Operation: Road Not Taken3
Part 4
Nancy Eddy

Disclaimers in Part 1

~~~ She was in the dark, hands out, trying to find a safe path in which to go. In the distance, she could hear loud, angry voices, screaming hurtful, damaging words, each word flailing into her psyche like the blade of a sharp knife. She tried to move away from the voices, but they always seemed to be there, no matter which way she turned.

Suddenly the voices stopped, punctuated by a dull, thump.

"Hello?" Her voice seemed to echo back at her, revealing emptiness around her. "Hello?" she said again, putting a foot forward, beginning to run - only to end up falling hard to the floor as her foot hit something soft yet unyielding.

Feeling with her hands, she searched in the darkness for what had tripped her up. Fabric, flesh. It was a person. "Are you okay?" she asked, her fingers continuing their blind examination, moving toward the person's head. "Say something." Her fingers tangled in the person's hair, and felt something warm and wet - Blood. The metallic smell of blood seemed to cover her, to fill her nostrils. "This woman needs help!" she called out.

"She's gone," a girl's voice said. "She's gone."

"Help me! She needs help!"

Footsteps approached as a flashlight came on, shining into her eyes, preventing her from seeing who was holding it.

"She's gone," the voice said again.

The flashlight beam moved sharply to focus on the pale, dead face of the person that she had fallen over. It was her face. ~~~

"No!" Mac sat up in bed, gasping and crying out.

Beside her, Harm sat up as well. "Mac? Honey, what's wrong?" he questioned, pulling her into his arms. "A nightmare?" he asked when she clung to him.


"You want to talk about it?" he asked.

"I don't really remember that much about it now," she told him. It wasn't often she still had nightmares these days. Occasionally her subconscious would awake, reminding her about Sadik - sending her back to Paraguay. Usually those nightmares put Harm in Clay's place, undergoing the torture to protect her. But this one hadn't been about Paraguay. "It was dark, and I could hear voices arguing. And something about someone being gone." She shook her head again.

Harm lay down, pulling her with him, keeping his arms wrapped around her as if they might keep the nightmares at bay. She smiled, snuggling closer to him, allowing herself to enjoy feeling secure and protected - for once putting aside her Marine pride and letting herself be just a woman, held in the arms of the man she loved.


Jen took a deep breath before entering Harm's office with his usual cup of tea in one hand and several files in the other. "Good morning, sir," she said.

"Good morning, Jen," he replied, glancing up from the message slips that he was going through, his frown replaced by a smile as she placed the cup on his desk.

Seeing the frown, Jen questioned, "Is something wrong, Commander?"

"SecNav," he sighed.

"I set up a meeting with him for 1100 hours, sir."

"Thank you. Oh. I'm going to be out of the office for a while this afternoon. From after lunch until around 1400, I think."

"I'll rearrange your schedule," she nodded, and then held out the folders in her hand. "These are the news cases, sir."

"Thanks," he told her, taking the files.

"Permission to make a personal observation, Commander?" Jen asked.


"You look troubled, sir. Is everything all right?"

Harm seemed to consider the question. "Close the hatch and have a seat, Jen."


Mac spoke with Admiral Morris first thing upon arrival at work, informing him that she needed the afternoon off to take care of personal business - at least a couple of hours, anyway. James Morris had assured her that her schedule would be rearranged to accommodate the change. Returning to her office, Mac booted her computer and began her search for Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant Gene Logan.

After about ten minutes, she discovered that his military police unit was currently in Baghdad. Picking up the phone, she placed a call to his base commander at Fort Lee to get the ball rolling. Once connected, Mac identified herself and explained her concerns regarding the Gunny's family, in particular his daughter.

Fifteen minutes later, she hung up, having discovered that Gunny Logan and his wife had been having some marital problems prior to his deployment that hadn't been resolved, and that there was no other family to take care of Liz. Lt. Colonel Jameson had agreed to have the Gunny contact Mac at his earliest possible convenience to discuss the situation with her.

Her clerk knocked on the door, reminding her that she was due in court in five minutes, so Mac gathered her notes and files before heading out.


