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Seek and Ye Shall Find

Chapter 9

Dressed in jeans and a ribbon trimmed tee shirt, a chunky cardigan on top to ward off the chill of the Northwest evening, Casey felt much more relaxed than she had since arriving in Tacoma. She'd survived giving her testimony. It hadn't been easy. But Daniel's presence...his love...his strength...had seen her through. Goddess, how would she have been able to sit there without him? She snorted silently. Without Daniel, there would have been no trial, because she never would've had the courage to have confronted Helen. Deep in her heart, she'd known that what had been done to her was wrong. She hadn't actually thought of it as being molested, after all, she hadn't technically been raped. But still, from the first time it had happened, to right now, standing there applying fresh lip gloss, she'd known it was wrong. She'd always felt so ashamed...

Casey paused. Examined the feelings regarding the trial, and what had happened to her. The twinges of guilt, and of shame were still there...only they weren't as strong. More like left over emotions...feelings that had been a part of her for so long that they were ingrained into her very being. She plucked at them. Something she'd never had the nerve to do before. Found there wasn't as much pain associated with them any longer.

"Are you all right?"

His voice was soft, full of love and concern, and shook her from her reverie. "I'm fine, thanks to you," she replied, smiling up at him.

He returned the smile automatically. There was no way to have one of those beautiful smiles flashed at him and not respond. "Me? What'd I do?"

"You were there. I could feel your love, your strength. It surrounded me, protected me," she replied.

God, what she could do to him! Nothing he did, or said, went unacknowledged; even things he wasn't aware of doing were never left unaccredited. She was constantly letting him know how much she loved him...wanted him...needed him. He'd never felt as important to anyone, not even Sha're, as he felt when he was with Casey. When she wasn't near, he still had that sense of being the one person in her life she depended on...the one person she'd opened her heart to. "I'm so proud of you. Not once did you let that bitch know just how much all of...that...affected you. You were calm, confident; you were great up there."

"I felt like I was on the verge of falling apart," she confessed. She stepped closer, put her arms around him, slid her hands into the back pockets of his jeans, cupped his ass with her hands.

His body was responding to her touch. He folded her into his embrace, pulled her close. "No one ever would have guessed."

She put her head on his shoulder. "He's a nice man."

For a moment he was confused, thinking she was talking about Preston. Realized to whom she was referring. "Yes, he is."

"He loved her very much."

Daniel said nothing, understood that she needed to talk, come to terms with what she was feeling, to sort out the information that had flooded her mind.

"Her father was a cold, demanding man. She tried so hard to please him. It wasn't until she went away to college that she realized how much her father controlled her. She liked being free of him. He...Gary...made her feel safe. And he never tried to take her freedom from her; he encouraged her to follow her own heart."

"She must have been terrified to have made the decisions she did," he said softly.

"She was," Casey confirmed. "And ashamed. She was so sure that Gary would be angry with her. She never gave him the chance to prove her wrong."

He tightened his arms around her slender frame.

"And she never stopped regretting that decision."

"It probably didn't help, having a man like Greg Vincent feeding her fears, playing on them," Daniel said softly.

"Probably not."

The phone on the bedside table rang. He dropped a kiss onto her lips, pulled away and hurried to answer it. "What's up?"

"Bar downstairs. Five minutes," Jack's voice said calmly.

"On our way." He dropped the receiver back onto the cradle, turned to look at her. "Jack is downstairs."

"Is...um...is Gary with him?"

"He didn't say."

She nodded. Realized she had no idea where the man was staying, had no way of contacting him...

"He's staying in this hotel," Daniel said softly, watching her eyes. Reading what she was thinking by the emotions that flooded the green depths.


"Yeah, I saw him when we checked in. Then I saw him at the church; he was leaving as we were going in. Same at the clerk's office. I thought...I thought he was a reporter."

A slight smile tugged at her lips. "That sweet old bat!"


"I'm not sure, but I have the feeling that Gary got a nice hard nudge from someone," she explained.

"Kind of blows the 'do not interfere' rule, doesn't it?"

"Maybe. Everything's always been there...the clues, the information that certain people had. It just had to be...brought together."

"I guess they decided you've earned something...good."

Her cheeks flushed with color. "Maybe," she said noncommittally.

"Let's go babe. I'm starving, and you need to eat."

She smiled. "I'm a bit hungry myself."

