Callie had always been an early riser. In the early days of her marriage, she’d always found great
pleasure in waking before her husband, enjoying the quietness of the morning, listening as the birds come alive in romantic
song, watching the morning sun as it beckoned from a flawless sky.
She’d take a cup of tea and she’d sit out on the back steps and watch as the flowers opened their
dew-moistened petals to the warmth of the sun. Life would come into bloom before her very eyes and she’d always found
each day to be a miracle.
When Johnathan had died, she’d forgotten what it was like to experience those things. She’d shut
herself off from the world. She’d avoided her friends, and even her family. She had hurt those closest to her and to
this day she regretted her behavior.
Today, Callie just wanted to stay in bed. She was in a blue mood. She didn’t care about the birds,
or the flowers, or even the soft patter of ran as it hit the roof. She just wasn’t up to facing the men, or facing Rus
for that matter. After last night, she wasn’t sure he even wanted to see her any way.
It seemed they were always in discontent with one another. Rus was turning out to be more of a puzzle than
Callie ever thought he would be. But that didn’t keep her from loving him any less.
She knew she should get up, cook breakfast, take a shower. But her body wouldn’t cooperate. Callie’s
mind was numb and aching with a certain sorrow. Today, she would just hibernate in her room, whether or not anyone liked it.
What was the point of getting out of bed any way? What was there to do but stare at four walls.
Callie knew she wasn’t being fair and that she was acting like a spoiled brat. All the officers that
were assigned to take care of her, had made an effort to make her feel at home and welcomed in their company. They had done
nothing to make her feel out of place or uncomfortable. Instead they had been jovial and friendly, making her laugh and helping
her to forget about her woes.
At first, she had been thankful for their efforts. She had needed each one of them to help her through this
transition. Now that she’d been here, in this tiny little cabin, in the middle of know where, Callie was beginning to
feel a little out of sorts.
She didn’t feel she belonged here any more. Florida seemed a far away place. So did Wyoming. For the
first time, she was missing her hometown. She was missing her church and her friends. For the first time she wondered if she’d
made a mistake leaving the comforts of Wyoming. It was a safe town. It held no adventure and no threats
This made her think of Rus. Had loving him been a mistake? She didn’t know the answer to that.
One of the officers knocked on her door, announcing that breakfast was waiting for her. She ignored the knock.
A half an hour later he returned, letting her know that he was placing a tray of food outside her door and she would eat it
when she was ready.
Again she said nothing. She heard his footsteps tread away down the hall. An hour later the tray remained
where he’d put it earlier and its contents had remained untouched. By now the officer was growing concerned. Stan Owens
knew he was suppose report this to Rus, but he wasn’t sure he should. He didn’t know where to draw the line. Rus
was clearly in charge here. The captain had made that plain and clear before Stan took over this assignment. He had no problems
with where the lines of authority were drawn. He cared about Callie’s privacy and the right for her to make her own
decisions. He understood the humility behind being cooped up in a cabin all day while a dozen men watched over you. It wasn’t
a pleasant experience when they knew everything you did, every step you took. He could sympathize with the woman, even felt
sorry for her.
So for now he decided to lay low. If by lunch she hadn’t eaten, or shown her face, then Stan would
tell Rus everything.
Allison was upset with Ricky. She hadn’t seen him in over two days. He was ignoring her, she was sure
of it. She wanted to talk to him more, but it was obvious he didn’t find her company very entertaining. That was really
sad, because for once she thought she had found a true friend. Not like the one’s she had here.
Oh they were her friends all right. But they were superficial to say the least. They didn’t have anything
in common and they didn’t even live on the same principles. Allison tried to overlook their flaws. She knew that not
everyone was perfect. But in all honesty, her friends lacked morals and values.
Their upbringing had been lacking and Allison had never really noticed until Ricky came along.
He had opened her eyes. He’d made her open her eyes and see things she had never wanted to see before.
Her friends were no good. They were trouble from the start and if she didn’t watch out, she’d end up just like
She knew she had to break away from them, but she didn’t know how to do that. It was a small town.
Less than a hundred people. She’d be humiliated in front of every. She be made the laughing stock of the town. An embarrassment
to her family.
Allison wanted to sit down and cry. So she did.
