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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sneak Peek Wednesday...Plus (7-31-13)

                       
A deserted ladies room at the Park West Hotel
     With her one hand, she held the bag of ice in place, and with the other, tugged off the wig and cap, and shoved it in her bag,  The bruise was going to be nasty, running from under her left eye, all the way to her temple, and already blooming in dusty shades of purple, red, and gray.  Using a full bristled brush, she buffed in a thick layer of foundation over the earlier application, going for maximum coverage.

      It was her own fault.  She had underestimated the dosage of Ketamine required to put the man down, giving Porter an easy opportunity to take a few brutal swings.  Realizing there was to be no play time, and that he had been set up by the tiny brunette, the catering manager's anger turned to outright violence.  Grabbing her by the hair, he had gotten in one solid punch, before she could connect her stiletto heeled foot with his groin.  He spent the next several minutes rolling on the floor, succumbing at last to the effects of the drug.  Shame on her for being less than prepared, but when the bastard woke up in about six hours, he wouldn't be using his dick for awhile, in addition to nursing several broken ribs.

      She had chosen this particular ladies room because it was tucked at the far end of the lobby, and no where near the hotel ballroom where the wedding reception was being held.  Expecting complete privacy, she was shocked when the door squeaked open, and a tall, shapely woman joined her in the restroom.  It was obvious that the other woman wasn't planning on company either, as she suddenly stopped, her face a startled reflection in the mirror...

________________________________

Hello Dear Readers...

    By now, I'm sure you have finally figured out that Ted and Maureen's wedding reception will offer a number of sub-plot complications, and a great deal of drama.  That being said, I thought I'd use Sneak Peek Wednesday to review the list of O'Kenney siblings, their spouses, and their children, as many of them will be mentioned in the upcoming storyline.  

     As always, I am extremely grateful for your continuing support of my "mini" literary endeavor.
     Best Wishes,
          Vicki

 Patrick John O'Kenney  Jr.-age 46  married 24 yrs to Eileen Ann Kellan -age 44 (currently  separated for the past 6 months)
 Children    Ian Patrick age 22    Colin John  age 20
 Patrick is lead counsel for the Archdiocese of Boston 
 Eileen teaches 3rd grade at Cathedral School

James (Jamie) Thomas O'Kenney -age 42 married 21 years to Kathleen (Katie) Louise Murphy-age 39
Children   Michael James- age 20    Elizabeth Ann- age 17    Patrick Thomas age- 15  
John William- age 12    Mary Margaret- age 10
Jamie is a homicide detective for the Boston PD
Katie is a stay at home mom, and a breast cancer survivor

Sean Michael O'Kenney -age 38 married 16 years to Jane Marie Callaghan age 34
Children  Patricia Jane -age 15   Linda Marie- age 13   Michelle Elizabeth- age 10  
Sean Michael Jr.- age 7
Sean is a Journeyman Electrician
Jane sells real estate part time

William Matthew O'Kenney-age 36  married 8 years to Claire Frances Kennedy-age 32
Children    William Matthew Jr. -age 7     Twins  Connor Thomas- age 5   Andrew Francis-age 5
William is a licensed plumber with his own business, "Waterworks Plumbing"
Claire is a stay at home mom,  currently expecting baby # 4

Daniel Stephen O'Kenney- age 34  single
Daniel is an attorney, an associate with Kendall, McEnerney, and Fitzgibbons

Brendan Samuel O'Kenney- age 33  married 10 years to Sarah Alice Fraiser-age 30 
Children   Brianna Marie -age 8   Maeve Elizabeth -age 6
Brendan is a patrolman with the Boston PD 
Sarah is a stay at home mom, expecting baby #3, and teaches children's piano lessons in her home 

Fr. Kevin Seamus O'Kenney-age 31  single 
Kevin is a Catholic priest and current Pastor of Holy Family Church, Dollyville, Massachusetts

Maureen Margaret O'Kenney -age 25 married to Theodore Henton Beckett-age 34
Maureen holds a Masters in Social Work from Boston College, and is currently employed by Schiller's Deli of Dollyville, Massachusetts.
Ted is Sheriff of Dollyville, Massachusetts, and is heir to "Hennie's Pennies", a chain of big box stores located on the East Coast.  According to recent revelations made to his wife, Beckett is also employed in some capacity by the United States government.





Saturday, July 27, 2013

Phase Two

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.

Thank You,

   The Author                                         

Cassie comes to town on Ted and Maureen's rainy wedding day
     The rain had turned to a light drizzle by the time she pulled into the Park West Hotel.  The lot was crowded, a fact she was grateful for, leaving her the covert opportunity to park in a corner furthest from the entrance.  Here, nestled amongst the multitude of cars, the dark blue Lexus would just be one of many non-descript vehicles.  She congratulated herself for thinking ahead, and swapping the Florida plates for another set, these from Alabama, at a rest stop on the way up.  If Beckett had somehow managed to deduce her car theft, he would at least be looking for a different set of numbers, even if he'd discovered the make and model of the stolen automobile.

     Before heading to the hotel, Cassie Donaghue had driven past Holy Family, not slowing down enough to draw attention, but allowing enough time to verify that the bridal party was still busy inside the church.  A group of guests had gathered outside under the shield of several umbrellas, apparently waiting to shower the newlyweds with rice, or birdseed, or whatever the hell was being used these days.  Amongst the friends and family, she could make out a handful of sizable men, strategically set around the church perimeter.  Although they were clad like everyone else, they had the rapt attention and guarded posture of someone on the job, not to mention a slight bulge under their jackets that  screamed "I'm hiding something bad".

     She smirked at the bastard's less than slick attempt at security.  If he thought a couple of boulder shouldered goons were going to deter her plans, then he wasn't quite as brilliant as she had once thought.  She'd faced professionals before.  Hell...she had outwitted a crime lord for nearly three years.  His sophomoric ideas of ensuring safety were downright laughable.  Besides, the fates were, without a doubt, on her side.  The horrible weather, and road delay, had turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  For all intensive purposes, Plan B was the sounder of the two, and once again, she patted herself on the back for having the foresight to set up alternatives to the C4 idea.

    Explosives were the fastest and easiest solution, and her father had always praised their big job mentality.  But the use of something as volatile as C4 required both careful set up, and general privacy, both of which were at a premium in the current situation.  In addition, a blast like that usually came with extensive casualties, and in this case, her desired victims were part of a short list.  She didn't really need to take out half the town with them, although she wouldn't have minded seeing that self-righteous prick of a priest blown to a million pieces.  She had never liked the man, beginning with their first meeting last summer.  He had always seemed to be looking down his nose at her, judging her as if he had any right at all.  When she thought about it, this whole mess was entirely his fault.  It was that damn, interfering Fr. O'Kenney who had pushed his skanky sister at Teddy, offering her up like she was some cheap raffle prize at Sunday Bingo.

    Yes, Plan B was definitely the way to go, despite its distasteful side effect.  And it wasn't as if she hadn't pimped herself out before.  It was simply a means to an end, a path she had willingly taken on more occasions then she could count.  When she set a goal, it needed to be reached... no matter what the cost or complication. And who knew?  Maybe the catering manager would turn out not to be nearly as gross as he had looked and sounded, when she sought him out in that kink chat room earlier last week.

     Decision made, Cas grabbed the large handbag next to her, and began sorting out what she would need.  Doing this in the cramped front seat of the car was not optimum, but driving around looking for a deserted restroom would take far too much time.  She needed to be well situated inside the hotel, before the bride and groom made their way there.  Checking in all directions, she verified that she was alone before beginning the process.  Using a heavy band, Cassie bundled her dark hair in a smooth pony, then slipped the tight wig cap over it, tucking any stray ends under the edges.  Satisfied her own hair was contained, she pulled on the short, silver gray wig, its ends cut in an angled bob just below chin level.  Using the vanity mirror on the visor, she tugged and shifted until the hair piece stayed tightly in place.

      Next came the contact lenses, changing her blue eyes to a muddy brown, which would eventually be topped by a pair of over sized, non-prescription glasses with tortoise frames.  From an open make-up case on her lap, she quickly thickened her brows, added a heavy dark slash of liner, and shadowed the lids.  She considered using dental cotton to pad out her upper lip, but decided against it, not quite sure what the online man might have in mind.  It wouldn't do to have a wad of saliva soaked mess fall out of her mouth at some inopportune time.

       Finished with her face, she pulled out the white chef's coat from a shopping bag on the back seat.  Stopping in Connecticut for the item had cost her precious time, but it was the piece de' resistance of the disguise, and doubled to cover her tiny frame, giving her an all over, boxy appearance that was much bulkier than she actually was.  She threw the lanyard with the Park West ID over her head, and giving  a final once over look in the mirror, she headed for the employee entrance.

       As expected, she was stopped by a thug with an over sized neck, who was busy checking a list of names attached to his clipboard.

       "'Excuse me, ma'am.  I'll need to see some identification."

         Cassie held up the employee ID for him to see.

         "Thank you, ma'am.  I'll also need to see your driver's license, please."

         "My license?  Whatever for?"

         "Special security policy, ma'am.  I'd appreciate your compliance."

          With a loud tisk, Cas dug through her bag, producing the fake driver's license she had created before leaving Florida the day before.  "This is really a damn pain in the ass, you know.  Standing here in the rain, dealing with this bullshit.  I've worked here for six frickn' years!"

       Taking the offered card, he checked her appearance against the photo on the license.  For a second, she worried that she might not look exactly the same.  When she had taken the photo at home on her computer, there had been a great deal more time to fuss with her make-up. But the thug didn't seem to notice, and with a grunt, attempted to match the name on the license, with the list on his clipboard.  When he couldn't find it, he handed her back the card, and with an insincere apology, added, "Sorry, ma'am.  Your name's not on this list.  I'm gonna have to refuse you admittance.

       "What do you mean you're refusing my admittance?  I told you...I work here!  I have an ID, for Christ sake!  This is ridiculous."

         "Look, lady.  If your name is not on the list, you're not getting in until Monday.  End of discussion."

       "That's complete nonsense.  This is a freakn' hotel.  People are coming and going all the time.  That's the damn purpose of the place.  Guests come here to stay."

