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Meeting by Chance

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Jim Ellison hated his job so much that he had somehow become a drunk along the way. He was a security guard for a casino in Cascade, Washington. It was a horrible job. Anyone that knew Jim, knew why he began to drink whenever he could. Although it wasn’t the job that caused him to drink if he was truthful with himself.

Jim worked the evening shift, because the day shift didn’t want him there, just in case he had a hangover. So by the time he came on in the evenings, he usually felt pretty sober.

Back to hating his job. Everywhere he went, they whined. And Jim could hear them whining from rooms he wasn’t even in. What in the world was up with that? Right then, he was listening to a man and woman saying they had been cheated out of one thousand dollars and Jim was forced to listen to them. They insisted that the slot machines were rigged and there was no way they could have lost that much money. Jim had them sit in his office and he went to his supervisor, Mitch Marshall. He knocked on his boss’s door and waited for the ‘come in’. When Jim heard it, he walked in and said, “I have a couple in my office that are telling everyone that you stole one thousand dollars from them. I didn’t know where to go from here.”

“Throw them the fuck out, Jim. We don’t care what they think or say. Now take care of business, if you can’t, I’ll find someone that can.”

Marshall stood and opened the door for Jim to leave. Jim wanted to punch him in the worst way. But instead he went back to his job.

Jim walked into his office and found Mr. and Mrs. Bill Smith. Jim dreaded this, because he knew they were going to make a lot of noise and hurt his ears. You see, Jim Ellison had a few secrets that no one else knew about. He could see and hear things that no one else did and taste things that others only wished they could. Even his sense of touch was enhanced.

“Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I’m afraid the owner of the casino isn’t going to see you for anything. If you lost a thousand dollars, that’s a big problem, but not their problem. I’m sorry, there is nothing I can do.”

Jim expected yelling and cursing, but instead both of them started to cry. Mr. Smith said, “Mr. Ellison, we each had five hundred in the machine for a good time. And the machine took it in less than fifteen minutes. Can you tell me how that would have happened?” The older man wiped his eyes and stood tall waiting for Jim to insult him.

Instead, Jim grabbed two rolls of quarters and had them take him to the machines that they had been on. He locked up his office and followed them to where they had lost their money. Jim sat down at the first machine and put in ten-dollars in quarters. He pushed the button and listened to it very carefully. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were standing by him patiently while he did this. Jim could hear something stopping the machine, every time it came close to winning. And before five minutes was up, his five dollars was gone. He changed over to the next machine and did the same thing. It also made the noises and jerked when it shouldn’t have been doing it and he lost his money in record time.

“Mr. and Mrs. Smith, there is nothing I can do. I’m a security guard, they won’t listen to me. But you can call your congressman and complain and tell him what happened. I’m truly sorry.”

Mr. Marshall walked up at that point and said, “You’re fired.”

To say Jim was shocked was an understatement. He didn’t know what he was going to do. The Smiths tried to defend him and Mr. Marshall only got angrier. He then called for security to walk Jim out of the building.

“Sir, I have to get my personal items from my office,” Jim said, softly.

“Get them and get out. You’ll receive your last paycheck in two weeks. Hurry it up or I’ll call the police.”

Jim was never so embarrassed in his life. What would William Ellison think of his son now? William had tried to hire him when he got home from the service, but Jim didn’t want to work with his father. Now he wished he had.

Jim grabbed all of his things and walked out the front door. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were waiting for him outside.

Mrs. Smith said, “Mr. Ellison, come into the unemployment office tomorrow and my co-worker will have you working within an hour. He’s that good.”

“Maybe I could write the address down,” Jim said, as he pulled out a small tablet from his bag.

“Can we buy you dinner, Mr. Ellison?” Mr. Smith asked.

“Maybe a cup of coffee so I can get the address of the employment office.”

Mrs. Smith smiled. “I’ve worked at the employment agency for about 30 years. This was going to be my last month, but I have to save some more money now. Let’s go to the coffee house down the road. We were darn fools to use that much money.”

