The Client

Chapter 6

Mike walked into the security center at the gate. He carried a coffee mug. He found Johnny sitting in an office chair with his feet propped up on a desk. He typed away on his laptop. Charlie had given Johnny all the info she had on her brother. He was checking out the adoption agency.

"Long night?" Mike handed the mug to Johnny.

"I don't know how Charlie was still walking," the Latino shook his head, "Bus load of kids got t-boned."

"Bus load?" Mike questioned.

"They were on their way back to their summer camp when the truck hit them," Johnny explained.

Mike spied a date scribbled on a piece of paper sticking out from under the corner of Johnny's laptop. "Isn't that your birthday?" Mike questioned.

"Ah, yeah," Johnny replied, "I'm just looking up someone. He was born the same year too- it's pretty freaky." Johnny left off the why or who. He wouldn't talk about the search with anyone without asking Charlie's permission first. Mike just shrugged it off. If Johnny wanted to share he would. Part of Mike hoped Johnny was looking for his family. "What's on the schedule for today?" Johnny inquired as the page he was waiting for pulled up. It revealed what could be shown of Charlie's brother's file. Johnny skimmed over the information. The only thing new he found was the name of the city where Charlie's brother was originally sent and a picture. Johnny scribbled it down on the paper.

"Well, there's some sort of bill signing that Abby needs to go to for the Governor," Mike informed him.

"Do we need to wear ties?" Johnny grimaced.

"Yep," Mike nodded. His was in his back pocket.

"How long do we have?" Johnny said.

Mike checked his watch, "We should be leaving within the hour."

Johnny closed the lid on his laptop letting his latest search run. "I better get showered and changed," he stood.

Abby cracked one eye open. Regretting the shock of light she closed it again groggily. Abby, now half awake, decided she had better get out of bed. She forced both eyes to open with a frown. It took her a while to register where she was. Suddenly Abby felt a depression on the other side of the bed. There was another person in the room with her. She turned over to find Charlie. Abby struggled to find her bearings, but only for a moment. Once she did she vaguely remembered Charlie coming in then telling her to go back to sleep after Abby popped her head up. It had been pitch black then. Abby checked the clock. 7 am- time for her to get up. Abby slowly slipped out of the bed. She tipped toed out the door making sure she did not disturb her friend. Abby eased the door closed as silently as possible.

Abby snuck down into the kitchen. She was on her way to the refrigerator when she saw the cook. "Can I get some juice, please?" she requested.

The cook shook his head, "Milk today." Abby was looking a little thin the older man noted. He began working for the Sinclairs back when Daniel and Abby were still kids. He worried about the young lady he watched grow up. He got her a glass of milk along with a spoon and a squeeze bottle of chocolate syrup.

"Thanks," Abby accepted it knowing how the cook was. She squeezed in twice the recommended amount before stirring the chocolate in and tasting it. Satisfied it was chocolaty enough she gave the bottle and spoon back to the cook. Milk was not something she usually drank. When she did it was always chocolate flavored and you couldn't go halfway with it.

"What can I get you for breakfast?"

"Nothing, thank you- I'm not very hungry," Abby declined. He nodded and she went on her way.

Abby took her drink into the living room and sat down just enjoying the quiet. She had a little time before she had to get ready for work. A bit of a break to herself was nice. Charlie shuffled in. "Good morning, Sunshine," Abby grinned.

"Too perky," Charlie groaned. She rubbed her eyes. Abby was still in her pajamas. Charlie frowned, "No run today?"

"I slept in too late," Abby answered, "Want some coffee?"

"I'll grab some in a little bit," Charlie replied.

"Did I wake you?" Abby sat her emptied glass on the coffee table.

"No, I was half in half out anyway," Charlie shrugged. She plopped down on the couch beside Abby. Abby studied her friend. She could sense Charlie's sadness. Sure it could be read as tiredness, but Abby recognized her friend's mood.

"Want to talk about it?" Abby offered.

What Charlie really wanted to do was crawl back under the comforter upstairs and not come out. She pulled herself out of the room understanding that it wouldn't make anything better. "I lost one," Charlie admitted. The fact that she had saved another two children was temporarily forgotten.

"I'm sorry," Abby replied.

"Little bodies can only take so much," Charlie blinked back tears. Mentally she was going over events for the millionth time. There had to have been something she missed- something that could have saved the kid.

"You did everything that could be done," Abby consoled as if reading Charlie's thoughts, "You can't save them all, Charlie."

"I try though- damnnit, I try," the surgeon professed.

"You are the best- I'd want you in my corner anytime," Abby declared.

"Thanks, Girl," Charlie sniffled. The friends leaned together and hugged.

