Though Lovers Be Lost (revised)
By Thomas Mc


Season 3 Episode3 - Discoveries

Diana shook herself. She had so many conflicting thoughts and emotions running through her mind. Her murder case had turned into something far more massive and complicated than she had been prepared to deal with. And what should she do about that creature, Vincent? Should she do anything at all about him? First things first, protect the witnesses. Then she would have to see about getting Miss Chandler's trust, which may be difficult considering what she now knew. The question of Vincent would just have to wait.

Diana went to the front nurse's desk and called the precinct. She requested three specific officers who she personally trusted to supply around the clock protection for Catherine and Joe. She also stipulated that the officers be under her direct command. Next, she hunted down the doctor and requested that Joe be put in the room next to Catherine's after he came out of recovery. She also told the nurses at reception that she was to be told about any requests for information about Catherine or Joe. She also told them that they were not to give out any information about ether Joe or Catherine. "Just refer them directly to me," she told them. Then she headed back to Catherine's room. By the time she got there she was really getting tired of having to hobble around on those damn crutches.

Diana knocked on Catherine's door, and then pushed it open. "Miss Chandler? Are you awake?"

There was a nurse in the room taking Catherine's vitals.

"Yes. Who's there?" Catherine called out.

"I'm Detective Diana Bennett." Diana replied as she came into the room. "Originally I was investigating the murder of a friend of Joe Maxwell . . . and then things got interesting." She shook her head. "During the investigation I stumbled across what appeared to be evidence of corruption at a very high level. I went to visit Joe Maxwell in the hospital to find out what he knew; only he had disappeared. Then a friend of yours shows up at the hospital looking for him with news that you had also disappeared." Diana smiled. "By the way, Miss Aronson is asleep out in the waiting room." She paused shifting her weight on her crutches. "Anyway, she tells me that you are in grave danger and then leads me to this fancy estate hidden in the middle of an industrial area. Miss Aronson and I sneak in and find both you and Mr. Maxwell held prisoner. While your friend was getting you out, a battle ensued and Mr. Maxwell was shot. Then a . . . ah . . . ahem . . . a good Samaritan shows up out of nowhere and helped us get out of the building, which by then was on fire." Diana had been watching Catherine closely as she mentioned the Samaritan and saw momentary flickers of confusion, concern and curiosity cross her face. "For now, I've ordered police protection for you and Joe. I don't know yet who's involved in this scandal and Patrick's murder, so no one will be allowed to see you without escort."

"How is Joe?" Catherine asked, her face now full of concern.

"I don't know yet." Diana could see that Catherine's concern was genuine. "The last time I talked to the doctors, he was still in surgery. The doctor said that he was pretty badly wounded and they wouldn't know anything until after the surgery. I saw the wound. It wasn't good. My . . . ah . . . Samaritan . . . looked at the wound and said that he had a chance so I'm keeping my fingers crossed." Diana saw worry on Catherine's face as she told her about Joe and a look of curious speculation when Vincent was mentioned again.

At a sound of the door opening, Diana dropped a crutch and had her gun half drawn before she realized it was Jenny. 'I am really getting jumpy' she thought as she replaced her gun. "Miss Aronson, you're awake, good." Diana turned back to Catherine. "Miss Chandler, I have to take care of some things. I'll be back as soon as I can. Miss Aronson, you'll keep an eye on her for me, won't you?" Diana retrieved the crutch she had dropped then she left the room. She had decided that this was too big to handle by herself.

The first thing Diana did was go the phone at the nurse's station and make a long distance call to a friend of hers that was an agent for the FBI in Washington D.C.

"Hello, Dana, it's Diana Bennett." . . .

"I'm fine. Look, I've stumbled into something here that's a little above my pay grade and I need your help." . . .

"It looks like a case of government corruption on a massive scale." . . .

"I'm not sure how far it goes, but it definitely involves several local government officials." . . .

"One man that I know of has been murdered. That's what brought me into it." . . .

"Yes, also an Assistant DA and an investigator from the DA's office have both been attacked." . . .

"Yes, there may be a few in the DA's office. At this point, I don't know anything for sure." . . .

"The investigator from the DA's office knows more than she's telling." . . .

"No, I think it's because, like me, she doesn't know who she can trust." . . .

