Sunday, December 23, 2012

Always & Forever - Chapter Four

"Hello," she answered.
"Madison!  What are you doing?  Are you already in Chicago?"
"Yes.  I'm here.  I'm staying at …"
"What are you doing here?  You were supposed to wait until I found something out!"
"Chase, I told you I wasn't going to sit around.  What have you heard?"
"I called Richard looking for you.  He tells me you left yesterday and should be here by lunch."
"Why did you call?  Did you hear from Skyler?"
"No.  I found him, though.  And you're not going to like it.  You should have waited."
"What?" she encouraged him to get on with the information.
"It's done, Madison.  We're too late."
Her pounding heart nearly went still as her breath froze in her chest.  "What do you mean?"
Chase grumbled something.  Then silence.
"What happened?"
"He confessed.  They brought him in yesterday.  There was already a hearing scheduled.  I don't know how they did it, but they brought him right into a hearing.  He pled no contest.  It's done."
"What?  Where did you hear this?  How do you know?"
"I got a hit on his name at a court house schedule.  By the time I got down there, his hearing was already happening.  I couldn't get to him.  He put in the plea before I could do anything."
It was a good thing Madison was already sitting because her legs went weak and the room began to spin.  "That can't be it.  There has to be something we can do."
"Not much," Chase said quietly.  "All that is left is sentencing.  That's in two weeks."
She didn't give a reply.  Her mouth went dry and her throat tightened.
"Madison?"
"I'm here," she choked.
"I think he did the right thing."  He paused as if awaiting her to counter him.  She wanted to, but no words came out.  "A lot of what they were charging him with, he actually did.  If he fought it and lost, he would have a longer sentence.  Pleading no contest is not an admission of guilt, but it lessens the court's load drastically.  His sentence will be considerably smaller."
The information did nothing to console her.  A sentence was a sentence.  They would not be allowed to go home together.
"Madison?"
"I'm here."
"Where are you?"
The name of the hotel escaped her.  All she could think of was that Skyler was going to be taken away from her.  They just got their lives together only to be ripped apart.
"Do you already have a room?"
"Yes," she breathed.
"Do you want to stay there or would you like to come here?"
"Where?"
A timid chuckle came before his answer.  "The apartment, Madison.  Would you like to stay at the apartment?  It's familiar.  If you're going to be here for two weeks, I thought you'd like something familiar."
"Ok."  She made the reply without really thinking about it.  She was more or less pretending to go along with the conversation.
"Where are you staying?  I'll come get you."
Madison pulled herself out of her daze enough to give him the hotel name and address.  She didn't have second thoughts about it until after she hung up.  She didn't want any company.  She wanted to be alone with her thoughts.  Chase was not cooperative with sour moods.
But she checked out and waited downstairs anyway.  She hoped it would not reflect badly on Richard.  That would only add to her depression.
Chase pulled up not long after she sat down in the lobby.  She spotted his little blue sports car as he stopped at the curb.  The porter carried her bags out, and Chase put them into the trunk.
Madison stood beside the car and watched absentmindedly.  Chase looked the same, but, at the same time, different.  His brown hair was longer than she remembered.  It had a bit of a wave with the extra length.  It didn't look like it had seen a comb in several days.
But his goofy smile was ever the same.  His face was clean-shaven and his blue eyes were bright.  He looked like his usual cheery self, even with his wrinkled white dress shirt hanging over his dark corduroy pants.
He glanced up after closing the trunk, and gave a questioning look.  "Come on," he nodded to the car.  "Let's go"
Madison got into the little car without a word.  Her every thought was desperately looking for some kind of hope to cling to.  She did not even notice the tiny snowflakes that dotted her dark curls.
"Hey!" Chase perked up.  "You brought snow with you."
"Hmm."
He glanced once more at her.  "It's going to be okay, Madison.  We'll figure something out."
She nodded.  "I know."  It was a lie.  She had all but given up.  What could she possibly do at this point?
