The ranch was everything that C.J. thought it could ever have wanted. Nestled in the Hidden Hills, it was an impressive looking spread with wide open space and trees as well and a small lake. C.J. could imagine riding over the flatlands and the hills…well after the baby was born and as she and Matt walked around the outbuildings they discussed their plans for them.

"I think we should get some horses," he said as they left the barn, "and maybe a herd of cattle."

She arched a brow at him.

"A herd…?"

He smiled back at her rubbing her back with his hand.

"Well maybe not a herd," he said, "and how about some ducks?"

She furrowed her brow at him.


He waggled his brows at her.

"Green ducks…"

She almost burst out laughing but she had to be serious about this subject.

"Houston…you still don't even know what's a green duck do you?"

"I got some idea when Mama Novelli slapped me across the face just for asking."

C.J. bit her lip because really it was getting hard to keep a straight face.

"Ouch. But it's not what you're thinking. It's really quite innocent."

He pulled her closer wrapping his arms around her and she snuggled against him as he kissed her mouth.

"Not too innocent I hope."

She heard the playfulness in his voice and she kept an arm around him as he did her as they walked towards the lake. Matt had heard that it was fed by a river that was full of trout. She knew he'd like that part of it, as they'd spent a lot of their time growing up fishing in the stream that ran through both their family ranches.

They spent a couple more hours exploring the spread until they both decided that they had to buy it. So they called the realtor to send out an offer to the owner. It needed some fixing up but they knew they could handle that. Matt had his idea for adding rooms to the main house for their children as they arrived.

C.J. said they'd start with just the one but she'd been teasing him. They both wanted more than one child having both grown up as only children.

They picked up some sandwiches and took them back to their new office and Chris smiled up as they walked inside.

"Lots of messages," she said, "Business is booming and you've got some more cases coming in too."

Matt nodded and C.J. went to get them some juice out of the mini frig to go with their meal. She felt so famished as the day went on…though in the mornings she didn't want to think about food. Unless it was kelp wrapped around in…oh never mind…she thought. Matt was so patient when it came to these strange food cravings she'd been having lately. The doctor told her not to worry about them, totally normal part of being pregnant.

She ate her sandwich picking up some paperwork that she had to approve and sign. Matt was discussing some case with Roy in the other room.

Chris walked into the room to pick up the papers that she had signed.

"So I heard you're buying a ranch…"

C.J. smiled and nodded.

"It's a great deal….needs work but you know what Houston's like when he's got tools in his hand," she said, "and the house is great…Houston wants to add some room for the kids…"

"Kids…how many are you planning on having anyway?"

C.J. sighed.

"We've not figured that out yet…but we want this one to have siblings."

"Fair enough," Chris said, "I grew up in a big family so I expect I'll do the same as soon as I find someone special."

"You will…I didn't know if I ever would after Chris…then Robert and Randy…but Houston…I didn't expect that but life has its way of working out."

Chris chuckled.

"So, you going to settle down and start raising kids and baby goats at the ranch and leave the big city behind?"

"I don't know if I'm totally ready to go domestic but I want to raise my child and not rely on anyone else to do it," C.J. said, "I think I'm going to have to find a way to balance it all out."

Chris brightened.

"It sounds great…you can have the best of both worlds…do some work and be a mom too," she said, "What about Houston?"

C.J. knew that he'd be out there investigating cases even after the baby was born but she also knew that when they spoke about their child and the changes it would bring to their lives, he got the biggest smile on his face. She knew that he'd become more excited as the time approached for its birth. Oh that was still some months away but she saw the changes it had made in him already.

"He'll work with his uncle…I'd never take that away from him and he's got this new company too," she said, "but I know he'll love our child and be the kind of father he had while growing up."

C.J. often wished she knew what that'd been like to have a father that she remembered other than in snapshots of the time they'd spent together. She knew she'd never deny her child a chance to be raised by his or her father.

"Sounds great…you two deserve all the happiness you can get especially after all the chaos recently…"

Oh yeah, the reemergence of Matt's ex, Elizabeth and her diabolical partner in crime Delilah who know published a rag that appeared to feature Matt a lot more frequently than it had in the past. But for now, they hadn't heard from either one of them in a while and C.J. enjoyed the peace and quiet. She planned to savor it while she enjoyed it.

She knew how quickly everything could change.

Delilah paid the man that she had running surveillance on the new headquarters of Matt's company. He had set up the equipment and she had him watching the garbage bins for anything incriminating. Like the time they had discovered Matt's infamous rolodex of eligible women he dated or took to social events.

She'd been watching it lately and Matt hadn't been seen around town with some attractive, stylishly dressed woman on his arm. In fact, he seemed to have been lying low, not going out much at night at least to hobnob with the upper echelons of society in L.A.

Maybe Elizabeth's takeover of Houston Enterprises had subdued him more than they both had initially thought. Maybe they'd come close to breaking him and weakening his position making him too embarrassed to be seen in public.

"Delilah…really I am going to need some more help."

Elizabeth walked inside of the office looking ragged. She'd been the head of Houston Enterprises for less than a month and already she looked as if she'd been through the spin cycle of the dryer. This wouldn't do and what the hell was her silent partner going to do about it.

"You need to call your partner and get him or her to give you a hand."

Elizabeth shook her head wearily.

"No…they are to stay in the shadows…that was part of the deal."

Delilah smirked.

"Deal…with who the devil?"

Elizabeth sighed.

"Sometimes it seems like it," she said, "This wasn't supposed to be this hard and it was supposed to feel a hell of a lot better."

"It'll be sweeter soon Liz… I'm getting my guy to find out who got C.J. pregnant?"

Elizabeth snorted.

"Like I told you some sperm bank," she said, "The woman is too busy mooning over Matt to have a life of her own."

Delilah shook her head.

"You resent her don't you? I don't understand why…if she's never been a threat to your happiness with Matt."

Elizabeth made a face.

"He doesn't go for her type," she said, "She's what you call a ball buster and Matt…he likes his women genteel and to need him."

Delilah had long been aware of Matt's attraction to the women he rescued on his cases. That's how he'd wound up falling for Elizabeth and proposing to her in the first place.

"You don't think that it's possible…that he fathered C.J.'s baby if she is pregnant."

Elizabeth refused to consider it.

"Oh please…that would like never happen," she said, "I know underneath it all…Matt still loves me and only me…it's just circumstances keeping us apart…"

Delilah nodded mostly to make her friend happy.

"Yes…that's probably true," she said, "but as soon as I find the truth about C.J. and who knocked her up, I'm going to do a special insert in my newspaper about it."

She knew the guy she hired was good and that he'd dig up the answers soon enough and then she'd whip up an expose about it.

The press would burn with it and her sales would hit the thousands.