By Susie

    Alex was glad that she was in her warm safe house as she listened to the storm rage outside. It was typical late fall weather in Texas, a beautiful sunny day followed by wind, rain and a dramatic temperature drop. Alex sat in the rocking chair nursing Angela thinking about Walker who was called out on a case. She hoped he was dressed warm enough. Alex chuckled at herself, Walker was nothing if not prepared. Well, he was something; he was resourceful. He probably had a warm jacket in the cab of the Ram. He’d lived in Texas most of his life, he knew how volatile the weather was. He’d even suggested that she was like the Texas weather when she’d been ‘hormonal’ during her pregnancy with Angela. She glanced down at her daughter as she sleepily suckled.  Hopefully, Angela would sleep for a few more hours when she was done.

    Walker gets out of the Ram and approaches Trivette, who is beside the parked car.  “What do we have?”  “Two bodies, male and female. Looks like they were clubbing.”  The M.E. stepped up. “It also looks like cause of death is the new drug we’ve seen in the other cases lately.  The same bright pink tongue.  I’ll know more back at the shop.”  “Okay, we’ll trace the credit cards.  The cards will have what clubs they bought drinks at." Trivette picked up the hand of the female victim, “Well, here’s a start  - a hand stamp from Club Red Jacket.”  Many of their cases led back to Club Red Jacket.  Walker wondered why they didn’t just shut it down.  But the fact was, it usually was the clientele breaking the law and not the bar owners.  “Okay Trivette, we’ll go to Red Jacket this afternoon.  I’m going to go home for a few more hours of sleep.”  “I’ll leave Gage and Sydney a message to start working on those credit card histories so we can come in a little late,” Trivette said.  Walker told him thanks, got in the Ram and drove home.

    Walker quietly came back into the house, checked on Angela and crawled into bed.  Alex automatically snuggled to his side.  When they awoke the Walker family was running on a one-hour delay.  “Alex, I can drop Angela off so you won’t be too late.”  “That would be great, honey. You’ll have to drive my car though.  We can switch vehicles at work, unless you want to move the car seat?”  “No, we can switch, that is if you don’t mind driving the Ram?” “No, I don’t mind.”

    While they ate breakfast Alex asked, “What was the case last night?”  “Two more bodies, the M.E. thinks that cause of death is that new drug they call Pink.” “That makes a total of eight from the drug, right?”  “Yeah, I think I’m going to have Sydney and Gage go undercover.”  A cry is heard from upstairs, “She’s awake, I’ll go change her and get her dressed.”  Walker got up from the table, “I’ll go get ready.” 

     Alex walked into the nursery; suddenly Angela became a happy baby.  “Hi sweetheart, ready to start your day?”  Alex picked her up and kissed her forehead.  She got a smile in return from her daughter.  Angela was just starting to smile lately as well as talk in her own language.  “Let’s get changed and dressed, then I’ll feed you."  Alex dressed her in a pink sleeper with a white kitten on it.  While Alex laid Angela in her crib so she could take off her jacket and unbutton her blouse, Angela threw a fit. “Hey, it’s okay, I’m not leaving; I'm just getting ready to feed you.”  Walker came in, “Is she okay?”  “Yes, your daughter was just having a little tantrum.  She thought she was so hungry she couldn’t wait for me to unbutton my blouse.”  Walker smiled, “Well, I’m sure glad she got your temper.”  Alex’s eyes got big, “My temper!  I’ll remember that, Cowboy.”  He smiled and gave her a kiss on the cheek, “Is her bag ready?”  “No, bring it over here and I’ll tell you if it needs anything.  Probably three more diapers and I left the breast milk I pumped earlier in the fridge.” “I’ll take this down and get her milk and clean up the kitchen while you finish with her.”  “Thanks, Cowboy.”  He was such a big help to her.  If only every woman was so lucky this world would be a better place.  “Okay princess, I think you’ve had your fill.  Your daddy is waiting to take you to see Aunt Josie.”  Alex got a smile in response, and they made their way down to the kitchen with Angela’s favorite blanket.  “Okay, do we have everything?” Walker asked Alex.  “Yes, I think so.”   “All right, to work we go.”  Alex kissed Angela and then Walker put her in her car seat.  He then kissed Alex and helped her into the Ram.  “See you at the office.”  “Okay, hon.” 

     Walker dropped off Angela, then went to switch keys with his wife.  She was at a deposition, but he found them in her top desk drawer and left her a note.  Trivette was just getting settled at his desk since he was also running on a delay.  However, he just had more time to spend with his fiancée this morning, since he didn’t have any little ones to care for.  Sydney and Gage were working on getting credit card statements on last nights’ victims.

     Somewhere in the Metroplex laid a little girl in bed.  She was sleeping, but awoke when she heard the shouting.  It was not unlike any other morning or day for that matter.  There was always shouting.  Since she had gotten bigger, she learned not to cry.  The grownups only shouted more.  She shook with fear; soon he would come and get her out of bed.  He opened the door and yelled at her, “Get up and get dressed.”  She got up. She was afraid of him and when she did what he said he wouldn’t yell at her as much.  

     Sydney and Gage came over to Walker’s desk.  “Here are the charges we’ve found on last nights’ OD’s.  We’ve compared them to the other deaths.”  “A few of the same clubs came up, Liquid, Bar and The Red Jacket.”  Trivette, knowing Walker’s particular dislike of The Red Jacket said, “Surprise, surprise.  Okay, here’s the game plan.  Gage and Sydney, you two are going clubbing tonight. Actually, you’ll be clubbing the next few nights, so I don’t want you two doing any of the legwork." “Trivette, we’ll go see if these people have roommates, maybe we can find something out.  We can also make that stop at Club Red Jacket.”  “I’ll call a few of my snitches, too,” Gage contributed.  “Yeah, same here,” Trivette said.  “I’ll see if I can dig up any more background information on them.”  Walker and Trivette left the office.  “Hey Trivette, why don’t we each take one?” “Okay.”  “You check out Sammy Larsen and I’ll check out Adam Wyatt.” “Okay, I’ll call you after I make a few stops.”

