Storm Surge

by KatLyn


Rating: NC-17

Status: WIP

Disclaimers: There mine. Do not use them, steal them, or abuse them.


Part 9

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Monday Afternoon

Alex woke to a light tapping sound from across the room. Karen rose sleepily from the chair beside the bed and walked over, spoke quietly to the guard, then pulled the door open further to let Jack enter.

Alex watched Jack as he crossed the room. His injured arm was in a sling, and Alex noticed his face looked tired and pale. He had just come from Conner's memorial service and even though all he wanted was a very stout drink and a quiet place to think, he had promised Alex he would drop by afterwards.

"Hey Jack." Alex saw the tear streaked face he tried to mask and reached her arm out towards her friend. Jack bent down allowing Alex to embrace him. He was ashamed of his weakness: even in her loss, Alex managed to draw courage and strength from deep within herself to comfort him.

Jack pulled back from the warm embrace and sat on the edge of the bed. "Hey, how are you holding up?"

Alex looked out the window and shrugged, "I really don't know. I don't feel anything right now, except empty. "You look tired, Jack. How are you?" Alex looked into his eyes. They had talked a few days earlier, and Jack had told her of Conner's insistence to return to the warehouse without her vest. He had completely broken down, crying as the guilt once again consumed him. "I was so concerned about getting Hernandez that I allowed her to talk me into something I would otherwise never have allowed." Alex had held him as he sobbed in her arms. Conner was a lot more to Jack than just his best detective; she had been his friend, and in a sense, like a daughter. Alex wasn't certain he would be able to recover from the loss.

"I'm hanging on. We have a few leads on Seth Thomas from the other guards we brought in that night. He supposedly has a hideout down in Mexico so we're focusing all our efforts on tracing him down there. We also used Hernandez's fingerprints to make a positive ID on him. I have to hand it to Bivins, his last shot took most of Hernandez's face off. We all knew it was him, but the positive ID made me feel a lot better." Jack looked into Alex's eyes, saw nothing but an empty abyss, and wished he could make this moment easier for her. Alex had waited far too long to put an end to Hernandez. She had lost so much during this case and even knowing the man was dead wouldn't bring any happiness back into her life. Losing Feryle, and now Conner, was just too much. Jack watched as Alex wiped a single tear from her face. He walked to the window and gazed out, giving her time to regroup.

"So Jack, when are you going to give me the entire story about Friday night?" She had asked several times over the last couple of days, but Jack had always hesitated, telling her to focus on getting better. The excuse was wearing thin now, and she was determined to get some answers. Karen stood up and walked to the desk. Picking up her purse she turned back to Alex, "I think I'll go down to the cafeteria and get a cup of coffee, give you two some time to talk."

"Thanks Karen." Alex turned back to Jack, silently challenging him to try to slip away again. With a heavy sigh, Jack stood and walked to the window. Looking out into the fading light, he began detailing the events, as they had played out that night and Donald's role in the entire scheme.

Alex sat quietly and listened. So much information had been kept from her during the investigations. Information, that, had she been aware of it, would have made a difference in how she had planned and approached the raid. If Donald lived, he would certainly have a lot of explaining to do. The FBI had lost three men during the raid. Eric Quincey, David Seay and Frank Bivins. Donald and Olivia both remained in the intensive care unit barely holding their own. It would be days before either would be out of the woods, and even longer before they could be questioned and debriefed.

Jack and Alex continued talking until he noticed the fatigue in Alex's face. He said his good-byes and promised to come by the next day and give her whatever updates they had on the case. He kissed Alex lightly on the forehead and touched her cheek with a callused hand before turning and walking out the door.

For the first time since her arrival at the hospital, Alex found herself alone. She looked out through the window and thought of Conner, the happiness, although short lived, they had sharedŠand of the life they had promised each other. Her heart ached, and for the first time she freely let fall her tears of loss and sadness.

Karen approached the door and heard the sobbing coming from within the room. Her first instinct was to rush through the door to comfort her sister but she stopped short knowing Alex would force the tears back once again. Karen's heart broke as she heard her sister's wails and as she slowly sank to the floor beside the door, she cried her own tears of grief.


Four weeks later

Alex sat on the back deck watching the sunrise over the horizon. The high tide had recently washed the beach clean and the seagulls were gliding and dipping as they hunted for their morning meal. Most mornings Alex found herself here watching as the sun rose, sleep was once again only a distant memory for her. Between the half-empty bed and the frequent nightmares she chose instead to take several naps during the afternoon and evening, leaving the darkness of the night for her waking moments.

During the last week, she had taken several mid-night walks on the beach, often stopping to sit in the cool sand and watch the stars. She had found comfort in an old story her grandmother once told her when she had been a child. She remembered being no more than five or six, sitting on her grandmother's lap in the back yard. They would look up into the vast darkness of the sky and see the twinkling stars, and her grandmother would tell her their names. As Alex had sat watching the previous night, she chose the brightest one she could see in the darkened sky and christened it Conner.

She found herself now searching the same spot in the sky for the star, knowing that in the light of day it's twinkling light would be shining over another hemisphere--but somehow she drew comfort from just knowing it was there, somewhere. She laid her head back on the chaise lounger and was just dropping off to sleep when the shrill of the phone broke into the silence. She reached over with her good arm and looked at the caller ID noticing, once again, that it was Olivia. Alex set the phone back down on the deck and closed her eyes, trying to shut out the memory of her ex partner.

After Alex regained consciousness, Karen called Sam and told her about the shooting and Alex's condition. In less than an hour, Sam appeared in the hospital room pale and trembling. They both cried tears of sadness over losing Conner. The loss had brought the two women even closer than they had been before and Sam's daily visits were an important factor in Alex's recovery.

Sam had insisted that Alex come and stay with Kelly and her during her recovery, but Alex had held her ground determined to go back to her house after she was released from the hospital. Sam had made her usual daily visits, bringing enough food to feed a small army and they had spent many hours talking. It had been only a week ago, during a conversation about Olivia, that Sam allowed her temper to flare and in the heat of her anger had told Alex of Olivia's trip to San Diego and the resulting meeting with Feryle.

In the beginning, Alex was hurt and shocked by Feryle's betrayal. But as she thought about Olivia and her actions, she acknowledged her ex-partner was the one who deserved her disdain, not Feryle. As she sat on the deck letting the cool air flow over her body, Alex sighed and thought about their time back in Chicago. Alex was well aware of Olivia's attraction to her. Although Alex felt an attraction of her own she never reciprocated, preferring to keep their relationship as one of professional partners and friends.

However, now she realized that she should have addressed the situation with Olivia at the time, then maybe the guilt and pain Feryle lived through the last year of her life could have been avoided. Slowly she rose from the lounger, holding her shoulder as she did, and made her way back into the house. Walking into the bedroom, Alex looked at the neat attack of Conner's clothes that Sam had washed and folded. A tear crept from her eye and slid gently across her face as she eased her way into the cool, empty bed. She lay there for a long while staring at the ceiling, thinking about Conner and all they could have shared, until final drifting off into a restless sleep.


