Dawn went through the motions of being a professional. She greeted her new Captain with a firm handshake and a smile. The man really was a legend at NYPD. Any other day, she'd be ecstatic. Most had to work their butts off to be a member of the Special Victims Unit. Few were chosen. But this day wasn't like any other she'd experienced. Instead of feeling a sense of relief for doing the right thing, she felt sick to her stomach. Fox left without saying a word to her. She tried to call his cell, but he didn't answer. Eventually, she gave up.
"Jensen!" Captain Cragen leaned through the open door of his office and beckoned to her.
She strode to his office with a smile plastered on her face. As she moved past Elliott's desk, their gazes connected.
"Welcome aboard," he said.
She nodded in response. They hadn't talked all morning. She hadn't felt a need to rehash old stuff. But now, Fox's reaction forced her to rethink that decision. She absolutely hated not knowing what to do.
Cragen closed the door after she entered his office. A man with dark wavy hair and copper tone skin stood near the Captain's desk. He stepped forward. His gaze took her in from head to toe. An unreadable expression crossed his face. Then, he gave her a faint smile.
"Detective Dawn Jensen, this is your partner, Detective Curtis."
"Nice to meet you, Reynaldo." She shook his hand. Pretty Boy Curtis. Fox's assessment had been dead on. Her new partner was a very handsome man. But her husband was the one she wanted.
"Call me Rey," he said.
Jian never knew how time consuming running a florist shop could be. They needed an endless number of supplies before they could even open the doors. Soil, pots, and extras like balloons, vases and cards came in from different couriers on a daily basis. By silent agreement, he met with the drivers and signed for the merchandise. Keesha's revelation about Jacob's father heightened Jian's self-preservation skills. No one would get through to harm her or the little boy.
He performed his duties on extra-alert. While Keesha and Jacob were upstairs preparing lunch, Jian finished setting up the store-room. As he unpacked the last box from the day's shipment, he caught a flurry of movement outside the window. Taking measured steps, he slipped from the storeroom and ran to the back of the store.
He was careful of fallen twigs and other debris as he closed in on his prey.
"What are you doing?" Jian stood over the crouching teenage boy.
The kid returned his stare with defiance. He stood and gave Jian a threatening look that didn't quite do the trick.
"I asked you a question." Jian grabbed the boy's collar and yanked him to his feet. "Your answer had better be good."
"Man! Let go of me!" The kid put up a good struggle. "Who do you think you are? Jet Li or something? Let go!"
Jian shook him once. "Answer me!"
"I was just looking around."
"Because! I dunno. Why not? This place was empty for a long time. I wanted to see who moved in."
The boy's answer seemed legit. Yet, Jian needed to be sure.
"Why do you care so much?"
"Are you gonna let go of me?" The boy grabbed his collar and tried to pull free. Jian's grip was too strong.
Jian let the kid struggle for a few more seconds before he released him, by throwing him against the building. He stood with legs spread apart and easily blocked any escape route. "Well?"
"It was my hang out, man. No big deal. I can find another one."
"You do that." Jian stepped aside. The teenager took off. Jian followed him as far as the end of the block and made plans to investigate later. He returned to the storeroom and found Keesha waiting for him.
"What's wrong?" A shadow of alarm touched her face. "Who was that?"
"You saw him."
She nodded. "It looked like a kid. What did he want?"
"He claims this was his hang out." He hesitated to tell her too much. She looked fragile, like she could snap at any moment. He touched her shoulder. "Don't worry. He's gone."
"You don't believe him," she stated. "I'll call the police just in case."
"No, not yet. He may be harmless."
"And if he isn't?"
His jaw became set. "If he isn't, we don't want to let him in on our suspicions prematurely. Let me check him out. I meant what I said last night. I won't let anything or anyone hurt you."
"That's too much to ask of you." She began breaking down the empty boxes. "I'd never forgive myself if something happened to you because of me."
"I'm pretty tough, Keesha," he said with enough cockiness to make her smile. "I don't break easily."
"I'll try to remember that."
"Dinner at expensive, romantic restaurants." Carrington Spence bit into his cigar. "You certainly know how to woo a woman."
Alex stiffened. His hand twitched with the desire to shove that cigar up the bastard's ass.
"What? Nothing to say?"
"You summoned me here," Alex said through gritted teeth. "I figured you'd do all the talking."
"Sometimes you think too much." Spence struck a match. "What's the status on our subject? You're getting closer to her. Results, Alex. I need results."
"I don't have any to report. She's not an easy woman. She's cautious and smart."
The old bastard laughed. "All the things you like in a woman. Yes, I know. Maybe putting you on this job was a mistake. Maybe you're becoming emotionally involved."
"I'm doing what you pay you for."
"Perhaps, but maybe you're taking the fringe benefits to heart."
Alex's hands clenched into fists. "Don't push me."
"You need to push her," Spence ordered. "Find out how much she knows. It may be difficult with Jerry Jacks as her personal bodyguard, but I'm sure you know how to work around him. You've done it before."
Shaken, Alex left his boss's office. Carrington Spence never made idle comments. The crafty cigar sucking jack-off was having second thoughts about Alex working on the case. Before he could blink, Spence could send Alex packing far from Manhattan and far from Dara. Alex needed to think fast before he let that happen.
Spence wanted results. Alex planned to give him some.