Jen was in shock after hearing Harm recount what had happened over the weekend. "You feel as if it's your fault, don't you, sir?" she questioned.

"A little. I haven't given her enough attention. And I should have. After her father died -"

"She seemed to have bounced back," Jen reminded him. "I know that she never gave any indication that she was having problems when we were together. It's probably my fault as much as yours or anyone's sir."

"Your fault?"

"She's a friend. And I've been - busy with other things -"

"You have a life of your own, Jen. No one expected you to -"

"But I still should have, even if it wasn't expected, Commander," she insisted, moving her hands in the air. The moment Harm's blue-green eyes widened, she knew he'd finally seen it.

"Is there something you need to tell me, Petty Officer?" he questioned.

"I'm not sure what you mean, sir," she told him.

"That's some rock you have on your left hand."

Jen smiled, holding out her left hand. "It is, isn't it, sir?"

He leaned forward to study the ring before looking up at her. "You and Clay -"

"Yesterday, sir. I hope you're happy for me."

"Of course I am. It's just -. Are you sure about this, Jen? The age difference -"

"Doesn't matter, sir," she finished.

"What does his mother have to say about it?"

"She's happy that Clay's finally getting married and that she might actually get some grandchildren. The biggest problem *I'm* going to have is keeping her from taking over the wedding," she told him, smiling. "Clay *did* manage to talk her out of the National Cathedral for the ceremony."

"Be tough, Petty Officer. I get the impression that Porter Webb respects strength."

"Yes sir."

"Have you set a date?"

"We're still trying to figure that out. Between his job and mine -"

"If there's anything I can do to be of assistance, Jen, let me know."

"I'm sure we will, sir." She glanced at her watch. "You're due in staff call soon."

"Thank you. And best wishes. Tell Clay to give me a call."

"Don't intimidate him, sir."

"Me? Intimidate Clayton Webb?" Harm said with a grunt of disbelief. "That'll be the day."


Sitting in Dr. Crandall's office after all of the tests, Harm reached over to take Mac's hand in his. "Stop imagining the worst, okay?"

"I'm trying to," she told him. "I'm just worried that at this rate, Jen and Clay will have a baby before *we* have one."

Dr. Crandall entered the office. "Sorry you had to wait," he apologized, moving to sit behind his desk. "The results that we have don't seem to indicate any problems for either of you," he informed them.

"Then why aren't I pregnant, Doctor?" Mac asked.

He looked over his reading glasses at her before glancing at the notes before him. "You've been trying for - six months, is that correct?"

"Yes," Harm answered.

"That's not long. I've seen patients come in here that have been trying for quite a bit longer without success. It's not uncommon. There are some factors which make it more difficult - some studies have shown that women over the age of 35 have more difficulty conceiving. But it does happen. Patience is your best ally. There are some tests we have to wait for the results of, but my best advice to both of you would be to just relax. You'd be surprised how many times couples who have all but given up on having a child of their own suddenly find themselves parents."

"You're saying that - we may be trying *too* hard?" Mac asked.

"It's possible. Give it another six months, Mrs. Rabb. If you still haven't conceived by then, we can discuss medical options." He scanned the notes again. "I don't see mention here that you're using an ovulation monitor -"

"I've been thinking about getting one -" Mac admitted.

"Don't. That will only increase the pressure. Just enjoy being together - put the idea of becoming pregnant out of your mind for the next few months. I know it sounds simplistic and you're starting to ask yourselves if I know what I'm talking about, but I really prefer *not* to use medical means to assist in conception. It's safer for you - and for the child you'll eventually have. I'll call you when we get the rest of the results back, but I don't believe we'll find anything out of the ordinary. Now, do either of you have any questions?"


"You okay?" Harm asked as he pulled the Vette back into the JAG parking lot and shut off the engine. "You've been awfully quiet since we left Dr. Crandall's office."

"Is he right? Am I making this more difficult than it has to be?"

