A Moral Dilemma
A visit from Greg meant an ordeal. He was never an easy person to talk to. His brutal honesty was one reason why Alec thought of him as such. Another was the fact that he was one of two people the old man trusted completely. Every time he showed up unannounced meant that he was sent under the old man’s orders. This was enough reason for Alec to feel concerned.
Alec walked into the study and found Greg sitting comfortably in his desk chair. That mischievous grin he showed earlier was gone. It was replaced by a somewhat serious look.
Alec shut the door to the study before he leaned against it and crossed his arms over his chest. He waited for Greg to tell him why he came, but when Greg did not say anything, he began asking.
“What brings you here?”
“You did not return our phone calls.”
“I was tied up.”
“So it seems.” Greg could not help but grin.
“Get your mind out of the gutter. I was dead to the world when you guys called. I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night.”
“Really?” Greg arched an eyebrow. His devilish grin did not disappear.
“I was working on a case.” Alec corrected quite emphatically.
“Why didn’t you call back when you woke up?”
“I didn’t think it was urgent.” Alec said before he walked towards the desk. He pulled a chair and sat opposite to Greg.
“Always pick up or call back. I told you this over and again.”
It was clear to Alec that Greg was worried and that part of the reason why he showed up unannounced was because he thought that something bad had happened. It was absurd in a way because ever since the abduction incident, his father had made sure to take every security measure possible to keep him safe. He faked his son’s death, gave him a new identity and kept the building where Alec lived under surveillance at all times. There was no reason for Greg to worry.
“You do realize that I was asked to live here for a reason.” Alec’s tone softened apologetically.
“What did you and Kim want to talk about that could not wait?”
“You’re current living situation.”
“I thought so.”
Greg noticed how annoyed Alec got when he brought the matter up. Still, it was important for both Greg and Kim that Alec perfectly understood the kind of situation he was getting himself into.
“Do you know how risky what you’re doing is?” Asked Greg.
Alec did not even try to hide his annoyance. He did not seek to give his friend a confirmation, but rather an explanation as to why it was necessary for him to step in.
“She’s safer with me than with anyone else. You and I both know that and we both know why.” Alec’s frown intensified, but he kept his calm composure.
“I understand, but surely you are aware that whoever is trying to get to her will soon figure out who you are. The more you hang around her, the riskier it’s gonna get.”
“We need to find the assailant then, and fast.” Alec stated matter-of-factly.
“We are doing everything we can. We’ll find him. No doubt.” Explained Greg calmly. “I have to ask, though, what’s going to happen after we find him?”
“Get to the point, Greg.”
“Can you guarantee that you and Collins will walk your separate ways when this whole mess is over?”
“She’s working on building a case with me.” Alec clarified.
“And after that?”
“Greg…” Alec said with a sigh of annoyance.
“Please consider the consequences of what you’re doing for a moment.” Greg interrupted. “What do you think is going to happen when she finds out who you really are?”
“She’s not the vindictive type.” Alec reasoned.
“You misunderstand me. That’s not what I’m worried about. You can’t lead her on and expect that she would be okay with the fact that you’ve been lying to her about who you are this entire time.”
“She may never be able to trust you or possibly anyone else again.”
“And you’re okay with that?” Asked Greg. “You’re okay with the knowledge that after everything that had happened, you could potentially make things worse than they already are?”
Alec began rubbing his temples in a clear sign of distress. “I can’t walk away. Not now.”
“I’m not asking you to walk away and turn your back on her. I’m asking you to handle the situation in a way that makes a clean parting possible when this whole mess is over. Can you do that?”
Greg waited for an answer, but when Alec did not give him one, he had his speculations confirmed. “I thought so.”
“You know where I stand.” Alec tried to reason one more time.
“I know.” Said Greg sympathetically. “I know that you owe her. I know that you would never intentionally hurt her, but surely you realize that your family situation is not exactly ideal. There’s a reason why she refused to let your father interfere beyond erasing all records of her connection to the Davis scandal. She does not want to be associated with the Lang family in any way. She knows that there is some truth to the rumors that have been circulating about us, and that we’re not exactly…saints.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“If you’re aware of that, then surely you’re aware that it’s not just the name that ties you. You know and I know that despite your clashes with your father, you’re a lot like him. You behave like him. You think like him. You might have been ostracized for your own protection, but the reality is you’re still pretty much involved in all of the shady affairs the family became known for. You firmly believe that the ends justify the means. I don’t think your twisted version of morality is something that Collins would be on board with.”
“You don’t know how she thinks.” Alec tried to clarify.
“She’s an idealist. You’re not. You might have deceived her into thinking that you are, but sooner or later she’ll figure it out. She’ll know that it’s not just your name you’ve been lying about, but your convictions as well. She will never condone the way you get things done.”
