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Seek and Ye Shall Find
Casey finished packing, zipped the garment bag closed. Her smaller, carry on duffel was ready as well, with a full change of clothes, her toiletries and hair dryer, and just in case, her curling iron. With practiced movements, she hurriedly made the bed. They hadn't woken up until well after noon, and had lazed around until they had to get packed and ready to leave. She smiled as she refolded the sections of the Sunday paper. Daniel had worked on the crossword...and finished it, as usual. She'd always considered herself lucky to get half of it done!
"We have to move it, babe," Daniel called from the kitchen.
Carrying her bags, she joined him; followed him to the garage. "I just got home, and now I have to leave again," she grumbled.
He could only smile. He'd heard her talking to her friends about her home...how much she loved it. Her pride showed in the care she'd taken when decorating it. "When we get back, we'll be off of rotation for awhile. We'll be home every night. Nice boring routine," he promised.
"I like boring. I could live with boring," she declared.
"For about a week," he teased.
"Which is four days longer than you'd make it," she teased in return.
Daniel laughed. "I don't know about that. I could enjoy boring for awhile myself."
She reached out and wrapped her fingers around his hand. "I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that."
"Casey, don't you dare blame yourself," he warned.
"If I'd just waited a few more minutes..." she shook her head. "I suppose I could blame you."
"Me?" His heart dropped. He had failed to protect her, god knew that...and so did he! And, it seemed, she did as well.
"Yes, you. If you'd just stayed in bed the morning we left, you'd have been all nice and rested, and would have remembered that little-bitty detail about exchanging women to be wives and we could have just avoided the whole thing from the start."
A silent sigh of relief filled his mind as he grinned. "Yeah, well, I needed to go through the information we had, so I knew how to greet those people."
"Did the idea never occur to you to ask General Hammond to push back our departure for a couple of hours?"
He glanced at her. "To be totally honest...no. I promise, from now on, when you keep me awake all night making love, I'll be sure to let the general know, and have him postpone our missions."
"Good." Her eyes went wide as what he said settled in her mind. "You'll do what? Wait just a minute, buster! I happen to remember that you woke me up!"
He chuckled. "Darn. Busted."
"Damned straight you're busted!"
He grinned. "Not my fault you keep me constantly turned on."
"I was sleeping!"
"Warm and naked and wrapped around me, so soft, and you always smell so sweet...nope, not my fault at all."
She began to giggle. "Like I don't walk around all of the time just seconds and a touch from spontaneous combustion, just from your kisses."
"Really?" he asked, all trace of teasing gone.
"Really," she said softly.
He lifted her fingers to his lips. The woman did tremendous things for his ego!
A A A A A A
The flight to Denver was uneventful. As Casey pointed out, they took off, and then twenty minutes later they landed, what exactly could happen? The flight from Denver to Seattle seemed to take forever...at least, it seemed that way to Daniel.
The older woman who was seated next to the window was sweet and talkative, clutching a gardening magazine in her work-worn hands; before the flight had taken off she and Casey were discussing rose bushes, and the advantages and disadvantages of annuals versus perennials.
Daniel smiled as he listened. It had been a dream come true, Casey had told him, to have a garden of her own. She'd wanted something as nice as what her Grandma Rose had had. If what Casey had now was any indication, her Grandma had been quite the gardener, and her gardens must have been extraordinary!
"So, what are you going to be doing in Seattle?" a sultry voice asked.
He glanced around, not certain that whoever was speaking, was doing so to him. The dark haired beauty across the aisle smiled when his eyes met hers. He'd met this type before. Predatory. "Business," he replied. None of yours, he added silently.
The woman had been running late, and had boarded on the final call. She hadn't seen the handsome man arrive with the slender blonde beside him. Nor had she paid attention to his hands. All she noted was that the two women beside him seemed wrapped up in their conversation, and the hunk appeared to be on his own. "Me, too. What type of business are you in, Mr...uh..."
"Doctor. I'm an archaeologist," he replied.
"Oh, that sounds interesting," the woman purred.
He glanced at Casey. She was busy poring over an article about roses with the older woman. "It can be," he replied.
"So what sort of archaeology things will you be doing in Seattle?"
