Quin sat on the top step that led to the large concrete porch of her house, the Fall air was cool but not cold, a soft breeze blew from the west bringing with it the ever present Pacific Ocean's wet chill that settled in her battered joints. She reflected on the last twenty four hours. So much had happened. She had done the one thing she swore she would never do again. She found love and fallen hard. She wasn't anywhere near letting Vivian know how deep she was, mostly because she was afraid of jinxing it. She was still tender from the loss of Grace. She was still coming to terms with a great deal of things in her life. Quin sighed and looked toward the sky. She was in love. The question that parked in her mind was whether or not Vivian returned that love. There was so much that they didn't know about each other. So much to learn about each other. The brunette scuffed her boot on the edge of the step. Time enough ahead to figure it out Quin she thought to herself. She sighed and stood, her knees and hips giving her sharp reminders not to sit in one place too long.

The children had been efficiently whisked away by the CPS woman without any incident, much to Quin's disappointment. There was work to be done and the day was slipping away. Vivian had already left, but not before informing Justin that they had located his parents. Quin could still almost feel the crushing hug the young man had bestowed upon her after he had timidly called the number provided to him, from the sounds of the call there was to be a happy reunion this evening here at her house. She couldn't stop herself from letting a few tears fall as the man cried openly against his girlfriend's shoulder. The brunette walked into the parlor where Justin laid asleep in his lover's lap. The redhead's fingers brushed rhythmically through the thick blonde locks of the emotionally exhausted man. "Is he okay?" Quin questioned. The file of his missing person case was tightly clutched to Justin's chest as he slept.

The redhead nodded and lifted green eyes to Quin, "Yeah, just a lot to take in I think. He'd pretty much given up hope of finding them."

Quin nodded in understanding. She turned and almost made it into the kitchen when she heard a soft noise from the woman on the couch. She stopped in the doorway, the large wood door partially swung open, "Excuse me?" She asked.

"Julie, my name is Julie ya know," a slight shrug, "Just in case you might want to talk sometime; I'm great at listening." A soft smile graced the freckled face accompanied by a small factual nod.

Quin's depressed mask lifted for a moment, as she was helpless to prevent an answering smile for the young woman and a small nod of her own in acceptance of the offer. She felt much lighter as she entered the kitchen. The oak door whooshed softly after her making just enough noise to alert the two gloomy men sitting at table, both in similar positions, with heads lulling on open palmed hands. Quang and Anthony looked every bit depressed as she felt. She passed them by without a word to the gun safe expecting to get her spare, but was pleasantly surprised to find her faithful waiting for her. "Who brought my gun?" She asked to no one in particular but got an answer from Anthony.

"That cop named Maggie dropped it off early this morning."

Quin's thin black brow raised at the emphasis on the word ‘cop'. She closed the safe's door and snuggled the gun into her holster at the small of her back. She emerged from the short hallway to find Quang childishly pushing Anthony in the shoulder with a scowl on his slim features. There was something amiss between the two quick friends; she would have to figure it out later. For now there was work to do. She stopped at the table and waited for the pushing game to end, "And here I thought I was going to miss the children; you two will make fine substitutes." She finally uttered and was rewarded with looks of innocence that made her laugh.

"Does Anthony have to move?" Quang asked pleadingly.

"Oh." Quin pursed her lips in thought. Since there were no kids there was little need for a nanny, but Anthony had filled more than just the role of child caretaker in the household over the last four weeks. He was an excellent cook, and kept the house impeccably clean between the children's playtimes. Then there was the fact that she genuinely liked the man and his soft spoken insights and backhanded advice. They could certainly use a keeper about the large house. She sat at the table and leaned forward leaning her forearms against the edge and folding her hands in front of her chest, "Would you," she asked the man in question letting her eyes contact and hold his dark brown orbs, "consider a slight modification to your duties?"

Anthony tilted his head at her, "What kind of modifications?"

"Well for one there will be no children, except," she indicated Quang with a small toss of her head, "the adult kind." The Asian man frowned at this causing both Anthony and herself to chuckle, "The rest will be like head of household stuff: you know cook and clean. If you need to hire someone for either of those we can do that. Answer mail; take care of repairs; pay bills…." her mind conjured up the stack on the counter behind her, "I'll make sure you have everything you need." She breathed small shallow breaths hoping the offer wasn't below the man or that she insulted him in anyway.

"Like a butler?" Quang asked with disgust.

