Julie walked into her new home. She noted that it was a little bigger than her home, but it didn't have that family feel that she got accustomed to.
"Okay, you can start getting your stuff from the car. I need to make some phone calls." Tracy said, walking right past her.
"You're not going to help me?" Julie asked. "Figures." She said under her breath.
"Well, you start a new school on Monday and I have to make sure everything is just right. Oh you room is the last room down the hall upstairs."
Julie just sighed and headed out side. It took her a good twenty minutes to get all the stuff to her new room. She sat down on her bed when she was finally done and took a good look at her new room. "Boring." she said quietly. She noticed the box that Harry and Fran had given her and decided that it was the right time to open it. She slowly opened and took out what looked to be a book. When she opened the book, she saw pictures of her whole family, and smiled. 'A photo album' she thought. She looked at the pages of the album carefully and felt the tears come down her face. When she finished looking at it she closed it and wiped the tears off her face. She started putting her things away in the drawers and in the closet. Wally did call her for dinner but she declined. She was too tired to eat. She decided to go to sleep early. When she finally laid
down on her new bed in her new house, she was quite uncomfortable.
'I guess I'll get used it' she thought as she closed her eyes.
About two weeks later, Julia was sitting in her room like she had all this time. She was pretty much alone in the house except for the help. For people who said they loved her so much she'd hardly seen them. Her new school was more like a country club than a school. She had loved school and was a good student, but now nothing seemed to hold any interest to her. The girls there kinda made her an outcast. She didn't have one friend. She just wanted to go home. "Hell, I might as well be living here alone." she thought to herself and
couldn't help but chuckle a little. Julia started going through the photo album that she'd gone through a hundred times since she'd come here. She wanted nothing more than to go home. A knock at the door brought her out of her thoughts. The door slowly opened to reveal one of the maids. She was an elderly woman. She could've been someone's grandmother.
"Dear, are you hungry? You didn't eat much at dinner." the kind woman asked.
"No, thank you, Hannah. I appreciate it though." Julia smiled. The woman looked at the young girl and then nodded. The woman could see that Julia was unhappy here and no one seemed to take notice. So she's slipped a piece of cake or something special in her room and usually, Julia ate it. Julia just sat in the window and stared out at the setting sun. She missed her home. She wondered what her family was doing. She glanced at her watch. If they didn't have a last minute homicide, everyone would be getting ready to sit down to dinner.
Rita had set the table with Jake's help. Jake's been over almost every night since Julia left. She looked at the young man, and then out the double doors to her husband, who was sitting on the deck in a chair watching the sunset. These two were lost in their own grief like no one else was hurting. By God, she was hurting just as much! She'd lost a daughter in all this, too!
"Christopher James Lorenzo, get in here now!" Rita yelled as she put her hands on her hips.
Then she turned to a startled Jake. "And you sit down." The twins, who'd been babbling among themselves in their high chairs, stopped and stared at their mother. Chris got up and came in to see what was
going on. "Sit down." Rita said. Chris looked at Jake and he took a seat.
"You know, you two are something else. You two have been walking around her for the last two weeks like you're the only ones who have lost someone. Well, I have news for you. Julia was just as much my daughter, if not by blood but by love, as she is your daughter. I love her, too, but we can't just stop living because she's not here. She wouldn't want that. She'll be eighteen in twenty-four and a half months. We'll just have to keep it together until she can come home." Rita explained as tears began to overwhelm her. Chris and Jake both
realized what she was telling them. Chris got up and took his wife in his arms.
"I'm sorry." Chris said as they both stood there crying. "I just can't stand that I can't have all my children here with me.
"So, do I Chris. I just can't believe that we'd lose because of our work." Rita said. Jake wished Julie was there. Just then, there was a knock at the door.
"I'll get it." Jake said. Jake opened the door to find a Deputy Sheriff standing there.
"Is Mr. Christopher Lorenzo home?" the man asked.
"Yeah. Chris?" Jake called. Chris and Rita came to the living room.
"Are you Christopher Lorenzo?" "Yes." Chris answered.
"These are yours." the man said and handed the papers to Chris and left.
Chris opened them. I don't freaking believe this." Chris said.
"What?" Rita asked.
"Tracy's put a restraining order on us. According to this, we're not to have any contact with Julie for the next 60 days." Chris explained.
"She can't do that. Julie's supposed to come home this weekend." Jake jumped in.
"Apparently, she can. Get Charles on the phone. She might have taken my daughter, but by God, she's not going to keep me from her forever."
"Well, Chris should've gotten the restraining order by now." Tracy laughed as she sipped at her glass of wine.
"Good." Edwards said as poured himself a glass of brandy.
"Julia turned sixteen in a few more days. We just have to wait until then. She signs the papers and then we're rich."
"What are we going to do with the kid after that?" Tracy asked.
"Well, just give her back to her father. She'll have out lived her usefulness after that." Wally said.
Tracy sipped at her glass. "Not if I have anything to say about it." Tracy thought to herself.
Julia, who'd decided to go down to the kitchen herself, stood listening at the door. She'd only heard the last part about the money and most important, she could go back to her father. But instead of being relieved, she couldn't help but become angry. Tracy had taken her away just for money. It had nothing to do with love. Something was wrong here. And what was the deal with her having to sign papers for money? Whether it was just natural curiosity or living too long with detectives for parents, she wanted to find out what was going on. If she was going home, she was going to make sure that Tracy could never come after her again.
Julie went about her school day as usual. The others at the school made sure that Julie knew where she ranked in the scheme of things. It had been bothering her, but since last night, she felt like she had gotten a second wind. Something was going on with Tracy and Wally, who were now spending money like there was no tomorrow. Whatever it was, it had to do with her and her impending birthday just two weeks away. She was so lost in her own thoughts, that she didn't notice the familiar person coming up to her.
"You know, plaid just isn't your style." a voice said. Julie jumped, thinking that maybe she was just hearing things. But when he turned around, she looked into the familiar face of her best friend, who was
holding a red tulip.
"Jake." Julia whispered and then threw her arms around him. "Oh, God, it's so good to see you."
"It's good to see you." Jake said as he held her just as tight.
"How'd you get in here?" Julia suddenly asked as she composed herself.
"I walked in. It's amazing what a little jacket can do for your image." Jake said as he wiped a tear away. "Besides, I missed my best friend. I was willing to fight an army to get here."
