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The Client

By HopefulShipper

Romance / Action

Prologue

Abby Sinclair bopped to the music as she watched the city go by outside her window. The driver Bates caught a glimpse of her in the review mirror and smiled. The darling brunette was one of his favorite clients. Some he had driven could be snobby or pushy. Not Abby. Though she was often busy she treated him well.

She abruptly stopped when her phone rang. Abby recognized the ring tone and answered it, "Hi, Charlie."

"Where are you?" her best friend since college asked.

"Driving down 6th street," Abby answered.

"Got time to meet me for lunch?" Charlie offered.

"Where?" Abby inquired. Charlie Demarco was now an in demand pediatric surgeon with a hectic schedule. They never knew when they would be able to get together so Abby grabbed any chance to hang out with her friend.

"Cherries, my treat," Charlie said.

"You're on," Abby replied.

"How about a half hour?" Charlie asked. She knew it was short notice.

"Sure thing," Abby agreed.

Charlie got a page and checked her beeper, "Gotta go, see you there."

"See you then," Abby hung up,

"Change of plans, Bates," Abby called up.

"Where to?" he asked.

"Cherries," Abby said.

"Coming right up," Bates made the switch in direction.

When Abby arrived Charlie was already at an outdoor table. Bates got out and opened Abby's door. Abby took his offered hand and got out, "Thanks, Bates."

"No problem," he tipped his head.

"I hope you are not planning on waiting in the car," she said, "It's way too hot."

"That it is," Bates replied.

"Will you join us then?" Abby offered.

"No, but thank you," he replied, "I'm not sure I can take another round of girl talk."

Abby playfully slapped him on the arm, "We're not that bad."

"If it's about shoes or boyfriends I don't want to hear it," Bates chuckled. Abby laughed. They got to the metal gate of the metal fence that closed off the eating area. He opened it for her. She walked through and up to the table were her friend sat. The sun bounced off the yellow of her sundress. Charlie stood and hugged her over the table. Bates closed the gate and began to go around to the front of the restaurant.

"Isn't he joining us?" Charlie asked.

"He wants his own table- I think we scared him off with the girl power talk," Abby deadpanned.

"Wuzz!" Charlie called. Bates snorted. He went inside and requested a table close to where the girls were so he could keep an eye on Abby to make sure she was safe.

The friends settled down across from each other and a waiter brought them their waters and menus.

"So how many lives have you saved today?" Abby squeezed her lemon wedge into her glass.

"One this morning," Charlie took a sip of hers, "Heart transplant."

"Wow," Abby nodded.

"And it's still early," Charlie shrugged. She perused the menu. "What sounds good to you?"

Abby tilted her head. She didn't even have to think. "My crab cakes," Abby smiled.

Charlie wrinkled her nose, "Do you ever get anything else here?"

"Occasionally," Abby laughed. She just really liked these crab cakes.

The waiter came back. "Are you ready to order," he asked, "Or do you need a few more minutes."

"I think we're ready," Charlie said, "I'd like the pesto, please."

"Excellent choice and for you, Miss?" the waiter turned his attention to Abby.

"Could I get the crab cakes?" Abby requested.

"Certainly," he wrote it down, "It will be right out."

The waiter left. Abby's phone which. It lit up with a picture of a good looking square jawed man. Another doctor in a white lab coat.

"Is that Vance?" Charlie frowned.

"He can wait," Abby stuffed the phone into her purse.

"Why is his picture still on your phone? I thought you were breaking up with him," Charlie questioned.

"I was," Abby dropped her shoulders.

"Don't tell me Vance conned you into a giving him second chance," Charlie said.

"Well, yes and no," Abby replied.

"You saw him with that nurse," Charlie reminded her.

"They made out- Vance swears it wasn't more than that," Abby admitted.

"Of course he would," Charlie rolled her eyes, "She's not the only one he's messed around with."

"I don't have any proof he's not telling the truth," Abby counter halfheartedly. Deep down she knew Charlie was right.

"You are smarter than this," Charlie chided.

"Let's not talk about Vance," Abby replied, "Nothing is guaranteed."

"I would hope not," Charlie replied.

The waiter brought out their food and set their plates in front of the ladies. "Is everything all right?" he asked.

"This look fabulous," Abby replied.

"And smell great, thank you," Charlie added.

The waiter bobbed his head, "Enjoy your meal."

They spent the next twenty minutes in light conversation and eating. When the meal was over they paid inside. They walked out the door together. Bates was a few steps behind them.

"I was good to see you," Abby hugged her.

"Later, Girl," Charlie waved. They separated heading towards their cars. Abby reached hers first. A grey furry little body lay on the hood of the car. It was a rabbit. Blood trickling down the hood. Abby screamed.

Charlie came running. She stopped beside Abby totally out of breath. "What's wrong?" Charlie gasped. Abby pointed to the rabbit. Charlie wrapped an arm around Abby's shoulders and squeezed, "Don't look." She tried to angle Abby away. Bates stepped in front of her. Charlie began to look around for anyone looking at them that seem suspicious.

"That poor thing," Abby said. Bates shook his head. He was afraid to say what he thought it was.

Abby's phone rang. She dug into her purse and brought it out. It should her dad on the screen. Abby cleared her throat before answering, "Hi, Dad."

"Hey, Princess," Brennan replied, "I was hoping I could talk you into coming home for dinner Saturday."

"Something happen," she said.

"Is everything ok?" he asked.

"Someone is playing a sick joke," Abby answered.

"What joke?" Brennan questioned.

"They killed a rabbit and put it on my car," she sobbed softly.

"Where is your driver?" he asked.

"He's here," Abby said.

"Hand me to him," Brennan instructed.

Bates took the phone, "Governor Sinclair."

"What's going on? Did you see anything?" Brennan asked.

"No, Sir, I was keeping an eye on Abby not the car," Bates replied.

As they were talking his phone beeped letting Brennan know a message just came through. "Hold on," he said. Brennan opened the message. A picture of Abby and Charlie sitting at their table eating and laughing was attached. Brennan's heart began to beat in his ears. Brennan looked down at the included message: "Do you know where your daughter is? I do."

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