     Walker stopped by Alex’s office on the way out.  He knocked on her door.  “Come in. Oh hi, Cowboy.”  “Hi, just wanted to make sure you got the note that your keys are in your drawer.”  “I did, thank you.  Are you on your way out?” “Yeah, I would ask you about lunch, but I’m not sure right now. I’ll call you after I see a few people.” “Okay, be careful.” “You know I always am.”

     The manager at Adam Wyatt’s apartment let Walker in to check out the place.  Adam was in his twenty’s, had his own place and worked at a television station.  The place was pretty neat; there were photos of Sammy and him.  She must have been a long-term girlfriend and not just someone he met out the night before.  Walker looked in his medicine cabinet.  All he found there were some pain pills and cold medicine.  Nothing unusual.  He would go to the television station and see if anyone knew anything.

     He didn’t find out much at the television station.  Neal Davidson, his coworker, said he spent most of his time with Sammy.  “Boy was he whipped, but Sammy was a looker.”  “Would you know if he ever did drugs?”  “Adam? Not around here.  If you are going to take video, you have to be on the ball and have a very steady hand.  There is no way.  We have to take drug tests, too.  Ever since the United Group bought the station, there are all these new procedures.”  “All right, thank you, Neal.  If you can think of anything, give me a call.”  “Will do, sir.”

 After that, Walker called Trivette, “Hey, you got anything?”  “I’m still checking on Sammy’s roommates.” “How many did she have?”  “Three. One of them said she dated Adam for a little over two years, and spent a lot of time with him.”  “That’s what I found out. He spent all his time with her and never did drugs.”  “Okay, I’ll talk to these other two girls.”  “I’m in Club Red Jacket’s neighborhood.  I may see if anyone is there.  They have to get their deliveries this time of day.”  “Just remember Walker, be nice.”  “Sure Trivette, nice.”  Walker looked at his dashboard: 11:40am.  If Alex took a late lunch he could join her.  He called her and she said a 12:30 lunch was fine.

     Walker saw a Big D Beer truck making a delivery in the back.  A manager would have to be there if there was a delivery.  He walked in the back door, which was open and out to the front of the bar, looking for a manager.  What he saw just about broke his heart. There was a little girl, not more than five, with a broom sweeping the floor.  “Hi honey, what’s your name?” “Megan.”  Walker looked at what a pretty little girl she was with her big eyes.  “Megan are you here every day?” “My daddy is here.” The man saw another man with a beard talking to his daughter.  When he spoke her name the bearded man turned around.  As soon as he saw the badge, he said. “Megan…. What are you doing with that?  I told you to stay in my office.  Kids!  What do you do with them?”  Walker replied, “Well, for starters, not bring them here.  This is no place for a child.”  Walker was furious. He saw the calluses on the little girl’s hands and would call Children’s Services when he got back to his truck.

     “I stopped by to check on a couple that was here last night,” Walker held up a photo he got from Adam’s apartment.  “They look like half the other couples that came in here last night.  We must get over 400 people in here on a Thursday night.” “Will the same staff be on tonight?” “Yeah, but if you’re going to stop by to question the staff stop by early.”  “Hey Dugan,” a deliveryman shouted from the back.  “Where do you want the rest of this stocked?”  “I’ll be right there.”  “In case you remember anything, I’ll be back later.”

 Walker left the Red Jacket.  He hated that place and today he found a reason to hate it even more.  He decided not to ask Dugan about Pink.  If Dugan was low enough to treat a child like that, he wasn’t going to tell him anything.  Maybe he could find out information from an employee he didn’t get along with.  First up, he would keep his lunch date with Alex and then call Nina Woods at Child Protection and report Frank Dugan.

Alex jumped in the truck. “Hmm… a surprise lunch date. What brought this on?”  “I just thought it was a beautiful day and we should take some time out and enjoy it.”  Truthfully, Walker was upset with what he saw at the Club and needed to spend some time with his family.  Walker pulled up in front of HOPE House.  Alex got out of the Ram and said, “What do you have in mind?”  Alex carried the bags of take-out Walker ordered.  Walker had a blanket in the back of his truck.  They walked into HOPE House and Josie had Angela all ready to go outside with her parents.  When she saw her mommy and daddy, she started to giggle, and smile.  She knew who they were.  Walker picked her up along with her bassinet and they made their way out to the backyard. Walker laid the blanket on the ground, placed Angela in her bassinet on the blanket and put the plates of take-out on the blanket.  Once again, the fickle Texas weather had turned bright and sunny. Alex was glad she had on pants.  This could have been uncomfortable in a skirt.  “Well, it looks like you thought of everything, huh, Cowboy?”  “Almost everything,” he reached over and gave her a kiss. 

 Alex smiled, she was thinking, ‘what has gotten in to you, Cowboy? I know that look you have in your eyes and something is hurting you.’  She would let it rest; give him time to tell her. “Well, we better eat while our daughter lets us."  Alex ate her lunch quickly, she knew it was about 1:00 and Angela would soon be demanding her own lunch.  Right on cue, Angela started to whimper, “Hey, don’t worry, I know what time it is.”  Walker shifted the empty plates out of the way so Alex could lean back against him while she was nursing. “Walker, please tell me what is bothering you.”  Walker smiled, and kissed her ear, “You know me pretty well, don’t you?”  “I would like to think so.”  “Well, today I stopped by Club Red Jacket.”  “No wonder!   Were you thinking about Darcy?”  “Well yeah, I thought of that, but I went in to ask some questions.  That was one of the clubs the two OD’s went to last night.  I went around to the back where there was a delivery truck and let myself in.”  Alex shot a look at him.  “The door was open.  Anyway, I went in and saw a little girl no more than four sweeping the glass up off the floor.  When Dugan, the manager, came up he acted like she was suppose to stay in the office.  I saw her hands, Alex.  They had calluses on them.  On the way over here I called Nina Woods and reported it.  I wanted to pick her up so bad and take her out of there.”  “I know, Walker.  I would have felt the same way.  I’ll call later and push for someone to check it out today.”  “Thanks, I’m going by at about five to talk to the staff before it gets busy.  So far, all of the victims of this drug were clean, they had to have gotten Pink at the bars.”  “They just picked the wrong thing to experiment with.”  “Yeah.”  Alex looked down; Angela was asleep in her arms. “Back to work?”  “Yep.”  They kissed their daughter goodbye and drove back to the office.  “Thank you for this afternoon, Walker.”  “No, thank you. Being with you two was just what I needed.”  They parted at the office and got back to work.      

