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I Was Blind, But Now I See


"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see..."
"Amazing Grace" Written by John Newton


Chapter 1

Casey went over her list one last time. Nope, she didn't think she'd forgotten anything. The streets were clear, although snow was still piled high in the gutters. She hated driving in the snow; she wasn't accustomed to doing so, and it made her nervous. There was nothing but wet pavement today. Daniel was catching a ride home with Jack, and she had the Jeep so that she could run her errands...the most important of which was a trip to the grocery store to pick up the fresh turkey she'd ordered, and all of the other items necessary to create a 'traditional' Thanksgiving dinner. Tomorrow would be spent baking pies and cookies and cleaning the house in preparation for their guests the following day.

The parking lot near the dry cleaner's was full. Lovely. She could circle the block a few times, hoping that one of the cars would leave and she could get to the parking spot before someone else; she could attempt to parallel park, something she was not good at; or she could just park down the street and walk three blocks. "Give me a break," she muttered under her breath. With a sigh, she drove down the street, where angled street parking was available.

Pulling her coat tighter around her slender frame, she hurried toward the building where the dry cleaner was located. So far her luck was holding, for once inside the overheated building, she found herself at the back of a line of at least twenty people. Just what she needed, she grumbled to herself. If it wasn't for the fact that their dry cleaning had been waiting for nearly three weeks now, she'd turn around and leave. But Daniel would want his black trousers for Thursday, and she really wanted to wear that little dress she'd found at the mall on her last shopping excursion with Janet and Sam. Little being the operative word. She was certain that Daniel would approve...well, at least appreciate it. Then there were the sweaters that she'd brought in to be cleaned, which would be most welcome as each day seemed to grow ever colder. Tacoma had never suffered negative, single digit temperatures. She didn't like them.

It took thirty minutes to make her way to the counter. She spent the time double checking her grocery list, going over in her mind each dish she'd planned. And hoped that Daniel would be home when she returned, in order to help her carry in the groceries, and dry cleaning. When at last it was her turn, she handed her ticket to the short Oriental woman.

"You been gone Mrs. Jackson? We no see you in here for long time!" the woman huffed.

"Yes, we were...um...called out of town. Business," Casey replied.

"You got stuff to drop off?"

"Not today."

With a sharp nod, the woman hustled to the back. Returned with garments on hangers, covered in plastic, and a half dozen sweaters folded neatly and wrapped in paper. "You have nice Thanksgiving!" the woman said with a big smile, giving Casey her change.

"You, too," the slender woman replied. She stuffed the change into the front pocket of her jeans. Her arms full of clothes, she smiled at the woman behind her in line, and headed for the door.

"Casey? Casey Webster?" a voice said, obviously startled.

She stopped suddenly, losing her grip on two of the wrapped sweaters. They slid to the floor. "Shit!" she muttered, then looked around to find the owner of the voice that had called out her name. And moaned mentally.

"Oh, my god, it really is you!"

Without missing a beat, Casey picked up the two dropped sweaters, then stood and smiled at the woman who was in line, smirking at her. "Hello, Shannon," she said softly.

Shannon Ballard. She'd lived in the same dormitory at Western Washington U as Casey. And had been a thorn in the slender blonde's side the entire time she'd been in college. The buxom brunette had been determined to interfere in Casey's life at every turn. And when Casey had met and started dating Mark Whiting, Shannon had made it her mission to break them up. She'd succeeded. And had then flaunted the relationship between Mark and herself at every opportunity. The last Casey had heard, the two were married had moved to...to somewhere in the Denver, Colorado area. Shit! Now is a hell of a time to remember that!

"So what on earth are you doing in Silver Springs?" the brunette demanded loudly.

"I live here," Casey replied dryly.

"Really? Me, too! Well, for a few more weeks. I have a lead on a job in South America. Very hush-hush." Shannon's brown eyes danced with excitement, and not a little condescension.

