'I'm sorry, who did you say you were, again?' Carlos asked the oddly familiar woman standing at the main desk, tapping her foot and craning her neck to see past the desk and into the station.
'I didn't. Is Jim here? Jim Longworth?'
'I don't know.'
'Does he have an active case?' Her bright green eyes snapped to Carlos' and narrowed slightly.
'Uh, I, uh...' Carlos drifted off, caught off-guard by the direct question.
'No? That would explain why he's not answering his cell. Where's his office?' she sidestepped him and strode up the hallway, scanning the doors until she spotted Longworth's name on his office door and sweeping in without a backward glance. Carlos followed her, calling after her as she barged into his unofficial partners' office and rounded the desk, taking Jim's seat and grabbing the mouse to wake the computer up.
'You can't be in here!'
'Oh, hush. Call my brother and tell him I'm here, will you? Maybe he'll answer if it's someone other than me calling.'
She stood up and extended her hand, catching Carlos' and shaking it, firmly.
'The Carlos Sanchez?'
'What do you mean, 'the' Carlos Sanchez?'
'The Carlos Sanchez who my brother yammers on about, whenever he's not talking about that nurse, what's her name?'
'Callie? Wait, Jim talks about me?'
'Not nearly as much as he talks about that Callie.' The girl resumed her seat and scrutinised the screen before her, clicked on something and began to type.
'Damn, he's changed his password. You know what it is?'
'Uh, I'm not going to tell you that, besides, I don't know what it is.'
'Can you call him at least? He wasn't at home when I went by there this morning and I kind of need to see him.'
Carlos stared at the girl for a moment, before he shook his head and pulled his cell off his belt, dialling Jim's number.
'Hey, Carlos. My sister there?'
'How did you know?'
'Because we don't have an active case right now, she's tried to call me three times this morning and I was forced to hide in my own pantry when she used her emergency key to practically break in an hour ago. I figured her next move would be to go to the station and see who she could con into calling me. Unless someone found a body? Please tell me someone found a body!'
'No, no body, just Becca. Where are you?'
'Oh, no, I'm not telling you where I am so you can send her out here after me.'
'Okay, fine, I'll call Callie and ask her where you are.'
'I'm not at the hospital, if that's what you mean.'
'No, but that's a start. Not at the hospital... I should send her to the golf course.'
'This is Florida. There's three dozen golf courses within fifty miles of my house.'
'But there's only two that are open to the public on a weekday that are also within reasonable driving distance. I know you're too cheap to pay a membership fee and too lazy to drive any further than forty-five minutes for a tee time.'
'Damn you and your intricate knowledge of the golf courses in this area.'
'Yeah, didn't really think that one through, did you?'
'Damn. Damn!' Carlos heard the distinct sound of a nine-iron thwacking fairway through the tinny speaker of the phone.
'Yeah, tell me where you are or I'll tell Colleen that you're playing golf while you're supposed to be in the office catching up on your paperwork.'
Jim sighed. 'Fine.' He gave Carlos the name of the closer of the two courses and informed him that he was on the ninth fairway.
'By the time she gets here I'll be on the eleventh.'
'Do you want me to come with her?'
'You think that would help?'
Carlos looked over at Becca, typing away industriously and clicking every few seconds, the frown lines in her forehead getting deeper by the second as she tried and evidently failed to hack into her brothers' computer.
'Then again, I don't think I want to risk her turning on me once she's done tearing strips off of you.'
'Good choice. Call me if we catch a body, it might distract her if I get a case before she can get into a groove shouting at me.'
Carlos turned so that his back was to Becca and lowered his voice.
'Why will she be shouting at you?'
'I'm not telling you that. Just send her over.'
The line went dead and Carlos rolled his eyes before turning his attention back to the younger Longworth.
'Seriously. He's on the ninth green of a golf course not far from here. Have you got a car?'
'Uh, no, I caught a cab from the airport.'
'Come on, I'll drop you at the clubhouse. I don't think I want to witness what I think you're going to do to him.'.. .. .. .. .. ..
'James Alexander Longworth I am going to kill you.'
'Becca, that's not the best language to use when speaking to a homicide detective.' Jim didn't even look up from his Titleist as his sister stomped onto the fairway, pausing just outside of club-swinging range and waiting for him to take his shot before getting any closer.
'Did you break 80 yet?' she asked as the ball landed a few feet onto the green.
'Yeah, last summer.'
'Then why are you playing today?'
'Mom called you?'
'To tell me that you had this crazy idea in your head about coming to Florida. I didn't think she was serious until you started calling me this morning.'
'Why is the idea of me coming to Florida a crazy one?'
'Because you hate the heat, can't play golf and you don't tan well.'
'Is that a blonde joke? Because you know this isn't my natural hair colour, right?' Becca caught a lock of her white blonde hair and waved it in front of her brothers' face.
'I'm still confused about that. You choose to be blonde?'
'You choose to wear those jeans. I don't pick on you for that.'
Jim twisted in place, trying to see the backs of his own legs and peg what was wrong with the jeans he had on.
'Stop doing that, there's nothing wrong with your jeans... unless you're wearing them for the same reason I'm blonde.'
'Remind me again what that reason is?'
'Get in the cart. I do not wear these jeans to attract attention.' Jim pulled himself into the drivers' seat of the golf cart and waited for his sister to settle in next to him before he gunned it up the gentle slope towards the pin.
