Part 5

After a long time, her tears dried up, and she reluctantly pulled away from him. She said nothing about his own red-rimmed eyes as she mechanically flipped off her hazards and pulled back into the flow of traffic. Daniel’s hand remained intertwined with her right hand, but he stayed silent, giving her the space she needed. Glancing in the rearview mirror, she was grateful to see that Rae was still asleep despite their delay. They drove the rest of the way to her apartment in tense silence. The car was silent as she pulled into her spot underneath the flickering overhead lights.
“This is where you live?” he asked, looking around the dingy parking structure. Wordlessly, she nodded and got out of the car to release Rae from her seat. Daniel grabbed Rae’s luggage from the truck and waited for the pair at the back of the car. Hailey clung to her daughter, trying to erase the memories that threatened to overwhelm her again.
She paused in front of the elevator, groaning when she saw the notice stating that it was not in service. Daniel eyed the peeling paint and flickering lights unimpressed, and she tried to ignore his silent judgement.
“I’m on the third floor,” she supplied as they started up the stairs. Rae got heavier with each flight of stairs they climbed, but she didn’t want to wake the little girl knowing that it would be difficult to get her back to sleep. She came to a stop outside her apartment door and dug around for her keys. After nearly dropping them twice trying to get them into the keyhole, Daniel took them and unlocked the apartment door. Immediately, Jack-jack came up to greet Hailey, rubbing against her leg.
“I missed you too, Jack-jack,” Hailey greeted the kitten, stepping over him to get to the bedroom she had set up for Rae. The kitten followed her, but Daniel stayed in the small living room. Rae fussed a little when Hailey laid her down on the bed, but after rubbing her back for a few moments, Hailey got her to settle down. Jack-jack curled up on the foot of the little girl’s bed and seemed content to watch over the girl. Hailey smiled and steeled herself for the conversation that would be taking place in the living room with Daniel.
“I know who you are,” he said before she ever entered the living room. His words nearly stopped her short, but she owed it to him to be honest. Rubbing the back of her neck nervously, she stepped into the small room. He sat on the couch, holding a picture of her and Rae at a park somewhere she couldn’t remember. “I know that you are in WITSEC, and that whoever you are hiding from is dangerous enough that you get moved every few months.”
“How do you know?” she whispered, afraid to hear his answer.
“Because it’s my job to know.” Her head shot up at his words, and she furrowed her brow in confusion. She knew all the marshals and feds assigned to her case, and he was not one of them. “They kept me off the official records, but it was my job to warn them when the mafia was getting close to you. Every time you moved, so did I.”
“But you’re my boss, and you’re the owner of Richards Communications.”
“The company belonged to my father. When I joined the bureau, my family worked with me so that I had a passable cover.”
“Why are you telling me this?” she asked, voice shaking as all the pieces fell together. “And why should I believe you?”
“I’m telling you this, because it is almost time to move you again. But this time, you won’t be moving with WITSEC. The marshals have handed you over to the FBI, and we will be taking you and Rae to a safe house until this man can be caught.”
“What else do you know about my case?” she asked in a whispered, wondering if he knew her secret.
“Nothing beyond the basics. I don’t even know your real identity. My job was to get you to trust me to make the transition easier.”
“Was any of it real?” she asked, quietly. Daniel put the picture frame down and patted the couch cushions next to him.
“Why don’t you take a seat?” he suggested. She glanced towards the hallway before sitting next to him. “Everything that I told you was real, Hailey. I don’t want you to ever doubt the trust and friendship that we have. Nothing has changed.” He covered her hand with his. “We are still Daniel and Hailey. I just happen to carry a gun now.”
“This is a lot to process,” she whispered, fighting against the desire to pull away from him.
“I know. Why don’t you sleep on it? If it’s alright with you, I’ll stay here for the night. Tomorrow morning, my team and I will be moving you and Rae to the safe house.” She nodded mechanically, not really sure what to say.
“I have extra sheets in the closet,” she whispered, moving to get them. He grabbed her wrist, stopping her from getting up.
“Calm down, Hailey. Take a deep breath for me. I just gave you a lot of information,” he instructed, making small circles on the inside of her wrist. She watched him concentrate on making sure she relaxed. His green eyes met hers, and she felt like she was in control of her spiraling emotions again.
“How are you doing?” he asked, and she blinked slowly at him. He chuckled before draping her arm around his shoulders. Carefully, he picked her up and carried her down the hallway to the bedrooms.
“Mine’s at the end,” she whispered, her eyes sliding shut. “What did you do to me?”
“Nothing, you wore yourself out.” He pushed open the door, and she internally cringed at the mess she left this morning. Setting her down on the mattress, he knelt down at her feet and removed her shoes. Hailey swung her legs onto the mattress and pulled the blanket up over her shoulders. He kissed her forehead before leaving the bedroom. Hailey focused on the picture frame next to her bed, and tears welled up in her eyes as she drifted off to sleep.

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