The Swan Murders

By: Lelani

 

Summary: Walker and Alex have enjoyed their time with their new infant, Angela, but it’s six weeks after her birth and Alex has now returned to her job as Deputy DA. Angela goes to the HOPE Center each day while her parents work. Trivette has returned to light duty after his bones have mended from the staged car accident that was intended to kill him. With the loss of two Senior Rangers, Company B is short staffed and Walker has been asked to train two new rookies, he lets Trivette teach them the paperwork aspects of the job. Walker has been assigned to investigate death threats against a wealthy society woman, Julia Swan.

 

Guest Cast:

Rookie Ranger Glen Cooper-previously introduced, the former police officer is now a Texas Ranger like most of the men in his family line all the way back to Hays Cooper, Walkers hero.

Rookie Ranger Lisse Chen-a young woman of mixed heritage, her mother was English and her father Chinese. She has long black hair and a slender physique. Her almond shaped eyes gaze at you with extreme intelligence. She is beautiful and her mastery of the martial arts makes her deadly, but she is best known for her bad puns.

Julia Swan-her face and figure have been well preserved. Her age is indeterminate, but her birth certificate puts her well into her fifties and many suspect it is forged and she is actually older. She is tall and lean and spends her time in tennis outfits and cocktail dresses. She lives in a large mansion left to her by her late husband, owner of Swan Import Export who was rumored to have done business with the mob. His execution style death two years before lends credence to the rumors.

James Swan III Stepson of Julia, he runs the family business on a day to day basis, but his stepmother has the power to overrule his decisions on a whim.

Bethany Swan Stepdaughter to Julia, the thirty something woman spends her time and trust fund on playing games with the rich and famous. She, like her bother, is tall, dark haired and plain faced. Johnny Minelli Son to mob boss Hank Minelli, he’s running the family business while his father does time for tax evasion.

Sophie Minelli Hank’s daughter and Johnny’s sister, she is determined to make a life of her own. Tall with dark hair and beautiful features, the Minelli men can’t control her no matter how hard they try.

 

 

Ranger Headquarters Tuesday 9:00 a.m.

 

Trivette is at his desk when the phone rings.

“Walker, it’s Mrs. Swan for you,” he tells his partner who is sitting behind his desk reading an open file.

Walker picks up the phone, “Ranger Walker,” he states in a clear, firm voice.

“Ranger, it’s happened again. Someone has broken in and left a message in the foyer.”

“I’m on my way,” Walker replies and hangs up the phone turning to his partner. “Trivette, there’s been more trouble at the Swan Mansion. I need you to get a crime scene team out there to gather evidence. It seems the person got past the alarm system)again.”
“I’m on it,” Trivette answers. “You taking Chen or Cooper?”

“They may as well both go on this one. You hold the fort.”

Trivette grimaces, “considering all I’m good for these days is typing and answering phones, I’ll call Alex if I need protection.”

Walker smiles sympathetically at his partner and calls for the two rookies as he grabs his hat and heads out.

 

The Swan Mansion 9:35 a.m.

 

“Okay you two, this is going to take more diplomacy than I’m capable of. Cooper, you keep the widow Swan charmed and Chen, you keep the stepkids from killing her. There’s a lot of bad blood in that house and I would suspect either or both stepkids of trying to kill the woman if they didn’t openly admit to wanting her dead.”

“If they both want her dead, why aren’t we investigating them? I mean if it looks like a swan and walks like a swan...” Chen makes a pun of the family name.

Cooper groans, “Chen, one of these days...”

The butler opens the door within moments of Walker pushing the doorbell. “The family is gathered in the den, I will take you there,” the man says in his formal tone.

“I’d rather go straight to the crime scene. Have Mrs. Swan meet me there please. Rangers Chen and Cooper will take statements from James and Bethany,” Walker orders.

“As you wish,” the butler says with a slight incline of his head. “This way please,” he says to Lisse and Glen, allowing Walker to remain in the foyer.

Walker stands in the room and surveys the damage. There are words scrawled all the way around the room in a dark red substance that resembles blood. They spell out ‘you die bitch.’ In one of the upholstered armchairs under the window is a headless chicken. “So it is blood,” Walker murmurs to himself.

Julia Swan comes sweeping in wearing a long lavender caftan with her hair hidden from view by a matching turban. Her face is made up and she wears jewels on her hands, ears and around her neck. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not she has slept in the outfit.

“Ranger Walker, thank you for your prompt response. I don’t know who is responsible for this, but clearly they have managed to get past the security system. I added a guard at the gate and dogs patrol the grounds as you suggested after the last incident with the dead chickens in the pool, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped them.”
“I’d like to talk to the guard and the handlers for the dogs. Are you certain that the electronic system was on?”
“Yes, I checked it myself before heading upstairs.”

“Any more calls?”

“There was one this morning, but I didn’t take it. The call was early, around seven I think. My housekeeper alerted me, she took the call and she also found this,” she sweeps her hand indicating the blood smeared walls.
“All right, I’ll want to speak with her as well. The crime scene team should be arriving in minutes. Why don’t you give Ranger Cooper your statement while I go out to speak with the guard? I assume he’s still at the gate.”
“Yes of course, but why don’t you take my statement and send your pretty boy Cooper to talk with the guard.”
“Mrs. Swan, I’m the senior ranger on the case, that means I call the shots.” Walker abruptly leaves the room and heads down to the guard gate.

 

HOPE Center 12:30 p.m.

 

Alex is sitting in the padded armchair in her office nursing her infant daughter. She looks up and smiles as she hears her husband enter.

“You’re just in time Cowboy, she just finished and she needs to be burped,” she says as she hands him the blond infant and the spit rag.

Walker grins back at her as he lays the soft diaper on his shoulder and holds his infant against him patting her on the back. He watches as his wife adjusts her clothes and stands to lay out the cold lunch she had brought for them.

“How was your morning?” she asks.

“There was another incident at the Swan Mansion, I just came from there. They didn’t leave any prints. Whoever is doing this is a professional who knows what they’re doing.”
“Any ideas on who it is?”

“Not specifically, but it feels like mob to me. A chicken was used again. I won’t tell you the details in front of Angela.”

“That’s okay, you don’t have to tell me the details at all, I packed chicken salad sandwiches for our lunch today.”

Walker laughs and lays his daughter in the bassinet before moving over to pull Alex to him and give her a long kiss.

“Mmmm... Walker, I think I like this new routine of meeting for lunch here. It sure beats public places.”

He smiles and pats her hip before reaching over to grab one of the sandwiches.

“So was Julia Swan all over you again?”

“No, I had Cooper run interference.”

“What is it with us and Swans? Remember the trip into the mountains looking for the Swan Song?”
Walker’s eyebrows raise as he swallows the bite of sandwich he has finished chewing. “How could I forget? It was a major step in getting you to finally agree to marry me.”
“What? If I recall, you were the one dragging your heels,” his wife argues.

“Hmmm... I guess my memory isn’t as good as it used to be. I do remember you couldn’t keep your hands off of me.”
“I remember a bear attacked you and then that caveman came after you. I thought we were both goners.”
“Didn’t stop you from going camping with me again though.”
“No and then there’s the time I got kidnapped by those inbred brothers.”

