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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kiss My Ashes

            

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

                                   
Fr. Kevin watches smoke and ash rise from the explosion site
     From the window of the flat, Kevin could see the glow of flames, and towers of billowing smoke and ash, a few miles to the east.  He tried to imagine what was located in that section of town which would cause an explosion of such magnitude, but drew a complete blank.  As far he recalled, that area was strictly residential, a well maintained neighborhood boasting manicured lawns and sprawling, old homes.  His morning runs with Beckett often took them up and down it's shady streets, and he hoped that someone hadn't lost their dream home to a freak gas explosion.
   
     Where the thought first came from he wasn't sure, but in the back of his skull, a tiny finger of anxiety scratched at his brain.  One of those houses belonged to his new brother-in-law.  Beckett's Victorian stood in the center of the block at Maple and 5th Avenue, surrounded by a long, slopping lawn, and several mature oaks.  Although he had never come right out and said as much, it was obvious to Kevin that the house was the Sheriff's pride and joy.  He'd wax on at length about his struggle to find just the right window casement to match the house's original, and had once given the priest a thirty minute lecture on the long term value of copper plumbing.  There was little doubt that the destruction of his prized possession would cause the man considerable angst, and Kevin worried that Cassie McKreedy might have come to the same conclusion.

      Patrick joined him at the window.  "That sounded like it had quite a bit of force behind it.  Any ideas what it might have been?"

       Lying to his eldest brother had never been easy.  Like their father, Patrick seemed to have been born with an uncanny ability to detect bullshit when he heard it, and had no problem letting you know he thought you were full of crap.  Kevin had learned from an early age that you didn't stretch the truth when talking to Pat.  But he was pretty sure that his brother wasn't aware of the problems surrounding Beckett's crazy ex, and was just about positive that Maureen's new husband wanted it kept that way.  Of the two, Beckett scared him more.  There was something about the man that told you he had no difficulties crossing the line of ethical behavior when he felt it necessary.  He recalled the manner in which the Sheriff had handled the guy with Maureen's stolen phone, and shuddered.  He'd sooner ignore family loyalty, than be on the wrong side of Ted Beckett.

       Kevin stared through the glass, and lied through his teeth.  "Don't have a clue, Pat.  It does look bad, though.  I was thinking that maybe I should take a ride over there.  See if I could be of any help."

      Using a bed sheet as a wrap, Eileen joined the two men across the room.  "Did you want us to come with you, Kevin.  Maybe Pat and I could help?"

       Until he knew exactly what was going, it best not to involve anybody else in the family.  If the explosion did have something to do with McKreedy, he'd feel better if his nearest and dearest stayed far, far away.  "That's nice of you to offer Eileen, but I'm not even sure what's going on, or if anyone actually needs the services of a priest.  I'm sure the fire department has it under control.  It's probably best if you two stay here.  I can always call you if it's necessary."

         "Are you sure, Kevin?"

        "Thanks, Eileen.  But it will be fine.  You two have a good evening.  I'll see you tomorrow at the Park West for Mass and lunch."  Avoiding having to look either of them in the eye, Fr. Kevin crossed the room, and headed down the stairs.

_____________________________

         Beckett knew.  From the instance he heard the explosion, and saw the direction of the smoke and flames from the window of the Bridal Suite, he knew his house was gone.  So, when the call came from the fire chief, he wasn't shocked in the least.  What was odd, however, was his lack of rage.  Instead of blinding anger, he was almost relieved.  The crazy bitch had finally played her hand.  Had made the first move, and confirmed both her location, and her strategy.  Once his team had lost track of her two days ago, there was no doubt in his mind that she was on her way here.  The last 48 hours had been a tedious waiting game, causing his focus to shift from where it should have been.  But now he had her cornered.  Knowing Cassie's huge ego, she would surely stick around to see the results of her handiwork, making it simple to find her, and finally take her into custody.  From there, she would simply disappear into some federal prison, and out of his life for good.

        His only problem now, was to decide how to handle his bride.  The explosion, and the flutes falling off the table, had startled her, and he had no choice but to stop their play, and remove her blindfold.  She had followed him to the window, and had seen the smoke and fire, but didn't instantly make the connection.  Once he had received the call, there was little he could do to hide the situation.  To his surprise, she was calmer than expected, insisting that they should make their way over to the house to check on the condition of the dogs.  As she rifled through her suitcase for something to wear, he didn't have the heart to tell her the dogs were, without a doubt, probably bits and pieces in a pile of rubble.  That piece of information would be obvious when they got there, and she saw the mass total destruction.

         He thought about leaving her at the hotel under Nolan's care, sparing her the awful sight on her wedding night, but then changed his mind.  Until he knew the bitch was cuffed, and secured, he wasn't letting his wife out of his sight.  McKreedy had proved to be more sophisticated and dangerous than he had originally determined, and there was no way he willing to take any chances with Maureen's safety. What he did need now was a plausible explanation for why his house no longer existed, one that had nothing to do with vindictive, crazy ex-girlfriends who needed to disappear.

______________________________
                                                               
The aftermath of the explosion
     By the time Beckett and Maureen arrived at the corner of Maple and 5th, the area had been blocked off by first responders.  They parked a few streets away, and were forced to walk in toward the site of the blast.  A half block down, the couple was met by Mike Nolan, who Beckett had sent on ahead when he left the hotel.  From the grim look on the man's face, it was obvious that the explosion had done a fine job of taking out the house.  Nolan offered to stay put with Maureen, suggesting that Beckett might want to get closer on his own.  But the bride would hear none of it, and so the trio made their way together.

     With his military background, and doing what it was he did for a living, Beckett was familiar with what to expect in the aftermath of plastic explosives.  But upon seeing the pile of smoldering wreckage that was once his sacred sanctuary, it was difficult to wrap his head around the idea that everything...his pet...the studio...his paintings...even the Red Room...was now gone.  Completely.  Next to him, Maureen shivered despite the humidity, and looked up into his face.

      "Maggie?  Basil?  Are they...?"

     He could only frown, and shake his head in affirmation, opening his arms wide so she could fall into them sobbing.  For the next several seconds, the two men stood in silence, while Maureen weeped into Beckett's chest.  They were joined first by Fr. Kevin, and then by Dollyville's fire chief who requested a private conference with the town's Sheriff.  Unwrapping his bride from his arms, he turned her over to her brother, who looked at him with accusation and more than a bit of loathing.  Beckett signaled to Nolan stay with the two, and stepped several feet away to converse in private with the chief.

__________________________

     It was nearly dawn before the the site of the explosion was secure enough to leave.  The sky was just beginning to brighten in the east, showing the full extent of the destruction on Maple Street.  Most of the gawkers had gone home, leaving only a few die hard busy bodies, one remaining fire company, an exhausted bride and groom, and a few family members and friends who had come by to offer their support.

       Pulling Nolan to the side, Beckett rubbed a hand over his forehead, wiping away sweat and soot.
"Any information from the teams?"

         Nolan shook his head, obviously frustrated.  "No, Beck.  They've looked everywhere.  There's been absolutely no sight of her.  Is it possible she finished up here, and ran?"

         "Possible...but not likely.  I know she's here somewhere.  No way is she running without having the last word."

         "Maybe the C-4 was her last word?  You gotta consider that possibility."

       "I'm not willing to risk that, Nolan.  Until I know she's in custody, I'll be looking over my shoulder all the time.  That's unacceptable."

         "I'm sure we'll eventually take her down.  You just gotta wait it out.  In the meantime, maybe the two of you should consider disappearing.  Go somewhere nice and chill until we take care of business on our end."