Jim did what any fool would do in this circumstance. He went to his truck and drove to the diner. Mr. and Mrs. Smith followed him and they met at the door. He followed Mr. and Mrs. Smith in and they sat down in a booth.

The waitress came over and asked what they wanted. They all decided on pie and coffee. For some reason Jim felt a little calmer around these people. His head didn’t throb and he felt like a human again.

Jim got his pad out and wrote down the name and address of the agency. “Do I need an appointment, Mrs. Smith?”

“No, not at all. Just come in at 8:00 and be ready for a long day of waiting. But I know that Blair will find you a good job.”

“She’s been there a long time too, huh?” Jim asked.

“Blair is a guy. And he’ll laugh when I tell him you asked about his name. Are you going to come in tomorrow, or feel sorry for yourself?” she asked.

“No, I’ll be there bright and early because I can’t afford to go without rent money.” This wasn’t entirely true. Jim had paid his mortgage off about four years earlier. He just needed utility money and groceries.

It was Mr. Smith’s turn to smile. “She never lets anyone get out of the office without a job. What exactly are you looking for? What did you do before?”

“I was in the service. Army Ranger. But I’ve been a security guard from then on.”

Mrs. Smith said, “Did you know that if you’ve been in the military service and received a Captain’s rank you can fast track through the police department. You only have to pass a written test, a drug screening and of course the shooting scores.”

“I have all that, ma’am. So I could be a police officer?”

“My name is Martha and this is my husband, Bill.”

Jim nodded to both of them and said, “It’s good to meet you. I’ve been down on my luck for about a year now. I didn’t have anywhere to go.”

“Well, you do now, Jim. We have to go, but I’ll see you in the morning.”

They got out of their side of the booth and Jim wasn’t sure what to do. “I’ll be there in the morning, Martha. Thank you to both of you.”

“Goodnight, Jim,” they both said at the same time.

Jim watched them walk away into the night and wondered if this had been fate meeting them. He also wondered if he should report the casino to the gaming commission and give them Martha and Bill’s names. Yes, he needed to do that and he would. Jim remembered the number on the two machines they had played on, so he would write it up when he got home. He took his note pad out and wrote the numbers on there so he wouldn’t forget.

One thing Jim did notice was that he didn’t care if he got drunk or not. He felt better after meeting two strangers in the middle of the night. Maybe he wasn’t such a drunk after all. Jim just hoped that this Blair person didn’t check with the casino. There was no way that his ex-boss would give him a good recommendation.

Jim paid the check and left to drive home. He was very tired and looked forward to sleeping in his comfortable bed. Seven in the morning would come very early. Jim glanced at his watch and saw it was 1:00.

*

The next morning, Martha got to the Agency and saw Blair first thing. “Blair, honey, I have the nicest man coming in today. I really hope you can find him a job. He’s a little odd, but very nice and kind. Because of Bill and myself, he got fired last night. I feel responsible. I do hope you can help him fast track to the police department. He was the night security guard at the casino.”

“Really? Well, this is something new. Was he in the service?”

Martha smiled. She knew he was interested already. Martha thought that Blair had a thing for men in uniforms. Oh hell, he just had a thing for men. “Yes, Blair, he was an Army Ranger. I think you’ll be impressed with him. Like I said, he’s a little off, but nice as can be.”

“What do you mean by off?” Blair wondered.

“When he was checking a machine, I swear he was listening to it work as it spun around and around. He was so involved with that he didn’t hear his boss sneak up on him and fire him. When Bill and I were in his office, he kept fading out, like a seizure or something. One second he’d be listening to us or something outside the room and then next he’d just be staring into space. I imagine that he would need to see a doctor first.”

“I would have to agree with you there, Martha. What happened that you had to see the security guard?”

“The machine took all our money. In like five spins. We didn’t notice till it was too late. It was our Anniversary and decided to give each other five hundred dollars to play at the casino. I don’t care that we lost so much as how it happened. I think they rigged their machines. But if we make waves at the casino, it might make problems for Jim. Oh, that’s his name, Blair. Jim Ellison.”

