Chapter 1 ~ Second First Impression
"Miss?" The petite brunette stopped. Jesse Porter caught up. Her delicate, exotic features became stern.
"If you don't leave, I'm going to get security," she answered. She began to walk away again.
"Wait," Jesse reached out, took the brunette by the wrist, and yanked her back.
At a waiting car in the parking lot, Michael Westen slid into the passenger seat beside Fiona who was keeping a look-out on the office building door. "Is Jesse on his way back yet?" he asked.
She handed him the pair of binoculars she had been using, "It seems he hit a snag."
Michael looked through the binoculars and saw Jesse pulling on the brunette. He also saw the man approaching them. Michael immediately recognized him, "Wonderful." Michael tossed the binoculars to Fiona and threw the car door open. He took off in Jesse's direction.
The brunette reached behind her with her free hand to take hold of her taser. She saw over Jesse's shoulder that she wouldn't need to use it. "Let her go," a voice from behind them called out. The lethal growl caused Jesse to turn around. The man did not wait to speak again. He tore Jesse's hand off of the brunette and shoved him back. In turn, she jumped behind her rescuer. "Get to the office," he urged her. She nodded to him and headed toward the main building. Jesse quickly assessed the suited man in front of him. Dark sunglasses and suit combo with an earpiece- he made him for security. Not just security, there was an edge on this guy. The suited man stepped forward with an aggressive smile, "It's time for you to go." He began to lead Jesse off of the property. They made it behind a security outbuilding. Jesse took the opportunity and turned in hopes of fighting off the unwanted chaperon only to walk straight into the suited man's incoming fist. He stumbled just a little. Jesse pulled back his arm and followed through with a punch that the other man blocked with his forearm. Seeing the scuffle, Michael picked up speed. Jesse struck out again. The man dodged, but a sharp piece on Jesse's watch caught him in the forehead leaving a pretty good gash above his eye. His sunglasses got knocked off and fell to the ground. He responded by using their close proximity to drive a powerful hook into Jesse's rib cage. A sharp elbow to the shoulder blades sent Jesse to the ground. He tried to scramble up, but was met by the suited man's oppressive blows.
"Victor!" Michael called. He grabbed the back of Victor's jacket and pulled him off of Jesse. Michael held Victor against the wall of the stone wall of the security outbuilding. The brunette had seen Michael rush to help Jesse and returned for Victor. She ran to them and pushed Michael's hand off of Victor.
"Hey, Big Guy," Victor smirked.
"Long time no see," Michael replied. He reached down, took Jesse's arm and helped him up.
Victor laughed, "This moron is with you? I didn't know you were that desperate. Where's your girlfriend and that Hawaiian shirt guy?"
Two uniformed security guards- one man and one woman- came rushing in from opposite sides. They trained their guns on the intruders. "Boss?" the man questioned. He eyed Jesse and Michael. Victor nodded. They lowered their weapons.
The uniformed woman went to the brunette Jesse had tried to grab, "Are you ok?" The two women whispered between each other. Something the brunette said caused her younger counterpart to turn on Jesse with a death glare.
"These are my friends- JD," he nodded in the direction of the roguish, uniformed man. Next Victor motioned to the uniformed woman who was still staring Jesse down with her arms crossed over her chest and a raised eyebrow, "Candace…"
The brunette was still glued to Victor's side. She looked her rescuer over, "Oh, Victor, you're hurt."
"I'm fine, Mel," Victor replied.
"Come on," she shoved him through the door of the building behind them. JD and Candace flanked it, preventing anyone else access.
Fi joined her group a few moments later. She slid off her sunglasses and put them in her fanny pack. She took a better look at Jesse. "What happened to you?" Fi asked.
"His stupidity," Candace said, directing it to Jesse.
"Hope this teaches you a lesson," JD chimed in.
"That seems a bit harsh," Fi began, "It's just a misunderstanding …"
"If they're on a job and some jerk takes hold of my sister, I fully expect Victor to pound the guy into a bloody pulp first, and then ask questions later," Candace said.
"Victor?" Fi interjected. Michael nodded.
"He is a bit territorial when it comes to Melissa," JD agreed.
"I didn't know who…" Jesse started.
"Do you research before you grab someone," Candace retorted.
"All I was…" Jesse began.
"You should be grateful your friend came along when he did- Victor would have killed you," JD said, "And I'm starting to run out of places to hide bodies."
"I'm sorry, is that what you want me to say?" Jesse asked. JD saw Candace pumping her fists. He could almost hear her counting to ten in her mind. He motioned for her to go take a breather.
Candace sighed. "Fine," she picked up Victor's sunglasses as she went to a different side of the outbuilding to cool off.
"Are you trying to piss off Candace?" JD asked, "You're crazier than Victor- she's little, but she's mean…"
"I heard that!" Candace called.
JD gulped and thought for moment before quickly adding, "When provoked."
