Hunt asks how they will get past Bracken's guards in the hotel.

"Oh, don't worry about that," Kate smiles. "I have a plan. Meet me with the cars out front."

She takes a backup pistol from Rick, gives him a quick kiss and runs back out the door, smiling all the way.


Rick and Hunt quickly leave with Vaughan in tow, heading to a van they saw parked inside the main entrance security gate, probably the van they brought Kate in. Rick brings his Mercedes around for Kate to drive and he and Hunt will take Vaughan in the van. They all head to the hotel housing Bracken. They know there will be security in play along with surveillance cameras covering most of the route inside the hotel.

Hunt tells Rick not to worry about the cameras; he can disable them quickly and silently.

Kate, all alone in Rick's car, thinks she has finally solved the case of Janice's murder, stopped a human trafficking operation, but most importantly, she had reached the end of her quest for her mother's murderer. She knew her dad was right, that even on the worst days, there's a possibility for joy.


At just about 1:00 AM they pull up to the service entrance to the Hotel and leave Vaughan gagged, cuffed and bound to one of the seats in the back of the van. No way he is moving, let alone escape from the van. The van looks like a service van and has no windows except the two front ones. It is a simple panel van and no one can see inside. Vaughan is as good as in a holding cell sitting in the van.

Rick, Kate and Hunt all move to the service entrance door, but find it locked. Hunt has it opened in less than ten seconds. Rick exclaims, "You have got to teach me that one. It took us hours to get a freezer open once," grinning at Kate at the memory. She smiles back and heads through the door.

Rick jumps on a terminal in the food service area and finds Bracken's room on the 17th floor. "Suite on 17. Let's go."

They step off the service elevator on the 17th floor and Hunt asks once again about the guards.

Kate says, "I got it." And peels off her raincoat revealing the lingerie she was wearing in Vaughan's bedroom. "Little gift from Mr. Vaughan to Bracken. Think I can distract the guards now?"

Rick gasps, really seeing Kate in this outfit for the first time, previously being so enraged with Vaughan that he did not take in all the details.

"You could distract the walking dead in that get-up. We won't have any trouble getting the guards out of the way."

Hunt steps up and says, "Wait a sec. I'll take care of the cameras." He pulls out an electronic device and presses a button. A light blinks three times, shuts off and he says, "All clear, we can go now."

Kate walks up to the guards and turns on her Russian alter-ego, saying, "Hey big boy. Am present for Senator. Mr. Vaughan sent me. He will be pleased, yeah?"

One of them asks to see what is under her trench coat and Kate says, "Am not bringing gun, see for yourself." She opens her coat and the guards eyes bulge at the sight of this amazingly sensuous vixen.

"Maybe after, I show you good time, too, yeah? Mr. Vaughan paid all day. Senator old man, won't last that long."

About that time, both guards hit the floor before they had a chance to think about what that pleasure could have been.

Kate said, "God, Rick, thought I was going to have to strip down on them right here before you acted. What took you so long?"

"I was distracted by the Russian in you coming out to play. My God Kate, you are such a vixen. You could tease the pants off of Las Vegas Transvestite stripper!"

Kate leers at Rick and then knocks on the Senator's door. "Senator, am present for you from Mizter Vaughan. Come open door, let me please you."

They hear shuffling in the room and the door latch sliding open. Rick and Hunt have balaclavas over their faces and Kate steps back from the door. As soon as the doorknob starts to turn, Hunt and Rick both kick the door open, sending Bracken skittering across the floor.

"What the hell!" Bracken exclaims. "Where are my guards?"

"They won't do you any good. They are both 'sleeping on the job'."

"Do you know who I am? I'm a goddamn United States Senator."

"Correction, you were a goddam United States Senator. Now you are just god-damned. And shut up or you will be a dead goddamned 'whatever'."

"What is this all about? You can't just break down my door and come in here like this."

