Dante, My Inferno

Chapter 20 Checkmate, For Now

 

“There’s one more thing ladies,” I said stopping the girls. “I want to thank you all for your support.”

 “It means a lot to me as well,” Dante added. Then we hugged and kissed. There were cheers and applause. We both blushed.

 “Let’s get out of the girls' way,” Diane said shooing us into the house.. So the rest of us went into the living room to talk.

 “Billy you know we always have your back,” Sam said. “No matter what.”

 “You love Dante, and he loves you,” Diane said. “So who you love is always worth fighting for.” Then she kissed my cheek.

 “I will,” I told her. “Because I can’t lose him. I won’t lose him.”

 Dante and I hugged them both. Then Linzie hugged us both. And things were beginning to feel right again.

 Linzie let me tell Dante about my body camera. Serena had been caught on camera. Linzie was pleased with Dante’s and Sam’s reaction. They saw what it could mean in dealing with Serena.

 “The question is. When do we use it?” Linzie asked me. I just smiled.

 “She needs to totally cross the line before we use it,” I told her. Bob and Charlie had heard it all.

 “Let’s eat and talk,” Bob told us. “Jean said the food’s ready.”

 “Billy hasn’t she crossed the line?” Charlie asked me.

 “No Charlie,” Dante told him. “She could say she was testing Billy in some way or another.”

 “To see what his intent towards me is. Is one way.”

 “But when we do. We send it to the Attorney General before we show it to her,” I told them. Linzie nodded.

 We sat down to eat out on the patio. Amelia sat down between Dante and me. Antonia sat down next to a blushing Bass. A fact not totally unnoticed by Angel. Alice of course sat down next to Charlie.

 Sam and Diane sat with Linzie across from us. Alice’s parents, Wade and Cindy sat across from Alice and Charlie. Wade was watching Charlie carefully.

 Alice noticed and promptly kissed Charlie on the cheek. Charlie promptly turned a bright red. Causing Alice to smile and her father to frown.

 “Charlie if you would?” Wade asked. “I would like to talk to you and your dad after supper.”

 “Just the three of us sir?” Charlie asked in hopes of stopping Alice.

 “Mom!” Alice roared to enlist her mother’s help.

 “No!” Charlie said to calm Alice. “I think your dad and I should talk. Cause he doesn’t know me yet.” Then he smiled and kissed Alice’s cheek.

 Before he could say a word. Cindy put her hand on Wade’s arm to calm him down. Wade kissed his wife on the cheek with a smile.

 “Okay,” was all he said.

 But just the three of them didn’t happen. As Cindy, Jean, Alice and even Donna talked to Wade. Bo and Charlie got a word in every once in awhile.

 Charlie was polite. Adding sir or ma’am as needed. You could see Wade warming up to the polite young man Charlie was.

 The rest of us cleared the dishes. And left them to talk. Leftovers were put in the fridge. The dishes loaded into the dishwasher. Then rest readied for loading when this load was done.

 When we went back outside, Mary and Paula were there waiting on us.

 “What’s up?" I asked Mary as I sat down. Dante sat down on my lap, as per usual now. 

 “Just thought I would let you know Serena is making herself a pain already,”  Mary told us. Causing Dante to smile.

 “She actually served Judge Avelos with a subpoena,” Mary told us. Paula checkled.

 About then, Tom and Eric came around the corner to the patio. I looked at a smiling and guilty Dante.

 “She’s not that stupid,” I told Mary. 

 

“Serena has a plan,” Tom answered having been her assistant at one time.

 “So Dante called you?” I asked Tom. “Didn’t he?”

 “No,” Tom told me. “Serena called me. I called Dante instead of you.”

 “So since she’s trying to make it look proper and above board,” Eric said. “We thought we would do an end run around you.”

 “So your Billy’s lawyers” Sam asked trying to get things straight.

 “Yes. Eric and I are Billy’s and Dante’s Lawyers,” Tom told Sam.

 “Why does Dante need a lawyer?” Diane asked suddenly concerned.

 “Billy and Dante asked us to be their lawyers. After they got engaged,” Tom told her. “And we are in. If that’s okay?”

 “That’s great,” Dante said getting up to hug them both.

 “Now was I right Eric?” Tom asked.

 “Well I have to say Tom. You are right,” Eric told Tom with a kiss on the cheek.

 “Right about what?” Sam asked. Feeling he was missing out on something.

 “Right about how cute Dante is,” Eric told Sam.

 “Oh!” was all Sam could say to that. Causing some of us chuckle, including Diane.

 “So I’m not cute dad?” Dante asked acting serious. I think.

 “Dante you’re beautiful,” Sam told his son. As he got up to hug his son. “The truth be told.”

