by Grasshopper

Chapter 14

Cody's wounds were cleaned; the knife wound in his shoulder cleaned and restitched. The knife slice on his face was held shut with butterfly band-aids and the bruises and scrapes checked. He spent the night in the hospital and was released the following day with orders to let the police and FBI know where he was.

He stood in the parking lot of the Gallup Hospital and stared up at the windows. He knew Jase was behind one of them. He knew Davy was fine and in a nice warm bed in Jase's room. He had waited till the lights were low and then opened the door to their room quietly.

Standing there, the hall light flowing over him, Cody had looked at the sleeping faces of the two people he loved more than his own happiness. He couldn't stay.....not now. It was too big. There was no getting past what all had happened, who it was and who it was all about.

One of the Shiprock policemen drove him back to the ranch. Cody walked from room to room, touching the things that made up Jase and Davy McBride's lives. He sat in the rocker in Davy's room and thought about Charity and Tommy. He had heard them last night saving their son. That was love. He held Davy's bunny and slowly untied the blue velvet ribbon that had come to mean such hatred and pain.

He lay crosswise on Jase's bed, no longer his bed. He remembered the whispers and the love; the caring and the promises. He didn't deserve any of it now.

Taking a bucket of hot water and soap, Cody began to scrub Charity's name, his blood, off of Davy's bedroom wall. He didn't want it there when Davy came home. He wanted the house to be just like it had been before he ever set foot in it. They'd forget him in time. Jase would see to it.

He heard the knock on the door and stepped out into the hall. A dark figure stood framed in the front doorway. As Cody walked down the long hall, his head cocked, trying to see who the visitor was, he heard a voice that made his eyes slam shut and his heart clutch and shudder in desperation.

"Dakota, I'm here to take you home. I told you if you left me, you'd screw things up royally. I see I was right. No one knows you like I do. You know where you belong. Now, pack your things. It's time to go."

Cody trembled, not so much from fear as from a feeling of desperation and defeat. All his life, he had fought intolerance, bigotry just because his skin was a different shade, his cheekbones strong and his black hair thick and long. The name Dakota Taylor could never hide what he was and he had never wanted it to. In his heart, he had always been Helaku, his grandmother's Sunny Day. His pride in his Indian heritage was deep in his soul.

He had met Mackenzie Jeffers, at the National Museum of Art in New York right after he had graduated from NYU. He had been quiet and shy and Jeffers had been everything Cody thought he wanted to be; sophisticated, urbane, vastly knowledgeable in art and respected by the powerful people.

Looking back, Cody knew he had been foolish; had walked right into the spider's web. Mackenzie Jeffers had gathered him in and spun a silken thread around him that held him tight. Under his witty, clever talk and polished manners, Jeffers was cruel.

He had introduced Cody to all the right people, encouraged him to paint and offered his studio with the huge skylight as a place where Cody could work undisturbed.

Cody, with only a few brief college encounters, was unprepared for an older man, with everything the world had to offer, offering his world to him. He knew now that it was too good to be true, but then.......then, he was too starry-eyed to care.

Mackenzie had been discreet, taking Cody to small, out of the way restaurants or his beautiful penthouse on Park Avenue. He had been attentive, careful of Cody's feelings and gentle in the few caresses he tendered. Cody, at 20, was awestruck and in over his head.

When Cody's rent came due on the small flat he shared with two friends, Mackenzie suggested that Cody move into one of the extra rooms in his top floor apartment. 'No strings attached', he'd said, a sweet smile accompanying his offer. Cody accepted and moved his few personal items into the huge penthouse.

Life coasted along, Cody painting and working part time at the museum, believing that Jeffers loved him. Mackenzie would come in at evening's end and Cody would fix him his favorite drink, hold his robe for him as he changed into comfortable clothes and, it didn't seem wrong that, with Mackenzie being so kind and Cody hoping for love, when he asked Cody to relieve his tension, Cody would slip to his knees. If Jeffers never returned the gesture, Cody still believed that one day he would.

It all changed one night. Mackenzie came in from a party, drunk and in a foul mood. He didn't bother with his usual façade of tenderness, just dropped his pants and forced Cody to his knees. As Cody gagged, trying to hold back tears and trying to catch his breath, Jeffers hit him for the first time.

A big man, Mackenzie Jeffers always preyed on boys who were struggling with their identities. He had noticed Cody right away, the beautiful chocolate eyes and shining hair. As he chatted with the boy, he found immediately that Dakota Taylor, for all his beauty, had not found his place in the world. Jeffers knew he would correct that. He would put Dakota in a place...........a dark place that would satisfy Mackenzie Jeffers.

