Last night ………..
RF was outside pacing when Tour came dragging in looking exhausted and went straight to the palapa lounge and flopped down.
“We lost the tracker on the yacht that was stolen and we can’t find it on any satellite photos.” RF glared at her. “And what the hell is wrong with you?”
“I’m sure Hondo will get one of the back-ups working soon. The yacht is probably under a heavy tree canopy by now and can’t get a signal through anymore.”
“And the Wordies know I’m spending time here. They’re asking questions and making noises about wanting a vacation.”
RF gasped. “NO!!!!! Not just no, HELL NO!!!!!!!”
“Chill and mac want a karaoke machine so they can provide entertainment.”
“That’s it. I’m killing them all. Or sending them to the 5th circle of Hell or something.”
“So to distract them, I served cheesecake and mojitos.”
“Not a combination I’d normally think of.” RF sat and looked carefully at Tour. Her cousin looked really exhausted.
“Then I put on some music, to stop all the questions about where I was and what I was doing because the cake and drinks weren’t working. It was a tango. Mac grabbed me yelled, ‘Let’s dance!’”
“Mac’s the wallaby, right?”
“ummmm ……….. aren’t you a little short to try and dance with a wallaby? Besides, she female.”
“She also had a full pitcher of mojitos and she’s just sort of tossed me around.” Tee sighed. “I need a chiropractor. She even tried to dip me.”
“Groundhogs are NOT built to ‘dip’. Why didn’t you stop her?”
“Oh, you mean like yelling ‘No Mac! Stop that! Don’t DIP ME!’ followed by screaming in pain? Yes, I did that.” Tee glared at her cousin. “And if I could lift this skillet, I’d beat your grinning face flat.”
“Sorry.” RF tried to look contrite, but she just couldn’t.
“It won’t be funny if they show up here demanding rooms, food, and beach time and taking up every lounge by the pool.”
RF stopped smiling. HA! Served her right. Hondo came out of the villa. “We have the tracker back. It’s in Suriname in a small village on a tributary of the Coppename River.” He looked at Tour. “You OK? You look exhausted.”
“I was doing the tango with a drunk wallaby who had trouble understand why groundhogs and wallabies WERE NOT MEANT TO DANCE TOGETHER!”
“Ok then. I have Advil if you need it. Not to be rude, but why didn’t you just call Gil, your yeti. He seems fond of the wallaby.”
“He’s in Nepal for his mother’s birthday.”
“Oh.” Hondo simply could NOT resist. “How old is she? I mean, do yeti’s live a long time?”
“She was born three years after the last tyrannosaur died.” Tee looked annoyed. “How the hell should I know how old his mother is? She and I aren’t exactly pen pals.”
“Wow, you’re as cranky as RF tonight.” That got him two growls. Hondo had finely developed instincts for dangerous situations (he was a former SEAL) and he knew he was in one now – caught between a skillet wielding marmot who wanted to vent some rage and spell-caster with a real patience problem. “We’re setting up a plan to get them out. Ethan has called in another team to extract the rest of the family while we get the two on Suriname. It will take 24 hours to get everything in place and about 4 hours to get in and out if all goes well.” He’d been moving slowly and carefully out of range of Tee and keeping RF in his peripheral vision. She liked him, but he wasn’t counting on that given her mood.
Trey strode up, two pairs of small brown eyes tracked him like lasers. “RF, your books were stolen in the Midnight Madness swap.” Hondo barely resisted urge to hurl himself into Trey’s arms with a “My HERO!” Oblivious to his peril, Trey scooped up Tee and said, “Don’t take long with the transformation, there’s work to get done.” The growl as he turned had him calling, “It was Amy!”
Tee took a moment to check Trey’s expression. Yup. he knew exactly what he’d just done. “You do live dangerously, don’t you?”
Trey laughed and settled on one of the patio lounges with Tee in his lap. “I was a jewel and art thief. Now I’m partners with a small animal of questionable mental stability who has a witch and djinn as friends and calls up Lucifer for help. It doesn’t get more dangerous than that.”
“Sure it does. When you momma starts matchmaking.”
Trey froze. “She isn’t? Not again???!!!!!!”
“She thinks you spend too much time with questionable companions. And I don’t mean paid companion types, either. She likes RF, but thinks she’s nuts and puts you in too much danger.”