     Later in the day, Alex stopped by Ranger Headquarters on the way back to her office. “Hey, I’m leaving for the day.  How about you?”  “I’m going to stop by Club Red Jacket here in a little bit, then I’ll be home.”  “No rush, I have a meeting at the HOPE Center with Josie and Erika about the Halloween Fundraiser.  I shouldn’t be too long though.”  “Just don’t wear yourself out.”  “I won’t, this fundraiser is a no-brainer.  I love Halloween, plus getting you to dress up in a costume is a bonus.”  “Yeah bonus!  Can I just wear my karate gi?” “No.  I’m still deciding on what I would like my costume to be and you, of course, will have to complement me.”  “Well, that may take some persuading.”  Walker raised his eyebrows.  “On that note, I’m going to go see our daughter.  See you at home.”  She gave him a kiss before she walked out of the office.

Trivette saw his chance to ride Walker. “Who knows what you’ll be wearing to the party, Walker.”  “I know.  I hate dressing up for Halloween!” “Oh come on Walker, Halloween is a good time.  I love dressing up.”  “Syd any ideas on what you’re going to be?  We could go with the same theme.” Gage suggested.  “Let me think about some costume ideas and I’ll get back to you.  We should take off, Gage. We have a long night of clubbing ahead of us.”  “Give us a call if you need anything.  Be careful.” Walker told the young protégés. “Trivette, do you want to take another stab at Club Red Jacket with me?”  “Sure, I’ll go. Then we can call it a day.”  

Once they got to Club Red Jacket, they asked the bartenders and waiters if they had seen Sammy and Adam.  None of them had any information to give.  “Let’s see what Gage and Sydney get tonight,” Walker suggested. The two headed home to their respective loved ones.

Walker and Alex have been sleeping for about three hours when the telephone rings.  Walker reaches for it knowing it’s probably for him.  “I’ll be right there.”  Alex wakes up in a haze, “Who was it?”  “Trivette, we got two down in a house. Ties into the Pink case.  Go back to sleep.”  “Mmm. Be careful. Love you.”  “Love you too, babe.  I’ll be back in a bit.” Walker leaves the house at 1:30 a.m. 

Walker reaches the scene.  Trivette is already there.  “What do we have?”  “How about Frank Dugan from Club Red Jacket.  Looks like Pink, he was high on that and shot his wife.”  Walker looked at the gruesome scene, then looked around. “Where’s Megan?”  “Megan?”  Trivette asks.  Walker starts looking around. “She’s a little girl who was with him at the club today.”  Megan, hearing her name, pokes her head out from behind the couch.  Walker sees her out of the corner of his eye and goes to her, wanting to make sure she doesn’t see the blood all over the floor.  Trivette goes over to her also.  It appears she was hiding behind the couch while her father shot her mother.  “Megan, have you been behind the couch long?”  “Daddy was loud and throwing things, then a loud bang.”  Walker shook his head.  He couldn’t believe this.  “Megan, where is your room?”  She pointed to the right.  “Okay, we’re going to play a game.  My friend, Trivette, is going to cover your eyes and we’re going to go in your room. Okay?” “Okay.”  The two men take her to her room.  Walker asks one of the female deputies to pack some things for her. 

"Well, Club Red Jacket definitely has the drug circulating.  We’ll wait and see what Sydney and Gage have to tell us in the morning."  Walker looks at his watch - 3:00 a.m.    One of the investigators comes over to Walker, “Looks like we found you a sample of Pink, Walker.”  “Great!  We’ll have them break it down at the lab and find out what’s in it.”  “When we find out what’s in it, I’ll trace the supplies needed for it on the computer.”

“Okay, that’s it for tonight, let’s go.  I’m going to call Child Protective Services and tell them I’m taking Megan home with me.”  Walker looks into her room and sees the child lying on her bed.  “I guess I should call Alex first.”  “Go ahead Walker, call Alex.  I’ll call Child Protective Services.”  “Thanks, Trivette.”

Alex hears the telephone ring and jumps to get it. Frantic, she answers, “Hello.”  Walker hears the panic in her voice, “Easy, hon, it’s me.  Sorry to wake you.”  “Thank god your all right.”  “Alex, the little girl I told you about today is here.  Her father OD’d, but before he did he shot her mother.  Do you mind if I bring her home for the weekend?” “No, not at all.  I’ll make up the sleeper sofa in the nursery.  I’ll put Angela in her bassinet here in the bedroom for tonight.  I’ll go move her now.”   “ Thanks.  I’m going to have Megan checked out at the hospital and then I’ll be home shortly.”

