By Anita Louise

Part Sixteen

(c) copyright 1/02  

Anita's web site


Chapter Thirty Five

When the chopper set down ten miles from Springfield, Bobie was surprised to see a dark blue car with driver waiting to take them the rest of the way.  "I think there is a lot you have left out Skylar Richmond.  Mysterious contacts that seem to pop up out of nowhere and now this.  What else have you been holding back?"

"In my line of work, a person needs many contacts.  Sometimes even those that move in dark circles.  We needed the assistance.  You're not upset are you?"

"No.  It is just every moment you amaze me more."

Sky reached over and patted the woman's hand.  "We should be in town soon.  I think the sheriff will be staying on the reservation for a while.  Gives us time to talk to Jeanne and Belle, find out what has been happening.  And, get you to seek medical attention."

"I'm fine."

"You may  fool some but not me.  The herbal tea helped, still I would feel better if you at least let Doc take a look."  Giving Bobie's hand a squeeze she added,  "Do it for me."

"You really know how to get to me.  All right, I will let Doc take a look.  But no hospitals."

"No hospitals.  We have a lot coming up.  Everyone is going to need to be on top of their skills.  The man Trenton will not be easy to take down."

"Who are we going after first?"  Bobie moved closer to the woman laying her head back against the seat.

"First we get settled.  Talk to Jeanne and Belle.  You see Doc then we will go from there."

Doc Taylor stepped into the living room.  Walking to the coffee table, he set the medical bag then turned to see if Sky was out of the bedroom yet.  The man was dressed in blue jeans, a light-green flannel shirt and wore dark cowboy boots.

Wasn't long before Sky walked into the room, her hands casually in the back pockets of her jeans.  Gazing at the man, her first thoughts were, he looked more like a rancher than a doctor.

Doc smiled when he saw the woman approaching.  "Lot of things happening, glad you talked Bobie into at least letting me check out the head injury."

The woman held a worried frown upon her face as she walked up to the man.  "Tell me, is Bobie going to be all right?"

"From all she has told me, the herbal tea has helped a great deal.  I gave here a good check up.  Not the best but from what I see her eyes are fine, coordination good and she seems to be feeling much better.  I think the best medicine for her is you Miss Richmond.  Give her a couple days, taking it easy, no sudden movements, and have her take the medication I left.  She will be as good as new.  Parkers have been known to have hardheads."

"Thank heavens for this.  I will make sure Bobie follows your order.  Doc, it is important you don't tell anyone we are here.  You look like you could use a drink, could I  get you something?"

"Thank you kindly  but no.  I have several house calls to make after this.  Don't worry, I won't mention seeing either of you.  The sheriff has this town wrapped up like some sort of Christmas Present and for some reason the two of you are at the top of his list.  Before I go, I want to tell you how happy I am to see you beat the infection.  I am sure you know by now I was very concerned.  Some scoff at Native Healings, I think these have performed miracles.  If you need me, call my pager, no need to say a word."

After Doc left, Sky walked toward the kitchen.  She was thirsty and at the same time wanted to get a glass of water to take into Bobie.

Jeanne went with Belle to the tavern, she wanted to help the woman as much as possible.  It was a good feeling to see Sky and Bobie return in one piece.  Though her mind kept mulling over the incident that caused the woman's slight concussion.  Who was this man?  What did he have to do with the accident?  Why was Bobie Parker keeping him such a secret?

The evening had begun slowly but by ten o'clock that evening it was picking up steam.  Belle had booked a promising country band to entertain hoping it would ease people's fears and get them out once more.  The headdliner was Courtney West.  All in all it looked to be a very interesting evening as well as profitable for Belle.

"Want to come back down to earth?"

The words had filtered in, sending any other thoughts away in one sweep.  Smiling, Jeanne tuned to gaze into Belle Gardner's crystal blue eyes.  "Haven't left."

"Been watching you, and seems to me your mind was off somewhere.  Could it have anything to do with your friend Richmond?"

"Sorry, there is so much to do regarding things here, sometimes I let my mind shift to these.  I'm at your command, tell me what it is I can do for you and I will give it my best."

"By things do you mean the murders?"

"That and a few others."

"Can you tell me just how close you are to solving this?"

