The Client

Chapter 9

Vance called out for Abby when he got through the front door. The door closed behind him. When no one came to greet him he looked around. He found his duffle bag and the box waiting at the door. His brow furrowed. Vance called for his girlfriend again. He walked into the house repeating her name. Abby & Mike came in from the back patio. They met Vance in the living room.

"Hey, Babe," Vance went to hug Abby. She stepped closer to Mike which made Vance stop in his tracks.

"Hello, Vance," she greeted coolly.

Vance recoiled a bit unsteadily. He cleared his throat and evened his shoulders, "I just heard about the shooting- are you ok?"

"Everyone is fine," Abby answered.

"What's going on?" he eyed them both. Abby wasn't acting like herself. The way Mike looked at him had changed. Something was up.

She straightened. There was no point in beating around the bush. "We are over," Abby said, "I'm done."

"Because I didn't call earlier? You know how hectic things can get at the hospital," Vance made an excuse.

Abby laughed keeping a straight face, "Right." Vance rocked forward in an attempt to read her. "You were so busy you couldn't even be bothered to make sure the blinds on the on call room door where closed," Abby's brown eyes narrowed.

He fell back on his heels as if she'd punched him. Abby had seen him with Jess. Time for damage control. How could Vance spin this? "It's not what you think," he began.

"Don't insult my intelligence," Abby countered, "I know what I saw."

"Can we talk privately?" Vance requested.

Mike frowned, "No." He did not trust the smarmy cheater. Vance put his hands on his hips. This was humiliating enough without the guy that was about to steal his girl watching the break up.

"Abby," Vance plead. She stared at him. Abby didn't think Vance would hurt her. "He speaks for you now?" Vance asked.

Mike rolled his shoulders, "It's my job to protect her." Abby put her hand up to stop him. Mike and Vance getting into a fight was the last thing she needed today. It might be a good idea to let Mike cool off.

"Let's be adults here," Abby brought her hand back and crossed her arms over her chest. Her eyes shifted between both men until Mike broke his glare at Vance. "What is there to talk about?" she asked her former boyfriend.

"It's kind of hard to say with an audience," Vance slipped his hands in his pockets.

He seemed to want to apologize. Abby would give him that.

She whispered to Mike, "The kitchen is feet away- you can hear us from there."

"Are you sure?" Mike questioned.

"No," Abby answered.

"I don't like this," he replied.

"Me either," she agreed, "If it will make him leave faster it's worth a try."

"Yell and I'll come running," Mike said.

"I know," Abby nodded.

"I am not going far," Mike warned the other man.

"Just five minutes I promise," she said.

Mike checked his watch then looked straight at Vance, "Five minutes."

"Just so we're clear I am not changing my mind," Abby said watching Mike go through the swinging doors into the kitchen.

"I am sorry, Abby," Vance began, "Can you forgive me?"

"Thank you for your apology- maybe one day we can be friends," Abby conceded.

"Friends," he snorted.

"I can't be in a relationship with someone that doesn't love me," she contended.

"I do love you," Vance asserted.

"Not enough to be faithful to me," Abby rubbed her forehead.

"It was just sex- it didn't mean anything," he replied.

"Did you really think I wouldn't find out?" she glared.

"You cut me off- what was I supposed to do?" Vance guilted.

"Let me have time to build up trust," she retorted, "I told you we were starting from scratch."

"I'm just a man- I have needs," he argued.

"That's a cop out and you know it," she countered, "If you really loved me you would have waited for me." Vance looked at her with tear filled eyes. "Then again I guess I'm not worth waiting for," Abby spun around towards the kitchen.

She began to walk away. Vance took grabbed her by the arms and pulled her to him roughly. "Get your hands off of me," Abby commanded, "Let me go!" Instead of releasing her Vance's lips captured hers in an unrequited and unwanted kiss. "Stop!" she shoved him away but he wouldn't let her go. Mike charged in and ripped Vance off of Abby. Mike twisted the surgeon's arm behind his back. Vance howled in pain. He almost fell to his knees. Mike kept him upright.

"Are you alright?" Mike asked Abby, but kept his eyes on Vance. He knew it was stupid idea to leave in the first place.

"Yeah, I'm ok," she kept wiping off her mouth with the back of her hand. Abby scowled at Vance. "What the hell were you thinking? Not even a shower inbetween Jess and me?" she snapped. Now anger began to boil up inside her.

"I can take a hint," Vance growl back at Mike.

"'Get your hands off me', 'Let me go', and 'Stop' are pretty clear signals that's she's in distress," Mike's jaw ticked.

"I think it's best if you leave now," Abby advised. Mike threw the other man into the room a good three yards. Vance nearly fell over from the momentum.

"You're taking his side? You've known this guy for what two, three days?!" Vance spat.

"Don't turn this on Mike- he hasn't done anything wrong!" Abby defended her new friend, "You're the one that was manhandling me." She rubbed her arms that were now pink where he grabbed her.

"We'd be fine if it weren't for him," Vance asserted.

"Take your things and go," Abby ordered. She wanted her ex off the estate.

Vance's heart raced. A million thoughts swirled around in his head. There had to be a way for him to stick around and get Abby to change her mind. "Are you really kicking me out when these people after you targeted Charlie?" he asked.

"You're covered," Abby rolled her eyes. Did Vance really think she was totally stupid? Abby arched an eyebrow, "My blogger friend Lucia will be happy to get a bit of scoop on the big time reporters, by this time tomorrow it will be all over the net and news that we have broken up."

Charlie had taken the call up to the room she was staying in. "No problem," she was finishing up, "Call me again if you have any more questions." Johnny knocked on her door as she hung up. "Come in," she beckoned.

"Hey," he opened the door and step in, "I found something for you."

