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"Precious" By Cindy pt.3/4

Ten o'clock came and went and Donna hadn't come downstairs yet. Caitlin placed a hand on Sam's shoulder before crossing the living room and walking upstairs. After a few minutes she found Donna in a spare room next to the
linen closet. It had been turned into a small library. Not a stuffy, leather filled one like you found in rich houses but one filled with warmth and coziness. A small fireplace sat in the corner the mantle filled with family pictures. A roll top desk filled the other corner cluttered with Josh's
teaching materials and a few White House memorabilia.
Donna was sitting curled up on the far end of a tan sofa her gaze fixated on a pile of pictures.

Caitlin quietly closed the door and sat down next to her.

"I didn't have a chance to send these to you."Donna said wiping away her tears as she handed Caitlin a few of the photos.

"Christmas?"Caitlin guessed as she took the pile.

Donna nodded. "She seemed to enjoy it more this year.....seeing Santa and watching us decorate the tree. She was sick last year.....so Josh and I made sure that we did both the typical Christmas stuff and Hanukkah...."

Caitlin chuckled as she came across one of what appeared to be Josh being attacked by a snowman. Donna looked over to see what picture and smiled faintly.

"Josh may have graduated from Harvard and Yale but he can't build a decent snowman to save his life."Donna explained. "It must've been ten below that day but Josh was out there for six hours trying to make one for Rachel that
didn't look lopsided."

Caitlin shook her head. "Typical Josh."

"Yeah."

Caitlin set the pictures down and turned to face Donna. "Rachel will be okay, Donna."

Donna glanced down at the pictures and felt the tears start again. There were so many more pictures left to take.....first day of school, first play, first ballet recital, first family vacation. "How can you be so sure, Cait?"

Caitlin reached over and squeezed her friend's hand. "She's a Lyman."

***
Harry Boxton flung the phone receiver onto the floor. It hit the burnt orange carpet with a dull thud but it was loud enough to wake the three year old who had been napping nicely since one.

Harry cursed and walked over to the window tempted to let the brat cry for awhile. It wasn't like the hotel didn't allow kids. The phone call had been another setback that he didn't need. He had hoped to hire a fishing boat to
get them across the bay to Canada. But the fog had rolled in pea soup thick around eleven and nobody not even the fisherman who he'd offered cash to was insane enough to tempt Lake Huron's wrath.

Harry laced his fingers against the back of his neck as he turned around to face the screaming toddler. Alice had wanted kids since they were first married. But there had always been something else more important going on in
their lives. Then the medical problems had arose and the fights had gotten worse....then he'd been arrested and locked up.
Harry leaned against the wall closing his eyes....Alice hadn't come to visit him as often as she used to. Not that he had blamed her he hadn't been the ideal husband.

Harry's eyes snapped open at the sudden silence to find Rachel watching him with a bright red nose and tear strained cheeks.

"You hungry? Is that what all the noise was about?"Harry asked as he pushed away from the wall.

The girl followed his movements but gave no other kind of response.

Harry sighed and fished a can of apple juice from his backpack. He opened it and poured it into one of the hotel's complimentary plastic cups.
He turned back to the bed and pressed the glass into the toddler's hands.

Harry moved back to the window and stared out at the fog. Who knows maybe the fog was a blessing in disguise......Alice's way of helping him out. Maybe the
fog was hindering the search efforts and would buy him some time.

**********

CJ sat down on the floor next to Josh. The fireplace behind them roared as flames ate feverishly at the four logs. It was barely five o'clock but as soon as the sun had set the temperature had dropped sharply.
She reached over and squeezed Josh's hand as she wondered not for the first time why bad things happened to good people. Donna and Josh had been through so much why couldn't they have a sliver of happiness in their lives?

Josh flashed CJ a weak smile before the memories claimed his thoughts again.
Though for once they weren't bad memories they were good ones....ones of his early relationship with Donna.

---------------

Technically it was only their fifth official date but after knowing each other for so long neither Josh or Donna were keeping track.
For this date they had opted to stay in.....Josh's apartment and pizza had sounded heavenly to Donna after the tough week they'd all had at work.

