Disclaimer: This was written for the soul purpose of my entertainment. I lay no claim on Walker Texas Ranger or any of its characters.

“Gentleman’s Club”

By: Janis Boisclair

jboisclair@rogers.com

Chapter 1

“Just who do you think you are Francis Gage?” Sydney Cooke angrily yelled at her partner as he just as angrily slammed the door to integration room B closed behind them.

“Your partner, your friend, the guy who is telling you that you aren’t taking this assignment,” Gage shot back at her just as loudly. Taking her by the shoulder he swung her around to face him his hands tightly holding onto her arms.

“Get your hands off me,” her voice had become low and menacing as she glared at her partner.

He didn’t let up he held tighter then ever to her as she struggled to get his hands off her. Breaking free she struck out striking him hard across the face in her anger. Grabbing her arm he twisted it behind her pulling her back up against his chest. Moving his free arm around her he held her as she fought harder against him.

“Sydney you aren’t taking this assignment. I saw your face when you saw her body laying in the morgue, you are just to close to this,” Gage insisted.

“You just don’t know Gage, I have to do this and you or nobody else is going to stop me,” she fiercely told him. “I’ll do it with or without your help Gage. I’ll do it with or without the Texas Rangers. I’ll do it on my own if I have to, I’ll find out why she was there, I’ll find out what happened I owe her that Gage, I owe her.

“Can we talk about this reasonably Syd?” Gage asked his grip still tight on his partner, her body still taunt against his. He knew her mind was going over what had happened to bring them to this just like his was.

Two Days Prior

 “Hello,” Syd gasped she was just leaving for work and had run back to pick up the receiver. “Tammy where are you? I’m just on my way out can we get together for dinner. I can hardly wait we have so much catching up to do. Just come here and we’ll decide where to go. I can hardly wait.” Grabbing her keys she had hurried out the door and off to work.

“Hey Syd,” her partner had greeted her as she came running in the door and to her desk. “You do realize I’m on time today which would make you the late one,” he teased.

“Nothing you can say today Francis is going to upset me,” she had challenged back.

“So what has put you in such a good mood Ranger Cooke?” Gage asked.

“My best friend and roommate from college is joining me for dinner tonight and we have lots to talk about,” Syd smiled as she informed Gage.

“Gee Syd I don’t know if I can get another ticket to the hotrod show at this late date,” Gage began saying.

“Oh Gage I forgot all about it, I’m sorry I…”

“I’ll take a raincheck Syd,” he laughed at her frustration. “We can go Sunday afternoon is it a date?”

“A date Gage?” It was her turn to tease watching his face become red.

Clearing his throat he replied, “Yeah Syd a date.”

“All right,” she smiled as she answered him. He had gone back to some paper work that he all ready had spread on his desk while her eyes had remained a few more moments on him.

~~~~~

Syd had snuck out early so she would be ready and waiting when Tammy arrived. By six forty-five she was sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine ready and raring to go. By seven forty-five she was pouring her second glass of wine and becoming worried. By eight forty-five she dialled the phone to hear her partner’s voice.

“Looks like I’ve been stood up,” she told him.

“Want me to come over Syd?” he asked hearing the disappointment in her voice.

“No it’s all right I just wanted to tell you I guess I should have gone to the car show with you,” she replied about ready to hang up.

“Syd?”

“Yeah Gage?”

“We’ll track her down tomorrow.”

“Thanks Gage I appreciate it,” she told him before saying goodnight and hanging up.

~~~~~

The partners were both in early the next morning. Syd had called Tammy’s hotel and her cell phone numerous times both last night and this morning not getting an answer either place.

“She wasn’t admitted to either Methodist or Memorial hospitals,” Gage reported hanging up his phone. “No Jane Does either.”

“I just don’t understand this, it’s like she just disappeared, but if she wanted to disappear why call me of all people first?”

They didn’t have time to speculate Walker and Trivette had just come into the office with Alex. Walker was holding a file, which he was looking at while Alex and Trivette seemed to be filling in the details that the file didn’t reveal.

“Sydney, Gage can you join us?” Walker asked as he passed by the two of them. Both got up and followed over to Walker’s desk.

“We are looking into Jack Swanson,” Walker announced as Trivette handed each of them a file to familiarize themselves with. “He runs a couple of high stake illegal gambling houses in Houston. Everything from gambling to prostitution to drugs goes on behind the closed doors.” Walker continued. “As of late there have been a few problems at one of the clubs, a customer dead, one of the girls dead another one missing.”

Gage’s phone rang and he excused himself to answer it.

“And it seems Mr. Swanson is fixing to move into Dallas,” Trivette added. “He opened up for business a month ago.”

“Syd the call is for you,” he told her rejoining the group. “It the coroner’s office.”

Walking to her partner’s desk she picked up the phone as the rest watched waiting to find out what the call was about. Her face was expressionless yet Gage couldn’t help have a bad feeling about this call. She hung up and walked back over to the group.

“They have a body at the morgue, a hooker with no ID. The only thing she had was a scrap of paper with my name and phone number on it. They want me to come down and see if I can put a name with the face,” she explained.

“Go ahead Sydney,” Walker told her as he looked at Gage telling him to go with her.

“Wait up Syd,” Gage called after her as she hurried down the hall.

Sydney turned to wait to see what he wanted. “What is it Gage?”

“Walker thought you might like some company,” he replied not revealing he had thought he should come too.

