Disclaimers: See Chapter One of Storm Surge for all the legal yada, yada.
Alex had spent the remainder of the day sorting through all the paperwork on her desk. Her cell phone and pager had gone off several times, but she steadfastly refused to answer Conner's calls or pages. She was back at her job, the only thing she could depend on to be a constant in her like anymore. She did not need any one, especially a lying, conniving woman like Conner in her life.
Leaning back and stretching her neck, Alex thought about the past weekend. Well, Conner had not exactly lied, but she had conveniently failed to tell Alex about a very important part of her life. Standing and walking to the window, Alex let out a tired sigh. If truth were known, she thought, I wasn't exactly honest with her either. Conner had come right out and asked her about Sal, and she had shrugged it off saying he was just an old friend. She had purposely pulled Conner into the situation by taking her to breakfast at Sal's, and then did not reveal that he had been her main informant during the Hernandez case. Well that was business Alex thought, then realized that Conner could use the same excuse. Running her hand through her hair, she walked back to her desk, deciding she had had enough of work her first day back. What she needed was a good long run on the beach.
She stopped by Donald's office to let him know she was heading out for the day. He was on the phone when she entered, and noticed the startled look on his face when she walked in. He quickly ended the call, and walked her out to the Jeep.
"You're going to have to come over sometime in the next week of two for dinner. I know Catherine want to see you for herself. You are all she talked about last weekend when she was home." Donald rolled his eyes. "Soon, or she'll never forgive me, promise?"
Laughing Alex agreed, and promised to get with him during the week to make plans.
Traffic was light on I-95 as she headed home. She left the warm wind push the tension from her shoulders as she drove south. When she reached the house, she dropped her briefcase on the sofa, and quickly changed into her running clothes. She quickly downed a powerbar, and a glass of juice, and was soon running down the beach.
Alex blocked everything except the sea breeze out of her mind as she ran. The sun was setting over the horizon, but the heat of the day was still evident as sweat began rolling down her face, and between her breasts. Alex continued to run focusing only on the cadence of her steps on the sand, and she stopped only when her legs screamed in pain from the exhaustion. She stopped, and bent with her hands on her knees, breathing hard. She did not know how long she had been running until she looked up, and realized she was almost to JT Blvd, at least five miles north of her house. Great Montgomery, a 10 miler is OK for the weekend, but damn not a Monday night. She turned and started in a slow jog in the direction of home.
About two miles from the house she stopped, and dropped to the ground, deciding to sit for a few minutes and let her legs recover. She watched as several couples walked by holding hands, and enjoying the romantic sunset. She let her mind drift back to her weekend with Conner. Damn her, why did she have to go and ruin everything. She could have just been honest with me? Maybe I wouldn't have been so carefree, and slept with her, but at least I wouldn't have gotten the slap in the face I got thins morning. Slowly Alex stood up and began walking, I really like her, damn it, but I can't get involved with her if she is this close to Hernandez. I've already lost someone I love to that murderer; I won't give him a chance at another. She ran a hand through her wet hair, telling herself she would be bald by the time she was 40 if she didn't control the bad habit.
"I can't." She said aloud, as she walked up the steps to her deck.
"You can't what?" A voice in the darkness asked.
Alex jumped at the sound. She had not expected to have company when she returned, and certainly not the woman she that sitting on her deck in a lounge chair waiting for her.
"What do you want Conner?"
"I want to talk"
"I don't think we have anything to say to one another." Alex crossed her arms across her chest, and gave Conner a dark stare.
"I think we have a lot to talk about Alex." Conner sat forward, spreading her legs to straddle the extended leg rest of the lounger. "First, I think we need to talk about our meeting this morning, and why you got so mad that I was there." Alex started to speak, but was interrupted by Conner's continued speech. Secondly, I think I have a right to know why you stormed out, and left me standing there. Conner's voice was now rising in pitch and volume, and Alex watched her face turn dark, as her eyes glistened with tears. "Thirdly, and most importantly I might add, I'd like to know why you stood me up for lunch today, and would return my calls or pages." Conner threw her hands in the air making her point. "After we clear all of that out, I'm sure we can find other things to chat about, but that will do for starters."
Alex could only stare at Conner, not knowing just how to respond. She could tell Conner was upset, but for the life of her, she could not understand why. Leaning against the railing, Alex took a deep breath. Well, to answer your first question. I don't think there is anything to discuss. You didn't tell me this weekend of your involvement in the Hernandez case, I can only assume that was a purposeful omission. You hadn't planned on my involvement, and were obviously surprised when I appeared through the door. Secondly, I left because I didn't think we had anything else to say to one another. I have to deal with liars and cheats everyday at work, I don't need them in my personal life." Alex walked to the door, and slid the glass open. "The answer to question number three is the same as for question number two." Alex moved through the door and as she was sliding the glass shut, she heard Conner quietly speak.