"How is everyone? Is Dad okay? Are the twins giving Mom a hard time?" Julie began rattling off questions.
"Whoa, there. One question at a time." Jake laughed. "Everyone's alright. They miss you, but they're alright. Your Dad could be better and the twins are fine."
"What's wrong with Dad?" Julie asked.
"Tracy served him with a restraining order. He can't see you for another sixty days." Jake explained.
"What? She said I could go home for a weekend." Julia said.
"I know. She's really got it in for your father." Jake said. "So, how are you holding up?"
"I might as well be living by myself. The only people I talk to is the help. Tracy and Wally are out on a shopping spree." Julia explained. "I wanna go home."
"I know." Jake said.
There was a slight pause. "Jake, I'm going to say something that sounds completely crazy, but I think something's going on with Tracy and Wally."
"Something would have to be for them to want to come get you." Jake said.
"No, Jake, I mean it. Something's going on and whatever it is, it's going to take place on my birthday." Julia said and then gave him her best puppy dog look. "Will you help me find out what it is?"
"Oh, no. You are not dragging me into this." Jake backed away.
"Oh, c'mon, Jake. My parent's hands are tied. Ours aren't. You and I can find a way to get me back with Mom and Dad." Julie pleaded.
"Well, Ms. Juvenile Delinquent. We have a small problem." Jake said. Julie looked at him, waiting for his explanation. "I'm in Palm Beach and you're here. Not to mention the slight problem of both of us being under age. If your mother finds out you're trying anything out of the ordinary, she can turn it around to look bad for your father. Trust me on this. Been there, done that." Jake explained.
"Since when has that ever stopped us?" Julie said. "Look, you're my only hope. I have to get back to my family. It may sound crazy, but I think Tracy and Wally have a little more than wanting a family as a motive. Help me, Jake." Jake looked at her and saw the desperation there. Julia Lorenzo was one person he just couldn't seem to say no to. And as much as it maybe wrong, he'd follow her anywhere at anytime without so much as a second thought.
He sighed heavily. "Alright, what do you want me to do?" Jake gave in.
"I'll let you know. I have to get a game plan. We're going to be a little detecting on our own." Julie brightened up. Before Jake could even say anything and talk her out of this, a horn sounded. Julie gave him a quick kiss to the cheek and took off.
"Why do I have a bad feeling about this?" Jake asked aloud.
Things around the Lorenzo household since Julie had left hadn't been well. It wasn't easy to try and explain to two year olds that the big sister they adored couldn't be there. Especially today. Frannie had taken them to the zoo and they wanted to tell her all about it.
"Juwie! Juwie!" they both yelled. Chris and Rita looked at each other.
"I'll take care of it." Rita said. Chris only nodded and headed out back. Rita went upstairs and met the twins in Julie's room.
Samantha started crying. "Where Juwie?" she cried.
"Honey, we've told you. Julie had to go live with her mommy for a little while." Rita explained as she sat on Julie's bed and pulled her daughter onto her lap.
"But you her mommy. Juwie say so." CJ added. "Want Juwie home now!"
"I miss Sissy." Sam buried her head in her mother's shoulders.
"I know. We all miss her." Rita said as she hugged the twins. After a little more explanation and quick talking, Rita went to change clothes. As she did, Rita realized that something was missing. It was the teenager with her father's sapphire eyes that usually stretched across the bed asking about cases they were working on only to end up talking about things that were only important to teenagers. Rita smiled as she remembered some of the special moments. The girl talk. The time Julie had a huge crush on a boy at school. He'd finally asked her out only to be stood up. Then Jake punched him in the nose. The dreaded 'Birds and Bees' talk. Rita didn't realize how much she missed her daughter. Later that night, a storm came rolling in complete with thunder and lightning. It woke Rita up. She half expected Julie to come sneaking in. As brave as Julie was, she was terrified of thunder and lightning. Chris must've thought the same thing because he
sat up on his elbows.
"You think she's alright?" Rita asked.
"I hope so. It's driving me nuts that we can't even talk to her." Chris said as he laid back down.
"She's terrified of thunder and lightning." Rita said as she curled up next to Chris. "I miss our daughter."
"So do I, Sunshine. So do I." Chris sighed.
Julie sat on her bed, jumping every time the thunder crashed or the lightning struck. She wished she was at home in her own bed. Even at almost sixteen years of age, she wound up in her parents' bed. Somehow, she figured that Tracy and Wally wouldn't be so understanding. This time when she jumped, it wasn't because of
thunder. Someone was out in the hall and then she heard hurried voices.
"Keep it down! You're going to wake Julie." she heard her mother say.
"Keep it down? How could you spend so much money in one day?" Wally asked. Then Julie couldn't hear their voices anymore. Carefully, she opened the door and came into the hallway. She made her way down the hall feeling the adrenaline pumping. The door to the study was slightly opened and the lights were on. She listened at the door. "I'm putting a cap on the money. Starting tomorrow, we're moving to a new house. After that, you will check with me before spending a dime. Now, back to Julia. As soon as she
signs over the money, we can send her back to her father." Wally said.
"I am not sending my daughter back to some cop. I was thinking something along the lines of boarding school in Europe." Tracy said. "That way, we get what we want and I still win." Julie couldn't believe it. She knew her mother didn't have some kind of change of heart! Thunder crashed and she jumped, bumping
into a table next to the door. Julie knew she was caught.
"What was that?" Wally asked. Julie turned and ran back to her room. She jumped back in her bed and covered back up trying to fight her breathing to return to normal. She heard the door to her room open and then close again. Julie risked a look and sighed with relief. A moment later, she heard the door to her
mother's room close. Finally, the house was silent except for the sounds of the weakening storm. As she laid there, Julie began formulating a plan. She would have ten days to put together a case and get back to her father. She reached under the bed and began making plans. But she was going to ask for direct help from her father first.
The next morning, Tracy dropped Julie off. But instead of going inside, she waited and caught a bus to the Palm Beach Police Department. She scanned the parking lot hoping that her parents weren't out on a case. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw their car. She walked in and people looked at her surprised.
"Julia?" a voice said. Julie spun around to find Harry standing there.
"Grandpa." Julie said and ran to hug him.
"Honey, it's so good to see you." Harry hugged her tightly. "What are you doing here?"
