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Authors: Katootje
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Let me see, a former sister in law of CJ's shows up and fun begins!!
Comments: Thank you Lady D for your help, you are amazing.

 

Silver Star Hotel
Hermosa Beach, CA

It's a day like many others in California, warm and sunny. All was quiet at the Silver Star Hotel. Chance and Margo are having a work out in the gym, Benny Ray was polishing the Big Dog and Matt was out shopping for dinner.

CJ was working on the computer, reading his e-mail he starts to smile! "Yippee" he shouts! " Nick is coming!" When he swings his chair around he sees the three slightly angry faces of his co-workers. " Sorry, false alarm! Just that I got great news! Nick is coming to L.A.!" As his three disgruntled compatriots are leaving CJ was still grinning. "Finally she comes!"

A few days later, at L.A.X, two men stand in the waiting area thoroughly enjoying them selves looking at the flight attendants as they walk by.

"Tell me again why we're here?" Chance asks Matt, who is eyeing a tall blond.

" What was the question, " Matt asks as he turns to his friend as Blondie walks away?

Chance shakes his head and repeats his question.

"We are here to help a friend in need. Look on the bright side Chance, glance around and enjoy the view." The two friends lean back and smile at every woman who dares to pass them.

After an hour the men return to the Silver Star. "No Nick Yates on a plane from London"

"What did you do," CJ cries! "While Matt was chasing some nice looking females, I stood there holding the sign up" Chance answers.

"Any luck Major?" Benny Ray asks'?

"Oooo yeah " Matt grins wickedly holding his hand up with scraps of paper filled with telephone numbers.

"Hello, back to me please," CJ yells waving his hands in the air.

"Look he's getting all red in his face" Margo says. Swiveling their heads around they all stare at CJ.

"Now what? I'm off to the beach. You are all welcome to join me is in a game of beach volleyball." Matt turns and walks away.

Later, as the gang is enjoying the beach, Trout's stretch limo drives up to the Hotel parking lot. As Matt walks up to meet Trout, he sees a young woman get out of the car. Trout follows and as he sees Matt he waves, gets in the car and orders his driver to leave.

"Do all backpackers shop at the same store, " Margo asks? The person who got out of the car walks up to the Hotel. Dressed in jeans, t-shirt, a lumberjack shirt around her waist and wearing a baseball cap, and carrying a large backpack. The backpack is huge and is way too big to carry on a persons back.

A big smile on CJ's face starts to appear and he cries, "There's my girl!"
The rest off the group looks at each other in Oooo, "A girl!"

Out of the blue CJ starts running. "Where have you been? I was worried sick!"

As Matt reaches the girl he feels a push in his back as CJ pushes him aside.

"Hey Chris long time no see. You look great"

"Everybody meet Nick, Nick meet the gang!" CJ says.

"Hi gang," Nick says smiling

"So you are Nick" Margo shakes her hand and points to the guys they were expecting a guy."

"Well sorry to let you down but I have been a female for 24 years now and I'm not bored yet! Can't stay long have to find a hotel first. Trout said you were worried so he brought me here first."

"No problem you can stay here, with us. Right!" CJ says turning to Matt.

"Sure no problem, no problem at all." Matt answers with a strange look in his eyes.

"Are you sure?" Nick looks up at Matt with a smile as she sees Margo getting upset. Aha! Nicole grins, watching,, she wants Matt but he doesn't know it yet. Maybe just maybe I can use that!

Later as Nicole is getting unpacked upstairs, Matt takes CJ aside. "Why is she called Nick and how does she know Xavier Trout? "

"Well to answer question number one, she's always been called Nick since I can remember, cause she was like a little boy and her name is Nicole that turned to Nick. Q number two, I don't know!"

"You better ask her about it! And what do we do with her if we get a job? " Matt is a little pissed off, as he looks at CJ!

Entering the kitchen a little while later, Nicole looks around saying, "Feels almost like home, sharing a shower with a lot of people." Across the room she can feel the tension between Matt and CJ asking. "Is everything ok? I can leave if there's a problem."

"How do you know Trout?" Matt decided that if he wanted to know something he just had to ask her about it.

"We met in Japan last year and I did him a small service. He said then if I ever needed help in the States he would try and help me, so when I didn't see you at the airport, I called him for your address he picked me up with his limo and offered me a lift. That's all."

"You were in Japan last year? Your mother never told me!" CJ is blown away by this news.

"That's because she didn't know." Nicole answers. "Why don't you give me the grand tour and I will fill you in."

"Trouble boss?" Benny Ray asks as CJ and Nicole are leaving. Looking at Matt's face he sees him frown.

"Maybe" Matt answers, "Maybe. It's probably nothing!"

" Did you get a look at her tattoo?" Matt asks Benny Ray.

"Negative boss, not yet."

"What is your suspicious mind working on Matt? " Margo asks, thinking back to the time one of her friends came visiting and Matt gave her the third degree.

"Let's start dinner and then we will see. Ok, Matt answers?"