“Suit yourself,” she had said turning to head down the hall as Gage fell in step with her. She hated to admit it even to herself but she was glad to have him beside her.

~~~~~

While Gage backed the car out Syd once again pulled out her phone and dialled Tammy’s cell number. There was still nothing but her voice mail message that was completely filled with messages from Syd.

“Any idea why she was in Dallas?” Gage asked glancing over to his partner.

“Business I assume,” Syd absently said, “She’s a lawyer with Barnes, Talbot, Cathcart and associates. We really didn’t go into anything I guess we figured we’d catch up on it last night.”

Gage nodded his head to one side raising his eyebrows slightly knowing what she had meant.

“I want you to meet her Gage,” Sydney had suddenly said. For some reason it had become important that he meet Tammy. For some reason it had become important that Tammy approved of him. It was like the time Sydney had met John Knight Tammy’s soon to be x-husband. Syd had never approved of John even though that is what Tammy had hoped. She had wanted to like him but in the end she had tolerated him for Tammy’s sake.

“I’d like to meet her,” Gage replied snapping Syd back into the present. He had parked the car and was opening the door, she followed suit coming around to the front of the car where he waited for her. They walked in together going straight to the desk, identifying themselves they waited for Dr. Janet Munro to come from behind the doors to escort them to view the body.

“Rangers,” Munro said walking over to them offering her hand. “I’m glad you could come so quickly,” she continued as they walked with her down the corridor. “This was a fairly easy one except for who she is. There is evidence of sexual intercourse with approximately four partners last night. Some one must have got a little rough with the sex, which is evident from the lacerations on the face and torso. Death was caused by strangulation with a silk scarf that was found still tied around her neck when she was brought in. She wore this locket,” Munro paused to hand it to Syd for her inspection, she didn’t recognize it, “That is where we found the piece of paper with your name and phone number on it, inside the locket. I remembered you from a couple of other cases and called your office hoping that it would pan out that you would be the right Sydney Cooke.”

Opening the door they entered the exam area all was quiet. They had stopped in front of a large refrigeration unit waiting for Dr. Munro to open the door to one of the compartments and roll the body out for them to view. An overwhelming sense of dread suddenly came over Syd, a feeling she had never experienced before. She could feel her knees becoming weak as the doctor reached for the handle of the door and pulled it open. Her hand was trembling and she involuntarily reached out and grabbed on to Gage’s hand.

“Syd?” Gage had looked down at her trying to understand what was wrong it wasn’t like her to take his hand for any reason and certainly not to just view a dead body. Her only response was to grasp tighter to him.

The table had been rolled out in front of them and Dr. Munro lifted back the sheet. Tammy Cathcart’s battered body lay stretched out before them, stretched out before Syd.

“Oh God Gage no,” Sydney had cried letting go of him, backing away from the table.

Gage had turned to face her she had become as deathly pale as the deceased teetering unsteadily on her feet. Standing between her and the body his arms went a round her as she crumpled against him and he softly questioned, “Tammy?”

She shook her head yes. They could hear the cold steal being rolled back into the cooling unit and the door closing. Gage turned her guiding her back out into the hallway holding her until she could get her bearings once again.

“Ranger Cooke are you all right?” Dr. Munro asked.

Pulling back from her partner she attempted to be all business again. “Yes I wasn’t expecting to see an old friend…” she stopped her eyes closed, she could feel Gage’s arm around her his hand gently squeezing her shoulder as she struggled to regain her composer.

“Her name is Tammy Cathcart out of Houston. She is a partner with the law firm Barnes, Talbot, Cathcart and associates,” Syd continued. “Who is the officer in charge of this case?”

“Let me get the chart,” Munro said going back through the doors that led to her office.

“I’m all right Gage,” she stated moving away from him to lean against the wall.

He stood in front of her and lifted her chin with his finger to look in her face. “Then you are doing better then I would be if I was you. I’m sorry Sydney I know you were close.”

“Not close enough or maybe I could have stopped this…” She didn’t have time to say more Dr. Munro was back.

“Detective Lou Brandon,” Munro told them.

Gage thanked her and he and Sydney left.

~~~~~

Her partner stuck close to her for the rest of the day, worried about her, wanting to help her to find the answers so she could put some closure on things. He sat with her quietly in the car watching her stare silently out the windshield.

“I’d better call Walker,” she finally said matter-of-factly pulling her phone and dialing.

“Walker,” Gage could hear their boss’ voice on the line as Syd sat there mutely lost in thought. Taking the phone from her hand he spoke to him, “Yeah Walker Syd recognized the body, she was a personal friend and not a hooker.  We’re on our way back to headquarters,” Gage told him hanging up the phone.

The day had been extremely long for both partners. They had found out from Detective Brandon that Tammy had been found naked in a dumpster behind a run down hotel, her clothes tossed in with her. The curious thing was that the hotel was just two blocks from The Lazy Jakes, Jack Swanson’s place. More then one witness was sure that they had seen Tammy at the bar.

Syd had put a call into Tammy’s office trying to get a handle on why she was in Dallas. All Dana Talbot could tell her was that she thought it had to do John and the divorce.

Finally around six o’clock Walker told Gage to see that Sydney got home.

“Walker I’m fine I want to get to the bottom of this,” she had protested.

“That is what we all want Sydney but right now you need to get some rest and that’s an order,” Walker told her.

“Fine I’ll go home,” she said grabbing her jacket and stomping out the door.

“Gage go with her,” Walker said. It wasn’t necessary he was all ready a step behind her.

“I don’t need to go home and I don’t need a babysitter,” Syd was protesting as the elevator doors opened to the parking garage.

“Syd please just let me take you home and make sure you are settled for night. Maybe I can get you a little dinner keep you company for awhile.”

“Babysit me,” she stormed, “Gage I’ve got my car here and I’m driving it home.” With that she took off across the parking lot to her car and got in behind the wheel.

“Syd come on wait up,” Gage was calling her as she started her car. She paid no attention she put it into reverse and gave it the gas narrowly missing him. “Syd,” he called racing to his car to go after her.

It took him only a minute to pull into the street but she was gone disappeared from sight. Gage took off towards her apartment pulling his phone dialing at the same time. She had her phone turned off. Her car was nowhere in sight when he pulled into the lot at her building. Running up the stairs to her door he banged loudly calling out to her but to no avail she just wasn’t there.

Gage spent the next couple of hours driving around going every place that he could think that she might be. Finally he headed to his place to regroup and start making phone calls. As he pulled up to his building he found her sitting on his front steps. Stopping the car he ran to where she sat, the tears were streaming down her face, she was cold and shivers racked her body.

“Gage,” she cried, “I need you.”

With his arm around her he walked inside with her sitting her down beside him. She leaned against him the tears of pain and sorrow for her friend falling endlessly. Gage drew her closer pulling the blanket from the back of the couch around her. He rubbed his hands over her arms and back warming her whispering, “Shh Syd, shh Honey.”

“She…she…she’s gone,” Sydney got out between sobs, “Oh Gage she’s really gone.”

“I know Baby,” he comforted her letting the tears fall until she was exhausted and slept against him. Gently picking her up in his arms he carried her to his bed and lay her there tucking the comforter around her. Letting his lips brush against her forehead he whispered, “Sleep well Syd.”

Sometime in the early hours Sydney woke. It took a few minutes to realize where she was and why she was there. Pulling the comforter around her she walked to the living room where her partner lay sleeping on the couch. The television was still playing quietly and she could see his features in the dim light it gave off. Kneeling beside him she let her fingers play gently over his cheek her thumb across his lips.

“Umm,” he mumbled in his sleep as she lay down on top of him letting her head rest on his chest. Her eyes closed again this time finding a peaceful slumber in her partner’s arms. Gage woke the next morning to find her still there.

~~~~~

Sydney and Gage entered headquarters together the next morning. Gage had driven her home to shower and change before they had come in. Walker motioned them to his desk where Trivette all ready stood.

“We’ve found something interesting in regards to your friend Sydney,” Walker began as Trivette took over.

“As you know we are investigating Jack Swanson it seems that Tammy Cathcart’s name has come up on the list of investors in his new club.”

“That’s impossible,” Syd cried grabbing the file that Trivette was holding out to her and began to read. She saw the name but couldn’t believe it. “This has to be a mistake, Tammy would never put money into anything like this.”

Gage took the file from her hand and began reading it over as Syd faced the two senior rangers.

“I’m afraid there’s more,” Walker continued, “it seems she was at The Lazy Jakes last night, quite a few people can place her there.”

Walker paused trying to read Syd’s reaction but she gave no clues instead she stood silently listening to everything they had to tell her. The next part of the story was going to be hard for Sydney to hear Walker all ready knew that. She had to be told so he started again.

“Sydney Tammy wasn’t exactly dressed in what you would expect a lawyer to be wearing.”

Gage looked up at his boss and then his partner as the words hung in the air.

“She was dressed as a working girl,” he informed Syd.

“That’s why when I got the call from the coroner they said they had a hooker for me to ID,” Syd evenly spoke her voice void of emotion.

“We need to get someone in that club to find out what is going on. Someone who can catch Jack Swanson’s interest,” Walker was saying just as Gage cut in.

“This assignment is out of the question for Syd.”

All three rangers stared at Gage but the look he got from Sydney is what cut deep.

“Excuse us Walker my partner and I need to settle something,” Sydney had said walking out ahead of Gage.