He hid it well, but Jeffers was without conscious. He saw what he wanted, went after it, and then threw it aside without pause when he was done. He had wanted Dakota Taylor and he had patience. He had played the game and watched Dakota grow more and more attached. When he offered the room in his apartment, he saw the hope in Dakota's eyes.

Cody gagged as Jeffers continued to thrust roughly into his mouth. "Please, no," he tried to say.

"Shut up!" the older man said, his voice thick with liquor. "Do it!" He felt the fear in the boy, smiled, and came hard.

Cody sank down on the carpet, his eyes burning with tears. Jeffers reached down, grabbed a handful of black hair and pulled.

"It's time," Jeffers snarled, his voice no longer gentle.

"Time for what?" Cody sniffed. "I thought................,"

"Oh, yes, dear boy. I know what you thought," he smiled, but it never reached his eyes, "You thought wrong."

"But.............but......I thought you...........,"

McKenzie Jeffers laughed, his laughter harsh and mean. "You thought I loved you? Stupid fool. I can have any boy I want just with the snap of my fingers. I do, actually."


"Oh, do shut up. This is tiresome," he said loudly.

Cody's head spun with hurt and disappointment. He turned to go to his room. "I'm leaving."

"I think not."

"You can't stop me," Cody said, his voice trembling.

"Oh, but I can. You think I've put up with you all this time for you to just walk out? Try it and I'll have you arrested. See how you like being some guy's little princess in an 8X10 cell."

Cody cringed. "Arrested for what? I haven't done anything."

Jeffers smiled. "Oh, but you have. All those small pieces you stole, hocked and put the money in that hidden bank account, all my jewelry that disappeared. What a clever boy you were, but I found out."

"That's a lie !"

"Well, of course it is, silly boy. You know it and I know it, but who will the police believe when I take them to the bank and show them the account with over $73,000 in it deposited in the last 6 months. Where would a boy like you get that kind of money, hmm?"

"WHAT? 73 what??" Cody felt his chest tighten and his heart clutch. He stared at the man he thought he had loved. "What do you want from me? Why can't I just go?"

"Because," Jeffers, smiled, his eyes narrowing to slits, reminding Cody of a snake, "I want things from you."

"What things?" Cody asked, his voice a whisper.

"Things that make me happy."

Cody began to back off.

"Come here, Dakota."

"No." He turned to run to the front door.

Jeffers crossed the room quickly, spun Cody around, and hit him hard across the face with the back of his hand. "You will NEVER say 'No' to me again. Is that clear?"

Cody flattened himself against the wall, his face burning, blood running from his nose, his mind racing.

"I know you're trying to figure out how to get out of this, but let me go ahead and assure you......you CAN'T !! If you leave this apartment, I will have you arrested. You will rot in jail. You will wish you were dead, a beautiful boy like you, at the hands of extremely cruel men. Do I make myself clear?"

Cody closed his eyes, defeat and fear waving over him.

"Now, sweet boy," he heard Jeffers say, "I want to show you a room that you've never been in, right here in my home." He took Cody's arm in a tight grasp and dragged him down the hall toward a door that had always been locked.


Cody wanted to turn and run out the back door of Jase's house, out into the desert. Run, and never stop running. His father had betrayed him and now this man was back in his life. He looked at the flimsy latch that held the screen door closed, knowing Mackenzie could pop it open easily. There was no escape. He stayed well back from the doorway, his shoulders sagging.

"What do you want?"


One word..........one word that crumbled Cody's world.

"Get the fuck away from me.....from here."

"You really don't want that, you know," Jeffers murmured. "I heard about your troubles."

Cody's head jerked up.

"Oh, yes. Your father is a raving psychopath. Do you really think that Jase McBride is going to want you anywhere near his child? Around him? Your father, your flesh and blood, killed for the pleasure of it. No one in their right mind would want you around."

Cody heard the words, felt the cold chill they spread over his body. He was right. Jase would never want him here.

"Do you think he will want you in his bed after he finds out that your father killed his lover and his wife?"

"How did you find that out?" Cody gasped.

"I have my ways. Your father shot McBride's boyfriend in cold blood, then came back years later and raped and murdered his wife. No one would ever forgive that."

Cody slid slowly down the wall, his hands over his face, hot tears burning his cheeks. He was right. Jase would never be able to look at him again. Oh God!

"Come open the door, Dakota. I can make it disappear. I've missed you. We'll just go home and it will all be forgotten. I was thinking a trip to Europe would do us both good. I have friends there with so many ways of having pleasurable activities. You will be quite a novelty with your long black hair and beautiful Indian face. You will be so busy, you won't have time to think of your cowboy," Jeffers said, his voice softly mesmerizing.

