The Client

Chapter 8

Mike & Johnny shielded Abby from the press as they exited the car and made their way to the foundation's offices. Violeta hugged Abby as she walked in to the front office. "The shooting is all over the news," Violeta said.

"I'm fine and so is Dad," Abby assured her, "I need to get to work."

"Your first appointment is here," Violeta said.

"On to good news giving," Abby rubbed her hands together.

"Another thing… the caterer called about the Independence Ball," Violeta informed her boss.

"Is there a problem?" Abby inquired. They had all the details sorted out months ago or so she thought.

"Something about new employees needed to get security screened," Violeta said.

"I will call Lauren and we will get everything sorted out," Abby rubbed her forehead. Sometimes being acting first lady of the state on top of her other job was exhausting.

"Go ahead and get settled in and I'll send your appointment back," Violeta said.

Mike went in to do the swept this time while Johnny waited outside with Abby. Abby's phone beeped. She got it out. Charlie's picture popped up. Abby tapped on it to open Charlie's text, "The news just came on. Please confirm existence."

Abby chuckled. Johnny looked at her questioningly. She showed him the message, "Charlie."

Johnny chuckled at it was well. Abby typed up a quick response, "Alive and well."

"All clear," Mike called them in. Abby went to her desk and set everything in place. Violeta showed in Abby's appointment.

Abby stood and shook the woman's hand, "Thanks for coming in."

The meeting went well. The rest of the work day passed without the excitement of the morning. Abby checked the clock. "Got somewhere to be?" Johnny asked.

"I need to talk to Vance and settle some things," Abby answered.

"Won't he be back at the estate tonight?" Mike offered. The guy had moved himself in just last night.

"It would be better if we talked in a neutral place," Abby replied.

Mike tilted his head. That did not sound good, but it got him thinking. "Vance hasn't called, has he?" Mike asked. Abby shook her head. That gave Mike pause. It had been all over the news surely Vance had heard something about it, even working in a hospital. If Mike were Abby's boyfriend he would have showed up already or at the very least called.

Abby got out her own phone and called Vance. His voice came on the line, "It's Dr. Lars voicemail- leave a message at the tone."

Abby hung up and texted him instead. "Still at work? Call me." She dropped the phone onto her desk pretty sure he wasn't going to return the call or text. "We'll probably have to head to the hospital to see him before he leaves," Abby wanted it over with.

"Which hospital is that?" Mike asked.

"It's the same hospital that Charlie works at," Abby answered.

Vance dropped his cell phone in his lab coat pocket and went back to the chart. He didn't feel like answering Abby at the moment. He was at work after all- for the next ten minutes anyway. Maybe Abby would come around if he started playing hard to get. One of his favorite blonde nurses sashayed up to the nurses' hub. Jess leaned on the counter in front of Vance.

"Nurse Foster," he greeted.

"Dr. Lars." They ogled each other shamelessly for a minute or two.

"Can I do something for you?" Vance asked.

"I was hoping you'd have time to take a look over this chart," Jess requested, "I'm afraid there's some sort of discrepancy here."

"Let me take a look," he took the one she handed him. She watched as he read the note she had placed on top- 'Strip poker in the on call room?'

"Well, Doctor?" the blonde licked her lips.

Vance closed the file, "I don't see a problem." He figured he deserved some fun after sleeping alone last night. Another one of their rendezvous certainly fit the bill. Vance had enough time before he had to be home for dinner. Whatever Abby wanted to talk about could wait. They dealt with the charts and were on their way. Walking side by side Jess entwined their fingers. She really didn't care if anyone saw. It was telling that he let her hold his hand.

Vance opened the door at their destination and led her in. He let go and went to sit on the bottom of one of the bunk beds. They were alone. Jess turned and with hands behind her locked the door.

"Got the cards to shuffle?" he asked.

"We could skip the poker," Jess plopped down opposite Vance. She hooked her fingers under the hem of her scrub top and slipped it over her head.

Vance took it from her hand, "Fine by me." He tossed it aside. Vance admired her show of skin with hooded eyes. He reached back to unhook her bra. Jess pulled back.

"You lose some of your clothes first," she threw her head to the side almost in challenge.

"A little help?" Vance asked. Jess slid her fingers underneath Vance's lab coat and pushed it back. He shrugged it off, letting it fall back behind him on the bed. Vance whipped off his scrub shirt and threw it into the room. It joined Jess' on the floor. He rolled his shoulders to show off. Jess' blue eyes darkened. Vance smirked, "Like what you see?" She grabbed his face and kissed him feverishly. As the kiss continued Vance laid her onto her back in the bed and came down over her.

Having gotten no response after multiple attempts to reach Vance, Abby followed the plan. Mike and Johnny took her over to the hospital when they finished up at her office. They went up at the floor where he did his rounds as an orthopedic surgeon. They went up to the nurses' hub. Abby recognized Vance's supervisor. "Hello, Dr. Quatermaine," she greeted. He was a kindly older man.

"Miss Sinclair," Dr. Quatermaine smiled, "Can I help you?"

"Is Vance still here?" Abby asked.

"Dr. Lars left for the on call room about ten minutes ago," he said.

"He wasn't alone," the supervisor warned. Dr. Quatermaine didn't want to see Abby hurt. She was a sweet girl. Abby did a lot of good for the hospital- especially in the pediatric department.

"Oh," Abby straightened, "Thank you." Dr. Quatermaine saw in her eyes that she got the meaning of his words. So did her companions. Dr. Quatermaine nodded and went on his way.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Johnny asked.

