{twelve}

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"Y'all still having fun?" Dylan asked.

"Sure am," his dad said.

"Yes!" added his mom.

Dylan smiled. He enjoyed his mom's lilting laugh. Couldn't remember a time they'd been this happy since his older brother died last year. For him, that had meant dealing with a death close to him for two years in a row. Losses in back to back years, while being rough to deal with, were a fact of life for far too many.

His mother hadn't taken it well at all. Outliving your child was something Dylan couldn't imagine, but in his line of work, it happened more than he liked. For a couple of months, she'd become sick herself, first with pneumonia and then a blood infection. It had been touch and go, and they weren't sure she'd make it. But she had. Dylan was thankful.

"Glad to hear it." Dylan grabbed his cane then went over to the dresser and got his prosthesis before settling back onto the bed. "You'll have to give me the breakdown."

"We'll be out of touch for awhile," his dad's strong baritone came through the speaker. "Eva wants to go to Monaco, so we're off on a cruise."

"Fantastic! Don't forget about us here in the cold."

"How's your pain? Did you get our package D. J.?" his mom asked.

Dylan reached over to his right and picked up his newly arrived gel liner. After looking it up and talking to Dr. Arroyo, they'd decided it would work best with the elevated vacuum suspension on the prosthesis. He'd had his eye on it too long for it to be a failure.

"I'm fine." Dylan patted his left thigh. "And I did. It'll help so much."

"Hope it works."

So did he. Dylan had to get used to the extra time it would take to put his leg on, but it wasn't early in the morning right now. No better time to test it out.

"What are you up to?" his dad asked.

"On my way to a stakeout."

"Since when do agents do those? I thought that was for the police to deal with?"

"I'm helping them out."

Alessandra would be at work. There was a trial coming up for a case and she was back at her old lab with Nate. Now that he was used to having her around Dylan didn't want to be in the house by himself.

"Be careful, D. J," his mom's worried voice came through the phone.

"I will. Enjoy your cruise."

He hung up and put his leg on. When he was done, he tried it out. So far so good. The real test would be to run on it. He secretly hoped he'd get the chance.

As Dylan drove toward Hansen's condo, he smiled at the C Communications Building on his left. The white lights that surrounded the diamond top of the skyscraper never failed to keep him from feeling better. Or maybe that was because it reminded him of the dumb line he'd used at twenty-one with its lesser known name as the "vagina" building. To his surprise it had worked with the woman he'd said it to.

Back then he'd had a lot of trouble coming up with the right words. But not so much anymore. He couldn't believe he'd almost said what he had to Alessandra. Even if it was true that without his job he wouldn't have met her, last night hadn't been the time to say it.

Dylan parked on the street ten feet from a Chicago Dog stand. Thank God he wouldn't need to worry about parking meters over here. He'd just opened a candy bar when Healey knocked on the window.

"You didn't have to do this," she said once she was settled in the passenger seat. "We would've handled it. You should be at home."

He'd be damned if he was gonna sit around and let them get the collar without him. That was if Hansen even showed up.

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