“Try and point him out today when he comes in. I’m looking forward to meeting him,” Blair suggested.

“He said he would be here at 8:00 and I believe him to be prompt.”

“You like him, right? You always feel bad for someone. Jim Ellison must be this week’s someone,” Blair teased.

“He’s so kind, gentle and sweet. You’ll see exactly what I mean. Oh my, that’s Jim right there at the door. He’s going to be first in line. I’ll get him right to you, okay?”

“Whatever you say, boss,” Blair kidded some more.

Blair went into his office and acted busy, even though he wasn’t. He couldn’t get his mind off Jim Ellison. What if by some strange coincidence, Jim had enhanced senses? Blair would know what to do with that. Anything else, not so much.

Out in the lobby area, Martha opened the door and told Jim where to stand. Jim did as ordered, always the good soldier. Martha went behind the counter and said, “Okay, you need to fill out this huge stack of papers. I think it’ll take about an hour, but once it’s done, you’re ready to see Blair.”

“Thank you, Martha. I forgot my pen,” Jim said, pitifully.

“Look, I have pens, who knew?” Martha smiled and handed him a pen.

Jim sat down at one of the table and chair sections because he wanted to write this neatly, and he wouldn’t do that on his lap. He got right into it and before long he was all finished. There was a huge line waiting to see Martha, so Jim went to the back of the line.

Martha saw this and thought it was typical of such a nice man. “Anyone that already has their papers filled out, come up to me you don’t have to stand in line.”

Jim did just that and she said, “Blair will be right with you.”

Martha delivered the papers to Blair and then went back to her job working on getting everyone a job.

The door opened and a young, handsome man with long curly hair stood looking at Jim. “Jim Ellison?”

Jim walked up to him and said, “That would be me.”

“Good, let’s get this show on the road. I’ve already called a friend of mine at the police station to see if he had any openings for someone with your experience and Captain Banks said he would see you this afternoon.”

“Why would he do that?”

“I faxed him your records and he’s ready to offer you a job if you can pass a few tests.”

“Blair, what kind of tests are we talking about?” Jim wondered.

“They want to make sure you’re on top of your game. That’s all. Don’t worry. You can pass a Psych exam can’t you?”

Jim was staring into space. He had zoned on Blair’s voice alone.

Blair leaned across the desk and touched Jim’s face softly and said, “Jim come on back to me.”

And just like that, Jim snapped out of it. He was very embarrassed. “Maybe you could find me a cleaning job at night or something.”

“Jim, do you have heightened senses?”

“Why are you asking that? Yes, I do.”

Blair went on to explain everything about Sir Richard Burton, the explorer, not the actor, and before long Jim actually believed what Blair was saying.

“Why do you think you were able to wake me up so quickly?” Jim asked.

Blair thought a moment and said, “Maybe I’m that Guide he speaks of in the book. Every Sentinel needs a Guide to help him during rough times. You just have to learn to control the senses. First thing you need to do is find the dial in your head, like on a radio, and turn that dial for hearing down to 4. Then do the same with your other senses and you’ll be a lot more comfortable.”

Jim did exactly as Blair instructed and it worked like a charm. Jim’s headache was gone. He couldn’t hear any more than he should be hearing. Jim smiled for the first time that day. “Blair, I still can’t pass a physical with this happening.”

“Sure you can. Always use two of your senses at the same time, let’s call it piggy-backing and that way you won’t zone. That’s what you’ve been doing. You can pass that test easily and don’t worry about a thing. We’ll tell Simon about your senses before you take a job with him, because ultimately, it’s up to him whether he hires you or not.”

“And you think he’s going to believe me?” Jim asked.

“Well, I’m going with you, so he doesn’t have a chance at not believing it. Let me get my jacket and we’ll go to the station-house.”

“You can just take off work when it’s this busy?”

“If it’s important, and this is, Jim. So let’s get this show on the road.”