Thank god! She'd barely eaten since they'd arrived in Tacoma. He was worried that she might lose the pound and a half she'd managed to put back on. As soon as they were home, she'd be drinking those protein shakes, and she'd fill out again...the hollows of her cheeks wouldn't be so pronounced, he'd no longer be able see...to count each and every one of her ribs so easily. "Good."

Everyone had opted to change, it seemed, and blue jeans had been the choice all the way around. Gary stopped in the doorway of the lounge and watched the five people sitting around the table, beers in hand, laughing as if they hadn't a care in the world. Did he have any right to intrude? She was happy...Daniel adored her, even a blind man could see that, and he knew instinctively that the young man was taking excellent care of her. Before he could turn and return to his room, determined to call down and make an excuse, those beautiful green eyes focused on him. He could see the tumble of emotions that filled them. So much like Brenda! Everything she'd thought, she'd felt, had been in her eyes. The smile that lit his daughter's face hit him like a fist in the stomach. He was surprised when she stood up, crossed the room to greet him.

"I was afraid you wouldn't come," she said softly. "I mean...well, you know."

He watched one slender shoulder move up and then back down. "I wouldn't miss dinner with you for the world," he replied. And meant every word. Her...eagerness...dispelled every doubt that had filled his mind when he'd walked through the door. He'd take...he'd cherish...any and every moment she was willing to give him.

"We've sort of agreed on Italian, is that okay?"

"I'm not a picky eater," Gary assured her.

"Um...Jack rented an SUV, we're all going to ride together. If you don't want to ride with us, I'll understand..."

It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that she'd been hurt deeply. Rejection was something she expected. Grief and fury in equal portions raged through him. Preston had touched a bit on her home life...a seven year old too sick to sleep, up and trying to take care of herself...a child told daily she was unwanted. It took every ounce of strength in his body to refrain from wrapping his arms around her, trying to protect her from memories of what had no doubt been a cold, cruel childhood. "I think I'd like to ride along."

She smiled. "Great! If you want a beer..."

The smile she gave him had lit the room, warmed him to the core. She was too thin. She needed to eat. He chuckled silently. Nothing like jumping into fatherhood with both feet, airman! "I'd really rather go eat...I'm hungry."

"Me, too!" She led the way back to the table where her husband and friends waited. "Let's go, I'm starving!"

Jack finished off his beer. "Okay, Teal'c, you're driving," he said, tossing the keys in the Jaffa's direction.




Following Casey's directions, the group was at the nearby Olive Garden within a matter of minutes. As was usual for that particular time of night, they found they'd be waiting for a few minutes before a table large enough was available.

Casey and Sam excused themselves to go to the ladies' room. Gary watched her disappear around the corner, then turned to Daniel. "How bad was it? Her childhood," he added in way of explanation.

"Bad," Daniel replied. "When we first met...she had ulcers. Had scars from ulcers she'd suffered with at age ten and eleven. She thought..." he turned his head, blinked away the tears that formed every time he remembered the look of dejection in her beautiful eyes as she told him of her 'flaw'. "She thought it made her damaged goods...that I'd walk away from her because she was ill."

Gary swallowed hard. Waited for the young man to continue.

"She didn't eat well as a child, no lunches unless her adoptive father was home for lunch and fixed her a sandwich, or she was in school. If she did something to tick Helen off, she was locked in her room. Left there until the next morning."

"Jesus!" Gary hissed.

"Yeah. You should hear the lovely names that bitch called Casey...from the time she was five years old. She didn't even know what they meant...only that they were bad." Daniel shook his head. "If not for her Grandma Rose, I don't think Case would've survived."

Gary closed his eyes. Guilt, cold and deep, washed over him. If he'd just searched for Brenda...if he had just tried harder...

"Casey is a survivor. She has the most beautiful, giving heart of anyone I've ever met," Daniel continued softly. "She writes poetry. Anything she feels, bad or good, it comes out in a poem. She actually won a couple of poetry contests when she was in college."

"Had she declared a major?"

"Anthropology. I'm an archaeologist."

"Who just happens to have doctorates in anthropology and philology as well," a soft voice said from beside them.

Daniel shook his head. "How long have you been standing there?"

"Just long enough to hear that I write poetry," she replied.

"You're a sneak."

"Learned it from Jack," she retorted.

"I heard that!" Jack grumped good-naturedly.

"Pretty good hearing...for an old man," Casey teased.

"You really want to be on latrine duty for the next six months, don't you?" Jack asked.

"If it keeps me on the base," she replied flippantly.

