|Roxanne fills in for Maureen at Schiller's Deli|
But if they had hoped to offer a word of encouragement, or perhaps invite him to stop by for breakfast, they were simply out of luck. Instead of a joining them outside the church after Mass, as was his custom, the young priest took a hard right turn after the closing prayers, and disappeared into the sanctuary without the least bit of explanation. And though they each had their thoughts on what might be wrong, none dared consider invading the poor man's privacy with a bombardment of questions and concerns regarding the wedding, or the awful explosion. If he wished to take his problems directly to God, then who were they to argue?
Fr. Kevin was grateful for this gift of privacy. He was in no mood to discuss any part of the situation with anyone. Truth be, he could hardly believe it himself. How could Maureen just run out on him like that? Pick-up and disappear without a single word as to the wheres and whys? He vacillated between worry and irritation, with periods of sincere self-pity filling in the rest. He wanted to tell himself that all of this was his new brother-in-law's doing. Assure his troubled soul that his sister was just a helpless victim of her husband's dominance. But in the clarity of a new morning, and after a conversation with Beckett's friend, Nolan, not to mention a lack of even a simple text message, it seemed pretty obvious that his sister's allegiance and familial loyalty, had now shifted to the Beckett side.
Hoping to bury his discontent in a large breakfast, Kevin returned to the rectory's kitchen in search of a meal high in the fat and cholesterol range. He was sorely in need of several fried eggs swimming in a large pool of melted butter, nestled next to half a pound of crispy bacon. When the fridge yielded only a quart of sour milk, and several mystery dishes covered in tin foil, he slammed out of the house in general annoyance, bemoaning the fact he had given up the rental car the night before. It was, of course, no one's fault but his own. The wedding, and arrival of his family for the celebration, had taken up much of the past week, and he had done little in the way of general housekeeping. He needed to do some serious grocery shopping, and without a car, was forced to decide between the deli down the street, or a bus trip to the Mega Mart across town.
On any other occasion, that decision would have been a no-brain er. Schiller's Deli would easily meet all his needs, and he could have his breakfast on the table in no time. But a trip there would mean facing all kinds of demons that Kevin had no desire to contemplate, and he seriously considered the long excursion by bus. Amid a battle raging in his head, he found himself walking down the street in the direction of the deli, his sensibility and growling stomach winning out over his personal apprehensions. If luck was with him, Roxanne would have a later start on her first morning, and he could slip in and out with only Gertie Schiller to deal with.
The little bell on the door tinkled as he pulled it open, and at the counter, Roxanne waited on another customer. She looked up, and caught his eye, obviously startled to see him standing there.
"Good Morning, Fr. OKenney. I'll be with you in a sec..."
Flustered, he developed a sudden interest in examining a stack of ripe cantaloupes, picking one up, and giving it a thump. "No hurry. I'm just here to...uhm...get some groceries."
Roxanne finished bagging the other man's items, silent until he left the store. With a sigh, she folded her hands across her chest, and leaned against the counter. "So...what can I do for you, Father?"
"I really just did come in to pick up some things. For breakfast. My cupboard's pretty bare."
She was quiet for a moment, then added. "Well...then you've come to the right place. We have a sale this week on country sliced bacon. If you're interested."
They both stood quiet, the awkwardness of the conversation taking precedence. Fr. Kevin searched his addled brain for something to say to break the tension, but was saved instead by the appearance of the store's plump owner from the back storage room.
"Father Kevin! It's lovely to see you! How are things with the happy couple? It surely was a beautiful wedding, despite the bad luck with the...explosion... and all. What a handsome pair those two make, don't ya think? Our Maureen will be mama to a bundle of precious little ones, she will. Prettiest babies in the state, no doubt." Without waiting for him to comment, she continued, her questions a barrage of inquiry. "Are they still here in town? Are they taking a honeymoon? They will be rebuilding, won't they? Do you think they'll want to be using the flat until then? It was so nice of Roxanne here to come fill in while Maureen is away, wasn't it?" Gertie Schiller stopped, expectantly waiting for the priest to answer.
"Yes, Mrs. Schiller, it certainly was a nice wedding. And yes, I do think they plan on rebuilding, but I can't say for sure where they expect to live while that's being done. You'll have to discuss that with the Sheriff and my sister. When they get back from...from...uhm...their trip."
