Looking at the woman standing in front of him, Xander knew without a doubt she was lying to him. His second day in town, he had gone through the short list of leads Gibbons had supplied him with. Mostly ex-roommates of one very hard to find Reggie Morgan. None of them had anything good to go by. Most hadn't seen her in almost a year. Pretty much the time she'd graduated from CU and had met Mazzetelli.



But the stubborn cow glowering back at him had definitely seen Reggie. Just at the mention of Reggie's name had made the woman's mouth snap shut and her eyes narrow in suspicion.



"Lets play a little game shall we?" Leaning his hulking frame against the doorframe, flexing his muscles a few times. Hopping to intimidate the shrew with his large stature. If he did, she hid her discomfort well.



"Listen, I don't have time for games. I have a deadline to meet. A family dinner I'm being forced to attend and to really tell you the truth I'd rather lick the mold off my bathroom walls than talk to some over inked freak that Nik sent. So why don't you go back to your Master kiss his ass and tell him Reggie wasn't here. Hasn't been here, won't be here because she's way to smart to show up here again." With one last twitch of her nose, the woman tried to slam the door in his face.



Quick reflexes had his foot stopping the door. "Listen Miss..."



"Granger. It's written on that little piece of paper wadded up in your hand. I know Nik isn't real keen on having employees that are smarter than him, but really. Most second graders can sound out most words." Lifting an irritating brow at him. A little smirk appeared on her face. "It's not that hard. Grrrr - aaa - nnnn - ggg - eerr."



If he wasn't so tired he might have laughed. Even though Miss Grrraaannngggeerr was a little on the heavy side she had more personality in her little finger than most people had combined in a zip code. "I don't work for Mazzettelli. Her Father sent me. He's worried -." His words faltered as the female's face darkened.



"Her Father sent you?" Even though her eyes were still stormy, she sounded highly amused. "Right. Okay listen. As much fun as it has been talking to you, watching you flex those ape arms of yours and all. I gotta get back to my report. So say hey to the General for me." Pushing him solidly in the chest, she managed to catch him off guard long enough to swiftly shut the door and turn the deadbolt from inside.


"If you see her," Yelling loud enough so several neighbors stick their heads out into the hallway, Xander glared at them until they all retreated. "Tell her a friend is looking for her."



"Whatever." A muffled voice answered. Turning to walk away, Xander cast one last look toward the door before getting into the elevator and pushing the 'lobby' button.



~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~



"Is he gone?" Peeking from the hallway to where her best friend Leslie Granger was standing, Reggie quieted when she put a finger to her mouth.



After a few tense minutes, Leslie tiptoed up to the thick oak door and looked through the peep hole. "I think it's safe."



Snorting, Reggie slouched against the wall and took a few deep breaths. "I'm not safe until I get back to my Father."


It was Leslie's turn to snort. A habit they had both shared from their college days. "Oh yes. The kind, gentle loving man he is."



"I know he's a little rough around the edges..." Skimming her hands through her curly auburn hair, Reggie let out a long breath. "That guy at the door?"



"Mr Tattoos? Didn't look like any of the other guys Nik has sent over here to get you when you two were fighting." Leslie cast a worried glance toward the door. "Even though he looked dangerous and could definitely be mistaken for one of Nik's thugs, I don't get the impression he's one of them."



"Why do say that?" Reggie asked. "Do you think my Father sent him?"



"I've seen the men who work for your father." Leslie's eyes took on a dreamy look. "Remember our Sophomore year when we thought we'd 'sneak' off for Spring vacation?"



"How can I forget?" Groaning as if in pain, Reggie remembered her one attempt at being a normal college kid. Packing a bag at the last second and jumping onto a plane heading for Los Vegas. Their little holiday lasted less then two days before her father and four of his men decided to drop in. He'd said at the time he'd been worried. To her it was more like him trying to run her life. Again.



"No his men are clean cut, polite, don't look like they could be members of the Hells Angels."



"Then he's not one of my Father's men. He only picks the very best from MIT and West Point." Chewing on her lower lip, Reggie's face looked thoughtful. "Maybe we should pushup the plan. Whoever that guy was, he might be back. I can't be here if he does."



"I need to go to work tonight so I can grab the last of the stuff. I guess I could come home early if I say I'm feeling sick." A slow nervous smile spread across Leslie's face.



Reggie knew what her friend was risking. What could happen if their little scheme backfired. Guilt swirled inside her stomach. She couldn't ask her best friend to do this. It was going above and beyond the bounds of friendship. Once again she was pulling in an innocent person into something that was nothing but trouble. "Leslie thank you for doing this. But if you want to back out now, I wont blame you."



"If it weren't for you I never would've made it through my freshman year. And don't try to pull the Martyr Reggie act with me. I want to do this. So why don't I go get ready." Leslie's eyes roamed over her friend's appearance. Reggie looked thinner than usual. Dark circles rimmed her emerald green eyes that lacked their usual sparkle. "Maybe you should think about taking a long hot bath, eat something and grab some sleep."



"Are you trying to say that I look dirty, starving and like a zombie?"



"No." Leslie drawled as she walked down the hallway. "I was saying that you look like crap."



~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~



Shoving the rest of the shredded beef burrito into his mouth, Xander stared at the laptop in front of him and drew a blank. Some babysitting mission. He'd have to have someone to watch and right now he was drawing blanks. If it were some end of the world mission he would've had the case halfway done by now.



"Great. Just freaking great." Muttering darkly under his breath. Going over the conversations over the last few days, he kept coming back to one annoying little Leslie Grrrraaannnnggerrrr. She was lying. That much was obvious. But unless Gibbons would turn a blind-eye to a little torture, Xander had no idea how he was going to prove he was right unless he were to lower himself to surveillance.



The sound of his communicator interrupted his fowl thoughts. Flipping open the tiny black box, Xander scowled at Gibbon's concerned expression. "What?"



"What have you found?" Usually Gibbon's no nonsense attitude didn't phase him. But two days in, the girl no where in sight, Xander was at the end of his rope.



"Oh a little of this a little of that..." His deep raspy voice held little humor.



"Nothing huh?"




"You narrowed down her location to a state Gibbons. A state you're not entirely sure she's still in." Standing up from the wobbly hotel table, Xander stalked over to the large picture window that had a perfect view of the mountains. "No one know's where she last called from. There's been no other contact with her. Gee I can't see why I don't have her safely handcuffed to my side."



"Did you check out the list of her old roommates?" Gibbon's asked, ignoring the little temper tantrum.



"Yeah, all dead ends. Except."



"Except what?"



"Leslie Grr..." Clearing his throat, Xander turned back to the communicator, clearing his throat. "Ah, Leslie Granger. She's hiding something."



"What?"



"Well if I knew she wouldn't be hiding anything now would she?"



"X." Gibbon's threatened.



"I don't know for sure. Just a feeling." Chuckling under his breath, Xander felt some of the tension lifting from his shoulders.



"Did you get inside her apartment?"



"No. Bossy Bessie said she had a report to get done for work. Didn't appreciate the interruption."



"Did you say report?" Gibbon's voice was filled with exasperation.



"Did I stutter?"



"Xander are you losing your edge? Do I need to put you out to pasture? Miss Granger is a registered nurse. In pediatrics. She's gone through her intern rotation, has been out of school for over a year. Any reports she needs to get done are finished at work."



"Shit."