"I want a baby as much as you do, honey," he assured her. "But I think he's right that we need to find something else to think about. Maybe this thing with Mattie happened for that reason. To remind us that we already have a child that needs our attention right now." He squeezed her hand. "I have a meeting with SecNav in fifteen minutes," he told her, glancing at his watch. "Are you going to be able to pick Mattie up?"

"I can today, but I'm not sure about tomorrow -"

"I'll make arrangements for tomorrow," he told her, opening the door to get out. "Come on, my Marine. Let's get to work."


"SecNav's on his way, sir," Jen informed Harm the moment she saw him enter the bullpen.

"Thank you, Jen," he said, turning toward his office, only to pause. "Oh. Mac wanted me to give you her best wishes and ask if you and Clay could come for dinner this week."

"I'll check with him, sir."

"Let us know. I'd better get things ready for my meeting," he decided, continuing toward his office - which, if things went as planned, would be Admiral Krennick's office in another few days, and he would be able to go back to just being Chief of Staff and actually get back into a courtroom again.

And there was the added bonus of having Mac back down here instead of upstairs. He missed working with her more than anything else.

He heard Jen greet the SecNav and rose to his feet as she saw the man into the office. "Mr. Secretary."

"Commander," he said in his quiet voice. "Shall we get started?"

Harm indicated one of the chairs in front of the desk. "By all means, sir."


As Mac was leaving to pick up Mattie, Harriet was just coming into the building. "Hello, ma'am!" she said in her usual cheery tone. Seeing Harriet so soon after the visit with Dr. Crandall was almost more than Mac could handle.

"Hello, Harriet," Mac said. "I can't stay; I have to go pick Mattie up from school - Excuse me."

Ignoring the surprised look on the other woman's face, Mac hurried toward the Vette and got inside.

Harriet watched the low-slung red sports car pull out of the parking area, and was still frowning when the doors of the elevator opened. Since the boys were with her parents for a couple of weeks, Harriet was working, trying to help get things ready for the new Admiral's arrival later in the week.

Bud wasn't in his office, and Harriet sat down at her desk, her mind still on Mac's rude behavior. The sound of the SecNav's soft voice reached her, and she looked around to see him and Harm coming out of the Admiral's office.

"You're doing a very good job here, Commander," he was saying. "I'm very impressed."

"Thank you, Mr. Secretary."

"I'll see you later this week when Admiral Krennick arrives," SecNav finished, nodding at several of the JAG personnel as he moved out of the bullpen.

Seeing Harm return to his office, Harriet rose from her desk and went to Jen. "I need to talk to the Commander Rabb," she said quickly, before she lost her nerve.

Jen stood up and went to the door. "Excuse me, sir, Lt. Sims would like a moment."

"Send her in," Harm said.

Harriet entered the room. "As you were, Lieutenant," he said. "What can I do for you?"

"It's a - personal matter, sir," she began, suddenly uncertain about doing this.

He looked at her, indicating one of the chairs. "What's wrong?"

"I wish I knew, sir. I was coming back from delivering those reports to the IG's office when I ran into Col. Mackenzie as she was leaving." She paused. "Sir, have I done or said something to upset the Colonel?"

"Why would you ask something like that, Harriet?" he questioned, but she could tell he was disturbed by the question.

"She was very - abrupt, sir. Totally unlike she usually is."

Harm looked at the ceiling for a moment, exhaling audibly. "It's not you, Harriet," he told her before rising from his chair and coming around to sit in the other chair. "Mac and I have been trying to have a baby," he explained. "So far, we haven't had any luck -"

"And I'm pregnant again," Harriet realized. "Oh, sir. I'm so sorry. If I'd known. No wonder she didn't want to talk to me. All I could do last week was babble on about the new baby and how excited I was about it."

He placed a hand on her arm to comfort her. "You don't have anything to apologize for, Harriet," he said quietly. "We both want a child of our own, but Mac's just worried that we might have waited too late."

"Oh, I'm sure that's not true, sir," Harriet insisted. "Have you - talked to a doctor about -?" she questioned, again uncertain.

"This afternoon. According to him, everything is fine medically; we're just trying too hard."