"Good for you." She steadied the stack of sweaters. The diamonds on her hand flashed brilliantly in the light from the florescent bulbs overhead.

"You're married?" Shannon gasped, her eyes locked on the rings for several moments. The solitaire diamond in that ring was at least two carats, or she'd eat her dry cleaning!

Gee, try to sound a little more shocked, why don't you! Casey grumped silently. "Yes, I am."

"So, who is it? What does he do?"

"Doctor Daniel Jackson. He does classified work for the Air Force." She couldn't help but grin mentally when Shannon's eyes went wide.

"Oh, you're putting me on," Shannon insisted.

"Nope. Look, I have several other errands to run..." Casey said, already moving toward the door.

"We'll have to get together for a drink sometime, catch up with what's been going on for each of us," Shannon replied.

She stopped, cocked her head to the side. The woman was desperately unhappy. She'd never known Shannon well, had spent most of her time trying to avoid the brunette; had she always been so...bitter? "Sure. Whatever. Tell Mark I said hello."

Shannon's eyes dropped to the floor. "We...uh...we're not together any more."

One blonde eyebrow moved up. "Really? I didn't think you'd been married that long."

"We weren't together a full year after we married," the dark-haired woman admitted.

"I'm sorry to hear that. What happened?" She really was curious. Even though she was probably being rude by asking. After all, it wasn't really any of her business.

"He...he found someone else. His skinny blonde secretary. I told Jenny, my best friend, that I thought he was trying to replace-" she broke off, her cheeks going crimson. She glanced around the room, avoiding the green eyes that had gone wide with surprise.

Well, well, well...he was trying to replace her, was he? The bastard should have thought about that before he started sleeping with Shannon behind my back, Casey thought. Then shoved it aside. She wouldn't have wanted him anyway. Not when Daniel, the man whom the Goddess had proclaimed to be her Destiny, was waiting for her. Actually, she owed Shannon a debt of gratitude for exposing Mark for the cheating bastard that he was, before she'd succumbed to his considerable charm. What goes around, comes around, cupcake, she thought. "That's too bad," she said aloud.

"Yes, well, I'm moving on with my life. Doing quite well. I have a job offer for a very private company in South America," the woman said, repeating the mention of the job, and the exotic location.

There was that reference again. Probably wanted her to beg to hear all about it. And she honestly couldn't care less. Something about it began to poke at the back of her mind, however.

Shannon watched the slender blonde. If anything, she was prettier now than she'd been in college. More - confident - than she had been then. Her eyes went back to the rings on her fingers. It was one hell of an impressive wedding set! And she was married to a doctor! How damned unfair was that? An uptight, prudish, wall flower like Casey Webster married to a doctor! Oh well, he was probably short, fat and ugly!

Casey moaned silently again when the sound of Aerosmith's "Young Lust" began to play on her cell phone. It was Daniel. He'd cracked up when she'd picked that particular song as the ringtone to indicate that he was calling. She always smiled when she thought about the ringtone that played when she called him...he'd chosen "Simply Irresistible" by Robert Palmer. With a soft apology to the man beside the counter, who was kind enough to step aside, she dropped her armload of dry cleaning, reached into her purse and grabbed the small device. "Hey, handsome."

"Hey, gorgeous. Where are you?"

"Ling's Dry Cleaners. Why?"

"Well, Jack is trying to get out of some paperwork, so he's dropping me off early. Want me to meet you there?"

She glanced at Shannon. There were seven people in front of her. "Yes, I do," she replied. And refused to admit that showing him off was her primary reason for wanting him to join her.

"We're on Baker. Be there in a minute or two."

"Good...you can help me carry all of this."

"Love you."

"Love you, too." She snapped the phone closed, dropped it back into her handbag.

Shannon hadn't missed a bit of Casey's part of the conversation. "I take it that that was your doctor?"