Quin quickly shook her head, "No, no, no, not a butler, more like an assistant to me. You would manage the household. Your pay would increase of course…."

"You'll pay me to run the house." Anthony considered, "And I can hire staff?" he asked looking out at the long neglected garden.

"Within reason." Quin added.

The young black man considered for a moment longer, "Alright." He answered finally.

Quin graced the two men at the table with a rare genuine smile, "Wonderful." She let the men have their congratulatory moment before clearing her throat, "Now to business. Quang and I have a little job to do at a storage facility." She stood and adjusted the gun at her back in nervous habit, "Anthony, please lock the doors after we leave. Let no one in, not even the police. If police do show up, call the sheriff's department and wait for them to get here before letting anyone in. Do not take chances." She warned with a stern glare and a stiff finger poke to Anthony's solid chest.

"Lock the doors. Don't let anyone in without the sheriff, and don't take chances. Got it." Anthony gave her a thumb's up and a nervous smile.

"You'll do fine." Quang offered with a solid thump to his friends shoulder.

It wasn't a far drive to the storage building, but it was turning out to be a long drive. The big white Chevy sat idling between exits on Interstate 10. There seemed to be an over-turned semi ahead and no one was going to be going anywhere until it was righted and dragged from the freeway. Quin looked over at her brooding friend who was mumbling to himself. "Are you going to follow up on Lacey?" The PI hoped that Quang would take a further interest in his daughter's welfare.

"I called a lawyer after the kids were taken away. I meet with her tomorrow in the morning, so this had better go smooth today. I don't want to look like a flake and not show up." He poked a thin finger into Quin's shoulder.

"Piece of cake." Quin spoke as she freed a cigarette from a small white and red box. She placed the unfiltered stick of tobacco between her lips and patted her pockets for a light. It really wasn't a piece of cake. It was a complicated, dangerous, and potentially fatal game they would be playing. Quin thought as she gave up on finding a match from her pockets and pressed the cars trusty lighter into the dash. She glanced back at Quang who had turned to stare out the window; he still mumbled to himself, as was his habit under stress. The car's lighter ejected slightly indicating that it was ready to use. She grabbed it and cupped it to her cigarette. The nicotine patches had been ditched a week ago in favor of the traditional delivery method. She took a healthy drag and rolled her window down, exhaling the smoke toward the opening to let the cool wind carry it off to mingle with the rest of LA's pollutants. They had talked about the lay of the land at the storage building. Quang would watch the front door while Quin did the breaking and entering. They both had their two way radios, and Quang had his cell phone handy to call Vivian if anything went wrong before the preset time when the police detective would show up with a probable cause warrant. That is if she was successful in getting the paper signed by a judge on short notice. The car behind her honked and Quin looked up noticing that there was a fifteen foot space open between her bumper and the next car in front of her. She waved out the window, cigarette in hand, setting the ashes free to scatter on the wind and on the concrete road beneath her. She took her foot off the brake and let the car roll forward. Two more cigarettes and they were exiting the freeway.

Vivian typed yet another warrant request. The first two hadn't passed the Captains approval to go onto a judge, so she sat pecking at the computer keyboard wondering when someone would invent a logical alternative so she could find the damn ‘C' without blowing a blood vessel. Tom usually wrote up the warrant requests. He had way more experience and knew exactly what to put down to get a judge to sign on the little black line.

"Need help?"

Vivian looked over at her new partner, "Can you write a warrant?"

"Sure, no problem. What's it for? The storage place?" Maggie rolled her chair over to Vivian's desk nudging the older woman over and taking command of the keyboard.

"Yeah. I really need it signed by five." The blonde felt relief wash over her as Maggie's fingers flew across the keyboard filling out the endless fields of required information.

"Why by five?"

Quin tilted her head at the cipher lock on the entry door to the storage building. Five silver buttons confronted her. She knew about the cipher lock before arriving and had done a bit of research on Franklin, who she knew had a code for the lock to gain entrance. She checked her watch as she tried the first plausible combination of numbers. It was twenty before five, not as much time as she wanted. The delay on the freeway was costly. The first combination failed, so she tried the second grouping. She was losing patience as she keyed in another set of numbers. What followed after that attempt failed could only be described as a tantrum, as the PI kicked and pummeled the steel door with her fist while weaving a torrent of obscenities.

"Christ already Quin! People are staring."