"Not sure each day seems to bring more to light.  I don't want you worrying about it.  What needs to be done, will happen in its own time."

"Just want to offer my help.  I know I don't have a criminal law education, but I do watch an awful lot of who-dun-its."

A soft chuckle emitted from the woman as Jeanne's face lit up.  "I have been blown away by you Belle Gardner.  Usually have my partner help in cases but I will be glad to have you watch my back."

Belle glowed and mumbled,  "You ain't kiddin me?"

"Nope.  Since meeting you, I have found something that has been missing for a very longtime."

"Thank you for your trust, I won't let you down."

"I'm a good judge of character and in my heart I know you are a warm caring person.  A person I can count on in any situation."  The room was filling, as talking, laughing took over what had been a very quiet evening.  "Looks like your country band has brought in the customers.  Should do a good business this night."

"I thought the town needed it.  Everyone has been so leery lately, a kinda dark cloud seems to be hovering over the area.  Hoped that the band would get people out, enjoy themselves and forget the madness at least for a little while."

"If all of these people are any indication, I think this will be a good night, a night to remember."

Belle gazed at the crowd filling the room then turned her attention to Jeanne.  "The day you came to Springfield will always be a time to remember for me.  As far as tonight I hope that it may also bring a few scoundrels out of their nests."

Jeanne tipped her head to the left, eyes never leaving the woman.  "Smart move.  It just might. "

"If anyone is going to be off their guard, a shindig like this will do it.  I was surprised that Courtney West agreed to spotlight."

"If we both keep our eyes open, maybe Trenton might even make an appearance.  It is wonderful that Courtney West made it."

"Have you ever seen the woman perform?  Do you know her?"

"You were smart to hire more people to help out tonight."

Belle gazed around the room before she said,  "If it gets as busy I think, they all will be needed.  Didn't answer me about West?"

"Yes, met her once.  Tell me what you want me to do?  I want to help."  Jeanne walked to the bar, ordered a drink then asked,  "Want something?"

"No.  Got to keep my wits about me this night.  You go drink that stuff and I'll be carrying you home."

Reaching out for the mug of beer the man prepared, Jeanne took a sip then replied,  "I'll be fine."

"Forgot to ask if you think Sky and Bobie will be all right with my helping you?"

"Well, with things happening as they are, I think Sky and Bobie will need all the help they can get.  You have shown all of us just how helpful you are and that you can be trusted."

"So you feel pretty sure the case will be cracked soon?"

Jeanne smiled, her eyes fixed on the woman.  "`Cracked,' you did say that didn't you?  Something a police show might have in the script.  I find it endearing of you."

"Sorry, been watching too many cops and robber shows.  You know what I mean.  Tell me, how much longer will Springfield be graced with your presence?"

"Until this thing is settled.  The Kiva incident, the hotel death, the Trenton gang, the untimely and uncalled for suspicions of Sheriff Burgess and a lot more."

"Wow!  Hadn't really though about it like that.  A lot of things to solve, sounds to me like you just might be making a home of it here."  The woman's eyes sparkled as she smiled.  "By the way, about Courtney West tell me more."

Jeanne was enjoying her drink, as the band began to check their instruments she turned to gaze toward the stage.  "Courtney is a performer that's all."

"Just kinda unusual for someone to refer to an entertainer by their first name, it was like you knew her."

"In my profession I come in contact with many people.  Courtney just happens to have been one.  Will Sky and Bobie make it for this tonight?"

"Go ahead, change the subject, but I will keep pestering until you answer me about Courtney West."

"Did I hear someone mention my name?"

Both women turned to stare into the vibrant  face of Courtney West.  The woman was stunning; delicate features,  flowing golden hair cascading over one shoulder and lips that were full and shapely.

Belle glanced toward Jeanne then toward the woman.  "Miss West, yes we were talking about the show tonight."

Soft blue eyes fringed with long curving lashes sought Jeanne Randolph.  The woman smiled, reached out to grasp Jeanne's hand.  "Good to see you again Jeanne.  I didn't know you would be here."

Belle was caught off guard by the woman's reactions.  She watched the two women hug as if they were old friends.  "Didn't know the two of you knew one another."

Courtney gazed up at Jeanne then replied,  "We have met."