Later that evening, CJ takes Nicole to a "real" English pub. While everyone was busy doing other things, Matt decides to check Nicole's luggage. "Nothing, not even in the seams of her backpack!" he mumbles.

Matt jumped as a voice breaks into his thoughts. "Whatever you're looking for, she might be carrying it around with her," Margo say's from the door." Perhaps Trout knows something about her."

"Are you suggesting I phone Trout?" What would I tell him? I don't trust CJ's former next-door girlfriend story - why. It sounds a little paranoid, doesn't it?"

"Just let her stay for a while and see what comes of it. OK? If you don't like what you see, ask her to leave."

Shrugging, Matt takes a deep breath and walks away

Aware of the tension she is causing Nicole shrugs it off enjoying her time with CJ as they tour Los Angeles. Disneyland, Universal Studios and the Chinese Theater, they saw it all. As they sit down to lunch, CJ's beeper goes off. As he reaches for his cell phone to call Matt, Nicole screws up her face and laughs at him across the table.

Still laughing CJ makes contact. Matt temper is barely in check and his comments are short - his message - "Come in soon!"

Thinking about Matt's call , CJ drives back to the Silver Star. As he looks at the woman sitting besides him, his mind wanders back to Matt.

Nicole looks across at him and smiles. "Great fun today, too bad Matt had to spoil it for us!"

"He had a good reason for doing that, I think! If not I'll give him one "mumbles CJ.

As they arrive at the Silver Star Hotel, they see a limo leave. "Isn't that Trout's limo?"

"I believe it is." replies CJ.

The whole team is in the ops room, looking at each other in a daze. "What's the job?" CJ asks Matt.

"Believe it or not, we are invited to a grand ball." Benny Ray answers. "Black tie, the works!"

"Just the excuse I was waiting for " Margo glows at the prospect of dancing with Matt. "I saw the perfect evening gown in the window at Armani's."

"Please tell me I don't have to go with you " Chance moans. "That girl is a shop-a-holic never to leave the changing-room!" He ducks but not quickly enough as Margo tosses a pillow at him along with a dirty look.

"Don't worry, I'd love to go shopping, Nicole say's. That is, if you'd like me to come along!"

"Sounds perfect," Margo answers ignoring the relieved sounds of her teammates.

Sighing four male voice whisper, "Yes!"

"What are we doing there and what to do with our guest?" asks Benny Ray.

"All taken care off, she's invited as well!" answers Matt. "Nicole is added to the guest list. Chance and CJ are going in as waiters, Margo and I as a couple as well as Nicole and Benny Ray!" CJ is clearly surprised by these events and wants to protest. However everyone is looking at Matt and Benny Ray he stops.

The next day, plans are getting in shape. The assignment becomes clear the Team will be guarding a Minister of Verweggiestan and his wife who are Trout's guests. The Minister has been threatened by rebel troops. To protect the couple, Trout asked for assistance from Matt and his team. They all agreed, it would be a nice change from their normal work scene.

Nicole and Margo were off to Armani's to shop for the perfect dress. They both agreed that money was no object in this case. And the gold cards are drawn on more then once.
Off course they needed everything, lingerie included and then a visit to the beauty salon for a facial and a full body massage. After choosing make-up to compliment their new outfits, Margo and Nicole were set.

The guy's also went to Armani's for new tuxedos. Chance and CJ went to the Bell Air Hotel for their uniform fitting. Matt and Benny Ray had a meeting with hotel security and they made a full security sweep for listening devices and anything that might be out of the ordinary. So far all was clear. The crew checked into the hotel, to be close to the festivities and keep an eye on things. The only thing that worried Matt was Nicole's disappearing every now and then. Even CJ didn't seem to know where she had gone. What was she doing and where was she going?

Nicole hoped that her outings hadn't been noticed. She made sure that she was around when she was needed and slipped out whenever she could! Chance taking notice, decided to follow her. Better safe than sorry was his motto in life! To his great surprise she stopped in front of a dance-school. Slipping inside just in time to see her running up the stairs. He could hear people talking and laughing. "What the hell was going on," Chance thought?

From the room above a sudden blaring of music comes down the corridor and he hears a voice counting. "1, 2, 3 and turn! I said turn not torn!!" a male voice commanded. "Sorry," a female voice answers!

"Is that who I think it is? " Chance didn't know what to do! Sneaking up to the door he opens it slightly, peeked through. Standing together he sees dance instructor and Nicole standing together as her tries to teach her the tango.

"Can I help you with something," a voice beside him asks? They are not the greatest dance couple in the world but if anyone can teach her to dance its Jaime!"

As Chance turns around he sees a tiny young lady with beautiful dark eyes looking up at him. "Is Jaime the instructor, "he asks?

"Duh," she replies. "I'm his little sister Anna. Are you a friend of Nicole's?" Anna asks?

"Yes, I'm here to pick her up!" Chance answered quickly. "Will they be finished anytime soon? "

"Probably not, she is a handful for Jaime. He say's she has trouble giving him the lead!"