         Beckett was quiet for a moment, reviewing the possibilities.  He looked over at Maureen who was sitting on a neighbor's lawn, a few houses down from where his house once stood.  Next to her was her brother, who continued to glare at him every time their eyes met.  Maybe it would be best to get away.  Spend some time with his bride without having to worry about interfering family, and the psycho woman.  He and Maureen had originally planned to take the Lamborghini and drive the coast, spending some time at the new beach house, and just relaxing after the crazy weeks leading up to the wedding.  But getting away...far away... might be the way to go.  It would take some work to get things in order, but in return might offer some much needed piece of mind.  Making a decision, he turned again to Nolan.  "Maybe you're right.  Some time away might be just the thing in this situation.  Can you handle the paperwork for me?  Put something together in the next few hours?"

        Nolan smiled, and slapped  Beckett on the back.  "No problem, Buddy.  Anywhere special you had in mind?"

        "Not really.  Somewhere tropical would probably suit my bride.  Just make it quick.  The sooner we're out of the country the better.  Make the cover solid.  The target is an experienced hacker.  We can't afford to underestimate her again."

        "Piece a cake.  You want to go with the usual cover?"

        "That'll be fine.  But you're going to have to create an entire packet for Maureen.  All of it...passport, birth certificate, drivers license...the whole deal.  Don't skimp.  It's gotta be tight if this is gonna work."

         "Can do, Beck.  I should have it for you by later this afternoon.  How much do you want to share with the powers that be?"

          "As little as possible.  They don't need to know about the situation I'm in with the target.  It will just cause me all kinds of unnecessary headaches.  I don't feel the need to explain this whole mess."

         "I can understand that."  They both looked over to where Maureen was pulling her weary self off the grass, and heading their way.  Nolan grinned at Beckett "Don't you worry.  I'll share as little as possible."  He laughed under his breath, and added,  "You're gonna have enough trouble spinning this all to your new little wifey."


Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved


   

     

       


 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

We're Having a Blast, Baby!

                

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


The Park West Hotel
      Despite a small army of brawny men prowling the halls and corners of the Park West, inside the ballroom, the wedding went on as such events do.  The bride and groom made their way through the maze of tables, chatting with all the guests, and acknowledging their good wishes, with Beckett seemingly unconcerned about the problem outside the doors.  If he was in the least bit anxious over Cassie's menacing presence, it wasn't a bit obvious to those around him, most notably his radiant bride, who looked on her new husband with pure adoration.

      Letting go of his worries wasn't as easy for Fr. Kevin.  He fidgeted in the plushy chair, debating over the sensibility of joining in the hunt for the crazy woman.  His concern was that he might actually find her, and then what would he do?  It wouldn't be a stretch to reason that she might have a gun, and he was in no hurry to relive the pain of getting shot, not to mention the possibility of ending up dead.  Across the table, his brother Brendan regaled the group with stories of his patrol days in Boston's South End, and his graphic descriptions of criminal violence did little to quell Kevin's anxiety.

       Across the room, he could feel Roxanne's eyes on him, but didn't dare turn and look.  After two mortifying moments, it was best he give up on any further conversations.  At this point, she probably already had him pegged as a clumsy pot head, and nothing he could say would likely change her mind.
In fact, she was surely counting her blessings that their youthful infatuation had amounted to nothing, happy that the Almighty had taken them in different directions.  She was smart, funny and beautiful, and it was doubtful she lacked for male companionship.

       He watched the couples on the dance floor, and smiled at the sight of his brother Sean, and his wife Jane, swaying in a tight embrace.  After 16 years, and four children, it was obvious that they were still crazy about each other.  It was in stark contrast to the intense conversation between Patrick and Eileen going on a few tables away.  He was too far from them to hear any of the actual words, but by their facial expressions and body language, he guessed the discussion was of a heated nature.  Caroline Ryan, who had come to the wedding with Patrick, seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the company of one of the family's numerous second cousins, over that of her date, who had left her to her own devices for most of the evening.  It had been Maureen's secret hope that the romance of a wedding might move her brother and his estranged wife toward some type of reconciliation, but from where he was sitting, it didn't appear that the bride would have her wish granted.

_______________________

      She assumed he would change the security code to something more complex after her last surprise visit, so she hadn't bothered with the expense of another jamming device.  Optimum placement was in the basement, attached to the main support hinges, allowing her to take out the entire building in one monstrous blast.  Access to the basement would have also allowed her one last look around the Red Room, and the opportunity to remove her painting from it's walls.  It bothered her more than a little to know that the portrait Teddy had done of her would be gone forever.  But at the present moment, she had a goal to complete, in a limited amount of time, and there was no space in her head for foolish sentimentality.

       Placing the C-4 in several spots on the outside of the building would be less efficient, but in the end, the results would be nearly the same.  Working to gain her footing in the slippery, wet ground, she began on the far left side of the house, and moved clockwise, setting a small charge every 100 feet.  From inside, she could hear the frantic barking of two dogs.  She knew one to be Teddy's beloved German Shepherd, Maggie, but wasn't sure who the second animal was.  There was a momentary stab of guilt over the sure demise of both doggies, but it passed quickly with the knowledge that none of this was her fault.  If Teddy hadn't been such a stubborn bastard, they could have patched things up, and been as happy as they had been before.  Instead, he certainly hadn't wasted any time in replacing her.  And with a mousy little twit who couldn't possibly please him in the same way she had.  With a renewed sense of vengeance, she set the next charge in place.
Cassie at work

______________________________

       By the end of the reception, despite a thorough search of the hotel from top to bottom, there still had been no sign of Cassie McKreedy.  Interviews with the kitchen staff yielded no helpful information, as the shift had changed at 7:00 PM, and Beckett had no legal recourse to round up the others for questioning in the middle of the night.  The surly Catering Manager claimed to know nothing about a strange woman in his hotel, and when pushed, threatened to call his lawyer.  The consensus was, that if the crazy woman had been in the hotel in the first place, she had somehow slipped out, and was now long gone.

      Guests began making their way to their rooms, with a few die-hards retiring to the lobby bar for a night cap, and more conversation.  Fr. Kevin left the Park West filled with a growing sense of anxiety.
He was absolutely certain that the woman Roxanne had seen twice that day was Cassie, and couldn't shake the feeling that she wasn't quite finished with the lot of them.  He had wasted several minutes trying to talk Beckett into changing his plans about spending the night at the hotel.  He thought it much more prudent for the couple to slip off somewhere unnoticed, possibly to Beckett's home, which to his knowledge, was built like a fortress.  But the groom would hear none of it.  He was convinced that his security team had it covered, and intended on a night in the Bridal Suite as planned.

      Driving home to the rectory, Kevin regretted not saying good-bye to Roxie.  He meant to seek her out after the festivities with the throwing of the bridal bouquet were over, but was side tracked into a long discussion with his Uncle Earl over the pros and cons of the new Jesuit Pope. By the time he had finished there, she was no where to be seen.  He was told she was staying the night in the hotel, sharing a room with Maureen's friend, Allison, and that did little to quell his worry. Roxie was the one person who could identify Cassie as the woman she had met in the bathroom, putting her at risk for retaliation.
He prayed that Beckett's security ensemble was as good as the man had promised.

     The plan was for Fr. Kevin to return to the hotel tomorrow, after his usual Sunday schedule, for a family lunch, and a special Mass in one of the empty conference rooms.  As he pulled into the church's driveway, the exhaustion of the day creeped in, making the short walk to rectory seem like a two mile hike.  The night air was still and clammy, and the quietness of the scene made him jumpy.   He unlocked the door, and flipped on all the lights before making a walk through of the first floor.  Everything seemed normal and untouched, and he scolded himself for being such a baby about the whole situation.

      Grabbing a bag of chips and a Guinness from the kitchen, he turned off the lights downstairs, and made his way to the bedroom on the second floor.  Several of Maureen's things were still scattered across the bed from this morning, and seeing them, he said a fervent prayer that all would be well at the hotel.  Turning on the TV, he began to undress, with plans to relax awhile before turning in for the night.  Out of habit, he glanced out the window and looked down the street toward Maureen's apartment.  Since she had moved there last winter, he had gotten into the routine of checking the window to see if the light was still on.  If it was, he would send a goodnight text message, and she would answer back, similar to the calling out each night from their respective rooms that they had done as kids.

