The rain started splattering the window and C.J. just looked out onto the patio outside their suite. Matt had been on the phone calling Roy and Hoyt back in L.A. to follow up on cases they had been working on before they came to San Diego.
She thought a lot about Lindsey and the story that she had finally told police about what had happened to her and Tex. C.J. knew that she had held it close to her for a long while agonizing about what to do. The battle between emotions threatening to take her over…and not knowing which side would win. Anguish and confusion…and shame over what happened and the need to talk to someone about it, to feel less isolated from the world. She wished she'd been as brave as Lindsey had been but then look what happened to the young girl so far. Her credibility was already beginning to be attacked by Tex and no doubt his next lawyer but C.J. thought at least she wouldn't do that for him and be a part of tearing apart a young girl who'd already lived a rough life.
Her own life had threatened to go that route. She'd been so close to having to go to court to be named a ward of the state. She'd never had a chance to even grieve her parents' deaths until she'd settled in with her uncle on his ranch in Texas. The hard work he had her do while turning her into another of his ranch hands had helped her start healing. The overwhelming exhaustion of a day's work not to mention her schooling had lowered all those rigid defensive walls she'd built the moment that she got the news of their deaths.
Lindsey had never had that stability in her own life. C.J. imagined she was trying to recover from a world of pain beginning with the loss of her own parents. She had bounced around from one living arrangement to another and it hadn't taken long to start her criminal record.
When she had seen Tex, she'd seen someone who she thought cared about and would help her. C.J. had been drawn to him herself when she'd first seen him. He had taken Matt and her under his wing and taught them so much. She knew Matt had admired him more than just about anybody and she had too. Until…she closed her eyes not wanting to think about it. She'd put her past and what had happened in it behind her years ago.
But seeing Tex and hearing these allegations pop up with Lindsey, it didn't seem like the past could ever truly be buried.
The rain streamed down the rain in front of her and she heard the rumble of thunder. The storm must be finally about to hit San Diego. It was the remnants of a hurricane that had threatened the region after dissipating over land for a while on its way from Mexico.
She walked over to go pour herself some wine, it'd been a long day and she just wanted to unwind. Maybe they could order in rather than brave the harsh weather outside.
Matt got off the phone with Roy and then left a message for Hoyt who was in a meeting with the brass over an investigation. He knew that C.J. was in the other room and he'd given her some space. After what they'd done today, they were both feeling stressed. He'd turned on his close friend and mentor threatening him and he still felt the aftermath but he'd had no choice.
Not after learning what Tex had done to his best friend…now his girlfriend something that amazed him. He left his bedroom and walked out to see her sitting on the couch, her legs tucked beneath her sipping a glass of wine. She smiled when she saw him.
"Hiya…you done with catching up with work in L.A.?"
He nodded before heading off to the bar to pour himself a glass of Scotch.
"It's really starting to come down out there."
"Yeah what's left of Typhoon Nancy," C.J. said, "I thought I might eat in tonight."
He grabbed his glass and sat in a chair next to her.
"Great idea…they've got some great Italian cuisine…including pizza."
She put her glass down and clasped her hands, placing them under her chin to better look at him. He looked tired but way too handsome in his suit sitting there.
"I'll take some of that," she said, "I wonder if they have cayenne peppers to add to it."
"I'll take some of those too," he said, "I'll go call room service."
She watched him go, remembering all the nights they'd eaten pizza together. The best being Mama's of course but since she'd sold the business and moved with her family out of L.A., Matt and C.J. had discovered a couple of other hidden away pizzerias in L.A. to frequent…though it wasn't quite the same. Mama and Vince kept inviting them to visit but they'd been so busy, they put it off.
Besides Mama would freak out though probably very happily so if she found out that he and C.J. well….they were a couple now. She'd take the first flight to L.A. to plan the wedding even before the proposal. Oh he had plans to do that in due time but first things first, the courtship. He called in his order and figured they had enough wine and scotch to keep them for a couple of days.
He called back to her.
"You want tiramisu?"
Her face brightened.
"Oh yes…and some gelato on the side to put in the freezer."
He finished the order and then hung up the phone then walked over to sit back on his chair.
"Thanks…some great food would be the perfect way to end the day."
"We've eaten a lot of pizzas."
"Hundreds maybe thousands…and hopefully many more…"
She sipped her wine thoughtfully, her curly hair around her shoulders. He thought nothing could be more beautiful.
"You are thinking about Lindsey?"
"I know I shouldn't…I meant to put it away for the day," she said, "but I hate what is going to happen to her."
"Maybe you can help her."
"I'd like to…but I haven't even met her," she said, "and Houston at this point in her life she's not going to trust anyone."
He sighed, realizing her point. Everyone in her life had abused that trust including his former friend.
"I mean Houston…maybe she put every ounce of trust she had left in Tex," she said, "Maybe after what he did, there's nothing left."
He paused for a long moment.
"Did that happen to you?"
She thought about it and shook her head.
"I didn't trust many people," she said, "For a long time, mostly you and your father. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't been there."
"You shouldn't have had to keep that secret for so long."
"I didn't think it'd do any good," she said, "and I survived…it wasn't easy but there are good people in the world including men."
She looked down at her hands and grew pensive.
"Lindsey will find a way to trust," Matt said, "Somehow I think she'll trust you."
"I hope so," C.J. said, "I did some work with juveniles when I was back in Houston in the PD's office. I did juvenile defendants for a while and with the girls…no matter what they were charged with…they always came from backgrounds where their parents either weren't really there for them or they abused them."
She felt troubled just remembering what it'd been like when she'd worked that job. Not that she hadn't enjoyed it but she knew she'd never be able to focus in criminal law. Soon after, she went to L.A. to help Matt start his new company that would later turn into a business empire.
"It's a rough world out there," he said, "If my father hadn't taken me in…after Wade fell apart."
C.J. knew the story of Matt's true parentage and how he came to live with Bill the man who raised him. He'd told her not long after his engagement went bust and they spent the weekend out at his cabin in Pinewood. Fishing, cooking up meals and spending hours hiking in the canyons and mostly talking…just about everything…and learning new things about each other.
"He did…and they both did the best they could because they loved you," she said, "Wade made his peace with having to give you up and was there when you needed him…because if anything had happened to you that day…"
Some of the fear and a lot of the relief crept into her voice.
"I missed my father so much Houston," she said, "My mama…she and I were never as close as I was with my dad. He used to take me to work with him, show me what he did. God, it's so hard when you're a kid to realize that someone you hugged goodbye in the morning won't be coming home ever again."
He put down his scotch glass and moved to sit with her in the couch, sliding his arm around her and hugging her close to him. She nestled against his warmth, smelling his cologne so glad that they were together.
"I guess that's why I needed him so much…I needed him to care about me and love me…but I wasn't ready for what he wanted instead."
"He should have known that."
She shrugged in his embrace.
"I don't know if he cared," she said, "If he had…never mind…I think our pizza's here."
Sure enough the doorbell rang and she went to get it and to tip the bellman who brought in their pizza and desserts. Matt watched her moving around setting it up and knew she'd been about to say something but what?
He knew he needed to find out.