"About my brother?" Charlie swallowed.

"Don't ask how, but I got into an ancient version of his file," Johnny said.

"You're kidding me," Charlie replied.

"Most of it is redacted, but I found his baby picture," Johnny handed the printout to Charlie. She took it almost afraid to look. Her eyes immediately went to the picture: a tiny baby with cherubim cheeks and the most precious brown eyes.

Charlie placed her hand on his arm, "Thank you, Johnny."

"No thanks needed- your smile is enough," he replied. They heard the commotion downstairs.

"What was that?" Charlie asked.

"I don't know, but I'm going to find out," Johnny left to go investigate. Charlie followed him. They came upon the trio in an intense stare down.

"Is everything all right?" Johnny inquired.

"Dr. Lars was just leaving," Mike said pointedly. He and Johnny escorted Vance outside to the entry room where they retrieved Vance's things. Mike watched the other man get into his car and drive off. Vance wasn't going to be giving Abby anymore more problems tonight.

When Johnny and Mike got back inside Charlie was examining Abby's arms. "I swear if Vance hurt you I'll castrate him with a grapefruit spoon," Charlie threatened. The ferocity and sincerity in her voice made the two remaining males crossed their respective legs.

"Remind me never to get you mad," Johnny remarked.

"Nobody messes with my family," Charlie warned.

"It's nothing that a pint of Ben & Jerry's won't fix," Abby shook it off. Just then the front door opened. The group followed Abby into the foyer. Brennan & Lauren had arrived.

"Hi, Daddy," Abby greeted.

"Hey, Princess," Brennan loosened his tie.

"We just passed Vance's car leaving," Lauren noted.

"What's going on?" Brennan inquired.

"I broke up with Vance," Abby said.

Brennan opened his arms. Abby walked into her father's hug. Brennan tried to hide a smile. Abby finally came to her senses about the ego manic. It hurt his girl right now, but she'd be better off in the long run.

"Lauren, can you take Vance off of the approved visitors list, please?" Abby asked.

"Sure," Lauren replied.

"What happened?" Brennan asked. His daughter wouldn't request that step without a good reason.

"Let's just say he didn't take getting dumped too well," Abby dropped her shoulders.

"Any news?" Mike asked.

"Nothing new to report- they haven't even called since the last time when I was with Paul," Brennan frowned.

"Did you get anything out of those guys?" Johnny inquired about the men taking in about the shooting.

Lauren shook her head, "They are not talking, but we do know they come from the same neighborhood."

"We're going to let them stew overnight and see if they are more cooperative tomorrow," Brennan augmented.

The cook found them, "Dinner is ready."

"Shall we?" Brennan offered. They all headed to the dining room. Brennan kept an arm wrapped around Abby, "Do you think you can eat?"

Abby smiled weakly, "Yeah."

Asleep on her bed, Abby began to thrash. She screamed then bolted upright. Mike was taking a midnight trip to the bathroom when he heard Abby's cry of fear from her room. He raced in to find Abby hugging her knees to her chest. No one else was there. She looked out at him with broken eyes. The need to comfort Abby drove Mike to the bed. He sat beside her. Without a word Mike wrapped an arm around Abby. She turned into his shoulder and cried.

Charlie heard Abby scream. She scrambled out of bed. Charlie met Johnny out in the hallway. They found Abby's door left ajar. She spied Mike on the bed holding Abby through the crack. It stopped her in her tracks. Charlie put a finger to her lips to signal Johnny to be quiet. Johnny saw the same thing. He smiled. Neither friend wanted to intrude on the moment so they tiptoed back to their rooms.

Abby pulled back and tried to wipe her eyes, "I'm sorry- I got your shirt all wet."

"I don't mind," Mike offered her a genuine smile. He got Abby a tissue from a box on her nightstand. "Some nightmare, huh?" Mike inquired.

"Did I wake you?" she grimaced out of embarrassment.

"No," he shook his head, "You want to talk about it?"

"I've never been shot at before," Abby sniffled.

"It doesn't get any less scary," Mike acknowledged.

"How many times have you been shot at?" she inquired.

"I've lost count," he admitted, "Been shot twice."

"Wow, I must sound like such a baby to you," Abby laughed at herself.

Mike shook his head, "Not at all."

"I don't get it," she said.

"Get what?" he coaxed.

"How anyone could hate another person enough to want them dead?" Abby replied, "Anger I understand, but this I don't."

"There are evil people in the world," Mike sighed. He had seen that first hand.

"If you hadn't been there that guy probably would have shot me," she shivered, "I don't believe I thanked you for that or earlier with Vance either. So thank you."

"I wasn't about to let either bastard hurt you," Mike crooned. For a few minutes nothing was said. Abby licked her lips. She saw him watching her. Abby leaned forward to kiss him. Mike took her face in his hands before their lips met. Abby stared up into his eyes. "You have been through hell these past few days- your emotions are all over the place right now," he cautioned.

"Does it matter?" she asked.

"It matters to me," Mike kissed her forehead. Abby let out a soft moan.

"You are full of surprises aren't you, Mike?" she remarked.

"If you are still interested after you've had a chance to process all of this then I might be interested too," he added, "I don't want us, if there is an us, to be a rebound." Abby nodded. She agreed with his logic. "Sleepy?"

"Yeah. Will you stay until I fall asleep?" Abby requested.

"Of course," Mike got up. He closed the door.

She laid back in the bed and rested her head on her pillow, "Goodnight."

Mike sent a smile back to her, "Goodnight and don't worry- I'll keep you safe."

Assured by his protective presence, her body gave in to exhaustion. Abby's eyes fluttered closed. Mike pulled up the blanket to cover her shoulder. She heard him whisper as she drifted off to sleep, "You are worth waiting for, Abby."

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