Cody sat quietly, his mind whirling with thoughts of life without Jase, without Davy. He couldn't stay. He couldn't bear to see the look in Jase's eyes when he told him to get out of his life. And Davy..........how could he ever face Davy again, knowing his father had killed Davy's mother? It was all just too much to handle.

"I know how you're feeling," Mackenzie said softly, "And you're right. You don't belong here. They deserve better than you. What are you.....just an Indian with insanity coursing through your veins. Come now, Dakota, open the door."

Cody felt a small door close quietly in his heart, the little room where he kept his feelings for Jase and Davy McBride. It was better this way. They would forget him and be happy, now that the murders were solved. It was better this way. He stood up slowly, looked at Mackenzie Jeffers, and saw his punishment.

Davy woke up early, the little rollaway bed lumpy and hard. He lay still, not wanting to wake his dad. Thinking back over the night before, he remembered the gun firing; his mama's voice, and the voice of a stranger, yet not. He could still feel the man's arms around him, as he pulled the trigger. He should be feeling scared or something, but all Davy felt was peace.

That had been a very bad man. The policeman who talked to him told him so. He had killed lots of people and would have killed Daddy and Cody. Davy still didn't know why that man had kept calling him 'son'. He knew his daddy would explain it all when he woke up.

Davy thought he remembered Cody coming into the hospital room last night, or was it this morning early? He guessed it was a dream, but he knew he had felt Cody's hand on his face. Davy snuggled back into the bumpy bed and closed his eyes. He'd wait for his daddy to wake up and they'd go home..... Daddy, Cody and him, back to the ranch and be happy forever.

Cody stood at the big window looking down on the tarmac. Even the airport in Santa Fe was surrounded by desert, Jase's desert. Cody couldn't look at it anymore. He'd thought his world was here, but his father had seen to that, had ripped away the only thing that gave his son happiness. Now, his world was Mackenzie Jeffers.

He heard the intercom announce the flight to Minneapolis connecting to New York and almost smiled, remembering a gruff and unpleasant Jase McBride waiting for him so long ago. Had it only been a few weeks? Cody felt like he'd always been with Jase, always loved him, always loved Davy. And now, here he stood, in the same airport, leaving behind everything he loved. They'd be better off without him and, the truth? Cody couldn't live if he saw the look of loathing in Jase's eyes.

Cody had sat numbly in the kitchen chair in Jase's house, waiting for Mackenzie to gather his belongings. He fought the images of Jase and him, kissing, hugging, laughing here in this room. He smiled a slight smile remembering evenings spent with Davy and his homework here at the table. There had been so much love in this room, in this house. It would be gone now......gone because of his father and things he couldn't control.

Jeffers had emptied his two drawers and his closet, dumping his things haphazardly into his old duffle. "We'll replace all these things when we get home, Dakota," he said, sneering at the jeans and cowboy boots, "Although, these might make quite a hit with my more sophisticated friends."

Cody tried not to listen. He knew he should run and run fast, but he seemed to have lost the will to think. There was no place to run anyway. His parents? That was a joke. There was no one who would care now. He might as well go with Mackenzie and try to forget.

He made one attempt to assert himself. "I won't ever do those things again."

Mackenzie just kept on stuffing his belongings into the duffel, then turned slowly and caught Cody in his gaze. "You will do whatever I tell you to do. I let you leave me once. I find that I missed you. I will allow you to come home again, Dakota. You have no say in it......no demands.....you will do as I say."

Cody had walked away once. He had endured the nasty little games, stifled any emotion for a time, but one night, when Mackenzie was entertaining friends, Cody had taken pictures........pictures of very influential men amusing themselves in ways the newspapers would love. Mackenzie Jeffers had no choice but to let him walk away. The argument had been loud and violent, but Cody had walked.

The original CD with the photos still lay in a secret hidey hole in Jeffers' apartment that Cody had created. He had confronted Jeffers with a copy, watched him slam it into the computer drive and heard his curses as he viewed the pictures.

"You'll be back, you little shit piece of trash," Jeffers had yelled, his authoritative manner gone, as Cody had run out the door taking nothing. As he descended in the elevator, he heard that important controlled man screaming like an angered bitch.

And now...........he was. He hadn't come back, Jeffers had come to collect him. Cody felt the shame, felt his heart breaking and knew that the moments of joy he'd had with Jase, with Davy were over. He touched his fingertips to the small scar on his temple cut by the copied CD thrown across the room as he had walked toward that door two years ago. If he wanted to punish himself for what his father had done, what better way than to go with Mackenzie Jeffers.

