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Skye pulled her coat tighter as they stepped back into the chilly night. The two children clattered down the stairs, holding hands. She smiled as she warned them, "Don't get ahead of us."

Jesse's automatic, "Yes, ma'am" was followed by Sue Ellen's as she cast a fearful look back over her shoulder. Sue Ellen had looked scared from the moment Skye had laid her eyes on her. She wondered if it was because of life's troubles or if it was the natural shape of the girl's eyes. Either way, she'd had a hard time, and Skye's heart went out to the child.

And that hair! While Skye was partial to Jesse's dark hair and eyes, she couldn't deny that this blond, blue-eyed girl was as cute as could be. Hopefully, any misgivings the girl had about all of them would soon be soothed.

The look of pure joy on Jesse's face when he had seen Sue Ellen had been unforgettable. The brother and sister had flown to each other and hadn't separated since. Jesse had immediately offered his, still yet to be completed, room to Sue Ellen, who had hugged him once again.

Pride, as well as further evidence that she had found a good man, came when the judge said, "So, Mr. Cole, I'm assuming daily updates won't be needed any longer?"

Dylan uttered a low, almost embarrassed, chuckle.

"You arranged this?" Skye asked. Before Dylan had a chance to answer, Jesse rushed to him and wrapped his arms around him, squeezing him so tight the unexpected hug nearly caused Dylan to lose his breath.

"Thank you," Jesse said, "thank you, thank you!"

Dylan laid an arm on the boy's back and the other hand on his head. "I said she was family and we take care of our own. I just didn't wanna say anything 'til it was done."

Jesse nodded, not surprised when he turned away leaving tear stains on Dylan's shirt.

Tentatively Sue Ellen stepped closer to where Jesse stood with Dylan and Skye. Her eyes looked even larger as she peered up at them. One of her hands moved to her hair and started twisting a curl, making it even tighter. "Thank you, sir. It means a lot to me to be back with Jesse 'n all."

Oh, my word, she's perfect, Skye thought as Wade whispered that his heart was nearly ripping out of his chest. Dylan took her small hand and told her that it was his was his pleasure to be able to bring the two of them back together.

Skye only wished the second part of the visit had gone as well as the first, then she could have gone home without the disquieting thoughts that drifted through her mind.

Word had arrived before him in the form of a letter that Judge Anthony Munson was a fair and honorable man, but his way of judging had changed after the near collapse of the justice system. Gone was the tangled web that used to be called justice. Instead, he offered a quick, clean trial with judgment served the same day. If you didn't like his way of judging, you were free to find someone else.

Judge Munson had his own set of rules when it came to testimony, all of which seemed fair and reasonable. Only one had seemed to pose a problem, and that was the one that he now brought up.

"I've had a sit down with Sheriff Tom Jackson. He and I went over his report. The men in custody, Calvin, Tony, and Pete, can rightfully be charged with assault of both you and Jesse, as well as, attempted murder of you, Ms. Jackson. However, much as Sheriff Jackson wants to add on this long list of other crimes, there's no proof for them.

"Sheriff Jackson would like capital punishment to be on the table, and that will not happen for attempted murder. He suggested I talk to you about their confession."

Skye nodded that she understood. "When they were pursuing us through the woods, they would detail other crimes they'd committed. They were very explicit. I could write it down if it would help."

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