Once at the hospital we found out where Charlie was. So Dante and I lead the way to his floor. But I got the idea across to Ethan that he and his kids needed to wait in the waiting room.
Dante and I knocked on the door. Jean saw us first and gave us both hugs. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Ethan is here with his children,” I told Jean and Bob.
“The children are worried about Charlie,” Dante told them.
Jean was past us in a heartbeat. She headed down the hall to the waiting room. All of us in tow as we feared the worst. But Jean knelt and held out her arms.
“Come here you three,” she told them. They leapt into her arms crying.
“Now, now,” she comforted them. “Charlie is going to be fine.”
“Can we see him?” Peter sniffled as he continued to cry.
“Well he’s probably going to sleep tonight,” she told Peter with a kiss.
“So Ethan McCall, you bring these children back tomorrow,” she told him as she hugged him. “Now have these babies eaten?”
“We have Mrs. Driscoll,” Katie told Jean as Daniel came in.
“Good,” Jean said teary eyed, and lead us to Charlie’s room.
Alice was there by Charlie’s side. She was so happy Charlie was awake. Her mother stood in the corner behind her. Katy, Kevin, and Peter move up to Charlie’s beside. Jean and Ethan behind them. While Dante and myself stood against the wall across from the foot of the bed. Bob leaned over and kissed his wife on the cheek.
“Hey! Look at everybody,” a drowsy Charlie said. Jokingly to everyone’s surprise. He kissed Alice’s hand he was holding. And Alice promptly blushed and looked at her mother. She just smiled.
Alice then leaned over and kissed Charlie’s cheek. Tears started flowing down her cheek.
“Don’t worry Alice. It’s just a bad scratch,” he told her. Alice’s demeanor changed, instantly.
“YOU WERE SHOT!” she roared. ”IT’S NOT A SCRATCH!”
“She sounds like mom did that time…” Daniel said 'til they turned to look him.
But the surgeon had stepped in saving Daniel. Doctor Reyes smiled at him, he had obviously heard.
“Well Charlie isn’t far off,” Dr. Reyes told us. “Basically it is a bad scratch.”
“We did have to repair a blood vessel. Otherwise he could have gone home tonight.”
“How soon will I be able to get out of here Doctor?” Charlie asked. “I have a horse to break.”
“A horse to break!” Alice roared. Charlie smiled as he squeezed her hand. And looked at her.
“You are not…” Alice started before her mother put her hand on her daughter’s shoulder.
"Alice we don’t break them like bucking broncos,” I told her. “We gentle them.”
Alice tried real hard to stare a hole through me. But I had help.
“We’ll help him,” Angel told her. “We won’t let him get hurt.”
“We’ll take care of him Alice,” Daniel told her. “I owe Charlie alot. Like I owe Dante and Billy.”
Then he kissed Angel’s cheek to drive home his point. Then he and Charlie fist bumped.
“Well he’ll need some physical training,” Dr. Reyes said. “But if he has help. He could handle a horse.”
“But right now he needs some sleep,” Dr. Reyes added seeing Charlie had already fallen asleep.
“Now mom or dad can stay with Charlie.”
"Can’t I stay with him?” Alice asked looking at Jean. “I can sleep on the floor.”
“Moms if you say it’s okay. It’s okay with me,” Dr. Reyes told them.
Jean and Cindy came to an agreement. Cindy, Alice’s mother, would bring both Jean and Alice some cloths back.
“Mom! My mineral samples,” Charlie said waking up. Jean pulled the quartz samples out of her purse.
“Oh! Charlie,” Alice said taking them from Jean. Then she leaned over and kissed Charlie on the cheek. The rest of us started out of the room.
“Dante, I need to talk to Ethan and Bob,” I told him. “Take the kids to the waiting room for a few minutes.”
“Sure,” Dante said herding the kids to the waiting room with Donna’s help.
“You two are on leave effective immediately,” I told them. “The boss knows what’s up and will probably be in tomorrow.”