“She’s not as narrow-minded as you think.” Alec objected.
“Perhaps,” Greg shrugged, “but you have to admit that what you’re doing is a gamble. Your record is too gory and dark for someone like her to ignore or overlook. She might turn against you once she finds out the things you’ve done to get where you are.”
Alec said nothing. He simply gave Greg a sharp look that betrayed the irritation his words were evoking. His fingers tapped on the arm of his seat slowly and menacingly, but this did not discourage Greg from piling on.
“Tell me something, does she know the real reason why you’re in your current line of work?”
“Does she know why your word holds too much weight in the DAs’ office?”
“She already knows that I don’t do things by the book.” Alec responded coldly.
“Oh? Did she happen to get a more vivid explanation than the vague one you provided?”
“That’s perfectly understandable.” Greg shrugged. “I can’t imagine how someone who has the same mindset as hers might respond upon discovering the sort of philosophy you have embraced.”
Alec had heard enough. His voice came out low and menacing as he asked, “You think I haven’t thought about all that?”
“No, let’s discuss this.” He interrupted in a tone that barely masked his frustration. “I’ve been carrying this fake identity around for years and I might have to do that for a couple of years more. Why? Because of something my old man had done years ago that somehow ended up backfiring in his face. He thought he covered his tracks. He thought I was safe because no one knew I was related to him by blood except a select few. What happened to me was a warning message. Emma might be next. I can’t let that happen. Morals are a luxury I can’t afford.”
“Let me guess. You want to tell Collins everything?” Greg stated unexcitedly.
“No matter how I think about it, there are only two options available and I can only pursue one of them once the assailant is caught. Either I walk away entirely or I come clean, tell her everything and see what she has to say.”
“You’re going for the latter option?”
“And you think she’ll understand?”
“I know what I’m doing.”
“Do you now?” Asked Greg. His annoyance at his friend’s obstinate remarks was clear to see. “Keep in mind that the more involved she becomes, the harder the truth is gonna hit. You can’t predict what she might do next. Tread carefully.”
“Are you done?” This was not really a question. Alec was putting an end to the discussion.
The two friends glared at one another. Each silently challenged the other to carry the discussion beyond its dead end. Greg still had more to say. Alec could see that. However, before his friend managed to say anything, his phone rang.
Greg picked up. His gaze became fixed on Alec as he spoke to the person on the other end of the line. “He’s fine. I’m with him right now.”
Alec recognized the voice instantly. It was his father. The phone call did not last long. Greg hung up shortly afterwards. Obviously his father simply wanted to check on him.
Greg stood up when the phone call ended. He stashed his phone into his pocket and made his way around the desk towards the exit, but not before he paused to say one more thing to Alec.
“Think the matter through before you make any decisions. That’s all I’m asking.”
And with that, Greg took off and left Alec to contemplate the matter.
Alec had a lot to process. He knew deep down that Greg was right. It was not like he never thought about all those angles before. However, he could not bring himself to accept any of those arguments. There was no way he would give Lesly up. He never intended to lie to her. There was simply no reason for him to tell her when they first began working with one another. He never thought that their relationship would develop to this point. True, he admired her for so long, but he only began developing feelings for her after a couple of months of working with her. When he first realized that, he decided that it was best not to get involved with her. He even managed to maintain a strictly professional relationship for so long. By the time their relationship developed to its current point, it was too late to tell her who he really was. He could tell her now, of course, but given the current circumstances, it was too risky. She might, as Greg predicted, reject his offer to help. This in turn could make her an easy target for whoever was after her. Perhaps it was better to keep his distance and wait until the issue of the assailant was sorted so he could have an honest discussion with her. However, was this really possible?
Alec left the study and made his way towards his room. When he got there, he noticed that Lesly’s door was open and felt the need to go check on her. He found her sitting on her bed with the laptop propped in front of her and folders surrounding her. She was so immersed in the task of checking something on her screen that she did not notice that he was standing by the door. He leaned one shoulder against the doorframe and decided to wait and see how long it would take her to detect his presence. His smiled deepened when he noticed that she was wearing her reading glasses. For some reason, he found her insanely cute whenever he saw her with them on. Her dark soft locks were no longer in a ponytail. They cascaded around her face and brushed against her shoulders. A dark rosy spot on the base of her neck caught his attention. It took him a moment to realize that his mouth had done that to her earlier. The sight and the memory it evoked filled his head with so many erotic thoughts. He desperately wanted to caress her, kiss every inch of her, make sweet slow love to her with his tongue until she found her release. He wanted to…
Lesly’s soft voice brought him back from his deeply sensual thoughts. He smiled back.
“Is Greg gone?”
“That didn’t take long.”
“It was not a matter that required him to see me in person, but he likes to be thorough.”
Lesly did not wish to prod. It seemed that whatever issue Greg came to see Alec about was a private one, so it was better to leave it alone.
