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    C James
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

In Memory of Ed Wooton

For the Love - 28. Data Stick Shuffle

Steve moved slightly, his blue eyes batting open as the morning sun drenched the room. I loved watching him wake up in the morning; it never ceased to amaze me how good he looked, even with a riotous case of bed hair.

His arms sought me out, pulling me closer as he yawned, mumbling, "What time is it?"

I looked over the top of his head at his alarm clock, "We have to be at school in half an hour..."

Steve groaned, heaving himself to a sitting position, "At least we're already showered," he chuckled.

"Yeah, damn, that was hot. I'm glad Dex's call didn't interrupt us for long." I said, giving his nearest nipple a playful tweak.

Giving me a lecherous grin, Steve said, "Yeah, and what happened when we finally got in bed was pretty special, too. I'm sorry I haven't been in the mood much these past few days; it's just been everything, plus finding out my folks might be splitting up..."

I hugged him, hard, "Whoa. They went to a marriage counseling center. That must mean they want to make it work."

Steve climbed out of bed, stretching, "I hope so," he said, though the doubts were clear in his voice.

On the way to school Steve reminded me, "At least we know what's on that damn data stick now. I think we should go see Rick after class, then maybe Sheriff Buchanan and see what they say. I hope they can use it."

Class seemed to crawl by. I couldn't get my mind off the contents of the data stick. We'd wondered about it for so long, it was great finally knowing. The conversation I'd overheard between Eric and the Piedmont sheriff indicated that it was something big and it was. Bigger than I'd thought, that's for sure.

We also now had proof that it came from Blackheart, the shadowy hacker Eric was in league with. Given what it contained, that made perfect sense. I also had a hunch that we'd be hearing a lot more about Blackheart.

I was relieved that no one on campus seemed to know that I was connected with the prior day's events in Piedmont. I heard a few people talking about it, but no one seemed to know who had been responsible and that suited me just fine. No one noticed the fading but still visible bruises and rope marks on my wrists, much to my relief. I had no desire to tell thatparticular tale again anytime soon.

As soon as I finished my final class for the day I drove over to Steve's high school to pick him up. He was waiting in the parking lot, handsome and smiling, giving me a light punch in the shoulder as he climbed in the Jeep, "Heya, Rambo."

Rolling my eyes, I replied, "Why is it that I think you're never going to let me live that down?"

Steve laughed, "Because I'm not, and don't forget, Chad and Veronica know. I barely stopped Chad in time before he blurted out just who it was raising hell over in Piedmont yesterday."

"Oh, great. They won't let me forget it either. Just make sure you don't tell them about that 'Rambo' nickname Betty gave me." I said watching as the corner of Steve's mouth twitched upward in his familiar way, "You ass, you didn't..." I continued.

"Just Chad," Steve smiled wickedly as I rolled my eyes, knowing darn well that Chad would tell Veronica.

We drove over to Rick's office, where he ushered us in and sat us down, telling us that he'd been on the phone with Sheriff Buchanan about my expedition to Piedmont. Rick then proceeded to inform me, in exhaustive detail, how utterly stupid I'd been.

He eventually ended his tirade to ask us a few questions about the conversation I'd overheard in Piedmont. Finally, he told us to tell him everything Dex had told us about the contents of the data stick.

Rick was silent for a while, kicking his feet up to plant dusty boots on his ornate desk, staring at the Remington western bronze that was the centerpiece of his office décor. Finally he said, "I think it's time the three of us had a chat with Sheriff Buchanan. Normally I'd advise against this, because you two were withholding evidence by keeping the thing and keeping it secret, but under the circumstances he might be agreeable. Chain-of-evidence would be a problem, but there was never a way to link it to anyone other than Eric and then only circumstantially to him. In addition, your dad was a sharp enough cop to hand it over to Dex as part of the police investigation. However, be really nice, because if he's of a mind to, the sheriff could have you charged for this."

Rick grabbed his Stetson while saying, "I'll follow you down to the station."

When we arrived at the station, Rick asked for a meeting with the sheriff. We were informed that he was currently overseeing some lab work on a vehicle, but he'd be back shortly. Rick smiled, "You guys wait here. I'll go have an informal chat with him and see if I can keep him in a good mood."

Steve and I took seats in the squad room, under the watchful eye of the duty officer.