Olivia placed the phone down in its cradle and sat staring at it. She knew Alex was home from the hospital, Donald told her as much the last time she'd spoken with him on the phone. She walked to the refrigerator and pulled out a cold beer. After twisting the cap off using her shirt, Olivia walked onto the tarmac and watched as jumbo jets took off from the adjacent airport to destinations unknown to her. She momentarily thought about packing a bag, climbing in the helicopter and escaping for a while, but instinctively she knew that running would never be the answer.

Olivia sat down in the lounge chair she usually used for sunning on slow days and laid her head back, thinking about the events of the last few weeks. She had been safely tucked away during her recovery, as had been Donald and Alex. However, now that everyone was out of the hospital, she wondered if this nightmare was truly over.

Donald told her that Malcolm Hernandez was dead. Even so, Olivia knew that an organization of that size never diedŠand that the throne would simply be occupied by the next in line with a good possibility that their previous grudges would survive the changing of the guard. What she was having a hard time figuring out was who the new kingpin would be. Unconsciously, her hand came up to rest on the long scar along the midline of her chest and she thought about how close she had been to dying.

Olivia reflected back on her years with the FBI and all the narrow escapes she and Alex had survived. Counting in her head, she tallied up the three times she had been shot. The first by a cornered serial killer in Utah, the second by a suspect in a bank heist in Chicago, and now by Malcolm Hernandez. The first two incidents had been total surprises. This last one, however had been humiliating. She knew better than anyone what Malcolm Hernandez was capable of doing to anyone who crossed him.

She recalled Malcolm's face as being hard and cold, showing no emotion as she watched him squeeze the trigger. She knew it was a miracle she was alive, even more so that she was sitting here in the sun only four weeks later. I let my fucking guard down for just a minute, and now I'll never be able to show my face again around the Bureau. I'll never be able to live down getting shot point-blank in the chest with my gun holstered. Once again, she felt the pressing need to speak with Alex and headed back to the office. She dialed the number she had memorized and waited as the phone rang several times. She listened to Alex's low sultry voice for a moment after the answering machine picked up, then replaced the receiver one more time. Growling, she snapped a pencil in half and threw the jagged pieces across the room, then jerked up from her chair and headed to the door. Well, Alex, if I just show up on your doorstep, you'll have to talk with me.

Olivia dropped into the black sports car and sped out of the parking lot. She was driving along I-95 when she happened to glance over and notice the receiver sitting in the passenger floorboard. Smiling to herself, she pushed the accelerator a little harder and continued her journey.


Donald sat staring at the computer monitor. He could hear Catherine moving around the kitchen as she prepared dinner. He read over the words on the screen then printed the document. After tri-folding the letter, he slid it into a plain white envelope and stood from behind the desk.

Walking into the kitchen, he crept behind Catherine and placed a gentle kiss on her neck. "I finally finished it. I'll be back soon, okay?"

Catherine looked deeply into her husbands eyes, "Are you sure this is what you want to do, Donald?"

Nodding his head, a sad smile crossed his lips: "It's the only thing I can do Catherine, the only right thing to do."

Pulling Donald into her arms and placing a light kiss on his lips she whispered, "I'm behind you one hundred percent, whatever you decide to do." Looking away she added, "Donald, I do think it's time you took care of the other matter as well, it's not fair to you or Alex to keep going this way."

"IŠI know, I just need to make sure Seth is out of the picture first. I promise you, it will be soon." Donald pulled away, picked up his keys, and walked out the door.

Catherine turned back to her dinner preparation and was deep in thought when she heard the piercing scream. Dropping the knife on the counter, she ran through the door, heart racing, then stopped short as she took in the sight before her.


Alex woke with a start and sat straight up in the bed. She took a deep cleansing breath as she wiped the sweat from her face then threw the covers back and pulled herself up, heading to the bathroom. Splashing cool water over her face, she recalled the dream that had plagued her peace and rest for weeks.

The vision unfolding within the dream was surreal as she watched, as if within another body, as Conner leapt across the warehouse. Alex massaged her side still feeling the impact of Conner's body against hers as their bodies collided. She watched as they crashed to the floor and heard her own voice cry out as she saw the bright red spot expand across Conner's shirt. She could see the paramedics kneel beside her loverŠand Donald as he pulled her away. It was when the paramedics shook their heads that she always awoke, drenched in sweat and gasping for air.

She dried her face with a towel then headed back down the hall to the kitchen, knowing sleep would be impossible. Alex set the coffeepot to brew and walked into her office. Sitting down behind the desk, she flipped the switch and waited as the computer booted.

Connecting to her office computer, Alex pulled up the latest reports added to the database, reading each one carefully and pondering what Seth's next move might be. She was startled as the loud knocking on the front door echoed through the house. Easing out of her chair, Alex looked through the front window to see who was pounding on the door. Seeing Olivia's car in the driveway she eased away from the window and crept down the hallway to the foyer. Leaning against the cool wall, she listened to Olivia yelling through the door.

"Alex, I know you're in there. Please, open the door. We need to talk."

Squeezing her eyes shut Alex, once again, felt the anger surging through her body. Standing there she listened as Olivia continued her pleas, then tore herself away from the door and walked back down the hallway into the bedroom, where, she sat on the side of the bed until Olivia finally gave up and drove away. Alex fell back on the bed exhausted from the unexpected intrusion and fell into another disturbing dream.

The room was cold and impersonal, the furniture obviously mass-produced. From her viewpoint in the corner of the room, Alex watched as the two naked forms on the bed moved in unison, their cries of passion sending chills throughout her body. Olivia reached down and entered the woman beneath her, and Alex heard the fevered cries as the other woman's orgasm exploded throughout her body. The only features of the other woman Alex could see were her hands as she raked her nails down Olivia's back immediately causing long red welts in their path.

After a few long moments, the two naked and sweating bodies stilled, the only sounds being heavy rasping breaths coming from the satisfied lovers. Olivia slowly pulled out of her lover and Alex heard a longing moan escape from the unseen woman beneath Olivia. She watched as the fingers that had so recently ravaged Olivia's back now gently made their way up her body and into her soft, dark hair. The woman pulled Olivia into a passionate kiss that was only broken as their need for air overtook them. She listened as the woman whispered softly into Olivia's ear, 'I love you' then began kissing her once again. The kiss continued for long moments until Olivia finally broke it and rolled onto her side, revealing the woman beneath her.