"Actually, I'll be in Tacoma," he said. Now, leave me alone.
"Twin cities," the woman said, smiling. She offered her perfectly manicured hand. "I'm Tiffany Hotchkiss."
Of course you are, he thought irritably. When he'd been single, women like this one wouldn't give him the time of day! Now that he was married...he shook his head mentally. Now that he was married to a drop-dead gorgeous blonde, it seemed that women sought him out. He'd never understand the female species as long as he lived. He was Immortal. That was saying something. "Daniel Jackson," he said, barely taking the time to shake her hand properly.
"So, Daniel, when we get to Sea-Tac, would you like to have a drink? I don't know if the airport lounge will be open, but I'm certain the bar in the hotel I'm staying in will be."
That was a blatant 'I-want-to-get-laid' invitation! How damned pushy could a woman get? He'd always preferred to be the pursuer...aggressive women weren't his thing. Danny, my boy, you are hopelessly old fashioned. He realized that the conversation beside him had stopped. He looked over to see Casey watching him. And her green eyes were full of amusement! She was laughing at him! "I'm not much of a drinker," he said.
"Well, we don't have to drink." The woman's voice had dropped, she gazed at him, shifted in her seat to give him a good look at one long leg.
The soft snort beside him had him fighting his own smile. At least she wasn't upset, he thought. Nor did she seem to be feeling threatened. "Ms. Hotchkiss, I'm not certain my Wife would approve of me indulging in what you're suggesting."
"She'd never have to know," Tiffany promised. This man was handsome, he was refined, he was a doctor, for goodness sake. And his hands were strong and warm and he had long fingers...she took a deep breath. "No strings. Just a good time."
"I happen to love my Wife very much," Daniel said softly.
"That's very nice. Like I said, she'd never know."
He looked at Casey again. The amusement was gone...replaced by something he couldn't quite recognize. "No," he said, his voice still low, "even if she didn't know, I would. And I'd never, ever revile our marriage vows in that manner."
Tiffany's eyes narrowed when he took the hand of the blonde beside him. Lifted it to his lips. She felt like a fool! He could have said something! Could have told her that the woman next to him was his wife! She leaned forward just a bit. The blonde was beautiful...she'd experimented once..."Your wife is more than welcome to join us," she said, smiling seductively at the woman.
Casey's cheeks went from pink to pale in an instant. Two women. One bed. Every man's fantasy...and it was being offered to him on a silver platter! If he wanted it...oh, god, she couldn't do it! Not even for Daniel! She loved him too much, was too jealous of him, of his affection and attention...
"I wouldn't allow anyone to touch my Wife," Daniel said. His voice had become cold. "Nor would I want anyone but her touching me."
Two businessmen behind them had been listening to the conversation. And were beginning to discuss it between themselves. One comment had Casey standing up, and leaning over the seat. "If you're so damned interested, you take her for that drink. I'm sure she'd be willing to take you both on. She seems to be in heat!"
Daniel nearly gnawed the inside of his lip to bloody pulp in an attempt not to laugh out loud. Tiffany had gone pale beneath her expertly applied makeup. The men behind them had muttered and gone silent. The buzz of other conversations picked up around them, no doubt the story would reach the pilot by the time they landed!
Casey sat back down, looked over at the woman who'd propositioned her husband. "Sorry, cupcake. This hunk is all mine. But if the guys behind us don't take you up on the offer, I'll bet you could find a taker or two on any street corner."
The woman beside them snorted loudly, then began to laugh, as did the couple on the other side of Ms. Tiffany Hotchkiss.
That woman rose to her feet, and stormed up the aisle. She found a flight attendant, and demanded, rather loudly, to be moved to another section of the plane. Only to be informed, just as loudly, that the flight was full and there were no available seats.
Crossing her arms over her chest, Casey looked into Daniel's blue eyes. "I'm sorry. I let my temper get the best of me...again."
"Yeah, I'd say so," he managed to say without grinning.
"But geez, she was practically rubbing her ass in your face!"
"Well, maybe figuratively," he admitted.
She leaned close. "I'm really sorry," she whispered.
"I know. Don't be," he whispered in return. He laced his fingers with hers.