“I’ll be suspended at least till after the Grand Jury Hearing”
“No she can’t,” Ethan said getting upset.
“Save it!” I told him. “It’s S.O.P. and you know it.”
“If we’re on leave and you’re suspended. Who runs the office?” Bob asked.
“I’ll call George; he's the only other one who can,” I told them.
“Now you both have children to look after,” I said as we turned into the waiting room. Peter walked up to us as we did.
“Marshal Driscoll,” Peter said.
“Yes sir?” Bob asked him.
“We want to come back tomorrow and tell Charlie that we’re sorry for what mama did,” Peter told Bob on wobbly knees.
Bob looked at Daniel.
“I told him he didn't need to,” Daniel said.
“Well Peter you guys are welcome to come back tomorrow to visit,” Bob told him as he hugged the little boy. “But Daniel is right. You don’t have to say you are sorry. Okay?”
“Okay!” Peter said as tears streamed down his face. Then Katy and Kevin join them in a hug.
I called George before we left the hospital. I gave it all to him. Including that the boss was probably coming in. He understood. Besides his folks and the in-laws were in to help Sherry.
Then we were all headed home. Once at home I had to wake Dante. Late though it was. Everyone was waiting up for news.
While we ate a light supper. We told them about Charlie would be okay. They were all relieved at the news.
“We start class early tomorrow,” Jimmy told Dante. “I’m going to bed.”
“I’ll drive tomorrow,” he told Dante after kissing Andrew.
“I’ll join you in a minute,” Andrew said kissing him back.
“We will be in the house tomorrow,” Jason told us. “We have furniture and cable arriving. The power and water are already transferred.”
“That’s great Jason,” I said.
“We’re so happy that you guys are so happy,” Dante told Jason and Peter. Jason and Peter hugged Dante.
Then I got the hugs. Tommy and Sebastian came in while this all was happening.
“Hey guys,” I said. Then I nodded at Dante.”I want to thank you for jumping in to help with the stock.”
“We want to ask if you guys would you go to work for us here?” Dante asked. Surprising them both.
Tommy and Sebastian looked at each other. Then they spoke together.
“We would love to,” they told us. Then they kissed. So of course Dante and I had to kiss.
“Can we still take classes?” Sebastian asked.
“Yeah!” Tommy said. “I would love to get my degree.”
“We’ll talk more about that tomorrow,” I told them. “We’ll fix you up a room in the bunkhouse.”
“Well we need to get some sleep,” I told Dante. He stretched and yawned.
“Billy can you spare me a minute?” Andrew asked as we got up.
“Sure,” I told him. I kissed Dante. “Get in the shower. “I’ll join you for..”
“You had better!” Dante said. “I need some help with…”
“Jimmy and I signed for the ranch this morning,” he told me with a smile.
“Well congratulations,” I told him as we shook hands. “That’s fantastic.”
"So you both own it?”
“That we do,” Andrew said. “Jimmy wasn’t too hot about it at first.”
“I figure I’ll have the same problem with Dante when the time comes,” I said.
“When what time comes for what?” Dante asked coming back in.
“When I put your name on the deed as an owner,” I told him. The look on Dante’s face was priceless. “Because one day. This will be our place.”
“Oh,” was all Dante could say. Andrew and I just grinned.
“We’ll have a really nice double wide set up by Friday,” Andrew told us. “Meaning we’ll be out by the weekend.”
“Miguel said that the house needs some serious work. But it’ll be ready by November at the latest.”
“He just finished rebuilding the bunkhouse. That’s where they were before they came over here.”
“Come on my love,” I said to Dante. “We need to get a shower.”
“Were you serious? My name on the deed?” he asked as we went to our bathroom.
“Very serious,” I told him as I kissed him.
We climbed into the shower. I massaged Dante’s shoulders and back. He purred with pleasure. Then it was my turn to get massaged.
We were up the next morning early. Dante and Jimmy were off to class. Sebastian cleaned up with Andrew. I was off to the federal building.