Olivia released a boisterous laugh as Alex's eyes fell on the woman beside her. Feryle laughed as she turned into her lover's arms, tucking her face into the crook of Olivia's neck. When she once again turned towards Alex, it was Conner's face now laughing with Olivia. Alex felt herself swirling in the powerful vortex as the scene continued. One moment it was Feryle's face she saw, the next Conner's. Finally, it was Alex's own cries of pain that broke her free of the horrible dream. As her heart pounded in her heaving chest, the tears began their long untethered assault upon her face.


Donald placed his gun, badge, and the envelope on the desk in front of him. Picking up the envelope, Assistant Director Albertson slowly opened it and read the letter of resignation Donald had prepared earlier in the day.

His eyes met Donald's and in a low growl, he ordered his Agent to sit. "Just what the hell is this supposed to be Fairfax, some kind of escape for you?"

Donald sat in the chair opposite his superior and shook his head, "No, Robert, it's not an escape." Donald ran his hand over his face. "Just accept it for what it is and let's get on with it, alright?"

Albertson looked down at the letter in his hand and then back at Donald, "I'll not accept this until the case is officially closed. One thing I have known about you your entire career, Donald, is that you're not a quitter. And I refuse to let you start now." He dropped the letter in his pending box then turned back to Donald, "You want to resign, fine. Then get your ass out there and find Seth Thomas for me. Then, if you still want to throw you entire career away, I'll start the paperwork."

Donald's eyes flashed anger as he looked at his boss and friend, "I can go over your head you know."

Albertson met the infuriated stare with one of his own, "Yes, you could, but you won't. Now get this mess off my desk and get to work."

Donald held Albertson's eyes for a moment then, taking a long slow breath, rose and reclaimed his gun and badge before walking out the door.

AD Robert Albertson sat and watched his Agent and friend leave the office. Donald had made some serious mistakes on this case, it was true, but he refused to believe that Donald had lost the talent and passion required to be an effective Agent. He took the envelope out of his pending box and reread the letter of resignation before placing it back in the envelope. He rose, walked to the credenza across the room, and watched the letter turn into confetti as it passed through the shredder.


Driving a short distance away from the house and turning down a deserted beach access road, Olivia parked the car facing the main road and shut off the engine. Reaching over and pulling the receiver from the floorboard, she flipped the power switch on and listened as she cycled through the frequencies for each of the bugs she previously had placed in the house. Olivia didn't hear any sound from the speakers until switching to the frequency for the bug in the bedroom. Alex's gasping sobs filled the car and Olivia felt her chest tighten as she listened to the woman's ravaged cries.

Olivia sat for almost an hour listening to her ex partner and friend cry. The sobs slowly faded until she heard only soft whimpers. She was about to turn the receiver off when Alex's voice echoed through the car. 'You'll pay, Olivia. One day I'll make sure you pay for trying to take Feryle away from me. One day, you'll pay for Feryle and Conner both.' Olivia felt a wrenching chill run up her spine as the sound of Alex's voice cascaded into her ears. Even though she couldn't see her face, Olivia recognized the voice of 'The Shadow'.


Donald drove along I-95 with no destination in mind. The fresh air blowing through the window always seemed to clear his head. After driving for half an hour and looking around, he realized he was only a few miles from Alex's. Pulling the phone from his pocket, he punched in the numbers and waited.

Answering on the fourth ring, Donald could hear the fatigue and pain in Alex's voice. "Hey kiddo, I was in the neighborhood and was wondering if you are up for a little company?"

A sad smile crossed Alex's face, "Donald, you're never accidentally in my neighborhood, but yes, come on over."

Exiting onto the JTB Expressway, Donald pushed the gas pedal a little harder as he sped towards Alex's. He knew there was a lot of explaining to do, however he was finding it very difficult to decide when, where, and how to begin. Pulling into the driveway, he took a deep breath. As he was walking up the steps of the front porch, the door swung open as Alex stood back to let him enter. Donald eased into the foyer then stood there awkwardly looking at Alex.

Alex closed the door and turned towards Donald, noticing his discomfort. "Come here, you." Opening her arms and pulling Donald into a warm embrace, she kissed him on the cheek. "How are you feeling?"

Returning the embrace, Donald released a pent up breath. He knew he had made many mistakes in the case and wasn't quite sure how Alex would respond to him after she had a chance to think things through. "I'm doing good. How about you?"

Pulling away and looking at Donald, Alex shrugged, "IŠI don't really know. One minute I'm fine, the nextŠwell not so good." Taking Donald's hand, Alex pulled him towards the kitchen. "Let's sit on the deck and have a beer."

"After the day I've had, a beer sounds good."

Alex pulled two beers from the refrigerator then opening the sliding glass door, led Donald onto the deck. They sat for a few minutes watching the beachcombers and letting the beer do it's magic. Donald was the first to break the silence. "Alex, I know I made a lot of mistakes on thisŠ"

Alex interrupted Donald before he could finish. "Donald, we all make mistakes. You did what you thought was best under the circumstances. On some things you weren't given a choice, I know that. I also know that you would never intentionally put me, or Conner, in harm's way." Feeling tears brim her eyes, Alex self-consciously looked away.

Donald let Alex regain her composure before leaning over and taking her hands in his. "I love you, Alex. It kills me to see you this way. What can I do to make it better?"

A single tear streaked down Alex's face as she looked back at Donald. "I wish it were that easy Donald, but it's not humanly possible for me to have what I need."

Donald kneeled in front of Alex and pulled her into his arms. "Alex, anything isŠ" His words were cut short as his pager beeped. Looking at the display then back at Alex, he stood and headed for the door. "I need to use your phone for a second. I'll be right back."

Alex used the time Donald was talking on the phone to compose herself. She took a long pull on the beer, emptying the bottle then set it beside her on the deck. Standing up, she headed to the kitchen for another, just as Donald finished his phone call. Observing the excited look on Donald's face, she couldn't help but ask, "Looks like that was good news. Anything I should know about."

In two steps, Donald was beside Alex and giving her a warm embrace, "Sure is, that was AD Albertson. Seth Thomas was just apprehended down in Mexico."

Alex could feel her pulse quicken at the news. All she wanted was five minutes alone in a room with Seth Thomas, then the FBI could have him. Five minutes to dole out her revenge for Conner's death.

Donald broke into her thoughts, "Sorry, but I need to be going. Robert wants me to go down there myself and bring him back."

Raising her brows in a silent question, Alex smiled when he took the hint and asked her to come along. "Okay, Donald, I'll meet you at the airport in two hours."

Donald smiled and heading for the door, yelled back over his shoulder. "Don't forget to leave your 'Shadow' at home Alex. We need to play this one by the book, alright."

Smirking, Alex followed along behind Donald. "Party pooper. Okay, I'll be good." Alex shut the door as Donald left and stood in the empty foyer contemplating the sudden turn of events. After a moment she shook her head and walked to the bedroom.

