The Client

Chapter 16

"What do you think?" Brennan asked.

Mike looked back from the mirror, where he was checking his new haircut, to the Governor, "It looks great." He had just gotten both a haircut and shave from Brennan's barber.

"Told you Terry is the best," Brennan smiled.

"Are you sure you're happy with it?" Terry asked.

"Yes, thank you," Mike nodded.

Terry took the cape off Mike and brushed him off. Mike stood from the chair. He reached in the back pocket of his slacks and brought out his wallet.

Terry held up his hand, "It's taken care of."

Mike pursed his lips looking at Brennan. "I paid him enough to get him out here," the older man shrugged. He also had had a shave and haircut. Terry laughed and began to clean up the mess in the bathroom.

"Thank you," Mike put his wallet back.

"No thanks needed- you're going to be photographed next to my baby girl," Brennan patted Mike's shoulder, "You need to look sharp." Brennan read the clock on the counter, "I better be getting into my monkey suit."

"Me too," Mike replied.

"You should probably get a shower first- there's nothing worse than an itchy tux," Brennan advised.

"Will do," Mike replied.

"If that's all, I am set," Terry said.

"I'll walk you out," Brennan replied. The barber closed up his case of tools and picked it up. The two exited.

Mike wondered if he was this accommodating to all of his daughter's boyfriends.

Johnny entered the room in a huff. He was almost ready to go. Johnny just needed to tie his tie, that draped around his neck under the dress shirt collar. "Are you going to pout all day?" Mike asked. The news of the date excited his friend at first.

"Don't take this the wrong way, Mikey- it's great that you're finally getting your ass in gear, but I hate you right now," Johnny said.

"What did Briggs say?" Mike asked.

"They got a name on the first creeper and checked him out- he's clean," Johnny reported.

"Good," Mike nodded, "And the second?"

"They didn't get a face, but did get a picture with a tattoo, they are trying to clean up," Johnny got out his phone. He motioned Mike closer. He pulled up the picture of the creeper at the festival, then switched it over to the guy he had tackled after the shooting, "The shooter has one in a similar shape."

"That is very interesting," Mike survived the tattoo of a gun set a flame on the hand of the shooter, "Can I see the first one again?"

"Sure," Johnny flipped to the picture. Mike studied the grainy image. It was blurred, but the color sections matched. "Fits your theory about a gang," Johnny leaned on the sink counter.

Mike rubbed his smooth chin, "We'll see if the image comes back usable."

"If they had someone at the festival, why not make a play for her then?" Johnny asked.

"He was sent to watch- these people are very calculating," Mike answered.

"Aside from that, it's been awfully quiet since the shooting," Johnny said.

"I don't like it, means they're planning something," Mike frowned.

"You think they'll try something at the Gala?" Johnny questioned.

"Lauren has got the thing on lock down as much as possible, but we need to be on high alert," Mike replied.

"I'm still going to be guarding Abby," Mike pointed out.

"Pfft," Johnny replied. A date was a date.

"Part of me is always going to be, until these guys are caught," Mike said, "I just get a monkey suit tonight, while you get a regular suit."

"They're both monkey suits," Johnny insisted.

"I've got to get going. The girls are all getting ready in Abby's room," Mike informed him. He went for the door, but stopped. "Lucia is going to be there too," Mike turned back to his friend.

"Yeah, but I can't eat or dance with her tonight," Johnny replied.

"She'll probably come back to the estate afterwards," Mike offered. He checked his watch. "I really need to hit the showers," Mike backed out of the room.

"I still hate you," Johnny called after him.

The women were in front of Abby's wide mirror that hung above the low chest style dresser she had. Their makeup was out on the dresser top. Lucia had chosen a stunning, red strappy gown that showed off her back. Charlie had her hair in an up do and wore a silk blue halter dress. It reached her ankles and had a high slit on the left side of the skirt up to the bottom of her hip. Abby ditched the traditional holiday colors and went for an empire waist, asymmetrical gown in gold satin. It had a short bell sleeve on the one side with a slight flare to it. Abby set her lipstick back on the dresser top. She straightened the ruched bodice.

"Well?" Abby asked.

Charlie looked at her and nodded, "Perfect." Lucia nodded in agreement.

Abby stepped back and twirled, the flowing satin skirt floating around her. She hoped Mike liked to dance. With wavy hair and soft makeup, the whole look evoked old Hollywood glamour.

"It looks even better on you, than the hanger- Mike is going to swallow his tongue," Lucia predicated. Charlie gave Lucia a look. "What? He is," Lucia insisted.

Abby chuckled at her two friends. "Thanks for coming tonight," she said.

"Wouldn't miss it," Charlie replied.

"Anything for you and a reason to play dress up," Lucia added. Abby hugged both of them.

"Don't you worry about us tonight," Charlie directed.

"Yeah, Lucia concurred, "Just concentrate on your date."

"You're big girls," Abby concurred though she felt bad that they couldn't sit at the same table.

"I am sure we'll find enough trouble to get into," Lucia gave her a sassy smile.

"Not too much trouble," Abby warned.

Johnny and Mike met Brennan downstairs. "Ready for tonight?" he asked them.

"Yes, sir," Johnny answered.

"As we can be," Mike fussed with his bow tie. Brennan gave Mike a once over and nodded his approval. "Think the girls will be down soon?" Mike asked.