The ride to the apartment consisted of Chase's bubbly chatter.  He seemed to be going in circles.  He repeated his story of him calling Richard.  He asked her the same questions again and again.  Are you cold?  Do you want the seat heater on?  Are you hungry?
She only answered with a shake of her head each time.  Her replies changed as much as his asking.  She knew he was just fishing to get her to say something.
It wasn't that she did not want to speak with Chase.  She was happy to see him.  She knew he would do what he could to help out, and that he would be very supportive even if there were nothing they could do.  But she simply did not have the patience or forethought to hold a conversation with him.
Worry knotted deep in her stomach.  Her hands went to her tummy as if to comfort it.  She didn't think it would help, but she tried anyway.
After finding his space in the parking garage, Chase took Madison's bags once again and escorted her inside.  The elevator was the polar opposite of car ride.  Chase did not even try to draw her out.  He seemed to be elsewhere.
When they stepped into the apartment, he snapped back to his usual self.  "I can order movies for tonight.  What would you like?"
"Hmm …"
"Or strip poker.  We never finished that game."
Her eyes widened.  She turned to Chase and failed to find an answer.  She had never played strip poker in her life.
But his mischievous smirk gave him away.  "So you are in there," he chuckled.  "Just checking."
She drew a deep breath.  It was nice to be distracted.  The knots in her stomach calmed, but only for a moment.
"I'm sorry," she said shyly.  "I didn't mean to …"
"Hey," he interrupted as he stepped closer.  "Don't worry about it, Madison.  I know you've got a lot on your shoulders right now.  I understand."  He set her bags on the floor and reached for her, pulling her into a big bear hug.
Closing her eyes, Madison tried to make herself relax.  She was with a good friend.  She was not alone.  She could not let the negative pile up on her.  Nothing was hopeless.
"So," Chase muttered as he held her.  "What did you do today, Chase?
"Oh, not much," he went on.  "I consoled a married woman.  That was nice."
Madison chuckled and eased back.  "Thank you."
He winked.  "No problem.  I don't always get to comfort someone else's wife."
She let out a sigh.  He was right.  He comforted her.  Silly Chase gave her something to smile about.
"Now," he clapped his hands.  "You get the bedroom.  I'll take the couch.  House rules."  She moved to counter him, and Chase held up a finger.  "House rules.  I can't change that."
Madison kept her reply to herself.  She stepped back and looked around.  The apartment was just as she remembered.  Mostly.  The only difference was that his old room was now converted into his writing and design office.  He moved into Skyler's old room and set it up as his bedroom.  All the furniture was new, but the view was still breathtaking.
Following Chase into the room, Madison couldn't help but be drawn to the wall of windows.  Standing in front of them, she could feel the winter radiating on the glass.  It was a familiar feeling, though the warmth of the room quickly pushed it back.
Some how, the cold felt like home.  It reminded her of how hard she and Skyler fought to be together.  They faced their fears.  They risked their lives. Skyler nearly froze to death for it.  His stubbornness undoubtedly paid off.  He always said she kept him alive, she would not let him give up, but she didn't feel that way.  She was not nearly as strong as him.
Especially now, she needed him; his watchful presence, his strong arms, his loving smile, and his heartening eyes.  She needed him near now more than ever.
"Let's start with lunch," Chase said behind her.  "You can't tell me you're not hungry."
She was not hungry.  Her stomach was too nervous to feel hungry.  But she knew she should be.  Her breakfast wore off before she landed in Chicago.  She regretted not grabbing that cinnamon roll back at the hotel in Miami.
Chased waved his hands for her to follow.  She did just so.  He led her into the kitchen and ushered her to one of the bar stools.  "Have a seat.  I'll take care of this one."
She smiled as he turned to the fridge.  She knew he lived off fast food and take-outs.  Even still, she let him be.  He was enjoying his role as caretaker.
Chase pulled a styrofoam box from the fridge.  He peeked in it, cringed, and passed it to the trashcan.  "Once upon a time, that was good … two weeks ago."
