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.
After their exit through the rectory's front door, no one heard much from the reunited Mr. and Mrs. Beckett for nearly a week.
Well...that wasn't actually the whole truth. Downstairs in the deli, the Schillers, and a few wise customers, were treated to a symphony of rhythmic bumping and banging above their heads on a regular basis. When it happened, Gertie Schiller would look over at her husband and gave him the thumbs up sign. Oscar would stop what he was doing, glance at the ceiling, and give his wife a wink. On a few occasions, Ted would show up downstairs, sent to retrieve a sampling of fresh groceries. Though he lacked any inclination toward conversation, it was generally agreed that he looked exceptionally well, and seemed in remarkably good spirits, and more than a few sighs followed his departure back upstairs to his wife.
Noticeably absent from the store was Fr. Kevin, who chose to do his shopping a mile away at the brand new Super Saver. It wasn't clear who decided not to speak to whom, but the distance between the priest and his sister's husband grew to uncomfortable proportions, and placed Maureen in the awkward role of mediator, a job she didn't relish.
The weeks of summer slipped by in the easy way of sunny skies, and cool breeze evenings. The day Maureen returned to work was celebrated with free coffee and apple struedel, though most of the neighborhood just stopped by the deli to show their affection for the Sheriff's pretty wife. Beckett was cleared for active duty, the investigation into the shooting clarifying that he acted in self defense, the actual details not part of the official file, thanks to the Powers That Be. Because most of her crimes were class one felonies, the Feds took custody of Cassandra Donaghue as soon as her condition became stable enough to move her. Those who witnessed her transfer to a federal prison hospital spoke of threats made against the entire town of Dollyville, but they were all written off as the rantings of a crazy woman who would spend the rest of her days behind bars.
Things were good. Better. She had managed to wake up two days this week without the accident being the first thing on her mind, Ted's solid form splayed across the bed a constant reminder that they were moving forward. The first few days had been a blur of nonstop lust, a physical hunger that superceded all the pain, the hurt and the guilt. But eventually reality set in, and the words fought to be spoken. And speak they did, despite the monumental job of dragging each and every word from her husband's lips. He explained about Cassie as best he could, as best as she would let him. In truth, she didn't want to know about their past, about this crazy intimate bond built on things she didn't want to say out loud. He had shared his feelings with her in the only way he could, a few words at a time, but mostly through his body, as if she could find the answers there. And there were a few times he had almost come close to saying the words.
Maureen shook off the reverie, and turned her attention to the inventory on the shelves. It was no use obsessing over that one thing. Her husband cared for her deeply. Wanted to share his life with her. Of that she was sure. The words? They would come when he was ready.
She finished with the numbers on the Italian imports, and began to rearrange the jars and bottles into an attractive display. This range of products had been a popular addition to the store's stock, luring customers away from the higher priced food boutiques in the center of town. She wondered if the Schillers would be open to a larger selection of gourmet cheeses, and eyed the corner of the store housing a few large pickle barrels. The bell on the front door tinkled, and she turned around to welcome the new customer, a familiar face, but one that shocked her none the less.
Roxanne Spinelli stood in the doorway, her long dark hair drawn up into a pony tail at the back of her head. There was an air of hesitancy about her, as if she wasn't sure how her arrival would be met.
"Hi, Maureen. It's good to see you."
If Roxie was unsure about her welcome, Maureen was not. She flung herself at the woman and hugged her, squealing with glee. "It's so good to see you, too. You can't believe how worried I was! You left so suddenly, and then I couldn't get a hold of you. How are you?"
Relief swept over her, and Roxie hugged her friend back. "I'm fine. Really I am. It's a...a long story. But that can wait. How are you? I'm so sorry to hear about the... accident. About the baby. I would have come sooner, but I just found out last week. Ran into your brother Brendan at Cuppa Joe's. He told me about everything that's been going on. Oh Mo...I'm so sorry."
The emotion of the moment took over, and the women were silent as they clung to each other. Then Maureen pulled her friend over to a small cafe table. "Sit here, and let me make you a cup of tea. Jasmine, right?"
Roxanne nodded, and settled herself in the chair. "How are you feeling? It's great that you're back at work already."
