by Grasshopper

Chapter 16

Cody's head was swirling with all the facts his mother had dropped on him. Charles Taylor wasn't his father, wasn't his blood. God, the relief of it was almost too much to handle. He wasn't going to just go insane one day and hurt someone, hurt Davy.....hurt Jase. He hadn't even realized how terrified he'd been of that happening.

He sat down at the water's edge and let the warm water lap at his feet. The confusion in his mind couldn't quite grasp that he had a father, a mysterious Indian that might very well have been Charles Taylor's first victim. Was his whole world being destroyed by that man? There didn't seem to be any facet of Dakota Taylor that hadn't been touched by "him".

And there was Mackenzie. What was he going to do about that? There was no way he was going to just walk away and let Cody go. No way! God, he wanted Jase right now! His head hurt from thinking about it all and he couldn't figure anything out. If he could just be in Jase's arms for five minutes..........just 5 minutes, he would be able to think.

But, Jase was in New Mexico. Jase and Davy...........all safe in the ranch house where Cody had believed he'd spend the rest of his life. That's where they needed to be, away from Cody, away from all the trouble and the mess. He felt hot tears burn his eyes and knew nothing in his life would ever be right again.

He knew he could run call Jase and tell him what Mother had said. He knew Jase would understand. But then, there would always be that doubt, that fear, that Jase might have not wanted him back if Charles Taylor had been his real father, that the same sick blood ran in Cody's veins. Cody would never know if Jase would love him no matter what or who he was. No, it was better this way. Cody stared out at the sunlight flickering off the rippling water and cried.

"So, you've come to see my son?" Allison stared long and hard at this handsome man standing in front of her.

"I was hoping to find Cody here, Ma'am." Jase looked around the room one more time, already knowing it was empty except for the three of them.

She smiled. "And you are Davy McBride?" Davy stepped out from behind his dad and looked up into Cody's mama's eyes.

"Yes, Ma'am. I'm Davy. Do you know where Cody is? We need to see him real bad."

Allison looked into those chocolate eyes, so much like her own son's, so much like the man she still dreamed of late in the night. "Why do you need to find my son?"

Jase replied, "I need...........,"

"WE need, Daddy. I do too," Davy whispered loudly, nudging Jase with his elbow.

Jase continued, "WE need to talk to him. He left without saying goodbye and there are things that need to be said."

"I will not allow you to hurt my son," Allison said sternly, watching the strong emotions flicker behind Jase's eyes. "He's been hurt enough."

"Hurt him?" Jase exclaimed, "I would never hurt him. He hurt me....us, by running away. Davy and I have come to take him home."

"How do you know he even wants to see you?"

"He does," Davy cried. "Cody loves us. He's just all confused, like Daddy says. We came to um.......unconfuse him, right Daddy?"

Jase almost smiled, ruffling Davy's long black hair. "Yeah," he answered.

The door opened and Elijah walked into the library. "Hello," he said, politely.

Jase nodded his head, saying, "You must be Elijah. Cody talks about you all the time. I'm....................,"

Elijah grinned, "I know who you are, Jase. Hi, Davy," he said, smiling at the boy. Cody has told me all about you two McBrides."

Jase was trying to be polite. He didn't want to stand here and make small talk. He wanted to see his little Indian. He wanted to hold Cody and make him know, once and for all, that he was safe.

Allison could see the war between manners and frustration going on in Jase's eyes. She knew her son was suffering. It was time to end the hurt. "Jase, Dakota is here. He's down by the water. I told him some things that he didn't know and.............................,"

"Excuse me," Jase said, and looked around for the quickest way to get out of the room. Elijah pointed toward the French doors and grabbed Davy's arm gently as the boy moved to follow his father.

"Davy, sometimes people need a few minutes alone when they're hurting. Let your dad be with Cody for a little while."

"But, I need to go too. I need to tell Cody.....................,"

"And you will, sweetling," Allison said softly, "But give them time to talk."