“Hey, we made a deal, no talking about ugly stuff in front of the baby.”

Alex smiles, “right. Let’s talk about the Governor’s Ball coming up on Friday.”

Walker gives a theatrical shudder, “those brothers sure were a problem. And that bear, remember how big that bear was..?”

Alex laughs, “Governor’s Ball,” she says.

“Caveman,” he responds.

“Tuxedo,” she says.

“Grizzly bear,” he responds.

 

The camera pans to the bassinet where Angela lays cooing with her arms waving and the scene fades to a commercial break.

 

Ranger Headquarters Tuesday 5:15 p.m.

 

Sydney and Gage enter arguing. Cooper and Chen look up from their research to see what the problem is while Trivette and Walker ignore them and continue their discussion.

“Walker, I tell you, I think the son is behind the threats.”

“I just don’t think so Trivette. I think the mob is behind it.”

“Well, why can’t it be both? The son did take over the business, maybe he took over the mob connection as well.”

“Maybe. I’ll have Alex look into the trial for Hank Minelli. If Swan did have mob connections, Minelli is the most likely suspect. Not to mention the fact that Swan was killed during the Minelli trial.”

“You think Swan was going to testify against Minelli so they killed him?”
“It makes sense doesn’t it? Even if Swan wasn’t going to testify, if Minelli thought he was, he could have put the hit on him.”
“The Justice Department isn’t usually very open about witnesses in mob trials.”
“Have you ever met my wife? If she wants something, nine times out of ten she gets it. I’ll sic her on the Justice Department and I guarantee we’ll get the info we need.”

Trivette chuckles in agreement. The argument between Rangers Gage and Cooke has escalated.

“All right you two, back to your own corners. I’m ringing the bell, end of round one,” Walker tells them.

“What is it this time? Did Gage get mayonnaise on your car seat? Did Sydney fail to yield to oncoming traffic? What?” Trivette asks.

“Sydney thinks I’m going to dress up in a chicken suit and parade around in front of a fast food joint in downtown in 102 degree weather.”

“Gage, I can’t fit in the costume, it’s too big for me.”

“That’s not the point.”

“Sure it is, I’d wear it if it fit. How many times have I had to dress up and go undercover?”

“That’s different.”

“How?”

“It wasn’t a chicken costume.”

“No, it was just a few threads of cloth covering the essentials) barely.”

“Going undercover as a cocktail waitress is totally different from going undercover as a chicken.”

At this point, Walker and Trivette join in to Chen and Cooper’s laughter. After a bit, Walker asks, “why a chicken costume?”

“We need to stakeout the jewelry store on Main and Third. We’re pretty sure that the owner is receiving stolen jewelry. There’s a chicken place across the street and they’ve been advertising for someone to dress in a chicken suit and walk in front of the place. It’s the perfect cover. I went in to apply, but they said that the suit would only fit someone six-foot or more. That leaves me out, so I sent Gage in and he got the job,” Sydney explains.

“And so you’ll be wearing the cow costume for the burger joint next door?” Cooper asks.

“Funny. I was going to set up a hot dog stand on the corner. When Gage tells me that someone suspicious leaves the jewelry store, I can see what car they get into and tell the DPD team in the unmarked car around the corner who to follow. This way, we can follow the thieves and catch them without the jewelry store owner knowing and we may be able to put an entire ring out of business.”

“Sounds like a good plan to me,” Trivette offers.

“Do you know how hot it will be in a chicken costume in this weather?” Gage says in a plaintive voice.

“Gage, you get no sympathy from me man. I always got the ‘dirty’ duty when I first partnered with Walker.” Trivette pauses with a thoughtful expression. “In fact, I still do. I asked Walker once when it would be his turn to ‘get ’em’ and you know what he told me? He said, ‘when they don’t run.’ So if you’re looking for my sympathy, don’t bother.”

“I always did say you ate like a bird,” Chen puns.

“I always said he had a bird brain,” Cooper adds.

“Well I saw him give blood once and I told him then that he was just a big chicken, I guess I was right,” Sydney trumps the other two.

 

Alex’s office Wednesday 1:00 p.m.

 

“Joel, don’t stonewall me here. If you were planning to use Swan to testify against Minelli, then I need to know. It looks as if more of Swan’s family is going to be killed and we need to know who’s behind it.”

“Alex, you know how it is. We got Minelli for tax evasion. The man ordered the deaths of more people than I have fingers and toes and all we were able to nail him on was failure to pay his taxes. If Swan had known something and I’m not saying he did, we would have been pushing hard to get him to testify.”

“Okay, tell me this. Is there a connection between the Swan family and the Minelli family?”

“Off the record?”

“Off the record.”
“Take a look at the daughter’s love life.”

“That’s it? That’s all you’re gonna give me?”

“Hey I’ve said too much as it is.”

Joel nods to Alex and heads out the door as she picks up her phone.

“Trivette? It’s me.”
“Hi Alex, whatcha got for me?”

“Not much, but what do you know about the love life of Bethany Swan?”

“Nothing really. She’s not married and I don’t have anything about long term boyfriends either.”

“Well, look into a connection with the Minelli family. That’s all I could get you.”

“Okay, it’s not much, but I’ll see what I can do.”

 

Ranger Headquarters 4:00 p.m.

 

Walker and Cooper walk in to find Trivette and Chen with their heads bent over Trivette’s computer.

“What’s so fascinating on the computer?” Walker asks as he gets a cup of cold water from the cooler. He tosses his hat and wipes the sweat from his brow.

“Alex told us to look for a connection between the Minelli family and Bethany Swan and we just found it. I should say that Lisse just found it. I would have missed it.”

“That’s quite an admission, I thought you were the guy who never missed anything,” Walker teases.

“Well, I sure wasn’t looking for this,” Trivette explains.

“Well, don’t keep us in suspense, what is it?”

Lisse begins to explain. “Alex said to look for a romantic connection between Bethany and the Minelli’s. Of course we started with the heir apparent, Johnny, but found nothing. We went through all the male relatives and came up with nada.”

“Female relatives?” Walker suggests.

“How did you know?” Lisse asks in an awed tone.

“I just sensed something. Have you noticed how women for miles drop at Cooper’s feet? Bethany showed no spark when I introduced them,” Walker says.

Cooper begins to blush, but says; “now her stepmother on the other hand has a thing for Walker.”

“Who has a thing for my husband?” Alex asks as she enters and goes over to his desk to stand with her hand possessively on his shoulder.

“Julia Swan,” Cooper states.

“Well that’s okay, I can take her,” Alex says as she stands behind the seated Walker and massages his shoulders with both hands.

“Honey don’t, I’m all sweaty,” he says in an effort to stop her.

Alex leans in and whispers into his ear. The others watch as the color rises in his face. She stands back up to continue with the shoulder massage.

“What do you mean you can take her?” Cooper asks.

Trivette chuckles and says, “watch out for Alex. She’s got a mean right hook. Don’t ever make her mad at you.”