        "Not this week end, it 'ain't.  The hotel has been completely booked out for the next 32 hours.  For a private affair.  So if your name isn't here...", the man tapped a pencil at the clipboard, "you shouldn't come back until Monday morning."

         None of this was a surprise to her.  Today, everything was digitized, so she was privy to all this information long before she had reached this point.  But for her plan to work, she needed to convince the dick in front of her that she was just a disgruntled, shrieking employee.  "Listen, pal.  I don't know anything about any list.  Saturday's my usual day off, but this morning I got a call from Jeff to come in special.  Seems there's some la de da party today, and he's short a sous chef.  So I drag my sorry ass out of bed to come work, and now you're giving me shit about some damn list!  Can you at least check with my boss?  Jeff Porter.  He's the catering manager here at the Park West.  He can vouch for me."

       "Sorry, ma'am.  Orders are orders."

        A tiny seed of worry began to wiggle around in her head.  What if she couldn't get this guy to at least call over Porter?  This whole operation centered on her getting access to the hotel's kitchen, but to do that she had to first get through the damned front door.  With past problems of this sort, she had used seduction to work around them.  But dressed like this, that was not an option.  She was pretty sure he wasn't going to drop his post...or his drawers...for what he had already decided was a middle aged, frumpy cook.  She'd need to try a different approach.

       Cassie leaned against the wall, and rubbed her eyes, scratching the inner lid as she did so.  The poke made them tear, and she whimpered in her best distressed damsel voice.  "This just figures.  Everything in my life is shit."  The tears turned to  actual weeping, and the man looked uncomfortable.  Encouraged by his attention, she laid it on thick.  "I'm sorry...but things have been so awful.  My husband walked out on us...me and our son...a month ago.  My Davey...he's sick.  Has... cerebral palsy, and he needs so much care.  I'm at my wit's end.  I really need the overtime, and now, I can't even get to my job because I'm not on some stupid list."  Her sobs turned to wails, and the goon, not wanting to deal with her on his own, signaled to a another team member 50 feet away.

        Walking over to the entrance, the second thug made a face at the situation.  "What's the problem?  Our orders were clear enough."

          Mr. Goon, shrugged, and looked sheepish.  "Her ID and license check out, but she's not on the list.  Says she was called in last minute."

         "You know the drill.  Only the people on the list gain admittance."

         "Yeah, I understand that.  But she says the catering manager can vouch for her.  Can we maybe do a visual?"  He lowered his voice, and added, "I hate to be a prick with this woman.  She says she's got a sick kid.  Husband dumped her, and she needs the cash.  Besides, she doesn't look anything like the target.  Not even remotely.  And like I said, her IDs all check out."

         "You know how the Colonel is about orders.  He'll have our balls if we screw up."

         "Yeah, but on the other hand, you know how he hates when we mess with civilians.  Plus, if she's supposed to cook for this wedding, I sure as hell don't want to tell him it's our fault that his wedding dinner was all fucked up."  When Thug #2 hesitated, Mr. Goon added, "It's no big deal.  Keep an eye on her while I go find the catering manager.  If he can give us a visual confirmation that she's who she says she is, than the problem is solved.  Everybody stays happy...and we don't have to bother the Colonel, or crazy Nolan, at all."

      Thug #2 thought a moment, and then nodded his agreement.  "Go then.  But hurry the hell up.  I need to get back to the other post ASAP."

       Cassie dried her eyes, careful not to smear the heavy make-up, and watched Mr. Goon enter the building in search of Porter.  Stupid asshole.  Teddy should really have taken better care in picking his security detail.  She straightened up, and spoke to Thug #2.  "I really appreciate this.  It's just so...complicated."

       The man made a face, and folded his arms across his chest, but didn't comment further.  They stood in the drizzle for several minutes, before Mr. Goon returned with the catering manager in tow.  Cassie's stomach dropped.  Porter was a whole lot worse than his limited appearance on their Skype chat.  Grossly overweight, he was one of those men who insisted on wearing his pants below his hanging belly.  Seeing him in person, the thought crossed her mind that maybe she had underestimated the dose of Ketamine, but there was little she could do about it now.  She smiled at him, and tried to ignore the greasy slicked back hair, or the oozing, rubbed raw acne along his jaw line.

       Porter leered back at her, and she worked at tamping down the rising bile, while Mr. Goon questioned them both in the presence of the other security guy. "So Mr. Porter, can you verify that this woman is Susan Santine?  And that you added her to the kitchen staff just this morning?"

     "Why...yes.  Of course, this is our Susan."  Like the dumb ass he was, Cassie watched him wink at her, and worried that the two men would think it odd.  "I called her in...at the last minute.  We're short a pastry chef."

      Thug #2 was instantly on his stumble.  "Pastry chef?  I thought she was a sous chef?"

      Realizing his mistake, Porter turned red, and stammered over his answer,  Next to him, Cassie's anxiety level rose, sure that this idiot was going to blow the whole operation.  "Did I say pastry?  I meant sous chef. Sue's the best the Park West has on staff.  I'm sorry, guys.  This morning's been a cluster fuck.  I got dinner for 400 people to worry about, and a pastry chef who thinks he God's gift to the banquet world.  I just had a major blow out with the guy, and he's still on my mind.  I apologize for my error.  But let me assure you, this is definitely Susan Santine, she's a long time employee of the Park West, and I most assuredly called her in at the last minute because I ended up short handed."

       Thug #2 was still not satisfied.  "You are aware, Mr. Porter, that security is tight at this event, and that you were supposed to clear any changes ahead of time."

       Porter ran a hand through his greasy mop, then wiped his palm in his pant leg.  "Yeah, I am sorry about the mix-up guys.  Sheriff Beckett was pretty clear on that, but like I said, the morning's been a disaster, and this monsoon weather hasn't helped.  I meant to call that Mr. Nolan this morning, but honestly, among all the other shit happening, it totally skipped my mind.  And I'd really appreciate it if you wouldn't mention this fuck-up to the General Manager.  The guy's a total jerk.  He'd have my ass for it for sure."

      The security guys looked at each other, and then Thug #2 gave a nod.  "Okay, she can go in.  But if anything else comes up, you need to notify us immediately.  Are we clear?"

       "Absolutely, gentlemen.  I'll come see you personally."  He grabbed Cassie's wrist.  "Let's get going...Susan.  We have lots to do...and so little time."  Pulling her through the employee entrance, Cassie could only wave her thanks to the security detail, while the voice inside her head screamed, Are you crazy, girl?  This guy is a genuine creep.  Porter tugged at her to hurry, not stopping anywhere, but proceeding directly to his tiny office, and then locking the door behind him.

        Before she could take the lead, the disgusting tub of lard pushed her up against the wall, and began groping her boobs through the chef's jacket.  "Hey, baby.  That costume is pretty damn good.  I almost didn't recognize ya out there.  Good thing you you sent me that 'selfie' before that asshole came and found me.  Otherwise, I mighta taken one look, and tossed ya a Milk Bone."  He laughed at his own joke, and she tried not to gag on the putrid smell of coffee, tobacco and something rotting, wafting from his mouth.  When she didn't respond to his attempt at humor, he gave her boob an extra sharp twist. "I hope you brought everything you promised."

        "I said I would, and I did.  But when we're done, I get full access to the hotel kitchen.  That was the deal."

         "Sure, baby. No problem.  Just gotta promise me you ain't plannin' anything illegal."  He pushed against her, grinding the lower half of his body into hers, and the nausea gurgled in the back of throat.

          "No, 'Master'.  Nothing illegal.  Just some payback for a two-timing shit head ex-boyfriend."

        At the use of the term "Master", Porter leered, then leaned over and licked her face. "Let me see the cuffs.  They better be the real McCoy.  Not those cheap ass novelty ones from China."

          Cassie dug into her bag, and pulled out a shiny set of regulation handcuffs.  "See.  They're right here." These used to belong to Teddy.  It seems like irony that  I'm using them today.  Definitely Karma.

           The man reached for the restraints, but Cassie jerked them back, and tossed them in her bag.  "Not so fast...Sir."  Choking on the words, she drew in a breath, and mustered up every once of her acting ability.  "You didn't plan on us staying here, did you?  Right here in your office?"  It was imperative that she get him somewhere else in the hotel.  In a room where he wouldn't be found for at least three or four hours, giving her enough time to take care of business, and quickly disappear before anyone was the wiser.

         Porter pulled back, and growled at her.  "You're not trying to Top from the Bottom, are you, bitch?  'Cause if that's what your into, the deal's off.  I get enough of that shit from my Old Lady"

         With a sweet smile on her face, Cas ran a hand over his pitted skin.  "Course not, Sir.  It's just...I like to play... a long time."  She gave him time to let the implications sink in, and then continued.  "Someone is sure to come looking for you here.  We'd never have enough alone time in your office to...properly enjoy ourselves.  Besides, I'm kind of a screamer.  It wouldn't do to have someone hear us, would it?"  Seeing that her words were having an impact, she went in for the kill.  "This is a hotel, after all.  I'm thinkn' Daddy can find us a room somewhere real private."

       He approved of the idea.  This was apparent in the sweat beading on his upper lip, and the increased grinding going on below.  "Maybe you got a good idea, baby."  Porter ran his tongue over the other of her face, and straightened up.   "You wait here like a good girl.  I'll go see what I can dig up for us."  With a final pinch to her ass, he was out the door, leaving Cassie struggling to keep from throwing up.

         When she was sure he wasn't coming back for awhile, she dug around in her bag for a bottle of hand sanitizer, and scrubbed the saliva off her face.  She'd have to fix her make-up before heading to the kitchen, but the thought of his spit on her face made her shudder.  Washed of his body fluids, she felt calmer, and prepared the rest of her materials.  She removed the full syringe of Ketamine, tapping it to remove the air bubbles, and then checking that the little plastic tip covering the needle was firmly in place.  Opening the chef's jacket, she stuck the syringe inside her padded bra, tucking it near the band so it wouldn't be obvious if things got far enough for her to be in her underwear.  Once they were in the room, she'd find a way to stick the disgusting sonofabitch.  ASAP.  The Ketamine worked quickly, and he'd be out like a light for at least six hours.  With Porter taken care of, she could could comfortably proceed to the hotel kitchen for phase two.

