“Good Morning,” Candace said as she walked into the kitchen.
“Good Morning Candace. How do you feel this morning?” Stacks said as he looked up from his computer.
Before she could answer, Gloria told her to have a seat, and then placed a cup of aromatic coffee on the counter in front of her.
Thanking Gloria, Candace smiled and gratefully thanked her.
“Sore all over, other than that, I feel great,” She said as she shifted on the stool and winced as she moved her ribs in the wrong way.
“Are you sure you don’t need to see a doctor? It wouldn’t hurt to get those ribs checked out, just in case,” Gloria said with concern showing on her face.
“I’m fine Gloria, really.” Turning to look at Stacks, Candace noticed that on his screen were the photos of snakes of all kinds.
“Snakes, Yuk, I cannot stand snakes. If you don’t mind my asking, why on earth would you want to look up snakes?”
With a lopsided grin on his face, he looked at his mother, then to Candace. Both of which, were looking at him questioningly.
“I was just wondering where a snake’s heart was located,” he answered.
“And just why would you be wondering about the placement of a snake’s heart?” Gloria asked, waving a spatula at him. “Is there something you forgot to tell me last night?”
The kitchen door opened at that moment, and Mead walked into the room as if he was part of the family, “Good morning. I sure hope you have another cup of coffee made Gloria. I need to get to the store and buy a few things.”
Taking the cup that she offered to him, Mead walked around to look at Stacks computer screen,
“Learn anything helpful?” He asked Stacks.
“The only thing I learned is that we cannot plan on stabbing the next snake who decides to attack us, in the heart.
“Attacks you,” Candace and Gloria shrieked at the same time.
“Mead and I had a little run in with diamondback rattler last night. No reason for you two to get upset,” Stacks said trying to sound calm and casual.
Laughing, Mead said, “It was all in a day’s work, Gloria, and of course I came to Stacks rescue, as usual.”
“Yeah right, Mead,” Stacks said as he turned his laptop of and closed it down.
“If anyone wants me to finish making these pancakes, so that they can eat, someone had better start talking,” Gloria said ominously.
Sighing, Stacks said, “It was nothing Mom, I just stopped Mead from walking into the path of a diamondback rattlesnake, last night, when we were working our way back to find Candace.”
“Yeah, it was nothing, but you should have seen Stacks riding on that snake’s back. I swear he looked like a bronco buster, getting whipped one way then the other.
At the collective gasps of the women, Stacks reached over and popped Mead on the back of his head.
“Thanks a lot, friend,” Stacks said as he walked over to refill his coffee cup.
Laughing, Mead said, “Hey, that’s what friends are for.
“In that case, I will let you explain what happened last night. And you had better tell them the truth. None of that exaggeration you are so famous for, or I will have to tell a few of those things you want me to keep quiet about.”
“You wound me deeply,” Mead said as he playfully grabbed his heart.
Laughing, and with the tension broken, Gloria returned to cooking the pancakes, and Candace got up to help her. Shooing Candace back to her stool, Gloria told her that she would rather Candace kept an eye on the boys. Saying, “If one of is not watching them, there is no telling what kind of mischief they will get into.”
Stacks went into the living room to make a few calls, and Mead began telling them of their encounter with the large snake.
Stacks was not worried about what Mead would say, he knew that Mead would have them laughing with his rendition of the night before. Mead could always be counted on to make a scary situation sound funny. He was more worried about why someone would brutally kidnap Candace, and why. He placed his call.
After eating a late breakfast, which according to Gloria was considered brunch, Stacks and Mead took Candace and Gloria shopping.
Personally Stacks liked the way Candace looked wearing his black T-shirt, with her freshly washed slacks. She had her rich dark hair pulled back in a ponytail and to him she looked more beautiful than when he had first seen her. However, he could not look at her without getting angry at the three men who had abducted her. Her face was covered with dark bruises and cuts.
“Quit frowning at Candace like that,” Gloria admonished. “If she catches you doing that, she is going to think you are angry with her.”
Stacks jumped at the sound of his mother’s voice. He was so caught up in his thoughts; he had not realized he was staring at Candace.
Lowering his voice, Stacks said, “Sorry, but it makes me so angry to think there are men who would hit a woman. I wanted to kill that little Frenchman last night Mom. So help me, if it was not for the fact that we needed to get Candace out of there, I would have killed him.”