"I need to talk to Dad. I knew I'm not supposed to see him, but it's important." Julie explained.
"Well, c'mon. Chris and Rita are just finishing up with some questioning." Harry led the way down the hall to the
interrogation rooms. They pasted a prisoner and Harry knocked on the door. "Hey, I have a surprise for you two." Harry said as he entered the room. Then Julie followed.
"Julia!" Chris and Rita yelled and moved to hug her. Julie readily welcomed it. She missed it.
"I've missed you guys so much." Julie started crying.
"We've missed you so much." Chris said. "What are you doing here?"
"Shouldn't you be in school?" Rita asked.
"Yes, but I need to talk to you guys. It's important." Julie said as she collected herself.
"Why? What's going on?" Chris asked.
"I think there's something going on with my mother and Wally." Julie explained." Now before you start with my vivid imagination, let me explain."
"Okay." Chris said. "What's got this idea started?"
"Well, to begin with. I think Tracy and Wally lied about their excellent financial status. I did some prying and found bill that areas much as six months overdue. Even some of the staff has had problems getting their pay." Julie began as she took a seat. "Now, apparently, we're fixing to move into a bigger house. Tracy's spending money like there's no tomorrow."
"Okay. So, they're spending a lot of money. That's not unusual." Rita said playing Devil's Advocate.
"I know. I just think it's strange that Tracy spent over five thousand dollars when they only have three thousand in the bank. Tracy quit her job day before yesterday and Wally just bought a yacht. I also happen to think it strange that they're making a big deal out of my birthday. Something's going to happen then
and I have to sign something. After that, Tracy's sending me to boarding school in Europe. I hate to tell them this, but they' can't afford it." Julie explained. The room was quiet as Julie looked from her parents to her grandfather. "What? You don't think this is strange?" Julie asked, half expecting them to get moving on investigating this thing.
"No, you've brought up some very interesting points. And you may be right that something's going on, but I think you should leave this to us. So get the notion out your head right now." Chris said before Julie could say anything. "We'll look into it. Maybe there's something to this, but leave it to us."
"Chris is right. And whether you like it or not, you're still a kid and you could get hurt." Rita smiled and put an arm around her.
"But I want to help." Julie said.
"You just did. By bringing this to our attention. Now, are you doing alright?" Chris asked. "You look like you've lost a little weight."
"I'm alright. I didn't get much sleep last night." Julie admitted.
"Well, what say we take you somewhere special to eat?" Chris said.
"Why don't you go over to Frannie's? I'm sure she'd like to see Julie and that way you guys won't have to worry about being seen." Harry suggested.
"Maybe Grandma will make some of her tea." Julie said.
"I'm sure she would." Harry said. "You're the only one who likes it." They laughed. Julie just felt good being home for a little bit. But if they thought she was just going to bow out, they all had another thing coming.
The next day, Chris and Rita came into the department as usual. Although they miss Julie as much as she missed them, they made Julie go back to her mother. Julie reluctantly left, but she left with a smile, since she was happy to everyone in her family. Julie promised to keep in touch by sending messages through Jake, who was happy to help any way he could.
As Chris and Rita headed to her office, Harry called them to his office. Rita and Chris looked at each other, wondering what this was about. They both walked into Harry's office and sat down.
"I've decided to take you two off of the case you two are working on so you two can focus on this whole thing on Tracy and Wally."
"Thanks, Harry. I guess if Julie thinks something is going on, we might well check if there is. "Chris said.
"Yea, and she is half like her father, she's probably just imagining things." Rita said.
"Hey!" Chris said, giving Rita a look. Harry laughed. Then he gave them several files.
"What's this?" Rita asked.
"Well, I decided to give you guys a head start."
"Wow. You're actually giving us a hand. Why don't you help us on other cases?" Chris asked.
"Because this is personal. If there is really going with Tracy and Wally, I want Julie to get out of that place before she can get hurt."
"Well, hopefully we will have nothing to worry about." Rita said. "We'll talk to you again around lunch to bring you up to date." Chris and Rita left the office and headed towards her office. It was going to be long day.
A few hours later, Chris was looking through a file, while Rita was on the phone. "Man, it looks like Mr. Cramer had a little gambling obsession. For the past 3 months, he has taken at least 10 trips to Atlantic City and about 5 trips to Vegas." Chris said as Rita got off the phone. Chris looked at Rita and saw the look she had on. "What's wrong?"
"Well, it seems neither Wally nor Tracy have paid any of there bills for the past 4 months."
"What?" Chris said in amazement.
"I know. I don't know how they get away with it. And it doesn't even look like neither of them have a job that could pay all those over due bills, gambling debts and the sudden shopping trips that Tracy seems to have been taking."
"Something is definitely going here. I don't know what, but there is something." Chris said.
Rita looked at her watch. "I think it time we spoke to Harry."
Chris nodded his head and got up. Rita followed him out the door.
"Well, there is something going on." Harry said.
"We know that, but we are not sure what. Why are they spending so much money, since they really don't have any money to spend is the question we have to answer." Chris said.
"Yeah, and we only have 6 days to figure out what is going to happen, or we might be too late." Rita said with a little sadness in her voice.
"Rita, don't worry, we'll figure it out. Nothing is going to happen to Julie." Chris said.
"Well, I did some more searching of my own, and it seems Tracy has been using other names to get away from her unpaid bills. That's why she hasn't been caught." Harry said.
"Is that enough for us to get back the custody of Julie?' Chris asked.
"Not yet. I don't think we don't have enough concrete information on Tracy and Wally." Harry replied.
"Well, we have less than six days to find some more concrete information, or we'll be too late." Chris said. The other two nodded and they all got back to work.
Meanwhile, Julie looked around her school's library to see if Jake had come yet. She told her mother that she was staying late after school for a club and she was coming home late.
"Pssst! Julie!" She heard someone call her. She looked around and she found Jake hiding in the bushes.
"Jake! What are you doing hiding in there?" Julie asked as she walked towards him.
"I don't know. I just felt like hiding." Jake said with a laugh.
"Come on, Jake. We have a lot of work to do and we only 6 days to find out what's up with Tracy and Wally." Julie said as she pulled him out of the bushes and into the library.
"Why are we going into the library?" Jake asked.
"Well, for a couple of reasons. One, it's really quiet. Two, it's more than likely that any of my classmates will actually come in here. And three, the librarian likes me, so she doesn't mind if we use one of the rooms in the back."
