Life Preserver

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
An F.B.I. agent who had run from true love. A computer genius who was chasing. Brought together by fate and a kidnapping will they once again find love in each other?

Submitted: August 31, 2016

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Submitted: August 31, 2016

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It was hotter than a witch in church. Elizabeth fanned herself with the paper fan stamped with the logo of Food Lion, a southern grocery store chain that she had worked for in her teens. There had been a booth a few blocks back handing them out for free.

She fanned herself at the annual Speed Street festival in uptown Charlotte. The festival was NASCAR-themed and took up a mile's worth of the city street. It was held every year directly proceeding the Coca Cola 500 race that was held at Lowes Motor Speedway.

Elizabeth and her younger sister Harper went every year and had since it started ten year's earlier.

Harper went for the food and Elizabeth went for the vast number of vendors selling severely overpriced trinkets.

"So, how are you liking your new job?" Harper asked her as they strolled. "We miss you around here...and by we I mean me. Jessa's telling everyone you slept with your boss to get promoted and dad just misses you paying rent to live at home,"

Elizabeth laughed. What else could she do? Her family was fucked up and she had known it for as long as she'd been able to comprehend

Most people would be proud that their daughter or sister had risen in the ranks of the F.B.I. so quickly. At the age of only twenty-eight, she was a Supervisory Special Agent and was the Unit Liaison for the Behavioral Analysis Unit Major Crimes Division based out of the J. Edgar Hoover Building in D.C. She chose what cases her team would take on and dealt with local police departments, victims families, and the press. Her life was hectic. The only other more important department within the B.A.U was the Main Division. They took on high-profile cases, cold cases, and time sensitive cases...and had their own jet. Elizabeth's department flew coach.

"I love it even though it seems like I'm always working. I haven't even finished unpacking yet...but being away from Dad and Jessa is great." She admitted.

"Getting away from those two would be a dream," Harper sighed wistfully.

Elizabeth laughed. "I have an extra bedroom; I've told you that."

Harper shook her head. "Nope, you did it on your own and so will I," She declared stopping at the tent of a food vendor selling authentic Mexican tacos. "How'd you get away from work to come down anyway?"

"I'm interviewing a new tech analyst for my team at the Hilton tomorrow," Elizabeth explained.

Their old tech had retired after thirty years. Elizabeth had jumped at the chance to interview their new candidate when she learned the interview would be taking place in her hometown. She had been depressed that she was going to miss the festival and race. Her boss, S.S.A. Leland Turner had been nice enough to allow her to leave two days early to "prepare". This was code for "have a good time, kid". She hadn't even opened the candidate's file and didn't even know if she was interviewing a man or woman.

The next morning as she sat in the conference room looking at the candidate's file she realized that she should have opened it prior to volunteering to take the job of interviewing him...because it was a him.

The candidate's name was Jensen Jacks. He was a computer god. If you wanted something hacked, you went to Jensen. You wanted to find information on someone in ten seconds flat...you went to Jensen. He was the best in the business and Elizabeth would be a fool not to hire him.

There was only one small problem...he was her ex-boyfriend.

She looked at the clock. It was 7:45. The interview was in fifteen minutes.

Elizabeth took a sip of the cup of coffee that she had picked up from Krispy Cream on her way to the hotel that morning and thought about all of the reasons she didn't want to see Jensen.

He had been her first love. Her first kiss. Her first boyfriend. Her first lover.

She had been head over heels in love with him. He treated her like gold but there was a problem. Her father hated him and Jensen hated her father.

This was back when Elizabeth had still been young and brainwashed by her father enough to trust him.

When they were nineteen, after spending an amazing year together, they had broken up when Jensen had asked Elizabeth to marry him and run away with him.

Too scared to disobey her father and not wanting to leave Harper behind she had turned him down and ended the relationship...and she had regretted it ever since.

She jumped when a knock came on the conference room door.

"Come in," She called as evenly as possible.