As they waited for the pizza to arrive Josh stood and walked over to the entertainment center and flipped on his stereo.

Josh returned to the sofa and offered his hand to Donna. She took it with a wide smile. No words were exchanged....none were needed.

As Donna melted into Josh's embrace she smiled as she recognized the soft strains of a country ballad.

/I get up and battle the day
Things don't always go my way
It might rain, but that's ok
I get to come home to you

Sometimes life may let me down
I get tired of getting kicked around
I feel lost in this maddening crowd
But I get to come home to you

You are my best friend
You're where my heart is
I know at the day's end
I get to come home to you/

Josh closed his eyes and rested his chin on top of Donna's head inhaling her scent as their feet moved slowly to the music.
Why had it taken him so long to realize that happiness was right under his nose?
It had taken getting shot to see that his feelings for Donna had changed.
Now that he had her in his life Josh vowed never to take anything for granted again.

/Hanging out in that old sweatshirt
You let me complain about a hard days work
I don't know what I did to deserve to
Get to come home to you

You are my best friend
You're where my heart is
I know at the days end
I get to come home to you
I get to come home to you
Oh I love coming home to you/

As the song wound down Josh pulled back so he could see Donna's face. Her blue eyes were glistening with tears. He hoped they were happy ones.

'I love you Donnatella Moss.'Josh whispered huskily as he lightly touched her right cheek. 'Have I told you that lately?'

Donna smiled. 'Yes, Joshua, but I never get tired of hearing it.'

'Promise me that no matter what happens in our lives that we'll never go a day without telling each other that.'

'I promise....I love you Joshua, forever and always.'

------------

Josh blinked away sudden tears as he glanced across the room to the kitchen were Donna was talking quietly with Leo.
She deserved the moon and the stars not the pain and anguish that a life with him had become.

CJ lightly touched Josh's shoulder seeing the sadness that crossed her friend's face. "Josh, you okay?"

Josh didn't meet her gaze as he stood. "Yeah, CJ....I just need some air."

***
It took Sam twenty-seven minutes but he finally found Josh sitting at his desk in the den. Donna had been worried when Josh had stopped talking with CJ. She had started to follow her husband but Sam had placed a gentle hand on
her arm telling her that he'd talk to Josh. Sam needed to touch base with his friend as much as he knew Josh needed to talk.

"Hey."Sam greeted softly as he stepped into the den closing the door behind him.

"Hey."Josh echoed turning slightly in the chair.

It was only then that Sam saw the picture frame clutched in his friend's hand. As Sam got closer he could see the picture was of Donna and Rachel taken at the hospital shortly after Rachel had been born.

"Donna's fixing some dinner."Sam offered in an attempt to break the heavy silence.

Josh didn't look up from the picture. "Not hungry."

"Josh...."

"Sam."Josh replied in an unsteady voice. "I really don't want to talk right now."

"You need to."Sam stated as he sat down in the small sofa by the wall. "You won't be any good to Donna over the next few days if you don't get some of this out now."

"I should've died at Rosslyn."Josh whispered as he turned the chair fully around so he could face Sam.

Sam's eyes widened and he leaned toward his friend. "Josh......"

"I inflicted Donna with pain and heartache by pursuing a relationship and now my daughter is suffering because of me...."Josh replied in a voice full of pure anguish.

"That's not true, Josh."Sam stated. "And Donna would be the first to say so."

Josh didn't seem to hear him. "First Joanie, then Donna, now Rachel.....you could probably add Mandy to that list too. Sam, you might want to get Caitlin far away from me."

"Josh...."

"No, wait....I've hurt her too between Donna's kidnapping and the divorce fiasco."Josh gently placed the picture on the desk and stood.

Sam shook his head. "The only blame in this whole mess rests on Boxton, not you Josh."

"And Boxton wouldn't even have targeted Donna if I hadn't hired her....."Josh trailed off as memories of Donna's kidnapping came flooding back. He had thought that was the darkest time of his life but with Rachel it was so much
worse.....she was so young and helpless.

Sam swallowed hard.....he didn't like being reminded of that awful weekend of Josh and Donna's non-wedding. He'd been so close to losing Caitlin. "Josh, Caitie was the target that weekend, not Donna."