Jeanne patted the woman's hand as she pulled away from her slender fingers.  "Belle Gardner is the owner and is the one that booked you and the band.  It is nice to see you again too, Courtney.  Looks like it will be a good audience."

The woman smiled replying,  "These gigs can get rowdy.  I'd better get back to the band.  Hope to share a drink with you later, Jeanne."

Dressed in blue jeans, boots, Levi Shirt with pearl snaps topped off by the tan leather vest she walked toward Belle.  "Nice meeting you Belle Gardner.  Hope we don't disappoint you tonight."

Belle felt herself sigh as she watched the woman walk away, her step was sprightly, she was a true performer, could really pour on the charm, Courtney's voice was pure honey.  "Your friend is beautiful and quite the performer."

Jeanne drank the last bit of brew in the mug while watching Courtney West walk toward the band members.  She heard Belle and realized her lips were still on the empty mug.  Turning to gaze at Belle she mumbled,  "She is a performer."

Belle Gardner chuckled and walked toward the woman, reached out, wiping the foam moustache away.  "I am wondering just what kind of tie the two of you have."

Jeanne winked at the woman.  "Guess I got caught up in the moment.  I know Courtney, have in the past anyway.  I was her bodyguard for a while.  Threats against her life, a stalker that would not take no for an answer.   It was just part of my job."

"Uh huh . . .  and it looks like she made a very indelible impression too."

"She is a nice person.  A good entertainer.  We are not close if that is what is on your mind."

"Looked pretty close to me.  But it is none of my business, forgive me for sticking my nose in yours.  Give me your mug, I'll go get you a refill.  It just surprised me to find out that you and the woman knew one another that's all."

Jeanne smiled, handed the mug to the woman but followed.  "Belle, when the band begins to play, I will mingle in the crowd, look for anyone suspicious."

"Shucks, no need you doing that.  Just enjoy the evening.  Dance and be happy."

Jeanne accepted the refilled mug and replied,  "I may dance but my mind will be on the job and on you too."

"On me?  I will be at the bar, no need to worry bout me."

Taking a sip of the brew, Jeanne reached out and touched Belle's chin.  "Who said it would be worrying I would be thinking."

Bobie walked into the living room searching for her boots.  Dropping to her knees she bent over and began to crawl.  Making it under the end table, her aim was to see what may be hidden behind the couch.  She was checking behind this when Sky entered the room.  The tall redhead, stopped and gazed as Bobie leaned forward.  "Love this picture."

Hearing the woman's words, Bobie jumped up, hitting her head on the table.  "Ouch!"  She grasped her head with one hand before backing out.  "Could've warned a person you were there."

Sky walked toward her, reached out grasped a hand and helped the woman to her feet.  "Find what you were looking for?"

Bobie walked to the couch, sit then reached up to run fingers through her hair.  "Wasn't looking for another bump on the head.  You surprised me."

Sky held out a glass of water.  "Got this for you.  Didn't think I was gone all that long.  Doc said you should stay in bed."

Taking the glass from Sky, Bobie took a drink then muttered,  "Doc is just being too cautious.  Can't keep a woman down for long.  Too much for us to do.  I will not be the reason that keeps you from your quest."

Sitting beside the woman, Sky reached out and lightly stroked Bobie's leg.  "If I wanted to leave, go on this `quest' I would have.  No way are you keeping me from anything.  There is no place I would rather be than right here beside you."

Bobie placed her hand on the woman's.  "You said something about loving the picture.  The position I was in, I can pretty well guess what you were looking at."

Squeezing her hand Sky replied,  "Whatever you do makes a lovely picture.  Can't help it if I see you in a certain position and loving thoughts happen."

"You hid my boots didn't you?"

Sky leaned back and smiled.  "You got me.  Thought if you couldn't find these, you might follow the doctor's orders and stay in."

"Want to tell me where they are?"

Sky stood, and walked to the center of the room.  "I can see you are going to be bullheaded so I will tell you.  Just don't want you going out and injuring yourself."

Bobie stood walked toward the woman and hugged her.  "As long as I have you, there is no way I will injure myself."

Sky gazed down at the woman.  "You may not injure yourself but someone else can do it.  Might be a good idea to stay in the background through this.  I would die if anything happened to you."