__________________________________

         The rain had turned to a light drizzle by the time the photographer was finishing the last of the portraits at church.  Fr. Kevin watched as the man fanned out his sister's dress for the third time, going back and forth to check its appearance in the camera's lens.  The guy was a fanatic about the details, and the photos had taken way longer than anyone had anticipated.  The guests outside in the rain were getting antsy as well as soaked, and it was a miracle that the groom was not fussing about the constant posing, as Beckett was rarely patient about anything.

       Whatever had gone on between the bride and the groom earlier in the day, was now obviously forgotten.  The newlyweds were the picture of wedded bliss, almost to the point of being over the top ridiculous. Neither of them could keep their hands off the other, and the photographer was more than annoyed at having to wait to take his shot while the two of them carried on with the "kissy-face" and fondling.  Beckett was constantly moving his hands away from where they had been placed by the camera man, with them always ending up on the bride's derriere.  Seeing the poor man's exasperation, Kevin spoke up, chiding his brother-in-law to remove his hands from his wife's ass, so that they could be done with the photos, and head to the reception.

     Beckett's response was to remove his hands from her rear, and place them instead on her boobs, remarking with a grin, "You're right, Kev.  This is much better." This caused the bride to giggle and half-heartedly attempt to swat him away, as her husband put his head back and laughed.  The photographer, in frustration, threw up his hands, and declared the shoot over, warning that he'd need better cooperation at the reception if they intended to have any kind of decent record of their wedding day.

      Fr. O'Kenney was sure that the man expected he, as a clergyman, to concur, and to aid in the scolding of the couple for their inappropriate behavior.  But in his role as brother of the bride, he couldn't bring himself to rain on their happy parade.  In truth, it had been a very long time since he had seen his Mo this happy and exuberant.  Their mother's declining health, and that heart breaking situation in Boston, had sucked the very joy from her soul, and watching now, the way her eyes lit up and misted every time she looked at her new husband, made his heart swell.  If she wanted to act silly and romantic on her wedding day, damned if he was going to be the one to tell her not to.

         Maureen's behavior was a delight to watch, but it was Beckett's manner that surprised him the most.  The entire time Kevin had known him, Ted had always held himself in check, never fully allowing anyone to read his feelings.  It was almost as if he presented to the world only what he wanted to reveal in that moment, and nothing more.  This morning had been no different.  The man showed up calm and confident as usual, his face a mask that defied expression.  Even during the awkward moments of the delayed bride, he had shown almost no reaction.  But with Maureen's appearance at the back of the church, something changed.  It was apparent first in his relaxed body language, and later in his jovial banter.  A type of giddiness that was hard to explain, and fascinating to watch.  He prayed this was a sign that Beckett's feelings for his baby sister were solid and honest, because up until that point, he couldn't have sworn they were.
                                             
Wedding photos at church...The bride and groom with Maeve, the flower girl (Brendan O'Kenney's youngest daughter)
                         
Maureen and her niece, Mary Margaret (Jamie O'Kenney's youngest child)
         Giving up any hope of support, the photographer began packing up his equipment, while the bride and groom made their way outside.  He could hear Maureen fussing about puddles, and fretting over wet feet and a muddy hemline, to which her husband responded by lifting her up, and carrying her to the limo, much to the excitement of the crowd, who pelted the couple with a barrage of birdseed, while the bride shrieked and laughed.

      Kevin followed behind them, locking up the church, and digging the keys of his rental car out of his pocket.  He was interrupted by his brother, Jamie, who looked as if he had something pressing on his mind.

       "You done, here Kev?"

       "Yeah.  The photographer had enough.  The happy couple were doing their best to drive the man crazy."

        "Imagine that.  Red the Wrecker not following directions.  Who knew?"  They both chuckled, and
then Jamie got serious.  "You got a minute?  I have to run something by you."

         "Sure.  What's up?"  The two men moved under the church's front awning, and out of the rain.  "Were you aware that Patrick brought a date?"

         "What do you mean 'a date'?  Like a woman date?"

         "Ummm...yeah.  That's usually the way it goes.  He's telling everyone that you introduced them."

         "I introduced them?  That's bullsh..."  Remembering where he was, he corrected his verbiage.  "Honestly, Jamie...I don't what you're talking about.  I haven't seen Pat since April.  Who is this woman?"

           "He introduced her as Caroline Ryan.  Ring any bells?"

           Kevin stood there confused, trying to recall when he had ever introduced his oldest brother to any woman under the age of 65.  And then, the light dawned.  "Is she a tall, willowy brunette?  With dimples?"

       "Sounds like her.  A real looker.  So, I guess you did hook them up.

       Indignant at being unfairly accused, Fr. Kevin blustered.  "I did no such thing.  That woman was the private nurse Ted Beckett hired for Pat's care after the heart attack.  I met her the same time Pat did, and I barely said twenty words to the woman.  She seemed completely professional anytime I was around.  Although, I have to say, I was surprised at what a model patient our brother was when she was present.  So not his usual style."

      "Well, the fact is, Kevin, Eileen came to this wedding by herself, and even though they've been living apart, she's mortified that Patrick has moved on to the "seeing other people" stage, especially so publicly at a family wedding.   Now, I'm getting all kinds of hell from my Katie who's insisting she's not sitting at the same table with 'that no good bastard' brother of mine, or the 'floozy' he brought with him.  You see the spot I'm in?  And you better believe if Katie is crabbing, the others will join right in.  That's the way it always is.  They stick together."

       "I'm not sure what it is you want me to do, Jamie."

       "Can't you just talk to Pat, or something?  Explain how this is really awkward for the rest of the family?  You're a priest, Kev.  Shouldn't you be able to make people fell guilty about being bad?  I'm sure they taught you that stuff in seminary school."

        Kevin ran a hand over his face in frustration.  It was always this way.  His brothers making him feel somehow weird and different.   As if he weren't just a normal person with a different path.  That's what made him like his new brother-in-law so much.  Beckett treated him the same way he treated any other guy, and didn't make him feel out of place.  "Pat's not going to listen to anything I say.  He never has.  Besides, it's not like he can ask the woman to leave after he invited her  That would be crazy rude, and Maureen would have a fit."

        "Geez,  there's gotta be something you can do.  We've been looking forward to this wedding for weeks.  It's not everyday our baby sister gets married.  Plus, it's a treat havin' someone else pick up the tab for a weekend at a swanky hotel.  A group of us kinda arranged for all the kids to share a coupe of rooms, with the older ones in charge.  Gives us married coupes a little privacy, and some vacation time alone, if ya know what I mean.  But that sure as hell ain't gonna happen if our wives aren't speaking to us over this 'other woman' thing.   Come 'on, Kevin.  Help us out here."

        As things had always been, Kevin found himself relenting, handling the dirty work no one else wanted to take on.  "I suppose I could try and see if we could move Patrick and his date to the bridal table.  At least then the wives wouldn't have to sit with her.  But I have to say, it seems extremely childish and petty of them to act that way toward Ms. Ryan.  They don't even know the woman."

        Jamie slapped him on the back.  "I get what your saying, Kev.  But you don't understand women, like us married guys do.  They get something in their head, there's no shaking it.  You either deal with it, or you stay single.  I know this chick stuff is all foreign to you, but it's like this big cycle of life.  If the little lady ain't happy, then nobody's gonna be happy.  Understand what I'm sayn'?"

        Tired of the whole conversation, Fr. Kevin just nodded.  Thank you, Jamie, for making me feel more like an outsider in my own family than I already do.  Appreciate it, Bro.   "I can't promise anything, but I'll see what I can do."

         "Knew we could count on you, Fr. Kevin.  Thanks, buddy.  Do you need a ride over to the reception?'

          "No.  I'm gong to take the car I rented.  I'm not staying at the hotel for the night.  I have Sunday morning Masses, so I'm going back to the rectory this evening."

           "Oh, yeah.  I forgot about that.  What time is the latest Mass?"

           "10:30.  Why?"

            Jamie scrunched up his face, and then sheepishly admitted, "That's kinda early after a big night, Father.  Any chance you could say Mass just for the family later in the day?"

           "I suppose I could.  I'd guess a lot of people might take advantage of that."

           His older brother gave his back another slap.  "Thanks, Kevin.  You're the best.  Nothing like having your own private priest in the family.  Almost as good as having a plumber and an electrician."

        With a laugh, Jamie turned and headed out the door, leaving Fr. O'Kenney standing alone in the front of his church, pondering what other drama "phase two" of this wedding day could possibly bring.

____________________________________

     The rain had turned to a light drizzle by the the time Roxanne Spinelli figured out she was totally lost.  Brendan O'Kenney's directions from the church to the Park West, scribbled on the back of an old
gasoline receipt, were less than accurate, and she found herself driving in circles for nearly 30 minutes.  In his defense, he had suggested that she wait and follow his car to the reception, but doing so meant risking the possibility that she might come face to face with his brother Kevin, and the plan was to avoid that at all costs.

      She was sure that he had seen her when she first walked into the church.  Had even made eye contact for several seconds, with she being the first to look away.  Then, both of them had gone to extremes to avoid having it happen again.  It was weird enough watching him say Mass, but even stranger to see him try and do it without ever glancing toward the section she was sitting.  She was probably going straight to hell for thinking this, but she wondered what he would do if she suddenly showed up in front of him in line for Communion, face to face.  Now that would be a hoot.  Of course, she'd never actually do it.  But it sure as hell would be fun to try.

      It wasn't only seeing her childhood crush looking all priest like behind the altar that was odd.  The whole freaking wedding was straight out of some TV sitcom.  Nobody seemed to know why the bride was so late in coming down aisle, and the groom just stood there, not doing a single thing to find out where the hell she was.  Then there was the crazy way Patrick O'Kenney had his arm wrapped like a vise around poor Maureen's, practically dragging her up to the front of the church.  But the real corker came when the ceremony began.  Kevin had asked the bride and groom to join hands, and out of the clear blue, with no warning, Maureen went into a major crying jag.  Not just a few sniffles, or some tears escaping the corners.  That stuff might be expected given the emotion of the day.   Nope.  This was a full blown melt down, a weeping and wailing, sobs from the soul type episode.  Crazy stuff, for sure.