Blair took all the paperwork that Simon might need in person and put it in a manila envelope. Before long he told Martha he would be back in two hours and the rest of the group all shouted out goodbye to Blair.

Jim was shocked. Blair must have done this often for them to be so accepting. “I guess you do this all the time, right?”

“Maybe once every three months or so. It depends on who I’m working with. Speaking of Simon and the job, how are your shooting scores?”

“I go every week to the shooting range and I brought a drive with my scores on it. The range does it for their top members. I almost always get in the 90-99% range. So I’m sure I could pass the Police Department’s test.”

“Whoa! That’s much better than Simon was thinking it would be. He’s going to be so impressed. You wait and see.”

“Somehow I don’t think he’s going to be that impressed with the package deal,” Jim said, softly.

“Jim, you haven’t seen the Sandburg charm yet. I’ll talk him into it big time.”

Jim hoped that Blair was as certain as he seemed to be. Jim really needed the job.

*

When they arrived at Major Crimes, Blair talked to Henri Brown and Detective Rafe. He had told them some good jokes off and on and the guys thought Blair was A-Okay. Blair walked up to Rhonda’s desk and said hello and introduced Jim to her. Jim shook her hand, Blair almost laughed. But you could tell Rhonda thought it was great.

“Rhonda, could you tell Simon I have to see him first and then he can interview Jim?”

“Sure…” She picked up her phone and dialed it and said, “Blair Sandburg for his appointment, sir.”

Simon was happy to hear that Blair was already there. “Send him in, Rhonda. And give Jim Ellison something to do for you while I take this meeting.”

“Like what, Simon?” Rhonda asked.

“Do you have any files that he can look at and see if he sees anything the same in two or more files?”

“Oh, sure. I’ll set him up with the cold case files right now.” She hung up the phone and said, “Blair, go on in. Jim, you’re going to help me with something.”

“The cold case files, am I right?” Jim asked, smiling.

Rhonda was shocked, but tried not to show it. “Simon would like for you to find any similarities in these files. There are quite a few of them, so don’t rush. Take your time. They’ll be in there for quite some time. They always are.”

“Did anyone else here come from the agency?”

“Why yes, I did.”

“Good to see a familiar face.” They both laughed as Rhonda gave the files to Jim.

Jim sat down at the table that was across the hall and began to search for something to impress his new boss. Or his hopefully new boss.

Two hours later, Jim had four piles and Rhonda came over and said, “Did you find anything?”

“Yes, each pile have similarities that have to be checked out. I’m not saying I’m right, I’m just saying they should be checked.”

“Thank you, Jim. Captain Banks wants you to join them now. I’ll tell him what a good job you did here.” She picked up the phone and told Simon Jim had four piles and what did he want her to do with them.

“Have him bring in the first pile and leave the rest for later.”

“Right down and the hall-you can’t miss Blair and Simon laughing. Take the first pile with you.”

“I hear them. They sound very happy. This might be a good sign, right?”

“Good luck, Jim.” Rhonda smiled, brightly.

“Thank you. I’ll see you later, hopefully.” Jim walked over to Simon office and rapped on the door.

“Come in, Ellison,” Simon whispered, Sentinel soft.

“Jim Ellison, sir. It’s good to meet you,” Jim said, boldly as he put his hand out for Simon to shake.

“I’m Captain Simon Banks and Blair has told me all about you. I’m torn between this being a joke or this being a nightmare for you.”

“The nightmare seems about right, sir.”

“So I’m going to make you perform like a seal. I hope you don’t mind,” Simon stated.

“That’s fine, Captain.”

“Rhonda is on the phone, can you tell me who she is talking to?”

“She is talking to someone by the name of Megan and said that Megan needs to check me out. Oh now they’re discussing how I look and what I’m wearing,” Jim answered, blushing like mad.

“You met Brown and Rafe, am I right?”

“Yes, I did. Just for a moment, though.”

“What is Henri telling Rafe right now?”

