Ezra waited impatiently next to the luggage ramp. He checked his watch for
the hundredth time in the last hour. God, he hated airlines. None of them
were decent enough to abide by the schedule that the common man was forced
to follow. He filed several complaints with this airport before, but they
all seemed to go unanswered.
Finally, a wave of people started to spread through the hallway. He just
managed to step out of the way before he was swamped into the fast moving
crowd. The image of stampeding wilder beasts flashed across his mind. It
was another reason why he hated airports. He looked around for the reason
he was here. He spotted it at the end of the swarm of people. The light brown
ponytail was unmistakable. He waved his hand in an attempt to get her attention.
Obviously, the girl was not going to hear him over the deafening noise of
the people. His attempt was unsuccessful. Sidney walked through the crowd
and grabbed her black suitcase.
Ezra tried to push his way though the crowd, but plowed right into a large
black bearded man, The unexpected impact knocked the ATF agent to the floor.
He quickly jumped to his feet.
Watch where you going, little punk, The bigger man growled.
Pardon me, I was merely trying to get my friends attention. Let
me say, I highly detest your title usage. You were just as much in error
as I was, Ezra stated
You were the one that ran into me, bastard! The bigger mans
voice was rising, and his eyes were flashing.
I would not have ran into you if that overblown landmass that you call
a body did not take up so much space, Ezra answered.
Did you just insult me? The man asked, eyeing Ezra suspiciously
I believe that I was just stating a fact, but since you asked for one,
Oh good Lord! Ezra exclaimed.
What? The man asked.
What is that terrible blemish between your ears? Ezra exclaimed.
The man instantly started to rub his ears.
Oh my mistake, that ugly wart is your face! Now that was an insult.
Ezra answered with an evil smirk.
You Southern Son of a Bitch, The man growled and lunged forward.
Ezra was surprised by the mans agility. Before he knew what hit him,
he was being held in an unbreakable headlock.
A few seconds later, the grip loosened. Ezra turned and watched the man drop
to the ground. Sidney was standing behind him with an exasperated look in
her eyes. She was rubbing her fist.
After answering a few questions from the airport security, Ezra and Sidney
walked out of the airport toward Ezras Jag. It had been the warmest
Saturday in almost three months, and the warm spring air still lingered in
the night breeze.
How come you always manage to piss off the ugly, strong oafs?
I will not stand by and let my integrity be insulted, Ezra answered.
He called you a punk Ezra. I would be happy if half of people I make
angry would call me that. How did you run into him anyway?
I was trying to get your attention, at least I succeeded in that aspect.
If you hadnt seen me, You would have been forced to take one of those
revolting taxis home. Ezra unlocked the car and threw Sidneys
suitcase in the trunk. He opened the passenger side door for the female agent.
Wait a second, how did you know I was flying in tonight? I wasnt
supposed to get back from Florida until Monday morning!
Ryan managed to get a hold of me before I went to the office party
at the Saloon. He didnt want you to head home alone tonight,
Ezra stated. He watched Sidneys face fall.
Please get in the car. I would like to get out of this hell-hole as
soon as I can. Sidney sighed and reluctantly got into the car. Ezra
closed the door behind her and walked around to the drivers side. He
shot out of the parking lot and onto the freeway ramp, as fast as he could
without attracting too much attention. Once on the freeway, he eased down
to the speed limit. The whole process had taken ten minutes, and Sidney
hadnt said a word. She did not even protest the Beethoven in Ezras
So, are you going to tell me what happened, or am I going to have to
pry it out you? Ezra asked her.
I dont want to talk about it, She answered.
I may not be an expert interrogator like Mr. Larabee, but I do have
a few tricks up my sleeve.
Like what? Sidney challenged.
Well, I have enough fuel to last for several hours. I cold make you
listen to my choices of music until it runs out.
Cheater, Sidney huffed.
What happened in Tampa Bay? Ezra asked.
Oh geez Ezra, it was nothing that exciting, Sidney sighed.
Things havent been working between me and Ryan for a long time.
Ryan and I, Ezra corrected,
Yeah, I and Ryan. The spark that I thought might catch fire never really
did. It was pretty much smothered when he signed with Tampa Bay. I went down
there to see if there was anything there, but we both decided that our careers
were taking us down different paths. Neither one of us are willing to give
up our jobs for love, not yet anyway. We broke it off over a nice dinner
on the beach last night, with the hope that well still be friends,
Sidney stopped and turned to face the window. Ezra reached down and turned
of the CD.
And you are okay with this arrangement? He asked.
Yeah, Sidney paused. Well kind of, She added truthfully.
Please elaborate, Ezra prompted.
Dammit Ezra, I cant help it, but wonder if was me that blew it.
I finally get up the nerve to start dating after Codys death and it
ends up like this. A girl cant help but wonder if shes doomed
to live alone for the rest of her life. Ezra took his hand on placed
it on hers.
Sidney, not every person you are attracted to is going to be Mr. Right.
Cody and you were made to be together, but I have complete faith that you
will find another who will be just as special. It will just take some time
to find him.
You think so? She asked.
I know so, he answered with a smile. He was rewarded with a return
smile. He pulled into the crowded Saloon parking lot. Sidney fell back into
her car seat with a grown,
I dont want to be here, She moaned. I just want to
go home and curl up with my dog.
As comforting as an animal companion might be, a person needs human
conversation. Especially, at times like these.
And you know this, how? Sidney asked getting out of the car.
As unlikely as it may seem, I have had my fair share of break-ups.
I would always end up back in my dorm room or apartment wallowing in my own
self pity. I don not want you to end up the same way. He locked the
car, and turned to Sidney.
