Attention Dear Readers...
Although this story is illustrated with photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and content is suitable for adults only. Please be advised.
|An surprise intruder at the Beckett home|
The house was quiet and dark, proving that the nasty housekeeper still took her day off on Thursday. A quick look at incoming video feed on the cellphone, showed Beckett's car safely parked in the designated spot, and a light still burning in his office window. It appeared that Dollyville's Sheriff was busy catching up on neglected paperwork, while the bitch was out of the way in Boston.
Moving silently toward the back of the house, the lithe figure in black skirted the motion detectors, leaving the landscape in dark shadow. Through the dining room windows, on the right side of the building, one could see the front door panel blinking, and knew, as predicted, that the security system was armed. This was, of course, no ordinary home system the likes of ADT or Wells Fargo, but rather a complex set of alarms and sensors that was meant to discourage more than your everyday thief. Running on a wireless connection, the technology was set to an unknown frequency code that was difficult to break. Difficult...but not impossible.
It was Beckett's vanity that would make this challenge happen. The security expert would have surely suggested hard wire for the installment, it being twice as difficult to over ride. But that intrusive method meant drilling into the original hard wood floor, and trim, of the 150 year old home, and his sense of aesthetics, and need for perfection, wouldn't allow it. He instead decided on the wireless option, confident that the code's complexity would thwart any attempted break ins. Or so he believed.
The intruder pulled a small device from a back pocket, and began entering a series of numbers and letters. This toy had cost way more than anticipated, but came with a solid guarantee insuring success. It's designer had insisted that his invention would jam any frequency code , regardless of how difficult or complex. But there was always the possibility that in his paranoia, Beckett had added another layer of security. Sweating in the dark, heavy clothes, the figure watched and waited for all the digits on the screen to turn to zeros, signaling that the system was in over ride. It took several minutes, but eventually satisfied with what the screen was showing, the intruder slipped in the house's rear entrance without notice. Once safely inside, the power on the hand held device was terminated, and the building's security was again safely armed, given no outward signs that it had ever been tampered with.
|A surprise visit from Brian|
He knew he should feel guilty about getting high, but the past few weeks had left him feeling pressed and anxious, disconnected from his prayer life, and in need of mind escape. In a week's time, his entire family would roll into Dollyville. Descend on his life like a fast moving storm, and funnel cloud suck every bit of energy and calm right out of him. Then, there was that looming meeting with Roxanne Spinelli he was dreading beyond belief. It all weighed like a ton of bricks on his head, and if this moment of solitude and relaxation helped him gear up for what was ahead, he was going to damn well enjoy every puff of it.
It was hard to believe that he had been Pastor for over a year now. What had started off as a heavy yoke around his neck, had blossomed into something more like a comfortable mantle. He felt a tie to his parishioners, and they to him, and Holy Family finally felt like a vibrant faith community. He owed much of that to his sister, Maureen. She had this unique ability to make people feel important and needed, a part of something bigger. It was her confidence in him, and her rallying of the flock, that had truly made the difference. Now, his little sister was getting married. Moving on, and starting a life apart from her family. And he still wasn't sure how he felt about all that.
He had known Beckett a lot longer than his sister, and still hadn't figured the man out. He could be charming and affable one moment, bossy and intimidating the next. Ted put on moods and personalities like a second skin, and shed them as the moment required. The more Kevin thought about it, the more he came to realize that he only saw what the man wanted revealed, and truth be told, it bothered him. Over the past several months, the two of them had forged a tentative relationship, and he enjoyed the Sheriff's company more than he did that of any of his brothers. Beckett treated him as an equal, not pulling his punches, or tip-toeing around his collar, and had proved his loyalty on a number of necessary occasions. Still, there remained a nagging little worry in the back of his mind that couldn't be shook.