Rick returned after a while, walking side by side with the sheriff, engaged in an animated conversation. The sheriff seemed happy enough, right up until the moment he laid eyes on us, his eyes narrowing as he snarled, "In my office, now."

Steve and I shuffled in ahead of the sheriff and Rick, taking seats in front of the sheriff's desk. The sheriff, parking himself in his chair, glared at us, as Rick remained silent but apparently unconcerned.

"What's this I hear about withholding evidence? I warned you, Chris, that if you pulled any more crap I'd throw the book at you," the sheriff growled.

I began to stammer, while the sheriff and Rick exchanged a glance, before the sheriff added, "Calm down. Your counsel has already reminded me that, had you informed the department when you found it, the data contraption would likely have been turned over to Piedmont, per procedure. You also did this before my warning, so I mightlet it slide, this time, provided there ain't a next time. Got me?"

Steve and I nodded, as the sheriff fixed us with a cold stare before adding, "Right. Well, given the magnitude of all that has occurred I've had no option but to get a message through to Sgt. Williams, asking that he return at once."

Steve looked awkward, glancing at Rick before replying, "Uh, Dad isn't at my grandparents. He's at..."

The sheriff's voice softened drastically, "I know where he's at, son. I dug up your grandparents' number and when I told them it was urgent and involved you, they told me where he was. I called last night. Just hang in there, I have a feeling they'll work things out. I wish I hadn't needed to send for him, but you are a minor. That murder attempt was pretty damn serious and so was that expedition to Piedmont by your partner yesterday. Even more serious, under the circumstances, is some noise I heard out of Piedmont a half hour ago. I was going to meet with the three of you this evening, but we might as well get down to the brass tacks right now, and counselor, you might have your work cut out for you."

Feeling the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, I mumbled, "Are they filing charges against me for yesterday?"

The sheriff shook his head, "Not that I know of. They'd be hard pressed to do that, given the awkward little fact that you brought back a car they'd officially denied having, with their sheriff's blood in it, which their sheriff almost certainly thought of. As far as they know, you got a photo of their sheriff with the car, too. Not to mention a bullet from the sheriff's gun took off a chunk of your ear. What they are claiming is that you two ran that damn porn website and the whole escapade during your camping trip was part of a cover-up. They are citing the fact that the Internet service provider is in Piedmont and that the incident at the campsite occurred in Piedmont County to claim jurisdiction. Their District Attorney is threatening to charge the two of you with illegal sexual activity, production of kiddie porn, and they accused Sgt. Williams of aiding and abetting an illegal sexual relationship between a minor and a legal adult. This is the biggest load of horseshit I've ever seen. Most of the jurisdictional claims are crap. They aren't charging the two of you with some things they could, probably due to their own complicity, and normally there is no threat to charge, they just do it. What we have here, in my opinion, gentlemen, is a blackmail attempt. My hunch is they want to turn up the heat."

Rick blanched, "Sheriff, this is highly irregular, to put it mildly. They sound as if they are laying the groundwork to exonerate Eric Williams of some charges and at the same time pressure my clients. I've heard a few unsavory things about their D.A, so this looks like he's in cahoots with their sheriff."

The sheriff rocked back in his chair, "I think you have it in a nutshell, counselor, but I don't see any way Piedmont can hope to mitigate the charges Eric Williams faces for shooting one of my officers here in Lonesome Valley. They have to know damn well that I'll be wanting him as soon as he's done in Piedmont."

Rick stood up and began pacing, "My hunch is that they're stalling for time. I was thinking that they might offer him a slap-on-the-wrist plea deal, but that wouldn't cover the charges in this county, just Piedmont."

Sheriff Buchanan reached for a notepad and began scribbling furiously for a few moments before looking up, "You just gave me an idea, counselor. What if they offer him some kind of deal that puts him under house arrest in Piedmont? I don't think it would work, because we could still demand to try him here."

Rick shook his head, "No, I don't think that would work either, if for no other reason than the suspect is a minor and his parents would need to sign off on any sort of deal. Only a custodial parent could do that. Otherwise, they might have a shot if they play by their own rules; the shooting of the officer was obviously accidental and not premeditated, so I doubt we could try him as an adult here. If he's incarcerated in any form past his eighteenth birthday, you might have some serious issues, but that's more the purview of your D.A. However, without his parent's consent, Eric can't agree to a plea, so I think we're safe there. That's in the future though; my big concern is this threat from Piedmont regarding illegal sexual conduct between a minor and a legal adult."

