C.J. hated her new cast.

She thought she'd dodged at least one bullet during the past several months of her life spent on the run. But no, the broken wrist that she thought had healed properly hadn't pleased the doctor very much so he referred her to an orthopedic surgeon who had done x-rays and other tests.

He'd wanted to re break the wrist and then set it again.

"I don't have to be awake for that do I?"

He'd shaken his head and then had the nurse assist her in setting up a date for the surgery. She'd been back in Houston only a week trying to get the house all fixed up for living there for the undetermined future. Matt's father had owned it and several others but since his death, they'd been handed over to Matt but since like her, he'd lived in L.A. he'd leased them out. The family who occupied this one had moved out a year ago and it'd been left vacant.

Just perfect for her because she had no plans to go back to L.A. any time soon. She couldn't even think about going back to where it happened. Getting out of her car in the parking garage at Houston Enterprises' LA headquarters….the thought made her nauseous. That and the fact that she'd also set up an appointment with one of the best trauma therapists in that part of the country cemented the deal for her. She'd grown up just outside of Houston and besides, she had Rhonda, Fran and Chris and her husband living in town too.

The wrist was repaired in a couple hours and the surgeon cast it with some lightweight material. But she hated it anyway. She'd wanted to get back into her physical fitness regime she'd adopted that kept her lean and mean on the run. Now, she couldn't do much but ride a stationary bike or god, one of those stair masters for three more weeks.

Her shrink might tell her that she hated the cast so much because it allowed her to avoid everything else she hated. She didn't know how she felt about that or anything really…the pace she'd lived under with Matt the past few months had been so damned intense right up to the moment that Andre Duval had died on the rocky shore of Sapphire Island.

She'd watched it, the decision being taken out of her hands but there'd been other deaths too. Too many other deaths.

She sat up in bed, just wearing her tee-shirt and some PJ bottoms wanting to get up and go running before the sun rose over the city. But as soon as she opened her eyes, she remembered the damn cast. She heard some noise coming from the kitchen and smiled. Matt had gotten up earlier than her from where he stayed in the guest room and had gotten in his 5 or 10 mile run of course and now was making them both omelets.

Time to get up; she had a damn therapy appointment after all. Then she'd be joining Chris and Rhonda for lunch at that Tex-Mex place that Rhonda had frequented with a certain U.S. Marshal…well formal Marshal anyway as Jonathan had submitted his resignation to leave the agency not long after she and Matt returned from Miami. Rhonda didn't know whether she wanted to get mixed up with Jonathan mostly due to his propensity for traveling a lot and relocating…but if he quit the agency then that part of his life was over and maybe he'd settle down in one place.

He could do much worse than Texas and C.J. knew that her ex-boyfriend from years ago had found something special with her close friend who deserved all the happiness she could find. She got out of bed and padded into the kitchen. Matt looked up at her from where he cracked some eggs into the skillet.


"Morning Houston…I see you got your run in."

He nodded.

"Three more weeks…C.J…you'll make it."

She didn't know about that, every fiber inside her wanted to just take off and run for miles and miles until she'd lost that edge that she carried with her or at least tempered it.

"I'll add some of those new chilies," he said, "the ones you want to grow."

She smiled and went to go get some orange juice from the frig to go with breakfast. They'd just gone shopping last night stocking her up for a while. He'd be leaving to go back to L.A. soon enough as he'd nearly fully recovered from his own injuries. He had work and a life waiting him there though he seemed reluctant to leave. His whole attitude towards her had changed, she noticed because she knew him so damn well but she didn't know how she felt about that. Too much had happened to her, she still hadn't made sense of it or how she'd live with it.

Just one day at a time was what Diane had told her when they last talked. C.J. hadn't wanted to get a therapist but sometimes she felt like she'd jump out of her skin…certain sounds and smells..and the nightmares. She hadn't ever been able to hide them from Matt including that they'd intensified after her escape, the death of the man who had caused them.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, the therapist called it. She'd certainly heard of that because Matt had it at various times of his own eventful life. When he'd been a child after being kidnapped for ransom and later on, when he'd been in a war zone and lost his cousin, Will. Speaking of which, Will had been in intensive therapy since he'd been "found" over a year ago so if she needed anyone to talk to about it, they were all around her.

Matt made the omelets and slid them onto plates and she had popped bread in the toaster to add to their meal. They took their plates and juice to the breakfast where the sunlight steamed through the window.

"What are you doing today?"

Matt dug his fork into the omelet.

"I'm going to drop by Houston Enterprises and meet with Chris and Murray about some new directions to take the company…for the foundation. Fran's going to meet us and she'll take some of the ideas back."

"That sounds great…I'm so glad she took the director's position," C.J. said, "I wasn't sure she'd do it."

"Me neither…but she's the best person for it," Matt said, "It just took her a little while to figure that out."

C.J. sipped her juice.

"She knew it deep inside her Houston…she's just had a hard life. A lot of the men in it beginning with her father betrayed her and she'd been in and out of jail before she reached Bannon County lockup."

They both knew her history but they also knew that Fran had gone back to school, got her GED and had been taking college courses when she wasn't working at the women's crisis center and she'd met a nice guy in Carlos. Much different than most of the men she'd known, Fran had been distrusting of him at first but had gradually melted.

"Then I'll probably do a conference call with Roy at lunch," he said, "He's busy trying to hire a couple investigators…Hoyt's given him some candidates off the retirement list but I don't think we need anyone else."

"Houston…maybe it's not a bad idea," she said, "The work must have piled up because even Roy couldn't focus on it much and you're just recovering from your own injuries."

He forked another bite into his mouth.

"I'm fine now…and when I go back next week…"

She just looked at her plate not wanting to think about that. But it was for the best, she'd grown so dependent, too dependent on him the past few months. It'd been about her very own survival and not just her freedom but…she'd always been wary of getting too reliant on anyone especially a man. After losing her father so young…it'd taught her not to let anyone get too close…not even her best friend in the whole world.

"It's about time…you've got a whole life there."

He didn't say anything but she knew what he thought anyway. That she'd had a whole life there too…but not anymore.

"I'm going to miss you…"

She knew that too, and how much she'd miss him but she had to build her own life back piece by piece on her own. That's the way she'd always done it…as little as she'd allowed people inside. There had been few of those people but one of them sat across from her.

"I'll miss you too," she said, "but we'll still see each other. It's not much of a plane hop."

Though she didn't tell him that she didn't know when if ever she'd return to L.A. though she knew she'd be able to muster enough for a visit right?

"Besides you're still here for another week…"

He smiled at that and reached his hand out to stroke the back of one of her hands, in a way that she'd always liked. Those little ways of touching that she still felt.

"Yeah and guess what today is?"

She furrowed her brow trying to remember…and finally gave up.


He smiled more widely.

"Valentine's Day…"

Oh god, she'd forgotten that the world moved forward without her…she'd felt that time had been frozen at least for her for so long…but that meant holidays…she'd missed a few to spend with him. They'd been a blur really…but now they returned.

"Oh that…"

She didn't know what else to say. She didn't really want to think about what the holiday meant…something lost to her perhaps forever. There was no way to come back from where she'd been after all.

"Yeah that…I thought we'd do something later on…go to dinner…"

She nodded, that seemed safe enough…they were still best friends after all.

"Okay…I'll have some time later today…what about you?"

He nodded and they got up to clear the dishes away, but inwardly she wondered how was she going to survive Valentine's Day?

She'd have to figure out a way but she had some time to do it.