"Julia! A room in the back? I never thought you liked me like that."
"Oh, shut up, Jake! We have to be serious. This is a really big deal."
"Okay, I'll try to be serious." Jake said, putting on serious face. Then he just smiled. Julie laughed at his goofiness, and led him into the library. Julie waved to Ms. James, who was putting books. Ms. James waved back and nodded her head in recognition. Julie opened the room in the back and put her book bag on the table. Jake shut the door and sat down. Julie sat right down next to him and pulled a whole stack of paper
out of her book bag.
"Wow! Did you get their life stories?" Jake asked in amazement.
"Not exactly. I just try information on them from the past couple of years, especially Wally, since he came out from no where. All this is newspaper stuff, and other things I was getting some bank statements and other important information."
"Don't you have any school homework?" Jake asked as thumbed through some of the papers.
"You know, I really don't pay attention in this school. I'm always day dreaming to get out of this nightmare. Unlike Palm Beach High, where most people liked me, here people don't care about anything but looks and bank accounts. Everything so egotistical. And I'm so lonely here. No one talks to me. At least at PBH, I know I always had at least one person to talk to." Julie smiled at Jake.
"To tell you the truth, PBH isn't the same without you." Jake said, smiling back.
"Anyways, let's get back to what we were doing. I was able to find bills that are least 5 months old and still unpaid." Julie said. "Oh! And I was also able find out why Wally has been MIA all of a sudden. He seems to be a huge gambler. I found plane tickets to either Atlantic City or Las Vegas. But he isn't a good gambler, though. He's almost a half a million in debt."
"What! Man, he owes someone a lot of money, and usually it's someone really bad." Jake said with worry.
"What's wrong?' Julie asked.
"Oh, nothing. Let's go back these papers." The two went over the papers, trying to put the piece to the puzzle, for the next two hours. Julie noticed that Jake wasn't acting like himself. She stopped what she was doing and looked at Jake.
"What?" Jake said as he noticed Julie just looking at him.
"Jake, something is wrong. What it is?"
"Nothing is wrong. Everything is just fine."
"Stop lying. You're my best friend. I know these things." Julie pleaded with him.
"Okay, I'll spill it. The thing is if someone has revenge for Wally or Tracy, you might be the one caught in the middle of it. It's hard enough that I can only see you only so often. You getting hurt would be just killing me." Jake said. Julie smiled.
"Jake, don't worry. Everything is going to be fine. What ever what does happen in 6 days, I'm going to be fine." Julie said. Then she smiled again. "Gee, Jake, I never knew you were so sentimental. Should I be worried?" Julie started laughing.
"Are you making fun of me, even after I have a sensitive moment? Why I outta..." Then Jake thought of something. "Ah, wait...I remember someone being extremely.." Jake smiled. Julie knew exactly what Jake was going to do.
"Jake, please don't do what I think what you're going to do."
"Sorry, I have to." Jake got closer to Julie.
"Jake, please don't."
"Sorry, but when someone makes fun of me..."
"...I start tickling them." Jake started tickling Julie, knowing that Julie has always been ticklish.
"Jake, please stop!" Julie said giggling.
"Say you're sorry."
"Okay! I'm sorry!"
"Okay, I'll stop." Jake stopped. After a while, Jake and Julie started laughing. Then they looked at each other, and they both stopped laughing. Jake realized how close their bodies were and looked at Julie. Julie looked at Jake. Then she looked at the clock on the wall.
"Oh my God! Look at the time. I have to go Jake! I'll call you later tonight, okay?" Julie grabbed her things and gave Jake a quick kiss on the cheek. Jake saw her leave the room and sat back down in the chair. "I hope this thing ends soon." Jake said to himself. "Because Julie and I need to have a long talk, really soon."
As Julie left the library, she turned around and stopped. She sighed and shook her head. 'What's happening with me and Jake?' she wondered. Then she turned around and head home.
Julie came in the door and went straight to her room. She was exhausted and what happened between her and Jake this afternoon was weighing heavily on her mind. She had an idea of what was happening, but she wasn't sure if she was ready for it. After all, this wasn't the time or place for it at the moment. No sooner had Julie changed clothes when she when her mother walked in. By the look on her face, something was up. "What?" Julie asked, irritated.
"The school called me this morning. Apparently, you didn't show up for school yesterday. But that would be impossible since I dropped you off. You mind telling me where you were?" Tracy demanded.
"It's none of your business. It's not like you care." Julie answered as she continued to the bed.
"I can bet where you were. You skipped school and went to see your father. Don't lie to me."
"Oh, get off it, Mother. I'm not allowed to see my father for sixty days. You made sure of that. But then again, you always get your way." Julie fired back at her.
"That's right. If you go near your father, I swear I will make sure that you never see him or that woman again. I'm your mother!" Tracy yelled.
"Since when! You have never been my mother. You've always been too busy to even think about me unless it suits your purpose. I've raised myself and did a pretty darn good job, thank you very much. If I want to see my father, I will and you can't stop me. You lied to begin with to get me. "Julie faced down her mother.
"By the way, don't you think I deserve the truth now? Why did you come back? It wasn't because you loved me."
"Let's just say that you're serving my purpose. You really think you're so damn smart, don't you? You have no idea that you're in over your head. You're nothing more than a child." Tracy said.
"No. I stopped being a child when you started becoming one." Julie said. "I know more about you and Wally than you know about yourselves. I can and will get back to my father and you can't do anything to stop me."
"Oh, my dear I can. You see, I have the law on my side. I have custody of you and whether it's true or not, I can make things very tough on your father. You wouldn't want to be responsible for that, would you?" Tracy said. "I can also make life for you very difficult. But I'll make a deal with you. You keep your mouth shut and you do as you're told, you'll be home by your birthday. What do you say?"
"You're not going to let me go that easy. Remember who you're talking to." Julie said.
"I guess we'll just have to wait and see." Tracy turned to leave. When she did, she saw Julie's open backpack and some papers sticking out. She reached over and pulled a page out. Julie wished she could've died right there. She closed her eyes and waited for the outburst.
"What are you doing? Are you checking up on me?" Tracy demanded as she read the paper. "You've been feeding this to your father, haven't you?"
"No. Dad doesn't know anything about this." Julie pleaded.
"You're trying to destroy me. I won't let you do this." Tracy said.