Confusion evident on his face, Steve interrupted to ask, "What adult are they talking about?"

The sheriff nodded to Rick, who thought for a moment before answering, "Chris is an emancipated minor. That's something new in Arizona. In most states that allow it, an emancipated minor is legally an adult. However, in sexual matters, as in many others, Arizona law is silent regarding emancipated minors; there just isn't any law because the laws were written before emancipation of minors existed here, and there aren't any major court precedents, yet. Therefore, theoretically, if Piedmont can gloss over the jurisdictional issue, they could bring charges. Mentioning your father's involvement plus the connections to crimes in Piedmont might be a way to claim conflict of interest in the Lonesome Valley department and thereby claim jurisdiction. This is, to put it bluntly, damn thin, so thin that I'd laugh myself silly if not for other circumstances. Their jurisdictional issue is their Achilles' heel, but the problem here is they aren't playing by the book; they are using the indictment process to their own extra-legal ends. The one saving grace is that we do, clearly, have Arizona law on our side in one way; the sexual conduct statutes clearly and explicitly refer to a minor as a person under the age of eighteen and an adult as being over the age of eighteen. Therefore I'm fairly sure I could get Judge Bentley to grant a motion to dismiss based on point of law, virtually overnight. The potential kiddie porn charges are more problematic; we would have to be able to show the court that these boys didn't know they were being filmed."

The sheriff looked thoughtful for a moment, before asking, "Do either one of you turn eighteen soon?"

I glanced at Rick before answering, "Yes, I do in two weeks. Steve's birthday is a few days later."

Rick's expression changed, not for the better, "In this state, there is no age of consent for sex. Any sexual relations between an adult and a minor are chargeable, period. There are affirmative defenses that can be raised in court, but they don't guarantee acquittal, nor do they enable the defendant to avoid facing charges via a motion for dismissal. Further, the videos and photos from that website are admissible and can be used as prima facie evidence of an existing, ongoing sexual relationship. If that's Piedmont's game, they will use that to really turn up the heat once one of you is a full legal adult. I don't think they could get a conviction with any of this, but that's really not what they are after; they appear to be trying to use the indictment system as leverage."

Rick then added, "Why don't we just give them what they want? Your friend Dex has a copy of the decoded data, so why not just give the Piedmont Sheriff the original. They won't know it's been cracked."

Steve shook his head, "Probably wouldn't work. Dex said that the data stick got altered when it decrypted, so they could find out that we have a copy of the actual data. I'll check with Dex and see what he thinks."

The sheriff waved his hand, as if to dismiss the notion, "Given the magnitude of what that data thingy contains, I'd have serious objections regarding handing it over to criminals. There is also the fact that if they find out we have the contents, they may well try and kill you two outright instead of trying to pressure or capture you. Alternatively, if they think theyhave the only copy of the contents, they would still have motive to kill you both."

Rick rolled his eyes, "This is way outside my normal purview. We need to get the State Police and the Feds involved."

Sheriff Buchanan nodded, "What I'm about to say doesn't leave this office, but I've spoken to the State police, the State Attorney General, and the Feds already. What we werelacking was hard evidence. The bullet we dug out of the Jeep is a ballistics match to Sheriff Johnson's gun. That, combined with Sheriff Johnson's blood in a stolen car he officially denied any knowledge of, should be enough. The State Attorney General's office is being kept fully informed and should hand down a grand jury indictment against Sheriff Johnson in a few days."

Hearing that bit of news, I felt elated to the point of almost floating out of my chair. "So he won't be the sheriff anymore?" I asked.

Rick and Sheriff Buchanan exchanged glances and a shrug, before Rick answered for them both, "An indictment is not a conviction. He's an elected official, so the county can't fire him without grounds. Their liability insurance might be grounds enough as his actions would no longer be covered, but he's likely to contest it and he seems pretty well connected over there. He's also damn likely not to even need bail due to sovereign immunity issues. My guess is he'd remain in office, for a while anyway. Could go either way, until he's convicted, then he's out."

Sheriff Buchanan sighed, "I've got a year left on my own term of office and then I'm retiring. I'd say it's a coin toss who leaves office first, him or me."

Rick added, "We may need to request some form of protective custody for you two."