She quickly packed a bag and headed out the door. Driving down I-95 towards the airport, Alex remembered that Sam was coming over for dinner. Picking up her cell phone, she punched in the number of her best friend. Sam answered on the second ring. "Hey Sam. Look, I'm not going to be able to make dinner tonight. I have to go out of town unexpectedly. I'll call you when I get back okay?"

Sam's voice revealed the surge of panic she suddenly felt, "Whoa, wait a minute. Where are you going?"

Alex couldn't help but grin. "Donald just got word that Seth Thomas has been apprehended in Mexico, and we're going down there to bring him back."

"Damn, Alex, can't you let someone else do this? Your arm is still in a cast for god's sake." Sam was pleading now.

Alex took a deep breath before she spoke, "Sam, honey, we'll be fine. It's a simple prisoner transfer."

"That's exactly my point, Alex. Let someone else go, stay here, please."

"I can't Sam. This...this is the last thing I can do for Conner. I'm bringing her murderer home." Alex's voiced cracked as she spoke, "I'm going to make sure he gets what he deserves, Sam. He won't get away with killing Conner." Her voice grew strong and dark, "One way or another, he will pay."

Sam accepted defeat, realizing she would never be able to persuade Alex to stay. "Just be careful, and call me the minute you get back."

Alex ended the call as she neared the airport. "Okay Sam, I'll call as soon as I get back, promise. Oh, and can you do me a favor? Call Karen and let her know I'm with Donald. She went to Cedar Cove yesterday to see the family, and I don't want her to worry."

Sam smirked knowing Alex was asking her to call so she wouldn't have to face another confrontation. "Yeah, I'll call her, you coward. Be safe."

Alex growled through her chuckle, "Yeah, yeah, I'm a coward, but you love me anyway. Thanks, Sam, see you soon." Closing the phone and tossing it back in her bag, Alex veered up the exit for the airport.


Donald arrived home to find Catherine asleep on the sofa. Bending down and placing a light kiss on her lips, he woke her. "Hey, sexy woman."

Wrapping her arms around Donald she pulled him down into her arms, she gently nipped him on the neck and murmured, "Hmmm, hey you. Wanna snuggle."

Feeling his heart beat faster, Donald pulled away and sat beside Catherine. "As much as I would like to, I can't. AD Albertson paged me a little while ago. They caught Seth Thomas down in Mexico, and Alex and I are leaving in a couple of hours to go bring him back."

Catherine's face darkened as she glared at her husband, "Donald, can't someoneŠ"

"Yes, I'm sure someone else could, Catherine," Donald said, cutting off his wife's protests. "However, I need this chance to show Alex that I'm not such a fuck-up. I want to do this, Catherine. We both know how important it is to get him back here safely."

Catherine sighed, "Okay, you're right, as usual. Just promise me you'll both be careful."

Glancing down the hallway, Donald turned back to Catherine, "How's she doing?"

"She came in a few minutes ago and went directly to her room. She's sleeping now, I think." Catherine looked back at Donald, "She doesn't think Alex will ever forgive her for this."

Nodding his head, Donald leaned down and planted a long kiss on Catherine's lips. "Alex has been through a lot lately. She'll get it all sorted out in time. Mark my words, she'll forgive her."

Catherine helped Donald pack and saw him to his car, then walked slowly back into the house. Looking out the kitchen window lost in her thoughts, Catherine was startled when she heard the voice behind her.

"Where's Donald off to?"

Spinning around Catherine grabbed her chest, "Damn, you scared me. HeŠuhhŠhe and Alex are leaving for Mexico. Seth Thomas has been caught. They're going down to bring him back."


Alex arrived at the airport before Donald. She went into the charter office to make sure everything was okay and running on time. The FBI had sent a plane down to take them to Mexico, and Alex gazed out the window to the tarmac watching as a crew checked and refueled it. She thought back over her conversation with Sam, You're right, Sammy, I am a coward. Alex knew she couldn't face calling her sister and telling her she was once again on the case. She was lost in her thoughts when Donald walked up behind her.

"You okay, Alex?"

Alex jumped and turned to glare at Donald. "Well, I was until you scared the hell out of me. We ready to go?"

Trying to force back the smile that threatened to break across his face Donald put his hand on Alex's back and led her outside. "Everything's ready, let's get this show on the road."

They boarded the plane and waited until they were cleared for take off. Alex looked out the window as the landscape disappeared below her wondering what lay ahead of them. She finally reclined her seat and fell into a restless sleep as the plane flew over the Gulf of Mexico towards Acapulco.


Blue smoke curled from the cigarette and drifted out the window as the man sat in the parking lot and watched the take off. He sat watching until the plane was completely out of sight before throwing the butt on the ground and starting the motor. Slowly, he pulled the truck into the long term parking garage and parked at the far end of a crowded lane. Pulling himself from the truck, he grabbed a single duffel bag from the back and quickly made his way to the Delta ticket counter where he purchased a one-way ticket to Acapulco, Mexico.

He hurried through the terminal, knowing the plane would be leaving in less than fifteen minutes. He knew he couldn't take a chance on missing this flight. He arrived at the gate just as the attendant was about to close the door, and was breathless as he dropped down into his seat. Pulling a folder from his duffel bag, he opened it and began thumbing through the pages. Once satisfied that everything was going as planned, he closed the folder, returning it to his bag, and lay his head back for a much-needed nap. A smile crossed his lips as he thought about what the next few hours would bring. Finally you are within my grasp, 'Shadow'.


Chapter Twenty-Eight

The plane landed in Acapulco a little after six in the evening. As they taxied to the terminal, Alex looked out the window of the plane and felt a lump form in her throat as her emotions turned melancholy. It had been just over a year since she had last been to Acapulco. She and Feryle had spent two weeks here on their last vacation walking hand in hand on the beach, dining at the most romantic restaurants, and savoring every moment of the romantic bliss. Now as she looked out at the skyline, Alex once again realized the emptiness that had captured her heart. The last time she had taken in this romantic city her heart had soared with delight, now all she felt was a hollowness in her chest that threatened to overtake her soul.

So many events had changed the course of her life in the last year. Feryle's death, the long physical and emotional recovery period from her injuries and loss, her return to Jacksonville, and meeting Conner. Then, just when her life seemed to be getting back on track, Conner's death. Taking a deep breath, she chastised herself for her mental weakness. She had to stay focused and alert. This case wouldn't be over until Seth Thomas was back in Jacksonville and behind bars. And she intended to make sure he paid for murdering Conner.

Turning to Donald, Alex noticed how tired he looked and silently wondered if he were up to the mental and physical stress of this latest mission. She was tired, hungry, and wanted to spend a quiet evening taking a long hot bath then go to bed. She didn't want Donald to feel obligated to keep her company so she decided to give him and easy out. "I can't wait to get settled and take a long hot bath. How about you? Got any hot plans for tonight?"