She glanced at the clock. It was only 7:55. He was early. Damn him!

The heavy door opened and she found herself staring her face in the past.

All wasn't as it had been before. His curly muddy river hair was no longer long and tied back. It was cut short and neat. He was wearing dress slacks instead of torn-up jeans and a white dress shirt instead of a concert t-shirt.

He seemed a bit taken aback when he saw her sitting there.

"Elizabeth," He had obviously been expecting her just about as much as she had been expecting him.

"It's S.S.A. Windsor for the duration of this interview," She stood from her seat and nodded for him to take one.

"Whatever you say," He smirked and took a seat. "S.S.A. Windsor,"

She spent half an hour trying to stump in with every difficult tech question in the file that she had but nothing fazed him.

She read over his resume and quizzed him on it. He got every question correct and she knew the F.B.I. would have already verified every piece of information on the document. It was impressive, to say the least. He had graduated from Duke University before starting his own tech firm. He was recruited by the Charlotte branch of the F.B.I. as a senior tech analyst when he was only twenty-five. Two years later he had sold his company for a cool five million dollars.

This was the man who's offer of marriage she had turned down to be the good little girl that her father wanted her to be. Fuck her life. She had barely graduated from Central Piedmont Community College with her Associates in Criminal Justice because she worked two jobs. She had gotten her Bachelor's in communications from Queens College of Charlotte while working as a file clerk full-time at the local courthouse. She had applied to join the F.B.I. right out of college and was lucky enough to make the cut. She slowly worked her way up to her current position and would be paying back student loans until the day that she died.

After an hour she knew that there was nothing holding her back from hiring him. Her team needed the help and in the end, someone's life could very well depend on them having a tech analyst on the team.

Her cell phone rang. Looking at the caller I.D. she saw that it was S.S.A. Turner.

"S.S.A. Windsor," She answered.

"Have you hired the guy yet or not?" Her boss barked.

He wasn't in a good mood which meant that something was wrong.

"I was just about to, sir, what's up?" She stood from her seat and walked to the corner of the room.

"The team's been deployed to Charlotte. The city had its third child abduction in the last three week's take place last night, a little girl named Samantha Jones. The first two victims were killed within seventy-two hours of being taken. All three were brunette twelve-year-old girls. All three were contacted via computer. The unsub activated some kind of virus on the victim's computers shortly after taking them and the local police don't have the resources to pull any information from them. Jacks is the only one in the area with the know-how to do anything with the computers. We have a little over forty-eight hours left to find this girl alive. I'll bring Jacks his creds but for now get him in wherever he needs to go."

Elizabeth hung up the phone and took a deep breath before turning to Jensen who was looking at her curiously.

"You're hired," She told him as she started packing up her things. She needed to get to the Charlotte branch of the F.B.I. and so did Jensen. "You start today but we are going to have to walk and talk. I'll explain everything on the way,"

Elizabeth filled him on what was going on as she arranged for cooperation from the local F.B.I. and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department with her inbound team.

Jensen told her that he would need access to the victim's computers. Fearful of doing any more damage, the local authorities hadn't removed them from the victim's homes.

She arranged with the families of the victims to visit their homes and view the computers.

At two of the three homes, she was met with bad news. The unsub's virus had completely wiped the hard drives of both computers.

At the home of the third victim, he had better news for her.

"The victim turned off the computer before the virus could completely wipe the hard drive." He informed her. "If we can get permission from her parent's to take the laptop I can pull the information off in just a few hours back at headquarters,"

Elizabeth got the needed permission and the two of them left with the computer.

She accompanied Jensen to his lab, or rather his old lab, and watched as he plugged the computer into a few different wires and typed on his laptop. When he was done he sat back to wait.

"So, now you wait?" Elizabeth leaned against the wall.