Steve and I shared a look. I could tell from his eyes that he had serious reservations, so nodded to indicate he could speak for both of us.

Sitting up a little straighter, Steve said in a level voice, "If by that you mean going into a probation facility or jail, forget about it. No way in hell. The witness protection program maybe, but no way are we going to be locked up."

Sheriff Buchanan tapped on the table, "Let's cross that bridge when we come to it. The State doesn't have a witness protection program like the feds do anyway. Now, remember what I said, keep your traps shut about the evidence and the indictments, and try not to worry too much, things are looking up."

I decided to mention the elephant in the room that everyone seemed to be ignoring, "What about Reverend Thaddeus?"

Sheriff Buchanan paused, scratching his chin for a moment, before easing his hat back and telling us, "I can't say too much as that's an ongoing investigation. However, we are hopeful that some things will pan out and link him provably and 'chargeably' to this mess. We're getting closer to nailing his ass, too. It might come in the form of one of the high school track team turning state's evidence; I think one of 'em is leaning that way."

"But Eric called him with my phone after trying to kill us, we know he gave Eric a ride out to the campsite, and Steve's car was seen near his church," I gasped.

Rick fielded that question, "None of which could prove anything in court. We can't prove yet that Thaddeus gave Eric a ride and there was no actual call, just an attempt. However, regarding a civil case for damages; if the Piedmont Sheriff is convicted, Chris," he said turning his attention to me. "You would have an excellent case against Piedmont County."

We left the meeting with severely mixed feelings; we were glad that the sheriff was in the process of being indicted, but things were obviously far from over.

On the way home, we stopped by Veronica's house as she'd commanded. Chad was there and we all sat down near the swamp cooler in the living room, helping ourselves to some iced tea. I endured more 'Rambo' jokes as I gave them the full story of what had happened in Piedmont.

After a great deal more ribbing, I finished my recount. Veronica shook her head, "You're damn lucky to be alive. That was a stupid, stupid, stupid thing to do! I thought Blondie was the crazy one and you were the level-headed type."

Steve grinned, "So I'm the level-headed one now, huh?"

Veronica punched him in the arm, "Not likely, Blondie. You're still crazy, but Chris here is psycho, which at least rhymes nicely with Rambo."

Chad patted me on the back, "I don't think you'll ever hear the end of this, Chris."

"Count on it," Veronica added.

"Any news from Dex?" asked Chad.

I grinned, "Yep, big news. He's cracked the data stick. He's still stuck in California but he'll be back in time for Chad's birthday party. He's going to have some tales of his own to tell, too. California sounds even weirder than we thought; he's in Oak Meadow near Los Angeles and he swears blue that everyone there must be from outer space. He has to fight heavy traffic for a few hours each way just to reach the lab in Pasadena. He said he can't wait to get back here where things are normal."

Chad arched an eyebrow in my direction, "Yeah, real normal. In the last week, you two have had a camping trip, complete with a stake-out, and then there is the matter of you blowing up buildings and ripping up half a city yesterday."

I shrugged, "Yeah, well, we haven't told him any of that, yet."

Veronica stood up, jabbed a finger in my direction, and demanded, "Enough chit-chat; what's on that damn data stick?"

Steve and I said, in natural unison, "Data."

"I'm not blond; I could have figured that out on my own," Veronica bellowed, "so stop stalling and spill it."

Steve laughed, "Sorry, but Sheriff Buchanan told us to keep quiet, so we're keeping quiet. You'll just have to wait until Dex gets back. I know you'll wring it out of him at the pool party if not before."

Veronica crossed her arms, angling her head to glare at me, "You better start flapping your gums, because if I have to wait until the party, I'll get creative."

I swallowed, wondering just what she meant, but Steve spoke up, "Sorry, but the sheriff really did order us to keep quiet about some stuff, honest. You'll find out soon."

Veronica sat down beside me, settling her arm across my shoulders, reaching up with her free hand to twirl a lock of my hair before saying, in an overly sweet voice, "Chris, I don't think you really want to make me wait, now do you?"

Chad and Steve looked on, laughing hysterically as Veronica played with my hair. Seeing no sign of help from their direction, I decided to try reason;"Veronica, come on, the sheriff did give us orders and you can't blame us for following them."

