Title: Between a Rock and a Hard place
Author: Cindy Brewer
email: cindyryan7@yahoo.com

Sam and Josh met an angry Toby on the second floor of the Capitol Building.

"Did Lillienfield assassinate anybody?" Zielger demanded, as the trio stood near a window in a crowded hallway.

Sam shook his head. "No."

"He took Leo's deal off the table," Josh interjected impatiently.

Toby stared at the younger man for a long moment before he rubbed a weary hand along the back of his neck. "He can't take the deal off the table."

"He did."Sam replied grimly. "He's given us a twelve hour deadline."

"What does he want?" Toby asked as he leaned against the wall.

"He wants to kill Leo's career," Josh replied with a shake of his head.

"There's more," Sam added gaining his boss's attention.

Toby sighed. "Of course there is."

Sam handed him the newspaper. "He put an article about Donna in the Post." Ziegler glanced at Josh before opening the paper and scanning the headline.

"Let the deadline pass," Toby stated quietly handing the paper back to Sam.

Josh stared at the older man in disbelief. "You can't mean that."

"If we give into his demands now, there will only be more," Ziegler replied grimly, hating the fact that Donna was a sacrificial lamb but it was the only way. "If we ignore the story it'll be buried on the twenty third page by Friday and forgotten by Monday."

Sam glanced at Josh. "There has to be a way to kill this story."

Toby shook his head. "Not without giving credit to Lillienfield's demands. I'm sorry, Josh."

Lyman opened his mouth to reply but quickly snapped it shut knowing that whatever he said he'd regret later. Instead he turned on his heel and stalked down the hallway.

********

Donna sat in her car with her hand on the ignition key not sure where to go. The rational part of her knew she had to tell Josh immediately. But the other part didn't want to go anywhere near the White House.

Donna leaned her head back against the headrest and closed her eyes. God, how could she not have known who Nick worked for? Josh would kill her when he found out and she couldn't blame him. Not after all the hell that Lillienfield had put Leo through in the past month.

Opening her eyes Donna started the car and threw it into drive. She had a lot of thinking to do and she knew she couldn't do that at work.

********

Josh returned to his office still seething. He wasn't just mad at Toby but at the whole entire mess. It was only after he'd been in his office for a few minutes that he realized that Donna wasn't at her desk. In fact he didn't see her anywhere in the communications bullpen.

Lyman stepped into the bullpen, a bad feeling starting to creep up his spine. "Kathy, where's Donna?"

The young black haired woman looked up from her desk. "Last time I saw her she was heading out for lunch."

"When was that?" Josh asked glancing at his watch. Nearly noon.

"I think it was around ten," Kathy replied. "Want me to page her?"

Josh frowned. Donna never took a two hour lunch. An hour lunch maybe, but never two. "No, that's okay I'll try her cell. Thanks, Kathy."

"No problem," Sam's assistant replied as she returned her attention to her computer.

Josh retraced his steps to his office and closed the door. He sat down behind his desk and snatched the receiver. He dialed Donna's familiar number and waited. After the third ring the operator came on: /We're sorry but the cellular customer you have reached is either out of range...../

Josh hit the disconnect button and redialed. After getting the same recorded message Josh hung up and tried her pager number. As he hung up the phone Josh couldn't shake the feeling that Lillienfield might have reached her before he could.

********** end of part 4 TBC

 

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