"I didn't lie to you, and I would certainly never cheat on you, Alex." Conner turned and stood facing the other woman. You don't know how many times I started to tell you this weekend, but...but I just couldn't." Conner swiped her face wiping the tears away. I knew one of two things would happen. Either you would turn your back on me and walk away, or you would want me off the case." Raking her hand through her hair, she looked at Alex with pleading eyes. "I couldn't stand the thought of you walking away, and I can't take myself off the case. I made a promise to someone that I would break this thing, and I will, or I'll die trying." Conner walked toward Alex and gently cupped her face in her hands.
"Please Alex, don't turn away from me...I need you."
"No" Alex's eyes were hard cold stones staring back at Conner.
"Yes, I don't want to go through this without you."
"I can't" Conner's voice was pleading.
"I promised someone, I would break it."
Curling her lips in a cruel snarl, Alex's voice cracked as she yelled. "Well, why don't you just go back to that person...maybe she'll be more...understanding?"
"I can't." Conner's eyes begged Alex to stop pursuing the reasons why and just accept the fact that she could not quit.
"I can't do this Conner. I've already lost someone I cared about to this killer. I can't...no I won't allow myself to care for you." Alex's voice was filled with emotion, and tears flowed freely down her cheeks. "I'm sorry Conner, maybe at a different time, and a different place, we might have been good, but I'm sorry I just can't."
"No Conner. If you refuse to take yourself off this case, then no."
Conner's eyes, and temper flared, as Alex gave her an ultimatum. "Would you have quit for Feryle, Alex? If she'd asked you?"
Alex's felt like Conner had slapped her in the face, and both women heard the quick gasp she took. For a moment she was speechless as she processed Conner's question, then a blank mask fell across her face. "Leave Conner, before we both say things we'll regret." Alex moved to close the door, but Conner placed her foot on the track stopping the sliding door.
"Alex, God I'm sorry, I didn't mean it the way it sounded. Please it doesn't have to be like this."
Alex looked down at Conner's foot, and when she raised her head, Conner got a glimpse of the face of 'The Shadow'. Alex stared unblinking at Conner, the expression on her face emanated darkness and danger. For a long moment they stood, eyes boring into the others, until Conner finally broke the stare, threw her head back, and sighed heavily, and then removed her foot. Alex, quickly shut the door, and as Conner dropped her head, all she saw was Alex's back turning into the hallway, and a moment later, the house went dark.
Conner stood at the glass door trying to decide what she should do. She knew she could easily compromise the door. She needed to continue her talk with Alex, but was afraid if she forced her way into the house she would be conversing with 'The Shadow' instead, and that wasn't something she was willing to risk at the moment. Frustrated, Conner sat back down in the deck chair, and stared out at the ocean. It was dark, but she could hear the waves crashing against the shore. She sat for a moment then moved, walked down to the beach, and sat on the sand.
She let all of the emotions of the last few month's crash, in unison with the waves. The tears she shed were for love lost on the brink of blossoming, for Alex and her pain and fear, for Sam and her lose of a good friend, and finally for herself and what could have been. Conner cried for a long time, her sobs drowned out by the waves. When the sobs finally slowed to silent mourning, Conner rose and walked back towards the house. She stood, just off the deck looking at the door Alex had closed in her face, and wanted nothing more than to go inside and hold Alex, until all of her fears were pushed away. Instead, she turned and walked around the side of the house, and got in the Jag, and slowly drove away from the woman that had in a few short days stolen her heart, and her future.
Alex sat in her office staring as the screensaver on her computer made swirling designs. She had turned off all of the lights in the house as she walked through, and now sat thinking about her comment to Jack Peterson a few days earlier. She may not have intended to let 'The Shadow' come home with her, but as she sat here in the darkness, she acknowledged that 'The Shadow' and herself were one and the same. They were a package deal, whether she liked it or not.
'The Shadow' had completely blanketed the house in darkness, not Alex. Alex knew Conner would not purposely do anything to harm her. 'The Shadow', however never took any chances, and knew the darkness inside provided an advantage, allowing her to watch the movements on the exterior of the house, while preventing anyone outside from seeing in.
