The Client

Chapter 23

Abby lifted her head, "Mike?"

He took her face in his hands, "Are you ok?"

"Fine. You?" she asked.

Mike unbuckled, "Don't worry about me." He helped Abby with her seat belt.

Dale unbuckled and retrieved his weapon from its holster. "Bates?" Abby called.

"I'm ok," Bates coughed. He touched the bump above his eyebrow and winced. Bates fought with his buckle, but it wouldn't budge, "Oh, come on."

They heard a vehicle pull up behind them. Soon the sounds of car doors slamming followed. Footsteps mixed with the sounds of riffles being readied.

"Everybody down!" Mike called. He covered Abby with his own body as the car was pelted with bullets. Fortunately for the occupants of the town car the vehicle had been equipped for such emergencies. Nothing was ever really bullet proof, but the car came pretty close.

Suddenly the volley of gunfire ceased. Then one lone assailant made his way to the driver's side of the car. He began shooting the driver's window glass until there was enough damage for him to smash in the window. He smashed the glass until it gave way. Bates turned his head to save his face from the shower of glass shards. Finally Bates got his seat belt unstuck but it was too late to move. An assailant thrust his riffle in and shot the driver point blank. It all happened too fast. Dale or Mike didn't have time to react before it was too late. With his hand gone limp Bates' seatbelt fully recoiled. He fell to the passenger side with a thunk.

The assailant angled further in for a better shot to the back. Dale began firing before the guy could take aim a second time. Mike joined the cover. They heard police sirens coming closer and closer. Mike managed to hit the guy in the arm. Dale took out the riffle. Their opponent retreated. Dale and Mike readied for another round.

There was a commotion among the attackers. Once they saw the police cars they fled to their car and took off. One police car went after them another stopped at the wrecked town car.

"Bates?" Abby lunged forward wanting to get to the injured man.

Mike held her back. He knew there was no way that the driver survived that shot. "You don't want to see that, Baby," Mike turned them both to look out the rear windshield. Dale crawled ahead and went to the front. He didn't need to feel Bates' neck. There was no pulse, not with the damage done.

"He's gone," Dale pronounced.

"No," Abby sobbed.

There was a banging on the back door of the car, "This is the police- is anyone in there?"

"Yes," Dale answered.

"It's safe you can come out."

Dale unlocked the door. He yanked on the handle. "It's not budging," Dale groaned.

"I'll be right back," Mike promised, "We'll get out of here."

Between the two men on the inside and the two officers on the outside they all managed to pry the door open.

Dale climbed out first. "Ready?" Mike locked eyes with Abby. She nodded sadly. "Ok," He slipped his hands around her waist. "1, 2, 3," Mike help lift her out. He grabbed onto the metal of the car frame and pulled his body up. He jumped down onto the grass. Abby went straight to his side. She latched onto him.

"Can you tell me what happened?" the officer asked.

"We were ambushed," Dale answered.

"Anyone injured?" a second officer inquired.

"The driver," Mike said.

"He's gone," Dale reported.

"I wounded one of the assailants," Mike said.

"Do you know how many there were?" the officer asked.

"No," Mike shook his head.

"With the riffles they were using it's hard to say," Jakes frowned, "I only heard one car."

"And you?" the first officer questioned.

"Only one," Mike agreed.

"You guys got here pretty quickly," Dale noted.

"Routine patrol- heard the shots," one of the officers replied.

"I think it might be safer if we discuss this is a more secure location," Mike said. They were sitting ducks out in the open if those guys came back with their riffles.

Across the city, Brennan sat in his office. As he typed away on a document, Lauren Skyped through. He answered her call and her face came up on his screen. "Hey," she greeted.

Brennan grinned at the sight of her. Lauren blushed lightly. "How are things?" he asked.

"Busy," she replied.

"What do you have for me?" Brennan inquired.

"Isaiah was Jeremiah Bello's brother," Lauren revealed.

"We got confirmation?" he asked.

"From immigration records," she verified, "Apparently the two came over from Nigeria together along with Eddie."

"Can I see the records?" Brennan inquired.

"Sending it through now," Lauren replied. He pulled up his email program on half the screen keeping the call up on the other half.

"Has Paul called you with any updates?" he queried.

"His contact is still trying to get in touch with the agent that is in charge of whatever case Bello was part of," she answered.

"Is there any way we can find out who that is?" Brennan wondered. He hated this was dragged out for so long.

"If the agent is undercover it's going to be next to impossible," Lauren cautioned, "They guard that information like the gold at Fort Knox."

