Title: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Author: Cindy Brewer
email: cindyryan7@yahoo.com
disclaimer: I don't own them etc
Notes: This is a sequel to Pandora's Box

"Toby?" Mandy Hampton called as she knocked on Ziegler's open office door. "You have a minute?"

The dark haired man in his late forties glanced up from his computer screen. "No, but when has that stopped you?"

Mandy stepped further into the office. "Do you know a Michele Duncan?"

Toby returned his attention to his computer screen. "I believe she worked for Hoynes for about a month."

"She's writing a book," Hampton replied as she sat down.

Toby met her gaze. "About the Vice President?"

Mandy nodded. "I got a call from a friend of mine who's a publisher."

"She was only here a month, how much damage could she do?" Ziegler replied as he took a sip of his coffee.

"Does the Vice President have any skeletons in his closet?"Mandy asked as she stood.

"No." Toby replied as he leaned back in his chair.

"You sure?" Mandy replied.

"Yes," Ziegler replied firmly. "Anything else?"

The dark haired woman shook her head as she turned to leave. "No."

"Okay," Toby replied as he returned his attention to the computer screen.

*******

Sam arrived at the bustling restaurant a few blocks from the White House and scanned the crowd. He finally spotted Josh sitting in a booth against the wall a few feet from the kitchen door. As he sat down Sam ordered an iced tea from a passing waitress. "What's going on?"

Lyman looked at his friend for a long moment not sure how to start. More than anything he didn't want to betray Donna's confidence but if they were going to protect Leo, Sam had to know everything.

"Lillienfield backed out of the deal," Josh replied as he leaned forward.

"What?!"Sam replied sharply just as the waitress returned with his drink.

Both men waited in silence until the young woman left.

"What does he want?" Sam asked as he fought to control his temper.

Josh shook his head. "He wants a fight. He's out for Leo's blood no matter who gets hurt along the way," he replied as he handed Seaborn the newspaper.

"This from Lillienfield?" Sam asked as he unfolded the newspaper.

Josh nodded tightly. "He's gone after Donna."

"What?" Sam asked in surprise as he quickly scanned the article. "This true?"

Josh glared at the younger man. "Of course not."

"Josh....." Sam prompted. "Is Donna sick?"

Lyman sighed as he thought back to New Year's. "She thought she was."

"When?" Seaborn asked tightly.

"New Year's," Josh replied as he glanced over Sam's shoulder to the window. "She finally told me when we were trapped in the elevator."

"Was she raped?" Sam asked with concern.

Lyman shook his head. "No, she had a one night stand with a jerk who didn't tell her he was HIV positive."

Sam rubbed the back of his neck wearily. "How the hell did Lillienfield find out?"

"I don't know." Josh replied quietly. "I had to pry it out of her.....I doubt she told anyone else."

"Who was the guy?" Seaborn asked as he dumped a couple dollar bills on the table.

Josh shook his head. "She wouldn't tell me. Sam, I can't let this get out...she's been through enough. I don't want her to have to deal with a witch hunt with the press."

Sam nodded. "We have to talk with Toby. We'll figure out a way to deal with Lillienfield."

***********

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