She didn’t know how long she’d been crying, hours or minutes, but as she sat there, Ricky came
up behind her. His shadow fell over her and she looked up into his face. The bright sun was behind him, so she couldn’t
see him clearly, but she knew it was him.
She dried her face and tried to plant a welcoming smile on her lips. It was an attempt, but it didn’t
work. "Ricky, I didn’t think I’d see you today."
He sat down beside her, kicking off his shoes. There was something about the girl that always made him want
to discard his shoes and walk barefoot in the sand. "Yea, I thought I’d get out today and see if anything was happening.
Why are you crying?"
Embarrassed, she turned her face away. "I wasn’t crying?"
"Then what were you doing?"
"Thinking," she answered sweetly.
She became nervous and began to fidget with the corner of her shirt tail. She twisted it one way then the
other. "Remember you were asking about my friends, how I could be with them. Well I was thinking how right you were."
"Look, Ali," Rus said. It was the first time he’d called her that. "I was wrong. It’s none of
my business who your friends are. I’m going to be leaving this town soon anyway. I’ll be hundreds of miles away
from here and you’ll still need friends."
"Is that why you’ve been avoiding me? Because you’re going to be leaving?"
Ricky was silent, contemplative. After a few minutes he replied, "Yes and no."
Allison lifted a brow. "What does that mean?"
"I like you Allison. I like talking with you. But I will be leaving soon. I don’t want to hurt you
when I have to say good bye."
"And," Allison prompted.
"I was ashamed."
"Ashamed," Allison exclaimed. "About what?"
"About my father, mostly. And that I don’t know as much about God as you do."
Allison’s bright eyes opened wide. "You do believe in God, don’t you?"
Ricky shrugged his shoulders. "That’s just it, I don’t know if I do or not."
"Do you read the Bible? Pray?"
Ricky’s embarrassment was coming full force now. "I don’t know how to do any of that."
"Well I can teach," Allison volunteered. "Would you like that?"
"Sure, I guess so," Ricky replied. "Where do we start."
"Let me run home and get my Bible. I’ll meet you back here in five minutes."
Allison practically ran all the way home. Her heart was filled with joy and praises.
Pep turned his car down a vacant alley between two run down buildings. He checked his rearview mirror and
couldn’t see anyone following him. Everything he owned was packed into the trunk of his car. It wasn’t much. A
few suitcases of clothes, some jewelry, a television set and stereo. In his line of business, you didn’t own much. It
made leaving town in the middle of the night a whole lot easier.
Pep felt uneasy even though he knew he wasn’t being followed. He purposely hadn’t talked to Joe
Hines in over a week. He’d been hiding out in one old warehouse after another ever since their last meeting in the park.
Pep wasn’t going to be responsible for another innocent killing if he could help it. Even if it meant
getting killed himself.
He took another turn and another, his tires crunching against the asphalt. He needed a secluded area and
this was the closest thing he could find. He’d struck many a deal right here in this very spot. He felt it was a lucky
spot for him today.
He was changing his way of life. He was going to come clean, confess his sins, and he was going to start
a new way of life, some where far away from Florida. Some where far away from Joe Hines.
Pep picked up the pay phone. It was dirty and old, and it was marked with graffiti. There was a dreadful
hollowness in the air. He glanced around, noticing that he was truly alone. He couldn’t see anyone through the windows
in the empty buildings. There were no other cars. But something didn’t feel right.
Something felt very wrong. Pep sensed he was not alone. He couldn’t shake the feeling. Inside he started
to tremble. Fear consumed him. He knew he should walk away, forget the phone call he had to make. But some hidden force made
him stay there. He had to right all the wrongs he’d done in his life, so he went down on his knees and began to pray.
Lord, I’ve never done this before, but I’m coming to you today. I know I have done wrong,
that I have sinned against you. I am sorry for my wicked ways. Please forgive me for those things I have done wrong. Please
forgive me for killing that young boy. I know that I was wrong Lord. Very wrong. I don’t know how to ask for
forgiveness. But I’m doing the very best that I can. I know you died on the cross for me Lord. For my sins.
And I accept this. I may not live another day Lord, but when I die, I want to be with you.
Pep finished his prayer and got up from his bowed knees. He picked up the receiver from the pay phone and
dialed the number to the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department. The call was picked up on the second ring.
Pep glanced around one last time while the officer on the other end of the line waited for him to speak.