        Seeing the light in her window made him smile, and he reached for his cell phone.  Then his fatigued brain clicked in.  There shouldn't be any light on in that apartment.  Maureen was at the Park West, with her husband.  He looked again, thinking he saw shadows against the shades.  Someone was possibly in that flat, and it wasn't Maureen.  He thought about calling the Sheriff's office to report a break in, but decided against it.  The deputy on duty would recognize the address, and surely call Beckett.   If it turned out that Maureen had just left the light on before leaving the house this morning, he would never hear the end of it from the bride and groom for ruining their wedding night.

     Against better judgement, he slipped on his shoes, and wandered downstairs, grabbing a softball bat out of the front hall closet. He decided to enter the building from the back, on the chance that someone could be watching at the window that faced the street.  Although the deli was less than two blocks from the church, his feet felt like lead, and he was covered in sweat by the time he reached the rear door.  The light from the windows had now gone dark, and Fr. Kevin knew for sure someone was inside.  He fumbled with the key in the lock, grimacing at the noise the tumblers made when he turned it.  Moving as quietly as he could in the dark, he climbed the two flights up, feeling along the wall for the light switch at the top of the stairs. There was a muffled groan of a floorboard ahead of him, and the priest thought his heart would stop.  Reaching up, his hand went toward the switch, only to be beaten to it.

       The lights suddenly flipped on, and he stopped, bat clutched to his chest, mouth wide open, staring at the strangest sight his feeble mind could ever imagine.  At the top of the stairs stood his brother Patrick, holding up one of their sister's kitchen chairs, wearing nothing but Maureen's pink, fuzzy robe.

        "God damn it, Kevin!  What the hell are you doing here?  You almost gave me another fucking heart attack!"

         It was hard to get his brain and tongue working together, as he attempted to get over the crazy shock of what he was seeing.  "I...I saw a light on in the flat.  I knew nobody was supposed to be here, so I came to investigate."  Regaining some sense of normalcy, he made a face, and questioned his brother.  "Why are you here, Pat?  I know for a fact you have a room at the Park West."  He didn't know how much Patrick was aware of the issues with Cassie, and so he offered no additional information.
Surprise visitors in Maureen's flat

        His brother didn't answer, instead scrunching up his face, and putting his hands on his hips, causing the belted robe to gap more than it already was.  Behind the stained glass dressing screen, there was a definite female sigh, and the squeaking of bed springs.  Patrick looked away in embarrassment.

         A light dawned, and Kevin stared down his brother.  "You're here with someone, aren't you?  Hiding out like some silly teenager.  What in the world is wrong with you, Patrick?  You're still a married man, despite the troubles between you and Eileen.  You know the immorality of what you're doing here.  I can't believe you'd behave this way!"

        "No hold on here, little brother.  Just who the hell do you think you're talking to?  As head of this family..."

        "Don't give any of that 'head of the family' bullshit, Pat.  You're acting like a compete asshole, and someone has to tell you.  You have no business carrying on..."

        Behind the glass, the female voice spoke up.  "Uhmm...Kev.  It's me."

        Instantly recognizing the voice, Kevin asked anyway.  "Eileen?  Is that you?"

        "Yeah.  It's me, hon.  I'm sorry we gave you a scare."

        Fr. Kevin stared at his eldest brother, who looked none too happy.

        "I'll take that apology now, Kevin."

        "Geez, Pat.  And you too Eileen.  I'm sorry.  I would have never guessed that the two of you would...you know...come here."  Fr. Kevin could feel his face getting redder by the minute.  "You both have rooms over at the Park West.  It's just that I thought..."

          Before he could finish the sentence, there was the sound of a large explosion somewhere at the west end of the town, causing the glass in the flat's windows to rattle and shake.

______________________________

      In the bridal suite at the Park West  Beckett had just finished restraining the bride's hands with silk cord, sliding a finger in between her wrists and the silk to check for tightness.  Grabbing the scarf from the bed, he went behind her to tie a blindfold, hearing the satisfying hitch in her breath as he did so.  He hadn't quite finished knotting it when there was the sound and shake of a muffled explosion, causing the windows in the room to rattle, and the filled champagne glasses to tip off the table, and crash to the floor.

                                         
Maureen and Beckett in the Bridal Suite

 
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved
 

     

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm inviting all my readers to check out my friend Mari's blog and 200 Follower "Give Away".  She is a wonderful miniaturist and her blog is charming.  Take a peek before Sept. 1st at


                      http://mundo1-12.blogspot.com/

Best to you all,
Vicki

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Crossed Paths and Crossed Wires

               

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

Fr. Kevin and Roxie talk to Beckett
    By the time Fr. Kevin and Roxie mucked their way across the hotel's swampy garden, and returned to the reception, the guests were already seated, and the toasts underway.  From the back of the ballroom, they watched as Patrick O'Kenney offered several amusing anecdotes about childhood life with "Red the Wrecker".  From her position mid-table, the bride blushed, and hid her embarrassment in the shoulder of her new husband, who seemed to find the whole thing quite amusing, with the rest of the family shouting out details to the stories.

     Although he had to admit the tales were funny as hell, and totally genuine, he felt a tad guilty about his brother sharing them at this particular moment, especially when it was obvious that Maureen was finding the whole thing so disconcerting.  Kevin wondered if he should somehow signal his brother to stop, but worried that Pat would end up dragging his name into the telling, so he instead just prayed that his brother was close to wrapping it all up.  Patrick appeared to be enjoying the attention of his laughing audience, so what he did next was quite out of character, and changed the mood of his toast.  Reaching into a bag on the table, he pulled out a very worn, 11x14 sized photograph, which he held up to the guests.

      The old photo was easy to recognize.  It was a studio portrait his mother had demanded as a gift for their father's 50th birthday.  She had dressed her army of sons in starched white dress shirts, and blue linen ties, all the way from adult sized Patrick, down to Kevin, who had been nearly eight at the time.  The photographer had insisted that boys be staggered in size, and posed around their youngest sibling, who he had sat upon an old trunk like a tiny fairy queen perched on her throne.  Dressed in layers of white organza, her red curls held back by a large blue, satin bow, she looked every bit a member of the fey.

       "I'm sure my brothers remember the day this photograph was taken.  The temperature was near 90 degrees, and we were all suffocating in these collar buttons and ties.  But Ma insisted, and damned if we could ever say no to that sainted woman.  So we went along with the program, and for that I am grateful.  This was Dad's favorite photo of all of us.  He made no bones about that.  And my brothers will recall, he always called it the 'treasure pitcher'."  Around the room, Kevin could see his brothers nodding their agreement.   "Now you see...in the past, we always thought it had something to do with that ugly, old trunk.  It did kinda look like some old pirate's treasure chest.  But today, I came to realize that Dad wasn't talking about the trunk itself.  Nope.  He was surely talking about the treasure that was sitting on it.  From the day she was born, our little Maureen Margaret has been our family's most prized possession...our treasure so to speak.  The diamond amongst all the rocks.  That's why on this auspicious occasion, Ted, we want you to understand that today we are passing to you the very best we O'Kenneys have to offer...our baby sister... with an expected promise that you will always love, cherish and keep her safe.  I wish you both both the very best life has to offer.  Slainte!"

      Around the room, glasses were raised, and Pat's speech answered with a rousing round of applause.  He could see Maureen dab at her eyes, and then get up and hug Patrick, and for a second, he felt a stab of jealousy, which he quickly swept away.  It was a great toast, and Patrick had certainly earned the right to speak for the rest of them.  Raising Maureen during her teenage years had been no picnic, and he had done a remarkable job of stepping in and taking over when their dad had passed.

      Formalities over, the waitstaff hustled to begin serving the meal.  He and Roxie moved closer to the bridal table, attempting to catch Beckett's attention without everyone else noticing.  Looking up from a conversation with Allison on his right, the groom excused himself, and left the table, motioning with his  head that the two of them should follow.  The trio gathered near the bar at the end farthest from the tables.  Not knowing how to start, Kevin began by introducing Roxanne.