Davy felt his bottom lip start to quiver. He frowned. Ewwww, he was ten years old. He wasn't gonna cry like a baby in front of these people. Besides, he kinda understood.

"You mean, they have to kinda um......kiss and stuff?"

Allison Brubaker let out a loud chuckle. "You and I are going to be fast friends, Davy McBride. Come, let's find you some cake and cold milk. I promise you will see Dakota in a few minutes."

Elijah watched his mother walk from the room, her hand on the shoulder of a small boy. He was surprised at the lightness of her tone and the smile on her face. But, he was relieved that there was something that could give her small joy right now. Elijah tried not to think about what his father had done. He turned to the French doors and saw Jase striding down the sand toward a small dot far along the surfline.

"Good luck, Jase McBride," he whispered.

Mackenzie Jeffers had pulled off the side of the road and sat fuming. He banged the palms of his hands against the steering wheel in frustration. There was no way Dakota was getting away from him like this. He had him......it was all set. The boy had been so lost and alone. Damnation!!! Well, it wasn't over, not by a long shot. What Mackenzie Jeffers wanted, Mackenzie Jeffers got.......and he wanted that boy.

Jase felt the wetness of the sand under his bare feet. He felt the wetness of the air as it pushed against him. So different from his desert. He never took his eyes off the small forlorn figure huddled at the water's edge. He thought if he blinked, Cody might disappear and he couldn't handle that. His leg hurt like hell and it was all he could do to keep walking, but he had to get to Cody.

Limping, he stopped about twelve feet away, dropped into the damp sand and sat very still easing his throbbing leg out straight, just watching Cody's long silky black hair blow gently in the breeze. Just being this close made everything all right. He heard a sniffle and shook his head.

"Running away won't work, you know," he said softly. "I'll always come after you." He raised his arms and waited.

Cody's head jerked up, he wheeled around, jumping to his feet. He covered the ground between them in approximately 1 second flat, only to stop just as he reached out for Jase's arms. He locked onto Jase's eyes and held them, searching for truths.

"You met Mother?"


"And?" He watched carefully. Had she told him? Did he know the truth?

It made all the difference in Cody's world.

Jase quirked one eyebrow, "Formidable lady. I didn't come all this way to meet her though."

"Did you talk?" Cody had to find out.

'We said hello and I said 'Where's Cody?'. Now, come here, brat."

'He didn't know! He didn't know and still he came! He came just because he loves me!' Cody jumped into the open arms and knocked Jase flat onto the sand. Mouths searched and hands grasped.

Raining tiny kisses all over Jase's face, Cody couldn't stop grinning. Lying full out on top, he wiggled and grinned and went in for another long, hot kiss.

Jase was laughing so hard, he was having trouble keeping up with the kissage. "I take it this means you're over your confusion and are ready to come back home?"

"Oh, yeah," Cody smiled, pressing his cheek against Jase's. He squeezed his arms, hugged him tighter and felt Jase flinch. "Oh, your leg." He rolled off, his eyes full of worry. "Does it hurt terribly?" His face crumpled. His 'father' had done this too. The man had hurt everyone Cody loved.

"It's killing me, but if you don't get back here and keep hugging me, it'll be worse. Now, want to tell me exactly what was going through your mind as you ran away from home?" Jase said quietly, making the question sound light, but wanting an answer.

Cody snuggled his face into the crook of Jase's neck and mumbled, "I didn't think you'd want me."

"Not want you? What did I do to make you think that?" his face filled with hurt.

"No, no, it wasn't anything you did. It was me. I thought that when you saw it all in black and white, all the horrible things my 'father' did, you'd hate me for having the same blood or for being his son. I thought you'd be afraid of me." His words came out in a rush, as if to be rid of them forever.

"Afraid of you? The only time I was ever afraid of you was when I felt myself falling in love and I couldn't stop it from happening. You, my beautiful little Indian, are my heart. It doesn't matter what your father did as far as my feelings for you. Believe me, my feelings for you never change. You're stuck with me, like it or not."