For nearly half an hour silence prevailed among the passengers. There were a few whispers, but were nothing more than personal conversations. Those near the 'action' remained quiet, especially when an obviously upset Tiffany Hotchkiss returned to her seat. She glared as she kept her eyes forward, refusing to even look in Daniel's direction.
She glanced at the woman. Took a deep breath. "If...well...I could..."
"No." He leaned closer to her. "Never. You and me. There is absolutely no room in our bed for anyone else. Never. I love you, Casey; you belong to me, and I won't share you with anyone. I belong to you, and you alone!"
"I love you," she sighed.
The look of love that filled her eyes was enough to make him shiver, and his heart skip a beat. That she'd even offer, thinking that it was a fantasy, bespoke of her generosity, her desire to please him. To know that his refusal was what she'd hoped for, wished for, made his stand all the more...right. There were people who could frolic in and out of one bed to another, with little or no concern. He was well aware of the fact that there were couples who considered themselves to be 'swingers', those who brought others into their bed regularly. He knew one other thing for fact: Dr. Daniel Jackson was not one of that number.
The anger that rolled off of the woman across the aisle from him made the remainder of the flight uncomfortable, to say the least. As Casey pointed out, whispering in his ear, Ms. Tiffany Hooch-kiss had brought the situation, and the humiliation, onto herself. Had she merely checked his hand, the slender blonde insisted, she'd have seen the 'no trespassing sign' before she made her offer. Her intentional mispronunciation of the woman's name brought a chuckle to his throat.
A A A A A A
The rental car was waiting, and within an hour of landing, Casey and Daniel were walking into the hotel room. He looked around, tossed his duffel onto the low dresser. He could remember checking in the first time. Casey had been so nervous...so afraid she wouldn't be able to please him. He'd damn near died from heart failure that night...it had been one of the most amazing night of his life. So beautiful, so...sacred.
She was looking around as well. "You know, I lost my virginity in this room."
He snorted...chuckled, turned to look at her. "You remember that, do you?"
"Oh, yes," she sighed. "I remember every beautiful moment."
"So do I," he said softly.
"So, are we going to go Around the World tonight?"
He grinned. "What time do we have to be at the courthouse in Seattle?"
Casey dug through her purse. Found the envelope from the district attorney's office. "Nine-thirty."
"No trip tonight, then Angel. We'll have to be on the freeway no later than eight."
She crossed the room, wrapped her arms around his neck. "Before we leave here, we'll make new memories, to add to those of our first night together."
There was a secret hidden in that promise, he decided. One that would probably leave him half dead and begging. And had him shivering in anticipation. "Let's go to bed," he whispered.
The sounds of their heavy breathing, their soft declarations of love were all that filled the air in the room for the next two hours, until two cries of ecstasy signaled the incredible conclusion of their journey of love. And both occupants were more than satisfied when they drifted to sleep...in spite of not being able to take that trip.
A A A A A A
Gary poured a drink. He'd arrived back in Tacoma late Thursday evening. The first thing Friday morning he'd gone directly to St. Joseph's Catholic church. Father Kevin Thomas had been listed as the priest in charge of the parish in 1975. Luck had been with him, Father Thomas was still ministering at St. Joseph's. However, the good Father was on sabbatical, and not expected to return until Wednesday.
With information from the police records Jess had uncovered, he'd spent the weekend searching for Greg Vincent. He hadn't decided whether learning the man was dead was good thing or not. Probably was, given the fact that he'd gladly kill the son-of-a-bitch.
It hadn't been difficult to track down an ex-wife, and a son. A son who had a police record as long as his father's. No doubt the abuse the ex claimed had been heaped upon both of them had had a lasting effect. The last time the young man had been in trouble had been in January of '02. Arrested for disturbing the peace, harassment, stalking, attempted assault and battery. All charges filed by one Casey R. Webster. Seemed that young Vincent had been obsessed with the woman. Fortunately for her, she'd left the area immediately after his arrest. Whether Vincent had been attempting to keep his nose clean, or he simply hadn't been caught doing anything illegal was unknown. The only known fact was that he hadn't been in trouble with the law since.