      "Ted, I'm not sure you've met Roxanne Spinelli.  Roxie lived on the same block with us when when we were growing up.  She and Maureen have stayed friends all these years."

      Kevin could see Beckett arch an eyebrow, and watched the corner of his mouth turn up, but he thankfully didn't mention knowing anything more.

    "It's an honor to meet you Ms. Spinelli.  Maureen has said nothing but nice things about you.  I'm so pleased you could attend our wedding."

     "Thank you for inviting me, Sheriff.  I'm thrilled to be here."

     It was Kevin who brought the conversation back to where it needed to be.  "Ted, I wanted you to talk to Roxie.  From what she's told me, I think that Cassie could be right here in the hotel.  We weren't sure it was her, but I thought it best if she told you the whole story herself."

    Roxie related the information to Beckett, describing her first meeting in the ladies room, and then, the whole incident with the tray.  Although his calm facial expression never changed, Kevin could see the man's jaw tighten, and noticed that his hands slipped into his pockets.  He let her finish, nodding along, and asking questions for verification.

     When she finished, he fished out his cell phone and showed her a photo of Cassie he had taken earlier last fall.  "Is this the woman you saw in the restroom?"

      Roxanne examined the cell photo carefully.  "She was wearing her hair up, had brown eyes, and was wearing glasses today.  But I'd bet a week's salary it was the same woman."

       For a split second, the thought crossed Kevin's mind about what a week's salary might be for girl in Roxie's occupation, but wisely kept those questions to himself.  Instead, he asked them both, "Do you think she might still be here?  Somewhere here in the Park West?"

       Beckett worked the the thought in his head, and posed some possibilities.  "She might be.  Hard to tell for sure.  I would bet that she'd leave me some type of calling card, or at least somehow let me know that she had gained access to this wedding.  She's a game player.  A good one at that, and I doubt she'd take off without leaving some type of 'souvenir'.  On the other hand, after you recognized her with the tray, she might have felt that her cover was blown, and taken off.  She could go either way, and for that reason, I'm not willing to take any chances.  I'll talk to my people and check if anyone has noticed anything unusual.  And I'll double up the security here, just to be sure.  If that woman is still in this building, we'll find her.  In the meantime, I want you both to sit down and enjoy the rest of the evening.  I have everything under control.  It'll be fine."

        Fr. Kevin looked over at the bridal table, where his sister was laughing at something the best man had whispered in her ear.  "Does Maureen know?  About the possibility of Cassie crashing this wedding?"

       The groom made a face, and glared at his brother-in-law.  "She does not.  And I intend for it to remain that way.  This is her wedding day, and I will not have it ruined for her under any circumstances.  Are we clear on that, Kevin?"

         Embarrassed at being scolded in front of Roxanne, Kevin chided, "But don't you think it makes more sense for Maureen to at least have her guard up?  And she can't do that if you keep the necessary information from her?  At least let her know not to go anywhere alone."

         Beckett narrowed his eyes at the priest, and looked pissed for the first time all day.  "Look, Father O'Kenney...Maureen is now my wife...and my responsibility.  I told you I had it under control, and that I did not want Maureen to have any idea that something is amiss.  I won't leave her side, and I fully expect you to leave it at that."

     On any other day, Kevin would have felt free to go "toe to toe" with the man, and continued to argue his point.  He had done so on several other occasions. But people were beginning to turn around and notice their heated discussion, and the last thing he wanted was a bigger audience privy to their worries.  Beckett was, after all, the town's Sheriff, and there was absolutely no doubt in Kevin's mind, knowing the man as he did, that he had come to this wedding unarmed.  As he always did, Beckett surely had some type of weapon tucked somewhere, along with the ability to use it, and that admission worked to calm the priest's anxiety.

       With slight reluctance, he helped Roxanne find her place at the assigned table on the other side of the room, and then took his own next to his brother Brendan, who teased him unmercifully about spending unchaperoned time in the company of "Ravishing Roksi".

____________________________

         In the evening's shadows, a river of perspiration ran down from beneath the baseball cap, and into the corner of her eye.  Damn, it was humid!  Despite being dressed in only her undies, she was sweating like a frickin' pig, tucked in the tight gangway of the house around the corner.  Every few minutes, she'd lean around the building, and check the position of the two men.  By watching them for the past thirty minutes, she had gotten some idea of the pattern of their rounds.  There was only one point in their path where the two of them intersected, and that was when she'd have to take them down. Timing would be everything.

      This wasn't the way she had wanted things to go.  Explosives were just so fucking impersonal.   Set the timer, or press the button...and Boom!  It was all over.  Doubtful she'd even get a chance to see Teddy's sad, sad face, as it would be all together too risky to stick around and watch.  No, she'd be miles away, having to settle for her active imagination instead. Plan A and B would have been so much more satisfying, especially B.  She could have stood in that kitchen and waited for the digitalis to take effect.  Watched as they clutched their chests, and gasped for air.  Maybe even been in the crowd as the ambulance whisked the poor souls off to the hospital.

     Now, she would have to be content with knowing how this would hurt him.  He loved this house.  Had personally worked on every aspect of rehabbing the old Victorian, and had gone to great expense to duplicate what could not be salvaged.  In a moment of unusual sentimentality, had gone so far as to confess to her that of all the places he had ever lived, he considered this one to be his only "home".   Now, in just a short time, it would all be a pile of rubble.  Every bit gone, and any dreams about sharing it with his new slut of a bride would be completely shattered.

      She had expected to feel some vindication.  Some sense of fulfilled revenge.  Instead, she was just angry.  Truth was, she had loved this house too.  Had spent several blissful weeks in it's quiet luxury, and countless hours with Teddy in their special room.  She had posed for her portrait in the upstairs studio, and was there when he hung her painting in the Red Room's gallery.  It had always been in the back of her mind to return once things settled down with Marzano.  It was just a matter of time until the Feds, or one his murderous cronies, took care of that problem for her.  Then she could have come back to Dollyville, and picked up where she and Teddy had left off.

         But, now, that wasn't going to happen.  The fact that her Sir had so quickly turned and found someone else, had hurt her deeply.  Replaced by that simpering, vanilla twit was more than she could bear.  It wasn't like she hadn't apologized for running off.  She had tried talking to the man.  Begging. Pleading.  Had even showed up on his doorstep, offering herself for whatever punishment he deemed necessary.  Instead of a happy reunion, he had turned her out.  Driven her out of state, and dumped her on a plane back to Florida, like she was a sack of old garbage. And now he expected to go on living happily ever after...in this house...with someone else?  No way.  Not if she could help it.

         Cassie inched her head around the building, watching once again as the two men grew near to each other.  It appeared nothing had changed, so she would make her move on the next round.  It was imperative that her aim was on the mark.  The tranquilizer gun worked quickest at a short distance, and for her plan to succeed, the targets would have to be caught totally off guard.  The rain had stopped, and the street was beginning to show some regular activity.  People walked along the sidewalk, traffic increased, and several joggers had made their way past the men on their nightly run.  Another jogger, a scantily dressed one at that, would only garnish a minimal amount of attention, and wouldn't be considered a security threat.  At least that was her plan.

        Leaning against the gangway wall, Cassie was surprised to hear voices.  She peeked out again, this time watching as the taller of the two men took a call from his cell phone.  There was some minor discussion, and a lot of "Yes, Sirs", until the man finished the conversation.  Then calling to his partner, the two suddenly got into a car parked in Teddy's driveway, and took off.  She had no idea who the call was from, but was grateful for the now easy access to the house. It was as if her Karma was once again returning, allowing a free path to reaching her goal.  She'd need to work quickly, placing the C-4 in five specific locations around the house, so that when it detonated, it would take down the entire building in one glorious explosion.