“Well I’ve kidnapped her and held her hostage and came out without any bruises, so I guess I’m okay,” Cooper states.

“Kidnapping her is one thing, but don’t do anything to harm her husband or her baby. She learned from a bear once about protecting what’s hers,” Trivette advises.

“Back to the case, what did you find?” Walker tries to refocus his group away from discussing his and Alex’s private life.

“Bethany Swan and Sophie Minelli are more than friends. They have been an item for over two years. It’s all very discreet and neither family approves, but they share an apartment in Fort Worth. Neither lives there fulltime, but they meet there and often stay over together,” Chen fills them in.

“So they’re having a lesbian affair. In this day and age, few people care about what people do behind closed doors,” Alex opines.

“Hank Minelli cares and it’s rumored that his son Johnny has beaten his sister more than once. Some people think it’s because of her sexual preference,” Chen tells them.

“So do we think that the headless chickens and warnings in blood are to tell Bethany to stay away from Sophie?” Walker asks.
“It makes no sense. Even if the families don’t approve of the relationship, they’ve known about it for some time. Why are there threats now? Did something change?” Trivette asks aloud.

“There has to be more. Cooper, tomorrow I’d like you to help Trivette dig up whatever you can on James the Third’s business dealings with the Minelli family or any front company that may be mob owned. Chen and I will go pay a visit to Johnny Minelli and let him know that we’re watching the Swans and that he is our primary suspect,” Walker says.

Just then, Sydney and Gage walk in arguing.

“Syd, I am not letting you near me with scissors, forget it.”

“Gage, it’s just stuck on your jeans. It’ll just take a snip.”

The gang looks up to see Gage wearing his chicken costume, his face red and covered in sweat. Sydney is walking beside him carrying the head from the costume.

Everyone begins to snicker.

“Lost your head Gage?” Chen asks.

“What’s ruffled your feathers?” Alex chips in.

Sydney face is earnest, but everyone can see that she is holding back her laughter with great effort.

“It seems the zipper has caught on the seat of Gage’s shorts. The more I tried to loosen it, the tighter it got. He can’t pull the suit down and he can’t get to the fly of his jean shorts to unzip them and take both off. I told him the only thing to do was to cut away the jean material so we can get the suit off.”

“And I said, I am not letting you touch me with scissors. I’d rather die a chicken. You’re the one who zipped me up in the first place. It’s lucky I’m dehydrated from the heat, I would have been forced to wet my pants by now.” Gage storms at his partner.

“So you need someone to cut the butt out of your jeans. I bet we could find plenty of volunteers,” Trivette suggests.

“Yeah, that secretary down in Warrants was checking out your butt yesterday,” Lisse offers.

“Walker, help me out here man,” Gage pleads.

“Not me, this is definitely a job for a rookie. Chen he’s all yours,” Walker says.

“Don’t make me the butt of your jokes,” Chen says.

“Lisse, you have to stop with the bad puns. I’ve got scissors, let’s go,” Cooper says and guides Gage back out to the men’s locker room.

“How did you get him here?” Alex asks.

Sydney can’t hold it in any longer and she begins to laugh so hard she can’t speak. She is clutching her stomach, doubled over gasping for air. “You should have seen me trying to get him in the car. I finally had to roll him into the back seat. I thought I was going to have to call for a van,” she says through spasms of mirth.

Alex wipes the tears from her eyes; “I need to go pick up Angela. I’ll see you at home Walker.”

Walker looks up and winks at her, “I might just beat you there.”

 

The camera follows her out the door as the scene fades to black for another commercial break.

 

The corner of Main and Third Thursday 3:00 p.m.

 

Sydney is handing over a foot long with ‘the works’ when she sees a suspicious pair heading towards the jewelry store. She hands her customer his change and then pushes the button on her collar that opens her mic.

“Gage, heads up. There are two men nearing the store and the one on the left looks familiar.”
“Got ‘em,” Gage replies as he spots the two men. “Yeah, I think the one on the left is Swifty Jones and the one on the right is familiar too, but I can’t place him.”

The two men enter the jewelry store and soon exit with distinctive bulges in their breast pockets.

“Looks like a big pay off. I think this is it. Let’s make the bust,” Gage orders.

A squad car comes around the corner from either end and Sydney is already halfway across the intersection. The two men spot the police closing in and begin to run across the busy street straight into the big chicken, AKA Gage. Gage trips one and straight-arms the second. Any fancy martial arts moves are out of the question in his restrictive suit. He struggles valiantly to subdue the two men, but they team together to lift him and stuff him head first into the trashcan a few feet away. As Gage’s oversized chicken feet flail impotently in the air, the two men race on down the sidewalk only to be caught by Dallas’ finest.

     Meanwhile, Sydney has led the bust on the jewelry storeowner and she enters the store with her gun drawn. The two customers in the store scream and she pushes them both down to the floor sweeping the showroom with her gun aimed. Marty Finklestein, the jeweler and fencer, has run out of the room into the storeroom behind. Sydney hops up on the glass counter and swings her legs around to slide off on the other side. Finklestein is stuffing a duffel bag down a hidden chute in the rear of the room.

“Freeze Finklestein,” Sydney orders.

The man freezes like a deer in headlights. He is small in stature and his arms go straight up in the air as he slowly sinks to his knees on the ground. Sydney looks puzzled and then shrugs.

“Stand up and turn around,” she orders.

He follows her commands and she quickly cuffs him and has him led away by the back up officer who enters the room. She pulls the duffel bag from the chute and opens it spilling jewelry from more than twenty robberies onto the worktable.

“Looks like we’ve got what we came for,” Sydney muses allowed.

“Ranger Cooke?” a young DPD officer says.

“Yes?” she answers in a preoccupied tone as she sifts through the necklaces, bracelets, rings, cuff links, tie clasps and earrings.

“It’s your partner, Ranger Gage,” the officer tells her.

Sydney looks up with concern evident in her expression. “Gage? What happened, what’s wrong?”
“He’s stuck,” the officer tells her.

“Stuck? What do you mean stuck?” she asks frustrated. “Is he injured?”

“I don’t think so, but it’s sort of hard to tell,” the officer answers.

The detective team who had been assigned to assist in the stakeout arrives and Sydney says, “catalog all of this and book the suspects. I take it you got the two outside?”

“Yes, they’re both in custody, but I think your partner wants your help,” Detective Roberts says.

“I’m on my way,” she throws over her shoulder as she hurries out of the room.

Gage remains upside down in the trashcan, his feet still flailing wildly. Sydney races across the street to see what all the commotion is. She has to fight her way past the crowd of onlookers who have stopped to watch the spectacle Gage is making. Four police officers are trying to lift him out of the trashcan, but the most they are able to do is right him. Gage stands on his feet with the trashcan on his head. The can covers him to the waist where the chicken suit flares into a wide barrel shape. The can is stuck solidly onto him and no amount of tugging can get it off.

By this time, the owner of the fast food restaurant has come out of the store to see what is going on. He begins screaming and waving his arms as he sees the suit saturated in left over sodas that had been tossed into the can and now soak the suit.

“My suit, it’s ruined. How could you let this happen? I will take the price of the costume from your pay. My suit,” he laments over and over again.