After you, my dear, He said with a bow. Sidney walked past him
and into the bar.
The annual spring office party was in full swing. Everybody from the Federal
building was there from the teenage boy that brought the mail to the head
honcho, Orrin Travis himself. A local band that could play just about everything
was playing a popular dance tune. Some people were on the floor. Others were
spread across the room in various conversations.
Sidney looked around for her team. JD and Casey were out on the dance floor.
Buck was leading the specialist from Archives through a complicated step.
The rest of the team were absorbed in various conversations. They did not
even notice her come in.
At least try to have some fun, Ezra said from behind her.
Hey Standish, one of the security guards called. I just
got paid today and Im just itching to make my wallet a little
You can dream, Mr. Jones. You can only dream, Ezra called. He
turned to look at Sidney. Are you going to be alright? He asked.
Sidney nodded her head.
Yeah, Ill find someone to talk too. Go make that guy put his
money where that loud mouth of his is.
Ezra patted her shoulder and walked away. Sidney looked around and walked
up to the bar. Inez saw her and came over.
Sidney what are you doing here? Senior Larabee said you were on vacation
Well, things didnt work out quite the way that I hoped,
Sidney answered, casting her eyes downward.
There will be others boys, child. Ryan was just one fish in a very
large ocean. Sidney looked at Inez in surprise.
I can sense thing like this, Inez answered with a smile. It
is a womens intuition. I can also sense that the things that I have
behind this bar are not going to satisfy you.
I know, can I just have a Coke please, Sidney asked. It wasnt
the fact that she didnt like alcohol, she just didnt like being
out of control. Inez smiled and poured her the soda. A man from across the
bar called for the pretty bartender. Inez gave an apologetic smile and went
to attend to her patron. Sidney sighed and took a drink out of her soda.
Last call for the Karaoke Contest! Buck called. Come on
guys, dont be shy. Theres got to be some hidden talent in this
place. The prize is thousand dollars!
Sidney watched with amusement as several of the more outgoing people walked
up to the signup table beside the stage. They would never catch her dead
up there. She saw a familiar face out of the corner of her eye.
Shit, I am going to kill him, she growled under her breath. She
watched as Ezra whispered in Chris Larabees ear. Her boss started to
walk towards her. The last thing she wanted to do right now is talk to Chris
about her dysfunctional love life. She desperately looked around for a somewhere
We got one more spot open. Come and try out your talents,
Bucks voice echoed. Sidney jumped out her seat and started to race
towards the signup table.
Sidney, get over here! Chris called. Sidney motioned to the stage
and turned around. She walked up to Buck.
Sidney what are you doing back?: Buck asked surprised, when he saw
Change of plans, she grumbled. :Can I sign up for this
thing? She asked. Bucks face lit up into a smile.
Sure Squirt, what do you want to sing? This band up here can play just
Sidney thought for a moment, she had no idea. She watched as everyone was
slowly walking towards the stage. Chris was berating Ezra with questions.
A thought occurred to her.
Can I sing a duet? She asked.
I dont see why not, who do you have in mind?
Sidneys face lit up into an evil smile. Get Ezra up here. If
he argues with you, tell him Ill get on the microphone and tell everyone
about the time down on Main Street when that dealer tried to pick him up.
You are evil, you know that? Buck laughed as he pushed his way
through the crowd to get to Ezra.
She watched in evil glee at the look in the undercover agents face
when Buck whispered in his ear. Ezra quickly pushed his way through the crowd
to get to her.
May I ask why you wish to embarrass me beyond my worst nightmares?
Because you couldnt keep your big mouth shut! Chris was the last
person I wanted to find out about this! She cried.
I refuse to do this, Ezra stated, turning around.
Fine, I think everyone hear will enjoy hearing about that slinky red
thing that not even I would wear, She answered calmly. Ezra stopped
dead in his tracks and turned around.
This is blackmail, He growled..
No, its payback, Sidney answered.
Buck watched the scene in amazement,. Hundreds of questions were rushing
though his mind, but he knew better than to ask them. It seemed like fire
was radiating out of his two friends.
What do guys want to sing? He asked timidly.
You can choose Ezra, Sidney smiled sweetly.
You really are a little devil you know that? Ezra said glairing
at her. He gave Buck the name of the song. Buck smiled.
Good choice. This will be fun. You guys will be performing last. Take
a seat over there and come on stage when I introduce you. The prompter in
front of you will show the words on the screen. Without a word, Sidney and
Ezra walked towards the fold out chairs. Buck swore that he saw smoke coming
out of their ears.
Neither one of them said a word as the listened to the others perform. None
of them were very good. Bucks MC jokes between the performances only
seemed to make it worse. Both were fully prepared to go up on stage, not
talking, when the both heard a deep baritone voice from behind them.
What the hell do you think you are dong here, Standish?
Both of them quickly turned around to stare at the stomach of Rick Rotner,
Denvers top investigator and one of Ezras many sworn enemies.
Rick was the ideal picture of a strong, brawny, good-looking man. He had
been a star tight end in college, but left the sport to follow a law enforcement
career. He was damn good at his job and he knew it. His egotistical manner
is what made him despised by Ezra. None of them cared for the snob that much,
but Ezra was the only one who was vocal about it.
I am planning on performing a duet with Ms. Marks here, Ezra
answered with a sigh.
You might as well give up. That thousand dollar check as got my name
written all over it, Rotner answered.
Oh really? A little overconfident in your abilities, wouldnt
you say? Ezra asked.
Those freaks up there have no talent what so ever, and its just you
and me left. I think we both know who can win this competition easily. Why
dont you just quit now and save yourself the embarrassment?