“I know Stacks, but you had to do what was best for her and I am proud of you for it.”
“Yeah, well I don’t feel so proud,” He said as he walked over to the smiling Candace.
Candace had seen the scowl on Stacks face and knew what he was upset about. He was one of the good guys and she knew it bothered him to see her bruises. It bothered her too, but she had more to worry about. One thing was how or when was she going to be able to go back home. For now, she just needed to figure out why Francois Dubois was digging up her yard. Candace knew that whatever she was supposed to know about it, she simply did not know.
“I think I have everything I need, for now,” Candace told Stacks as he walked up to her.
“Besides that, it looks like the sales lady could stand to be saved from Mead. He has followed her around the whole time we have been here. I do believe he will start drooling if we do not leave soon,” Candace jokingly said.
Looking towards Mead, Gloria and Stacks agreed with Candace.
Stacks called to Mead, and he reluctantly left his pursuit of the smiling sales lady, with a promise to call her.
At two o’clock, everyone was in Stacks formal dining room, seated around his antique cherry wood table, sitting on a thick plush oblong Indian carpet that rested on the highly polished oak floors. Candace looked around the exquisite room and her eyes rested on the matching cherry wood china cabinet. Inside was what she believed to be hand painted antique china dinner ware.”
“It’s simply gorgeous, she said to Stacks.
“Thank you. That set belonged to Mom’s great grandmother. She gave them to me when I bought this house. She said they were to be passed down from generation to generation as long as they were used also.”
“That’s right,” Gloria remarked. “When Stacks father was alive, we used them every Sunday night. When I remarried, I decided to give them to Stacks, because they came into the family from his father’s side of the family.
Sitting deep in thought about what Gloria had just said Candace felt as if she was forgetting something important, but she just couldn’t remember what it was.
Cory Henderson was telling them that Tommy Collins had faxed some information, but was vague in his explanation as to how it pertained to the situation at hand. He passed copies out to everyone, and the room became silent as they read.
“I don’t get it. How is this supposed to help us?” Edward Rothman said rubbing his large forehead.
“I agree, Stacks. This just tells us that Candace’s grandparents, James and Delores Baker, willed the house and land to Candace,” Sheila said disappointedly.
Everyone unenthusiastically agreed with Sheila, everyone except Candace.
Still reading as the group was discussing what they had read, Candace finally looked up.
“No, you are wrong. This not only says that my grandparents willed the house to me, it says that my land is under the Grandfather clause and that I also hold the mineral rights as well as the rights to anything buried on my land,” Candace stated emphatically.
Looking at her, Stacks figured it out. “That’s it,” He said. “There must be something buried on your land, that Francois Dubois and his lackeys believe you know about. Do you have any idea what it could be?”
Shaking her head, Candace said, “No, I cannot think of anything at all.”
“Candace did you spend much time with your grandparents? Perhaps they told you stories about the land,” Gloria said.
“I was raised by my grandparents, and my Grandma was always telling me stories. Especially stories of my ancestors, and when they first came to America, from France, on her side and Germany on my grandfather’s side.” Candace said thoughtfully.
“In 1821, Moses Austin purposed establishing a colony of some three hundred families in Texas, and the Mexican offered land cheap to anyone as long as they observed their laws. Mexico did this thinking it would validate their claims in America. It was at this time, that my ancestors came to Texas, and my land is where they settled,” Candace told them.
“Ok, that gives us something, although the only tie that I can see is that you have a French ancestry. Maybe, your French grandparents, brought something from France, and this Dubois guy wants it back. He at least believes it is buried on your land. We know that because of all the digging and what he said about it belonging to him, not us stupid Americans,” Stacks said thoughtfully.
“What I don’t get, is why he believes it would still be there, especially if you knew about it,” Danny Jamerson said as he twirled his knife in his hands.
“Blaster is right,’ Stacks said as he deftly took the knife out of Blasters fingers.
“For some reason these men think that Candace has knowledge of where and what the object is that they are searching for. I suggest we check out the internet to see if there has been some rumor of a Treasure in this part of Texas. We should also go to the library, and see what we can find there. Then, I think the only other thing we can do is go to Candace’s home, and find it ourselves,” Stacks said as he looked at Candace to see what she thought of the idea.