The boarding call came. Cody's beautiful chocolate eyes flooded with tears and he looked out across the desert one last time. He could smell the sage, hear the wind. It was his home but it was lost to him now.

"Come on now, Dakota. Your life is mine again," he heard the whispering voice behind him. One last look, and Cody walked into the tunnel.

Settled into the plush first class seats, the stewardess making them comfortable, Cody remembered something his grandmother Soft Wind had told him when he was just a little boy. "Helaku, never let another man crush your spirit." Mackenzie Jeffers laid his hand over Cody's as it gripped the armrest. Cody closed his eyes to find Jase's face etched in his mind.

'Grandmama,' he thought sadly, 'Help me.'

The plane taxied down the runway, the engines blasting. As the huge 747 tilted skyward and the wheels left the ground, the wind across the desert became small dust devils filled with anger and pain. "No, Helaku. Not this way. You are loved." Arms reached toward the plane, voices cried out in sadness, and a coyote howled from a lone peak at Wild Horse canyon.

Jase woke up slowly, his eyelids heavy from drugged sleep. He blinked, then again as the afternoon sunlight stretched across his bed covers.

"Daddy!" He heard Davy's voice from somewhere to his left and then his son's worried eyes appeared at the top of the hospital bed railing. "Hey, Daddy," Davy touched Jase's arm lightly where the IV tubes ran down toward his hand. "You okay, Daddy?"

"I'm fine, Punkin," he assured the boy, as he tried to sit up in the bed and a sharp twinge of pain shot up from his leg. Biting back the curse, Jase turned toward Davy. "Are you okay?"

"Yes, Daddy. There's nothing wrong with me," Davy said earnestly. "It was just you and Cody that got hurt, remember?"

Cody! Where was Cody? Jase's eyes flashed around the room. "Where is Cody, Davy?"

"I don't know, Daddy. He came in early this morning but you were sleeping. He touched my face and stood real still." Davy's face wrinkled into a worried frown, "Where is Cody, Daddy?"

Jase pushed the nurse's button and waited for someone to come. In a minute, the large smiling nurse swished into the room, talking before she even got to the bedside. "And how are you this afternoon, Sleepyhead? I've been waiting for you to wake up. I'm Nurse Jenkins, but you can just call me Betty, everyone does. Let me just get your vitals and we'll see how you're getting on." She pulled the blood pressure machine over to the side of the bed and slipped the finger cap on Jase's finger. "Looks good, you lost a lot of blood last night," she commented, "But it looks like you're pumping just fine today." Smiling at her own humor, she busied herself, checking the IV.

"Cody Taylor?" Jase said quickly. "The man who was brought in the same time I was? Where is he?"

"He spent the night here just to keep an eye on him, and then he was released this morning. We needed to keep you here because of the bullet wound."

Jase heard Davy's soft voice. "Daddy, Cody left without us?"

Jase bit his bottom lip. Where was Cody? "Get my cell, Davy. I'm sure he just went home to get cleaned up, or something." Jase felt tiny fingers of fear crawling up his back. Cody would be right here, right here in this room, if something wasn't wrong. Wild horses couldn't have kept him away.

Wild Horse!! Oh God!! The night came flooding back.

"It's all my fault."
"How can any of this be your fault?"
"That man up there...........he's my father."

The yelling, the raving, the hate.......that lunatic could not be Cody's father.

What had he meant? Why would Cody's father, a renowned archeologist, murder young girls? Why would he call Davy his son? Why would he kill Tommy? Charity? No way !!

Davy punched in #1 and waited. He looked at Jase with wet eyes. "Try the house number, Davy Boy." Jase had a sinking feeling in the bottom of his stomach.

Davy punched in the number and waited, his hand shaking as the phone rang in the empty house. "He's not there, Daddy."

Jase tried to smile, "He's probably at the grocery store or out in the barn. We'll go home and find out." He shoved the sheets aside and tried to swing his legs off the bed. The pain made his face pale. He bit back an oath and dropped his head back onto the pillow. "Just give me a minute, okay Davy?"

"Mr. McBride," Nurse Betty said gently, "You can't be going anywhere right now. You have to stay off that leg for a few days."

Jase lay still for a second and then turned his pain-filled eyes toward her. "I need to know where Cody is. I need to know now!!" He struggled with the cover again.

"I think I can help you with that," Agent Crisp said, as he walked in the door. "Dakota called the office this morning and asked about the release of his father's remains. He asked if he was free to go to his mother in New England. I told him that he wasn't being charged with any crime and he was free to go, but to stay in contact."