"Mother, please." Julie said.
"I can't let you. You're giving me no choice." Tracy said as she backed out of the room.
"What are you talking about?" Julie asked as she watched her mother begin falling apart.
"You're not leaving this room." Tracy said as she picked up Julie's backpack and left the room. Julie ran to the door when she heard the lock.
"No! Mother, open this door! Mother, don't lock me in here!" she yelled as she banged on the door and began crying. " Mother!"
That night, Tracy called a doctor friend of hers and gave him the story that Julie wasn't sleeping very well due to this whole custody battle and if he could come by and give her something to help her sleep.
"Hello, Julia, I'm Doctor Franklin. I understand you haven't been able to sleep. Well, we can fix that." Doctor Franklin began filling a syringe. Julie knew that if they put her to sleep, there was no way she could get herself out of this. Julie tried to make a break for the door, but Wally had a bodyguard waiting outside
for just such a precaution.
"NO!" Julie yelled as he bodyguard grabbed her up in a bear hug. She was nothing compared to this guy.
"Mother, don't do this! Let me go!" Julie yelled at the top of her lungs, kicking and screaming.
"My dear, this is for your own good." Tracy said. And my own, she thought. Julie kicked and screamed right up until the last moment. The last thing she remembered was her mother thanking the doctor.
Jake arrived at the designated rendezvous point. It was nearly four thirty and Julie still hadn't shown up. It wasn't like her to do something like that, especially with something so important. He waited a little while longer and then decided to make a bold move. He went over to Julie's mother's house. He pulled into the driveway and then knocked on the door. An elderly, portly lady in a maid's uniform opened the door.
"Yes, may I help you?" she asked with a thick Spanish accent.
"Um, yes. My name is Jake. Is Julie home? She was supposed to tutor me in algebra." Jake smiled, innocently.
"I am afraid Miss Julia is not home. They have gone to St. Augustine for the day." the maid explained.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought she said next week." Jake urged.
"No, this was spur of the moment."
"Thank you. I'm sorry to have bothered you." Jake smiled politely.
"It was no problem." the maid smiled back and closed the door. Jake turned to head back to his car. This was not good. All of sudden Wally and Tracy have suddenly disappeared and Julie with them. Something wasn't right. He had a bad feeling that Tracy found out what they were doing. He decided to head home for some clothes and food. He was going to stake out the place for the evening and if they came back, he was taking Julie one way or the other. It was no longer safe. When Jake got back in the car, his cell phone rang
and it was his mother's boyfriend, Jason Walker had left a message that he needed to see him at his new office. Jake sighed heavily, but decided he better do this and not let anyone get suspicious. He walked into Newman &Frasier and asked for Jason. The secretary smiled at him and told him where to go.
"Jason's been expecting you." she smiled at him. Jake thanked her and headed down the long hallway. He stopped when he passed a door with a name plate on it: Michael Edwards. That was the name of the attorney that helped Tracy and Wally.
"Jake, there you are. Come in, come in." a voice said, scaring Jake half to death. Jake looked up to see Jason two doors down, waving him in. Jake slowly walked in and took in the office. It looked like every other attorney's office he'd ever been in. Large Oak desk, leather chair, ocean view, expensive paintings and a degree from Harvard hanging on the wall.
"Jake, you're probably wondering why I asked you here." Jason said as he closed the door.
"Well, the thought did cross my mind." Jake answered.
"I asked you here because I do understand that you are the man of the house and I would like to ask for your mother's hand in marriage." Jason spilled it.
Jake looked up at him on that one. "Excuse me? Are you asking my permission to marry my mother?" Jake asked to clarify.
"Yes." Jason answered and sat down in the leather seat next to him. "Jake, your mother and I have been seeing each other for over a year now, as you obviously know. I've come to love her and I'd like to make her my wife. But if you're not comfortable with this, then I'll back off."
Jake still couldn't believe what he was hearing. No one had ever considered his feelings about any of the last two marriages since his real father divorced his mother. "Well, I, um--. I don't know what to say." Jake began. "Jason, of all the others, I really like you and I think it's only fair that I warn you about my mother. Don't get me wrong, I love my mother, but marriage just isn't something she's very good at. She's always been 'the grass is greener on the other side' kinda person. Do you think you could handle someone like that?"
"I have thought about that. Jacob, I love your mother and I believe she loves me. I believe I can make her happy and the three of us can be a family. With the chance, I know I can make things work for all of us." Jason explained. "But I need your permission." Jake sat there a minute. The idea of having a real family like Julie had was an enticing offer. Only question was, was he really ready for it. But Jason seemed sincere and really believed he could make it work. Something about a Jason made him believe it could work.
"Alright. I give you permission for her hand in marriage." Jake smiled.
Jason beamed. "Thank you, Jake. You have no idea how much this means to me."
"I can imagine." Jake replied. Where did that come from? Jake asked himself. Jake and Jason talked a few more minutes before Jake was going to leave.
"Um, Jason?" Jake asked from the door.
"You do probate law, right? Do all the attorney's do probate law?" Jake asked curiously.
"For the most part. Some do a little criminal law. Some do a little property law. Why do you ask?"
"Just curious. Do you know much about Michael Edwards? Does he do child custody?"
"I think so. Interested in law, Jake?" Jason smiled, hopefully.
"Maybe." Jake smiled. "I'll see you later." Jake got in the car and headed home. He kept trying to put bits of the puzzle together. There had to be some kind of connection. Tracy and Wally had found someone who had child custody experience and probate experience. Maybe the thing that Julie was talking about signing was some kind of probate matter. But that was still the sixty four thousand dollar question. What was it?
Julie slowly woke in a strange bed in a strange room. She had no idea how long she'd been out or where she was. There were no windows in the room so she couldn't tell whether it was day or night. When she tried to sit up, the whole room started spinning. "Oh, God. I could've at least had a good time." Julie said aloud.
"I see our Sleeping Beauty's awake." a voice said. Julie jumped to find her mother standing a few feet away from her. "Good morning. For should I say, good afternoon?" Tracy smiled.
"Where are we?" Julie asked.
"Let's just say that we're not in Palm Beach. We're somewhere your father will never look."
"What are you going to do with me?" Julie asked, already fearing the answer.