Maureen spoke as she poured the hot water into the cups. "I needed to get back to a routine. Ted was adamant that I just relax. Take it easy. But I told him getting back to the deli would be the best medicine. Keeps my mind busy and all." She placed the cups on the table, along with a few slices of home made pound cake, and took the seat across from Roxie.
The women fell into a routine that belongs to long time friends, sharing as if they had never been apart. "Speaking of your husband...how is he? Brendan had mentioned that the two of you had a rough patch, but that you were back together now. Things good?"
A blush crept up around the red head's ears, reminding Roxie of Kevin when he was embarrassed. She squelched the thought immediately.
"Ted and I are...making it work. I need him in my life. I tried not needing him, but it...wasn't good. I was miserable. So, we are trying to move forward. So far, so good."
"I'm happy for you, Mo. Can't say I blame you for not wanting to give him up. He's...well...quite yummy...for lack of a better word."
The blush appeared again, but she giggled. "Yeah...he is that." She reached for a piece a pound cake, happy to be engaged in simple girl talk. "So...your turn. What's going on in your life? What brings you to Dollyville? When you left town so abruptly, I was worried something awful happened."
Roxanne tried not to look off in the distance, a true tell that she was about to lie to her good friend. She couldn't very well tell Maureen the truth...that she and Kevin had time traveled to the past...inhabited someone else's body...and that her counter part had wrecked havoc on her personal and professional life. She and Kevin had promised to keep the whole crazy event between the two of them, unwilling to open the door to the ridicule and finger pointing that was sure to follow. Now she was forced to deceive one of her dearest friends. "Things got complicated back in Boston. A friend needed me to help her with an abusive boy friend. It...sorta spiraled out of control. I'm sorry that I had to leave town so quickly. And that I had to take some of your clothes. For my friend. I can pay you back for them."
Maureen's face crumpled in worry. "Oh gosh no...I don't care about the clothes. What an awful thing. Is your friend okay? Does she still need help? Maybe I can ask Ted to look into it for you. He seems to know how to handle these things. Please, how can I help?"
Her friend's concern making her even more guilty, Roxie tried to keep her voice from raising to a higher pitch. "Thanks...but it's all settled now. She's safe. He's out of the picture. But unfortunately, all this trouble had an impact on my job at Big Al's. They let me go, and I've been picking up odd waitress jobs here and there. That's how I ran into your brother, Brendan. Working at Cuppa Joe's. I had to make sure I could cover this last semester of school. Finish, and get my degree in Criminal Justice. And I did. I'm officially a college graduate."
"Rox, that's great! Congratulations! We need to celebrate your good news."
"Thanks Momo, but what I really need...the reason I'm here...is a job. I'm never gonna make any headway with the Boston PD. The waiting list just to test into the program is a two year wait. I don't want to end up in another waitress position back home. And I don't want to go back to...to the dancing. I'm done with that part of my life. I want to start my career in law enforcement. And I can't do that in Boston." She hesitated a moment, laying it all open. "I was hoping...well...that maybe I could work here in Dollyville. For your husband, in the Sheriff's office. I know it's a lot to ask, but I don't know anyone else. Plus, I really enjoyed my visit here. This is a wonderful little town. I have you guys here, and nothing really keeping me in Boston. I haven't spoken to my brothers in years."
"Stay here in Dollyville? Rox, that's a great idea! We'll have so much fun together. Like old times! And of course Ted will help you! I'll give him a call right now." She leaned over and gave her friend a hug. "Oh Roxie, this is the best news ever. Kevin will be so surprised to see you."
He'd walk to the ends of the Earth and back for that woman. If he wasn't sure of it before, it was now solidly etched into every fiber of his being. For once, he was graceful for the opportunities his wealth could offer him. His Desert Rose would want for nothing. Ever.
Her willingness to take him back, to accept him as he was, shook him to his core. The last few weeks had made even he, an unbeliever of things connected to the heart, optimistic that he could have the normalcy of a marriage, something he had always thought an impossibility. So when she asked for a favor, a small favor in her eyes, it was difficult to say no.