      Gathering up the pack with the materials, and sticking ear buds into her head for added effect, Cassie jogged down the street at a reasonable pace.  As she neared the Victorian, she checked around to see if she was being observed.  A car rolled down the street, but didn't stop, it's driver, an older    woman, not even bothering her with a glance.  Secure that she was on her own, Cassie slipped into the backyard of Teddy's home.
                 
Cassie at Beckett's home
___________________________

       Beckett spent the entire meal in forced ease.  He picked and poked at the food on his plate, and that was only after he returned it to the kitchen himself, and watched as the confused chef fixed two new dinners in plain sight.  Maureen had looked at him with concern as he removed her plate, announcing that the food was too cold to eat, and promising he would personally see to its replacement.  He could tell that she wanted to question his sanity, and argue that the food was fine as it was, but recalling his bizarre tests of late regarding her obedience, she pasted a submissive smile on her face, and nodded as he picked up her untouched dinner, and carted it to the kitchen.

        Later, sitting at the table with his new bride, surrounded by her family and friends, he regretted not taking a more pro-active plan of action regarding the crazy bitch.  He had grossly underestimated her determination to seek out personal vengeance against him.  Hadn't treated her viciousness with the respect it deserved.  But if she was still in this building, like everyone seemed to think, he'd take care of this nonsense...once and for all.
                       
Beckett removes Maureen's wedding dinner
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved

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       Please be aware that the material and photos in this weekly blog are legally copyrighted.  This includes the concept, storyline and characters, which may not be used in any way without the written consent of the author.

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          V. Rocus

       




   

Saturday, August 10, 2013

We Need a Plan C

               

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    

The garden at the Park West
      Kevin could feel the beads of sweat trickling down from around his hairline, and could only guess at the shade of red coloring his face.  No one should ever have to witness the scene he just had the misfortune to see.  And anyway...who the hell planned that kind of "thing", and didn't make sure the door was locked?  Knowing Beckett, he probably did it on purpose.  Because he could.  And although the man was supposed to be his friend, and now his sister's husband, it didn't change his conviction that the guy could be a real asshole when he wanted to be.

      There was no way he was going back down that hall to look for a mop, so instead, headed back to the ballroom.   A few busboys were in the process of finishing the accident's clean-up, and people were beginning to find spaces at their respective tables.  A search among the guests for Roxanne proved fruitless, and for the second time today, he wondered where she had disappeared.  He had come so close to apologizing.  To finally making some type of amends, and putting that whole awful memory behind them both.  Then he had to go and screw it up by being the world's biggest klutz, dragging this dreaded moment out even longer.

       Not in the least bit interested in dinner, he thought he might step out for some air.  Clear his head, and regroup his thoughts.   From the corner of his eye, he could see his brother Patrick, and Jamie's wife Katie, having a heated discussion.  Kate waved her her hand, and motioned him over, but not up for being the family negotiator, he ignored her, and slipped quietly out the east door.  The rain had finally stopped, but the night air was thick and humid, full of the wet, green smell of summer growth. And... something very much else.  Rounding the corner of the building, and acknowledging the security guy on duty, Kevin moved toward the hotel's deserted garden, using his nose to follow the familiar scent.
  
       The on-again- off- again down pour had made the grounds swampy, and he could feel his shoes squishing in the mud, next to footprints belonging to some one else.  He was pretty sure he recognized the sweet, smokey odor, and expected to see an errant hotel employee catching some RR on his or her break.  So it was with pure shock that he entered the small clearing, and found himself face to face with his nephew, Colin.  If Kevin was surprised, than his nephew was mortified.  Startled, he gave a slight jump, then quickly stuck the arm with the joint behind his back.

     "Uncle Kevin!  Geez!  You can give a guy a heart attack sneaking up on him like that."

     "Colin?  What in the world do you think you're doing?  Your father's going to kick your ass if he catches you with that stuff."

     Still trying to hang on to any vestige of innocence, Colin stuttered, shifting his feet, and avoiding looking directly at his clergyman uncle.  "My parents know I smoke."

    "Not weed, they don't.  I'm sure of that.  Your mother would have a fit, and your father...well, lets just say it would be ugly."

     "You're a priest, Uncle Kevin.  You're sworn to secrecy.  You guys can't tell on people."

     Kevin made a face.  "That's only during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Not family weddings."

     Realizing the gig was up, the young man tried appealing to Kevin's compassion.  "You're not gonna tell them, are you Uncle Kevin?  It would cause such a fuss, and everyone is already all crazed.  You know that my dad brought a date to this wedding, right?  Knowing full well mom was gonna be here by herself.  The two of them have been shooting daggers at each other all day.  And everyone else in the family has put their two cents in. It's like a freakn' zoo in there.  Ya gotta cut me some slack."

      "Just what were you thinking, Colin?  This stuff is..bad for your health.  As well as illegal.  You know better than to behave like this.  Besides, I could smell it the minute I walked around the corner of the building.  That means just about anyone else could too.  You're lucky it was me who came out here, and not your Uncle Jamie or Matt.  They'd have plenty to say.  Now, hand me that thing, and go get yourself inside.  They were just about to start serving dinner."

      "So...you won't say anything?"

      "No.  Not this time.  But you have to promise me you're going to make better choices from now on."

       With obvious relief, the young man pounded the priest on the back.  "Thanks, Bro.  You're the best.  You've always been my favorite uncle."

       "Uhm...yeah.  I'm sure I am."  Grinning, he added, "You better get going before someone comes looking for you."   Reaching out, he took the unfinished joint from the boy's hand.  "I'll get rid of this for you."

        Colin shook his hand.  "I really appreciate this, Uncle Kev.  You're a life saver."  With that, he turned and made his way back, his dress shoes creating mucking sounds with every step.

      When he was sure that the kid was all together gone, Fr. Kevin parked himself on a wrought iron bench under a large oak,  safely out of the sliver of light thrown by the solar panels set along the path.  For a minute or two, he listened for the arrival of anyone else, contemplating the surrendered treasure in his hand. Satisfied he was alone, and convinced that the weed was a heavenly reimbursement for a genuinely awful day, he leaned back and took a deep, thoughtful toke.
Fr. Kevin enjoys his unexpected "gift" in the hotel garden

____________________________

      Tucked away in the small storage pantry of the hotel kitchen, it took several minutes for Cassie to process the whole series of unfortunate events that led her to this point.  Until that moment, things had been working themselves out rather nicely. Despite odd looks from a handful of waitstaff regulars, she had been able to situate herself near the bottles of champagne set aside for the pre-dinner wedding toast.  Popping the cork, and blocking the view with her body, she poured a generous amount of digitalis into the liquid.  Then, using her thumb, covered the bottle and gently swished it, dispersing the poison throughout the bottle's contents.  Busy with their own duties, no one paid much attention, as she set the bottle on the tray, along with the goblets decorated in ribbons and flowers for the bride and groom.

    Lifting the tray with both hands, she moved toward the ballroom, and in route, was stopped by a middle-aged woman with the word supervisor embroidered across the right pocket.

     The woman looked at her curiously.  "That's not for the bridal table, is it?"

      Cassie nodded, head tilted in an attempt to keep the woman from viewing her too closely.  "I guess so.  It has the toasting glasses for the bride and groom on the tray, so I assumed that's where it was meant to go."

       "Damn it!  Doesn't anyone around here read the memos I send?

        Working to keep her face blank, Cassie apologized.  "I'm sorta new.  I...I guess I didn't see that."

        "Well, honey.  I'd advise that if you're planning on keeping this job you better get your head out of your ass, and check the event board.  The memo is posted there too.  There is to be no alcohol served at the bridal table.  Sparkling cider for the toast.  Grape Juice for dinner.  By the client's order.  Apparently the little Mrs. is in the family way."

       That notion had always been there, hidden in the back of her head.  It made sense to the fact that this wedding seemed to have come out of nowhere, and in such a big fucking hurry.  But it was the first time she had heard the news spoken out loud, and it rankled all the way to her toes.  How Teddy had ever been so stupid, she couldn't imagine.  The red haired slut must have set him up.  Wouldn't even surprise her if that had been that cheesy priest brother of her's idea from the start.  Holding the now useless tray, her hands shook with rage, and her teeth ached in her mouth from grinding them against one another.