Diving back into the fridge, he hummed to himself and sorted through the shelves.  Three more boxes ended up in the trashcan.  Then he stepped back with a flat cardboard box and a goofy grin.  "Pizza.  It's a fail safe.  And it's only from yesterday."
Madison chuckled at him and reached for a napkin, and then retrieved a slice as he presented her the box.  He was doing well at keeping her distracted.  She appreciated that, whether or not he realized what he was doing.
"How's your work coming?" she asked.  "Next month, right?"
Chase gave a shrug.  "Two months, actually.  It was supposed to be next month, but it was pushed back due to one of the bigger retailers.  They would not be able to carry it until then.  I can live with another month."
"Do you have any copies?"
His mischievous smile returned as he waved a finger, set his pizza slice back in the box and strolled to his office.  He was not gone long before he returned with his hands behind his back.
Madison didn't try to hide her smile.  She knew Chase put tons of work into his graphic novel.  His sketches were dramatic.  His story was addictive.  She knew it would be great.  Besides, he modeled it after Skyler's life, only making him a vigilante rather than a con man.
"Mrs. Andrew, you are about to behold the first copy of The Dangerous Deeds of Evan Sky.  I will do my best to prevent you from being overwhelmed by the brilliance.  But first, you must agree to tell everyone you have seen its magnificence and will be a part of the original Evan Sky Fan Club."
She nodded, holding her hands out expectantly.  He bowed his head and swept his arms forward, thrusting the glossy paperback in her direction.  She gasped in excitement.  It was even better than she expected it to be.
"Wow, Chase.  Congratulations!  It's great!"
He passed it to her and bowed again.  "Thank you, my dear.  You are my favorite fan."
"Evan Sky, huh."
Chased nodded with a wide grin.
"Does he get the girl?"
Chase nodded again, this time with a wink.
"Does he change diapers?"
"What?  No!"  He put his hands on his hips.  "Evan Sky does not do diaper duty.  He is too busy saving lives and livelihoods."
Madison laughed.  She looked over the cover and let her approval show on her face.  She smiled and nodded and cooed more like a delighted mother than an impressed friend.
The man on the cover held a striking resemblance to her husband.  His blue eyes shown brightly even on paper.  His black hair was curly instead of straight like Skyler's, and perhaps a little longer.  He definitely had a ruggedly handsome look to him with his fitted black t-shirt and stonewashed jeans.  Strapped over the tight shirt were black leather vertical shoulder holsters, loaded and ready for action.  He peered around the corner of a brick building with his gaze intent on a rundown warehouse across an abandoned lane.  Two men dressed in bulky black outerwear stood beside a door crisscrossed with thick chains.  Both goons were armed.  One carried a shotgun with a smaller pistol on his hip.  The other was loading an automatic weapon and had a huge knife sheathed at his side.
"It looks amazing, Chase."
"This is only the first part in the series.  They signed me for at least three more.  I'm just getting started."
She let out a whistle.  It sounded as if he was finally getting his dream job.  That was something to be proud of.  All his hard work paid off.
"Who do I call about ordering some for the library?"
Chase stared at her with his blue eyes narrowed.  "Are you being funny?"
Madison laughed at his suspicious reaction.  "No!  They let me do more than put books back on their shelves."
"So volunteers have pull?  That's new."
"Hey," she warned.  "We're living on a small island.  That means the library is small.  There are only five of us working there.  Two are full time."
"So volunteers have pull?"
"Be that way."  She matched his playful glare.  "See if I put in a good word for your work."
"I don't know.  I think I might need to see this establishment before I agree to let them carry my work.  I have a reputation to keep."
Madison let herself enjoy the exchange.  She was grateful for Chase to help her out of her dark mood.  It felt good to laugh.  She knew she would have much to trudge through in the coming weeks.  Maybe Chase would keep her from worrying herself sick.
When they finished what was left of the pizza, Madison was a little embarrassed when she realized she ate most of it.  She was hungrier than she thought.
