The Client

Chapter 18

Is Romance Brewing between the Governor's Daughter and Her Mystery Bodyguard Beau?

Read the headline the paper ran with. A large photo of the money shot of Abby & Mike from the press line accompanied the story. Abby had the online version pulled up on her tablet. She smiled at the picture. Lucia, who had slept over, slid onto the couch beside her. "What ya looking at?" Lucia sipped on her mug of coffee. Abby was about to self-consciously change to another story, but Lucia stopped her. "Nice pic," her friend grinned.

"Do you know the photographer?" Abby asked. It wasn't uncommon for Lucia to be acquainted with photographers or other behind the scenes people. Lucia had some contacts in the local journalistic community.

Lucia read the credits, "Yeah, I do. It's Tommy."

Hearing Lucia mention another guy made Johnny's brow furrow. "Who's Tommy?" he sat in an arm chair.

"Thomas Foster- he's a photographer at a newspaper I interned at," Lucia explained.

Johnny frowned, "Oh, he's a friend?"

"Kind of an older brother," Lucia chuckled, more than a little amused at Johnny's reaction.

"Do you think he'd let me get a hi-res copy of it?" Abby asked.

"You want one?" Lucia asked. Abby nodded. Lucia got out her phone and dialed. "Hey, Tom," she greeted.

"Lucia, hi," the man on the other end of the connection answered, "How are you?"

"I'm great," she smiled at Johnny, "And you?"

"Good, good. Thanks. What's up?" Tom got to the point.

"My friend Abby saw the photo of yours of her and her date that ran in the paper," Lucia said.

"Abigail Sinclair from the gala last night?" Tom inquired.

"That's the one- she loves the photo and would appreciate it if she could get a high resolution copy of it," she requested.

"Sure thing," Tom smiled. Lucia could hear him typing on his laptop. "I am sending it to you to pass on to her," he said. Lucia gave the thumbs up sign to Abby. Her phone beeped her email notification tone. She pulled back and opened her email and opened the picture.

Lucia put the phone back to her ear, "Got it- thanks, Tom."

"Thanks, Tom," Abby called.

Lucia angled out the receiver so he would hear Abby. "You're both welcome," Tom replied, "Talk at you later."

"Have a good day," Lucia hung up. She texted the picture to Abby's phone.

Abby heard the beep on her phone and checked the message and the photo was there. "Thank you," she nodded over to her friend.

"Let me email it to you as well," Lucia said.

Mike came in, "What are you two up to?" He came up behind Abby and leaned on the back of the couch with his elbows.

Abby laid her head back to look up at him with a smile, "Hey."

"Hey," Mike breathed in returned. He couldn't help coming in lower and pressing his lips to hers, not caring what anyone else would think. Lucia took a hint and moved out of the way. She sat in an arm chair next to Johnny's.

"Where's Charlie?" Mike inquired as he slipped into the vacated spot.

"Up getting a shower," Johnny answered.

Abby showed him the picture that Lucia got for her.

"Nice," Mike smiled. He lifted his arm in offer for her to get closer.

"It's a great one of you," Abby snuggled in.

"Me, I could do without," Mike laughed. He nuzzled her cheek. "You are beautiful," Mike looked at her. Abby blushed slightly. She angled her face to his. They got lost in each other's eyes for a while.

"Do you think they even hear us?" Lucia asked Johnny.

"Nah," Johnny shook his head.

"Want a copy of the picture?" Abby inquired of Mike.

"Yeah, I would," Mike answered, "Why don't you go ahead and send it to my phone?"

"Alright," it didn't take long for her to do so.

"Thanks," he replied to the beep.

"You should send it to your Mom," she suggested.

"That's ok with you?" Mike asked.

"Sure, it's all over the web and news anyway," she shrugged.

Mike checked the time. His mother would well into her day by now. He texted the photo to her without a caption or explanation.

It took literally two minutes for a reply. He could practically hear her inward squealing, reading her message, "What a handsome young couple."

Mike smirked. "Told you she's gorgeous," he texted back. Johnny's and Mike's phone beeped. Johnny and Mike each read the message and looked at each other knowingly.

"What's up?" Lucia asked.

"Is it the new guy?" Abby asked.

"As a matter of fact, yes," Mike answered. They all went into the entry room to greet him. The housekeeper opened the door.

"Hiya, Jakes," Mike greeted.

The man with long dread locks stepped in, "Mikey."

Mike gave him a one armed hug, "Great to see you."

"You too, Man," Dale replied.

"How are Cassandra and Danny?" Mike asked.

"Good, Danny misses his Uncle Mike," Dale replied.

"Hey, am I chopped liver?" Johnny play pouted.

"You too, Uncle Johnny," Dale chuckled, "She has him out at one of the science museums in the city."

"Here? Did they come with you?" Mike asked.

"Only way I could take the job- Cassandra would have killed me otherwise," Dale replied.

Mike wrapped his arm around Abby's waist and began the introductions, "This is Abby."

Dale smiled at her, "Hello."

"Abby this is Dale Jakes- he's going to be rotating with Johnny," Mike continued.

"Nice to meet you," Abby held out her hand and shook Dale's.

Dale caught the way Mike looked at Abby. "I guess the reporters were right- I haven't seen Mike this happy, well, ever," Dale said. "I wouldn't have you to thanks for that?" Dale quipped. Abby batted her eyes at Mike who just smiled back.

Johnny motioned to Lucia, "This is Lucia."

"My friend," Abby added. With how close Lucia was standing next to Johnny Dale bet she was his 'friend' too.

Lucia waved to Dale, "Hey."

"Nice to meet you," Dale

"You have a son?" Abby inquired.

"Yes, Daniel," Dale nodded.

She swallowed before responding, "It's a good name- how old is he?"