By this time, Ezra was on feet, fuming with anger.
When Ms. Marks and I are done with our song, you are going to have
sounded like a dying cow on the side of the road.
Rotner slammed Ezra onto the wall. Nobody but Sidney was around to see it.
She jumped to her feet, prepared to help her friend, but Rotner had already
lowered Ezra to the ground.
One hundred bucks says that I take this thing, Rotner growled.
Make it five hundred and we will have ourselves a deal, Ezra
answered firmly. Sidney thought she was hearing things.
You are going to be one poor man when this is all over Standish,
Rotner said holding out his hand.
My word will have to do, I do not shake hands with slimeballs,
Ezra answered. Rotner looked like he was going to shove Ezra up against the
wall again, but Bucks voice interrupted his actions.
And now introducing Denvers favorite PI, singing you the classic
hit from everybodys favorite Tenor, Randy Travis.
I will find you after the show so dont even think about
running, He said before walking around the stage. Once he was gone,
Ezra plopped down in the chair, and rubbed his neck.
Again, why do you always pick the big dumb oafs? Sidney asked.
Rotners voice echoed throughout the saloon. He was very good.
God Dammit Ezra, Do you really have five hundred dollars to waste like
that? A fool and his money are easily parted.
When did you start making profound quotes? Ezra asked. :I
am not a fool, because we are not going to loose this to the likes of him
Are you listening to this guy? Sidney asked. Hes
unbelievable! I truly believe that we can be even more
unbelievable, Ezra answered. Dont me modest Sidney, you
have a good voice and you know it. Rotner had finished his song to
thunderous applause. You really dont want to let that disgusting
excuse for a man win, do you? Ezra asked.
It has nothing to do with want. Sidney answered. It has
everything to do with talent.
And you have plenty of it. I know for a fact that my voice is not half
bad either. It has probably saved my life on several occasions.
And now introducing our final contestants of the night. The Chairman
of the Board would be proud to have such an elegant man singing his part
and Natalie Cole wont turn her nose up at her counterpart. Please put
your hands together for Ezra Standish and Sidney Marks as they sing their
rendition of They can't take that away from me!
Well here goes nothing, Sidney sighed and followed Ezra onto
the stage. One look at Rotners face was all the inspiration she needed.
Vin walked up to Chris as the music started. The word about Sidney had spread
to the ears of Team Seven quickly.
This should be interesting, He said to Chris. Do you think
they can beat Rotner? Chris was still angry that Sidney had avoided
him. Oh yes, he had seen right through her little trick. She could pull many
things over his head, but not this time.
Sidney and Ezras voice matched in perfect harmony when the first chorus
Nathan was standing to next to Josiah, JD, and Casey across the room.
God, I didnt know Ezra had those pipes in him. Hes really
making old blue eyes proud isnt he?
Josiah nodded his head. I bet we dont know half of Ezras
talents, although I had a pretty good idea of Sids ability, he
added with a smile.
How? JD asked. I have never heard her sing before.
Thats because youve never been in the office when she thinks
that nobody else is around.
.No, they can't take that away from me, Sidney and Ezra sang
the last verse of the song. Sidney pulled her mike away from her mouth. She
had not even realized that she had finished singing until Buck jumped up
on the stage.
That was amazing! I had no idea the two of you could sing like that!
Take a bow guys!
Ezra took Sidneys hand and the two bowed amongst the loud clapping.
Was it louder than Rotners? Ezra could not tell. When the clapping
finally ended, Buck addressed the crowd.
Well there you have it folks. It appears that there is quite a bit
of hidden talent in this city. Deciding who the best was lies with you. Kindly
make your way to the tables with the ballads. Give your papers to the lovely
young ladies sitting at the tables. Dont bother asking for their numbers
because I have already taken the honors. We will give you the results as
soon as they are tallied. May the best Agent win! Nobody missed
direct stab at Rotner.
As everyone walked towards the tables, Sidney and Ezra made their way over
the rest of their team. Well, Ezra more or less dragged the girl across the
floor. When the praises reached her ears, she turned scarlet red and looked
down at the floor. A strong hand lifted her head up.
Im sorry Chris, I just didnt want to talk about right then.
It is over and there is nothing you can do about it. .
What on earth possessed you to go up on that stage? He asked
with a smile.
I have no idea, Sidney answered truthfully. It seemed like
a good idea at the time.
I wish all your good ideas would turn out as good as this one did Agent
Marks. Sidney turned around to watch at Director Orrin Travis and another
gray haired man in a black sports jacket walk over to them.
Thank you sir, Sidney answered blushing. I do not believe
I have had the honor of meeting your friend, she said trying to change
Sidney, Ezra, this is John Rogers. He is in charge of the San Francisco
Ezra was able to mask his disgust at the rival unit, but Sidney was not as
I see my agencys reputation precedes me, the man said with
a laugh. Sidney blushed again as she shook his hand.
Do not worry about it young lady. I have already had a nice conversation
with members of your team and their opinions of my chosen job. This
time all the members of Team Seven turned a little pink around the ears.
Hopefully, your distaste will not prevent me from asking you and Agent
Standish here a few questions?
Of course not Sir, Sidney answered. Her face felt like it was
going to burn right off.
Where on earth did the two of you learn to sing like that? He
asked. Ezra answered the question for her.
As a child, I lived with many different family members. All of them
were very musically inclined. I picked up on several of their habits. I believe
Agent Markss story was similar. Sidney just nodded her head.
Have either of you sung in any musical theater? the FBI man
continued. This time Nathan answered the question.
