Part 25

"Were you in court today?"

Dara watched Alex closely for his reaction. Since Dawn's disappearance, her confidence in the world rested on shaky ground and her woman's intuition vibrated on high. Jerry warned her against involvement with Alex, but he refused to go into details. She hated to admit it, but Jerry's cryptic orders made her suddenly wary of the other man. And sometimes, she wondered if there was something amiss. Alex's mysterious ways were beginning to lose their appeal.

His expression became guarded. "I stopped in for a little while. I didn't think you saw me."

"I did."

She slid her notes for tomorrow's session inside her briefcase and stood. After court, she spent a few hours in her office, reviewing the days' proceedings and preparing for the next day. Later that night, she and Jerry planned to visit her clients to prep them for their moment on the witness stand. The lack of fireworks in and the out of the courtroom reassured her somewhat. Maybe Rx Limited had finally decided to play by the rules.

"I worry about you," he said, taking her hand as she moved around her desk.

"I'm a big girl."

"You're all woman. I know you're strong. It's just a quirk I have, checking up on people I care about."

She gave him a half smile. "Thanks."

They left her office and headed toward the elevator. Jerry rose and followed them. To her surprise, her bodyguard gave her and Alex some time alone. He'd been preoccupied lately. She knew that he was using his connections to find any information about Dawn. There was more, she was sure, but like Alex, he was enigma. She couldn't imagine how many pots Jerry had his hands in.

The three of them rode the elevator to the ground floor without a word. The tension between the two men was thick and heavy. Dara didn't care about their testosterone driven crap. There were more important things to worry about.

Jerry's phone rang. He barked into the handset. She only half-listened to his conversation. It had something to do with the car and its present location. Meanwhile, Alex squeezed her hand. She glanced up at him. He was so quiet at times that it was easy to forget he was there. Where did he learn how to do that?

"Sounds like your bodyguard is having car problems," he said. "I can drive you home."

"He'll take care of it."

"I guess we won't have any more dinners or breakfasts until after your case ends."

She shook her head. "Probably not."

"Is something wrong?" he asked with a frown. "I feel you pulling away. Have I done something?"

"I don't know, Alex. There's so much that's happening right now. My sister and this trial. I don't know if I can handle a relationship right now."

"There's no pressure. We can be friends."

"I wish I—"

Before she could finish, Alex threw her to the ground and landed on top of her. Gunfire exploded all around them. The glass windows that separated the lobby from the sidewalk shattered. Fear kept her frozen. Then came the chilling aftermath of silence.

Where were the assailants? Were they waiting for signs of life? Would they move in closer for the kill?

Alex rolled off her. A shard of glass dug into his left eyebrow. He pulled it out without even flinching. Blood trickled into his eye. He wiped it away the back of his hand. An impressive handgun swam in front of her eyes before he quickly shoved it inside a holster at his hip.

Why was he carrying a gun?

"Alex—"

"Dara!" Jerry pushed Alex aside and carefully drew her to her feet. "Were you hit?"

"I'm fine. A few cuts from glass, I think. What happened?"

"They tried to kill you." He removed her jacket and shook off the broken glass. "Are you sure you're not hurt?"

"I'm fine," she said, dazed. "Alex has a gun."

"I know," Jerry said. "He got two of them. I nailed the other three."

"There were five of them?" She moved to turn her head, but Jerry stopped her. "They're dead?"

He nodded and grabbed her briefcase. "The police and paramedics will be here soon. Let's find you a seat."

"I don't want to sit. I want to know why Alex has a gun."

They both looked toward Alex, but he was gone.

---

Fox confirmed Frohike's story with Donald Cragen. Dawn's captain was reluctant to talk at first so Fox resorted to threatening a front page exclusive in the morning's paper. Cragen caved, thereby proving that the pen was mightier than the sword. Fox wanted a list of names and rank, but the captain refused. Fox left the precinct, but he didn't give up the fight.

He spoke with Skinner about the possibility of a serial abductor. His editor okayed Fox investigating the abductions and ordered that Scully assist him. With his wife's life on the line, Fox had no choice but to accept the terms.

They tried to interview partners and coworkers of the missing women, but the blue wall of silence was impossible to penetrate so he and Dana focused on family members. Their stories mirrored the Mulder and Jensen families' torment. And what's worst, the police department failed to contact them with updates. The previous lack of media attention, even though the women were law officers, prevented any leads from coming in. The families were hopeful that with the recent coverage would change that.

He returned from another interview tired and determined to fight his growing despair. Scully seemed anxious to see him. He stifled a groan of irritation. Would the woman ever give up? Why couldn't she understand he simply wasn't interested?

