Will just looked at Matt from where he stood in the doorway. He held the latest issue of the Daily Mirror in his hand. Elise just stood there looking at Will.

"Houston…you're the talk of all of L.A. right now."

Matt sighed.

"Most people already read it by now?"

Will just shot him a look.

"How could you…?"

Matt just stared at him right back.

"What are you saying? None of it's true."

Will just shook his head at his cousin.

"Still use a Rolodex for your social contacts," he said, "That's so passé."

"That's funny coming from someone who was away the past ten years…"

He winked at Will who chuckled having finally reached the point where he could poke humor at his tragic past.

"Houston, I know you didn't plot to marry Elizabeth for her money," he said, "You already have more than you could ever spend and didn't she just try to blackmail you into marrying her?"

Matt sighed.

"At least someone remembers that but Delilah is counting on the fact that most memories are pretty short."

He knew that to be true about most of the gossip that traveled around the highest levels of society, the charitable galas he attended, whoever held his arm would wind up with him on the society column pages. Any time a scandal erupted, mercifully enough its half life would be quite short unless it was unusually outrageous in nature. Luckily for him, he'd never in the crosshairs in that situation…but then he'd always been careful how he conducted himself.

"She's really got it out for you."

Matt rubbed the back of his neck.

"Yes she does…I know she had something vested in the success of our marriage but I don't know what."

Will sighed.

"I'll bet it has to do with her silent partner.

Matt shared that belief and yet he hadn't made any inroads in trying to learn who that might be.

"There's a long list of suspects," he said, "I've not had time to go through it much. C.J. and I are going to look at some real estate out by Hidden Hills…buying ourselves a new ranch."

Will widened his eyes.

"I thought you sold the old one…"

"I did…the commute was tough but I miss that life. It's what I knew growing up."

"Me too…but I think I'm a city boy by heart," he said, "I'm loving L.A."

Matt liked hearing the happiness in his cousin's voice. He's struggled so much after returning to the world he'd nearly forgotten which had moved on without him. But he'd come out of his depression in the past year and Matt enjoyed rebuilding his relationship with him.

Elise just looked at the two of them.

"What the hell is going on here," she said, "I just came here to hit C.J. up to see if she wanted to go shopping…you know for baby stuff."

Matt frowned.

"Isn't it a bit soon?"

Elise gave him a piercing look.

"It's never too soon," she said, "and C.J.'s going to need some new threads when she…you know…"

Matt nodded, knowing about that part of it.

"She's got this idea that she's going to help Chris with the databases."

Elise snorted.

"That can wait…what's she going to do when she tries to slip into a pair of her jeans and breaks the zipper?"

Matt sighed, knowing she had a point. But she'd have to be the one to persuade C.J. into giving up her half day at work and go with her. Will just chuckled.

"I don't think C.J.'s going to let her pregnancy throw her," he said, "She's pretty unflappable…I know that from experience."

Matt knew that too and not just because the three of them had grown up together but because there'd been that dark period in Will's recovery when he'd been suicidal and almost jumped off the roof of a skyscraper. Matt had gone off to find the person who could stop him and C.J. had kept him from jumping for a few tense hours.

"I know but I just want her to take it easy and relax more…"

Will widened his eyes in mirth.

"Relax more…C.J…come on Houston…you know she enjoys her work," he said, "If she relaxes too much, she'll go crazy and that won't be good for her either."

Matt knew that she'd just have to strike a balance between work and well…being pregnant. He planned to be right with her the whole time. Doing whatever he could to make life easier for the mother of his child.

Elise cleared her throat.

"C.J. knows how to kick back and relax with the best of them…at least she does with me."

C.J. walked up to where they were standing, smiling at them.

"You are talking about me?"

Matt smiled at her standing there in her robe.

"Elise wants you to go shopping with her…to buy some clothes."

C.J. narrowed her eyes.

"But I got work at the office to do," she said, "I can't leave it all to Chris."

Matt put his hands around her waist and looked at her.

"You can't bust out of your clothes either," he said, "and the office will be just fine."

She folded her arms.

"We were going to go real estate shopping."

"We'll still do that later on," he said, "I'll call the realtor when I get to the office."

C.J. just looked at the three of them and finally nodded.

"Just let me get showered and dressed," she said, "but I'm just looking at these clothes. I'm not committing to buying them."

Matt kissed her lightly on the mouth.

"Of course…"


Matt and Will drove out to the new office where Chris was working on the databases with Murray advising her and Uncle Roy was furnishing one of the offices. He smiled when he saw them.

"Matlock…some of the furniture arrived."

Matt nodded.

"Someone delivered a couple dozen copies of the Daily Mirror to the front steps," Roy said, "They wanted to make sure we saw it."

Delilah no doubt, but he'd already seen the spread she'd done on him and he wasn't going to let it stop him from building his new company into a success.

"I read it…found it dry reading."

Roy cracked a smile and shook his head.

"You can't let it get you down nephew," he said, "This propaganda scheme is common in espionage and it's all about playing with your head."

"I learned that too," Matt said, "but Elizabeth bit off more than she could chew with her hostile takeover…and when she has her first crisis, then she'll seek help from her silent partner and we'll find out who it is."

Roy nodded.

"Might not take much work on our end…"

Matt flipped through some papers that Hazel, one of the new temps had just handed to him, then he reached for his pen and signed them handing them back to her.

"I almost feel sorry for her," Matt said, "but I never really knew her at all."

Roy patted him on the shoulder.

"Sometimes we miss the red flags when we're in love with someone," he said, "the point is, you didn't marry her. It'd be much harder if you did."

Matt didn't want to think about what almost happened now that he'd gotten together with C.J. That was all he wanted to remember right now. There had been times he'd wondered what it'd be like to be with her that way and now he knew. He just had to get her to the altar which meant they had to get his new firm off the ground and running.


C.J. just sighed as she looked at the clothes on display at the Maternity And You store just off of Melrose. She hadn't even started showing yet but she knew that it was only a matter of time so she looked at the section of the store dealing with early pregnancy. But while there was quite a selection of maternity dresses, skirts and pants they just all looked too…cutesy to her. Almost like what you'd dress up a doll to wear rather than a person. She worked in a profession where she needed to be taken seriously and clothes played a part in that.

"You found anything yet?"

C.J. just shook her head.

"I need my own clothes…only in a larger size."

Elise nodded.

"You should just focus on the sizes now," she said, "Your body won't really start changing until later on."

"I just need some three piece suits to wear," C.J. said, "I don't need little girl dresses with bows on them."

Elise smiled.

"You never know C.J…"

But she just looked at her sharply.

"I do know…cute doesn't work for me…"

"Okay, okay," Elise said, "I know another boutique that just opened…they do sell business attire…"

C.J. shrugged.

"That'll work…let's just get out of here."

They walked out of the boutique to head to Elise's car not knowing that Delilah was standing only a few feet away from them.

She looked at the name of the store they'd left and then pulled out her cell phone.