When I got there, so was George. So were Bob and Ethan in my cubicle. As Linzie stepped out of Ethan’s office with the sheriff’s detectives and the county prosecutor.
They shook hands with Linzie. And told her about the time for the Grand Jury and who they wanted from our office.
Then we walked into my cubicle. I held my hand up to slow their roll.
“You shouldn’t suspend him,” Ethan blurted out.
I just shook my head. “S.O.P. Ethan till the Grand Jury renders a decision,” I told him. “It’s like you getting time off to deal with your loss and be with your children.”
“They won’t release her body till after the Grand Jury,” Ethan told us. “What am I supposed to do?”
“You get the Funeral Parlor ready with the details,” Linzie told him. You pick a coffin, pick a headstone, find a grave.”
“That’s what I did,” she told him. And we told Ethan about Linzie’s husband, FBI agent Terrance Groff.
“Bob your off until you see the psychologist and Charlie is out of the hospital,” Linzie told Bob.
“Billy you’re off till after the Grand Jury as well,” she told me.
“I am required to brief George as to what is going on,” I told her.
We stared at each other for a few minutes. But I won.
“Well get it done,” Linzie told me. “I have to get the kids in two hours.”
“Use Jessie and have him bring you guys and his boyfriend Shaun out to the ranch for dinner.”
“Ethan where are your kids?” Linzie asked him.
“They’re at the hospital visiting Charlie Driscoll and with Jean Driscoll,” Ethan told her.
“Ethan go get your kids,” I told him. “Bob go be with Charlie. I’ll be down as soon as I’m done.”
We shook hands and they were gone. George was waiting with Jessie. We told them the whole story. I showed them pictures of my hat.
“Just so you all know,” Linzie told us. “I’m here till after the Grand Jury as well.”
“George your still in charge,” she told him. "I’ll be running the Marshal’s Service from here.”
“Well I’ll let Tommy and Sebastian know you're coming,” I told her. George and Linzie were staring at me.
“You hired some hands?” Linzie asked totally surprised.
“I needed some help with all the new horses,” I told her. “I mean the herd has basically doubled.” Linzie smiled at what she thought I meant.
“Now I’m off to see Charlie,” I said. “Walk with me to the elevator though.”
Amelia can’t wait to meet Dante,” Linzie said when the door closed.
“And Bass is worried about Charlie.”
“Good for Amelia,” I told her. “And tell Bass that Charlie has basically a bad scratch.”
“Marshal Hickok. You said I had a job to do today?” Jessie asked coming out to the elevator.
“Jessie, you’ll go get Shaun, take the Director to the airport to get her children, and then bring them out to the ranch.”
“Oh and if Amelia gives you any grief. Tell her I gave you permission give it back.”
“Hickok!” Linzie said. “You’re right.”
I pushed the down button and smiled as the doors closed. When I got to the garage. Bob and Ethan were waiting for me. So we caravaned to the hospital.
As we walked toward Charlie’s room. We heard a great sound. Children laughing and having fun.
Bob and Ethan smiled hearing their children happy. Then we stepped in to the kids, playing poker.
I think it took us a minute to realize that. They were using jelly beans as chips. and eating Hershey's kisses.
“Hey you know it’s illegal to gamble in the state of New Mexico,” Bob told his sons.
“Hey dad,” the boys chorused.
“It’s just for fun dad,” Charlie told him. “Besides. Peter’s winning most everything.”
“And Hershey's kisses too,” Peter said with a chocolate smile. “Hi dad.”
About then Jean, Donna, and Cindy, Alice’s mother came back in. They surveyed the scene and started laughing.
“What?” Peter asked them.
We all rolled with laughter for almost a half hour. A nurse stuck her head in. And told us that the doctor was on the way.
“Well everyone seems to be doing okay,” Dante said having come in as well to check on Charlie.
Dr. Reyes walked in, shook his head and laughed.
“Now I understand the questions about a party,” Dr. Reyes said. “Now only family for what we need to talk about.”
“But can’t I stay please?” Alice asked him.