~~~~~

All that played through their minds as they stood there now in the heat of an argument.

Chapter 2

“Gage there is nothing you can say that will make me forgive you for what you just did to me in there,” she told him her voice even but her temper seething.

“I’d say it again in a heartbeat Syd,” he quietly said, “even if I have no right to say it. Will you hear me out please?”

She closed her eyes the struggling had stopped and she stood motionless in his arms. Gage still held on tightly to her trying to choose his words trying to make her understand. He closed his eyes how could he make her understand what he didn’t understand himself.

“Syd I’m scared for you…”

“I can take care of myself Gage,” she cut in before he could finish his thought.

“I have no doubt in my mind about that,” he replied the side of his face she had just smacked still stinging. “The thing is you are hurting and you are angry I’m just worried that you will take the wrong chances. If something happened and I couldn’t get to you in time…” His voice trailed off and his grip lessened on her.

She turned slowly as his arms dropped to his sides. She stared at his chest for a moment before lifting her head to look into his face.

“Gage you’re right I am hurting and angry,” she agreed as he let out a sigh. “But,” she said her hand cupping his chin, “that still doesn’t give you the right to do what you just did.”

He knew she was right. “I know, I know,” he said taking her hand from his chin and holding it.

“I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to take this assignment I’ve got to find out what happened to Tammy. You understand don’t you?” she asked looking into his eyes.

Unfortunately he did and he also knew he couldn’t stop her so he had to do the next best thing, be there to protect her.

“Is it settled?” she asked.

“Almost,” he replied.

“Well?”

“You didn’t really mean it when you said you’d never forgive me did you?”  He asked as his lower lip stuck out in a pout.

“Francis,” she exclaimed at him and he knew things were smoothed over between them.

“Let’s go see what Walker has in mind,” he said opening the door for her.

~~~~~

“You two settle your squabble?” Trivette asked as the two of them walked back into the office.

“I think so for the moment anyway,” Gage replied adding he was sorry for the interruption.

Walker eyed the partners trying to decide the reason for the earlier outburst finally deciding to let it pass knowing they were good at their jobs.

“The Lazy Jakes is looking for staff we are going to set you up as hostess and bouncer,” Walker told them as Trivette went to set up the covers. “After a few days Trivette and I are going to try and get into one of the poker games that go on in the back room. I want you two to see if you can’t become part of the staff that looks after those games.”

Both nodded their heads in agreement. Syd’s phone rang she walked to her desk to answer it. Without looking up from the file he was reading Walker asked Gage point blank, “Are you sleeping with Sydney?”

“Am I? Walker no… I… no I’m… we’re not sleeping together,” Gage stammered out his face beet red.

Walker’s gaze was fixed on him as he asked the next question, “Then what was all that about this morning?”

“I’m just a little worried about her,” Gage chose his words carefully, “she really took her roommate’s death hard.”

“Do you think maybe she shouldn’t be on this case then?”

“She can handle it Walker. I was wrong to speak out this morning. I feel confident going in with her undercover,” Gage stated hoping he was being convincing.

“All right Gage I’ll take you at your word you know her better then any of us,” Walker told him hoping he wasn’t making a mistake.

Sydney and Trivette had both hung up their phones and come back over to Walker’s desk.

“Okay if you two drop over to the club right now they’ll show you the ropes and let you know when you start,” Trivette informed the partners.

“You two take off then,” Walker instructed, “and Gage keep in close touch on this one all right.”

“Sure thing,” Gage answered glad to be getting out of the office.

Walking beside Sydney the silence was deafening, as they got in the car Gage finally asked who had been on the phone just to make conversation.

“Tammy’s father,” she dully stated. “He was hoping that I could give him some answers. I told him I’d let him know as soon as I knew something.”

“We’re going to find out what happened,” he tried to reassure her much like she had tried to reassure Tammy’s father.

She smiled sadly at him and changing the subject asked what he and Walker had been talking about. Once again Gage could feel the colour rising in his cheeks as he cleared his throat not once but twice.

“He was just wondering if anything had changed between the two of us that’s all,” Gage hedged not really wanting to come right out and say it.

“Changed between us?” she asked at first not getting Gage’s meaning. Suddenly her eyes grew wide and she repeated herself exclaiming, “Changed between us.” Syd could feel the heat in her cheeks as she stared out the window.

“Syd I’m sorry it had to be what I did this morning that got him thinking that way,” Gage tried to apologize.

Sydney wasn’t listening to him her mind had wandered back to last night and this morning. Waking up with his arm around her and he stroking her hair… she felt like things had changed between. Maybe she was reading more into things then was really there. “Come on Cooke get your head in the case,” she chided herself under her breath.

“I think I got things straightened out with him,” Gage was saying as he parked the car at the club.

“It’s all right Gage,” she wanly smiled taking his hand for a moment and squeezing it before she opened the car door to get out.

It’s all right Gage that was it that was all she was going to say. No tongue lashing, no scolding, she didn’t even call him Francis like she did when he irritated her. He had no more time to think about it she had closed the car door then stuck her head back in the window to ask if he was coming or not.

“Right behind you Syd,” he answered opening the door and getting out.

~~~~~

Gage held the door open for Syd and they entered the dimly lit entrance of The Lazy Jakes club. The door had no sooner closed behind them when they were greeted by a big guy asking if he could help them.

“Yeah we’re looking for Terrance Majors,” Gage spoke up.

“He’s suppose to be showing us the ropes getting us set up with our hours,” Syd added.

“What is it Jimmy?” a voice asked from behind Jimmy.

“The new employees the agency sent over,” Jimmy replied moving back so Majors could get a look at the two of them.

“I’m Tina Mason,” Syd volunteered.

“And I’m Rick Harper,” Gage added.

“You two look like you’ll do,” Majors said his eyes not leaving Sydney’s face or figure. “This is a class operation here, “black tux and tie,” he directed at Gage, “And something sexy but not cheap,” he smiled at Syd. “Be back here at eight thirty dressed and ready to go at nine.”

“You got it boss,” Gage replied .

“Thanks,” Syd smiled coyly at him a smile stealing over his face as well.

Once out of earshot Majors commented to Jimmy, “Keep an eye on that one I’m sure she will be to Mr. Swanson’s liking.”

“I think you’re right,” Jimmy grinned.

~~~~~

“So far so good,” Gage commented as he started the car and pulled out of the parking lot. “Where to now?”

“Unless you have a black tux hidden away in your closet I think the rental shop is our next stop,” Syd replied.

Gage made a face at her and turned the car left to head for the tux store. Catching the face her partner was making put the first real smile on Syd’s face in two days.

Reaching over he brushed his fingers across her cheek and she found herself liking it.

~~~~~

Sydney pulled into the parking lot at exactly eight fifteen. They had decided it would be better to arrive separately and not make it seem they were friends. As Gage pulled into the parking lot Syd got out of her car to head inside. Catching sight of her he wasted no time hurrying in behind her.