Josh met his friend's gaze and saw the sadness and raw fear. "I know."He replied quietly.

After several minutes of silence Sam glanced at Josh's laptop computer resting on the desk and he suddenly remembered a case he had read in law school.

"Josh."Sam began hesitantly. "Have you checked your email today?"

Josh glared at him slightly still trying to regain his composure. "My email hasn't exactly been on the top of my priority list."

Sam gestured toward the picture of Rachel and Donna. "I'm just saying...."

Josh's eyes widened as he realized Sam was trying to suggest that Boxton might have sent a ransom note via email. "Good idea, Samuel."Josh replied as he flipped the computer on. "Boxton isn't the type to do anything the
conventional way."

Sam nodded as he knelt next to Josh. "If he thought of the way to sneak his gang past White House security and the Secret Service....."

"Come on, come on."Josh muttered as the computer booted up agonizingly slow.

Finally the programs loaded and Josh clicked on the correct icon to connect to the internet. After the modem connected Josh opened the email program and impatiently waded through the junk mail.

"There."Sam called out spotting the letter with the file attached a split second before Josh did.

Josh double clicked and opened the letter. There was no text just a video file.

"I'll get Choe."Sam offered as he stood.

"Wait."Josh replied as he hit the correct button to get the video clip to play.

"Josh."

"Just wait....I want to make sure."Josh ordered as the video file started to play

Sam and Josh watched the small video square as Rachel's tiny form appeared.

Josh's breath caught in his throat as he saw his daughter. He had almost been to the point of believing that he'd never see her again Rachel smiled and waved at the camera oblivious to the danger she was in.

As the camera pulled back they could see that Rachel was sitting on Boxton's lap his arm wrapped around her waist.
Josh's hands balled into fists.

"She looks okay."Sam whispered relief clearly in his voice.

Boxton grinned but the smile didn't quite reach his eyes. "You took from me, Lyman now I return the favor."

With that the video file ended.

"I'll get Choe."Sam stated as he rose to his feet and quickly left the room.

After Sam left Josh picked up the nearest heavy book and flung it against the wall. It hit so hard that it bounced and left a small dent.

***
Donna stood stiffly in Josh's arms as the video clip began to play on the laptop. Choe had wanted to run it again but Josh had refused not wanting Donna to see it. But as soon as Donna had heard about the clip she had wanted to see it. She had to assure herself that Rachel was okay.

The black square vanished and the image of Boxton and Rachel slowly came into focus. Donna felt tears stream down her face as she watched Rachel wave innocently at the camera. However her blood froze when she saw that Rachel
was sitting on Boxton's lap.

"Oh God."Donna whispered hallowly.

Josh's arms instantly tightened around her trying to pull Donna back into his embrace.

Donna remained stiff as a board as memories of Boxton pulling the rifle on her interchanged with present images of him holding her daughter.

Gun

Rachel.

Tear gas.

Rachel.

Boxton whirling around wild look in his eyes.

Rachel.

Gun going off.

Rachel waving.

"Donna?"Josh asked worriedly not liking how pale her face was.

Donna risked a glance at the screen. She wasn't sure if it was for a last glance at her daughter or to make herself believe this was really happening.

"Donnatella?"Josh prompted reaching up to touch her shoulder.

Donna shook her head and bolted from the room.

Josh turned back to the computer just in time to hear Boxton say "You took from me, Lyman now I return the favor."

Swallowing hard Josh advanced on Detective Choe. "Find Boxton, Detective, now. Or I will hire as many people as it takes to bring my daughter home."

Before Choe could reply Josh turned and left the room.

******
Harry Boxton ate half of a slice of pepperoni pizza before tossing it back in the box. Pizza had been one of the things he'd dreamed about in prison but now it didn't seem to have any flavor.
Rachel had fallen asleep on top of a spare blanket at the foot of the bed.

Harry leaned back against the pillow and watched her for a moment. Lyman should've gotten the video clip by now. Harry would've given anything to be close enough to see Lyman's reaction but he treasured his freedom more.