Jase sat frozen. He could hear Davy asking what the man meant but he didn't know what to say. Finally, he said sharply, "Nurse, please take my son out and get him a soda. I need to talk to this man."

"But, Daddy.....," Davy sniffled.

"Now, Davy."

He watched the nurse take Davy's hand and lead him from the room, although drag would be more the truth, and then he turned his gaze on the FBI agent. "That fucking lunatic was Dakota Taylor's father?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so," the agent answered. "We've been working through the night, piecing his movements at the time of each murder and it's all fitting together. Every time a girl was killed, Charles Taylor was here in New Mexico, lecturing on one of the college campuses."

Jase turned his head to stare out the window. "And Tommy? He killed Tommy too?"

"We don't know that for a fact yet but, hopefully, the bullet we found in the remains of your friend will match the gun he had last night. I would say though, that it's pretty much a given that anyone who was killed who was involved in this case, such as your ummm, friend, will be listed as a victim."

"Why did that fucker keep calling Davy his son? Did he have any reason at all for what he did?" Jase had so many questions, but some of the answers had died along with Charles Taylor.

"We may get a handle on that. He left papers in the motel room where he was sleeping. They're mostly jumbled raving but he does keep referring to his "true son" and to your wife, Charity."

"And Cody?" Jase was terrified to hear the answer. "When did he say he was leaving?"

Agent Crisp looked at his watch, and then sadly into Jase's eyes. "He's already gone."

Jase closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath. He didn't know what to think, how to feel. Cody's father had killed Tommy, Charity. He had no idea how he'd explain it all to Davy. His mind was reeling with so many emotions. Cody had left without even saying goodbye.

Jase was quiet for so long that Agent Crisp, thinking he had fallen asleep, began to walk softly from the room. He was stopped by a tearful voice.

"Please, I can't walk yet. I can't even get out of this fuckin' bed. He must have left a note. Would you............?"

Without turning around, the agent answered, "I'll go to the house." He left without hearing Jase's muffled 'thank you'.

The afternoon had turned toward evening and the long shadows began to stretch across the sun. Davy came quietly back in to the room, set the unwanted soda down on the bedside table and laid his head down on the sheet by his daddy's hand. "Where's Cody, Daddy?"

Jase looked at the too-bright eyes, the face that echoed Tommy and had no words. He tried to say it lightly, but Davy knew his dad, knew how much Cody meant to him, to them both. "Daddy?"

"Cody had to leave for awhile. He had to go see his mother."

Davy's forehead wrinkled. "I never even thought about Cody having a mother," he said. "Is he gonna see his father too?" The round chocolate eyes, so like Tommy, so like Cody, stared trustfully into Jases'. "When will he be back?"

Jase didn't know the answers. He didn't know anything. He didn't even know how he felt about Cody. He couldn't answer Davy.


"I don't know. Leave it alone." His voice raw and sharp, he turned his head away from his son.

Davy watched his daddy close down just like he used to be. NO! Daddy! It was all because Cody wasn't here. Cody had brought his daddy's smile back and now Cody was gone. He had promised he wouldn't leave.

"Daddy?" he tried one last time.

"I'm tired, Davy. Watch TV and let me sleep." Jase turned his face to the window, away from his son, the truth too much to absorb.

"Yes, Daddy," Davy sighed and curled up very small on his little cot, his knees pulled up to his chin, hugging his legs close.

Agent Crisp, good as his word, drove out to the ranch after leaving the hospital. He had begun to appreciate the closeness of the two men who lived in this house. He respected them and hoped that the horrible revelations about Dakota's father wouldn't destroy what they had, but the odds were almost insurmountable. He hoped there was a note waiting for him to take back to Jase, allaying all his fears.

After checking every room, every surface, he knew there was no note. Frowning, he groaned deep in his throat. He didn't want to take this news back to Jase.

He saw that someone, most likely Cody, had begun scrubbing the wall in Davy's room. The bucket of soap was still sitting on the floor as if he had stopped in the middle and just walked away.

Knowing the difference in size and height of the two men, he checked and it seemed that ALL of Cody's belongings were gone. This wasn't a quick trip to consol his mother; this was just plain gone. How was he going to tell Jase?

Sadly, knowing how this was going to hurt the McBrides, he began to scrub the blood from the wall, finishing the job. At least Davy wouldn't have to face that when he came home.