 “I don’t want to sound like a homophobe,” Sam told his son. “But it’s a little strange to hear someone calling your son cute.” Then Sam kissed his son's cheek.

 “I’m glad to hear that detective,” Judge Avelos said. As he and his husband Troy came around the corner.

 “Your honor,” several of us said. I almost dumped Dante onto the patio. But the Judge raised his hand.

 “Stay seated Marshal,” Judge Avelos told me. “Dante looks to be comfortable.”

 “What do you think of Miss Baker’s tactics Mr. Black, Marshal? Judge

Avelos asked Me and Tom.

 “Well your honor,” Tom started. “Serena is still in love with Billy. In her own weird way.”

 “After the things she did here. She’s doing it to get back here,” I told him. “And Tom is right she wants me back.”

 “Well that is never happening!” Dante said to that. “Because I will fight to keep him.” Earning me a kiss, which I returned.

 “Well I’ll fight for you,” I told him. We noticed a slight funny look on Diane’s face. Dante put that sly smile of his back on.

 “Dante,” Diane said. We knew what it was.

 “Yes mom?” Dante said with raised eyebrows.

 “Uh! Do you usually sit in Billy’s lap?” she asked getting several chuckles. Daniel and Angel seemed very interested.

 “Yes. Sometimes,” Dante told his mother. Sam and I smiled. Trying not to laugh.

 “Is there a problem?” Dante asked her. With that wicked little smile on his face.

 “Do Not Answer That!” Sam told his wife. He could see the trap Dante was setting.

 “But!” Diane sputtered.

 “No,” Sam told her getting to his feet.”Besides it’s time to go.”

 Diane looked from her husband to son. Causing Dante to put his head on my shoulder.

 “Okay,” Diane said getting up.

 “Dante give me a hug,” Diane said with outstretched arms.

  But Dante just sat there on my lap. So while a chorus of Dante went up from the kids. I whispered in his ear. He looked me in the eye and got up.

 “I love you mom,” he said as he hugged his mother. Diane had a fewtears trickle down her cheeks.

 While I hugged Diane. Dante hugged Sam. And earning a swat from his dad.

 “Hey girls. Do you remember what kind of car was Miss Personality driving?” I asked as I thought of something.

 “A Toyota Corolla from Empire rentals,” Antonia said with a smile.

 “It’s blue,” Amelia said. “405 TZD.”

 “It’s heritage blue,” Alice said getting looks from the boys.

 “Really?” a very surprised Charlie asked her. “You know the specific color?”

 “Alice wants a Land Cruiser in that color when she turns 16,” Wade told us. Alice turned red. Charlie smiled.

 “And you doubted your daughter,” Cindy chidded Wade.

 “Well we will keep our eyes open,” Sam said. “Since we have that information now.”

 “Well we are all witnesses to you telling her to get off your property,” Diane said.

 “That’s my wife,” Sam said with a smile. Before kissing her. A cheer led by Dante went up.

 Sam and Diane left a little bit later. Sam laughed and kissed his wife again. Diane whispered something in his ear.

 “Honey, our little boy is grown up,” Sam told Diane laughing. Then Diane started laughing too.

 “They’re a mess because of me,” Dante said. I smiled and kissed him.

 “No,” I told him. “We’re conditioned for heterosexual view of life.”

 “It takes time to change,” I told him. “I know.” Dante’s head snapped around. Then I kissed him.

 I took a shot to the arm from Dante. The boys, Bob, Tommy, Sebastian, and even Judge Avelos laughed. Causing Dante to turn red.

 “Funny,” Dante whispered in my ear. So I gave him a kiss and a swat to his ass.

 “So what else brings you out here your honor?” I asked his honor.

 “AUSA Baker is stomping on the line,” Judge Avelos said in answer to my question.  “She has pissed me off to say the least.”

 “Well sir we have some of the things she has said recorded,” Linzie told him with a smile.

 “Body Cam?” he asked. We both smiled and nodded.

 “Can I see it Director?” Judge Avelos asked. The fact that he called her Director spoke volumes. Even Dante caught it.

 “I’ll see that you have it no later than the morning,” Linzie told him. With that the Judge smiled.

 “Now onto more pleasant matters,” His Honor said.

 “Mary I believe you and Paula wanted to ask something of Dante and Billy?” Troy asked.

 “They’ll be our fifth couple,” Dante nearly cheered.

 “Wait! What?” Mary asked surprised by Dante’s outburst.

 “So we can get married in your ceremony?” Paula asked, as Dante nodded yes.

 “Who’s number four?” Mary asked. Tom and Eric smiled and looked at each other.