"Baby, it's just not that simple. There are guide lines to the hiring of deputies. Protocol to follow. I can't just hire Roxanne because she needs a job. It's simply not done that way."
"But Ted, she's one of my oldest friends. We've known each other since we were kids. She's almost like family."
"The fact remain, I couldn't even randomly decide to hire your brother, Brendan. And he's a trained cop with experience. Roxanne's fresh out of school. She's had no law enforcement experience at all."
"That's not true, Ted. She's helped a lot of people solve their problems back in Boston. She was like a real private investigator. And you've met her yourself. You know she's really smart. You said so yourself."
"Damn, sweetheart...you're putting me in a tight spot. I don't want to be the bad guy."
"Just talk to her, okay, love? See what you can do. You'll think of something. You always do."
Her blind faith in him always made him think unclearly. He sighed, unable to tell her no. "Okay, tell her to come talk to me. Later this afternoon...around 3:00 PM. But I'm not promising anything, you understand?"
"I understand. But you'll find away to help Roxie out. I trust you. Plus, just think of all the big favors I'll owe you, my love?"
He smiled, and shifted the phone to the other ear. "You, my dear, do not play fair. Just know that I will collect on each and everyone of those favors. You can count on it."
"So then I suppose it's a win, win and win situation...you, me and Roxie too." She laughed, that high pitched sing-song sound that ran up and down his body. "Oh, by the way, hon...I invited Kevin to dinner tonight. And since Roxie's here in town, I thought I'd invite her too. I hope you don't mind?"
"As a matter of fact, I do mind. You know perfectly well how I feel about your self-righteous, sanctimonious ass of a brother. Besides, I was hoping to collect on those favors."
"Please, Ted. Can't you and Kevin forgive and forget? You and I managed to move forward from that whole awful mess. Why can't you and Kevin make amends? You were good friends at one point. I want for you and Kev to be that way again."
"Your brother put his nose in my business for that last time, baby. I don't need a 6' 4" conscience following me around dictating my decisions. He can save it for the sheep of his flock."
"He's my brother. My favorite brother. And he was only doing what he believes is right. The two of you at odds really hurts me, Ted. Can't you try to be pleasant? You don't have to be best friends. Just stop with the snarling, snarky comments every time he's in the room. Please? For me?" She stopped long enough to take a quick breath, and dived right back into the conversation. "Besides, Roxie's going to be there tonight, and I don't want her to see the two of you bickering like school yard bullies. Kevin's always tense when Roxanne's around anyway. We don't need to make the atmosphere worse, do we?"
The idea popped into his head before all the words were out of her mouth. Roxanne Spinelli was O'Kenney's Achilles heel, of that he was sure. Despite wearing his Roman collar as a blazing badge of celibacy, it was obvious that the man had it bad for the tall brunette. He'd seen those puppy dog eyes following the woman around as if she were a juicy bone just out of his reach. And then there was Roxie's sudden departure from town while he and Maureen had been on their honeymoon. Kevin had been less than forth coming about the details, and had been acting very strangely upon their return.
Finding employment in the Sheriff's office for an ex-stripper would be difficult, but the thought of his brother-in-law's constant discomfort over the situation was definitely a plus. It would serve as pay back for his constant meddling. With the brunette in town, Kevin would surely have his attention somewhere else, and out of he and Maureen's business.
He leaned back in his chair, trying to keep the grin out of his voice. "As you wish, love. I will be my most gracious self this evening. By the way, does your brother know Roxanne is back in town? That she intends to stay permanently?"
"No, I don't think so. She just arrived about an hour ago, and is still here with me. I sent her upstairs to our flat to freshen up a bit. Why?"
"Hmmmm...no reason in particular. Though, I don't think you should tell Kevin she's here ahead of time. You don't want him to back out, do you? Just tell him it's a quiet family dinner so we can talk, he and I. He'll be pleasantly surprised to see Roxie there."
"You're probably right. I'll just let him find out when he gets here. No use having him get all worked up about it in advance. Thanks for being such a sweetie, Ted. This will mean so much to Roxanne."
"Your wish is my command, baby. I'll see you later this evening. I'm suddenly looking forward to company tonight."
Copyright 2014 Victoria T. Rocus
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