Donald stretched as much as he could, given the small space, then yawned. "I think the first order of business is getting our rooms for the night then having dinner. I'll call the local precinct when we get to the hotel and see what their timetable is for tomorrow. Other than that, I have no plans, umm, unless you're up for something."

"No, I'm beat. I think I'd like to make an early evening of it too. Hopefully we can pick Thomas up first thing in the morning and be home by mid afternoon."

The plane came to a stop at the terminal, but Donald and Alex remained sitting, knowing it would be at least ten minutes before they would be cleared to exit the plane. When they were finally able to disembark they and moved through the terminal with the of the horde of people to the baggage claim area. She and Donald held back from the crowd and waited for the mass to thin out before grabbing their luggage and exiting the airport. Donald hailed a taxi, Alex was stunned when she heard Donald give the driver directions to the Hyatt Regency Acapulco Hotel. She took a deep breath, mentally preparing herself for their arrival.

Donald looked at Alex with concern in his eyes. His senses had been acutely aware of Alex's nervousness throughout the flight. Her behavior during the afternoon was extremely out of character for the calm, cool, focused agent and it only seemed to worsen since their arrival in Acapulco. He knew Alex wasn't one to burden anyone with her personal life, even friends, but Donald decided to open the door and allow her the opportunity. "Are you alright, Alex?"

Alex shrugged, "Yes, I'm fine."

Donald knew Alex was anything but fine. "You've seemed a bit distracted today, want to talk about it?"

"Maybe later. I'm just tired and need a shower to wake me up." Alex tried to downplay her apprehensiveness. She never thought that Donald would reserve rooms at the Hyatt, although she knew of no reason for him not to. Donald was aware she and Feryle had vacationed in Acapulco; however, she knew he had no way of knowing that they had stayed at the Hyatt. Alex realized she was being overly emotional and mentally reprimanded herself for what she considered a weakness.

Just as she was regaining her normally stoic composure, the taxi came to a screeching halt just outside the glass doors of the hotel. The bellhop opened the door, and Alex stepped out into the cool, salty air. She took a deep breath then walked with Donald into the elegantly decorated lobby. For a moment, Alex felt lightheaded as her mind flashed back to images of her last trip. A myriad of emotions had been swimming around in her mind the last few weeks. It had taken all her strength to face the present ones--now being assaulted by the past was almost too much to bear.

She didn't realize she had stopped walking until Donald placed his hand under her elbow, looking at her with deep concern, "Alex, are you sure you're okay?"

Alex closed her eyes, tears stinging her lids. Nodding to Donald and giving him a weak smile, she knew she had to be honest with her friend, "Yes, I'm fine. It'sŠit's just that Feryle and I stayed here, andŠummm, forget it let's go." Turning, Alex quickly made her way through the lobby towards the registration desk. She was only a few feet from her destination when she felt Donald's hand on her arm. "Damn, Alex, why didn't you say something earlier? Come on, let's go somewhere else."

Planting her feet, Alex pulled Donald back. "No, Donald, it's alright. I'm fine. We're tired, hungry and we're staying here." Alex was determined not to let Donald see her vulnerable, and she dragged him the rest of the way to the registration desk.

Stopping in front of the counter, Donald lay his credit card on the counter and requested two rooms. The tall blonde woman standing behind the counter merely glanced at Donald before raking her eyes over Alex's body. "Would you like adjoining rooms, sir?"

Donald didn't miss the hungry look the registration attendant was giving Alex, "Uhh, yes, adjoining would be fine, thank you." Donald placed the credit card on the counter. The woman's eyes never left Alex as she reached for the card.

Alex felt the woman's eyes exploring her body and wanted to tell the woman to fuck off. Instead, she turned to Donald and rolled her eyes, "I'm going to go get a drink. Join me when you're done here, alright?"

Turning, Alex walked quickly into the darkened room, sat down at one of the empty seats along the bar, and ordered a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. Alex was accustomed to getting admiring looks from men and women, but there was something about this particular, woman that gave her a strange feeling. Sipping her wine, she decided her discomfort was a result of her acute awareness and the emotional roller coaster she was riding and shook off the uneasy feeling as she waited for Donald.

Donald joined her a few minutes later for a drink. The alcohol had allowed Alex to make some progress in calming her nerves and she was feeling somewhat more relaxed and in control as they left the bar. As they walked towards the elevator, Alex again sensed she was being observed. Looking around, her eyes met the registration clerk's and Alex saw her smile as a solitary brow rose in response. Alex quickly looked away, but she felt the piercing eyes burn into her back as she and Donald walked across the lobby and into the elevator.

After the bellhop placed the luggage in their respective rooms and left with a sizable tip from Donald, Alex turned to go through the door adjoining their rooms. Stopping and turning towards Donald, she silently wondered if she had imagined the entire scene. "Did that woman seemŠunusual to you?"

After a hardy laugh, Donald grinned and looked at Alex with teasing eyes, "Yeah, she was quite a strange one, Alex. I was a bit nervous that she was going to come over the desk and ravage you where you stood"

As Alex turned again to walk into her room, she heard Donald chuckle, "I have to admit though, she has great taste in women. However, I think I can keep her away from you with my charm and good looks."

Alex let out the first good laugh she'd had in weeks, "Yeah right, Fairfax. I'm going to take a shower. I'll see you in an hourŠlover boy."


Pulling off his shoes and stretching out on the bed, Donald reached for the phone and dialed home. As he was waiting for the call to be connected, he thought back over the last couple of days and was glad he had asked Alex to come to Mexico. She needed a diversion from sitting alone in the house all day. Although he'd had some second thoughts during their flight, Alex seemed more relaxed since they'd had a couple of drinks. Hopefully, after a good dinner and a little more wine, she could get some sleep. He was lost in thought when Catherine answered the phone. "Hey, honey. Just wanted you to know we made it to Acapulco. We're staying at the Hyatt."

Catherine listened and took down the room and phone number. "Olivia wants to know if you need any help." Catherine paused for a moment. "She really feels terrible about all that's happened and wants to try and make it up to you and Alex."

Donald sighed heavily. "I know she does, but I just don't think right now is the best time for them to see each other. Maybe when we get back we can have Alex over for dinner and see what happens, alright?"

"Okay, you're probably right, but call if you need anything. I'm sure Olivia will do whatever she can from this end to help out." Catherine and Donald said their good-byes, and as she placed the phone down, she turned to see the woman behind her. "Damn, you always have a way of scaring the hell out of me. I'm going to give you a shadow name, too, if you don't behave."

"I didn't mean to listen in, Catherine. Is everything alright with Donald and Alex?"

Catherine sat down in Donald's recliner. "Yes, everything's fine. Donald was just calling to give me the room and phone number and said he would call if they needed anything."

"I just wish I could be there with them to help. I feel so useless here."

