Disclaimers: See Chapter One of Storm Surge for all the legal yada, yada.
The alarm rudely broke into Alex's dreams, and she slapped impatiently at the snooze button. She rolled over on her stomach and buried her head beneath the pillow, determined to get another few minutes sleep. She had not arrived home the night before until almost midnight, and by the time she got her briefs, and files organized for the meeting this morning, it was almost 2 am. Now at 6am, she was wishing she had gotten to bed earlier. On second thought, she decided not, because that would have meant foregoing her and Conner's love making. Just the thought of their last hour together, sent a tingling sensation down her spine.
Rolling over, she stared at the ceiling, remembering the heat, the passion, the explosive orgasms they had both experienced simultaneously. Somehow, without her knowledge, her hand drifted up and began rubbing a nipple that was quickly coming to life. Alex became aware of her roaming hand as a surge of heat rolled through her body, sending tantalizing sensation through her lower body.
"Damn, you're hopeless, Montgomery." She mumbled to herself as she threw the covers back and sat on the edge of the bed. Shutting off the clock, she eyed the last photograph she had made of Feryle. Picking it up, she stared down at the woman she thought she would spend the rest of her life with. She traced a finger over the glass, outlining the smiling lips of her lover, and wondered if Feryle would approve of her newly budding relationship with Conner.
"I do, and will always love you Feryle." Alex often sat and talked to Feryle's photograph. Somehow, it made her feel closer, and more alive. Now she was looking at the photograph, asking for acceptance, for understanding. As she sat and watched the face smiling back at her, a tear gently splashed across the glass. Wiping the moisture from the frame, she reverently placed it back on the nightstand, and stood not sure if she was ready to face the morning. Her muscles screamed as she straightened, and although the pain was uncomfortable, she smiled. "Guess I'm getting too old to be romping around the bedroom, " and smiled as she headed for the kitchen.
After a quick cup of coffee and a bagel, Alex headed for the shower. Dropping her robe on the bed, she moved to the bathroom, and turned the shower on. Waiting for the water to heat Alex brushed her teeth. As she stood, she caught her reflection in the mirror. There was something different about her face, but she couldn't quite put her finger on what it was. Shrugging off the question, she stepped under the shower, and let the warm water and the steam, relax her sore muscles. As she lathered her body, she noticed a small mark just above her breast. She shook her head, and laughed as she realized that Conner had marked her. Chuckling to herself she tried to remember the last time she had had a hickey. It had to have been when she was in college, maybe earlier that that. Normally she would have been furious, but for some reason, this morning, she just thought it was cute.
When Alex came out of the shower, she noticed the time, and knew she had to hurry if she was going to be on time for her meeting. This was her first day back at the field office, and she didn't need to be dragging herself in late. As she got dressed she remembered she wouldn't be heading directly to the office, she had an 8:00 o'clock meeting with Jack Peterson. Alex's heart raced, as she thought of the surprise she had in store for Conner, showing up to say hello, before her meeting.
Driving into the city, Alex listened to an oldies rock station, and soon found she was singing along with the music. She had decided to keep the top off of the Jeep, so the morning sir could finish waking her up. She pulled into the parking garage, and had to drive up the ramp to the third level before she found any available spaces. She was running late, and the garage was deserted. All the other personnel were probably, in their morning briefing sessions. She spotted a space at the end of the lane, and as she headed toward it she spotted Frank Bivin's walking toward the stairs. As she passed, he turned and looked in her direction, and Alex could tell by the way he stopped dead in his tracks that he had recognized her from the previous Friday night. She took her time parking and got out of the Jeep. Pulling her briefcase from the back she turned and headed towards the stairwell, hoping he had already exited on the ground level
Alex was about a half flight away from the ground level, when she turned the corner, and saw Bivin's leaning against the wall. Slowing she eyed him cautiously, and continued on her way past him. She was almost by when she suddenly she felt a hand grab her arm. Stopping, she slowly turned her head, as she struggled to keep her temper under control.
"Is there something I can help you with Officer Bivin's."
