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Seek and Ye Shall Find

Chapter 6

The tiny red Fiat zigged and zagged through traffic. The driver was running late for an important business meeting. Could mean a promotion...when he saw the opening, he took it, not seeing the slow moving vehicle four cars ahead. He cut in front of the semi-truck, one loaded with heavy cement blocks, the type used for retaining walls. And immediately had to hit his brakes.

There was no room to maneuver. The little red car had taken up the space he could have used in stopping...as it was, he was going to go right over that car if he didn't do something! Hoping he could get the rig onto the shoulder in time, the panicked driver jerked the wheel. The tractor headed for the side of the road, but the sudden movement coupled with the forward momentum of the trailer sent the long flatbed sideways. The shifting blocks broke free in two places, and began to rain down on the freeway, and any vehicles that were nearby. The red Fiat was shoved into the guard rail.

A dozen cars behind the truck in all six lanes were struck by falling debris, and blocked by the big rig, that now sat sideways across the freeway. A yellow Datsun, unable to stop in time, wedged itself beneath the trailer. It was all over in a matter of seconds. The aftermath would take hours to clean up.

The accident happened just one mile from an exit. And was bad enough that it involved all lanes of traffic. No one between the two exits was going anywhere for awhile. It would take the rescue crews time to make their way up the shoulders to the scene, the crowded on-ramps hindering them even further. The morning commute had just turned from a slow moving annoyance to a nightmare.

Judge Templeton was listening to the news on her way to the courthouse. Traffic helicopters were reporting the accident. Sounded bad. The location sounded familiar...she was certain that Joyce Hardy came into the city from that direction. Joyce was probably the most experienced stenographer in the building.  Which was the reason she'd requested Joyce for this very important trial.  The judge frowned slightly. Grabbed her cell phone.

It didn't take long to confirm that Joyce was indeed stuck on the freeway, behind the accident, thank goodness. As well, it seemed, as three of the jurors, who'd just called the courthouse on their cell phones. She didn't want to give Barlow a reason to call for a mistrial. Not on this case.

As soon as she was in her office, she was making phone calls. Both attorneys were willing to postpone the hearings for the day. In fact, Judge Templeton thought, Mr. Barlow had sounded relieved. He'd complained to her that his client wasn't cooperative, and that he worried he wasn't going to be able to defend her properly. It had been his way of trying to pawn the case onto one of the other public defenders. She'd refused to let him off the hook; Glenda Marsh, the first public defender assigned to the case, had declared herself too biased to be able to defend Mrs. Webster properly. Having another attorney 'drop' her would only harm the case against her, any jury would question the reasons why the woman seemed 'un-defendable'. So, Barlow would remain on the case. No doubt he'd spend at least part of the day explaining to his client just how damaging the DA's evidence was. It would be nice if Helen Webster would take the deal Preston had offered. It would save the tax payers a few bucks, anyway, she thought.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Casey had the radio on, and moaned when she heard the news. "We're not going to be taking I-5 into Seattle. We'll have to get off at the next exit."

"Do you know another way in?" Daniel asked.

"Nope. All I know to do is keep heading north," she replied cheekily.

"Ha ha."

She cocked her head to the side. Grabbed her cell phone. "How do you get information on this thing?"

Daniel frowned, but explained how to connect to an operator. Listened as she requested the number for the Seattle Superior Court. "What's wrong?"

"I just have a feeling...yes, hello. I was wondering if you could tell me when the trial for Helen Webster is going to convene?...It has?...I see. Do you know when it will resume?...Tomorrow, ten a.m. Thank you."


"Trial's been postponed. Seems that three of the jurors were caught up in the accident, or at least stuck behind it."

"Okay, so let's go have breakfast."


"Then, I thought we'd go to St. Joseph's Catholic church," he said casually.

She jerked slightly. "For what?"

"Speak to the priest there. Who knows, someone might still be around who'd been there when you arrived," he replied.

Her hand sought his. She took a deep breath. Did she really want to do this? What if...what if she found her biological parents, and they wanted nothing to do with her? She snorted silently. Rejection wasn't anything new to her! She'd suffered worse. Besides, she had Daniel. And he was the only person she needed in her life.


