Winter Comes Early

Chapter One

Jess Hawkes sat in front of the computer in her brother Matt's office. Somehow she got stuck running every name of every hand that had worked at the Coral Ridge Ranch for the past eight months. The list was long but distinguished. Three felons, four rapists and an arsonist. The long and colorful list seems to drag on and on. She would get Cody back for making her pull the list from the fax machine.

"How's it going?" She looked up to see her oldest brother leaning against the door frame.

"You don't want to know." She handed him eight files. "I still have forty six to go." He smiled.

"Thanks for doing that. I didn't want Cody to be to far from Sarah so close to her due date."

"Matt they live a mile down the road."

"Okay, I thought you and I needed some alone time." He laughed. "You have a phone call on line three. Sounds hot." Laughing he turned around and left the office. Jess shook her head and picked up the phone hitting the third button.

"HMR Hawkes, how can I help you?"

"You can come down off that mountain and warm me up." Jess smiled. Her long distance relationship with Special Agent Derek Morgan of the BAU was the only thing keeping her warm this cold November day.

"Sounds like a plan. Unfortunately my boss is riding me hard since he got sprung from the hospital. Now he's even using the excuse of us bonding to make me work for my other ungrateful boss who thinks he can stay home till his wife gives birth."

"Wow. I sense a little tension in the Hawkes household this wintry evening."

"A little." She laughed. "But I found talking to a curtain FBI agent tends to lighten me up a little."

"So Sarah hasn't had her baby yet I take it?"

"Three days over due and counting. My parents are nuts. Cody can't sit still and Matt just hands me files to alphabetize. Jim is third string around here. I don't know why I'm stuck doing Cody's job."

"Because your so damn good at it baby." Derek laughed. "Think you can get a few days off next week?"

"Maybe. If the mountain doesn't collapse around me. Why?"

"I have a four day weekend with nothing to do and no one to do it with." He knew he was moving to fast for her but if he didn't she would run up that mountain of hers and never look back.

"I guess I could check with the boss man. Are you up for some skiing?"

"Maybe, but I was thinking more like a tour on of that mountain on something more..."

"Snowmobiles then?"

"Oh much better baby. I think the last time I put on a pair of skis I was in college. As I recall that didn't go so well. Rumor has it you could leave me in the dust any how."

"I'll talk to Matt and get back to you." She really would love to spend four uninterrupted days with Derek up at her dad's cabin. It wouldn't be impossible unless they got a huge snow storm or two before then. "I'll call you later when I get off work."

"Sounds good." He was quiet for a second or two. "Jess?"

"Yeah Derek?"

"I miss you." He hung up. Jess held the phone for a long time after and wished she hand the nerve to say that she missed him too. Hanging up the phone she started back on her list.

"How's Morgan?" Matt was sitting on the edge of the desk. She shook her head. Sometimes she wondered if he wasn't part vampire the way he moved into a room so silently.

"Fine. Hey might come here next week end if I can get some time off."

"You got some time off." He looked at his sister. "Take a week."

"I don't need a week. Just Friday to Monday. If Cody isn't back I can cover."

"No. I have several capable bodies that can do both your jobs." She looked up at him.

"Thanks Matt. I feel so needed."

"You know what I mean. You and Derek need time to get to know each other. I know for a fact your bear friend is in hibernation. You guys can have the mountain all to yourself."

"How's nurse Crotchet treating you?" Jess smiled knowing Matt didn't know that she knew that he had been seen in town with a curtain lab tech he almost knocked out after she tried taking his blood. He smiled at her.

"Wouldn't you like to know?"

"You haven't said much."

"I guess because there's not much to say. We have an okay time together. I just don't feel like we're connecting." He played with the string on his hiking boot. "I'm getting a little old for this."

"No. You're just out of practice." Jess pushed her chair back. "It'll get easier. Just takes time. You told me that once."

"Yeah. I'm just so glad you've outgrown Cutler." He looked at his little sister who wasn't so little anymore. "I want this to work for you."

"You and me both. Why don't we plan a double date for Friday? Morgan and I can head up to the cabin on Saturday morning. Maybe a little sister poking at the new girlfriend might put a flame under your love life." Jess smiled.

"I don't need my little sister medaling in my love life any more then she needs me medaling in hers. But that sounds like a good idea. Word of warning…" He got up off the desk. "Chelsea hates guns so the three of us carrying that night might be a little intimidating."

