An Important Notice to Readers...
Although this fiction blog is illustrated with photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and content of the storyline is intended for an adult audience. Please be advised.
|Fr. Kevin and Roxie talk to Beckett|
Although he had to admit the tales were funny as hell, and totally genuine, he felt a tad guilty about his brother sharing them at this particular moment, especially when it was obvious that Maureen was finding the whole thing so disconcerting. Kevin wondered if he should somehow signal his brother to stop, but worried that Pat would end up dragging his name into the telling, so he instead just prayed that his brother was close to wrapping it all up. Patrick appeared to be enjoying the attention of his laughing audience, so what he did next was quite out of character, and changed the mood of his toast. Reaching into a bag on the table, he pulled out a very worn, 11x14 sized photograph, which he held up to the guests.
The old photo was easy to recognize. It was a studio portrait his mother had demanded as a gift for their father's 50th birthday. She had dressed her army of sons in starched white dress shirts, and blue linen ties, all the way from adult sized Patrick, down to Kevin, who had been nearly eight at the time. The photographer had insisted that boys be staggered in size, and posed around their youngest sibling, who he had sat upon an old trunk like a tiny fairy queen perched on her throne. Dressed in layers of white organza, her red curls held back by a large blue, satin bow, she looked every bit a member of the fey.
"I'm sure my brothers remember the day this photograph was taken. The temperature was near 90 degrees, and we were all suffocating in these collar buttons and ties. But Ma insisted, and damned if we could ever say no to that sainted woman. So we went along with the program, and for that I am grateful. This was Dad's favorite photo of all of us. He made no bones about that. And my brothers will recall, he always called it the 'treasure pitcher'." Around the room, Kevin could see his brothers nodding their agreement. "Now you see...in the past, we always thought it had something to do with that ugly, old trunk. It did kinda look like some old pirate's treasure chest. But today, I came to realize that Dad wasn't talking about the trunk itself. Nope. He was surely talking about the treasure that was sitting on it. From the day she was born, our little Maureen Margaret has been our family's most prized possession...our treasure so to speak. The diamond amongst all the rocks. That's why on this auspicious occasion, Ted, we want you to understand that today we are passing to you the very best we O'Kenneys have to offer...our baby sister... with an expected promise that you will always love, cherish and keep her safe. I wish you both both the very best life has to offer. Slainte!"
Around the room, glasses were raised, and Pat's speech answered with a rousing round of applause. He could see Maureen dab at her eyes, and then get up and hug Patrick, and for a second, he felt a stab of jealousy, which he quickly swept away. It was a great toast, and Patrick had certainly earned the right to speak for the rest of them. Raising Maureen during her teenage years had been no picnic, and he had done a remarkable job of stepping in and taking over when their dad had passed.
Formalities over, the waitstaff hustled to begin serving the meal. He and Roxie moved closer to the bridal table, attempting to catch Beckett's attention without everyone else noticing. Looking up from a conversation with Allison on his right, the groom excused himself, and left the table, motioning with his head that the two of them should follow. The trio gathered near the bar at the end farthest from the tables. Not knowing how to start, Kevin began by introducing Roxanne.
"Ted, I'm not sure you've met Roxanne Spinelli. Roxie lived on the same block with us when when we were growing up. She and Maureen have stayed friends all these years."
Kevin could see Beckett arch an eyebrow, and watched the corner of his mouth turn up, but he thankfully didn't mention knowing anything more.
"It's an honor to meet you Ms. Spinelli. Maureen has said nothing but nice things about you. I'm so pleased you could attend our wedding."
"Thank you for inviting me, Sheriff. I'm thrilled to be here."
It was Kevin who brought the conversation back to where it needed to be. "Ted, I wanted you to talk to Roxie. From what she's told me, I think that Cassie could be right here in the hotel. We weren't sure it was her, but I thought it best if she told you the whole story herself."