“That’s hardly RF’s fault. We’re just solving the insurance problems. By definition, the people are crooks, often dangerous ones. Like now.”
“Yes, well, you might want to explain to her that people who systemically cheat insurance companies rarely go quietly when caught.” Tee hesitated a moment and added, “And ask Big Daddy over to dinner. Your momma was really impressed by him.”
The both looked at the palapa when they heard the loud *POOF!* signaling a completed transformation. Trey just shook his head, long since resigned to RF vindictive nature. Tour sighed, then looked at him and said, “I’d leave RF home. You momma does NOT need to see things like that. She’ll make you be a guard at the local WalMart just to keep you safe.”
“Obviously, you have no experience with the Black Friday shoppers at WalMart,” Trey replied.
Next morning …………..
It was the calm before the storm.
Everyone was enjoying breakfast out on the patio while final arrangements were being made to extract the family caught in the yacht theft/smuggling gang. Big Daddy had high power attorneys covering for the captain who had been blackmailed into sailing the stolen boats and the DEA agents who appeared were not pleased. They were less pleased when they learned the key suspect would probably skate free thanks to diplomatic immunity. They were inside, busy burning up lines trying to cut red tape in a fruitless effort to gain control despite the clear implication of one of their own. Witlow sat outside eating and enjoying the sunshine. He’d learned just how pointless those battles were. Diplomatic immunity was a trump card and there was no way around it unless the other government revoked it – and Venezuela wasn’t about to do that!
“You certainly are taking your time this morning.” RF eyed her cousin Tee as she had her sixth helping from the buffet. Quiche, French toast, fruit quick breads, muffins, OJ, bacon, sausage, and ham steak.
“They never expect me before noon. They get fed, that’s all that matters to them.” Talking about her Wordies.
“Well, I hope you left a big breakfast buffet. I don’t want them showing up here looking for food.”
“I’m sure Daisy took care of it. I had everything ready.” RF stared at her. “Maybe I should check.” Tour whipped out her iPhone (the one she never let RF use) and called Daisy. After assuring her all was going as planned she asked about the breakfast buffet …………….. and got silence. OOPS “Soon as I finish eating, I’ll be there!” Apparently, the absence of food had not gone unnoticed. Damn!
Just then the book theft alarm rang ………… “Jasmine in the Friends WL swap.”
Judging by the growl, there was book RF seriously wanted. How unfortunate for Jasmine. “Hurry up with the transformation. I need your help back at the bakery.”
“Not a frigging chance.”
“It’s that or the Wordies come here. Your choice.” RF growled again, but Tour ate like she wasn’t even there, till finally her cousin huffed and stalked to the palapa. Tour muttered, “She needs a new hobby.”
“I HEARD THAT!”
Everyone at the table wisely stayed quiet. Even the usually vocal Lula Mae. The loud …….. *POOF!* made them jump a bit.
“Hurry up RF. We’ll need to make lunch for them to shut them up!”
“I am NOT cooking for your lot of nut cases.”
“You are if don’t want them here at the villa by dinner!’
“I hate you.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll lay awake worrying about it. Get in the aircraft. We gotta go.”
“I have to text my Daisy to steal books!” RF was still complaining as Tee shoved her cousin up the boarding ramp. “Use my phone. Bye everyone!”
A bemused group waved at the departing craft that sort of seemed to disappear. Witlow watched the whole thing, started to say something, then just shook his head and had more French toast. “Something bothering you Agent Witlow?” Of all the folks at the table, it was Lula Mae, with her too shrewd eyes that asked.
“I keep expecting men in black to walk in and tell me I didn’t see anything.”
She snorted. “They tried that once when Tour and RF were young. Tried to take them away. Didn’t work out well and they’ve left them alone since.”
“What happened?” He was almost sorry he asked, but he just could NOT let that pass.
Lula Mae shrugged. “Not exactly sure. RF hadn’t really grown into her gift yet and Tour was a pup too, but those two guys ended up in Point Barrow, Alaska with no money, no memory of getting there, and no way home for 6 months. No one ever came around again.”
OK, he was right. He was sorry he asked.
A few hours later …………….
RF had arrived back ahead of Tour and immediately walked up to her partner and yelled, “You are supposed to save me from things like that?”
