In an inner city office a well dressed man signed some papers and went into his office closing the door. He faced his chair and stopped in his tracks at the person in his seat.

"Hello Karl, long time no see."

"Illana what do I owe this unpleasant visit. I'm not paying you so you can leave or I'll call security." He reached for the phone but Illana open up a newspaper exposing her pistol.

"Take a seat Karl. I have a proposition for you."

Karl sat down. "Please get your feet off my desk."

Illana ignored his demand. "I want you to leave Cody alone. Don't be sending anyone out there just leave her on her land."

"Oh Illana you have no idea. That land is worth billions and I want it. Hey if you can convince her to sign the land over to me fine."

"No.... there are some things more important than wealth, than money Karl."

"Really, like what ...."

Illana takes some pictures from her jacket pocket and throws them in front him

"Things like family, love ones, pretty daughters that get to grow up with parents, parents that get to grow old together. Are you getting my drift Karl?"

Karl looked at the photos of his wife and two daughters and sneered. "You touch one hair on them and you're a dead woman."

"So I take it we have a deal, you will leave Cody alone."

Karl sat in his seat procrastinating.

Illana removes her feet from the desk and sits forward. "Or maybe I will just take a trip down to the hairdressers, hmm you're wife is having her perm today. Or maybe I should wait by the school when she collects the kids and get all three, what do you say Karl."

The man stood up. "She can have her fucking land, just leave my family alone. Get out now."

Illana smiled and placed the gun in back of her pants. "Pleasure doing business with you Karl" She mocked and left.

Karl was furious and picked up his phone and called his wife.

"Hey honey I want you to get the kids from school right now. Don't argue just listen. Get the kids, packs some things and take the passports. I'll have airline tickets for you, just do it now."

Karl hung up and paced. He flipped through his roller dex for a number and dialled.

"Yeah it's me, have a problem I need you to sort out. Can't say over the phone; meet me at the usual place in 1 hour. I'll make it worth your while"

Karl grabbed his briefcase and threw in 3 rolls of hundred dollar bills. He wasn't going to let Illana get in the way of his plans and once his wife and kids were safe it is going to be open season on his double crossing employee.

Karl got into his blue BMW, started it up and reversed. He drove to the exit of the underground parking when he sees Illana waving and holding a device.

"Ohhhhhhh shit."

Illana pressed the button and his car exploded, the car park shook violently. Alarms and sirens ring out as people evacuate the building. Illana disappeared into the crowd.

Cody sat at her table eating a piece of toast. She heard someone coming up the track. It was louder now that she had put down coarse gravel. Nobody would be able to sneak up without her hearing. She peered through the window putting the gun back down and unlocked the door. She stepped out onto the veranda as Richard's police car pulled up.

He got out and smiled. "Hey I've got someone that wants to see you."

Cody nodded. "Yeah."

The passenger side door opens and a young girl got out. Cody rubbed her eyes and stepped forward.

"Richard."

Richard nodded to the young girl.

"Um Momma it's me, Crystal."

Cody grabbed her mouth to catch herself from crying and stepped to the ground. She strode over to Crystal and they hugged. Cody kissed her head and cried into her.

"Oh sweetie, oh my god I can't believe it's you. You're all grown up."

Crystal cried into Cody's shoulder "I've missed you. I didn't know how to find you Momma."

Cody stepped back and had a good look at the young woman. "Wow you're beautiful, isn't she Richard?"

"Yes always was."

"Oh stop it Uncle Richard."

"Umm, does your mum know you are here?" asked Cody suspicious.

"Yeeeeh." in an unconvincing tone

Cody looked at Richard and he shrugged. "Hey don't look at me. She rocked at the station this morning asking for you. Now I have to get back to work, but Meredith is going to want to see her so don't be hiding Crystal all to your self. See you soon love."

"Bye Uncle Richard, thanks again."

Cody picked up Crystal's bag and they walked inside. Crystal went from room to room.

"Wow, everything's different from what I remember."

"Hmmm it burnt down a few months back. Plus it needed some renovating. Right sit and let's talk."

Cody fixed Crystal a drink and grabbed a beer for herself. "Now tell the truth, does your mum know you are here with me."

"Yes momma, jeez aren't you happy to see me?"

Cody knelt down in front of her daughter. "No amount of words that I can say will express how happy I am, and how much I've missed you. The only words I can say is that I love you and I never, ever stopped loving or thinking about you." She threw her arms around Crystal "My world stopped when your mum took you away from me."

"I never stopped loving you either. I wanted to find you but mum wouldn't let me. And then one day out of the blue a woman stopped me and told me how to find you."

Cody got up and stood rigid. "What woman? What did she look like? Did she hurt you Crystal?"

"Momma take a breath, don't get all freaky on me."

The woman sat down. "Ok will stop being freaky, tell me everything" grabbed Crystal's hand.

Crystal remembered back to the encounter.

______

Crystal was walking home from school when a woman approached her.

"Hi... umm are you Crystal Gordon?"

"Yeah, why.. who wants to know?"

"Please don't be alarmed I'm a friend of your Momma's."

Crystal didn't acknowledge her.

"You were young, I mean Cody Wilson."