Roxie related the information to Beckett, describing her first meeting in the ladies room, and then, the whole incident with the tray. Although his calm facial expression never changed, Kevin could see the man's jaw tighten, and noticed that his hands slipped into his pockets. He let her finish, nodding along, and asking questions for verification.
When she finished, he fished out his cell phone and showed her a photo of Cassie he had taken earlier last fall. "Is this the woman you saw in the restroom?"
Roxanne examined the cell photo carefully. "She was wearing her hair up, had brown eyes, and was wearing glasses today. But I'd bet a week's salary it was the same woman."
For a split second, the thought crossed Kevin's mind about what a week's salary might be for girl in Roxie's occupation, but wisely kept those questions to himself. Instead, he asked them both, "Do you think she might still be here? Somewhere here in the Park West?"
Beckett worked the the thought in his head, and posed some possibilities. "She might be. Hard to tell for sure. I would bet that she'd leave me some type of calling card, or at least somehow let me know that she had gained access to this wedding. She's a game player. A good one at that, and I doubt she'd take off without leaving some type of 'souvenir'. On the other hand, after you recognized her with the tray, she might have felt that her cover was blown, and taken off. She could go either way, and for that reason, I'm not willing to take any chances. I'll talk to my people and check if anyone has noticed anything unusual. And I'll double up the security here, just to be sure. If that woman is still in this building, we'll find her. In the meantime, I want you both to sit down and enjoy the rest of the evening. I have everything under control. It'll be fine."
Fr. Kevin looked over at the bridal table, where his sister was laughing at something the best man had whispered in her ear. "Does Maureen know? About the possibility of Cassie crashing this wedding?"
The groom made a face, and glared at his brother-in-law. "She does not. And I intend for it to remain that way. This is her wedding day, and I will not have it ruined for her under any circumstances. Are we clear on that, Kevin?"
Embarrassed at being scolded in front of Roxanne, Kevin chided, "But don't you think it makes more sense for Maureen to at least have her guard up? And she can't do that if you keep the necessary information from her? At least let her know not to go anywhere alone."
Beckett narrowed his eyes at the priest, and looked pissed for the first time all day. "Look, Father O'Kenney...Maureen is now my wife...and my responsibility. I told you I had it under control, and that I did not want Maureen to have any idea that something is amiss. I won't leave her side, and I fully expect you to leave it at that."
On any other day, Kevin would have felt free to go "toe to toe" with the man, and continued to argue his point. He had done so on several other occasions. But people were beginning to turn around and notice their heated discussion, and the last thing he wanted was a bigger audience privy to their worries. Beckett was, after all, the town's Sheriff, and there was absolutely no doubt in Kevin's mind, knowing the man as he did, that he had come to this wedding unarmed. As he always did, Beckett surely had some type of weapon tucked somewhere, along with the ability to use it, and that admission worked to calm the priest's anxiety.
With slight reluctance, he helped Roxanne find her place at the assigned table on the other side of the room, and then took his own next to his brother Brendan, who teased him unmercifully about spending unchaperoned time in the company of "Ravishing Roksi".
In the evening's shadows, a river of perspiration ran down from beneath the baseball cap, and into the corner of her eye. Damn, it was humid! Despite being dressed in only her undies, she was sweating like a frickin' pig, tucked in the tight gangway of the house around the corner. Every few minutes, she'd lean around the building, and check the position of the two men. By watching them for the past thirty minutes, she had gotten some idea of the pattern of their rounds. There was only one point in their path where the two of them intersected, and that was when she'd have to take them down. Timing would be everything.
This wasn't the way she had wanted things to go. Explosives were just so fucking impersonal. Set the timer, or press the button...and Boom! It was all over. Doubtful she'd even get a chance to see Teddy's sad, sad face, as it would be all together too risky to stick around and watch. No, she'd be miles away, having to settle for her active imagination instead. Plan A and B would have been so much more satisfying, especially B. She could have stood in that kitchen and waited for the digitalis to take effect. Watched as they clutched their chests, and gasped for air. Maybe even been in the crowd as the ambulance whisked the poor souls off to the hospital.
