The Client

Chapter 20

Mike was the last person inside the office. He closed the door behind him. The click of the latch kicked him in the gut. Mike looked at his boss. Paul, along with Brennan, leaned against the large wood desk. Lauren stood just past them. "This is about Eddie isn't it?" Mike guessed. Paul nodded.

"Tell them what you told me," Lauren directed.

"How do you know this Eddie?" Brennan asked.

Mike's shoulders fell. He had been always told not to talk about his work ever, but this had to be en exception. "Eddie was the right hand man of a man named Jeremiah Bello," Mike said, "I met them both working undercover for the FBI."

"Bello," Brennan frowned, "That name sounds familiar."

"He was a power player in the drug trade in Southern California," Mike explained.

Brennan sat down at his desk and brought his laptop up. He opened a log and ran a search. "There was a Bello, an Isaiah Bello," Brennan looked up from his computer screen. He turned it so everyone else could see what he was looking at. "You think they are related somehow?"

"Good possibility," Paul guessed.

"Could be," Mike agreed, "Bello never really mentioned a family- doesn't mean he didn't have any."

"Why was Isaiah on your radar?" Mike asked.

"He was an inmate of some sort," Brennan frowned, "That's a prisoner id number." He pointed out.

Mike read the screen, "Do you have anything else on him?"

"If I did, it would be back at the office- The only official files I keep on this laptop are appointment schedules," Brennan answered.

"I can get this Bello's files," Laruen stated. It wasn't that hard.

"In the meantime- where is your Bello, Mike?" Paul inquired.

"He's not my Bello," Mike protested.

"Do you know where he is?" Paul rephrased the question.

"As far as I know, he's in federal pen- we had him dead to rights," Mike replied.

"No way he could have slipped through?" Lauren questioned.

Mike slanted his head to the side and thought, "The case was solid- I can't see him getting out on appeal, but he could have worked a deal I guess."

"I will make some calls to check it out," Paul said. Mike's bridges with the FBI had been burned, but Paul had his sources.

"His power base is, well was, on the other side of the continent," Mike offered. Mike's phone began to ring.

"Answer it," Brennan directed. Mike looked at Paul who tipped his head in agreement. His phone had been setup to record, in case he got a call like Brennan had. Lauren called in the trace.

Mike slid the screen up and tapped to answer. He brought the phone up to his ear, "Hello?"

"Enjoying your new found fame?" a distorted voice answered.

"Heh, the press is a pain," Mike shrugged. Some photographers had followed him on his trip to Lauren and the police station.

"The price you pay for dating a beautiful woman," the voice rejoined.

"Definitely worth it," Mike said, "Who are you?"

"How is Abigail after last night?" the voice asked.

"Your thugs didn't ruin our night, if that's what you're wondering- nice try though," Mike retorted.

"Someone has to make sure you are doing your job," the voice barbed back.

"It's more than a job," Mike snapped. Brennan couldn't help a small half smile at that. Kid had passion for his daughter.

"She is a beautiful woman," the voice acknowledged.

"Why are you after Abby? She's has done nothing to you," Mike charged.

"Don't get too attached to her," the voice warned.

"Too late," Mike replied.

"How unfortunate for you," the voice retorted.

"Don't underestimate me- I am not going to let you near her," Mike answered.

"You can go down as well," the voice stated.

"Leave Abby alone," Mike insisted.

"Are you giving the orders now?"

Mike frowned. The way this voice spoke seemed familiar. "Do we know each other?" Mike inquired.

"It was great speaking with you, Michael." The weight of the way his name was said struck a chord in Mike. "I have some business to attend to." With that the connection ended.

Mike looked to Lauren, "Tell me that got something."

"We got him in the general vicinity," she replied, "No exact location."

"Why would they start messaging and calling you?" Brennan questioned.

Mike opened his mouth, but didn't quite have an answer. This was more than coincidence. "I am not 100 percent sure yet," he said.

"They are emailing you Isaiah's file," Lauren indicated Brennan should check his computer. He pulled up the email program and opened the newest email. He read it while Mike came around the desk and took a look. The first thing in Mike's sight was Isaiah's mug shot.

All eyes tuned to Mike. His face fell when he saw the picture. "He looks like Bello doesn't he?" Paul inferred. Mike nodded. It was a more than passing resemblance. "Let's cross reference these two and see if we can come up with a more concrete connection," Paul suggested.

"What happened to him?" Mike asked.

"Executed," Brennan read down.

"Damn," Mike muttered.

"I remember this guy now," Brennan frowned.

"You denied clemency," Paul said.

"The bastard murdered his pregnant girlfriend," Brennan crossed his arms over his chest, "Punishment fit the crime."

They all exited the office. Abby met them in the hallway. "Hey, Princess," Brennan greeted.

"I'm taking orders for pizza," Abby said. Her eyes landed on Mike. Mike could see she was heading for him and backed up. "I need to wash up," Mike excused himself. He made his way towards the stairs that separated the two wings of the house. In a moment he disappeared.

Abby stared after him for a minute. She crossed her arms over her chest. "What was that about?" Abby muttered.

"He just needs a minute," Paul said.