Trey stopped talking to Ethan and Hondo to look at her. What was she babbling about? “Save you from book thefts?”
“FROM BEING KIDNAPPED BY TOUR!”
“It looked to me like you were just paying her back for all the help she’s given you. It certainly didn’t look like any kidnapping.”
“SHE PUSHED ME UP THAT RAMP!”
“So? You push your cousins around all the time. You weren’t exactly yelling for help.”
“I COULDN’T YELL FOR HELP!”
“Why not? You weren’t gagged. She was just shoving you around to get you moving.” He looked RF over. “You don’t look injured. So it couldn’t have been horrible.”
“I JUST SPENT HOURS WITH THOSE INSANE WORDIES! I MAY BE MENTALLY DAMAGED AND YOU HAVE NO SYMPATHY?”
“You were already pretty strange, so any mental damage would be hard for me to detect. OUCH! Don’t bite my ankles! And why are you shouting?”
“I WANT TO BE CODDLED!”
“For helping the same cousin that got shot helping you solve a crime on Barbados? Who managed a brilliant coup to get the matriarch of your Southern clan firmly under your paw? Who stopped your three most hated cousins from harassing you and their pups by using information you never knew existed? What did you do? A little cooking? You probably didn’t work as hard as you do in your own Bakery. You’re just throwing a hissy fit because she maneuvered you going to the OTC Bar, Grill, and Bakery and chatting with her Wordies. Seems a small enough thank-you for what she did.”
RF stood there, silent, staring at her partner for several seconds, and calmly said, “I hate you.” Then she walked away.
“You only hate me because you know I’m right!” She flipped him the claw and kept going. Trey just chuckled and turned back to the two SEALs. “What, you’re both looking very strange.”
“I honestly don’t think I would have been brave enough to do that,” admitted Ethan.
“She knows it’s the truth, inconvenient, but still the truth. She owes Tour and today was minor payback. She’s just used to always getting her own way. She couldn’t yell for help without looking ungrateful for everything Tour has done and she knows it. She just does not like being reminded.”
The two SEAL’s just shook their heads and let it go.
That evening, the plan went into motion. Just before Ethan, Dev, and Hondo took off for Suriname, Tour arrived and gave them something to help identify them to the man and child as the good guys. Then she wandered out by RF, where she’d been sulking since dinner.
“You still in a snit.”
“You made me sit thru 10 songs by the wolf and the wallaby.”
“It would have been 20 if they had their way. Be glad I cut them off. Besides, they all like you.” RF stared at her. “OK, mostly they’re a little afraid of you, but they like you anyway.”
“They hugged me!”
“Yes, I know, you’ll get over it. I promise your reputation will not be damaged by the hugging incident.”
“How do you put up with it?”
Tour shrugged. “It all seems normal to me, just like your Bakery Cafe seems normal to you.”
“At least they’re human.”
“Not all of them,” muttered Tour.
“Oh, nothing. Come dawn, maybe the worst will be over. I see Witlow, Rast, DHS, and the DEA guys are getting ready to leave.”
“They’re following once the hostages are out. Except Witlow and Rast. They have a lot of paperwork stuff to wade through yet and all that cheating in the casinos to get straightened out. We gave them a lot of video and they have a lot of warrants to serve and people to extradite in insurance fraud too.” Tour nodded. “But you were expecting that. You were expecting everything.”
“Well, I admit the Valkyrie was a surprise, but yeah, I figured it would happen this way.”
“Are you psychic or something?”
Tour shrugged. “Something. But right now, I’m kind of hungry. I’m going to raid the kitchen. You want anything?”
“Just bring whatever you’re having.”
Trey walked out and Tour winked at him as she passed. He sat next to his partner who steadfastly refused to look at him. Sighing deeply, he picked her up and set her in his lap – on a cushion because he wasn’t a complete idiot about her claws. “You may as well get over it. You survived and did a good deed that needed doing, so there’s no need for all this drama. If it’s any consolation, Witlow is scared to death of you.”
“That’s good.” RF looked quite cheerful at that statement.
“And the SEALs are all worried you’ll turn me into a toad.”
RF chuckled. “I’ll bet Lula Mae laughed.”