'The Shadow' had stood at the kitchen window and watched as Conner sat on the deck, then moved out towards the beach. 'The Shadow' interpreted the tears the other woman cried as a weakness to be exploited, Alex saw the tears in the woman as pain to be soothed. The contrast of surging emotions soon tore the woman from the window and to the comfortable unemotional surroundings of her office. Alex sat there, alone...lonely, wanting nothing more than to go outside and bring Conner back inside with her, 'The Shadow' knew that Conner was better off outside shut out from the danger. Alex needed to wrap the other woman in her strong arms...to protect her, 'The Shadow' needed to push the other woman away in order to protect her.
The argument in Alex's head continued until her head was pounding. She stood and walked to the front window, pulled the blinds apart slightly, and looked out into the drive. Conner's car still sat there empty. Alex moved back to the kitchen window and looked out at the beach, and saw Conner still sitting in the same spot she had been in over an hour ago. With tears in her eyes, Alex turned and walked to her bedroom.
Alex had been lying in bed listening for Conner's car. A part of her could not stand what she was doing to the other woman, another part of her knew it was the only thing she could do. She pounded the pillow trying to beat a comfortable spot for her head, and rolled over on her side facing the front wall. She lay there for a long time until she heard a car door close. Rising quickly, she parted the blinds, and saw Conner standing beside her car looking back at the house. Even in the darkness, Alex could tell the woman had been crying, and felt a pain rip through her heart. Alex watched as Conner slowly turned, dropped into the Jag, and slowly disappeared into the darkness of the car.
"Conner stop" Alex was running towards the car, frantic to get to the other woman.
Just as the words left her lips, the explosion ripped through the darkness. The force of the blast threw Alex off her feet, sending her reeling backwards. The inferno created from the exploding gas tank sent flames reaching for the sky. The teasing fingers of the fire licked the trees, and the hot wind blowing off the blaze forced Alex to retreat several feet away.
"Nooooo" Alex screamed into the darkness.
As she lay there on the ground, a movement caught her eye near the road. Standing there beside a black car Malcolm Hernandez stood, arms linked across his chest in a proud defiance. As Alex turned her head and made eye contact, the man threw his head back and roared with laughter.
Alex shot up in the bed sweat drenching her body, her chest heaving as she tore herself from the nightmare. She covered her face in her hands as the images of the explosion replayed in her mind, and she could almost feel the heat of the flames on her skin. Throwing back the covers, she sat on the side of the bed waiting for the terror I her body to subside. On shaky legs, she walked to the bathroom, and leaned over the sink, splashing cold water on her face.
Looking at her own reflection in the mirror she saw panic stricken eyes stare back at her as tears welled up on the bottom lids and streaked down her cheeks. The sobs that raked Alex's body came in a violent surge, and she dropped to the tile floor, as her legs gave out beneath her. She leaned against the wall, succumbing to the heart wrenching pain, as she thought about Conner, and the danger she was unknowingly walking into. No one knew what Malcolm Hernandez was capable of more than Alex. She had lived the nightmare before only it had been Feryle sitting in the car.
Alex pulled a towel from the rod above her head and buried her face in it as she let her body lean and curl up in a fetal position on the cool tile floor. When her tears finally subsided, she fell into an exhausted sleep.
Alex was once again torn from her sleep only this time it was her body screaming. The cold hard tile floor had caused her muscled to stiffen, and her healing injuries were aggravated by the inconsiderate action. Opening her eyes Alex saw the soft morning light was peeking in through the blinds, and realized that she had spent several hours curled up on the floor. She reached for the sink, and pulled her aching body erect. Looking in the mirror she saw the dark circles under her eyes which testified to the to the horrendous night she had just endured. Signing heavily, Alex splashed cold water on her face, trying to wash away the redness that had invaded her eyes. She knew she looked like hell, and wanted nothing more than to crawl back into bed, knowing she had a long day ahead of her, trudged down the hall to the kitchen.
It was only 6am, as she started the coffee maker. She did not have to be at the office until 9, which gave her three hours to pull herself together. While she waited on the coffee, she walked into her office and flipped the switch on her computer sending the machine into a series of beeps and grinds. She sat there thinking about what Conner had said the night before; she had promised someone that she would break the case, but who could it be?
Alex knew that Conner and Sam had been lovers, but could not believe that Sam would have asked Conner to step into such a dangerous situation, especially since Conner herself had told Alex about Sam's fear of her work. No, it could not be Sam. Alex heard the coffee pot beep, and walked back to the kitchen to retrieve a cup, knowing without it she would be completely useless. She stood looking out over the deck at the chair Conner had sat in the night before. Her eyes followed the trail down to the beach and she saw the indention in the sand where the other woman had sat for a long time crying. Running her hand through her tangled hair, Alex went back into her office and switched on her monitor. She activated the FBI database and typed in Conner's name.