"Nothing, my dear. Tomorrow's your birthday. Sweet Sixteen. After midnight when Charlie gets here, you will sign some papers and you'll be free to go home to your father." Tracy shrugged as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
"You're not going to let me go that easily. Remember who you're talking to."
"Well, you'll just have to wait and see won't you?" Tracy smiled and turned to leave. Julie got up on rubbery legs to see if the door was locked. It was.
"Well, you can't blame me for trying." Julie said as she leaned against the door. Somehow, she had to get out of here or at the very least, let someone know where she was.
It was nearly one o'clock in the morning when Jake came to the law firm of Newman & Frasier. He knew what he was about to do was wrong, but this was about Julie. He had sat outside Julie's house since around dark and still, no one had come or gone since the staff left at five. Something was definitely wrong and he knew that answers had to be in Edwards' office. He couldn't believe that he had snuck back to his house and
taken Jason's office keys.
"I can't believe I'm doing this." Jake said as he locked the door and punched in the security code to turn off the silent alarm.
"I've got to tell Jason about leaving the code on his key ring."
Jake made his way to Edwards' office and opened the door. The office was basically the same as Jason's. Jake began looking through the file F on his desk and the filing cabinet and found nothing.
"It's got to be here." Jake sat down frustratedly in the chair behind the desk.
"Stupid, check the desk itself." He checked the middle drawer and then the side ones. The one on the left bottom wouldn't open. Apparently, it was locked. He looked around and found the letter opener and a couple of paper clips. After several minutes and jiggling it, it popped open.
"Julie would be proud." Jake said in triumph. He began going through the file folders until he came to a file marked: Cramer, Wallace-Child Custody. The next one was marked: Cramer, Wallace-Probate.
"Yes!" Jake opened the file and found copied of a Last Will and Testament of one Daniel Wallace Cramer. From what little he could tell, he was Wally's father and there was a large clause highlighted. Apparently, a trust fund had been set up for the children of Wallace made with money from his company, Wallace Industries. That would explain why suddenly Tracy and Wally wanted Julie back so bad. Julie would collect the money on her sixteenth birthday. Jake glanced up at the clock and realized that it already was her birthday. He didn't have much time. He had to tell Chris and Rita about this and find Julie.
The phone rang and Chris reached for the phone. "Mr. Lorenzo? Um, this is Jason Walker, Evelyn's fiancée'."
"Yeah." Chris said as he began to wake up and sat up. "Is there something wrong?"
"I hope not. Jake didn't come home last night. I found some notes on his desk. Apparently, he was doing some research on a Wallace Cramer. I think him and Julie are investigating them." Jason explained.
"What makes you think that?" Chris asked, pretty much knowing he was probably right.
"Well, I called Jake down to the office today and he asked some questions about Michael Edwards. He's the one that Wallace Cramer hired to get your daughter."
"Well, that' true, but maybe Jake was just curious."
"No. You see, I work in the same firm as Edwards. I know for a fact that Cramer is a client and, I shouldn't
Tell you this, but, he's doing more than just child custody. I think Jake's going to do something stupid. My office keys are missing and I think Jake's got them." Jason explained.
"Alright. I'll go look for him and hope I catch him before someone else does. I'm going to start at your office and work from there." Chris suggested.
"I'll meet you there." Jason said. With that, Chris got up and got dressed.
"You want me to go, too?" Rita asked. "No, you stay with the twins. How many times have we told those two to let us handle this? When I find Jake, I'm going to ring his neck." Chris said.
"You realize that Julie's the one who pulled him into all this? He's just trying to help his best friend." Rita reasoned.
"I know, but they know better."
"She can't help it. She's got too much of her father in her." Rita teased.
"I'll call you when I find out anything." With that, Chris left.
At the office, Jason met Chris and went inside. "Well, it looks like he's been here but heaven knows where he is now." Jason said as he began to tidy things back the way they were. Chris started looking around and noticed the left drawer partly open. He also noticed that it had a lock on it.
"Well, he may have found something though. Looks like he picked the lock. I'm going to have a very long talk with those two." Chris said as he opened the drawer. He noticed where the filed had been separated in a certain place and saw the child custody folder marked: Cramer, Wallace, but nothing else. Just then, Chris' cell phone rang.
"Chris, you better get back home. Jake's here and he some pretty interesting reading. Now we know why they wanted Julie so bad. Cap's on his way over here, too."
"Alright, I'm on my way." Chris said. "Jake's at home. Apparently, he found what we're looking for." Chris explained and they headed back to Chris'.
When Chris and Jason got home, Jake was still pacing. He stopped short when he saw Jason and he had the good grace to look guilty.
"I'm sorry." Jake said as Jason approached him.
"We'll talk about that later and trust me; we will discuss it, young man." Jason said firmly. Jake couldn't help but swallow hard. Then Jason's features softened as he put a hand on the young man's shoulder. "But for now, what's going on?" Jason urged.
Jake turned to Chris. "Julie's gone."
"What do you mean she's gone?" Chris asked. Jake took a deep breath like Rita had him do when he explained things to Rita and Harry.
"I was supposed to meet Julie after school. We've found a lot of things financially that didn't add up and a few other things."
"Yeah, Julie already told us that."
"Well, Julie never showed up this afternoon. I waited for nearly an hour and no Julie. So I thought I would just go by Tracy and Wally's, but she wasn't there either. No one was but the staff. So I came home and got a few things and then sat outside her house to see if she'd come back. I know this sounds silly, but I knew she was in trouble after the maid that answered the door said that Tracy, Wally and Julie went on a very sudden vacation of sorts and she didn't know when they'd be back. Anyway, I waited outside until around one this morning and no one came or left except staff." Jake paused as he turned to Jason. "That's
when I took your office keys because I knew that if anyone would know where Tracy and Wally were, it would be Michael Edwards."
"But he found something a little more than that." Rita said as she handed Chris a file.
"The reason Tracy and Wally were making such a big deal about Julie's birthday was because she becomes the sole owner and heir to the Cramer fortune. That will outlines all the details for a trust fund that will go up in Julie's name. She gets a hundred thousand dollars every year until she turns twenty-one and then
she gets full and unrestricted access to over twenty million dollars." Jake explained. Chris scanned it and understood most of it and handed it to Jason. He looked through it and suddenly looked alarm.
"There's a clause here. Should anything happen to Julie, Tracy and Walter get the money with no restriction. But it has to be an accidental death." Jason explained.
