The Client

Chapter 5

The housekeeper answered the door for Vance. He walked into the foyer of the Sinclair mansion carrying a duffel bag. He looked around. It was a gorgeous house. He could see himself living there permanently. Abby, Charlie, Mike and Johnny were coming down the stairs for dinner and met him at the bottom. Abby looked at Vance perplexed, "Going somewhere?" He hadn't said anything when he called to confirm he would be there for dinner.

"Actually I was hoping to stay with you. After what you told me happened to Charlie I just figured it's better to be safe than sorry," Vance answered. Charlie's incident was the perfect excuse to move himself into the estate. This way he could keep tabs on his girlfriend and her new eye candy. Maybe Vance could nip whatever was going on with those two in the bud.

"Well, I guess that is true," Abby replied. Charlie rolled her eyes at Vance. She knew what he was doing. Abby would not turn him away if he could be a target for whoever it was that was threatening her. It was logical they'd attempt to get to him next and Vance would use that to his advantage.

Taking Abby's reply as consent Vance set down his bag. He looked to the house keeper. "Could you make sure this gets taken to Abby's room?" he requested. The housekeeper nodded and left before Abby could instruct otherwise.

"Let's not keep Dad waiting," Abby set her shoulders.

The group came into the dining room. Brennan sat at the head of the table, "Hi, Princess, how was the rest of your day?"

"Relatively quiet after we brought Charlie home," Abby answered.

"I hope you slept well, Charlie," Brennan greeted his daughter's friend.

"I did, thank you," Charlie replied, "I appreciate you letting me stay here."

"You are always welcome," Brennan answered, "Come on sit or the food will be getting cold."

They approached the table and took their seats. Johnny and Mike already knew they were expected to eat with them. Mike was across from Abby with Vance sitting beside her. Johnny was in between Mike and Charlie.

"Will Lauren be joining us tonight?" Abby asked.

"No, Princess," Brennan replied, "She had other plans." Brennan was still a handsome man. He had a good heart. After her mother's fatal heart attack five years ago on the heels of what happened to Daniel the remaining Sinclairs closed ranks. Brennan hadn't even looked at another woman in that time. Abby hated the thought of her father being lonely. She had gotten her hopes up when Lauren began spending extra time hanging around with Brennan. Her father seemed to be opening up and enjoying the company. They'd make a very beautiful couple if Abby said so herself. It was the other woman's loss if she gave up on it.

It wasn't long until their plates where brought out and set before them. They ate and made light conversation. Soon the topic turned to family.

"Do you have any family, Johnny?" Brennan asked.

"I'm flying solo at the moment, so not much to say on that front- I was adopted by good people," Johnny answered.

You could have knocked Charlie over with a feather, "Me too." Johnny slowly met her wide eyes. Lighting had struck. As if that explained the sudden camaraderie that had come up between the two.

"What about you, Mike?" Vance inquired, "Surely you have some family you miss on these jobs."

Mike nearly choked on his potatoes. Vance actually asked him a civil question. Mike was expecting more of the silent treatment he had been receiving from Vance or something snippy. The guy just gave off that vibe. Mike swallowed before answering, "There's not much to miss- my mom is in London and I still call her- my grandfather I miss, but he died before I got into Quantico."

"Quantico? You were FBI," Abby said.

Mike nodded, "My grandfather inspired me to go become an Agent- he worked out of the Hoover Building in DC."

"You were a legacy," Brennan deduced.

"Not exactly," Mike replied, "He was a crime scene photographer, not an actual agent."

Vance liked where this was going. He didn't know much about the FBI, but he didn't figure their recruitment was much like the police. That didn't take a college degree or so he thought. Abby wouldn't be interested in someone that wasn't educated.

"I hear it's really tough to get in there- they only take the best," Abby said.

"It was tough, but I wanted it bad," Mike acknowledged.

"You have a Masters," Abby guessed.

"Two," Mike smiled. Vance's heart sank, Mike hit the baseline. This was not good.

"At the same time? What in?" Abby inquired.

"Yes. Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology," Mike said.

"Impressive," Abby replied.

"From a Georgetown Girl that's a pretty big compliment," Mike replied.

"I totally skated- never did a lick of work," Abby deadpanned.

Mike rolled his eyes playfully, "You're a liar."

"Yes, I am," Abby admitted. Everyone laughed.

The wheels where turning in Vance's head. He needed to rescue the conversation. "Why did you leave the FBI?" Vance questioned.

Mike cleared his throat. "I found I built it all up in my head to be something it wasn't," he gave a PC answer. That was the last thing he wanted to get into with anyone.

After dessert Charlie's phone beeped. She checked the message, "It's the hospital- I've got to go."

Mike looked at Johnny and motioned his head to Charlie. "I'm going with you," Johnny stood.

"You don't have too," Charlie got up.

"Let's go," Johnny passed her.

"Later, Girl," Abby said. Charlie nodded and headed out.

Johnny and Charlie made their way to his car. He shined a light in the back to make sure the inside was clear. Next he lay on his stomach and looked under the car.

"Is Mike this way with all your female clients?" Charlie asked.

"You noticed it too?" Johnny remarked. He got up. Charlie followed him to the passenger side. "Mikey's always friendly, but not an outright flirt like with Abby," Johnny said. He opened the door and she got in.

They took off. Charlie took the opportunity of the privacy of the vehicle to ask him the question she wanted to at dinner. "Have you ever looked for your family?" Charlie asked.

"Nah," Johnny shook his head, "I don't feel like searching for the people that gave me up."

"There has to be another explanation," she insisted.

"What did you find?" he changed the subject.