“Sydney?” comes Gage’s muffled plea.

“I’m here Gage,” she answers grasping his forearm that is pressed into his side and held there by the can.

“Get me out of here,” he half pleads half demands.

Sydney looks around until she finds a police surveillance van. “Let’s get him into the back of the van,” she orders the officers who still hover unsure what to do. With a lot of tugging and maneuvering, they successfully load him into the back of the van. Gage is unable to stand and unable to sit, so he kneels in the van as Sydney hangs onto him to balance him for the ride back to headquarters.

 

Forensics Lab at the Justice Building 4:30

 

Alex rushes in concerned and finds Walker, Trivette, Chen, Cooper and Sydney all encircling a trashcan. That’s all she can see until she gets close enough to peer over Walker’s shoulder and see that the trashcan rests on top of a very large chicken.

“Gage?” she asks in a stunned voice. “I heard there was some trouble at the bust. What happened?”

“Two of the suspects shoved Gage head first into a trashcan and his weight caused him to wedge in there so tightly, that they couldn’t get him out,” Walker explains.

“What are they going to do?” Alex asks as a team from the lab approaches Gage with a toolbox.

“All of NASA’s top scientists concur. The only thing to do is to sever the connection,” Chen says in an overly dramatic voice.

“Huh?” Alex asks.

“They’re going to cut the chicken suit all the way around just below the rim of the trash can and then hopefully pull it off,” Trivette says.

“Can’t they just...” Alex looks at the scene and can’t come up with a better suggestion.

The forensics team uses a scalpel, a pair of scissors and finally pruning sheers to snip away the feathered material. It’s a slow process as the various cutting instruments have trouble handling the feathers and the cloth.

“Maybe you should pluck him first,” Chen suggests.

“Lisse!” Cooper moans.

“What? I’m serious,” she defends herself.

The two men are ready to give up in defeat when Walker steps forward and pulls his knife from the holster that he keeps strapped around his calve.

“Let me try,” he says and proceeds to put the tip of the knife in the hole created by their efforts and pulling from the bottom up through the material, he slices through the material in a big circle around Gage. After the two halves are separated, six of the people in the room grasp the edges of the can and pull up. With a loud ‘POP’ the can slides free. Gage quickly removes the top half of the suit and then shoves down the bottom half too quickly.

After the problem with the jean shorts, Gage had learned his lesson and wore a pair of jogging shorts that can easily slide over his hips in case the zipper gets stuck. He hadn’t foreseen the turn of events that had taken place and when he lowers the bottom half of the chicken suit; his jogging shorts slide down as well. Gage stands in the room surrounded by his colleagues thankful that the embarrassing ordeal is finally over.

“Nice shorts Gage,” Alex comments.

“Thanks,” he responds offhandedly.

“Gift from a girlfriend?” she continues.

“No, I...” Gage peers down to see that his jogging shorts are down around his ankles and he stands there in a pair of boxers that are decorated with Hershey Kisses. Gage groans and turns a bright shade of red. “I didn’t have time to do laundry, these were a gag gift...” his voice peters out as he looks at all the people around him who simply are no longer able to hide their laughter.

 

Gage is surrounded by his close friends and colleagues who are all crying from laughter as the scene fades to commercial.

 

The Walker Ranch Friday 7:00 p.m.

 

Alex is standing in the nursery with Sydney. She is wearing a deep red formal evening gown. The front plunges dramatically showing off her enhanced cleavage.

“If that’s what having a baby does for you, I think you should go for twins next time,” Sydney comments.

Alex laughs, “I am enjoying the added weight up top, but I still don’t have my waist back.”

“You couldn’t tell by me,” Sydney says in an envious tone.

“Are you sure you don’t mind sitting with Angela? I just don’t trust very many people and Ericka and Jimmy already had plans. They’ve had it pretty rough since the engagement. Jimmy’s been slow to recover from all those injuries.”

“Of course I don’t mind. I love babies and I especially love Angela.”

“I pumped earlier and there should be enough milk until we get back. We won’t be terribly late. There’s formula as well, but it just makes her sick and fussy. I’ll have my cell phone and you can call me anytime...”
“Alex, I can handle it and Gage will keep me company. There won’t be any problems.”

“I’m surprised Gage is speaking to any of us,” Alex comments.

Sydney smiles broadly, “his ego was bruised, but he’s recovering. We did make a significant bust. They recovered nearly a million dollars worth of stolen jewelry. Who knows how much more had already been altered and resold as new.”

Alex kisses the tips of her fingers and transfers the kiss to Angela’s forehead. “Be an angel,” she whispers as she heads out of the room with Sydney.

The two women head downstairs to where Gage and Walker are waiting in the living room. Walker shakes his head as he gets another eyeful of his beautiful wife.

“I better carry my gun, I’m going to have to fight men off all night,” Walker comments.

“Not if you stick close. That way I can keep the women away from you,” she states as her eyes survey her husband in his tuxedo.

“The Governor’s Ball, it sounds so romantic,” Sydney says.

“A bunch of stuff shirts standing around telling each other how much they lost in the latest market drop,” Walker says with a lack of enthusiasm.

“Any excuse to dress up and act like adults works for me. I feel as if I’ve been talking baby talk for far too long,” Alex counters.

“Speaking of babies, are you two sure you can handle this?” Walker asks in a concerned tone.

“We got it boss. She’s one baby, how hard can it be?” Gage answers confidently.

“Oh god, now I’m worried. Make sure to keep the baby monitor on and near you at all times. It’s hard to hear her from downstairs,” Alex instructs them.

“Okay Alex, we’ll listen close and check on her regularly,” Sydney promises.

Walker has Alex by the arm and is nearly dragging her to the door, “I thought you were looking forward to a night out, let’s go.”

“I have my cell phone, call me if there’s anything...” Alex is pulled out of the front door.

“How many times did she tell you that?” Gage asks.

“Four, you?”

“Three and Walker ‘mentioned it’ twice.”

The two young rangers look at each other and grin.

“Let’s raid the refrigerator, I’m starved,” Gage suggests.

“Yeah, ‘cause that’s new,” Sydney says sarcastically as she follows him into the kitchen.

They walk in and see a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses sitting on the dining room table. Gage groans as Sydney giggles and goes over to open the refrigerator. “Look, leftover fried chicken,” she says holding it up.

“I think Lisse Chen has had a very bad influence on everyone,” Gage decides.

 

Governor’s Ball 9:30 p.m.

 

 Walker is dancing with Alex, guiding her around the floor to a slow seductive song. They are dancing cheek to cheek and he has her hand folded into his and resting against his heart. His other hand makes small circles against her lower back.

“Keep it up cowboy and I’m going to make you take me home early.”

“Promise?”

Alex chuckles in response and they stand still gazing into each other’s eyes long after the music ends.

“Alex, you look wonderful, motherhood suits you,” says a woman who approaches the Walker’s bringing them back to the party.

“Felicia, Senator, it’s nice to see you both. How have you been?”

“Not as well as you darling. A gorgeous husband and a beautiful baby, all within the space of a year. How did you get so lucky?”