No offense guys, but what you saw here tonight are not the usual Sidney
and Ezra. Put them in a scenario where they have be drug dealers and criminals,
and there is no problem. Ask them to go up on the stage, and they both suffer
from the worse case of stage fright that youve ever seen.
Well, actually, I have done several musicals throughout my schooling
career, Ezra answered. The others looked at him in surprise.
Told you that there were lots of things that we didnt know about
him, Josiah whispered in JDs ear.
Care to enlighten us? Travis asked with a look of amusement on
Joseph and the Amazing Technical Colored Dream Coat and Jesus Christ,
Superstar are some of the more prominent ones.
What roles did you play? Vin asked. He did not usually talk around
new people unless he had to, but his curiosity had gotten the better of him.
I was the lead in both, Ezra answered. The others looked at him
and successfully hid the laughter that was threatening do erupt. JD
couldnt prevent it.
Sorry Ezra, I was just picturing you in robes and sandals. I dont
think I could you could handle it.
Quite the contrary Mr. Dunne, Ezra said. I was a very
convincing Son of God.
Would you still like them? Travis asked his friend.
They are perfect. Just the type of agents I was looking for. Their
talent makes it even better.
Then they are all yours, Travis answered.
Hold on a sec, Sidney cried. What the hell did I just get
volunteered for? Sir, She added.
Travis and Rogers laughed. Sidney blushed harder.
I apologize. I should have clarified, Rogers said. I am
on vacation for a few days, but I will return home tomorrow where a real
whopper of a case is waiting for me. The city Chevrolet Classic Music Hall
is one of the oldest theaters in the country. A few months ago, a stage hand
found a small packet of pure cocaine in the basement. The owner of the theater
called us in. We found that several of the crates down there had at one time
held Cocaine. We think that the theater is being used a storage place to
get shipments of the Colombian drug northwards. Our main suspect is a man
named Cory Phoenix. He has been connected to drug dealing before, but never
been convicted Our plan was to place agents inside the cast who can get close
to Phoenix. Either get a confession or information about a new shipment.
Unfortunately, all my agents are defiantly lacking in the fine arts department.
I need two qualified agents to fill the roles. I came to Denver to get advice
from an old friend. I hope I can return to San Francisco with the stars of
the show. He smiled at Sidney and Ezra.
I would be quite honored, but are you sure you want to me to do it.
An imitation of Frank Sinatra is quite different then the legendary
I am sure that you can play the role. You might not even half to sing
in an actual performance, depending on how fast you can nail Phoenix. How
about you, Agent Marks? He turned his attention back to the female
I dont know, Sidney said. Ive heard the notes
that the actor that plays Christine has to sing. Theres no way I can
get my voice that high
I will arrange singing lessons with a top teacher for you. The director
has been informed about our plans. He wasnt happy, but he willing to
make amends in the songs for you. He will change them slightly to fit your
Come on Sidney, it will be fun, JD encouraged. Whats
the worse that can happen?
The audience could absolutely hate me, boo me of the stage, and the
FBIs goal could be ruined, Sidney answered.
Ladies and Gentleman, we have the results! Buck was back on the
stage. They all turned to watch him. I am not afraid to say that there
were two acts that stood out from everybody, but only one of them could win.
I am proud to present the winner of this years competition!
Hes frowning. Thats not a good sign, Vin said.
Shit, Chris swore.
Ezra felt his heart sink and his wallet feeling considerably lighter.
Would Ezra Standish and Sidney Marks please come on stage and accept
their prize! The audience erupted into applause.
Sidney sidestepped Chriss hug and followed Ezra up to the stage. Buck
laughed when he saw her beaming face. She wasnt able to able to avoid
Bucks muscular arms.
Way to go kiddo! I knew you had it in you.
Jerk, she whispered.
Hey, I couldnt let you steal all the limelight, Buck answered.
He handed the trophy to Sidney and the check to Ezra.
Dont spend in one place, Buck laughed. Turn around
and take a bow!
The whole Saloon clapped as Sidney and Ezra took a bow. It took them over
ten minutes to make their way back to their friends near the bar. Ezra felt
like he was running for president after all the hands he had shook and the
pats on his back he had received. Many of them had gotten to close for his
comfort, but he couldnt stop beaming with satisfaction. He looked around
for Sidney, but she had disappeared in the crowd. He shrugged his shoulders
and walked to where the others were waiting for him. The handshakes and pats
on the back started all over again. Sidney showed up a few minutes later,
dragging Rotner behind her.
Look who I saw trying to sneak out the back door, She said with
an evil smile. Once again he was trying to weasel his way out of the
mess he created.
What are you talking about Sid? Vin asked
He bet Ezra five hundred dollars and was trying to sneak away without
paying it, Sidney answered.
I am not paying that sneaky little son of a bitch a dime, Rotner
growled. Rotner felt a strong hand grab onto his the nape of his neck. He
stared into the cold hard eyes of Josiah.
Perhaps, you would like to rephrase that statement, Josiah stated
in a calm but hard voice. Rotner knew what the usually calm agent was capable
of. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He grabbed several
You walk around with five hundred dollars in you wallet? JD marveled
Bet you havent seen this much money in your life have you
kid. You certainly dont make that much, and I bet your mamma wasnt
pretty enough to make this much on the streets.
Rotner hit the ground with a thud. Everyone in the room grew deathly quiet
as they watched the scene play out in the back of the room. Rotner slowly
rose to his feet to stare into the cold hard eyes of Buck.
Im not as nice as Josiah, I dont give second chances. Now
I want you to apologize to Agent Dunne here, Buck rubbed his fist.
Rotner looked into the cold eyes of the rest of the team and knew he didnt
have a choice.
Sorry, he grumbled. Buck smiled.
See what being nice can do. Now give Ezra his money. Ezra took
a step forward.
As much as I would like too, I do not take the riches of the less
fortunate, Ezra answered.
What are you talking about Standish? My salary is double of what yours
That is quite true Mr. Rotner, but I have more riches in integrity,
intelligence and class that you could gain in five lifetimes.
Southern hic! Rotner yelled. Before anybody had a chance to react,
Rotner had lunged at Ezra with his fists, hitting the southerner square in
the jaw. Ezra fell backwards into Nathan.
Chris lunged at Rotner and all broke loose in the saloon. Sides were drawn
without anybody knowing it. Luckily, none of them were carrying guns at the
time. Fists were the only things that were drawn.
There was one gun in the entire building. Inez pulled it up from behind bar
and fired it at the back wall. The effect of the gunshot had its desired
effect. The entire ballroom grew quiet.
Mr. Rotner, I do not condone fighting in my establishment. Please leave
now. Anyone who disagrees with me can leave now too!
Rotner looked around. He wasnt about to mess around with a lady with
a gun. He stormed out of the saloon.
Thats one hell of a woman, Buck whistled appreciatively.
Ezra was rubbing his jaw.
Thats the third time Ive managed to piss somebody off this
evening, Ezra sighed.
Is your team always like this? John Rogers asked. Somehow the
two men had managed to stay out of the fight. If it had gone on for a few
more minutes, Travis knew that he would have probably jumped in too. He was
old, but everyone knew he could still pack a punch just has effectively as
any of his agents.
You have no idea, The assistant director sighed. His mind was
already thinking about what excuse he would make for Team Sevens escapades.
Are you sure you still want them?
They are exactly the agents I am looking for. Phoenix will never know
what hit him, literally.
They will be on a plane to California tomorrow, Travis answered.
I dont want to hear is Sidney. If your voice is half as strong
as that right hook that you gave Marcus, then you will be just fine.
+ + + + + + +
Buck, please go get me a cup of coffee, Ezra asked from his spot
on the plane.
:Go get the damn coffee yourself, Buck snorted. He said from
his seat in the airport.
But that would entail me getting out of my seat and possibly injuring
my person. After all, you are supposed to do these things for me.
I am supposed to be your acting agent, not your damn slave, Buck
grumbled, and that doesnt start until we land in San Francisco
Go get him a cup of coffee Buck, Chris said not taking his eyes
out of his magazine. Buck got out of his seat and walked to the Starbucks
across the hall. And tell JD and Vin to get off that moving sidewalk.
People are starting to stare, He called. Buck bowed and continued on
How can she sleep through all this noise? Nathan asked in disbelief
as he looked at Sidney sitting in the chair. She had curled up in one the
chairs with her the earphones of her I pod planted in her ears. Chris had
tossed his jacket over her.
Its five thirty in the morning Mr. Jackson, Ezra answered.
She is the only one of us that has common sense around here.
She didnt sleep at all last night, I could hear her walking around
in her apartment, JD answered as he and Vin plopped down in a few remaining
So is everybody aware of what they are doing? Chris asked setting down
his magazine. One screw up could ruin this entire mission.
Sure boss, JD answered. Buck is Ezras agent. Josiah
is Sidneys. The rest of us are on the stage crew. Its not that
hard to figure out.
Remember that once we get on this flight, not to talk with one another.
We have to get off this flight not knowing each other. Its gong to
be a pure coincidence that Ezra and Sidney are on the same fight.
Why couldnt we get go on two separate flights? JD asked.
Its the FBI JD, best not to ask questions, Josiah answered.
Flight 165 can now begin boarding, the attendant said in the
Alright, who wants to wake Sleeping Beauty up? Nathan asked.
Not me, Ezra said. Last time I attempted to get her up,
I ended up with a bloody nose.
:Buck, go get her, Chris sighed, trying to avoid an argument before
Why is it always me? He grumbled. Chris motioned for the others
to head over to the plane.
I think I should wait for my employer, Josiah said. Make
sure Buck doesnt kill her before she gets on the plane. Chris
nodded and walked towards the terminal.
Come on Sid, time to wake up, Buck said nudging the girl gently.
The girl showed no sign of waking. Buck pushed her a little harder, still
nothing. He sighed and ripped of her earphones.
Sidney, Brad Pitt just walked by! he yelled. Sidney opened her
eyes and jumped up.
Where? She cried. Buck chuckled at the girl.
Its time to get on the plane. You dont need a bad movie
star like that when youve got somebody like me. Sidney got up
and elbowed him hard in the stomach. Buck clenched his stomach in pain.
At least it is better than my bloody nose, Ezra stated before
following the rest of his team onto the plane. Buck walked up to Josiah.
The little devil is all yours, He stated before disappearing
down the terminal. Sidney grabbed her carry on bag and walked up to Josiah.
What were you listening to? He asked.
The soundtrack, Im trying to learn the words through osmosis,
She answered. Josiah chuckled and motioned for her to go ahead of him.
+ + + + + + +
Good Lord, I think this pilot has a pact out with Satin to destroy
me, Ezra moaned. Mr. Riley, would you be so kind as to inquire
the time of our destination?
The others were taking deep breaths in attempts not to laugh at the antics
Ezra and Buck were pulling. Ezra was taking full advantage of his power,
imaginary or not, over Buck.
How long do you think Buck will go without cracking? Nathan whispered
Good old Buck will stick it out, if only to piss off Ezra, Vin
laughed. He glanced around at the various spots were his team was seated
on the plane. The plane suddenly accelerated. Vin felt his stomach lurch.
Oh man, he moaned, praying that his breakfast of Honey buns and
Nutty Bars would stay where they were. You want to hand me that barf
bag? He asked Nathan.
I told you not to eat all that crap! Nathan exclaimed as he handed
the blue bag over. Neither one of you should have eaten all that
stuff. He looked two seats diagonally in front oh him. An absolutely
miserable JD was resting his head Chriss knee. Chris wasnt looking
to pleased either. Nathan reached into his bag and pulled out a pack of Dromine
No way, you know what those things do to me, Vin exclaimed.
I know. You would be falling off the Cat Walk if I gave you one. Give
these to that poor kid over there. He motioned to JD. Vin took the
pills with an evil glint in his eyes.
Hey mister, he called. You in the black hat! Chris
turned around to glance at Vin.
Can I help you? He asked.
Ive got some pills here that might help your son there,
Vin answered. He could see the both JD and Chriss lips curl, but neither
one said a word.
Thanks, Chris said as Vin tossed him the pills. He smiled gratefully
at Nathan. Here, take this. Chris ordered the younger man..
But I dont want too, JD whined. Those things make
me all loopy.
You will take it kid, if I have to stuff it down your throat.
Chris grumbled. He felt a hard kick on the back of his seat and a harsh old
I swear parents these days do not know how to raise their kids. Threats
like that could damage them for life. Not only that, but that man just accepted
those pills from a total stranger. Those things could be rat poison for all
he knows. People like that shouldnt be allowed to be parents.
Chris took a deep breath and counted to ten. Josiah watched the scene in
front of him and chuckled. If the woman only knew half of the things that
Chris had done for JD including the sleepless nights during JDs annual
flu. He glanced over at Sidney. The girl was staring out the window aimlessly.
She was looking a little green around the mouth.
You okay Sid? You arent looking to good.
Im not feeling to good either, She answered.
We should be landing in about fifteen minutes.
The turbulence has got nothing to do with it. I think my stomach would
be turning around even if the pilot wasnt a Blue Angels wash-out.
Josiah laughed and patted her on the shoulder. The plane landed with a huge
I think I may have to sue this airline for massive trauma, Ezra
rubbed his soar neck as he followed Buck off the plane. Neither of them made
any sign to the others as they walked through the terminal. They had a role
to play now.
Where are we supposed to meet our escort? Ezra asked. Buck never
got the chance to answer.
Noah Borton! Ezra turned his head in surprise to see a short
portly man in a black suit walking towards him. A man in his late twenties
followed him. The younger mans intriguing Italian looks were admired
by all the young woman that crossed his path.
Buck was not happy about the situation. He knew both of the men walking toward
him, through the files that had been given to him. The chubby man was Jordon
Walters, the owner of the theater. He was supposed to meet them at the airport.
The problem was the handsome young man with him. Walters was supposed to
be alone. Once he found Josiah and Sidney, he was going to take them to theater
and brief them. That would be impossible with Cory Phoenix. They were walking
into this mission completely unprepared.
Ezra didnt miss a beat. He had quickly seized up the situation.
May I help you? He asked. Buck felt a threatening smile on his
lips as he heard his friends British accent.
Welcome to San Francisco Noah! Im Jordon Walters. This is Cory
Phoenix, The current star of our theater. He will be playing the Viscount
in our production.
It is a pleasure to meet the both of you. May I introduce my agent
Bert Riley? The four men shook hands. Both Ezra and Buck quickly analyzed
their first impression of their suspect. He didnt seem like their typical
drug dealer, but they had been wrong before.
Is that Mariah Fern? Cory asked, pointing to where Sidney and
Josiah were walking around the lobby..
Ms. Fern? Walter cried out in the same loud voice that made Ezra
cringe. Sidney turned around and the introductions started all over again.
Ezra lifted up the girls hand and kissed it.
Are you feeling better Ms. Fern? I saw you on the plane and you
were looking quite ill.
I feel much better thank you. I am not a big fan of flying. I choose
to perform within driving distance of my home near New York City.
But you are not originally from the East Coast. By the way you talk,
you are from the Midwest. One of the Northern states Im guessing.
Wisconsin, Sidney answered in amazement. Apparently, she wasnt
going to fool him that Syracuse was her hometown.
Cory is a specialist in dialects and accents. I have never seen anyone
master speech the way he does.
It takes more than costumes and lines to play a character, Cory
Hopefully, you can help me with my French accent? Sidney asked.
I would be glad to, he answered with a smile.
Buck and Josiah exchanged a quick smile. Sidney was laying on the charm thick,
and it looked like her prey was taking the bait. Sidney would be having the
young man eating out of her palm in no time.
I have a limo waiting outside for us, Jordon said. I will
take you to your hotel to drop off your luggage and then drive you the theater.
You have your first read through in two hours. The rest of the cast is ready.
We only have a few weeks to get the stars of our show ready.
Josiah took a deep breath to avoid the hot retort on his lips. Jordon Walters
hadnt given him a very good first impression. He followed his crowd
out of their airport. There was a limo parked next to the curb. A shiny black
Mercedes convertible was behind it. He saw his teammates eyes turn green
with envy. He didnt care what his vehicle looked like as long as it
got him where he needed to go, but the others had different ideas. Ezras
Jag was nice, but Phoenixs car had it beat by ten.
Thats my little princess, the actor said. My girlfriend
dumped me, because she thought I spent more time with it than her.
I can see why, Sidney answered appreciatively.
Would you like to go for a ride? Cory asked hesitantly.
Hell yes, Sidney answered.
Ill drop her off at the hotel after we take a cruise through
the city, the young man said to the others. Each one of the agents
had to fight back their protests. Josiah was the only one that could say
anything without it seeming too strange. He knew that Sidney had the perfect
opportunity to get close to the suspect, but he still didnt like it.
All three of them looked at Walters for help, but got none.
Have fun, well see you kids in a little a little while,
Walters answered. Sidney followed the actor to the car and jumped in the
Sam, can you make sure my luggage ends up in the right place?
Sure Mariah. Have fun, Josiah answered with a fake smile. A few
minutes later, the car was flying out of the airport parking lot. Walters
tuned to see three angry faces.
Weve got some things to talk about Mr. Walters, Buck growled.
He shoved the man in the limo.
Chris watched the Limo pull out of the parking lot. He had almost ran out
of the door when he saw Sidney leave with their main suspect. His lips twitched
Shell be fine Chris. She knows what shes doing, Nathan
said convincingly. So do the rest of them.
I know, but the nervousness is unavoidable. They both turned
when they heard JD and Vin coming behind them.
They ger to ride in a limo, and we have to drive around in an old station
wagon? This sucks! Well, at least they will be stuck in that dirty old apartment
building with us.
You didnt tell him? Chris asked Vin.
Tell me what? JD prompted.
Ezra and Sidney have got penthouse suites at the Hilton, Chris
What?! JD yelled. That is not fair!
Welcome to show business kid, Chris answered with a laugh.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra wiped a speck of dirt off of his costume. It was difficult to see through
his left eye, the side containing his mask. They were running through one
of their many dress rehearsals. Well, it was supposed to be a dress rehearsal.
The director, a weasel looking man named Brett Glutton, hadnt let them
run through a complete rehearsal yet. Opening Night was tomorrow and the
tension was running high.
He felt guilty that he hadnt been able to snoop around the theater
as much as he should have. Learning this role was one of the most difficult
things he had ever done. But he had to admit, that he hadnt had a more
Wow Noah, I can hardly tell that it was you! Ezra turned around
to see a small older woman in a black dress standing beside him. You
look very dashing, young man.
Thank you Katie, and I can say the same for you. I dont think
I have ever seen a more regal looking Madame Giry.
You are just saying that, the older woman blushed.
How many times do I have to tell you Mariah, I want you higher on that
last note? For a little man, the director of the theater could sure
make his voice heard.
And I will tell you again, that I can not sing that high. Nobody in
the audience is going to know if I sing one note lower! Sidney shot
That girl certainly has a mind of her own, doesnt she?
And stubborn as a mule, Ezra answered with a sigh. Sidney just
didnt know when to grin and bare it, even when she was supposed too.
I like that. Too many actors are willing to let the big wigs walk
all over them in order to get a job. There is nothing more disheartening
than watching young people loose their integrity. I think that Mariah has
a great future in this business. Her voice is still a little untrained, but
she had a terrific stage presence. I have been in many different productions
and have never seen a better Christine. Some have had better voices, but
our Mariah makes her seem human.
She does have a certain charm to her, Ezra answered proudly.
She is a joy to work with, most of the time anyway.
You two have great chemistry on the stage. Are you sure that you have
never acted with her before?
I have never had the pleasure of sharing the stage with her,
Ezra answered honestly.
I think her romantic lead is quite smitten with her, Katie continued.
Cory Phoenix usually hates his leading ladies. He prefers the company
of the crew.
What do you know about Phoenix? Ezra asked. He wished one of
the his team members were around to here this.
I probably know him better than anybody here, and he hasnt told
me that much. He usually keeps to himself. He has been at this theater since
its creation and has made very few friends. He had a girlfriend for awhile,
but she left him a few months ago.
He always seems to disappear when his presence is not required on stage.
Do you know where he goes?
Why the sudden interest in him? The woman asked. Katie Morton
seemed like an honest person. He thought about telling her the truth, but
decided against it. He had no way of telling if she might be working with
He usually goes down to the basement. A rather strange place if you
ask me. He says the dark and cool air helps clear his mind.
Noah, its time to put you above the stage, Vin said from
behind the two actors.
Of course, Ezra answered. He followed Vin towards the end of
the stage after bowing to the woman.
The two men stopped when they were out of ear shot.
Did you hear that Mr. Tanner? Ezra asked.
The basement thing? Yeah, but that doesnt give us much. Not even
a motive. He really could just go down there for a break, but Ill keep
my eye on him. Ill follow him next time he goes down there.
Did JD get anything off the phone taps?
No, just a couple of calls from a few old friends, one from his mom,
and a few from Walters.
Damn, we are going to have to perform this production, wont
Sure looks like it. Whats the matter Ezra, getting stage
fright? Vin laughed.
Of course not, its Sidney Im worried about. She isnt
going to go along with this without a fight.
Ill have Josiah talk to her about it, Vin said as he pulled
down a ladder for Ezra to climb up. With a salute, Ezra walked above the
ladder and disappeared on the top of the stage.
Sidney saw Ezra walking around on the top of the stage. She also saw Chris
walking around in the front of the auditorium. He made an almost
undistinguishable signal with his hand. After she finished his line, Phoenix
led her off of the stage.
Are we still on for dinner tonight? He asked.
Of course, will you pick me up around six?
Sounds good to me, Cory answered. Ive got the perfect
place. Theres this little Italian restaurant called Grizzalies
that has the best spaghetti that I have ever tasted. You can tell your agent
that I wont keep you up to late
I cant wait, Sidney answered. Look Cory, Ill
see you later. I promised my mom I would call her an hour ago. She
started to walk away, but Cory grabbed hold of her arm and spun her around.
He gently kissed her check and walked away.