"I'll leave the cannon at home. I promise." She pushed her chair back in and started back on her list.

"Mom's bringing us dinner in ten minutes. Don't make her wait."

"Yeah well if someone would do this for me..." She typed the next name on the list and prayed no more red flags popped up.

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Matt let his mother in the back door or the station. The smell of her spaghetti and meatballs filled the room. He took the bags from his mother's hands and gave her a hug.

"Hey mom, you didn't have to do this you know?"

"I know but I love doing it." Looking around she saw Jess at Matt's desk typing away. "You are working your sister to hard again?" She laughed.

"Only way to keep her out of trouble mom." He knocked on the widow to get her attention. She looked up and shut down the computer before joining her mother and brother in the kitchen.

"Hey mom, how are you?" Jess hugged her.

"Your dad needs a hobby."

"He has one. You." They sat down at the table. Matt had set out two plates full of spaghetti and bread. "Smells great mom. You're not having any?"

"No your dad wants to watch some movie and I promised I'd watch it with him." She waited till the both started eating. "I want you both to know that I appreciate what you're doing to help Cody out. He needs to be with Sarah right now. I'm sure he'd do the same for you." Jess nodded. "That said," Jackie stood up. "I'm going to go home. You two stay warm and safe."

"Bye mom." They both said and watched their mother walk out the door. "She okay?" Jess asked Matt.

"Seems so. You pick up something I didn't?"

"Seemed a little jumpy. But I could be wrong." Jess got up and poured them both a glass of milk. "My last ten hits on Coral's list came up clean. Lots of assaults, tons of speeding tickets, but nothing worth making a fuss over."

"We should head up there sometimes this week. Do a little recon and let them know we're watching." The back door opened again and Cody stepped in.

"It is friggin' cold out there." He rubbed his hands together.

"Hey toad."

"Mom's spagehetti?" He inhaled deeply. "How do you two rate?"

"We're working for you, that's how." Jess smiled and took a big bite.

"My wife better have this kid soon. I've been eating my own cooking for a week now. I can honestly say cooking is not in the genes." He reached over and scarfed a meatball from his sisters plate before she poked him with her fork.

"Baby sister's got a hot date next week end." Matt smiled.

"Oooh la la. Agent Morgan is getting serious. He coming here?" Cody sat down between his brother and sister.

"Yes he is. Mind your manners Cody. I don't want him to see how unrefined my family really is."

"Unrefined are we." He grabbed a handful of spaghetti off her plate and shoved it in his mouth.

"You're a child Cody I swear." Jess laughed as Matt threw Cody a towel to wipe his hands. "Matt has a date too."

"I haven't asked her yet. Maybe she won't want to go out with three people packing heat."

"Just try not to play cops and robbers while having dinner and it will all be good. I thought most women were turned on by the guns and cuffs?" Cody raised his eyebrows. "I know my wife is." Jess shook her head.

"Over sharing toad." Matt finished his spaghetti and took his plate to the sink.

"Anything with Coral's boys yet?" Jess got up and brought her plate to the sink and put both hers and Matt's in the dishwasher without saying anything. Matt leaned against the counter.

"Sore subject little brother." He shook his head. "A few hits. Nothing worth raiding the place but I still may take a team up there before the week end."

"Hopefully Sarah will go into labor before then. She's so damn miserable. I wish there was something I could do." Jess let her annoyance with her brother slip away as she put his hands on his shoulders.

"You're doing it Cody. Just be there." She patted his shoulder. "I better get back to cyber hell before boss man catches me slacking." Matt pushed himself away from the counter.

"Leave it till tomorrow. Cutler's in early. He can finish it up." Matt checked his watch. "Why don't we cut out early and watch a movie. Nothing's happening tonight."

"You say that like it's going to stay that way." Cody bundled up.

"I better get home. You guys don't work to hard." He waved and was gone out the door.

"He's right you know. You jinxed it." Jess said as she headed into the lounge. "What time is Cutler in?"

"Midnight." Matt grabbed the remote and threw himself on the couch. "You want to call Morgan before we get stettled?" She looked at her watch. It was nearly nine.

"It's almost midnight there. I can do it in the morning." Jess knew that Derek would be waiting for her call at midnight her time. She always called him after she got off then, unless something came up. Matt didn't have to know that.

"You pick." Matt knew his taste in movies in his sisters were in the same range. Picking up an action flick they'd seen a million times before and putting in the DVD player she settled for what she hoped would be a quiet night with her brother.