Harry laced his fingers behind his head. He wondered if Lyman had cracked yet.....one thing Harry had in prison was time. He had used that time to read what he could on the great Josh Lyman. To say the man had a fragile psyche
would be an understatement.
Driving Lyman insane would be an added bonus......all Harry had wanted to do was to make sure Lyman understood what it was like to have your family ripped apart.
Harry reached over and flipped on the tv careful to keep the volume low. The last thing he needed right now was another screaming fit from the kid.
Tomorrow was going to be a long day....they both needed some rest.

*********

Josh raced down the stairs and paused in the living room. He glanced around but only saw CJ,Toby and Caitlin. Josh looked at the front door....had Donna left?

Caitlin crossed over to him placing a gentle hand on her friend's shoulder. "She's in the kitchen."

Josh squeezed her hand briefly before quickly turning and walking into the kitchen. Inside he found Donna slumped in one of the chairs by the kitchen table, tears streaming down her face.

Instantly Josh crouched next to Donna placing an arm around her shoulders.
"Donnatella."He whispered worriedly.

For a long moment Josh didn't think she knew he was there but then the crying lessened a bit and he found himself staring into her bright blue eyes. The pain and grief Josh saw there took his breath away.

"Donnatella."Josh began softly as he reached up and tenderly wiped a few of her tears away."You've always been the strong one....the optimistic one....don't give up."

"D-Did you see his face, Josh?"Donna replied in a shaky voice."We've lost her."

Josh stood and pulled a chair over so he could sit across from her. He took Donna's right hand in his."He's not going to win this, Donna....I promise you that. No matter what I have to do I will bring our daughter home."

***
"Can you trace it?"Sam asked in a choked voice as Choe handed the lap top to two officers standing near by.

Choe met his gaze before nodding. "There's a good chance if we can narrow down which ISP the email came from. If it's a dial up account it'll make it easier."

"Detective, Rachel's been missing for nearly forty-eight hours now....what are the odds that he won't hurt her?"Sam asked part of him not wanting to know the answer but the other part needing it. Despite he and Caitlin living
on the east coast Sam had gotten quite attached to Rachel. He thought of her as a niece....his sister had kids but they were in California....

Choe's gaze softened. "The video clip is a good sign, Mr. Seaborn. Especially with Boxton's past crimes. If he wanted to kill her we would've found the body by now. He wants to play mind games so the odds are good that this will have a happy ending."

"God I hope so."Sam whispered glancing toward the door wondering if Josh had found Donna and if she was okay.

Choe came to stand next to Sam placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder."Tell Mr. Lyman that I'm going to sit on the computer techs until they come up with something. If anything else happens call my cell."

Sam nodded at the woman. "Thank you, Detective."

**********

The next morning dawned gray and cold but the fog had dissipated. Harry had used express checkout so he wouldn't' have to stand in the lobby if the kid decided to do an encore of the previous day's screaming fit. Rachel squirmed slightly in his arms as Harry stood in the doorway to his room at eight o'clock taking one last look to make sure he hadn't left anything incriminating behind. Not that there was much chance of getting caught in this backwater town. Harry doubted that the townsfolk followed the lives of
people who had worked for a President that had left office five years before.

Looking down at Rachel Harry smiled briefly. "You like boats, kid?"He asked as he shut the door behind them and walked toward the stairs.

*********

CJ handed Toby a bagel and a cup of coffee before sitting down on the front steps next to him. "You realize it's twenty degrees out, right?"

The dark haired man nodded as he continued to stare out at the street. There wasn't much traffic most people had already gone to work. Toby's gaze traveled to the two dark sedans parked on opposite sides of the street each
with two people sitting inside.

"Are they awake?"Toby asked quietly finally breaking the silence.

CJ shook her head sadly. "I don't think either of them slept. Donna's exhausted and Josh looks like hell."

"I can't even imagine what they're feeling."Toby whispered as he absently traced the rim of the coffee mug."Andi and I talked about having kids....but with our schedules it just never became more than a discussion."

"I hope the cops find something soon."CJ replied softly as she stood."I don't know how much more they can take."

Toby didn't move his coffee and bagel untouched."Do you think about Rosslyn, CJ?"

CJ froze slightly before turning back to face her friend. "I try not to."she replied in an anguished whisper.