       "Well, don't just stand there gawking like an idiot!  Go re-set the tray with the cider.  And be quick about it.  They're going to be serving dinner soon."

       Moving on instinct alone, Cassie dumped the champagne down the sink, despite glares from the other employees who were counting on a little left-over toast of their own.  Boo-fucking-hoo for them.  She might be a girl with direct "goals",  but that didn't make her your run of the mill common murderer.  They should count their lucky stars that she had a conscience.  Grabbing the cider, she unscrewed the top, and fumbled in her pocket for the remaining digitalis.  There was only about a third of the bottle left, and mixed as it was, she wasn't sure if it would be potent enough to take care of business.  If nothing else, it would make a handful of people very ill, convince them they were having heart attacks, and ruin any plans for a pleasant evening.

       Then, she had stepped into the ballroom, and almost ran smack into the back of the goofy priest, who was parked at the end of the bar, talking to the nosey bitch from the ladies room.  She and the woman had unfortunately made brief eye contact, and concerned that the busybody psycho would say something, she left the tray on the stand, and went to hide in the kitchen until the two moved away from that spot.  Only seconds later, there was a huge crash, and the sound of breaking glass, and even though the logical side of her knew exactly what had happened, the still hopeful side held out for it to be something other than the tray.  There was no way she could go back out there, and check for herself.  The commotion would have every eye in the place focused on that very spot.  She instead had to make do with information gleamed from the coming and goings of various busboys, who explained in broken English that, yes, someone had knocked over the tray with the cider and glasses.

       The whole thing was like a rerun episode of a bad cable sitcom.  Too fucking unbelievable to really have happened.  She had made three attempts to meet her goal, and all of them had gone south for one stupid reason or another.  Now, she was completely out of the poison.  Not a drop left, and Plan B forever unattainable. But there had been no time for ranting or raging.  The kitchen door swung open, and the brunette from the restroom stepped in, calling out for someone to bring a mop.  Not wanting to be involved in any confrontation, Cassie slipped unseen into the small storage pantry, and hid behind a shelf.  From that vantage point, she could barely make out the conversation between the busboys and the woman, but it was obvious enough, despite the broken Spanish, that the crazy bitch was looking for the woman with the short gray hair.

       Now, her only recourse was to leave the hotel.  Pronto, before the woman alerted anyone else to her presence.  When she didn't hear the girl talking any longer, she opened the door a tiny bit, and looked around.  Things had gone back to normal, the staff moving to get dinner out to the tables.  She slid quietly out of the pantry, and casually walked toward the kitchen's service entrance, and slipped out the door.  Strolling at a normal pace, she held her breath and walked toward the parking lot in the direction of her car, passing a multitude of security men still on duty, who paid little attention to her departure.

     It wasn't until she was sitting in her car, hands pounding the steering wheel, that she let herself rage. There was no way she was leaving this stinking town without some tiny shred of self satisfaction.  An up close and personal message was out of the question, as was returning to the Park West.  Both options had become far too risky.  That left the C-4 as a last ditch opportunity.  The question now was...where and how?

____________________

     Eyes closed, lost in his thoughts, with the creeping mellowness of the moment, Fr. Kevin didn't notice the mucking sound of approaching feet until the figure was directly on top of him.  Startled, he opened his eyes, and jumped up, nearly burning his fingers on the glowing embers.

     "Sonofabitch, Roxanne!  You scared the shit out of me!"

      Her heels sinking into the wet grass, Roxanne stared at him a moment, confused, and then began to laugh in high pitched, pleasant giggles that seemed to have no end.

      When she didn't stop after a few seconds, Fr. Kevin commented.  "Okay, Rox.  It's not that funny."

       Catching her breath, she explained, "Oh, but it is!  I'm sorry for laughing, but you're standing there looking all official in your priest suit, your dress shoes all covered in mud, swearing like a sailor, and holding a joint.  It's just too much.  I couldn't help myself."  She sat herself on the bench he had just vacated.  "Honest, I didn't come here to snoop on you.  I was looking for someone else, smelled the smoke, and thought it might be her."

        Plopping down next to her, he countered, "Well, I have nothing to say in my defense. Not a thing. My behavior is abominable, and I hope you'll accept my sincere apology."

       "Don't be silly.  You have nothing to apologize for.  What you decide to do is your own business.  I'm certainly no one to pass judgement on somebody else."

         "Your very kind to say so, Rox.  But I have no business being out here getting high, while my family is celebrating Maureen's wedding day inside.  Or for using that kind of language in front of you. Again, I'm very sorry for my actions...all of them"

        She smiled and nodded, wondering if they were talking about the same thing anymore.  She had come here for the sole purpose of hearing him apologize for the way he had hurt her fifteen years ago.  But now, sitting here in the dark alone with him, hearing the sincerity and embarrassment in his voice, she just wanted the subject matter to change.  "Hey...while you were out here, you didn't happen to see a woman come by, did you?  Very petite, with gray hair and thick glasses?"

       Fr. Kevin looked at her strangely, puzzled over the dramatic shift in the conversation.  "Uh...no. It's been just me for about twenty minutes or so.  After the accident with the tray, I went looking for a mop, but...didn't find one.  When I went back to the ballroom, I tried to find you, but didn't see you anywhere.  I decided to come out for...some peace and quiet."  He decided it was best to leave Colin out of the story as promised.  Besides, it would be hard to admit that he had really copped the weed from his kid nephew, and had decided to smoke it himself.  Rather shameful when you thought about it too much.  "Who is this woman you're looking for?"

       "Oh...just someone I met in the restroom.  Works for the hotel.  I'm concerned because I think she might have some trouble with domestic abuse."

       "Really?  Did she tell you that?"

       "Not exactly.  But she had this horrible bruise on her face.  It was pretty fresh, and she was trying to hide it with make-up.  Plus, she was wearing a disguise.  Like she didn't want anyone to know who she was.  I'm familiar...I mean...I know someone who was in that same situation.  It's very scary."

        At the mention of the word "disguise", something clicked in the back of the priest's mind.  "What did she look like?"

         "Like I said.  Short gray hair, brown eyes, thick glasses.  Very small in stature.  Only about 5'."

          "How did you know she was wearing a disguise?"

          "Well, when I saw her in the bathroom, she had long dark hair...almost black.  Had it pulled up into a tight pony tail. And she wasn't wearing glasses.  Later, when I saw her come out of the kitchen with the tray, she had short gray hair and those thick frames. But I knew it was the same woman.  We caught each other's eye, and I could tell she recognized me.  Then before I could say anything, you bumped...well, the tray tipped over, and I got distracted.  You left to find the mop, and I went into the kitchen to find someone to help clean-up the mess, and to check on that poor lady.  But nobody seemed to know anything about her.  That's when I thought I'd check outside."

         Even with his brain a bit muddled by the weed, anxiety grew within Kevin's gut with each passing word.  The petite body build, and dark hair sounded too much like the horrible Cassie McKreedy.  He couldn't imagine how she would have gotten through all this security unnoticed, but he wasn't taking any chances.  Sticking out a hand to help her get up from the bench, he explained, "You need to come with me, right now.  We have to find the groom, and tell him everything you just told me."

         Roxie took his hand, working to ignore the little flip her stomach made at their contact.  "Tell the groom?  You mean Maureen's husband, Ted?  Why would we need to bother him about this poor woman?"

         "It's a long story.  I'll fill you in while we walk."
Fr. Kevin and Roxanne discuss the strange woman

________________________________

     After much configuring back and forth, a decision was reached.  It wasn't the best of plans, but at this point, it was the only viable option she had.  The security here was, as expected, very light, with only two men walking the perimeter.  Parking two blocks away, she pulled off the chef's jacket and the heavy wool pants, leaving her stripped down to a sport bra and boy cut panties.  In the dark, it would give the appearance of someone out for a run, and hopefully, it's bareness would catch the attention of the men on duty. Gathering the rest of her supplies into the small fanny pack, and slipping into the too large running shoes she had found in the trunk of the stolen car, she proceeded to put Plan C into action.

  Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
  All Rights Reserved    




     

       



 

   

 


      

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sneak Peek Wednesday (8/7/13)

   
The Park West garden at night
     Kevin could feel the beads of sweat seeping from around his hairline, and could only guess at the shade of red coloring his face.  No one should ever have to witness the scene he just had the misfortune to see.  And anyway...who the hell planned that kind of "thing", and didn't make sure the door was locked?  Knowing Beckett, he probably did it on purpose.  Because he could.  And although the man was supposed to be his friend, and now his sister's husband, it didn't change his conviction that the guy could be a real asshole when he wanted to be.

      There was no way he was going back down that hall to look for a mop, so instead, headed back to the ballroom.   A few busboys were in the process of finishing the accident's clean-up, and people were beginning to find spaces at their respective tables.  A search among the guests for Roxanne proved fruitless, and for the second time today, he wondered where she had disappeared.  He had come so close to apologizing.  To finally making some type of amends, and putting that whole awful memory behind them both.  Then he had to go and screw it up by being the world's biggest klutz, dragging this dreaded moment out even longer.

       Not in the least bit interested in dinner, he thought he might step out for some air.  Clear his head, and regroup his thoughts.   From the corner of his eye, he could see his brother Patrick, and Jamie's wife Katie, having a heated discussion.  Kate waved her her hand, and motioned him over, but not up for being family negotiator, he ignored her, and slipped quietly out the east door.  The rain had finally stopped, but the night air was thick and humid, full of the wet, green smell of summer growth. And... something very much else.  Rounding the corner of the building, and acknowledging the security guy on duty, Kevin moved toward the hotel's deserted garden, using his blood hound nose to follow the curious odor.

_________________________________

     Well, dear readers...it's that time of year again.  I'm packing up, and heading back to school! My contract begins next Wednesday, and I will be attending meetings and workshops, in between setting up my classroom for the new year, until school officially resumes on August 26th.  Therefore, due to time constraints, I will no longer be posting the Wednesday Sneak Peeks.  Today is the last one of the summer.

      I still plan on posting a new chapter on Saturday mornings, at least until I've finished the current storyline.  As always, I am most appreciative of your continued loyalty to this blog, especially the very kind souls who comment regularly here on the page, as well as in personal emails, and on my Facebook wall.  You give me what every author needs the most...readers.  And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Thank you so much,
Vicki


 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Reception


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     

                             
A deserted restroom at the Park West Hotel
                                    

     Fr. Kevin was positive that Roxanne's blue Dodge Charger was only a few cars behind his when he turned into the driveway of the Park West Hotel.  But after parking his Toyota in the section reserved for the bridal party, he didn't have a clue as to where she had gone.  The lot was full, cars as far back as the eye could see, and in the drizzle, it was hard to make out one color vehicle from another.  He walked to the lobby door, and waited, unsure as to what proper etiquette required him to do. Was she expecting him to wait for her?  Should he be non-chalant, make general chit chat, and ignore the giant gorilla hanging between them?  Or was it better to jump right in?  Say what needed to be said, clear the air, and move on from there?

     When she didn't appear after several minutes, he began to feel stupid standing in the lobby with his hands in his pocket.  It was as if she had up and disappeared.  Had he some how missed her arrival?  Maybe she entered the hotel before he did, and had already made her way to the ballroom, not giving a thought to his personal angst.  Worse case scenario, she thought the sight of him too horrible to endure, and had turned around and left.   Giving the parking lot one more inspection, he turned and made his way to the reception, leaving the dreaded conversation weighing on his conscience.

______________________________

     She was no shrinking violet, and had never run from a fight.  But this was different.  She knew that Kevin...correcting herself...Fr. O'Kenney... would most likely be waiting for her at the entrance of the hotel.  Good manners would require that he make sure she arrived safely inside the building, after gallantly rescuing her from bad directions.  Unless, of course, he felt that a Jezebel such as herself... daughter of a con...and someone who took her clothes off for a living.. was undeserving of the niceties of etiquette reserved for good girls.

     Wandering through the aisles of parked cars, she could make him out, red hair a dead give away, standing in the main entrance way.  Despite scolding herself for acting like a teenager, her heart couldn't help but jump with a bit of self satisfaction.  He had waited.  Was obviously looking around for some sight of her.  Hidden by a large SUV, she debated the possibilities regarding the direction of the conversation she knew was coming.  It was likely that the man thought the whole thing was water under the bridge.  Some stupid kid experience that she was expected to have gotten over.  If that was the case, then she'd have to put on her best poker face.  The one she used in the club that silently shouted "I don't give a shit."

        Of course, there might be the smallest chance that he realized how bad he had hurt her, and perhaps, just maybe, would apologize.  Or at least explain his reasoning for ripping her heart out, and stomping on it with half the school as an audience.  Worse case scenario would be if he remembered the whole thing as a joke, laughing over his immature, childish behavior, and her reaction to it.  That would suck the most, and be the hardest to choke down and walk away from.

       In the minutes it took Roxanne to ponder her options, the annoying light drizzle turned to pain in the ass rain.  As it had been doing since early that morning, the gray sky opened up, covering the town of Dollyville with a watery blanket that drenched everything underneath it.  She was a least 30 feet away from the main entrance, and despite her best run in six inch heels, found herself completely soaked down to her underwear.  The pale silk dress clung to her like a used bathing suit, and if there had been a wet T-shirt contest going on inside, she was sure to be named winner.

      Catching her breath under the hotel's awning, and ignoring the leering approval of what appeared to be security personnel, she looked in panic for another door into the building. There was no way in hell she was walking into that wedding reception looking like this.  Not in front of the rest of the O'Kenneys.  Not in front of Maureen's new husband.  And most certainly not in front of Fr. Kevin.    Determined to refuse offers of assisstance from Mr. Grinning Security Guard, she rounded the corner of the Park West, bent on discovering an alternative entrance, as well as a restroom with the necessary privacy to make her self presentable.

__________________________

          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 that he had been set up by the tiny brunette, and that the promised play time was never going to happen, 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.  A very wet face, in fact, with eye make-up smearing her cheeks, and her hair hanging down in a messy, dripping pony tail.
Cassie and Roxanne meet in the ladies room

     This was a worse case scenario.  With the wig and glasses off, there was the slight possibility that she could be identified, but only if the woman had any idea that she was the reason for the increased security.  For a second, she debated about knocking the bitch out cold, and shoving her in a stall.  She had come too far to have this random encounter mess things up.  Looking her over, it was plain that the chick stood two heads taller than she, was solidly built, and would not go down easy.  It was a relief, therefore, to observe that the woman was solely focused on the goal of fixing the mess the rain had made of her appearance.
       
     Using a piece of kleenex, the sopping woman rubbed back forth under her eyes, trying with no avail  to wipe away the moons of melted mascara and eye liner.  Seeing her frustration, and hoping to speed her damn departure, Cassie pulled a small tube of cold cream from her bag and slid it over the counter toward the woman.

     "Here...try some of this.  At least it will take the black stuff off."

      The woman attempted a weak smile.  "Thanks.  This day has been nothing but a frickn' disaster.  I should have stayed in bed."

       Cassie nodded, not wanting to engage in extended conversation, and went back to buffing out the foundation over her bruised cheek, as the brunette began to unsnarl the tangles out of her hair with a small comb.  They worked in silence for a few minutes, until Cas realized the other woman was staring at her out the corner of her eye.  Her anger rose like molten lava.

        "Why don't you take a damn picture already?  It would last longer."

        The woman blushed, embarrassed at having been caught gawking.  "I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to be be rude.  It's just that..that's a really bad bruise you have.  I...I know it's none of my business, but..."