Bobie sighed and snuggled closer.  "Where are the boots?  Don't want to lie down, want to help you."

Sky leaned over and placed a soft kiss on the woman's head.  "In the bedroom, in a dresser drawer.  You should lay down for a while."

"Head is sore but I am not tired.  Belle is having a big shindig at the tavern tonight, we should go."

"In your condition the last place you need to be, is in a very loud crowd.  There will be other times.  How about laying down and resting?"

"Make a deal with you.  I'll lay down for a little while, but only if you lay with me."  She had stepped back, reached out grasped the woman's right hand and urged,  "Come with me.  Show me where you put the boots."

Sky raised her eyebrows, and made an attempt to sidetrack the woman.  "The Geiger Counters are here, want to take a look?"

"Geiger Counters going to lead you all to Trenton?"

"Hopefully they will help us find out just what they have been up to."

"That was uranium wasn't it?"

"Yes.  The Logon Testing Grounds are not that far away.  Not really sure what is going on but maybe someone is testing for uranium.  Perhaps even staking claims ."

"I want to go with you when you begin checking."

Sky held the woman close, and whispered,  "Where I am, you will be.  So don't fret about any of this now.  Just rest for a while."

Bobie seemed to be in deep thought before she replied,  "In answer to your question about wanting to take a look at the Geiger Counters.  Nope.  They are not going anywhere."

Sky shut her eyes and stood still for several minutes,then opening them she mumbled,  "You are a hard person to sidetrack."

Bobie Parker was vibrant, her face glowing as she rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet.  Blue-green eyes sparkled and teased, the look on the woman's face was one that could not be ignored for long.  "Which is it?  All up to you."

Smiling from within, Sky replied,  "Bed.  No funny business, just rest."

"Nothing funny on my mind.  Couldn't be happier."  Bobie's melodic words reached out and led Sky toward the bedroom.

Nearing the bed, Bobie tilted her face up to Sky.  "Want to remove your clothes?  Make it easier to rest."

"You make it very hard to concentrate Parker.  I'll keep the clothes on, remove my  boots and lay with you.  I know what you are doing."

Bobie reached up to gently pull the top snap on Sky's shirt loose.  Her deft fingers were already traveling downward when Sky grasped them.  "Rest and you cannot rest if we . . ."

"Have sex.  I don't know if I will even satisfy you but I would love to do by best."

Sky brought the woman's hands to her lips kissing each one but not letting them go.  "I love you.  When we do get together, I want it to be special.  Anyone could come in, anything could happen now."

"Got that right, anything could happen."  She had rescued her hands and was now determined to unbuckle the leather belt.

"That was some powerful pill you took.  I think it is influencing you some.  All this time I thought you were a woman with little experience.  Tell me Parker, once the clothes are removed, what do you do then?"

Bobie stopped looked up at the woman then walked away.  "Tell you the truth, I have read a few books, seen some interesting movies.  But in so far as what I will do, can't say for sure.  I love you, want to please you.  The last think I want to do is just the opposite.  When two people get together and love each other, I think this is a natural thing to occur.  Sex..  I apologize if I upset you."

Sky reached out drawing the woman to her.  "Just the opposite.  My body is fueled by fire within and all I want to do at this minute is love you.  I have dreamed of the two of us, in this way for so long.  Feeling you, knowing you want to be closer, it is very hard not to go all the way."

"Then why stop?"

"Because as I said there is so much going on, I want our first time to be beautiful.  No interruptions, no thoughts of anyone but the two of us."

"What if something happens?  We both have faced Trenton before, the deaths, so much going on.  God forbid but anything could."

Sky stepped away from Bobie, walked to the bed and sat.  She removed her boots then leaned back on the bed.  "Come on, join me.  Close your eyes and rest."

As Bobie joined the woman, the last thing on her mind was rest, at least not for a long time.

It was two a.m. before Belle was able to finally close the tavern.  The band had  kept people entertained. Courtney West was an amazing performer, she even brought members of the audience onstage during her performance.  If there was anything that would warm an audience it was to include them in the moment.

When Bill Dalton was called up on stage by Courtney, the man actually turned red in the spotlight.  He shook his head but his friends pushed and chided until Courtney actually walked from the stage and took the man's hand leading him.