She felt a tinge of shame for checking up on Conner, but she had to know more about the mysterious woman. Hernandez was a devious man, and not above planting someone in Alex's life to keep an eye on her. Damn you're getting paranoid Montgomery. She read over the files the FBI had in the database, covering her career in the JPD. Her record was exemplary. Alex was impressed with the number of arrests, and subsequent convictions attributed to Conner. Alex knew that there was no District Attorney alive that could convict anyone unless tedious, and accurate investigative work had been completed. Obviously, Conner was a good detective, or she would not have gotten such high numbers. Alex switched over to the personal information, and saw that the information Conner had revealed the previous weekend about her family was accurate.
The FBI always did in-depth background checks on anyone working closely with their organization. The checks included many things such as family, and work history, financial records, personal relationships, past and present, and of course the usual criminal background investigation. The FBI never trusted the local police departments background checks. They knew only too well, how long forgotten associations, and criminal offences fell through the cracks.
As she read, she felt herself be drawn into Conner's world. Her mother had died when she was 17, leaving her father to raise his only child alone. He resided in Hilton Head, South Carolina with his second wife Irene, whom he had not married for almost ten years after his wife's death. As Alex read, she came across the financial records. Here Conner had been a little evasive during their weekend together, and Alex saw why...Conner's assets totaled a little more than thirty-five million dollars. This had apparently thrown up a flag with the FBI and led her to several more pages concerning Conner's wealth.
As she read, she saw that Conner had been honest about inheriting money from her grandfather, although to Alex's surprise, that had only been about three million in cash and several dozen parcels of real estate. Delving deeper into the records Alex found that Conner had invested most of the cash into prime real estate along the East Coast, and had almost doubled her net worth in the last 13 years by selling off some of the properties to developers wanting to build Hotels, and tourist attractions. Conner Harris was, at the present time, worth more that thirty-five million dollars.
She was impressed by the list of developers and corporations, which had purchased her property. Marriott and Hilton Hotels, to name only two. As she scanned the list Alex's eyes stopped on one name in particular, Watson, Langston, and Hughes. Alex sat back in her chair and stared at the computer screen. The property Watson, Langston, and Hughes had purchased had been developed into a shopping mall not far from where Alex sat. The company had purchased the property almost five years ago for a price of five million dollars.
Alex thought about the development, sitting just down the road and shook her head at the memories flowing through her head. Alex remembered the evening Feryle had come home and told her about the purchase. Her stomach had tightened into a hard knot of muscles, as Feryle explained what the company, of which she was a partner, had decided to do. The excitement on her lovers face somehow eased the sick feeling she had about Feryle risking all she had worked for on one huge project.
It had taken months to complete the Architectural design, and another two years to build, but just as Feryle had promised the project was a huge success. Feryle had known she was risking their financial future on this project, and when the mall was completed and the success apparent; she had put her holdings of the project in both their names. The partners of the firm had each retained a twenty percent share of ownership, and had sold the remaining forty percent to various investors to raise the money to complete the project. After Feryle's murder, Alex had inherited everything from her partner, and was now held twenty percent ownership of the mall. She had not told anyone of the ownership, being a little embarrassed herself to be a partial owner in such a lucrative venture. The money she took in from that investment along could provide a financial freedom to Alex for the rest of her life. She understood Conner's hesitancy to boast of her wealth. Some people just would not understand.
Pulling her thoughts back to the present Alex continued to examine the file on Conner Harris, she read the rest of the financial data and seeing no suspicious dealing, then switched back to the personal file. She scanned the personal data, and realized that the FBI had not picked up on Conner and Sam's relationship, marking Sam as only a roommate, and completing only cursory background check into her life.
Taking a sip of her coffee, Alex frowned as the cold liquid hit her mouth, rising she went to the kitchen to get a fresh cup, then headed down the hall to get ready for work. Alex showered quickly and spent a little more time than usual on her make-up. She knew Donald did not think she was ready to come back to the agency full time, and she did not want to give him a reason to slow her return. Looking in the mirror at her reflection, satisfied that she had done all she could to hide the dark circles under her eyes, she headed out of the house. As she pulled the front door open an envelope fell to her feet, looking around the yard Alex slowly bent and picked it up, turning it in her hand. She saw her name written on the front of the envelope. She shut the door and walked over to the sofa, tearing open the flap as she sat. Alex pulled out a single sheet of yellow legal paper, and looking at the bottom of the note, she saw Conner's signature. Leaning back into the soft cushions, she read the brief letter Conner had most likely placed in her door the night before.
