Disclaimers: See Chapter One of Storm Surge for all the legal yada, yada.
Alex found Donald's personnel file, and searched unsuccessfully for Catherine's phone number in Gainesville. She did not feel comfortable rifling through Donald's desk, but knew she had to locate Catherine as soon as possible so she went back to his office. Conner was in the far corner of the room talking to one of the detectives, and looked her way as she entered the room. The investigators were finishing up the crime scene search, and although they all knew there was little possibility that anything would turn up, they pursued all avenues.
Alex walked to Donald's desk and pulled on the belly drawer, and not surprisingly found it locked. Looking in the direction of Conner, she motioned the other woman over when she caught her attention. Conner quickly ended the conversation she was having with the other detective, and walked over to the desk.
Pulling again on the drawer, Alex sighed in frustration. "I need to get in touch with Donald's wife. She's currently in Gainesville in Law School, and his personnel file doesn't have a phone number for her there. As much as I hate to do it, I need to search his desk to see if I can find any information here, but its locked. Have your guys finished up over here?"
Conner yelled over her shoulder at a member of the CSI team. He indicated that they were finished, and Conner turned back to Alex. "Ummm, are you planning to bust into your bosses desk, here Alex?"
"I don't see as if I have much choice. I can't seem to find the information anywhere else. My only other choice would be to go break into his house. Personally, I think the desk is the least intrusive avenue to take."
"OK, but why don't you let me bust the lock? I can always say it fell under the umbrella of evidence collection...that way you're covered in case he gets pissed."
Alex thought about Conner's suggestion and knew it made sense, although she did not like to hide behind the ruse of evidence collection as a way of gaining access to the contents of the desk. However, she pushed herself away from the desk giving Conner access to the drawer. Conner walked over to the CSI kit, and withdrew a long thin piece of steel. She inserted the steel between the desktop and the drawer and pulled up sharply splintering wood, as the lock broke free. Stepping back, she waved Alex forward, "There you go, search and find."
Alex searched through the drawer until she found a small address book. Pulling it out she flipped through the pages, until she found Catherine's number in Gainesville. Just as she was pushing the drawer closed, she saw a folder all but buried beneath the menagerie of items in the drawer, with her name on it. Pulling the folder out she looked at the outside of it with a keen interest.
Conner had walked away as Alex began searching through the desk, but as she glanced back in the direction of the other woman, she caught the frown that was now forming on her face. She strolled back towards Alex, and stopped on the other side of the desk.
"You OK Alex? You look like you've seen a ghost."
Alex could not believe what she was seeing, and simply passed the folder to Conner, as she sat down heavily in her boss's chair.
Conner flipped through the pages in the file, and let out a low whistle as she raised her head to look at Alex. "He's been having you followed for months Alex...why?"
Alex was in shock from the sudden revelation that Donald had been spying on her, and could only shake her head in confusion. "I don't have the slightest idea."
"Maybe he was making sure no one was watching you." Conner could not understand what the man's reasoning could be, but was trying for Alex's sake to justify the file. "I mean, weren't you severely injured in some raid, and had to take a leave for a while? Maybe he was just protecting you while you recovered."
Alex looked at Conner with a sad expression. "So you know about the raid?"
"Well, no not any of the specifics...just what I've heard through the usual channels. It was kept pretty quiet actually."
"Did you know who I was before we met at Mike's the other night?"
Conner looked around the room, noticed the CSI team had finished up, and left, leaving them alone in the office. "No I didn't Alex." Conner's voice was a little harsher than she had intended, but she was tired of Alex being so suspicious of her.
"All I had heard of about the raid was that the infamous 'Shadow' had almost been killed during a warehouse raid. It wasn't until Peterson went into his commentary the other morning that I put two and two together, and realized that it had been you in the raid."
"So why didn't you ask me about it?"