"No, I think this is strictly a local thing. Just at the city level. I don't think Spooky would be interested." . . .

"James? Yes, I know him. He's very reliable. I think this may be right up his alley." . . .

"That sounds great. I'll be expecting him."

Diana hung up the phone as the doctor came towards her with a very serious look on his face.

~ o ~

As soon as Diana left the room, Jenny gave Catherine a big hug. "Cathy, I'm so glad you're okay. I was so scared. The doctor said it was very close. Did that terrible man hurt you. That detective helped save yours and Joe's lives. I like her. She's definitely one of the good guys." Jenny looked slightly puzzled. "Even if she is being very secretive about her Good Samaritan. There's a lot more about him than she's telling."

"Jenny you're babbling." Catherine was amused by her friend's enthusiasm.

"I know." She looked slightly sheepish. "But I'm just so glad you're OK."

Catherine asked Jenny what had happened. Jenny described the events of last night from her perspective. When Catherine asked about the person Jenny had called to outside her apartment building, Jenny paused and thought for a few minutes.

"That's hard to explain. I never really saw him but I knew he was there and I knew he wanted to help you. I think he may have been the one who brought Joe and Diana out of the fire. I'm definitely sure there is something about him she is not telling. For that matter, I think you know more about him than you're telling. Could he be that guy of yours . . . ah Vincent?"

Catherine looked up, startled. "What?"

"Oh, come on, Cathy, we've all known you have a special guy named Vincent ever since that night of Rebecca's birthday party." Jenny smiled at Catherine. "Okay, you keep your secrets. I'm just glad you're alright."

Diana came back into the room. "That's good advice about keeping secrets. I just talked to one of the doctors. Joe is out of surgery. His injuries were very severe but they were able to patch him up and they think he will be okay. As soon as he's out of recovery, I'm having him placed in the room next to yours so I can keep my eye on both of you."

At this point the nurse came back in to perform more of her standard routines, causing Diana to roll her eyes at the interruption.

Jenny looked at the door, puzzled. "I think you have some friends coming to see you."

The nurse finished and was leaving when a very young woman poked her head into the room. She looked around nervously then shyly came into the room stopping just inside the door. She was dressed in several layers of worn and patched clothes. She looked like a cross between a street person and a medieval peasant, except that despite the condition of her clothes she was too clean and tidy to be a normal homeless person. "Catherine, are you okay." She asked nervously.

Catherine looked very surprised. "Jamie? What are you doing here?"

"She came with me." The replied came from an older man who poked his head in behind the girl. He was dressed in a finely tailored suit that appeared to be decades out of date. As he entered the room Diana noticed that he was lame and the cane he used appeared to be made from a rough tree branch with a handle and forearm brace attached. The man appeared to be very nervous as he came forward.

"Father? You too?" Catherine's surprise and pleasure both increased dramatically.

Jenny looked curiously at Catherine and the older man. "Father?" She mumbled under her breath.

Diana didn't quite know what to make of these new intruders. The young woman's name was apparently Jamie but why had she called the older man Father? Diana knew that Catherine's father had died recently. It had been in all of the papers. She had also noticed Jenny's reaction to the use of the term 'Father'. Catherine was obviously very surprised to see them here. It was also obvious that she was very pleased to see them and that they knew each other fairly well.

The young woman named Jamie replied. "I know we shouldn't have come but Mouse and Pascal have been beside themselves with worry since we first got your message. I had to see you myself so I could reassure him."

The older man spoke. "We both wanted to reassure ourselves as well." He hobbled over to Catherine, leaned over and gave her a quick hug. "Everybody sends their love, Catherine, you're very important to all of us." He looked nervously at the others in the room and when he spotted Diana he peered intently at her. "You're the detective, aren't you? . . . Thank you for saving our Catherine." Then he got very self-conscious "Well we'd better go now." Diana noticed Jenny watching the whole exchange in fascination.

Catherine smiled. "Thanks for stopping by, Father, Jamie . . . and tell everyone that I'm fine."

The young girl ducked out the door and was gone. The old man left right behind her. Diana was beginning to wonder what type of person Catherine really was. She seemed to have friends in the strangest places; a street person that was too clean; an old man that seemed to have stepped out of a time warp. And Mouse? Who or what was Mouse? And what was that about a message? Then another thought struck her. That young girls clothing reminded her a lot of the type of clothing Vincent had been wearing. And that man they called Father had peered at her as though comparing her to a description. Could they somehow be connected to Vincent?