        "You're right.  It is none of your business.  So shut the fuck up, and stop staring at me."

        The brunette paused a second, and then moved closer to her.  "It's not going to stop, you know.  No matter what he says."

         For Cassie, the situation had gone from strange, to something out of the Twilight Zone.  All she cared about was fixing her face, and getting into that kitchen before the window of opportunity closed for good.  Now here she was, stuck in the damn toilet, having some nonsense conversation with a crazy bitch.  "What the hell are you talking about.  You don't know jack shit about me."

        "I've been where you're at.  In the same place.  And I'm telling you from experience...his hitting won't stop.  You need to get out of that situation before it's too late.  Before you end up really hurt...or worse yet...dead."  The woman grabbed a piece of paper towel from the dispenser, and took a nub of a pencil out of her purse.  "I'm going to give you a phone number.  Use it if things get any worse.  This group is located in Boston, but they will come pick you up here if they have to, and give you some place safe to stay.  I'm also putting down my cell number.  In case you ever need someone to talk to."  The woman shoved the paper at her, wagging it in insistence.

      The humor of absurdity bubbled up in Cassie's throat.  The pitiful brunette thought she was some kind of battered woman.  In need of help, no less, to get out of a bad relationship.  The irony was simply too much, and it took every ounce of fortitude not to laugh in her do-gooder face.  The bitch was an idiot. No doubt about it.  But a small part of her hoped that this woman was not one of those destined to drink the sparkling cider that was going to be served at the bridal table.  Anxious to get back to Plan B, Cassie took the paper, tucked it into the pocket of the chef's jacket, and mumbled a brief thank you.

     "No thanks needed.  I just really hope you'll call.  Before...anymore happens.

     Grabbing her bag, Cassie headed for the door, hoping she could find yet another deserted spot to put back on the wig before proceeding to the hotel's kitchen.  But the woman was not quite done with her.

    "You know...it wasn't a coincidence that we ended up in this restroom together.  I don't believe in coincidence.  We met so I could give you that phone number, just when you needed it most.  It's destiny.  Pure and simple."

     With a half smile on her face, Cassie replied, "Yeah...destiny alright."  Then she opened the door, and disappeared into the direction of the hotel's kitchen.

_________________________
                                                       
The bride and groom still posing for photos
     It took the better part of an hour for Roxanne to dry off enough to become a presentable wedding guest  As she wandered through the halls toward the main ballroom, she fretted over the thought that dinner was already being served, and she'd have to hunt to find the appropriate seat.  But to her relief, the crowd was still milling about, enjoying cocktails and appetizers, while the bride and groom posed for photos near their gigantic cake.  In need of a alcohol herself, she headed to the large bar at the far end of the room, debating the merits of a vodka martini.
                 
    She had barely taken a sip, before turning around and coming face to face with Fr. Kevin Seamus O'Kenney, all 6'4" of him, in the flesh.  Glass paused at her lip, she stood momentarily turned to stone, unable to respond to his cheerful greeting.

    "Roxanne.  It's good to see you!  I've been looking all all over for you.  Where did you disappear to?"

     "Oh...I've been...here and there.  Mingling."

     "I must have missed you when you came in the main lobby.  Honestly, I'm so glad you made it to Maureen's wedding."

        Roxie watched his mouth move, seeing his lips form the words, but not registering a single one.  She instead used the opportunity to look at him, closer than she had in over fifteen years.  There was still that faint scar under his chin.  The one he told her had gotten when his brother, Brendan, pushed him off a swing.  He wore his hair short now, cut close to the scalp, so there was none of the natural curl around his ears.  But it was still the same copper color, like new pennies, and without any hint of gray.  His eye were as green as she remembered, the kind of green that reminded you of early Spring.  And kind.  She always thought he had the kindest eyes.
                                     
Fr. Kevin and Roxanne chat at the bar
       "...so how was I to say no, right?"  He looked at her, expecting a logical response to his question.

     Having not heard a word he said, she stammered, searching for a non-commital answer that wouldn't sound stupid.  "Of course, Fr. Kevin.  You had no choice.  I'd have done the same."

       Behind him, a member of the waitstaff carried out a large tray holding a tray of filled champagne glasses, and a half empty bottle of sparkling cider.  The woman placed the tray on a stand behind Kevin, and when she looked up, directly caught the eye of Roxie.  The waitress's eyes fluttered a bit, and then, head down, she made her way back through the door behind the bar, and into the hotel kitchen.

        The PI wanna-be knew without a doubt it was the same woman she had met in the ladies room an hour before.  Except now, she was sporting a short gray wig, and thick framed glasses.  That fact seemed to make no sense at all.  Seemed rather suspicious, actually, and she thought about mentioning it all to Kevin. Then she remembered the woman's black and blue cheek, and the conversation that had followed between them.  It was possible that the poor woman was in disguise to hide from an abusive husband or boyfriend.  And making a fuss wouldn't help the woman's situation.  Might even put in her in harm's way.  Roxie decided to hold her tongue, and went back to focusing on what it was the priest was saying.

       "Anyway, Rox, like I said.  I'm so glad you decided to come to this wedding.  There's something I need to say.  Something that should have been said a long time ago."

        Before he could continue, they were interrupted by two young children, chasing and pushing around the bar area where they were standing.  The girl, who looked to be about 10, hid behind Kevin's  legs.

       "Uncle Kevin, make William stop chasing me.  He keeps putting his fingers up his nose, and telling me he's gonna put boogers on my dress."

        "I did not!  Shelly is making stuff up, Uncle Kevin.  She took my Dad's iPhone from me while I was playing Angry Birds.  Make her give it back!"

        Kevin sighed, and pulled the two children in front of him.  He went to squat down, intending to look both of them in the eye while he doled out his advice.  But the tight space at the bar required him to shift back a few inches...directly into the stand holding the filled champagne glasses.  The tray teetered back and forth, and then crashed to the floor, the sound of shattered glass echoing throughout the venue.  For a second, the entire ballroom grew silent, all eyes turned to the bar area where the accident took place.  Then sensing it was no big deal, the crowd went back to laughing, drinking, and conversing, leaving Fr. Kevin red faced amidst a puddle of spilled cider and broken glass.

      The two children, fearing blame, took off in the direction of their respective mothers, while Roxie and Kevin began picking up the lethal shards.  They assumed someone would come out from behind the bar to help them with the mess, but the bartenders, already overworked with the high spirited crowd, left them to their own devices.  When they had recovered most of the sharp bits and pieces, Kevin went off in search of a mop from the utility closet down the hall, while Roxanne, still curious about the strange woman, left to hunt down information, as well as paper towels, from the hotel kitchen.

______________________________

       As he maneuvered his way through the guests, Kevin searched for the bride and groom, expecting some type of tirade from his sister over his clumsiness, and the resulting damage.  But the two of them were no where in sight, and he assumed they were off somewhere, taking yet another posed photograph.  Considering himself lucky to avoid that confrontation, he headed toward the hall outside the room's main doors.  He recalled seeing a small utility closet at the far end when he first came in, and assumed there might be a mop in there that he could use to clean up the mess.

      Locating the spot, he turned the handle and flung open the door, only to be greeted with a high pitched shriek, and the door slammed back in his face.  It took only a few nano seconds of time for his brain to register what his poor eyes had seen, and before he could choke out a few words, Beckett's voice spoke through the door, holding back a laugh as he did so.

      "Uh...sorry Kev.  Thought I had locked that door."

      Mortified beyond belief, Kevin could only sputter.  "Damn.  You guys couldn't wait a few measly hours?  This is a hotel, for pete's sake. Get a regular room!"

      There was the sound of muffled giggles, and Kevin could only shake his head, and walk away, wishing with his entire soul that he could wash his eyeballs of the sight of his baby sister, her hands tightly pinned over over head by her new husband, and the top of her gown unbuttoned and opened, baring her all the way to her waist.

                                               
Interrupted in the utility closet