"That can happen, sir. I went to school with a girl who was married for almost five years before she became pregnant with her first child. I wish there was something I could do to help," she said. "If anyone deserves to have a baby, it's you and the Colonel, especially after everything you went through to find each other."

"It'll happen, Harriet," Harm assured her with a smile. "Don't worry about it."

"I'll try, sir," she assured him, standing up.

Harm rose as well. "We're going to have enough to worry about when Admiral Krennick takes over."

"Yes, sir," she agreed, turning on her heel to leave the room.

"Would you mind closing the hatch behind you?" he requested.


Mattie was waiting at the curb when Mac arrived. "How was school today?" she asked once the girl was in the car.

"Alright, I guess. Liz wasn't there."

"She wasn't?" A flash from her nightmare entered Mac's thoughts.

"No. I thought - maybe we could call later and make sure she's okay?"

Mac took her cell phone from a pocket and held it out. "Call. I'm concerned about her, too."

Mattie dialed Liz' number, frowning as it rang. "There's no answer."

"I left a message for Gunny Logan to call me when gets a chance about the situation," Mac explained, taking the phone from her after a second attempt gained the same lack of results. More and more memory of her nightmare was beginning to return. Someone had died -.

Instead of turning toward the house, Mac turned in the opposite direction, toward the neighborhood where Mrs. Logan and her daughter lived.

The car wasn't parked in the driveway, Mac noticed as she pulled up at the curb. The house itself didn't look any different than it had on Saturday afternoon, but Mac felt a shiver run through her body, as if she had walked through a cold draft. When Mattie would have opened her door, Mac shook her head.

"Stay here."

"But -"

"Please, Mattie. Just do as I say, okay?"

Something in her attitude must have gotten through, because Mattie nodded and pulled her hand away from the door handle. "Okay."

Mac got out of the car and walked slowly up the sidewalk, the feeling she'd had earlier growing with each step. As the sun moved behind a cloud, Mac shivered, stopping in her tracks as her entire nightmare flashed before her eyes. Anger, fear, rage - Mac forced herself to breathe, to push through the myriad of feelings and reached out to knock on the door.

She wasn't surprised when there was no response, but her sixth sense was telling her that something was very wrong. Grabbing the doorknob, Mac turned it, becoming frustrated when it didn't budge. She knocked again, calling, "Mrs. Logan? Liz? Can you hear me?"

Walking around the house, Mac tried to see inside of a window, but the shades were all closed.

"You were here the other day, weren't you?"

Mac turned to find a tiny woman with iron gray hair, wearing a stained bib-apron over her too-large dress standing there. "Yes. Liz is a friend of my daughter. Have you seen her or her mother today?"

"No. They had a terrible argument last night," she confided. "If you ask me, someone should have called the police. All that screaming and yelling and then she tore out of here in the car, making all kinds of noise."

"Why didn't *you* call the police?"

"I don't have a telephone," the woman told her.

"When did Mrs. Logan leave?"

"I didn't say she did," the woman said, a smug expression on her pinched face. "It was the girl."


"Late last night sometime. Early this morning. Ran out of here and drove away like the devil himself was after her."

Mac had woken from her nightmare at 0430. "And you haven't seen Mrs. Logan all day?"

"She's probably sleeping it off. Woman drinks like a fish."

The woman followed Mac into the back yard, still ranting about how terrible drunks were, and how the neighborhood was better before Mrs. Logan and her daughter moved in with all of Mrs. Logan's friends and the kids that came over and partied all night when Mrs. Logan was at work.

Mac finally found a small window on the back door of the house that wasn't covered on the inside and peered into the house. The kitchen was on the other side of the door, and from this angle, Mac could make out part of the living room - and she could see someone lying on the floor near the coffee table.

Mac ordered the neighbor to step back as she slipped off her shoes and gave the door a good, sound kick. The neighbor stood watching, her mouth gaping open in shock. "What are you doing?!" she asked. "You have no right -" she continued, following Mac into the house.

