Chapter 3

Tensing at the slamming door, Gabe cursed under his breathe.

A few hours ago his life had been as close to perfect as it could be. "Why do I feel like I need a scorecard around you two to keep things straight?" Luke asked as he turned from the closed door to his son-in-law.

Biting back a comment on how if Luke had been around more for Lorna he might not, Gabe turned and started to walk across the kitchen to the sink: "and why would that be?"

"For starters, I thought you said you were Jewish."

"I am."

"Then how do you have a goddaughter who is somehow related to Jake McKinnon?" Luke wondered.

"McNamara sound Jewish to you?" Gabe shot back as he rolled up his sleeves and shot his father-in-law an 'I can't believe you're focusing on this' look as he dumped the sauce that remained in one of the pots down the drain.

"No," Luke admitted.

"Because its not. I was raised Catholic. My father's religion. After he was killed in the line of duty. . . well, things changed. I changed."

"You converted?"

Gabe shrugged as he squirted dish detergent into the sink: "some would argue that was semantics. My mother's Jewish. Traditionally . . . anyway. . . I am a practicing Jew.

As for being a godparent, I have two godchildren, Kay, and Paulina Carlino-- Corey's-- son Dante. As long as one godparent is a practicing Catholic in good standing the other doesn't have to be," he explained.

"And her relationship to Jake?"

Gabe looked at him: "you know, I could understand you questioning my religion as it has some bearing on my life with your daughter and grandchildren, but that is absolutely none of your business," he replied stiffly as he started to rinse out the pots.

"Just trying to make conversation," Luke shrugged as he sat down at the counter.

Turning off the water, Gabe stared at him: "and that's what you choose to talk about? Not Lorna?"

Luke shrugged: "what do you want me to say? She barely looked at me. Frankly, I don't know what to make of. . . if she was ranting and raving I actually think it would be better."

"Take it from someone who knows, it would be," Gabe admitted as he started to load the dishwasher. "She wasn't joking about throwing that bottle at my head. Probably would've thrown a lot more if. . ." he let his voice trail off and shook his head as he rose and dried his hands on a dishtowel: "she definitely has gained some control over her temper. Sometimes though, that control is the scarier choice.

When she bottles things up. . . the results aren't usually pretty or good for any of the people involved."

"And here I thought that all things considered she'd be the one most likely to hear me out. . ."

"Is that why you showed up here? Because you thought that since she already accepted one man back into her life who had returned from the dead she'd do the same with you? That it would be easy to get her to listen to your excuses? That she would just smile and say that it was ok?" Gabe demanded as he threw the dishtowel down in disgust. "Because if all Lorna is for you is a test run on how you think Felicia and everyone else will react you can find the door. I won't put this case-- or any other-- a head of her."

"You already did once," Luke shot back angrily.

"It was a suicide mission," Gabe acknowledged. "Taken on before I met her and when I thought I had nothing left to loose. They had approached me a couple of months after I buried my first wife and son. Told me a close friend had been killed leaving behind a fiancée and her two kids. The other guy they were going to offer the assignment to was dating a woman with a young daughter. . . they were about to get engaged. He had everything to loose and I didn't.
Then I met Lorna and all that changed.
I thought it would be different.
That I could crack the case.
I was wrong and people got hurt, including your daughter.

Do you think that any of this was easy for us to come by?" he continued indicating the house with a swipe of his hand. "That everyday isn't and wasn't a battle? That she just accepted me coming back into her life and what I was forced to do to her?"

"I never said. . ." Luke went to argue.

"But you implied," Gabe cut him off. "Felicia told her over the phone that I had been killed."

"Fanny wouldn't have. . ."

"She did.
Jenna was with her and Felicia went after the funeral-- from what I was told.

I wouldn't know.
The bullet that hit me went through my vest at the top of my spine.
I was lucky it didn't sever it.
Luckier still that it only nicked my aorta, if you can call it that.