"Nice, Hubby." Candace replied.
The petite brunette Victor had called Mel put her hand on Victor's chest and pushed him onto the couch. "It's nothing," he protested. Mel just raised a perfectly arched eyebrow. Before Victor could push himself off of the couch, she straddled him.
"Hold still," Mel reached for the ointment she had pulled out of the first aid kit. Mel began to dab it on his forehead cut. Victor recoiled slightly. Mel lightened her touch. Victor kept fidgeting as she grabbed the butterfly band aid. Mel put it on his wound as Victor glared at her. "You are the worst patient I have ever had!" she declared in mock anger.
"I'm not your patient," Victor fired back. Mel rolled her eyes and pulled back. She gracefully swung her leg over and placed her foot on the floor. Mel began to push away from the couch when Victor took her hand. After a quick look around he tugged her into his lap. Mel glared at Victor who glared back. Her chocolate brown battled his ice blue. It lasted a matter of seconds before Victor cocked his head. Mel broke and smiled. They both let out a laugh. Victor leaned forward and captured her lips with his. Mel tilted her head to deepen the kiss. They heard the door begin to open. She felt Victor let go and ease his hand to the gun that sat on the top of the couch. JD peeked his head in. Victor relaxed. "Come in," he offered. JD nodded and turned out to get the rest of the group. JD & Candace entered first and circled around the back of the couch to stand behind Victor & Mel.
Mel gave him a soft peck on the lips in full view of the others as they filtered in. Michael shot them a questioning look. Victor threw up his hands and shrugged. Mel grabbed his hand before he could get it down. She inspected the cuts and bruises on his knuckles, and then frowned. Victor tried to pull it away. Mel squeezed his fingers together with enough force to make him reconsider. One hand keeping Victor's in place, the other nimbly took up the ointment and began applying it to the wounds.
"You seem to be doing well…" Michael began.
"What brings you to my city?" Victor asked.
"You go where you get work," Michael evaded.
Victor nodded, "It's a small world after all."
"We're looking into..." Jesse offered.
"Let me guess this is about the Rembrandt," Victor replied.
"You could be right," Michael answered.
"You traced a wire transfer to Davis Holmes Corp?" Victor added.
"From a David Davis' account," Jesse said.
"We might have a problem there," Victor said.
"Really?" Jesse asked.
"Who do you think is our client, Dummy?" Victor retorted.
"David is a sweet old man- he's not involved with this. It's Alexis Holmes- his late partner's daughter is framing him," Mel replied.
"You're sure?" Michael asked.
"It's nothing we can take to court with, but yeah, we are," Victor replied.
"Well, we almost had the computer her hacker used until she had it self-destruct," Candace offered.
"We'll get the witch," Mel assured her sister.
"You really don't like her," JD smirked.
"Nope," Mel replied.
"Is it her attitude or because she tries to flirt with Victor?" JD teased.
"That too," Mel glared.
"Too rich for my blood," Victor replied. Mel tilted her head and beamed at him.
"So what do we do now?" Jesse asked.
"We?" Victor said, "My crew and I have got this under control." JD and Candace nodded.
"What's your plan?" Jesse asked.
"JD," Victor said.
"Ms. Holmes gets caught red handed with the painting- she goes to jail, has to step down from the joint company- your client gets the painting back," JD answered.
"Everyone wins," Victor finished, "Good enough for you?"
"You don't have to go it alone," Fi said.
"He's not alone," Mel asserted.
"Consider it handled," Victor said.
"I guess you're gonna be busy," Michael said.,
"You haven't been slacking off yourself," Victor said, "I've been following the news- how's the dismantling going?"
"Slow. Thanks for gift wrapping Zito for us," Michael replied. Victor nodded. "The bow was a nice touch," Michael added.
Victor chuckled, "Took you long enough to find him."
"Victor's been in on it?" Fiona asked.
"Why shouldn't I be?" Victor replied.
"That's not what I meant," Fiona answered. She turned to her boyfriend, "Did you know?"
"Don't be too hard on Sport, Fi," Victor intervened, "I didn't tell him what I was up too."
"I didn't even get a part in it," Jesse complained.
Victor stood up, "Not my problem."
"I was burned too," Jesse objected.
"We all were- some more than others," Michael knowingly eyed Victor who couldn't look at him. Victor's gaze was fixed on the floor. Mel took his hand and laid her head on his shoulder.
"My crew and I need to get back to work," Victor shifted the topic, "Take some time off and enjoy the city. Think of it was a vacation- you certainly look like you could use one, Sport." With that, he placed his hand on the small of Mel's back and ushered her out the door. Candace followed close behind them.
Jesse stood there his mouth agape. JD picked up a small first aid kit. "You trying to catch flies?" he quipped and tossed it at Jesse who nearly dropped it. With a smile JD turned and followed his wife and comrades out of the room.