"Then Julie's in danger. Today's her birthday." Chris looked at Rita.
"I'll get on the phone and alert the state police. I have a few other favors I can call in. There'll be no place in Florida they can go that they won't be spotted." Harry said and went to use the phone.
"Question is where they could be hiding out." Chris though aloud.
"Well, actually, I thought about that myself." Jake took the file and flipped a couple of pages. "There was a house left to his sister in St. Augustine. The maid said that's where they went."
Chris looked at him. "You should be a detective." Chris smiled.
"I think I'll leave that to Julie." Jake smiled. "We gotta find her, Chris. From what Julie told me, Tracy's becoming unstable." Chris put a reassuring hand on Jake's shoulder. They were now racing against the clock.
Julie started when the door opened. Tracy walked in. "Happy Sweet Sixteen, Julia." Tracy smiled. "Now it's time for your birthday present."
"I guess I don't get the car I wanted." Julie replied.
"Maybe your will buy one for you. C'mon." Tracy stood aside and let her pass. Julie slowly went past her mother and started down the hall. As she walked, she looked around to see if there was anything she could use to getaway or even a phone. Tracy showed her to the study down the hall.
"As soon as Julie signs the papers, we can pay you off." Wally said as they entered. Julie looked up to see Wally, Michael Edwards and two large men inexpensive suits standing there. It didn't take rocket scientists to figure out that these were some bookie's debt collectors. "Great. Now let's get this over with." Wally said. "Julia, all I need you to do is sign these papers and then you're free to go home."
"Yeah, right." Julia thought. Tracy pushed her towards the desk where Edwards had a document ready to be signed. He handed Julie a pen.
"So, out of curiosity, what am I signing?" Julie asked looking the document over.
"Doesn't matter. Just sign it. You can be home before breakfast." Wally urged.
"And if I don't?"
"Then these guys will make your life very miserable." Wally threatened. Julie looked at him and then turned to sign the papers. "Thank you." Wally said.
"Tracy do something with her." Then Julie got a real shock. Her own mother pulled a gun.
"I'm sorry Julie, I just can't let your father win." Tracy said and motioned for Julie towards the door with the gun.
"You never did want me, did you?" Julie asked.
"Sorry, sweetie, but it's just business." Tracy said. Julie was almost to the door when Wally started panicking.
"What's going on?" Wally asked.
"Our jobs." one of the goons said and shot Wally on the spot and then turned to Edwards, killing him. What happened next seemed like it was happening in slow motion. Tracy screamed and turned the gun on the goons only to take a fatal shot in the chest. Julie somehow kept her wits about her and made for the door. A couple of shots hit the door as she ducked out of it. She ran for the stairs with the two goons hot on her heels. Julie took the stairs two and three at a time. But when she hit the bottom, something slammed through her shoulder sending blinding, burning pain through it. She slipped on the waxed floor, but quickly recovered. Her need to get was greatly out weighing the pain at the moment. She had no idea where she
running, but anywhere was better than here. She came to a large dining area and there were double French doors that led to a large pool area and freedom. She slammed through the doors and jumped the pool using the diving board and kept running. Julia could here the goons behind her and they fired a few other shots that went wide as she crashed through a wooded area and safety. Once Julie found a safe place to hide, she tried to take a look at her shoulder in the pre-dawn darkness. She knew it hit her from the back and she could feel blood running down the front of her shirt. The wound itself didn't look that great. The pain was
unbelievable. "Please, Daddy. Find me." Julie prayed as she turned to the heavens.
"C'mon, kid, don't make this harder on yourself. I know I hit you, so just come out and let us put you out of your misery." one of the men yelled as they searched the woods. Julie tried to slow her breathing down as sirens were heard in the distance. Someone had obviously called the police.
"C'mon, the cops." With that, goons headed back towards the house. With the threat gone, the adrenaline Julie was running on was now quickly disappearing and she was starting to feel the pain. She slowly tried to get up, but couldn't seem to do it. Everything started to spin and she fell right there. "Dad." she whispered as everything went black.
The goons were on their way to their car when the cops pulled in. "Freeze!" several yelled and the goons dropped their guns and put their hands up. Chris, Rita and Harry got out of one of the last cars to arrive. Since they were out of their jurisdiction, they were allowed to come only because of Julie and the captain was an old friend of Harry's. They immediately headed for the house.
"Julia!" Chris called as they entered.
"I'll take upstairs." Harry said.
"I'll take the dining area." Rita said and headed out. Chris took the living area. It wasn't more than a couple of minutes when Rita started yelling for them.
"Someone went out these doors in a hurry." Rita said Chris and Harry joined her. Together they headed out the back as other officers joined them.
"She could be anywhere." Chris said as he looked around the extensive grounds.
"Let's get started." Rita said. The search was organized and they headed in different directions yelling Julie's name.
"Julia! Julia!" was what Julie heard as she slowly came around. Julie slowly opened her eyes and noticed that the sun was coming up because the sky was now light blue and pink. At first, she thought she was imagining things. "Julia! Julie, answer me." came the voice again. It was her father. She had to get up.
"Dad." she tried to called, but it was nothing more than a whisper. "Dad." Julie knew she had to get up or they'd never find her. All she could manage was to move her good arm. There was a bush near by and she reached for it and began pulling on it.
Chris looked around the wooded area and sighed heavily. He knew his daughter had to be here otherwise they would've found her in the house or heard from her by now. He started to give up and head back when he heard a rustling sound. He turned with his gun drawn towards the noise, but it had stopped. He thought maybe it was just some animal until it happened again and he slowly made his way towards it.
"Dad." he heard a hoarse whisper say.
Chris quickly pushed the bush aside and was surprised to find Julie lying there.
"Julia." Chris said as he put his gun away and went to her. Chris tried to pick her up, but she started screaming in pain.
"Oh my God." Chris said as he realized someone had shot his little girl. "Rita! Cap! Over here. Julie, its okay. It's me. You're going to be alright."
"Hurts." Julie whimpered.
"I know. Just hold on. Let me take a look." Chris said as he slow pulled her shirt aside to take a look at it. He pulled out a handkerchief to try to stop the blood.
"Aw" Julie whimpered semi-conscious. By that time, people were gathering around.
"Call an ambulance." Chris told one of the officers.
"Oh my God. Julie?" Rita said as she knelt down next to Julie.