I spent months in a drug induced coma and when I woke up my supervisors wouldn't tell me what had happened to Lorna. Too many loose ends to tie up.
What they didn't know was that I had sent her to a friend to be treated for her injuries.
When Lorna couldn't stand the pressures any more. . . well, my friend took a leave of absence and went with her. Protected her," Gabe looked down at his hands as he clenched and unclenched his fist. "Not knowing how she was. . . where she was. . . it scared me to no end.

But another agent-- he helped me find her.
I got to her as she was giving birth.
I don't think she even really knew I was there at first," Gabe continued as he looked his father-in-law in the eyes and continued. "I was scared of losing her. The pregnancy was high risk. . . I didn't even know how much of a chance she had taken till later. . . there were some complications. . . they had me leave. . .Later. . ." he swallowed: "I was still scared. I was afraid of her reaction to my being there would be.
Of scaring her.
It being too much too soon.
I would go into her room at night when she was sleeping and just sit and watch.
It was late one night. I was in the hospital's nursery visiting LJ before I went to her. . . she walked in. . . The look on her face.
She almost collapsed.
The nurse who came in just after her caught her.

Lorna kicked me out.

Two days later I went back. I knew she was being released and it would be my last chance and I took it.

We fought.
She threw things.
I offered to leave. Let her act like it hadn't of happened. She decided to take a chance on me instead.

It wasn't easy.
Still isn't," Gabe admitted as he sagged against the counter. "You can see that in her reaction to his whole mess.

She's afraid that if I ever help solve this I really will get myself killed.
I can't say I blame her."

"But she forgave you," Luke pointed out.

"No. She hasn't. She and I have worked hard to get to where we are. We were supposed to be married months before LJ was born.
It was one of the things we were going to plan when I got to her-- actually, I had it already planned.
Figured that we could have a larger ceremony later, when things calmed down.
One of my officers I trusted more than. . . I would've had him drive Felicia up. Jenna was already there. My friend, the doctor, would've gone and gotten my mother and we would've been married in front of them at the hospital.

Instead. . . instead we lost almost a year together.

Took me another to convince her to say yes again.

She didn't get to have her family at her wedding.
Didn't get to have them there for LJ's first anything or for Franny's birth.
I blame myself for that.

Till this day I can't say for certain why she chose to stay with me. Enter this life with me and walk away from everyone she loved. I thank god she did, because I don't know what I would've done if she hadn't.

Your daughter and our children are my life and I will not let you or anyone else hurt her, do I make myself clear?"

Luke swallowed as he glared at the younger man, slightly impressed with his nerve, but annoyed that he thought he had the right to call him on the carpet for doing many of the same things he had. Of course he hadn't have had a plan in place to get back to his family, but he had also made the decision when things had started to go bad that he would never force them to give up the very things that this man had taken from his daughter. "I listened to you, now you listen to me.

I didn't have anymore of a choice then you did in things.
I didn't plan on getting shot.
No one, and I mean no one, was prepared for what Sally would do," Luke started angrily. "You think that I like knowing that because of me one daughter was terrorized and stalked and the other had a gun pulled on her and was almost forced to jump off a roof?" he demanded, taking note of the fact that Gabe blanched and looked as if he had been struck. "So, you don't know Lorna that well after all, do you?

She never told you that Sally wanted to kill her to make it look like her boyfriend at the time was the one who killed me?"

"Lorna doesn't talk a whole lot about your death," Gabe replied tensely. "I know she's the one who found. That she tried to stop the blood and couldn't. That the first time she admitted to someone that she was your daughter was so that she could sign the consent forms for you to have surgery.
I know she still occasionally has nightmares about it.
Wonders what if she had gotten there sooner.
Hadn't fallen for Madison's lies. . . "

"My god. . . I had no idea," Luke admitted.

"I'm sure you didn't," he sighed tiredly. "Look, the way I see it is this. You might care about her. Love her even, but you have no right to stand there and think that you can compare our situations or even try to rip into me. Felicia wants. Cass… Hell, even Carl, I'll stand there and take it from them, the same way I took it and will continue to take it, from your daughter. But until she gives you the right, or you win it from her, I am not taking it from someone who only knows about her from some damned reports he gets from agents who have never even met her!"