"Okay. Breakfast...and then...and then St. Joseph's Catholic church," she said softly.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Jack read the notice tacked up on the courtroom door. Daniel hadn't called last night, the desk clerk had informed him that Dr. Jackson hadn't picked up his message. Well, nothing they could do right now. He looked at Sam and Teal'c. "Let's head back to the hotel. It's hard telling where they are right now. I'll give them a call in an hour or so."

"Sounds like a plan," Sam agreed. "I wonder how it went yesterday."

"We'll find out when we meet up with them," Jack replied.

"Casey Jackson has much strength. And fire. She will not be intimidated by that woman, nor by the attorney who represents her," Teal'c said.

"You've been watching 'Law and Order' again," Jack teased.

"Indeed. Although Casey Jackson informs me that it is not a true example of the American justice system. She referred to it as being the 'Hollywood version'."

"It is, Teal'c," Sam said. "There are things that happen in the television court rooms that would never be allowed in a real court room. But as far as shows go, it's the closest to the truth of any of them."

"Is not Judge Judy a real judge?" Teal'c asked.

Sam snorted, then giggled. "Yes, she is. But that's all dramatized as well. The defendant and plaintiff are playing for the camera. It's not any more real than 'Law and Order'. Well, the cases are real, but the behavior...wouldn't happen in a real courtroom."

Nodding his understanding, Teal'c followed his friends and teammates back into the sunshine. Perhaps he'd sit outside and meditate.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Having made the decision, Casey found that it was impossible to eat. She nibbled at the toast, pushed the scrambled eggs around her plate, rearranged the sausage. Which she finally offered to Daniel.

"You have to eat," Daniel said softly. "If you don't want to do this, we won't. I'm not trying to push you into anything. If you want to wait, we'll wait."

"No...no...I want to do this. Maybe-" she broke off, shook her head.

"Maybe what, Angel?"

"Maybe she...or he...or both of them...maybe they'll at least talk to me," she said softly.

His heart ached for her. She was already preparing herself for rejection. Expected to be rejected...again. He could only hope that she'd at least find answers to the questions he knew must plague her. She'd never said anything, it wasn't Casey's way to dwell on her past, to obsess on things she couldn't change. She had too many scars, too much pain to want to think about her childhood often. "At the very least, you might be able to find names," he said.

She nodded. That in itself would be a start. No longer would she be Casey Renee...birth mother: unknown. Birth father: unknown. Names would at least giver her some sense of belonging. To someone. Even if it had been only for a few hours.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Gary paced from the bathroom to the window and back again. Now that he knew the priest was available, he was finding it difficult to leave the room. He needed to know...wanted to know...was terrified of knowing.

The facts he already had were heartbreaking. Brenda had been afraid to tell him...for whatever reason. One that he'd never know. She'd lived a life of pain and misery, brought on by one mistake.

No...he'd never think of their one night together as a mistake. It had been the greatest night of his life. He frowned at that thought. He and Cookie had been terrific together. He'd loved her with all of his heart. But he admitted, only now, that there'd never been the passion, the...rapture...that he'd found in Brenda's arms.

His blonde beauty had been a virgin...but she'd been so full of love, so anxious to show him that love, share it with him. Her caresses had been so shy at first...until she understood that whatever she did, whatever she wanted to do, he'd never refuse her, never judge her...was more than willing to accept. He shivered slightly as memories of that night washed over him.

Pull yourself together, airman, he growled mentally. He stared at the door. Forced himself to walk through it. He knew where the church was. He'd speak to the priest who'd found his daughter, held her...

The sudden thought left him gasping for breath. He put a hand out to steady himself, leaned on the wall as the feeling of pain faded. The priest had held his baby girl, his daughter. His daughter! He'd never know that feeling. Never look down into the face of his baby girl. Stolen from him...so much stolen from him! For a moment, anger and hatred flooded his mind. How dare she? Just who had she thought she was, making the decisions she had, without even letting him know? That baby had been as much a part of him as it had been of her! He closed his eyes. The depth of Brenda's fears became more evident in the wake of those thoughts. He ached for her. Ached for the innocent young woman he'd loved so much. Why hadn't she come to him?

"Sir, are you all right?"