"You can wait if you want" Anna looks at Chance and likes what she sees. Chance turns to the dance floor and decides he'd better sticks around. "I think I'll do that! Is there a place were I can get a cup of coffee, " he asks Anna?

She answers with great big smile and says, "Of course I know a great place follow me." Chance chuckles as he watches her dance her way down the stairs in to a big open dance parlor. Mirrors on the wall shine softly in the dimmed light of the chandeliers. Soft music plays from a hidden sound system. Chance hears Celine Dion. "Not the type of music I expected to hear in a dance school," he says.

"Why not? " Anna asks. "You can learn to dance with any music Jaime says and I believe that's true."

"Sorry, I didn't mean it like that" Chance smiles at Anna. Her skin goes all tingly at the way he smiles. Blinking she turns away to start making the coffee she promised him upstairs. "How long has Nicole been coming here, " he casually asks Anna?

"O I believe she came last week, Anna says as she reaches for the coffee mugs. She came in and asked about private lessons. She said she had to go to this charity dance and she needed lessons to get back in the swing off things. Jaime thinks she had lessons from a door."

So it's a hard job for Jaime," Chance asks?

"A very hard one, but she pays well, that helps!" Anna replies. "Here is the best coffee in town," she says as she puts two cups on the counter. Chance smells the coffee as he reaches for his cup. "Mmmmm Brazilian! My favorite!" Anna glows under the compliment and takes a sip off her coffee.

They start to chat when all off a sudden a door slams upstairs. Chance jumps up and Anna looks at the door. Jaime barges in and looks fit to be tied. He starts to rant and rave at Anna, , "She is impossible! Who does she think she is, Ginger Rogers? No way, she's driving me nuts! I don't care how much she's paying I'm not going back up there again!" Spewing a few Spanish invectives Jamie throws up his arms in despair.

Anna tries to calm him down and points out to him that there is another person in the room. As Jaime sees Chance he calms down again. " Sorry, I have a student who drives me nuts! I'm Jaime Sulfentes and I believe you met my sister Anna." He shakes hands with Chance as the door opens again and a red-faced Nicole enters.

"Please Jaime, stay and help me get through this," she begs. Then she sees Chance and her face turns even redder. "O boy, I'm busted!" " What are you doing here?" she asks angrily. Chance is looking surprised at her hair.

"This morning you had short hair," he states. At that moment his cell phone goes off.

"Saved by the bell!" Nicole whispers and turns towards the door.

"Wait up, we both have to go!" Chance walks right behind her.

Nicole turns again and say's goodbye to Jaime and Anna.

"Chance will you call me?" Anna asks looking strangely at the couple as they walk away, but she's too late, the door closes behind them.

"Where are we going anyway?" she asks looking beside her as he drags her across the street towards his car.

"That was Matt, there was an incident at the hotel we have go and check it out."

The silence in the car is deafening as the two head for the rendezvous point.

"You won't tell anyone will you?" Nicole asks pleadingly as she waits for his answer.

"I have to tell Matt about this!"

At the Beverly Hills Hotel, Benny Ray and Margo are waiting for Matt and Trout. They are talking to hotel security about the incident. One off the maids saw a man leaving a room, which was vacant. The man she saw pushed her aside in the hall as he ran for the stairs used only by the staff. Matt agrees to a thorough search of the entire hotel again, with only two days to go they were cutting it close!

CJ and Nicole would track the visitors of the hotel down, Benny Ray and Chance start with checking out the rooms and Matt and Margo are supervising the arrival off flowers and the caterers. During the long time they spent behind the computers, Nicole and CJ didn't having too much time to talk. In brief moments when tea was served, they had a few moments to share.

"What did you do for Trout in Japan?" CJ wanted to know.

"Nothing spectacular, I helped him with picking a present for his wife."

"Why were you in Japan in the first place?"

"What is this, the third degree? If you must know, I was there to protect the wife of a client!"

"What does that mean? Do you work for Trout or somebody else?" CJ held on.

"That means I work for an organization who helps people for a price."

"Sort of like a bodyguard thing?"

"Something like that yeah. Can we get back to work now? I'd like to get to sleep some time tonight."

"One day left and we still didn't find anything." Matt grumbles looking around all he can see is the tired faces of his team.

"Benny Ray, anything?"

"Negative boss, nothing. Nothing that I can dig up on staff or guests, we looked all over the place, even in the garbage and laundry shoots, everywhere - nada."

Chance makes a face when he thinks about the garbage they had to go through. " I still smell like spaghetti Bolognese."

"You better make sure everything is washed out because we go to the hotel." Matt grins rising from his chair, "Go pack whatever you need. We leave in 30 minutes. He looks at the girls across the table. "Or do you both perchance need more time?"

"What does that mean, I always travel light!" Margo squeaks looking surprised at Mat.
"Have you ever had to wait for me?" she asks. "No, only when you're actually doing the shopping," he grins.

"Well." She pushes the chair back and walks angry to her room.

Nicole is still sitting down at the table and looks at Matt. As he turns towards her, she smiles and says "Men and women, the battle of the sexes."