“It’s too dangerous, Stacks. What if they are still there waiting for me to come home?”
“I received a call this morning from the police, and they said that they managed to capture Dubois’s men, and that although he managed to elude them, he is probably long gone from the area. We can take a couple of the guys with us, or you can stay here, if you are worried about him.”
Candace started shaking her head before Stacks had finished talking,” No way Stacks, if you are going, I’m going too. This is my problem, and it just isn’t right to involve you and your friends,” Candace said.
“Now Miss. Candace, Edward Rothman said in his best Texan drawl, Would be shameful indeed if you would not let four big old mean Texans protect little old you. I swear you do us an injustice by saying such a thing. Not to mention the fact that you would be keeping us from having a little sporting fun with a cowardly French man.” He said as he pretended to take off a cowboy hat and dust it off on his leg.
Everyone started laughing and Sheila said, “Too bad you were born in California Edward. If it wasn’t for your lousy accent, you might have pulled it off.”
After another bout of laughing, Gloria turned to Candace and asked, “Candace, do you remember if your grandmother ever told you a story of lost treasure?”
Not that I can think of, but you have to understand, my grandmother told me stories every day. I remember the stories about how the Indians were used for guides, and how that in the eighteen-forties Americans were restricted to an imaginary line. White men overtook all lands east of the Trinity River and it’s west fork, and as a result Fort Worth is still known as the geographical point of where the west begins. My ancestors moved a little farther east in the hopes of staying out of the fighting between the military and Indians. There were still some Indian tribes in the area, but they were friendly, or so the story goes. One of my ancestors married an Indian maiden, and that is where I get my dark hair and coloring. Well at least that was what my grandmother said, but I never saw proof of it. I have found some arrow heads on my property near the river. Grandma used to say that if I searched the property, I may even find other artifacts, but no matter how hard I searched, arrow heads was all I ever found.”
“That story works for me. You could pass for a full blood Indian. Although, I have no real idea what an Indian from this area looks like,” Blaster said.
“So what would Indians have had, in this area that would make a Frenchman come here and abduct Candace and be willing to possibly kill Gloria and me for?” Sheila said thoughtfully.
“Yeah, and don’t forget Dubois said that ‘it’ belonged to him, not Candace,” Mead added.
Looking up from his computer, Collins looking shocked and a little whiter than usual said, “Candace, just how much land did your grandparents leave you?”
Understanding dawned on Candace, as she answered him; she too started looking a little sick. “One hundred acres,” she said as she slumped back in her chair.
“You have to be kidding me,” Stacks yelped as if he had been stung by a bee.
“No frilling way, will we be able to find something hidden on that much land,” Rothman said as he slowly shook his head.
“That’s just great. Now what do we do?” Gloria said.
“Collins looked at Stacks, who looked as if he had lost his best friend. Ok boss, where do we go from here?”
For the longest Stacks just sat thinking. After a while he looked towards Collins and said, “We do exactly as we planned. I for one want to help Candace, and if that means searching one hundred acres, then so be it. It will take a lot longer than we originally thought, but on the good side of that, maybe Dubois will be caught and there will not be a threat to Candace any longer. In that case, we can search on our days off. I cannot ask you guys to give up your free time, but when and if you want to help, it would be appreciated.”
“Stacks, I cannot expect you to spend all that time helping me. I have already been a burden as it is. If you will just take me to “The Bar,” I will get my car and go to a hotel. I do appreciate all that everyone has done for me, but I think I should get out of your hair and let you get back to your own lives,” Candace said as she stood up.
Stacks jumped up and grabbed Candace’s hand. “Wait just one minute Candace. Who said you were in our hair? I for have not had so much excitement since Iraq.”
“Besides that, I do not plan on losing you to that pipsqueak Frenchman, or for any other reason,” Stacks whispered to her as the others voiced their objections.
“Collins, email Henderson and see if he can find some way to narrow down our search. There has to be some records or something that caused Francois Dubois to believe Candace had something that he wanted, and to search in the area he was searching in. We have a mission, and to the best of my knowledge, the Navy Seals, or ex-Seals, never give up,” Stacks said with conviction in the steel of his voice.
To be continued…