Abby nodded. She headed down the hallway that led to the on call room. Abby needed to see it for herself. Mike and Johnny loosened their shoulders as they walked getting ready for the inevitable confrontation. Hopefully the yelling would be kept to a minimum.

Abby froze at the door to the on call room. The upper half of the door was basically a window with blinds that had been left opened to the world. Vance & Jess were putting on quite a show. Mike and Johnny stood by not really sure what Abby was going to do. She just stood there still and practically numb. Her boyfriend was screwing another woman- shouldn't she be angry or hurt or something? None of the above fit what Abby was feeling. The only feeling that registered was that Abby certainly felt a whole lot less guilty. She was done, truly done. If Jess wanted Vance then she could have him. Abby turned around and spoke to the guys in a small voice, "I'd like to go home now."

The trip to the car was silent. Both guys had seen what Abby saw and no one wanted to talk about it. Once in the car Johnny and Mike made small talk about the next week's schedule while Abby was busy deleting any picture of Vance off of her phone through the ride. She'd have to do the same off of her computer at home. When they got close Abby finally put down her phone and stared out the window. They got through the gate and down the driveway.

Mike helped her out of the car and they headed inside. "I need some space, ok?" Abby requested.

"Sure thing," Johnny agreed. Since they were back on the estate it wasn't an issue.

"We'll be around," Mike added, "Let us know if you need anything."

Abby nodded. She found the way to the utility passed the kitchen. Abby dug into a pile of cardboard boxes and found a medium sized one. She was going to collect all of Vance's things.

"Hi, Girl," Charlie greeted when Abby brought her head up. She leaned on the doorframe.

"Hey," Abby replied.

Charlie picked up on Abby's mood, "Did I miss something? You said everyone was ok."

"It's not the shooting," Abby shook her head. She positioned the box in her arms. "You were right about Vance," Abby said softly.

"I'm sorry," Charlie hung her head.

"Don't be, I guess I just had to learn the hard way and see it for myself," Abby sighed.

"Need help clearing his stuff?" Charlie knew what the box was for.

"I won't be much company," Abby cautioned.

"Nevermind me I'm just here to help," Charlie wrapped an arm around Abby's shoulder. Together they went upstairs.

They started by picking up the clothes that Vance had left in Abby's room and shoving them into his duffle bag. Next Abby began to gather the gifts that Vance had given her which, not surprisingly, weren't many. There was a teddy bear and a card or two. Then Abby started going through her jewelry. He had given her a few pieces. Charlie went into the adjoining bathroom to get any of Vance's things he might have left in there. Abby took out a gold bracelet and tossed it into the box she brought up with the rest of the stuff. A necklace followed. Abby looked up in the mirror and saw the earrings she was wearing. The ones Vance had given her. She sighed heavily. Angling to one side she took the back off of the first one and took it out. Abby laid it the counter. Angling to the next side muttering to herself, "Stupid." She did the same to the second earring. Abby found the box they belonged in and placed them inside then dumped it into the bigger box.

"Feel any better?" Charlie returned. She put what she found in the duffle bag. She zipped it up.

"I will once I tell Vance it's over," Abby picked up the box.

"This should help get your point across," Charlie got the duffle bag.

They went downstairs and dropped Vance's things in the entry way to greet him when he got back. Whenever that was going to be.

The two friends got themselves some lemonade and sat down in the great room. "Did you get a chance to take Marjorie out?" Abby inquired.

Charlie smiled as she nodded, "Yes, thank you."

"You know you are always welcome to ride her- Marjorie is practically your horse anyway," Abby replied.

Charlie's phone rang. She checked the number. "It's a patient," Charlie excused herself, "I have to take this." Abby nodded and watched her go.

Through the back French glass doors Abby saw Mike sitting on the patio all by himself. Making a decision she pushed herself up. In the kitchen the cook was busy preparing dinner. From the refrigerator Abby refilled her glass of lemonade and got Mike a beer. She got out a bottle opener, opening the bottle before heading out back.

Mike heard the door slide open. He turned to see Abby step out. "Mind if I join you?" she asked.

"Fine by me," Mike smiled.

"For you," Abby offered him the beer.

"Thank you," he took it. She closed the door and found a second lounge chair. Abby sat.

She settled in and closed her eyes. The waning sun felt good on her skin. She looked over at Mike, "Penny for your thoughts."

He laughed, "They aren't worth that." Really all Mike was thinking was how good it would feel to punch Vance for two timing Abby. He drank a draw from his bottle.

"How about a story then?" Abby requested. She sipped on her lemonade.

"What kind of story?" Mike raised an eyebrow.

"I don't know- something from your FBI days," she drank some more.

"I can't do that," he shook his head.

"You could make something up and I wouldn't know the difference," Abby shrugged.

"I don't want to make stuff up anymore," Mike locked eyes with her. He could see the ache in them and knew she was trying to distract herself. "Truth is," Mike started, "I had a string of low key busts before everything went south."

"Went south?" she repeated.

"I saw corruption and tried to do something about it- the hammer came down on me instead," he took another swig of his beer.

Abby frowned, "How so?"

"They transferred me to an undercover safe house out in California," Mike said.

"A punishment assignment," Abby deduced.

Mike nodded, "It wasn't so bad at first- most of the people there were great."

"Do you miss them?" she asked.

"Some of them, yeah," he answered. Mike mentally added he could do without two of them. "I made my only major case while I was there," he continued.

They heard Vance call from inside the house, "Abby?!"

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