“You stay Alice,” Daniel said. “I’ll wait with my Angel. Mom I’ll tell me everything.”
Alice grabbed Daniel in a bear hug. Then she kissed his cheek. Causing Daniel to blush and Angel to act mad at Alice.
“Thanks bro,” Charlie said with a smile.
So we took the crew down to the waiting room. Dr. Reyes wasn’t long. Bob came down and told us Charlie might go home that afternoon. Charlie wanted to know when. But they wanted to have a few radiographs (x-rays) to make sure everything was healing.
They asked us to come back down to the room. Charlie wanted to pick his horse. Oh and could Alice come?
“We would like you to spend some time on the ranch Alice,” Dante said. “Would you like to?” Alice looked at her mother who nodded and smiled.
“Well you’re in luck,” I told her. “My goddaughter is coming to town soon. Maybe Antonia could come out as well.”
The girls looked at each other and squealed. While they hugged each other. The McCall kids were looking a little dejected.
“I think they want to come,” Dante said. Then he realized. “Ethan how about you bring your crew out too.” I kissed him.
“I think that’s a great idea Dante,” I added. “What do you think Ethan?”
“Could we go out to Marshal Hickok’s?” Kevin asked his father. Ethan looked at me and Dante. We smiled.
“Well I think that this afternoon might be a good idea,” Ethan said. “I have some errands this afternoon.”
“Oh. Billy, Dante could Daniel and Angel spend the night?” Jean asked.
“Sounds good to me,” I told them. “I figure Daniel and Angel would like to get out from under foot.”
“Yeah,” Daniel said. “That way mom and dad can pay attention to Charlie.”
“What do you think my love?” I asked Dante.
“I’ll need to pick up some things for dinner on the way home,” Dante said. “Well I have a class to get to.”
‘Oh hey Linzie,” he said after turning. She was smiling.
She grabbed and hugged Dante. When she released him she was crying just a little.
“Thank you,” She said. “You had better get going.”
"You are welcome,” Dante said. And he left.
“Are you staying out at the ranch?” Dante spun around and asked.
“Yes,” she told him. And Dante trotted down to the elevators.
“You haven’t told him that Bass and Amelia are coming?” she asked me.
“Nope,” I told her.
“That’s mean,” Antonia said with a smile.
“He’ll be okay,” Linzie told her. “Dante is tough.”
“How about lunch?” I said. “ How does Mama Fernandez’s sound?”
“Sounds great,” Angel said.
“Billy you don’t have to do that!” Ethan said.
“Come on Donna,” I said. “Antonia.”
“Mama’s is great,” Antonia said. “Come on Katy, Kevin, and Peter.”
“Let’s load up,” I told them. They looked at their dad.
“Well what are you waiting for,” Ethan told them. They cheered and hugged their dad one at a time.
The kids talked about the food on our way down in the elevator.
Peter was hoping for hamburgers. But Daniel, Angel, and Antonia told them about what Mama had to eat.
The elevator doors opened. There was John with the best Navajo horse tamer, Tally (Natalia) Tso.
“Hickok!” Tally roared grabbing me.
“Tally Tso,” I said. “I see you brought John.” Needling John a little.
“John introduced me to your Dante. And they told about all the mustangs you have to be broken at your place,” Tally said.
“We caught Dante leaving,” John said rather sheepishly.
“Where are you guys going?’ I asked them.
“We’re on our way up to see Charlie,” John told me.
“John wants to check and see which mustang he wants,” Tally told me.
“Oh that’s easy,” Daniel said. “He likes that blue roan with the star.”
“And you Daniel?” I asked.
“The strawberry appaloosa with the small blanket,” Daniel told us.
“She nuzzled my hand and let me scratch her neck.”
“Really?” Tally asked. “That’s something we can work with.”
“Well I have kids to feed,” I told them. We loaded up and were off to Mama’s place.
What the heck Billy, being suspended, what he going to do with all the time he has now. Also it seems like even from the grave the evil witch is making things bad for our heroes.