Now, she would have to be content with knowing how this would hurt him. He loved this house. Had personally worked on every aspect of rehabbing the old Victorian, and had gone to great expense to duplicate what could not be salvaged. In a moment of unusual sentimentality, had gone so far as to confess to her that of all the places he had ever lived, he considered this one to be his only "home". Now, in just a short time, it would all be a pile of rubble. Every bit gone, and any dreams about sharing it with his new slut of a bride would be completely shattered.
She had expected to feel some vindication. Some sense of fulfilled revenge. Instead, she was just angry. Truth was, she had loved this house too. Had spent several blissful weeks in it's quiet luxury, and countless hours with Teddy in their special room. She had posed for her portrait in the upstairs studio, and was there when he hung her painting in the Red Room's gallery. It had always been in the back of her mind to return once things settled down with Marzano. It was just a matter of time until the Feds, or one his murderous cronies, took care of that problem for her. Then she could have come back to Dollyville, and picked up where she and Teddy had left off.
But, now, that wasn't going to happen. The fact that her Sir had so quickly turned and found someone else, had hurt her deeply. Replaced by that simpering, vanilla twit was more than she could bear. It wasn't like she hadn't apologized for running off. She had tried talking to the man. Begging. Pleading. Had even showed up on his doorstep, offering herself for whatever punishment he deemed necessary. Instead of a happy reunion, he had turned her out. Driven her out of state, and dumped her on a plane back to Florida, like she was a sack of old garbage. And now he expected to go on living happily ever after...in this house...with someone else? No way. Not if she could help it.
Cassie inched her head around the building, watching once again as the two men grew near to each other. It appeared nothing had changed, so she would make her move on the next round. It was imperative that her aim was on the mark. The tranquilizer gun worked quickest at a short distance, and for her plan to succeed, the targets would have to be caught totally off guard. The rain had stopped, and the street was beginning to show some regular activity. People walked along the sidewalk, traffic increased, and several joggers had made their way past the men on their nightly run. Another jogger, a scantily dressed one at that, would only garnish a minimal amount of attention, and wouldn't be considered a security threat. At least that was her plan.
Leaning against the gangway wall, Cassie was surprised to hear voices. She peeked out again, this time watching as the taller of the two men took a call from his cell phone. There was some minor discussion, and a lot of "Yes, Sirs", until the man finished the conversation. Then calling to his partner, the two suddenly got into a car parked in Teddy's driveway, and took off. She had no idea who the call was from, but was grateful for the now easy access to the house. It was as if her Karma was once again returning, allowing a free path to reaching her goal. She'd need to work quickly, placing the C-4 in five specific locations around the house, so that when it detonated, it would take down the entire building in one glorious explosion.
Gathering up the pack with the materials, and sticking ear buds into her head for added effect, Cassie jogged down the street at a reasonable pace. As she neared the Victorian, she checked around to see if she was being observed. A car rolled down the street, but didn't stop, it's driver, an older woman, not even bothering her with a glance. Secure that she was on her own, Cassie slipped into the backyard of Teddy's home.
|Cassie at Beckett's home|
Beckett spent the entire meal in forced ease. He picked and poked at the food on his plate, and that was only after he returned it to the kitchen himself, and watched as the confused chef fixed two new dinners in plain sight. Maureen had looked at him with concern as he removed her plate, announcing that the food was too cold to eat, and promising he would personally see to its replacement. He could tell that she wanted to question his sanity, and argue that the food was fine as it was, but recalling his bizarre tests of late regarding her obedience, she pasted a submissive smile on her face, and nodded as he picked up her untouched dinner, and carted it to the kitchen.
Later, sitting at the table with his new bride, surrounded by her family and friends, he regretted not taking a more pro-active plan of action regarding the crazy bitch. He had grossly underestimated her determination to seek out personal vengeance against him. Hadn't treated her viciousness with the respect it deserved. But if she was still in this building, like everyone seemed to think, he'd take care of this nonsense...once and for all.
|Beckett removes Maureen's wedding dinner|
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