When Jessie forced her eyes open, Lavern was sitting in a chair next to her, holding her hand. Chad was asleep on the couch on the other side of Jessie's room, with a small throw blanket draped across him. Jessie rubbed her eyes and pain shot through her shoulder with the stretch of her arm. She winced a little, but it was light pain in comparison to how her chest and stomach felt.

"Hi honey." Lavern smiled as she tucked some of Jessie's hair behind her ear. "You feeling better?"

"Better's not the word I'd use, but I'm ok." Jessie lightly put her hand on her stomach. "I just feel like I've been beaten with a baseball bat."

"Chad, she's awake." Lavern looked over at Chad who was gradually waking from his slumber.

"He's been right here with you," Lavern whispered to Jessie. "I finally told him he needed to get some sleep."

Chad sat up and slowly made his way over to her bed. He hunched his shoulders as he stood at the foot of her bed with his hands in his pockets. He looked down and shuffled his feet.

"I'll go get you something to eat Jess," Lavern said with a wink, as she took Chad's hint. She left the room and closed the door behind her.

Chad stood there quietly and bit his lip. "Jess, I'm so sorry." He started. "I should've had you run ahead of me. I shouldn't have just left you there. It's my fault you were shot. I just should have…"

"Chad," Jessie shushed him. "You were only like 3 steps ahead of me. It wouldn't have made a difference."

"But I should have been behind you."

"Yeah, so you could get shot for me to have to drag you into the car? You know I wouldn't have been able to do that. And like you assured me, the bullet proof vest worked."'


"Chad, I'm fine." She shook her head. "I'll probably just be a little sore for a while."

Chad turned around when he heard someone open the door. Jessie's muscles tightened and she involuntarily gritted her teeth when she saw the man in the doorway. He was dressed in a crisply pressed suit, as usual.

Jessie glanced over at Chad and noticed his fists already tightening. Chad's nostrils flared while his breathing grew slightly heavier. "Not now." said Chad succinctly as he peered at the man. "She just woke up and she's still recovering."

Chad's eyes followed the man as he sat in Lavern's place next to the bed. The man placed his hand on Jessie's which she quickly withdrew, despite the pain. Chad took an infuriated step forward until the man lifted his hands innocently, yet not with the slightest hint of fear or uneasiness.

"Relax…" the man said coolly as he took off his fedora, lightly flipped it in the air and placed it neatly back on his slicked-back dark hair. He leaned back into a relaxed position and motioned for Chad to sit down. "I'm just here to check up on my gal."

Jessie sat motionless, her eyes going back and forth between an enraged Chad and the man in the suit who seemed as though he were enjoying a leisurely picnic. "Jess, I don't know if I've properly introduced myself." He smiled and Jess could almost hear the twinkle which would accompany such a polished grin. "My name is Seth." He reached out a hand to shake hers, but she remained still.

With her rejection, his smile dropped quickly. "Let's get to it then. The fact of the matter is, you screwed up. You getting shot threw a kink in this whole job. Now when the police are looking for the person who did your little job, they'll be searching for someone with a bullet hole in their stomach."

"Well I'm sorry to have inconvenienced you," Jessie rolled her eyes. Normally she would have been afraid of him, but the pain made her less able to pretend she was patient.

"I try to visit you when you're hurting and take you on a nice little trip to reward you and still you're ungrateful. You're lucky your little resort getaway is already paid for."

Jessie mustered her bravery and rage. "I'm not going on your stupid trip and you can stay away from me." Having Chad in the room heightened her bravery.

"We spent hard-earned money on that trip for you and either you're going, or we'll give you an extra job to earn it back. We can't waste our resources because a little girl decides to be noble."

She tried to calm herself. The deep breaths she was taking hurt her ribcage. She glowered at him silently.

"Ok, you wanna play this game?" Seth raised his eyebrows as he tipped his hat. "I figured you would, seeing as how you're so gallant and all." He rolled his eyes and reached for her TV remote on the nightstand behind him. "If a trip doesn't motivate you, maybe this will." He turned on the TV to channel 6.

There was Jessie's mother, on the cold hard floor in the aisle of a grocery store. She was lying on her back, tears streaming down her face, surrounded by strangers. She kept reaching down toward her leg and a man sitting on the floor was pulling up her pant leg to take a look at it.

"Hmm…" Seth narrated. "Mommy was making a quick run to the grocery store and oops! Someone accidentally knocked her down."

The pain sliced through Jessie's stomach as she sat up, gasping for her mother.

"Tsk. Tsk. Looks like her leg is broken." Seth shook his head until Jessie's flailing arm grazed his face, though not as strongly as she had hoped it would. Chad stood up quickly, fists clenched and eyes on Seth.

"Now don't get all riled up." Seth said casually as he stood and made his unperturbed exit. "Enjoy your trip you two."

Jessie wailed as she stared at the TV. "Mom!" she screamed as her tears fell freely. "I'm so sorry mom!" Chad raced to her side and sat next to her bed. His arm made its way behind her back and she leaned her head into his chest as she wept. He enfolded her in his arms as she continually apologized to her mother who couldn't hear her.

He ran his fingers over her hair and rocked her softly as he gently sushed her. "It's not your fault."

As soon as she could manage to, she stared at the TV intently. She wished she could think of a way to stop them, a way to protect her mother.

"Do you want me to turn it off?" Chad asked hesitantly.

"No," she sniffled. "I want to make sure she's ok." She and Chad watched as the man in the video sitting in the aisle seemed to be trying to comfort her mother. He was saying something to her and she looked at him as she spoke, probably telling him where it was hurting. Her mother lay there for a few more minutes, and gradually people dispersed, but the man stayed with her. Eventually the man must have said something to her mother because she laughed slightly. Jessie was relieved that someone was there with her mother, though she wished she could do it herself.

Jessie peered into the TV as the camera, likely pinned on someone's shirt, followed her mother and the man into an ambulance. By the time they reached the hospital, the man was holding her mother's hand and she would lightly smile intermittently, putting Jessie at ease.

Later that day Jessie woke up, realizing that she must have fallen asleep again after watching the video of her mother. Lavern had stopped by again to give Jessie and Chad some food and then stayed a while to make sure Jessie was feeling a little more at ease before she left.

Chad had stayed with Jessie for a couple hours while she watched the TV to make sure her mom would be ok. Her mother had been given a cast for her leg and the man had taken her home, though the surveillance only showed the outside of the house once they had gone inside. Jessie felt more at ease knowing someone was there taking care of her mother and the man seemed to have been a nice guy. She wouldn't have been able to bear the thought of her mother going through such a thing alone.

The clock on Jessie's nightstand indicated it was 2:00 PM. She and Chad had probably returned at about 4:30 AM and she assumed she had probably slept until about 11:00 AM before she'd woken the first time.

She lifted her head and realized Chad was still sitting up beside her in a chair next to the bed and was asleep. She had to admit that she was relieved to find him there. Almost embarrassed, she took the chance to gaze at him. His head was slightly tilted as he slept, which nicely showed off his stong, prominent jawline lined with stubble she had always liked. She looked over his slightly dark skin and saw a light scar on his cheek she'd never noticed before. His ebony hair was slightly tousled, though short enough that it didn't look much different than usual. His hands, which were settled on the blanket, seemed soft and strong.

Jessie took the opportunity to nuzzle her head against his. She let out a slight smile as she breathed in the scent of his cologne and returned to sleep.