Gary noticed the uneasy shifting in the people around them. Something had happened off base. Something not so pleasant.

"And I don't want to talk about anything...bad...tonight," Casey said softly. "Please?"

"So I suppose talking about the Canucks is out," Jack sighed dramatically.

"They lost again?"


"Ya know, you should bet on the other teams. Maybe then they'd win," Casey said.

"I could...hey, wait a minute! Are you saying I'm bad luck?" Jack asked, his eyes narrowing.

"Nope. I'm saying you have bad luck."

"You're just annoying, Jackson."

"So you keep telling me."

He watched as the others smiled, their expressions almost indulgent as the two bantered back and forth. It was obviously a common occurrence.

The hostess appeared, gave them all a bright smile, and led them toward the back of the establishment, where two tables had been pushed together. Whether it was on purpose, or just random chance, Gary found himself sitting beside his daughter, Daniel on the other side of her.

A bottle of wine was ordered, a glass of raspberry iced tea for Teal'c, and then the discussion about what sounded good enough to order began. Daniel quietly talked Casey into getting the Tour of Italy, which had all of her favorites. They could take the leftovers back to the room, heat them up in the microwave in the breakfast area of the lobby.

"So, tell me about all these star charting adventures," Gary said casually. Didn't miss the glances that were exchanged.

"Actually, Gary, I'd like for you to make arrangements to speak to our CO. I think there's a...um...project...that your firm would be able to handle for us," Jack said quietly.

"And until I have this discussion, I'm not going to have a clue what you really do," Gary replied.

"That's about the size of it."

He studied his former associate. Jack was a straight shooter. Had never been one for subterfuge when a straight approach would work. He also knew that if Jack had been reactivated, whatever it was, it was important enough...interesting enough, to hold the man's attention. "How long have you been doing whatever it is that you do?"

"Going on seven years," Jack replied.

Gary nodded. "Make the appointment. I'll be there."

"Where do you operate from?"

"Kansas City."

"Not very far then," Jack said.


Casey was tugging her lip between her teeth. Cocked her head to one side, a movement she was never aware of making, and one that always alerted her teammates to the fact that she was experiencing an 'information dump'.

"Incoming," Jack intoned.

Gary again watched the faces of those sitting with him. They were all focused on Casey. Whose eyes had taken on a distant look, as if she were seeing something...Oh. Wow. Memories long forgotten rushed forward. It hadn't happened often, but he could remember seeing the same expression on his Grandma Franklin's face.

Casey smiled. "There's someone who would be an asset to your company...and could serve as the...liaison...between it and the S...um...the base."

Daniel smiled. "Dennis Ballard."

She smiled. "Lucky guess?"

"Pretty much," he admitted.

That man had been working for the SGC since his arrival, spending his time simply monitoring all outside connections, tracking any that originated from anywhere other than the SGC itself. He'd been the key reason Frank Simmons had been unable to access the computers of the secret facility. Any and all 'hits' from the Pentagon were flagged, and any information requested created an automatic report to his computer. It allowed him to contribute to the continuing fight against the Goa'uld, and the NID, and remain close to the hospital where Shannon was making her recovery from the ordeal she'd suffered through.

"Do you see anything else?" Jack asked.

"No...just...just the connection between Franklin Enterprises, and...um...us," she replied.

Gary started. He knew for a fact that he hadn't mentioned the name of his company. He supposed, however, that Daniel might have done a bit of research on him as soon as they'd arrived at the hotel; while he, Jack, and Teal'c had dealt with that piece of shit named Vincent.

Daniel chuckled at the look of surprise on Gary's face. "Don't think you'll ever be able to hide anything from her," he said.

He managed a smile. "My Grandma Franklin, your great-grandma," he said to Casey, "had a...gift. Although I don't think it was as...strong...as what you seem to be blessed with."

Well how about that! She could trace her gift to someone in the family. No doubt there'd been others, all the way back to the beginning group of humans who became the Tau'ri of the First World. It hit her in that moment that she had family...roots...a family history she could trace.

"I...uh...I talked to an attorney today. I'm having my name, and Brenda's name, put on your original birth certificate. Like it should be. Like it should have been," Gary said softly.

Tears filled her eyes as she struggled with the feelings of finally knowing where she came from. Oh, maybe not details. Not even all of the names. But she knew who her mother had been. Her father was sitting beside her. For the first time in her life, she stopped being the little orphan girl, who had no parents. "Thank you," she whispered.