Mac went directly to where Mrs. Logan lay on the floor, kneeling beside her, wishing for a moment that the face was again hers. That would have meant it was all just another nightmare. But this was for real. Reaching out a hand, she pressed two fingers against the woman's neck, knowing that she wouldn't find anything. The body was ice cold and stiff.

"See? I told you. She's drunk! Passed out drunk. Someone needs to do something!"

Mac glared at the woman. "I think someone already has," she said. "She's dead."


After calling the police and Harm, Mac returned to the Vette, opening the door and getting inside as Mattie watched her with concern.

"What's wrong, Mac?" she asked. "That lady was screaming when she came out and ran down the street."

"Mrs. Logan is dead, Mattie," she said in a quiet voice.

"What? Where's - Liz? Is she -?"

"She's not here," Mac said, preventing her from getting out of the car. "The neighbor said that she saw Liz leaving sometime after her mother got home from work last night or early this morning."

"Mrs. Logan got off at 3 am," Mattie recalled. "Why did she run away? Maybe she didn't. Maybe she went for help or -" her voice trailed off. "You think Liz killed her, don't you?"

"It's a possibility, Mattie. It doesn't help that she ran way. It makes her look guilty." She looked up as a police car turned into the driveway. "Stay here. I'd rather you not become anymore involved in this than necessary. If the police ask to talk to you, just tell them that you knew Liz from school and were concerned that she didn't come to school today so we came by to see if she was sick. It's the truth."

"Mac -"

"Harm's on his way over here to pick you up as soon as he can get away from JAG." She gave Mattie another look. "Stay here."

The Falls Church police officers who greeted Mac let her lead them back to the door that she had kicked open. One of them looked at her, and then at the door. "You did this, ma'am?" he questioned, looking doubtful.

"I could see Mrs. Logan on the floor through the window and I was worried about her," Mac explained. "The next door neighbor who lives over there was with me when I did it. She said that she saw Mrs. Logan's daughter leave sometime early this morning in the family car."

The officers followed her into the living room to examine body. "She's cold, Jim," the doubtful one told his partner. "I'll go call the coroner and find out how much longer it's going to take Lt. Norman to get here."

The older officer gave Mac an apologetic smile. "Sorry about that, Colonel. He's never been in the service."

"Were you" she asked, noticing his nametag, "Sergeant Phillips?"

"Yes, ma'am. I was in the Marines for fifteen years before I decided to become a cop. Gunnery Sergeant James Phillips." He looked at the body on the floor before indicating that they should go into the kitchen. "Did you know the victim, Colonel Mackenzie?"

"Not really. I'd only met her once when I came to talk to her about her daughter, Liz. Liz goes to school with my daughter, Mattie. When I picked Mattie up from school today, she mentioned that Liz hadn't been there and was worried about her, so we came to check on her."

"Did you feel that you had reason to be concerned? Kids get sick, play hooky -"

"Look around, Sergeant," Mac told him, indicating the messy kitchen, the beer cans and liquor bottles scattered everywhere. "My father was an alcoholic. So was Mattie's father. Her real father. My husband and I are her guardians. I came here the other day to try and help Liz."

"Did you report what you found?"

"No," she admitted. "But I did attempt to contact Mrs. Logan's husband when I got to work this morning. Master Gunnery Sergeant Logan is currently deployed in Iraq. According to his CO at Fort Lee, he and Mrs. Logan were having problems. I'm waiting for a call from the Gunny."

"You said that the neighbor saw Mrs. Logan's daughter drive away this morning?"

"That's right."

"You said she's a classmate of your ward - how old is she?"

"Barely sixteen," Mac confirmed.

"Then she doesn't have a driver's license."

"No," Mac confirmed.


Harm frowned when he saw the television camera truck on the street when he turned onto it. Scanning the area, he easily picked out the red Corvette and saw Mattie sitting inside. As soon as he found a place to park the Lexus, Harm walked over to the car and waited for her to unlock the door. He wasn't surprised when she threw her arms around him and held on as if her life depended on it. "Mrs. Logan's dead," she told him in a quiet voice, aware that several onlookers, neighbors of the Logans who had gathered out of morbid curiosity, were watching them. "Liz is missing. Mac - Mac thinks she may have -"

"Shh," Harm whispered, smoothing her hair. "Where's Mac?" he asked.

