Author's Notes: I wanted to finish it so it wouldn't be sitting in the bottom of my profile forever. Sorry if it's a bit abrupt, but it was written and posted all in one night so I could get it off my mind. Thanks for all of your encouragement and especially Sara Grissom for her excellent betaing.
Edited and replaced because I changed the dad's name -- whoops. Thanks for catching that, SG.
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She took cautious steps to the door, opening it slowly.
Her father looked at the smoldering cigarette in her hand. "I thought you gave that up, Heather."
She quickly stamped it out on the wall of the apartment, next to the doorjamb. "I did. Just . . . " Trailing off, she dropped the cigarette to the floor and began again. "What are you doing here?"
"Uh, nothing much." Mark made his way into the apartment as she shut the door behind him. "Nice place."
"Did you drop by to marvel at the décor?" Heather asked, her voice laden with sarcasm. "Or to just delay me in my job or what?"
Mark stopped while he was pacing around the empty living room. "What job?" He asked. "You're just going to hide here with the kid until Joe says so?"
She stared at him, confused.
"When I worked for Joe -- as long ago as that seems -- we caught these guys. The guys who are looking for that kid. I went undercover as a male model." He grinned, recalling the memory. "Thing is, now they're free. And they have money."
"Spit it out." She demanded. "Where are you going with this, dad?"
He sighed. "We could hand her over. They've offered me a lot, and -- "
"You?" Heather cried out in disbelief. "You gave me away to them?"
"Heather," he protested, "it could be like it was before. We could get a nice house back in New York. It could be like it was before mom went."
She moved further away from the kitchen, trying to distance her father from Libby. "It was miserable between us after mom went, you know that. And I'm not prepared to put a kid in harm's way, let alone my friends."
He shrugged. "You're not going to cooperate?" Trying to push past her, he was surprised to see her arm reach across and stop him. "They're waiting downstairs. They're not going to let you get away with this."
She stepped back and pulled out her gun, aiming it at him with a steady hand. "Leave."
Smirking, he asked, "You're not going to shoot me, are you? Your own father?"
"Just leave and I won't have to deal with that, OK?"
He tried to push past her again and she pulled the trigger, meaning for it to miss him. But the bullet meant to scare him ended up in his chest, and as he fell back she let out a moan. Mark said nothing as he died, just gave her a final look. It's meaning she couldn't interpret -- was it guilt, or desperation, or apology?
Her phone rang just then. "Heather." She said, grateful her voice was not too shaky.
"It's me." Came Joe's reassuring voice. "We can see them downstairs. We're going to get you out of there, so be patient. Let us just clear them out first, although, uh, that may be a few hours."
"OK, thanks." She said, hanging up and closing the door. After she turned the padlocks and pushed in the last lock, she headed back to the kitchen.
"What was that?" Libby asked, obviously puzzled by who the stranger was at the door and what the gunshot was. Her fingers traced the rings the glass made on the table, and the now-empty glass sat before her waiting to be refilled.
"Nothing." Heather said, sitting down across from her. "Is it OK with you if we wait here for a little while?"
The girl shrugged. "Good." Said Heather with a smile. "But don't worry, we'll be out of here soon." And together they waited.