“She doesn’t take no for an answer,” Walker claims. His statement is followed by an “ouch” as his wife pinches his waist.

“I imagine that you weren’t saying no to this beauty,” the senator offers.

“No hasn’t been in my vocabulary since I met her,” Walker says at his most charming.

The foursome continue to chat until the senator and his wife are called over to another couple who want to talk politics.

“You’re getting better and better at this social obligation stuff,” Alex tells her husband.

“I decided that it’s one of those ‘dues’ I have to pay to get to be married to the most beautiful woman in a room full of beautiful women.”

“What are some other ‘dues’ you have to pay?” his wife questions with eyebrows raised.

“Let’s see, I have to sleep on the right side of the bed. I have to put my dirty clothes in the hamper. I have to take off my muddy boots before coming into the house. I have to put up with clutter on the bathroom sink. I have to make love to the sexiest woman I have ever met. Oh wait a minute, that one’s not so bad.”

“Not so bad, I’ll tell you what’s bad.”
“What?”

“A man who thinks sunrise just has to be seen every single morning. A man who wakes up in a good mood far too often. A husband who never gives hints for birthday, Christmas or anniversary gifts. A husband who doesn’t approve of ‘public displays’ of affection.”

Alex gasps as Walker pulls her tight against him and silences her with a kiss that lasts far too long according to the unwritten rules for a Governor’s Ball.

“Okay, I take it back,” Alex recants without giving him the opportunity of asking her to.

Walker grins at his wife and watches the color slowly recede from her face as her breathing begins to slow.

Alex shakes her head at him. “I’m going to call Sydney and Gage and check on the munchkin. I’ll be right back.”

“You’re sure we can’t just head home and check on her in person?”

“Walker, they haven’t even served dinner yet.”

“Oh,” he says chagrined.

Alex winks at him and heads out to the balcony to use her cell phone.

As soon as Alex leaves, Julia Swan glides up to Walker.

“Ranger Walker, so nice to see you again and under much better circumstances. My, what you do for a tux.”

“Mrs. Swan, how are you? No more problems?”

“No, it’s been quiet. I imagine the extra security we’ve added has deterred our prankster.”

“I wouldn’t dismiss this as a prank. I think you should remain cautious.”
“Well, what could be safer than dancing with a Texas Ranger?” she suggests as she pulls him toward the dance floor.

Walker follows with a look of suffering as he glances around in search of his wife.

 

The Walker Ranch 7:30 p.m.

 

Gage and Sydney have put together a meal from what they find in the Walker’s refrigerator and sit down to eat. Suddenly, they hear a demanding cry emanating from upstairs.

“I don’t see why they need the baby monitor. I can hear her loud and clear without it,” Gage gripes as he heads upstairs behind Sydney.

“What is it Angela? Are you ready for a bottle?”

Sydney lifts the squalling baby, but Angela remains unhappy. Sydney changes her amidst comments from Gage and then carries her downstairs.

“Here Gage, you hold her while I heat the bottle.”
“How about I heat the bottle while you hold her?” he asks in a panicked voice.

“This from the man who can’t boil water?”

“I can boil water, I just don’t like to.”

“Hold the baby,” Sydney orders as she hands the screaming infant to him.

Sydney rushes around the kitchen trying to get the bottle ready as Gage stands in the middle of the floor looking at Angela as if she has two heads.

“Hold her against you and rock her or something,” Sydney barks out as she hurries back and forth trying to get the bottle warm without getting it too hot.

She finally has it heated to an acceptable temperature and she takes Angela from Gage and heads to the living room to sit down and feed her. As she latches onto the nipple, Angela finally gets quiet. It lasts all of ten minutes. Soon, Sydney is singing to her, walking her around the floor, patting her back, she’s tried all her tricks and it isn’t until Angela tires herself out that peace reigns once again. Sydney heads upstairs with her and lays her in her crib. She rejoins Gage downstairs only to hear Angela begin to cry again.

Many more trips up and down the stairs later, both Sydney and Gage are worn out and panting. Angela is quiet, but they have no faith that it will last. They collapse on the couch when the phone rings.

“Walker residence,” Gage answers in a breathless voice.

“Gage? It’s Alex, is everything all right?”

“Alex, hi, yeah sure everything is fine,” Gage makes faces at Sydney as he blatantly lies to Alex.

“Did she take her bottle?” the concerned mother asks.

“Oh yeah, she drank it down,” Gage reassures her.

“Great, I’m glad she’s being good for you. This is her fussy time. For some reason she gets cranky at about this time every night. It usually lasts till 9:00, 9:30 at the latest.”

Gage’s eyebrows shoot up; “well all’s quiet on the home front,” he tells Alex into the phone and then covers the mouthpiece and mouths to Sydney, “for the moment.”

“Gage, you sound odd, I didn’t interrupt anything did I? You and Sydney aren’t taking advantage of the comfy couch and fireplace are you?” Alex asks in a broad hint.

“Furthest thing from our minds,” Gage is able to answer truthfully.

“Well, just make sure to keep the baby monitor close so you can hear Angela in case she wakes again before I get home,” Alex reminds him.

“Alex, can I ask you something?”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Have you ever had trouble hearing Angela when she’s crying?”

“Well, I like to get to her before she really gets going. Usually if you do, she’s in a much better mood.”

“Oh, okay I’ll keep that in mind. Enjoy the night out,” he says before hanging up and adds, “’cuz it’s the last you’re gettin’ until your little angel is walking and talking.”

Just then the sound of crying comes from upstairs and is amplified over the baby monitor. “According to Alex, this lasts until 9:00 or 9:30,” he informs Sydney.

 

Governor’s Ball

 

Alex heads back out to find her husband and sees Julia Swan draped over him. Alex marches up and inserts herself between the clinging vine of a woman and Walker.

“Mrs. Swan, you know my wife, Alex, don’t you?” Walker stresses the word wife.

“Yes of course, we met on a committee for some charity or other,” Julia Swan says while looking longingly at Walker.

“It was to raise money for shelters for victims of domestic violence,” Alex informs her.

“Yes, yes, whatever,” Julia Swan brushes her response off.

“Is that Warren Hughes over there?” Alex asks Walker.

Walker looks at her wondering what she’s doing. Neither of them can stand the pretentious millionaire.

“Why yes it is, I’ll see you both later. I must say hi to him,” Julia makes a beeline for the recently widowed man who is quickly approaching eighty.

“Smooth move, Mrs. Walker.”
“Why thank you, Mr. Walker. I told you it was going to be hard to keep the women off of you tonight. You look good enough to eat in that tux,” says his wife suggestively.

“Well, I’m not on the menu, but if you’d like a dessert later when we get home, I think we can arrange something.”

“Yum,” his wife responds.

Walker grins at her and asks, “how are things at home?”

“Well, I don’t know. All was quiet, but Gage sounded out of breath. I think our babysitters were necking on the couch.”

“Hey, that’s our couch,” Walker complains.

“I guess that’s what you have to expect when you ask a couple to sit. You know how we are about new places,” she smiles coquettishly and looks ahead instead of at him as dinner is announced.