She nodded toward the house. "Still in there with police."

He turned back to look at her face. "Will you be okay if I go tell her that I came to get you so she won't worry?"

She nodded, wiping tears from her cheeks. "Someone from the news was over at the car a few minutes ago, asking questions."

"Vultures," Harm muttered under his breath, seeing the reporter look their way. Handing Mattie a handkerchief, he lead her toward the SUV. "Why don't you wait in here? I won't be long," he promised, seeing her into the front seat and closing the door before turning back toward the house, only to be met halfway there by the reporter, who shoved a microphone into his face.

"Excuse me, but aren't you Commander Harmon Rabb, who's currently the acting Judge Advocate General of the Navy?" she asked. When he started to move away without answering, she blocked his attempt. "Why is the Navy involved in this matter, Commander Rabb?"

Harm took a deep breath and turned. "The Navy is not involved. I'm here because I know the daughter of the woman who died. She goes to school with my daughter. It's a personal matter. Now, if you will excuse me -" he turned and crossed the lawn, only to be stopped by a young police officer at the yellow tape they had strung around the scene.

"You'll have to stay back, sir," he said.

"I'm Commander Harmon Rabb," he said, pulling out his ID. "My wife is in there. She found the body."

Another officer approached, lifting the yellow plastic tape. "You can go on around, Commander. The Colonel asked me to watch for you."

"Thank you." Harm ducked under the tape and moved around to the back of the house, moving aside as the coroner's officer personnel came out with a black body bag on a gurney. Once they were gone, he stepped into the kitchen, wrinkling his nose at the heavy stench of death mixed with alcohol and other things that he thought it best not to think about. Especially when doing so would bring him to think about the fact that Mattie had been in this house only a few days ago.

Another officer challenged him as he saw Mac talking to a man wearing a suit, probably a FCPD detective, he guessed. "Excuse me, sir, you're not supposed to be in here -"

"It's okay, officer, he's my husband," Mac explained.

He crossed the living room to join her. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," she assured him, accepting his arm around her shoulders. "Lt. Craig Norman, Commander Harmon Rabb."

The two men shook hands, and Harm took the opportunity to study the detective. He was probably a little older than Harm, with salt and pepper hair that was thinning on the top. "How much longer are you going to keep her here, Lt. Norman?" he asked.

"I think we're about done here - I've been trying to convince the Colonel to let me speak with your - ward? - Mattie."

"And I told you that she wasn't with me when I found Mrs. Logan's body," Mac repeated. "She was in the car. You can ask Mrs. Bartholomew. She *was* with me."

"She might know where Elizabeth Logan might have gone," Norman pointed out.

"Mattie's upset about Mrs. Logan's death at the moment, Lieutenant," Harm explained. "Her father died a little over six months ago and she's still not fully recovered from that. I'll talk to her and if she knows anything, I'll give you call."

Norman looked at the two officers before pulling a card out of his pocket. "Here's my card. If I need to question you further, Colonel -"

"You can find me at JAG Headquarters," Mac told him.

"Okay. You can go," he decided.

"Thank you."

They left through the front door this time, both taking a deep breath of fresh air once they were outside. "Did you talk to Mattie?" Mac asked.

He took her arm to maneuver them through the knot of onlookers. "She's in the Lexus." At the Vette, he pulled her close for a moment. "I'll see you at home."


Mattie was quiet on the ride back to the house, her attention focused on the view out of the side window. When he parked the truck in the garage, she grabbed her book bag from the floorboard and went into the house, leaving Harm to follow her inside. Mac had been caught at a stop light, so she was still a few minutes behind them.

He let Dammit inside petting her as he watched Mattie move to the fridge and take out a bottle of water. "Do they have any idea where Liz went?" Mattie asked.

"No," he told her, moving to put his hands on her shoulders. "The police thought you might know where she could have gone."

"Maybe one of her friends -"

"Did you know that her parents were separated?"