"Do you think Paul can get the information?" he asked.

"I know this sucks," Lauren began. There was a beep from her computer.

"What is it?" Brennan questioned.

"I just got an alert on one of our cars," she replied. They had outfitted several cars with systems that notified them in case of emergencies.

Brennan's heart began to race, "Is it Abby's?"

Lauren clicked up the alert. Her face fell. He knew it was from Lauren's expression. Brennan whipped out his cell phone and called his daughter.

Abby's cell began to ring. They heard it from inside the car. "I'll get it," Dale offered.

"I am not so sure that is a good idea," the first officer warned.

"Do you want to be the reason the Governor can't get ahold of his daughter?" Dale rejoined.

"You're Abigail Sinclair?" the officer looked to Abby. She nodded.

"I'm Mike Warren," Mike identified himself, "And that is Dale Jakes."

Dale climbed back into the town car before the officers could protest anymore. He went back and found Abby's clutch where the ringing was coming from.

The phone had stopped by the time he got back out and handed the phone over. Abby called him back. "Hi, Daddy," she greeted in a small voice.

"Thank God, Abby- we got an alert on your car. Are you ok?" Brennan asked.

"No," she sobbed.

"What's going on, Princess?" he coaxed.

"They made us crash the car," Abby closed her eyes.

"How serious was it?" Brennan asked.

Abby couldn't really register a word her father said. "They shot Bates," she gave the phone to Mike. Abby buried her face in Mike's chest and cried.

"Abby? Abby, darling?" Brennan voice hitched.

"She's a bit too upset to right now," Mike stroked Abby's chocolate brown hair.

"Bates is dead isn't he?" Brennan sighed.

"Yeah," Mike's jaw ticked. This cut too close.

"I will call his family and let them know," Brennan closed his eyes.

"The guys are gone- we have Abby," he added.

"Are the cops there?" Brennan asked.

"Yes," Mike answered.

"Can I speak to one of them?" Brennan requested.

Mike held the phone out to what seemed to be the lead officer. "The Governor would like to speak to you," he said.

The officer took it, "Governor Sinclair?"


"Swarek, Sir," the officer offered. He listened as Brennan explained the situation.

"I would be much appreciative if you could take my daughter somewhere safe- my estate is probably the best bet," Brennan said.

"As soon as a backup arrives to secure the scene we will take them home," the officer agreed.

"Thank you so much, Officer Swarek," Brennan replied. The officer handed the phone back to Mike. The bodyguard put it up to his ear.

"Is it you again, Mike?" Brennan asked.


"Look, we proved through immigration records that the two Belloes are related," Brennan informed the younger man. He heard Mike swallow. That was enough confirmation along with everything else. There was no doubt in Mike's mind that Bello was behind this. "Don't sugarcoat it," Brennan said.

"It's bad," Mike replied. His eyes darted around going an extra swept of his surroundings.

"Take care of my girl," Brennan pled.

"I will," Mike promised. He hung up.

"We'll give you a ride back to the governor's estate," the officer said. A crime scene unit SUV pulled up to the scene.

Soon they were in the back of a squad car readying to head back on their route. Abby sat in the middle between Dale and Mike. Looking out the window past Mike, she saw the coroner van drive up.

"Someone needs to call Bates' family," she spoke softly. So softly in fact that Mike almost hadn't heard her.

"Your dad is taking care of that," Mike replied.

Abby hung her head, "He was a good guy."

"I could tell," Mike agreed.

"When is this going to stop?" she clenched her fists together.

"When we find them," Mike offered the most reassuring thing he could think to say.

"When will that be? How many more people are going to get hurt or die?" Abby vented.

Mike dipped down to try to meet Abby's eyes. "This isn't your fault," he insisted.

"If Bates' hadn't been driving me he'd be alive," she countered.

"He was doing his job," Dale replied.

"That was meant to be me not him," Abby sniffled.

Mike got her a tissue out of his pocket. She took it and wiped her nose. "You didn't do this- Bates' death is on them," he asserted.

"It's fairly obvious that they aren't going to give up until I'm dead," Abby shuttered. Mike wrapped his arm around her shoulder. He rested the temple of his head on Abby's hair. Mike wanted to tell her a million things. Like how he was there to protect her or how he would protect her with his life. He had said those words before. Somehow in the moment Mike felt they would do more damage than comfort. She was holding onto enough guilt. So he was silent and held her, hoping the action was enough. Abby melted into him and took the comfort he offered.

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