Kate now walks around the doorjamb and into the room. She has closed her coat and is once more the fearless Detective Beckett.

She speaks to Bracken. "You have the right to remain silent; I suggest you exercise that right. You will be arrested for the murder of a dancer named CJ from The Labyrinth, but more importantly, you are being arrested for the murder of my mother, Joanna Beckett. Remember her, that little bitch lawyer? Well, we have all the evidence necessary to prevent you from seeing the light of day for the rest of your miserable life. You see, we have had a long talk with Mr. Vaughan and spent a little time in his safe room. You remember that one, the room with all the video recordings of the 'fun' you perverted egotistical filthy excuses for men have had with the kidnapped girls from the club. I have a DVD of you killing a girl while she was hung up on a St Andrew's cross. You remember her, right? Pretty girl named Rashelle. And I have a recording of you ordering the murder of my mother along with the framing of Pulgatti. And don't look to your cronies for help; we have evidence on all of them also. It is going to take a bulldozer and dump trucks to clean this house after we are done. So, you are going to take a little trip with us and then you can try to explain this all to the FBI."

"Let me get dressed and I will come with you peaceably," Bracken said, hoping to avoid any physical 'encouragement'.

"Oh no, you are already more dressed than Mr. Vaughan, who we have in custody right now downstairs in our van. So, put your hands behind you back or we will put them there for you. And you had best forget who you saw in this room tonight or one dark night in prison, a friend of mine will pay you a visit and you will be all the worse for it. He is a nasty guy, all 310 pounds of him and he will make you his 'bitch', just before he ends you very slowly and brutally," Hunt says to Bracken. He complies, all the time eyeing the silenced automatic pistol being held by Hunt. They all make their way to the service elevator and back to the van; the entire time Kate is smirking at the once proud Presidential contender, now walking down the hall in his flowered boxers. Kate walks around the side of the building and enters the Mercedes to change back into her regular street clothes. Fortunately she was wearing 'normal' clothes when she went to the club before her abduction. Hunt backs the van out of the service alley and heads to the New York office of the FBI. Rick is busy writing on a pad of paper as they all move to their destination. He looks back at Bracken and notices he is glaring at Vaughan.

Neither can speak due to the gags, but that doesn't mean Bracken was not speaking volumes to Vaughan with his gaze. Something like 'How could you be such an idiot? You have sentenced us all to prison for the rest of our lives, just because of your arrogance and stupidity'.

Rick simply chuckles and thoroughly enjoys the total fury of the two as they ride to face their destiny, to pay for the sins of the many years of their reigns of terror in the business and political worlds.

Once they arrive at the FBI office, Hunt drives the van up onto the sidewalk, parking right at the front, nearly blocking the door itself. There may be some early arrivers at the office, but it is still too early for many of the employees.

Rick takes the paper he has been writing and places it under the windshield wiper, addressed to Agent Jordan Shaw. She was point person in a case where a deranged psycho had stalked Kate some time earlier. Needless to say, Rick trusted her as she now headed up a Federal Task Force investigating political corruption. He also knew she was incorruptible.

The letter to Jordan Shaw outlines the crimes of Vaughan and Bracken that are currently known, informs the FBI of the evidence in the van taped to the two felons and in the boxes accompanying them and gives directions to Vaughan's estate for the remainder of the evidence and to collect the still living henchmen they left in the locked bedroom.

They had made arrangements for Kate to meet them about a block from the FBI Field Office. From there they went to the loft to de-stress and get their stories synchronized. Hunt said they could use him as a 'scapegoat' if they needed. So they prepared a statement about what had occurred concerning Kate's abduction; that a mysterious man with the aid of an unknown assistant had freed her and let her out at Rick's loft location. Rick had been called and was told to expect Kate at the loft soon. He had just got home when Kate arrived, according to their statement. Hunt had already faded into the darkness of night, promising he would stay in touch more than he had in the past. Both Rick and Kate hoped this would be the case; they owed him more than they could possibly put into words, even for an author as gifted as Rick.