I don't know what you think of me at this moment, I really don't know what I think of myself either. I can't begin to tell you how sorry I am for my comments about Feryle last night. I was hurt, and desperate to get you to see things from my perspective, and didn't consider your feeling in the process. I can only hope that you will be able to forgive me one day.
I am sorry I can't end my involvement in this case. Just as you, I have made a commitment to see this through, and even though I know my staying on the case means I will lose any chance I might have with you. I can't quit Alex...I made a promise...and no matter what my personal feelings are I will see it through. I hope you understand.
I do want you to know that this past weekend was very special to me. Nothing I did or said this weekend was meant to deceive you. I know I should have told you, but I followed my heart for once, and as usual, it let betrayed me. I will always hold this past weekend dear, and remember the warmth we shared; I hope you will as well.
We have to work together on this case, and even though it is going to be difficult for both of us, I know we can both put our personal feeling aside and put this nightmare to an end. I will not call or page you unless I have something to forward about the case. I don't intend to beg or make a fool of myself any more than I already have. However, always remember that I do care deeply for you, more than I ever have for anyone, probably more than I should, but nonetheless...I do
Take care Alex, and know I will always be here if you ever
Alex sat for a long time and stared at the words Conner had written, words penned from her heart. Slowly Alex folded and tucked the letter back into the envelope and placed it on the coffee table. Sighing heavily, she stood and once again opened the front door, and made her way to work.
Walking through the front door at the field office Alex felt a heavy weight settle in her soul. She knew the next few days were going to be tough ones, getting prepared for Malcolm's arrival on Friday. Unlocking her office door, she stepped into the darkened room. The hair stood up on the back of her neck as she sensed rather than saw another presence. Reaching out and flipping the light switch, the light flooded the room exposing the intruder sitting at her desk.
"Don't you know changing the locks can't keep me out of where I want to be?"
Alex smirked at the man sitting at her desk with his feet propped up on a stack of files. "What are you doing in my office Jose'?" Alex asked as she moved to the corner of her desk and with one swipe pushed his feet off her desk.
"I know you enjoyed keeping my chair warmed while I was away, but I'm back now so you can take yourself back down the hallway to your cubicle where you belong." Alex knew her words made her seem like a bitch. However, she wanted Jose' to know up front that she was back and capable of handling her job, and furthermore had no intention of backing down to the schoolyard bully that he liked to mimic.
Jose' glared at Alex as she stood, waiting for him to vacate her chair. He took his time standing and intentionally contacted her shoulder with his as he moved to the door. He turned and glared at the woman he hated and admired at the same time. "Welcome home Alex, sorry I missed your little party yesterday, but I was out working the case while you were all here eating cake and ice cream." He opened the door and moved to leave then turned around again and shut the door. "A lot of progress has been made on this case Alex, in spite of your absence. You need me if you want to salve this thing before anyone else gets hurt. Remember that. I'll be around when you get ready to come down to the dungeon and chat with this little peon." He turned and walked out the door, shutting it harder than he should have, but not as hard as he would have liked.
Storming down the hall Jose' decided he wouldn't help Alex at all until she came to him, and admitted she needed his help. In his opinion, everyone in this organization was in it for himself or herself, doing whatever necessary to get ahead, and move up the ladder. He was just one of many fighting his way up the rungs, and saw this case as a way to solidify himself in the agency. He would be damned if some woman was going to slow him down. They called her 'The Shadow', and he intended to make Alex Montgomery just that, a shadow of what she once was. He grabbed his keys from his desk, and not speaking to any of the other officer's, who had watched his stormy entrance, slammed out the door into the parking lot.
Alex sat at her desk and thought of the near altercation with Jose'. She could not blame him for being somewhat angry. When she had been injured, and had to take a leave of absence to recover, she had left a gaping hole within the administration of the office. Jose' was the most likely predecessor, and had been assigned as interim Assistant SAC. Like most other agents, Jose' hadn't thought she would be able to return, at least not in her former capacity, and Alex was sure he was angry at being booted back down into the ranks again since her return. She couldn't help it if his macho ego was hurt, this was her desk, and her job, and she wasn't going to give it up, and it would take someone a hell of a lot tougher that Jose' to take it away from her.
Alex massaged the back of her neck, and wondered how the rest of the day would progress; it sure had not started well. First the letter from Conner, then the confrontation with Jose'; what next she grumbled and reached for the top folder on the pile.