Matt is left wondering at her statement as Nicole goes up to her room to get her things together. This could get interesting tonight, Nicole grins thinking about the coming evening.

Bel-Aire Hotel
Los Angeles CA 1945hrs

At the Hotel, the team met one final time. Everything is double-checked and all they can do now is wait for things to come! Margo and Nicole are sharing a room, so are Matt and Benny Ray. Chance and CJ are getting ready in the staff 's changing room.

Just before eight o'clock, the girls get a knock on the door. "Come in the doors open." Margo is standing in the bathroom, putting on her earrings. As Matt enters the room, she looks at him in surprise.

Nicole watches from her side of the room. "Oh my, you are way too dangerous for the female heart." Matt flushes slightly uncomfortable with the comment and he doesn't know what to say.

Margo steps out of the bathroom and turns in front of Matt. "Good enough?" she asks.

Amazed at the sight of the beautiful woman standing in front of him he mumbles gruffly, "Yes very nice."

Margo dress is pure silk in midnight blue with spaghetti straps and back bared to her waist it looks like the dress been crafted for her alone.

"Are you ready? We should be getting down now." Matt offers his arm and Margo looks at Nicole. "Shouldn't you be getting ready? Benny Ray should be here any minute now!"

"He's waiting downstairs," Matt say's.

"I know I'll be down in a sec." Nicole waves at the good-looking pair "Go please." Nicole walks across the room and picks her dress up and walks towards the bathroom. She laughs as she hears Matt ask Margo were she'd put her gun.

In the lobby off the Hotel, Benny Ray is looking at the guests as they arrive.

Trout walks up to him and asks "Find anything?" At the negative shake of Benny Ray head, Trout continues, "Don't worry to much try to enjoy yourself a little."

"I don't think so sir, this is work!" Benny Ray answers as he looks at Trout. "Is there something you're not telling me?" he asks Trout.

"Nope nothing!" Trout answers surprised. "What gave you that idea?"

"You did, just now." The sniper looks at the man as he laughs and walks away. "Remember to enjoy yourself!"

"Strange man" Benny Ray mumbles as Matt and Margo walk up stopping by his side.

"You look like a million bucks sweet pea" Benny Rays says as he sees Margo.

"What," she answers laughing? "Did you peek at the bill?"

"No darlin, but I know how you shop, save me a dance." Benny Ray says looking around. "Where's my date for the evening?"

"She'll be right down," Matt answers. "Margo and I will be in the ballroom.

"Do we have comms," Matt asks as he tries to capture Margo's attention.

"Roger that major," Benny Ray answers.

Margo looks at her partner. "Shall we go in?"

Benny Ray looks at his watch again grumbling, "She's late."

"Sorry, I know I'm late but I hope it was worth the wait," Nicole walks up to him.

"I should think so! You look - beautiful!!" Benny Ray looks surprised as his eyes wander the length of Nicole's body. I'll be fighting off men all evening!"

The floor length strapless emerald green dress was gorgeous and hugged her body like a glove!

Chance walks by and stops taking a second look.

Nicole is pleased with the effect she's having and smiles softly
.
"Close your trap compadre, you're starting to drool!" Benny Ray chuckles as he offers Nicole his arm. Together they walk down the stairs, to the ballroom. Benny Ray looks at the woman beside him, "Where do you keep your gun?"

Nicole breaks into laughter, "For me to know for you to find out!" Benny Ray checks her out and than shakes his head. "I wouldn't have a clue!"

"Don't mess the hair honey!" She laughs again at his surprised face as he looks up at her head! "No gun tonight." All he sees are hairpins sticking out of her hair.

CJ just walks in with a tray filled with shrimp. He almost drops it on the floor. "Hello gorgeous, this is a nice change from your eternal jeans!"

"Yes, do you like it?" Nicole looks happy at her old neighborhood friend.

"I was not sure about the back" and as she turns his eyes begin to pop!

"Did you carry that dress in your backpack?" Benny Ray wants to know.

"Better safe than sorry" Nicole laughs and turns to her partner. "Shall we go in, we are holding up traffic."

As Benny Ray turn, he sees a small line building behind them, and smiles, "Sorry folk's."

A man in line pipes in saying, "We had a great view!"

"Nicole! What a nice surprise! Where have you been all this time?" A lady in a lacy peach colored dress, her every movement graceful and elegant as she walks up to greet them. "It's been a long time!" Her whole being radiated soft sophistication from the top of her silvery blonde head to the tip of her matching shoes

"Hello Isabel" Nicole smiles warmly, "This is Benny Ray Riddle, my knight for the evening."

Isabel takes a long look at Benny Ray raising her eyebrow. Turning back to Nicole she gives her a kiss on the cheek "You, my dear, are a lucky girl with such a handsome partner."

Xavier Trout steps in and gives Benny Ray a firm handshake, "Mr. Riddle, nice meeting you! I don't think you've met my wife, Isabel."

"Pleased to meet you Ma'am, "Benny Ray replies in his silky southern drawl, as he lifts her hand to kiss it.