Cody's eyes sparkled. "You're a good man, Jase McBride. You could have hated me for what he did."

"And try to live with Davy?" Jase smiled. "No way is that kid going to let you go."

Cody told Jase everything his mother had said, about the desert, the stranger, the knowing but not knowing. "She's been through Hell all these years and I didn't even know it."

"You were a child. She wanted to keep her secrets and she did.....except for your........uh, Charles Taylor."

"Jase, if he did kill my real father, I'll never find him, right?"

Jase looked out toward the ocean, his eyes full of the old hurt. "Like Tommy, I guess, out there somewhere in the desert." Then he seemed to shake off the melancholy that threatened. "We could ask. We do make a good team, detective-wise. Maybe you have family in New Mexico."

Cody's mind swirled with that new thought. Maybe he had his own people.

"We better get up out of this sand before we get arrested," Jase laughed. "I don't know the laws about public loving here. Besides, I know a ten year old boy who is going nuts at your mother's."

Cody jumped up and held out both hands. "Let me help you."

"You help me by loving me. You help me by just being alive in the same world I live in. Don't ever run away from me again. I couldn't deal with it."

Tears trickled down Cody's cheeks, tears of joy and happiness. Jase loved him, no matter what.

"I have my own pony," Davy was saying to Allison, as he ate his second huge slice of chocolate cake. "You need to come visit us. You'd love the desert. I'd take you for rides and to climb the rocks and search for rattlers and....."

Allison watched the small boy talk around the cake, smears of chocolate on his chin. Go back there? Go back to the place that had been her salvation and caused her greatest pain? Every glittering rock, every early morning scent of sage, every beam of warm sun would remind her of what she had only had for a moment. It had been so hard to go back for Soft Wind's funeral. She had refused herself the small remembrance of riding out to the rocks. She would never go there again.

Davy finished his cake and sat, staring at her, a puzzled look on his face. "If........if you're Cody's mama and my daddy loves Cody and we are a family, will that make you like .... my grandma?"

Allison laughed. This boy was a jewel. "I don't know, Davy. We'll have to wait and see what your father and my son decide."

"Can I ask you something?" he said softly, staring into his milk glass.

"Of course, Davy."

He cleared his throat and then looked her square in the eye. "Um, Mrs. Um," he stumbled, looking for a name to call her, and finally deciding, "Cody's Mama."

Allison smiled at his distress. "Call me Ms. Allison for right now until we find out the state of things."

"K," Davy grinned. "Well, Ms. Allison," giggling at the new name, "If Cody and his brother are twins, how come they don't look alike? Mama used to say that twins were like two peas in a pod."

Allison thought quickly, not knowing how much information Jase had given his son yet. "I'll let your dad explain that fully but, for now, let's just say that Cody and Elijah have the same father but Cody looks like his father and Elijah looks like me."

"But," Davy replied, his face wrinkled in a frown, "Cody didn't look like his father..........oh wait, that mean man on the cliffs, that wasn't Cody's dad then, right?"

She closed her eyes, blocking her dead husband's face, "That's right, Davy. That extremely mean man was NOT Cody or Elijah's father."

"That's good," Davy grinned, "Cause he stunk."

Allison felt a laugh ripple through her. "Yes, Davy, I have to agree with you, he stunk."

They were still smiling when they heard voices coming across the back patio and Davy turned to see Cody and Jase, arms tight around each other, walk slowly towards the small table.

"CODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Davy ran across the flagstone to fling himself up into Cody's arms. Black hair to black hair, dark skin to dark skin.

"Woooof, you nearly knocked me over, Davy Boy," Cody laughed, holding on tight.

Davy stopped and looked up into Cody's deep brown eyes. "You said you'd never go away, Cody. You promised."

Cody dropped to one knee and looked Davy in the eyes. "I know. I'm so sorry I hurt you. I was scared."