"Ten," Dale beamed.

"What a wonderful age- I hope you know they are more than welcome here," she offered.

"Thank you, Abby, I will pass that along," Dale tipped his head.

"There's a pool in the courtyard and just out back there is tree fort with plenty of woods to explore if Daniel is an outdoor boy," Abby added.

"Should we head into the living room," Mike indicated.

"What is everyone doing here?" Charlie came down the stairs.

"This is Charlie," Johnny motioned for her to come next to him.

"Hi," Charlie greeted the new comer.

"Charlie, this is the other guy we were rotating in, Dale Jakes," Johnny explained.

"You're the doctor right?" Dale asked.

Charlie nodded, "Johnny's been taking good care of me."

"Hospital detail has to be a nightmare," Dale cringed in Johnny's direction.

"Actually except for surgeries, it's not that bad," Johnny replied.

"Really? I've hated all of the doctor protection details I've been given- with all the places you can't go with them while they are at an unsecurable hospital; it almost seems pointless," Dale rolled his shoulders.

"I represent Abby's foundation on the hospital board," Charlie explained, "So I get a lot of leeway other doctors don't."

"I see," Dale replied.

His phone rang. "Hey, Lauren," Mike answered.

"Mike," Lauren replied, "I am going to need you to come down to the office."

"All right," Mike agreed.

"This Eddie person wants to talk to you," Lauren replied. Mike closed his eyes and sighed. He knew this was coming. Mike hadn't slept so well because of the other man's reappearance. Being with Abby had made him forget about it for a while.

"I'll be there in forty," Mike said.

"I'll be waiting," Lauren replied.

Mike hung up. "What is it?" Abby asked.

"That guy from last night wants to talk to me," Mike frowned, "Any plans for today?"

"Everyone has the day off so we'll just chill," Abby said.

"Ok, but if you decide to go out, wait for me and I'll go with you," Mike requested.

"What, you think I can't handle these ladies?" Johnny quipped.

"He'll have backup," Dale added.

"These three are a force to be reckoned with- you'll need more backup than just the two of you," Mike smirked. The ladies laughed. "Hold down the fort, Guys," Mike directed.

"We got this, bro," Johnny replied.

Everyone else continued into the living room. Abby walked Mike to the door. Without a word Abby pulled Mike into a hug. Mike brought his arms up around her and slowly returned her embrace. They held each other for a few minutes.

"See you later," she pulled away.

"Later," he nodded.

Mike opened the door to the interrogation room and walked in. This would go better if he didn't over think it. Eddie waited for him with a lawyer. Mike settled in to the chair opposite him, across the table. Lauren and a few detectives were watching through a one way mirror.

Mike joined his hands and rested them on his stomach. He allowed a few minutes of silence. "Eddie, it's been a while," Mike spoke first.

"It has," the Nigerian stared down the former FBI Agent. Mike hadn't changed much in the years since he had last seen him. In fact that same youthful cockiness dripped off of him. "You're a real bodyguard now," Eddie taunted.

Mike leaned forward and rested his forearms on the table. He was not about to let Eddie think the remark insulted him, "I make ten times the FBI salary and can actually look at myself in the mirror without gagging. Beats having to guard Bello any day of the week."

"You were just pretending," Eddie replied.

"Was the bullet I took for him pretend?" Mike retorted, "I still have a scar on my side."

"The cost of conning a kingpin," Eddie rejoined.

"You never did trust me," Mike stated.

"Was I wrong?" Eddie asked.

"I am sorry about your eye," Mike offered genuinely. That injury was one of many things he regretted from his undercover days.

"Bello nearly killed me because of you," Eddie accused.

Mike tilted his head, "I stopped him."

"Why did you?" Eddie inquired.

"I didn't want anyone to die," Mike replied.

"How noble of you," Eddie sneered.

"Who's your new boss, Eddie?" Mike pressed.

Eddie's lawyer, who had been silent up to this point, held her hand up to stop Eddie from speaking, "Don't answer that- there is no information without a deal."

"I am no longer FBI," Mike replied, "I am not the guy to talk to about deals." He looked directly at Eddie. "Why did you ask for me?" Mike demanded, "I don't have all day to wait around- I have a job to do."

"Still a job? Funny coming from a guy who had his arm wrapped around the woman he's guarding and hers around him," Eddie tossed back.

"You're right," Mike spread his hands out, "Let's lay it all out on the table- it is more than a job to me now." Through the window Lauren looked closely at the man seated across from Mike. From his face, she could tell that Eddie had been knocked off balance by Mike's honesty. "Abby is a good person - she doesn't deserve to get shot at or grabbed by a stranger," Mike ground out the last part. Eddie saw the genuine anger in Mike. What was behind the mask Mike had put on was starting to seep through to the façade. Maybe it was more than bravo after all.

Eddie gave his next words a lot of thought. "I asked for you, to give you a warning."

"Yeah," Mike coaxed.

"Watch your back," Eddie warned, "Abby won't be the only one they go after now."

"Is that all you have to say?" Mike asked.

"I am not a snitch," Eddie insisted.

"I hope your new boss appreciates your loyalty this time," Mike pushed himself up. He turned and walked to the door, "I will find them with or without you and when I do? They are going to wish they never heard of the Sinclairs." Mike stopped just outside and leaned on the door hoping he hadn't cut it too short.

Eddie stared after him. They really had no idea who they were dealing with. Both sides were playing with fire. Eddie did not want to be there when they finally came to a head. It would be a miracle if anyone was left standing.

"That was something, what you did in there," Lauren approached Mike, "Eddie looks pretty rattled."

"Not rattled enough," Mike frowned. He closed his eyes and tried to calm himself down. Eddie pulled him back to a place he didn't like to go. Mike had to pull himself back before returning to Abby.

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