 

The Swan Mansion 11:30 p.m.

 

A tall woman with long dark hair walks around the fountain, pulling her hair up from her neck and allowing the breeze to cool her. A figure separates from the bushes and sneaking up behind the woman, slices her throat and allows her body to crumple to the ground.

 

The Walker’s Ranch 12:00 a.m.

 

Walker opens the front door and quietly escorts his wife into the house. They walk into the living room and stop and stare at the sight that greets them. Gage is sprawled on the floor, his head on a cushion pulled from the chair. Sydney is in a similar position on the couch. There are bottles, toys, diapers, pacifiers, stuffed animals and various other paraphernalia strewn all over the living room.

“Gage? Sydney?” Alex asks in a soft voice. She gets no response.

Walker makes the sound of a crying infant, a noise he has perfected. He chuckles as the two rangers jump to attention.

“Rough night?” he asks the two embarrassed babysitters.

“I’m sorry, I just laid down for a minute, I was going to clean up our mess before you got home,” Sydney apologizes.

“Leave it, we have all weekend to clean up after typhoon Angela,” Walker jokes.

“I take it she was fussy?” Alex deduces.

“Well, she was, but after we resorted to giving her the formula, things got really bad,” Sydney admitted.

“Yeah, she doesn’t digest it well. I thought she’d be okay with one bottle. I would have left you more, but she usually only eats once around 8:00 and then not again until 2:00.”

“Well, I guess she just missed you,” Sydney decides.

“Thanks a lot guys, it looks like we owe you a big one,” Walker tells his young friends.

“No problem, anytime,” Gage tells them with his fingers crossed behind his back.

Sydney and Gage head out and Alex heads upstairs to check on her little angel. She is lying in the crib, her thumb in her mouth, sleeping a sweet peaceful sleep.

Walker joins Alex after locking up. “Looks like she wore herself out along with her babysitters. Maybe she’ll let us get some sleep,” he says as he runs his hand up and down his wife’s back, letting it dip lower each time.

“I need to pump first thing, I missed the last feeding and I’m getting uncomfortable,” his wife informs him.

“Okay, I’ll clean up after typhoon Angela and I’ll meet you in bed for dessert in half an hour.”

“Deal,” Alex says and steps into his arms for a kiss.

Twenty five minutes later, the phone rings.

“Ranger Walker, there’s been a murder at the Swan Mansion.”

“Who was killed?”
“Sophie Minelli, apparently she was spending the night. Bethany Swan went looking for her about a half hour ago and found her by the fountain, her throat has been slit.”

“Call out Rangers Cooper and Chen, I’m on my way,” Walker states as he goes to tell his wife where he’s headed.

 

Swan Mansion 1:30 a.m.

 

“It was a swift silent execution. The question is, did the hitman get the intended target?” Walker says to his two rookie rangers.

“What do you mean? This close, the killer had to know who he was killing,” Chen says.

“Not necessarily. Sophie Minelli and Bethany Swan look very similar in dim lighting. They’re roughly the same height and build and they have the same coloring. It’s not until you see their face that you can tell them apart,” Walker tells her.

“So you think Bethany was the intended victim?” Cooper asks.

“I don’t know, but we can’t rule it out. On the other hand, Sophie was blatantly defying family orders by coming here. Remember the other day when we talked to Johnny Minelli and he said that there was bad blood between the families and they had no personal or business dealings with each other?”

“It could have also been James Swan, he isn’t thrilled with is sister’s relationship with Sophie either.”

“Well, we’re not going to get anything else tonight. I’m going to head home and we’ll meet tomorrow at headquarters and come back at it fresh. You two wrap up here and head on home too. Make sure there are DPD officers posted twenty four hours.”
“You got it boss,” Glen Cooper said.

 

The camera focuses on the water spurting from the mouth of the swan sculpture into the pool below as the scene fades to another commercial break.

 

Ranger Headquarters Monday 11:00 a.m.

 

“Let’s go to the conference room and try to sort out what we’ve all come up with since the Minelli murder,” Walker suggests to the other rangers gathered.

Gage and Sydney have joined the investigation. They assemble around the table along with Trivette, Cooper, Chen and Alex. Walker sits at the head of the table and looks at each member of his team. They have each been assigned a different angle or suspect to this case and each has something to contribute. The hope is that if they piece it all together, they will come to some conclusions as to who is behind the brutal slaying of the defiant young woman. Walker decides to go around the table and starts to his left where Trivette is seated.

“I’ve been digging and I came up with a whole page of hitmen who use the MO of the murder. The taunting leading up to the murder indicated a mob connection, so I was able to narrow the list. Then I eliminated those who are serving time and all the other things that would rule them out. I came up with three names and one is reported to be in town and he has past connections to the Minelli’s.”

“Are you going to keep us in suspense?” Gage asks.

“Be patient chicken boy, I’m getting there,” Trivette tells him. “Guido ‘The Knife’ Carpezzi worked for Hank Minelli and is thought to have killed the mole planted by the Feds in the Minelli organization. The agent was approached from behind and his throat was slit with the same type of weapon used in this murder. It’s also very similar to the way Julia Swan’s husband, James II died.”

“Okay, so we think we know the murderer, now who hired him? Was it Minelli? And if so, can we prove it?” Walker asks and then looks at Cooper seated next to Trivette.

“I pressed Johnny Minelli as hard as I could. He was putting on the mourning brother routine, but I don’t think it was sincere. His little sister was an embarrassment to the family and he isn’t sorry to see her out of the picture. Did he order the hit? I couldn’t tell you.”

“That also brings up the question of the intended victim,” Walker says looking at Chen.

“Well, if Johnny isn’t sorry to see his sister dead, Bethany Swan sure is. She was barely able to speak she’s so upset. She doesn’t know who is behind the murder, but she doesn’t much care at this point. She’s too numb to be angry.”

“Let’s make sure she’s watched carefully. If she was the intended victim, she’s still in danger,” Walker says looking at Chen who nods. Walker’s eyes move to the other end of the table where Gage is seated.

“I checked into Julia Swan. She’s less than cooperative, she kept asking why you weren’t the one questioning her. All I could get out of her is that she hadn’t come straight home from the Governor’s Ball and she didn’t know anything until the next day. She claims that she knew about the affair between Bethany and Sophie, but she simply didn’t care. She said that she doesn’t know who could have killed her and she was basically no help.”

“Well, I looked in to James Swan III and he didn’t seem to care that Sophie was killed either. He made wild accusations, mostly about his stepmother. There’s a real hatred there. I looked into his business dealings and it seems that Julia Swan has vetoed a takeover that would mean big money for James. Essentially, the company would be bought out and James would retain his role as CEO even after the takeover is complete. Everyone comes out with a nice sum of money including Julia, so the question is why would she oppose?” Sydney finally took a breath as she finished.

“Alex, any ideas?”
“Actually, yes. I twisted some arms at the Justice Department and I asked a certain senator to step in and get me some insider’s info.”

“Senator Rhodes?” Walker asked.