“Well you certainly look different then you did this morning,” Majors was telling Syd as he looked her over. She wore a long black skirt that was slit on either side up the length of her legs and a copper and black form fitting top with spaghetti straps. A gold chain with an assortment of charms hung down between her ample breasts accompanied by a second gold chain shorter with a pearl suspended from it that Gage had given to her for her birthday. Her hair was piled on top of her head falling down in small ringlets framing her face.

The sight of her took Gage’s breath away the same time making him want to keep every high society low life from leering at her.

“Okay Tina as the customers come in all you have to do is greet them and take them to a table,” Majors was explaining. “If they say they are here for Mr. Swanson’s party Karen will look after them. That’s all there is to it.”

“That certainly sounds easy enough,” Syd replied putting on a big smile.

“Rick good you’re here too,” Majors called to Gage seeing him coming towards them. Syd turned her partner was right behind her, she too took a moment to let her eyes look him over. She smiled to herself thinking how handsome he looked in that monkey suit.

“Jimmy can you come over here and enlighten Rick what is expected of him,” Majors called extending his arm to Sydney. “If you would like to come this way my dear I’ll introduce you to Mr. Swanson.”

Gage watched his partner take Majors’ arm and move away with him focusing on them until Jimmy’s voice interrupted him.

“Okay Rick we’re the peace keepers at this club, only suits and ties get in. You know the drill anyone causing a problem is asked to leave and escorted out. You definitely keep cliental away from the girls while they are on stage. You need to use your judgement we have a lot of working girls here too. You got it?” Jimmy finished up saying.

“Seems pretty straight forward,” Gage replied.

“It is as long as you don’t complicate it,” Jimmy warned. “What’s the story with you and Tina?”

“Been a friend off and on for a couple of years, ran into her at the employment agency this morning and since we were coming to the same place gave her a ride over,” Gage repeated the story they had decided on.

“Just friends?” Jimmy quizzed.

“Yeah just good friends,” Gage repeated emphasizing the word good.

~~~~~

Jack Swanson sat at a reserved table with two other men when Majors waltzed Sydney over.

“Jack, I wanted you to meet our new hostess Tina Mason. Tina our boss Mr. Swanson,” Majors introduced.

“Tina is it? Pleased to meet you,” Swanson told Syd standing and taking her hand.

“Thank you,” Syd replied, “I hope to do a good job for you.”

“Just be yourself and I’m sure you will,” Swanson smiled back taking her hand again and holding it for a few moments.

Majors smiled to himself he had been right Tina did interest his boss.

Gage watched the scene from where he stood knowing that things were going well, Syd was making progress with Swanson, which was good even if he didn’t like it.

~~~~~

The guests were beginning to come in and both Rangers took up their posts. The evening was going as expected nothing unusual. Their were half a dozen guests that came in for Mr. Swanson’s party that were escorted into the back room the door closed behind them.

A couple of patrons thought they could move in on some of the girls Sydney being one of them, Gage was quick to move in and both men left without incident. Jimmy who had been standing with Majors commented that Rick seemed to handle himself pretty well.

“Looks like we may have got lucky with both Tina and Rick,” Majors responded.

It was shortly after one A.M. that Syd’s heart began to beat a little faster. She heard his voice and words, “Hi Baby doll,” as he addressed Karen. Quickly Syd got out of sight behind some curtains. Peering out she saw him John Knight, Tammy’s estranged husband walking in as if he owned the place. Karen smiled greeting Knight escorting him to where Swanson’s poker game was going on.

“What’s up?” Gage had come up behind her to ask.

“Gage you all but gave me a heart attack,” she hissed back. “Did you see that guy that just came in?” Gage nodded yes, “That was Tammy’s x-husband.”

“Did he see you?”

“I don’t know I don’t think so,” she replied.

“We got to get you out of here,” Gage told her his concern showing.

“No I’m sure he would have said something to me if he had saw me. It’s almost the end of the night I’ll just watch for him and keep out of his way.”

Gage was about to say something more when a commotion broke out at one of the tables and he had to go see what was going on. “Be careful,” was all he got out.

The rest of the night went without any more trouble. At quitting time Rick had told Tina to wait up he would walk her out.

“Can I buy you a coffee Tina?” he asked waiting beside her as she unlocked her car.

“I’m really tired,” she told him as she slipped behind the wheel.

“How bout letting me follow you home and make sure you get there safe?”

Sydney looked over the parking lot trying to see what her partner was seeing. Relying on his judgement she nodded her head in agreement. Watching from him from her rear view mirror she waited until Gage got in his car then began to pull out. As she moved towards the street she was cut off by another car crossing in front of her and screeching to a halt blocking her exit.

“What’s the hurry?” one of the two men from inside the car asked swinging his door open to advance on Syd’s car. The second one had gotten out now to coming to the passenger door trying to get in.

“Boys I really don’t want any trouble,” Syd smiled sweetly at the two of them recognizing them as the two Gage had put out of the club earlier. “So how about you just pull your car out of the way and let me pass.”

“How bout you just open that door and get in our car with us Mel and I will show you what a good time is all about,” the spokesman for the two smiled pulling up on the door handle of the car.

“You will?” Syd asked smiling at the man.

“Sure will Honey,” he replied feeling confident that she was going to take them up on their offer.

All of a sudden the car door flew into the man knocking him backwards unto the pavement. His buddy Mel started around the car towards Syd. “You’re going to pay for that girl,” he shouted at Sydney just as Gage squealed to a stop getting out of his car to aid his partner.

“Unless you get back in that car and get out of here you are the one going to be paying for it,” he informed Mel who took a swing at Gage. Ducking the punch Gage made a few fast moves pinning Mel’s arm behind him and forcing him forward across the trunk of Syd’s car.

Sydney’s assailant had gotten off the ground making a lunge for her that only caused him to catch her foot square to the side of his head. A few moves later and Mel’s partner was in the same position as Mel was Syd holding him tight against the car.

“I asked you once to move your car and let me pass,” Syd repeated herself, “Now I’m telling yeah.

“All right you win,” Mel, told her having had his fill for one night.

Letting go of the two of them they licked their wounds and got in their car and drove off.

“You okay,” Gage asked standing behind her.

“Yeah fine,” Syd replied. “You still interested in that cup of coffee?”

“Love one are you buying?” Gage teased.

“Tell you what follow me home and I’ll make us some,” she smiled getting in behind the wheel of her car.

“Right behind you,” Gage told her closing her door and going back to his.

~~~~~

Turning into her driveway Syd looked into her mirror catching sight of her partner’s car making sure he was still following. “Its only coffee,” her mind said as Gage parked beside her. He came around to her side of the car as she opened the door, the cold night air catching her and she shivered against it.

“Cold Shorty?” Gage asked his arm automatically going around her and she leaned against him.

“Sydney what are you doing? What are you thinking?” She questioned herself relishing the feel of her partner against her.

As these thoughts ran through Syd’s mind Gage was having a few thoughts of his own. “You feel so good Honey… Gage you are looking for trouble… but Syd I can’t help feeling this way.”

Fumbling with her keys Gage took them from her hands opening the door and they entered into the dark apartment. She reached for the light switch his hand was on hers turning her to face him a streak of light from outside shining across her face. There was a comforting silence between them as Gage took Syd in his arms their lips meeting in a deep kiss. His arms were suddenly lifting her, carrying her through the apartment to her bedroom, to her bed. Quietly and unhurried they made love, the passion they shared was unrivalled by none, falling asleep in each other’s arms.

