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Chapter 40: Hope the Detective

"Are you going to tell me what's going on?" Hope said from across the table.  She had a classic, I'm going to be no-nonsense and you're not going to move until I get what I want look on her face that John knew so well.  Some of that knowledge came from his time in Salem, but others came from the memories of Roman Brady that Stefano had implanted in his head.

"What do you want to know?"

Hope leaned forward across the table, keeping her voice low to avoid being overheard.  "Okay, I get that you don't want Victor to know about Kim and you're being cagey about why you're going to LA.  More on that later.  But what was all that about Victor's yacht?  He wants to send you off around the world.  Sounds more like he wants to get you out of Dodge."

John chuckled.  "You know, kid, you might make a good detective."

"So what's this all really about, John?"

"I wish I knew."  That was an honest answer.

"Well what are you working on?" she asked. 

"Who said anything about working?"  Hope gave him a knowing look and he wondered how she was able to read him so well.  "It's nothing big.  Just trying to track someone down."

"Shane?" 

"How--"

She smiled.  "My office is next to Roman's.  His voice carries."  Translation: Roman yells a lot.  "He was trying to get info from the ISA and hitting a brick wall.  And with you going to see Kim, it kind of added up."  She sat back in her chair.  "Let me help you on this?"

"Help me?"  He was amused by the suggestion.

"I'm serious," Hope said, earnestly.  "I can help you."

And if she got hurt, Bo would kill John, notwithstanding the fact that Bo was dating Carly at the moment.  Unfortunately, Hope Williams Brady could be extremely persistent.

"If Shane's in trouble, I want to help," Hope insisted.  "He's a good friend and, besides, I owe him.  If not for Shane coming up with that plan to trick Larry Welch when he kidnapped me, who knows where I'd be."

He had not been around for those events in Salem, having been with Marlena on Stefano's island at the time, but he had heard about it.  To rescue Hope, they had faked two deaths, made Bo appear to be a murderer, and casually allowed him to escape.  "I thought that was Bo's plan," John said.  "That's what everyone said when I got back to Salem."  Hope gave a derisive snort and John had to agree.  Bo was a great guy, but he was never going to win any chess matches.  That plan had Shane Donovan's fingerprints all over it.  "I should have guessed so.  Declaring Billie Reed dead within earshot of news reporters so they could get the news out right away sounds like Shane's way of thinking."

"So will you let me help you?" Hope asked again.

John tried to explain.  "Hope, I don't even know what I'm looking for right now.  I've got some vague leads and I they might be fake.  I'm going to LA to talk to Andy to see if he can answer some questions and then I'll figure out my next step."

"Andy's in LA?"  Hope sounded excited.  "My god, I haven't seen him in forever.  I think the last time when he was just about to finish college.  How's he doing?"

"I haven't seen him yet," John said.

"Well I want a full report.  And tell him he's long overdue for a visit.  Jeannie too."  Hope chuckled.  "You know, the last time he was here, I think the Pub's business doubled.  This place was packed with teenage girls.  Something about that accent."

"He's a little young for you," John teased, and then ducked as Hope's napkin came sailing in his direction.  They both laughed for a moment, before Hope's expression turned somber. 

"John, tell me what you've learned so far."

He debated telling her about the ISA and the possibility that Drew Donovan was involved, but his better judgment told him to keep that quiet.  "All I know is that Shane had some assignment with his company and the last anyone heard from him was about a year ago."

"So not a lot to go on?"  Hope fell silent, as she fiddled with her coffee cup for a bit.  She did not want to voice her fear that Shane was dead.  That just couldn't be.  Shane Donovan had always been pretty much indestructible in Hope's mind.  That, and a good friend.

"No, not much to go on," John said.

"Do you think it's ISA-related?"  Hope knew Shane had left the ISA a few years earlier, but both she and John knew that meant very little.  How many times had their lives been in danger because of some enemy from their past wanting revenge?  When John nodded that, yes, he thought it was ISA-related, Hope frowned and shook her head.  "The ISA.  I mean we've all done stuff for the ISA, but that usually was because it was personal, like. . . ."  Her voice trailed off without naming names, though in John's case, there were a host to choose from.  "But usually we were all together, so if anything went wrong, we'd have family and friends there.  I don't think I ever fully registered how different it was for Shane, being his job.  I wonder how Kimberly handled it, having him go off on his own on some mysterious mission, not knowing what he was doing or where he was.  He could be hurt or. . . ."  She would not say dead.  "Or worse.  And we wouldn't even know it, would we?"

John let loose a heavy sigh, unable to lie to her.  "Maybe not."  He stared at his half-eaten lunch, no longer hungry, and set down his fork.  "For what it's worth, I don't think he's dead."

Hope took some comfort in that.  John's instincts were usually good, despite his habit of going overboard when DiMeras were involved.  She glanced back across the Pub, spotting Victor talking animatedly with a rather subdued looking Philip.  "Do you think Victor's involved?"

"Until a few minutes ago, no."  John also glanced at Victor.  "Now?  I'm not so sure."  Then he shook his head.  "Ah, I'm probably letting my imagination get the better of me.  Victor wouldn't even know I'm looking for Shane.  He's probably more worried about me reviving Basic Black."

That was more likely, John thought, even though he had a very odd feeling about it.  He glanced over at Victor's table and saw that the old man was watching him.  Victor gave a slight smile and raised his glass in a mock salute.  It made John's skin crawl. 

Victor was a master game-player, and John was starting to suspect a game was already underway.  He just couldn't tell if he was one of pawns on Victor's board.