Jim cocked his head and smiled and said, “Are you sure you want to know?”

“Yes, I want to know.”

“Brown wonders what your problem is if you have to eat a prune Danish every day. And Rafe is telling him that it must be your age. None of the young guys eat the prune Danish. Now there is a big black man adding to the conversation and says that he eats a prune Danish every day too. What is wrong with that? They just called him Joel and are patting him on the back.”

“Okay, Blair, how does he know this shit?” Simon barked loudly and Jim put his hands to his ears.

“Jim, remember what I said about lowering the dials. Do that right now,” Blair instructed.

Jim followed orders and smiled at him. “Thank you. This isn’t a trick, Captain. I can hear two people in a room I can’t see discussing Rhonda right now.”

“Blair, you can leave Jim here for testing and he’ll see you later. Come with me, Ellison.”

Jim followed Simon out of his office and waved to Rhonda with a smile on his face. She held up a way to go sign.

“Let me see what you did with these files. No one has found anything. Why do you think you’re special, Ellison?”

“Sir, I don’t think I’m special. Quite the opposite. This whole business started when I was finishing up in the Rangers and I couldn’t handle it then, I’m not sure I can handle it now.”

“Well thank you for being so truthful. Now sit down here and show me what you found.”

Jim went through the first pile he was carrying and pointed out things no one had even thought of. Simon was very impressed.

“Ellison, I’m going to give you a test today and it tells me if you’re up to our standards. If not, you might need the academy. Either way, I really think you’d be an asset to our team.”

“I’m ready, sir.”

Simon left and came back with a booklet and the testing material to go with it. “You have four hours to finish. See if you can do it in three.”

Simon walked away and Jim started in. Most of the questions were fairly easy but some needed certain terms that Jim wasn’t used to so he used his Army Ranger terms. In three hours to the minute, he knocked on Simon’s door.

Simon opened the door and said, “You rushed, didn’t you. I never meant for you to finish early, that was part of the test. Sit down back at the table and I’ll be with you when I get done grading it.”

Jim felt like he had failed already. But it was over and done with now. So he sat and looked at the second pile and studied them closely. Before long he was writing some notes on spare paper. And in an hour he had filled about ten pages of paper with notes on what he thought about the case.

Simon walked up to him and Jim looked up and smiled. “Sir, I think I found something your men would be interested in.”

“I like that you took it upon yourself to find something. Good for you. You passed the test with flying colors. Now I’ve seen your shooting scores but we need to check them downstairs. Follow me,” Simon walked over to the elevator and Jim asked, “Are they going to give me my choice of gun?”

“You’re going to use three weapons so we can see how you would do in different situations.”

They both got on the elevator and Jim asked, “Why are you being so nice? You don’t know me from
Adam and I could be a nut job for all you know.”

“A nut job who just passed a detective’s exam, which is very hard to do. And you also found some things in our cold cases that might help us close them once and for all. You seem like you’re a good man, Jim. May I call you, Jim?”

“Yes, sir…”

“And you call me Simon. Everyone else does. Here we go. Follow me,” Simon barked as he led the way.

Jim didn’t want to say anything, but the Captain’s cigar smell was making him a little sick to his stomach. Then he remembered how to turn down the dials. He turned down his sense of smell and it was much better. Jim could breathe easier once again.

They went up to the desk and Simon asked, “Are you ready?”

“Yes, Simon, I’m ready.”

Simon then ordered the man behind the desk to give Jim a Glock, a pump-gage shotgun and a semi-automatic.

Jim took all of the weapons and the ammo and then put them in a bag the man gave him. Then he handed Jim his ear pieces and headphones.

Jim was ready and couldn’t wait to spring into action and show Simon exactly what he could do.

Simon took him to the next room and Jim had to put in his ear pieces and put on his headphones. Simon guided him to the first row and showed him how the machine worked to bring the targets up to him and back.

