CHAPTER 8

After all was said and done, Gunterson found over two hundred and fifty rifles and two hundred cases of ammunition in the bunker, along with various types of grenades and land mines. Matt sat on the tailgate of his truck with his arm wrapped around CJ who had ridden over with Norval. He was "supervising" the deputies who were loading the weapons on a delivery truck. "That sure made a dent in the illegal arms trade around here."

CJ nodded. "You know, this is a nice little town. Kind of makes you think of some of the little towns in Texas, doesn't it?"

Matt pulled her closer. "It does."

Sheriff Lou Grady walked over to the couple. "Well, that was the most excitement we've had around here since I've been sheriff. And that's been twenty two years."

"That's a long time to be sheriff. You must be doing something right." Matt patted the man on the shoulder. "That may be, but I believe I'm about ready to retire and spend some quality time fishing. And maybe some time rocking on the front porch with Joan. Might just take her to Hawaii. She's always wanted to go there."

"Well if you do go, there's a restaurant that you'll have to stop by. My best friend and his family run it – it's called Mama Novelli's." He looked over at CJ. "You go there and you might just decide to move there permanently."

Norval walked over to where Matt and the others were talking. "Guess I've supervised these boys enough for one day. I'm heading back home. See you two there." He wandered over to his truck and left.

The three sat there and watched as the deputies and Gunterson loaded the rifles and ammo onto the truck. Matt leaned back and opened the cooler that he had in the truck and took out a Fizzy Pop. "Lou?" He offered it to the man. "Believe I will thanks." "How about you, CJ?" Matt pulled another one out and handed it to his wife. "Thanks, Matt." The private investigator reached in one more time and as he was closing the lid on the cooler, someone snatched the cold drink from his hand. He looked around just as Gunterson popped the top and started drinking it down. "Thanks, Houston that really hits the spot." Matt responded, "Not a problem." He reached back into the cooler and pulled out one more for himself. As he popped the top he looked at the ATF agent. "What about the militia folks?"

"Well, I've had a nice little chat with our two dealers who are still alive." He took another long swig from the can. "They've both agreed to testify against the militia in return for a reduced sentence." The agent emptied the can. "I've got folks that are supposed to be on the way up here tomorrow to help me with them."

"Are these the same folks who wouldn't help you out today?" Matt had wondered about that since Gunterson's phone call to his office.

"Yes, but they had a good reason. There was a major bust going on down there today and there just wasn't anybody available. But they will be here tomorrow for sure."

"Okay, just didn't want you riding solo on it." Matt tightened his arm around CJ and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Are you about ready to head for home?"

"I guess so. Are you?" She laid her head over on Matt's chest.

"Yep. Do you want to drive or fly?" He looked down into her brown eyes.

"Oh, I guess I'll fly. That way I can get home and start on some supper for you." She gave him a hug.

"And what might that be?" He gave her another peck on the cheek.

"You'll find out when you get there." She hopped down off of the tailgate and shook Lou Grady's hand. "Lou it was nice to meet you. And you, too, Mitchell."

Matt slid down from the tail gate and shook their hands as well. "Guess that means it's time to go." Both men laughed. "If y'all are ever in our neck of the woods, stop on by." He waved at Chris Ludlow and jumped into the truck and started for the Banakee Ranch to pick up their luggage as well as Cricket and Lucy.

They pulled up the drive and parked next to the pasture where their two horses were grazing. As they got out of the truck, the door to the Banakee's house opened and out came Norval and Rusty along with a young lady. "Hey, Houston, CJ! Have you got a minute?" Rusty was smiling from ear to ear.

"Bet I know what he's going to tell us." Matt looked over at CJ and she nodded.

"CJ, Houston, this is my fiancée, Emily."

"Well, congratulations! Glad to hear it." Matt shook his hand.

Emily shyly spoke up. "Rusty tells me that you kind of…uh, well, gave him the kick in the butt to ask me." She smiled up at Matt.

"I guess you could say that." He started laughing.

"I'd like to thank you, Houston. I was about ready to give up on him." She looked back over at Rusty.

"Congratulations, Rusty." CJ gave him a hug.

"Alright Norval, he finally did it. Are you happy now?" Matt turned to the old rancher.

"Nope, not till there's a young'un running around here." He slapped his son on the back.

"There's just no pleasin' you, is there Daddy?" Rusty shook his head and smiled at his dad.

"Now don't rush 'em, Norval. Sometimes these things take a while. Plus you don't want to get the cart before the horse if you know what I mean." Matt gave CJ a hug and they went into the house with the Banakee's to celebrate.

Later that night, as they were lying in bed at the Banakee house, Matt took CJ's hand. "I wasn't planning on spending another night here, but oh well."

She nodded. "We couldn't very well skip out on such a big celebration, now could we?"

"I guess not." He rolled over and began rubbing his hand on her arm. "Norval sure is happy."

"He is. It's a good thing they're getting married next month; I don't think he could take a long engagement."

"No he couldn't." He reached up and turned CJ's head to face him and kissed her. "You know, Uncle Roy has been after me…wanting to know when his great niece or nephew will be here."

"Well, I guess we better keep working on that, huh?" She rolled over and the two kissed.