After they got back to the house, Matt changed clothes and was going to take out one of the horses for a ride again to sort things out in his mind. As he and CJ came back downstairs the phone began ringing. He picked it up. "Houston."
"Hey, it's Chuck. They just made the raid on the Sanderson place. All of the guys in the barn have been taken into custody, but Jessie is holed up in the house. Det. Lyons wanted me to call you and see if you might be able to come over here and talk him out."
Matt closed his eyes then opened them and looked at CJ. "Yeah, I'll be right there." He told his wife what was going on.
"I'll come with you." She started for the door.
"CJ, stay here – please. There's no telling what might happen – plus you don't need to be around those chemicals." He pointed to the baby.
She nodded. "Matt, please be careful, okay?"
"I will, babe. Love you." He kissed her on the cheek and walked out the back of the house and got into the truck.
Watching him drive away, she had a bad feeling. She didn't think Jessie would do anything to hurt him, but then again she never thought that the man would have rented space to meth makers either. She walked into the den and sat down in the recliner as Rosa walked in.
"Where is Matt going?" Rosa looked at her and saw that she was worried. CJ told her what was going on. The older lady sat down on the couch. "You know, he is a lot like Señor Bill. People were always coming to him for help or advice."
CJ smiled as she thought back to the times when she stayed at Matt's house. It seemed like there was always someone coming to talk to Bill. The conversations were usually carried out in the kitchen over a pot of coffee. "Matt and I used to joke that he was kind of like the Godfather."
Rosa smiled. "Actually, it was like that to a certain extent. But of course Señor Bill would never do anything illegal." They both laughed.
Matt pulled up behind a long line of vehicles from the sheriff's department and the DEA. He walked up the drive and was stopped by an officer. He gave the young deputy his name and was escorted up to the yard where a SWAT van was parked.
Chuck looked back and saw him coming and nudged the officer that was standing next to him. "Detective Lyons, Agent Torres, this is Matt Houston." The men shook hands. "Chuck here tells me that you know this guy pretty well." Lyons looked back toward the house as he spoke.
Matt nodded. "We grew up together. What exactly has he said?"
"He's refusing to come out. I don't know if he has any weapons in there, but I have to go on the assumption that he does." Torres was younger than Lyons by about ten years.
"I know there are some shotguns and rifles there that belonged to his dad." Matt heaved a big sigh.
"Well, I would appreciate it if you would try to talk him out of there. We really don't want to hurt him." The detective handed Matt a bullhorn.
"What kind of time is he facing?" Matt needed to know what Jessie was going to have to deal with in order to be able to make a valid argument.
"Four to five years. He doesn't have any priors so that will work in his favor." Torres looked back toward the house.
Matt handed the bullhorn back to Lyons and pulled out his phone instead, bringing Jessie's cell phone number up on the screen. He punched the call button. "Jessie, it's Houston. Look, you need to come on out of there, bud. These guys don't want to hurt you, okay? I've been talking to them and they seem pretty good. And CJ and I will do what we can to help you. So come on out."
"Do you remember the time Daddy caught us smoking a cigarette back behind that barn when we were eleven?" Jessie laughed, but sounded as though he had been crying.
"Yeah, I remember. He tore my tail up and then I got another whoopin' when I got home. You were lucky – you only got the one." He laughed as he thought back on it. "Sure made me want to avoid cigarettes."
"Yeah, me too." Matt heard him crying. "Houston, I've really screwed up. We're not talking about cigarettes anymore, ya know?"
"It's not as bad as it seems. We're talking four to five years, Jessie. You've never been in any trouble before, right? So you won't get as much time. You go in, serve your time and come back out. Fresh start. That's what you said you wanted to do earlier."
"Yeah, but I can't go to jail, Houston. I don't think I could handle it." He was crying louder and Matt was getting more worried.
"Look, we'll see if we can get you put someplace where it isn't so rough. And maybe if you help these guys they can help you, too. CJ is one hell of a lawyer, man; she can help you with this. Just come on out before it gets any worse."
Jessie didn't say anything. Matt gave him a minute to think about it. "Look, Chuck is out here. Do you really think he would let them hurt you? You know for a fact he's a good guy. He was one of us." Jessie still didn't say anything. "Jessie?" There was no reply.
Matt heard a sob. "You know, I'm glad Daddy didn't live to see this. He didn't have a clue what was going on down there. I told him they were working on a biofuel and that they had to keep the place locked up so nobody would steal their idea."
"You were trying to protect him, Jessie. He would have understood."
"No, he wouldn't. Houston, I'm sorry." The call was disconnected.
Matt hit the redial button but before the call went through the old farm house in front of them exploded. Everyone ducked down behind cover and Matt felt his heart stop for a moment. He looked over at Chuck who looked as shocked as Matt felt.
The fire trucks that had already been called out because of the meth lab were brought up in front of the house and began putting out the flames. The smell of natural gas was in the air. Evidently he had turned on the gas in the oven and let the house fill up before he triggered the explosion.
The SWAT van was moved back out of the way and Matt and Chuck leaned against it, watching as the firefighters tried to contain the blaze and keep any of the sparks from getting near the lab. Chuck walked around to the other side of the van and Matt followed. The deputy walked over to the edge of the grass and threw up. Matt was wondering if he was going to as well. He sat down in the door of the van and put his head in his hands. Chuck wandered back over to him. "You better call CJ and let her know you're okay."
Matt nodded and pulled out his phone and called the house. CJ picked up the phone before it finished ringing the first time. "Matt?" He could hear the worry in her voice.
"Yeah, I'm okay."
CJ knew from the sound of his voice that Jessie wasn't okay. "What happened?" Matt told her and could hear her start to cry on the other end of the line.
"Calm down, babe, okay? You don't need to be getting upset. I'm on my way home. I love you." He stood and started walking down the driveway toward his truck.
"Love you, too Matt." She hung up and tried to bring her knees up to her chin, then realized that the baby wouldn't let her do that anymore. She smiled down at the bump and patted on it. "Daddy's on the way home."
Matt came in through the back door and found CJ still sitting in the den. She got up and ran into his arms. She wasn't crying anymore and Matt was relieved. "Come on." He walked over to the recliner and sat down in it, CJ sitting in his lap. He kicked the chair back and she wrapped her arms around his neck and put her head on his chest. Matt kissed the top of her head and held her tight, then reached down with his left hand and began to rub on her belly. The pair stayed there for a couple of hours, then walked out onto the back porch and sat in the swing, watching the sunset.