Mackenzie stepped off the private elevator first, his apartment 23 floors up. No one ever made a mistake and arrived at his door. The elevator attendant saw to that, to the tune of a $500 tip every month. Mackenzie opened the door with an elaborate flourish, "Welcome home, Dakota. We both knew you'd come back one day."

Cody sighed. The entire place had been redecorated and, under other circumstances, would have been as impressive as shit, but right now, it felt like his private prison in hell.......and standing right next to him was Satan himself. His thoughts flew to Jase. Was he okay? Did he even know that Cody was gone? Did he care? Would he care? Did he hate him now? And Davy................Oh, God, Davy. He felt himself curl up a little more inside, as if his heart was dying.

"I have to go see my mother," he said. "She will be home by now from their dig.......and Elijah. I need to go home." He would not break down in front of this man.

"Of course you do. I'll cancel my appointments and we'll drive up there tomorrow. You'll love my new Porsche Boxer. I'll put the top down just for you."

"I can go alone," Cody tried to make him stay away.

"Oh, you could, yes indeed, but what's to say you'd come back? It's no bother, no bother at all. Besides, I want to meet your brother. If he's anything like you, I might be interested."

"Jesus! Leave Elijah alone. I don't want you to go with me. I want to see my family."

"Ah, but my sweet Dakota, I don't care what you want, now do I? You fucked with me and now it's payback time." He started off down the hall towards his bedroom. "Bring my luggage, that's a good boy."

"I hate you," Cody whispered.

"Ah, that will make it all the more exciting, don't you think?" Jeffers replied, "Oh, and by the way, my little Indian, I found the CD hidden under the bureau in your room......so much for blackmail." He turned and walked away, smiling, knowing he had won. No one leaves Mackenzie Jeffers until he says so.

Jase waited silently for Agent Crisp to come back with the note. He knew it would explain why Cody had left so quickly. He knew it would say, "I love you" and "I'll be back as fast as I can". Davy had fallen asleep on his cot and the nurse had covered him when she came to check on Jase's leg.

"Such a sweet boy," she crooned. "His mother must be a beautiful girl with chocolate eyes and raven hair."

"His mother is dead," Jase spit out curtly.

"Oh........I'm so sorry," she blushed her apology.

"Aren't we fucking all," he growled.

At 10:00, he heard the door open with a tiny swish. He lay very still, hoping, but a tiny voice inside his head was screaming.

Jase?" When Agent Crisp got no reply, he walked closer to the bed. "Jase, there was no note. I'm so sorry."

All he heard was a low choking sound, half moan, half sigh. "His things?"

"All his clothes seem to be gone."

The FBI agent stood still, more a friend right now.

"So, he's gone." It wasn't a question, just a statement of fact.

"It appears so. Someone was scrubbing the letters off the wall in Davy's room but stopped halfway through. It's gone now though."

"Thank you," Jase mumbled. "Goodnight."

Dismissed, Agent Crisp wanted to say something comforting, but had no idea what those words might be. He patted Jase's arm and said softly, "I'll be back tomorrow."

Jase lay on his side, wishing he could see the desert, hear the wind. 'Where are you, Cody? Why did you leave? I don't understand.' He felt the tears and just let them flow down his cheeks onto the pillow.

Davy curled up in a tiny ball, thinking over what he had heard. Cody was gone? He took everything? 'You said you'd never leave me, Cody! You promised!' His tears matched his daddy's and yet all that was heard in the room was the beep beep of the monitor and the soft music playing on the TV by the bed.

The wind twisted and turned, hurled itself at the crags of Wild Horse Canyon. Nooooooo ! After all this time, this would not happen. Soft chants in strange dialects cast a spell over the night. Soft Wind and Quiet Water, two souls lost in the mists, one, a grandmother, gently loving a small boy who had grown to be a fragile man and one, a lover and a father, loving both man and boy. The desert sand shifted and changed, the wind tossed sagebrush and cactus flowers. They would give their strength to Cody, to Jase, to Davy. The desert would not let them go.

Above it all, a mother wept for her son, her arms holding him as he slept on the tiny cot, afraid he had lost a big part of his life, afraid he had lost his father again, his cheeks wet from the tears he had sobbed.

"My son has done nothing wrong. He deserves better than this," she cried, and the hot desert wind spiraled her words until they reached the sky.

Cody had not slept, waiting for Mackenzie to open the door to his room, to hurt him, to punish him like before. . Finally, he drifted off in the early morning only to be awakened by three knocks on his door and a cheery Jeffers telling him to get a move on. Not sure what was expected of him, Cody pulled on the same cargoes and ribbed t-shirt he'd worn on the plane, scrubbed his hair back from his face and tied it with a leather strip. He stuck his feet into docksiders and opened the door.