Gary had seen the kid, having located his current place of employment. He looked like a greasy little bastard. It had been difficult to remember that Kenny Vincent had nothing to do with what his father was guilty of doing. Dying of an overdose was just too damned easy, as far as he was concerned. Greg Vincent should have died much slower, more painfully. Should have paid for what he did to Brenda...what he'd intended to do to her baby.
For most of the day he'd had the entire wing of the hotel to himself. When he'd gone for ice, the last bucket for the night, he'd seen a young couple outside of one of the rooms just down the hall from his. The young man had noticed him, and for a moment Gary felt as if the sandy blonde was making a threat assessment. The man had then pushed up his glasses, nodded, and followed the young woman through the door. She had long blonde hair, but Gary hadn't seen her face.
That hair had stirred up more memories of Brenda. So he sat and drank, and wandered memory lane. Examining everything he could for hints, clues of where he'd gone wrong...what he'd said that would have made the woman he loved afraid to tell him of her pregnancy...of their baby. Part of him wondered how much of that fear had been not of him, but of her father. And she'd decided that he, being a man, would react in the same manner as the over-bearing tyrant who'd raised her.
It had been tempting to call Natalie, to see if he could find out more...if she'd tell him about conversations she'd had with Brenda. If there was something...anything that would have hinted at what she'd been about to do. He'd decided against it. The woman had been as pale as he knew he'd turned by the time she finished telling him the secret she'd harbored for almost twenty nine years. Well, maybe it hadn't been a secret. Maybe she really had believed that Brenda had contacted him...told him about his daughter.
He tossed back his drink. It was late. He turned on the television to catch the latest news. Watched with disinterest as the locals discussed the upcoming trial of some demented bitch named Helen Webster. He frowned. That name rang a bell. He'd had too much to drink to be thinking clearly. Whatever it was, whatever connection was waiting to be made, he'd figure it out later.
He put the glass on the bedside table. Slid down, punched the pillows a few times in frustration. And drifted off to sleep. His dreams were filled with long blonde hair, green eyes, a warm smile...and a little girl who called him 'Daddy'.
A A A A A A
Daniel hadn't considered the fact that there might be reporters on the courthouse steps. He took Casey by the arm, and led her toward the back of the building, before any of the vultures had a chance to see her. There was no way in hell he was going to force her to deal with that!
Jack had insisted that they bring along their base ID...'Never know when it could be useful,' the colonel had said. He'd have to remember to thank him. "Get your driver's license and base ID, babe; and the DA's letter," he said as he led her toward the door.
"This is a limited access," the guard said warningly, as soon as they were close enough.
"Which is exactly why we're using it," Daniel replied. He handed the man his driver's license and ID.
When Casey handed the letter to the guard, the man read it, then nodded.
"Too many reporters out front," Daniel said quietly. "My Wife's been victimized once. I'd rather she didn't have to deal with all of...that."
"Yes, sir, Doctor Jackson, I can understand that," the guard said sympathetically. "Go straight down this hall, turn right at the end. There's an elevator there that'll take you to the fourth floor."
"Thank you," Daniel said, smiling gratefully at the man. He settled his arm around Casey's shoulders. Could feel her trembling. "I'm right here, Angel," he whispered.
She hadn't thought about the trial. Had done everything she could to keep from thinking about it. Walking down the hallway in the courthouse, knowing that within an hour or so she'd be sitting in the courtroom, baring her soul to who knew how many strangers...she shivered. She could do this, she told herself. She'd faced down Goa'uld. Who were a hell of a lot worse than Helen Webster. She'd endured torture. This would be nothing.
Because she was on the witness list, she wasn't allowed to enter the courtroom until she was called to testify. After that, she'd be able to sit in the gallery. When the bailiff was going to insist that Daniel go on without her, she nearly panicked.
"I'd prefer to remain with my Wife," Daniel said calmly, quietly.
It wasn't until the woman checked the docket that she relented. This was a big case, everyone was talking about it. She suspected that the slender blonde would be a nervous wreck by the time she was called if she were forced to wait alone. The other witnesses to the case, five women who had also been victimized, were sequestered in another room. She had no idea why Mrs. Jackson was to be kept separated. It wasn't her job to know. Only to follow orders. "You'll be able to slip into a seat in the gallery when I take Mrs. Jackson in," she said. "I'll make certain there's a place next to the aisle for you."