     She looked at the time through the cracked glass of the clock on the dash board.  This was getting ridiculous.  If she didn't find this damn hotel soon, she'd be late for sure.  Then she'd have to walk through the reception after everyone was already seated.  People staring.  And whispering.  Just like the awful nightmare she had a few nights back.

     In the dream, she couldn't seem to get through the doors of the banquet room, no matter how hard she tried.  When they finally opened, she walked through, and suddenly the room turned silent.  Then, Maureen's new husband, who she never even met, stood on the same table with the wedding cake, pointing at her and shouting,  Hey, isn't that  Ravishing Roxie, the stripper chick from Ruby's?  No one said a word, just stared at her like she had three heads, until a man wearing a chicken suit came out of nowhere yelling,  Take off your clothes, girlie.  Then we'll know for sure.  In the dream, she ended up standing there stark naked, while every clapped.   Then Kevin ran into the room, seven feet tall, his hair in a long red pony tail, and dressed in his basketball uniform from high school.  He was waving a giant gold cross at her, yelling Get out, naked sinner.  Be gone from here.  That's when she woke up, drenched in sweat, her heart pounding.
                                             
A scene from Roxie's crazy nightmare...Beckett on the table with the wedding cake
       Even thinking about it now made her queasy, and it crossed her mind to turn the car around and head back to Boston.  Forget about the damn reception, and any of the pain in the ass O'Kenneys.  There were sure to be hundreds of people at that celebration.  It wasn't as if anyone would notice whether she were there or not.  Decision made, she pulled up to the next light, with the thought of making a "U-ie" back towards the expressway.  As she waited for the red to change, a silver Toyota pulled up next to her, the driver staring straight at her.  The man in the car was void of any long pony tail.  Just normal guy hair, the color of a shiny new penny.  Very nice hair, as a matter of fact.  And he was wearing an ordinary dark suit, like any other.  Completely normal, except, maybe, for the band of white at his throat.

        In the car next to her, Kevin O'Kenney rolled down the window, and shouted, "Are you on your way to the reception?"

         Not wanting to admit she was planning on ditching, she yelled back, "Yes.  But I seem to be lost. I've gone by here a dozen times, but I don't see the hotel."

          He smiled, and it hit her like a blow to the stomach.  "Yeah, it's kinda tricky.  You have to veer to the right at the next turn, then follow the road up to the hotel entrance.  The building is set back from the street.  Why don't you just follow me?"

          "Ummmm...well, okay.  I guess I can do that.  Uh...thanks."  Smooth, Roxie.  Real smooth.  You sound like an idiot.

            Fr. Kevin gave her another grin, and a thumbs up signal, then rolled up the window.  The light changed to green, and she let him pull in front of her.  Then, against every once of better judgement, Roxie slipped in behind Toyota, moving toward phase two of a certifiably weird ass day.

                                   
Maureen and Ted arrive at their wedding reception

   Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
   All Rights Reserved
     



         


     

       

     

       




   

   

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sneak Peek Wednesday (7-24-13)

                 
Cassie arrives in Dollyville... on Ted and Maureen's rainy wedding day
           
    The rain had turned to a slow drizzle by the time she pulled into the Park West Hotel.  The lot was crowded, a fact Cassie was grateful for, leaving her the covert opportunity to park in a corner furthest from the entrance.  Here, nestled amongst the multitude of cars, the dark blue Lexus would just be one of many non-descript vehicles.  She congratulated herself for thinking ahead, and swapping the Florida plates for another set, these from Alabama, at a rest stop on the way up.  If Beckett had somehow managed to deduce her car theft plan, he would at least be looking for a different set of numbers, even if he'd discovered the make and model of the stolen automobile.

     Before heading to the hotel, Cassandra Donaghue had driven past Holy Family, not slowing down enough to draw attention, but allowing enough time to verify that the bridal party was still busy inside the church.  A group of guests had gathered outside under the shield of several umbrellas, apparently waiting to shower the newlyweds with rice, or birdseed, or whatever the hell was being used these days.  Amongst the friends and family, she could make out a handful of sizable men, strategically set around the church perimeter.  Although they were clad like everyone else, they had the rapt attention, and guarded posture of someone on the job, not to mention a slight bulge under their jackets that screamed "I'm hiding something bad".

     She smirked at the bastard's less than slick attempt at security.  If he thought a couple of boulder shouldered goons were going to deter her plans, than he wasn't quite as brilliant as she had once thought.  She'd faced professionals before.  Hell...she had outwitted a crime lord for nearly three years.  His unimaginative ideas of ensuring safety were downright laughable.  Besides, the fates were, without a doubt, on her side.  The horrible weather, and road delay, had turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  For all intensive purposes, Plan B was the sounder of the two, and once again, she patted herself on the back for having the foresight to set up alternatives to the C4 idea.

    Explosives were the fastest and easiest solution, and her father had always praised their big job mentality.  But the use of something as volatile as C4 required both careful set up, and general privacy, both of which were at a premium in the current situation.  In addition, a blast like that usually came with extensive casualties, and in this case, her desired victims were part of a short list.  She didn't really need to take half the town with them, although she wouldn't have minded seeing that self-righteous prick of a priest blown to a million pieces.  She had never liked the man, beginning with their first meeting last summer.  He had always seemed to be looking down his nose at her, judging her as if he had any right at all.  When she thought about it, this whole mess was entirely his fault.  It was that damn, interfering Fr. O'Kenney who had pushed his skanky sister at Teddy, offering her up like she was some cheap raffle prize at Sunday Bingo.

    Yes, Plan B was definitely the way to go, despite its distasteful side effect.  And it wasn't as if she hadn't pimped herself out before.  It was simply a means to an end, a path she had traveled more occasions then she could count...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"We've Only Just Begun...Part 2"

                         
Fr. Kevin readys the church for his sister's wedding
     At twenty minutes before two,  Fr. Kevin O'Kenney parked himself in the the front of the church, and waited for the remainder of the guests to make their way to a seat.  A final check showed everything in order, and it looked as though, just maybe, they would be able to start somewhat on time. The O'Kenneys were not known to be particularly prompt, and he fully expected to see people still wandering in well after the bride had made her big entrance.  He glanced over at the front row of the bride's side of the church, unable to keep a smile from spreading across his face.  Seeing his mother wheeled down the aisle, a team of medical staff in tow, had been a joyful shock, and he still wasn't sure how Beckett had pulled it off.

      It had been Maureen's greatest disappointment to learn that their mother would be unable to make the  trip to Dollyville for the wedding.  In the past few weeks, her condition had deteriorated to the point where her doctor had strongly advised against a two hour car ride, especially without proper medical supervision.  Not wanting to risk her mother's health, or put the burden of her care on any one of her siblings, the bride sadly resigned herself to the fact that neither of her parents would be there on her wedding day.

       But somehow, Beckett had made it happen.  His mother arrived, not by traditional limousine, but by private ambulance, complete with her physician, a nurse, and two orderlies.  And although she hadn't known who he was, the fact that she was in attendance, hair done and wearing a pretty summer dress, surrounded by all her children and grandchildren, made the day sweeter than anyone could have anticipated.  Tucked away in the Bride Room for the past hour, Maureen would be unaware of her arrival, and he couldn't wait to see her expression when she came down the aisle on Patrick's arm, and saw her Mama sitting there in the front row.

      Kevin stole a peek at his watch, and wondered where the groom had gotten off to.  He had seen him come in a half hour ago, but since then, hadn't spotted him anywhere amongst the crowd. The organist began her pre-ceremony repertoire, and the Knights began lining up in the vestibule.  He turned his attention to the left of the chapel, where an usher was seating a young woman.  She looked up for second, caught his eye, and then quickly averted her gaze. He felt his stomach rise in his throat, and then plummet in a roller coaster of emotion.  For weeks he wondered if he would even recognize her.  After nearly fifteen years she would have certainly changed.  But there was no possibility he was mistaken.  Same long, dark hair.  Same heart shaped face.  It was her, and any hope of avoiding his day of reckoning slipped away, as Roxanne Spinelli settled herself in the center of the pew.
                         
Roxie attends the wedding

Fr. Kevin and Roxanne meet after fifteen years
______________________

    By the time Beckett left the Bride Room, the hallway had cleared out.  The sword guys and the bag pipers had gone off to prepare for whatever it was they were there to do, and the only people left were members of the security team he and Nolan had set up earlier that morning.  Dressed in non-descript wedding wear, they were expected to blend in with the guests, and if asked, were to introduce themselves as "friends of the groom".  Knowing they were in place gave him some sense of peace, but he'd have felt a lot better if the crazy bitch was already in custody.  Speaking to the the man stationed nearest the door, he instructed, "No one goes in or out, except for myself, the maid of honor, or the bride's oldest brother.  You've been briefed on who's who?"

     The man nodded.  "Got it covered, Sir."

      Satisfied, the groom wandered down the hall, and into to the church, joining his best man, and Fr. Kevin, who were standing near the altar.

       Nolan clapped him on the back.  "Was wondering when you'd show up?  Thought maybe you got a wave of brain activity, and took off before it was too late."

       Next to him, the bride's brother made a face.  "He's only joking, Padre.  I'm right where I want to be."

      "Have to admit, Beck, I was getting a bit worried myself.  Where were you?"

      He smiled, his face, as always, unreadable.  "Just taking care of some business.  You know...with the security."

       Remembering the whole issue with Cassie, Kevin grimaced.  "You're sure there's no way she can sneak in here unnoticed?"

       "Positive, Kev.  It's all taken care.  If she shows up here, we'll handle it... quickly and discreetly."
                                                   
Fr. Kevin and the Groom before the start of the ceremony
      Not wanting to argue on his sister's wedding day, Fr. Kevin changed the subject.  "Hey...I need to thank you for getting my mom here today.  You have no idea how much this means to all of us, and I know her care and transportation must be costing a small fortune."

       "I'm glad it worked out.  It took some rather intense 'arm twisting' to get the doc to agree, but in the end, everyone has their price.  I hope my bride will be pleasantly surprised."