Jim set the target as far back as it could go and shot the shotgun. It was a perfect shot. He did it three times in a row and got perfect heart scores. Then he did two with the head shot. Next he grabbed the Glock and shot an entire round and brought the target back to him. Simon just stood there in awe. Jim had made a circle around the heart and the head shot. Jim did just as well with the semi-automatic. Simon took all of the targets to the front desk where they would be graded.

The man behind the desk said, “This is the best shooting I’ve ever seen in my life. Where did you find him, Captain?”

“He found me, Sawyer. So we’re all lucky to have him on our side. He’ll need a gun, a shoulder holster and we need to get him down to id him. He passed his Detective test today with flying colors too.”

“Wow, everyone is going to be talking about this one. Jim, what kind of gun would you like?”

Jim said, “How about a Taurus PT92?” Then Jim added, “That’s what I’m used to, sir.”

“Did you hear that Captain, I just got called sir?” Simon and Sawyer both snickered but Jim knew they weren’t laughing at him but with him.

Jim put on his shoulder holster and was thrilled with the fit. He then loaded his gun and put it in the holster. Then he added some extra bullets and he was set to go.

As they walked away, Jim asked, “Captain, I take it I got the job?”

Simon laughed. “Yes, Jim, you got the job. Now, call me Simon. I have a feeling we’re going to be good friends.”

“Thank you for everything, Simon.”

Jim put his jacket over his holster, so it wasn’t so noticeable. But when they went down to get his new id made, everyone noticed his gun. They all asked about the make and model. Most people didn’t use those.

Jim had his photo taken and then waited for the machine to print out his new id. It wasn’t long before the two men were heading back up to the bullpen.

They stepped off the elevator and Simon asked, “Did you want to fill out paperwork today or tomorrow?

“Today would be good, Simon.”

“That was another test. You passed again. Now come and sit in my office and fill out your forms.”

Jim followed Simon in and smiled at Brown and Rafe, but the two men didn’t smile back.

When Jim sat down in Simon’s office, he said, “They’re upset that I’m just coming in and taking over.”

“Show them your work and they’ll get used to you. They were new once too.”

Jim filled out all his papers and Simon said, “Okay, you have to go and have a drug test done. I hope that’s not a problem.”

“No sir, I don’t do drugs. Sinus pills don’t even like me. Lead the way.”

The two men left once again and this time Jim noticed a pretty brunette cop talking with an Australian accent talking to the black man from earlier.

“Simon, who are those two officers?” Jim pointed to Joel Taggert and Megan Connor.

“Come and meet them. You’ll be partnered with Joel or Megan until I figure out what we’re going to do with you. Right now, Blair wants a paid consultant job so he can work with you. But that means I would have to let the Commissioner know all about you and your senses. Now, come and meet Joel and Megan.”

“Inspector Megan Connor and Captain Joel Taggert, this is our newest detective, Jim Ellison. He’s starting in a couple of days. I still have some work to do on his assignment. How would you two like to partner with him?”

“How do you do, Jimbo?” Connor stuck her hand out for Jim to shake and Jim did just that.

“It’s very nice meeting you, Jim. Don’t mind her nicknames. She calls Blair Sandburg, Sandy.”

“So you all know Blair?” Jim asked.

Simon laughed and said, “He has found so many jobs for people we know that it’s not even funny. The man is a miracle worker. He thinks everyone is a better person when they work and he’s right. Excuse us, everyone. We’re due for a drug test.”

Megan said, “I didn’t know they drug tested you today too.”

“Very funny, Megan. Why don’t you go and see the notes on the second pile of cold files. Jim made quite a few notes for you. He’ll see you again in about two or three days.”

As they got on the elevator, Jim asked, “I thought I would start tomorrow.”

“I have to speak to the commissioner first. Then we’ll get busy and get you on the job. Stay by your phone so I can reach you when I need to. Here we go, this is where you will do two different tests. One is a swab and one is a urine test. When you finish, go home and we’ll see you as soon as I call you in for your first day.”

Jim shook Simon’s hand and said, “Thank you so much. I really needed this job.”