The voice stirred him from his thoughts. He opened his eyes to see the maid staring at him from the doorway of one of the rooms, worry etched on her face. He thought it might be the room that young couple had checked into. They were still at the hotel, he'd seen the young man bringing coffee up from the continental breakfast buffet. "Yes, thank you, I'm fine," he managed to reply. Was amazed at how calm, how...normal...he sounded.

"Have a nice day," she said, smiling, and disappearing into the room.

"You, too," he said softly. How nice of a day it was depended on what he was able to learn.




There were several cars parked in the lot beside the church. The pavement was cracked and broken, grass and weeds grew in patches wherever the concrete was weak enough to give way. He walked up the steps of the old brick building.

Four women were sitting in a pew, it looked as if they were praying, rosary beads in their hands. He looked around for someone to speak to. Smiled as a nun approached him.

"Good morning," she said.

"Good morning, sister. My name is Gary Franklin. I called last week in regard to speaking with Father Thomas."

"Father Thomas is hearing confessions right now," the nun said softly, nodding in the direction of the confessionals. "I'm Sister Mary Agnes, Mother Superior for St. Joseph's parish, is there perhaps something I could help you with?"

"I don't know," Gary replied honestly. "I need to speak to someone who was here in March of 1975."

The woman smiled. "I've been here since October of 1973. Perhaps I can help you?"

This nun had been here when his little girl had been brought here! She'd probably...god, she'd probably held her! His heart was pounding. His palms were sweating. He felt as if he couldn't breath. He glanced around. "Is there somewhere we can speak privately?"

"Of course. This way. We'll use Father Thomas's study."

Come on legs, move! he thought desperately, when the nun turned and began walking toward the door. For one terrifying moment he was afraid his body was going to refuse to cooperate. Then, he was moving...walking behind her. More afraid than he'd ever been in his life. He'd been a prisoner in Iraq. Not even that compared to the feelings of fear that were racing through him at the moment!

"Please, Mr. ...Franklin?"

"Yes," he replied.

"Please sit down," Sister Mary Agnes said, motioning to the leather arm chair that was the twin to the one she was settling into.

Gary lowered himself. Took a deep breath.

"Now, tell me what it is you wish to know."

"In March of 1975, there was a baby, a baby girl, left on the steps to this church. I...I'm that baby's father. I only learned a few days ago...I didn't know," he said, his voice ending on a whisper.

Sister Mary Agnes frowned. She'd been in the parish for thirty years. There were some things that one never forgot. And that night...that strange night, was one of them. "I remember," she said softly. "Father Thomas heard a noise...he thought it sounded like a kitten...it was raining..." She shook her head, looked down at her hands.

"Please," Gary begged, "I have to know."

"The baby was so tiny...still covered with blood from birth. She couldn't have been more than a few hours old," the sister continued. "Father Thomas brought her in, Sister Mary Theresa and I cleaned her up while the Father searched to see if he could locate the mother. We were certain she couldn't have gotten far...the blanket the baby was in wasn't wet enough for her to have been on the steps for long.

"He came back in an hour later, soaked to the skin. He decided that the police should be notified. Because we had a small orphanage, we were allowed to keep the baby while they investigated. She was taken to the hospital, of course, the pediatrician said she was in excellent condition, considering what had happened to her."

He closed his eyes, sighed silently with relief. "Go on," he said softly.

"There was nothing...well..." Sister Mary Agnes turned her head. She'd known that what she'd done was wrong. Had prayed for forgiveness many times over the years. Even now, she'd never confessed her actions. If she'd given the police everything, would they have been able to locate the mother? Would the man sitting in front of her now have known about his child sooner? Oh, Mary, Holy Mother of God, forgive me! she thought sadly. She'd held the secret for twenty eight years. There was nothing to be gained by exposing it now. "The baby was wrapped in a towel and a blanket."

That part he knew...Brenda had told her mother about that.

"We were never able to locate Casey's parents."

He jerked. "Casey?"

"I couldn't just call her case number 7932375, now could I?" Sister Mary Agnes smiled. And after all of these years, she could remember that number as easily as the phone number to the parsonage.

He smiled in return. "I suppose not."

"At first, I just called her my little case. Such a sweet baby. Always so happy. I...Father Thomas told me that she needed a name. So we named her Casey Renee. Not a very good Catholic name," the nun admitted sheepishly. "But Father Thomas is a kind, understanding man."