Catherine chuckled. "You're not useless, you're keeping me company. I know you want to help, but right now is just not a good time. Give it a few more days. I promise you will see Alex soon." Pulling herself out of the recliner, Catherine headed for the kitchen. "I'm going to the market, anything special you want for dinner?"

Sighing heavily, she shrugged. "Anything you want is fine with me. I think I'm going to take a nap. I'll see you when you get back, alright?" With slumping shoulders, she slowly walked away.

Catherine shook her head slowly as she watched the woman walk down the hallway. Damn, this has to be over soon.


Alex let the warm water cascade off her body. Even thought the FBI plane was more comfortable than flying a commercial airliner, she felt a too familiar tightness in her aching muscles. She knew from experience that her recovery process would be long and tedious. The skin beneath the cast itched constantly and for a moment, she was tempted to remove the rubber sleeve she wore when showering and soak it off. She had only another week to wear the bulky cast and didn't think a week would do much difference one way or another.

She was reaching to pull the rubber sleeve off when she heard knocking at her door. Turning off the water, she quickly dried and walked into the bedroom listening. Walking to the passageway between the rooms and opening the door, she saw Donald asleep on his bed. Shaking her head, she turned to walk back into the bathroom when she noticed the envelope that had been slipped under her door. Picking it up, she turned it over in her hand and then sat on the bed to open it. Pulling a sheet of hotel stationary from the envelope, she read the note.

I wanted to make sure you had everything

you need. Please give me a call if I

can assist you in any way.


Ext. 8472

Alex felt a chill course up her spine, realizing Alicia must be the registration clerk. Tossing the note in the trash, Alex decided she would keep an eye on this Alicia woman. She seemed too friendly, and Alex suspected that her job at the hotel was not the reason for her eagerness. Walking back to the bathroom, Alex wondered if she were getting too paranoid. Paranoia has been one thing that's kept me alive thus far. No, I'm not being too paranoid, maybe I'm not paranoid enough. Twenty minutes later she quietly knocked on Donald's door, opened it slightly, and found him still asleep.

Grinning, Alex couldn't pass up the chance to tease her friend. They had been through a lot in the past few weeks, things that had shaken them to the foundation of their friendship, and Alex was anxious to restore the comfortable banter between them. Slowly she crept beside Donald and bent down near his ear. Reaching out, she gently stroked his chin and breathlessly whispered, "Come on lover boy, I'm hungry."

Donald slowly opened one eye, and smiled as he peered at his friend. "You'd better be glad I'm not a bad boy, or you'd find yourself in one hell of a predicament right about now, Alex Montgomery."

Alex laughed and sat on the end of the bed. "Yeah right. You'd be too afraid I'd beat the hell out of you if you tried to make a move on me."

Rubbing his face, Donald sat up and began pulling on his shoes. "Well, besides the small issue of preserving my life, I'm well trained and whipped. You have nothing to worry about from me." Chuckling, he turned to tease Alex. "Now the lady down at the registration desk is another story all together."

Donald noticed the dark look that shrouded Alex's face, and his tone softened. "Hey, I was teasing. Are you okay?"

Alex nodded then ran her hand through her hair, "Yes, I'm fine. I just had a personal visit from Ms. Friendly. Luckily, I was in the shower and didn't get to the door in time, but she left me a note."

Donald looked intently into Alex's eyes, "What did the note say? If you want to make a complaint, I'll be more than happy to go with you."

Walking back into her room to retrieve her wallet, Alex waved him off. "It will be alright Donald. Once she finds out I'm not interested in her little games, she'll latch onto the next female that checks in. Forget it, let's go eat, I'm starving."

Walking out of the room, Donald stopped at Alex's door and double-checked the lock. As they took the glass-enclosed elevator down to the main level, Alex caught a glimpse of Alicia watching them from the registration desk. It was as if she were waiting for them to come downstairs. Walking across the lobby, Donald took Alex's arm and led her into one of the Hyatt's three restaurants. Fortunately, they only had to wait a few minutes before they were seated beside a window overlooking the ocean. They quickly looked over the menus and placed their orders, then sat back enjoying the view, both lost in their own private thoughts.

The comfortable silence they had fallen into was one only long-time friends could share. They sipped on wine and munched on Bruschetta as they waited for their salads to arrive. Donald excused himself to go to the restroom, and Alex was looking out over the ocean when she heard a quiet voice beside her. "Hello, I see you decided to dine in the El Pescador. Is everything to your liking?"

Alex turned her head slowly towards the voice and recognized the face as the woman, Alicia, from the registrations desk. "Yes, thank you." Alex's words were clipped, almost unfriendly.

"If I might, I would like to suggest the Smoked Salmon, it's divine." The woman's eyes swept over Alex's body. "Forgive me, I haven't introduced myself, I'm Alicia...Alicia Vergara. I am the Hospitality Coordinator here at the Hyatt Acapulco." Her lips curled at the edges, hinting at a smile, "Please, let me know if I can do anything to make your stay more pleasurable." One brow lifted as the woman's smile became wider, inviting Alex to read whatever she wished into the message.

Dark eyes met the woman's unspoken invitation, and her own brow lifted as she responded. "I'm afraid we're in Acapulco on business and won't have time forŠ"

"Is everything alright?" Donald interrupted as he walked from behind the woman and sat across from Alex. He looked up into piercing dark brown eyes and saw loathing thinly disguised behind the smiling façade of Alicia's face.

"Yes, everything is fine. Ms. Vergara is the Hospitality Coordinator for the Hyatt and just wanted to make sure we were happy with our accommodations."

"Oh certainly, Ms. Vergara. However, I'm afraid we'll be too busy to partake in all you have to offer in the way of amusement. Agent Montgomery and I are here on business. Hopefully, we'll be leaving in the morning." Donald watched the woman as a faint look of agitation crossed her face then was, once again, hidden behind a forged smile.

"I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe on your next trip you'll have more time to spend enjoying the local attractions. It was nice to meet you both. Enjoy you're stay at the Hyatt." The woman turned and quickly walked out of the restaurant. Pulling the cell phone from pocket, she quickly glanced over her shoulder before punching in the number.

"Yes." The man's voice was short and harsh.

"It's Alicia. Their plans are to stay for only tonight. They're leaving in the morning."

"Well, we'll just have to change their plans, won't we?"

"Look, I did this for you, we're even. We are not doing anything. You want more information, then get it from someone else. Leave me the hell alone." The woman's voice seethed with anger.

"Now, now Alicia. I think you owe me a hell of a lot more than this little favor. After all, your brother is safe because of me." His voice took on a threatening tone, "I'm sure you wish that to remain so. Yes?"

Releasing a frustrating sigh, she growled into the phone. "Yes, of course I do." She could almost feel the smile cross the man's face on the other end of the line.

"Good. Now be a good girl and meet me at the villa. We have a few plans to make tonight."

