To Have And To Hold
Jess stood in front of the mirror. Her mother was fussing over her dress and Robin was finishing her hair. Sarah sat with Ava trying to keep her form figiting her dress off. Jess smiled. This was the day her mother had been looking forward to for a long time. Her father walked in. He looked so handsome in his tux.
"You ready baby?" He walked up behind her.
"You didn't have to bring your shot gun?"
"Not even your brothers gave me a hard time." Jackie kissed her daughter and went to find her seat. Jess took a deep breath.
"I'm proud of you Jesse Lynne."
"I know daddy." The music started and Ava and Sarah started out the door.
"If you need anything, or just to talk you know your never too old to come talk to your old man?" Jess touched his cheek.
"I know. Same goes for you. If you need to talk." They turned and headed down the isle. Jess was holding it together the best she could but when Derek looked up at her from the end of the isle she nearly lost it. The love in his eyes was like no other she had ever seen. Taking a deep breath she took the last few steps to stand in front of Cutler. He smiled and Derek took her arm. The rest of the ceremony was a blur. The next thing Jess remembered was kissing Derek and heading back down the isle. It wasn't till Jess was sitting at the back of the lodge bar that it hit her. She was married. Looking over at Morgan she couldn't quite believe it.
"Are you okay?" He whispered in her ear.
"Just a little shell shocked I guess." She took a drink of her soda.
"Second thoughts?" Jess looked at him.
"Never." Touching his cheek she kissed him. Cody came and sat down next to her. "You better be drinking the same thing I am." She looked at him. He lifted his coffee cup.
"I'm flying later." Jess looked at him.
"Matt's not making you work, is he?"
"No, dad is." Cody smiled. Jess shook her head. Her family was strange. "I'm flying mom and dad up to the cabin. They're spending New Year's up there. I said I had enough celebrating on Tuesday to last me through Valentines Day." Jess looked at her brother. Every now and then she caught a glimpse of the little boy he used to be. The mischief in his eyes always made her think of those summers they spent running wild in the mountains.
"The way things are going they might get snowed in till spring."
"If they did I could never go back there." Cody shook his head.
"I talked to the ball and chain and he said if Jen wants to sell the fishing lodge he'd let me buy it." Derek laughed.
"It's your money baby. If Cody thinks it's a good investment."
"Hell yeah. This winter was the first sign of anything wrong with that place in twenty years. It's solid. When I brought the guys up there they said if Aaron's first place had been built like this one it would of never fell in the quake."
"I want it to stay in the family Cody."
"I'll see what I can do. I know Jen would want that too."
"I told her that it would still be available to her whenever she wanted it. I think that helped the cause a little."
"Do you know what she'll ask." Jess smiled. "That much huh."
"You know where my check book is." Cody smiled.
"I finally talked her out of burying her money in the back yard and now she thinks she can go spending it on silly things like land and fishing lodges."
"Better then cigars and women like you suggested." Jess smiled.
"I do like her idea better Cody." Derek put in. Cody shook his head.
"In the family a whole five minutes and your dissing my investment ideas." Cody smiled. "Where is everybody?" Cody looked around. The bar was full of friends but family was no where to be found.
"I think they're plotting something behind our backs." Derek looked a little worried.
"I'm the plotter. They wouldn't even try anything without me." Cody said. "I think I may have to go investigate."
"Yeah you do that. Put your college education to good use."
"You forget baby sister, I'm just a glorified weather man." He got up. "Oh and a reminder keep the PDA's do a minimum. Grandma's here."
"Grandma's ninety two and can't see two feet in front of her. Just because she hit you for pinching your wifes ass during pictures doesn't mean she'll see me." Cody got up and headed to the bar. Matt was standing in the corner.
"You hiding from something big brother?"
"You found me so I must not be trying to hard Toad."
"I've lost my wife and kids."
"Some father you turned out to be. Dylan is with Clair and Izzy. Colton is with Cutler and Ava is with Robin. Sarah and Mom are doing something with the cake and dad around somewhere."
"Wow no wonder your in charge." Matt laughed.
"And there is a reason your not. I talked to Robin and she's fine with learning the weather stuff."
"You spend the night with a woman and you talk shop? Matthew have I not taught you anything?"
"Thank goodness I learn from your mistakes." He watched Robin bending over talking to Ava. "Daniel asked me if I was going to marry her." Cody looked at his brother.
"What did you tell him?"
"What was I suppose to say?"
"That you haven't thought that far ahead yet?"
"I've had twenty years to think that far ahead."
"Oh come on out of all those years how much time did you think about what it would be like to be with her? Be more then friends?"
"More then I'm willing to admit to you." Cody smiled.
"Live in sin for awhile. Weigh your options. Don't let some Swedish guy force your hand. I am going to go rescue my son from Cutler before the man starts feeding the kid bourbon and beer nuts." Cody pushed away from the bar and headed to his son. Robin came up to him carrying Ava.