He nodded. "Yeah...is this job always like this? Life or death? I'm used to financial crimes and tracking internet piracy. But there's a little girl whose life depends on if I can find anything on this computer or not,"

Elizabeth shrugged. "It's not always like this. It's not like a crime drama where there is a serial killer or terrorist to chase every week. But we do see a lot of bad stuff and this isn't the first case that we have seen like this and it won't be the last." She told him honestly.

"How do you deal with it?" He rubbed a hand over his tired face.

"I just keep pushing myself. For every person, we put away there is at least one person safe at home who wouldn't be if he or she were free. That makes it worth it. I get nightmares sometimes but we all do. They come with the job." She told him honestly. She had only been on the job with this department for four months and she had already seen plenty of things that would stick with her for the rest of her life.

"Maybe you need someone to keep the nightmares at bay, S.S.A. Windsor," He told her huskily as he stood and started stalking towards her.

Luckily her phone ringing stopped his advance.

It was Agent Turner.

"Yeah, boss?" She answered as she glared at Jensen warning him off.

He just rolled his eyes at her and sat back down in the front of all of the computers.

"We've just landed at Charlotte Douglas. I'm going to want you to meet us at the CMPD so we can give the profile and you can make a televised statement," He ordered.

"Yes, sir, I'll head over there now," She disconnected the call. "I'll be at the CMPD if you need me," She informed Jensen very matter-of-factly before turning on her heel and walking out.

They were already setting up a speaking platform for her to speak on outside of the police department when Elizabeth arrived and met up with the rest of her team.

There was her boss Agent Turner, the deputy captain Agent Walter Boyd, and field agents Dominic Santiago, Sandy Noble, and George King. Elizabeth was the youngest out of all of them. 

George gave her the profile of the unsub and she took it outside to read to the media.

Taking a deep breath, she walked up to the microphone and spoke to the gathered mass of press cameras and microphones.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the CMPD and the F.B.I. are in search of a child abductor matching the following description: He is a white male in his mid to late forties. This man has a below average paying job but a high level of intelligence. He will have just suffered the loss of a child between the ages of eleven and thirteen. The child will have had been short in stature for her age with dark brown hair and blue eyes. Her death will most likely have been sudden. If you know anyone that matches this description, please call the CMPD or F.B.I."

When she was finished speaking, she answered a few questions and stepped from the platform.

With nothing else to do but wait, Elizabeth made her way back over to F.B.I. headquarters to check on Jensen's progress.

He had made some but there was bad news.

"Whoever designed this virus did it just as well as I can," He gestured at the computer with his hand. "When I went to start removing the virus, I activated a bunch of micro viruses. They are more of an annoyance than anything but it's going to take my program at least an additional three hours to clear them out before I can even think about touching any of the information on the hard drive,"

"Fuck," She cursed and took out her phone to inform Agent Turner.

When she hung up the phone she noticed Jensen yawning.

"Do you need to be here while that program runs?" She nodded at the computer.

He shook his head. "No, I've got it programmed to send me a text the moment it is completed and I can remotely access the computer from mine,"

She decided to take pity on him and maybe on herself as well.

"Then why don't we get out of here and get something to eat?" She suggested. "Is the Liberty Diner still open?"

The Liberty Diner had been their favorite restaurant when they were dating. Mostly because the food was decent and cheap and they were two broke teenagers.

He smiled as he stood and stretched.

"Twenty-four hours," He reminded her. "Let's go, I'm payin',"

She wasn't going to argue with that.

They had managed to make it through dinner without any awkwardness. In fact, it was just like old times when they were dating. They sat in a booth and talked for hours before Jensen walked her back to her rental car and kissed her cheek. He waited to make sure she had gotten off safely before starting his truck and pulling out himself.

They next saw each other only six hours later when he had called her from his lab to tell her that he had something.

She called George and they both made their way to the lab as fast as traffic laws would allow.

"What do you got?" Were the first words out of her mouth when she walked in the door.

Jensen didn't seem offended. He understood her rush.