"It's rude to eavesdrop," she replied. Noted that the woman didn't even have the decency to look apologetic. "Yes, it was. He'll be here in just a minute."

Shannon was practically drooling. 

Just try it cupcake, and you'll pick your ass up on the other side of the room, Casey thought bitterly. She'd learned a lot in the years since college. And certainly being with Daniel had been a boost to her ego. Being on SG-1 had given her more confidence than she'd ever had in her life. Plus a few new skills for dealing with pain-in-the-ass women. She wondered just how long it would take her to drop Shannon completely using the mastaba techniques that Teal'c had taught her.

Not two minutes later the chimes over the door tinkled merrily, and Daniel stepped into the building, his eyes focusing on one person, and one person only.

"Hello, good looking!" Shannon smiled, planting herself in front of the handsome newcomer, too busy preening to notice where his attention lay.

Daniel gave the woman a glance, but didn't reply. He brushed past her, his hands already reaching for the only woman his eyes would ever see. "Hey, babe," he said softly. He dropped a kiss on her forehead.


"Well, Casey, are you going to introduce me to your doctor?" Shannon's eyes glittered with disappointment. How unfair was it that the skinny blonde had landed a hunk like that? She'd taken a man from this little twit once before. She could certainly do it again! If she set her mind to it, that was.

"Daniel, this is Shannon Ballard...um...Whiting...I'm sorry, did you keep Mark's name or not?" Casey asked sweetly.

"No, no, I'm using my own name," Shannon replied, pushing past Casey to stand in front of Daniel. "How do you do?"

"Hello," Daniel said. He frowned slightly, moved around the woman to stand beside his wife.

The brunette didn't miss the not-so-subtle body language. This man had 'not interested' written all over him. And the love in those beautiful blue eyes when they were focused on Casey was just too intense to miss...or ignore. It was downright sickening, actually. Now that she really looked at him...he seemed...geeky. Yes, definitely geeky. Probably a lousy lover.

"I'm just getting started on my errands list," Casey said softly. "I still have to stop by the liquor store and the florist and the grocery store."

"Let's go, Angel," Daniel replied. "Is this our stuff?" he asked, motioning toward the pile of wrapped sweaters.

"Every one of them," she replied.

He scooped them into his arms.

"I'll give you a call, Casey, we'll meet for that drink," Shannon said.

Casey didn't bother to point out that that their name, phone number, and address weren't listed in any of the local directories; a change made after she and Cassie had been kidnapped, just before the new phonebooks had been due to come out. Let her figure it out for herself, she thought irritably. At least it would save her from having to speak to the woman again!

The brunette put her hand on Daniel's arm. "It was wonderful to meet you."

"Um...yes...nice to meet you," he mumbled. He waited until they were on the sidewalk before speaking again. "Who the hell was she?"

"An old nemesis from college. She went out of her way to make my life miserable," Casey replied. "She stole my first serious boyfriend."

"He was an idiot then," Daniel replied immediately.

The words went straight to her heart, and warmed her through and through. "You always say the perfect thing," she sighed.

He grinned. "Yeah, I'm lucky that way." It wasn't hard to 'say the perfect thing' around her. Anything remotely positive about her was 'the perfect thing'.

The poking at the back of her mind continued. "I don't think I'll have to worry about that drink. She said something...well, she mentioned twice that she had a job offer from a company in South America. She said it was all very hush-hush."

Daniel put the sweaters on the backseat, took the hangers from her hand, and hung them behind the drivers seat. His frown reappeared. "South America?"

"You don't think she'd be going to work for Pyxis Enterprises, do you?" Casey gasped.

"I don't know, Angel. But we should probably tell General Hammond about this. It might be a coincidence."

"But you don't think it is," she replied.

He shook his head. "Too damned coincidental for me," he told her. "It's probably nothing."

