|Cassie watches from the sun room window|
From the second floor sun room, Cassie watched in disgust as the gardener hosed away the vomit from the bushes along the side of the house. A total waste. All the planning and fussing... the research...the risks. And for what? Absolutely nothing. She was no closer to finding her money than she was four weeks ago. In frustration, she slammed the lid of the laptop down, and tossed it on the table next to the chair.
She should have gone with the time tested sodium pentathol, and avoided this whole mess. It had a respectable reputation as a working truth serum, and little to no side effects. But the use of needles always made her nervous. And in her defense, the web site made the Russian SP-117 sound like it was perfect for her needs. It was colorless and odorless...just a sprinkle over his food and into his drink, and he should have been happily spilling his secrets. Instead, it was his guts that were spilled... all over the manicured hedges. She had known that there was a slight chance the drug caused cramping and vomiting, but only in about twenty percent of the population. That seemed like pretty good odds to her, and if in fact, the priest was one of the unlucky few, she had planned to have the information firmly in hand before he felt the first rumble in his stomach.
But then it had all gone wrong. He'd excused himself to use the bathroom, and had then disappeared for over forty minutes. She had no clue where he had been, only that he returned to the parlor a few moments before rushing outside to be sick. After that, he was never alone, and before she could say any different, Teddy was off, driving both he and the bitch sister home, and she was left with a house full of unwanted guests, and no hint to the whereabouts of her half million.
Even thinking about it now enraged her. While the damn priest was busy screwing up her plans, that sly little slut of a sister was putting the moves on her fiancee. How stupid did they think she was? She'd played the same little games herself. Knew interest when she saw it. And even if she wasn't sure exactly how she really felt about Ted Beckett, there was no way anyone was taking anything that belonged to her. Besides, if that little girl knew the real man behind the lawman's uniform, she'd run off and hide. The Sheriff had his hobbies, and that O'Kenney woman didn't look the type to play along.
Cassie reached for the laptop, and flipped it open. There had to be some reason she'd bolted from
Boston. How, and why, did she end up here in this hick town, tagging after her doofus of a brother? If she could just find her Achilles heel somewhere on the net, she might be able to kill two birds with one single stone. She still had a half vial of SP-117, and next time, she'd work the timing a bit closer. But with his sister attached to his hip, getting the padre alone would be a lot more difficult. Without a doubt, Maureen O'Kenney needed to hit the road.
She had just begun her Google search, when the housekeeper, sullen as always, knocked on the sunroom door. "Miss McKreedy, Dr. Patterson is waiting downstairs. Will you be meeting with her today?"
Cassie could see the tiny smirk gather at the corners of the woman's thin lips. It was no secret she had little use for the Sheriff's new house guest. The feeling was mutual. "Thank you Mrs. Burke. Tell her I'll be with her shortly"
Mrs. Burke just nodded, shaking her head as she shut the door behind her.
Damn. She had forgotten all about this afternoon's appointment. The computer work would have to wait until later. She and the doctor had made real progress in the last four weeks, and she was anxious to continue. The combination of drug therapy and self soothing mechanisms had been working so well, she had been able to take short trips out to the yard, and even a car ride around town, without hyperventilating. She and Ted had even discussed plans to celebrate Thanksgiving at his cabin if she thought she was up to the challenge. Dr. Patterson had tried to coax her into allowing herself to be put under deep hypnosis, believing it would get to the center of her anxiety. There was no frickn' way that was going to happen. She was fully aware of the wheres and whys of her personal hell. And New Orleans, and everything surrounding it, was better left buried in her brain.
He stayed in the confessional longer then planned, deep in thought over everything that had transpired between he and Maureen. He prayed for divine inspiration regarding the handling of the whole mess, but none seemed forthcoming. Reluctantly, he knew he'd have to face her sooner or later, and so he changed into his street clothes, and trudged back to the rectory.