Alex was waiting for Walker to come home.  She held Angela a bit before she put her in her bassinet.  Then she moved the baby monitor close to the sleeper sofa.  She could not believe what this little girl had been through.  Walker told her that her father, high on drugs, shot her mother.  She must have been there when it happened.  Alex heard the Ram coming up the drive.  She went downstairs and opened the door.  Walker carried Megan in and up to the nursery.  Then came back downstairs, and went out to the Ram to get the couple of bags they had packed with her things. “I’ll take those.”  “I have them.” ‘Oh here we go’ Alex thought, ‘he better talk about this with me.’  Alex locked the door, set the alarm and followed Walker upstairs.  Walker was looking in the bag to get some pajamas out for her.  Alex went over to the bag. “Here, why don’t we lay her things out over here?  No use in digging around in a bag.”  Alex looked at the little girl lying in the bed; she opened her eyes.  “Well hello, Megan.” Alex moved closer to the head of the couch.  “My name is Alex.”  Megan looked at Alex.  She was so pretty and looked so nice.  She looked around the room she was in. It was beautiful, all pink and pretty.  Walker came over to Alex with a nightgown.  “She may be more comfortable in this.”  Alex smiled at Walker and asked Megan, “Here, honey, let me help you get changed.”  Megan could dress herself. She took her shirt off and Alex gasped when she saw the bruises.  “Oh Walker!”  “I know. I can’t imagine what she’s been through, but she’s in good hands now.”  Alex took Megan’s nightgown, “Here, let me help you.”  Megan let her help.  It was nice to have someone help her and since she had been here, no one had shouted. “Walker, why don’t you get ready for bed.  I’m going to stay here with Megan for awhile."   Alex rubbed Megan’s back as she lay in bed.  It wasn’t long before she was asleep.

Alex saw the light on downstairs so she went down. “I thought you went to bed?” “No, just thinking.  Alex, I can’t understand why.  She’s just a little girl.”   “Did they find any other signs of abuse at the hospital?”  “No, just the bruises on her chest, arms and legs.” “Well, at least she’s out of there now.”  “Yeah.”  “Come on, Cowboy, let’s go to bed, we’re going to have an early morning.”

Gage and Sydney had an informative night.  While going around the clubs Gage and Sydney danced a bit at first to blend in and then would go snooping.  Sydney went to the ladies room a few times.  Sometimes, chatter in a ladies room at the end of the night was just as good as a snitch.  She heard one girl who was as high as a kite talking to her friend. “Have you tried it yet?"   “No, Matt is trying to get us some.”  “It’s awesome.”  Sydney really thought this little trip to the ladies was going to pan out for her, but it ended up going nowhere.  She would have talked to them to get more info, but they didn’t know anything.  Next stop, the lounge at the back of the bar.  On her way there she ran into Gage.  “Anything?”  “Not yet.”  Gage and Sydney went to the dimly lit lounge area.  They sat down and put on a show for the other couples.  Gage saw a few men standing by the bar and thought it was worth a shot.  “Hey, you guys know where I could get some of that new drink?   If I could get some of that in her, that fine piece is mine tonight.” “I envy you,” the two kept eyeing Sydney up and down. ”You know what guys, my momma always told me to share.  How ’bout it?”  They both smiled, “Follow us.”  They went to the end of the bar and ordered a road rage. Gage, in his bartending days, had never heard of the drink.  When the drink was handed to him, he felt something on the bottom of his glass. “To settle up your tab, that will be a $100.”  Gage gave him the money and went back to where he left Sydney.  “Guys, is it always the same name?”  “Yeah, you just have to find the right bartender at the right clubs.”  Sydney was no longer in the lounge area.  “Ah man!   I can’t believe a hottie like that got away.”  “Well so much for sharing,” said the other man.  The men walked away with their drinks.

Gage went to the front of the club, set his drink down, and left.  He got in the car where Sydney already was, “What did you find out?”  Gage held up his hand and smiled, “I got a sample of Pink.  Seems you have to find the right bartender at different clubs and ask for a drink called road rage.  You get the drink and the Pink and pay cash right at the counter.”  “Right out in the open, where you expect money to be going back and forth,” Sydney shook her head.  “Well, what now?” Gage asked.  “Look for more clubs. Something tells me Liquid and Bar are the other two."  They continued their night of information gathering. 

A few hours later, Angela was awake and let Alex know she was hungry.  Alex picked her up quickly, trying to let Walker sleep.  She took Angela into the nursery to change her, “Hi sunshine, now we have to try to be quiet.  We have a visitor staying with us.”  Angela stuck her hand in her mouth while being changed. Alex then sat down in the rocking chair and nursed her.  Megan woke up and saw Alex in the rocking chair.  This was like a dream to her.  It was so pretty here and the man and the lady where so nice and soft-spoken.  They both liked to smile, especially the lady.  Alex saw Megan’s head pop up.  “Hello, Megan.”  Megan saw her and tried to see what she was holding in the rocking chair.  “It’s okay,” Alex told her, “you can come over.  This is my little girl.  Her name is Angela. Right now she’s having her breakfast."   “She’s small. Will she get big like me?”  “Yes she will, in a few years.”  Alex looked up; she could feel his presence. “Hi Cowboy, you’re up early.  I was hoping you would sleep a little.” “No, I have a breakfast meeting with Gage, Sydney, and Trivette this morning.  I’m hoping they have something to go on.  Plus, we’ll get the results from the sample of Pink we found last night.” “Before you leave, can you stay with the girls while I take my shower?”  “Sure.  Is Angela almost done?”  “Yes.” “Well hello, Megan. Did you sleep well?”  Megan nodded her head. “Why don’t we go downstairs, Megan and get some breakfast?” Walker reached for Megan’s hand and she came with him.  “Bring Angela down when she’s done.”  “Okay.”  Once they got downstairs, “Megan, what do you want to eat?  Do you like peanut butter?”  Megan smiled and said, “Yes.” “Okay, peanut butter toast it is.” 