"Mom. Make it stop hurting." Julie pleaded.
"We're going to take care of that. The paramedics are on their way. You stay with us, okay?" Rita said as she bushed her hair away from her forehead.
"I knew you'd find me." Julie said.
"Well, actually, you can think Jake for that. He'll tell you all about it." Chris tried to joke to help get her mind off the pain.
"Tracy. Wally. They're dead." Julie explained.
"We know. You don't worry about it." Rita said as sirens were heard. "The paramedics are here."
"Don't leave me." Julie said as she grabbed both of their hands.
"We're not going anywhere." Chris promised. The paramedics arrived.
"What's her name?" one asked.
"Julie. Julie Lorenzo." Chris answered.
"Julie, honey, my name's Gary. We're going to get you a hospital. Right now, we're going to get an IV started. You're going to feel a little sting." Gary explained. Julie didn't feel much of anything other than her shoulder. "Are you in a lot of pain?" Gary asked.
Even as out of it as she was, she tried to give him her best, 'what do you think?' look. She must have succeeded because he chuckled.
"I know, dumb question. We're going to take care of that right now. You're going to feel a little sleepy, just go with it, okay?" Gary said. Within seconds, she felt drowsy. The last thing she remembered was her dad telling her he loved her.
The first thing Julie became aware of was a beeping sound. She wished someone would turn it off because it was becoming very annoying. She started to turn it off with her left hand, but she became fully awake when pain shot through her arm.
"Don't move." someone said who was at her side instantly. She looked up into the caring eyes of Rita.
"Mom?" she sounded hoarse even to herself.
"Relax; you're not going to be using this arm for a while." Rita smiled as she reached for a small glass. "Here, take small sips." Julie took a couple of drinks and sank back into the pillows. "How you feeling?" Rita asked.
"Um, alive." Julie said, this time sounding much better.
"Well, you gave us quite a scare. You'd lost a lot of blood and then you got an infection from being out in the woods." Rita explained. It was then that Julie realized that she was in the hospital. There were flowers, cards and even several stuffed animals around her room.
"How long have I been here?"
"You've been in and out for two days. You were running a high fever and they had to get it under control." Rita explained. "Everyone at the department sent things wishing to get well soon."
Just then, the door opened and Chris, Harry and Frannie came in.
"My Sleeping Beauty is awake." Chris smiled as he came and planted a kiss on her forehead. "And her fever's down."
"When can I go home?" Julie asked.
"And she gets to the point." Chris smiled. "It's going to be a few days yet. You've been through quite a lot, sweetie."
"I wanna see the twins and Jake." Julie said as was slowly being pulled back under from the painkillers she was on.
"Maybe tomorrow. Just rest for now." Chris coaxed her and soon, she was asleep again.
A week later, Chris and Rita were finally able to take Julie back to Palm Beach. That was the longest ride for Julie because she so uncomfortable. Her left arm was in a sling that held it immobilized and she was still weak from the blood loss and fighting off the infection. Chris came around and helped her out. She got dizzy as she got upright.
"Just take it easy. Lean on me." Chris said. He couldn't help but feeling sorry for his daughter. He'd been in her position more times than he wanted to remember. Rita got her bag as they made their way to the house. Chris Rita opened the door and they were met with several people yelling "Surprise!" Julie looked up to see the living room decorated with streamers and balloons. Over the fireplace, a large banner that read 'Happy Birthday and Welcome Home Julie' written on it.
"What's going on?" Julie asked as she smiled as she saw her grandparents, her siblings, Jake and his parents there.
"It's your welcome home party. We're so glad you're home." Harry said as he came up to hug his granddaughter.
"I've missed you guys so much." as Julie began to tear up.
"So have we." Frannie said she hugged Julie. Chris helped her over to the recliner and she was grateful to sit down before she fell down. "It's so great of you guys to throw me a party. I just wish I was more company." Julie smiled.
"Well, actually, Jake did most of the work. He's been planning this since you were first in the hospital." Rita explained. Julie looked over to Jake and held out her hand.
"Thanks, Jake." she said as he took it.
"Hey, what are friends for." Jake smiled. They both felt the spark when their hands met, but they didn't let go. And for a moment, they were the only ones in the room.
"So, what say we get this started so you can get some rest?" Rita smiled, knowingly at the two kids. They both blushed furiously.
The twins were busting at the seams to get near their sister. They knew that Julie had gotten a boo-boo and
they were to be careful.
"Here, Juwie." CJ said as he handed her a present.
"Thanks, CJ." Julie said as she hugged him with her good arm. Sam looked ejected because she couldn't get to Julie first.
"Hey, Sam, you wanna help me unwrap this?" Julie asked the toddler. Sam brightened up immediately. Rita sat her gently in Julie's lap on her good side and together they opened the gift. Sam helped her with the other gifts, but the best one was a small box. When she opened it, there was a set of keys with keychain with her name on it.
"What are these for? I don't have a car." Julie said.
"Well, actually, you do now. Do you remember signing papers for Tracy and Wally?" Jason spoke up.
"I remember signing something. I didn't read it."
"Well, signing those papers just made you a very wealthy teenager. That was a trust fund of which you will get a hundred thousand dollars every year until you're twenty-one. Then you inherit twenty millions dollars." Jason explained.
"Twenty millions dollars? From who?" Julie asked looking to her parents.
"Wally's father. We'll explain everything later. We got you the car with that money. The least your mother could do considering what she put you through." Chris explained.
"Well, I have a very special gift for Julie, but it's something for the whole family." Harry smiled as he handed Julie an envelope. Julie looked at and then slowly opened it. When she read it, a tear slid down her cheek.
" It's my birth certificate. It has dad and Rita's name as my biological parents." Julie said as her voice cracked.
"Yep. A friend of mine at the court house had it done for me. You are now legally Julia Lorenzo on paper now." Harry smiled. Chris and Rita looked at it.
"Cap, we don't know what to say." Rita began.
"There's nothing to say. Julie's here and we're a family again and now nothing can change that." Harry said.
Rita and Chris hugged Harry. Julie looked over at Jake, who was crying also. It was then, that Julie realized that she was finally home. There was still a lot to iron out in details and a lot of questions to be answered, but as long as had the people in the room behind her, she could face anything that came her way. She was home.
Disclaimer: All character don't belong to me. They were used for just entertainment purposes.