~~~~~

“So who is your new hostess?” John Knight asked Jack Swanson as he joined him for a nightcap and a cigar.

“Girl named Tina something or another, hot little thing isn’t she,” Swanson smiled.

“Tina aye?” Knight grinned, “funny when she was best friends with my deceased wife she was Sydney Cooke Texas Ranger.”

Swanson sat straight up in his chair looking at Knight, “Texas Ranger you can’t be serious?”

“Very serious,” Knight replied puffing on his cigar. “In fact the last time I saw her was a few years ago, I had just given Tammy a black eye. She came breaking in like gangbusters broke my nose. I owe her.”

“I’ll have to give this some thought,” Swanson said throwing down his brandy, “I need to know what the Texas Rangers and Ranger Cooke think they are up to.”

Knight lifted his glass as to toast and threw the brandy down as well smiling at his companion.

Chapter 3

Sydney slowly opened her eyes as the rays of sunshine came pouring through her bedroom window. She sighed contently turning in Gage’s arms rubbing her fingers through the hair of his naked chest. His arms tightened around her while his lips brushed her forehead.

“Go back to sleep Honey,” he whispered her closeness arousing him again.

“Gage how are we ever going to work this out?” she asked teasing his chest with kisses.

“Just like this I guess,” he told her flipping her to her back kissing her deeply once again. His hand moved to her cheek as the phone began ringing.

“Mmm,” she moaned reaching for the receiver. Gage kissed her nose rolling to her side as she said, “Hello.” His finger continued to draw little circles on her shoulder which he was about to kiss when her eyes opened wide and she exclaimed, “Walker, no I haven’t seen him since last night but I’m suppose to meet him at the gym in about an hour. Okay I’ll have him call when I see him.”

~~~~~

Trivette looked at Walker. “Well is he there?” he asked his eyebrows rising in question.

Walker sat quietly for a few moments the suspense killing his partner before he answered. “Oh yeah he’s there are all right.”

“How long do you think this has been going on?”

“By my estimate not long,” Walker smiled.

Trivette smiled and chuckled to himself.

~~~~~

“Syd hand me the phone.”

“Why? Who are you calling Gage?”  She asked turning sideways and leaning on her elbow to face him knowing the answers all ready.

“Were you intending on keeping this secret forever?” he questioned reaching up to tuck her hair behind her ear. “We have to face the music sometime.”

“But I…” she fell silent looking from his face to her hand.

Tilting his head sideways Gage tried to look into her face. “But I what?

“I’m not ready to tell everyone yet. I haven’t even really told you how much I love you.”

“I think you just did Syd,” he whispered to her as his arms went around her and he pulled them back down under the covers.

~~~~~

Gage came into the office before Syd to face the music as he had put it to her earlier. Both Walker and Trivette looked up as he walked in and headed for the coffee machine.

“So where were you this morning?” Trivette greeted him as Walker picked up his ringing phone.

“What do you mean where was I?” Gage shot back. “I got up and went for a run like I usually do about two, three times a week.”

“Oh you went for a run?” Trivette continued. “Does Syd know that?”

Looking at Trivette Gage made a face as if he didn’t have a clue to what Trivette was talking about. “Gee I don’t know if I mentioned it to her before or after I put her on her butt in the gym,” he answered.

“You wish Gage,” Syd piped up as she came through the office door. “Tell them the truth it wasn’t me landing on my butt.”

“That was you in the gym this morning wasn’t it Syd?” Gage asked her.

“You know it was,” she smiled pulling her ringing cell phone from her pocket.

“Then you’ll remember I wasn’t the only one hitting the floor this morning,” Gage laughed getting the last word in.

“Did you ever hear of taking your phone with you on your morning runs?” Trivette asked not wanting to be deterred.

“Trivette I don’t take my phone because I know it would just be you calling me,” Gage smiled feeling smug that he had gotten the last word in twice all ready that day.

“All right I’ll meet you at the club around seven,” Syd was saying as she walked over towards Gage and Trivette. “Thanks Mr. Swanson,” she paused for a moment and added, “all right Jack.”

Walker had hung up his phone as well now all three were looking at her. “That was our boss Gage inviting me out for dinner before work tonight.”

“What did you do that was so special that Jack Swanson asked you out for dinner?” Gage asked his partner. Both Trivette’s and Walker’s eyes focused on Gage as he shifted uncomfortably under their scrutiny. “Tell them Syd,” he exclaimed his eyes levelling on Syd. “Either you tell them or I do.”

Sydney could tell that Gage had stopped joking and was dead serious. Now Walker and Trivette had turned their attention to Syd too.

“It’s just that John Knight came into the club last night that’s all,” Syd tried to shrug off.

“And why should we be worried about this John Knight?” Walker asked looking from one partner to the other finally resting his gaze on Syd.

“Knight is Tammy’s estranged husband she was in the process of divorcing him. The last time I actually saw him was just before I became a Ranger. He and Tammy had got into a big fight; Tammy locked herself in the bedroom and called me. I kept her on the line as I raced over to their place. I could hear him breaking down the door to get at her, heard the sound of his hand connecting with her face and the line went dead. I was calling for backup as I pulled up the driveway.” She paused at the recollection of that night before she continued. “Tammy ended up with black eyes, Knight ended up with a broken nose.”

“Did Knight recognize you Sydney?” Walker asked.

“I don’t think he saw me.”

“You don’t think or you know?” Trivette asked as Walker looked at first Sydney then Gage.

“We can’t be sure,” Gage confessed. “He never acknowledged Syd he just joined Swanson in the backroom and we didn’t see him again.”

“Trivette are we set up to get into that game tonight?” Walker asked his partner.

“Yep I talked to Tommy this morning our seats have been reserved,” Trivette informed him.

“Sydney you wear a wire tonight and Gage keep real close tabs on her while she is at dinner,” Walker instructed the two partners who both nodded their heads in agreement. He finished up the short meeting telling them that he and Trivette would see them at the club that night.

“Now you two go get rested up for tonight,” Trivette grinned at the pair of them.

Gage was about to ask Trivette what was up with him today but thought better of it. Instead he turned to his partner and asked her if it wasn’t her turn to buy lunch. They were interrupted before she could answer by a middle age man calling out to her.

“Thank goodness Sydney,” he called, “We have something here that we think you should see.”

“Mr. and Mrs Cathcart what are you doing in Dallas?” Sydney asked as she greeted the couple.

As they walked over towards her desk Victor Cathcart handed Sydney a large manila envelope and began to explain, “We received this yesterday in the afternoon mail,” he paused for a moment to compose himself before continuing. “We thought you should see it. It’s from Tammy.”

Sydney swallowed hard as she took the envelope from Tammy’s father. “Let’s go somewhere a little quieter so we can talk,” she said leading the way to a small conference room. Pausing for a moment she said matter-of-factly to her partner, “Gage will you please join us.”

Quickly making the introductions Syd explained that Gage was helping her look into Tammy’s murder. Sitting down Syd stared at the envelope for a moment before opening it and dumping the contents onto the table.

There was a letter for her Mom and Dad, Syd recognized it to be Tammy’s handwriting. It explained that she was probably dead if they were reading this letter because she was investigating John. She went on to say that he had forged her name on quite a few documents siphoning her investments into his name never to be seen again. She had quite a few of the deals documented, enough to have John picked up at any rate.

The letter went on to say that she was sure that John was connected some how with Jack Swanson’s club in Houston, The Four Jacks and the new club in Dallas. She hinted that the girl who had worked at The Four Jacks who was found murdered had been seeing John. The letter ended by saying, “Hopefully after my trip to Dallas and The Lazy Jakes I will have all the proof I need to put John away for a very long time.”

Gage flipped through the files that were in the envelope as Syd spoke with the Cathcarts. He couldn’t believe what he was reading this was enough evidence to put Knight away for quite a few years.

“Excuse me for interrupting,” Gage began, “but Syd if you are all right here I’ll take these up to Alex’s office and get things in motion so we can pick up Knight right away.”

“Yeah Gage go ahead I’ll meet you in the office,” Syd replied as he gently squeezed her shoulder before exiting.

“Sydney we have taken you from your job long enough Nancy Cathcart,” was saying as she stood to leave.

“Mrs. Cathcart please,” Sydney said waiting for the woman to sit once again. She reached out and took the woman’s hand in hers. “I really wish I had known what was going on. We were supposed to have dinner that night and maybe if we had…” Syd’s voice trailed off.

“You mustn’t blame yourself Sydney, we all know where the blame lies here,” Tammy’s father spoke the anger showing in his face as thoughts of John Knight came to mind.

“I know Mr. Cathcart. I want you both to know that this is not going to go unsolved one way or another I will get to the bottom of this.” Tammy’s mother had her arms around Sydney now both women shedding tears, both hurting in different ways over their loss.

“I know Sydney. I know you’ll find out what happened so our Tammy can rest in peace.” She pulled back from Sydney reaching forward as Mothers do and wiped one of Syd’s tears from the corner of her eye.

Sydney leaned forward kissing the woman’s cheek then turning hugged Tammy’s Dad.

“Bless you Sydney,” the man whispered to her before putting his arm around his wife and escorting her out.