She heard the distinct click in her ear and knew the man had ended the call without waiting for her reply. "You'll pay for this Papa. One day I will stop you and you're evil ways." Walking across the lobby, she grabbed her purse and keys and walked out into the cool night air.


Looking at Alex, Donald tried to keep his voice from revealing the concern he felt over the woman's appearance. "What was that all about?"

Shaking her head, Alex gave him a puzzled look. "She's the Hospitality Coordinator here, it's her job to make sure the guests are happy and comfortable. I think I was just being a little overly paranoid earlier." Their conversation was interrupted as the waiter brought their salads. Once he had made his exit, Alex turned back to Donald and smiled. "Come on, enjoy your dinner, and then let's take a short walk and head upstairs."

Donald wasn't sure if Alex was trying to convince herself or him, but he smiled and nodded. "Okay, you're right. I think we're both a little on edge."

They finished their dinner then took a stroll along the beach, enjoying the cool evening air. The wine had worked its magic and both were feeling more relaxed and at ease. I might even get some sleep tonight, Alex thought as they waited for the elevator to deliver them to their floor.

Reaching Alex's door first, they said goodnight and Donald waited until he heard the click of the lock before walking to the next door and entering his own room. He took a quick shower then crawled into bed and was instantly asleep.

Sleep came quickly for Alex but was sporadically interrupted by the now common nightmares. She glanced at the clock, noticing it was only five AM and groaned. Knowing more sleep was out of her reach, she tossed back the covers and headed for the bathroom. She quickly donned the pair of sweats she'd thrown into her suitcase, wrote a quick note to Donald and slipped it under the adjoining door, then headed out the door in search of the hotel gym.

Alex burnt off her frustrations for an hour as she completed her usual cardio and strength conditioning routine then headed back to the room for a quick shower. Entering her room, she quickly turned on the shower, and knowing Donald would be up by now, she knocked on the adjoining door. The door opened almost immediately and Alex was surprised to see Donald already dressed. "Good morning. You hungry?"

"Yeah. I was just about to give up on you. Did you have a good workout?" Donald looked Alex over and frowned seeing her sweats soaked with sweat. "Never mind. By the looks of you, I can tell you did. Go get dressed, I'm starved."

Alex laughed at Donald's frown and reached out her arms in his direction. "Don't I get a good morning hug?'

"Hell, no. Not until you're clean. Now go, do whatever it is you women spend half your lifetime in the bathroom doing." Donald watched and smiled to himself a he watched Alex turn and close the door. There were few people that he could call true friends, and Alex was one of them. He was determined to make up for his failures in the past, not only on this case, but in their friendship as well. He sat down at the desk and picked up the phone to call Catherine as he waited for Alex to return.

Catherine picked up the phone on the third ring and smiled when she heard her husband's voice. "Good morning to you to, lover. I missed you last night.

Donald smiled into the phone. "I missed you too. We're about to go pick up Thomas, then head out. We should be home sometime in the early evening. Just wanted to let you know so you could be naked and waiting when I get home."

Catherine growled back at her teasing husband. "You are so bad Donald Fairfax. There is nothing more I would like than to do just that, but remember we do have a houseguest."

Donald laughed at Catherine's obvious frustration. "Oh, and speaking of our houseguest. I'm dropping Alex by her house when we get home. Why don't you two meet us there? It's time those two straightened things out."

"You're sure. You don't need to push this you know."

"I'm sure, Catherine. They have to see each other eventually, and I can't think of a better place for that to happen than at Alex's house, with both of us nearby."

Catherine could hear the certainty in Donald's voice and smiled, knowing that he had made the right decision. She knew Donald had struggled with the decision and knew he was as eager to see this finally be resolved as she was. "We'll be thereŠand Donald, be safe. I love you."

"I love you too, sweetheart. See you tonight."

Donald had just hung up the phone when he heard Alex's soft tap. Opening the door, he grinned. "Much better, stinky. You ready for breakfast now?"

Alex slugged him in the shoulder and walked past him into the room, "Very funny smart ass, and yes I'm famished. Let's get this show on the road so we can get back home."


After breakfast, Alex and Donald took a taxi to the local police precinct. After waiting for over half an hour, they were finally led into what appeared to be an interrogation room. There they waited for another half hour before a large, burly man in a Captain's uniform entered the room.

Captain Cortez introduced himself and asked Alex and Donald to sit. "I'm afraid there is going to be a little delay before we can release the prisoner to you. It seems some of the paper work has been misplaced, and it will take most of the day to straighten it out."

Donald released a frustrated sigh. "Captain Cortez, I'm afraid I don't understand. When I called last evening, I was told everything was in order and that the prisoner would be released to us this morning."

Cortez watched as the frown deepened on the Agents face and held up his hand in resignation. "I am truly sorry Agent Fairfax, but this was something no one expected." Standing and walking to the door he called back over his shoulder, "I'm sure by tomorrow morning, everything will be in order and you can be on your way. "

Donald and Alex watched as the door closed behind the Captain then looked at each other in confusion. Shaking her head, Alex stood and reached for her jacket, "Damn, one more night won't kill us Donald. We've waited a month for this. Why don't we enjoy the day, have a nice evening and try this again in the morning, alright?"

Donald noticed Alex was taking this delay in stride and decided not to make a fuss about it. "Okay. So what do you want to do with our free afternoon on taxpayers' money?"

Alex grinned as she slid her arms through her jacket. "Let's go sightseeing. I think it's time we both had some fun."

Looking at Alex with a skeptically, he opened the door for her. "And just what are we going to go see?"

Grinning over her shoulder, Alex walked out of the room. "You'll see. Come on."

They returned to the hotel after leaving the precinct and changed into comfortable clothes. After a lengthy discussion, they had decided to stay at the Hyatt, even though they were both still wary of Alicia Vergara. It was only for one more night, and they would be out for most of the day, both deciding it was too much trouble to change hotels for the one night.

Alex was in the room when Donald called Catherine to inform her of their delay, promising their plans were still on for the following evening. "They'd better because I've already spilled the beans."

Donald chuckled, "No need to worry, honey. Everything's going as planned. Talk to you tomorrowŠOkayŠI love you tooŠbye." Donald hung up the phone and turned to Alex, "You ready?"

They stopped by the registration desk on their way out of the hotel and secured their rooms for another night, both relaxing when neither spotted Ms. Vergara. Donald hailed a taxi, and they were soon off to start the sightseeing Alex had been so mysterious about.

To Donald's surprise, they pulled up to one of the oldest historical attractions of the city, the San Diego Fort. He glanced at Alex and saw the big grin on her face. "What? Did you think I was going to drag you around shopping all day?" Taking Donald's arm, Alex pulled him from the taxi, "Come on, I know old forts and museums are your favorite."

Shaking his head, Donald smiled at Alex, "You sure know how to make my heart go pitter patter, don't you girl."