"Samantha was talking to someone online named DonaldDuck1967," He showed her the computer screen. "He says that he's a fifteen-year-old high school student at Independence High School who saw her performing at the Thanksgiving Day parade last year with her school's cheerleading troop. They made plans to meet two nights ago outside the movie theater at South Park Mall. He said his mom would be dropping him off in a white Jeep Cherokee."

George pulled out his phone and called the South Park Mall to pull the security footage and Elizabeth turned her attention to Jensen.

"Any way of finding out who DonaldDuck1967 is?" She asked him.

He shook his head. "The AIM username was set up using a google account. Anyone can get one and use any name they like when signing up. This guy used Donald Trump. The I.P. he used to register was bounced off of a server in China. He knows what he's doing to cover his tracks."

It struck her as fast as lightning in a southern afternoon summer thunderstorm.

"This guy's name is Donald." She turned to George. "Donald Duck? Donald Trump?" She pointed out. "Run all the owners of white Jeep Cherokee's in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Area," She ordered Jensen. "Pull anyone with the first name Donald who fits the profile,"

He nodded and turned back towards his computers and Elizabeth and George went to South Park Mall with their Agent Turner accompanying them.

They found footage of Samantha being pulled into a newer model Jeep Cherokee but the license plate was too obscured in the video to read. All they could tell was that it was a specialty plate. It had a bear on it and supported North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains.

She pulled out her cell phone and dialed Jensen. She never once stopped to notice that she was calling the same number from years ago. She didn't notice that he had never changed it and she had never deleted it. In fact, she had transferred it from phone to phone over the years.

"Yes, hon?" He answered the phone.

"How many names have you come up with?" She inquired.

"Thirteen," He informed her.

"How many of the thirteen have the Appalachian Mountains specialty plate?"

She heard him typing on the other side of the phone before he answered.

"Only one, Donald Miller," She could tell he was reading off of a computer screen. "He's forty-eight, works as a drama teacher at Clear Creek Middle School even though he's Julliard-educated, and he had a daughter named Kristi Miller who was killed in a home invasion gone bad," He rattled off. "Liz, the first anniversary of the daughter's death was three days before the cops found the first victim,"

Seventy-two hours. They had their suspect and they had his motive and stresser. With the first anniversary of his daughter's death having just passed he was trying to find a replacement for the child he had lost. When the new child didn't live up to his standards he killed her.

She informed the rest of her team but because she wasn't a trained field agent she had to stay behind while they went to the suspect's home.

She didn't know why but she remained at the lab with Jensen.

They didn't talk. She just paced back and forth around the lab as Jensen watched.

Eventually, he got sick of it and pulled her to sit in his lap in his computer chair.

"Please, relax, hon," His deep southern accent laced voice requested.

"I'm scared they're not going to find Samantha alive," She started biting her nails on the hand that wasn't holding her cell phone.

At that moment her cell phone rang.

"S.S.A. Windsor," She answered without looking to see who it was.

"We got the girl. She's shaken but alive," It was Agent Turner. "We have Donald Miller in custody,"

She breathed a deep sigh of relief as she hung up the phone and leaned back against Jensen a little more fully. "They got the girl.

"I heard," He nuzzled his face into her hair. "Nice to see you're still so comfortable with me, hon,"

"I've missed you," Whoa, where the hell had that come from? "I should have run away with you when you asked," Okay, seriously, what the fuck was up with the word vomit?

He pushed her blonde hair aside and kissed her neck.

"We'll here's your second chance," He pushed her up to look at him. "Run away with me to D.C. I have this great new job with the F.B.I. and we could be happy together...I'm sure you can find something to do there." He joked.

She giggled. "I'd love to run away with you, Jensen,"

He pulled her down for a kiss.

"You know I still love you more than life right, hon?" He asked her when he pulled back.

She nodded. "I know, and I never once stopped loving you."

He kissed her again before pulling back to speak once more.

"You know by running away with me, I mean givin' up the apartment that I know you can barely afford and movin' in with me, right?"

