Promises Kept, Promises Broken

Part 3

by Mary Christmas (unicorn_76010 at lycos.com)
2/18/03

It was peaceful in the barn, with only the sounds of rain hitting the roof and the animals in their various stalls moving about. Lestrade, on her favorite perch, forced herself to clear her mind and relax.

 

Ever since deciding to find C.C., the day had gone downhill. First, Laurie had caught her stomping through the house and asked -- which was more like demanding for normal people -- that she go pick up a few things from the store with Artemis. That in itself wasnít too difficult. Ever since Artemis had moved in, Lestrade had found a big sister in the woman. She was supportive and kind, and even if Lestrade disagreed with some of her ideas, she still was a good friend. Not that Laurie wasnít supportive, it was just that Laurie had her own ideas about how the world should work, and quite often they didnít agree with Lestradeís own opinions. This of course meant that Lestrade was quite often wrong.

As she had expected, the trip to town was uneventful, and the two of them had quite a discussion about the recent crime wave (Holmes wasnít the only one who could sneak information from the unsuspecting) though she didnít learn much except that odd items had been stolen and that none of the items related to one another in any way, shape or form. This was somewhat familiar information, and the first name that came to mind was Moriarty. Of course, she was sure that he wouldnít play the same hand twice, because it hadnít worked the first time. That didnít mean that he couldnít have something else cooked up.

Unfortunately, Deputy Zachary Cupps caught them just as they were headed into the store and pulled her aside. Lestrade, knowing what it was going to be about, adamantly refused. There was no way she was going to take responsibility for her brotherís actions anymore. That was his problem -- everyone always taking the consequences for his actions. He needed to learn that he had to take care of himself. Of course, Zak didnít want to hear that and tried to have her arrested for not cooperating with the police.

"I donít think so," she had said. "I may not know much about the law, but I do know that it isnít written anywhere that I have to take responsibility for my above legal age brother. Now, unless you want to tell Sheriff Johnson that his office is going to be sued, I suggest you leave me alone. Got it?"

Zak had frowned at her and left her alone then, muttering something to himself. If she werenít so upset, Lestrade might have grinned. As it was, she had marched after Artemis into the store, where she was accosted by the last person on earth that she wanted to see. Justin Jeffries, while handsome, athletic and filthy rich, was a complete jerk. He thought he was Godís gift to women, and any female who he hadnít got into his bed was just in denial. No matter how many bruises he endured.

Thankfully, Artemis was paying attention to her surroundings instead of off on one of her tangents, and quickly got rid of him by telling him that she thought she saw Elisa -- his wife.

They got home without further incident, but upon reaching their destination, Lestrade wished she were back with Jeffries. Daron had brought the kids over and was arguing with Laurie about child support. They had obviously been at it a while because they were both shouting. Katy and Colin were nowhere in sight, but C.C. was listening with rapt attention. No doubt to inform Katy on the first chance she got. So, while Artemis went to stand in support of her friend, Lestrade had dragged C.C. off.

Once she had the girl alone, and out of earshot of the argument, she had broached the subject of Katyís boyfriend. After several minutes of frustration trying to get to the truth of the matter, Lestrade had found out that C.C. had just seen some boy she hadnít known on Katyís vidphone and assumed it was her boyfriend. Which meant that C.C. had expected Katy to get in trouble by having Lestrade tell Laurie.

And now -- well, now Lestrade was trying to relax. Every one of those incidents were inconsequential, and normally she could have ignored them. But she had been extremely irate ever since coming back for a visit. Maybe it was because she actually had an existence outside of her family now, and was resentful of the boundaries they put on her. Or maybe she was just PMSing. Either way she realized that she needed to get a grip on herself. This was her vacation and there was no way she was going to let them ruin it for her.

Raven snorted beside her as if in agreement, and all irritation fled with her amused laughter. She reached out and gently tugged on his forelock. "Thanks buddy, you always know just what to say."

She leaned back against the post again and closed her eyes. Maybe a quick nap would do, now that she didnít have to worry about Katy. She was shortly interrupted, though, by someone opening the barn door. A gust of wind blew in, making the animals shuffle about nervously, and Lestrade to growl in annoyance. She glared at the figure standing just inside, letting the rain pour in.

"Well, donít just stand there like an idiot," she grumbled when the figure made no move.

"Sorry, maíam," he said, the voice quite obviously male. He still didnít move, though, and she jumped down from her perch.

"Look, the hay's gonna get all wet if you donít shut the door." She shoved past him and shut it. Then she turned and looked at him, her eyes narrowed. He was slightly taller than she was, wearing a wrinkled denim shirt, faded blue jeans and a black Stetson whose brim covered his eyes. He was also dripping wet.

"Well? Whatdaya want?"

"Sorry, maíam, I was just...admiriní...the horses."

Lestrade sighed again and shook her head. There was something familiar about this guy, though she couldnít put her finger on it. Still, she wasnít really in the mood to deal with slow-witted cowboys. No matter how good-looking they were. "Look, mister, either tell me what youíre doing here or get out."

"Right, maíam. Are you Beth?" he tilted his head quizzically.

"ARGH!! Yes! Now spit it out!" She glared at him with her hands on her hips, ready to physically throw him out of the barn if he didnít comply.

"Well," he paused and looked down, contemplating the toes of his boots. "Iím a hand. A new ranch hand, that is. They said I was to talk to you. Them people out there arguiní, that is."

"Zed," Lestrade muttered, then gestured for him to follow her.

She led him towards the back of the barn, where stairs led up to an efficiency apartment that had been built when Laurie had first bought the place. It was so she could be nearby in case of complications during the late pregnancy of her precious goats. Now that they had been moved closer to the house, the apartment was used for the various drifters who came through town looking for a job. Again, Lestrade wondered what her family did without her, since she was always the one to show these guys around.

"Whereís your stuff?" Lestrade asked, once she had given him the tour of his new home.

"Donít got none..." The man began rifling through things, "Figured Iíd have ta wait till I got paid."

"Okay, so whatís your name, so I can tell Laurie to put it down for the books?"

He turned around, doffed his hat and grinned engagingly. Lestrade blinked at him for a few moments, startled. Then she threw up her hands and growled.

"Zed it all, Holmes!"

On to part 4!

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