There must have been something odd in his voice, because Roxanne glanced up from the cans she was stacking, and looked at him oddly. Whatever Rox heard in his voice, went unnoticed by Mrs. Schiller, who continued on with her interrogation.
"You don't suppose that Maureen will want to keep on working until the baby comes, do you? How does the Sheriff feel about her working? Do you know? I sure had high hopes of our Maureen taking over this place for us. You know...me and the Mister ain't gettn' any younger. She's got a fine head for business, your sister does."
From the corner of his eye, he could see Roxanne watching him, and it made him more uncomfortable. He wished he could confide his misgivings and concern over his sister's strange departure, but knew better than to say anything in front of Gertie Schiller, who was known throughout Dollyville as the town's biggest gossip.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Schiller, but Maureen really didn't mention her future plans to me. The whole thing with the house...well...it came as quite a shock. I'm not sure even the newlyweds know for certain what they'll be doing yet. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. But I assume Maureen will give you all the details. When she...returns." As a signal that he wished the conversation over, Kevin picked up a basket and turned toward Roxanne. "I think I'll take some of that country bacon, Roxanne. Maybe two pounds?"
A heaping pile later, Fr. Kevin finished his shopping. Sensing there would be no juicy news today, Mrs. Schiller went back to taking inventory, as Roxanne packed up the rest of the priest's staples. There were several large bags, and it was obvious that he would have to make more than one trip to get it all back to the rectory. Seeing an opportunity for private conversation, Roxanne hefted two of the bags into her arms, and headed toward the door, calling out as she did.
"Mrs. Schiller...I'm going to help Fr. O'Kenney run these groceries over to the rectory. There's too much for him to manage by himself."
A voice answered from the back. "Okay, Sweetie. That's a good idea. I'll keep an eye on the front."
The two left the store, not saying a word until they were several feet away.
"So...what's up, Father. I can tell something's not right. Did something happen after I left the Park West?"
He hesitated, not sure he should share his concerns, but then deciding he didn't wish to carry the burden alone. "Honestly, Rox...I'm not sure. Beckett and Maureen seem to have disappeared."
"Disappeared? What do you mean?"
"They've seemed to vanish into thin air. One minute Maureen was standing in the banquet room talking to Patrick and Eileen...then...poof! She was gone. I tried calling their room, and banging on the door, but there was no answer. I called both of their cell phones over and over, but they all go to voice mail. According to the hotel, they checked out early this morning, but no one seems to know where they went."
"That's ridiculous. They didn't just disappear. Somebody's got to know something."
"I'm pretty sure Beckett's buddy Nolan knows more then he's saying. But I just get the run around from him. And apparently he's also checked out of the Park West, along with Maureen's friend Allison. I haven't been able to reach her either. The whole thing is...well...freaky. Maybe everything has a perfectly reasonable explanation. But I can tell you this...I'm worried. After that explosion, I don't feel safe. Especially since we haven't been able to locate Cassie McKreedy."
"So...you do think she had something to do with that explosion."
He shrugged in frustration. "I don't know what to think anymore. Beckett's never been one to reveal anything of substance. If that's how he lives, more power to him. But I resent him dragging my sister into his secrecy. We've always been pretty close, but know I feel like I don't know her at all. For instance, I can't believe she'd up and leave without her things. No clothes? No make-up? You know how Moe is. She'd never be caught out without her hair or face done. Honeymoon without her necessities? I'm not buying it."
Roxanne thought a moment, biting a thumbnail as she did so. "Thinking about it, it did seem as if someone had gone through Maureen's things when I first got to the apartment last night."
"Nothing drastic. But the dresser drawers were slightly open, and the light in the tiny hall closet was on. Plus, it looked like bottles were missing off the bathroom sink. I could see rings where they once stood. I could check later, and see what else might be missing. It could offer a clue as to where she's gone."
"It maybe could. Thanks, Rox. I appreciate your help. I was going crazy keeping this all to myself."
|A black sedan at the rectory curb|
She looked to answer him, but was distracted by a black sedan pulling up at the rectory curb. They both stopped, arms still laden with groceries, and watched as an entourage of people exited the car. When the woman finally emerged, Kevin's eyes grew round, and his mouth hung open in total shock.
|Beach front in Tulum, Mexico|
Seeing she was pleased, Beckett lifted her off her feet. "Happy Honeymoon, baby. Welcome to Tulum."
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
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