That poking continued to irritate her. But wasn't yet strong enough to be more than just an annoyance.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Senator Shepperd sat back in his chair. Ever since the fiasco of Senator Robert Kinsey's fall from grace - all of the illegal activities he'd been involved with coming to light, and then the ensuing 'trial' where Kinsey had been found of guilty of treason, posthumously - he and several other senators had taken a deeper interest in the activities of the NID. When the president had tasked the Oversight Committee to keep a watchful eye on them, he'd been more than willing to take on the added responsibility. He'd been surprised to find several members of that organization very cooperative in talking about what they felt were inappropriate, or even illegal, activities by their superiors.

"I'm not sure who Colonel Simmons is hiding, but I do know he's hiding someone," the young man said quietly. "I only managed to overhear snippets of conversation. There was a reference to..." his eyes went to his notes. "Tem. I'm not certain whether it's a name or an acronym."

The senator felt his blood run cold. He knew exactly who - and what - Tem was. Simmons had hidden a Goa'uld, who'd been 'stolen' from the Russians by a reclusive billionaire desperate to save himself from his life threatening disease. No one had a clue where that particular Goa'uld had come from, or how he'd come to be in Russian custody. And no one had a clue where he was at the moment.

First Hathor, then Seth, then the "Russian" Goa'uld, now Tem...how damned many of those snakes, as Colonel O'Neill referred to them, had been left behind when Ra had fled? And was Simmons hiding another one? "I know who it is. Please continue."

"Well, Colonel Simmons has this man in one of the safe houses in Pennsylvania. And he requested any information I could find on Pyxis Enterprises. There hasn't been much. There are the usual financial statements, and quarterly reports for share holders. It seems to be a very private company. There are no photos of the CEO, or any of the board members. Which is very...unusual. And none of the board members attend any of the shareholders meetings. Their assistants take care of that. Again, highly unusual. It's as if they don't want anyone knowing who they are."

The young man had no idea that one of the employees of Pyxis Enterprises had been busy purging every bit of information that could possibly be destroyed without raising further unwanted interest, the result of a thorough investigation on the corporation that had triggered several 'alarms' on the company computer systems. When searches in early October had been conducted on the current CEO, and each of his predecessors, all the way back to the founder, Mr. Timothy Gold had instructed his board to ascertain that there was no information available. Those men, and the young man working on the latest investigation into the corporation, had no idea that one special group had found more than enough to know who each and every board member was, and exactly who, and what, the CEO was. That special group had also learned about the 'secret' manufacturing departments, information that had come from an anonymous source...in the Cayman Islands.

"It's possible that it's a security precaution," the Senator replied. So far what the young man, hand picked from his own staff to take a position in the NID, was telling him fit in with the information that had come from the SGC. He was aware that the SGC, and SG-1 in particular, had more information than was in their reports. He didn't care, at the moment he didn't need more than what he already had. And he suspected that he was much happier not knowing some of the...details. "Brad, is there any way that you can find out who this mystery guest is?"

Bradley Ryder shook his dark head. "I'm still 'odd-man-out'. Since Colonel O'Neill took down Colonel Maybourne and his group, distrust is rampant among the NID. Simmons has a few hand picked associates. No one else knows what he's up to."

"Is there someone over there who finds this...unacceptable?" the senator asked.

A smile covered the young man's face. "Yes, sir. The Assistant Director. He and Simmons had a 'falling out' about this very issue. Simmons has cut him out of the entire deal."

"Sound him out. See if he'd be interested in helping us," Senator Shepperd said.

"Yes, sir."

"Be careful. If you feel that things are becoming too risky for you, let me know, and I'll get you out." The very fact that such an action might be necessary rankled. They were all supposed to be on the same side! But it seemed that each of the so-called 'intelligence' agencies had become entities that thrived on dealing with their own citizens as if they were the enemy, and certainly they didn't communicate between one another! Such a waste of effort, the senator thought wearily. How much better would they be able to protect the American citizens, the taxpayers who funded each and every organization, if they just cooperated?

