See disclaimer chapter 1
Stan burst through the door and rushed to his computer. "Daddy?" Holly stood at the study door. "What's happening? Where's Abby?" The fear in her voice startled him.
"Abby's still at the store." He smiled sadly at his little girl. "I don't think she'll be coming over tonight, baby." He hugged her tight. She had been through so much; he would do anything to protect her from this new threat. No one would touch a hair on her head, if he could help it. "Abby will be okay, sweetie. Listen, I've got some work to do, okay?" He could tell that this didn't really pacify her but she went off to her room anyway. Stan turned back to his monitor. He logged into the FBI computer system. None of the traps he had set had been sprung, so whoever had been looking around in the systems had either stopped or had figured out a way to get past him. He had a gut feeling that the person who trashed Abby's store was the same person he was hunting.
His heart twisted at the thought of Abby. He sat at his machine with his head in his hands. There was no way he would let someone he cared about get hurt, not again. The only way he could think of to keep her safe was to stay away from her. How was he going to do that? He had just found her.
A ping from his computer notified him of new mail. He sighed and opened it.
[I know you Stanley Jobson, and I'm sure you would like to know who I am. You will soon. Until then, just remember that I'm watching and I know what, and who is special to you.]
"Fuck!" Stan yelled at the screen. His fingers flew over the keyboard, hoping against hope that he would find some hint of who this person was. But the message had come through a free email service and the sender was kept anonymous. "I will find you," he growled, as he typed exactly that as a reply, "and when I do, there will be hell to pay."
He forced himself to calm down and studied the message that glowed on his screen. Obviously this person, this monster, had been watching Stan. Tha'ts the only way he would have known about Abby's relationship with him. The shrill sound of the phone ringing surprised him. He was afraid to answer it, afraid it might be Abby. He didn't think he could talk to her just now. But the ringing continued, irritating the hell out of him so he snatched up the handset and barked into it, "WHAT!?!"
"Stan?" It was Agent Roberts. "Have you had any luck finding our trespasser yet?"
Stan sighed. "No. And I think it's getting too close to home." He related the day's events to the man on the other end of the line.
When Stan finished, JT asked, "So you think the person I want you to find and the person who broke into Abby's shop are one and the same? Do you think you know who it is?"
"Well, he seems to know me so I am assuming I know who he is, just not right now. I just know that I can't let anyone get hurt."
"If it will make you feel better, I can assign someone to watch over Abby," JT offered.
Stan smiled inwardly. "A year ago, I would've told you to piss off but now I'm going to take you up on that. I'd appreciate it."
Roberts chuckled. "Done. Anything else you need?"
"Nope," Stan replied. "I just need to catch this asshole before he does any more damage."
"Well then," JT said, "I'll touch base with you later."
"Okay. Stan replaced the handset on the base and went back to his machine. Soon the phone was ringing again. "Roberts! Would you let me work?" he snarled into the phone.
"Um, its not Roberts, Stan," he heard a quiet voice say.
His heart fell. "Abby." He couldnt keep the longing out of his voice, even though he tried.
"Stan, what's going on? Why did you take off like that?" She paused, "I need you Stanley." He heard the pain and hurt. "Would you please come over?"
He swallowed past the lump in his throat. "I can't. I have to stay away."
"Why?" Abby demanded. "Tell me! I don't understand! I love you!"
"Listen, Abby," his voice turning harsh, "just stay away from me. I'm no good. You'll just wind up getting hurt."
He could hear her sobs. "I can't. I love you Stan."
There was nothing more he could say. His heart was breaking but he knew he had to do the right thing. Slowly, gently he hung up the phone.