 “We would love to have you and Paula join us,” Dante told them. Causing Paula to kiss Mary in joy.

 “Now who is the fourth couple?” Judge Avelos asked.

 “Well I gave Eric a yes to that question last week,” Tom told his honor. “So that would be us.”

 “So that’s what you meant earlier,” Mary said.

 “Carlos you’ll need to file some special paperwork for a wedding this big,” Troy told the Judge. “I’ll help you with that.”

 “How about you help out Troy?” Daniel asked.

 “Sounds good to me,” I said pinching Dante.

 “I think it sounds perfect,” Dante added.

 “Well my love?” the Judge asked his husband.

 “I would be honored to,” Troy answered us. With that they kissed.

 Daniel and Angel gave them a round of applause. Which some of joined in on.

 “Your honor we are having a cookout this weekend,” Dante told them. “Would you like to come out and join us?”

 “Mary and Paula you're welcome to join us as well,” I added.

 “Sure,” Mary said as Paula nodded.

 “We would love to as well,” the Judge told us.

 “Your honor?” Daniel asked.

 “Yes Daniel,” said the Judge. A puzzled look on his face.

 “Can Angel and I talk to you and Troy about how it used to be?” Daniel asked.

 “Daniel!” Bob said trying to stop it.

 “Actually I am fine with young Daniel’s questions,” Judge Avelos told Bob. “We would love to talk to the boys about the old days.” Then Troy kissed his cheek.

 “I’m glad they want to know,” Troy told us. “Because there was a time. We couldn’t kiss in front of family or friends then.”

 With that Angel smiled and kissed his Daniel. We talked for a little while. Then those who needed to leave went home.

 Then we lit the fire pit for the kids. Some made smores. Angel and Daniel soon became a sticky mess. Mainly on their faces. Go figure.

 Jean and Donna were a little concerned at first. But soon were laughing at their sons. We were watching Bass and Antonia.

 Alice let Charlie fall asleep. And after a while. Bob carried his eldest to bed. Jean followed and changed his dressing. With Alice following to help.

 “We need to get some sleep,” I said. Dante got what I meant.

 “True,” Dante said. “Some of us have an early day tomorrow.”

 None of the kids argued. Of course Daniel and Angel just smiled and went to their room. But then I remembered something.

 “One more thing short stuff,” I said to Amelia. “No barging into our room when the door is closed.”

 “Why not?” Amelia asked feigning innocence. A crooked smile plastered on her face.

 “Well it’s just like you not wanting your brother in your room.” Dante told her. “Because we may be...getting dressed.”

 “Oh, I get it,” she said. “You mean in case you are having sex. Right?”

 “Amelia Jane Graff!” Linzie barked at her daughter’s cheek.

 “Unfortunately you’re right,” Dante boldly told her.

 “Okay,” Amelia said. “I’ll be careful and try to remember.” A crooked smile on her face. I smile I knew all too well.

 “You do that,” I told her. She saw the meaning in my eyes. And with that, we kissed her cheek and said good night.

 “If you don’t. I’ll pay for an all girl Catholic school,” I whispered in her ear. The look on her face was priceless. I told Linzie what I said later. She smiled.

 “Are you ready to pay for that Catholic High School?” Linzie asked med. Causing Dante to laugh.

 Before long we were all in bed. Then up early like I said. We loaded up and headed for Mama’s. And she was loving all of us coming out for breakfast. Peter was already working in the kitchen.

 

After breakfast, Jean took the girls, Tommy, and Sebastian to buy groceries.  The pantry was looking very bare back to the ranch. John and Tally took Bass back to ranch to work the mustangs. The rest of us headed for the Federal Building.

 I was checked by order of AUSA Serena Baker. They made sure I wasn’t armed. But I had unloaded and locked them in my truck. We met Tom and Eric in the lobby. They brought another lawyer for Donna and Angel.

 Tom and Eric introduced their new partner from Chicago Jamie Devris. He was going to handle their Chicago office. And he knew one Serena Baker. So we invited him to the cookout.

 When we got there. We were lead into a conference room. Judge Avelos and Mary Weathers were already there. A sly smile on both their faces. We exchanged greetings. 

 Their smiles vanished when Serena entered. She had a smile of her own, which we didn’t like.

 “Well good morning,” she said after a moment. “I’ll outline how things will be conducted in this investigation.”

 “I will start with telling you all. That I have reviewed the written reports and statements. Then I have checked the forensics.”

 “To be followed by my interviewing each of you.” she told us. “But first I would like a moment with '"Mr.'" Hickok.” So Tom and I stood up.

 “Alone please,” she said.

 “Excuse me councilor,” Judge Avelos interrupted. “Are you denying the Marshal his legal right to counsel?”

