Author's Note: I originally wanted this to start as simply a Krissi/Dolly story, but, somehow, my mind backtracked all the way to here. :) T&T spoilers.

I have a classical literature obsession. Bear with me, please. ;) Also, for the sake of my classical literature obsession, I have taken some "creative liberties" with the days. Yes, I am perfectly aware that Dahlia met Diego on August 27th, but... This worked better, somehow, in my mind.

Read, review, and enjoy!

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Chapter I

William Shakespeare

March Twelfth, 9:52 AM

"Hello?" The sweet, melodious voice carried through, surprising the secretary of one Diego Armando. Normally, the scores of women calling for her boss had a more mature-sounding voice, or more flirtatious, or were (most often) husky with desire. This voice, shimmering with innocence, surprised the secretary so entirely that she immediately connected the caller to her boss, though she had been on strict orders to "simply hang up on the Kittens, Darla."

"Boss?" Darla called, turning her swivel chair so she faced the inside of the plush, spacious, office of Mr. Armando. "Phone for you. Sounds important." Darla turned back to her phone, made sure the sweet girl with the beautiful voice and her boss were talking, then hung up, giving the two privacy. She wondered who the girl was, then made a mental note to ask Diego later.

"Mr. Armando." The sweet voice was still silky smooth, a stark contrast to the formerly composed man on the opposite end of the phone. Though Diego prided himself (quite vehemently) about being "manly" and "strong," there was still one silky-smooth voice that could still haunt his dreams, intrude horribly into his thoughts, and slip undetected into his life, like poison into a cup of the finest coffee.

"Dahlia Hawthorne."

The voice on the opposite end of the phone gave a small laugh, like tinkling wind chimes. To Diego, though, each peal of her laugh could have been knife stabs, for the sharp pain it caused. He'd had to put on a brave face for the Little Kitten, Mia Fey, but…

The girl of his nightmares stopped laughing, and Diego forced himself to pay attention to her words.

"So delighted you remember me, Mr. Armando."

"You're not easy to forget, Dahlia Hawthorne."

There was that laugh again.

"What do you want, Dahlia." The five words were spoken slowly, calculating, as if spoken from someone else. It was the only way Diego could think to deal with Dahlia Hawthorne—to act

as if he was someone else, someone not completely there, someone unaffected by the manipulative "Teen Angel" who had—

No. None of that. Diego shook his head behind the phone, grateful he was hidden from her eyesight.

"Can't I call just to say 'Hello,' Mr. Armando?"

"You've said that."

"You're not being very polite." She sounded as if she was pouting.

"You don't give me an excuse to be nice, Kitten."

A silence. Diego Armando was grateful for the silence; it gave him time to collect his thoughts, to unscramble his mind, to wrench it away from Little Kitten's first trial, and Dahlia

Hawthorne's subsequent escape.

"I have things I'd like to talk to you about, Mr. Armando. Things concerning our mutual friend, Terry Fawles."

Diego looked at the phone, incredulous. Terry Fawles? He and Mia had been looking into Dahlia Hawthorne's past and Terry Fawles' murder on the stand, looking for evidence to tie Dahlia Hawthorne to the crime. They'd been searching both in any free time they'd had, for the past ten weeks.

There'd been nothing, though, of course. Terry's death had been ruled a "suicide," the case had been closed, and Dahlia Hawthorne had left no trace of evidence behind in her wake.

"What about Terry Fawles, Dahlia."

A giggle. The hairs on Diego's neck stood up, furious in spite of himself. He was there, shaking, Terry Fawles was dead, Little Kitten was still partly in shock, and Dahlia Hawthorne was on

the other end of the phone, giggling? Laughing, as if nothing was wrong.

"Mister Armando," the voice said, still with traces of a laugh, "I'd rather not deal with such a delicate subject in such a public manner. Communicating on a telephone? How…déclassé."

French. She was using French-sounding words to discuss the lives of people she'd ruined, trampled over without the slightest trace of regret. He held the phone to his hands with a pressure that might break the delicate metal, his fingers turning white from the pressure, unable to get the words out.

"Let's meet, Mr. Armando. Publically."

Silence.

"How about three days from now, March fifteenth, in the lawyers' cafeteria? Around one."

Silence.

"It would be very much in your interest to show up, Mr. Armando. And, I'd hate to see what would happen to your lawyer-friend, Mia Fey, if you didn't…"

"Leave Mia out of this, you manipulative little--!"

A small laugh. "You're still responding. Good. I'll see you in three days, then, Mister Armando."

Silence.

"March fifteenth, your cafeteria. Don't be late." One final giggle, then the phone disconnected.

He stared at the phone in his hand for a long time, listening to the dial tone without comprehending. When he could control his speech, movement, and breathing, he slowly poured

himself a cup of coffee, then called to his secretary.

"Darla? Do I have anything scheduled three days from now?"

"One moment, Mister Armando." Diego could hear the sound of a keyboard typing, then: "March fifteenth? Yes. You're booked to see a play—you're going to 'Julius Caesar.' Why?"

"Cancel it. I've a more pressing engagement."

"But, Mr. Armando, it's with Mia Fe—"

"Darla, I said to cancel the play, damn it!"

"… Of course, Mr. Armando."

Four cups of his strongest coffee later, Diego Armando proceeded to call Mia Fey and cancel their "date" himself. He lied to her, of course, saying an "urgent family engagement" had come

up, and that he couldn't get out of it. He promised to reschedule later, and to buy her coffee later in the week.

He didn't mention Dahlia Hawthorne. No need to worry the Little Kitten even more. After all, it was just a normal meeting. He'd be in a public place, surrounded by lawyers and police officers alike. If Dahlia Hawthorne tried to pull anything, she'd be surrounded by every kind of law enforcement official.

Diego Armando almost smiled to himself, taking a deep drink of coffee, enjoying the dark, bitter taste run down his throat for the first time that day. Dahlia Hawthorne was powerless. He was safe. He was fine. He was "okay."

Nothing bad could happen.