"Nothing much- my mom was killed in a car crash when I was four," Charlie shrugged.

"I'm sorry," Johnny replied.

"The only thing I really found out was that my mother had a baby boy just before she died," she added.

"Wow, that's huge," he said.

"I couldn't get any more information on him because he was living at the time," she looked out her window. The impending darkness vaguely comforted her. "I have a younger half-brother out there somewhere," Charlie mused.

"You know he's a half-sibling?" he questioned.

"Math doesn't work out for my bio-Dad; he's been in prison since I was two."

"Ouch," Johnny kept a steady sped. They would be at the hospital soon. "Are you still looking for him, your brother?"

"I don't have any idea where to start," she wrung her hands, "But I can't help myself- I have so many questions."

"Understandable," he nodded.

Charlie turned her eyes back to Johnny, "Did I pass him on the street without knowing it? Is he someone I've already met?"

"If you're up for it I can take a crack at finding him," Johnny offered.

"You'd do that for me?" she began to blink back tears.

Johnny reached down and squeezed her joined hands, "Of course. I like helping people, let me help you."

Hours later it was time to sleep. Vance was only wearing sleep pants as he sat on the end of Abby's bed waiting for her to finish getting ready.

"Hi."

"Hey," he forced a smile when she came in wearing sleep pants and a sleep shirt. He had been hoping for something sexier. He tried to grab Abby to pull her to him, but she moved too fast.

"Ready to sleep?" Abby sat on her side.

"I'm not tired," he turned around. Vance stretched himself over the bed to her. He kissed Abby hungrily. She broke off the kiss.

"I am tired," Abby said. She laid down on her side with her back to him. "Can you get the light?" Abby requested.

"Sure," Vance did has he was asked.

He lay down in the bed. Vance brought his body flush with hers. Abby closed her eyes and stiffened. He kissed her shoulder before starting in on her neck. She no longer trusted Vance- especially not enough to share her body with him. "Not tonight," Abby shifted away.

"Babe," Vance continued to kiss her neck. She squeezed up her shoulders blocking his access. He drew his hand up and down her side, "I'll make it worth your while."

She shoved his hand back, "I said no." Abby was out of bed and through the door out into the hall before Vance could respond. He flung himself onto his back and groaned. Vance grabbed the sheets in frustration. It took everything in him not to run after her. He had dug himself a deep enough hole for one night. Vance planned to apologize the moment Abby returned.

In her haste to escape Abby didn't look where she was going and ran smack dab into Mike's chest. She tried to sputter a sorry. Her mouth moved, but no sound came out. Unconsciously Mike rubbed Abby's upper arms to calm her. "Are you all right?" he asked.

"Yeah," Abby eyed the door she had just exited then back to Mike.

Getting the message Mike ushered them back to the doorway of his room and out of ear shot of the other room. "Want to talk about it?" he asked.

"I just need some air," she covered.

"Is Vance pressuring you?" Mike locked eyes with her. He really hated that idea. Mike would have to knock some sense into the surgeon if that was the case.

Abby read his eyes and knew he could see through her. She chuckled humorlessly, "This is silly- he's my boyfriend."

"That doesn't give him a right to expect anything from you," Mike insisted.

"He's the type of guy I should want. What girl wouldn't want a doctor with a bad boy edge?" Abby rambled on like she hadn't heard him.

"Hey, hey, you're a woman," Mike reminded her.

"A crazy woman," she sighed.

"I don't think so," he genuinely answered.

"I'm sorry this is unfair- you don't need me to unload my relationship issues on you," Abby replied.

"Do you hear me complaining?" Mike asked. His tone was serious, "Go ahead." She needed to get it out.

"Last week I was going to surprise Vance for lunch," her shoulders shagged, "I couldn't reach him so I went to the floor he's usually on to look for him." Mike frowned he knew where this was going, but he let Abby continue. "He had some blonde nurse pressed up against a supply room closet door pretty much devouring each other's faces as they tried to open said door."

"What did you do?" he coaxed.

"Called to him- she scurried off," Abby answered. She hung her head. "Vance swears it was a onetime thing and it only went as far as I saw."

"You're not sure," Mike deduced.

"I know he cheated on his last girlfriend," Abby shrugged, "And now every time Vance makes a move on me I flashback to him with that nurse."

Sadness spread over Mike's face. His voice was thick with sympathy when he spoke, "From experience no relationship can survive if there is no trust and it sounds to me like he squashed that."

Mike was right. In her heart Abby knew that. "I don't have any proof that he has cheated on me," she said.

"You've got good instincts- listen to your gut," Mike advised.

"What if I'm wrong?" Abby wondered.

"Either way, sometimes in life you have to be willing to be wrong," he reasoned.

"That's very wise," she agreed.

Mike scrunched up his face, "Now I know you need some sleep- you're starting to get loopy."

Abby bobbed her head down and chuckled. She looked up into his ocean eyes, "You don't give yourself enough credit- you can be utterly profound." Mike caught his breath. He let her words wash over him. Mike felt he didn't deserve them. How could he? A guy like him didn't merit praise from the lips of an angel. She had no idea who she was talking to.

"Charlie's still at work with Johnny," Mike offered, "Why don't you sneak into the room she's using and sleep on this? I'm pretty sure she won't mind."

Abby seriously considered it, "No, she wouldn't, but Vance…"

"If he comes out I'll run interference," he volunteered.

She took a breath. "Thanks," Abby replied.

"Sleep tight, Abby," Mike said softly.

She slipped over to the door. Turning back before opening it Abby gave Mike a sleepy smile, "See you in the morning."


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