The nun blushed. "My middle name."

Casey Renee. His daughter. "Do you know what happened to her?"

The blush disappeared, leaving the nun's cheeks pale white. "If we had known, we'd never have allowed the adoption to go through."

His stomach twisted. "What happened?"

"She was five years old when she was adopted. By Frank and Helen Webster."

Alarm bells began to go off in his brain. Helen Webster? Who...oh holy shit! He wasn't even aware of moaning out loud until he realized the nun was holding his hand.

"I'm so sorry! We thought...she deserved a good home...and we thought we'd found one for her."

Casey Renee Webster. Something about that name poked at him. He was in too much shock to pay much attention to it.

"Mr. Franklin, I don't know how to make up for what's happened..."

"Sister, you've done nothing wrong. I...thank you for taking care of her...for saving my daughter's life. I have a name...I can find her," he said, his voice full of determination.

"When you do, would you please tell her that we had no idea...we didn't know," Sister Mary Agnes said sadly.

"I'll tell her," Gary replied. He patted the hand that still clenched his. "I promise."

"I wish you good luck in your search, Mr. Franklin. I'll pray for you, and for Casey."

"Thank you, Sister," Gary said, rising to his feet. "You've given me more than I'd hoped for."

The smile was sad, but sincere. "Go with God, Mr. Franklin."

He nodded, and walked away. There was a group of people entering the church as he made his way to the door. He stepped aside, not noticing the young couple, their hands entwined, who followed the elderly people into the vestibule. He put his sunglasses on, and hurried to his car.




Daniel glanced at the man standing beside the door, waiting to leave...he thought he'd seen the blonde haired guy somewhere else...but couldn't place him. Casey's fingers tightened around his, focusing his thoughts on her, making the identity of the stranger unimportant.

Casey looked around. So, this was the place. Daniel held her hand firmly as they stepped into the sanctuary. A frown knotted itself on her brow. There was something...familiar...about that window, and the altar; she shook her head mentally. She'd been five years old...and what had happened to her after she'd left this place had pushed most of those earlier memories so far back she could no longer reach them.


"I'm all right," she replied. Even if she was shaking like a leaf in a storm. Images... fragments of memories...following a very tall lady who was dressed all in black, being shushed when she giggled at the funny way the man with the white dress spoke. Being patted on the head by strange old ladies, being reminded to say thank you...for what she'd never known.

They took a seat at the back of the room, sitting side by side on the pew, Casey clinging to Daniel as if he were her only source of security...which, she thought, he was. The scent of candles and furniture polish and floor wax competed with the musty smells of a building well over a hundred years old. Shapes of color were splashed over the floors and walls and wooden pews as the sun continued to climb in the sky, shining through the stained glass windows.

It had been about forty minutes, the older couples in front of them had lit candles, sat silently, and then left, smiling and nodding at the young couple sitting so close together. Finally an older man emerged from the confessional.

Father Thomas knew every face in his congregation of perhaps one hundred people, most of them elderly. He frowned slightly when he saw the man and woman sitting quietly. He didn't recognize them...although there was something about the woman...her eyes...that tickled at the back of his mind. "I'm Father Thomas. May I help you?"

Casey found she couldn't speak, in fact, she was having a hard time just breathing. She was holding to Daniel even tighter now, as they rose to their feet.

"Yes, at least, I hope so," Daniel said softly. "My Wife was aban...left here twenty-eight years ago as a newborn. We were hoping that you'd know who was here that night, and if we could speak to him...or her."

He studied the woman. She was beautiful; green eyes, long blonde hair, slender. He could see the little girl she'd been. "I was here that night," he said softly. "I was the one who carried Casey inside."

This was the man...she was looking into the eyes of the man who had literally saved her life! Her knees decided to go on a little vacation without prior notification...or approval...and had Daniel not had his arm around her waist, she'd have met the floor, up close and personal.

"Whoa...babe, are you okay?" Daniel tugged her closer to his side, supported her weight against his body.

Father Thomas had reached for her as well, his hand holding her arm. "Let's go sit down where we won't be disturbed. Can you walk, child?"