Isabel sucks in her breath, fluttering her eyelashes as she says mesmerized by a riveting pair of sapphire blue eyes. "My, my. We won't be seeing much of you this evening I suppose?" Isabel says smiling at Nicole.

"I sincerely hope not!" she turns to Trout asking, "Any news?"

"No not yet and I hope that it stay's that way to. But don't worry too much and try to enjoy yourselves! Have a drink or a bite to eat!" Her eyes twinkling, Isabel takes Trout by the arm as they walk away to greet other guests.

Isabel turns back saying to Nicole "Call me, soon!"

"Nice couple, don't you think?" she asks looking at Benny Ray.

"I would never have thought that Trout had a wife like her!" he answers, slightly amazed looking at the couple as they greeted another guest.

"Well they are right for each other, they have been married for over 30 years. Let's get in place and start the surveillance."

The ballroom was slowly filling with guests. There were beautiful ladies in brilliant flowing gowns all sparkling with diamonds and handsome men in tuxedos with golden watches and rings.

"So this is how the rich and famous throw a party!" Benny Ray says as he looks around, looking for Matt and Margo.

"Yes, it seems that way" Nicole looks around as well.

All off a sudden a voice asks " Would you like a drink Mr.? You look like you could use it."
"Chance my man, you read my mind!" But as Benny Ray looks at the tray, "No beer?"

"No. They hide the good stuff in the staff room," Chance smiles at Benny Ray's frown.

"What kind of party is this, no beer," Benny Ray mumbles.

"The high society kind!" Nicole chuckles taking a glass of champagne off Chance's tray. " Here, try it!" As she takes a sip a smile starts to show, "Mmmmm a grand cru!"

Benny Ray takes a glass as they walk to a spot-overlooking ballroom. As they arrive, they see Matt and Margo across the room, also in position.

The two couples nod at each other. "I wonder what Benny Ray is thinking," Matt says to Margo.

"The same thing as we are, what are we doing here?" Margo smiles at Matt and scans the area behind him.

"Could you please pretend like you are enjoying yourself," Nicole whispers trough her teeth?

"How can I when every man in here wants to gets his hands on you!" He sends a dirty look at a young man on his way to ask Nicole for a dance. The young man quickly does an about face, when he sees the fire flashing at him from Benny Ray's eyes.

"Please lighten up! It's a party! Enjoy it!" Nicole grumbles giving Benny Ray an angry look. "It's not like I'm your wife. Stop doing that!" as Benny Ray glares as another would be dance partner try's to approach. This time she gets up and walks toward the man, "Hello Bob! Where is your beautiful wife?" he hears her asking. He grinds his teeth and empties his glass in the nearby potted plant. "After tonight, the plant will be drunk or dead!" CJ comes from behind a pillar handing Benny Ray a huge glass off beer. "I heard you could use this!" Benny Ray looks at the man dressed as a waiter, "Nice suit" "Not my cup o' tea mate!" And CJ returns to his job for the evening at the bar.

In the mean time, Nicole has been invited on to the dance floor and Benny Ray sees she is reluctant to dance. He nods as she turns to Bob gliding into his arms for a waltz.

He hears Matt's voice asking, "What is she doing? Who is that guy?"

Benny Ray lifts his arm talking into the comlink in his cuff link, answering, "Somebody she knows I guess called him Bob."

"Keep an eye on them!" Matt orders.

"You didn't have to say that, he's watching her like a hawk!" Margo remarks grinning.

"You never know who the bad guy out here," Matt replies. "After all we don't know that much about her."

"What is it that you want to know? I've had a look at her profile in the computer." Margo goes on, "She is called Yates because she married CJ's brother Danny two weeks before he was killed in Libya. She lived next door for a few years and CJ knows her very well. Isn't that enough?" Margo asks.

" I know it should but be, it's not! There is something about her…I don't know! Why is he here, why now? All to mysterious for me!" Matt says frowning
.
"Matt, why aren't you dancing with Margo?" Trout whispers popping up from the right?
"He's working." Margo replies. "Then you won't mind if I take her for a spin do you," as he offers his arm to Margo. "Milady would you care to dance?"

"Oooo yes I'd love too!" Margo laughs at a joke as Trout takes her to the floor.
Matt resumes his surveillance. The ear peace makes a noise Matt smiles.

"Anything to report?" "Negative boss Benny Ray mumbles," as the ear peace goes dead again.

"That was fun Bob, thank you." Nicole curtsies to her partner before sitting beside Benny Ray again.

"I sure could use a drink right about now!" "You rang my dear" a butlers voice asks.

She looks up laughing as CJ extends his tray loaded with several wine glasses. "The one on the left is for you." CJ smiles and turns to Benny Ray. "And you sir?"

"Thanks I'm good."

Nicole tastes her wine and smiles looking at CJ. "Great taste no alcohol!" He grins and walks away.