"Scared?" Davy said, confused. "That bad man is dead, Cody. There's nothing to be scared of anymore."

Knowing now was the time for honesty, Cody said gently, "I was scared you and your dad wouldn't want me there anymore because that bad guy was my father."

"I always want you there, Cody. I don't care if your father is.....is.....is..... Voldemort or Squidward or..........."

"Okay, okay," Cody smiled, "My mother has told me that he wasn't my father after all. I just want to come home if that's okay with you?"

"Okay with me ???? Okay with me ??????? Oh, Cody," he yelped, jumping on the kneeling man, causing a two body collapse onto the stone floor.

Allison watched the love and the caring and the obvious affection between her son and this small boy. She looked at Jase McBride and read a world of love written broadly across his face. They would be all right. They would make it happen. What others had lost, they had found.

The rest of the day was spent talking quietly with Elijah. Davy, convinced that Cody was safe and everything was secure in his world, was now planted firmly in front of a wall sized plasma screen with choices of PS2 or satellite and all the junk food he could possibly want.

"So," Elijah sighed, "All those years of wondering why he didn't love me, wasted. Worrying about Cody and why he hated him so."

"It was because he saw mother's...," Cody paused, not knowing the appropriate word.

"He was my lover," she murmured quietly. "You were both conceived in love. I wanted to tell you so many times, but I was afraid you'd confront Charles with it and he would hurt you."

"It's all right, Mother," Elijah replied, "We were all caught up in a lie. I wish he was alive to tell us what happened to our father, but more, I'm glad he's not."

"We'll never know what went on in his sick brain, but please don't let all that happened hurt you," she said softly. "You are in no way to blame for the evil that festered inside him."

Jase had been quiet, watching the interplay between mother and sons. He had one question. "Mrs. Taylor?"

"Allison, please. I never want to use that name again." Cody squeezed his mother's hand.

"Allison then, is there nothing you can tell us that might help Cody and Elijah find traces of their father?"

"No" she answered. "It's like a dream that never happened, but, looking at my sons, I know it did. He left me there, taking my blue ribbon, He promised to come back, but he never did." She felt tears threaten, old tears that seemed fresh and new.

Cody flinched. He never wanted to see another piece of blue velvet ribbon in his life.

"He took my blue ribbon and he pressed this into my hand." She reached into the neckline of her soft silk blouse and withdrew a silver chain.

"It was on a leather strip, but I put it on this silver chain and have never taken it off all these years. It makes me feel close to him. I believed for so many years that he didn't really care, but know I have renewed hope."

"Oh, Mother," Elijah sighed, thinking of his mother, so miserable and alone all these years. "I wish you had told us. We would have understood. We would have helped you."

"I wish we had known our father," Cody said quietly. Jase circled his shoulders with a strong arm and pulled him tight. "I would have had a place in the world, an identity."

"You always had that, Baby," Jase whispered. "You are the strongest man I know. Look how you solved this whole catastrophe. If not for you, I'd still be a miserable cranky shit and Davy, a lonely little boy with no father. Now, he has two...thanks to you." Cody raised Jase's hand and pressed it to his cheek.

"Mother, may I look at that pendant?" Elijah asked.

Navajo Wheat pendantAllison unclasped the chain. "Now that I've told you," she smiled at Cody and Elijah, "I can take it off. He's in my heart." She handed the chain to Elijah.

He rubbed his thumb over the worn engraving on the front of the pendant. "This looks like a shaft of wheat. That would be one of the southwestern farmer tribes....Hopi, Jicarilla Apache, Ute, Navajo." He looked up to see the surprise in everyone's eyes. "What? I wasn't an archeologist's son for nothing. I lived out there too, you know."

KokopelliCody reached for the pendant, looking at the back. "There's just a Kokopelli engraved for the maker." He grinned, "We all seem to know more than we thought we did."