Diana made her way over to Catherine's bedside. Her face and voice were very serious. "Miss Aronson, Miss Chandler, I meant what I said about keeping secrets. I don't yet know just how deep or high up this corruption we've all stumbled into goes so I called a friend of mine at the FBI. She told me that an agent that specializes in government corruption cases is coming here. 'Til he gets here, I'm just going to sit tight and try to keep you and Mr. Maxwell alive. Miss Aronson, I want one of us with Miss Chandler at all times and no one is to see her unless escorted by one of the officers I put on guard." She frowned. "That is, if they ever get here."

Another very distinguished looking older man poked his head into the room. "Cathy, I just heard. Are you okay?"

Diana muttered something about Grand Central Station and where are those policemen. But Catherine's face immediately brightened. "Peter, it's wonderful to see you."

The new man was well dressed, very self possessed and acted like he belonged here. As he entered the room, Diana asked the new arrival who he was. Before he could answer, Catherine identified him. "This is Dr Peter Alcott, an old friend of the family, and the family doctor." Catherine gave him a stern look. "And if you pull out that old joke about how you first met me I'm going to hit you."

Peter looked at her, all surprised innocence. "What, you mean about you being totally naked?"

Jenny broke out in giggles and Catherine threw her pillow at him. As Peter picked up the pillow, Catherine asked, "How did you know I was here?"

Peter handed the pillow back to Catherine. "I got a message from Vincent."

Jenny and Diana both looked surprised at Peter's mention of Vincent's name. Peter continued. "By the way, I'm taking over as Joe and your primary attending physician." He grinned. "Rank hath its privilege."

Diana looked at Dr. Alcott in surprise. He was very important if he could change attending physician assignments that easily. This was getting stranger by the minute. Vincent and Catherine both apparently had some very surprising connections.

Catherine smiled. "That sounds great. It's nice having a family doctor with pull but I didn't know you worked out of this hospital. I thought you worked out of St. Vincent."

"I do, normally but I also retain residency status here at Mount Sinai and the hospital administrator is a good friend of mine." Peter pulled up a chair and began talking to Catherine about her medical case and about other recent events. Diana noticed that they were both being very evasive about Vincent around her and Jenny. She got the impression that Dr. Alcott had realized almost immediately that he shouldn't have mentioned Vincent and was being careful not to compound his error. There was a knock on the door and three policemen entered. Diana posted two of them outside Catherine's room and the third was to act as relief as well as keeping an eye on the recovery room. She insisted that there were to be two officers on guard at all times and absolutely no one outside of the four people currently in this room were to be allowed in without an escort.

Jenny finally got to her feet. "I have got to go call my work and tell them I won't be in today. Then I'm down to the cafeteria for something to eat. Anybody want me to bring back anything?" Nobody wanted anything. "Okay, be back in a bit." And she left.

Diana went outside the door and began giving more specific instructions to the police officers. Catherine spoke to Peter in a low urgent voice. "Peter, I need you to do something for me."

"Of course, Cathy, whatever you need." Peter replied.

"I gave Vincent a book to keep safe for me. I need you to get it from him long enough to make a copy of it." She glanced over towards the door. "Then I want you to bring the copy to me here." She grabbed Peter's hand. "Peter, be very careful, that book has already cost one person his life that I know of, and it almost cost the lives of both me and Joe."

Peter patted her hand. "Don't worry about me. Those old war stories, I used to tell you, were not exaggerations." He winked at her. "And I'll also get a report on Joe for you before I leave." Diana came back in. Peter reached out and shook Diana's hand. "It was a pleasure meeting you. I'm going to go get a report on Joe for Cathy, then I need to get back to my other duties."

Diana responded, "If you'll hold on 'til Miss Aronson gets back, I'll go with you. I need to check on Mr. Maxwell's condition for my report. Also I need to get the forms so I can write my report."

Peter agreed and as soon as Jenny returned, Peter and Diana left.

Catherine asked Jenny, "Do you think Diana can be trusted?" One thing Catherine had learned over the years was that she could always trust Jenny's judgment about people.