She laughed. She couldn't believe that she wasn't freaking out this time. Her father's absence had done her wonders.

"No, I didn't know that's what you meant but I think I can live with it," She promised.

"Just makin' sure we're on the same page, hon," He pulled her down for another kiss but this time, there was no more talking.

Jensen moved to D.C. to take up work with the team full-time a week later. For his first month in D.C., he had lived with her in the tiny apartment that she would admit she could barely afford.

Their first weekend off he had taken her house hunting in the Georgetown area.

Suddenly she was looking at houses that she could have never dreamed in a million years of ever living in.

"Isn't this a bit much?" She asked him as they walked hand in hand through a six-bedroom townhouse that cost more than her college education and car combined.

He slipped his arm around her waist as he led her into one of the upstairs bedrooms. It was large and had large bay windows that overlooked the fenced in backyard.

"Well, D.C. is home now and I thought we should have a permanent place here. A place we can grow into. I hate moving. I want to find the house I die in," He told her bluntly and then gestured around the room. "And look at this room...it would make a great nursery,"

She had to remind herself to breathe. He had just said "nursery" like it was the most natural thing in the world. He had been terrified of fatherhood when they were younger. Even though she was on birth control he had still insisted on the use of condoms in their lovemaking back then...and then it hit her.

She hadn't taken her birth control pills in two weeks because she had not been able to find them. They had disappeared off of her bathroom counter. They weren't using condoms during their lovemaking...Jensen insisting they were unneeded.

"You threw out my birth control pills," She accused.

"More like hid them under the sink," Jensen admitted.

"Why?" She was very, very confused.

"Because you've turned me down for marriage twice since we've been back together insisting it's too soon when we are living as man and wife anyway. I figured if you got pregnant, your Catholic upbringing might force your hand in the matter."

He was a fucking supervillain.

She smacked his arm...hard.

"Damn hon, are you mad?" He asked sarcastically as he rubbed his arm.

"Duh!" She yelled.

The real estate agent downstairs probably heard but she didn't care.

"Why do you want to marry me so badly anyway?"

He looked at her like she had grown a second head that was singing Baby One More Time...

"Because I love you, you ditz!" He huffed. "Because I like arguing about who is going to take the dogs out at night. Because I like it when you tell me you're reading on your tablet in bed at night when you're really playing Candy Crush Saga. Because I love making love to you and waking up to you in my arms in the morning. Because I actually dream about having kids with you and arguing over everything they do. Because I love the life we have together and I don't want to lose it."

She was in tears by the time he was down ranting.

"Yes, I'll marry you," She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tight.

He hugged her back. "Well, that only took a decade," He said as he pulled back.

She smacked his chest before kissing him.

"I want this house," She told him against his lips. "But I want you even more. Go make an offer and do it quick so we can go home...to bed,"

He was gone in the blink of an eye to speak to the real estate agent.

They married that December in a Winter wedding that had been ten years in the making.

Their life wasn't always perfect. It wasn't long after their wedding that they discovered that Elizabeth was incapable of conceiving a child.

After absorbing the shock, they had set out on the course of adoption. They were waitlisted time and time again but eventually their persistence paid off.

Two days after their sixth wedding anniversary they traveled to Tampa Bay, Florida to pick their sons, six-month-old Dean and his older brother three-year-old Cooper.

The adoption process having been such a long emotional process, Dean and Copper would be their only children.

She still worked for the F.B.I. as did Jensen and she didn't like to think of what her life would be like without her husband.

In the sea of life, he had been her life preserver when she hadn't even been aware that she needed one.

As she closed the door to a sleeping Dean's nursery she tiptoed down the hall and into their bedroom where her husband was already asleep.

She slid into bed beside him and smiled when she felt him reach out his arm in his sleep to wrap around her waist and pull her closer.

Maybe he wasn't just her life preserver. Maybe she was his as well.

FINIS

 


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