Quang's voice pierced her tirade through her earpiece. "Fuck!" She hit the door one more time and smiled menacingly at a little old lady walking her little blue dog. She reached into her front pocket and retrieved the crumpled piece of paper that had more number combinations scrawled upon it. She scanned the list, her eyes resting on the very last group of digits. She pushed the little silver buttons deliberately and slowly, when the soft snick of the lock being released sounded she smiled, "Asshole uses his badge number." She muttered as she opened the door, "Okay I'm in. Let me know if anyone comes in behind me. If Franklin shows up, get the fuck out of here. Understand Quang?" She spoke just loud enough that the sensitive mike would pick up her words.

"Got it boss, and you be careful."

"I'm always careful." A snort of laughter filled her ear in response, "Asshole." I've just had a string of bad luck is all, she thought to herself as she made her way down the first hallway. Bright orange doors broke up the white cinderblock walls, there were six doors on each side of the hall, there didn't seem to be anything odd about the first floor, the air was a bit stale, but other than that everything seemed normal enough. She picked a few of the locks and took a look inside the storage units. She found normal stuff, boxes, furniture and what not, nothing extraordinary, so she decided to go up to the second floor. A quick glance at her watch told her she had just five minutes until Vivian would be showing up. She took the metal grated steps two at a time, her boots sounding like a rubber mallet against a metal garbage can echoing off the cinderblock walls. There was another door at the top of the steps. It also had a cipher lock. She entered Franklin's badge number again hoping he was the creature of habit that he appeared to be. She gave an almost silent sigh of relief as the lock opened and the door swung in. The air on the second floor was very different from the air on the first floor. There was the strong smell of bleach trying to cover up an even more overpowering smell of urine and feces, just under that was the smell of electricity and about fifty of those pop up room deodorizers. It was mostly dark on the second floor, but the soft glow of a bank of monitors lit the second floor landing. Quin eased in and drew her gun from behind her. She sensed she wasn't alone even though there was no one in sight. Her eyes were slow to adjust to the low lighting, the dark corners of the room remaining inaccessible. She edged closer to the monitors and saw views of the front and back of the building as well as the interior. She had been under surveillance since she walked up to the front door. Her eyes shut and the gun came up across her chest, "Quang, get the hell out of here. They know I'm inside." Just as she finished the short sentence she noticed a car pull up directly in front of the building, Franklin's bulky body emerged from the passenger side. He and the driver walked out of the cameras view.

McKee frantically searched the little screens finding the two men again as they approached her Chevelle. "Quang?" it came out a strained whisper, there was just a soft static in her ear that faded to nothing as she saw both men raise stiff arms at the window of her car. The angle of the camera prevented her from seeing if her friend had escaped. She could only watch in silence as the men's arms jerked up from the recoil of their guns being fired and tiny sparkles of shattered glass flew this way and that as they glimmered against the street lights and the setting sun. The PI spun to make for the door when something heavy came down on her back. She stumbled forward into the door, rolling to the left just before the person wielding a fire extinguisher could get a second hit on her. She raised her gun into the face of her assailant. The woman raised the extinguisher over her head. "Put it down." Quin growled low in her chest cocking the hammer on her gun for emphasis. The woman lowered the canister to the floor and took two steps backward. Quin kicked the fire extinguisher away.

"Master Franklin knows you are here." The woman spoke calmly.

Quin didn't reply to the statement. She held her gun steady on the young woman as she let her peripheral vision look about the room. She side-stepped so she could glance down a hall that seemed to have a four way intersection about half way and a window at the far end opposite her. She threw her head toward the hall, "What's down there?"

"Master Franklin…"

Quin moved forward quickly and pressed the gun against the woman's temple, "What is down the hall?" she questioned heatedly.


"For… whom?" Quin already knew the answer, but it seemed she needed some kind of verification to actually understand the possibility of it.

"New slaves." The answer was followed by a small ‘pop'.

McKee knew what the stinging sensation was before she hit the ground. The bullet ripped through her right shoulder effectively causing her to lose her grip on her gun. She heard it clatter to the floor and instinctively tried to scramble for it, only to have it kicked away from her by Franklin's pigeon-toed foot. She fell onto her back.

"I thought it would be more difficult." Franklin wheezed in his unnatural high toned voice. "I was looking forward to some kind of a challenge with you McKee." He pressed his shoe into her wounded shoulder eliciting a strangled moan. "Bring me her gun."

Quin tried to sit up. She tried to get her feet under her so she could have some chance but was stopped by Franklin's hand making purchase on her hair. He gave it a strong yank. The pain nothing compared to the throbbing in her shoulder.

