THE RUSSIAN MERGER

Note: This story takes place immediately after "Mercy".

CHAPTER 1

"CJ, don't worry about it. When the time is right, it will happen. Okay?" Matt held her close and she laid her head on his chest.

"I know, Matt, but I just really thought that this time would be it." She was so disappointed that the pregnancy test wasn't positive.

"You know what?" He lifted her chin. "I'll bet you if you stop thinking about it and just relax it will happen before you know it." He kissed her. She smiled up at him, but he knew she was still really upset. "My great grandmother had a saying: "When it's time for you to have a baby, God will give you one – whether you're ready or not." Great Granny was a wise woman." He smiled down at her, kissed her again and hugged her even closer.

"Guess it's good advice. Maybe I should quit worrying so much about it." She knew Matt was probably right.

Her cell phone rang and she looked at the caller ID. "Hmm. It's Murray, wonder what's going on?" Murray Chase had been Matt's trusted accountant and was now the CEO of Houston Industries. Since Matt had decided to separate the detective agency from the other business endeavors, Murray was now in charge of Houston Industries, and loving every minute. All profits from the corporation went to charities and Matt was free from all of the hassle. He had no ties to it any more other than the fact that it bore his name. Plus he had realized a few years earlier that no one person had need of so much money and felt it would be better to help those who really needed it. Since then, he had been much happier, as had Murray, and life was a lot better. Now Matt could focus all of his time and attention on the detective agency.

"Hi, Murray, how's it going?" CJ automatically put his call on speaker. "I've got you on speaker and Matt's here with me."

"CJ, thank God you answered. I need your help – both of you. I'm in jail. They've accused me of murder." Murray sounded like he was about to hyperventilate.

"Good one, Murray. I almost fell for it. Maybe you should try acting, huh?" Matt smiled at CJ.

"Houston, I'm not joking. This is for real. They say that I killed Natasha, but I didn't. Please, I need your help." The CEO sounded like he was near tears.

"Alright, Murray, we'll be right there. Just hang tight, okay, buddy?" Houston looked at CJ whose shocked expression must have mirrored his own.

The call was disconnected. Matt started for the elevator while CJ grabbed her briefcase and purse. The two got on the elevator and headed for the parking garage.

Twenty minutes later they pulled into the parking lot of the jail. Both had spent a lot of time here; first helping Lt. Vince Novelli and nowadays Lt. Michael Hoyt. They were immediately recognized by Sgt. Bob Peterson. "I wondered how long it would take you two to get here. He's back in interrogation room three. Go on back. Lt. Hoyt is waiting for you." He handed them visitor passes that they quickly clipped on their shirts.

CJ started on down the hallway with Matt following closely. She knocked on the door of interrogation room three and it was answered by Lt. Michael Hoyt. "Come on in." He didn't look happy at all.

"Hoyt, what in the hell is going on here…" Matt started in on the police detective that he considered a close personal friend. How could he have arrested Murray, of all people, on murder charges? He was trying to control his temper but was close to losing it.

"Hold on, Houston, it wasn't me that arrested him. It was two beat cops that were called to the scene. I came down here to try to help him and keep him company until you got here." He knew Matt would be upset. Murray had been a trusted employee and more importantly a trusted friend to both CJ and Matt.

"Thank God you're here, CJ. I don't know what to do. I can't believe any of this is happening…" Murray was white as a sheet and appeared to be close to actually hyperventilating.

CJ walked over and gave him a hug. "Sit down, Murray. Calm down. It's going to be okay I promise you." She looked over at Hoyt. "What exactly is going on here, Michael?"

The harried-looking police lieutenant handed her a file folder that contained the arrest record for Murray. She read through it. "No way. You've got to be kidding me." CJ shook her head. "You and I both know that this isn't right."

"I don't think he did it either, but you've got to see it from the patrol officer's point of view: one, they've got a dead female in a hotel room; two, they've got a male who appears to be under the influence of either alcohol or narcotics with blood all over him. What were they supposed to do?" He reached into his pocket for the ever-present roll of antacids and popped two into his mouth.

"Who is this woman, Murray? And what were you doing…" Matt started to ask, but was silenced by CJ. "Not now, Matt, not here. Michael, what time will his bail hearing be held?"

"In three hours. I've arranged for him to be able to stay here and not get put in general population. Guilt by association, if you know what I mean." He looked at Houston, who gave a worried nod.

"What do you mean, "guilt by association", Lieutenant?" Murray was on his feet again.

"I think what he's trying to say is that if some of the folks that are locked up in here found out that you're a close personal friend of mine, they…wouldn't be very nice to you, Murray. Sit down, buddy." Matt put a hand on his friend's shoulder and eased him down into the chair.

"Oh, my God, I never even thought of that! What am I going to do?" He looked at his friends.

"The first thing you'll do is sit down and be quiet, Murray." CJ patted his hand. "You're not to say one word, do you understand me?" Murray fervently nodded his head. "Perfect." She gave him a reassuring smile.

Matt had picked up the arrest report and read it. "Hoyt, where are these two officers right now, do you know?"

"They're back on patrol, Houston, and you know you can't interview them while they are out there. I've asked them to stop by my office after their tour." He knew what Matt would want to do.

"Thanks, Hoyt, I really appreciate it." Matt looked over at Murray. "Look, do everything CJ tells you, alright? I'm going to go check out the crime scene. CJ, I'll be back as soon as I can." He leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Love you."

"Love you, too, Matt. Be careful, okay? And don't lose your temper." She knew how upset he was right now and also knew that when it came to friends and family, you didn't want to cross Matt Houston.