“She did, so did Cleatus and Big Daddy. They all thought it was payback time. Looks like you got off lightly.”
“I suppose. Where’s Tour with the food?”
“She’s waiting on me.”
“Waiting for what …………… ” RF’s head whipped up. “NO! NONONONONONONO! Not again.”
Trey set her down and stood. “Doree in the Reading 1,2,3 swap. I’ll be back with the food.”
As Trey walked in the kitchen, Big Daddy looked up. Rupert had gone with Ethan and his group of SEALs as extra protection and a fast exit. Horace and Jethro were with the other team. Not even Witlow or Rast knew they were there. Trey would be heading out to the recovery vessel with some lawyers to wait on the family and make sure the agents kept their promises. “How’d it go?”
“Three steals in 24 hours? She’s annoyed as all hell.”
“Well there better not be flaming swords again, because that sure didn’t work out!” Tee yelled from the kitchen, sounding pretty annoyed.
Trey peered at the rising image and called back, “We’re good! Three heads, lots of spikes, but no flames or swords.” Just when did stuff like this become ‘normal’?
RF, Big Daddy, Special Agent Witlow and Chief Detective Inspector Rast were finally back at the villa with Marilyn. The SEAL’s, various police departments and international law enforcement agents were still rolling up the men in the operation. Tour’s Daisy and about 15 of her clan and her Cousin Daisy (RF’s Daisy) were on hand to greet the family and their own cousins – Petal and Ginny. The family looked a bit shellshocked, but were holding up as the FBI whisked them off to a safe house with lawyers in tow. At least 7 different governments wanted to charge the involved men and women with everything from kidnapping to smuggling, to drug running, to tax evasion – yes, even the IRS was there. Trey, Ethan, Dev, and Hondo were busy locating yachts and identifying all the people involved in the insurance scam before everything disappeared into evidence files at some inept government agency. They hoped to at least get the data on the Americans and Europeans, and get copies back to the insurance companies involved. Rupert, Horace, and Jethro minded their own business and Jethro and Horace slipped back to the djinn world before they had to answer too many questions. With the dust settled about the family, Tour went home with her Daisy taking Cousin Daisy, Lula Mae, Greta, and Johann back to RF’s place on the way using the pushmi-pullyus, so things were fairly quiet. RF had no idea where Cleatus was, he usually turned up when needed.
As expected, the Venezuelan scumbag claimed diplomatic immunity and his country insisted he be returned. But his uncle was missing – the uncle that had been caught on camera threatening the captain and his family and cutting several shallow reminders into the good captains skin. He had disappeared and that made RF uneasy. He had no diplomatic immunity. He was nominally a coffee grower despite his political ties. He’d been effectively disavowed.
“RF, will you stop pacing? You’re making me dizzy!” RF barely bit back a retort about Marilyn always being dizzy when at least 8 armed men raced into the room. RF quickly turned one group into lizards and the other into field mice. Then 2 more men came in and she went for her gerbil powder ……….. but nothing happened. A third man grabbed her, careful to avoid her claws, while Rast, Witlow, Big Daddy, even Marilyn – who had tried to turn the one man into a carp (Marilyn wasn’t very good at transformations, but she did a damn fine carp), but again, the spell just slithered off. Once all three somewhat bruised and slightly bloody men were trussed up to chairs, the man holding RF set her down. “Boss wants to talk to you before you die.” His Spanish accent was so thick RF could barely understand him.
“Oh goody. My Spanish is pretty limited, so this should be short.”
“Then it is just as well I was educated in the US and my English is up to the task.” A handsome man with slivering hair stepped into the villa’s living room. ‘Go watch the Zodiac. We do not want nosy neighbors calling the police till we’re done.” The men left and it was just the leader and his guard. “So, you are the famous Reacherfan Groundhog.” He looked at the mice and lizards. “It is as I had heard, it seems. I did not truly believe, but it would seem my expensive precautions worked.”
Marilyn snarled, “A black witch!”
“Gag her, Raul.” Marilyn put up a struggle, but ended up gagged and glaring. She was using her fingers to and cast some spell, at the intruders or something else, RF couldn’t tell.
“Is there something I can do for you? Get you coffee, tea, cyanide?”
