The Client

Chapter 33

Undone, Abby fell back against Mike. He steadied them under the spray of the warm shower. Chests both still heaving, they were breathing pretty hard. "And I thought the run was a work out," Abby quipped. She was beginning to love the cleanup part of their running routine and the things it lead to. Mike chuckled. Abby reached out and turned off the water. It was time to get with the land of the living. Laughing, they stumbled out of the still steaming shower enclosure like a couple of drunks.

"Here," he picked up a towel. Mike dried her off with the fluffy cloth. Abby took the towel from Mike and wrapped it around her. She went to the sink to find a hair brush while he continued to dry himself. He came up behind her. Mike kissed her bare shoulder. The feather touch sent a shiver down Abby's spine. Too bad they had a briefing to get to before leaving for her work.

The couple dressed, him in a suit, her in summer dress with a belt. Abby put on her makeup as he stood in the bathroom door way watching her. She set down her lipstick and gave one last look over. Abby turned back to him. "Shall we?" Mike offered her his arm. She looped hers through his. They went over to the next wing where everyone was gathering in Brennan's study.

There weren't enough seats for everyone so Abby slid into Mike's lap when he sat on the small couch. Abby didn't quite catch the brief glimmer of distain Piper shot her for the move. Mike glared telling the other woman to back off with his eyes. His girlfriend could sit in his lap if she wanted to. So it wasn't very professional, but they weren't hiding the relationship at this point.

"Horatio Delgado was picked up early this morning," Grant informed them.

"And what was Bello's associate caught doing?" Brennan asked.

"He and one of his men pulled a gun on a judge," Lauren explained.

"You think that's enough for him to flip on Bello?" Mike asked.

"We will see by this afternoon," Grant replied, "I am heading over there after the briefing and see what I can get out of him."

"We've come up with a backup plan," Lauren said.

"Let's hear it," Mike said.

"You're not going to like it," Grant met Mike's eyes.

"To get to Bello we might have to give him an opening," Grant said.

"No way Bello gets within 300 yards of Abby- the guy is a sadist," Mike frowned, "He burned out Eddie's eye with molten lead for 'disrespecting' him."

"You're not attached to your baby blues are you?" Paul quipped.

"I am!" Abby protested, clutching Mike tightly.

"We need him to make a move and if we let him think he can get to Abby," Grant continued.

"Abby is not bait," Mike growled.

"Can I finish? We would use an Abby lookalike," Grant continued.

"Where would we find this Abby lookalike?" Johnny questioned.

"The FBI is searching through a database of agents to see if we can come up with someone that fits Abby's parameters," Grant answered.

"Throw a wig on me and I'll do it," Piper offered. She could handle it if something went sideways.

"You have a daughter who needs her mother, no," Abby objected. She wasn't interesting in putting anyone in danger.

"I have been in tougher spots before," Piper replied.

"Still wouldn't work," Mike scoffed, "You and Abby are nothing alike." Piper got the underlying meaning in his words.

"There's got to be another way to drawn him out," Abby insisted.

"Throw me at him," Mike suggested, "Bello hates me more."

"Ok, I didn't think it was possible, but I like this plan even less than the last one," Abby replied.

"There's not much he can do to me that I haven't gone through," Mike argued.

"If I am not bait you are not either," Abby countered.

"Abs," Mike began.

Abby put a finger to Mike's lips, "I mean it- I don't know what I'd do with myself if something happened to you." Mike closed his mouth and let her finish. "Besides, it's not like we can guarantee Bello would make the grab personally, in all of the other attempts he sent someone else," Abby added.

"That is true," Lauren noted.

"We would use a tracker to get to his location," Grant replied.

"Do you think you can get Delgado to setup a meeting with Bello? Something Bello has to come to himself," Abby suggested.

"I had thought of that- from his profile it's a long shot," Grant said.

"It's the best option I've heard," Brennan pinched the bridge of his nose. Paul nodded in agreement.

"I will see what I can do," Grant concurred.

"My sister just called. Callie is back in California," Grant informed Piper.

Her shoulders sagged. She missed her daughter already. Piper inhaled sharply, "That briefing was productive."

"We have a direction to go," he replied.

"You mean everyone kowtowing to Miss Perfect?" she snipped.

Grant's brow furrowed, "I don't think you want Mike to catch you referring to Abby like that."

"I think they left," Piper shrugged.

"I didn't hear the car," he replied.

"What was with you all following her lead? Mike's been getting perpetual 'f*ck me' eyes from her so of course he melted," Piper grumbled. It had been torture sitting across them at breakfast. Since she had gotten to the mansion for that matter there wasn't any other way she'd seen Abby look at Mike. "What's your excuse?" Piper asked.

Grant rubbed his eyes, "She came up with a better option."

"Are we going to listen to her and just drop the other idea?" Piper continued. She heard a group of people enter the living room behind her. "You're back," Piper turned around.

"Hadn't left yet, I forgot my phone," Abby went to the couch and picked it up.

"It's not cool to-" Mike began.