Jenny replied, "Oh, yes, I do. I like Diana. I feel safe when she's around. I've already trusted her with your life."

"I hope so. When she comes back, I'm going to be telling her things that could get Joe and me killed if she betrays us."

Jenny nodded her head. "I don't think you have anything to worry about."

Peter came back to report. "Joe's doing just fine. The doctors think he'll make a full recovery." He smiled at them. "I should be back around lunch time."

An hour later Diana came back with a briefcase. After a while Jenny began to doze off. Catherine was eating the breakfast brought to her by the nurse.

There was the sound of voices outside the door and Jenny suddenly sat bolt upright. "It's not right." She looked over at the closed door. "Something is very wrong."

One of the policemen stuck his head in the door. "Ma'am, I have to go. There's a family emergency at home. My replacement has just arrived." Then he left.

Five minutes later the new policeman came in the door with a new doctor. Without a word, both men pulled guns. Catherine's breakfast tray went flying as three shots rang out and both men went down. Diana holstered her gun, which had been under her clipboard and hobbled over to Catherine as she got up from the floor on the far side of the bed.

Diana saw a trickle of blood on Catherine's left arm where the bullet had grazed it. "Miss Chandler, your arm."

Catherine looked down at her arm for a moment then back at Diana and made a face. "Ow?"

The other officer came running in, gun drawn, saw the two dead men on the floor and holstered his weapon. "I am so sorry, ma'am. He asked me to get him a cup of coffee, I knew as soon as I heard the shots that I'd been duped."

Diana looked at the officer. "It's over now, Bishop. Call it in and have them send Johnson out. And when Archer gets back, I want to see him. Get Samson over to help until reinforcements arrive." Diana then looked over at Jenny whose eyes were as big as saucers as she stared down at the two dead bodies. "Are you OK, Miss Aronson?"

Jenny looked up at her, swallowed once then nodded her head. "Umm . . . yea, I'm OK. It's just that I've never seen anything like that before."

When Johnson arrived, he was given a rundown of the situation. The CSI men arrived right behind him and did their thing while a doctor treated Catherine's wound. Then the coroner arrived to cart away the bodies. Shortly after that, Archer returned and reported that the emergency had been a false alarm. With four officers, Diana set up a better watch schedule. Each man would get six hours off, six hours standby and twelve hours on watch.

About an hour later Diana noticed Jenny half dozing in the chair. "Miss Aronson, you look whipped. Would you like to get some rest while I stay with Miss Chandler?"

Jenny shook her head. "No, that's okay. I'll just rest over here in this chair."

One of the officers poked his head into the room. "Ma'am, you said you wanted to know if anyone was asking about Miss Chandler. We've had two inquiries. One was from an Elliot Burch. The other was from two men that were hanging around the hospital and asking suspiciously leading questions."

Catherine spoke up. "Elliot is devious, stubborn and powerful, but he's no threat to me." She frowned for a moment. "You could check, but I suspect the other two men work for Elliot."

Diana responded to the officer. "Have those two men checked out and if they do work for Elliot Burch, let them know that Miss. Chandler is doing well." Then send them on their way.

The next couple of hours were relatively quiet. While Catherine and Jenny dozed, Diana worked on filling out her report.

Around noon one of the officers on guard poked his head in the door. "Ma'am, two orderlies want to bring Joe Maxwell into this hospital room."

"This is the wrong room." Diana told them. "He's supposed to be in the room next door. There is already a female patient in here."

"They say the room next door is already occupied." Reported the officer.

"Very well." Diana sighed exasperatedly. "They can bring him in here for now." Diana turned to Catherine. "I hope you don't mind. I'll try to get this straightened out as quickly as possible but for now, this is the only way I can keep my eye on both of you."

"That's all right; he can spend the night with me." Catherine quipped as they wheeled Joe in. "It'll make for some very interesting gossip at the office."

Joe turned bright red. "Cathy!" The orderlies wheeled Joe over to the blank space where a second bed would normally be.

Catherine grinned. "I guess he's not healthy enough yet to be dangerous."

"Radcliffe, I survived this bullet," Joe glared at her. "But you're going to be the death of me yet."

"Oh, I hope not!" Retorted Peter as he came in. "Cathy! What happened to your arm?"

Diana responded, "We had an assassination attempt a couple of hours ago."