"You want pizza?" Brennan asked.

"If that's all right," Abby answered.

"It's fine," Brennan replied.

"Are you staying?" Abby asked Lauren.

Lauren looked to Brennan. He smiled softly at her. His brown eyes asked her to say yes. "I guess I could," she replied.

Abby smiled. Her father seemed to be wearing Lauren down. "What type of pizza would you like?" Abby inquired.

"I'm good with pretty much anything," Lauren answered, "Cheese is always good or pepperoni if the guys would prefer."

"Cheese actually sounds good," Lucia said, coming down the hallway with Johnny in tow.

"Is that all right with you, Johnny?" Abby asked.

"Any pizza is fine by me," Johnny grinned.

"How about you, Mr. Briggs? Are you staying?" Abby asked.

"I got no other plans," Paul quipped. To save her the trouble of asking again he added, "Pepperoni would be good."

"Do you know what Mike likes on his pizza?" Abby questioned.

"He didn't say?" Johnny asked.

"He took off before I could ask and said he'd be back," Abby answered.

"Mike likes olives on his pizza," Paul suggested.

"Thanks, so that's one cheese, one pepperoni, and one olive, all large," Abby listed them. She turned to her father, "Do you think that will be enough?"

"Add another cheese pizza," Brennan suggested.

The pizza had been delivered by the time Mike had come back. Abby was the only one left in the kitchen getting her plate. She saw him over the bar. "Hey," he smiled.

"I hope you are hungry," Abby said.

"Starved," Mike rounded the counter to stand beside her. He scanned the counter top and the spread of pizza boxes. Mike found a plate.

"There's olive for you," she opened the lid to one of the boxes, "Paul said you liked them."

"I do, thank you," Mike replied. He took up a plate and pulled out a few slices.

"We got parmesan if you'd like some," Abby offered as she shook some of the fore mention cheese out.

"Any garlic powder?" he asked.

"Sure thing," she picked up the shaker and handed it to him. Abby purposely kept her eyes on the amount of parmesan she was sprinkling onto her pizza.

"Thanks," he shook a little onto the slices. Mike tilted his head to watch her go about the kitchen. Abby wouldn't quite look at him.

"Everyone is eating in the dining room- we should join them," she took up her plate. Abby headed towards the door. Mike caught her by her elbow. She closed her eyes. His hands were soft, she noted. He smelled like soap. "Are you mad at me?" Mike questioned.

Abby threw her head back exasperatedly, "No." She turned to look at him. There was sadness in her brown eyes. "I'm just trying to give you some space," Abby clarified.

"Space?" Mike raised an eyebrow.

Abby shrugged, "There's stuff going on that you don't want to talk about."

"It's not that I don't want to talk about it," he replied.

"I don't want to pressure you into anything," Abby shook her head.

"Did they tell you about what we pieced together earlier?" Mike inquired.

"Not yet," she answered.

She deserved to know what they were thinking. Mike took a breath and began, "The guy Eddie used to work for- that I worked for undercover ,could possibly have ties here."

"You think he's somehow connected to what's going on?" Abby deduced.

"Yeah, him or another family member," he answered.

"So we're closer to figuring this out- that's good, right?" she hoped.

Mike shrugged, "Yeah."

"I'm sorry this is bringing bad memories up," Abby offered.

"All my life all I wanted to be, was a Federal Agent," Mike said, "I have my reasons for leaving the bureau."

"This case was one of them?" she guessed.

"Not exactly, maybe- I let circumstances back then make me someone that I don't like," he tried to explain. "That you wouldn't like," Mike added mentally. He hung his head.

"I see," Abby nodded reading between the lines.

He looked up into her face to gauge what she meant, "Don't think I don't trust you."

"I want to know you warts and all, Mike," Abby assured him, "Not just the noble or the fun stuff."

"It might take some time," he said. She was already melting his walls. Mike could feel it, "If you're willing to work on it with me."

"I'm not going anywhere," Abby smiled.

"We better get eating before the pizza gets cold," he pushed the door open for her.

After they ate, Johnny walked Lucia out to her car. She had to head home.

"It kind of sucks I can't drive you home," Johnny admitted.

"It's silly for you to drive out with me- I mean I brought my own car and you have to take Charlie to work tomorrow," Lucia replied.

"I still would," he professed.

"I'll text you when I get there," she waved her phone.

"You better," Johnny smirked, "If I don't hear from you in an hour, I'm going to come looking."

"You would, huh?" Lucia deadpanned.

"Better believe it," Johnny took her hand. He lifted it to his lips. Johnny kissed the back of her knuckles, "Goodnight, Lucia."

"Goodnight," she replied.

She backed towards her car holding his hand, until the last possible moment. Their fingertips slipped apart. She turned to open the driver side door. Before she could, Johnny raced over and grabbed the handle. He pulled it open and Lucia got inside. She buckled in, "Thanks." He nodded.

"Drive safe," Johnny shut the door once she was situated. Johnny backed up so she could start the engine. She turned the key and put the car in reverse. He followed her car out, down the driveway for a little ways. Johnny watched her drive, until he couldn't see her car any more.

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