Jase threw out the thought, "You know, we might be able to trace this piece. They have the big Northern Navajo Fair every fall in Shiprock. They have all kinds of crafts, pottery, rugs, jewelry. Maybe someone uses the Kokopelli for his trademark. Maybe your father got this at the fair."

"It's been twenty two years," Allison sighed.

"Well, it's a start," Cody exclaimed, his voice full of enthusiasm.

Excitement blazed in Cody and Elijah's eyes. Maybe, maybe they could find some answers. No one noticed that Allison drew back, her eyes frightened. After all these years..........what would they find? She didn't realize until now how she had just lived in her clouds of grief.


Kajika had found several good pieces of rock, just the right weight and texture for his simple carvings. As he walked nimbly over the dry desert rocks and shifting sand, he heard the hoofbeats. Stilling himself into a crouch beside a huge boulder at the top of the mesa, he watched the white woman ride into the low canyon.

Her long curls tangled from the wind, her cheeks flushed from the desert sun, Kajika was frozen by her beauty. He just watched as she lifted her hair from the back of her neck to let the breeze cool her hot skin. Pulling a blue ribbon from her hair, she drank deeply from a canteen and seemed to breathe in the aroma of the sage.

Her eyes lifted too quickly for him to move, and, so as not to frighten her, he stood up proudly, his long black hair whipping in the wind, his fringed leather vest open, his moccasin leggings tight on his powerful calves and stared into her eyes.

It was but a moment in time.........yet an eternity. He moved to go toward her, she moved to slide from the saddle. A coyote yipped in the distance, startling her and she shook her head as if to waken from a dream.

Her eyes never leaving his face, she wheeled her horse around to fly from the confines of the rocks and tumbleweeds. Dust flew from the paint's hooves as the woman spurred him into a gallop.

Kajika watched until the dust cloud settled. She had ridden off toward Drifter. It had been a fantasy, a dream out of time.

Everyday, Kajika returned to the mesa. Everyday, she did not return. One more day and he would stop this fantasy.

The day clear, the sky azure blue, he stood waiting atop the sun-warmed rocks. Today would be the last.

She rode into the canyon, more lovely than he remembered. She had come back.

No words......his hand reached for hers, his chocolate eyes reached into her soul.

He took her there, on a blanket in the sand in the shadows of Wild Horse Ravine. The passion, hot and powerful, the desire ripping apart all the rules he'd ever set.

"I must go," Kajika whispered.
"Take me with you," she replied.
"I cannot."
"Will you come back?"
"Yes," he promised with all his soul.
"Take this," she said softly, "to remember." She handed him the blue velvet ribbon from her hair. He slipped the leather thong from around his neck and pressed it into her hand. "I will always remember."

He watched her ride away, her shoulders sad and weary. He wanted to call out, to beg her to stay, but knew he could not. Kajika sat quietly, his back against the rocks as the sun began to set.

He never noticed the glint of the sun off the rifle barrel until it was too late. The bullet struck him and, as his eyes dulled, he felt the ribbon he clutched in his hand sliding away.

Back to the now

Allison had Elijah make a call and invited Jase and Davy to stay the night in her home.

"We'll have your luggage brought by dinnertime," she smiled.

"Good deal," Davy laughed. "That hotel sucked."

"Davy!!" Jase growled.

"That's all right," Allison smiled, "I can imagine that it probably did."

Exhausted from the morning's disclosures and for opening hr heart for her sons, Allison said goodnight. Elijah hugged Cody tightly and grinned at Jase. "You take good care of my baby brother. I'll be back in the morning. We're going to have to write some kind of obituary. Luckily, the FBI won't release the body for a good while yet, so we don't have to plan a funeral."

Cody snorted, "Like anyone would have anything to say."

"It's in all the papers," Elijah said, anger in his voice. "People look at me like I have leprosy."

"It will pass," Jase calmed them both down. "Tomorrow there'll be a new story."

Davy settled in for the night in Cody's old room, his lop eared bunny appearing from his duffle. "Night Daddy. Night Cody."

"Night, little punkin. I'm glad you came to get me."

