Chapter 13

Moving rapidly back and forth, Lorenzo paced the small floor space that was right before the large open window. He took large steps as he pushed his hand through his curly blonde hair. He muttered indistinguishable words, calling himself a fool. The worry was justifiable, but he had no right to his anger. He knew it just as surely as he knew what her reaction would be when she found him like this. He knew it, but he didn't care.

He paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. A vision of Dawn with Nikolas at Wyndemere flashed before his eyes and his blood boiled. Behind him, the lock in the door clicked, signaling her return. He spun around. His heart raced, anticipating the moment. He fired on her as soon as she walked in.

"Just what the hell do you think you're doing?" he demanded. His hands were firmly planted on his lean hips and his blue eyes blazed with fury. His voice was only a few decibels below yelling.

"What?" she asked. Her anger obviously matching his as she slammed the door behind her. She marched towards him, stopping just behind the sofa that separated them. Flashing brown eyes stared up at him. "What the hell is wrong with you? I left you a note!"

"What's wrong with me?" he asked, his expression conveying his disbelief. He pointed to himself with a shaking finger. "Me? There's nothing wrong with me. You're the one who's running off without thinking things through first!"

"Damn you, Spencer!" she shot back at him. "My kids needed me. I will not turn my back on them!" She turned on her heel and strode towards the bedroom. She had almost made it when he spoke again.

"Even if spending the night with Nikolas could get them killed," he asked quietly.

She stood still in the doorway. Her shoulders shook. Her labored breathing echoed loudly in the hotel suite. Without turning to face him, she said in a barely audible voice, "That was low. Even for you."

The bedroom door closed quietly behind her. Mentally, he kicked himself. Hard! He shouldn't have said that. He knew it the moment the words came out, but there was nothing he could do to stop them. He could be such a fucking asshole sometimes! "Dammit, Spencer!" he whispered furiously to himself.

He stared at the closed door. If he weren't such a coward, he'd go to her and apologize. He took a step towards the door and then retreated. Apologizing would only be a sugarcoating. It wouldn't take the words back and it for damn sure wouldn't take back the pain he heard in her voice. Dammit, Spencer! Did you have to mention them being killed? Did you?

Images of a lifeless Dominik and Noelle came to mind, and anguished tears wet his eyes. He wiped them away with the back of his hand as he moved slowly towards the bar. There were already too many victims in this invisible war. He didn't want to imagine his nephew and niece as innocent casualties. He poured a shot of whiskey into the tiny glass. He drunk it down in one swallow, wincing once as the hard liquor burned his throat and scorched his empty stomach. His shaking fingers closed around bottle of Jack Daniel's intent on pouring another shot. After a glance at his quivering hand, Lorenzo changed his mind. He closed the bottle back up and set the shot glass in the sink. Taking a deep breath, he turned around and headed for the closed bedroom door.

As he waited for his breathing to regulate itself, he listened quietly for any sounds on the other side of the door. He heard movement, but that wasn't all. He also heard the unmistakable sound of crying. He didn't bother to knock. He opened the door and went inside.

"Dawn, I'm sorry."

She paused as she stood in front of the mirror. She lowered the brush that she had been gripping to the dresser as she raised her eyes to look at his reflection. Tears continued to flow down her full cheeks and her bottom lip quivered. In a hoarse whisper, she said, "Yeah."

His apology was met with sarcasm just as he felt he deserved. He was determined to try again, though. He moved away from the doorway and crossed over to the bed. He sat on the edge and their gaze remained locked. "I was wrong to say that. I didn't mean it-"

"Yes, you did," she said, cutting him off. She turned to face him. The accusations in her brown eyes were unrelenting. "You meant every word of it. You were so caught up with me being with Nikolas and 'spending the night' with you that you said the first thing that came to your miserable mind. And you meant every word of it."

"I didn't!" he explained. He rose from the bed and went to her. Gripping her upper arms as she moved to turn her back on him, he turned her back around to face him. "I love Dominik and Noelle, and I'd die for them. You know that, Dawn, please."

"I don't know anything anymore," she mumbled, looking down at the floor, "except that my children are hurting and they shouldn't be. They need me. They need to know that their Mommy loves them. Telling them over the phone isn't good enough. They need to feel me and see me..."

"I understand that," he said, releasing her arms. He reached for her hands, holding them lightly inside his own. "I was wrong to come at you the way that I did, but some of what I said made sense. I understand that they need you and miss you. But will the bastards who are watching us understand that? They've already made their feelings known about the lack of divorce-"

"Don't remind me," she said, shivering with fear. "I'm not there to be with Nikolas-"

"He's at Wyndemere and that's where you spent the night. Can you image what the retaliation for last night will be?" he asked, gently.