"My pleasure," he replied.

Casey took a deep breath. "So tell us how you and Jack met."

Gary looked across the table. "He was a snot-nosed pilot who thought he had a clue what he was doing."

"I outflew you," Jack replied, his brown eyes twinkling. "First training mission we flew together, I had to bail your sorry butt out of trouble."

"I don't think so," Gary returned. "As I remember it, you were the one in trouble, and I pulled your ass out of the fire."

"See, that's what happens...you get old, the memory goes to hell," Jack teased. He launched into the story of the day the men had met, with plenty of 'corrections' from Gary. Within minutes the team was drawing amused looks from other diners with their laughter.




The evening passed quickly, and with the loving help of her friends, Gary and Casey learned more about one another. Gary found that Daniel was willing to answer any questions about his own life. He had to admit that Daniel and Casey were kindred souls, their individual childhoods had been full of loneliness, and heartache. And he could see...could feel the love between the two. Whatever they'd suffered in the past, they had found love and happiness with one another.

Gary informed the team that he'd be returning to Kansas City the following day, although he didn't give any details of the 'project' that waited for him. The Baxter/Timpkins project was a big one. Two kids working for the Peace Corps had wandered away, or at least, that's what the official line from the Peace Corps headquarters was. There had been a search, of course. For three days. The parents were certain that more was going on than the two just getting lost in the jungles of Honduras. Drug dealers, revolutionaries, hell, it could be the kids had been caught up in a land dispute. Whatever had happened, the families were certain they were still alive. This wasn't something he wanted on hold for long. A couple of days of leg-work time was acceptable. Any more than that, wasn't.

Casey stood beside the elevator, writing her email address, cell phone and home phone numbers on the back of one of her checking account deposit slips. Gary wanted to tell her what a dangerous thing that was, giving a stranger access to her bank account number. But he wasn't exactly a stranger, was he? Nor would he ever do anything to hurt her. It seemed that she understood those facts.

He scribbled his cell phone number, and home phone number on the back of his business card.  His email account was already listed there.

"Um...before you leave in the morning, do you want to have coffee? We can just meet downstairs."

"I'd like that," he said softly.

She nodded, turned to walk away, stopped...looked back at him. "I know we've just met and all, but...do you...I mean it's okay if you don't...but...well, would it be okay if I call you Dad?"

His knees nearly buckled. He'd had a few days to get accustomed to the idea of being a father. Had had a few more hours of knowing that she was his daughter, than she had of knowing that he was her father. Already he embraced his fatherhood fully and enthusiastically. Tears filled his eyes. He cleared his throat. "I'd like that a lot."

She smiled. "Thanks. Well, goodnight. Dad."

There it was again...that smile that could illuminate an entire city. "Goodnight, Casey."

Daniel, who'd been waiting by their room door, smiled and nodded. The look in her eyes when she smiled at him told him that she was still a bit overwhelmed...but she was overjoyed at the same time.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Gary was already sitting in the lobby, a cup of coffee in hand when Casey stepped off of the elevator...alone. Daniel had grumped and rolled over, pulling the pillow over his face when she'd poked him in the ribs. Now why, she thought, grumping a bit herself, couldn't he have been that way the day they were going on that mission to the Viking village?

"Good morning," Gary said, smiling up at her. She'd just crawled out of bed, she was wearing the same jeans and the tee shirt she'd been wearing the night before, her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she was sans makeup.

"Right. Coffee first. Talk later."

He chuckled. "You take after your old man," he teased.


"I hate mornings."

"You look pretty damned chipper," she groused.

"Shower, three cups of coffee."

"Right." She poured a large cup of the steaming brew, added two sugars and three creamers. Stirred it, and took a sip. Oh, yeah...nectar of the gods! "So, you're off to save someone, aren't you?"

He jerked. Daniel had warned him that she was able to sense things quite easily. "Couple of kids in Honduras."

"I could...I could take a look, see if I can find them," she offered quietly.

"I'll take any and all the help I can get," he replied.

"Do you have names...anything I can touch?"

He opened his computer case, pulled out the paper file on the case. Watched as she flipped through the pages. She gave a slight nod, then handed it back to him.

Casey closed her eyes.


"Miss Eloise?"

"Hello, Sunshine!"

She turned around. The old woman stood, grinning from ear to ear. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"I found my dad."

"So you did. How about that? I was sorry to learn about your mother. She's very proud of you. Both of you."