She saw the gleam in his eyes, as he understood that she had recognized him as well. "I was just going to ask how your weekend was, Agent Montgomery?"
Giving Bivin's her best smirk; she gave him one of her infamous raised eyebrows. "My weekend was fine...well except for a few sand fleas that crawled up on my beach Friday night."
Alex gave Bivin's a challenging smile. "However, I shooed them away, and hadn't really though about it again, until I saw you. Hmmm, wonder why that is, you think?"
Bivin's face turned almost purple, as Alex politely put him in his place. He tightened his grip on her arm considerably, and leaned in until Alex could smell the onion bagel he had eaten for breakfast. Pulling Alex roughly, she stumbled into his chest as he dipped his head beside her ear, breathed heavily, and growled. "You're new in town Montgomery. You'll play nice if you know what's good for you. I finally got Harris to understand, maybe during your next romantic stroll on the beach she can fill you in on the details."
Alex took a deep breath, and forced her body to relax, even though she was coiled and ready to strike. She tested the fingers on the hand pressed against his chest, and slowly slid them up to his broad muscular shoulders. Looking sheepishly up into his eyes, she whispered. "You're right...I...I'm sorry. Maybe we did get off on the wrong foot. I do want...and need the help of the local police force, and I want us all to get along."
Bivin's loosened his grip and grinned down at Alex, realizing he had gotten his message across to the lady cop without too much effort. "I knew you'd understand. We all have our...place...around here, right?"
Bivin's was now boldly looking down the front of Alex's blouse. Licking his bottom lip, he tore his eyes away from her breasts and met hers again. "Uhh...maybe sometime soon, we can get together, and I can show you around town, what do you say?"
"Well, I'm not sure that would be a good idea."
Bivin's Leaned in so close Alex could feel his breath on her face. "And why not? I'm sure I could show you a...real...good time, Agent?"
Smiling up into his face, Alex gave Bivin's an embarrassed smile. "Well...you know...it's just that..." With lightening quick reflexes, she brought her knee up and drove it deep into Bivin's crotch. Stepping back, she grinned as she watched him grab himself and slide down the wall. As he was lying on the floor, groaning, Alex noticed what an unusual color of faded green his face had turned. Chuckling, she knelt down until she was even with his face. She took his chin in her hand, and slammed his head back into the concrete wall, looking him dead in the eyes.
"Don't ever...and I mean EVER...threaten me again. Is that clear?"
Bivin's moaned and pushed to move away. Alex grabbed his hair, and lifted his face up to meet hers again. "You may think you're some big tough cowboy cop, but if you give me even the smallest reason, I'll smash you like the maggot you are."
Standing over him, she turned to walk the rest of the way down the stairs, but stopped and turned once more to see him still groaning on the floor. "Don't fuck with me Bivin's, I am way above your little league games. I was nice to you the other night, and let you save face in front of Officer Harris, but I don't give second chances." With that she turned and walked the rest of the way down the stairs and out into the fresh air.
The further she removed herself from his presence, the more she felt herself shake. He was going to be a dangerous player in her new game. She knew she would need all the help she could get from the local police force, but she would be damned before she let scum like Bivin's try to walk over her.
Taking a few deep breathes to settle herself, Alex moved through the door of the precinct. She fought her way through the mass of uniformed police heading out the door to their respective assignments. She finally managed to reach the main desk, and was greeted by the jovial man Conner had fondly called Buet.
"Good morning Agent...Uhh...Montgomery, right?
"Yes, and good morning to you?"
Buet had dropped his pen on the desk and was shuffling some papers as he asked what her could do for her.
"I have a meeting with Captain Peterson. I know I'm a little late, so if you could just point me in the right direction."
"Don't worry, they all just got in there themselves. First door on your left." Buet pointed down the hallway to her right.
Alex headed in the direction of the door as she yelled a "Thanks." over her shoulder.