Abby held up her hand. She looked at Piper who knew she had been busted. "Look, it's not my fault someone cut the time for Bello's drug traffic charges that should have be at least 20 years to life if you follow US code, title 21- down to a year and a half," Abby started, "Hell, he should have gotten a least 5 years for threatening Mike in court, but who cares about a class C felony when you have him on a class A right?" Piper looked at Abby wide eyed in surprise. Ok, now Abby felt insulted. She had a brain. "I am an attorney," Abby cocked her head, "I may run a foundation, but I aced my federal and criminal law classes."

"Of course," Piper cleared her throat, "I wasn't saying that you were incapable of making a decision."

"Just not equipped to have opinions," Abby said, "I maybe rich and attractive, but that doesn't make me dumb. I know the difference between malum prohibitum and malum in se." Mike's ocean eyes darkened. He licked his lips. Abby talking in legal terms was making him hot. "As for the f*ck me eyes," she continued, "Well, I inherited my eyes from my father so blame genetics." Abby took Mike's hand and they headed towards the foyer.

"Ouch," Johnny heckled, "You need some aloe for that?" He slipped out of the room behind the couple.

They stopped in the next room where Dale, Paul, and Charlie were talking. Charlie waved at them. Abby waved back.

They couple leaned against a wall. "Are you ok?" Mike asked.

Abby nodded. "Sorry, I snapped like that," she said.

"We all have our moments," he replied, "You talking law is sexy." Abby blushed lightly. Mike grinned. "It's my turn to sweep the car," he said.

"Ok," she answered.

Mike dipped down and gave her an affectionate peck on the lips, "See you soon."

Abby laid a hand on his chest, "Be careful."

"I will," he promised. Mike gave Abby a small smile. She responded in kind.

He slipped away outside. The car waited him in the driveway. He check the trunk and found it empty save for the spare tire and the tools to change a flat. Mike slammed the trunk shut. He climbed into the backseat and began to check it out. He paused midway. Mike could swear he heard a clicking noise, but as soon as it hit his ears it dissipated. He finished checking out the inside and got out. Mike couldn't shake a funny feeling. Something was up. He just couldn't figure out what it was. Mike slid himself under the car. There was that clicking noise again. He turned his head and that is when he saw it. The bright orange numbers on the timer blinked back at him. With less than ten seconds to go there was no time to disarm it. Mike cursed.

A resounding BOOM shook the entire house. The blast from the car shattered the lower front windows. A thud followed soon after.

"Mike!" Abby screamed. She launched herself towards the door only to be grabbed by Paul. It took both Paul and Dale to hold her back from running outside.

Charlie went into full on doctor mode and ran outside to see if anyone had been injured. Guns drawn Grant, Piper, and Johnny were on her heels. They found Mike sprawled out, unconscious on the cement. "Someone call the gate and get an ambulance!" Charlie ordered. The agents and bodyguard began to search the area while the doctor attended to the injured man. "Mike? Mike?" Charlie squatted down, "Can you hear me?" She took his arm and felt for a pulse at the wrist. "Come on, Mike," Charlie found one and closed her eyes in relief. She counted the beats. Charlie laid her head down on his chest to listen to his breathing. Mike's breaths were shallow. His chest barely moved.

The car had been sent back a good three yards. It was still smoking. They searched and found nothing else. The three returned to where Charlie was examining Mike. A vision of Mike bleeding out on the beach flashed in Grant's mind. He looked over at Piper who was white as a sheet. Frozen she stood and stared. Piper vaguely remembered pushing through the crowd that had swarmed around and watching the EMT's working on Mike on the beach that day. One of them tried to hold her back. "He's my boyfriend!" Piper's former cry reverberated in her mind.

The world seemed to cease spinning. You could have heard a pin drop when Abby made her way out of the mansion. She ran down off the porch and along the walkway. How Abby broke free, even she didn't recall. No one was going to keep her from getting to her boyfriend. Her brown orbs searched desperately for Mike. She lowered her sights to the pavement and found his frame sprawled out. Abby's heart stopped. Mike wasn't moving. "No," Abby shook her head, "No."

Charlie looked up at her friend, "He's alive- he's breathing." Those words caught Abby before she fell to the ground. She gingerly kneeled down at Mike's head. Abby wanted to make him comfortable by placing his head in her lap. The concrete was hard and heated by the summer sun. "We can't move him," Charlie warned as if reading her friend's mind. They had no idea how he ended up in that position or the state of his spine. One wrong move on their part and he could be paralyzed.

Abby understood what Charlie was saying. Her hands flittered around Mike not quite knowing what to do. Abby scooted back. She leaned forward so her face was over his. "Mike? Wake up, Baby," Abby pled. She kissed his eyes. "Come on, show me those baby blues," her voice cracked. Tears she couldn't stop fell from her eyes onto his face. Abby wiped them from his skin. Abby lifted her hand. Out of her peripheral vision she saw drops of red on her fingertips. She brushed back Mike's bangs to find more blood. Her breath began to quicken. Abby noticed the growing red stain on the cement. She showed her shaking fingers to the surgeon then pointed to the small pool of red. Abby's bottom lip quivered. Panic overtook her, "Charlie, he's bleeding!"

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