"Thank you, I appreciate it," he replied.
The clock on the wall ticked off the minutes. Casey held tightly to his hand. And hoped that the nightmares that had plagued her as a child wouldn't make a return.
A A A A A A
Jack glanced at the clock. They were sitting in the courthouse by now. He wondered if Casey was testifying yet. He rubbed the back of his neck. It was all wrong. This felt completely wrong! He wandered the halls of the SGC. Daniel and Casey had insisted that they'd be fine. No doubt they would be. But he and Sam and Teal'c should be there, damn it! They were a team...they were family. Mind made up, he strode into Sam's lab. Found her staring into space. Sam wasn't the type to daydream. "Carter?"
She jumped slightly. "Sorry, sir, what?"
"We should be there," he said simply.
"You go find Teal'c. I'll talk to the general."
Sam nodded. "It could be over by the time we get there," she said softly.
"Then we'll help them celebrate," Jack replied. "But we're going."
Determination in every step, he practically ran to General Hammond's office. He paused, took a deep breath, then rapped lightly on the door.
"Colonel! What can I do for you?" General Hammond asked.
"Sir, we should be there. I know Daniel and Radar might not think they need us...but they do. We need to be there," Jack said, the words out before he'd a chance to couch them in the form of a request, one that would be approved.
The general sat back in his chair. He'd been surprised to learn that the colonel, Major Carter, and Teal'c hadn't planned to go to Tacoma with the Jacksons. He wasn't surprised that Jack was standing in front of him now. "I'll have a Pave Hawk standing by. Arrange for a rental car, I'll see to it that you have transportation to the nearest depot."
"Thank you, sir," Jack said. He'd been hoping for approval for leave. He hadn't expected to be offered the fastest way to get there!
"You give them my best. And tell Casey we're all standing behind her," the general said softly.
"I'll do that, sir," Jack replied.
"Depart in one hour, colonel."
General Hammond returned the smart salute that Jack had snapped. Grinned to himself. He'd wondered on several occasions if the colonel even remembered how to give a proper salute.
Teal'c and Sam were just as surprised as he'd been to learn that the general was sending them via Pave Hawk to McChord. None of them would argue about the blessing. They'd be in Seattle by mid-afternoon, local time.
"I made room reservations for the same hotel where Daniel and Casey are staying," Sam informed her teammates, as soon as they'd taken off.
Jack nodded. "Good. We'll leave a message for them to call us as soon as they get in."
The remainder of the flight was spent in companionable silence, the three of them dozing off and on as they made their way to the west coast.
A A A A A A
The bailiff opened the door at ten after twelve. "The court's recessed for lunch. You'll need to be back here at one-thirty."
With a nod, Daniel led Casey out the way they'd come in. They located a small cafe, and then browsed a book store. They'd determined not to return without something to read, after spending the morning in frustrated anticipation.
Casey hadn't eaten much. She was too nervous. Clinging to Daniel's arm, she followed him into the imposing building once again, hoping that by the end of the day her part of the trial would be over. If Mr. Preston didn't call her soon, she was going to have an ulcer all over again!
In the courtroom, Judge Christina Templeton pounded her gavel, called court to order. She indicated that the prosecuting attorney should continue with the presentation of the evidence against Helen Webster. The morning had been spent with the two sides arguing over each piece that was to be entered for court records. She had to give the DA's office credit for this one...they'd made darned sure to cross every 't', dot every 'i'. There had been no way for the defense to counter several of the most damning pieces of evidence...diaries kept by Dr. Hayling, himself. There were hundreds of photographs. Nearly two dozen video tapes. Ledgers detailing the expenditures of 'The Club', as it was referred to by its members. The Pierce County District Attorney had been on the ball as well, immediately requesting a change of venue, bunting the case to Seattle, so that none of the guilty parties could complain about not being able to get a fair trial. Yes, Judge Templeton thought, this case had been put together very, very carefully. Which was a frightening indicator of just...who...was involved.