Still unable to speak, Casey nodded. She felt as if her legs were made of wood as she struggled to put one foot in front of the other. Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea, she thought wildly, her gaze lingering on the door, and the sunshine just beyond, as they passed the vestibule. She should just walk away. Let sleeping dogs lie. She was starting down a path she wasn't sure she wanted to take. Afraid of what she'd find at the end.

The priest led them into a wood-paneled study, the walls lined with bookcases, each one full to overflowing. A large oak desk took up the majority of the space. Two matching leather arm chairs were situated just in front of it.

Often, Father Thomas would pull his heavy leather executive chair from behind the desk to be closer to the people he counseled, consoled. Today he welcomed the distance the desk afforded him. He'd assumed that he'd be having this conversation at some point in time. Expecting it had in no way prepared him for the actuality.

"What can you tell us about that night...about Casey's stay here?" Daniel asked quietly.

"It was a long time ago," the Father said.

"Twenty-eight years, give or take," Casey said, then silently damned that smartass reaction to stress. "Sorry," she mumbled.

Father Thomas smiled. "It was raining that night. As I checked to make certain all of the candles had been extinguished for the night - even then the church was old...and unattended candles too much of a fire hazard - I thought I heard kittens, or a kitten. When I opened the door, I found a blanket, it looked as if it had just been wadded up and left on the top step. I picked it up; was quite...surprised...to open the blanket and find a crying baby."

"No doubt," Daniel said. In fact, he thought, the priest had probably been shocked, even horrified. Abandoned babies weren't anything new, but even in 1975, it was still a relatively uncommon occurrence.

"I brought her in, oh, I didn't know at the moment I was holding a she, only a baby. She was still...there was still blood on her, I knew she couldn't have been but an hour or so old." He looked at Casey. "I thought...Sister Mary Agnes and Sister Mary Theresa were here, and I practically thrust you at them in my hurry to get back outside. I was hoping to find the mother, to offer her the help she so obviously needed. I looked for an hour, but never did find anyone.

"When I returned, the Sisters had cleaned you up. I knew that the police had to be notified, and that it would be best to take you to the hospital where trained physicians could determine your health." His gaze never left Casey's as he spoke, his eyes locked with green ones that were filling with tears. "The doctor in the clinic nearby pronounced you healthy, and the social worker who'd been notified requested that we keep you in the orphanage that we had at the time. There was hope, you see, that the mother would return."

"But she never did," Casey said softly.

"No, she never did," the priest confirmed. He cleared his throat. "When the Webster's came to us, seeking to adopt you, we were overjoyed. You were such a lively little girl, and you deserved a good home..." He broke off, shook his head.

"Please, it's okay," she said soothingly.

"We asked the social services department to run a check on them...and nothing came back that was...out of the ordinary."

She shuddered slightly. Hiding the horrors of that household must have been difficult, she thought. How had Helen Webster managed to convince trained, licensed social workers that she was sane?

"Is there anything, anything at all, you can tell us?" Daniel asked.

The priest hesitated. He'd found it in the trash. Never had been able to determine which of the nuns had put it there. Or why they'd made such a...curious...decision. Neither woman had ever said anything, in all of the years that proceeded that night. He'd very nearly returned it to the trash bin, but something, some small voice had told him that someday it might be important. He stood, moved slowly to the side of the room. He pulled a key ring from his pocket, sorted through the keys, located the one he needed, and opened a small, wooden box.

Casey watched, afraid to hope, afraid to believe that there might be a small clue that would set her on the path to finding her parents. Once again that fear stretched and turned in her mind. Did she want to go down this path? Maybe she should leave...now...pretend she'd never set foot inside this old church...

"I...I washed it," the priest said, almost apologetically.

"You didn't tell the police about this, did you?" Daniel asked, already knowing the answer to the question by the man's demeanor.

"No, I...no." He walked back to the desk. Handed Casey a burgundy-colored tee shirt.

She took it, ran her fingers over the folded material. She unfolded it slowly, knowing somehow that it wasn't the shirt itself that the priest wanted her to see. On the front of the shirt large white letters spelled out the words 'University of Puget Sound'.

"Oh, god!" She thought she was going to be sick. Suddenly couldn't see for the tears that filled her eyes. It hit her full force...her mother had put her in this...wrapped it around her. Her mother had probably worn this shirt..."Oh, god," she whispered, letting the cloth drop to her lap, her emotions in such turmoil that holding it was just too much.

