know that girl isn’t my daughter. I would never sleep with an underage girl and what Jones is accusing me of is horrible.”

“Is the girl Trace’s kid?” Dallas finally asked the question.

Skeeter nodded as he ran his hands over the back of his head. “Yeah, I think so. Lelanie was our informant at the time we were down there. She gave us a starting place to investigate the cartel. When they hooked up, I told him he was playing the wrong game but he said he was playing the cards he was dealt.”

“What happened the day you guys left?” Dallas wanted to know.

“Lelanie wanted to come with us. She told Trace her baby deserved to know her father and Trace laughed at her. He told her the baby wasn’t his and he wasn’t taking either of them home with him. He knew if someone on this side of the border asked her how old she was, he’d be arrested. We were almost home when someone started shooting at us. We thought it was the cartel but we weren’t exactly sure about that. They got him in the back and put a bullet in my leg. I tried to get to him but I was pinned down on this side of the border. I could hear Trace’s screams but I knew he was caught the same as me. I heard more gunfire and Trace’s screams got louder. I tried to get to him and picked up two more bullets for my trouble. It was damn near dawn the next morning before I could try again and when I got closer, I could see he was dead already. I got him home and I found help before I passed out. The next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital and Trace’s parents had already claimed his body.” He shook his head. “I never did hear anything about Lelanie after that.”

“In the statement I read, Mercy told us her mom showed her a picture of you and Trace and she identified you as her father,” Dallas told him. “I don’t know why that pissed Jones off so much but we both know she’s had a hard on for you ever since she started way back when.”

“Well, I guess we’ll find out when they get back huh?” Skeeter replied. “Besides, this can all be settled with a DNA test. The Ranger’s made us get one before we left, just in case we didn’t make it back.”

“I remember,” Dallas agreed. “We all have ours on file. I haven’t said anything yet, because I don’t trust Jones. She’s hiding something and I wanted to find out what it was before I told her about the blood test.”

“You might want to get the girl tested right away,” Skeeter suggested. “If she’s Trace’s kid, you’ll have to call his parents. They will want to know they have a granddaughter.”

Dallas nodded. “Yeah, they were pretty broken up about his death.”

Skeeter tapped his fingers on the table. “I never told anyone about this before but the night Trace died, there was something off. It always bothered me. Not that his death didn’t, but the more I think about it the more I’m convinced it wasn’t the cartel who shot him.”

Dallas snapped his head up and stared at Skeeter. “Who do you think it was then?”

“I think it was Lelanie. I didn’t want to think it but…she had reason to shoot him. I was there when he told her to go away and it wasn’t pretty. He humiliated that poor girl.”

Janice raised her brows at this theory.

“Oh, shit,” Dallas swore softly.