~~~~~

Opening the door Syd headed back towards the office, as she passed the elevator the  doors opened to let Alex and Gage step off.

“Sydney,” Alex greeted her falling in step with her Gage following behind. “I’m so sorry about your friend,” she continued linking her arm through Syd’s, “but with what I see here you will at least be able to bring a little justice for her family.”

“Thanks Alex,” Syd smiled letting her friend gently pat her hand before they joined Walker and Trivette.

“Alex good,” Walker greeted his wife in the next breath asking her if they had got the warrants.

“Right here Walker,” Gage answered holding them up so everyone could see them.

“You and Syd want to find him and bring him in.”

“Will do Walker,” Gage answered as Syd turned to join him.

~~~~~

It didn’t take long for the partners to locate John Knight he was staying at one of Dallas’ premier hotels. Once they had confirmation Syd and Gage proceeded over to the hotel to pick him up.

“Syd are you all right?” Gage asked as they headed into the lobby, she had hardly said a word on the way over.

“I just want to get this over with I want that monster in jail for the hell he put Tammy through,” she told him as they stepped on the elevator.

The doors closed and the elevator began its climb to the twelfth floor when Gage suddenly reached out hitting the stop button. His hands went to her shoulders and held her there.

“Gage what are you doing?” she questioned as she tried to shrug his hands off her.

“Look at me Sydney we have a job to do here nothing more, nothing less. I’m talking to you as your partner Syd.”

“Francis,” she tilted her head up to look into his face, “I’m not going to do anything to blow this I want him too bad.”

He reached out and started the elevator again as she added, “And if he doesn’t make me mad he won’t get hurt again.”

Grinning at her Gage shook his head and the elevator opened. Following his partner they stopped in front of room twelve ten. Raising her hand Syd banged loudly shouting at the same time, “John Knight Texas Rangers open up.”

A moment later the door was flung open and Knight stood there grinning at Sydney. “Baby doll it’s been a long time,” he drawled out at her.

Grabbing his arm Syd spun him around slamming his face into the wall as she snapped the handcuffs on him. “You’re under arrest Knight,” she hissed at him.

“Hey you going to let her treat me this way,” Knight whined at Gage.

“I was just thinking you’re lucky she didn’t break your nose,” Gage laughed grabbing his arm as they took him into custody.

~~~~~

The senior partners greeted Syd and Gage as they came into the office after questioning Knight.

“Learn anything?” Walker asked.

“Nothing we didn’t all ready know. He is keeping real tight lipped about Jack Swanson and his clubs,” Gage let them know.

“All right let’s keep him out of circulation for a few days and see if we can’t find something to connect him and Swanson.”

The rest shook their heads agreeing with Walker.

~~~~~

Terrance Majors stood facing Jack Swanson he had just finished telling him that the Rangers had picked up John Knight on charges of fraud and theft against his wife’s estate. There was also the possibility that more charges would be laid pending the investigation.

“This is an ugly turn of events especially if the money and paper trail starts leading back to me and the clubs,” Swanson speculated out loud. “I think my first order of business is to see what Ranger Cooke knows then have her permanently disappear.”

Majors nodded his head in agreement.

Chapter 4

“No problem Jack a late supper sounds even nicer. All right I’ll see you tonight.” Sydney looked at her partner as she hung up her phone.

“What was that all about?” Gage asked her.

“My dinner date just got switched until after work instead of before,” she replied a frown knitting her brow.

“Did he indicate why?” he asked concern in his voice.

“Pretty vague just something came up,” she told him coming to stand in front of him. He reached up and pulled her down on the couch with him cuddling her beside him.

“I don’t like this Syd,” Gage told her brushing his fingers on her cheek.

“Hmm you liked it well enough last night,” she teased.

Smiling down at her he gave her a gentle poke. “That isn’t what I meant and you know it.”

“Gage you are going to be backing me up,” she smiled sliding up bringing her lips to his. “And I trust you implicitly.”

“Do you now?” he asked as she shook her head yes pushing him sideways and falling on top of him. He let his hands rub up and down her back as she laid her head on his chest whispering yes to him.

“All kidding aside,” he started again, “I want you to be careful. Something just doesn’t feel right about the whole thing. I felt that way when he first called asking you out and the feeling is twice as strong now.”

“There isn’t a little jealousy going on here?” Syd questioned her partner an impish grin had come across her face as she let her chin come to rest on his chest and looked into his eyes.

“Not in the least Ranger Cooke cause I happen to know Swanson is just not your type,” Gage proclaimed.

“And how would you know that?”

“Because he is not one bit like me,” Gage informed her. It was his turn to be grinning from ear to ear.

“Oh you,” she retaliated giving him a jab in the side as his arms tightened around her.

“What?” he questioned as she struggled against him.

“You,” she tried her best to sound angry still fighting with him until suddenly they both landed on the floor in fits of laughter. Their eyes caught each others, a moment later Gage’s lips were on Syd’s kissing her deeply, his hand caressing and holding her face.

“Gage nothing is going to happen to me. I’ll be careful.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

~~~~~

“I don’t like the sounds of this either Gage,” Walker had told him when he had called to report the latest development. “Keep close watch on your partner don’t let her out of your sight.”