Helen Webster sat silently. She was wearing a simple black dress. It did nothing to hide her unhealthy bulk. Her hair was a wild mass of short gray hair. She'd combed it after washing it, but constantly running her hands through it as she listened to the man who wanted to put her into prison had left it standing out at various angles on her round head. Her attorney had told her that the little bitch would probably be the first witness called. She was supposed to have kept her mouth shut...they were all supposed to have kept their mouths shut!
Everyone in the courtroom was surprised when the first witness was called. Listed only as "Mrs. X" on the witness list, a move the DA's office insisted was necessary in order to protect the woman from those of 'The Club' who were still alive, and as far as anyone knew, still molesting little girls, the woman entered slowly, using a walker to make her way to the witness chair.
She frowned, trying to remember the face. So long ago...and she'd only 'worked' for Dr. Hayling for a few years after she'd married Frank. Damned bastard still hadn't come to see her! She gave a sideways glance at the man beside her. She didn't like the man who was defending her. He wasn't any better than the skinny slut who'd quit right after that group had come to the jail...with the little whore and her doctor husband. This man had tried to get her to agree to a plea bargain from the very beginning. She wasn't going to jail for something she hadn't done! She wasn't responsible for any of those girls! All she did was tell the mothers she saw occasionally on the street where they'd lived...still lived...that Dr. Hayling specialized in family medicine, and would treat children for five dollars or less, if he agreed the family was too poor to pay the usual office fee. The fact that she was a bit more...encouraging...to the parents of little girls wasn't a crime! Oh, she knew what he was doing. He'd started fucking her when she'd been eight years old. He'd lost interest in her by the time she was fourteen, although for a blowjob he'd give her the shots of penicillin she sometimes needed. Until she'd met Frank. The old doctor had helped her then, too. Of course, that had been the reason she been put into a position to have to...pay back...the good doctor.
"Mrs. Piedmont, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?"
"I do." The woman was old, but her voice was clear and strong.
Piedmont...Piedmont...Helen's eyes went wide. She'd been the receptionist for Dr. Hayling's office! That old bastard had assured her that the woman had no idea what was going on...that only his head nurse, who also 'enjoyed' the girls, knew what was happening.
"Do you know her?" Mr. Barlow asked, his voice low.
"She was the receptionist. She didn't have a clue what that old man was doing," Helen hissed in reply.
"Mrs. Piedmont, can you tell us what your occupation was from the spring of 1977 to the fall of 1992?"
"I was the receptionist for Doctor Hayling's office. Doctor Burnstein took over in 1991, after Doctor Hayling had a stroke."
"As the receptionist, were you privy to information about the patients and their billing records?"
"Objection, relevance," Barlow called out.
"It goes to identify the victims, Your Honor," Mr. Preston said. He didn't have to say out loud that these victims had already acknowledged that Helen Webster was the one to 'introduce' them to Dr. Hayling. That had been established during the process of entering all of the evidence.
"I'll allow it," the judge ruled. "The witness will answer the question."
"Yes, sir, I was."
"I'm going to show you a list, People's Exhibit 9A. Can you tell me if you recognize it?"
The woman looked it over carefully. "Every name on this list...yes, I remember. They were the only ones required to come in once or twice a week. Ear aches, tummy aches, if they had an ear infection, they were seen twice weekly for at least six months. Doctor Hayling insisted that their appointments be at the same time each week. He said it was easier for the parents to remember if I didn't change it around."
"Is there anything else you can tell me about this list of names, Mrs. Piedmont?"
"Not one of these families were charged for the office visits."
"Thank you. Do you remember hearing...odd...noises coming from the examining rooms-"
"Objection! Leading the witness."
"Mrs. Piedmont, tell me about these office visits, and what you were able to observe about them."
"They were always at the end of the day, the last patient seen. Usually around five or five-thirty. Harriet, uh...Harriet Chenowyth, she was Doctor Hayling's nurse, always told me I could leave as soon as she came for the little girl. I always liked to make certain my appointment list for the next day was ready, so sometimes I'd stay to get it typed up. There were..." she paused, shook her head slowly. "If only I'd known," she said softly.
"Mrs. Piedmont, please, just tell us about the office visits of these particular patients."
"Sometimes I could hear them crying. One little girl...she begged...begged him not to do it. I thought...I thought he was giving her an injection, or some such thing." The woman turned her tear streaked face toward the jury. "I should have stopped him! I should have done something! I'm so sorry for those poor little girls!"