"What does that mean?" Benny Ray looks at Nicole and waits. "He knows I don't drink any alcohol" Nicole stares into her glass before saying, "My mother was an alcoholic that's how come I spent most of my time at CJ's house. She would pass out on the floor before I got home from school. So I did my homework at the Yates's. I felt safe there until dad would come home, he'd take her to bed and than come for me." As she looks up Benny Ray sees the small scared little girl reflected in her eyes as Nicole shakes off the memory a sound goes over the earpiece. " Look alive 9 O'clock!

Something is going on at your left!"

Immediately Benny Ray and Nicole get up to check it out, but turned out to be a couple looking for a little privacy.

"Would you like to dance with me?" Benny Ray asks Nicole.

She looks up with big eyes, "would you take that chance with me?" she asks back.

"Yes Ma'am, I would!" Benny Ray offers her an arm and together they walk to the dance floor.

O my… Nicole thought, what is going on - be still my heart! She felt like she was walking on air! Her head was strangely light as he takes her into his arms. WHY ME! WHY NOW! I'm supposed to be working here!

"Don't think, just look around for anybody who is likely to make trouble!" Benny's voice whispers in her ear.

Yes, that is exactly what I need to do! Nicole thought trying to get her feet back on the ground.

Benny Ray had no trouble gliding her across the dance floor.

Standing on the balcony Isabel looks down at the dance floor, winking at Nicole as she swirls by. Beside her Trout takes his wife by the hand saying" Its been a long time since she looked that happy?"

His wife smiles and answers, "She deserver's it!"

Across the room Matt looks at Margo grinning, "shall I go and cut in?"

With narrowed eyes and raised eyebrows Margo asks, "Why?"

Confused by the look Matt changes direction saying, "Here comes Chance, maybe he has news!" Crossing the room toward them Chance is carrying a tray filled with champagne glasses. Matt looks at him an asks, "What no beer?"

"O man you are a hard man to please Major," Chance grimaces. "But I have the phone numbers of a few woman looking for a date with a blue collar man. But nope no beer."

Margo laughs at the pained expression on Matt's face.

Matt trying to ignore Margo! "Sorry Major, no beer," he grumbles. How come Benny Ray got beer?" Matt shoots back.

"He got that from CJ it was behind the bar!" and nods across the ballroom hall. CJ is waving as they all look up. CJ had heard them over the comlink, ducking down behind the bar he comes back up holding a beer bottle in his hand. "Come and get it Major I've been saving this one just for you!" Matt's puppy dog looks at Margo gets a laughing shrug as she say's, Go." Like a shot Matt is off heading for the bar.

"He doesn't know it yet, but that will cost him at least two dances!" Margo grins at Chance and takes a glass from his tray. "That's cold, Margo!" Chance smiles as he turns away.

"O Yeah I am" Margo takes a sip savoring the taste as a young man approaches. "May I have this dance?" he asks.

Her eyes search his face before saying, "Yes you may. I'm Margo." as she takes his arm.

"I'm Richard Beauregard the third," he says "But my friends call me Shorty!" Margo looks up into his face and laughs. "Why do they call you Shorty, your certainly not the shortest guy in the room!"

He laughs replying, "I was pretty much the runt of the litter in high school, until my senior year. But I kinda liked it"

Matt leans his elbow on the bar watching the milling, dancing people in the ballroom. A cold shiver courses through him, something wasn't right he could feel it as he takes a sip of his cold beer.

"Everything still looks all right Major!" CJ takes a look at his friend as Matt jumps up and looks across the ballroom floor. "What is she doing?"

CJ looks in the direction Matt indicated seeing Margo twirling around the floor with a good-looking guy. " Having a ball I think Sir?" CJ is talking to himself as Matt heads across the floor toward the smiling Margo.

Chance walks up to the bar and points to Matt, "Were is he going is such fuss, Tango's?"

"A different sort off Tango mate, Margo dancing with a blond Adonis!" Chance and CJ laugh as the pained expression on Matt's face as rushes toward his target.

"Man when is this party going to rock," Chance mumbled," I'm getting tired of dodging bored wives."

"I think you got the best of this deal, two guys tried to pick me up! " CJ grimaces.

Shuddering, Chance says, "I'll stick to woman!" Turning away he picks up his tray filled with champagne glasses.

Benny Ray sees Matt his face masked with anger standing at the edge of the floor and points him out to Nicole. "The Major is looking fit to be tied, like he's going to kill somebody! We 'd better get back to our seats"

Before Nicole can answer Matt rushes their way cutting in on Benny Ray. "Dance, Nicole, he says without waiting for a reply. Before she can say anything she's being hauled out onto the dance floor. But Matt wasn't looking at her his attention was riveted Margo and her dance partner.

"Would you rather dance with Margo?" Nicole looks up at Matt as he realizes what he's done!

"Sorry I didn't mean it like this!" He stops and looks down at Nicole. "Are you mad?" he asks.

"No but most women would like their partner to pay a little bit of attention to them and not someone else," Nicole responds. "Why don't you lead us over there so you can cut in!"

" You don't mind?" Matt asks. "Nope" she answers.

