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Chapter 19:

He spent hours chained to his desk while checking one case after another. His eyes burned with exhaustion and he wanted nothing more to do than to go home and get the hours of sleep he so desperately needed. Last night was one of those nights when he did not get much rest at all thanks to the torture device Michaela liked to call a couch. He had to spend the night there because Michaela needed to work another night shift and someone had to stay with Lesly. It was not the first time he had done that since Lesly was assaulted in her apartment. In fact, he was the one who proposed doing so after Michaela informed him that she had to go back to work and that she was no longer able to get a few more days off. Lesly, of course, refused to have the two fret over her like that, but they could both see that she was grateful.

Every night he spent there was pretty much the same. He would drop by Michaela’s apartment after work and stay there until the next morning when Michaela had come back home. He and Lesly would chat, order takeout for dinner and eat while watching something on one of the available streaming services. Lesly would normally fall asleep next to him because of the medication she was given and would not even see whatever movie or episode they were watching to its end. He would eventually wake her up after an hour or two and ask her to sleep in Michaela’s room. He slept on the couch whenever he came over. Lesly would wake him up in the morning after she had prepared breakfast. The two of them would then eat together as they wait for Michaela to return. There were moments when Michaela would arrive early and end up sharing a bite with them, but most of the time, it was just him and Lesly.

The nights he spent sleeping on that couch were not comfortable at all. He did not mind, however, because he got to spend some time with Lesly. He could tell that she had become accustomed to his presence and was no longer nervous around him. Seeing how he was not allowed to discuss any work-related issues thanks to Michaela, he found himself most of the time sharing personal stories of his own. She did the same, but she was still reticent when it came to her brother. This did not bother him because the fact that she had grown more comfortable around him was progress enough. She did not seem to mind it whenever he ruffled her hair or held her hand. She would just smile or lean closer to him. There were moments when she would fall asleep with her head resting on his shoulder. There were also other moments when she would playfully wrestle with him over the remote whenever he tried to keep her from watching the news. Things seemed to be going well between them. He was even tempted to break his promise and ask her if her initial decision about the two of them not getting involved had changed.

Most of her injuries have healed, including her sprained ankle. She no longer needed the crutch to walk around, but her arm was still in a cast because of how badly fractured it was. She had grown accustomed to the limitations the injury imposed. The fact that this was not the first time her arm was broken helped her cope faster. Given the nature of her injuries, she was given some time off work. It would have been possible to work from home, but Michaela was strictly against that. Even grumpy Graham supported the decision and told her to take as much time as she needed for her injuries to heal. Stacey checked on her from time, but she refused to bring any work back from the office with her. This sent Lesly down a spiral of boredom so intense that she started developing recipes. It was a challenge to cook with one hand, but she managed to get the task done.

The investigation Alec initiated in the hopes of finding the informant yielded no solid results. He was still stuck at square one and did not know where to proceed from there. The people he had hired were still looking for both the culprit and the informant. They have examined Lesly’s laptop and tried to trace those emails to their source, but their attempts did not lead them anywhere. Since Alec was sure that someone high up in the city’s government system was involved, he decided to continue working on his own cases in the hopes of finding new leads. There were some promising traces, but he needed Lesly’s help to see where they might take them. As a result, he decided to wait for a bit until Lesly’s condition got better.

Alec was deep in thought when a gentle knock on the door caught him off guard. He looked up and found Michaela standing by his office door with her usual sunny disposition.

“Knock knock,” Michaela announced from the door before stepping into his office.

“Didn’t expect to see you here today,” he responded, smiling.

“I just dropped Lesly at her office and came here,” Michaela said before she threw her purse on an empty seat and drew the other one to sit on. “She’s been driving me nuts lately. She said she was bored and she needed something to keep her busy. I drove her to her office so she could get it out of her system.”

“I was surprised she lasted this long.” He said chuckling. “You didn’t even get her phone fixed like she asked.”

“I gave her a phone.”

“A basic old-fashioned one that does nothing but call or text.” he corrected.

“She needed some time off.” Michaela explained matter-of-factly.

“I understand, but you kinda pushed it too far.”

Michaela narrowed her eyes at him. “Did she complain to you last night?”

“A bit,” Alec said laughing. “She thought it was going to go on forever. I’m actually surprised you caved so soon.”

