“Sir, we’ve vetted the additional information.”
Alex looked it over quickly.
“You’re looking for a white male, in his early to mid thirties.”
Alex spoke again. “He blames society for the loss, and his abduction and torture of his victims is in retaliation. He lives and works in this area. However, he appears to be widening the scope of his abductions.”
Then they took questions from the assembled law personnel. As Alex’s BAU team left the building, they didn’t know that their pictures were being taken with a long distance telephoto lens.
Cara was interning at the studio. They’d been so impressed with the pictures she’d taken when she had gone with her parents to Africa that they had offered her an internship. She was the first high school student that they had employed for that position, and Cara was very proud that she’d earned it based on her own abilities and not because Matthew was her grandfather and Alissa was her mother.
Alissa was concentrating so hard that she didn’t notice when someone slid into the seat across from her. She was startled when she looked up and saw Alex!
She felt her heart start racing, and her breath catch. As she looked at him, her mind flashed to the first time that they had slept together. She quickly pushed the memory out of her mind and frowned, annoyed with her reaction to seeing him. It had been years since she’d experienced this feeling toward him, and she was dismayed that it had returned. She made herself focus on how he had abused her and badly treated Dale. The only emotional tie that she had to Alex now was that he had fathered Joy. Never again would she act on any physical attraction to him.
Alex had seen the sudden flash of desire in her eyes although it had quickly been replaced by the now familiar dislike. It pleased him to see that she was not as indifferent to him as she wanted to be.
“I’m here on a case. I had to question one of the cafe workers and saw you sitting here when I left the manager’s office. Why are you here?”
“I’m working too. Cara is here with me.”
“How is Joy doing?”
Joy’s therapist had spoken with him, and he was trying to be patient. Alex looked at his watch. He had to get back to work.
“She should be back any minute. I told her not to go far because our lunch will be here soon.”
He spotted someone taking pictures of them. The man had turned away before Alex could get a look at him. Alex knew that with Alissa’s celebrity status, paparazzi and the public regularly tried to take pictures of her.
However, something about the man’s furtiveness bothered Alex a bit. He didn’t have time to dwell on it. He had to get back to his team and follow up on the new lead. He talked with Alissa and Cara for a few more moments and then left.
Joy could see how much other members of her family loved Alex and were glad that he was back in their lives. So she decided that she would try to get to know him better but only as another friend. She already had a Daddy. Although it hurt, Alex understood her feelings and agreed to come for a visit.
Dale let Alex into the house. It would be the first time that he and Joy had been together since she had learned that Alex was her biological father. Alex found himself feeling a bit nervous. It was an uncommon feeling for him.
Dale surprised Alex when he laughed at him.
“Relax, she won’t eat you!”
“Joy, I don’t understand why you’re feeling so bad. Daddy is still Daddy. The only thing that’s changed is that we all get cool Uncle Alex too! I asked Grandpa Robert what Uncle Alex’s job is. He said that now that Uncle Alex is back, his job is to help put people who hurt other people, especially the ones who hurt kids like us, in jail. I think that’s cool! Daddy told me that Uncle Alex helped him find Mommy when she was missing in Africa. So, he helped us get Mommy back!”
Joy smiled at Aidan. He always made her feel better when she was feeling sad.
She took off running and Aidan ran behind her.
Joy came over to them. Alex smiled warmly at her. He had that old charming twinkle in his eye.
“Hello Joy. You can call me Alex if that’s more comfortable for you.”
“Your Mom and ….” Alex paused. “and your Dad have done a great job taking care of you. You’re a very pretty little girl, and you look just like your grandmother Valerie did when she was your age. Except that you have your mother’s blond hair.”
Joy still didn’t smile. She just couldn’t seem to warm up to Alex. Alissa and Dale exchanged a look. Joy wasn’t usually so reserved. She wasn’t a shy child and had a warm heart. They definitely would not push her to bond with Alex.
Aidan started asking Alex questions about his job and Alex answered in an age appropriate way as much as he could. His team had been instrumental in solving several important cases just in the short time that they had been working together. However, the “unsub” as they called the perpetrator or more commonly termed “unknown subject” by the public, that they were trying to catch when he had run into Alissa and Cara was still at large. The local authorities were still searching for the man and the Behavioral Analysis Unit was still on-call to assist as needed. Alex’s team was comprised of some of the best analysts in the BAU.
Aidan was enthralled as Alex told them about the two kidnapped children that his team had helped to locate. Joy was only half listening. She was mainly watching Alex’s expressions as he spoke with her family. He seemed to genuinely like Aidan. Alissa was watching Joy and wondering what she could do to help make this easier for her. Alex too saw what a hard time Joy was having.
“Yes, on the swings in your backyard.”
“Why don’t we go outside and swing? We don’t even have to talk if you don’t want.”
Joy looked at Dale.
“Alright. We can go outside. Can Aidan go too?”
“Sure he can!”
Before long Alex had both children laughing as they ran around the yard playing tag. Alissa looked out the window and breathed a sigh of relief. At least now Joy would feel more comfortable around Alex. She wasn’t ready to visit him at his home, but now she did seem to be enjoying the time with him today. Alex believed that if he included her brothers and sisters at first, it wouldn’t be long before she’d be even more relaxed about spending time with him. It surprised him how much he himself was enjoying being with his family again! He hadn’t realized how much he had missed them.
When Alex arrived at his home after his trip to Santa Fe, he checked his mail before he went inside the apartment. There was an envelope with no return address on it. He opened it and pulled out the notepaper inside.
It contained two perplexing sentences: “Birth records are easily obtained. Daddy better hold on tight!”