“Well, hopefully, I can get Blair working here too with benefits and pay. Then you two will be unstoppable.”

Simon walked out of the room and Jim did what he needed to do to get the ball rolling. He knew that things were going to be great.

*

Jim arrived at the Agency at 4:58, just in time to squeeze in the door. There were few people left in the building by that time, but enough to make Jim have to wait.

Martha saw him sitting on a chair in the waiting room and smiled at him. She locked up her desk and walked over to him and said, “I hear you got a new job. When do you start?”

“Hopefully, in a few days. I stopped by to take you, Bill and Blair out to dinner. Does that sound good?” Jim asked.

“Oh that’s so sweet, but Bill and I have plans tonight. How about a raincheck?”

“Okay, we’ll plan something. Could I have your phone number so I can call you when I have a day to do friends things?”

Martha was so impressed that Jim considered her a friend she could hardly speak. Thankfully, it passed. “Jim you are the sweetest man I’ve ever met besides Blair.”

“Why don’t you call Bill and ask him to come and join us? It’ll be fun…”

“Next time, honey. I need to get going. See you or talk to you soon. She handed Jim her phone number and Jim was pleased that she did that. Jim added it immediately to his cell phone so he had it safe.

Blair walked their last client to the door, turned around and saw Jim and jumped. “Geeze, warn a person why don’t you?”

“Sorry, Blair. I thought you saw me on the way to the door.”

“Hi, Jim. It’s been a really long day. What can I do for you?”

“I wondered if you would have dinner with me tonight.”

“Just the two of us?” Blair wondered.

“Yes, just the two of us. I asked Martha, but she had plans.”

“Sure, do you want me to change before we go to dinner?”

“Nope, the way you’re dressed is perfect. We’re going to an Italian Restaurant. Do you like Italian food?”

Blair grabbed his jacket and said, “I love Italian. I’m ready. Let’s blow this pop stand.”

Jim hadn’t heard that expression in years. He laughed and said, “You’re a little young to remember that expression.”

“My mom used to say it all the time. Do you want me to drive my own car?”

Jim thought a second and said, “No, let’s go in my truck. This is a date, by the way.”

Blair smiled big time and answered, “Why did you invite Bill and Martha is this is a date?”

“I was going to ask you out for tomorrow night, just the two of us, but when she said she was busy, I figured it was meant to be.”

“You believe in fate, Jim?”

“I do now. I can’t believe that I met you by chance and you knew what was wrong with me. If not fate, what was it?” Jim asked.

“I believe in fate and I believe we were meant to meet each other and share in each other’s lives. With you by my side, I know we’ll be able to do anything,” Blair assured him.

“I think you’re absolutely right, Blair. Now lock up so we can head to the restaurant. We have reservations in a half-hour.”

“I’m starving. I didn’t take lunch today because I spent so much time away from the office. Did Simon tell you about a paid consultant job for me so I can ride along with you?”

“Yes, he seemed on board about it, but we have to see what the Commissioner has to say about it.”

“I didn’t even ask this, are you single?” Blair wondered aloud.

“Well, duh. I wouldn’t have asked you out if I was with someone. There is something about you that calms me down. I’ve felt better about myself in the last day than I have in the last two years. If you’re ready, we can leave now.”

“I’m ready, Jim. I’m ready to start my new life with you, start our new life at work and ready to let the Agency find another person to take over for me. Not to mention, I sort of like your looks, so that gives me something to look forward to also.”

Jim smiled and opened his passenger side door of his truck and kissed Blair when he was seated. “This is for luck.”

“Jim, I think we have all the luck we need. It’s going to be great. We’ll have new friends, we’ll have some old friends if you know what I mean and so much to look forward to. Let’s go eat. I’m starving.”

“You got it, Chief.”

“Chief?” Blair asked.

“Chief of all things. Now, let’s blow this pop stand. And don’t let me forget to call the gaming commission tomorrow, okay?”

“You got it, big guy. And you can remind me to sign back up for my classes that I missed at the University. Then we’ll be set.”

The end