"Oh Cody," Davy said, all the love in his voice. "I just knew you didn't want to be here." He hugged Cody's neck in a strangle hold. "Don't ever leave again."

"I promise. No more running away."

"Night, Daddy. We hogtied him, didn't we?" Davy giggled.

"Yep, I guess we have to keep a short rein on him from now on."

"Um......standing right here, listening," Cody laughed.

The house quiet, everyone tucked in, Cody grabbed Jase's hand and pulled him toward the guestroom. "I am dying here. If I don't taste your skin soon, I'm going to explode."

"In your mother's house?" Jase teased as Cody pushed open the door. "Shame on...........................,"

He never finished the words he was saying. A hot mouth clamped down on his and his beautiful Indian shoved him against the closed door. "Get your hands on me," Cody commanded, "Now, Jase, all over me."

Jase grabbed a handful of the back of Cody's t-shirt, holding on for dear life. The taste of Cody, hot and deep, flooded him, while that tight hard body pressed against him. All his brain could scream was one word....More !

Cody arched, and as his mouth traveled down Jase's neck to feed on his throat, feeling the pulse beating there wildly, he moaned, "Love me."

All Jase could do was moan. His belly jumped when he felt Cody drag at the snap on his jeans. "It's been too many days," Cody mumbled, his voice thick, his fingers busy.

"You'll never know," Jase groaned and, in one fast move, swung the smaller man around until his back was against the door, "But I want you first." He yanked Cody's t-shirt over his dark hair, his mouth on Cody's before it hit the floor.

Cody worked his hands between them and fumbled at the buttons of Jase's cowboy shirt, wanting to feel skin on hot skin.

Jase's shirt finally open, they rubbed together, and desperately, Cody pushed Jase's hand down, "Touch me. Hold me." When he felt Jase cup him through his cargoes, his head fell back, his mouth panting. His hips moved against Jase's hand and it was like holding a caged tiger. There was no stopping the flood of emotion.

Jase yanked at the zipper on Cody's pants and dragged them down. Even as Cody struggled to kick away the clothing, Jase went down on his knees, found him and took him into his mouth. Oh God, it was like coming home, like a lightning bolt directly to his heart.

"Don't stop," Cody cried, his hands grasping wildly at Jase's muscled back. He rocked into Jase's hot mouth, riding his lips, shuddering and just wanting more.

Jase held Cody's tight butt in his hands and pulled him to the edge...and then over. Cody poured into his mouth, his body jerking with spasms, his hips still moving in rhythm. He tasted like the sweetest candy and hot chocolate syrup.

Jase laid his face against Cody's belly, panting heavily. "I love the smell of you, right now, right here. It's the part of you no one but me ever shares."

His heart still thundering, Cody dropped to his knees to face his lover. ""I love you so much. I thought I was going to die when I left you."

Jase felt tears burn his eyes. "I thought we knew each other well enough to talk, never to hide the things that matter. You hurt me when you forgot that."

"I know. I'm so sorry. I learned that we're so much better together than we would ever be if we were apart." Cody kissed Jase's mouth and tasted himself.

"I'm naked and sweaty and lying on the floor of my mother's house," Cody giggled. "We need to get up, I guess."

"Oh, we need to get up over and over tonight," Jase grinned wickedly. "You owe me for running away, and I'm ready to get my "I'm sorrys" now please."

"You may want to lie down on the nice soft bed then," Cody laughed. "I can say "I'm sorry" lots of different ways."

They spent three days in Connecticut, Cody getting to really know his mother for the first time. With her secrets out in the open, Allison was witty and extremely fun to be around. It was like a dark Eeyorian cloud had been lifted from around her head and she was coming to life for the first time in twenty two years.

Jase and Cody walked on the beach every day and cleared the air of all the things that had come between them. Jase brought up the name Mackenzie Jeffers. "I'm going in to the city tomorrow and have a 'discussion' with him," Jase said.