Alex brought Angela down just as Walker was putting Megan’s peanut butter toast and milk before her.  She handed Angela to him. “I’ll go take a quick shower.   When is your meeting?”  “In about forty minutes, you’ve got time.”  When Alex was done with the shower, she got dressed, bushed her hair and went back downstairs.  “Okay, you can leave now, see you in a bit."  She gave him a kiss.  “Mmm," he said, and raised his eyebrows at her, “see you later.”  With Angela in her arms, Alex asked, “Okay, ladies what should we do first?”  She wanted to give Megan a bath.  Alex could tell she was dirty and was sure that her parents were not concerned with her hygiene.  “Megan, why don’t we have you take a bath and I’ll help you wash your hair.  It’ll make you feel better.”  They all went upstairs and Alex started to draw the bath.  She went to Megan’s things and got her some clean clothes.  When they were through, Alex figured they would all go to HOPE House.  Today they were decorating for the Halloween party.  Some of the big decorations would have to wait till the day of, but everything else could go up now.  Later, when Walker came home, they could go outside for a while to the barn.  There were little kittens in there and Megan could see the horses.

Walker walked into C.D.’s to meet with the gang. He’d recently agreed to go back to the place that held so many memories for him. It was hard at first, but slowly he was adjusting to walking into the bar and not having C.D. bellow a greeting. The others were there before him and he made eye contact with Trivette. They communicated without a word that being at the Bar and Grill was a difficult thing for them both. They had talked about it though and made a pact to return there. Now that there had been resolution about C.D.’s death, it was time to let the healing begin. Besides, C.D. would scold them for a month of Sundays if he knew they had stopped frequenting his special place.

Walker sat down at the booth with the rest of his team. They had a large cup of coffee waiting for him.  “Okay, we have to solve this case.  We’re all losing too much sleep over it.”  Trivette had told Sydney and Gage about Megan and her parents.  He filled them in on Megan staying with Alex and Walker. “Okay, did you two find out anything last night?”  Sydney looked at Gage and he nodded for her to start.  “We went to Club Red Jacket first and Gage hit pay dirt when he got in with some guys and they walked him right up to the bar and bought it.”  “Yeah, the clubs that have it all have a certain bartender that is dealing it.  You go to the bartender, ask for a drink called road rage and they give you the Pink with the drink.  You pay cash to settle up you tab and that’s it.  Right out in the open - nothing to hide.”  “The other bars are, as we suspected, Bar and Liquid.  We also have a sample now to go on.”  “We got one too at the scene last night.  They’re breaking it down in the lab right now.  Okay, here’s what we do now.  Trivette, lets pull up financial records for the three bars and find out what they have in common, owners, suppliers.  Gage and Sydney, we need to see if Megan has any other family and once we get the break down on Pink we can talk to the suppliers of the ingredients.  With a little luck we could have this case wrapped up by tomorrow.”  Everyone went to work on their tasks.  Walker and Trivette looked at the records of the bars.  There was no common owner, so that was out.  Now they had to check on the distributors.  They all used the same beer distributor, as well as food service.  Trash was by location. 

Mark came up from the lab. “Okay, here’s the break down of ingredients used in Pink.  Several of them are the same basic ingredients used in ecstasy, but the ingredient that throws it over the top is the combination with sugarcane.  Over 80% of this is sugar.”  “Okay, I’ll check on suppliers of sugarcane.”  It didn’t take Trivette long to come up with a list of pure sugarcane suppliers in the area.  ”Okay, Trivette, lets go check these out.” 

Sydney walked over to Walker and Trivette.  “We’ve done some checking.  Megan’s mother was adopted; parents deceased and was an only child.  Father’s brother is deceased, the same with his parents.  Megan is an orphan.”  Walker kicked himself.  He was almost glad to hear that.  It made him feel good that Megan now had a shot at a new, loving family.  He didn’t know if he and Alex would be able to make her a part of their family. They were already busy people adjusting to a baby in their lives. Alex was already so tired at the end of the day after balancing her schedule.  They also had to consider the effect an older child would have on Angela’s life. They would have to talk about it and decide what was best for Megan and for them.

At The HOPE Center, Megan was helping Josie and Erika put up decorations.  She was starting to come out of her shell.  Of course, it helped that when Josie put face paint on Megan to give her red cheeks to look like a clown, they all laughed.  Some of Alex’s other committee members had shown up to help decorate.  Katherine was one of their most enthusiastic volunteers. She was a schoolteacher and one of the first people HOPE House really helped.  Her estranged husband was a criminal who had beaten her.  He went to jail for his crimes, broke out of jail and an officer shot him. Alex’s Women’s Group had given her the support she needed to get away from her husband and turn him in.  The HOPE Center helped her get back on her feet after dealing with all the bills she had incurred and helped her find a job. Since then, Katherine had gotten a job as a 1st grade teacher and remarried two years ago to Jack Reed, a dentist. 

Katherine noticed Megan.  It was hard not to, she was a cute little girl.  Alex had put Megan’s brown hair up in a ponytail, with yellow ribbon.  Megan had enjoyed Alex brushing her hair. “Alex, who is that cute little girl?”  “Her name is Megan, Walker brought her home last night.”  Katherine didn’t need to ask any more, she knew something terrible had to have happened for Walker to bring her home.  “Where do you want me to start?  How about carving pumpkins.”  “Sure thing.”  “Do you mind if I have Megan help me?  Kids her age love to stick their hands in the slimy seeds.”  “Okay, just don’t get her too messy.”  Alex went to get Megan. “Megan, this is Katherine, she has a really fun project for you to help her with.”  Katherine was not going to wait for a response. “See those bright orange pumpkins over there?  We’re going to make faces out of them.”  She grabbed Megan’s hand and helped her onto a chair at the table.  She cut the top off the pumpkin and then Alex told Megan to pull the seeds out.  Megan didn’t understand.  She hadn’t seen this done before.  Katherine stuck her hands in and pulled out a bunch of slimy seeds.  Katherine then took Megan’s hands and put them in the pumpkin.  The look on her face was so funny when she felt the cold seeds that the adults around her couldn’t help but laugh.  She then laughed as she realized they were all laughing at her.  Alex was relieved.  It was so good to hear her laugh.  Alex, Katherine, Erika, Josie and Megan all worked on pumpkins while Angela was taking her nap.  Megan was not getting that many seeds out, but she was having a good time sticking her hands in and pulling out a few seeds at a time. 