She pulled her hands from his. With her eyes closed tightly shut, she covered her ears with her hands. "Lorenzo, stop it! They won't do anything. Last night was innocent."

With a deep sigh, he pulled her within the circle of his arms. "I'm sure that it was," he murmured against her forehead.

"We have to find out who's doing this. We can't live like this anymore," she whispered. She trembled against him. Her head rested on his shoulder as he stroked her back. They stood like that for a few moments and then she pushed away from him. She turned back towards the mirror and picked up her brush again. Brushing her hair into stylish bun, she glanced at his reflection in the mirror. "Have you found anything new?"

He shrugged. "Maybe something..."

"What?"

"There are ten shops that sell the photograph paper the pictures were printed on."

"Ten?" she asked with a tentative smile. She set the brush down and reached for her jewelry case. As she pulled out a pair of amethyst stud earrings, she asked, "That's good, right? Where are the shops? Are they in the States...?"

He gave her a half smile. "You won't believe our luck. All ten are here in the good ole U.S.A., and four of them are on the East Coast."

"A break!" Her smile brightened. "Are you going to the shops today?"

"I have to go alone?" he asked. He frowned in anticipation of her response. He had a feeling that he wouldn't like it. He was right.

"Yeah," she said, moving away to disappear inside her closet. When she came back out, she carried a pair of ivory woolen leggings, a matching sweater and ice skating shoes. "I can't go with you. I have plans."

"Should I ask?"

"I'm meeting Stefan and the children at the skating pond," she answered him. She placed the shoes at the foot of the bed before she slipped inside the bathroom. Closing the door, she called out, "Don't start."

"I haven't said anything," he muttered, his jaw tight. He sauntered over to the closed bathroom door and asked, "Are you sure about this? I don't know how late I'll be or even if I'll hit them all today. You'll be here alone-"

"I'll be fine," she responded. She opened the door and stepped out. She was as beautiful as any Snow Queen. Lorenzo's eyes appraised her and she quickly moved away from him. "I can protect myself. I'll be okay."

"I don't feel right about leaving you. We can go tomorrow and you can come with me..."

"No," she said, stopping his words with a raised hand. "We've waited too long for a lead like this. You need to follow through on it today before they realize how much closer we are. Just go tonight. Be careful, and I promise that I'll do the same."

"If you're sure," he said, watching her as she searched through her dresser from something. His breath lodged in his throat as she bent forward slightly. The sweater clung and he had to drag his eyes away before she noticed his reaction. "I'll go get ready then." He headed for the open door.

"Okay," she said, calling after him. "You'll come back with something good. I just know it."

Her vote of confidence brought a smile to his face. He called over his shoulder, "Thanks, Dawn."

~*~

With her camera bag slung over her shoulder, Elizabeth bounded downstairs. She called out in the direction of the kitchen, "I'm going now. Are you sure you don't want to come?"

"I'm quite positive," Sarah said, slipping through the swinging doors. She munched on carrot sticks, snapping them between her fingers. "I don't understand why you're doing this anyway. You're an accomplished artist. Why go take snapshots of a bunch of amateur ice skaters?"

Elizabeth set her bag on the edge of the sofa and moved to the closet. She pulled out a warm, down jacket, cap and gloves. As she prepared herself for the cool afternoon, she spoke to her sister. "There's art in everything, Sarah. Even in a bunch of amateur ice skaters. I thought you'd be pleased."

"Pleased?" Sarah popped a small carrot stick into her mouth. Chewing, she answered Liz, "Why would you think that? Lizzie, you've worked too hard to start over now."

"Who says I'm starting over?" Liz moved towards the sofa and grabbed her camera bag. "I've been interested in photography for a while now. I'm testing the waters, so the speak. I am not starting over. You know you are a piece of work. I'd think you'd encourage me, but you're trashing me. Some things never change, right, Golden Girl?"

"What's that about people not changing? Golden Girl? I mean really, Lizzie. You're my sister. Of course, I'll encourage you. I just don't want you to make a mistake like... Um never mind."

Lizzie had turned towards the door, but as Sarah's voice faded, she turned around to face her sister again. "Like with what? Go ahead. Say it, Sarah."

"Say what?" Sarah busied herself with one of her grandmother's knitting magazines. Flipping through the pages, she murmured, "I haven't anything to say."

"Right," Liz replied, her voice trembling with hurt. "You were talking about Lorenzo, weren't you?"

"Lizzie..." Sarah warned. "Let's not, okay?"

"No, let's," Liz replied. She set her bag on the floor beside the door and strode to stand before her sister. "You've been waiting for years to tell me you told me so about him. Here's your chance. Do it!"