Despite his misgivings about the Sheriff's secretive past, he was satisfied that the man seemed to genuinely care for his sister's welfare. He couldn't speak to any personal romantic feelings, as that was never discussed between the two of them. But it was obvious that he was extremely protective of her, and more than willing to take on the responsibilities of husband and father. And there was no mistaking Maureen's feelings for her intended. She was crazy about the guy. Lit up like a lamp whenever he was within fifty feet. Beckett could read her changing moods like no one before him, and seemed to have a sixth sense about what she was up to next. Without a doubt, it was obvious that his baby sister was happy, very happy, and because he loved her dearly, he worked at pushing any lingering thoughts about secret pasts, unanswered questions, and awful hidden rooms toward the back of his mind.
Rising from the lawn chair, Fr. Kevin intended to head back to the rectory, and see if he couldn't hunt up the fixings for a sandwich. As cliched as it sounded, weed always made him feel ravenous, and he hoped there was something in the fridge to suit his needs, despite his having put off a trip to the grocery store for far too long. His course of action was delayed by the arrival of Brian from beneath the low hedges in the church's rear garden. He hadn't seen the wee man in almost four weeks, and was a tad grateful that he chosen this moment to make an appearance. Kevin preferred talking to the sidhe when he was thoroughly high, rather than when he was cold, stone sober. It made him feel less crazy, and gave him the excuse that he wasn't quite in control of his normal faculties.
"Top of the evenin' to ya laddie. I thought I smelt that fine tobacco. You was plannin' on sharin' a wee bit, weren't ya me boy?"
Kevin routinely thought that giving marijuana to fairy folk was probably a bad idea. But there was no way he was going to risk the wrath of the sidhe by refusing to show proper hospitality and respect, and he handed the tiny man the roach clip, and what was left of the joint. "Saved this just for you, my friend."
"Go raibh maith agat. You be a good laddie, Caoimhin." Inhaling, Brian settled himself comfortably in the grass, his back to a large rock.
The priest nodded his appreciation for the compliment, and lowered himself back into the lawn chair. There were certain rules of etiquette required when dealing with any member of the sidhe. If Brian appeared for a chat, Kevin was expected to stay and chat. To do otherwise, was to risk insult, an unwise decision Kevin was knowledgeable enough to avoid.
"So Caoimhin, cad e ag deanamh buartha duit?"
Slow in translating the Gaelic, it took him a moment to answer. " What makes you think I'm worried? I'm fine. Every thing's great."
The small man grunted in response. "Himself speaks nonsense, he does. I ken smell the fretting a mile away. You ben hand wringing since sun up. A waste of time, it tis."
"Okay, fine. I admit you might be right. I do have a lot on my mind. I can't help but worry, Brian. My sister's getting married next week, and well...she hardly knows this guy. I'm not sure I even know him. I want her to be happy, but I'm wondering if she isn't making the biggest mistake of her life. And I feel like I'm partly to blame for this whole mess."
The clurichaun continued to puff on the last of the joint, watching the fireflies flicker in the growing darkness of twilight. Several seconds passed before he answered. "Tis not your decision to make, laddie, nor your path to walk. You kenna change what will be any more than ya ken change the movement of the night sky. What will be, will be for certain. Frettn' about it will not change her course. Or yar own."
Brian's statements always frustrated Kevin, as they made perfect sense while making no sense at all. Without thinking, he questioned the ancient, little man. "Can you at least tell me if..." And then he froze, not finishing the inquiry, and realizing the error of his ways. Asking a favor from the sidhe...any favor at all...meant that Brian could ask a favor in return. One that could not be refused or renegotiated. And if Celtic legend were true, then the clurichaun's request would far exceed the one from the desperate mortal.
The fairy looked at Kevin shrewdly. "Ya be askin' for a look at what will be, Ginger? That be a fairly large favor ya 'd be committn' to."
Fr. Kevin shook his head fiercely in denial. "No, I'm not really askn'. Just thinkin' out loud is all. Please forget about it, okay?"
Brian searched the priest's face, and satisfied, nodded. "I will then not be rememberin' what it was ya spoke. Of course, tis much easier to forget when one's belly is happy full. Ya wouldn't happen to have a wee morsel or two, would ya, Caoimhin?"
