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.
The woman's movements seemed to run in slow motion. First one leg, than another, feet shuffling forward in tiny steps. Maybe it was the ravages of old age, swollen joints and such, the curse of the elderly and arthritic. Or maybe it was the heavy shackles running from her wrists to ankles, causing the hesitant manner in which she approached. Either way, Fr. Kevin took an involuntary step backward. Just in case.
"Long time, no see, Fr. Kevin. You haven't changed a bit." The woman nodded her head toward Roxanne, whose groceries had dropped to her hip, and who stood and stared in complete confusion. "I see you've gone and got yourself a pretty, young play thing. Can't say I didn't expect that sort of scandal from the likes of you. Never were a proper clergyman."
While the priest blushed a deep shade of scarlet, a middle-aged man in a somber gray suit stepped up next to the woman, and took hold of her elbow, speaking in tones normally reserved for small, naughty children. "Now, now, Tessa. We promised to be on our best behavior, didn't we? This trip is a privilege, my dear, and you did gave me your word."
Tessa Peppers turned toward the fellow, and gave him her sweetest smile. "I'm so sorry, Dr. Branson. It's all the excitement, you know. Being back home. I promise. Best behavior."
For a second, Fr. Kevin wanted to pinch himself. Verify he was awake, and not still in bed, having one truly horrible nightmare. Tessa Peppers here? In Dollyville? Impossible. She was supposed to be securely locked away in some state hospital for the criminally insane. Not standing here on the front lawn of his church, shouting horrible accusations at him. A little voice in his head kept shouting, "Run, Kevin, run!" But the responsibility of his role as Pastor, and his need to not look like a chicken shit in front of Roxanne, kept his feet firmly grounded. He straightened his shoulders, and forced the words out of his mouth. "Mrs. Peppers...what a...surprise. It's...good to see you again. You're looking...well"
That was, of course, a major lie. The woman appeared as if she had aged a good ten years, even though she had only been gone for nearly eight months. She had lost a great deal of weight, and her skin hung on her like an old, thrift store suit. The wrinkles around her eyes had given birth to a whole new generation, and her bright silver hair, once a trademark sight amongst the town's movers and shakers, had yellowed to a dull gray. But if life in a prison hospital had taken toll on her appearance, it had done little to weaken her inner fire. She remained mean as hell.
"Why, thank you, Fr. O'Kenney. Wish I could return the compliment. But of course we both know I'd be lying. And lying is such a terrible sin." She gave him an exaggerated wink that made his skin crawl. "It seems like pastoral life agrees with you, Father. I don't remember that little pouch hanging over your belt being there when I left. Put on some weight, did we dear?"
Fr. Kevin subconsciously sucked in his gut, and then hated himself for doing so. He had put on a few pounds since Maureen's arrival last October. His sister was an excellent cook, and he was guilty of enjoying her talents a bit too much. He'd been telling himself for weeks that he needed to get back to his daily run, but without Beckett to join him, it felt like a bore. Now with Pepper's insult bouncing around in his head, he had new resolve to get moving, but before he could say as much, Dr. Branson interrupted, speaking directly to him.
"You must be wondering why we are here, Fr. O'Kenney. Allow me to explain. Mrs. Peppers has been accepted into a new program at North Sea Hospital, one that allows for extensive pet therapy. We believe that interaction between patient and loving animal helps develop a compassionate, altruistic bonding experience that so many of our patients lack. One in which we hope to transfer to feelings of concern for other human beings. It's an exciting new type of therapy, Father, and one I think would highly motivate our poor Mrs. Peppers." He patted the old woman on the hand to reinforce his conviction. "Tessa tells me that you have been so kind to as foster her West Highland White Terrier while she's been...away. We've come to retrieve her dog as part of this monumental experiment."
Kevin couldn't recall how many times he had heard the phrase, "his blood ran cold." Millions of times in B movies and cheap crime novels. He had always thought it was just a metaphor for extreme tension in a scene. But at that very moment, standing in front of crazy old "Peepers", he was pretty sure there was more to that statement than literary imagery. It was as if his body temperature had plummeted several degrees, turning him into a human popsicle. His brain seemed to be one large block of ice, unable to string two or three words into a complete sentence. How was he ever going to be able to tell her that her prized companion was just bits and pieces scattered over Beckett's lawn? Explain to her, and the good doctor, that another of the town's kooks had blown up her dog only days earlier.
Tessa seemed to hone in on his reactions a lot quicker than her benevolent doctor. She narrowed her eyes, and pointed an accusing finger. "I want my dog back, O'Kenney. I know you have him."
Kevin dumped his bag of groceries on the ground, and ran a hand through his hair. "Yes. It's true. I did give your dog a home. For a short while. But then, my sister came to live with me, and the dog...Basil...well, he seemed to prefer my sister's company to mine. So...ah...he went to live with her."
Branson nodded in sympathy. "That's not a problem, Father. Understandable, of course. Dogs select their 'masters' as much as we select them to act as companions. If you could please point us in the right direction, we'll go retrieve the dog from your sister, and be out of your hair."
|The view fro the penthouse patio|
So, when after dinner he suggested enjoying dessert on their penthouse patio, overlooking a moon glazed Caribbean Sea, what girl in her right mind would be the least bit suspicious? She dug through the myriad of shopping bags piled up after their afternoon forage of the hotels' boutiques, and pulled out a silk wrap in various shades of green and gold. Stripping down, and slipping into the belted robe, she climbed the stairs, and joined her husband on the roof.
From his spot on the patio, Beckett heard her rummaging through the bags stacked up on the sofa, and smiled. It was his guess she'd come up in the green and gold silk wrap. He had made it quite obvious that it was his favorite, and therefore, it should be her first choice. She was a delight, his beautiful Maureen. Wanting to please, but holding back with that backbone of steel. Just that right mix of loving submission, and head strong resolve. He was crazy about that woman. No doubt about it. And that might have been why he was feeling a tad bit guilty about what he was about to do.
None the less, it couldn't be helped. He'd like nothing more than to lose himself in all that pale flesh and sweet devotion. But the courier operation had a short window of opportunity, and timing was everything. There would be plenty of time later to enjoy the new husband role when the job was completed. Unlike previous missions, this one was a simple meet and exchange. Hand over the case, get a thumb drive in return. Intel said the mark was a trusted source, a low level mule who reported back to others who held the power. From experience, Beckett knew it would be stupid to let his guard down. This was Mexico, where a man could have his throat cut over an expensive pair of running shoes as easily as an issue over several kilos of crack. You could never be sure, and that is why he needed Maureen to stay safely out of the way.
He removed the vial from the inside pocket of his suit coat, and added four drops to the cup of de-caf coffee on the table. He had been adamant that the drug be entirely safe for pregnant woman, and thus, was forced to use one that lasted only five hours. If all went as planned, he'd be back in the bed next to her before she woke up the following morning, none the wiser, and thinking she had succumbed to blissful exhaustion.
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
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