Part 4

"Hey, you got a minute?"

Dawn nodded at her partner. The call with ADA Carmichael ended and she followed Lenny from the squad room onto the back parking lot. He bought them pretzels from a nearby vendor and then joined her on the trunk of a squad car.

"What's up?" she asked, squeezing mustard onto the curve of the pretzel. "You know McCoy just wants an airtight case. He's always like that."

The older man shrugged as he chewed. "He's got one. I don't let him get to me. You shouldn't either."

"He tries hard and he knows the law. I admire him, but there are times…"

Lenny's laughter conveyed that he knew all about those times. "Listen, I didn't come out here to talk about Jack McCoy."

"What's going on?" She wrapped a paper napkin around her uneaten pretzel and gave him her full attention. "Things have been weird. I didn't know if it was because of Fox and me getting back together. You probably think I'm nuts for taking him back, but--"

He waved away her explanation. "Who am I to judge affairs of the heart? You know him better than anybody. If it's right to you, that's good enough for me. No one will give you beef about it."

"So, if it's not about Fox, then what is it?"

He chucked the rest of his pretzel into a trashcan. "My time is almost up. I put in for retirement. The paperwork should be official soon."

She felt like the wind had been knocked out of her. "Lenny? Why? I don't understand."

He patted her shoulder as if he'd expected this response. "It's just time for me to move on. You're a good cop. The lieutenant will pair you with someone good."

"I don't want someone just good. Good won't do after being your partner, Briscoe." She looked down at the uneaten pretzel. It was nothing but waste now. She tossed it into the trashcan, too. "It's been great working with you. You know I'll miss you. What will you do now? I can't see you walking the beaches of Florida or signing up for bingo night."

"You know me too well. Green's invited me to visit him in Vegas. I'll go there for a few weeks and come back and start my new job."

Her jaw dropped. "What new job? Doing what?"

"I'll be with the DA's office. I'll tell you more about it later. In the meantime, keep your nose to the ground. I've heard rumblings about a shake up at the department. I don't know what it all means, but things are about to change. Be ready to follow where the wind blows."

*/*

"You're a hard man to track down."

Fox looked at the woman perched on edge of his desk. "I can't be that hard…Dana. You found me. Right here at work where I'm supposed to be. What's up?"

"I tried to call you this weekend. Your phone was disconnected. I didn't think you'd show up today." She swung her slim stocking-covered leg back and forth.

He glanced from her searching blue eyes to her swinging leg and back again. "I moved. I gave Skinner my new number this morning. If you check your desk, you'll find a post-it with the number on it."

Her leg ceased its hypnotic movement as she frowned. "You moved? If I had known you were looking for a place, I would have told you about the apartment at my building."

He gave her tight smile. "I wasn't looking for a new place. I moved back to my old one…with my wife." He pointed to the wedding band for emphasis. This time, his smile was genuine.

"Oh." Her face became ashen. Her blue eyes seemed to darken. "I didn't know. Congratulations."

"Thanks." He returned to the article on his laptop. A few moments later, she returned to her desk. They worked in silence for the rest of the afternoon.

*/*

Jacob sat beside Keesha on the floor as she sorted through the stack of seed packets. Granny Mae had been an avid gardener. Keesha was grateful for the time spent as her grandmother's shadow.

"When are we getting the rabbit?" her little boy asked.

She paused to tickle his chin. He squirmed and laughed. She smiled. "I don't know. We'll have to prepare a space for him first."

"Jian-Wa said he can build a cage," Jacob piped in. "We can put it under the tree."

"When did you talk to Jian-Wa about this?" She set the packets on the floor and gave him her full attention.

"This morning while you were making coffee. He's nice, Mommy. He said that you and he were friends from long before I was born. I didn't know. Do you have any pictures?"

Keesha sighed. She pulled him onto her lap and hugged him close. Their abrupt departure from Port Charles and AJ forced them to leave with only their clothes on their backs. Jacob longed to see his father, AJ, one last time, but it couldn't be allowed. If Jason believed for one second that the car accident was fake, he'd hunt them down. After years of openly lying to him, Keesha dared not take that risk. His temper was unpredictable and his associates knew no limits. Leaving without mementos was a small price to pay for their lives.

"No, sweetie, I don't have any, but I will say that he looks exactly like he did the last time I saw him."

Jian-Wa came to the back door. Jacob wiggled from her lap and went to him. The man smiled and playfully chucked her son's chin. "I finished clearing out the greenhouse," he said, looking at her. "If you know how you want to set it up, we can do that now."

"I haven't finished the diagram. Take a break and I'll work on it."

He rubbed his hands together and gave her a sheepish smile. "I'm not good with breaks. I can finish whatever you were doing."

"We were organizing seeds," Jacob announced. He sat on the floor and pointed to the empty space beside him. "You can sit here while Mommy works on the gram."

Keesha and Jian-Wa shared a chuckle while he joined Jacob on the floor. She powered on her laptop and went to her favorite Internet gardening site. She had a few bookmarked, but one had more info than the others. While she waited for the site to load, she watched her son interact with his new friend.

Jian-Wa Chang. She released a quiet sigh. After their relationship ended, she never dreamed of seeing him again. He was one of those one in a million guys, but the timing was wrong. Neither was ready to settle down and that was obviously the next step. There was also the cultural difference to consider. Being involved with Jason and AJ had reared enough problems with her father, but whenever she and Jian-Wa went out… Stares and comments assaulted them from all sides. Engaging in battle hadn't seemed worth it at the time.

She wondered if the times had changed for both of them.

He looked up and caught her stare. "A couple of boxes addressed to Keesha Williams arrived today. I assumed they were yours and put them away. Was that Mr. Williams yesterday?"

Jerry? Her eyebrows rose. Was he kidding?

"Um, no. That was a…friend."

"Friend?" He cast a pointed glance at Jacob. "A good friend?"

"Not that good of a friend." She shook her head.

"I suppose it's not really any of business," he said after a moment, "but if you need a real friend, I'm here."

*/*

"This is going to be one helluva case." Harry Ioki, Dara's hired private investigator, thumbed through the files Dara handed him. "Is that what made you switch from criminal defense to civil litigation?"

She nodded. "Yes. When they came to me and told me their story, I couldn't say no. Besides, it's much worthier than what I was doing before. Cases like this one is why I studied law. What do you say? Will you help me?"

"Go after corporate America? Are you kidding me?" Harry grinned. "Of course, I'm in! When do you want me to start?"

"Soon. A trial date hasn't been set, but we need to be prepared just in case."

Harry stood. He held up the file. "Is this mine?"

She shook her head. "This is yours." She handed him a thinner file and took the other one from him. "Yours has just the basics just in case. These guys haven't been known to play by the rules. I don't want anything to happen to you."

He regarded her with a frown. "I'm a former cop. I can watch my back. Maybe I should watch yours, too."

"That won't be necessary. A friend has taken care of it. My protection is coming--"

"Correction. Your protection is here." Jerry Jacks saluted her from the doorway of her office. "Justus asked me to come and here I am. Surprise."

Hell, yeah, it was a surprise.

She hadn't since him she broke up with him to be with Sonny. Just what the hell was Justus thinking sending him to her?

He gave her a humorless smile. "You can thank Justus later. Where's my desk?"

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