"You think that's all I know about my daughter?" Luke demanded. "You think that's all I think of her? That I don't regret not making things right with her sooner?
You don't want me to pass judgment on you, then you sure as hell better stop trying to pass it on me. See I don't care if Lorna gives me permission to or not, I will rip into you for hurting her.
I will kick your ass if you hurt her again.
Because I am her father," Luke said in a deathly calm voice. "I choose to keep a distance because part of me knew on some level that something was going to go wrong.
Instinct. . . premonition. . . call it whatever the hell you want, but I couldn't let her close. Not with her relationship to Carl.
Her being involved with me in any way would've made her more of a target.

Jenna. . . Jenna was my little girl too. But Jenna. .. Fanny brought her into the equation before things started to go to hell in hand basket, but I wanted to know what happened to my baby girl.
The one I held in my arms for only a short time.
Who I promised I would see again.

I gave her a mercury dime and a promise.
When she was born and on my so called deathbed.

The day they made me die, I put the ring-- the very thing that lead her back to me and my Fanny-- on her finger and I said with all the strength I could muster: 'be safe my darling daughter until I see you again.'

That was always my wish for her.
Her safety.
I couldn't ensure it.

Not for her. For Jenna. For Fanny.

You think I don't lie awake at night and question ways I could go back? That I haven't wanted to just walk back into their lives and make all the pain go away?" Luke demanded. "Tell me, something, Gabriel, how do you think you'd feel reading that your daughter was raped and knowing there was absolutely nothing you could do about it?" he continued coldly. "Oh, I made sure the bastard paid once he was in jail. I could still do that. A friend of a friend who owed someone.
Pauly from Gold Street or someone else.
Contacts and informants can be nice to have on your side at a time like that," Luke spit out, trying to cover his emotions with seeming coldness and anger. "But that doesn't take away the knowledge that you're not there. That you can't hold her and make it better in any way. That you can't tell her that you'll tear the guy who hurt her to pieces. Can't be there when a man who is supposed to be a family friend tears her apart on the stand. Just can't be there to help put the pieces together and help her to feel safe again.

Or Alexander Nikkos. You don't think I would've loved to have been the one to throw him through that skylight for using Fanny the way he did?

The end was always supposed to be in sight.
Instead we were all betrayed time and time again.
Jenna had Dean.
Lorna. . . until you she didn't really have anyone. And you. . . . well, you haven't exactly won me over."

"That's not my job."

"But you expect it to be mine?" Luke challenged.

"I expect that if you are to be more than a house guest for you to win your daughter over," Gabe shot back, "if you'll excuse me I need to get a couple of files," he finished as he started to cross the room.

"I know more than you think I know," Luke called after him. "I know your daughter looks like mine. Not so much now, but the baby I held the day she was born.
I know Lorna's strong and a survivor.
That she loves deeply and passionately, she's a lot like Fanny that way," Luke continued as Gabe turned slightly to look at him. "I know that she's done things that she isn't proud of and yet won't apologize for-- at least not outright-- if for no other reason then doing so is a sign of weakness to her.
I know she'd die to protect the people that she loves if she had to, and I don't ever want her to have to make that decision.
And I know that if she walked away from Fanny to be with you she must really love you and for that reason, and only that reason, I'll put up with you."

Gabe shook his head at the man: "Johansen will be here soon so we can talk about the case. Decide where to go. And you can explain why you suddenly decided to drop in."

"Who said anything about it being a sudden decision?" Luke asked, causing the other man to curse under his breathe as he turned and walked out of the room.

Once alone, Luke visibly deflated as he sunk to the stool wondering how he was going to convince his daughter that what he had done was for her own good and how he had never meant to allow it all to go on so long. "If only I had more time. . ." he muttered to the empty room, knowing that time was the lesser of two enemies he had to outrun at the moment.

Time he'd take his chances with.
The person or people responsible for destroying his family he needed to put a stop to before it was too late. . .