"I have to get back to Benny Ray anyhow." She turns and starts walking back to the table where Benny Ray is sitting. He gets up as she approaches the table and helps her to her chair. "Did you see anything?" she asks as she sat down.

"No, I'm beginning to think this is all a Hokes!" Benny Ray mumbles.

On the dance floor Matt is looking for a good time to cut in. Margo had seen him standing on the side but was patently ignoring him. She laughs gaily at Shorty's jokes. Matt's look was lethal but Margo partner was totally unaware of the feeling he was invoking.

"Women!" Matt mumbles turning he walks away.

Margo watches disappointed as turns away. Turning back to her partner she gives him a big smile once more. When the dance is over, she returns to the table. "That was fun!" she laughs as she sees his face. "Was the beer not to your liking," she asks in a sweet voice before breaking into laughter?

Nicole stands up across the room and Margo see her and starts heading in the same direction.

"I think they are headed for the Powder Room Major," Benny Ray frowns.

Margo is right behind Nicole as she enters the ladies room. The girls are talking to each other when a woman approaches Margo. " You are lucky tonight!" "What do you mean by that?" Margo looks surprised at the woman. "I mean you are going to get the royal treatment from Shorty that is what I mean." The woman turns and walks away, "He always takes the first woman he dances with to heaven, the woman sighs heavily as she turns away!" As the door closes Margo and Nicole look at each other and start laughing. " He is going to be disappointed tonight. I would like to see his face when you knock him out cold!" Still laughing Margo returns to Matt and tells him what happened in the ladies room. He is not amused.

Nicole is coming out of the ladies room and stops as a voice tells her to come over.
She sees a red headed man leaning against one of the pillars in the hall. " What are you doing do you want to blow my cover?" Nicole looks around to see if CJ or Chance is around.

"Don't worry he mumbles they are still inside. What are you doing with that hick anyway?" the mystery man wants to know.

"That hick as you call him, is somebody you will never be. Daddy's money can't buy you the integrity, loyalty and manners that man has!" Her voice sounds mad as Benny Ray silently moved up from behind.

He didn't want to miss this. She sounded really upset and Benny Ray reached into his jacket feeling for the two Glocks resting in the holster. "Stop following me and leave now, she whispered angrily." Nicole looks at her former colleague and wishes him on the other side of the moon.

The man smiles and lights a cigar, blowing the smoke upward and laughs at her cost. "What are you going to do now?" he wants to know.

"If I get have a chance, kick your ass and prove to the company that you submitted payment for a false claim!" The man stands upright at her words glaring angrily at Nicole.

"Don't think you can get a way with it, I will have to stop you!"

"Are you threatening me, Jack?" Nicole asks sending a hard look back into the man's cold eyes.

"Just you wait!" and the man mumbles as he walks away.

Benny Ray moves backwards as Nicole say's, "Come out Benny Ray I know you're there!"

Grinning and a little surprised Benny Ray steps out and walks calmly towards Nicole. She looks up at him and asks, "What did you hear?" Benny Ray shrugs his shoulders and answers "From Daddy's money."

"O boy I'm in trouble now ha?" Nicole says.

"So I take it is wasn't a happy reunion then?" Benny Ray asks.

"Nope" Nicole replies, "Not at all!"

"Lets talk to Matt just tell him what you know. He'll take it from there!" Benny Ray takes Nicole by the arm as they head towards the entrance off the ballroom. Talking to Matt through the comlink, he tries to explain the situation.

Margo meets up and leaves with Benny Ray as Nicole looks at Matt and starts to walk towards him, across the room. The musicians are playing a foxtrot and everybody is on the floor.

Before Nicole reaches Matt a cry fills the dance floor…

"Put your hands up to the sky and start praying!!" The crowd panics as people and bodies start running looking for a safe place to hide.

The music stops as the musicians reach down for their weapons. The elegantly dressed people begin to realize how serious the situation is and stop as the angry insistent voice tells them to stand still.

Matt looks over at Chance and CJ, but sees only Chance, CJ had taken cover behind the bar and is collecting his arsenal. Margo and Benny Ray are in the middle of the crowd and are not able to assist Matt in any way. Benny Ray looks at the man who started all the mayhem and recognizes the man from the hallway.

Nicole and Benny Ray look at each other across the room and she realize Benny Ray knows the man… In the mean time Matt is on the comlink busy getting information.

Nicole freezes as the man calls her up, "Nicole… where are you?" he says playfully. "Nicky come out come out wherever you are…." His voice gets angrier as he says, "Nicole this is no time to play hide and seek."

Nicole looks at Matt and sees him nod. Looking beside her she can see Isabel with tears in her eyes holding tightly to Xavier. He tries to calm her but it doesn't seem to get through to her.

"I'm over here" She stands up and walks towards Jack, "What do you want Jack?

"What I want is for you to keep your mouth shut!" he cries out. Stepping up he smacks her hard across her left cheek!
Benny Ray sees red and moves in while CJ gets ready to take Jack out, but Matt's nod NO stays his hand!

Chance is looking at Margo and she signals, on Matt's mark no sooner!