"Someone wanted to see her Uncle Matt." Ave reached for him and he took her out of Robin's arms.
"Hey peanut." She hugged him tight. "What wrong?"
"I forgot to take my nap." Matt smiled.
"Kinda hard taking a nap with all the noise huh?"
"Yeah." Matt set the little girl on the bar and looked into her brown eyes.
"Why don't I see if I can take you up to auntie Jess's room and you can lay down for a little bit." The little girl nodded. Matt picked her up and went to the back of the bar. Jess was alone at the table. "You loose your husband already?" She smiled.
"Dad wanted him to meet somebody or something. Hey Ava girl, why the sad face?" The little girl looked at her aunt. She buried her face in Matt's neck.
"Somebody needs a nap. She was wondering if she could take one up in your room."
"Of course. Dinner isn't for another hour or so." Jess took her key out of her purse. "You my sweet girl get some rest. It's going to be a long night." Matt took the key.
"How are you holding up?"
"Better then I thought."
"Good. I'll see you in an hour." Matt headed upstairs with Ava and Robin was close behind. Jess had to smile. He was so close to being as happy as she was but he just wouldn't let it happen. Maybe when she got back she would work extra hard to try and get them together permanently. No one needed to live like her and Cutler did for all those years. It wasn't healthy.
Matt tucked Ava into Jess's bed and joined Robin on the couch in front of the fire place.
"You could of stayed downstairs." She smiled.
"Then I wouldn't have gotten to watch you with Ava." Robin was amazed how genital and patient Matt had been with the little girl. She had seen them together before but never like this.
"She's a special little girl." He looked at her sleeping on the big bed. "Cody and Sarah did good."
"Yeah, they have. Have you ever thought about kids?" Matt looked at the fire.
"Not so much till Cody had some of his own, now Jess. I guess it was never a priority. Work was always my baby."
"Now I see the possibility." He looked at Robin. "I see a chance to start something truly meaningful. But Robin I'm still the workaholic I have been for as long as you've known me."
"You can have a life and still work."
"Not like I have been."
"You have three people who can help you do your job. They want to help Matt, just let them." He smiled.
"Those three people have been the reason I need to be there as much as I have been."
"They all have the skill Matt. You just need to give them a chance. It may take all three of them but I'm sure the place won't burn to the ground if you take a week end off."
"You forget the weekend of ninety-eight." He looked at her. "Jess was home for a week and Cody was on leave." Robin smiled and shook her head.
"That was Hart."
"Cutler was in charge. Cody and Jess went up to Crowfeather Ridge camping and those hunter's nearly shot them. They left the station with the fire burning hot. The burn marks on the floor are still there Robin." She laughed.
"I think all three of them have grown up Matt. Now it's your turn. That little brother and sister of yours have families of their own now. Think about it. I know your not ready for that yet. I just need to know it's in the back of your mind somewhere." He looked at her.
"Robin your never in the back of my mind anymore. Your always right there whenever I close my eyes. Weather it be work or not, your always there. I know I can trust Cody and Jess to run things when I'm not there. Even Cutler has stepped up. I just don't want to loose what I've worked so many years to put together."
"The twelve people who you command each and everyday are there for you Matt. They have your back. You installed that in them. They would die for you and that's not going to change if you loosen the reigns a little. No one's going to think any less of you if you get some sort of life outside the Rangers Matt." He stood up and went to the fire. He knew Robin was right. Even his hard ass tough as nails father made time for his family. But there was this voice in the back of his mind warning him to take it slow. Some days it sounded just like Jess. Matt laughed and shook his head.
"You win Robin." He turned to her. "When Jess gets back from DC I'll take a weekend off. You and I will go to San Francisco. No cell phones, no pagers." Robin smiled.
"Don't look so scared Matt. We'll take it slow." She stood up and hugged him. He held her close and hopped he wasn't messing up the best thing he had in his life.
Dinner was just starting when Matt brought Ava to sit with his parents. He slid in next to Derek.
"Sorry Ava didn't want to wake up."
"It's all good. Did you get things worked out with Robin?" Matt looked at his new brother in law. "What? You think I don't keep up with the High Mountain drama?" Matt smiled.
"So far so good." Robin slid in next to Jess. Her cheeks flushed, Derek leaned into Matt.
"She looks better then good." Matt laughed. Jess glared at him.
"Sorry." Derek smiled. It was going to be a long dinner.
Jess looked out the window. Her robe pulled tight around her. The snow fell hard and fast. If it kept up they might not be leaving on Tuesday as planned. Jess was okay with that. Leaving terrified her. Things went wrong when she went away. Things she knew she couldn't control but it made her uneasy none the less. She felt Derek behind her. His hands on her shoulders and his lips on her neck. When he touched her all she wanted to do was melt into his arms. He made everything better. Leaning back he held her close. They didn't have to say anything. The comfortable silence embraced them. Jess turned and he kissed her like he had never kissed her. With a passion deeper then she had ever felt before. No words were spoken as he lead her to their bed. The last coherent though Jess had that getting married was defiantly worth it. Defiantly.