Daniel slid to his knees, knelt in front of her, took both of her hands...noted they were cold, and shaking. He reached up and caressed her cheek, brushed her hair from her face. "Deep breaths, Angel," he whispered. Understood the implications represented by that simple piece of clothing.

Sometimes, being a priest was a difficult thing. Occasionally, the things he heard, the things he dealt with, made sleeping impossible...without a bit of help. On those troublesome nights, prayer didn't often work. Father Thomas opened the bottom drawer of his desk, pulled out a bottle of brandy. There were half a dozen glasses surrounding the crystal pitcher of water that sat on a side table, there if needed. He took one, poured a bit of the brandy into the bottom, and offered it to the young woman.

She was shaking so badly that Daniel was forced to hold the glass for her, tip it so that the amber colored liquid would flow into her mouth. She choked slightly, coughed, accepted the water that the priest offered.

"I should have given it to the police, as soon as I found it," Father Thomas said hoarsely.

Daniel nodded. "Maybe. The past is the past...there's no way to undo what we've done, to go back and do the things differently. We just have to move forward and keep doing our best, doing what seems right."

"You'd have made a fine priest," the Father smiled.

He smiled in return. "I doubt it," he replied.

"That's the only thing...the only clue we ever had," Father Thomas said. "We never...I never pursued the matter. I continued to hope that the mother would return, allow us to help her. I'm sorry I don't have more to tell you."

"It's a start," Daniel said. "Thank you."

The man nodded his gray head. Glanced at the clock that began to chime in the hour. "You're welcome to stay here until you feel strong enough to leave," he said kindly. "I have an appointment that I mustn't miss." He stopped on the way to the door. "You might try the records department in the county clerk's office. It's possible that they were able to locate more information for the official adoption records."

Daniel nodded. "Thank you. We'll do that."

Casey smiled at her Husband; her rock...her shelter in the sea of life. She slid forward in the chair, let him hold her hand as she stood shakily to her feet. "Thank you, for everything," she said softly to the priest.

"You're welcome, Casey," Father Thomas replied, his voice just above a whisper.

With a nod, Daniel put his arm around her shoulders, led her toward the hallway, and the vestibule beyond. They had a clue. But how far would it take them?


A  A  A  A  A  A


Casey had wanted to return to the room to change her clothes. If she was going to do this, she wanted to be comfortable, and walking around a campus in heels was not her idea of a good time! She ran her fingers over the tee shirt. It looked as if it would fit her...she shook her head, tucked it beside her panties and bras.

Daniel noticed the blinking light on the phone when he called the school administration building to ask about directions to the university. He punched the number that was listed, listened to the message, a smile working its way across his face.

"What?" Casey asked, tugging her sneakers onto her feet.

"The team is here. Staying in the hotel."

"When did they get here?"

"Sometime yesterday. I didn't even notice the message light," Daniel replied. Probably because as soon as they'd returned from dinner, they'd taken a bath together, and then Casey'd driven him out of his ever-loving mind. He'd intended to comfort her, she'd determined to try and kill him. Not that he was complaining! He shivered appreciatively as memories of what she'd done to him...for him...filled his mind.

"A little distracted, were you?" she smiled.

"Just a little," he grinned. He called the front desk and requested the room of Colonel O'Neill.

Jack answered on the second ring. "Hello?"

"So what made you decide to fly to Tacoma?" Daniel asked.

"The fact that our resident archaeologist and seer have a lousy habit of getting themselves into trouble without us," Jack replied immediately.

He chuckled. "Glad to know you trust us."

"I trust you, Daniel. And I trust Radar. I trust one of you, or both of you, to find a way to get yourself into a situation you can't get out of without a bit of back up," Jack said. He was grinning, and Daniel was able to hear that as well.

"We should talk," the archaeologist said quietly.

"Crap! I knew it!"

"Have you had lunch yet?"

"Not yet."

"There's a cafe just down the street. Meet us in the lobby, we can walk."




"On our way." Jack turned to Sam and Teal'c, with whom he'd been playing poker. "Something's up. We're meeting the kids in the lobby. Daniel says there's a cafe where we can get lunch."