The man laughed. “You are as I was warned, arrogant and insolent, but we will take care of that.” He looked around. “Not as nice as your Barbados villa, Mr McCauley, but a good place to hide in plain sight. And Agent Witlow, how nice to meet the man who escaped the wrath of a vindictive marmot, unlike your superior, Mr Garrison. And Chief Detective Inspector Rast, your recent successes have been extraordinary. All you good luck runs out today. And Marilyn, a witch of minor ability, yet friends of the most powerful spellcasting marmot alive.”
“Aren’t you afraid I’ll call in a favor from a powerful friend?”
“Ah, Lucifer himself, I understand. He’s ………. busy. I paid dearly to have him otherwise occupied. I have no desire to meet him in person.”
“If you signed in blood, I guarantee you will, sooner or later.”
“Then let us hope it’s much later. I enjoy my life, the life you seriously disrupted.”
RF shrugged. “Yeah, but he’ll enjoy your death for far longer than all the years you’ll ever live.”
Under his swarthy skin, the man paled a bit at the truth he’d avoided thinking about. Then he shook himself and stared at RF contemptuously. “But you and your friends will already be there to greet me.”
“I doubt that …………… señor?”
“Ah, forgive my manners. Allow me to introduce myself, Don Carlos Alfonzo de la Fuente.”
“I’ll just call you Chuck. Or would you prefer Fonzie?”
“You are completely without breeding or manners.” The man’s eyes narrowed in barely suppressed anger.
“My cousin Lula Mae would agree whole heartedly.” She gave kind of a full body shrug. “So is this the part where you gloat about catching me and the creative death you have planned?”
“This is where I learn who betrayed me, or you watch your friends die ………… badly.”
Again she shrugged. “Given the fact the villa staff will be arriving in about,” she checked the clock, “oh, an hour, you don’t have a lot of time.” RF made sure to keep staring at the man because she was almost certain Cleatus was on the patio. Maybe he could get help here fast. “So want to know who sold you out? Seriously? That’s the big question?”
The man scowled at RF and her attitude, which far surpassed her size and even had the FBI agent sighing behind his gag. “I treat my people well and value loyalty and repay those who betray me harshly.”
“Yeah. I saw some of that ‘treatment’ applied to a 9 year old girl in Guyana. It was one of your finer moments and destined for a YouTube viral hit. Though ‘hit’ seems the wrong word under the circumstances.”
“She was as mouthy and rude as you!”
“And all of what? 80 pounds? Hitting her must have been so satisfying.”
“Like you, she is a female who does not know her place.”
“Like your wife and daughter?”
The smug smile vanished. “My family would never betray me.”
“We are blood. That is unthinkable.”
“Yet your nephew Juan Carlos escaped on diplomatic immunity, but where are you? On an international most wanted list? You think some rich father won’t hire someone to take you out now that he knows who supplied the fake cancer drugs for his child? Hell, if he was Spec Ops, he and his buddies will hunt you to the ends of the earth for free. If I were you, I’d start running, because men like that have no boundaries on revenge for their children.”
“No one knows I am in any way involved except my nephew.”
“And the captain and his family – and everyone who sees the video of you playing Mr Big when the captain learned about the drugs and almost got his family away to safety.”
“How do you know all this? They are liars and have no proof!”
“And after all, the smell of coffee masks drugs, and besides, you weren’t hiding cocaine, just fake life saving anti-cancer and heart drugs. And you had the cover of the CIA and DEA for the price of a bunch of worthless information, much of which you and your nephew just made up, and just enough truth to keep you safe. Did you laugh all the way to the bank?”
“The yachts, they were my nephews way around those Romanian thugs and their demands for more and more of a share. The fools thought that was primary smuggling route.”
“But you outsmarted them.”
“Of course. I have an MBA from Wharton, I understand business. I had alternate routes they knew nothing about.” The snug look was back.
“Good to know those business ethics courses really pay off. Was that the advanced deception class in Lying and Cheating? Or was it just Good Business 101?” RF could feel her friends just staring at her, but she was desperate to buy some time for Cleatus to get help. “And does your family know about the secret bank accounts where you hid your run away money?” She was just guessing, but he was the type.
