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CHAPTER 7


The Detective's eyes bored into her. Even though Keesha's head was bent over the folder, she more than sensed Taggert's stare. She felt it. It irritated her and made her wonder if she was being set up somehow. She hoped not. She was just beginning to trust the guy.

"What you're looking at is the most recent surveillance. It has been gathered over the past couple of weeks," Marcus explained. "I've been reviewing it as it comes in. Some of the reports were even written by me."

"You prefer to do the legwork yourself." Keesha paused from reading to look up at her supervisor.

He smiled and sat down behind Mac's desk. The Commissioner had graciously allowed them to use the space for their meetings. Both Keesha and Taggert appreciated the space. Marcus considered her question and shrugged. Giving her a smile that displayed his perfect pearly whites, he said, "In certain circumstances, I do." He pointed towards the folder on her lap. "Keep reading. There's something I want you to see."

She had figured as much. A set up. Keesha's throat tightened, but she followed her supervisor's bidding. Resting her back against the well-cushioned guest chair, she turned her attention to the folder that was dedicated to Jason Morgan and his activities.

Judging from the documentation, Jason spent a good deal of time at the penthouse. Until Carly's return he had spent all of his time there. No doubt teaching his infant son the ways of the organization, Keesha thought with uncharacteristic sarcasm. Shaking her head, she kept reading.

His pattern changed soon after Carly's return. One night at Jake's, he met a young woman. Now he seemed to spend a great deal of time with her. Curious that Jason had found a replacement for Robin so soon after they had broken up, Keesha turned the page, hoping to find out more about the mystery woman.

Dawn Hunter was her name, Keesha discovered. She was young, almost 18. She had a European background and other than that, there didn't seem to be any more information about her. Keesha frowned. She wanted to know more.

"There's a picture of her," Taggert prompted, revealing just how closely he'd been watching her. "You'll find it towards the back of the folder."

"Thanks," Keesha murmured, dryly. Holding her place with her forefinger, she flipped through the pages until she reached the photo that had obviously been taken from a discreet distance.

Through narrowed eyes, Keesha perused the photograph. The picture was taken on the docks. Ms. Hunter sat on a motorcycle and Jason sat behind her. Their bodies were close and from the way Jason's hands were on her, his interest in the woman was certainly more than platonic.

Keesha picked up the picture to get a better look, and to her surprise, 2 more photos fell. Concentrating on maintaining a neutral expression, her brown eyes bored over Jason and his new friend. Unease settled within her as she recognized the look in Jason's eyes. She fought the agitation and looked over the other two pictures.

One was a close-up of Ms. Hunter. Her caf au lait skin was flawless and the sparkle in her eyes was dazzling. She was a very beautiful young woman. The final picture was of her and Jason in a passionate embrace. The tightness in Keesha's chest returned. She lowered the photos back inside the folder and closed it. She placed the folder on Mac's desk within Taggert's reach and stared back at the man, her expression blank.

"What did you think?" Taggert asked, almost giddy with anticipation.

Keesha shrugged. "Very thorough. You've left no aspect of Jason's life unturned."

"Thank you," he said. He reached for the folder and rose. Circling around the desk, he stopped just in front of her. He rested his backside against the edge of the desk and looked down at her. "Your work is about to begin."

"I thought my work had already began." She frowned. "I've given you my reports about Moreno. Haven't you read them?"

Marcus raised his eyebrows, conveying his surprise at her taking him to task. "I have read each one of them, Officer Ward." He placed considerable emphasis on her title and paused for effect. Her mouth tightened, but this time, she didn't verbalize her thoughts. Taggert offered her a faint smile and then continued speaking. "Robbins will continue with the Moreno investigation. We have a different direction that we'd like to take with you."

Keesha bristled. She didn't think she'd like wherever he was going; however, once again, she kept her opinions to herself. Instead, she raised her head and looked him dead in the eyes. "I'm listening."

~*~

"You should have come with us tonight," Brenda told Robin in no uncertain terms. She glanced over at Ned for encouragement and then rushed on, "The music filled Luke's. I've never been a blues fan, but I was digging this. I think you would have liked it, too."

"Well," Robin began slowly, "I had a few things I wanted to do around here."

Ned looked around the room. His dimples deepened as a smile parted his lips. "What did you have to do? Return another sofa?"

"Ned!" Brenda threw one of the sofa pillows at him. "That phase is over. I like the furniture I have now."

"Yeah," Robin said, a teasing smile on her face, "this week you like it."

Ned giggled and Robin joined in. Feigning disapproval, Brenda glowered at them. "Go ahead and laugh. See if I care."

"We're only teasing you a little," Ned said, after recovering from his laughing fit. He tossed the pillow back at her. As she caught it, he reached for his overcoat and glanced at his watch. "I hate to leave so soon, but I have some reports that I need to go over. We really did have a good time, Robin. Maybe next time, you'll join us."

He gave each woman a chaste goodnight kiss to her cheek and then he left. As soon as the door closed behind him, Robin pounced. "Next time?"

Brenda frowned but a tiny smile played around her lips. "What?"

"Don't play coy with me. What gives with you and Ned?"

The older woman tugged on the overlong sleeves of her sparkly cashmere sweater. Keeping her eyes downcast, Brenda shrugged. "Nothing gives. We're just hanging out. I think he and Jax have worked out a deal where they take turns taking care of me."

Robin stared at her with wide eyes. "Did a miracle happen while I was away? Jax and Ned are suddenly friends? Sorry, but I don't buy that one."

