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Chapter Twenty-Four

Dani paid for her coffee at the cafe across from school and then headed to a seat by the wide window. It had been a grueling week of tests so far and she barely got any sleep, unfortunately, with Ellen gone. She hadn’t realized how much she depended on her, as if she were the perfect old sister. She sipped her coffee and looked in to the street. One more day and the weekend would be sweet heaven.

“I wonder when Ellen’s coming back?” she mused enthusiastically.

They spoke two days prior on the phone for a brief few minutes but she enjoyed it nonetheless. It was nice having her friend back for a little. The DA had approached her again, if she made contact with Ellen but she told him no. He didn’t appear to be suspicious of her but even if, Dani already promised to keep it a secret. She trusted her friend not to be stupid. If Ellen was still doing this, it was a good reason, she could feel it.

She continued sipping her coffee and looked up to see a man casually dressed entering the shop. He seemed old enough to be her father and had greying hair combed back from his face. He looked slightly familiar. She watched him glance at the other patrons until his eyes settled on her. As if he found what he was looking for, he came to her table and took a seat. She was ready to ask him what his problem was but he had anger written all over him.

“I know you’ve been in contact with your friend” he seethed with a pointed finger.

“Excuse me? Who are you?”

The man leaned forward and whispered over her coffee.

“I won’t be answering that question. What I need you to do is tell me where your friend is! They have my daughter and I need to see her”

Dani leaned away from him and breathed. “What? I’m sorry sir, I don’t have any clue what you’re talking about”

She bid him a good day and hastily ran out of the shop. Whoever he was, he was definitely crazy. A peek over her shoulder warned her that he was following. She turned into the school and ran up to her dorm room. Three steps off the fourth floor and she was pulled into a dark room with strong hands. She watched as the man walked past still looking for her and she calmed down a bit.

She turned to her savior.

“Wait, I don’t...do I know you?”

The savior laughed. He was as chocolate as they come with piercing green eyes. He was dressed in a white button up and blue jeans and timbs. It did little to hide the strong physique she was just rubbing against.

“My name is Daniel. Friend of Ellen” he stated.

Dani’s face morphed in to shock. “Ellen? Did you say Ellen?”

“Yeah. Is there somewhere more private that we can talk? I’m not sure who may come in here”

Dani slowly looked around and noticed they were in a makeshift janitors closet. She caught her breath and stepped out in to the hall again, this time with Daniel following. Room 201 was close by. She unlocked it with her key and he stepped inside. Her roommate was lounging around on her bed when they came in.

“OH MY GOD!” Her roommate, Stella screamed. Dani tried to shush her as Daniel took a seat at her study desk.

“I didn’t know you had prime meat hiding away,” Stella teased, looking over at Daniel.

Dani laughed nervously. “I need to speak to him in private, please?”

Stella looked between the two and then winked. “Sure, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Dani smiled and watched her go. Once she was gone, she locked the door for good measure. Daniel was still looking around her room. She climbed on her bed and crossed her legs.

“For one,” he started, “Ellen is safe. But I’m sure you know that already.”

Dani nodded.

“I’m here to gather some information from the DA but I need a little help. You’re his only reachable suspect so I figured you and I could help each other.”

Dani tried. She tried so hard to focus on what he was saying but her eyes only followed his lips. She got the gist of it though.

“What do you want to do?” she asked.

“Well, first, do you know that man in the hall trailing after you? I was watching from the fourth floor.”

Dani shook her. “No, he just started following me today”

“His name is Judge Martin. He’s included in the case too. I believe he’s cooperating with the DA. We sort of have his daughter”

Dani was focused this time. “His daughter”

“She’s a cute little thing. She’s four. I’m not sure of the specifics but my friend adores her. I don’t want to come between that.”

Dani understood.

“Are you free right now?” He asked.

“Um, well, I have another test this afternoon at 4PM. Its a 2 hour exam. After that I have to study for my last test tomorrow and morning and then I’m free.” She explained.

Daniel sighed and nodded. “This is short notice so I can’t be upset. However, we don’t have much time. I’ll meet you after your test tomorrow and talk more then”

Dani nodded. “You can call my cell when you’re here”

They exchanged numbers and then Daniel bid her his farewell. She saw Stella coming up the hall trying to give Daniel a flash of her breast but the man barely looked at her. He had looked Dani directly in the eyes but brushed off Stella.

“More for me,” she laughed.

Daniel waited by Dani’s classroom door. He had done enough preparation for the day to ensure the plan was quick and effortless on her part. But in the event of anything unplanned, he should be able to manage. He listened as the bell rung and the students started filing out one by one. Dani came out with Stella trailing beside her.

"Ready?" He asked as he walked over to the two.

Dani took in the sight of him, again. She couldn't help it. He was dressed in a jeans, brown Timberlands and a green muscled V-neck. Stella appraised him indiscreetly as Dani remembered what she was wearing. Her loose shirt was splattered with paint, her slacks as well and she wore crocs on her feet. Luckily her hair was freshly washed and hung down her shoulders in loose curls.

"I had my art exam," she highlighted quickly.

"I was her subject today," included Stella, "She tends to get a bit messy when she paints"

Daniel smiled. The last person he was able to discuss art with was his mother. Sadly, she wasn't around anymore. He gently took her painting bag from her and placed a hand on her back.

"We've got to go, lets get you changed," he stated and led her off to the dorms.

Stella watched them walk off with a smile before sauntering off.

Once at the dorms, Daniel waited in the hallway. Dani came out dressed in black tights, an oversized red flannel and sneakers. He led her down to the parking area and opened her door.

"So what's the plan?" she questioned, tucking her seatbelt in place.

Daniel started the car and continued out. He brought up the GPS for the location of the courthouse.

"I need to get the DA to assist with a little issue. I can't approach him myself," He stated.

"So that's where I come in" Dani clarified.

"My face can't be seen. I need you to give this recorder to him and once he's listened to my proposition, he needs to give you an answer."

Dani took the recorder from him and watched as he slowed to a halt at the courthouse.

"Once he's given you an answer, I need you to run. He's going to realize at this point that you've been in contact with Ellen and he'll try to take you into custody."

Dani shivered.

"If necessary, are you willing to leave Miami until this is cleared?"

Dani frowned. Why hadn't he said this before? If he told her this at the dorms, she'd probably have said no. But...Ellen needed her help. She was also done with her tests and summer break was about to start. She sighed.

"Fine, I'll do it" she murmured.

She jumped out of the car and stood on the sidewalk.

"I'm serious Danielle," Daniel gruffly stated through the car window. using her full name. "There are seven guards positioned outside and five inside."

Dani nodded.

"Once he's given you an answer...run"

Dani nodded again. She gave him one last look and walked off.

Daniel cursed under his breath.

He prayed she didn't take this for a joke or else they were both dead.

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