“I don’t plan on it,” he had assured him before hanging up the phone.

The conversation replayed itself in his head as he watched Swanson lean down and whisper a compliment to Syd on how beautiful she looked tonight. She smiled back telling him, “Thanks.”

“I’m going to try and cut the game short tonight so we can get out of here after midnight,” he was telling her.

“But my shift doesn’t end until one Jack,” she replied.

Reaching down and taking her hand he brought it to his lips. “When you are with the boss it ends when I say,” he smiled and she did too.

Gage held his emotions in check as he watched the scene unfold before him. Swanson smiled at her and moved off just as Walker and Trivette came in the entranceway.

Walker was dressed modestly in suit and tie Trivette on the other hand had put quite the get up together. He wore a cowboy shirt with a pattern embroidered across the shoulders both back and front, buttoned to the neck. He completed it with a bola tie that was held together by a huge ornate clip depicting a cowboy riding a bucking bronco that matched the belt buckle he wore. The outfit was completed with cowboy boots and black cowboy hat.

Chuckling to himself Gage was wondering how Sydney was keeping a straight face.

“Rick Mr. Majors needs to see you a minute in his office,” Jimmy had come up behind Gage and was delivering the message to him.

“Right now?” Gage asked.

“He said as soon as I saw you so I guess that means now,” Jimmy replied falling in step behind Gage as he headed for the office.

He knocked on the door to hear Majors call out, “Who is it?”

“Me Rick you wanted to see me,” Gage answered.

“Yeah Rick come on in,” came Majors’ voice from the other side of the door. As Gage began to open the door to walk in Jimmy stepped up behind him grabbing his arms pinning them behind him and shoving him into the room where Majors stood to drive his fist home into his stomach. Gage slumped forward at the initial hit while Jimmy pulled him back for Majors to deliver three or four more punches before dropping him to the floor in a heap.

“So Ricky,” Majors began, “if that is what your name really is where did you say that you knew Ranger Cooke from?”

The room was spinning Gage shook his head gasping for breath at the same time, trying to stay alert to what was being said to him. “I don’t know any Ranger Cooke,” he finally got out.

“Beep, wrong answer,” Majors told him kicking him a couple times.

“Let’s start again,” Gage could hear Majors voice and he tried to focus as Jimmy hauled him up into a chair binding his wrists behind him and to the rungs of it. “How long have you and Tina Mason been good friends?” Majors asked emphasizing the word good as Gage had when Jimmy had first asked him about his and Tina’s status.

Gage remained silent thinking about his answer. Becoming impatient Jimmy grabbed his hair and yanked his head back bringing the back of his hand hard into Gage’s face. “Answer him,” Jimmy barked at the same time raising his hand to strike again.

“I’ve known Tina off and on for a few years. She helped me out when I had no place to stay, helped me get back on my feet. I swear that’s all,” Gage told them hoping he was sounding convincing enough.

“You lived with her and you never found out she was a Texas Ranger?” Majors was questioning again.

“She never told me she was a Texas…” he slurred out being hit again before he could get the rest out.

“She’s not a Texas Ranger,” he tried to say again as Jimmy hit him again and again. The room began to blur around him and his head slumped to the side as he passed out.

~~~~~

“We’re here for the Swanson party,” Trivette announced to Sydney as they stopped at the hostess desk.

“If you would like to follow me,” Syd smiled slowly leading the way to the back room as Walker flanked one side of her and Trivette the other. They joked back and forth stopping at the bar to pick up drinks before continuing on. Moving close to Walker and smiling she told him that Gage had disappeared. Walker nodded his head in acknowledgement as Syd knocked on the door for them to be admitted to the big game.

The door closed and Syd turned to go back to the desk when she caught sight of both Majors and Jimmy coming out of Majors’ office closing the door behind them. She stood back against the wall screening herself from their view until they passed. Looking around she headed for the office door and looking from side to side she opened the door and let herself in. Closing the door she quickly turned to see her partner tied to the chair he was sitting in not moving.

“Gage,” she cried running to his side.

“Syd,” he answered forcing his swollen eyes to open.

“Shh don’t try and talk I’m going to get you out of here,” she whispered.

“Syd they know who… you are,” he tried to get out as the ropes came loose and he fell sideways Syd catching him in her arms easing him to the floor.

Biting her lip to hold back her tears she grabbed her phone from her pocket and began to dial. She could hear the phone ringing as she nervously began nattering, “Come on, come on pick up Walker.”

The office door opened wide just as Sydney heard his voice on the other end of the line. She slid the phone under Majors’ desk leaving the line open.

“What have we here?” Swanson asked looking at the two of them on the office floor.

Syd tried to take the offensive, “Jack what’s the meaning of this? I came here looking for Mr. Majors I thought I heard voices I opened the door and Rick was tied to a chair half beat to death.”

“Bravo Ranger Cooke,” Swanson smiled clapping his hands at her, “Wonderful performance. You can cut the act any time Ranger.” Turning to Majors he told him to bring the car around back and load them in.

~~~~~

“I feel so lucky tonight,” Trivette was saying to the gentlemen who sat at the table with them as the first hand of cards was being dealt. “Lucky, lucky, lucky,” he chanted to the annoyance of the rest of the group. Walker gave a half grin at his partner watching him draw everyone’s attention to himself leaving him the opportunity to slip away from the table later on.

Trivette had begun picking his cards up one at a time a bigger grin coming across his face with each card that was dealt him. Walker picked up his cards trying to concentrate on his hand when his phone rang catching him a little off guard.

“Excuse me a moment,” he said taking his phone from his pocket as he got up and moved from the table. “Philips,” he answered using his undercover name. There wasn’t a direct answer only voices in the background. He momentarily froze upon hearing Jack Swanson call Sydney by Ranger Cooke and telling her to cut the act. The sound became muffled after that and he was only able to make out a few words. Catching Trivette’s eyes he walked back to the table and addressed the players.

“I’m sorry to have to cut this short but pressing business has come up. Mr. Tompkins if you don’t mind.”

“Oh man and I had a winning hand,” Trivette whined getting up to follow his partner out.