As she walked down the hallway, Alex was frustrated that she hadn't gotten a chance to see Conner before her meeting. That of course was thanks to "Cowboy Cop" in the garage. Well, I'll make time to stop by on the way out, and we can plan our lunch together. She was still smiling when she knocked on the door, but it fell completely off her face when the door opened and she stood facing her new lover."
Conner stood motionless, her mouth gaping open as Alex fought to regain some semblance of composure. Both women regrouped fairly quickly, and Conner stepped aside to let Alex enter the room.
"Shadow...Um Agent Montgomery. I was just telling my task force here, how lucky we are to have you back. Come on in and have a seat we're just getting started.
Alex moved to the other side of the table to an empty seat, and put her briefcase down. Needing another minute to get herself together Alex spotted the coffee urn in the corner of the room.
"Captain, mind if I grab a cup of coffee before we begin."
"Not at all, help yourself. There's donuts over there as well."
Peterson hadn't seemed to notice the shocked recognition on the women's faces, and was now boasting to everyone in the room about how "The Shadow" had solved one of the worse cases he had ever been involved in.
"'The Shadow', came in and royally pissed every officer this side of the Georgia line off with her arrogance. First time most of these good ole boys had ever worked with a lady cop." Peterson was teasing Alex unmercifully. He knew this was the only place he could get away with it. He also knew she would never do anything to slight him in the eyes of his officers, so she stayed quiet letting him have his fun, although she did give him one of her most dangerous stares.
"OK, OK, I'll save the bedtime stories for another time. We need to get onto why we are all here."
Alex had come back to the table and, much to her unease sat down directly across from Conner. The two women locked eyes for a moment before Alex looked away. Conner could see the hurt and the anger in Alex's stare, and knew she would have a lot of explaining to do once the meeting was over.
What surprised her even more was to find out that Alex was the famous 'Shadow'. Conner had heard stories about the dangerous FBI Agent, but she would have never thought that Alex and 'The Shadow' were one and the same.
'The Shadow', was rumored to be on more than one hit list among the criminal community. She had almost single handedly taken out the Sarantos Family of organized crime. If she remembered correctly, 'The Shadow' had infiltrated the organization, and spent months gathering information against Papa Paul, while doing what she had to do to gain his trust.
She had set up a meeting between the Sarantos family, and Malcolm Hernandez somewhere down near the river, and according to the stories, she had also set up a sting intending to bring both groups down at the same time. Conner's memory was fuzzy on the tale, which was almost year old, but she did remember something about 'The Shadow' getting caught in the crossfire. She was lost in thought trying to remember the details, until she felt a sharp kick her under the table.
"...Harris, are you with us?"
"Huh? Oh right Captain, sorry I was just thinking about the case."
"Must have had a late night Harris, hope I didn't wake you?" Peterson scolded, "I was asking if you were ready to bring us all up to date on the Hernandez case. I got Agent Montgomery all the way over here to hear what you have to say, so why don't you fill us in?"
Conner could feel her face turn crimson red, as Peterson reproached her, stealing a glance at Alex, she could see even further rage, as she realized that Conner was not only on the case but one of the key players. Swallowing hard Conner wasn't sure if her nervousness was because she had to present her case to her new lover who happened to be the lead FBI Agent on the case, or if it was caused by the piercing eyes, of 'The Shadow' that seemed to be staring a hole though her.
"Well, the last time Hernandez was spotted he was somewhere in the jungles of Columbia. Sources tell us that he has a safe house there, and that's where he run's when things get hot. From what I've been able to gather on the street, that's where he ran after...umm...after Ms. Hughes was...ahh...killed last year."
Alex's head shot up at the mention of Feryle's name, and Conner could see the raw pain in her eyes. She knew she had to continue her briefing, but all she wanted to do at the moment was reach out, take Alex in her arms, and help her through this pain.
"Continue on Harris." Peterson noticed the look on Conner's face as she watched Alex. He knew this was difficult for Conner. She hated causing other people pain, and he knew she was doing just that by refreshing the events of the last year for Alex.