"Thank you, sir. If I hear anything, I'll let you know."

Shepperd nodded. He had set up an 'anonymous' email account, a free one on the Hotmail domain, where the young man sent cryptic messages that only the senator understood. "Email?"

"Yes, sir."

"All right. Thank you, Brad."

The young man rose to leave. "Sir, there's more going on here than meets the eye, isn't there?"

The older man sighed. His staff was aware that he was on the Oversight Committee. None of them had a clue as to what 'oversight' it offered. "Much more," he murmured.

With a nod of understanding, the young man slipped out the back way. It wouldn't do to have any of Simmons' people finding out that he was still working for Senator Shepperd.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Two weeks he'd been here. His flight from Egypt had arrived in plenty of time to make his meeting with his 'benefactor'. Within hours he'd been brought...here. He wouldn't complain. He was alive.

The man pushed away the plate, sat back and lit a cigarette. The meal had been a simple casserole, prepared by one of his 'guards'. But it had been warm and filling. He'd worried when he'd first arrived at the modest farmhouse that after eighteen years as a Board Member, he'd become too accustomed to the finest things in life. Losing all of that...becoming nothing more than a 'common citizen' again; without access to the places, and the things, he'd begun to take for granted...hadn't been nearly as difficult as he'd feared. For the first time in twenty years he was his own man again. Well, almost. Right now he was still jumping through the hoops that his new 'friends' held up. But that wouldn't last forever.

He'd left with only the money in his wallet. And one credit card. He'd maxed out the cash advance, and then had shredded it. The cash that he had was the extent of his wealth. He'd have to build a new life on it. He had no illusions that there would be any help from this group who'd been so eager to talk to him, to 'protect' him. They'd watch him, without a doubt. But he would receive no financial help. And precious little protection, if any, once he left this place.

But knowing that the man who'd been his...keeper...his owner...for all of those years was going down, well, that would be reward enough. He stood, stretched, decided to take a shower. As he had everyday since his...abduction...he stared at his body. At what had been done to him. There were still scars, not many, but they were there. And he could remember every painful, humiliating moment that had put the marks on his skin.

The towel caught on his piercing, tugged painfully. He was hard in an instant. He closed his eyes, wondering if he'd ever be able to function in a 'normal' manner again. Ignoring his throbbing flesh, he stepped under the warm water. He'd had a life, once. A wife. Two kids. A nice house. And a penchant for teenaged girls.

He'd been a computer programmer for a company in New York City...the 'whiz kid' in the office. He'd written the software that was used by nearly all of the security agencies in the country. Which made it possible for him to indulge in his favored 'entertainment'. And in the Big Apple, one could find whatever type of 'entertainment' one desired. He'd found a very private...secret...club, that catered to his particular interest. It had been easy to tell himself that the teenage runaways who were taken in by the club, offered to the men willing to pay five hundred dollars a night for their company, were better off than they would have been trying to survive on the streets. And that if they didn't want to be there, they could leave. He'd spent more time and money in the club than he should have. Enough that his wife began to notice the serious dip in their savings account. It hadn't been a surprise to learn that she'd hired a private investigator, had him followed; not after the numerous fights...screaming at one another, the accusations and incriminations flying back and forth. When his boss had caught word of his extracurricular activities, he'd lost his job. Taking the last of the money he had, he'd visited the club, taking his anger out on the fourteen year old he'd 'rented' for the night, raping her in every way imaginable. That night the police had raided the hotel where the 'club' was housed, the culmination of months of investigative work. And he'd been arrested for statutory rape and accessory to prostitution. His world had come crashing completely down that night.

Then, a mysterious man in the most expensive suit he'd ever seen had arrived, as he sat in that jail cell, contemplating how he'd come to find himself in such a predicament. Claimed to be his attorney. And had made an offer that he'd been in no position to refuse. Within hours he'd been released from jail, into the man's custody. They'd boarded a private Lear Jet. Left the country. And his descent into hell began.