She spent a couple of hours reading the files on the Hernandez case. Donald had been correct in his assessment of Jose'. He had provided only enough information to keep him in the loop, but did not offer anything concrete as to what Hernandez's movements or plans were. Pulling her notes from the unforgettable meeting with Jack and Conner the previous day, she read the details Conner had provided her about the warehouse out on Kraft Road. Feeling restless, Alex grabbed her keys and decided to do a drive-by to see the layout of the warehouse and adjacent tracks for herself.
Alex followed I-95 until she reached the 295 perimeter. She made her exit then followed Conner's map until she came to Kraft Road. Alex drove as slowly as she could without bringing undo notice to herself. She followed the road that wrapped around two sides of the warehouse property, searching for any weaknesses in the protective fencing which completely encircled the property. She noticed the chain link, and razor wire still shined in the sunlight bringing Alex to the conclusion that it was not very old. She continued until she reached the Colorado Container property, there she pulled off the road and studied the tracks. They ran directly behind the warehouse, and continued onto the Colorado Container property. Anyone seeing railroad maintenance equipment on the tracks would only assume that either the warehouse, or Colorado Container was reconditioning the tracks for renewed use, nothing unusual about that, Alex thought.
She looked further into the property, and noticed the water adjacent to the third side of the warehouse property. Pulling out her map she traced her journey to this location, and found that the water she saw was actually the Broward River. So, Malcolm had a sweet piece of real estate bounded on one side by a railway, and on another by a river. Smart set-up Malcolm. Alex backtracked the route she had followed in, and looked closely at the warehouse as she drove by. The only access to the warehouse was a poorly maintained paved road intersecting Kraft Road. Alex made a mental note to access aerial photos of the area to get a better idea of Hernandez's layout. She headed back towards downtown, and was close to her exit when her cell phone rang. She glanced at the caller ID before she answered, and saw that it was Donald.
"Are you standing me up?"
"What are you talking about Donald? I would never stand you up." Alex had forgotten about their plans to meet at Huey's after work, and glanced at her watch, seeing that it was almost four o'clock. She had not realized how much time had passed as she scouted out the warehouse.
"I'm on I-95, I'll be downtown in about fifteen minutes, why don't I just meet you at Huey's?"
"OK, sure. See you soon."
Alex returned to her thoughts about Hernandez. She had to get into his mind. She knew him well enough that if she allowed herself, she could think like him. Did that mean she had a criminal mind? No, she thought. He was a methodical man, always planning for the unexpected. What do you have planned for this weekend Malcolm, and how am I going to stop you?
Alex parked in the garage across from the Landing, and walked the half block to Huey's. Donald had already been seated, and waved for the waiter as she headed his way. "I didn't know how long you would be so I didn't order you a drink. What are you having?"
With the day she had had, Alex wanted something strong, but decided instead on a glass of wine. After the waiter had taken her order, she turned back towards Donald and asked him about his day.
"My day was fairly uneventful, but I heard your morning had a little excitement. From what I hear out of the gossip mill, you must have stomped on Jose's toes. Seems he stormed out of your door in a huff, grabbed his keys and out of the office." Donald knew the first few days would probably be tense between the Alex and Jose', but he was hoping that it would not come to heated confrontations.
"Want to talk about it?"
"Not much to talk about really. I unlocked my door this morning, and turned on the light to find Jose' sitting at my desk with his feet propped up, waiting for me to come in." Alex ran a hand through her hair. "How he got in, I really don't know."
"Alex, I gave Jose' a key to your office when he took over your duties. I'm sure he still has it, however I think is was a little bold to just let himself in, knowing you were back at work."
"You don't understand Donald. I had the locks changed on my office yesterday, after our talk." Alex looked at Donald and saw the puzzled face. "You know I like to keep my current files in my office instead of the file vault, you even approved the purchase of the safe I had installed. Anyway, after our talk, I decided that if you had concerns about Jose's loyalties, then I wasn't taking any chances, so I had them changed." A frown now creased Alex's forehead. "The strange thing is, I had not only the door knob lock changed, but I also had a double sided, keyed deadbolt, you know the ones you have to have a key to lock and unlock from both sides? And they both are keyed differently which means he had to get past not one, but two security locks to get in...ten lock it back once he was inside."
Donald pursed his lips as he considered what Alex had just told him. "Well, all I can say is keep your eyes open. Technically, I could reprimand him for entering your office, but I think it would only antagonize the situation. Let me know if things get any worse and I'll step in, OK?"
"Thanks Donald, but I don't need big brother running to my rescue. I know you mean well, but I need to handle this myself." Alex gave Donald a warm smile letting him know she really did appreciate his concern.
"Oh, by the way, you will probably want to order a new safe. We had to have someone come in and crack the one in your office after you...ahh...you know...ahh went away. I'll put in the requisition first thing tomorrow. Until then you might want to lock everything up in the file vault."