Conner shook her head in frustration, and glared at Alex, "Because I assumed that if you felt like telling me about it you would, Alex. I was not going to pry. If you want to talk to me fine, if you don't fine...I don't put conditions on my relationships Alex."
The jab shocked Alex out of her defensive mood. "Damn Conner, I'm sorry. I'm just not sure of who I can trust anymore, and now finding this, well," Alex fell silent as she looked up and saw Jose' walk through the door.
"What the hell happened her Alex?" Jose' looked around the room noticing the remnants of the dusting powder the CSI had used in their attempt to gather fingerprints. His dark unapproving eye fell on Conner. "What are the locals doing here?"
"The JPD is here Jose' because until we know further this was a simple interrupted B&E, and we needed to get a jump start on the investigation." Alex sighed heavily, knowing Jose' would question her every move.
"Umm, but shouldn't we be handling this in-house? We have a lot of sensitive files laying around here, and you never know who might decide to take one home for a little leisurely reading." Jose's eyes locked on Conner's.
Alex could see that Conner was having some difficulty holding her mouth at Jose's obvious insults. "Jose' until Donald is capable of resuming his duties here, I'm in charge, and I don't appreciate your questioning my judgment. Furthermore, I have already placed a call to the Orlando office, and they will have someone here first thing tomorrow morning to begin an internal investigation.
Jose' turned back to Alex with a surprised look on his face, "What do you mean an internal investigation?
"Look around you Jose', there aren't any signs of forced entry, and as far as we can tell at the moment nothing was stolen. I think that calls for an internal investigation, don't you?"
"Well what about the desk, somebody obviously forced that open." Jose said eyeing the desk
Conner opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off by Alex. "That was me. Donald's wife is in school over in Gainesville, and since there wasn't a phone number for her there in his personnel file, the only other logical place to look would be in his desk, don't you think?"
Jose' looked between the two women
"Anyway, I had Officer Harris here witness my entry into Director Fairfax's desk, and the only thing I am leaving here with in my possession is his address book. Is that OK with you Agent Gonzolas?"
"Whatever, you say Agent Montgomery."
Jose' continued to eye Alex suspiciously and walked over towards the desk trying to get a look inside the drawer. Alex noticed the approach and slid the drawer closed before he had a chance to peer inside.
"Officer Harris do you have a crime scene seal on you. I think I would feel better if we secured the Director's drawer so no one will be tempted to rummage through it before he returns."
Conner smirked, and turned to the bag. She slipped the folder containing the information on Alex into the side pocket, then reached in the main section and removed a seal, and handed it to Alex.
Alex took the seal from Conner, pulled the protective film off the back, and placed the seal over the seam of the drawer. "There, now we'll know if anyone tries to open the drawer." She took a marker from the cup on Donald's desk, signed, and dated the seal.
Jose' glared at Alex as he realized that he was the reason she had sealed the drawer. "Well, I'll be going. See you tomorrow." He turned and walked out the door. A few seconds later, they heard the sound of the back door closing.
"Is he a jerk or what?" Conner had taken about as much of Jose' as she could handle, and her anger was apparent.
Alex placed her index finger in front of her lips, as she walked to the window and peered out. She relaxed her shoulders as she saw Jose' walk down the sidewalk. "Yeah, a big one."
"Look, I need to call Catherine. Why don't I meet you over at Baptist Medical, in a little while?"
"No way, I'm not leaving you here alone. Make your call, I'll wait for you in the reception area."
Alex smiled, and nodded her head in surrender, as Conner left the room to give her some privacy. Catherine answered the call on the second ring. Her elation at hearing Alex's voice faded quickly when she heard the serious tone to the other woman's voice. Alex filled he in on the events of the evening as best she could. Catherine, of course said she would be at Baptist Memorial in a couple of hours. Alex promised to call Catherine on her cell phone if she learned anything more when she got to the hospital. She quickly locked up and found Conner patiently waiting in the outer office, and they were soon walking back down the hall to the back door.
"Where are you parked Alex?"