“The one and the same. After the case with ‘The Chairman’ we all know her position on organized crime. She opened doors that had previously been slammed shut in my face. It turns out that Hank Minelli did order the death of James Swan II. The Federal Agents weren’t able to prove it only because their evidence wasn’t admissible in court, but they’re positive it was him. Swan had a deal with Minelli to smuggle stolen art from other countries into America. Swan was clever and made replicas of the art and then hid the originals in with the forgeries. Customs thought they were looking at all fakes and missed the real pieces. The Minelli’s supplied the buyers and the money for the operation.”

“So what went wrong?” Trivette asked.

“Well, it seems that Swan got greedy and wanted a bigger piece of the pie. Hank had him killed believing that James III was more manageable and he was right. At least he’s been right until now. The son went along with the Minelli’s scheme until he was offered a very lucrative deal; the one Sydney uncovered. It’s just that Julia knows better than to cross the Minelli’s, so she nixed the deal.”

“Who is trying to buy the Swans out?”
“ Alexi Karpov.”
“The Russian Mafia?” Walker asks.

“Yeah, they’re trying to take over the Swan’s Import Export Business to smuggle art pieces in from the former Soviet Union. With all the chaos over there, it’s an open market.”

“Okay, so we can safely assume that the Minelli’s hired ‘The Knife’ to kill Bethany as a warning to her brother.” Trivette concludes.

“But why, if Julia already blocked the buy out?” Gage asks.

“That’s where I come in,” Walker says. “I looked into Hank Minelli’s actions since being in the federal pen. He hasn’t just let his son run the business without supervision. Johnny is just a figurehead, Hank still calls the shots and he hates Karpov. It’s also rumored that he and Julia Swan may have been having an affair when her husband was murdered.”

“The plot thickens,” Chen says.

“We’re not writing a murder mystery here Lisse,” Cooper chides her.
“Hey, I call ‘em as I sees ‘em,” she says.

“I think I will pay Julia a visit to see what she has to say,” Walker tells the group.

“I think I should go with you,” Alex says.

“Why?” he asks puzzled.

“As your bodyguard. That woman is like a bitch in heat and she has her eye on you,” his wife tells him.

“I think I can get more out of her if I go alone,” Walker says.

“I don’t doubt it for a minute, but will there be anything left of you?” she asks.

The others in the room watch the exchange, but make an effort to cover their smiles and giggles.

 

Swan Mansion 2:30 p.m.

 

Walker is standing in the living room of the Swan Mansion waiting for Julia Swan to make an appearance. He turns at a sound from behind him and sees her striding toward him dressed in a tennis outfit with her tanned legs exposed for full effect.

“Ranger Walker, this is a pleasant surprise. I’m sorry to keep you waiting, I was just having my lesson.”

“I doubt you’re going to be pleasantly surprised when you hear what I have to say,” Walker tells her.

She lifts her eyebrows, but doesn’t respond as the housekeeper enters with a cart carrying water, lemonade and iced tea.

“Can I offer you something cold to drink?” Julia asks Walker.

Knowing that this is all part of the game, he accepts a glass of lemonade and then sits strategically in the straight back chair nearest the couch thereby determining who sits where and how close. Julia takes a seat with a knowing smile and crosses her legs to give him the full effect. Walker ignores her obvious ploy and focuses on her face.

“I want to know about the Karpov offer to James,” Walker states bluntly.

Julia visibly blanches, but tries to cover. “James takes care of all the business things, I don’t know anything about what goes on.”

“Then why did you veto the takeover?”

“James came to me saying that he wanted to sale the family business, of course I said no. My late husband put everything into that business. When he took it over from his father, it was barely making it financially and when he died, it was worth millions.”

“Cut the crap, Julia. You were having an affair with your husband’s silent business partner, Hank Minelli. James got greedy and Minelli had him killed. Now junior is trying to sale to Minelli’s competition and you wonder why there have been threats and now a murder?"

“Don’t you think I know how dangerous it is to mess with Hank Minelli? My husband wouldn’t listen to me and he paid with his life. I told James not to get in bed with Karpov, but would he listen? As far as I’m concerned, my stepson is just as responsible for Sophie’s death as if he killed her himself.”

“So you think Hank ordered the murder?”

“I’m sure of it. Hank Minelli doesn’t play games. He told his son to give James a warning he wouldn’t forget. It’s just unfortunate for Sophie that she was the one killed. I’m sure they meant to kill Bethany. Actually, I liked Sophie much more than I like that little witch I have for a stepdaughter. I’m probably the only one who wished it had been her and not Sophie killed.”

The butler enters the room carrying a cordless phone. “Call for Ranger Walker, ma’am.”

Walker stands and reaches for the phone. Julia listens to his side of the conversation, but can’t figure out what has happened. Walker turns off the phone and looks at her.

“It looks like you just got your wish. Bethany was found dead in her apartment. Her throat was slit just like Sophie’s. Apparently, the killer was ordered to finish the job he was hired for. Bethany put up a fight though and managed to cause some damage before she was killed. We now have a suspect in custody and forensic evidence should get him the death sentence. This is Texas after all. I’ll let myself out,” he says striding toward the front door.

 

Ranger Headquarters 4:30 p.m.

 

Alex walks in to where her husband is talking to Chen and Cooper.

“Hi honey, I’m sorry, but I’m here to give you more bad news,” she tells her husband who is still trying to understand how Bethany was killed with all the protection she was getting.

“What is it honey?”

“Guido Carpezzi is dead.”

“What? How?”

“He was stabbed in the kidney with a knife made from a spoon while in the holding cell. Another inmate killed him. The warden is looking into how it happened, but I imagine there were payoffs to the guards to allow another prisoner to get close enough to Carpezzi to kill him.”

“You live by the knife, you die by the spoon,” Chen misquoted.

“Lisse, if I teach you nothing else, I will break you from your habit of making bad puns,” Walker tells the young rookie before refocusing on his wife. “So Hank Minelli paid someone?”

“That’s the thing. I don’t think he did. I had him moved to isolation after we heard of Bethany’s death. Even the guards have been kept away from him. There’s no way he could have known we had Carpezzi, let alone order his murder.”

“Johnny could have ordered the hit,” Cooper suggested.

“Johnny doesn’t sneeze without asking daddy’s permission,” Walker says. “Honey, are you sure Hank was cut off from everyone? He must have had access to someone.”

“No, there’s a federal agent in the prison acting as a prison guard and he was assigned by the warden to keep an eye on Hank. He moved him personally to isolation and has stood guard ever since. He reports that no one has been near him.”

“And we’re sure the agent wasn’t bribed?”

“We’re sure.”

Walker nods, accepting her statement.

Trivette hobbles in, still favoring his leg that recently had the cast removed. “I got an idea folks.”

The rest of the team faces him and he grins the grin of a man who has solved the mystery.

“Well, spill it,” Walker urges.

“Karpov.”

“Karpov?”

“Yeah, I found a link between Carpezzi and Karpov.”

“But I thought Carpezzi worked for Minelli,” Chen says.