"Your Honor!" Barlow objected.
"The jury will disregard the witness's last remarks, and they'll be stricken from the record."
Barlow dared to look at the jury. Between the evidence and this surprise witness, of which he couldn't object because he'd been given proper notification, although not the identity, the case was in trouble. He had a copy of Casey Webster Jackson's deposition. When she took the stand, it was all over. He paused long enough to make certain that Preston was finished questioning the old woman, then turned to his client. "Helen, you've been offered a deal. I suggest you take it."
"I ain't done nuthin' wrong," Helen replied, crossing her arms over her more than ample chest. "I didn't touch those girls!"
Barlow sighed. He might have to use the insanity defense, have his client declared incompetent to participate in her own defense. He was fighting a losing case, and he knew it. And he also knew that Helen Webster wouldn't survive six months in the state penitentiary.
"Mr. Barlow, do you have any questions for this witness?" the judge asked.
"Yes, Your Honor. Mrs. Piedmont, did you witness any of these alleged victims being abused?"
"No, but I do know what I heard! They cried so-"
"Your Honor," Mr. Barlow objected.
"The witness will only answer the questions," the judge instructed the older woman, not unkindly. "Do you have any further questions Mr. Barlow?"
"Not at this time, Your Honor."
"The witness may step down."
As she passed the table where Helen Webster was sitting, the former receptionist stopped, and looked at the angry, bitter woman. This woman she remembered well. She'd suspected that something was going on between her and the doctor. She just hadn't understood what that 'something' was. Mrs. Piedmont shook her white head sadly, made her way out of the courtroom.
"Mr. Preston, it's almost four o'clock. Will the testimony of your next witness take over an hour?"
"Most probably, Your Honor," the DA replied.
"Very well. Court stands adjourned until ten a.m. tomorrow."
Daniel had no way of knowing that the rear hallway was the route used to take prisoners from the courtroom back to the jail, using the sky bridge on the third floor. If he had, he'd have waited until he was certain Helen Webster was out of the building. He'd only wanted to avoid the reporters still milling about in front of the building.
As fate would have it, two police officers were walking the prisoner down the corridor just as he and Casey stepped out of the small sequestering room.
"You little bitch!" Helen sneered. "Good for nothing little slut! Just like your mother! A whore! Hell, she didn't even know who'd crawled between her legs and planted you!"
Before Daniel could reply, the officers yanked Helen roughly toward the elevator. It had been a fluke...a one in a million chance of the two actually seeing each other outside of the courtroom. He turned to look at Casey, terrified of what the hateful words had done to her. She was pale, but her head was tipped to one side, her lip between her teeth. "Casey?"
"Daniel, can I ask you a question?"
He cupped her cheek, searching her eyes, needing to know she was alright. "Always," he said softly.
"Do you think it's possible that my father...my biological father...doesn't even know about me?"
The question was totally out of left field. But he was so relieved that he nearly dropped to his knees. "It's possible."
"I mean, what if my mother was just a teenager...and she was scared, and alone...and what if...what if she hadn't even told him?"
He frowned. "To be honest, I never thought about it. But it does make sense. Leaving you on the steps of a church, somewhere that someone was certain to find you, take care of you, is something that a young girl in that situation might do."
She shook herself mentally. Ever since Miss Eloise had made that comment about her father..."It's not like there's any way to ever know," she said softly.
"I'm not so sure about that," Daniel replied. "All we need is one thing...one clue...and we can find something."
"I don't think there's going to be much luck finding anything."
"You never know. Say the word, babe, and we'll look."
"I wouldn't even know where to start," she said softly.
"We know where she left you."
Hope flared in her chest. Just as quickly died. "If my mother had wanted to find me, she knew where I was," she said flatly.
"Casey, if she was a scared teenager, she might have been afraid to look for you."
She thought about that for a moment. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to ask, would it?"
"Let me think about it."
"Take all the time you need." His arm around her protectively, her arm around his waist, they took the elevator to the first floor, walked slowly to the parking garage. He was going to try to find the restaurant where they'd shared their first dinner together. Red Lobster. Just down the street from the hotel, his memory informed him. Exactly what she needed to help her relax. Then a nice hot bath...and a little attention...and she'd be fine.
