Matt and C.J. sat across from Rusty at the diner after he'd given the update on the DNA test.
"It's not back yet," Matt said, "What's taking them so long to run it and then read the results?"
"They have to crosscheck them and then write them up in a report," Rusty said, "There's no proof that Jack's office is sitting on it."
Matt didn't look convinced.
"I think that's exactly what he's doing," he said, "Hell maybe he knows the results already. I know what that test is going to do. It's going to exonerate C.J."
She just watched the two men argue over the test that held her future in its results. She'd know that once Jack found a piece of evidence that was exculpatory he'd be required by the judge to give it to the defense and there'd be no way for him to hide a DNA test. But she knew he'd delay as long as possible while he mounded up other evidence to use against her at trial.
The trial could be months or even a year away and she'd be stuck here the whole time unable to leave the jurisdiction. She'd left this part of the country leaving behind her childhood and never thought she'd returned. She finally agreed to take Matt's offer to help him build his company in L.A. They'd be working side by side as equal partners from the ground up. He'd gotten some of the foundation laid out already but there was still so much to do and he needed her with him.
She'd finally joined him, got herself a place near the ranch that he bought from a well known movie star and she'd never regretted it. She'd never had a friend as good as him, who she could talk to about anything and everything.
Well almost. There were still some things she'd never told him that had happened. They were buried in the past though and she'd moved on or so she thought…until they'd shown up to arrest her in L.A.
"C.J….we're going to file a motion to get the judge to stop the malingering going on from Jack's office on evidentiary issues but you know how this works…as a lawyer who worked for him."
"I do know most of his tricks and withholding evidence was one of them," she said, "I know he'll try it in this case if he's not doing it already."
Matt looked determined.
"We'll stop him in his tracks," he said, "The judge can force him to turn it over can't he?"
"Yes he can do that but it's not as easy as him ordering it," he said, "Jack's been DA for a while and he's very skilled at playing this game with every judge…most of them hung out with his daddy like your family did Matt."
That had been true. Bill Houston mostly had hung out with the fishing crowd including Jack's father. Roy hadn't been in town enough and he didn't have much use for politics. Bill's relationship with Jack's father had been one of the disagreements between the two brothers but in the scheme of things, not among the ones that had split them up.
"We need more than that test if it's inconclusive meaning that there's DNA but different reasons for it to be there."
C.J. wondered about that. Her necklace had turned up where it shouldn't so what about anything else? She didn't know at this point if she trusted anything including the DNA analysis to clear her of murder.
"We can do that by trying to find the real killer."
Both C.J. and Rusty looked at Matt.
"That's going to be tough," Rusty said, "Oh yeah there are other suspects…his wife Nadine for one…and others…maybe someone close to Jack even but there's no shred of evidence yet and we have to find it first."
"I'll do that," Matt said, "I'll do whatever it takes to get these charges dropped and I've got the skills."
C.J. knew that his investigative skills were damn sharp, he'd been introduced to that line of work through his military service in intelligence and only honed it through experience since and training too. Hoyt had arranged for him to take some in-house law enforcement training with his detectives. Matt knew most of it already but he picked up some valuable experience which he used to help the LAPD when it was needed.
"Houston…it could have been just about anyone," C.J. said, "Dylan didn't have many friends and a lot of enemies."
"We can start with Nadine," Matt said, "I knew her growing up…and she was married to the guy. Most cases, that's enough to commit murder when something goes sour."
Rusty nodded slightly.
"She was questioned but they didn't take a serious look at her."
"Probably didn't want to," Matt said, "Certainly not once they found the necklace."
C.J. had known that Nadine would attract attention. Yes, she'd been married to Dylan who she hooked up when she finally gave up on Matt and had run through a string of other men in town. It had been a volatile marriage and she knew how much…but some things couldn't be revealed and some of them had to do with Nadine. Not that she felt anything for the woman who'd accused her nonstop of sleeping with Dylan and trying to steal him from her. Nothing could have been further from the truth that she'd been having an affair with him.
"Look, I'm not sure it's her," she said, "It could be but Dylan…he was at Jack's office sometimes like I said and did some work for him. Maybe that got him killed."
Rusty just looked at her, his eyes wide.
"Oh god…do you really want to go down that road?"
Matt spoke up next.
"If it exonerates C.J. I'll go down any road."
"We go after Jack in any way," Rusty said, "We'll stir up more than a hornets' nest. We'll piss off every judge in the county too."
"Then they'll be pissed off but they'll still have to do their jobs or they'll have to deal with me."
C.J. listened to him and she knew Matt meant what he said but there were things about life here and politics that he'd forgotten or he never understood. His daddy had been wrapped all up in it and had introduced Matt to it when he was old enough. Not that Matt embraced any of that himself; it just didn't fit his character. But if he'd never been tight with Jack in his crowd, he'd been friendly enough with him…until he found out what he'd done to her when she'd been his intern.
Rusty closed his folder.
"I'll finish my motion and then I'll get in touch with you."
They watched him go and as they walked out after paying their tab, they saw Nadine in a booth talking to Zach, who after all had been Dylan's close buddy. C.J. hoped neither would look in their direction but they seemed preoccupied with each other.
Roy was out in the porch making himself a sandwich and drinking some Scotch. The sun had begun to set and the air to cool.
"I'm making some chili later tonight," he said, "I'll need your help Matlock. I dug up one of Bill's old recipes."
"You know you got it. It'll be nice to eat outside unless it rains."
"That'll be good," he said, "You and C.J. going riding?"
"We both just heard that the DNA test has been delayed for some reason."
Roy just looked at him pointedly.
"We both know what's going on here," he said, "Jack doesn't want to release it yet."
"He might not want to release it at all but he's not going to get away with it."
Roy sighed, sipping his Scotch.
"All this for a man who was a disgrace when he was alive," he said, "Made a lot of people unhappy."
Matt sat down and looked at his hands.
"He did more than that to C.J.," he said, "I know something happened, that he killed something inside of her that I didn't even know about until we came back here…but she still won't tell me."
"It might be too painful Matlock," he said, "Maybe she thinks it'll hurt you or you'll do something rash."
"I just wish she'd tell me," he said, "She knows I'd never judge her for anything."
Roy looked at his nephew, compassionately.
"Give her time…and space," he said, "Her life is upside right now and she has to deal with this murder case."
"We have to get it dropped Uncle Roy. There's no merit to it."
"I know…but it's got a life of its own now and it'll have to play out until it's finished."
Matt digested that understanding what his uncle meant. But he knew the answer to that already as he had when they first got here.
"I'm going to find the killer myself."