"Now now… Can't have you running about, but do sit," he dragged her against the wall releasing her head with a thrust so it bounced off the cinderblocks with a thud.

Quin prayed silently to any god that would listen that Vivian would arrive soon and save her ass so they could enjoy the rest of their lives in peace. In return for this one favor she promised to stop acting recklessly and pursue a career in pottery or maybe teaching.


She opened her eyes to see the woman who had attacked her going down on her knees beside Franklin. The woman looked down at the gun in her hands.

"Give me." Franklin ordered and received the gun from the woman. "Now McKee, you need to be punished for entering my home, and disturbing my property." His meaty hand dropped and petted the brown hair of the woman kneeling beside him. "Of course your punishment is death, but I'll need a good reason to finish you off."

Quin watched in horror as her gun was placed against the woman's head, a fraction of a moment later she lay dead, blood pooling under her head, bits of gray matter, blood and bone splattered the wall, flecks of warm blood began to cool against her own face. The gunshot echoed in the hall "FUCKING BASTARD!"

"Tsk Tsk… such language." He dropped the gun beside the dead woman. "Now let's finish it shall we?"

Quin was lifted to her feet, Franklin's brawny fist entangled in her short hair, while his other hand landed several solid punches to her midsection. She gasped desperately for air only to receive a backhand across her cheek, quickly flowed by the ripping sensation of her eyebrow ring being forcibly removed from its place. The man's grip in her hair never relented as she was dragged down the hall. Her head was spinning and her vision coming in waves. Her right arm was useless, and she was trying frantically to release Franklin's iron grip from her hair with her left. So intent on that task was Quin that she didn't even realize she was airborne through the window and landing on her back in a pile of trash bags and rubbish fifteen feet below in the alley, until the sudden stop. She lay stunned — afraid to move; shards of glass from the window covered her, Quin looked up to the now empty window. She wondered if maybe she had passed out on impact. Time was jumbled. Her eyes slid shut, but only for a moment as the front of her bloody t-shirt was taken into Franklin's hand and she was once again hauled to her feet.

"Wow, that was quite a fall you took trying to escape the murder scene McKee." Franklin hissed.

Quin staggered in the big man's grip, hardly able to stand at all. There was so much pain she couldn't pinpoint anything specifically anymore. She felt pressure on her right shoulder. It was just enough to buckle her knees.

"That's it. On your knees. That's a good girl McKee. You know Grace was in this very same position a few years ago, only she was so mouthy. She begged and begged for me to spare her and your child's life. All that whimpering from a tough dyke cop was more than I could take. My first bullet went into her gut."

Quin couldn't stop the tears that came, but it was the only satisfaction that Franklin would get from her.

"She got too close you see. I had to end it. She was still pleading as I put three more rounds into her. Took her forever to die didn't it? Imagine all that pain she went through waiting on you to show up." Franklin circled her in the nearly dark alley, "No pleading and begging from you though."

Quin closed her eyes and steadied her breathing the best she could. Her fear had receded into disappointment. She heard faint sirens coming in the distance, but knew that they would be too late. Franklin stopped behind her.

"Well, it seems your little gook friend managed to escape my associate. I hate when my plans get ruined." Franklin paced back and forth talking to himself, "Well no sense in crying over spilt milk, so we need to wrap this up so I can get to a safe distance. Sorry we don't have time to drag this out a bit longer. I do love that look of defeat you wear. Any last words?"

Quin managed to clear her throat and spit a wad of blood in front of her. She took a shallow breath, "Go to hell."

"You first."

Three gunshots rang out. Quin felt the wetness of her bladder letting go as she jerked uncontrollably upon hearing the first shot. Her eyes were shut tight. She figured she just didn't feel the impact of the bullet due to all the other damage her body had taken. He head spun and she fell over onto her side. She moved to her back then let her head rock to the left where her eyes opened to stare into Franklin's lifeless gaze. Blood oozed from his gaping mouth as he took his final breath. Her head was gently brought back to look skyward. Vivian's concerned and tear filled eyes gazed down on her.

"God damn it Quinlan McKee, I can't leave you alone for a moment." Vivian sniffled and wiped her nose with the back of her sleeve.

"Quang?" The brunette breathed the word in exhaustion.

"Safe and sound. He recorded it all Quin, every word." Vivian brushed the PI's tears away.