As long as she was with Daniel nothing, and no one, could hurt her. Helen's outburst had been a surprise, as far as it happening. What she'd said wasn't anything Casey hadn't already heard before, multiple times. In fact, she'd heard it so often that the words meant nothing to her.
A A A A A A
Gary finished reading the report that Charley had sent. On Sunday, Kathy Haddad had met with Akil Haddad. When the arrangements had been made, the Lebanese businessman had been warned to come alone. And he had. Apparently the man had shown up with four dozen red roses a full hour before the appointed time. Charley wrote that his face had lit up as soon as Kathy had entered the cafe. She hadn't been able to hear all of the conversation, but they'd talked through lunch, sat at the table all afternoon, drinking coffee and talking, and then ordered dinner, and were still talking when the restaurant closed. She and Dancer had followed the two back to the hotel where Kathy was staying. Apparently Akil remained with his wife. The meeting on Monday morning, also prearranged, was one that the team would never forget.
Akil Haddad had listened very carefully to what his wife told him. Had admitted he hadn't been aware of her feelings, or that the situation had become intolerable for Kathy. He promised her that upon their return, his mother would be moved into the guest house, and Kathy would be the mistress of his home, as she should be. Charley also reported that Kathy had been a bit skeptical, but a late night phone call had put everyone's mind at ease. It seemed that Akil had meant business, and in spite of his mother's wailing and moaning, she'd been installed in the guest house as soon as the Haddads had arrived back at their Italian villa, with strict orders that she was to knock before entering the main house, that Kathy was his wife and as such, would be in charge during his absence. When several of his uncles and cousins attempted to intervene, the entire group was given the choice to accept the situation, or return to Lebanon. There was no word on whether anyone had taken up his offer to send them back.
He sat back and grinned. Okay, he'd done something good...something right. Akil and Kathy Haddad and their little girl were a family again. Just like they were meant to be. Now, he thought, I need the favor returned. Just enough to find her. That's all I need. Just enough to find her.
Still grinning over the results of the Haddad case, he grabbed the ice bucket and headed toward the ice machine. Stepped aside when a tall blonde with great legs and one hell of a nice rack went by, followed by a large black man. Probably an athlete, Gary thought. Tall, leggy blondes always fell for the jocks. He shook his head, proceeded to fill the bucket, completely missing the arrival of a tall, gray haired man. Nor did he notice that the older man went into the same room as the blonde, the 'athlete' into the room beside it.
A A A A A A
Casey looked over at him when they pulled into the parking lot. "So, you're an archaeologist," she said softly.
He smiled. "I have degrees in linguistics and anthropology as well."
"You lied to me that night."
"You don't just have degrees in linguistics and anthropology. You have doctorates in those subjects."
"Does it make a difference to you?" he asked softly.
"I don't care if you have fifty doctorates, or none at all. Just as long as you love me," she replied.
The restaurant was beginning to fill up. Luckily they'd arrived before the main dinner rush. Daniel asked for the table they'd shared the first time, and the hostess was kind enough to oblige them.
Casey sat beside him, rather than across from him, the stress of the day still weighing on her. She needed to touch him, feel him nearby. "I was scared to death that night."
"Well, sort of. Mostly that I'd never be able to satisfy a man like you."
"A man like me? What kind of a man is that?"
"Handsome...no...beautiful...strong, sexy, virile."
"All that, huh?"
"Smart and modest, too."
"I'm only those things in your eyes," he said gently.
"You're darned near perfect in my eyes," she replied.
"Darned near? What prevents me from being perfect?"
She could see his cheek twitching. "Socks...hamper. Not going to say any more."
He chuckled. "I'll try to do better."
"I don't mind, Daniel. If that's the worst thing I ever have to complain about, I'm the luckiest woman in the world."
Damn, what she could do to him! He didn't care if they were sitting in Red Lobster. Sometimes a man just had to do what felt right...what would let the woman he loved understand just how much she meant to him. He kissed her...gently...tenderly...held her chin and poured his love into her. Felt her shiver against him. "Love you," he whispered.
"Love you, too."
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