"Assassination attempt?" Joe looked startled.

"It was no big deal." Catherine shrugged. "Diana took care of them both before they could do more than get off one wild shot." She winced as Peter examined it. "It's just a flesh wound, Kemosabi. I think I actually may have dodged into it when I was trying to get out of the way." She smiled. "Ah yes, Peter, did you get it?"

"Yes, I've got it right here." He waved a large envelope he was carrying.

"Give it to Diana." As he handed over the envelope, Catherine continued. "Diana, Jenny says that you can be trusted and she is never wrong about people. That is a copy of the book Joe gave me." Joe looked up in surprise. "When I was grabbed, only two people knew that I had the book, Moreno and Joe." She looked grim. "The kidnappers were after the book. That means that Moreno is corrupt or else he told someone else who is."

Diana and Joe both looked upset at that revelation.

"The book is in some kind of code." Catherine continued. "It's all gibberish but it's very organized gibberish."

Diana set the envelope on the small table next to her chair then stood up. "I'll be back shortly." And she hobbled out of the room.

Joe looked over at Catherine. "Do you really think Moreno is bent?"

Catherine gave him the only honest answer she could. "I don't want to believe it, but he was the only other person to know that I had the book. He's the only one who could have let the information out."

The look on his face was hard for Catherine to see. She knew that Joe had always admired the man. It was Moreno who gave Joe his first big break. She also knew that the one thing Joe hated the most was corrupt government officials. If it was true, this news would be devastating.

Peter had to leave the room for about forty-five minutes to check on two other patients that he currently had in this hospital. Then he came back in to check over both Catherine and Joe. They were both recovering nicely.

A little over an hour after she had left Catherine's hospital room, Diana came back looking unhappy. "I was hoping you were wrong about Moreno, Miss Chandler, but I'm afraid not. I called Moreno and told him you had died but had mentioned hiding a book in a bus terminal locker. He denied knowing anything about it. And he was just now arrested in the bus terminal trying to destroy the fake one we planted in the locker."

Joe looked crushed. "I'm so sorry, Joe." Catherine tried to soothe him.

Then Joe became angry; his eyes blazed with emotion. "We've got to decode that book. Then we'll bring down Moreno and all the other filth that worked for that slime ball Gabriel."

Diana asked Catherine, "You do still have the original book, I hope?"

"Yes, I've still got it and it's safe." Catherine nodded as she replied.

"Good. You keep it safe for now. We can't afford to lose it, and until we can decode it, we won't know who we can trust. This copy will be sufficient until arrests are made and we go to trial." Diana smiled at Catherine then scowled at the copy on the table. "Joe's right. We've got to decode this book."

Jenny woke up at this point. "I just had the strangest dream."

Catherine looked over. "I know you, the stranger the dream the more important it is. I remember when the watcher was stalking me. It was your dreams that saved my life . . . So, what was your dream?"

Jenny looked thoughtful. "Well, I saw some man writing in a book. Over his head were two lines of letters in alphabet order. Each time he wrote down a word the bottom line of letters shifted right by two letters."

Peter spoke up. "That sounds like a rotating offset substitution code. We used something very similar when I was in France during the War. It's a very easy code to implement off the top of your head and it's very difficult to break without the key. Jenny has just given us the code type and half of the key. All we have to do is find the starting point."

For the next couple of hours Peter and Diana sat at the little table poring over the book and making notes. Catherine and Joe exchanged their versions of what had happened over the last two days. Catherine couldn't resist teasing him about getting himself shot just so he could spend the night with her.

"You're never gonna let me live this down, are you?" He glared at her.

"Not in a million years, Joe." She grinned back.

Suddenly Diana smacked her fist on the table. "That's it!"

At the same instant Peter declared. "I've got it!"

Joe could barely move, but he wanted to help so they brought the table over by his bed. Joe, Peter and Diana worked together translating the book. Occasionally they got into technical discussions when one of them ran into a problem. Peter's pager went off and he made a call to his office. After Peter hung up, he told them. "I've got to go, folks. New baby on the way. I'll check in on you tomorrow morning."

Shortly after Peter left, one of the policemen poked his head in again. "Excuse me, ma'am. There is a man from the FBI out here to see you. I've verified his I.D."