"There you are, Miss Abby," the housekeeper said before entering the room.

"Good morning," Abby greeted.

"You left this down stairs last night," Georgia gave Abby her cell phone, "I got it charged for you."

"Thank you, Georgia," Abby said, "What would we do without you?"

"Run around like chickens with your heads cut off," Georgia laughed.

"Has Dad left?" Abby asked her.

"Yes," Georgia replied, "He told me to tell you he'd see you at the bill signing."

"That's today?" Abby rubbed her face.

"Yes, it is- you'd better start getting ready," with that Georgia left.

Abby threw her head back and groaned. She had completely forgotten about the bill signing. Abby was about to dial Mike when he walked in, "You must have ESP or something."

"Your dad told me he needed you at the signing," Mike smiled, "Morning, Charlie."

"Morning, Mike," Charlie responded.

"When you had me going over the schedule this totally slipped my mind," Abby apologized.

"I get it- you led an already stressful life- these threats aren't making things any easier," he replied, "Your assistant is on the way from the gate."

Right on cue Violeta blew into the room with a garment bag in tow. "What is this?" she waved at Abby's clothes.

"Hello to you too," Abby replied.

"Pleasantries later, dressing now- you have two hours to get ready for the bill signing," Violeta said. Abby stood. "They'll handle the makeup there, but you still need an outfit- did you pick one?"

Abby shook her head, "I just got the reminder."

"Luckily for you I brought plan B," Violeta held up the garment bag, "Let's go."

"You'll be ok?" Abby asked Charlie before getting up.

"Yay, since I'm off I'll just chill- maybe take out Marjorie," Charlie replied.

"Go for it," Abby encouraged, "There's a carton of Ben & Jerry's with our names on it for tonight when I get home."

"Sounds like a plan," Charlie nodded.

Violeta shooed Abby up the stairs, "Go, go."

She followed Abby to her room. They walked in on Vance walking out of the onsuite bathroom ready for work. He froze in his tracks as did Abby. Violeta scooted past both of them to set up in the bathroom. Vance let out a breath. Hoping against hope last night wasn't the final nail in the coffin. No, it couldn't be. Time was on his side to fix it. Abby wouldn't break up with him just yet. Not while he could be in danger because of their connection. This psycho issue was good for something. He needed to stay at the estate so he'd be 'safe.' "I tried to wait up for you," Vance rubbed the back of his neck, "About last night…"

"Can we just forget last night?" Abby replied.

"All right," he said.

"There's this thing I have to get to for Dad," she explained.

"I understand- I should head into work," Vance tilted his head.

"We will talk later I promise," Abby said. She owed him that much. They needed to be clear on where their relationship was or more likely wasn't going.

"Later then," he kissed her cheek and left with a smile. She hadn't completely shut him out just yet.

Abby got down to business and changed. Last of all Abby slipped on a pair of black open toed pumps. Viloeta had picked a purple maxi dress. It was strapless and the hem of the skirt reached Abby's toes thanks to the heels. A black cropped vest, watch, and stud earrings completed the look. She stepped out into her room after a once over in the mirror. "Gorgeous," Violeta clapped. She checked her watch. "You're going to be there just in time," Violeta said.

"Thanks to you," Abby replied as the two exited her room.

Mike looked up at Abby from the bottom of the stairs as she descended to him. "I hope I haven't kept you waiting long," she said.

"That was super-fast," he replied.

Abby stopped at the bottom step. "Not too eww?" she lifted her hands and let him check out the outfit.

"Not 'eww' at all," Mike drank her in. Abby caught his eyes darkening briefly. His reaction made her smile. It was nice to know she wasn't the only one feeling these sparks of attraction.

They went out the front door. Johnny was waiting for them at their car. "It's clear," Johnny said. He already swept it. Mike nodded. Violeta headed to her own car to get back to the office.

"Are you up to going?" Abby asked Johnny. She knew he had been up most of the night with Charlie.

"I'll crash when we get back," Johnny said. Since part of his seal training dealt with sleep deprivation, he could go seventy-two hours without sleep.

Mike helped Abby into the back of the car. Johnny followed. They settled in, one on each side of her. "Did Dad warn you about the media that's going to be there?" Abby inquired.

"Yeah," Mike nodded, "I went over the specs of the building as well."

"Good," Abby said.

"This dude has a nearly photographic memory," Johnny chipped in. He figured a little up sell couldn't hurt. Mike rolled his eyes.

"Very nice," Abby approved.

"Stick close to Johnny and me ok?" Mike requested. Abby nodded her acquiesce. There would be extra security for the Governor, but the high profile nature of this outing had Mike a little uneasy. His gut was on edge. He knew better than to ignore that feeling.

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