       "Oh, Maureen will be thrilled beyond belief.  You couldn't have given her a better gift today."  He thought a moment, and added, "How 'bout I introduce you to our mother.  Although, I should warn you...she's very confused today.  She may not understand who you are, and most likely won't remember anything you say to her."

        The two of them approached the frail woman in the wheelchair, who smiled and stared blankly at them.  "Mama, this is Maureen's bride groom...her future husband, Theodore Beckett."

          Beckett reached for the woman's tiny hand, and placed a kiss on her knuckles.  "I'm very honored to meet you, Mrs. O'Kenney.  Thank you for allowing me to marry your daughter.  It's a priceless gift you give me."

       Margaret O'Kenney stared into Beckett's eyes, and grinned.  "You were always the charmer, Johnny.  Handsome as sin, ya be.  I told Annie you'd come back for her.  And I was right as rain, I was."

       To his credit, Beckett just smiled and nodded, looking to Kevin for some direction.  Fr. Kevin leaned in, and whispered in the groom's ear.  "Sorry, Ted.  Most days, Mom lives in the past.  She thinks you're Johnny Callahan.  Her sister Annie's fiance.  He was killed in Korea before they could marry.  Annie never got over his death.  Killed herself a few years later.  I apologize for my mom's confusion."

       Beckett whispered back.   "No apologies needed, Kev.  Was Johnny from the old country"

        "Of course.  Like right off the boat, if I recall.  I think he and Annie knew each other as kids before they both came over.  That is... if I remember the story right."

          Beckett nodded, then knelt down, and taking the old woman's hand in his, slipped into a heavy brogue.  "Herself always knows what's about, Maggie dear.  I could never be leavin' my sweet Annie."

          For the next several minutes, Beckett watched in amazement as Ted became Johnny Callahan right before his eyes.  He switched between perfect Gaelic and brogue infused English, and whatever it was he was saying to his mother, he had her delighted.  She giggled like a girl, patting him on the cheek, and finally, reaching out to hug him, a response Beckett gently returned.

         When he stood up, Beckett looked sheepish.  "Sorry, Kev.  I'm pretty sure she's gonna think that Maureen is her sister Annie.  I didn't want to tell her differently."

         Still in awe of what he had just witnessed, Kevin pumped his future brother-in-law's hand.  "No problem, Ted.  She hasn't seemed this happy in ages.  I'm sure Maureen won't mind.  Besides, five minutes from now, she probably won't remember any of that conversation."  They walked back to their position near the altar, and with only minutes before the ceremony, the priest turned toward Beckett.  "If you don't mind me asking, how did you do that?"

        "Do what?"

        "Become Johnny Callahan.  Just like that.  I never even knew you spoke Gaelic.  You never said a word about it before now."

          Beckett smirked.  "You never asked.  Besides, languages are sort of a hobby with me.  I seem to pick up dialects pretty easily.  Just took a guess on how Johnny might have sounded.  I remember Maureen saying that your family was from County Kerry, and you had said Johnny was from the same area, so it was pretty easy to go from there."

       Kevin shook his head in congenial agreement, but was still stunned as to how easily Beckett had become someone else.  From the dialect to body language, Ted had disappeared, and the long departed "Johnny" had taken his place. Without a doubt he appreciated the man's kindness toward his mother, but the way he had shifted personalities so seamlessly left the priest with an unexplained uneasiness.

      Mike Nolan took the customary spot next to the groom, pulling him closer and speaking softly in his ear.  "Still the Master, Teddy...in more ways than one.  But I hope you used some of that hootchie black magic on your little Foxy.  Otherwise, you're going to feel like a total ass if your pretty pet tells you 'no thanks'.  You standing up here by your lonesome would be one for the records."

      Beckett stood straighter, hands clasped behind his back, feet slightly apart, a smile curling the corners of his mouth.  "Ah, ye of little faith.  No worries, Michael.  She'll be here."

     As the organist began the first few chords of Wagner's Bridal Chorus, the attention of the congregation turned toward the back of the church in anticipation of the the maid of honor, and the sight of a beautiful bride.  As the song progressed, and no one appeared in the doorway, the guests began to look at each other, casting furtive glances to where the groom stood at the altar.  It wasn't long after, Allison stepped into view, and waving at Kevin, made a cutting motion across her neck, signaling that the organist should cease the opening hymn.

      Not having a clue as to what was going on, Kevin hurried over to the organist, suggesting she change tunes to something a little less "bridey".  Face red, he returned and spoke to the groom, who despite his over due bride, seemed perfectly calm.  "Do you have any idea what's happening here?"

      Expression never changing, he shrugged.  "You know Maureen.  My girl likes drama.  Don't sweat it."

      "Do you think I should go over there, and see what's holding them up?"

       "No.  I'm sure Patrick has it covered.  We'll just wait.  I'm sure they'll appear in a bit."  He heard Nolan snicker next to him, and in response, stood straighter, and smiled even wider.

        The men stood facing the congregation as the minutes ticked by, and the whispers and twittering of the guests fought with the notes of the organ to produce a symphony of distraction.  Through it all, Fr. Kevin wrung his hands, shifted his feet, and sweated rivers under his heavy vestments, while the groom and the best man remained unruffled and composed.  In the back of the church, the Knights of Columbus leaned against the wall, and the pipers sat their instruments on the floor between their feet. How Beckett could stand there, unmoved, was beyond him.  A normal guy, by this point, would be in mortal fear of having been stood up.  Hell, a normal guy would be off in frantic search of what was holding up the ceremony.  But Beckett remained in place, not a single muscle moving.  Not even a minor twitch.  When the second hand of the large clock on the back wall reached the half hour point, Kevin could stand it no longer.

       "This is crazy.  I'm gonna go find out what seems to be the problem."
           
Patrick and the Bride finally appear at the back of the church

      Before he could move a single step, Patrick appeared at the back of the church, Maureen firmly in his grasp.  His brother, red faced and every bit of exasperated, waved to him with a roll of his hand, ordering the music to begin.  Fr. Kevin once again signaled the weary musician, and Mrs. Peabody, for the second time, began the traditional Wagner selection, while the Knights stood at attention, swords raised in canopy honor.  To his right, Beckett exhaled, loud enough for the priest to hear, and with a feeling of guilty satisfaction, Kevin silently thought,  "Ah ha...Gottcha!  So... you were worried after all, Mr. Nothing Fazes Me, I'm Way Too Cool.  Serves you right that she made you wait.         

       If the groom noticed the priest's smile of self-satisfaction, he didn't respond.  His entire focus was on the woman coming down the church aisle.  The veiling covered most of her face, so from where he  stood, he didn't have a clear enough view to get a handle on the nuances of her expression.  But from the lock of her jaw, and the white knuckled clench she had on her bouquet, he made her to be still pissed beyond belief at him.  From somewhere down deep, a sudden roll of amusement churned in his chest.  It might have been born from the absolute bizarre nature of the entire situation.  Or maybe from the image of Patrick tugging his sister to the altar like a human tow truck.  Even, perhaps, from a sense of very real, and overwhelming relief.  Where the humor came from didn't seem to matter.  What was important was the fact that he had an overwhelming urge to laugh, despite the inappropriateness of that reaction.  It grew and tumbled, and threatened to escape from his throat, causing his eyes to water and tear.  The harder he worked at stifling a giggle, the wider his smile got, until he stood at the front of the church, before God and all the guests, grinning like the damn village idiot.

___________________________________

      This was not the way it was supposed to be.  One didn't make their walk down the aisle feeling like you wanted to sock somebody in the gut.  Especially not your future husband.  Maureen squinted both eyes in an attempt to see through the heavy veiling, but the view remained distorted.  Needing to get her bearings, she slowed down her pace, only to have Patrick give her a tug forward.  He had warned her in the Bride Room that he "would drag her sorry ass up to that altar kicking and screaming if it were required", and she had no reason to doubt that he meant it.  If nothing else, her eldest brother was a man of his word.

       Hitting the mid-point, she forced herself to look for her groom.  The pompous, controlling asshole she was about to permanently make her husband.   The whole thing hadn't really sunk in, and anxiety  bubbled in her head about what else he might have "forgotten" to mention in their very short courtship, and even briefer engagement.  Of all the crazy, messed-up things he could have told her, this one was beyond belief.  A spy.  A frickn' James Bond wanna be.  If he had confessed to a fetish of wearing women's panties while singing the lyrics of popular show tunes, she would have been less shocked.  How would they ever have a regular life?  And what was she supposed to tell her friends and family when he disappeared for weeks on end?  I'm sorry, Brendan.  We can't make your kid's First Communion party, because my husband is off somewhere shooting someone for the sake of apple pie and the American way.

      But it was the idea of living with the constant fear that horrified her the most.  The knowledge that when he left, there was a very strong possibility he would not return.  As the daughter of a cop, and sister to siblings in law enforcement, she had already come to terms with the risks this life style offered.  Life with Ted represented an entirely different ballgame.  She would never, ever, share total intimacy.  Be a soul mate.  Ever.  There would be pieces and parts he'd keep from her, closing off whole sections of his life.  And that seemed like a pretty shitty way to build a life long commitment, or, God forbid, raise a family.

       Peering from the side of her veil gave her a better view of the altar.  She could see Kevin in the center, smiling, and looking all reverent in his vestments.   Mike Nolan was to the far right, and even in her immense dislike, had to admit the man cleaned up rather nicely.  And then there was Ted.  Her Ted.  The father of her baby.  The man she was minutes away from vowing to love, honor and obey.  Cool, calm, collected Theodore Beckett.  Who at this very moment, was grinning at her, all teeth and gums, like some depraved hyena.

       In their time together, she had been witness to a variety of his moods.  Had seen him amused, aroused, angry...aloof.  But silly?  Gleeful?  Never.  She was in the midst of processing this new wrinkle, when Patrick nudged her, drawing her attention to the first pew.  The scene at first refused to register, her head still wrapped around the issue of the moment.  When she finally recognized the tiny woman in the wheelchair, the air in her lungs let loose in an audible gasp.

