C.J. had left Matt with Courtney not telling him anything. She'd just wanted to keep the man with the sandy hair and carrying the case in sight. He just kept his eyes focused forward as she crept behind him, until he reached the double doors.
It appeared that he was going to go out into the gardens to meet his contact. He looked around him before opening the doors and C.J. stepped inside an alcove so he wouldn't see her. Then he pushed the doors open to go outside.
She left the alcove and looked behind to see that Matt and Courtney were still talking and that so far she hadn't slapped him yet. Walking towards the doors she wondered where Duval would be heading for his clandestine meeting. When she opened the doors to look outside, she didn't see him anywhere. Damn he must have moved quickly and now she'd lost him. She kept her clutch purse in her hand with her gun inside of it. Ready to pull out and aim at him if he threatened her with some firepower of his own. Her dress allowed her to move freely and she'd worn flats in case she had to chase him again. Duval moved quickly, clearly a highly trained athlete just as he'd been in his days back at Harvard University.
A fellow alumna though they'd been in different programs. Clearly not the cream of the crop unless it'd been a degree program in terrorism but clearly his father had been using his ill gotten gains to send him to all the best schools.
She looked behind to see that Matt had joined her outside. She sighed wondering what he wanted. Here she was doing some surveillance on a man who might be Duval and he'd left the party to join her.
"I dropped her off at the punchbowl," he said, "I think she's talking up your date Jerry on her new book."
"The mystery novel right not the memoirs."
"I'm not sure," he said, "Listen maybe we could have that talk about how I haven't been using you in the field that much lately."
She smiled back at him.
"Houston…it's fine really," she said, "I'm busy enough doing all the legal stuff and that's what I'm trained to do right?"
He looked uncertain.
"I suppose so but you've been a great partner," he said, "Your investigative skills are better than mine and if you want to go back to doing more hands on work…"
C.J. scanned around in the darkness past the rose bushes trying to spot Duval while listening to Matt.
"I'm where I can do my best work Houston," she said, "Besides it's been really important for you to have this time to reconnect with your uncle. I know that your father would have been happy knowing that you were working together."
"I know they didn't see eye to eye on much of anything," he said, "But I'm glad they made peace of some type before my daddy died."
The wistfulness in his voice that she heard whenever he mentioned the adoptive father who'd raised him. She reached out to stroke his hair off his brow.
"I know he'd be real happy with the two of you together again."
She caught a glance of movement by the gazebo and looked past Matt. He caught her doing that and looked behind him.
"C.J. what are you doing?"
She knew she had to tell him.
"I followed him out here," she said, "The man with the glasses and the case."
"I saw him walking by," he said, "I assumed he was in the orchestra."
She paused, seeing another figure moving across on the other side of the gazebo.
"He's not Houston," she said, "I think he might be Duval Jr."
Matt blinked his eyes just looking at her in amazement.
"You know this how?"
She licked her lips thoughtfully.
"I got a tip that he might be showing up for a meeting with a contact here," she said, "but I didn't know if it was true or not."
He folded his arms.
"C.J…why didn't you tell me about it…?"
"I didn't want to give you information that might turn out to be false," she said, "I wanted to check it out and make sure myself."
He narrowed his eyes.
"What if she saw you and remembered you from the other night? What if he hurt you?"
She put a hand on her hip and just looked at him.
"Houston…I can take care of myself," she said, "Besides I wasn't going to confront him just keep an eye on him and listen in on the meeting."
Matt just stared at her in disbelief. That irritated her because did he doubt her ability to do her job? Let alone take care of herself, ironic considering all the times that she'd had to help him when he'd gotten injured on a case or nearly killed. Like the first time he crossed paths with Duval Jr.
"I'm not saying that you can't C.J…just why would you try to handle this by yourself and not ask for my help?"
She just looked at him not liking his attitude…but keeping a careful eye on the movement near the gazebo.
"Can we argue about this later," she said, "I want to get in closer…"
She started moving closer and he grabbed her arm pulling her back.
"Houston…I'm fine," she said, "We've got to see what's going on and if it's him, we need to call the cops."
"There's quite a few of the brass at this gala," he said, "Capt. Stone is here and Deputy Chief Wilson."