Tears filled her eyes, she nodded her acknowledgement.

"Now, tell me the real reason you're here."

"Two lost kids."

"Do tell."

"Teenagers. In the jungle."

"Look, Casey. See what you can learn."

The familiar sense of flying through clouds surrounded her. She looked around expectantly. Please, don't let it be bad...

They were together. They were frightened...but they were both okay. It seemed they were...not exactly prisoners...but they were being kept away from the river that would lead them back to the village where they'd been working to help build a school for the local children. There was a reason they were...oh hell!

She watched the men as they moved through the jungle, half a dozen Indians following behind, carrying large canvas bags on their backs. She had the sense that these men had been moving back and forth, and the group of aborigines knew this, knew that the men were cold blooded killers. They were all hiding!

Okay, she thought, let's just see what those assholes are up to...

It was a fairly large building, made from the wood that had been cleared from the area. There was a landing strip...the raw drugs were flown in, cured and cut, and then bundled for resale. And were sent in boats down the river. She needed something...anything that would give her an idea of where the 'manufacturing plant' was located.

Slipping along the wall, she moved into the office. The lights were off, she didn't dare turn them on...did she? She tugged her lip between her teeth. For just a minute or two, she decided.

A map on the wall seemed to have several points marked...those were where the drugs were moved out of the country. When she was certain she could remember each of the points, and would be able to mark the 'plant', she raced back to where Miss Eloise waited.

"I have it!"


"Thanks again, for everything."

"You're welcome, Sunshine."


"Map," she mumbled.

Gary handed her the map of the area. Watched as she made several marks, then 'connected' them.

"The kids are being held by a group of aboriginal people. Actually, that group managed to save their lives. Drug runners. Lots of them, nasty bunch. They bring the stuff in here," she said, pointing to the dot that had multiple lines running to it. "They move it out from these places...after they take it down river. The village is in danger of being attacked...the men running this...'manufacturing plant' don't want witnesses, and there's too much chance of being seen as the business...grows."

He was nodding, jotting down notes, never realizing that he wasn't questioning or doubting the information she was giving him. "The kids are okay?"

"Scared, but yeah, they're okay. When the drug runners are gone, I have the feeling the aborigines will just...disappear back into the jungle. They've been...well, their land's sort of been invaded by these assholes. I get the feeling that several of their people have been killed."

"We'll take care of it. I'll be able to call the local government in on this," Gary said.

"And when they ask where you came by your information?"

He grinned. "I never reveal my sources. It could endanger them."

She smiled. "I'll bet it could."

He glanced at his watch. "I have to go."

She stood to her feet when he rose from his chair. "I'm...I'm glad you found me," she said softly.

"So am I."

"Look, I can't make any promises, because I don't know what our schedule will be...but if we're...um...in town...for the Fourth, we'll probably have a barbecue. I'd like it if you could come. Your friends are welcome as well."

"If we're not on a case, that sounds nice. I'll give you a call."

"I promise to stay in touch...if you want me to."

"Oh, Casey, I want that very much. I'll do the same."

She nodded. Felt tears forming in her eyes.




As he sat on the plane later, he still wasn't able to determine who had actually made the first move. All he knew was that somehow she was in his arms, and he was hugging his daughter. The ache that had plagued him, making his arms hurt so badly, had eased considerably after that moment.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Knowing that his 'kids' were all right, the nagging feeling in his gut calm and quiet, Jack announced that he, Sam, and Teal'c were returning to Colorado. He figured Daniel and Casey would probably spend one more night before heading for home themselves. They deserved a little down time.

Daniel called the courthouse to learn when a lunch break could be expected in the case of Washington State vs. Helen Webster. The bailiff informed him that the judge had set one o'clock to two o'clock as the lunch hour for the trial.

They made love in the shower, and Casey determined that the special plans she had for him would be a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Whatever Preston had to say, she knew that she wouldn't be required to testify again. Her part in the trial was finished. She could finally, permanently close the door on that part of her life.


A  A  A  A  A  A


They were sitting on one of the benches that lined the long, wide hallway of the fourth floor. When the doors of the courtroom opened, a heavy-set blonde burst through them, her eyes red and puffy. It was plain to see she'd been crying.

The blonde glanced over at the couple on the bench, paused, then turned slowly. She walked toward them, her fingers wrapped so tightly around the strap of her purse that her knuckles were white.

Casey stood to her feet, Daniel automatically rising as well. "Hello, Sheryl."