“So, you guys know what you’re going to be for the Halloween party?” Alex asked. “Jimmy and I are going to come as Greek Gods, Zeus and Athena.”  “I’m going to be Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ,” Josie said.  “That’s a great idea.” “What about you and Jack, Katherine?” Alex asked.  “Oh, we’re going to be Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.”  “And you Alex?” Erika asked.  “Well, don’t tell Jimmy, but I’m going to let Walker off easy.  I’m going to be Cinderella and he’ll be Prince Charming.” “From some of the stories I hear about you Alex, you already are Cinderella,” Katherine said with a smile.  “Believe me, I really feel like it sometimes.” “Megan, have you ever dressed up for Halloween?” Katherine asked.  “No.”  It broke their hearts to know Megan never had the fun of dressing up for Halloween. “Well, this year you will.  What would you like to be? Let’s see, you can be a clown, a princess, a tiger? I know how about Raggedy Ann?”  Megan’s eyes lit up.  Raggedy Ann was her favorite doll. “Raggedy Ann it is.  Well, I think this fundraiser is going to be a great success,” Alex said as she finished her pumpkin.  “Fun things for the adults and for the kids to do.  I even had some graduation caps and gowns and a few capes donated for those who show up without a costume.  Dressing up in a costume is a must.”  Alex looked around.  All the pumpkins where finished, “Great job guys, I think we should put them on the back porch for now so they’ll stay cool, but they won’t get smashed.”  Angela started to cry from the other room.  “Okay, it looks like nap time is over.”  Alex went to pick her up and change her.  When she came back, Erika got up, “Well, I have to get going.  I need to run some errands before it gets too late.”  “Thanks for your help, Erika.  I think we’re all done here for now.”  

Walker and Trivette were using old-fashioned shoe leather to talk to the sugarcane companies.  The first two companies were dead ends, their supplies went to bakeries, and a few baking corporations.  The third was the same, however, the owner noticed one new company that started ordering large amounts in the last two months.  “Did you deliver the sugarcane?” Walker asked.  “No, they had a truck that came and picked it up.” “Do you have any security tapes or signatures for when orders are picked up?” Trivette asked.  The owner said, “We do have a security camera.  We only keep the tapes a month, but they just picked up a couple weeks ago.”  “Could we go though the tapes of that day?”  “Sure.” Walker and Trivette went through the tapes from that day.  When they found the correct one they asked to take it back to the station to have it enhanced so they could see the license plate.

Trivette called Gage and had him search for the owner of the company; the owner was listed as Jason Livingston.  Trivette told him to check and see if the company recently purchased any warehouse facilities.  “Livingston, I know that name,” Walker said.  “Isn’t there a Livingston who owns Big D Beverage?”  “That’s it and all of the clubs are purchasing from them.  I wonder if they all have the same sales rep. or delivery man in common too?”  “Let’s check out this tape back at the office.” 

Back at the office they got the license plate from the truck and ran it. “The truck is licensed to Big D Beverage.”  “Something tells me Junior is using all of Big D’s equipment for his side business,” Walker said.  “Yeah, I bet he is manufacturing it from one of their warehouses.”  “Okay, let’s run a search on all the property Jon Livingston owns, then we’ll do some stakeouts.  My guess is the supply for tonight is already on the streets, but they will have to make another batch for next week,” Walker said.  Sydney adds, “Why don’t we tail Livingston and see where he takes us.”  Trivette rips the printout from the computer, “Okay, here are the warehouses.  I took off any residential listings.  All of the warehouses are in the same area except for the last one.  It’s in the oldest section of the warehouses.”  “Some of the other warehouses around it are condemned.”  Gage chips in, “Which makes for not a lot of people seeing your comings and goings.”  Walker, “Okay, I’m going to call Phil Holland to get a search warrant.  We’ll find out what type of car Livingston drives and then go search the warehouse.” 

Phil came into the office, “Here’s the warrant.”  “Thanks for getting this to us so soon Phil.”  Trivette pulled up some information off his computer, “Livingston owns a black Dodge Durango, okay, let’s go to the warehouse.”

“Hello,” Alex answered the telephone as she walked in the door. “Hi, I just wanted to give you an update of the case.  We’re leaving now to go with a warrant to search the suspect’s warehouse.” “Wow, you’re that far on the case?  Great job!  Did you find out anything about the Dugan’s?”  “Yeah, she has no known relatives.  We’ll talk about it later.  I’ll call you in a bit and let you know when I’ll be home.” “Okay, be careful, I love you.” “Love you too.” 

As they pulled up at the warehouse they saw a black Durango.  Trivette crossed his fingers that they could blow this case wide open tonight.  Trivette called out to Sydney and Gage, “You two go around to the back entrance.”  At the set time they all busted into the warehouse.  It was perfect - Livingston was there with three other guys processing the Pink.  “You’re all under arrest.”   Two of the men ran for the back door.  Gage jumped out of the shadows and yelled, “Surprise!” One of the men screamed, Gage knocked him down and cuffed him.  Sydney had a nice battle going with her guy.  Gage said, “Tag team?”  “Yeah, sure,” they both took turns fighting him until he gave in.   Walker and Trivette had the other two cuffed.  Gage looked at the three men helping Livingston.  “Hey, you guys were all bartending last night, you where at the Red Jacket,” he pointed to the next, “you were at Liquid and you were at Bar.”  Sydney adds, “Looks like this really was a small operation and we got it at its source.  Let’s call for backup to take them in.  Maybe we can all salvage the rest of our Saturday.”  Gage and Sydney started making drafts of their reports while they were waiting for backup.  “Hey Syd.” “Yeah Gage,” she said, as she was writing her report.  “Did you decide what you were going to be for Halloween?”  “Yeah, did I forget to tell you?  I’m going to be Cat Woman.  So you can be Batman.”