       "Surprised, huh?"  Leaning in, Patrick whispered in her ear over the strains of the organ.  "I was tempted to go ahead and tell you back in the Bride Room when you were throwing a hissy, but I didn't want to ruin this moment.  Your husband-to-be wanted this to be his special gift.  The guy does seem to corner the market on overwhelming tokens of his affection."
                                   
Maureen and Beckett join hands at the altar
         With the lump in her throat, and her eyes beginning to tear, Maureen could only nod.  She bent down to kiss her Mama on the cheek before continuing the last few steps to the altar.  Patrick loosened his arm from hers, and stepped back, as Beckett took his place next to her.  She stared down at her bouquet, not ready to look at him, and fearing that if she did, she'd be utterly lost. She might have succeeded in this manner if Kevin hadn't made them join hands.  When she didn't move, Beckett reached for hers, and squeezed hard enough to force a reaction.  She looked up from her bouquet, into those blue depths, and unable to do anything else, began to cry.  First in near silent whimpers, and eventually blooming into full blown sobs.
                                                     
         The organist stopped on one lingering note, and the church, now quiet, echoed with the sounds of the bride's wailing.  Around the couple, the group stood shocked, unable to move, not sure what to do.
Guests in the pews looked at each other in astonishment, sure that they had never witnessed a scene such as this ever before, and wishing it wouldn't be rude to pull out their iphones and capture the moment for inclusion on You Tube.  Both Patrick and Allison stepped forward in an attempt to talk to the distressed bride, but Beckett waved them both off.  Instead, he gathered her into his arms, letting her cry into his shoulder while he patted her back, as the whole church sat in stunned and uncomfortable silence.  When she was down to a few hiccups and sniffles, he handed her his handkerchief to wipe her eyes, and blow her nose.
                             
Beckett comforts a distressed Maureen
        "Better now?"  He took back the used cloth, and stuffed it his pocket.

          Maureen nodded, words still not an option.

          "Are you ready to go on with the ceremony?"

           She paused a moment, and then shook her head yes.

           "You're sure?  Because I didn't quite hear you."

            Narrowing her eyes in true Maureen fashion, she answered, "I'm sure.  Satisfied?"

            Beckett smiled, perfectly calm, as if the drama of the past hour had been just a simple miscommunication. Then turning to a speechless Fr. Kevin, suggested, "We're ready now, Father.  If you could start at the beginning, please."

____________________________________

      Somewhere in southern Massachusetts, about fifty miles outside the small town of Dollyville, Cassie Donaghue raged.  The rain had subsided to a light drizzle, but wet roads and overly cautious drivers made the going slow to the point of annoyance.  She was late.  Really late.  If the ceremony had started at 2 like the paper had said, it would be near over in the next few minutes.  It was close to 3 PM.  How damn long could it take to say "I do"?
 
       The plans at the church would have to be scraped.  She had figured that notion out hours ago, when the road was closed in Connecticut.  It meant a total revamp of everything she had set up before hand.  Still, it could all work out if she made it to the hotel before the wedding party did.  Reaching into her purse, she dug around and pulled out a small bottle. With one hand on the steering wheel, she flipped off the top and shook a few tablets in her hand.  Then, swallowing them dry, she hummed along with the radio, content that the hotel would work just as well.

_____________________________


      From Beckett's prospective, the ceremony took way too long.  Seriously, was it imperative to have three different readings from Scripture, when one would have done the same job?  Plus, there was all that singing.  Totally unnecessary.  Lengthened the whole process by at least fifteen minutes. Lastly, there was the excessive movement.  He'd never understand the preoccupation Catholics had for shifting positions.  First standing, then sitting, then standing, then kneeling.  The whole thing seemed like a cardio workout, and rather out of place at a wedding, but at this point in the game, he was just happy to be almost finished.

     After Maureen's little emotional outburst, things had gone fairly well.  He could tell that Kevin had serious misgivings about Maureen's initial reaction, but eventually had seemed to get into the swing of things, and preached what appeared to be a pretty good sermon, if his opinion as a non-Catholic counted for anything.  They had exchanged vows and rings without a flaw, and if memory served him right, they were honing in on the end of this whole church episode.

       His little vanilla cupcake seemed to be more relaxed, and had even graced him with an occasional smile or two.   He was glad he had chosen her wedding ring without any input.  It was fun to watch the way her green eyes got big and round when he slipped the diamond band on her finger.  The thing was a mite ostentatious, all eleven carats of it.  But it would stand as a constant reminder of all the things he could offer her, when she complained about the things he couldn't.  Despite the rocky start, his fault more than anyone else's, the outcome was satisfactory, and left him free to ponder the later joys of unwrapping his red headed bridal gift.

                         
Introducing...at last...Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Henton Beckett
     
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved
           



       
         




       

     

 

     








     

     


 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday Sneak Peek (7-17-13)


  

Fr. Kevin is ready for Maureen's wedding ceremony

     At twenty minutes before two,  Fr. Kevin O'Kenney parked himself in the the front of the church, and waited for the remainder of guests to make their way to a seat.  A final check showed everything in order, and it looked as though, just maybe, they would be able to start somewhat on time. The O'Kenneys were not known to be particularly prompt, and he fully expected to see people still wandering in well after the bride had made her big entrance.  He glanced to his right, unable to keep a smile from spreading across his face.  Seeing his mother wheeled down the aisle, a team of medical staff in tow, had been a joyful shock, and he still wasn't sure how Beckett had pulled it off.

      It had been Maureen's greatest disappointment to learn that her mother would be unable to make the  trip to Dollyville for the wedding.  Her condition had deteriorated in the past few weeks to the point where her doctor had strongly advised against a two hour car ride, especially without proper medical care.  Not wanting to risk her mother's health, or put the burden of her care on any one of her siblings, the bride sadly resigned herself to the fact that neither of parents would be there on her wedding day.

       But somehow, Beckett had made it happen.  His mother arrived, not by traditional limousine, but by private ambulance, complete with her physician, a nurse, and two orderlies.  And although she hadn't known who he was, the fact that she was in attendance, hair done and wearing a pretty summer dress, surrounded by all her children and grandchildren, made the day sweeter than anyone could have anticipated.  Tucked away in the Bride Room for the past hour, Maureen would be unaware of her arrival, and he couldn't wait to see her expression when she came down the aisle on Patrick's arm, and saw her Mama sitting there in the front row.

      Kevin stole a peek at his watch, and wondered where the groom had gotten off to.  He had seen him come in a half hour ago, but since then, hadn't spotted him anywhere amongst the crowd. The organist began her pre-ceremony repertoire, and the Knights began lining up in the vestibule.  He turned his attention to the left of the chapel, where an usher was seating a young woman.  She looked up for second, caught his eye, and then quickly averted her gaze. He felt his stomach rise in his throat, and then plummet in a roller coaster of emotion.  For weeks he wondered if he would even recognize her.  After nearly fifteen years she would have certainly changed.  But there was no possibility he was mistaken.  Same long, dark hair.  Same heart shaped face.  It was her, and any hope of avoiding this day of reckoning slipped away, as Ms. Roxanne Spinelli settled herself in the center of the pew.
                                      
Roxie arrives at Holy Family Church
                           
  
Roxie and Fr. Kevin...face to face after 15 years


Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights reserved

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"We've Only Just Begun...Part 1"

A Note to My Readers...

     Although this fiction blog is illustrated with photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and content is intended for an adult audience.  Please be advised.

Thank You,
      The Author

                                     
Beckett checks his email...and gets disturbing news
        It was nearly 1 AM when the manager finally ushered the last of the rehearsal guests out the front door of Salvatore's.  It was hard to tell exactly who was holding who upright, as the men gathered on the sidewalk in the front of the restaurant.  Leaning between his brothers, Jamie and Brendan, Patrick worked at maneuvering his iPhone in an attempt to call for a taxi back to the Park West.  Of the group, only Fr. Kevin was sober enough to drive his rented Toyota, while the Groom and his Best Man debated about the possibility of walking home instead of taking either of their cars.

         When he first arrived for the celebration, Beckett had no intention of getting hammered.  He was set to be on his very best behavior in preparation for the stress of the following day, and was planning to make an early evening of it.  But Maureen's insistence that they spend the night apart, and the appearance of his long time buddy, combined to tempt him into relaxing his guard, and imbuing more than was prudent for the night before one's wedding.

         As the discussion of transportation volleyed among the group, Beckett took the opportunity to check his voice and email for the first time in a number of hours.  Seeing the large amount of missed calls, and the long list of waiting voice mails, he swore under his breath, and stepped away from the cluster of people.  Despite the fact that it was the wee hours of Saturday morning, he dialed the number, and someone on the other end picked up on the first ring.

       "It's Beckett.  What's the problem?"

        "We've been trying to reach you for hours, Sir."

       "I see that.  What's up?"

        There was a moment of hesitation.  "I'm sorry, Sir.  We've seemed to have lost the target."

        The statement hit as a mental kick to his balls, and the gaiety of the previous hours evaporated like steam into the humid night time air.  "Damn it!  How could you lose her?  She was one fuckn' civilian woman!   How the hell could she shake your tail?  You're supposed to be trained agents!  When did you assholes last see her?"

         "I'm sorry, Sir.  I take complete responsibility for this.  We're working around the clock to re-locate her.

        "Answer the damn question, Lister!  When was the last time you had visual contact?"

         The voice on the other end sounded sheepish and strained.  "We followed the target into the Volusia Mall, directly across from the Daytona Speedway, at approximately 4:00 PM on Friday afternoon.  She window shopped a bit, and then entered Macy's at 4:22.  Once inside the department store, she went to the sports wear section, and searched through some racks of swim suits and cover-ups, taking an armful into the store's dressing rooms.  I had a team stationed in various locations just outside the entrance, but she never re-appeared.  After 30 minutes, I asked the saleslady if she could check on my "wife", but the woman returned saying all the dressing rooms were empty."  There was  pregnant pause, and then Lister continued.  "The store had a storage room at the far end of the space we were unaware of.  She must have slipped into there, and exited on the other side of the wall without us noticing."

      Beckett swore again, this time loud enough for the others to hear.  They stopped their conversations, and stared at him with drunken faces.  Turning his back, he asked,  "And there's been no sign of her since?"