They had a job to do here, and it had been Alex's decision to be a part it. He would honor that decision, as long as she could handle the job. However, he also knew that he would see to it that she was grounded in a minute if the emotions, and stress of this put her or any of his officers in any unnecessary danger. He covertly watched her as Conner continued her briefing.
"Yeah, well. My sources on the street tell me he is heading back this way."
Looking at Alex, she hesitated for a moment. Alex had shaken off the initial shock of their meeting, and was sitting in front of her nervously playing with a pencil. "His ETA is...ummm...this Friday." Alex's head shot up once again at the news of Hernandez's arrival. "Seems he has a major deal going down out in an old warehouse off of 295 on Kraft Road, and wants to be here personally to see that everything goes according to plans."
"Where on Kraft Road is this warehouse?" Kevin Johnson, a tall lanky man with sandy brown hair, spoke for the first time.
"Umm, that's mostly what Seth's been working on for the last few weeks. He briefed me before e left for vacation, but I'll give you what I have. The warehouse, sits about a hundred yards off of Kraft Road, behind a 10-foot high fence topped with razor wire. It backs up to an old, apparently abandoned, railroad track that once serviced Colorado Container. We have had some under cover guys watching the place for the last few weeks, and they are coming back telling us that there has been traffic along the tracks. Usually during the day, although nothing unusual during the night."
"So what's your take on all of this Harris?" Peterson knew Conner had good gut instincts, and took advantage of hearing her opinion. He also wanted Alex to hear Conner's viewpoint. As a rule 'The Shadow' didn't trust anyone, and he knew if this case was going to be solved the two women had to develop a trust for one another, otherwise the lines of communication between his office and the FBI could be severely hampered.
"We figure that they are somehow moving the drugs into different areas along the adjoining railway. That way they are seldom in the same place twice. Once they set up the meet they transfer the goods onto those small maintenance tractors we've been seeing running up and down the tracks behind the warehouse, and offloading their stash through the back door."
"Come on Harris, you want us to believe this jerk off is running his drugs in railroad maintenance tractors?" Johnson sighed heavily, and dropped his pen on the table in frustration.
Alex turned to look at Johnson, and for the first time since she sat down spoke. "Hernandez is a ballzy guy. What better way to move his goods than in broad daylight, and he get to laugh in our face at the same time? I happen to agree with Officer Harris, he doesn't like being in one spot too long...makes him a better target. This way he can spot drop his shipments along the rail lines, and truck them in under the disguise of railway maintenance workers. How many times have you seen one of those little orange tractors rambling up the tracks? Alex's cold flat eyes landed hard on Johnson's face. "Have you ever thought that they were carrying anything more than railroad spikes, and toolboxes?"
Conner watched Alex as she spoke. The sparkle she had seen so often the last few days was gone, and replaced by that flat, dull stare she was now seeing. For the first time since they had met, Conner saw fine lines around Alex's eyes and knew she was on the edge. They would have to talk this out, and come to some understanding...they had too, she thought. I can't walk away from this case. I made a promise to Sam six months ago, that I would find the man responsible for murdering her friend, and neither Alex...or 'The Shadow' are going to keep me from delivering on that promise.
She realized, Captain Peterson, and Alex were waiting for her to continue. "Anyway, that's about all I have. I'm going back out his afternoon, to try and find out more about Hernandez's arrival time. Seth will be back tomorrow and then we can hit this thing hard. Maybe if you have some free time in the next day or two we can get together, and compare files." Conner was looking at Alex, trying to read what she was thinking.
"Yeah, well I have a lot of catching up to do at the office. I spent most of the weekend playing instead of focusing on my priorities, so now I have to pay the price." Alex's words were carefully selected, driving home the message to Conner that she regretted their weekend together, while appearing to Peterson as if she were her usual untrusting self.
Sensing the tension between the two women, Peterson cleared his throat, breaking the thick silence. "Alright. If no one has any questions, well adjourn, and meet back her...say...Wednesday, same time." He stood, and pulled out his cell phone and punched in a number, as he walked toward the window. Johnson, got up threw his coffee cup in the wastebasket, and headed out the door, leaving Conner and Alex to sit in an uncomfortable silence across from each other.