"Look, Dana, I—"

"You haven't heard, have you?" She moved from behind her desk and crossed to him. "There was a shooting at your sister-in-law's office."

His blood ran cold. "How is she?"

"A friend of mine on the force said that she's fine. Some flying pieces of glass cut her, but it's nothing major."

"I'd better go."

"Mulder, wait." She touched his arm.

He stopped himself from flinching at the last second. "I can't. She's my wife sister. I have to be there for her."

"Something came for you." She pulled a brown-wrapped package from behind her back. "Skinner ran it through x-ray. It's a dvd."

Fox sucked in air. A sense of foreboding went through him, weakening him as if a ton of bricks had knocked him flat. "Who brought it?"

"I don't know. They left it with the receptionist. She can't remember what the person looked like. Maybe you should call the police and let them open it."

He snatched the package from her. "I don't trust the police."

"Would you like for me to watch it with you?"

Fox shook his head. "I can do it. Thanks."

He stumbled from the room before she offered more protests. His gut instinct told him this was no simple dvd. If it held secrets about his wife and her disappearance, he needed to discover this truth on his own.

---

Jason's recent break from the federal pen had Keesha on edge. The passing days only heightened her worries. She snapped at Jacob more than she intended. When Jian became a buffer between mother and son, she unleashed her wrath on him, too.

Her actions shamed her. Maybe Jerry was right. Hiding deeper undercover might protect her from Jason. He would never stop looking for her and Jacob. She didn't know how she knew. Her bones ached with the belief that Jason knew the truth. She didn't see him escaping jail otherwise. He wasn't a man who ran like a punk. He faced life head on. Dear God, what would she do if he found them?

She raked a hand through her hair, dislodging her ponytail. She ignored the mass trailing down her shoulders and folded onto the chair behind her computer. The local news only covered the prison break occasionally. She needed more. The Internet offered a world of news at her fingertips. She accessed the Port Charles Gazette from her list of favorites.

"There is a better way to handle this than worrying." Jian moved quietly behind Keesha. He closed his hands around her shoulders, gently soothing her with his touch. "Let me help."

She shook her head. "You're in this far more than you should be. I couldn't stand the thought of you getting hurt because of me."

"I love you."

A lump formed in her throat. Those three words meant so much. They had power, but they weren't strong enough to stop Jason from coming after her and their son. "I know you do, but..."

"There are no buts. Jerry was right about one thing."

She glanced at the locked drawer beside her thigh. "The gun."

"No. Leaving."

"This place is far removed from Jason's world. I'd be crazy not to wonder what he's doing and where he is, but I truly believe he won't find us here. Only Jerry knows where we are. He'd kill Jason before he told him."

Jian gave her shoulders one last squeeze before he perched on the desk beside her computer. "How would you feel if that happened?"

"If Jason...died?" She squeezed her hands together in her lap. "I always expected it to happen. His work for Sonny was dangerous. He made enemies. Being killed by one wouldn't be a surprised."

"I wasn't talking about strangers. What if someone killed Jason to keep you and Jacob safe?"

Her heart contracted. His question was too probing. The answer promised to reveal too much. Both to herself and to Jian. She looked away from his piercing brown eyes to stare at the computer screen. The front page of the Port Charles Gazette blazed from the monitor. The large size font in bold black letters took her breath away. Her fingers trembled as she clutched the mouse and scrolled down. Water pooled in her eyes, blurring her vision. Salty tears trickled down her cheeks. She didn't want to believe it.

Jian bent forward to read the screen. "Justus Ward Near Death After Shooting."

"Jason," she whispered. "He shot Justus. He shot my cousin...his cousin. Justus may die because of me."

"Because of Jason." Jian pulled her into his arms. "This isn't your fault."

She closed her eyes and leaned against him. God, he felt so strong. In that moment, she knew with full certainty that she could depend on Jian for anything. The knowledge gave her strength. She wiped her eyes. Pulling back to meet his eyes, she gently cupped his jaw.

"I hope you're listening."

She nodded. "I am. I hear everything, even what you're not saying."

"I'll call Jerry and ask him to check on Justus."

"No, I need you to do something else."

He frowned. "What?"

"Take Jacob and go far away—"

"Keesha, no!"

"Yes," she said, feeling calmer than she had in months. "Take him and protect him. You love him and he loves you. I know he'll be safe with you."

"You'll both be safe with me."

"I won't be with you. I can't. Not right now. Maybe later."

Anguish contorted his handsome face into a mask. His eyes glittered with it. "Just where the hell do you think you're going?"

"Port Charles."

"I won't let you."

She gave him a sad smile. "You can't stop me."

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