"Oh my," Mackenzie said, his voice teasing and light. "We will go shopping immediately. You look like a very low rent boy." Pleased at what he considered a joke, he continued to eat his croissant and drink his strong Jamaican coffee.

"I need to go see my mother," Cody said, trying desperately to keep the tremor out of his voice. He knew how Mackenzie loved weakness.

"And so we shall. Eat something, for God's sake. You are practically emaciated from your sojourn with the hostiles." He waved Cody toward the table. Cody remained standing and waited. "So be it. Starve if you must, but it's a long drive."

It was a long drive, on I-95, catching the Hutchinson River Parkway, flowing into Merritt Parkway, the drive to Greenwich, Connecticut would have been extraordinary any other time. The top down, the wind whipping their hair, the weather warm and sunny, if it had been Jase in the car with him, Davy in the jumpseat, Cody would have been in heaven.

Even Mackenzie was impressed as the homes became larger and the estates more palatial. The salt air mixed with the sunshine and the day was glorious.

Driving up the long drive to the Taylor home, Mackenzie was amazed at the beauty and asked Cody how much it was all worth.

"I don't know," Cody muttered. "Who the hell cares?"

"Well, I do for one," Jeffers laughed. "Maybe your dear Ma-Ma will off herself when she hears how naughty her hubby has been and you will inherit it all."

"Shut the fuck up."

Disgusted, Cody saw that Elijah's SUV was parked out front. He hoped Becca and the new baby weren't here. It was horrible enough to have to face his mother.

He jumped out of the car as soon as it stopped and ran up the steps, just as the front door opened. Seeing his brother's strickened face, Cody stepped into his arms.


"God, Cody, what is this all about? I know he was screwy but this?"

Mackenzie cleared his throat. "Hello, dear boy. Mackenzie Jeffers, a close, very close friend of Dakota's." he held out his hand. "My condolences."

Lijah shot a glance at Cody, his brow arched. He knew about Jase. Who the fuck was this?

"Later," Cody sighed, "Mother?"

"She got in early this morning after the FBI contacted her."

"Is she upset?"

Lijah snorted, "Yeah, right. She's just pissed cause it interrupted her dig. You know they hated each other."

"But, the other stuff?"

Lijah sobered, "The bad shit? Man, I know he had a mean streak, but Jesus."

Cody sighed, "Yeah."

They stepped into the cool foyer and Mackenzie's mind began clicking like a cash register at the original paintings and expensive decoration. "You never told me your home was this lovely, Dakota."

"It was never my home," Cody muttered. "It was just the place I ate and slept." Lijah tightened his hold around Cody's shoulders, knowing how the house made his twin feel alone.

It had been so hard on Cody, growing up different. Elijah had fit right in with his all-American good looks, soft brown hair, hazel eyes and peachy skin. Cody had been teased and ridiculed by the snotty kids during his growing up years and it had left its mark.

Cody had only been happy when they lived in New Mexico and he had been wrapped in his grandmother Soft Wind's love. When he was taken away, he had lost a part of himself. Lijah had been so happy when Cody told him that he had found someone to love back in New Mexico, back in the desert he loved. What had happened? Who was this creep and where was Jase McBride?

"Let's go see Mother," Cody sighed. "I need some answers. You," he looked pointedly at Jeffers. "Stay in the library."

"Oh, I think not, dear Dakota. I want so much to meet your dear sweet mother and give her my condolences."

Elijah rolled his eyes. If this Jeffers guy was expecting some weeping widow, he was in for a big surprise.

Jase sleep fitfully, his leg aching and his heart breaking. He had muddled dreams. Cody was in the dense fog. He could almost reach him but when he got to his outstretched hand, Cody faded away. He could hear voices calling his name, telling him to find Cody. He even felt warm arms around him in the night.

His eyes popped open and he threw back the covers. Inhaling sharply, he swung his legs off the side of the bed and put his feet on the floor. The pain was intense but no worse than the pain on his heart. He would never find the answers he needed lying in this bed.

Davy jumped up and ran to catch his daddy's arm. "Oh, Daddy, can we go home now? Can we go find Cody?"

Jase looked down into the beautiful tear-swollen face of his son. He saw Tommy. He saw Charity. He knew nothing was over.

"Let's go home, son. I have some things to tell you."

There was no argument that could keep Jase McBride in that hospital. He took the crutches the nurse handed him, sat heavily in the wheelchair and let himself be wheeled to the sidewalk where Agent Crisp sat in the nondescript government car.