"Men bond when they have a common goal," Brenda advised. "Besides, it's no big deal. Ned and I have always been friends. We had a fun night out a blues bar. There's nothing more to it than that… Well, there is a little bit more to it…"

"I knew it!" Robin's smile was gleeful and triumphant.

"Little Miss Matchmaker, settle down over there," Brenda said. "I talked to him about L and B records. Doing modeling shows for used car dealerships is not working for me. And feeling that vibe tonight… I don't know, Robin. It was strong. I miss the music. It always gave me more of an adrenaline rush than modeling ever did."

"And it would have to be more interesting," Robin agreed.

"And the truth comes out," Brenda said, grinning. "You've always thought that I was a vapid model, too."

Robin laughed. "Of course not, but I did wonder about it. I know that I would be bored, but hey, that's me. To each her own, you know?"

"I know," Brenda responded with a nod. "Um…I was wondering if I really do make a go of the company again, would you be interested?"

"I'm not sure." Robin frowned. She picked up a thick biology book from the end table and set it on her lap. Tracing the images on the book's cover, she slowly answered her friend. "I only said that I was thinking about transferring to PCU. I haven't made a firm decision, yet. I don't want to say I will and then change my mind later. I need a little while longer to decide."

Brenda closed her hand over Robin's and pressed down hard. When Robin looked up at her, she said, "Don’t let Jason rule your life."

"Brenda, stop it," Robin bit out. She pulled her hand from under Brenda's and rose from her seat beside her on the sofa. With the medical book clutched to her chest, she headed for the staircase. "We agreed that Jason was off limits. Remember?"

"I remember," Brenda grudgingly admitted, "but there is something I think you should know-"

"No, Brenda," Robin said, shaking her head. "Whatever it is, I don't want to know. Not right now. Goodnight."

The bedroom door slammed close and Brenda's concern grew. How could she tell Robin that Jason and Carly had a child when Robin refused to listen? It was her duty to warn her. Having been blindsided by Jason (on her wedding day of all things), Brenda didn't want the same to happen to her best friend, her little sister. Soon Brenda decided--whether Robin wanted it or not--she would learn the truth.

~*~

Soft and moist. Jason lightly pressed his fingers against his lips. He could still feel her kiss. His arms and chest tingled as he remembered Dawn's response to him. Her body had pressed against his, and it had felt good. Oh, so good. A low whistle of primal male satisfaction passed from his lips. Even as he checked on Michael and kissed the baby's forehead, he realized that he couldn't stop thinking about her. Bounding back down the staircase to the living room, he found himself anticipating their next time together.

"Jase?"

Carly's husky voice called out to him. Her anxiety and neediness hit him full force and caused him to pause in the middle of the room. She was behind him, maybe sitting down at the table. He didn't turn around to look at her. He didn't have to. He could see her expression in the back of his mind. It was the one she always wore. Desperation mixed with accusation always accompanied the anxiety and the neediness. "Yeah, Carly?" he responded.

"I thought you were coming back for dinner."

"Something came up," he said by way of explanation. He moved again. First to the desk to pick up the ledger, pencil and calculator and then to the sofa where he sat down. He spread the ledger across his lap and began to work. He never made a conscious decision to ignore her. It just happened that way.

"Graciela had an emergency so she left me alone with…him," she said. A chair scraped across the hardwood floor as then her footsteps shuffled across the carpet. Her voice came closer as she drifted nearer to him. "He started crying-"

"What happened?" Jason asked. The paperwork forgotten, he jumped to his feet. Guilt hit him hard.

Carly waved her hands in a helpless gesture. "I didn't know what to do. He wouldn't stop crying."

"Did you feed him? Check his diaper? Read to him?" he questioned her. "Any of those should have worked."

She turned away from him. "I-I couldn't. You said you'd be back. I waited for you-"

"So you just let him cry?" he asked. On reflex, he grabbed her arm and whipped her around to face him. "You sat here and listened to him cry? Dammit Carly!"

"No!" She shook her head. "I didn't know who to turn to-"

"So what did you?" he asked. "Who did you call? I can't believe you didn't even try—"

"Johnny helped me," she said quickly. "I wanted to help him, but I didn't know how…"

"Learn," Jason said as he released her. Brushing past her, he took deep breaths. As he fought for control, he considered what she had told him. After two weeks, she still refused to be a mother to her child. What could he do to bring order to the situation? Should he demand her to take responsibility or should he order her out of Michael's life? Whatever happened, he had to put Michael's needs first. For a brief moment, he imagined he, Dawn and Michael together as a family. The image calmed him and brought a smile to his face.

"Jase?"

"What, Carly?" he asked. The sound of her voice erased the image and the smile. He suddenly felt tired. A mountain of work loomed before him. He didn't have time to indulge in fantasies or to hold her hand. Irritated by everything and nothing, he repeated, "What?"

"You're not mad at me, right?" she asked. "I don't have any place to go and if you kick me and Michael out…"

He turned around to face her. "I would never kick Michael out," he assured her. His blue eyes turned icy as he stared down at her. "I have work to do. We can talk about this in the morning."

She opened her mouth and Jason bristled, anticipating her protest. None was made. She shuffled away from him and back up the staircase, disappearing from his sight. He released a sigh of relief and went back to work. In the back of his mind, he knew that he'd have to resolve the Carly situation and soon.

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The Right Way(and all original characters) 2000 niklovr
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