All Cody could see was Jase getting arrested for assault or worse. "He won't bother me again. He went away and now I'm going home. I was crazy to go anywhere with him in the first place."

"Why did you, Cody? One day, you'll tell me what the hold is that he has over you, but there was no reason for you to leave with him."

Ashamed, Cody admitted, "I think I was punishing myself for what "my father" did....to the people you loved and to all those girls. It seemed somehow to be my fault." He felt the tears start and they flooded down his cheeks. The only way Jase could calm him was to agree not to contact Jeffers.

Jase kissed Cody's tears away and let the matter slide.......for now, but Jase knew that, one day, he would meet up with the son of a bitch, and that day would be the last time that Mackenzie Jeffers would ever intimidate anyone.

Davy had the run of the huge mansion and, to the delight of Ms. Allison, seemed to enjoy her company like he would a very loved grandmother.

"Mz. Ally," he shouted, having given her a 'Davy shortcut', "Can we go down to the beach? I want to find you a special shell."

Cody smiled at his mother, "You can't escape him. When he likes you, you're totally in for it and, by the big grin on your face, I'd say you feel the same way."

Allison hugged her son. "I can't quite explain it, but it's like I have you all over again, and I can laugh and love him the way I never could with you." She looked to Cody for understanding. "I loved you so much, my son, but 'he' was jealous of that love and I had to curb myself."

"I understand so much now, Mother. It's all right. We have each other now."

"You are so much like your father. I wish...............,"

Cody smiled a rueful smile. "I know, me too. Maybe we'll find something about him from that pendant. You never know....stranger things have happened. Maybe I have family out there......more family," he said as he kissed her cheek.

"What about that terrible man that came here with you?" she asked, and was upset to see the look of fear in Cody's eyes. "Do you want me to make a few calls?"

Cody was so torn. He knew his mother had friends in high places, but to say 'Yes' meant to open up his past. He never wanted his mother, his family, anyone to know the humiliation and shame Mackenzie Jeffers had put him through.

"No, Mother. I hope he leaves me alone now. We'll go back to New Mexico and hopefully, he'll forget all about me."

Allison wasn't at all sure that was the case but she kept her council. She had heard the man's name whispered from time to time and none of it had been good. She'd abide by Cody's wishes for now, but she knew there would come a time when something would have to be done.

Finally, it was time for Phillip to drive them to New York to catch their flight back to New Mexico..........back home where they belonged.

Elijah, Becca and the baby stood on the steps waving goodbye after many promises to come out very soon for a long visit. Elijah had pulled Cody aside long enough to say, "If you find out anything about our father, call me and I'll be there in hours. I want to be in on anything you find out from the get-go."

"I will, 'Lij," Cody said, hugging him tight. "We'll do our best."

Allison climbed into the back of the Bentley with them. "I want to be with you as long as I can," she explained.

"You're coming out in three weeks, right? You promised," Davy bounced in excitement.

Cody knew how difficult it was for his mother to come back to the desert. He knew that only her growing affection for Davy could get her there.

Reading his thoughts, she said quietly, "It's time I faced my daemons. I love the desert and it's time I came back."

Over their arguments, Allison had booked them first class seats, so Jase had room for his long legs, Cody had room to cuddle next to Jase and Davy had the choice of movies, games or total snack-arama.

As they watched the New York skyline disappear, Cody let the one thing that was still churning in his head, surface. He knew Mackenzie Jeffers. There was no way that he would just be humiliated like that. He couldn't have gotten at Cody while they were in Connecticut and he couldn't ever get through Jase, but Cody knew Jase couldn't always be around. Mackenzie would do something. Cody didn't know what, but he was sure of it. The back of his neck prickled and he felt this small dagger of fear for his small family. He would never go back to Jeffers, and that wasn't going to satisfy Mackenzie. He remembered the threat, "If I can't have you, no one ever will."

Cody kept looking out the window of the plane. It couldn't be as easy as this to escape him. Could it?

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[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead