Chapter 8

“Thank you for my mana-cure,” Ellie said as she, her mother, Dixie, Kathy and Jenny exited the spa.

Shaking her head, Angie unlocked the doors to Jesse’s truck and turned to her child. “It’s Mani-Cure,” she corrected. After seeing Jesse off and making sure Ellie was okay, they met up with Dixie and her crew for a girl’s day. Their first stop was the nail salon where they all got mani’s and pedi’s, now they were on their way to the big mall for a bite to eat and later a mini shopping spree. “Dixie, you all can ride with us to the mall.”

“You sure?”

Angie nodded, before adding. “Besides, we have to come back this way to get back to PV.”

15 minutes after everybody piled into the warm vehicle, Angie had pulled into the parking lot of Philly’s most popular mall. “Would you all like to eat first or shop first?”

“I think we should shop first, that way we won’t be tied down with full bellies,” Dixie said with a chuckle as she looked back at the girls who nodded in agreement.

“Yea, we had a big breakfast,” Kathy added.

“We did too,” Ellie chirped in. “So let’s go shop first momma,” she yelped!

Shopping it was then, Angie thought as she whipped the pick-up into a spot and all filed into the mall to begin their day of shopping. Store after store, the group laughed and talked about their purchases and where they were going to wear their new outfits. By the time they reached their 11th, Angie and Dixie had decided that after they finished up there, they would drop their bags in the truck and comeback to grab a bite to eat.

~~~**~~~**~~~

Glad he decided against checking his bag, Jesse waltzed right past the luggage pick up and headed to catch a cab.

“Where you going, old man?”

Turning, Jesse came face to face Ced and laughed. “Who you calling old,” he teased “Hey, man! What you doing here?”

“Picking you up, of course,” he said, leading him out the airport and to his pearl red coupe, illegally parked. “Hey, the guys are getting together tonight and we want you to join us. Just going to get a couple of drinks, chat, and play pool, you in?”

Jesse thought about it as he climbed into the small car. He really didn’t want to do anything but rest, after all the loving he and his wife enjoyed, he was burnt out. “I don’t know man; I could really use some rest.”

“Oh, yea, of course. We weren’t getting together until around 9:30 or 10,” Ced replied.

What? Jesse thought to himself, throwing a look towards him. Why would anybody be trying to get out in the streets that late at night? Hell, he would be just making his way home or already there by that time. “Why so late? Shoot, I might have to rethink this.”

“See? Old man!” Ced teased again. “C’mon, it’ll be fun.”

“Let me sleep on it,” Jesse teased back as they continued their ride to the hotel the bureau was setting him up in for the next couple of days.

About half an hour later, they pulled up to the Marriott of Chicago and after thanking Ced and telling him he would call him later, Jesse went to check-in to his room. After getting a shower and ordering room service, he took this time to call his wife. He had texted her when the plane landed and was all set to call her, when Cedrick rudely interrupted him.

“Hey, big baddy,” Angie greeted happily. “I was beginning to wonder if I would get to hear your voice.”

Laughing, Jesse sat on the edge of the king size bed and flipped through the stations. “Sorry, baby,” he said and then explained to her what happened. “Anyway, what are you girls doing?”

“On our way back home,” she replied, glancing into her rearview mirror and smiling when she saw her baby girl was still knocked out. “We met up with Dixie and the girls and had a girl’s day out. And before we went our separate ways, we decided to have a girl’s night in. Gonna go out back, fire up my beautifully built pit, my wonderful husband made for me and do some s’mores and watch a few movies, until we all fall asleep.”

“Oh, okay. Sounds like fun,” he said sarcastically, but knowing deep down his daughter was going to love it. “What time are they coming by? I wouldn’t want to interrupt.”

Angie glanced at the clock, she and Dixie had agreed on 8 and it was now going on 6. That gave her and Ellis just enough time to get home, bathe and get started on dinner. Upon telling this to Jesse, she realized she should invite Madison. She had been working overtime for the past two weeks and while spending the evening with a bunch of little girls probably wasn’t her idea of a relaxing, she thought she might enjoy. “What do you have planned for the night?” She asked, coming to a red light and shooting Madison a quick text.

“Well,” Jesse started and told her what Cedrick had in mind. “I told him I would have to think about it. I’m not use to doing all that junk. You know? Around 10, my night is winding down and has around wound down, not getting turned up, as the kids say. I don’t know.”

“I think you should go, if only just to show your face,” Angie replied. “Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to get to know the other guys in a different light, so you’ll know what to expect Monday morning,” she further explained.

“Maybe, who knows,” he said with a sigh.

“You sound tired. Why don’t you go get some rest?”

“And miss the chance to speak with my angel, no way.”

Giggling, Angie turned into their gated community and entered the code. “I’m always a phone call away, besides, I just made it home and have to carry this load into the house.”

“Don’t forget the bags,” he teased. Both of them cracked up before exchanging sweet words and ending the call, promising to speak again soon.

Although, Jesse hated to end the call, the minute he scarfed down his cheeseburger and got a little more comfortable, he begins to realize it was a good idea. His eyes were getting heavier and heavier with each passing second. So much so the replay of the most exciting game on TV could no longer hold his attention as his head went to the side and his mouth fell open.

Several hours later, against Jesse’s better judgement, he found himself entering a smoke filled room full of men and scantily clad women. Taken aback, Jesse pulled Cedrick to the side and laid into him something serious. “You said it was just the guys getting together to chat,” he fussed. “This is nothing close to that! You know what, I’m going home. This is not what I came down here for.”

“Jesse, Jesse, Jesse,” Cedrick calmed. “Relax man, this is how we relax, you know, blow off some steam.”

“No, this is what you call getting into trouble and I’m not with it and neither should you. You have a wife and child at home.”

“Exactly!” Cedrick chuckled. “That is why I need to blow off some steam. C’mon on man, it’s just for fun.”

Before Jesse could protest or turn to head back to the hotel to pack his shit and head back to Pine Valley, a large arm wrapped around his shoulder and hearty laughed followed soon thereafter. “Chief Hubbard, how nice of you to join us tonight! The name is SSA Isaac Malone, I’m these idiots’ supervisor,” the guy said, with laughter still laced within his words.

Jesse looked at the man and all but rolled his eyes. “Well you need to get them under control.”

“Hey, what they do off the clock is on them,” he replied. “Ced, why don’t you go off and play your little games. Jesse and I are going to hang with the grown men,” he teased, turning Jesse towards the door and leading him down the hall. Once they were alone, Isaac dropped his arm and turned to face Jesse. “Hey,” he was now speaking in a serious tone. “That’s not what I’m about. I love my wife, no matter how pissed she makes me, I love her and I respect her and I will never get caught in that mess. Those idiots are immature when it comes to being husband’s and father’s, they don’t understand.”

“So why not help them understand?” Jesse questioned, wondering what the hell was really going on. He would never let his guys get into anything like that if he could help it. If they weren’t married, then it would be a different story, but if they had a wife waiting for them at home they better had their act together. He didn’t believe in having no games inside or outside his station.

Smirking, Isaac shoved his hands into his pocket. “Follow me,” he suggested turning on his heel and leading them down the hall and into a much quieter room also filled with men, but those who appeared more clean cut. “Jesse, I don’t worry because just like we had learn on our own, they have to too,” he explained. “Guys, this is Pine Valley’s Chief of Police Jesse Hubbard. Jesse, these are the legends of the bureau.”

One by one, all men assembled in the room introduced themselves to Jesse and welcomed him with open arms. Several of them spoke on how what was going on in the other room was a bit of tradition. Along with teaching the guys lessons on how to catch hard criminals, they had to teach them how to be honest and true men. Jesse still didn’t understand and thought it was all crap, but chose to keep his mouth shut on the situation.

After spending some more time with the others, Jesse began to relax and settle in. He found himself laughing and joking with them as if they were Tad and Zach. The talked about nearly everything under the sun, but the hottest topic was how Jesse and another of the guys had a strong dislike for Mayor Blanco and David Hayward.

“Man, I could strangle that woman,” the guy joked, tears in his eyes as he laughed and told them about the time Iris tried to offer him a piece of her if he kept what he saw to himself.

“Wait! You mean her and Hayward were actually into it?”

“Hell no! Seeing Hayward probably would have been better. Nah, she was tangled up with Adam.”

“Adam Chandler Sr?” Jesse yelped. His sides were hurting so bad; he couldn’t stop laughing.

“My man, I damn near went blind after I saw that,” he said, bursting out once again. “Just wanted to pour hot bleach in my eyes.”

“Damn,” Jesse spat.

He’d been having such a good time he completely let the hour slipped by, they all had. By the time they realized it, it was going 2 in the morning. Jesse nearly spilled his drink trying to get his phone and call his wife.

“Damn, that Mrs. Hubbard much be something else,” Isaac teased.

“Like you wouldn’t believe,” Jesse replied, before excusing himself into the hall. When the phone rung 3 times, Jesse cursed himself. “Great!” He sighed, just knowing he was in trouble.

“Hello,” a groggy voice finally picked up. “Hello?”

“Angela? Hey, baby.”

“What time is it?” She asked, shuffling around.

“I know, it’s late. Don’t be mad, but I lost track of time and I… I’m sorry.”

Chuckling, Angie cleared her throat. “Jesse, calm down. A guy name Isaac Malone called and told me you were alright and that you were hanging with the guys. Assured me there was nothing crazy going on,” she explained.

“Huh?” Jesse mumbled. “When did he call you?”

“Around 11:30 or 12, I can’t remember for sure. Have you made it back to the hotel?”

“No, but I’m getting ready to head back soon. You sure you’re not mad?”

“Yes, I’m sure,” she replied, shuffling around some more. “Jesse Hubbard, I trust you and I need you to trust me in trusting you.”

“Huh?” He mumbled again.

Laughing. “Just know I trust you.”

The spoke for a little while before Angie made him promise to let her know when he made it back to his room. Of course Jesse promised with his life he would and after telling her he loved her again and again, they ended the call and soon Jesse went back in and ended the night. “I guess I’ll see y’all Monday morning.”

“Sure will,” Isaac replied, getting up and walking Jesse out.

“Hey, man, thanks for calling my wife. Not saying she slipped my mind, but the time did and I—“

He raised his hand and stopped him from saying anymore. “Hey, I know the deal. Besides, it’s what we do, we look out for each other.”