Sidney looked around to make sure nobody saw. She couldnt fight the
warm feeling in her cheeks or the tingle that ran down her spine. She quickly
jumped off the back of the stage where the dancers were going through the
Masquerade scene. The director shot her a dirty look, but didnt say
anything. She walked out of the stage exit on the left side. A dark hallway
greeted her. Slowly, she started to creep into the hall keeping her arms
on the wall. She felt a hand on her shoulder. She jumped and quickly turned
around. A hand quickly covered her mouth and choked back the threatened scream
The room quickly filled with light.
Sidney turned to see her captor. Chris took his hand off of her mouth.
God Damnit Sidney! How did you not know it was me?
I dont know boss, maybe because I was walking down a long dark
hallway and couldnt see in three inches in front of my eyes. How come
you always choose the spooky places to meet?
Because, I can guarantee that nobody is going to walk in on us,
Arent I little young for you, boss? She asked with a laugh.
Chris hit on the side of the head.
Oww, She whined.
You deserve ten times worse than that! the man growled.
Sorry, I didnt realize that my comment would offend you so
much, Sidney answered rubbing her head.
Not that. When were you planning on telling someone about your dinner
Sidney stumbled with her words.
You werent going to tell me at all? Chris asked dumfounded.
I knew that you would freak out on me! This is the perfect chance to
get Cory to open up. Maybe I can find out something important.
Even in the dark, Chris recognized a glow in his agents eyes. He sighed
heavily, praying his guess at the cause was wrong.
What are your opinions about Phoenix so far? He asked.
I dont think hes guilty. I know the FBI though he was
responsible, but Ive spent a lot of time with him. He is not capable
of running a drug ring. It has to be someone else.
When did you come to this assumption? Chris asked. It was not
the reaction that Sidney expected.
A few days ago, I guess. I went down to the basement with him one time.
He never goes farther than the steps. I pushed him to go father, and he was
blinder than a bat down there. Besides, I asked him about drugs, and Ive
never meant anyone more clueless.
Chris clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. His agent was being toyed
with. The bastard was playing with Sidneys emotions and it was working.
He was disappointed in his agent. He had always thought that Sidney could
see through the charades. The echo of the Masquerade scene reached his ears
in the hallway, with an ironic twist.
Sidney, hes playing you! Chris exclaimed,
What are you talking about? Sidney asked. Chris didnt get
the chance to say anything. There were loud crashes coming from the end of
Whats that? Sidney asked.
The hallway leads to the basement, Chris answered.
Nobodys supposed to go down there, Sidney answered. The
only actor that does is Cory and hes supposed to be at a costume
Chris motioned for her to follow him. They slowly crept through the hallway
until they reached a door. A dim light was escaping through the half open
door. Loud voices could be heard through the wood. Sidney was about to open
the door when Chris pulled her back.
Wait and listen to what they are saying, Chris whispered. Sidney
sighed and crouched down. She listened to the two voices at the bottom of
John, put those boxes over here! Oww, not on my foot you idiot!
Sorry. There was a loud crash. Oh shit.
Hurry and clean it up. If anyone finds that stuff down here, the boss
will have our asses in a sling. This is best Crack that Columbia has to offer.
Come on, we are leaving.
Sidney was on her feet in a second and reaching for the door handle. Chris
pulled her down before she reached it.
What are you doing? She whispered in surprise We can get
the dealers right now!
. They arent working alone. Someone has to be letting them inside.
I bet it is the boss they are talking about.
So we are just going to let them go? There was the loud crack
of a window closing, the criminals entrance.
Yup, Chris answered.
Why? Sidney yelled, her voice rising. We just missed a
Arresting them now would have ruined a golden opportunity. Think about
Sidney. Those guys will be back when they will take the shipment out to their
clients. We wait until that happens and we can catch them and this boss.
Yeah, I guess you are right, Sidney answered with a sigh. She
stood up. Any idea who the boss is. I mean since its obviously
Chris sighed heavily. I think it is Sidney. He pulled a
small notebook out of his pocket. I had JD and Nathan do some backup
checks on Phoenix. It turns out that Phoenixs father was arrested ten
years ago for dealing heroine. His last name is really Gortiano.
So? That was his father. Sidney said.
He was arrested in 1995 for illegal possession of Cocaine.
That doesnt mean he was dealing it. All the evidence is
There are pictures of him talking to some of the famous drug dealers
from Sicily and Latin America.
This comment got to her. Chris handed her the flashlight and the notebook.
She flipped through the notebook. All of the court records and pictures had
been taped to the paper.
She felt her head start to ache and tears well up in her eyes. She leaned
back against the wall. She had never felt so stupid in her life.
He might be able to use circumstantial evidence as an excuse in court,
but I know that you are smarter than that, Chris told her.
Shit, She whispered. How could I have been such an idiot?
I cant believe I let him lead me on like that. Chris patted her
on the shoulder.
Sometimes, love can overcome our better judgments Sid. Its a
simple fact of life. Sidney sat up with a look of determination on
Well Im not going to le it happen to me again She looked
at Chris. let me meet with him tonight Chris. Ill get information
out of him.
Chris had no doubt about that, but he was concerned about how she would obtain
it. Her interrogation skills had mimicked his almost to the T. Some might
say she had learned from the best. He knew she was going to end up trouble
It has to be legal though, Sidney. I dont want him getting off
on some minor technicality, like a forced confession.
I have other ways Chris, Sidney smiled evilly. Chris didnt
like the look in her eyes.
What time are you going to dinner?
Hes picking me up at six, Sidney told him.
Ill tail you around in case you need backup, Chris said.