The Girl, The Gold Ring, And Everything
The Five Of Hearts Series
By Thomas Mc

Again, Sorry it took so long to get this chapter posted. Originally this story was supposed to end with the weddings but then The Senator decided to show up in New York and things got complicated.

Chapter 18

It was a little over a month since Byron and Jennifer had returned from their honeymoon and life seemed to have settled down into a relatively normal domestic routine. They now lived together in Byron's newly finished home. The smaller house on the other side of the property was going to be rented out to Shelbe and another friend from the University starting on the beginning of the summer semester.

Most of Jennifer's free time was spent preparing for her finals and Byron was back to his normal long hours at The Senator's office. Sometimes, if their evening started early enough, they would pop a rented movie into the player and eat dinner together while watching the movie. But late evenings and the nights were strictly for the two of them and they made the most of their nights together. Also Jennifer's tendency for nocturnal ramblings seemed to have disappeared. She had told him that she preferred staying in with him. The hooded cloak hung, unused, on the coat tree beside the front door.

~ o ~

Byron glanced up from his desk and noticed that The Senator was looking his way through the open office door. There was a speculative expression on his face. Byron had noticed this several times over the last couple of weeks. He couldn't help worrying about what it might mean.

The Senator had not said anything about the New York wedding or about Vincent and his sons since that first day after returning from his honeymoon. Byron often found himself wondering just what his mentor really thought about his more unique in-laws. Sometimes late at night he and Jennifer would talk about that day when The Senator and his wife had showed up unexpectantly and seen Vincent and his sons.

Byron was distracted from his thoughts by the arrival of the head of the Texas Railroad Commission. The Senator immediately directed the man into his office and closed the door.

Byron had always been amused by the title of that department. The Railroad Commission had very little to do with the railroads. That department regulated the production and distribution of all forms of energy within the state which made it much more powerful than the title would lead one to believe. The Senator had had several meetings with the Commissioner over the last week and a half, and Byron had yet to get any hint about what might be going on

Byron returned to his current task though he continued to speculate about what all those meetings might be about. There had been a lot of push back throughout the state over some of the recent, rather draconian, EPA rules. Byron suspected that these meetings were related to that situation.

A couple of hours later the Railroad Commissioner left and The Senator handed Byron a folder containing a thick stack offhand written notes, typewritten pages, and a few Xerox copies. "This is not to be made public." His mentor remarked in a low voice. "I need you to turn this mess into a presentable bill." He clapped Byron on the shoulder while giving him an encouraging smile. "I have faith that you can handle this." The Senator then returned to his office.

Byron stared down at the folder in surprise. This was a very important task. Byron had helped in the crafting of many bills in his years with The Senator but this was the first time that he had been made personally, and solely, responsible for creating a bill from the ground up. Also, apparently, this bill was to be kept secret until it was ready to be presented to the Senate so Byron would have to do most of the work himself. Any outside research he did would have to be presented in a way that would not give away the content of the bill.

Resisting his rampant curiosity, Byron set the folder off to the side then took a half hour to finish up what he was currently working on. Next he quickly checked through the stuff in his 'in' basket to see if there were any critical items that needed to be turned over to someone else to be dealt with. Finally Byron turned his attention to new folder.

As Byron began sorting through the papers he quickly realized that there was good reason for the secrecy. This bill was going to be a political powder keg. When this thing came before the Senate there would be major fireworks. And the Federal EPA would definitely have a fit as well. Some of the recent Federal regulations had been putting serious, and unnecessary, restrictions on the state's energy industry. The new bill he was supposed to craft was designed to use the State's Rights issue to push back against the more egregious regulations. If this managed to survive the Texas congress and become law it would become the focus of a major constitutional crisis sparking a far reaching State's rights battle between Texas and the Federal government. He would have to be very careful with the final wording or the whole thing could backfire and cause The Senator serious political damage.

With a deep sigh of determination, Byron settled down to the task of slogging through all the paper. He would be trying to get a complete picture of exactly what type of bill it would take to fulfill the intentions spelled out in them. Half of the documents were facts and statistics to back up the purpose of the propositions that he would try to turn into a bill.

~ BnB ~

Byron had spent every free moment of the last few weeks on the explosive energy bill that The Senator had given him. Most of that time had been spent researching everything he could find on State's Rights versus Federal authority. The subject had turned out to be much more complex and contradictory than he had realized. His biggest problem had been sorting out the many laws and rulings that contradicted each other trying to determine which ones had precedence.

Because of the secrecy surrounding his endeavor he had been forced be very circumspect when looking for clarification in some of the more confusing matters of law and court rulings. In the end his best and most discrete sources had been his oldest brother and Jennifer's mother. Henry and Omeara's expertise in Texas law relating to the Energy business had been invaluable. Catherine had been able to answer many of his questions about the Federal side through her many unusual connections. He often wondered what The Senator would think if he knew how much this bill was becoming a family affair.

Now it was time to assemble all of the information into a coherent bill that would stand up for itself both during the process of becoming a law and during the challenges the law would face when it was put into action. If this thing ended up in the Supreme Court, which seemed very likely if it became Texas law, it could very well set a major legal precedent for decades to come. That was when it really hit him. His efforts on this thing would very likely mark a major event in Constitutional and Legal History.