"Sure, not a bad idea...on second thought would you mind if I locked my things away in your office safe. Some of the files I have on the Hernandez case are rather sensitive, and I don't trust anyone around here right now, but you Donald."
"Sure, we'll run back to the office when we leave here, and transfer them over, if you have time." Donald saw the concerned look in Alex's face, and wondered once again if she was ready to face the Hernandez case again.
"I'll make time Donald. Things are beginning to pick up, and I can't risk any of our surveillance information getting into the wrong hands."
"What kind of information are you talking about Alex? From what we have been able to gather Hernandez is in South America." Donald leaned in towards Alex and spoke in a low voice.
"Not here." Alex said glancing around at the other people sitting near them. I'll fill you in on the way back to the office."
"Fair enough." Donald said smiling and sat back in his chair. "Have you given any thought to our meeting yesterday?"
Donald had informed Alex of Jose's unwillingness to share information with him about the case. He knew Jose' knew more than he was letting on to, but did not have any proof, and therefore could not call the man's bluff.
"Well, I may just be getting paranoid here, but I have always believed that there was someone on the inside that blew my cover in Sarantos/Hernandez sting. I was thinking yesterday, that maybe we had better be careful around Jose' until we find out what he's up to.
"Maybe you're right, but I certainly hope not. If anyone, including me finds out he was the one who blew your cover and almost got you killed..." Donald's voice faded off, but his point was well taken.
Alex knew she was well liked and admired within the agency, and knew if the rouge was ever revealed there were many that would bend the rules, or simply look the other way to see that he or she was dealt with within the ranks. They knew that too many times deals were made and bad agents released, in some cases even protected in order to gain information into organizations, or to protect information the agency didn't want revealed to the wrong people. Alex admitted to herself that no one in her office would take that chance if they found out one of their own had compromised her case, and her life.
They finished their drinks, and headed out the door for the short walk back to the office. On the way, she filled Donald in on the information she had gained at the meeting the previous day. He was surprised that Conner had information that Hernandez was headed back to Florida.
"I wonder if Jose' knows this, and just isn't telling?"
"I wouldn't venture a guess on that, but I don't think Conner's contacts are well imbedded in the organization. If Jose' is on the inside like he is telling you, I can't believe that he doesn't know."
As they entered the back door of the agency, they stepped into the darkened hallway. It was after seven, and all of the other agents had left for the day. Donald flipped on the light switch and they walked together until the hallway spilt.
"I'll see you in a minute, I just want to grab those files from my safe." Alex turned left, pulled the keys from her pocket, and unlocked the double locks. She flipped the light switch and stood there surveying the room. Sighing heavily, as her frustration, and paranoia surfaced, she walked over to the safe and began spinning the dial. Alex's senses went on full alert when she heard the loud noises of a struggle down the hall.
Reaching into her jacket she pulled her 9mm from the shoulder holster, and ran to the door. Taking a quick look down the hallway, she saw the path to Donald's office was clear, and eased out of her office, keeping her back to the wall. About hallway down the hallway, she heard a click, which was followed by footsteps, and knew that whoever had been hiding in the office was now fleeing on foot. Her training told her to follow and apprehend the suspect, but her heart told her to see about Donald.
She ran down the hallway past the exit door and stopped just outside Donald's office. With her back against the wall, she moved her head quickly around the door jam and peered through the opening. Seeing no one, she held her gun up in the ready position, bent low, and swung into the office, sweeping her gun around, alert for any movement. In slow methodical steps, she continued checking the room, moving to the bathroom, and closet. When Alex was convinced all was clear she went and knelt next to Donald who was lying on the floor beside his desk. He was moaning, and beginning to come around. Alex quickly surveyed his injuries, noting the gash in his head. She stripped of her jacket and placed it under his head as she reached for her cell phone and called 911. She placed Donald's head in her lap and held him while she waited for what seemed like a lifetime for the EMTs to arrive. The only time she left Donald's side was to open the door when she heard a loud banging on the back door. Alex still had her gun in her hand as she opened the door. She was expecting to see the EMT's standing there, instead she saw a very pale, and scared Conner Harris.
"What happened?" was all Conner said as she moved past Alex into the hallway still shaken from the 'officer down' call she had heard over her radio. She had been on 95 heading north to the island, when the 'officer down' call came over the radio. She had been terrified when she heard the address for the Local FBI office, and immediately turned the Jag around in the median, and literally flew back to the downtown district.