Outside, a very quiet splash sounded in the pool. Don Carlos motioned for Raul to check. He half turned when a cast iron skillet swung by a really pissed off Tour connected with his knee cap sending him screaming in pain to the floor and shooting at Tee. But the bullet ricocheted off the iron and hit him in the other leg. Tour raced up his body and smacked him in the head before turning to the shocked Don Carlos who had just found his own gun and she smashed the edge of the skillet right down on the toes of his expensively shod right foot. He screamed but was still standing when he fired, again the bullet ricocheted and hit Raul in the shoulder – it was just not his day – as Tour swung and connected with his right knee – one that actually crunched so loudly the noise could be heard over his scream. She scrambled up his body and smashed his face, breaking his nose and several teeth. Raul tried to move, she whirled around in a roundhouse swing and hit his head hard enough to split his scalp open and knock him senseless. She turned back to Don Carlos just in time to slam the edge of skillet down on his wrist as he grabbed his gun, then, because she was seriously pissed, she hauled off and slammed him over the head, bouncing his face off the marble floor. Twice.
RF sat and stared at her cousin as she executed a perfect backhand swing into Raul’s head before using a powerful overhand on Dan Carlos. “You know, you should play professional tennis. That’s a hell of swing you have there.” She was so astonished at Tee, that she didn’t even see Cleatus with a kitchen knife freeing Big Daddy, Witlow, Rast and Marilyn.
Tour shook her skillet at her cousin. “What did I tell you? Do you ever listen? COLD IRON WORKS ON EVERYTHING!”
“They weren’t vampires, or fae.” RF was still trying to process what Tee had just done ………… and why the hell was she even here?
“EVERYTHING! EVEN BLACK MAGIC!”
“Ok” Now was not the best time to annoy her cousin. Not while she was mad and waving a skillet. Big Daddy had tears running down his face as he pulled his gag out and started howling with laughter. Rast was smiling and Witlow just eyed Tee with a kind of wary respect – and kept a real close eye on the skillet. Marilyn just asked, “Can you teach me to swing a skillet like that? It seems like a really useful skill.”
“Better than trying to teach her to cook,” muttered RF, who got a dark look from the witch.
A huge, white, furry creature walked in and said in deep bass voice, “Those other men are all strapped to the pool floats with duct tape, General Tour, but if they struggle, they’ll flip over and drown.” Tee looked outside as four men went still as death. She shrugged. “I could care less.”
RF turned to Witlow and said, “Do you still think she’s the ‘nice one’?” The man was not stupid enough to answer, not while Tee held that skillet and had some 8 foot tall ………… whatever the hell it was next to her. Cleatus was laughing as he cut what looked like gris-gris bags off the necks of the two men – slipping just enough to really nick them. RF knew how good Cleatus was with a knife, so those nicks were deliberate. “You want these with the others Tee?”
“Yeah. I can take care of getting rid of them safely.” Then she rounded on RF again. “When will you learn to not rely on anything but your spell casting skills and connections to Tortum and Lucifer? You need to learn some self-defense.”
“Like karate or Aikido?” Tee snarled and RF laughed and held up both paws in surrender. “OK, I’ll learn to swing a skillet. Or maybe a custom cast iron cricket bat.”
“I’ll get you custom made one as a thank-you. One for each of you.” The billionaire swept up Tour with the skillet still in her paw. “Thank-you for saving my life. Again! But how did you know?”
Tee shrugged. “Just a feeling. So I grabbed Gil and came down. Saw Cleatus sneak out and he told us where everyone was. Gil took the four outside while I took these two.” RF had a feeling her cousin had more than simple premonitions. She also had a suicidal streak when she asked sweetly, “Did Gil bring his own skillet?” Big Daddy kept a firm grip on Tour as she tried to lunge for her annoying cousin. Witlow muttered, “They’re both crazy.”
“They always were,” said Lula Mae as she strolled in, apparently not having stayed at the Bakery with Greta and Johann. She looked at the trussed up bleeding men on the floor, then at Tee. “Have you considered anger management? Between this and the clan gathering, you have quite the body count.”
“They all deserved it.”
Lula Mae shrugged. It was true. “Got the mice and lizards in cages. I counted 5 mice and 4 lizards. That sound about right?” RF nodded.
Outside, there was a “What the hell is that?” and 7 SEAL’s – Ethan, Dev and Hondo and the team of 4 SEAL’s they’d called for help walked in along with a baffled looking Trey and Rupert.