"I just wonder what kind of fate is at work here, CJ."Toby replied. "None of us have been able to have a normal life."

CJ followed his gaze for a moment to the two sedans before placing a hand on his shoulder and squeezing it gently. "Come on, Toby, inside before we have to dethaw you."

Toby nodded before standing and following CJ inside.

***
Needing something to occupy his mind Josh absently reached for the newspaper laying on the kitchen table. He unrolled it as he walked back into the living room. Josh came to a standstill as he read the two inch headline.

'FORMER WHITE HOUSE STAFFER'S DAUGHTER KIDNAPPED'

"CJ!"Josh bellowed automatically before he remembered that she wasn't in the spin control business any more.

"What's wrong, Josh?"CJ asked with concern as she reached his side.

Josh thrust the paper into her hands. "This is the last thing we need."

CJ quickly scanned the article a frown crossing her face. "This could help, Josh."

"How could it help?"Josh asked as he leaned wearily against the staircase's railing.

CJ handed the paper to Leo who had approached. "It gets Rachel's description out to more people. Maybe somebody saw them leaving town."

"Maybe."Josh acknowledged. "But it also lets every nutcase in town know what's going on."

Sam pulled out his cell phone as he peeked over Leo's shoulder at the article. "I'll call Detective Choe, maybe we can still do some damage control."

"Forget it Sam."Josh snapped as he pushed himself away from the railing."I just hope that this hasn't pushed Boxton farther underground."

"What's going on?"Donna asked from the top of the stairs. Josh's shout had pulled her out of the shower.

Josh exchanged a concerned glance with Sam before quickly starting up the stairs toward his wife.

*********

The small fishing boat chugged into Goderich Harbour on the Canadian coast of Lake Huron. The ship's captain Owen Wallace slowed the vessel to a stop and began the process of tying the ship to the dock.

Harry held tight to Rachel as he hopped onto the dock. It was nearly midday on a Monday so the small marina area was virtually deserted. Rachel cried and squirmed in Boxton's arms tired and cranky from the trip.

Harry ignored her as he paid Wallace.

"Pleasure doin' business with you."The older man commented with a smile as he patted Rachel on the head before turning and jumping back into his boat.

Boxton acknowledged him with a nod as he started walking down the pier. Half an hour later Boxton checked into a hotel along BlueWater highway . A Bed&Breakfast was more realistically what Harry could afford but he had opted
in the end for the more expensive hotel.
There were more people at the hotel, less chance of being spotted.

It started to snow lightly as Harry inserted his key into the lock and let them into the room. His original plan had been to only take something precious from Lyman and not demand any money in return. But his funds were depleting faster than Harry had planned.

Harry set Rachel down on the bed and walked over to the window. Maybe it was time to see how badly Lyman wanted his daughter back.

***
Caitlin watched worriedly as Josh gently ushered Donna into one of the rooms upstairs. Sam came up behind her and placed a comforting arm around her shoulders. Caitlin met Sam's gaze and squeezed his hand gratefully.

After a moment Caitlin pulled away from her husband turning slightly in his arms. "Would you like some coffee?"

Sam tenderly brushed a stray brown hair away from her face. "Sure."

Caitlin caught the look in his eyes and lowered her voice as she smiled. "Don't worry I won't have any."

Sam grinned knowing how much of a sacrifice that was for her. "I'll make it up to you."

"I'll hold you to that."Caitlin replied as she turned and walked into the kitchen.

CJ followed her into the small area grabbing a jug of juice from the refrigerator.

"How are you and Sam holding up?"CJ asked as she poured orange juice into the glass.

Caitlin reached up on her toes to reach a mug on the top shelf of the cabinet about the coffee maker. "We're ok....."she broke off as a wave of dizziness washed over her causing her to stumble.

CJ quickly reached out to steady her. "You alright?"

Caitlin closed her eyes briefly as she waited for the dizziness to subside.
"Yeah, thanks."she replied as she opened her eyes.

CJ glanced at the living room to see if the others were in earshot before moving closer to Caitlin. "You're pregnant, aren't you?"

Caitlin froze the coffee pot in mid pour.