He opened a new word document and began to type. Every few minutes he would pause to review his copious notes or to consult a thesaurus.

~ BnB ~

Byron picked up Jennifer and swung her around in triumph.

The energy bill that he had crafted had drawn massive praise from his mentor. The end product had been surprisingly brief, only twenty pages, yet had managed to cover everything that The Senator had wanted. The bill had been accompanied by a longer document that explained and justified the need for the bill.

The Senator invited Byron and Jennifer over to have dinner at his house and tomorrow the new bill would be presented to the Texas Senate.

~ o ~

The dinner at The Senators house had been a very pleasant affair. Most of the conversation had revolved around current events and plans for the immediate future. Afterwards they had been given a quick tour of The Senator's home. While in the library The Senator had shown great pride in his ownership of a genuine Kristopher Gentian painting.

He was quite surprised and intrigued to learn that Jennifer's parents were the owners of a completely unknown Kristopher Gentian. He was especially intrigued when he was told that the subject of the painting was Vincent and Catherine.

As the evening came to a close, The Senator told Byron that he should be in the Visitor's gallery when the Energy bill was presented to the Senate. After that Byron was to take a week off to decompress and spend time with his bride.

~ BnB ~

September 2014

Byron smiled with pride as Jennifer placed her diploma on the wall of their library alcove. Jennifer had worked hard for that degree. No sooner had they presented it to her than the University had offered her a position in their Geology department.

They embraced then she received hugs from her mother and Byron's parents. Next they all headed out the door. They were taking Jennifer to The Oasis to celebrate.

~ BnB ~

Summer 2015

It was a year after the passage of Byron's very controversial yet, so far bulletproof energy bill. The Texas Energy Law had even survived it's first Supreme Court challenge; thought there were two more challenges currently working their way through the appeals system.

The Senator had announced his intention to run for Texas Governor. He was running on a platform of State's rights and Civil responsibility. His Energy bill was a major part of his campaign. On stepping down from his position as a senator he had appointed Byron as his interim replacement citing Byron's work on the energy bill 'among many other accomplishments' for his decision.

Byron's new job was only temporary until the next election. His mentor advised him to use the time to establish himself as a viable permanent replacement. A few months later Byron found himself running for his seat in the Texas Senate and his campaign was being handled by the same people that were handling The Senator's campaign for Governor.

Byron joked to Jennifer that his political future was literally riding on the coat tails of his mentor's bid for Governor and it was now in the hands of the voters.

~ BnB ~

November 2016

The Victory party was a massive affair. Byron and his mentor faced each other at the center of the chaos and toasted each other's victory. Byron was now a duly elected Texas State Senator and his long time mentor was now the Texas State Governor elect.

Beside him Jennifer's face beamed with pride in her husband. The slight bulge in her middle was only noticeable to those who knew what to look for but Byron was very aware of it. That bulge was as much responsible for his smile as the election win.

The new governor's wife gazed at her own husband with pride as they exchanged comments and wise cracks about the recent campaign.

The Governor became more serious as he spoke directly to Byron. "You remember everything I taught you and stay true to yourself and you will make a great senator." His gaze shifted to Jennifer. "And congratulations to the both of you." He patted his wife's hand and lowered his voice. "And don't forget my wife's offer when the time comes."

~ BnB ~

Summer 2017

"Ok, Jennifer, relax for a moment." The doctor's voice advised her. "Dilation is at maximum, so, on the next contraction I want you to push."

You're doing great Sweetheart." Byron remarked encouragingly.

Jennifer looked around at the others in the room. On her right holding her hand was Byron, coaching and encouraging her. Just to her left stood The Governor's wife, also supplying encouragement as well as assisting the doctor. The doctor, who was also The Governor's brother-in-law, was running the show from the business end of this affair.

The doctor spoke again. "Ok, here it comes. Push! It's crowning!"

"Push, Sweetheart." Byron encouraged her. "You can do it"

"Here it comes!" The doctor cried out.

Then it was over. After a moment of silence the cry of an infant outraged by its sudden change of environment filled the room. After a few seconds checking over the baby the doctor remarked in triumph. "Congratulations, Jennifer. You have a perfectly healthy baby girl."

The doctor set the wriggling infant into the towel being held by the Governors' wife. She carefully wrapped her up while the doctor dealt with the usual aftermath of normal birth. She leaned over showing the perfectly normal baby to her new parents. "She is so beautiful, just like her mother." She remarked. "Whatever genes she inherited from her grandfather don't seem to have affected her appearance any . . . With the exception of those beautiful blue eyes."

Jennifer reached out with her free hand to caress the baby's cheek. "Oh, Byron, she's lovely."

Byron grinned, fit to split his face wide open as the infant was place in her mother's arms. "Welcome to your new home Jamie Catherine Wyatt. I'm your father and this beautiful woman holding you is your mother."

The End

This Chapter in th lives of the Chandler-Wells family is finally done and it's time for me to move on to the too many other stories that I wish to write. I will be back when those stories are ready to post.

'Beauty and the Beast' and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. No infringement on copyrights is intended. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans. Original concepts and story elements may be used by other authors as long as appropriate credit is given.