They began to move closer to the gazebo, her in her dress and Matt in his tux which molded to his body. Like Duval, he always kept himself in top physical condition.
"How much have they had to drink already tonight?"
He just looked at her as they moved closer to the rose bushes surrounding the gazebo where they saw the outlines of two people.
"Hoyt's only one phone call away," Matt said, "Is he the one with the lighter hair?"
C.J. took a closer look.
"I think so…he wore that disguise before didn't he?"
Matt nodded, clearly remembering that night he'd ended up with lead in his shoulder while trying to stop Duval from completing his hit.
"I'm moving closer…"
But she crept up to the next bush and she could hear their voices. The slightly clipped accent of Duval Jr. and a man nearby that she didn't recognize.
"Are you going to take another shot…before the deadline?"
Duval nodded in response. But C.J. had no idea what they were talking about; did this have to do with the assassination? She heard Matt crackle some twigs as he moved up closer to her.
"I have to wait for the right moment…"
"That's what you said…before you took off," the other man said, "What were you doing?"
"Another job…nothing to concern yourself about…"
Matt and C.J. looked at each other. What was Duval talking about; did he have another assignment to complete in L.A.?
"Foolishness…and if it's on my time…."
"It's not. I can do the job," Duval said, "The other night was just an aberration."
The other man grumbled.
"No…you let a mere slip of a woman undermine your plans."
Matt glanced over at C.J.
"I guess he means you."
She just focused on the two men talking in front of her trying to make sense of it all. Who were they talking about killing and how had the time table been adjusted?
"My father's weakness is not shared by me," Duval said, "I'll get the job done by the deadline."
The other man sighed.
"You'd better or else you won't get the money," he said, "You know I used to associate with your father. A great man who knew how to get the job done quickly and neatly…I'm hoping the apple didn't fall far from the tree."
"It didn't…in fact I'm better than my father, you'll see…"
The other man slipped away from the gazebo and Matt thought about reaching for his phone. Then they both heard a woman's voice calling someone.
"Matlock where are you," she said, "I've been looking all over for you."
C.J. just rolled her eyes at Matt.
"Must be your date," she said, "Can't be mine."
They both looked as Ginger walked down the foot path towards the rose bushes where they were both standing.
"Some woman told me you had wandered out here," Ginger said, "You're not running away from me are you?"
C.J. just shook her head.
"She's about a couple of seconds away from exposing us from a hired killer," she said, "What'd you think we better do now?"
Matt just looked out and saw that she'd spotted them.
"Oh there you are," she said, "Why you hiding behind the bushes?"
Then C.J. looked up and saw that Duval was looking in their direction and she knew they'd been spotted.
The assassin reached for his gun and C.J. grabbed her own and as he turned to run, she took off after him before Matt could stop her. He'd worn his ankle holster so he reached down to grab his gun and took off running, leaving a befuddled Ginger in his wake.
"Matlock…where are you two going…?"
C.J. kept a couple paces ahead of Matt as they chased after Duval who ran down what looked like a wall of hedges and it was only when she reached them and he disappeared that she realized it was more like a labyrinth. Every twist and turn, they saw the back of him before losing him again. But C.J. kept chase after him even as Matt warned her to be careful as to not get ambushed.
They rounded the last corner and hit a dead end and he was gone.
Ginger folded her arms.
"I can't believe you just ran off like that," she said, "I was talking to Mel the producer and I wanted you to meet him about investing in one of his films."
"Ginger I really don't think…"
C.J. watched bemused while Matt tried to explain his behavior to his date. He couldn't tell her much of anything of course just like she couldn't tell Jerry what she'd been up to either. Only he didn't ask questions, he just handed her a glass of wine which she gulped down as they stood outside on the veranda looking out towards the now deserted gazebo.
"No you don't Matlock and I was so worried about you."
"No reason to worry….C.J. and I were just…"
Now Ginger just looked displeased with him.
"I thought you brought me here not her," she said, "Really Matlock, you run off with her at the first chance you get."
C.J. just watched as Ginger looked upset with Matt and then along came Courtney. It was starting to turn into a real party.