"You never know with ladies," Brennan shrugged.

"The limo should be here any minute," Johnny said.

Brennan looked up and over Mike's shoulder causing the younger man to turn around. He caught sight of Abby. Everyone else in the room just faded away. Mike could barely breathe. He could feel his heart raging. Mike & Abby made their way to each other as if drawn by magnets. Mike swallowed, "Wow, you look like Belle." Johnny rolled his eyes. That had to be one of the dumbest compliments he had ever heard. Brennan Just grinned. Mike was scoring major brownie points here.

Abby dipped her head and blushed lightly under the makeup. "Thanks," she lifted her eyes to Mike and beamed, "How did you know she's my favorite Disney princess?"

"It just seems to fit," Mike reached out his hand to her. Abby's heart skipped a beat as she looked at him done up to the nines in his tux and bow tie. Maybe, just maybe, this princess had finally found her prince. She took his hand. He brought her to his side.

Brennan got a text, "The limo just reached the gate- why don't we head out?" They'd do a sweep before it was allowed on the propriety. And when it left, they would be followed by Brennan's security detail.

The whole group walked out the front door. They were halfway down the walkway, when the Limo pulled up. "Now that is a limo," Johnny whistled. The thing was huge. The driver parked, got out, and opened the back door for them. Johnny got in first then Mike helped in Lucia and Charlie. "Sit you two," Charlie insisted. Making sure they sat together.

"You cool with that?" Johnny asked just to be sure.

"It's more than fine," Lucia smiled as she sat.

Johnny eased down beside her, "You are looking fierce tonight."

"Thanks," she replied, "I like your suit."

Brennan got in next, followed by Abby. Mike sat last. Abby wasted no time snuggling up to him. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder. The limo pulled back up to the gate and picked up the town car that security was riding in.

"When is your dad visiting?" Brennan asked Lucia.

"In two weeks," Lucia answered.

"I might have to call him," Brennan said.

"You should," Lucia urged, "I'm sorry I'm going to miss Christmas in July while visiting."

"We understand," Abby replied.

"Christmas in July? What's that?" Johnny asked.

"The foundation sponsors a yearly, summer Christmas party for a group of terminally ill kids where I work," Charlie explained.

"Most of them aren't expected to see the next Christmas so we want to do something special for them," Abby added.

"Give them a Christmas," Mike added.

"If you stick around we'll be wrapping quite a few presents next week," Abby informed her date.

"You should know I suck at wrapping," Mike replied.

"You just need practice," Charlie replied.

"Abby can teach you- she's a master," Lucia chipped in.

Abby waved her friends off. "I just love giving presents and Christmas, I love Christmas," she explained.

"Consider you were born on the 25 of December you would," Brennan grinned.

"You're a Christmas Baby, huh?" Mike pursed his lips.

"Yeah," Abby nodded.

"Must suck for presents," Johnny remarked.

"Actually we celebrate my birthday on Christmas Eve, but enough about Christmas," Abby replied, "We have a Gala to go to."

The ride was all too short. The limo pulled in front of a large upscale hotel. They walked down the red carpet for the press that came with a political party like this. Brennan let the photographers take a few pictures, then Lucia and Charlie walked on. Abby & Mike brought up the rear. Out of the group, the duo were the ones the press was most interested in. Some of the photographers were calling out to Abby to get her attention for a picture. Mike tried to back just out of camera range and let them get their pictures. Abby caught his slipping hand by the wrist and tugged him back. "Stay," she urged in a voice slightly above a whisper, that only he could hear. It was fairly loud.

He dipped into her ear and whispered, "No one is looking at me."

"Don't fool yourself," she threw back.

Mike snorted, "The only person I want looking at me is you."

The cameras flashed at crazy speed catching the perfect moment of Abby beaming as Mike looked longingly at her, with his hand on the small of her back. This was the money shot of the night, if there was one. The flashes were quite blinding and Mike couldn't see the photographers well. The lack of visibility troubled Mike. Who knew the people taking the pictures? Or if there was someone in the press are that shouldn't be. Mike hoped Johnny had a better vantage point. He had bypassed the red carpet, but was following them in the security walk through.

Mike & Abby obliged a couple more photos. "Let's go," Abby urged. They walked on and into the gala. Mike took in the ballroom. It was an enormous room teaming with people. The far side had a band stand set up and the band was already playing. Passed the greeting section, there were tables set up for the dinner. Between the tables and the band stand there was a section for a dance floor. He saw Charlie and Lucia had found their table.

"Where are we again?" Mike asked Abby.

"At Dad's table," Abby motioned to the main one.

He escorted her over and pulled out her chair. She sat. "Everything looks great," Mike pushed in the chair for her.

Lucia slipped away from her table as the band started to play another song. She found Johnny's station and approached him.

"Hey," he greeted.

"Hi," Lucia swayed in time to the music, "I'll make this quick- I know you're on the clock."

"Yeah, sorry," Johnny replied.

"Don't be," she stepped into his personal space, "We've got time." Lucia pushed up on her toes and pressed her lips to his. She pulled back and locked eyes with him. Johnny licked his lips. He began to lean toward Lucia for a second kiss, but stopped himself. She smiled at him. Without another word, Lucia left with Johnny staring after her.

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