Jack is standing in front of Nicole and starts to tell her what it is he wants.

He tells her that he wants the ladies to collect their "shiny toys" and the men have to give him their watches and wallets.

"So now you're a common thief" Nicole taunts him. "At headquarters they were getting suspicious about you! They sent me to check you out, but a thief Jack."

"This is all your fault Nicole, you told them you didn't trust me so they kicked my butt back to sale's! You little bitch!"

Jack's anger is palpable!! His eyes are rolling strangely in his head. Walking back toward Nicole he raises his hand to hit her again, but instead he sees a knife flashing toward him.

"What the h…!" he cries out and jumps back away from the knife.

"I'm just full off surprises!!" Nicole smiles and steps toward Jack, reaching for his gun he's surprised to find it missing. "Are you looking for this?" Nicole asks sweetly holding out her left hand. Jack goes nuts and grabs a woman from the floor pulling the scared woman in front off him as a shield.

One of the musicians steps onto the floor as he starts to collect jewelry, watches and wallets from the people on the floor. "We have enough," he yells, "let's go!" The man approaches Matt, who's poised for action, jumping up he takes the guy out with one punch to the jaw!

Chance takes a gun from CJ as they start to shoot at the rest of the band. Benny Ray leaps' forward placing himself behind Jack and the lady wrapped in his arm, taking out one off the Glocks he hold it above his head.

Jack could feel the danger behind him but is slow to react.

Swinging the butt of the Glock he strikes Jack on the side of the head, catching the woman as Jack slowly sinks to the ground. Setting the trembling woman on her feet he steadies her before turning to Nicole. "You ok?" Benny Ray asked look at Nicole pale face. You look like you're going to pass out"

Nicole turns looking to see if Isabel is all right before she turns back to Benny Ray. "I never pass out!" she say's hoping he'll believe her little fib - she felt weak and shaky all over as she throws him a wan little smile.

As the guests start to leave, the police arrive and the thieves are arrested and taken away.

Across the room the team sits comfortably at a large table. "Can I have my beer now?" Matt asks as he looks at CJ.

"Sorry, bar is closed Major!" CJ says with a happy smile!

Everybody laughs as the questions start to fly. Nicole smiles, and takes a sip from her orange juice and starts to talk.

"I work for an insurance firm as a investigator, I check on false claims. Recently we got some very large claims, made by several clients. No problem so far. But it got a bit fishy after we found out that Jack recently visited those clients!" She stops for a second sip and than starts again. "Some off those clients said that Jack told them he wanted a small amount of the insurance money in exchange for his help! We also found out he had been blackmailing some of our clients. I knew we were in big trouble and decided to call my old pal, Trout, he came up with you guy's." She looks up at Trout. "Is Isabel all right?"
Trout walks closer to the table and laces his fingers together. "She's a bit shaken but she'll be fine!"

"What are you going to do now?"

Matt stands up and looks Trout straight in eyes. "So there was no minister to protect?"

"No Matt, there wasn't, just my family and they are just as important!"

"Don't worry Matt, you and your team will get paid!" Nicole says sighing.

"That is not the point" Matt say angrily. "He should have trusted us!"

"Matt I do," Trout says fiercely, "but in this case I wasn't calling the shots!"

"That was my fault, I'm sorry!" Nicole apologizes as she gets up and starts to walk towards the door.
"It's been fun" CJ says following her..

Later that night, in the garden a small cigar gets lit. The person inhales deeply and let's the smoke out in a heavy sigh…."All's well that ends well, don't you agree Benny Ray?"

Nicole leaves the shadow and looks at Benny Ray. His tie is loose and the top three buttons on his shirt are opened.

"What are you doing here?" he asks.

"I could ask you the same thing!" Nicole answers with a smile.

"I came for some fresh air and a drink!" He says showing her the bottle.

"Me," Nicole whispers, "I just came for the fresh air and to smoke my ritual cigar!"

Benny Ray puts his beer down and steps toward Nicole taking the cigar from her hand he put it out. Taking her in his arms he asks in a deep husky voice " Would you like to dance pretty lady?"

"As a matter of fact I would like that very much!" Her voice is soft and trembling… as they sway together to music only they can hear…

The next day Nicole wakes up to find herself back at the Silver Star Hotel. Getting up she begins her day by packing her bags and preparing to leave.

Downstairs, all is quiet. The team is on the beach. Checking her watch she makes a phone call.

Ten minutes later, a cab arrives handing her bag to the driver she gets ready to step inside as she looks out across the sand toward the volleyball courts.

"Hey there goes Nicole," Margo cries. "Isn't she coming to say goodbye?"

They all look at CJ and then at Benny Ray as he says, "She'll be back."

Nicole stops and smiles wagging her finger she yells. "I heard that!" Waving she gets in the cab.

Five arms wave in salute as they watch her drive away before thoughtfully going back to the volleyball match….
"We were winning," CJ yelled!

"I don't think so," Benny Ray answers grabbing for the ball.

The End

Index

Author's Page (Kato)

 
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