The siblings continued to alternately bicker and chat through the last seven holes of the course until they made it back to the parking lot, Jim tossed his clubs into the trunk of his Camaro before turning to raise an eyebrow at his sister.
'Where's your car?'
'Carlos dropped me off.'
'You came to Florida and didn't rent a car?'
'I've only been in this time zone three hours, Jim. Give me a break.'
'Hang on, Becca, you flew in this morning? Where the hell is your luggage? I thought you'd at least booked into a hotel before you came banging on my door.'
'Damn. I keep forgetting, you're a detective.'
'Yeah, I am, but it doesn't take a detective to question why you would fly halfway across the country with nothing but an overpriced, oversized purse and the clothes you're standing up in.'
'Do I have to tell you right now?' Becca asked, avoiding his gaze and smoothing the soft leather of her bright red purse self-consciously.
Jim leaned against the car, crossing his arms and scrutinized his sister for another moment before rolling his eyes slightly.
'Get in the car, I'll question you later. Just think yourself lucky that my settlement was enough to buy a house with four bedrooms, and that I'm willing to let you stay there.'
'See, this is why I love you so much!' Before Jim could react his sister had thrown herself on him, hugging him with such ferocity that it took him a moment to hug her back.
'So, do you need to go to a mall or something? Get some clothes? At the very least you'll need a swimsuit if you want to hit the beach.' They were heading back towards Jim's place at a speed that Becca was willing to bet would get them fined were the car not an 'unmarked' police car, when he seemed to go into detective mode.
'You know, I didn't even think of that. Where do you shop?'
'Becca, look at what I'm wearing.'
'Good point. You've had those jeans for at least four years, and I bought you that shirt before I left Chicago. Take us to the mall!'
'Hang on- I didn't mean I should get a makeover, too...'
Becca raised an eyebrow at her brother and he sighed, giving up what he knew was a losing fight.
'Fine. But I don't have unlimited resources. Stick to Target and Old Navy, I don't want Ralph Lauren if I'm only going to get grass stains and evidence all over it.'
'Jim, you know I'm 29, right? I even have my own credit cards, now.'
Longworth contented himself with a private eye-roll at how proud his sister was of her acquisition of a credit rating good enough for Visa and MasterCard to even speak to her and concentrated on the drive, getting them to the mall and nosing into a parking space not too far from the entrance.
Of course, they'd only been inside for two minutes when a familiar voice called out.
Jim and Becca both turned and Jim wasn't sure if he should be elated or horrified - Jeff and Callie were standing just outside a GameStop store and Jeff was waving at him enthusiastically while Callie looked as if she was trying to blend into the video-game poster splashed across the wall behind her.
Jeff caught his moms' hand and dragged her over to the Longworth siblings, and Jim watched Callie's expression change when she realized that Becca was with him, not just another random person in the mall.
"What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be at work?" Callie asked, glancing over Jim's shoulder to try and get a surreptitious glance at Becca.
"I could ask you two the same question about school." Jim refuted, making Jeff laugh.
"Summer vacation started last week, Jim. Surely Carlos mentioned having more women at home during the day than usual?"
"He may have been whining about teenagers tying up the phone line and hogging the computer, but after a while all the complaining sort fades to white-noise kind of drone."
Becca, apparently fed up with being ignored, stepped around her brother and introduced herself.
"I'm Becca." she shot a glare at her big brother, who seemed to remember why he was at the all in the first place when she spoke.
"Oh, yeah, right sorry. Callie, Jeff, this is Becca Longworth. My sister." He supplied, before Callie could even raise an eyebrow in question at her last name.
Becca didn't hesitate, jumping right in and, as per usual, landing her brother in a world of trouble before she'd finished her second sentence.
"Oh, yeah, Callie and Jeff. Heard a lot about you both."
"Really?" Callie seemed surprised. "Jim never even mentioned that he had a sister, I'm surprised we get so much air time."
"Oh, I'm not. He doesn't like to talk about family, apparently."
Jim did his best to engage Jeff in a lively conversation as two of the three most important women in his life simultaneously gave him a look that translated directly to 'We are discussing this later, weather you like it or not.'
Then, without skipping a beat, Callie turned on the charm and gave Becca a smile.
'So, Becca, are you in town long?'
'I'm not sure, I only flew in today, and my lovely generous brother is letting me stay with him.'
'Oh really? He never mentioned that you were coming.'
'I kind of sprung it on him.'
'So the spontenaeity thing is a family trait?'
'What do you mean?'
'Well, once he dragged me out into the Everglades to hunt for treasure.'
'Yeah, in the middle of the night. And a pair of killers followed us, I had to hit them with the shovel. The treasure made the news, the Magdalena?'
'That was Jim? I knew it was here in Palm Glade, but didn't realize he was the one who found it buried in the swamps.'
'Yeah, in spite of his massive ego he does sometimes take a back seat.'
'Holy hell, he really has changed.'
As the automatic doors closed behind them, Becca turned to her brother and raised an eyebrow.
"Can we just get you some clothes and me a new shirt and talk about this later?"
Becca continued to scrutinize him for a few more seconds before deciding to let him off the hook.
"Okay, fine, but this isn't over."
"Oh trust me, I know it's not."