      "No, Sir.  But she only had a 30 minute head start on us, and we have the airport, bus terminals, car rentals, and train stations covered.  It would be near impossible for her to travel anywheres out of the Daytona area without transportation."

        Spitting in disgust, Beckett offered, "Unless, she perhaps stole a car from somewhere?"

         There was more silence before the embarrassed agent answered.  "We'll look into that right away, Sir."

          "Do that.  And call me as soon as you hear anything."  He ended the call without further comment, and sliding the phone back into his pants pocket, wandered back to where the rest of men were standing.

           It was Kevin who observed him with suspicion.  "Something wrong, Sheriff?"

            Beckett smiled, hands in his pocket, relaxed.  "Nothing serious, Father.  Just some last minute business for tomorrow's festivities."

            "At 1 AM in the morning?  That seems odd."

            He grinned, and shrugged his shoulders, but the joviality didn't meet his eyes.  "I want everything to be perfect for my bride on our wedding day, Kevin.  If I have to knock some people out of bed, so be it.  I got it all covered."

           Fr. Kevin made a face, but changed the direction of his conversation.  "How 'bout I give you both a ride home?  It's nearly a two mile hike, and it looks like we're gonna see some rain."

          "Thanks, Kevin.  But we're fine.  We could both use the air to clear our head.  The walk will do us good."

         It was Patrick who made the final decision.  "Nonsense, Ted.  Let Kev take you home.  No need for you boys to get soaking wet."  Weaving on his feet,  a silly grin plastered on his face, he added, "Besides, you need to keep your strength up for dealing with my baby sister."

         Beside him, Brendan snorted, "Yeah, brother.  Life with Red the Wrecker is gonna take everything you got.  She's a pint sized bearer of bad luck."  

          With the exaggerated movements of a man who saw the bottom of too many glasses, Jamie put his finger to his lips.  "Shhhh... Brendan.  Don't be telling him that.  He might change his mind, and give her back."

          Doubling over with uncontrolled laughter, the three brothers attempted to pour themselves into the waiting taxi.   Sensing that Kevin would keep after him about the offer of a ride, and nursing the start of a killer head ache, Beckett, with Nolan in tow, shuffled behind the priest to his parked car.  They had barely pulled away from the curb, when Fr. Kevin began his interrogation.

        "So out with it, Beckett.  What the hell is going on?  I saw your face when you made that call.  Something's got you all riled up, and I want to know how it affects my sister."

        Trapped in the front seat with no escape, and with Nolan passed out cold in the back, Beckett grimaced.  The last thing he wanted to admit to was not being in control of the situation.  He pondered the possibility of making up some kind of plausible story, but was too tired to even try spinning the whole disaster.  He figured if he could tell any one, it was probably Kevin, who had proven himself able to keep secrets.  "The people I hired to keep an eye on Cassie...well...they seemed to have lost track of her."

         "What do you mean...'lost track of her'?   You don't where she's at?"  He looked at his sister's fiance sitting next to him in the darkened car.  "Or you think she's coming here?"

          Beckett shrugged, non-committal.  "Not sure.  It could be mean nothing.  Just Cassie letting me know she spotted my tail.  Or, she's figured out some way to get her ass back here to Dollyville.  Hard to tell at this point."

            When Fr. Kevin got upset, he had a tendency to sputter, and with spit flying, he ranted, "You're taking this rather calmly, aren't you, Beckett?  That woman is crazy!  Who knows what she's got in her head.  If something happens to my sister, I'm holding you responsible."

           Disgusted, Beckett wiped a spray of saliva from his cheek.  "Look, Kevin...I am perfectly aware of the situation.  And I'll handle it.  Cassie won't get anywhere near Maureen, and there's no way I'll let her ruin tomorrow.  You have my word."

           "Oh great!  Your word.  Now I can rest easy."  Fr. Kevin clenched the steering wheel tighter in his frustration.  "You can't promise any such thing, Beckett.  You don't have a clue to where that woman is, so how can you assure me she isn't stalking my sister this very minute."  Looking in his rear view mirror for imagined bogeymen, he added, "Or even you, for Pete's sake."

             "Just simple logic, Kev.  My team lost visual contact with her around 5 yesterday afternoon.  She's no dummy.  She'd have to figure that we'd be checking all the terminals...airport, train or bus.  Besides, she absolutely detests crowds.  She was besides herself when I made her fly back to Daytona. I'm guessing she'll drive in.  That's been her preferred method of transportation.  Either she somehow managed to rent a car unbeknownst to my team, or she stole a car somewhere from the mall parking lot."  He looked down at the time on his cell phone.  "It's about a 16 hr drive from Daytona Beach to here...and that's with no reasonable stops.  If she left shortly after they last spotted her, and drives straight through without a break, she should arrive here in Dollyville around 9 or 10 AM.  And when she does...I'll handle it."

_____________________________

       Bridal superstition holds that rain on one's wedding day is a lucky thing.  And if that were true, then Ted and Maureen were guaranteed an exceptional "happily ever after".  Outside, the rain fell from ominous gray clouds into huge puddles of standing water.  From the window of Kevin's second floor bedroom, Maureen watched as the street in front of Holy Family slowly became a small river, and the front lawn evolve into a mucky lake.

       Behind her, Allison began unpacking the multitude of boxes, bags, and parcels that the two of them had carted over from the flat in Kevin's small rental car.  The original plan had been for the bride and maid of honor to dress at Maureen's apartment, and then to walk the block and a half to Holy Family.  Arrangements had even been made by Patrick for them to be escorted to the church by a retinue of Knights of Columbus in full hat and sword regalia.  But the small monsoon that blew into town sometime last night, put an end to any such festivities.

       It was decided, that in the face of nasty weather, the best course of action was for Maureen and Allison to dress at the rectory, thus making the trip to the church a matter of a few steps under several large umbrellas.  Not exactly the entrance the blushing bride had hoped to make, and if the rain kept it's drenching down pour, she'd end up meeting her groom in yellow rain boots.

       Flopping into the chair by the window, Maureen watched her friend dump the contents of several totes on the bed.

        "Mo...did we remember to pack hair spray?  I don't see it anywhere in these bags."

         "Not sure.  There was a can on my sink, but I don't recall packing it."

         "Shit!  Now my damn hair's gonna be all frizzy in..."  She stopped speaking, and put her hand to her mouth.  "Sorry.  I shouldn't be swearing like that.  Standing in a priest's bedroom...and all.  It's probably a sin of some kind."

         "Don't be silly, Al.  You've known Kevin since you were nine years old.  He's just like any other normal person."

          "Still...it feels weird being here in the rectory."

          "Not really.  It's just your imagination.  I lived here, you know.  For almost four months when I first came from Boston."  She leaned her elbows on the window sill, and pressed her face to the rain streaked glass.  "Ted kissed me for the very first time on the porch of this house."  With a dreamy sigh, she spoke to no one  in particular.  "I wonder what he's doing right now?  Or if he's thinking of me?"

          "Oh give me a break, Momo.  Of course Ted's thinking of you!  He's crazy about you.  Anybody   can see that!"  It was Allison's turn to sigh.  "I wish somebody would look at me the way that man looks at you.  Like he's working hard to hold back from tearing off your clothes, and having his way with you...right there and then.  I should be so lucky."

         Maureen giggled, and rose to hug her best friend.  "You'll find the right guy, Al.  I'm sure of it.  You just have to wait , and let it happen.  After all that horrible stuff that went on in Boston...with Rick...I didn't think I'd ever fall for anyone again.  But I came here, and the very next day...Poof!  There was Ted.  He had my heart the minute I saw him.  I just had to figure out how to convince him of that."  She smiled, thinking of the past eight months.  "The same thing will happen to you too!"

           Allison kicked off her wet shoes, and laid horizontal across the bed.  "Maybe, Mo.  Maybe even here at your wedding."

          Maureen shot her a curious look.  "Here?  Who?"

          "You did notice how hot Mike Nolan is, didn't you?  I wouldn't mind him kissing me on the front porch...or anywhere else, for that matter."

           "You don't mean Ted's friend...the Best Man...do you?"

           "Duh...yeah I do!  The guy's gorgeous!"

           "And a total jerk!  He's so freakin' rude.  A pompous ass, if you ask me."

           "Well, I think he's charming.  And uber sexy.  He kept calling me 'Buttercup' all evening.  I'm getting all sweaty thinking about it.  I only hope he still remembers me today.  He seemed pretty noodled up when we left."

           "You go ahead and have your fun, Al.  But trust me...he doesn't seem like boyfriend material."

         The conversation was interrupted by a soft knock on the bedroom door, and Kevin stuck his head in.  "Lovely ladies...it's nearly noon.  Don't you think you ought to start getting ready.  I only have the one bathroom, and I know how long Maureen takes in there!"

          The bride pushed herself out of the chair, and reached for her overnight bag.  "You're right, Kev.  We should get a move on.  God forbid I end up late for my own wedding."
                                         
Maureen, Allison, and Flower Girl, Maeve, arrive at Holy Family despite the bad weather
__________________________________

      The long hours behind the wheel, and the rhythmic slap, slap, slap of the windshield wipers made it difficult to stay alert.  The rain had begun to come down in earnest somewhere near Philadelphia, and as she proceeded north, it had only gotten worse.  If she hadn't been forced to drive through it, she would have taken perverse pleasure in the thought that the weather was miserable on this particular day. It reinforced her belief that the fates were on her side.

       Until the appearance of the torrential rain, things had gone according to plan.  She had slipped out of the mall unnoticed by any of the dick heads Beckett had obviously hired to watch her.  It hadn't taken  but twelve hours for her to make their surveillance, and from then on, she thought about nothing more than showing that arrogant bastard who he was messing with.  She was pretty sure that her tail never suspected that she was on to them, and would have enjoyed seeing the look of shock on their stupid faces when they discovered the empty dressing room.

         The mall's parking lot was a car thief's paradise, and she had a nice selection from which to chose.  Eventually deciding on a dark blue Lexus, a 2012 model complete with an expensive GPS system, the break in proved to be child's play.  The owner had spent plenty of bucks on the car itself, but had cheaped out on the security system needed to protect it.  She was inside the car, and on the highway, long before any of the morons even knew she was missing.