Rick and Kate made their way to the 12th at daybreak and hailed Esposito and Ryan. They had escorted Jade to a Five Star hotel uptown and then made their journey to the precinct also. Kate sat them down and relayed the story to them as she and Rick had planned. The boys understood exactly what was being said, that the story as Kate stated would be the story that went into their reports. They were informed by an anonymous source that the captors of Kate, the murderer of Janice and the abductors of several of the missing girls had been handed over to Federal Agents since the crimes they had perpetrated were of a cross-jurisdictional nature and the Feds would have primacy. The boys did not question the report, being told the murderer would be punished in Federal court for Janice's killing, along with complicity in several other heinous crimes.


Rick and Kate were just standing up from the conversation with Espo and Ryan when she suddenly felt light-headed and quickly sat back down. She apparently was still feeling the effects of the drug that had been administered by her kidnappers and Rick insisted she be checked out at the local emergency room. He helped her up from the table and once she was standing, she felt fine again. Rick still was adamant she be checked out by medical personnel, not knowing what she had been given by the two men in the back of the club. Kate relented and walked with Rick to his car.

They drove to the emergency room, talking about the events that had happened over just the last two short days. What turned out to be an investigation into a possible human trafficking ring turned out to be a case with International ramifications and one that would shake the foundations of business and politics. They still did not know how high the entire investigation would go; who was involved in the trafficking ring and who overseas would be implicated. All they really cared about was that Bracken and Vaughan had been captured, that incontrovertible evidence had been collected that would, without a shadow of a doubt, convict Bracken for the murder of Kate's mother and many others. In addition, Vaughan would pay for the death of Janice Goodnight, an innocent in this web of intrigue.


Kate told the emergency room physician about the injected drug and immediate unconsciousness and needed to know what it was and any short or long term effects of the drug itself. A nurse entered and took a small sample of Kate's blood and sent it for priority analysis.

Rick and Kate waited in the examination room, watching the small television provided for the patients in emergency care. While they watched, the news broke on Bracken's and Vaughan's arrest for murder, complicity of murder, racketeering, human trafficking, kidnapping, Federal Contract fixing, extortion and a host of other charges. The feeding frenzy had already begun and more names were being mentioned as evidence was being collected at Vaughan's estate in upper New York State. It was going to be the sensation of the century for political power abuse and for the debauchery of the torture and trafficking of young women. The club was mentioned as a place of interest and all staff and members of the club were under investigation.

It was also mentioned that the case could not have been broken if not for the involvement of the homicide detectives of the NYPD 12th precinct, specifically of those under Captain Montgomery. The Captain sung the praises of his detectives, saying there were none finer than those of the 12th.

Kate and Rick were astonished the 12th was singled out by the report from the FBI, but they knew Hunt was behind the news leak to the FBI. Also didn't hurt Shaw was so good at her profiling of the Castles.

About that time the emergency room physician came back in and said to Kate, I have good news and better news. Which do you want first?"

Kate said, "The good news."

"The drug that was used on you is a fast acting tranquilizer used for surgical purposes. There will be no side effect at all once the remaining drug works its way out of your system, about 48 to 60 hours after administration."

"OK, if that was the good news, what's the better news? I don't know how anything could be much better than that."

The doctor smiled and simply said, "There will be absolutely no effect on the baby either."

"WHAT?" simultaneously from two voices.


A/N: Thanks to all who have followed along on this ride with Emerald and me. It has been a real challenge to me to write my first case related story and it was a true delight to finally get to this point. Not sure if there will be another installment of the Emerald journey, but I am always seeking ideas and will resurrect her if the inspiration strikes.

And as always, a very sincere thank you to a very special lady and muse, purplangel, for her continued guidance and support in this endeavor. She has been at my side for the entire story and has kept me on the straight and narrow during the formulation and development of this tale of The Castles. Thank you.