"I know who she is, where is she?"

"Where she has always been, on her farm."

"Really... I want to see her, oh she probably won't"

"Sweetheart she would love to see you."

"Yeah but mum won't let me go." Crystal started to cry. "I can't even remember what she looks like. I have no photos."

"I've already organised that with your mum and here, I have one" the woman hands over a small picture she had carried around.

Crystal looked at it. "Yes, yes oh my god... that's her."

"On the back is the town. Go to the police station ask for Richard and tell him who you are. He will get you out there."

Crystal didn't know this woman but threw her arms around her. "Thank you so much. You are obviously a good friend, who are you."

"Ahhh. That's not important, getting you reunited with your momma is. Come on I'll drive you home."

____

Crystal pulled out the picture and showed Cody. She instantly recognised it as the one Jane showed her.

"Who was that woman, Momma?"

Cody looked up. "No one important honey."

They talked all day and once Crystal went to bed Cody dialled her sat phone while closing the door in her bedroom. She heard a familiar voice.

"Gail, it's Cody."

"Crystal, my baby."

"Shhh she's with me, she is fine and is asleep. Thanks for letting her come."

"Did I have a choice?" She growled.

"What do you mean by that?"

"You hire bounty hunters these days to get your own way."

"I never hired anyone, what are you on about."

"Sending that woman around threatening me into letting Crystal come and see you."

"Hey I never sent anyone around."

"Bullshit Cody. She said if I didn't let Crystal go, there were other means of persuasion. She had a gun Cody, a fucking gun in my house."

Cody gritted her teeth. "Look I'm sorry; I just wanted to let you know that she is safe here with me." Cody looked over at the rifle leaning against the wall, tears falling from her face.

"Well two weeks Cody, that's how long school holidays are. Try not to spoil her."

Cody stamped her foot. "Like you ever gave me the chance Gail."

The line went dead.

In one week Cody was starting to feel alive again because of Crystal. She had showed her off in town to the locals and spent some time with Richard and Meredith. Cody even taught Crystal how to drive while on the property.

Crystal kissed her momma good night "I'll see you in the morning"

"Yes you will." She tapped her nose and hugged her. "Maybe I should tuck you in."

"Read me a story too."

"If you like." played along Cody

"I'm good, don't forget we are feeding the calves right?"

"I'm aware of the routine" She laughed and hugged her daughter again. "See you up bright and early."

Cody poured herself a coffee and walked out onto the veranda. It was dark, very dark for Cody. She looked up at the sky but there were no stars. She held her breath for a moment and turned sideways.

"Who is there?" Growled out Cody.

She heard some one in the yard and stepped back towards the door, her gun just inside the door.

"Cody." came a voice.

Cody stood rigid. "I told you I never wanted to see you again."

Jane moved closer but Cody didn't look at her. "Please just-"

Cody faced the voice. "Part of me is grateful to you for getting Crystal and I reunited and then there is a part of me that wants to rip you apart for bringing her into my life at a time that puts her in danger. People still out there want to kill me. How can I protect her, when I can't even protect myself. "

"Cody you don't have to live in fear, Karl... the guy that hired me won't be coming after you,..... ever."

The woman groaned. "What did you do Illana?"

"You don't need to know. Please call me Jane, Illana doesn't exist..... anymore."

Cody turned her head slightly to the voice. "Why are you here?" She felt Jane getting closer.

"Because I'm not done protecting you, because I want to look after you, like you looked after me. Most of all, because I love you ."

Jane almost upon Cody suprised she had not moved. She waved a hand in front of Cody's face and she didn't flinch. Then in a flash Cody had Jane pinned to the wall.

"Cody." Jane surprised and winded

"Just because I have night blindness doesn't mean I don't know where you are. And how could you take a gun into Gail's place and threaten her."

"The bloody woman wouldn't see reason. I tried to be diplomatic, I even offered her money but she was adamant that her daughter was not going to see you. I just wanted to scare her; I wasn't going to hurt her."

"You're a killer, I don't want a killer in my home Jane."

"Then what do you want. Please tell me what you want me to do because I don't know what to do, how to convince you."

Cody's hand felt wet and released Jane. She put her thumb across Jane's cheek as more tears fell.

"I always thought crying meant you were weak, but now that I have no tear ducts I would give anything to feel my own tears. I cry... but I get nothing."

Cody mood changed and leaned her head onto Jane's shoulder.

"I'm so scared all the time Jane. I'm scared and tired and tired of being scared. I want it all over, you know?" Cody stuttered out

Jane hugged Cody. "It is baby, no one is coming after you. And I promise if anyone comes within distance of you and your daughter. I'll have them 6 feet under."

"I guess they won't have to worry if you threatened them with a rifle."

Jane pushed Cody up not sure if she was having a joke at her expense.

"You are never going to let me forget it."

"What.... that you tried to kill me?" spoke Cody quietly in Jane's ear

Jane relaxed finally as the tone in Cody's voice softened.

"No, the fact I missed."

Cody touched Janes face and pulled her in, their lips meeting in a slow, drawn out kiss. Jane broke the kiss. "I'm glad I missed."

Cody took Jane's hand and quietly led her inside. "Me too."

The end