“What are you working on?” Asked Alec.
“Nothing crucial.” Lesly answered as her eyes scanned the mess around her. “I’m just trying to check the reports Stacey handled while I was on sick leave. No major mistakes so far.”
“You must be relieved.”
“Any news on Nicole Cortez?” Lesly casually inquired as she began to stack the scattered folders into one pile on her nightstand.
“My P.I. is still gathering intel. Everything he told me so far is in accordance with what you’ve collected. Nothing new. I take it the informant hasn’t contacted you yet either?”
“No, not yet.”
“Is this normal? Does he usually take this long before he contacts you again?”
Lesly paused, blinked a couple of times as she thought about the question and then answered. “Normally, no, but it happened once before. After he rescued me from that house, it took him almost a year to contact me. I thought something bad had happened to him. But then ten months later, I received an email from him containing a lead on a new case.”
“That is one strange tattler.”
“I prefer the term whistle-blower.” Lesly corrected.
Alec simply shrugged. “Potato potato.”
“Hey, speaking of tattling, what exactly did you tell Greg about me?” Lesly remembered all too well the mischievous grin Greg had when he told her that he heard so much about her.
“The truth.” Alec answered with a straight face. “That you’re one stubborn pain in the neck.”
“Yeah, a pain in the neck that I’ve grown fond of.”
Lesly had no idea whether he was joking or telling the truth. His face and tone told her nothing. Still, she would not put it past him to use those terms to describe her to someone.
“That’s a peculiar way of putting it.”
“Well, if it will make you feel any better, he agreed with some of the things I said.”
“That I’m a stubborn pain in the neck?” She asked with a not-so-amused look on her face.
“No, that I’m perfectly justified in having a major crush on you.”
She could feel the blood rushing to her face. The slow smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth told her that he noticed that she was blushing. She wanted to hide it, but did not know exactly how to cover it. He winked and whispered a good night before he attempted to leave her room.
Lesly suddenly remembered that there was one other issue that she needed to discuss with him.
“Alec wait.” She called out to him and tried to catch up with him before he went back to his room. When she went out the door, she bumped into him and almost fell backward if he had not held her.
“What is it?” He asked. One hand held her arm to keep her steady. The other tried to adjust the glasses that were threatening to fall off after she bumped into him.
“Can you send me Hannah’s phone number?”
“Michaela is arriving later tonight and she wants to meet me for drinks tomorrow. I thought I could invite Hannah to come along. I want to thank her for helping with Ben.”
Alec arched an eyebrow before he asked suspiciously. “Where are you meeting Michaela?”
Lesly cleared her throat. “At a bar.”
“Have you lost your mind?”
“I’ll be fine. I don’t think whoever attacked me would be stupid enough to target me in a public place. Besides, I won’t be alone. Michaela will be there.”
“And Michaela is fine with dragging you there?” Alec inquired.
“She’s not dragging me anywhere.” Lesly corrected. “I’m dragging her there. I’m tired of being cooped up inside. I need a break.”
Alec slipped his hands into his pockets and gave her an unnerving stare that caused her to rush through another failed attempt at putting his mind at ease.
“I’ll be fine. Nothing bad is going to happen. I promise.”
“That’s not exactly reassuring.” Alec shook his head. “Trouble seems to follow you wherever you go.”
Lesly sighed. She appreciated the fact that he was protective of her, but he took it a bit too far sometimes. Of course, she could leave without checking with him. It was not like she needed his permission. Still, he deserved to have his worries addressed. She owed him that.
“Is there anything that would put your mind at ease?”
“The only thing that will put my mind at ease is if you stay here.”
“So many things could go wrong.” He interrupted.
“How is this little venture of mine different from going to work every day?”
“You don’t hang with a group of drunks every night now, do you?”
Lesly threw her hands up in exasperation. “I’m going. End of story.”
He glared at her. She glared right back. Eventually, he lost the battle. He rubbed his temples in annoyance before he began an interrogative process that almost made her pull her hair off in frustration.
“Do you have a taser?’
“I’ll carry one if it will make you feel better.”
“A gun?” She asked, incredulous.
“Yes, a gun.”
“You’re aware how obsessive you sound?”
“I’ll tell you what.” He tried to reason. “I’ll let it go since Hannah will be joining you.”
“I haven’t asked her yet.”
“I’ll talk to her. I’ll send her number to you so you can notify her about the time and place once you hash things out with Michaela.” Alec left to his room to look for his phone.
Lesly could not believe what she was hearing. She called out from behind him. “I want to invite her to thank her, not to burden her.”
“She won’t mind.” He yelled from his room.
“Thank you.” He yelled again.
“That wasn’t a compliment for God’s sake.”
She could hear his roaring laugh from where she was standing.