Trey scooped up RF and said, “This is all your fault, isn’t it?”
“You are TOTALLY wrong! Only the mice and the lizards are mine, the rest was Tour – and Gil, her yeti, who got the others.” She whispered, “Stay away from that skillet for awhile. She’s still kind of mad.”
“I HEARD THAT!”
“That really is a yeti?” WItlow sat down. “If my bosses ever find out, I’ll get kicked out for mental instability.”
“Don’t worry, son,” assured Big Daddy, “I’ll hire you for a lot more than you make now.”
Then Rast asked the most important question. “How did they know where to find us and all about RF?”
RF and Tour chorused, “CIA”
“Will someone please tell me what the hell happened here?” Ethan asked plaintively. “And shouldn’t we get those guys out of the pool before they tip over and drown?”
“Well, if they drown, they become mine and I’ll be delighted to escort them to Hell.” The blindingly handsome Lucifer smiled at Tour and RF, then looked at Don Carlos. “You didn’t pay them enough for what’s happening to them now – but that will seem like nothing more than a paper cut compared with what will happen to you when enter my kingdom.” Everyone stilled, even RF felt a chill pass through her. Don Carlos made a bigger mistake than coming here to the villa, and judging by the look in his eyes he realized now just how big it was.
It took a long time to get everything straightened out with various law enforcement agencies all claiming jurisdiction and none with any rules regarding assault by a groundhog, even one wielding a skillet. The mice and lizards returned to human form quite naked and more than ready to talk. Even Raul, who was still in the hospital with a concussion and broken keep cap that would require special surgery was talking – well lisping. He had that broken nose and missing front teeth, concussion, and a fractured jaw. Don Carlos tried diplomatic immunity and failed. His nephew was on the run from rival gangs because the bad press had caused Venezuela to revoke his immunity, and they agreed to extradite him. The wives and children of the two men were seeking asylum in other countries – and only Iceland would take them on a temporary basis. The CIA man disappeared – or so the CIA insisted. Lucifer had smiled at the CIA rep who made the claim – and the man had damn near wet himself. He didn’t know who the blond was, but he scared the crap out of him – literally. The DEA guy was found dead under questionable circumstances – a murder made to look like a suicide.
The SEALs had rescued the 4 men floating precariously in the pool. And Lucifer left alone, only slightly disappointed, reminding all the cartel men they would be his eventually – and he had infinite time. A total of 34 yachts were rounded up, some owners innocent, but more than half involved and others who had their yachts ‘stolen’ but didn’t replace them were also rounded up. Charges ranged from insurance fraud to filing false police reports, to drug smuggling and tax evasion. Yes, the IRS was still there and having a splendid time impounding things. They always were.
Gil had gone back to Tour’s bakery long before all the police arrived. Tour was still pissed about having her favorite skillet impounded as evidence. RF still hadn’t gotten a straight answer about how Tour knew to come back and bring help, which, given her nosy nature, drove her crazy. She was outside in the palapa while yet another round of endless questions were asked of the humans. Trey sat next to his partner. “You know, she’ll only tell you if she wants to.” He scratched her gently behind her ears.
“I know, but it’s driving me nuts!”
“Well, just assume she has some gift of seeing things and let it go.”
“But I have to KNOW!”
“Remember what happened to the Russian woman in the Indiana Jones movie about the crystal skull. Knowing everything is not a good thing.” He got up and looked down at her, “But I do know Joanne stole your books in the Location mystery swap, so maybe doing a transformation will make you feel better.”
RF snarled like her old self. Trey hid his smile till he walked away.
Big Daddy sat on the patio with a glass of bourbon and let some of his legion of lawyers handle the lawmen from 4 countries, Interpol, and half a dozen US agencies. He paid them a fortune, so they could damn well earn it. RJ was in court, so he couldn’t get there, but sent two of his people who were nearly as slippery as the famed lawyer. As Trey sat, he pushed the glass of bourbon over to him. “She still sulking over being rescued by her cousin?”
“Not sulking so much as frustrated at how Tour knew.”
“Suspect only Tour, their late Great Aunt Meg, and maybe the devil himself know the answer to that one.” He raised his glass. “To feisty groundhogs.” Trey laughed and saluted them both.