          In front of her, traffic slowed, and after inching at a snail's pace for two miles, everything came to a complete stop.  Halted in the same spot for almost 30 minutes, she rolled down her window, and pushed her head and upper body out, getting soaked to the skin in the process.  From that perspective, she could see down the unending line of cars trying to inch off the nearest exit, with the flashing lights of several patrol cars indicating that there was some type of problem ahead.  Fiddling with the GPS, she figured to still be about three hours away from Dollyville.  Even without this delay, the schedule was tight, barely giving her enough hours to reach the church in time to give the bride and groom a very special wedding gift.  Now, totally screwed, she'd need to rethink her options.

____________________________

          Beckett had spent what was left of the night tossing and turning, and at the first light of dawn, decided a grueling run was the order of the day.  His brain seemed to function better when he was up and moving, and after six miles, he had pretty much worked out what needed to be done.

          He and Nolan used the rest of the morning to flesh out the security details for the various venues of the ceremony and reception, and to coordinate a plan of action if, and when, the target finally showed.  Satisfied that he had done all he could to ensure a smooth and safe celebration, he dressed, and made his way over to the church to tackle the last of his issues.
                                             
          Getting Maureen to talk to him now would be difficult.  She had been adamant about them staying apart until the ceremony began, and gave him a whole lecture on the mumbo jumbo of wedding superstition.  In any other case, he would have acquiesced to her wishes.  But this was a conversation that needed to take place, and he would have to suffer her wrath over the breaking of bridal tradition.

     Some might think that the way he was handling this touchy problem was unfair, but he believed he knew what was best in her particular case.  She was young and naive, and given to emotional outbursts over the simplest of things  Add to this mix the churning of pregnancy hormones, and it was unlikely she'd be able to look at the situation logically or rationally.  At one point, he even debated over not telling her at all until after the wedding was long over.  But Nolan was right.  She needed to know what was what before she walked down that aisle, and what he proposed to do was for her own damn good.
                                   
The Groom arrives at the church on his wedding day...wearing Armani at the request of his Bride
        Even though the ceremony was not scheduled to begin for another hour, the church was already showing signs of filling up.  He recognized several of Maureen's brothers, and their wives, and was directed to the Bride Room on left side of the sacristy, with admonishments not to attempt a sneak peek at his intended.  The small hall way was filled with a group of men wearing hats with plumes, and carrying long pointed swords, as well as others wearing kilts and tuning up bagpipes in a harmony of chaotic noise.  The din was so loud, he needed to knock several times before there was any response from within

        "Who is it?"

        "It's me, baby.  Let me in.  I need to talk to you."

         "Ted?!"

         "Yes, sweetheart.  Let me in, please.  This can't wait."

         "We talked about this, hon.  You're not supposed to see the bride before the ceremony starts.  It's bad luck.  You don't want jinx us, do you?"

         "That's just an old wive's tale, Maureen.   There's no such thing as bad luck.  But if I don't talk to you like I need to, the only bad thing today will be my disposition.  I'm serious. This is important."

         From inside, there was silence, and he smiled at the image of her contemplating obdience.  He could hear her move away from the door, and then the shuffling of furniture, before she returned and answered him.

         "Okay.  I'm gonna let you come in.  But you have to promise to stay on your side of the screen.  No fair peeking around the side.  Are we clear?"

         "Whatever makes you happy, love."

          "Alright, you can come in now."

           Beckett opened the door, seeing that she had set up a small dressing screen in the center of the room, blocking his view of her on the other side.  The whole thing looked so damn ludicrious that he had to hold back from laughing out loud, which he was sure would offend her.  He sat down in the chair she had placed on his side, and did his best not to try and peak through the few clear panes of glass in the screen
                                           
A long over due conversation in the Bride Room at Holy Family Church

          "So...how you holdin' up, baby?"

          "I'm okay.  A little nervous, I guess.  You?"

          "I'm terrific.  Couldn't be happier."

          "Really?"

          "Of course, sweetheart.   Hey...by the way...did you know there are guys in the hall with big hats and swords?"

           "Oh...those must be the Knights of Columbus.  Patrick arranged that as a gift to the two of us.  It's quite an honor, you know.  They don't just show up for anyone.  It has to be a very special occasion."

           "I see.  And the bagpipers?  Is that a gift from Patrick too?"

           "No.  The pipes and drums are from Jamie.  They're part of the Emerald Society...a special group of musicians from the Boston P.D. that play at social events...like funerals...or weddings."

           "Well, I'm glad they're here for the later, and not the former."

           "Me too.  So what is it you need to talk to me about?"  The slight edge of worry in her voice  made Beckett a tad guilty.

           "Baby...before we go out there and say "I do"...I have to explain about...my job.  What it all entails."

           There was an obvious sigh of relief from the other side, which added to his growing guilt level.
"Oh, is that all?  Look, I know what being the wife of a cop is all about.  My dad was on the force, and so are my brothers, Jamie and Brendan.  It can add a lot of stress to a marriage.  I'm fully aware of that.  I used to say when I was younger than I'd never, ever marry a cop.  I saw how my mom worried every single day about whether my dad would actually come home at night, and I wanted no part of that.  But with you, it's different.  I don't know. You seem so...so capable.  Almost invincible."  There was a moment of silence, and she added softly.  "And I love you to distraction, so I'm willing to do anything...even marry a cop... if he's you."  Then with a small laugh, she continued, "Besides, it's not like Dollyville is the crime capitol of the world.  It's the one advantage of living in a small town."

      If there ever had been a time when he had been a bigger asshole to someone he cared about, he couldn't remember.  But what was done, was done, and he had little choice but to move forward, and hope for the best.  "Thank you for being so understanding, love.  Unfortunately, it's not the Sheriff's position I'm talking about."

       "What do you mean...'not the Sheriff's position'?  It's your job, right?"  The tone of her voice changed, and he could hear the concern and suspicion creep in.  "You're confusing me, Ted.  Just say what you have to say."

        Beckett fidgeted in his chair.  "Look, baby.  I'm just gonna give it to you straight.  The Sheriff's position here in Dollyville is just one aspect of my life.  I spend the other part of it working... for the government."

       "The government?  What the hell are you talking about?  What government?"

       "Uhmmm...ours."

       "You mean like the United States government?"

       "Yes.  That one."

       "Doing what exactly?"

       "Whatever they ask me to do."

        There was the sound of the chair shuffling, the rustle of cloth, and before he could say another word, Maureen had come around the screen, facing him with hands on hips, and eyes flashing.
"Are you telling me that you're some kind of freakn' spy?"

       He had rehearsed a well planned speech on this subject a dozen times in the past week.  Came prepared to handle the exchange with poise and confidence.  But when she appeared in front of him, all satin and lace, pale skin and red hair...the words died on his tongue.  She looked like a gift, all tied up in ribbons and bows, and his fingers itched with the need to unwrap her...right there in the church's Bride Room.  Lock the door, and start with that row of tiny buttons that ran from her collar bone down to her waist.  
   
      He tried for humor, but it fell to the floor, flat and unfunny"I thought we weren't supposed to see each other.  Now you've gone and done it.  Jinxed the whole thing."  He was sure he had known loads of beautiful women.  Had spent more than one night with many of them.  But at this moment, not a single one came to mind, and all he could do was stare.

       Angry and flustered, she came around the screen without thinking.  Ready to rip the words directly from his throat.  But when she saw him, sitting in a chair much too small for his size and build, her mind went entirely blank.  She always knew he was handsome.  No doubt that it was his good looks that had attracted her long before she knew anything about the man himself.  But now, in front of her like he was, dressed in black Armani, his eyes the color of June skies, he was devastating.   She was lost, and all power to think straight suddenly evaporated.   "I don't care about any stupid superstition.  You tell me right now what's going on here!"

        He patted to a spot on his lap, but she shook her head, knowing that if she physically touched him,  it would be all over.  He could tell her the Earth was on a collision course with Mars, and she would blankly grin and stare into his eyes.  She needed to hold on to some sense of reason if she was going to get any information on the subject at all.

       Realizing she wasn't going to sit in his lap, Beckett rose, and offered her the chair.  Feeling flushed and fuzzy, she took advantage of the opportunity to sit herself down.  "Explain.  Now, Beckett!  What the hell are you talking about?"

       Uncomfortable in this setting, he began to pace the small room, looking very much like the caged tigers she remembered seeing at the Boston zoo.  "Like I said.  I work for the United States government.  In addition to my life here in Dollyville as its Sheriff."

      "So... you're standing here telling me that you...my soon to be husband...and father of this baby...are actually some kind of secret agent man for the United States of America."

       Appearing rather pained, he answered.  "Yes.  That's sorta what I'm trying to tell you.  But when you say it like that, you make it sound like a bad thing."

        "Bad thing?  Are you crazy?  Of course it's a bad thing!  It's not normal.  It's weird!  Do you fly around the world?  Blow things up?  Kill people?"

        He paused a moment, and considered the questions with a sense of seriousness.  "Yes...yes...and yes.  But only people who are intent on doing harm to this country."

       She stared up at him, an expression of disbelief and confusion on her face.  When she spoke, it was not much above a whisper.  "This is too damn much.  It's totally crazy.  You decided to wait  until now..."  She glanced at the clock on the east wall.  "Now...15 minutes before I'm due to walk down that aisle in front of my entire family...and everyone I remotely care about...and marry you in front of God and the whole congregation.  You decide NOW is a good time to drop this frickn' bomb in my lap, and expect me to merrily skip to the altar?  You are really some kind of insane asshole, Beckett."

        Maureen waited for a reply, but there was none.  The groom stood there stone-faced, not offering the slightest hint of explanation or apology.  Frustrated, she stood upright, coming barely to his chest, and looked into the eyes of the man she had trusted with her heart.  "So...just what am I supposed to do now?  Knowing all this about you"

         He smiled, and pressed his lips to her forehead. Then pulling the veiling down over her face, he answered her.  "I guess, baby...that answer would be entirely up to you."  Without another word, he left the room, quietly closing the door behind him.
                                                 
Decisions to be made

Copyright 2013 Victoria Rocus
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