"I have not!" Sarah flung the magazine across the coffee table. She stared down into her sister's wide brown eyes. "I would never say something like that to you! Even after everything you've done to me, I would never say that to you. No one deserves what he did to you! And you of all people should know that I'd never throw that in your face!"

Liz rolled her eyes. Folding her arms across her chest, she simply looked at her sister.

"You don't believe me?"

"You think I should?" Liz countered. "You're used to having everything you've ever wanted, but you didn't have the man of your dreams. I had mine! We were gonna be married! I know that you burned inside because I had the man I loved while yours was married to someone else!"

"Are you talking about Nikolas?" Sarah questioned. "I hate to burst your bubble, but I got over him a long time ago."

"Yeah, right." Liz's laughter was hard and cynical. "You never got over him. You pretended, but I could still see it."

"And your obsession with Lucky, now, that he's proven that Nikolas chose the wrong woman, will you go on pretending? You gotta wake up and stop torturing yourself," Sarah said. The harshness of her voice softened as she moved closer to her sister. "You deserve so much better."

Liz backed away from Sarah. When her foot touched her bag, she turned and picked it up. "I'm late. I have to go."

"Lizzie, wait! I don't want you to leave like this."

She shrugged. "I'm fine." She placed her hand on the doorknob. Before she pulled the door opened, she offered her sister some advice. "I guess whatever Dawn and Nikolas had is over, but if I were you, I'd be extra careful when it comes to the kids. She won't respond well if you try to drive them away from her."

"I'm not worried," Sarah called just as Lizzie walked through the door and closed it behind her. "I'm not worried at all."

~*~

"How's it going over there?" Tommy glanced up from his printout to look at Lynn. "Everything okay? Do you need a break? It's okay to say so if you do."

Lynn blushed in response to Tommy's gentle teasing and sparkling green eyes. She removed her reading glasses and peered at from around the computer's monitor. "I'm doing okay. Besides, didn't we just have a break?"

He laughed softly as he rose from the plush comfort of the jet's sofa. He went to her and placed his hands on the back of her chair. "That break was hours ago. We have more hours to go before we land in Jakarta. I'm taking a break. I think it would be good if you joined me."

Laughing as he tugged on her chair, she said, "I don't think I have much of a choice."

She stood up and he gestured for her to sit down on the opposite sofa. As she settled down, he disappeared inside the kitchen. When he returned, he held a tray filled with sandwiches, sliced fruit, and soda. He placed their meal on the coffee table, and he sat down beside her. "There's plenty," he told her, pointing at the tray of food. "Dig in."

"I didn't say I was hungry," Lynn responded.

"Well, I am!" His eyes gleamed as he reached for a turkey sandwich. He ate half of it, relishing each bite. He paused very briefly for air. "It's delicious, Lynn. Even if I did make it."

"I don't doubt it," she said. She reached for another turkey sandwich and began to eat it. She took her time, chewing slowly as she voiced her thoughts aloud. "Do you think we'll find the answers in Jakarta?"

"I don't know," Tommy said quietly. He wiped his hands and mouth with a cloth napkin. He then balled it up and placed it on the far side of the table. "I hope so. I can't help but feel like we've been running around in circles."

"That's because we have been," Lynn said. "Have you spoken with Nikolas about the security breaches? I know that you were concerned about telling him. Did you change your mind?"

Tommy shook his head. "No, I didn't tell him. I probably should have and he will more than likely be upset when I do."

"So, you think we will have to tell him?" she asked with a frown. "I keep hoping that we'll know who the culprit is first. I'm sorry that I haven't been able to figure it out."

He gave her a caring smile. "You don't have to apologize. We're a team. Not knowing who the hacker is isn't any more your fault than it is mine or Emily's or even Nikolas's. The last time, we got 'em. We'll get 'em this time, too."

"I know that you're right," she murmured quietly.

"Thank you," he said with a grin. His expression became serious as he gave her a long, hard look. "You're an asset to the company, Lynn. I hope that Emily and I haven't taken you for granted. You work hard and you never complain. We may not tell you this, but we do appreciate your efforts. Coming to meet me at the airport went way beyond the call of duty. Thank you very much."

"You're welcome," she said. Her blue eyes locked with his green eyes. She smiled shyly before looking away.

Tommy noticed her reaction, but didn't think making a comment was necessary. He was certain that he had embarrassed her so he decided to change the conversation to the work that lay before them. "Jakarta won't be an easy ride. They love us as tourists, but I'm not sure if they'll take too kindly to us questioning the fire. I'm sure that's why PK has been having problems with them."

"Will they listen to you?"

Shrugging, he said, "They're gonna have to. From what we've come up with so far, there's no doubt in my mind that the recent hacking and the fire are related. We will get to the bottom of this whether they like it or not."

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