Chapter 12 • EPILOGUE

Don and Alan relaxed in the living room after dinner, and heard the kitchen door open.

"It's about time," muttered Alan.

The door from the kitchen into the dining room soon swung wide and Charlie stepped through. He saw his brother on the couch and smiled. "Hey, Donnie!" He continued walking toward the living room.

"Hey yourself. Missed a great brisket."

"That's okay. Had cottage cheese and apple juice a couple of hours ago. You just here for dinner?"

Don grinned. "That…and maybe a case? You haven't worked with us for almost six weeks, and the team is starting to accuse me of murdering you and hiding the body."

Charlie smiled. "Is tomorrow soon enough? I'm a little tired, tonight…stressed. I've had pre-final freak-out students popping by my office all day."

Don hurried to reassure him. "Sure, Charlie, tomorrow's good. It's a financial thing, so it's not like there are bodies piling up, or anything. If you're too busy, we can use our in-house guys. You're just so much faster. You've spoiled us."

Alan watched the exchange with interest over the top of his glasses. This honesty thing seemed to be working.

Charlie yawned and stretched a little. "No, that's okay. I'm free from 10 until almost 2 tomorrow. It'll do me good to get off campus." He looked at Alan. "Um…I was actually thinking about hitting the driving range tonight. Want to come along?"

Alan almost dropped his book. "The driving range?"

Charlie smiled. "Yeah. It's…oddly relaxing. And Don tells me I'm playing in a foursome next year, so I need to work on my game."

Alan smiled and stood. "I'd love to go." He looked down at Don on the couch. "Come on, Donnie. You could use some work on your game, too."

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As the three Eppes headed from the clubhouse to the driving range, they stepped aside to let a couple leaving pass. The woman stopped right in front of them.

"Charlie! You're looking so much better than the last time I saw you!"

Charlie focused on the voice and recognized Cecile, and smiled broadly. "I'm feeling good, thank you! How are you, Cecile?"

"I'm doing well," she smiled, and looked at the man beside her. "I'm sorry. This is my brother, Andrew. Charlie was one my patients a few weeks ago, and this is his father, Alan, and his brother, Don."

Andrew smiled and nodded. 'Pleasure. Nice night for the range." He looked at Cecile. "I'm sorry, sis, but we've got to get moving if I'm going to get you home and back across town to the station for my night shift." He shrugged apologetically at the Eppes. "LAPD," he said, as if that explained everything.

For Don, it did. He smiled broadly, and not just because now he recognized Andrew from a crime scene he had worked a few months earlier. He had been smiling ever since Cecile said "brother".

"I remember," he said. "The Epstein murder. You were helping work crowd control." Andrew looked at him quizzically. "I'm with the L.A. office, FBI," Don said. "We were called in on that."

Andrew snapped his fingers. "Right, right…put you in a FBI windbreaker and it all comes back to me! You work with a hot blonde, right?"

Don laughed. "Megan, or Colby?"

Andrew reddened as they all joined in Don's laughter, his sister loudest of all.

"Listen," Don said, "I'd be happy to give you a ride home, Cecile, if you'd care to stay and hit a few more."

Charlie couldn't tell who was smiling bigger — Cecile, or Alan.

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Two hours later, the Eppes men escorted Cecile off the range and into Don's SUV. Then they walked together to the driver's side, and Don climbed in. "I'll see you sometime tomorrow at the office, then, right Charlie?"

Charlie hesitated a little, then nodded. Don raised a hand to his father, and before the door of the vehicle was closed, Alan heard Don talking to Cecile. "If you have time…if you're interested…I know a great little Mom & Pop that serves great apple pie." The door closed and Don started the engine, so Alan couldn't hear Cecile's reply, but he could see her smiling and nodding her head, so it looked good to him. As Don backed out and drove away with Cecile in the late spring sunset, Alan stood next to his youngest son and waved, smiling like an idiot.

Presently he heard Charlie sigh, and looked over to see him staring unhappily into the bag of golf clubs he was balancing on the asphalt in front of him. Alan had an unwelcome thought. "Charlie? You weren't…you didn't want…you and Don aren't seriously pursuing the same woman?"

Charlie looked up at him. "What? No. No. I don't think I could date a woman who has seen me the way Cecile has."

Alan smiled tentatively. "Then what's the problem?"

Charlie looked even unhappier. "It's just that Don gave us a ride here. I'm wondering how we're going to get home."

A blank look crossed Alan's face, and he was only able to utter a small, "Oh…"

"I was tired before we came out here, Dad. I don't really want to walk 13 miles carrying your golf clubs."

Alan harrumphed and grabbed the bag away from Charlie. He shouldered it and indicated a bus stop less than a block from the driving range. "We can take the bus."

Charlie protested. "The bus? I'm tired, Dad, I don't want to spend half an hour meandering all over Pasadena…can't we call a cab?"

Alan started walking, striding purposefully toward the bus stop. "Charlie," he said over his shoulder, "there's a fine line between honest communication and whining."

Charlie didn't answer, but he followed in his father's footsteps and smiled, and dug around in his pockets for bus tokens.

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FINIS