She had to think for a minute before she could remember. "Umm, I'm in the garage across from the landing."
"Well let me give you a lift, I know you're in a hurry to get to the hospital."
Alex snorted as she spied Conner's car, half on the small patch of grass surrounding the building, and the other half angled across two parking spaces. "Umm, well OK, but only if you promise to drive better than you park."
"Very funny. I was...umm...sort of in a hurry when I got here...ya know."
Silently smiling at Conner's stuttering, Alex lowered herself into the sport's car.
The drive to the garage was short, and Conner waited as Alex got in and locked her car door. Alex could not help but smile at Conner's protective behavior. Well, she never has met 'The Shadow', and obviously doesn't know I can take care of myself, Alex mused to herself. She still thought Conner was cute playing protector.
They arrived at the hospital only to find that Donald had been taken to surgery. The hit on the head had been severe enough to fracture his scull, and cause the small blood vessels under the thick dura mater protecting the brain to burst, causing a subdural hematoma. The surgeons were now in the process of drilling a small hole in the skull to relieve the pressure and allow drainage of the hematoma.
They were told the surgery could take anywhere from an hour to several depending on what the doctors found when they got started. Frustrated, Alex ran her hand trough her hair, and decided that she might as well call it a night. She wanted to wait and talk to Catherine, but knew it would be over an hour before the woman arrived, and she was dead on her feet. She glanced at her watch and noticed it was well after midnight. She jotted a quick note to Catherine, leaving her pager number in case she needed her during the night, and said she would be by first thing the next morning.
Looking around she spotted Conner talking with another officer, and waited until she had finished her conversation before approaching the woman.
"I'm going to head out now. There's nothing more I can do here tonight, and tomorrow is going to be hell what with this, and our meeting. I'm going home, and if you...ahhh want to come over when you finish up...I'll be there." Alex looked everywhere but into Conner's eyes. She knew she had not been easy to deal with the last twenty-four hours, and would not blame Conner in the least if she told her to go to hell.
Conner gave Alex a tired smile, reached out to gently squeeze her arm. "I'll be here for another thirty minutes or so, I want to check in with the lab guys to see what they have, then I'll be on my way. That is if that's not too late to be coming over?"
"No, it's not. I'll leave the light on for you, OK?
Conner gave Alex's arm on last squeeze before she dropped her hand. "OK, I'll see you soon."
Alex walked out through the automatic doors, and headed to her car. As she dropped into the seat of the Jeep, she felt the wariness in her body, and could not wait to get home.
Conner hung around for a few minutes after Alex left, and then called the lab to see if they had anything yet
"Hey Jan, this is Conner. Have you come up with anything yet on the prints your guy's lifted from the FBI office tonight?"
"Hello Conner. I'm great, thank you, and how are you." Janice Houghton was one of the best technicians in the local crime lab, and had stayed well past the shift change to work on prints.
"Sorry, Jan. I didn't mean to be so blunt, it's just this case is hot and I'm trying to get any kind of lead I can. How are you?"
Janice laughed. "I'm fine Conner, but I know you didn't call to check up on my mental health. All I've been able to come up with so far is a lot of good prints that had no reason not to be there. Everything I've found so far matches personnel assigned to that office."
"Great, so in other words, I've got nothing to go on at the moment." Conner could feel the tension in her shoulders, and shrugged them several times trying to works out the stiffness.
"Well, we haven't even started on the fibers we picked up. Why don't you call it a night? Hopefully, we'll have something for you later this morning, OK?"
"OK, Thanks Jan. I know you're doing all you can. Talk to you later, bye."
Conner placed the receiver in the cradle, and thought about the woman she had just spoken to on the phone. Janice Houghton, was a very attractive woman in her mid thirties, and she and Conner had shared a lonely night together not long after she and Sam had broken up. Janice had just recently moved to Jacksonville, after a nasty break up with her partner of ten years, and was looking for a temporary reprieve from the pain. They had ended up back at Janice's, and spent the next 18 hours in bed, trying to push their respective demons out of their heads.