All were memories he'd guarded carefully. Memories that should have been 'erased'; but remained, thanks to the help of one of the men who also worked for that sick bastard. Why the man had chosen him to 'save', he had no clue. Nor did he know if any of the other Board Members had been 'befriended'. Oh, he knew which Board Members were totally brainwashed. But there were two others whom he'd often wondered about. It hadn't been easy. He'd been 'trained', just like every other 'pet'. He could remember the days of hazy awareness. Being warned to continue to obey, lest he and his benefactor be killed. Knew that there were days when his 'friend' had slipped him drugs in order to make him... complaisant, able to withstand the training, able to continue the charade without the trainer being aware of the deception. The training had certainly changed him, there could be no denying that. He'd reacted automatically to the orders given to him. But his memories, his knowledge of self, had remained. It hadn't been easy to fool the Master. But he had.

He dried off, wrapped the towel around his lean hips, and grabbed another cigarette. He stood in the middle of the room. Hoping that he'd have the answers to his inquiries soon. He just needed to know. He'd done what he was able, as soon as he'd been able. He shook his gray head. There was no way to go back. No way to make up for what he'd done. No way to change the past. He gave a snort of disgust. At least his desire for young girls had been quelled. He thought about his wife. Would he ever be able to have a normal, healthy relationship with a woman again? He shivered as he thought about the 'training' he'd received. Probably not.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Colonel Frank Simmons, retired, sat back in his chair. The information wasn't what he'd hoped for. Oh, he had more on the mysterious Pyxis Enterprises than had been known before. But not much else. He'd been hoping for more. Had been promised more by the man locked in the upstairs bedroom of an anonymous farmhouse. Something had happened to change his mind. "You say he answered all of your questions?"

"Yes, sir," the blonde man nodded. "He didn't offer any information, but he answered any questions we asked. He did say that in the past few months, he thought he'd come under suspicion, that he was being shut out of several 'projects'."

Simmons frowned. "According to his own testimony, if he was under suspicion, that would have led to a very...permanent...removal from the 'Board'."

The young NID agent nodded again, sipped from his cup of coffee. This was the first time he'd been in charge on an interrogation. It was only the third interrogation he'd been involved with. His predecessor had mysteriously vanished. He had the feeling that the same thing would happen to him if he screwed this up. He'd learned a lot working for the organization. He knew how to disappear if need be. Had already taken steps, just in case. And totally missed the irony of the situation. "I believe that's why our agent was able to sway him so quickly."

"Yes, I suppose so. I want information on Tem. I don't care what he tells you, this man knows him, and I want everything that he knows," Simmons said quietly.

"Yes, sir."

"Dismissed." As soon as the young agent had left the room, Simmons picked up the phone. There were others who knew about Tem. One in particular. He'd like to have a little chat with her. He was certain it would be most...illuminating.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Stops at the liquor store for the liqueur that she needed for one of her cranberry sauce recipes, and at the florist to pick up the centerpiece she'd ordered had been quick and easy. It seemed, however, that everyone in Silver Springs had converged on the Piggly-Wiggly.

Daniel was pushing the cart, as he usually did when they shopped together. He liked watching that sweet ass as she stretched and bent over and walked in front of him. He liked watching all of her. But damn, what watching that firm fanny could do to him!

She was carefully going over her list. The produce department was crowded, and she found herself elbowed away from the display of bagged cranberries twice. When she finally managed to make it to the counter, a large woman tried to step in front of her. "Excuse me," Casey said softly, her patience at an end. "I believe you're in my way."

The woman glared at her. Grabbed three bags of the tiny red fruit and tossed them into her cart.

"Ever want to just shoot them?" an amused voice asked her.

Casey glanced over at a woman who looked to be in her mid forties. Smiled in return. "More often than I should," she admitted.

"I say we just park here for awhile. Just to get back at them," the woman grinned.