"I'm expecting him. Show him in." Diana ordered

The officer escorted a tall man into the room while maintaining a careful watch on him.

Jenny announced. "He's one of the good guys." Then she smiled at the man whose eyebrows arched as he looked back at her.

Diana smiled. "James, it's so good to see you." She turned to the officer. "This is agent James McClendon of the FBI. You can add him to the list of those with special access to this room. He and I will be sharing responsibility on this case from now on." She told the same thing to the other officers.

Diana turned to introduce Agent McClendon to the rest when he recognized Catherine and Joe. "No need for introductions. I have crossed paths with Miss Chandler and Mr. Maxwell a few months ago when they helped us smoke out a couple of bad apples in the local FBI office. It's good to see you again. It looks like you're up to your old tricks again." He looked around. "Do they keep this room reserved just for you?"

"Seems like it." Catherine smiled back in acknowledgement. "Did you ever locate your missing witness?"

James shook his head. "No, I'm afraid not. The word on the street is that he absconded with his surviving daughter. At least, that's what the bad guys will have heard." He gave Catherine with a half-knowing smile. "Do you think his missing daughter is still okay?"

Catherine smiled back. "I'm sure that wherever she is, she's doing just fine."

James nodded. "That's good to hear. By the way, I've been reading a lot more Shakespeare since the last time I saw you, and he really did know everything."

James turned to Diana who was looking at them in obvious curiosity. After a few seconds, Diana proceeded to fill him in on the current situation. She showed him the copy of the book and the translation they were working on.

"From what you've told me so far, I'm pretty sure that this is all part of the same case Joe, Catherine and I were involved in when I first met them. I've been on this case for almost a year now and this book of yours may finally be the break I've been looking for."

At that point Joe started cursing a blue streak for five minutes straight. The rest of the room looked on in frank admiration of Joe's colorful, paint-pealing use of the language.

Catherine was the first to recover. "What's wrong, Joe?" Her eyes were dancing with suppressed amusement.

Joe looked up, pain in his eyes. "I just found the section dealing with Moreno. He was a lot deeper in than we had thought. The bastard's been screwing the whole department for years. He was responsible for everything that went wrong on that case two months ago when the family of Agent McClendon's witness was killed." Joe looked over at James. "It seems you were right to grab up the evidence when you did." The amusement had disappeared from Catherine's eyes as the extent of Joe's feelings of hurt and betrayal became evident in his voice. Diana's eyes went wide as she made the connections as well as some educated guesses.

James nodded. "We knew there was high level corruption, but we didn't know who was dirty and who was clean. So we came in and grabbed everything before it could disappear. Unfortunately, there were some compromised agents in our New York office and our witness and all of the reports still disappeared. Catherine flushed some of them out but we think there are more. I'm hoping that book will tell us who the dirty agents are."

Catherine spoke up. "I still have copies of all of those original reports hidden away. I'll make some more copies for you once I get out of here."

Joe spoke up again. "Oh hell, here's an entry that says Moreno reported that your witness had been terminated." Joe looked up at James. "We're going to nail that #$%!&^$%# to the wall." He spat out.

"We, sure as hell, are going to try." James responded with feeling. "Your buddy Henry will be coming up from D.C. in two days to help in the investigation."

Jenny piped in. "The three of you can do it."

James looked over at Jenny and back to Diana. "Who's she?" He asked nodding towards Jenny.

Diana grinned. "That's Jenny Aronson, Miss Chandler's friend. You remember when you first came in and she pronounced you a good guy?" James nodded. "Well if she had not okayed you, I would have tossed you out so fast you would still be wondering what happened." Diana nodded at Jenny. "That woman has proven to be one hundred percent accurate in her assessments of other people. That's why we are all still alive."

James looked at Jenny thoughtfully for a couple of seconds. He couldn't help noticing that she was a fine looking woman. Then, after a moment's contemplation, he decided to accept Diana's explanation for the time being and they all went back to decoding the book.

Joe again spoke up. "Here is a recent entry about helping a foreign dictator get a hit squad into the country to take out Elliot Burch." He looked over at Catherine. "Is that what all that hub-bub with Elliot and the C.I.A. was all about?"

Catherine nodded. "I'm afraid so. The C.I.A. didn't want it known that there were foreign hit squads running around in the U.S."

