CHAPTER 7

"I bet I've gained ten pounds since we got here" Houston said as Mama Novelli brought out yet two more platters filled with Italian delicacies. "You eat, huh? You gotta get your strength built up. I want more grandkids. Vincenzo only gave me four so I'm counting on you. Eat! Eat!" Mama was happier than she had been in a long time. She and the rest of the Novelli's loved living in Hawaii, but they missed Houston and CJ.

"You heard her, pal, she's counting on you!" laughed Vince. He raised his glass in a toast.

Later that evening, after eating mountains of pasta and pizza, Houston and CJ had finally slipped away from the Novelli's and were walking hand in hand along the beach. "So what do you think?" Houston asked CJ. "How many kids are we going to have? Maybe if we had enough for a baseball team Mama would be happy." They both laughed.

"Well, at least we've got a start."

Houston stopped in his tracks. "We do?" he said.

CJ gave him a big smile. "Yep, I saw Carol yesterday and I have another appointment next week. He should make his appearance in about seven months."

"Now what makes you think it's gonna be a boy?" Houston said. "You haven't had an ultrasound done yet, have you?"

"No, not yet. It's just a feeling I've got."

"Now Mrs. Houston, you being a lawyer and all, I would think that you would know better than to discriminate like that." Houston reached for her and pulled her to him. They shared a slow, scorching kiss just as the sun dipped down over the horizon. "We've got some folks to share the news with ya know." He rubbed her cheek, kissing her again and hugged her close.

"I know. It was really hard not to tell at dinner, but I wanted to let you know first." She smiled up at him. "Daddy."

"Well, Mama, I guess we better get in here and let them know. Let's have a little fun." He laughed. Once inside, they asked Mama and the rest of the Novelli's to join them in a toast.

"Who are we toasting, Ace?" Vince was almost sure he knew, but didn't want to spoil his friends' fun.

"We are toasting Mama – soon to be Grandma – again." Matt had never had a bigger smile on his face in his entire life. As expected, Mama burst into tears. Matt winked at Vince and he and CJ went to her.

"Now Mama, you remember what happened when you started crying when we told you about the engagement. I threatened to call off the wedding. Only I can't send this baby back, you're just going to have to deal with it, okay?" He was kneeling in front of her.

"Oh, Houston! You're terrible to do this to an old woman! Of course you're not sending any baby back. I'm just so happy!" With that she burst into tears once again and Matt rolled his eyes. She grabbed CJ and Matt both into a big hug.

"Mama if you keep crying like this I'm gonna have to call the Coast Guard." Matt knew that would be sure to get her going. She stood and started swatting at him with her apron. He backed away, protecting his left shoulder with his other hand. "Easy now, I'm wounded you know!"

The next day, Matt and Vince were out fishing on Vince's boat. As they sat there in the sun, Vince looked over at his friend. He was a lot more relaxed than he had been just a few days ago after the baseball game. "So, did it happen like they said on the news?"

Matt didn't answer him at first, but turned and looked at him. "What are you talking about, Vince?"

"You know damn well what I'm talking about. Didn't you think I would figure it out? You've dreamed of playing professional baseball. So you finally got the chance. But were you happy about it? Not really, because there was obviously something else on your mind. So you take off and head home. Then you show back up with a bullet wound in the shoulder a couple of days later. I saw that last night when CJ was changing the dressing. It sure as hell didn't come from a nine mil. It was something a lot bigger." He stared at Matt.

The private investigator took a long swallow of beer. "Vince, you know I can't…"

Vince jumped in. "Bull. There's nobody here but us and I've already figured it out. Don't pull that civilian mess on me, buddy. I let you in on plenty of investigations – and got my butt chewed out royally several times because of it."

Matt grinned. "It was exactly like what they said." He looked back at his friend. "Happy now?"

Vince leaned back in his chair. "Yep." Neither man talked for a minute. "I'm glad you got him. Maybe now my boys won't have to go to war because of him or some of his idiot followers."

"That's the reason I did it, Vince. For your kids – and mine, too."

"Oh, thanks by the way – for getting Mama off my back about more kids." Vince grinned.

"Don't be in such a rush to thank me: I heard her talking to Isabella this morning. She still wants you to have another one."