"Thanks for the ride," Jase said, as they pulled out of the parking lot.

"No problem." Glancing back at Davy in his rearview mirror, Crisp said vaguely, "It's all coming together now. We'll handle the families and reporters. It's time for you to get your life back together."

"I wish I knew how," Jase sighed. "I don't know where to start."

"New York," the FBI agent said quietly. "I did some checking and it seems Cody had an old, I'm not going to say friend, there. That person was here."

"In Shiprock?" Then Jase remembered the phone call. "Shit!"

"Daddy?" Davy's voice trembled, "Is Cody okay?"

"Yes, Davy, Cody's fine." 'He damn well better be,' Jase growled under his breath.

Agent Crisp drove into the barnyard and up to the front door. Jase had trouble climbing the front steps, but he bit his lip and kept going. This was no time to let pain distract him.

"Thanks for the ride. We'll take it from here, Agent Crisp," Jase said, his mind a thousand miles away.

The agent stuck his hand out, "That would be Walter to my friends."

Jase stopped, remembering all that this man had done for his family. "I want to thank you, Walter, for helping us and for keeping my family safe." They shook hands and Jase knew he could count on him.

As the FBI agent drove away, he called out, "Take it easy in the Big Apple. No cowboy tricks. I don't want to have to come collect you."

Jase and Davy waved and then walked into the silent house. True to his word, Walter Crisp had cleaned away all the blood. As Jase walked slowly through the house he had lived in for years; the house Davy had grown up in, he felt Cody everywhere, but all he heard was the sound of the wind.

"We have to talk, Davy Boy."

"K, Daddy."

They walked out onto the back porch and Jase eased himself into one of the old rockers. Davy ran to get him a stool to put his foot on.

"Davy, there's been some really bad stuff going on."

"I know, Daddy. Lots of dead people and bad stuff."

Jase looked into his son's eyes. So much for this little boy to handle, all in one big gulp. It was time to see what Davy McBride was made of.

"Davy, you know how you've always wondered why you don't look like your mama or like me?"

Davy sat down by Jase's knee and looked up into his daddy's eyes. "Yes, Daddy." He knew something big was coming.

"You know I love you very very much and you are my son, right?"

"Yes, Daddy." He crept his small hand onto Jase's knee.

"And you know how babies are made because we talked about it, right?"

"Uh huh."

"Well," Jase took a deep breath, "You have two daddies. One who made you and one who loves you now."

"You didn't make me?"

"No," Jase sighed, "But the man who made you with your Mama was a beautiful man. I loved him very much."

Davy sat very still. "The man in the picture by your bed, Daddy?"

"Yes, Davy. That is Quiet Water, son of Snow Bird and Climbing Wolf. I called him Tommy."

"I am a full Indian, Daddy?" Davy felt something blossom inside him. He wasn't a halfbreed like the kids at school teased him. He was a true Indian. His face broke out in a big smile, then crumbled as he realized something.


"Yes, Davy?"

"Can I still be your son too?"

"Oh God, Davy...........you ARE my son. I loved your father and your mother so much. I raised you and I love you. Nothing will ever change that."

Davy jumped up to fling his arms around his daddy's neck. "I love you too, Daddy." He held on tight for a few seconds and then whispered, "Can we go find Cody now?"

Now came the bad part. "Davy?"

"Uh huh?"

"That bad man, the one who took you and hurt Cody and me......."

"He killed my mama, didn't he?" Davy stepped back a little. He watched his daddy's face.

Jase couldn't say it. He couldn't take the chance of ruining Cody in Davy's eyes.

"Yes, Davy."

"Go on, Daddy. I know it's something bad. Say it. You'll feel better."

Jase almost smiled at the wisdom of this child. "Davy, that man was sick."

"I know, Daddy. He was crazy. He kept calling me his son."

Jase took a deep breath. "Davy, that man was Cody's father."

He watched Davy's small face crinkle up as he took in the words. What was he thinking? Jase waited.

Davy walked over to the edge of the porch and stared out into the desert. He watched a small covey of quail skitter around under the giant saguaro near the corner of the barn. The azure sky was filled with puffy low hanging cumulus clouds and a soft breeze was filled with the sweet scent of Indian paintbrush. He took a deep breath and turned to his daddy.

"Cody's daddy killed my mama."

"Yes, Davy." Jase watched the boy's eyes as his mind twisted and turned.

"Is that why Cody left us?"

"I think so, yes."

Davy cocked his head to one side and asked simply, "Do you still love Cody, Daddy?"

Jase felt his eyes burning, "Yes, Davy. I never stopped."

"Then let's go get him."

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