Chase then ushered her to the sofa.  "Wait here.  Get comfy.  We have lots to go over."
She didn't get a chance to question him.  He turned and disappeared into his office.  Papers rustled as if he was digging through wadded up pieces while he grumbled to himself.  Either he misplaced something or he was being less than graceful.  Even still, Madison held her place on the couch as he said.  She pulled a pillow into her lap and awaited his return.
He eventually emerged from the dark office.  He had three text books stacked with another three books worth of paper in his arms.  "There are a few things I need to fill you in on before we get going with this."  He knelt on the floor facing her and carefully set the load between them.
"Did you do all this?"
He looked up with surprised eyes.  "Yeah.  I said I'd see what I could do."
She shook her head.  "That's not what I meant," she moved to correct herself.  "I mean, you found all this information since I spoke with you Sunday?"
"I already had some of it," he said as he patted two of the books.  "Mr. Sawyer helped me find the rest."
"Mr. Sawyer?"
"Oh!  Yes!  First bit of information; I was able to secure a lawyer.  The one Skyler has is appointed by the state.  He's less than helpful.  Mr. Sawyer is one of the best.  Even though Skyler already put in a plea, Sawyer might be able to whittle his sentence down to a minimum."
Hope blossomed where the worry had taken up residence in her stomach.  "He can do that?  How?  Why?"
Chase waved his hands.  "Hold on, I'm getting to that.
"Second bit of information; the state has multiple witnesses ready to testify that Skyler victimized them.  That Bristow fellow made a deal.  He is cooperating with officials and turning in all his men in exchange for a lighter sentence.  He is going to get jail time, that's a no-brainer, but it's looking like he will serve in a minimum security place with a health club and fun stuff like that for crooks.
"But, Sawyer has just as many people willing to testify in defense of Skyler.  Apparently, with each job Skyler took on, he picked a person out of their victims to shield as much as he could.  It was usually family providers and your average good citizen type.  He set up some type of trust fund that has been paying out to these people and that has spared them the fallout following the take down of the companies they worked for.  Not quite a Robin Hood, but the next best thing.  Skyler only kept enough of his pay to get by.  He spent all his savings getting to North Caicos.  He has nothing left from Bristow's company.
"And Skyler worked with that Detective Payne.  He supplied Payne with solid evidence.  They could actually make the charges stick because of what Skyler gave them.  He did not ask to be protected or pardoned.  They offered.  He kept his options open.  Now I know why."
Madison shook her head.  She struggled to follow all he was saying.  It was good news, but it was so much more than she expected.  Even still, would it be enough?
"So Sawyer is representing Skyler?"
Chase swayed his head.  "Some what.  He has agreed to, but I have not been allowed a visit with Skyler to let him know.  I've put in requests, and so has Sawyer, but for whatever reason, we're not being let in.  It doesn't make sense."
"Do you think I could get a visit with him?"
"Definitely.  You're the missus.  They have to let you in."
She nodded and took a deep breath.  Good news about his case and a definite visit with him.  She did not allow herself to hope so much.  "When?"
"That," Chase nodded and sorted through the stack of papers.  "That, I'm still working on.  I didn't know you were coming until this morning.  I didn't know if you were up to a visit or not.  If you agree, I can put in another call and see if we can get you in there sometime tomorrow."  He laughed out.  "I'd like to see them try to turn you away."
"Can they?"  The hope wilted.  "Would they?"
Chase shook his head franticly.  "I don't think so.  Sawyer will let us know for sure, but you have the best chance out of all of us.  You just need to take Sawyer in with you, relieve Skyler's appointed attorney, and get him to work with Sawyer.  He has to agree to accept Sawyer's help."
 Madison nodded slowly.  "Do you think he won't do it?  Do you think Skyler would stick with his attorney?"
"I don't know," Chase frowned.  "He doesn't seem to be trying to fight it.  I think he's accepted a conviction already."