Alex was chewing on her bottom lip as she glared at Conner and slightly shook her head. After what seemed like an eternity, she raked her hand through her hair, and stood, reaching her hand across the table to shake Conner's.
Conner was a little taken aback, by the sudden movement but rose and took the other woman's hand in her own. Feeling a sudden shock at the contact of their skin. Alex closed her eyes for a moment before she spoke.
"It was...umm...interesting...meeting you Officer Harris. Maybe I'll see you around sometime." Alex's dull, flat eyes bored into her like a knife. Knowing there was no way she could explain to Alex here, she sighed an exasperated breath, and squeezed Alex's hand silently pleading with her eyes for Alex's understanding.
Alex pulled her hand from Conner's and picked up her briefcase. After one last hard, cold look at the woman, she was gone, leaving Conner standing alone.
As she waited for an opening she glanced at the front door of the precinct, and saw Conner standing there, hands in her pockets, watching. Seeing a small break in the traffic, Alex floored the accelerator and squealed into traffic, barely avoiding a collision, and paying no attention to the blaring car horns, voicing their driver's anger. After twenty or so blocks, Alex forced herself to slow down. "Damn it all", she screamed at herself as she slammed her fist into the steering wheel. "How could she do this to me?" Tears rolled down Alex's face in small rivers. They had spent two and a half days together. There had been plenty of time for Conner to tell her she was involved in the Hernandez case.
"She was thinking too much about getting laid, and knew talking about the case would put a real bummer on the mood." She raked her hand through her hair, and angrily wiped the tears from her face. She drove for half an hour, trying hard to pull herself together. She had to face all of her co-workers soon and needed to look relaxed, well, and stable. She let out a sarcastic laugh at that thought.
Stable. "Yeah, I'm real stable. Blow back into town, and in less than a week, I've slept with a woman I don't even know, and I've beat the shit out of one of the local cops. Real stable girl you are Alex...real damn stable."
She finally pulled into the parking lot to her office at 10:45. As she walked through the door, all of her old co-workers converged around her. After hugs, and handshakes, and even a few tears, she finally made her way to her old office. The warm welcome she had received lifted her spirits. She had been worried about how everyone would feel about her return. Obviously her fears had been ungrounded, and as she closed the door to the noise outside and looked around her office, she was glad she decided to come back.
She sat at her desk, and looked out the window, thinking about the meeting earlier in the day. "So you're coming home Hernandez. Well, let's just see if I can make your homecoming as shitty as mine has been. I'll make you think all is well and good, then I'll pounce, just like Conner did, and watch you fall on your face, once and for all."
The knock at her door brought Alex out of her thoughts.
"Come" Alex called as she straightened and turned in her chair to face Donald.
"Well, it's good to finally see someone better looking than Gonzolas sitting in that chair." Donald closed the door, and took a seat in one of the chairs in front of Alex's desk.
Alex tried to laugh, but her heart just wasn't into it at the moment. She managed only a lopsided smile "Thanks."
"Not to spoil your warm welcome home, but I thought you might want to know Jose' wasn't very happy that you were the one invited to the local pow-wow this morning." Rubbing his hand over his shiny baldhead Donald sat back and sighed heavily.
"Oh, and why is that?"
"Seems like our humble Agent Gonzolas, thinks he should have been the one to go since he's been sitting in that chair for the last few months." Donald rolled his eyes, and gestured towards the chair in which Alex was now sitting.
"Yeah, a lot of people around here were worried that you wouldn't be able to make the comeback."
Donald eyed Alex cautiously, seeing her eyes turn a dark blue. He knew what he had to say next would infuriate her, but he at least owed her some advance warning. "Gonzolas has made it well known that he hoped you wouldn't be back. I got the feeling he kind of liked the feel of your chair."
Alex turned in her chair and stared out the window, taking several deep breathes before she continued. "Why are you telling me this, Donald?"