She was busy in the kitchen, and when she heard the door open, called out to him. "Is that you, Kev? Don't get comfortable. Dinner's almost ready. I made a nice pot roast."
At the mention of food, Fr. Kevin's stomach did a flip-flop. He still felt lousy from the night before, but pot roast was his favorite, and she had obviously meant it as a peace offering of sorts. He'd have to force down a bite or two, and move the rest around on his plate.
They were saved from awkward dinner conversation by a knock on the back door, and some how, neither he or Maureen seemed surprised to see it was the Sheriff.
"'Evening, Father. Maureen. I just stopped by to see how you both were doing. Especially you Father. Feeling any better?"
Kevin flushed, still embarrassed over being caught puking in the man's bushes. "I'm doing much better. Thanks for asking. And for driving us home. I'm just sorry I...uh...uh..."
"Don't even mention it, Father. You can't help being ill. I wish the evening had ended better for you. In fact, that's why I'm here. Let me make it up to you both."
"Oh, Ted. That's not necessary. It's not your fault Kevin has a sensitive stomach."
Kevin frowned. Nothing like being thrown under the bus by your own sister. He certainly did not have a sensitive stomach. And the way the cramping came on so quickly, led him to surmise it was definitely something he ate at the party. Something spoiled. But there was no way he was going to express those feelings in front of either of them, so he just nodded in agreement.
"Still, I want another chance at being a better host." He paused, and looked at Maureen. "I was wondering...well...if you were planning on going home to Boston for the Thanksgiving holiday?"
Maureen suddenly looked panicked, and Kevin felt the need to come to her aid. "No, Sheriff. We decided on a quiet dinner here at the rectory. I have to be here for morning Mass, and with the traveling involved...well...it was just easier for us to stay in Dollyville this year."
The Sheriff looked pleased, and jumped in with an offer. "Well then... that works out great!" Seeing their confused faces, he continued. "I want to invite you both to join Cassie and me at my lake cabin for the holiday. We can make a long week-end of it. It's a great little place. Quiet and peaceful. A terrific place to relax. I know you're going to just love it!"
Maureen clapped her hands together in glee. "A Thanksgiving celebration in the woods? It sounds charming, doesn't it Kevin? Just like that song...over the river and through the woods..."
From Fr. Kevin's perspective, it didn't sound charming at all. More like fatal. The thought of the four of them together, trapped in the woods, made him sweat. He needed to do something quick. Before he was led down the path of no return. "That's a very generous offer, Sheriff. And I'm sure it would be a Thanksgiving...to remember. Unfortunately, I have commitments here at the church. Mass and all that, you know." He was afraid to even look at Maureen. He didn't want to see the expression on her face. It was hard enough being the Scrooge who said no to the little girl's pony request. But somebody needed to have some common sense in the matter.
"That wouldn't be a problem, Father. We could leave after your morning services, and all drive down together. It's a short enough trip. Only about an hour and a half. I could even have Mrs. Burke prepare Thanksgiving dinner the day before. Then, all we'd have to do is warm it up once we got there."
"Yes, Mrs. Burke...my housekeeper. She's an excellent cook, you know."
Kevin thought about the way his stomach felt the night before, and shuddered. He wasn't sure he was up for anymore of Mrs. Burke's cooking. "I appreciate your kindness, Sheriff. But, really I don't think..."
Maureen ended the sentence before he could get all the words out. "We'll work it out on our end, Ted. I'm sure we can figure something out. Kevin is always such a worry wart. Now, you must tell me what I can bring."
He watched his sister walk the Sheriff to his patrol car, her busy hands animating the light conversation between them. Why was he the only one that could see this trip was a nightmare in the making? He felt shoved into the role of the Grinch who was out to spoil everyone's holiday. A role he did not relish, and hadn't signed on for. With a sigh, he went to work on the plate of pot roast, taking his frustration out on the carrots and gravy.
Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus
|Maureen bribes Kevin with home made pot roast|