His words echoed what she had previously concluded.  Skyler would give himself over peacefully.  He resigned to that fate long ago.  He never forgave himself for taking part in Morgan's schemes.  Thus, he would not resist an attempt to prosecute him along with the others.
There had to be a way to get him to fight.  He needed to prove he was not a hardened criminal like the rest of the gang.  He was left with little choice.  He did not see a way out.  He did it to survive.  And then he took the first chance that promised a release.  He not only gave the police everything they needed to take Morgan down, he helped the victims on his own, then left the organization completely.
She leaned in to peek at one of the papers with witnesses names listed.  "Sawyer has spoken with these people?  They've agreed to testify?"
"Mostly.  There are three that he can't get a hold of.  And their testimonies would do the most for our defense.  They would have been ruined in a bunch of different ways if Skyler did not support them.  We need them to speak up."
"What do I need to do?  Where can I find them?"
Chase was slow to answer.  His eyes scanned the papers in front of him, but he did not look to be reading.  "They're not around here.  One is in Brooklyn, another in LA, and the third is in New Orleans.
"Sawyer has tried calling them.  He's sent them letters.  He's even had colleagues from those areas look them up.  Nothing."
"They've disappeared?"
He shook his head.  "Not entirely.  They're just really good at dodging us.  We know they are there.  We know they are using the money Skyler set aside for them.  All three of them have made recent transaction."
She did not know how to take what he was saying.  These people could be the key to Skyler's freedom, but they were already uncooperative.  "We need to find out what the funding has done for them," she said.  "If they are using it, they needed it.  That means there is something important to them."
"What are you saying, Madison?  Are you wanting to go after them?"
"No, not after them.  Maybe help them to understand why they need to speak up for Skyler.  If he is convicted, then they are tied in with him.  They are living off his paycheck."
"It doesn't work like that," Chase said with a wince.  "The way it is set up, the money that they are using, it is not directly from the jobs.  Skyler used it to invest in growing companies.  He took that and put it in stocks.  From there, it is in a national bank collecting interest.  They are set for life no matter what happens to Skyler.  The original funding is gone.  This is completely separate."
"But they are still living off of him.  He saved them.  They should at least try to help him out."
Chase nodded.  "I agree.  But they are victims.  You cannot expect them to testify for someone involved in their suffering.  We are lucky to have the ones we do.  We need to build our defense as if those three will never come forward."
She did not like what he was saying, but she knew it was true.  Those people had every right to avoid the trial.  They suffered enough.  Reliving it would only bring back the pain.  "So, what do we have?"
Chase drew a deep breath.  He sorted the stack into smaller piles.  The textbooks were set aside.  He went through each of the witnesses.  Their stories varied from an older maintenance man of one company to the VP of another.
Madison recognized the traits that caught Skyler's attention.  She knew his heart.  They were the ones who had nowhere else to go.  They were the ones with families.  They were the innocent bystanders.
Reading over the accounts brought a smile to her face.  She was proud of Skyler for doing what he could for those people.  He was not in the best situation himself, but he still looked out for others.  Most of them didn't know his name.  Others never even met him.  But they all benefited from his assistance.
It took hours to go over the bulk of their evidence.  Chase ordered take out from a new Italian place the next block over.  When he ran out to pick it up, Madison reread several of the written statements.
She organized them according to how she felt they would affect Skyler's case.  Those who would be the most helpful were at the top of the stack.  She did her best to memorize their stories, their names, and their families.  She needed to connect with them.  She needed to see things from their side of the story.
Chase proceeded to review possible supporting witnesses with Madison as they ate.  She could tell he was already invested.  He was incredibly familiar with each file.  He related what he thought of those he had already contacted.  Between Sawyer and Chase, they had twelve who agreed to testify on Skyler's behalf.  Eight were still considering.  Two said no.  Then there was the three they could not reach.
Madison studied those three.  There had to be something she could do to convince them.  She understood why they would keep their distance.  No one liked getting involved in cases like this one.  But if they relied on Skyler's assistance so much, then they would understand why she needed them to help.  They would understand her need to bring Skyler home.