The chubby blonde nodded. "Hello, Casey."

"I...uh...I heard you're married."

"Yeah. Carl. Carl Carlin." Sheryl gave a small smile. "His mom wasn't very inventive when it came to naming him."

Casey smiled.

"I didn't know, Casey, I swear to god I didn't!"

"I know."


"We were both just trying to survive," Casey said softly.

"I was mean to you."

That was the truth, Casey thought glumly. In fact, Sheryl had gone out of her way to be mean...tried to get her into trouble. "Yes, you were."

"I'm so sorry."

"So am I."

"You...you never looked back, did you? When we took you to Western...that was it for you..."

"I was free," Casey confirmed. "No, I never looked back."

Again the chubby blonde nodded, her blue eyes full of understanding. "They're going to send her to prison."


"She'll never survive in there, you know."

"That's not my problem," Casey replied. "I'm tired Sheryl. I'm tired of fighting the pain, dealing with the scars that woman left on me...scars I'll battle for the rest of my life. I don't have any energy left. What happens to her, happens to her."

"You hate her," Sheryl whispered.

"Very much," Casey admitted easily.

"I guess I can't blame you."

"To be honest, I don't care if you do or don't. When I walk out of the doors of this place, I'm finished with everything associated with that part of my life."

"Dad...Frank left, you know. He has the house up for sale. He didn't say anything, he just left."

Casey smiled. For years she'd listened to the man who had adopted her talk...dream...of living in a little house by the sea...in some quiet little town in Mexico. She knew that Grandma Rose had left money to him, had it arranged so that Helen would never be able to get her hands on it. Had no doubt that the only way he could have access to that inheritance was to finally leave the woman who'd made his life as much a living hell as she had for the slender little blonde girl they...he...had adopted. "I'm sure he's happy now."

Sheryl frowned. "You know where he is?"

"No. An idea, maybe."

"He just left her in jail! How could he do that?"

"Because it's what she deserves," Casey replied. "He suffered, too. Probably more than I did."

"I wonder why she treated me so well?"

Casey looked at the woman as if she had grown a second head. Then shook her own. "Because you're just as angry and bitter as she is. The two of you were the same. Both of you delighted in tormenting those around you, in an attempt to feel better about yourselves."

The woman drew in a sharp breath, her plump hand going to her ample bosom. Carl had said the exact same thing. Just before he gave her the ultimatum of getting counseling, or a divorce. "I was just a little kid," she said defensively.

"So was I."

Mr. Preston walked toward the two women. "Mrs. Jackson, may I have a moment of your time?"

Casey glanced at the man, smiled and nodded. Turned her attention back to the woman who had been anything but a sister. "Goodbye, Sheryl. I wish you all the best."

Daniel put his arm around Casey's shoulders, steered her past the gaping woman, and toward the waiting attorney.

Preston smiled as they approached, motioned toward one of the benches. "I wanted to tell you that you did a fantastic job on the stand."

"Thank you."

"I understand that you were unaware that your father was in the courtroom."

"I didn't know he was anywhere near," Casey replied truthfully.

"That little outburst allowed me to take a direction in my cross examination of your...of Mrs. Carlin...that set the foundation for the abuse you suffered. Mrs. Webster is scheduled to take the stand this afternoon."

"I can't be in there," Casey gasped.

"No! Oh, no! I don't expect you to sit through that. I did, however, wish to discuss with you the additional charge of slander. After what was said in the courtroom, there is no doubt that we could win a civil suit against her."

Casey shook her head. "No. I just want to go home. I want to forget about this...all of it."

Mr. Preston nodded. "I understand," he said quietly. "I'll send word of the verdict, when it's reached."


The Assistant District Attorney stood to his feet. "It's been an honor knowing you, Mrs. Jackson. I wish you well."

"Thank you. And you also."

With a nod toward Daniel, the man hurried down the corridor.

"Now what?" Daniel asked.

She turned to look up at her husband. "Remember those new memories I said we'd make in that room?"

He smiled. Felt his body react to those softly spoken words as ardently as if she'd touched him. "Yeah, I do."

"I think this afternoon we should make those memories."

"I think that sounds like a terrific idea." He smiled when her arm went around his waist. They walked out of the building, down the steps in front, ignored the reporters who called after her. He glanced at her face. For her, this part of her life really was over. She would struggle with the scars her childhood had left on her heart, her psyche, for years to come. But she had closure. Which could only aid the healing process.

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