CJ placed a gentle hand on the younger woman's shoulder. "Does Sam know?"

Caitlin nodded as she replaced the coffee pot. "We just found out a couple weeks before Rachel......we haven't told anyone outside of our families."

"Are you happy?"CJ asked as she leaned against the counter.

Caitlin's face lit up. "Ecstatic and so is Sam."

CJ smiled happy for her friends. "Congratulations."

"Thank you."Caitlin replied. "Just don't tell any of the others just yet.
I've wanted to tell Donna just with everything going on with Rachel it just didn't seem right...."

CJ nodded in understanding. "My lips are sealed."

********

"The paper has it?"Donna repeated anxiously as she sank further into the corner of the sofa in the library.

Josh nodded not being able to find the words to comfort her. Instead Josh sat down next to Donna and pulled her into an embrace rocking her slightly.

"He gets freaked when he's cornered, Josh."Donna whispered fearfully. "If the press...."

Josh hugged her tighter closing his eyes. "He won't hurt our daughter, Donnatella. I promise."

Donna wanted to believe that more than anything. But Josh hadn't been the one held captive. He hadn't been the one who saw the wild look in Boxton's eyes. "You can't control everything, Joshua."

"Rachel will come home."Josh vowed as he opened his eyes and rested his chin on the top of his wife's head.

***
At noon the sharp ringing of the living room phone jerked everyone's attention away from their conversations.
Josh exchanged an anxious glance with Donna before rising from the sofa and walking over to the desk. He reached over to pick up the cordless phone when Sam's voice halted him.

"Josh, wait a minute."Sam urged as he came to stand next to his friend Caitlin close behind him.

Josh glared at him slightly. "Why?"

"That's what happens in the movies they wait three or four rings...."Sam replied hesitantly glancing at the others.

Josh shook his head and picked up the phone as Donna joined him her face tight with worry. "Choe's recording all the incoming calls, Sam. Doesn't matter how many rings. Probably a telemarketer anyway."

Donna gripped Josh's free hand as he hit the talk button.

"Hello?"Josh greeted trying to keep the strain out of his voice.

"Mr. Lyman, it's nice to place a voice with a name."An unfamiliar voice replied coldly and Josh instantly knew who it was.

"Where the hell is my daughter?"Josh demanded angrily causing the rest of the group to rise to their feet.

"That depends."Harry replied as he sat on the corner of the hotel bed watching as Rachel played with the cord of the telephone.

Donna's hand tightened on Josh's as she leaned forward straining to hear the other end of the conversation.

"On what?"Josh asked fighting to keep his voice calm and failing miserably.

"On how much you think your daughter is worth."Harry replied with a grin as he laid back on the bed.

Josh leaned heavily against the desk as he frantically motioned for Donna to hand him a pad and pen."How much do you want?"

"Four million by nightfall."Boxton ordered wishing he could see Lyman's face."I'll give you a phone number. Once you have the cash I'll tell you where to meet."

"That's not possible."Josh replied quietly. "There's no way I can get that kind of cash in that amount of time."

"Too bad."Harry responded coldly. "Then your daughter disappears."

"How do I even know she's still alive?"Josh demanded catching Donna's fearful gaze.

"You saw the video clip."Boxton replied as he sat up.

"That could've been taken at any time."Josh stated angrily."I want to talk to my daughter or you won't get anything from me."

Sam reached back and placed an arm around Caitlin's waist drawing her close as they watched Josh anxiously.

"Fine."Boxton replied curtly as he stood and picked Rachel up. He placed the phone gently to her ear. "Say hello to your Daddy, Rachel."

"Daddy!"

Josh closed his eyes and fought against the tears that threatened to flow.
His daughter's voice had never sounded so beautiful.

"Hi, shorty."Josh replied struggling to keep his voice calm and normal so it wouldn't upset his daughter."You okay?"

"That's quite enough."Boxton interupted taking the phone back and placing Rachel on the bed. "Four million by nightfall."

"Wait."Josh pleaded. "How will I know to get in touch with you?"

"Nice try, Mr. Lyman."Boxton replied with a grin. "I'll be in touch. Clock is ticking."

Josh winced as he suddenly found himself listening to the dial tone.

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