With a sigh, Fr. Kevin rose from the lawn chair, and headed toward the rectory to see what he might rustle up for the two of them, leaving the wee man chuckling in the dark over the innocence of mortals.
By the time Beckett pulled into his driveway, he was thoroughly exhausted. He had been up and out of Maureen's apartment well before 5 AM, and at his desk working long before the sun rose. There were several hours of paperwork that he needed to get through before he could focus on personal business, as well as a rather difficult conversation with the powers that be. In addition, he had needed to deal with the transfer of three prisoners from his holding cell to the county jail, and was required in court all afternoon for testimony.
Then, he had insisted on personally driving Maureen to Boston to spend the weekend with her brother, Jamie, in preparation for three days of bridal showers and pre-wedding festivities. The round trip had taken nearly five hours, and there were still things he needed to deal with at the station, thus it was well after 11PM before he arrived home... tired, hungry, and generally cranky. He was glad Helen, his housekeeper, was off on Thursdays, leaving the house quiet and calm, and relieving him of the obligation to make any type of conversation.
Secretly, he was glad to have Maureen gone a few days. When she was around, she drove him to distraction, and made him question his declining self control. But now, with her away, going on 4 hours and 23 minutes, he felt out of sorts and agitated, and the whole set of contradicting feelings just ended up pissing him off. It had been much simpler before she had plopped into his life. Until that moment, he had easily found plenty of willing female company, without the burden of emotional entanglements. When he grew bored with a particular scenario, he would send the woman off with a reasonable parting gift, and that would be that. No fuss. No muss. No long good byes.
He worried that as he aged, he might be getting soft. It was hard to understand how he had let himself get tangled up with all that relationship bullshit... not just once, but twice. An issue that had been recently pointed out, in great detail, by his superiors. Of course, they were two opposite sides of the coin. With Cassie, it had been all about sex and control. She had known every dark corner of his psyche, and shamelessly pandered to it. Well enough to make him think that's what he wanted on a daily basis. Her abrupt departure had made him realize just how deep he was sinking, and he shuddered to think of where that path might have led him.
With Maureen it was different. Why, he couldn't say. There was still that overwhelming need for control, but mixed in was a desire for her approval. Something that hadn't ever been there before. In the past, it had simply been about him. Period. He did exactly as he pleased, and damn with the consequences. But now, he found himself delighting in daily opportunities to make her happy. And that bothered the shit out of him. Still sitting in the car in his driveway, he tisked in disgust. What he needed was a good, long assignment. Something detailed and dangerous, where his focus needed to stay on the job at hand, and not on the way he had mucked up his perfectly good life. Once this wedding nonsense was finished, he's talk to someone about getting back out in the field. The sooner, the better.
As he made his way across the lawn, he thought it odd that he hadn't heard Maggie's barking when he pulled up to the house. Usually, the large German Shepard would be at the door, growling out a warning to whoever was on the other side. Tonight, the silence that greeted him was a tad ominous, and he felt the adrenaline start to pump. Shrugging it off, he pushed at the buttons on the security panel, and waited for the alarm to disengage before opening the door.
"Maggie? Where are you girl?"
He waited for the sound of her tags jingling, or her toe nails on the hard wood floor, but the house was silent. On alert, his hand went for the Glock in his shoulder holster, and he began moving around the house, sweeping all the rooms in the front of the first floor, and then moving to the second. When he could find nothing out of the ordinary, he made his way back down to the kitchen, the dog no where in sight. Quietly, he pushed open the door with his foot, wide enough to see an opened bottle of 2002 Dalla Ville Cabernet, and two wine glasses, on the granite counter. For a second, his stomach dropped, and then he holstered his gun, and headed down to the basement.
The door to the Red Room was slightly opened, the padlock he had added after Maureen's snooping, lying broken, and hanging, from the latch. He pushed on the solid wood, and hesitating just a moment, walked inside. She was in the corner of the room, her back to him, swinging the ceiling chains back and forth .
"What the shit are you doing here? And where the hell is my dog?"