"Thank you for saving me again." McKee tried to smile. "I pissed myself. First time that's happened…"

"My pleasure ma'am on the rescue, and don't worry about the other. I won't tell anyone." Vivian tried to give a light hearted wink to the prone woman, but could feel tears welling in her eyes, "Lie still, the paramedics are here. Do what they say and don't give em' any grief." The blonde detective lowered her head and gave Quin a brief kiss. She stood and backed up so that the medics could work on her lover. There was so much she wanted to say, so many words that needed to be said to Quinlan McKee, but a dark smelly alley was not the place she wanted to do it. A paramedic draped a sheet over Franklin's cooling body. Vivian was glad not to have to look upon it anymore. She glanced up at the broken second story window where Maggie held up a single finger shaking her head negatively. Vivian knew she needed to go up there, but was reluctant to leave Quin. Quang appeared beside her.

"Is she…?" The young man started.

"I dunno," Vivian said with a shake of her head, "Did you give that tape to Maggie?" She received a silent head nod. "Will you stay with her? Call me if anything happens?"

"Go. Do what you need to; I'll stay with her." Quang offered with a small smile.

The smell at the top of the steps reminded Vivian of a filthy animal shelter, the pungent odor threatened to turn her stomach as she made her way past green-faced officers. A flash bulb illuminated the hall ahead for a brief second, and then two more quick flashes almost blinded her as she rounded the corner into the hall proper. Slumped awkwardly on the floor was a woman about thirty years old, most of her head was gone, the blood splatter was everywhere. Vivian soon deduced there was no way for her to walk without stepping in it. She skirted the body and the coroner, disturbing as little evidence as possible as she made her way to Maggie who was doubled over in a corner vomiting. The blonde detective gave her partner a moment to finish and collect herself. The redhead stood and wiped her mouth with a folded handkerchief that Vivian knew Maggie customarily carried with her. Then green eyes that were glossed with unshed tears looked up at her.

"We have a problem." Maggie said as she tugged on Vivian's jacket sleeve leading her down the hall. "We need to cut them out somehow. they can't be taken out of here like this. I called the captain he's sending some vans and was going to try and get a bus or something. I think he said he would call county… but the chains…" Maggie opened a storage room door and pulled Vivian just inside as she turned on her maglite and shined its beam into the room.

The small bodies of about fifteen children, approximately age five or six, were emaciated. Empty stares reflected in the beam of light. The chains that Maggie had mentioned also reflected dully in the light, securing each child to the wall as the chain passed through metal collars that were around each small neck. The smell was intense and pungent, making the blonde detective's eyes water. The children didn't make a noise as Vivian and Maggie looked them over. The smell of bodily waste was prevalent in the room and the blonde's stomach was very close to rebelling. She moved to the nearest child to take a closer look at the metal collar. On the back was a small brass padlock. She quickly retrieved her radio and called to any officer in the alley to search Franklin's body for any and all keys.

"There are more in the next room, all girls, all about thirteen or so." Maggie hovered at the door as she continued to give details of her nightmarish find. "Then one more room that has just boys, about the same age I think, maybe younger, hard to tell." Her sentence drifted off as Vivian's radio crackled, the officer on the end reporting no keys of any kind on Franklin.

Vivian growled deep in her chest before she keyed her mike, "Ask one of the firemen if they have some bolt cutters. I'll check the DOA up here for keys." She quietly reassured the children she would be back to set them free. She pushed past Maggie who looked ready to toss her stomach once again and rounded the corner into the hall where the coroner and his assistants were getting ready to bag the body of the woman. "Hold up." She requested as she moved closer, her brown leather loafers slipping in semi coagulated blood and gray matter. "I need to see if she has keys on her."

The coroner stood back to let the detective at the body. The blonde pulled on a pair of thin vinyl gloves and began searching by simply patting the exterior of the woman's clothing, stopping when she heard a slight muted jingle from the right front pants pocket. She reached in at an awkward angle, grimacing a bit when her watch got hung up on the pockets exterior, but her fingers made purchase on a clump of keys. She pulled them free and instructed the police photographer to take a picture of them as she held them against the body. She nodded in thanks to the coroner and rushed back to the first room as she shuffled through the ten or so keys on the simple chrome key ring. The padlocks were small, so she separated out the smallest key and made for the first child. It was hard to tell if it was a boy or a girl. All their hair was cut short, and they all wore large gray t-shirts that fell over their small bodies almost to the floor. The child she started with shrunk away from her as she tried to place the key in the lock. She tried to reassure all of them she was there to help, not hurt them. She tried again and was successful reaching the lock but the key wouldn't fit. Vivian sighed and bit her lower lip, the nausea was intense and she wanted nothing more than to bolt from the small room. She located another small key and placed it in the lock. It released the metal bolt immediately upon turning. She looked over her shoulder at Maggie and a uniformed officer holding a pair of bolt cutters. "Mags, tell that photographer to get in here, we need pictures, then get blankets, and check on the vans." She moved to the next child, "Oscar, start on the other end and cut the padlocks. I want these collars off them before they leave." The officer went for the opposite end of the room and began to cut the locks off. The children had become more helpful seeing what was happening. Vivian and the uniformed officer met somewhere near the middle. The photographer's flash was almost steady as they worked. Vivian noticed that as she released the collars the children shifted from her to huddle with each other. As she released the last lock she stood nearly in the middle of a clump of children all huddled together. The one camera flash was joined by another. Vivian looked angrily up and pointed at the reporter, "Who the FUCK let the PRESS in here?! Get them OUT!"