When Chase closed the last file, he set it atop the returned stack.  "What do you think?" he asked as he rubbed his eyes with the backs of his hands.  His fingertips were darkened by ink from all the papers he went through.  He leaned back and rested on his elbows and waited for Madison.
She tried to find a way to answer him.  There was so much to consider.  She was thankful to have the ones who agreed to help.  Even still, if she could get just one of the mysterious three to come forward, that would make the most difference.
"I think we're off to a good start," she began.  "I know this isn't enough, but we can build up from here.  Maybe Skyler can help us find these three," she said as she tapped the folders beside her.  "He might know how to find them and actually speak with them.  He has to know something.  That fund is too well prepared for him to not know who is accessing it from where."
Chase nodded.  "We already have most of the bank records.  Sawyer was able to secure those right away.  He is still working to get more, but the paperwork is tied up and he doesn't know if he can get it expedited.
"And since it is for a sentencing hearing, there is a good chance that they won't release the information.  They might see his plea as a confession.  It's still kind of hairy."
Madison bobbed her head in understanding.  So much depended on luck.  There was too much they were still unsure of.  They needed something more solid.  They needed someone to stand before the judge and testify that Skyler not only spared them, he saved them.
"I'll go ahead and call Sawyer," Chase said as he sat up.  "I bet he will come by here in the morning."
"Thank you, Chase," Madison said as she peered at him.  "You have done so much.  I want you know I appreciate it all no matter how this plays out."
He shrugged with a smirk.  "I can't let my protagonist rot in a jail cell.  He's gotta get back out there to kick the bad guy's butt … and maybe diaper duty."
She laughed at his teasing.  She was glad she let him help her.  And she was happy to know he was willing to help.  There were not many people who would do so much for ex-con artists.
Then again, Richard already proved his loyalty.  Tom and Derrick did not turn her away.  Perhaps there were more people out there like Skyler.  Maybe his good character reached someone's heart.
Madison retired to the bedroom.  She thought to take the three files with her, but she decided against it.  Sleep was what she needed.  Tomorrow was a new day.  She wanted to be well rested for whatever might come her way.
She changed into her bedclothes in the dark, and then snuggled into bed.  It was an odd relief to realize it was not Skyler's old bed.  It must have been the one from Chase's room.  When she first stepped into the room, she feared the familiar bed would remind her all the more so that Skyler was not there.  The knowledge still tore at her heart, but without the added potency.
Madison turned on her side and watched out the wall of windows.  All the buildings were framed with the glow of their lights reflecting in the falling snow.  It gave them a halo effect.  The winter scene calmed her anxious mind.  Its simple beauty always reached her.  It was just as soothing as the sounds of the gentle waves behind their small house, and made it much easier for her to find sleep.
The next morning seemed to come early.  Madison's stomach woke her.  The hungry ache would not permit her to watch the sunrise from bed.
She moved as quietly as possible to the kitchen.  Chase was strung out on the couch snoring with a pillow over his head.  It looked as if he stayed up and worked a little more on the files.  The stack was once again rearranged.
Opening the fridge, a grumble escaped her at the lack of choices within.  She made a mental note to spend a few moments at a grocery store to make her stay a little less troublesome.  She knew Chase enjoyed it when she made home-cooked meals.  She would be doing them both a favor.
Going by memory, she knew where he kept the bagels.  That would hold her over just fine.  There were only three left in the bag.  She felt she could eat them all with little fuss, but decided against it.  She tucked one into the toaster.
While it was heating, she found a little bit of juice left in a pitcher at the back of the fridge.  She opened the top and took a testing sniff.  It actually smelled fresh.  She was glad Chase liked orange juice as much as he did.
After pouring a glass, she then pulled the carton of cream cheese from the fridge.  She set them both on the round coffee table between the chairs at the window.
The teasing smell of the bagel only emphasized her hunger.  Maybe she should have eaten it straight from the bag.  She didn't know if she would be able to wait for it to finish toasting.