They spent several hours looking around the former five-point fortress that was located on a hill overlooking the Acapulco Harbor. It had been converted into a history and anthropology museum, and they were pleasantly surprised with the number of artifacts on display. The most amazing display to Alex was a baroque carriage marked with the seal of William II of Holland.

When they had exited the fort and settled back into the taxi, Alex gave the driver their next destination. "At least my last trip here prepared me for our unexpected layover."

Donald smiled, and wrapping his arm around her shoulder gave her a hug, "Yeah. If you ever get tired of being an agent, you can always be a tour guide."

Alex treated Donald to a long lunch at Planet Hollywood before heading out for their last stop of the day. She smiled as they stopped in front of The Mercado Municipal. "Didn't think I'd let you escape a little shopping did you?

Donald snorted and pulled himself from the taxi. "Damn, you women must have some kind of shopping radar implanted in you brains." He tried his best to snarl but could only laugh when he saw the almost happy look on Alex's face. "Alright, you bought me lunch and took me to the fort. The least I can do is walk around the rest of the afternoon while you shop."

Rolling her eyes, Alex marched ahead of Donald into the market place. A labyrinth of stalls, the old Acapulco marketplace was filled with vendors selling wares ranging from hand woven baskets to onyx chess sets. They idled away a relaxed afternoon rummaging through the stalls. When they headed out to hail a taxi, Alex couldn't help but chuckle at the difficult time Donald was having with the bags.

Shoving the bags in the back seat, Donald dropped into the taxi. "Don't even start."

Alex bit her lip, trying not to laugh at all Donald had bought. She looked across to his bags, then down at the single package in her lap. "I didn't say a word." Mumbling under her breath and added, "Women's radar, yeah right."

"I heard that." Donald growled but was thoroughly enjoying the teasing banter. He'd only intended to make one small purchase for Catherine, but before he knew it he realized that several hundred dollars worth of items were now in his possession, and he was now having to pay an even higher price by being teased by Alex.

They were both tired and hungry by the time they returned to the hotel, and quickly made their way to their rooms, neither had spotting the mysterious Ms. Vergara on their way into the hotel. In the elevator on the way to their floor, Alex decided they had nothing more to worry about. Ms Vergara was simply an over eager hospitality hostess, and nothing more.

Reaching their rooms, Alex took several of Donald packages from his hand so he could unlock the door. Following him into the room, they both spotted the rolling table sitting beside the window at the same time. Tossing the packages onto the bed, Donald walked over to the table and picked up the small envelope that stood beside a very expensive carafe of red wine. Pulling out the note, he sighed and shook his head. "Seems our hospitality coordinator feels bad that our stay was extended, and sent up some wine and cheese to make us feel all better."

Alex smirked, "Well as long as she didn't add it to the bill, we'll take it." Alex walked over and picking up the bottle, and noticed it was the same vintage they had shared last night with dinner. "Very perceptive women, Donald. At least she has great taste in wine."

Dropping down on the bed, Donald kicked off his shoes, "Well, it's fine with me. As much as we have eaten today, I don't think I'm up for a large dinner. As far as I'm concerned, this can be dinner. Is that alright with you?"

"It's more than alright. I'm going to change. Want to see if they have any good movies on the television?"

"Sure, sounds like my kind of night." Donald picked up the remote and began flipping through the channels while Alex took a shower and changed. By the time she returned, he had selected three movies and insisted that she choose. Alex knew Donald liked action movies and picked 15 minute, with Robert DeNiro, then settled down on the bed and stretched out.

Donald reached out to hand Alex a glass of wine. "No thanks. I think I've had my quota for the day." Raising the aluminum can in her hand she smiled, "I think I'll stick with a safe beverage tonight, but I will take some of the cheese and crackers."

Donald placed the platter between them on the bed, and they began munching quietly as the movie started. About half way through the movie, she looked over at Donald and noticed he had fallen asleep. She quietly eased herself off the bed and turned the volume down on the television, then padded back to her room.

She was glad she had decided to pack a book and settled down between the sheets to read. After an hour, she felt her lids grow heavy. Deciding not to pass up a chance for a little sleep, she closed the book and turned off the light.

Alex's eyes flew open an hour later and suddenly sensed another presence in the room. Forcing her body to relax she listened and waited. She could hear the rustling of clothes as the figure moved closer and all her senses went on full alert. The figure moved near enough for Alex to feel the heat radiating off her body but kept her eyes closed even as she got a faint whiff of the familiar perfume.

Her mind was reeling, trying to figure out why the mysterious Alicia would be in her room in the middle of the night when she heard a quiet click. She felt her muscles tense and almost allowed herself to react, but quickly recognized it as the phone being taken off the hook. Focusing on the movement around her, she continued to listen as the figure punched in several numbers.

Mentally noting that only seven digits had been pressed, she knew the call was local which perplexed her even more. No one except the local authorities knew of their presence in Acapulco. She lay quietly; focusing on her breathing as she tried to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, she heard the woman began to speak softly.

"Yes, it's me. They are both unconscious." The woman was silent for a few moments then Alex heard her growl into the phone, "I told you it would work, the rest is up to you. I'll stay until you get here, then I'm leaving." As if a second thought came to her mind she added, "This makes us even Papa. I'm through with you and your evil life."

Alicia replaced the receiver back into the cradle. Locating the adjoining door between the rooms, she secured the lock. Walking to the window, she looked down at the ocean below, wishing she could fall into the water and become lost to her family and their evil ways. She had worked hard to overcome the influence of three generations of her father's family. Years of struggling to put the past behind her had left scars on her soul. Her heart ached for the freedom she knew she would never truly have---not as long as Papa was still alive.

She felt tears sting her eyes as she thought of her brother and his many failed attempts to escape. Somehow Papa had always bribed Hector back into the fold, back into the vile, ruthless world he called his empire. Releasing a haggard sigh, she decided that after tonight he would have to finally defend his own life and honor if he were to make the final step away. Looking out into the darkness, wishing for a life of normalcy, she never noticed the subtle movements behind her, until she suddenly heard the mechanical click, followed by hard, cold steel pressing against the back of her head.

Alex had watched as the woman walked to the window and peered down to the ocean. She patiently waited until she heard the woman attempt to silence threatening sobs. Knowing this was her one chance to take control of the situation Alex reached under the adjacent pillow and pulled out her Sig. She crept from the bed, and moving like a silent shadow made her way across the room, never letting her eyes leave the sobbing woman.

Alex knew the woman's presence was in some way connected to Seth Thomas, and felt a surge of anger rush through her body. Fighting the urge to shoot the woman where she stood, Alex raised the gun only when she was standing directly behind the woman. Taking a deep breath, she pulled back the hammer, and smiled as she saw the woman tense. "Who the hell are you and what the fuck do you want?"


Continued in Part 10.

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