 Serena stopped and looked at his Honor. While she didn’t show it. I knew she was irritated by his Honor.

  “I promise your Honor. I merely want to talk to, Marshal Hickok,” she said. “See if we can end this sooner rather than later.”

 “Miss Baker,” said a voice. Then the computer screen came on behind her.”

 “Mr. Attorney General sir,” she said facing the screen.

 “I too have also reviewed the statements and evidence,”  he told her, us. “And talked to his Honor. As well as Marshal McCall.”

 “I am satisfied that the evidence vindicates Marshal Hickok,” he said.

 “So I am ending your investigation and reinstating Marshal Hickok. Effective immediately.”

 Had she been slapped. You couldn’t have done more to upset her. But all of us kept our composure. And so did she.

 “Understood sir,” she said feigning congeniality. Congratulations Marshal Hickok.”

 “And my transfer sir?” she asked the Attorney General.

 “As long as your cases are finished,” the Attorney General told her. “Move to Albuquerque as soon as you can.”

 “Thank you sir,” Serena said. Then the A.G. appeared too signed off.

 “This isn’t over lover,” Serena told me. But Dante stepped up between us.

 “He is my lover,” Dante told her. “Do not make this a fight. You Will Lose."

 Serena snorted with contempt at him. Which was the wrong thing to do. Especially after she put on the evil smile.

 “Little boy,” she said. “You do not want to get into a fight with me.”

 I had to hold onto Dante. I slowly pulled him back.

 “That’s what she wants my love,” I said into his ear. To calm him down.

 “Serena! Never  call me that again,” I told her. “Or I will file a sexual harassment charnge.”

 “Do you understand?”

 “Sure, Marshal Hickok,” she said. “But understand this! I’m back.”

 “And as such, . you work for me,” Mary told her. “I’m your supervisor. Remember it.”

 “Whatever you say Miss Weathers,” Serena purred dangerously. “I need to go back to Chicago and see to packing and moving my things.”

 The US Attorney for Albuquerque, Doug Kingman walked in. A broad smile on his face. Serena smiled back. But she didn’t recognize him.

 I see that the Attorney General is done,” he said to Serena. “Miss Weathers explain that you work for her?”

 “Yes Sir,” Serena said smiling back. “When do I need to be back

 "You need to be back the Monday of the 18th,” Mary told her. “That’s when the lawyer, whose place you took, was due to start.”

 “Well I guess I had better get going,” Serena said.

 She turned and walked out. Snorting at Dante. Doug Kingman still had a broad smile on his face. Then the door clicked closed.

 “Doesn’t look like she remembers you Doug,” I said with a smile of my own.

 “And at least she can’t hear us either,” Doug Kingman said.

 “If she’s just outside. Can’t she hear?” Angel asked us.

 “Angel the door and room are sound proof,” Mary told him.

 Oh,” Angel said.

 “What do we do now?” Bob asked me.

 “Well Dante and I will take the boys back to the ranch,” I told Bob. “You need to go see the doctor.”

 “Then later you can bring Linzie out to the ranch,” I told him.

 “Unfortunately I have to get a ticket back to Washington,” Linzie said with a frown.

 “But for Sunday,” Dante said. “You need to stay for the cookout.”

 Linzie smiled and kissed his cheek. Dante turned red.

 “So you’re staying for the cookout?” Charlie asked Linzie.

 “Of course I am Charlie,” she told Charlie. Then the screen flickered back on.

 “Marshal Hickok, Director Graff,” said the Attorney General. I don’t know why my stomach fell.” 

 “Sir,” I said.

 “Yes, Sir,” Linzie said.

 “Do you think you two and Mr. Green could be in my office Monday?” the A.G. asked us.

 “Sir I have class at the University on Monday,” Dante said “Could we make it Tuesday?”

 “Well we can’t have you missing a class,” The A.G. said. “Tuesday it is.”

 “Thank you sir,” Dante said turning very pale as the A.G. signed off.

 “Do you have a suit Dante?” Bob asked him. A wide eye Dante stared at Bob.

 “Suit?” Dante asked looking at me. I had to smile.

 Linzie’s phone buzzed. She read a text message while I explained.

 “Well you can’t meet the Attorney General in jeans,” I told him.

  “Or go to a funeral either,” Linzie told us. 

 “Ethan?” Bob asked.

 “Yes,” she said. “He would like us all there for Sharon’s funeral tomorrow. At her family’s request.”

 “Bass needs a suit.”

 “How about the boys?” I asked Bob.

 “They do,” Bob said.

 “Angel could use one as well,”  Donna said hugging her son.

 “Well let’s go shopping,” Dante said.