Alex was headed back to Donald's office with Conner trailing behind. "I'm not sure. Donald and I had a couple of drinks at Huey's, and walked back here so I could lock up some files. I went to my office, and he went to his...next thing I knew there were shouts, and sounds of a struggle. I came out into the hallway and heard someone run out the back door. When I got in here, I found Donald lying here, behind his desk.
Alex sat back on the floor and cradles Donald's head in her lap again. He still had not regained consciousness, and Alex was worried that his injuries were more serious than they looked. In the distance, she heard the sirens, and a few moments later the office was in complete chaos as the EMT's saw to Donald, and the JPD began going through the office. Conner gently took Alex's elbow and led her down the hallway, asking where her office was located. Conner gently pushed Alex through the door and closed it behind them. Before she knew what she had done, Conner had wrapped Alex in her arms.
"God Alex, when I heard the call go out, I was so scared that it was you." She pulled Alex closer, and inhaled the spicy scent she had come to love about the other woman.
Alex was caught off guard by Conner's embrace, and for a moment only stood there with her hands by her side, but when she felt the trembling of the other woman's body against hers, and heard the fear in her voice, she wrapped her arms around Conner and held her tightly against her own trembling body. They stood there for a long while, just holding, and drawing strength and reassurance from each other until they were both shaken from their embrace by a soft knock on the door.
Alex moved quickly towards her desk, as Conner opened the door. Jack Peterson stood on the other side with a concerned look on his face.
"I was on my way home when I heard the call. Alex' what the hell happened here?" Locking his eyes on Alex's blood stained shirt, he felt a new surge of concern. "Alex, are you hurt?"
Alex followed Jack's line of vision, and looked down at her bloody shirt. "Oh, no Jack, I'm fine. The blood is Donald's. He has a bad gash on his head, and..." Her voice trailed off as she walked toward the door. "I really need to go see about him. Someone needs to contact his wife." Alex reached the door to Donald's office just as the EMT's were rolling the gurney out the door. Donald was still unconscious, but the EMT's said he was stable. She asked which hospital they were taking him to, and said she would be along shortly to help with the paperwork.
She walked back to her office and stopped as she saw Conner standing alone at the window. Alex stood there for a moment and watched as the woman wiped tears from her eyes, as she stared out the window, and her heart and resolve broke at the sight of her pain. Stepping in the office, she closed and pushed the button on the knob locking the door.
Conner turned when she heard the noise behind her and Alex saw the pain and fear in those red tear stained eyes. Conner stood there by the window, and pushed her hands nervously into her pockets as Alex moved across the room, stopping only inches away. She looked into Conner's eyes, and not saying a word reached up and cupped the other woman's face in her hands, as she bent her head and gently brushed Conner's lips in her own. Pulling her face back to again look at Conner, she spoke in a quiet voice.
"Thank you for the note you left for me this morning." Alex breathed a deep cleansing breath. "I have so many emotions running through my mind right now, but deep down I know you didn't purposely lie to me." She caressed Conner's face with the pad of her thumb. "I have a lot of things to sort out, and I can't make you any promises, but I know I don't want to do it alone." She placed her forehead against Conner's. "I have to go to the hospital to see about Donald, and try to figure out what happened here tonight, but I want to see you later. Will you go to my house, and stay there until I get home?"
Conner closed her eyes, and knew Alex would not like what she was going to say next. "I can't Alex. Jack just assigned this case to me, and I have to stay here a while longer then go over to Baptist Medical to see if Mr. Fairfax has regained consciousness."
Alex took a deep breath and reached around to massage the tense muscles in her neck. "Well, I guess I'll see you at the hospital then." Alex moved away and dropped her tired body into her desk chair.
Conner was torn between fleeing and confronting Alex and her light switch emotions. She had already had one confrontation with Alex, and was not looking forward to another, so she turned and moved towards the door.
Alex realized that Conner thought she had been dismissed, and called out as she reached the door. "Conner?"
She turned and stuck her head back in the door, and noticed the dark circles under Alex's eyes for the first time. "Yes?"
"I do want to see you later. Would you come to the house tonight when you're finished at the hospital? With an exhausted smile she added, "You can stay there tonight...ummm...it wouldn't be as long a drive for you...and ummm, maybe we could talk a little...that is, if you're not too tired."
"I don't think I'll ever be too tired to see you." Conner whispered as she returned Alex's tired smile with one of her own. "I'll see you at the hospital, and then at your house as soon as I can, OK."
Conner pulled back out of the room, and hurried down the hallway towards Donald's office, and back to work, as Alex sat at her desk and wondered what the hell she had just done.
Continue to Part Fifteen of Storm Surge
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