Chapter Ten

Dani picked up Charlie and drove him home in her Dodge Charger since his Maserati was in the shop being repaired. As he sat in the passenger seat he had to admit that his body was sore but he was glad to be going home with Dani.

Staring at her profile as she drove, he noticed the furrowed brow and tenseness in the lips. She was upset about something.

"What's wrong, Dani?" he asked her.

"Nothing," she answered curtly.

"I know something is wrong. Tell me, Dani," he said.

"It's nothing, Charlie," she said.

"Dani, don't lie to me," he said. "Tell me what's bothering you."

"Alvarez was able to name Martin Burke as the man who paid him for his Mexico runs. ADA Griffith and the Marshalls worked out a deal. The two men you left alive and able talk at first balked at talking, but then suspiciously changed their tunes after a few days in the city lockup. Someone got to them in lockup, Charlie, and got them to talk. Someone scared them into talking," she said.

"Do you think it was me?" he asked.

"Tell me," she said.

"It wasn't," he smiled.

She relaxed slightly.

"The shooters are now turning on Burke. He is being picked up today," Dani said.

Charlie looked from her to out the window. Burke had gone from a prince of the city, almost untouchable, to a man on the verge of doing hard time. And he was a man who once had been a cop and Charlie knew what that meant in prison. Burke would experience pain every day until he was either released or dead. The only thing that stopped Charlie from getting killed or experience pain until her was released was that he had learned to fight back and fight back hard. He told himself it was the Zen that pulled him through prison, allowed him to survive with even a hint of sanity, but the reality of it was that he survived prison because he became as violent, vicious con, who many in Pelican Bay feared. No, he never wanted to be that man again.

"Are you alright, Charlie?" asked Dani.

"Just thinking, Dani," he said then he turned his head and looked at her. "I'm doing fine."

She took her hand off the steering wheel and reached over to him for his hand. He took her much smaller hand in his. There was no reason to tell her that he loved her because she knew it, just like she knew that he trusted her.

"He was one of my father's men on the SWAT team," Dani stated.

Charlie knew what that meant. It was Dani's tentative way of asking if her father was involved in this. It was obvious that Burke joined the syndicate where Dani's father futilely tried to stay out of it.

"Will find out who set Burke up, Dani? Don't worry we'll find out," he said.

They finally arrived at Charlie's house. She parked her car in the spot her usually parked his Maserati. Both of them noticed one of Mickey Rayborn's limo's parked outside of his house. His driver was still sitting in the car. They both got out and hustled into the house to find Mickey Rayborn and Amanda Puryer sitting at the large dining room table having coffee and talking. Rayborn was laughing.

"What are you doing here?" demanded Charlie.

"Just talking to this delightful young woman, kiddo. Did you know that she is going to study Theology in school?" he said like he was impressed.

"Hey, Charlie, it's good having you home from the hospital," Rachel said. "Hi, Dani."

"You okay, Rachel?" Charlie asked her.

"I'm fine," she said looking at him nervously.

"Rachel, can you let Charlie and I talk to Mr. Rayborn for a few minutes then maybe we can order dinner or go for dinner," Dani said to her.

"Sure, Dani. I'll just be upstairs," she said then got up and disappeared.

"Amazing young woman considering what she has gone through," said Amanda Puryer.

Charlie and Dani sat down at the table across from Rayborn and his security expert.

"Isn't that something about Marty Burke, huh?" said Rayborn.

"Everybody turned on him, even those in lockup," said Dani.

"Yeah. The one in the hospital in need of two artificial knees because of you, kiddo, was real easy to turn. You left him with very little hope," said Rayborn.

"So, it was you that turned them," said Charlie.

"Well, not me personally," he smiled.

"Why? Why Burke?" asked Charlie.

"He was getting too big for his britches kid. The man had forgotten who put him in the position he was in. He forgot who was boss," said Rayborn.

"You needed him taken down. You set this all up," Dani said.

Charlie was fuming. He had been used by Rayborn.

"Did he even put the hit out on Connie?" asked Charlie.

"That's what those hired muscle will say," he smiled.

For a moment Charlie thought about taking his sidearm out and ending the life of Mickey Rayborn, but Dani presence sitting beside him brought him back from the abyss.

"I don't work for you," Charlie said. "I will never work for you."

"Come on, Kiddo, even though you don't work for me, it doesn't mean you aren't working for me," Rayborn smiled his reptilian smile.

"Mickey, we should get going," Amanda said and she gently placed her hand on top of his.

"That's right I've got a party tonight where the wife and kids and their kids are invited. I wish you were coming, kiddo," he said then stood up. "I value you more than all of them. Be seeing you, kiddo."

With that Mickey Rayborn and Amanda Puryer strolled out of Charlie's house. Dani placed her hand on top of Charlie's. She could feel that he was shaking with rage.

"We'll get him, Charlie. Eventually, we'll get him," she said.

He looked over at her and smiled. His green eyes brightened and the rage subsided.

"We?" he said.

"Yeah, Charlie, you and I. We," she smiled. "You're not getting rid of me, Crews. Without Reese, there is no Reese and Crews."

"Without Reese, there is no Crews," he said then leaned over and kissed her. "Love you, Dani."

"I love you, Charlie," she said then stood up. "Now let's get Rachel and go to dinner like a family, huh?"

"I'd like that," he said.

Charlie stood up and followed Dani. She was right that they would eventually get Rayborn, if for no other reason because Charlie finally had a life he wanted to protect.