Belle smiled recalling Bill, he had always been so macho, coming onto the women.  Now he was more like a bashful schoolboy.

Though she had been busy, once in awhile, Belle would check out  the audience, looking for Jeanne.  True to her word, the woman was working the crowd.  She was drinking, laughing, talking, and dancing.  It was obvious she was looking for something or someone.

The band was packing up and it was this time, Courtney West approached Belle.  "Miss. Gardner, wanted to thank you for a great crowd."

Belle sit a tray of glasses on the counter, turned to smile replying,  "Thank you.  Best audience I have had in here for a long while.  You really worked the crowd.  I wasn't sure you would be able to join the band, happy you did."

Courtney sat on one of the stools, then placed both hands on the counter.  "Could use a drink before I leave?  Water would be fine."

Belle placed a bottle of spring water in front of the woman.  "Best in the house.  Have you seen Jeanne?"

Courtney was taking a sip, it was like she wanted to see what the water tasted like before drinking.  Within seconds she raised the bottle and took several long drinks.  "This is good.  Would like to know where the spring is, this came from?"

"It is something we bottle in the area.  Comes from a pure mountain stream.  Been tested and all that stuff.  Glad you like it.  Bout Jeanne?"

She set the bottle on the counter then turned her attention to the woman.  "Haven't seen her for a while.  She did give me this."

Belle watched as the woman reached in a pocket of her vest and pulled out a folded  note.  "She gave you a note to give me?"

Handing it to the woman, Courtney nodded.  "She was in the middle of something it seemed."

Belle grasped the paper holding it  between her fingers--turning the note over and over before she opened it.  Thanks for a wonderful time.  This night has been great fun.  Something has come up, I'm going to follow my nose.  Everything is all right.  See you soon.  Love, J.

Courtney was enjoying the water and the time to relax before getting ready to leave.  Belle's expression had not escaped her and she was now worried.  "What's wrong?  I can tell something is wrong."

Belle looked upward before she gazed into the woman's eyes.  "Seems Jeanne found someone to entertain her.  Did you see who she was with?"

Tossing her head, her golden hair cascaded back then came to rest on her shoulders.  "I was pretty busy but I did see her with many people.  She seemed to be very interested in this tall cowboy."

"In this area there are many cowboys, it is a way of life.  Was there anything special about this man?"

"Let's see the band was taking a break and I was checking my mic.  They were standing near the back exit.  He was muscular about Jeanne's height maybe a little taller.  He had amazing eyes, actually he was too good looking.  He was dressed in jeans, the usual shirt, wore cowboy boots and let me say this man could really dance.  Do you know him?"

While listening to the women's words a certain night and three men came into the women's mind.  Injun Pete, a man who turned out to be, Jason Littleton and one she was seeing more clearly now.

"Miss Gardner?  Are you all right?"

Words filtered through the fog, melodic and calling to her but the soft touch on her arm is what brought her back to the present.  Realizing Courtney was trying to get her attention, she sputtered,  "So--sorry bout that.  Kinda got lost in my thoughts for a moment.  When did Jeanne give you the note?"

"It was toward the end of the set, the man left their table for a few minutes and she came up to the stage and gave me this."

"You two have a history it seems from what Jeanne has told me."

Raising her eyebrows, the woman looked surprised.  "She told you?"

Nodding, Belle poured herself a drink.  "Yes, she did.  Does that surprise you?"

"Well, when she talked to me and asked me to come here, I didn't know she was making this a known fact."

It was Belle's turn to be completely surprised.  The drink she was about to take became a geyser . . . spraying the area.  "Wha--what's that you say?"

"Whoops.  Guess I got my signals crossed.  I put my foot in my mouth.  Have to run, my manager will contact you.  Tell Jeanne it has been fun."

Belle watched the woman scurry away.  Reaching for a cloth she began to wipe up the droplets where they had fallen.  The reason Courtney West agreed to show was because of Jeanne.  The woman was marvelous.  It was also evident she didn't want her to know what she had done.   Belle opened the note again, her fingers softly caressing each word.  She had to get back, tell Sky and Bobie what was going on.  Though she was doing her best to conceal it, fear was groping every fiber. What had Jeanne Randolph gone and gotten herself into?

Continued in Part Seventeen

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