“Okay, I’ll call the costume shop and have them put that costume on hold for me.” “Okay guys, our backup is going to take them in.  Go back to the office, hand in your reports and have a good weekend.”  “Thanks, you too.”  “Lets go back to the office Trivette and get this paperwork done.  I think we’ll be handing Phil a slam-dunk.”  Trivette asks, “Now, what are you going to do about Megan?”  “Alex and I have to talk about that.”

Walker got home in time for dinner.  Alex called and had Walker bring them a pizza.  She figured Megan would enjoy it and it was an easy dinner.  Alex wasn’t used to watching two children.  Megan was no bother; Alex was just trying to make her feel welcome and cared for.  Megan was starting to come out of her shell more and more.

Walker came in the door with the pizza.  Alex got up to greet him with Angela.  “Hi, Cowboy, congratulations on the bust today!”  She gave him a hug and a kiss. “We’ll celebrate later.”  Walker gave Alex and Angela a kiss.  He saw Megan peeking around the corner.  He went over to her and picked her up.  She wasn’t expecting this and let out a giggle. “How about you, did you have a good day?”  Megan nodded her head and said “yes.”  “What did you do today?” “We went to HOPE and pulled slimy seeds out of pumpkins.”  “Well in that case, let’s go wash up for dinner.”  While Alex set the table, she thought ‘I could get use to this.  That little girl certainly deserved more than she was already given.’  After dinner, Walker read Angela and Megan a story.  Walker had Megan hold the book and turn the pages, since Angela was being a wiggle-worm, pulling at his ear and beard.  When Alex got everything cleaned up from dinner, she went over to where Megan was sitting, picked her up, and put her on her lap. 

Later, after they put both girls to bed, Walker and Alex took the baby monitor outside while they sat on the porch.  They held hands and Alex leaned against Walker.  “Penny for your thoughts,” he told her.  “Oh Walker, I don’t know, I just don’t know.”  “Are you thinking about us adopting her?”  She looked up at him, “Well… yes.” “But,” Walker was filling in the blanks.  “Never mind.  I can’t believe I’m thinking this, it’s selfish.” “You want to see if we can find another family first.”  Alex nodded her head; she had tears in her eyes.  “Alex it’s okay, I think Megan deserves to be an only child for awhile to make up for the love and caring she never received.”  “But I refuse to have her go to another foster home.  She’ll stay here until they find the right family.”  Walker smiled at Alex.  Two more days and she wouldn’t be able to let Megan out of her heart.  Walker nibbled on her ear, “What do you say we go upstairs and do some of that celebrating you were talking about earlier?” As a diversionary tactic, it worked well.

The next morning they got up and went to church.  Megan went to the children’s church that they had.  Walker and Alex were just going to have her sit with them, but Katherine came up and asked Megan to go with her.  It took Megan no time at all to grab Katherine’s hand and go with her. 

Later in the afternoon the telephone rang.  Alex answered it, “Hello.”  “Hi Alex, this is Katherine.”  “How are you?” Alex asked.  “Fine.  This maybe too forward, but I was wondering about Megan… Josie told me about her parents and she has no relatives?” “Yes, that’s true.”  “Well, I’m only asking you this because she’s such a special little girl.  Are you planning on adopting her?”  “Well, Walker and I have talked about it and we are trying to find a loving home for her.  We want her to stay with us until the right family is found to adopt her.  At that time I’m sure I’ll want to reconsider.”  Katherine spoke up, “I don’t know if you know this, but Jack and I were just approved to adopt a child.  We’re just waiting.  We have tried everything to have a child of our own.  One of the times after Mike beat me the doctors told me I might not be able to bear children.  I guess they were right.”  “Oh, Katherine, I’m sorry!”  Alex helped her deal with her ex-husband, but never knew this detail.  “Well, Jack met Megan in church today and we wanted to know if we could spend some more time with her, so we could think it over more.”  “Sure, why don’t you come over for dinner tonight?  We could have a cookout?  We’ll have hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill.”  “Are you sure?  I know things have been pretty hectic.”  Alex laughed, “Just another day.”  “See you then.”  Looking back, Alex thought of how well Megan got along with Katherine.  She went to go tell Walker to set up for a cookout.

Alex went out to the barn where Walker was with Megan and Angela, who was in her stroller.  As Megan was playing with the kittens, she told Walker about her conversation with Katherine.  “What do you think, Walker?”  “I think it’s a good idea, look at how comfortable Megan felt with Katherine at church, there was no hesitation.”  “I know.  I’ll miss her though.”  Walker put his arm around her, “So will I.”  Alex went over to where Megan was sitting, petting a kitten.  “Do you like kitties?”  “Yes, they’re soft and fuzzy.”   Alex sat beside her and held a kitty, “I like them, too.”  Megan let out a giggle as one of the kittens was climbing up her shirt.  “Megan, we have visitors coming over for dinner tonight.  Katherine and Jack wanted to come see you.”  Megan smiled; she liked them both.  “Do you think Jack will tell more stories?”  “When did he tell stories?”  “In church, about a little man up in a tree and animals on the boat.” “Well, you’ll have to ask him to tell more stories.”  “Can we show them the kittens, too?”  “I think we can do that.  Let’s go get things ready.”  Alex went over to get Angela, “Honey, we need to get you a new diaper.  Walker, can you bring in the stroller?” “Sure.  I’ll get the grill going when I’m done.”  “Thanks.”  Alex went up and changed Angela.  Megan went with them.  “You stink, Angela!” she said.  Alex laughed, “We’ll get her cleaned up and she’ll smell good again.”  Alex put Angela down for a nap and Megan and Alex went down to get things ready for later.  “Megan do you like potato salad?”  She got no response.  “How about grapes?”  “Yes.” Megan said.  Alex would make potato salad for the adults and give Megan grapes to eat with her meal.