“Well daddy needed a break.”

Alec arched an eyebrow at the way she described herself and asked, “Daddy?”

“Yes,” Michaela responded with a straight face. “Do you have a problem with that?”

“No, sir,” he answered with a laugh.

“Good,” Michaela smiled. “I came here to talk to you about something.”

“I figured as much. What is it?”

“Did you tell Lesly she should stay with you for a couple of weeks until the case is solved?”

Alec noticed that her expression had turned serious, possibly because she had certain grievances about what he suggested to Lesly. He leaned back in his seat and told her the truth, “I did, and last night wasn’t the first time I brought it up.”

“Do you think it’s a good idea?”

“Given the current circumstances, I think this is the best option for everyone. In fact, I don’t think it would be much different from the current arrangement. I’m already there most of the time because you’re back to working nightshifts.”

“Yeah, but…”

“You’re leaving to Germany in a week to attend a conference, aren’t you?” he interjected, “And afterwards you have another conference in Spain. Wouldn’t you say it would be more convenient if she stayed with me, at least for the time being?”

“I’m not even sure I want to go,” Michaela responded hesitantly.

“Lesly told me you’ve been preparing for months. You were looking forward to go. She doesn’t want you to miss the trip because of what happened. She’ll be fine with me.”

“I’m sure she will. That’s not what I’m worried about.”

“What are you worried about then? Sooner or later, she’s gonna have to go back to work. We both have the same hours. I could drive her to and from her office. I have a three-bedroom apartment. Lesly can have her own room. I live in Eastwood as opposed to Coldwick which although is much better than Woodfield, is still not entirely safe. It’s more convenient for everyone this way. Trust me.”

Michaela found his argument logical enough, but there was still this one matter that she was worried about. She wanted to bring it to his attention, but she wanted to know what Lesly thought of the suggestion before she drew his attention to the real problem.

“What did Lesly say to you when you brought the matter up?” Michaela inquired.

“She said she’d think about it, but I’m sure she’d arrive at a decision sooner if you talk to her. She discussed it with you, didn’t she?”

“She did,” Michaela answered, “but before I say anything to her, I need to ask you something first.”

“What is it?”

“You said that having her stay with you for a couple of weeks is the best option for everyone. Is this the only reason behind your request?”

“I don’t understand.”

Michaela stared at him quietly for a minute. Then she pointed out the one issue that had her worried this entire time, “You still have feelings for her, don’t you?”

Alec did not reply right away. He looked back at her with an unreadable expression on his face. Then he decided to give her an answer. “I don’t believe this is a conversation I should be having with you.”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t want Lesly to get hurt.” Michaela explained.

“What makes you think I’d do that?”

“It won’t be intentional. Trust me. I’ve seen it unfold before. Lesly can be…difficult.” Michaela answered after a pause. “She was not like that before the incident. Even if she has feelings for you, she won’t say anything. She’ll try to push you away. I’m not going to get into the reasons why because I’m not sure about them myself, but I can tell you that it happened before and things got a bit messy. If you’re in, I need to know that you’re serious enough about her.”

“I am serious,” Alec said assertively.

“I’m glad to hear it.”

Michaela was relieved to hear Alec say that. She was a bit hesitant about talking to him about Lesly, but she felt that it had to be done so her friend would not get hurt again. After all, it was her who introduced Lesly to Henry in the past thinking that the two would be a good match. She had no idea that the outcome would be so disastrous.

Alec noticed the look of concern on Michaela’s face and sought to alleviate it a little. “Well sir,” he began in a humorous tone, “now that you’re done asking me about my intentions, is there anything else I should be aware of?”

Michaela smiled. She knew the question was a joke, but she thought it better to give him a serious answer. “Lesly’s easy to read most of the time. She likes things a certain way, but she’s not inflexible. She’s not difficult as a roommate if that’s what you’re concerned about. I’d just advise you about one thing. If she starts baking, that’s a serious sign that something is wrong.”

“I don’t get it.” Alec was confused. “What’s not normal about baking?”

“Trust me, you’ll know something is not right.” Michaela said with a wry smile before she stood up and grabbed her purse.

Alec still found her answer confusing, but before he could ask her to clarify, she was out the door.

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