"If I didn't have so much to do, I think I would!"

The woman chuckled. "Me, too. Maybe we should just hurry and get our shopping finished, so we can be ahead of them in the checkout line. I'm certain I can conveniently forget one or two things that I just have to have. You know, hold up the entire line for fifteen or twenty minutes. Let karma come around and bite them in the butt."

She couldn't help but giggle. "I like that idea."

"Well, you get your cranberries. I'll cover you."

With another giggle, Casey selected two bags. Turned around to locate Daniel, whom she'd sent to get a bag of white potatoes. "Happy Thanksgiving."

"You, too. Don't let them run over you. Hit them first!"

Still giggling, Casey nodded at the woman, then hurried to Daniel's side. He'd managed to park the cart in front of the sweet potatoes, and she was going to take advantage of that fact.

"It's crazy in here," he muttered. He'd been the recipient of several glares and two comments about being in the way.

"Seems that the holidays bring out the best and the worst in people," Casey replied, carefully selecting a half dozen large sweet potatoes. She put them in a paper bag, put it into the cart.

"Now what?"

"I need celery and onions."

He glanced at the chilled counter where the produce was displayed. Several women were hovering near the celery section. "Good luck."

She sighed. "A zat. I want my very own zat for Christmas."

Daniel chuckled. "Yeah, well, don't hold your breath on that one."

Fifteen minutes later, the celery and the onions were nestled safely in the 'seat' of the cart. They walked up and down each aisle, Casey carefully marking off each item as it went into the cart. A stop at the meat counter to pick up the turkey she'd ordered. All twenty-five pounds of it...fresh from the farm.

It took over an hour to finish up the grocery shopping, most of that time spent in the long checkout line. Daniel tucked the last of the bags into the back of the Jeep while Casey returned the cart to the front of the store. He had the engine running and the heater blasting by the time she crawled in beside him.

"Hungry, babe?"


"How about a stop at Sonic? We could get it to go," he said, forestalling any protests about needing to get the groceries home and put away. She was tired, he could see it in her eyes, and he wasn't about to let her cook dinner...not even a casserole. Not when she'd be cooking all day tomorrow.

She let her head drop back. "Sounds like a plan to me," she sighed.

With a grin of satisfaction that she'd capitulated so easily, he steered the Jeep toward Twenty-fourth street. Later, after they'd put all of that stuff away, and had eaten, he was going to give her a massage. Lord knew she'd earned it! And he liked what happened after the massage, when she was nice and relaxed...he shivered just thinking about it!




When he stepped through the door he could smell the fresh scent of furniture polish and lemon cleaner. She'd scrubbed the house over the weekend, putting out the festive decorations she'd picked up at the local party store. Home, he thought happily. She'd made this house a home. And a damned nice one at that. Casey had exquisite taste, and had made their bungalow a showplace. Sam and Janet teased her about the rooms looking worthy of being in the latest decorating magazines.

He put two of the grocery bags on the counter. "Don't worry about everything right now. Just put away what needs to go into the fridge or the freezer. We'll eat and then deal with it all."

With a weary nod, Casey carried the clothes to the bedroom. Dumped them onto the chair that sat between the two closet doors. Made it halfway to the kitchen before she turned around and went back; hanging his suit and trousers, and her dress, skirt and blouses in the appropriate closets.

"C'mere, you," he said softly, when she walked into the living room.

She sat down on the couch beside him, leaned into his embrace. Reluctantly pulled away after allowing herself a few moments in his arms, and opened the white paper bag that held their dinner.

"How about a nice warm bath after we get all of that stuff put away?"

"That sounds heavenly," she sighed. She took the chocolate shake he handed her, carefully unwrapped her hamburger. And wearily pushed back that nagging feeling that was poking at the back of her brain. She was too tired to deal with it...whatever 'it' was...right now. Later. She'd take a look later. When there were more than just vague feelings of unease.

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