Satisfied that everything was okay, Pep began to speak.
"My name is Pep. I understand you are looking for me." His hand shook. The hot sun beat down on his shoulders
causing him to sweat. "I’m at a pay phone between Suiz Street and Fifth avenue. The phone booth behind the empty canning
building. I want to tell you some things you need to know about Joe Hines." His voice was fading out and he was choking on
his tears. "I also want to say that I’m sorry for killing that fourteen year old kid. It was an accident. I didn’t
know the drugs were tainted. Honest I didn’t."
The officer was full of adrenaline now. This had been the moment they’d all been hoping and praying
for. The recorder was going at full speed, catching every word that Pep spoke into the phone. If it was Pep at all.
There were some doubts. It didn’t seem that easy that the man would just give himself up like that.
They’d been searching for him for weeks. Now they had him right where they wanted him. He had confessed to the murder
of the captain’s nephew. Captain Lee would be relieved to know that. At last his nephew’s death could be put to
rest. Closure was a sweet thing.
The officer agreed to meet Pep at the phone booth in fifteen minutes. It was cutting it close, but that’s
the best he could do. He knew that time was of the essence. If he wasn’t there in fifteen minutes, Pep might be lost
to them forever.
Pep hung up the phone. He turned, glanced around one last time. He took one step forward, heard the ring
of a twelve gauge shot gun, then fell to the ground as the bullet penetrated the right major artery in his neck.
By noon Callie hadn’t stirred from her room. Stan Owens paced the kitchen with her uneaten tray of
food still on the dining room table. Rus hadn’t come out of his room today either. Stan was now assuming that the two
love birds had had a quarrel the night before.
Their relationship was no secret to anyone. It had been clear from day one that the two of them would eventually
fall in love. Stan Owens had taken one look at Callie and knew that she was the one woman who could tame Rus Lane. And she
had done a pretty good job of it to.
He had watched their relationship build and blossom. Rus was no easy man to love. That much was certain.
Rus was a tough cop. Always in control. Demanding. Argumentative. Arrogant. The traits went on and on.
But Callie, she was level-head, sensible, intelligent, not to mention beautiful, sweet and perfect in almost
She was a complete contrast to Rus. And a compliment to him in every way.
Stan heard something in the doorway leading into the kitchen. Hoping it was Callie, he turned with a welcoming
smile on his face. It vanished the minute he saw Rus standing there instead.
"Gosh, it’s nice to see you to," Rus said derogatorily. "I didn’t know I looked that bad first
thing in the morning."
"Morning?" scoffed Stan. "It’s afternoon, for your information."
Rus’s eyes went to the table and immediately caught site of the uneaten tray of food. Hamburger, french
fries, a salad. Stan started getting apprehensive. His eyes darted to the tray on the table, then up to Rus, hoping that he
would not ask for an explanation. But he did any way.
"What’s with the tray of food?"
"Callie’s holed up in her room. She won’t come out to eat, so I’ve been taking the food
up to her."
Stan saw the concern in Rus’s eyes. It was a brief flash, a mere twinkle, but it was there nonetheless.
"Is she sick or something?"
Stan was silent. He didn’t know how to reply without getting too personal on the subject. He didn’t
think there was any way of getting around it. "I’m assuming she’s upset over something the two of you may have
said to each other last night."
Rus could have kicked himself a hundred times last night. He hadn’t handled last night well at all.
He’d gone and opened his mouth, spilled his guts all over the place. Then when Callie got to close to the truth, he’d
pushed her away. Coldly, callously. What kind of jerk was he?
Angry at himself most of all, Rus snapped the tray off the table and stomped his way up the stairs. Stan
went after him frightfully. "Now wait a minute, Rus," he was saying, trailing after the man as fast as he could. "Why don’t
you calm down a minute. It ain’t gonna help anything by you barging in like some . . ."
"Some what?" Rus asked, turning to him and staring daggers into his eyes.
"Some lunatic," Stan finished.
Of course Rus had to admit that Stan was right. Stan was always right. But that didn’t make him feel
any better. Once at Callie’s door, Rus twisted the knob, but the door was locked.
Gently at first he rapped on the door, waiting for her to respond. When nothing came from her, he rapped
a little harder. "Callie, let me in," Rus demanded. "Let me in right this minute."