The soft ding came just in time.  She was about to pull it open and take it the way it was.  She grabbed it quickly to avoid burning her fingertips.  The emitted heat distracted her as she bounced it from hand to hand until she came to her chair where she left a plate.
She gazed out the span of windows while she ate her hot breakfast.  The waking city let her mind ponder what Skyler was doing at that moment.  Was he safe?  Was he okay?  Was he thinking of her?
Cars gradually began to fill the streets below.  The snow-frosted sidewalks hosted the morning crew of walkers and joggers.  There were still some flakes falling, but they were very sparse.  The sun seemed to be trying so hard to peek through the cloud cover.  Perhaps it would triumph later in the day.
"Good morning," Chase muttered from across the room.
Madison turned in her chair.  "Good morning, Chase.  Are you hungry?"
"Yeah," he answered through a yawn.  "But I don't think I have anything.  I'll see what I can find up the street."
She held up what was left of her bagel.  "There are two more of these.  I was thinking of putting another one in.  Should I make it two?"
"Sure, I'll eat it on the way to breakfast."  Madison chuckled at him.  He sat up and peered at her.  "What?  I'm a growing boy.  I need my donuts."
Getting up, she went back to the bag of bagels.  "I wasn't saying anything.  Donuts sound good."
"Are you judging me?"
She laughed and kept her eyes on the bagels.  "Not at all.  Just trying to save you a trip in the snow."
He was up and bounded to the windows with a smile pasted across his face.  "Is it snowing?"
"Uh huh."
"Awesome!"
Madison tended to the toaster and shook her head.  So maybe he was just a boy.  Intent on donuts every morning for breakfast, excited to see a single snowflake after spending so many winters in Chicago where snow was the norm, and he also leaned close enough to the window to fog it up with his breath.
When the bagels popped out, she put them on plates and carried them to the chairs at the windows.  Chase kept his face pressed against the chilled glass.  Madison went ahead and smothered both bagels with cream cheese, barely able to hide her amusement.
"You can keep your sandy beaches," Chase said with a nod.  "I've gotta have my snow.  It makes everything better."
"It sure is pretty," Madison said in agreement.
Chase finally backed away from the window.  He plopped down in the chair beside her, his eyes still locked on the scene before them.  His fingers roamed to the coffee table, and Madison nudged the plate he was looking for closer.  He found the bagel only after sticking his fingers in the cream cheese layered across the top of it.
"Sawyer said he'd call this morning before he stopped by."
"You already called him?"
He gave a one sided shrug.  "I couldn't sleep last night.  I thought he'd be up."
Madison snickered.  "Was he?"
"Yeah," he bobbed his head.  "He was after I woke him."
Madison turned back to what was left of her bagel.  Chase shrugged again seemingly oblivious to her smirk.  She admired his innocence.
"Oh well," Chase said as he stood.  "I'll go get enough for all of us in case he comes as early as he threatened."
"When was that?"
He looked at his watch.  "In about ten minutes."  He headed for the door, "See you in a bit."  He stuck the bagel in his mouth as he put on his coat.
"All right," Madison called from her place.  "Thank you."
"Oh, you will," he said as he slipped out the door.
Madison chuckled at his antics.  She savored the last bite of the bagel, and then went her way to get ready for the day.  She wanted to be ready to do anything Sawyer recommended without delay.  Maybe she would get to see her husband before the end of the day.  Butterflies filled her still hungry stomach and an excited smile came to her lips.
She was in the bathroom when she heard the front door open.  The sound of Chase's voice carried as if he was standing just outside the door.  He was talking to someone.
Madison hurried to finished getting ready.  Chase was doing most of the talking, but another man's voice came every now and again.  She hoped it was Sawyer.  Her excitement grew.
  When she opened the door to step out, she was met by Chase's goofy cheer.  "This," he said as he waved an arm at her, "is Mrs. Madison Andrew, your client's wife."

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