It was nearly midnight when Cody landed the helicopter on the pad in front of the station. The snow was coming down hard and fast and he knew that if he hadn't brought his parents up to the cabin when he did he would of never made it back. Sitting in the drivers seat he shut down the machine slowly taking his time knowing that his wife and kids had long ago gone to bed. Matt and Robin had driven them home just before Cody left for the north ridge. Matt and Robin. Not two words he would of thought he would have been comfortable saying together. They were different. Not so different that it wouldn't work between them but his values were tied to work and family. Hers weren't so much. She had run away from her family in Sweden because they tried to hold her back. How she became part of their team still confused him. The last of the switches turned off Cody got out of the helicopter and headed in the station hoping the coffee was fresh and hot. He stopped off his boots. Cutler was sitting at the front desk.
"Please tell me the coffee is drinkable?"
"Tonya made it before she headed to bed."
"Why aren't you sleeping?"
"I don't do much of that lately so I told her I'd take the desk for a few hours."
"You okay?" Cutler put down his book.
"Yeah. Restless I guess." Cody got his coffee and sat across from Cutler.
"You did good today."
"I didn't think it was going to be that hard. Seeing Jess in that dress nearly brought me to my knees." Cody looked at his friend.
"I'm glad you found the strength to get though it." Cutler looked down at the desk.
"Yeah, it took a lot not to just stop it all and tell her how I felt. I was such an ass Cody. All she did was love me and I threw it away. Now I can never make it right."
"You made it right by being the bigger man. Derek is her future. Your my friend and I feel your pain man but he's the one for her."
"I know." The door opened and Matt and Robin came in.
"Hey guys, I thought you'd be home in bed by now."
"Daniel never came home last night and he still isn't back." Robin went to the computer. Cody looked at Matt.
"His stuff is still there. He went out after dinner last night." Robin's hands were shaking. Cody stood up and motioned Cutler to move and took Robin's hands in his.
"Let me." Robin nodded and Cody brought up the page he was looking for and typed in his pass words and the information he was looking for. "Go get warmed up. Do you know his cell phone carrier?" She shook her head. Cody pushed his chair back and pulled a file out of the cabinet and typed some more on the computer. Matt had taken Robin by the fire. She was still in her brides made dress. "Why don't you go change and I'll have something by the time you get back." They nodded and went upstairs.
"You think you can find him?"
"He's a fifty year old Swedish man, how hard can it be to find him in the middle of the Seirra mountains?" Cody shook his head and went back the computer.
"I forget your the wiz kid around here." Cutler grabbed his book and went to the chair in front of the fire.
"One of these days I'll teach you a thing or two."
"My dream come true. To grow up and be you." Cutler shook his head. "No thanks." Cody smiled.
"I'm sure you'd like being me."
"Not on your life. I changed your kids diaper today. You can be you and I'll be me because that was just nasty." Cody laughed. He printed out a page just as Matt and Robin came downstairs.
"I got him at a motel in Kingsbury. He checked in last night." Cody looked at Robin. "His phone's GPS puts him there now. Its right on Logging Lane, The Kingsbury." Robin nodded. "Do you want me to call there?"
"No. He hasn't answered his cell phone so I don't think he'd answer."
"We'll go." Matt looked at Robin. "You need to know he's okay." Robin looked at him.
"Yeah." She grabbed her coat and headed to the door. Matt turned to Cody.
"Anytime big brother." Matt left. Cody sat back down. "Why does this not feel right to me?"
"Because somethings wrong." Cutler stood up. "You want to wake Tonya and I'll go with you?" Cody shook his head.
"You stay here." Cody went to his office and got his gun and holster and put it on his belt and grabbed his jacket. "My sister calls, you know nothing." He grabbed a radio. "I'll call when I know what's going on."
"Okay." Cody left and Cutler went behind the desk and proceeded to worry.
Matt pulled up to the hotel. The room was dark. Daniel's car was parked in front of the door. Robin looked at him.
"He's never been so irresposible."
"Mid life crisis?"
"Was I stupid to panic and get Cody involved?"
"Cody lives for this shit." Matt saw lights in the rear view mirror. "He also more parinoide then I am." Matt got out of the truck and went to the back. "Cody what the hell are you doing here?"
"Watching your six." He got out of his jeep and leaned against the hood. "It didn't feel right." Matt looked back at Robin sitting in the cab of the truck. Taking a deep breath he pushed his jacket aside to show Cody his gun.
"It didn't feel right to me either." Robin got out of the truck and started for the door. Both Matt and Cody shouted as Robin hand reached to knock on the door. They took off in a run and just as her hand hit the door the first shot rang out breaking the silence of what started out as a peaceful night.