When the sun came up and their heads cleared out, both women acknowledged that they were not ready or willing to go beyond the one night. She and Janice had taken their one night and used it to build a comfortable friendship. Conner had thought back on the night several times in the last couple of years, and often wondered if there could have been more if the circumstances for both had been different at the time.
She called into the station and signed out for the night. Heading out the door of the hospital, Conner felt the weight of the day press down on her shoulders, although her gait got a little lighter when she thought about where she was headed next.
When Conner pulled into the drive, she noticed that Alex had left the light on for her. Climbing the steps, she rang the doorbell, and stepped back to wait for Alex to open the door. After two more pushes on the button, Conner peered in the glass beside the door. Seeing no movement, she walked around to the back of the house, and stopped short when she saw Alex asleep in the deck chair.
Conner did not want to frighten Alex by walking up on her, so she made a quiet coughing sound in an attempt to rouse the woman. After several tries, Conner decided she had no choice but to go onto the deck. She Bent down in front of the sleeping woman reached out to gently shake Alex's shoulder. Before she knew what was happening, Alex had brought her elbow up, and placed a sharp blow directly between her eyes sending her reeling backwards.
"Oh shit Conner, are you alright?" Alex bolted out of the chair and kneeled beside the woman lying flat on her back. All Alex heard from the other woman was a soft moan, and, knew she had pinged the woman well. A large bump was forming between the woman's eyes, and Alex felt terrible for being the cause of it. She sat there gently caressing Conner's face as she worked her way through the fog, and back to reality.
"Hey there." Alex gave Conner one of her best 'I know I'm in trouble' smiles.
Reaching up to feel the still rising lump on her head, Conner moaned. "Damn, what did you hit me with, a baseball bat?"
"Umm, no just my deadly elbow." Alex continued to stroke the other woman's face.
"I hope you have a permit for those things, they're deadly."
"Umm, I guess I should have warned you about sneaking up on me. I have a tendency to react before I look."
Struggling to a sitting position Conner growled. "Sneak up on you? I did not sneak up on you. I rang the front bell three times, and walked around here when you didn't answer." She continued to rub the sore spot between her eyes. "After that I made stupid noises out in the yard trying to wake you up. Damn, I think I could have fired my gun by your head and you'd still be asleep, as long as I didn't touch you."
"Well, I am sorry. It's not something I have a lot of control over, so consider yourself warned. Come on let's go put some ice on that lump, or you'll look like Mohammad Ali in the morning." Alex stood and reached out her hand to help Conner to her feet. She wrapped her arm around the other woman's waist and helped her through the door, and to the sofa, then headed back to the kitchen for some ice.
He lay in the dunes, and used his night vision binoculars to watch as 'The Shadow' lay sleeping. She looked so frail, and he was a little disappointed to realize that she was no longer a worthy opponent. He continued to watch, and was surprised when he saw the woman walk from around the house. She had stood there for a few moments watching 'The Shadow' sleep before stepping up on the deck.
To his amazement, he watched as 'The Shadow' effectively took the other woman down in one quick movement. He had underestimated her resolve, and realized at that moment that she was not going to be as easy to stop as he had originally thought. He would give her credit for her determination. He did not know of anyone else who could have survived the injuries she had, much less, have the drive to come back.
Tucking the binoculars into his backpack, he moved through the shadows until he was back at the car a mile down the road. He sat there in the darkness, watching the smoke from his cigarette drift in the night air thinking about 'The Shadow'. She was a smart one, he knew this time his intelligence, and skills would be tested as never before. The dark man felt a surge of adrenaline run through his body at the thought. Turning the key in the ignition, and bringing the car to life, he decided that this time he could not let there be a possibility of her return. This time he would stay behind long enough to make sure she was finished off, once and for all.
Continue to Part Sixteen of Storm Surge
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