Veronica eased forward to look me square in the eye, "Yes, you follow orders so well, don't you? I seem to remember an order of 'Stay the hell out of Piedmont,' and you've gone there not once, but twice. So spill it, Rambo..."

Shaking my head, trying my best to show pained regret, I mumbled, "Sorry, but we can't."

Veronica stood up, pacing, shooting daggers from her eyes in every direction, "That's it, I won't ask again; have it your way. See you Friday," she said with an evil grin.

Steve and I left, trying hard to keep straight faces, succeeding until we pulled away in my Jeep. Steve laughed, "I think we wound Veronica up pretty good. It's not often that somebody manages to get her goat."

"Yeah," I grumbled, "but it's not you she was threatening to get creativewith. You saw her playing with my hair... She's going to make me blonder than you are."

Steve laughed, "I think that's a given anyway, due to your little excursion to Piedmont. I think she'll find other ways to be creative..."

I laughed; there wasn't all thatmuch she could do, right?

Once we arrived home, Steve raised another pressing issue after checking the answering machine, "Why haven't my folks called? First they take off, then no word, nothing. I had to find out from the sheriff that they are coming back and I don't even know when they'll get here."

I couldn't answer; there wasn't really anything I could say. I gave Steve a hug before we stripped to our boardies, settling down in his room to do some long-neglected and highly overdue homework.

We were almost done when we heard the front door open, and Mr. Williams' deep voice calling out "We're home..."

Steve got up as I pointed to the still slightly visible rope burns and cuts on our wrists. Steve nodded and began digging around in his sock drawer, tossing me a pair of terry cloth wristbands. He looked for a few more seconds before giving up and throwing on a long-sleeved shirt, which he didn't bother to button. I pulled on one of his tees and followed him to the living room.

Steve's parents were standing amidst three suitcases, looking road-worn and tired. A quick glance at Mr. Williams' eyes showed that even more was amiss.

Steve and I reached for the suitcases, but Mr. Williams picked that moment to glance at Steve, his eyes going wide as he saw the marks around his son's wrists. Their eyes met and Steve quickly shook his head, his eyes indicating his mother's presence.

Mr. Williams bit his lip, subtly angling his head towards the back door. Steve and his father walked off, leaving me alone with a downcast Mrs. Williams. Her eyes tracked her husband and son as they went through the back door, so I tried to distract her, "How was the trip?" I asked, instantly regretting my choice of words as I remembered where they had been.

She sat down, sighing, remaining silent for long moments before finally replying, "I think as well as can be expected. I..."

Mrs. William's sentence was cut off by Mr. William's thundering roar from the backyard, "He what?"

I cringed as I looked back at Mrs. Williams, only to see her put her head in her hands, shrinking in upon herself.

An awkward minute passed before Mr. Williams barged back in, muttering something about hell spawn, with Steve in tow. Steve looked frightened, glancing with concern in his mother's direction, as Mr. Williams announced, "It's time for a family meeting; we need to clear the air and get some things out in the open."

I got up to leave, only to find a powerful hand on my shoulder shoving me back down, "Sit yourself back down, Chris, you're part of us now," Mr. Williams said.

To my surprise, it was Mrs. Williams who stood and said to her husband, "Carl, could you tell them, please? Tell them all of it."

We all watched as she walked from the room, looking for all the world as if she had aged twenty years. The door to the Williams' bedroom closed as Mr. Williams took a seat, Steve by his side, "Steve told me what Eric tried to do to you. We'll get to that later, but I'm really sorry for leaving the way I did and what the two of you have gone through. I had no idea anything like this would happen and I had no idea where we were going. All she told me was that she had to get away and she begged me to go, so I went. We were nearly to her folks' place when she gave me new directions, wouldn't tell me why. An hour later we're at a marriage counseling retreat."

Steve cringed, causing his father to give him a reassuring pat on the shoulder before continuing, addressing Steve, "I might as well start from the beginning. Your mother has always been involved in charity work. Well, not too long after you were born, she and I were going through a rough time, mainly because I was putting in too much time at work. She was working at a fundraising charity event and she turned to someone for advice, someone in a position of trust. He ended up 'counseling' her in private, pretending to befriend her. Then they had an affair. "

Steve inhaled, his eyes showing pain as his father continued, "It didn't last, he got what he wanted and moved on, I guess. She thought it was all water under the bridge until she found out she was pregnant with Eric. She admits she wasn't sure who the father was, but said nothing for all these years. The father must have suspected, because he somehow got a hold of some medical records, we don't know how, and contacted Eric, apparently last year. Eric has been pressuring your mother with this news ever since."