“Think about it. Karpov wants to get rid of Minelli and takeover the Swan business. He’s got James III in his pocket, but he can’t make a move because Julia Swan has the final say. He knows that Julia has a history with Minelli, so if he kills her, chances are those in the know aren’t going to pin the hit on Minelli, because Hank wouldn’t have the motive. So instead, he sets up Johnny to take the fall for the murder of Bethany Swan. That makes it look as if Minelli is behind it. The problem with that is, Carpezzi makes a mistake and takes out Minelli’s own daughter by accident so we all look at this much closer than we would have if he’d succeeded in taking out Bethany. If it had gone as planned, Karpov would have made sure that we had enough evidence to link Carpezzi to Minelli and Minelli to the murder. With the Minelli family scrambling for a new leader not in jail, Karpov moves in and takes over.”

“I’m getting dizzy,” Chen says.

“So Carpezzi goofs, kills Sophie, then cleans up his mess by also killing Bethany. But we have warning so our officers are guarding Bethany. He manages to get past the bodyguards, but he isn’t able to get away clean and we arrest him. So Karpov has him killed to keep him from talking,” Walker summarizes.

“Okay, but how do we prove all of this?” Cooper asks.

“I’ll get back on the phone with the feds,” Alex says as she leaves to head toward her own office.

The phone rings and Walker answers it. “Okay Gage, we’re on our way.” Walker turns to the others and says, “James III just confronted Johnny Minelli and they shot each other and are both at St Matthews in critical condition. Trivette, let Alex know and then you and Cooper get digging to see if you can prove our theories. Chen, you’re with me,” he strides out with Chen close at his heels.

 

St. Matthews Hospital 6:00 p.m.

 

Walker and Chen sit with Gage and Sydney getting filled in on the events that led two rival families to have sons in emergency surgery fighting for their lives.

“James went to confront Johnny. We tried to stop him, but he was determined. Johnny let him in his study and we weren’t allowed in. We heard shouting, accusations and denials and then there was the sound of gunfire. We didn’t know that James had brought a gun with him. It was a suicide mission. If he wanted to kill Johnny, why would he do it knowing that there were two rangers right outside the door?” Gage wonders.

“What if James knew that his life wasn’t worth anything anyway?” Sydney suggests.

“What do you mean?” asks Chen.

Walker has followed Sydney’s line of thought and he fills in the missing pieces. “If Karpov told James that he wasn’t going to let him live unless the takeover went through, James had to stop the Minelli’s from preventing the takeover. And remember; James believes the Minelli’s are responsible for his sister’s death. He wants the Minelli’s to suffer and he decides he has nothing to lose.”

“So he decides to take his arch enemy out knowing that he’s on the way out as well,” Chen sums up.

Sydney shrugs, “this is definitely an example of ‘crime doesn’t pay.’ Now no one wins. Julia will be the one left in the middle between Hank Minelli and Karpov. The Swan Import Export Company will be investigated in the course of the investigations of the events surrounding all of these murders and shootings. There’s no way the secrets will be able to remain hidden.”

The group looks up as a doctor approaches them. “Rangers, I was told you were waiting on word about the two gunshot victims.”

“Yes, what’s their status?” Walker asks.

“They’re both dead. Minelli died within moments of entering the hospital due to brain damage suffered from a bullet to the head and Swan died due to massive internal bleeding from a bullet that entered his heart.”

“Any idea who shot first?” Walker asked.

“Well, both were fatal wounds, but Minelli had to have shot Swan before the bullet that killed him entered his skull. It’s possible Swan fired first and the bullet missed, but if Swan only fired once then Minelli took the first shot.”

“Each only fired once,” Gage stated.

“Thank you doctor,” Walker said shaking his hand and led his team out of the hospital.

 

Ranger Headquarters Wednesday 10:00 a.m.

 

The gang has once again assembled in the conference room to wrap up the final details of the case.

“With Hank Minelli already serving twenty-five years to life, Carpezzi, Johnny, James, Sophie and Bethany all dead, there isn’t really anyone left to prosecute. We simply don’t have enough evidence to prosecute Karpov,” Alex informs them.

“What about Julia Swan?” Cooper asks.

“She’s selling the assets of the Swan Import Export Company as well as the mansion and has announced that she is going to marry Warren Hughes,” Walker tells them.

“Warren Hughes? Didn’t his wife just die? And isn’t he at least twenty years older than Julia Swan?” Sydney asks.

“Old cat needs tender meat,” Chen says.

 “There’s nothing tender about Julia Swan, trust me, I know,” Walker says.

“Oh?” he wife queries.

Walker looks at her and smiles. “I’ll tell you about it later,” he promises.

Alex’s eyebrows shoot up, but she holds her tongue.

“So Karpov gets away with this?” Cooper asks.

“Not entirely. He will be under a great deal of scrutiny from the feds and if and when he makes a mistake in Texas, I daresay the Texas Rangers will be right there to catch him,” Alex asserts.

“You better believe it,” Walker says. “Now, Trivette, take the rest of the day off and spend it with Ericka before she has me arrested for keeping her fiancé away from her for an unreasonable amount of time. Gage and Sydney, you two get to take a break from each other and team up with Chen and Cooper. I’m taking my wife and going home. I don’t want to be called. If something comes up, handle it. I will see you all in the morning.” He stands and escorts Alex from the room.

“Who was that masked man?” Chen asks.

Cooper hits her with his hat.

“I tell you what, Alex has definitely had an effect on our fearless leader,” Gage opines.

“Love will do that to you,” Sydney observes.

“Stay out of trouble kiddies. I got my own love life to tend to,” Trivette says as he leaves.

 

Walker Ranch 9:00 p.m.

 

Walker is sitting on the porch swing rocking Angela and pointing out the various constellations to her.

“See those stars in a line there Angela? That’s Orion’s belt. He’s the hunter.”

Alex steps out onto the porch and smiles at the scene. “Darling, I think you’ve put her to sleep finally.”

“Yeah, she wasn’t as cranky tonight as she has been lately. Maybe she’s outgrowing this stage.”

“I wouldn’t hold my breath. She may just be happy to have us both home and all to herself tonight.”

“If she was cranky in the morning, I’d say it was inherited, but unlike her mommy, she’s cranky in the evenings.”
“Her mommy can get cranky in the evenings too you know,” Alex hints.

“I will say no more.”

“Smart man. Now, tell me what you know about Julia Swan.”

“Only that she wears her little tennis outfits all the time thinking that she is sexy in them and I have to say, she’s got nothing on you. Of course your legs are in a class of their own, but for her to think that flashing a little thigh was going to get me interested...”

Walker looks up as Alex lifts the bottom of the nightshirt she’s wearing. Her long sexy legs are highlighted by the porch light behind her creating an alluring silhouette. Walker stands and steps toward her. His hand touches her leg above the knee and slides slowly up.

“Let me put Angela to bed and then I’ll show you just how interested I am in having your legs wrapped around me,” he promises his wife. With a kiss on her lips and a pat to her rear, he heads into the ranch house.

 

The camera follows the procession of lights as first the porch light goes off followed by the downstairs lights and finally the upstairs lights. The camera pans out to show the house in complete darkness when a deep rumble of laughter is heard followed by a higher pitched giggle. The credits roll.

 

The End