She turned to face him, all dark hair and red lips, a khaki trench coat belted at her waist. "Nice to see you too, Teddy." Smiling, she undid the knot holding the wrap in place, and let it slip off her shoulders, and into a puddle at her feet. She was completely nude, except for a red braided around her neck. Before he could open his mouth and form any words, she gracefully dropped to her knees. her arms out, and wrists offered.
Though her eyes were downcast, and her hands were held in front where he could see them, it felt as if she had reached up and forced her fingers into his skull, tickling and wiggling all the dark places he had worked so hard to keep in check the past six months. He could feel his pulse pounding in his temples and throat, and the air in the basement room felt thick and wet. With a shake of his head, he grabbed her by the wrists and roughly pulled her up to standing position, not at all shocked when she sucked in her breath, and then sighed. Reaching down, he grabbed her coat, and tossed it at her, attempting to smother the moment.
"What the hell do you want, Cas? And how the fuck did you get past my security?"
Not willing to concede defeat, she throw the coat on the bed, and padded naked across the room, her image reflected in the mirrors on both the ceiling and wall. "Now, is that anyway to treat an old friend, Teddy? After I've gone to so much trouble to come see you." She positioned herself on the bed, wrapping the chains around one arm, and patting the spot next to her with the other. "Why don't you go fetch the Cabernet I brought, and we'll sit and chat a bit. You can tell me all about the plans for yet another wedding." She laughed, low and throaty, but there was no joy or sincerity in the sound.
Ignoring her, he walked to the opposite corner, where he noticed her clothes and a small back pack piled on a chair. "We got nothing to discuss. You left. I moved on. Never gave you a second thought. End of story." He rummaged through the backpack, and locating the signal jammer, crushed it under the heel of his boot.
"So, we're all domesticated now, are we?' She spat out the words, the submissive personae now totally absent. "Face it, Teddy. You are what you are. Kinky and messed up. Just like me. You'll never be happy with the vanilla fluff. That's why you've left this room just the way it was before I left. You didn't even take my painting down! You knew I'd be back, and you left this room untouched, because this is what you want."
He turned, and walked to where she was sitting, his face a stone mask. "Don't flatter yourself, Donaghue. I don't give a shit about you. Frankly, I doubt I ever did. You were nothing more than a passing curiosity. A convenient lay, and a mediocre one at that. When you walked out, you did me a big favor. Saved me from tossing your droopy little ass out of my house." He threw her clothes into her lap, and threatened, "You got two minutes to put these on, or I'm throwing you bare ass into my car, and dumping you somewhere on the side of RT 44. Are we clear?"
Eyes narrowed, and filled with seething anger, Cassandra Donaghue began to pull on her clothes, her brain storing every second of this moment for future reference.
|A surprise visitor in the Red Room|
Fr. Kevin looked down at the assortment of junk food on the counter, and watched as the night clerk rang each item up. Not a bad haul for a neighborhood gas station. He would have preferred something more along a standard food group, but after midnight in Dollyville, beggars couldn't be choosers. He hope there was something in this menagerie that Brian would find satisfactory, while he himself would make do with a Red Bull and a bag of flamn' hot potato chips.
Sack in hand, he left the service station convenience store, and pocketed his change, before heading back to the rectory. The streets were, for the most part, deserted at this hour of the night, so the car pulling up to the pumps caught his eye. Doing a double take, he was surprised to see Beckett's black Mustang, and for a second, was happy with the thought that he wouldn't have to walk the six blocks back to the rectory. As the Sheriff got out of the driver's side to come around to the pump, Kevin opened his mouth to call out to the man, and then abruptly stopped. Once Beckett was out of the car, he could clearly see to the other side of the vehicle, where plain as day there sat a person in the passenger seat. At 1:00 in the morning. A dark haired figure, obviously a woman. And not his sister, who was safe and sound in Boston, about 120 miles away.
Tucking himself in the darkened shadows behind a post, Fr. Kevin watched his sister's fiance fill his tank, then pull out of the gas station, and head directly out of town, a strange woman in the seat next to him.
|A surprised Fr. Kevin watches from in front of the gas station|
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
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