Stan was behind Rus, his face ashen , watching the man’s absurd behavior, and knowing full well it
"I don’t think you’re going to get the response you want by acting like some idiot," Stan remarked,
a little alarmed at being so frank.
"I’m not an idiot," Rus explained. Then he went to pounding loudly on the door knowing that no one
would be able to ignore that sound. By then everyone in the house was coming to stand in the hall way to observe the raucous.
Rus ignored them all. "Callie, open this door, you hear me."
"I hear you," she said, opening the door, then slamming it again in his face. The lock twisted before Rus
could maneuver it open again.. This only frustrated him more. The men behind him snickered.
He leered at them with devilish eyes.
"Callie," he pleaded, "We need to talk."
The door came open again. Callie stood before Rus with tousled hair, a wrinkled gown, and eyes glazed over
due to lack of sleep.
"We tried that last night remember," she reminded him. "But you got tired of talking and you dumped me on
The door was shut again. Rus sighed heavily, his patience wearing thin.
"I’m sorry about that Callie. That was an accident."
This time when the door opened, Rus noticed how hopeless she looked. The dark circles that had been prominent
in the hospital had returned. Suddenly he didn’t have anything more to say.
"Was it really, Rus?"
Exasperated he said, "Of course it was. I would never intentionally manhandle a woman."
Of course Callie already knew that. There wasn’t a mean bone in Rus’s body. She had just been
trying to goad him. She’d needed a little excitement, something to make her day worthwhile. She had succeeded dutifully.
She stepped aside so that Rus could enter her room. As soon as the door was closed, the other officers departed
to their own rooms, laughing under their breaths.
Callie could tell that Rus was still agitated when he set the tray down on her night stand. "You need to
eat," he ordered matter-of-factly.
Callie crossed her hands over her chest. "Do I? What if I don’t want to?"
Rus said smugly, shrugging his shoulders, "Then I guess I’ll have to force feed you myself."
She grinned mischievously. "I thought you just said you don’t intentionally manhandle women."
"You would be the exception," Rus said, scooping Callie up into his arms and planting a long kiss on her
mouth. When it was over, he stepped way from her, looking down into her stunned face. She was breathless, speechless. Her
world spun in all directions.
"I’m sorry about last night, Callie," Rus began to explain. "I really said too much last night. I never
should have said anything to you."
"I know," is all Callie could say when she turned away from Rus. "But I’m right about Joe Hines aren’t
I. He’s responsible for shooting you, isn’t he?"
"Yes," Rus said, knowing he should just keep quiet. But he loved this woman and he didn’t want to keep
anything from her.
"And he’s the one who wants to kill me?"
"Yes." It was the hardest word he’d ever had to speak in his life. "You can identify him, Callie. You
can place him at the shooting when it occurred. You pose a threat to him."
"But why did he want to kill you?"
Rus couldn’t answer that. "Maybe because he’s the officer behind all the rash of crimes and he
has to protect his identity. The only way to do that is to get me out of the picture."
"But won’t someone else just come behind you and clean up the mess?"
"Typically," Rus explained. "Sometimes it goes the other way and the investigation is tossed."
Callie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. It was asinine. Unbelievable. She could not imagine something
like that happening in the real world. What was she saying, this was the real world. "You can’t be serious, Rus."
His look was forlorn. "I’m afraid so, Callie."
Callie edged down onto her bed. Rus went down beside her. Looking down at her feet, Callie asked, "What are
the chances that we’ll be found before anyone can stop this man?"
Rus swallowed hard. It took an effort to find his voice and give her the answer that she needed. "I’m
not sure," she responded. "It all depends on how smart Joe Hines is. He could be on his way here now, for all we know."
Callie mulled this over in her head. Rus was aware of her reticence and what it meant. She was terrified.
If he could go and change things and take that fear away from her he would. But he couldn’t. It was out of his hands
"Rus?" she called out to him at last.
"If anything happens to me, I want you know . . . that I love you."
At last she had said the one thing he’d wanted to hear most in his life. But somehow, under the circumstances
it didn’t seem to hold the impact that he’d wanted it to. He should have been estatic, happy, jumping for joy.
But all he could think about was what if . . . What if something happened to her?
"Thank you, Callie. I’ll remember that." Rus coiled his arm around Callie’s shoulder, pressing
her head against the crook of his neck. The moment was somber for both of them.