She gingerly stepped out of the loose circle, grabbing the photographer's camera and smashing it into the cinderblock wall next to the door. She handed what was left hanging from the strap back to the reporter telling him to send her a bill as she made her way over to Maggie who had a cell phone pressed to her ear. There was a dull roar of voices in the hall as officers and firemen gathered. She grabbed the nearest uniformed officer by the front of his shirt. "I want the press back on the street now." She growled low in her chest noticing with satisfaction the young man paling under her gaze. She let lose of his shirt and was pleased with the speed and efficiency that he carried out her orders. Paramedics swarmed the room of children, as she and Oscar moved to the next room of young girls to set them free as well. It was going to be a long night, Vivian thought to herself. Her thoughts also went to her lover below in the alley. As if sensing this, Maggie tapped her on the shoulder as the last collar fell from the last girl.

"They've transported her to Rampart. She's okay, mostly bruised besides the shoulder wound." She gave Vivian a reassuring smile and a firm squeeze of her hand. "The bus has arrived. The boys have rigged a tunnel of sorts with rain slickers from the door to the bus. It should detour the fucking helicopters from getting any shots before we can find parents." The red head detective walked to the end of the hall and came back with blankets that she distributed to empty handed officers and firemen alike.

Vivian took one from the stack and stood away from the wall where she had rested for just a moment. "Okay, listen up! We need to get these kids out of here and onto that bus with as little trauma as possible and avoid any face shots by the press, so every one grab a kid and line up on the stairs. We'll go in single file." She looked at Maggie who was talking with the officers on the street via radio. She got a thumb's up and a quick nod of Maggie's head to her unspoken question. "Okay, let's do it!"

"I'm not… stay… ing…" Quin told the young ER doctor for the umpteenth time in thirty minutes, "Give me a pair of scrubs and a bill." Suddenly the thin blue curtain of the exam area was whooshed aside and one Ruth Ross appeared pointing an authoritative finger at Quin.

"You will shut your mouth, and you will let this doctor do his job."

"Who called you?" Quin gritted out between clutched teeth.

"Whom do you think? Christ Almighty Quin, you have a gun shot wound to your shoulder, multiple lacerations from being put through a window, and several fractured ribs from falling twenty-five feet onto a rather solid asphalt surface. I'm not even going to start on all the injuries you've accumulated over the last month! You're lucky not to be dead, but I guarantee that if you don't start acting like an adult human being at this instance I will kill you myself and tell God you died of natural causes!" Ruth spouted, her face flushed with exertion, "Now, I can wait with you until you get into a room, and then I'll need to get home and rescue Tom. He's two years rusty with infants, not that I don't trust him…." She straightened a bit of gauze bandage on Quin's shoulder lying it flat as she rambled on, "… Just that he gets so wound up. Then he hovers like a little old woman waiting on the final bingo ball…."

Quin was afraid to comment on anything the woman was saying so she leaned back, resigned to the fact that she would be spending the night in the hospital, at least one night, and only one night if she had any say. She glanced at Ruth, a small smile tugged at her lips. It was nice having the woman back in her life. Quin was glad that some things went well over the last month. Her smile grew wider as she pondered the other thing that truly went well: Vivian Walsh. Now there was a wonder. How on earth had she lucked into Vivian Walsh?

"Are you listening to me Quinlan McKee?" Ruth poked her good shoulder.

Quin nodded mutely to the question. She had already dispatched Quang to get what she needed. She would simply have a rest until she found the right time to leave. Ruth's rambling continued as she drifted off into a drug-induced sleep.


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