As night approached, it was discovered that all of the rooms on this floor of the hospital were currently occupied, so Joe was stuck in Catherine's room. Catherine couldn't resist teasing him again.

"Well Joe, it looks like we're just going to have to spend the night together." A mischievous grin spread across her face. "Don't worry Joe, I promise to be gentle." This brought laughter from every one else as Joe turned bright red.

Around ten o'clock, Diana sent Jenny home to get some sleep and the nurse came in to give Joe a sedative. A few minutes later, they brought in a privacy screen to put between Catherine and Joe. By midnight James and Diana had gotten a large portion of the book translated. It contained contact names, bribe lists, even bank account numbers. Most of Gabriel's network of corruption was detailed in that journal.

James picked up the phone and spent over an hour arranging for arrest warrants then he left, taking the translation with him. Before walking out the door, James told Catherine that he would spread the word that the girl had been placed with some very good foster parents. Catherine and Diana continued to talk quietly for a while. The subject drifted around to Joe, then to men in general and Diana talked about her ex-boyfriend. She asked if Joe was available. Catherine admitted that she was unaware of anyone in his life currently.

Joe was floating in and out of a gentle sea of unconsciousness when he heard his name mentioned.

Diana stopped talking and peered around the privacy screen at Joe who appeared to be sound asleep. Then she got a look of wide-eyed innocence on her face as she leaned on her crutches. "There's something I've been dying to ask you, once we were alone." She broke out into a grin. "Where in the world did Vincent come from and how did you come to know him?"

Catherine was so startled that it took her a few minutes to gather her wits. "Jenny approves of you, so I guess you can be trusted. But how did you know that I knew him?"

Diana smiled. "I was just outside your room when he came for a visit. That's how I learned his name. Also Dr. Alcott let his name slip earlier."

Catherine chuckled. "I was too far out of it and Vincent must have been very worried to not have noticed you out there." She shrugged. "No one knows where he comes from. He was found as a newborn infant abandoned behind St. Vincent Hospital. That's where his name comes from." Catherine shifted to a more comfortable position. "As for how I came to know him, that's a long story." Over the next hour Catherine told Diana the story of how Vincent had found her dying in the park and saved her life.

"Well, you can be sure I'll never tell anyone. No one would believe me anyway. Does Joe or Jenny know about him?"

"Well, not really. Jenny knows that I am secretly very close to a guy named Vincent but no details. I think Joe suspects that I have a secret boyfriend."

Words kept floating in from the darkness but Joe was having trouble making sense of them. The name Vincent lodged itself in his consciousness. The last time Catherine had been in the hospital, she had called out that name. He slipped away into a deep sleep.

"OK. What about those two people who came to visit you this morning?" The curiosity was plain on her face.

Catherine smiled. "They're friends of Vincent. The older man is the one that found and raised him. Jamie is an orphaned street kid that Jacob took in and raised."

"If you don't mind I have one more question. What was that deal about the small daughter of James' witness you two were talking so cryptically about?"

Catherine's eyes were dancing with amusement. "Naomi is five years old. She was thrown from the family's car when it crashed. Vincent was there and caught her in mid air. She currently considers Vincent her very own, personal, guardian monster. Her own words. She has no other living family and since there were leaks in the witness protection system, James felt it was safer to keep her out of the system. He asked me to keep her safe 'til his corruption case closed. With her father dead, I hope James will let her stay with us. It's the best place I can think of, short of her own family, for her to be raised and Vincent has taken a very fatherly interest in her."

"You certainly do lead an interesting life Miss Chandler."

"It's Cathy to my friends."

"Goodnight then, Cathy." Diana hobbled over to the window, opened it and leaned out. "You will keep an eye on Cathy for me won't you Vincent." She called out half in jest.

To Diana and Catherine's surprise, Vincent swung in through the open window. "As often as I can." He replied.

Diana stood there for several seconds looking him up and down as if she was trying to convince herself that he was real. Finally she responded. "Good, then I'll leave her in your hands." Diana reached out to touch his arm. "Amazing." She shook her head, then turned and left the room mumbling to herself. "Why can't I ever find a guy like that?"

THE END


'Beauty and the Beast' and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. No infringement on copyrights is intended. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans. Original concepts and story elements may be used by other authors as long as appropriate credit is given.