"Damn Alex, you've saved my hide on several occasions. Do you really think I would let you walk back in here...and not tell you?" Donald couldn't sit still any longer, and stood to slowly pace the floor. "That's not all there is either."
"What are you now going to tell me he also took over my coffee mug in the break room?" Alex swung back around in the chair. Damn I don't need anymore shit this morning.
"Umm, actually it's a little more serious than a stolen coffee mug." Donald moved closer to the desk, and sat on the edge closest to Alex. Taking a haggard breath he briefed Alex of the information they had gathered on Jose' over the course of her absence.
"I know you have never trusted Gonzolas...and yes I thought it was just your 'Shadow' personality. However, over the last few months, I have come to agree with your opinion of our colleague." Donald looked nervous, and Alex understood that it was a result of his concern for office security.
"Umm, you know Donald. We have a lot of catching up to do. What do you say you treat me to lunch, and we can kill two birds with one of Huey's hard shell crabs?" Alex raised her brows, silently telling Donald that she didn't want this conversation to continue in the office either.
"Sure. It's been a while since I've been down to Huey's. Let me go grab my coat, and I'll meet you in the lobby, OK?"
"Sure, see you in a few minutes."
Alex remained at her desk thinking about what Donald had said about Jose'. She had always known he was at the very least a soiled, if not a completely dirty Agent. She wondered if she had finally found the rogue agent that had blown her cover in the Hernandez/Sarantos case. She knew it had been someone from the inside. It had to be.
She had covered all of her bases carefully, and had even sent Feryle out of the country for two months when things started to get hot. She had gone completely under, never going home, always near Papa Paul. There was just no way anyone in the organization could have linked her to the outside world. It had to have come from the inside.
She raked her hand through her hair, got up and walked slowly out the door. She had only walked a few steps, when she turned, and walked back to the door she had just closed. Pulling a ring of keys from her pocket, she bolted the door locked, and thought as she continued down the hallway, that she would call and have the locks changed when she returned from lunch.
Donald was waiting for her when she reached the lobby, and her suggested they walk to Huey's. This must be really serious if he wants to walk, Alex thought. They strolled down Water Street, heading west towards the landing. The Field Office was tucked in a cramped corner behind the courthouse often forcing the personnel to park several blocks down the street in one of the multi-level parking garages. Although, it was an inconvenient location for easy access it did however provide close access to many good restaurants, and a view of the St. John's River to the south.
They walked several moments in comfortable silence. Alex and Donald had spent a lot of time together. They had immediately been drawn to one another when she had been assigned to the Jacksonville Office. Donald was one of the first people she had told when she decided she was not going to hide her lifestyle. Donald was her boss, and she knew she was taking a big risk in telling him, however she also knew if they were to have a good working relationship she had to be honest with him. They had been eating lunch at Huey's the day she told him. His only reaction was to ask her if she was going to finish her crab cake.
"You remember the day I told you about Feryle?"
"Well, why is it that I have a feeling you're about to drop something as heavy right back on me today?"
They had reached the landing and Donald pointed to an empty bench in the open-air courtyard. Alex shrugged, and walked over and sat down. Donald stood to her side, looking out at a solitary boat motoring up the river, trying to decide where to start.
Alex sat quietly allowing Donald the space to gather his thoughts. He never spoke until he knew exactly what he wanted to say, and how he wanted to say it. After a few moments he sat down beside her and bent placing his elbows on his knees. "As much as I hate to admit it you were right about Jose'."
"OK, so Gonzolas is a jerk, who hoped I couldn't get back up, and had the audacity to want my desk. Is that what all this secrecy is about?"
"Only on a very superficial level, Alex. It goes much deeper than that, I'm afraid."
Donald sat back and rubbed the back of his neck trying to work out some of the tension that had settled there.
Running a hand over the dark stubble on his face, he began filling Alex in on the events of the last few months.
"Gonzolas wants a hell of a lot more than your job Alex, he wants you out completely. Although I can't prove anything yet, I think he is the one that turned rogue, and blew your cover on the Hernandez/Sarantos case."