Steve clenched his fists as he looked at his father, "Blackmail. That sure fits Eric's pattern. I guess that explains why you and Mom went pretty easy on Eric."

Mr. Williams nodded gravely, "Linda did pressure me a few times, but I never questioned... I guess he had her over a barrel. Linda and I, well, I guess it was a good thing she took me to that center. I'm trying to handle this, get past it, because it was a long time ago. I think we'll be ok, we're sure gonna try."

Steve gave his father a one-armed hug, "I'm sure glad to hear that, Dad, but who is Eric's father?"

Mr. Williams turned slightly red, "Well, we were wondering why he was so damn cozy with certain people. His uncle is the Piedmont Sheriff, and Eric's father... is that hatemongering windbag, Reverend Thaddeus J. Emoe."

Steve sat, dumbfounded for a few moments, before he glanced in the direction his mother had gone, and Mr. Williams said softly, "Go talk with her, she probably needs some reassurance right now."

As soon as Steve had gone, Mr. Williams said, "Steve gave me a short version of what happened when you two went camping." He continued after a short pause asking, "You okay?"

"Still a little shaken up, but I'm doing okay. Have you spoken to Sheriff Buchanan yet?" I asked, hoping that he hadn't.

"Nope, he just told me that you two were okay, but ordered me to get my ass back here on the double. We left before dawn and drove straight through. I'm going to go see Sheriff Buchanan shortly, as soon as I'm sure everything has calmed down here. Anything you need to tell me?"

I thought that over for a moment, finally deciding that the sheriff would likely fill him in on the details of my trip to Piedmont, so I said, "Dex called last night; he's cracked the data stick."

Mr. William's eyes opened wide, "So, what's on that thing?"

I shook my head, "It was bigger than we expected. It was from that hacker, Blackheart, the same one that wrote the keylogger for your computer, and Eric set up the purchase for Thaddeus and the sheriff...."

"Okay, but what was on it?" Mr. Williams asked impatiently.

"It was thousands of..." I paused when Steve re-entered the room, his face unreadable.

Steve sat down as Mr. Williams asked, "How is she?"

"Mom's pretty shaken up. I think she'll be okay though. I didn't tell her about Eric trying to kill us."

Mr. Williams nodded, "Probably for the best. She would be very upset to learn something like that happened while we were away at her insistence. Now, before I go see Sheriff Buchanan, I've got two questions for you both; why weren't you surprised with my news about Eric, and what the hell was on that damn data thing?"

I glanced at Steve before answering, "I overheard the Piedmont sheriff tell Eric 'blood is thicker than water' and we later figured out it meant they are probably related," I said, noticing Mr. William's jaw drop a little, as I realized that I'd probably said far too much for my own good.

Mr. Williams fixed me with a harsh stare as he asked, "And just how did you happen to overhear a conversation between Eric and that damn sheriff?"

Looking at Steve, I begged him with my eyes to rescue me. Steve smiled sweetly, put his hand on his father's shoulder, gestured towards me with his other arm, still smiling, laughing with his eyes as he said, "Eric stole the Charger and took it to Piedmont. Chris here decided to go there too and do some snooping. He ended up bringing my Charger back, but I think Rambo here overheard Eric and the sheriff not too long before he stole the sheriff's car, tore up half of downtown, and blew up the sheriff's house."

For a moment, a fast-fleeting interlude which I savored, you could hear a pin drop in the Williams' living room. Although, judging by Mr. Williams' rapidly changing color, that was not to last. I looked at Steve, who still wore the most innocent of smiles, though his eyes were anything but, and I convinced myself that, at my earliest opportunity, I really, really needed to drown my boyfriend.

©Copyright 2007 C James; All Rights Reserved.
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Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.  The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"

Many thanks to Conner for editing, support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions on this chapter.
Many thanks also to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions (and for thinking up a title!).

Thanks also to Shadowgod, for beta reading and advice, and for putting up with me.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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After all was said, I really thought Mr. Williams would end up laughing at the joke, or the idea of Piedmont being left in ruins and the Sheriff's home blown sky high.  I'll just put his lack of humour to being stress out for the information overload.:blink::gikkle:

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