It wasn’t too long before Katherine and Jack were pulling up the driveway.  Walker was holding Angela, Alex and Megan were on the bench sitting near the fire pit.   Most of what they needed for their meal was already outside and the food was in the fridge.  “Hi you guys,” Katherine said.  “Thank you so much for having us over at the last minute. We really appreciate it,” Jack told Walker and Alex as he shook Walker’s hand.  Jack looked down and Megan was pulling at his pant leg. “Would you like to go see the kittens in the barn?”  Alex smiled at Walker.  Megan was such a sweet little girl.  “Why, I would love to,” Jack told her.  Katherine went inside with Alex to help her get the food out of the refrigerator. 

Katherine went to the barn when everything was out.  “Hey you two, how are you doing in here?”  She looked at her husband and Megan both playing with the kittens.  “We’re having fun,” Megan said. “Mind if I play?” “No, come play,” Megan told her.  They played with the kittens, and then Megan asked if Jack would tell her a story.  Walker went to the barn to tell them the food was ready.  He looked in and saw Katherine, Jack and Megan sitting together with kittens in their laps while Jack told a story.  “Hey guys, it’s time to go eat.”  “Oh thanks, I guess we’ll have to finish this story later,” Jack said.  The group ate and talked some more.

They didn’t hear from Megan for a while and when they looked over at her, she was asleep.  “She has just had too much fun for one day.”  Jack looked at Katherine and she nodded her head.  Jack knew she too, wanted to adopt Megan and now they could tell the Walkers.  “Walker and Alex, we’ve decided to adopt Megan if she’ll have us.”  “Oh I’m sure she will and when she wakes up from her nap you two can ask her.”  When Megan woke up, Jack went over to her and picked her up.  “Hey sleepy head, are you awake?” “Yes.”  “Katherine and I want to ask you something.  You know how you’re staying here right now?” “Yes.”  “Well Katherine and I want to know if you would like to come live with us?”  “We could be your new mommy and daddy.”  “Would you like that?”  “I would like that and could we take the kittens with us?”  Everyone laughed.

The next day they contacted Nina Woods and submitted the papers.  Since the Reeds were already approved to adopt and the papers were submitted, they came out to the house on Tuesday and picked Megan up.  When they walked in the door, Megan ran over to them.  Alex and Walker had been telling her the last two days about how great their house was.  When Katherine told her she would have a room of her own and that it was pink she could not have been happier. “Thank you so much, Walker and Alex.”  Katherine and Jack told them. “The smile on her face is thanks enough.”  Megan gave Walker and Alex both a hug. “We’ll see you Thursday at the Halloween party.”  After they left, Walker and Alex didn’t have much time to stay sad as Angela started to wail from upstairs.  “Somebody’s hungry,” Walker told Alex.

“I can’t believe you want me to wear this,” Walker said with disgust. “Walker, it’s not that bad.  You wore a dress uniform when you were in the military.”  “That’s different, you go through quite a lot to get to wear that uniform.”  “It’ll be worth your while, I promise,” Alex said to him seductively and gave him a kiss.  Alex had her hair and makeup done and was walking around in her robe. “I’ll go get Angela ready.”  Alex walked into Angela’s room and changed her into her costume.  “There honey, we can put the rest of your costume on later.”   Alex brought Angela to Walker, “Here, can you take her while I put on my dress?”  Walker looked at his daughter, “Well, it looks like your mommy is going to make you look silly tonight, too. She does things like this every now and then.  You’ll learn to live with it.”  From the bathroom, “I heard that and I think you just lost your reward for dressing up.”  Alex walked out of the bathroom.  “Wow, you look gorgeous,” Walker told her.   “Thank you, you look pretty handsome yourself, Cowboy.”  “We should go, don’t want to be late.”  Alex put on her special shoes to go with her costume; they grabbed Angela’s things and were on their way.

When Walker and Alex arrived at HOPE House, the party was in full swing.  Jimmy and Erika were there with togas on.  Josie was Dorothy and she had treats for the kids in a little basket instead of Toto.  Jimmy came up to Walker when he saw him.  “Well, it looks like Alex did it.  She got you into costume.  But I’m a little disappointed in her.  Walker, you got off pretty easy, Prince Charming.  I’m gonna have to have a talk with that lady.”  Jimmy turned around and there was Alex. “What was that, Jimmy?”  “Wow, you look great, oh and here is my niece.  Angela, you look so cute dressed up in your little angel costume.” Jimmy took her from Alex and held her. “I can take her for a while, Al.”  “Thanks, Jimmy.”  Alex turned to Walker, “If we play our cards right, we could have babysitters all night.”  They looked at the door as Katherine, Jack and Megan came in together already a family.  Katherine and Jack were dressed as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.  Megan was dressed as Raggedy Ann.  She walked over to Walker and he knelt down to talk to her. “Raggedy Ann you look pretty cute.  Have you seen my friend, Megan?”  “Walker, I’m right here, I’m Megan.”  The Reeds and the Walkers both laughed.  Twenty minutes later, Sydney arrived in a Cat Woman outfit.  Jimmy and Erika went over to say hello.  Walker and Alex joined them.  “Where’s Gage?  I thought he was coming with you.”  “He did,” Sydney said with disgust.  At that moment Gage walked in dressed in a baseball outfit.  “I told him I was going to be Cat Woman and he was suppose to be Batman and this is the costume he gets.”  “I picked it up from the costume shop and when I took it out an hour ago, realized it wasn’t the right costume.”  Trivette looked at him in a baseball uniform. “Way to go Bat Boy!”

  The End

~All Usual Disclaimers Apply~