Alex felt the adrenaline surge as she turned towards Donald. "OK, you have my complete attention here Donald, I'm listening. Now start from the beginning."
Standing, Donald held out his hand. "Come on, it's a long story, let's go eat, and I'll tell you the whole ugly story."
"A lot of things happened while you were gone Alex. Not only did her take over your desk, and your open case files, he decided he wanted to be the next shadow."
Alex only raised her eyebrows, and continued watching Donald.
"Anyway, he decided to go undercover in the Hernandez case. Everything was fine for the first few months. Of course you know how things go, he hadn't made much progress, until on day he got a call on his cellular, and took off. No one saw him for four days, and when he got back he looked like he had been beaten to an inch of his life."
Alex remained quiet, but Donald could see that she was paging through different scenarios in her mind as to what Gonzolas had been up to during those four days.
"So, he comes back, looking like shit, and trying to act as if nothing happened. Of course, I called him in and drilled him, even threatened to suspend him for disappearing, but that didn't even break him down. You know as well as I do that when you're under, you have to do what is necessary to survive. After all you're out there by yourself, but when you get back home, a total debriefing is in order. All he would say is that things were moving, and he had finally made it inside."
Alex took drink of her coffee, sat back, and looked blankly at Donald. "How deep?"
"All I know, well at least all he would tell me is that he had met Hernandez himself."
"I find that unlikely...unless?" Alex bit her bottom lip and looked out the window towards the river.
"Umm, nothing, I was just thinking out loud. Has there been any movement in the Hernandez organization that you've been able to tell since his infiltration?"
"Well rumor has it he's about to make a move, but we haven't been able to find out anything specific. Really Alex, I don't have a clue. That's why I needed you back on the case. You've been able to do more than anyone else, and with Gonzolas acting so strange, well...let's just say I'm glad our home."
Alex smiled and unconsciously chewed on her fingernail. "Why don't you give me the night to work through some ideas, then we can meet back here tomorrow after work, OK?"
Donald agreed to Alex's plan, and they continued their lunch by catching up on each other's lives. Of course Alex didn't tell Donald about Conner, but they did talk about her family, and her six months away. Donald caught Alex up on his family. Catherine, his wife had started back to law school. She spent her weeks in Gainesville, and come home on the weekends. Greg, their 22-year-old son was still at the University of Georgia. Of course, the mention of UGA sent Donald and Alex off into a debate on football, and they spent their last few minutes arguing over the upcoming season.
Donald insisted on paying for lunch, and as they walked back to the office, Alex drew very quiet.
"OK, what's up? Why are you suddenly so quiet?" Donald had led Alex over to a railing overlooking the river, and they were casually leaning against it watching the boats motor up the river.
"How's Karen?" Donald could barely hear Alex as she whispered.
"All I can tell you Alex is that she's OK, and as happy as she can be under the circumstances." Donald took in a ragged breath, and looked down at the women he had admired for so long. He hated the lost look in her eyes, and wanted to do something to make her feel better, but her knew he couldn't give her what she wanted...her sister. "You know I can't tell you more than that. She is OK, and I know that one day soon you'll be able to see that for yourself." Putting a hand on her shoulder and turning Alex to face him, he bent his head and gave her a fatherly smile. "With Hernandez, hopefully on his way back her, we can lock this thing up, and you can once and for all be free of all of this guilt you choose to carry on your shoulders. We'll get him Alex, I promise, and when we do I intend to see that you and Karen have a long vacation somewhere to heal."
Alex leaned into Donald's chest and gave him a tender embrace. He had always been there for her, and she knew he always would. She trusted him like a brother, and prayed that he was right, and she would soon get Karen home where she belonged.
"Thank you Donald."
"Don't thank me, you're going to be the one busting your ass to close this thing down. Now let's get back to work, and let you earn your pay," Donald gave her one last squeeze, and then he let her go. As they headed back to the office, Alex was more certain than ever she had made the right choice to come back. This was her time, she could feel it, and had no intention of letting anyone get in her way this time.
Continue to Part Fourteen of Storm Surge
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