"She mentioned it. I think she hoped they would get back together once her dad came home, though. That's not going to happen now," she sighed. "Someone needs to contact her father -"

"They will. Mac will let his CO know what happened. He'll probably get an emergency leave so that when they find Liz he'll be there for her."

Mattie moved forward to place her head against his chest as they heard the sound of Mac's car. "Mac's home," she said, starting to move away, but Harm kept her there.

He met Mac's gaze over the girl's head when she entered the kitchen from the garage. She placed her briefcase with his in one of the chairs before approaching them to place a hand on Mattie's back.

"How are you doing?"

"I don't know," Mattie answered, moving to give her a hug. "What happened?"

"It *looks* as if Mrs. Logan fell and hit her head on the coffee table."

"So it was an accident?"

"They'll know more after the autopsy, but - her purse was on the floor. Her credit cards and any money she had was gone," Mac explained, deciding that it might be best not to keep anything from the girl.

"I don't believe that Liz killed her," Mattie said.

"Maybe she didn't," Harm agreed. "But it doesn't look good that she ran away."

"Maybe she left before her mother died," Mattie suggested. "Mrs. Logan was probably drunk. She usually was. What if they argued and Liz left and Mrs. Logan passed out and hit her head?"

"It *could* have happened that way," Mac said, hoping the doubt wasn't evident in her tone. "But we won't know until they find Liz. Could you make a list of her friends? Anyone she might have gone to for help?"

Harm went to the telephone to retrieve a notepad, frowning when he saw the light flashing on the answering machine. Pressing the button, he looked at Mac and Mattie when Liz' frightened voice filled the room.

"Mattie, it's Liz. Something happened - something terrible. I need help and I don't know what -," she paused, sniffling. "I wish my dad was here. He'd know what to do. This wouldn't have happened if he'd been here. Maybe - maybe the Colonel and Commander will know someway to help me. I'm in the Stateside Motel in Leesburg. The car broke down. I can't - Room 29."

Harm grabbed the telephone and dialed the number on the Caller ID screen. "Room 29, please." He waited for the line to be answered, putting his arm around Mattie when she came over to stand beside him.

"H-Hello?" came the cautious reply.


"Who wants to know?"

"This is Commander Rabb," he told her, and heard her relieved sigh.

"Thank God," she said. "My mom -"

"I know. Col. Mackenzie found her earlier. She and Mattie went there because they were worried about you."

"She - she tried to kill me," Liz told him.

"Liz, we'll be there in an hour. Don't go anywhere. Do you have a pen?"

"There's a pencil," she told him.

"Take down my cell phone number so you can contact me if you need to before we arrive." He gave her the number. "Stay there."

"Should we call the police?" Mac asked.

"Mac!" Mattie said, staring at her.

"She's right, Mattie," Harm pointed out. "We're officers of the court. We'll call them once we've talked to her," he told Mac. "I want to hear her side of what happened before the police scare the daylights out of her." He gave Mattie another hug. "I'm going to change clothes. This uniform tends to attract attention."

"I'd better change too," Mac decided. "We'll be right back," she told Mattie, who was now sitting down, petting Dammit's head. "Why don't you go ahead and feed her since it's liable to be late by the time we get back?"

"Okay. Come on, girl," Mattie said, moving to the pantry to get the dog food.


Upstairs, Mac told Harm, "I saw it happen."

He looked at her as he pulled on a pair of jeans. "What?"

"My nightmare. That's what it was about."

He pulled her into his arms. "Oh, damn."

"I didn't put them together until Mattie told me that Liz hadn't been at school today," she said.

"She said that her mother tried to kill her."

"It's possible. There was a knife on the floor near Mrs. Logan's body. It hadn't been used, but if she threatened Liz -"

"Then anything that happened could be self-defense," he nodded, releasing her to find a shirt.

Mac stripped out of her uniform, changing into slacks and a sweater. "She's going to need a lawyer."

"Well," he said, glancing up at her as he put on his tennis shoes, "she's got two of the best right here."


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