They were on their feet and heading out the door. Sometimes, a little paranoia is a good thing, he thought. Jack was almost to the elevator when he realized he'd forgotten his sunglasses. He didn't suffer from photosensitivity any longer. But that didn't mean he wanted to spend the afternoon squinting in the sunlight. "Be right back," he said, dropping a kiss on Sam's lips.

The elevator door opened, and a tall man with short blonde haired stepped off. He nodded and smiled, and headed down the hallway to his own room.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Gary had almost run into the leggy blonde getting off of the elevator. She was a beauty, that was for sure. Big blue eyes. Nice smile. And taken, his mind added. He shook himself mentally. He didn't have time for...distractions...anyway.

He barely made it to the bed before he collapsed. For a few minutes, he thought was going to be ill. Casey Renee Webster. His daughter. Adopted by that...that bitch...oh, god! What had she suffered? What had his little girl endured?

Rage filled him. First Brenda. Now Casey. Abused. Hurt. And he hadn't been there to protect them...to take care of them...to make certain that they were safe and no one could harm them! The fact that he hadn't been given a choice in the matter...hadn't known about Casey; that Brenda had chosen the life that had left her dead at such a young age...refused to calm him. He should have tried harder when Brenda disappeared. He should have quit school in that moment, and spent his time looking for her. He'd have found her, he was certain of it. He'd have been able to have protected her from that...that motherfucker! The bastard who'd wanted to kill his baby girl! And protect her...little Casey...

His stomach was rolling. He raced for the bathroom, lost his breakfast. He washed his face, rinsed his mouth.

A call to the front desk confirmed that the day's newspaper was available. The young lady even offered to have a copy brought up to him. Damned nice of her, he thought, pouring himself a drink. Maybe she knew that right now he couldn't trust his legs to get him across the room, let alone make it to the lobby and back.

He was looking for anything about the trial. There. She was expected to testify. Okay, she really didn't need the added stress of having her father appear suddenly. But he could sit in the courtroom. He could see her. And he could listen to the horrors she'd been subjected to, had survived. A little self-induced penance for failing her all those years ago, for failing her mother.

Casey Renee Webster. The poking was back. He searched through all of the papers that held the information he had about her, about Brenda. There, he knew he'd seen it...

Well wasn't that a fucking kick in the pants! He should have shot that little son-of-a-bitch when he'd first seen him! Must run in the family, he thought darkly. Greg Vincent had turned Brenda into a junkie, a hooker. Had planned to kill the baby that Brenda had borne. His baby! And that bastard's son had stalked the woman that baby had become...Casey. God only knew what plans that little shit might have had for his daughter. He wondered briefly just how long it would take the tide to wash a body to the shore. And if there would be enough left to be identifiable.

Another not so pleasant thought began to prod him. If he could so easily find out that Casey was in Seattle...He grabbed his cell phone.

"Franklin Enterprises."

"Hey, Charley."

"Gary! How's it going?"

He took a deep breath. "Casey Renee Webster. That's her name. Is Dancer or Lucky around?"

"Neither. They're doing preliminary leg work for the Baxter/Timpkins case."

"Right. Put it on hold. I need them in Tacoma tonight. There's someone they need to keep an eye on."


"Could be. I want to make certain that it doesn't become a situation."


"I want one of them on each of these addresses. When they have the little bastard in sight, I want them stuck to him like a burr on a wool sock." He recited the work and home addresses for one Kenneth Vincent.

"You've got it. They'll be there ASAP. Should they call you when they're in position?"

"Yeah. And thanks."

"Any time, Gary. What are friends for?"

He grinned, and snapped the phone closed. If that slimy bastard moved one step toward his little girl, they'd just find out how long he could tread water.

His fingers continued to toy with the pages of the reports. Had Casey already tried to find her parents, only to discover that there were no clues? Would it even be possible to alter her birth certificate? He wanted her to know that she had a name...that he would've been thrilled to give her his name.

He'd get copies of the adoption papers. Then see an attorney about putting his and Brenda's names onto the birth certificate. If nothing else, if she hadn't already tried looking, it would give Casey a place to start.

His stomach began growling. Okay, lunch first. He'd grab a sandwich on the way to the county clerk's office. Then he'd do what he could to make this entire fucked up situation a little less fucked up. He would at least give his daughter the dignity of having something besides 'father unknown' on the public records.

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