Once the door to the gaming room had closed behind them Trivette looked to Walker. He answered the unspoken question telling him that Gage and Sydney were in trouble their cover had been blown.

~~~~~

Sydney’s hands had been tied behind her back and she was shoved onto floor in the back of the club limo. Gage was tossed in on top of her unconscious and not moving. The driver was given some instructions and the car took off into the night.

“Gage, Gage wake up,” Syd desperately cried out to her partner.

“Shh Syd, I’m okay Honey,” Gage whispered back to her sliding to the side of her. “Let’s get you untied.” She turned to her side for a moment so Gage could get the ropes off her wrists. Once free she quickly had her arms around her partner drawing him close.

“Are you all right?” she asked as he laid heavily on top of her again a slight moan escaping him.

“Yeah I just need to rest a little,” he told her feeling her fingers caress his battered face. He flinched slightly and she whispered almost in tears that she was sorry. Catching her hand in his he brought it to his lips gingerly kissing it telling her at the same time that he would heal.

They drove for what seemed like an hour in Sydney’s estimate. She worried about Gage he had barely moved since he had untied her and laid in her arms.

The car began to slow and Syd became alert nudging Gage’s shoulder as she whispered to him to wake up again. Sitting up beside her he began getting his bearings as the car came to a stop.

Stealing a glance out of the window Syd saw two men coming down the front porch stairs to meet them. The driver got back in the car while the two men went to the doors either side of it. Hearing the sound of the locks clicking open both partners slammed the car doors into their would be jailers sending them flying. Loosing no time Syd and Gage were out of the car making sure the two guards were out for the count.

The driver was out of the car and going after Gage thinking in his condition he would be the easier mark.

“I’d stop right there if I was you,” he ordered Gage levelling a gun at him banging the car door shut at the same time. Smirking to himself he motioned Gage toward the house figuring once they had him inside they would be able to catch the broad in no time.

He hadn’t counted on Syd to come flying across the hood of the car her feet connecting with his back sending him sailing forward into the dirt the gun landing at Gage’s feet. As the driver made a scramble for it Gage gave one solid kick knocking the man out cold his own knees beginning to buckle.

Sydney was by his side in an instant with her arm around him holding him up. From inside they could hear someone shouting, “What’s taking you so long?”

“Come on Gage we got to move,” Syd urged her partner as they headed around the side of the house and towards the barns.

~~~~~

Walker and Trivette had called in the troops. The Lazy Jakes had been shut down while a complete search was underway for Gage and Sydney or anything that might lead to where they were.

Swanson had somehow slipped past them but Majors and his strong arm bouncer Jimmy were in custody.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Texas Rangers,” Majors was complaining. “All I know is that those last two the agency sent over didn’t even last two nights. They left before their shift was over leaving us high and dry.”

Trivette motioned to Walker who glared at Majors before going to see what his partner had for him.

“Syd’s phone under Majors’ desk still on,” Trivette said handing him the phone. “Walker there’s fresh blood on the carpet, a chair and this phone.”

Taking the phone from Trivette’s hand he and Walker went back to where Majors sat and held it out in front of him.

“See this Majors?” Walker asked.

“Yeah so,” Majors stared blankly at it.

“This happens to be Ranger Cooke’s phone. It was under your desk, it happens to have fresh blood on it and what do you want to bet that if you hit redial my number was to come up?” Walker asked as Majors still stared mutely. “You see Ranger Cooke was trying to call me but didn’t have a chance to speak because she was interrupted by someone telling her she could cut the act they knew she was a Ranger. So we can definitely place her here along with her partner Ranger Gage and right now you happen to be the one most likely to have gotten rid of them.”

Majors still sat staring at Syd’s phone only now he was nervously rapping his fingers on the table.

“If they are dead Majors it’s going to be you taking the fall for it unless you tell us something,” Trivette added.

“It was Swanson,” Majors blurted out. “He had them taken to his ranch ‘The Jack of Diamonds’. He said he wanted to find out what the Rangers had on him but I think he just wanted to have some fun with the girl before he killed them. Probably going to make the other Ranger watch he was into the kind of stuff.”

Trivette was all ready on the phone calling for a helicopter while Walker got directions from Majors.

~~~~~

Half dragging her partner with her they ducked into the first building they came to. Syd got Gage inside and sitting down before going back to close the door. She could see headlights coming down the road and turn into the ranch driveway. Someone yelling, “they can’t of gone far,” brought her back to the problem at hand.

Going back to her partner she dropped down beside him whispering to him, “We can’t stay here we have to find a better place to hide until we can get a call out to Walker.”

“I know Syd I’m ready when you are,” he told her trying to pull himself to his feet.

“Slow down Gage,” Syd told him putting her arm around him and helping him up.

“I’m fine,” he insisted as he stood still leaning heavy on her all the same. They made their way to the back of the barn Gage leaned against the wall as Syd pushed the door a crack and peeked out. One of the guards had just come around the corner of the building and was inching his way towards the door where they stood. Syd signalled Gage who nodded in understanding as Syd leaned against the wall on the opposite side of the door. With a low squeak the door began to open the man stepping inside. Gage stepped forward grabbing the man around his neck and easily bringing him to the ground.

“Ranger Cooke,” Jack Swanson’s voice was calling her. “Really now what is the point of all this we all know how this is going to end. Your friend Tammy thought she could run away from me and look what happened with her.” Swanson laughed loudly now hoping to antagonize Syd.

Once more Syd peered out the door Gage stood behind her he too peering out his hand resting on her trembling shoulder. Swanson was between the two buildings signalling his people to circle around as he began again.

“She was good Ranger Cooke John and I really enjoyed her as did our associates.”

Sydney had brought her arms up taunt holding her gun and taking aim at Swanson. “Syd no not this way,” Gage rasped bringing his hands down her arms to her hands where she held the gun ready to fire. Slowly she bent her arms resting easy against her partner but only for a moment as they heard the door at the other end of the barn open admitting more assailants.

Without thinking the partners once again went into action. Syd moved quietly up along the wall until she was close enough to bring her foot up and into the head of her opponent. He staggered forward and she spun again kicking her foot into his head once more watching him go down.

Gage had knocked the gun from his challenger’s hand and the man had turned to deliver a blow to Gage’s stomach easily knocking him to the floor after the earlier punishment he had taken. He had brought his foot back to deliver a kick into Gage’s side but never got the chance. Instead he was the one to take a kick when Syd came flying into him feet first.

“Very good Ranger Cooke,” Jack Swanson smiled once again clapping his hands at her performance. His bodyguards stood either side guns aimed as Swanson continued, “You two are good but just not good enough. All Tammy Cathcart’s money is going to stay in my clubs and with John going to jail no one will be the wiser. So all this trouble you went to was in vain because you are going to end up the same way as her in someone’s dumpster.”

Swanson didn’t have a chance to say anything more Walker and Trivette had come in behind them. While they disarmed the guards Syd went after Jack. He had turned to run like the coward he was, Syd had him down in a matter of seconds. Jumping to his feet he threw a punch at her that she easily evaded. Using her feet once more Syd delivered kick after kick to Swanson until he wasn’t moving, until she could feel Walker’s arms pulling her away from him, until she heard Gage calling her name.

“I’m okay Walker,” she breathed out heavily. He eased his hold on her letting her walk to Gage where she dropped to his side.

Epilogue

Gage stood quietly by Sydney’s side at Tammy Cathcart’s graveside. She placed a single red rose on her coffin letting her hand rest there.

“We got them Tammy,” she quietly whispered, “They are going to pay for what they did.”

Jack Swanson and John Knight were both indicted in the murder of Tammy Cathcart as well as John’ girlfriend in Houston and a customer who refused to pay a gambling debt. Both were facing the death penalty.

She could feel her partner behind her and she gently leaned against him. He had received two broken ribs, two black eyes and a multitude of bruises. Like he had told Syd before nothing that wouldn’t heal.

It didn’t matter Syd insisted on Gage staying with her so she could look after him and help him recuperate. She got very little protest from her partner.

Syd could feel Gage’s arms around her and she closed her eyes momentarily enjoying the love she had found with him.

“Are you ready to go home Honey?” Gage asked. She smiled knowing she had found peace for her friend.

The End