Apparently RF has a small fan club and there will be one more multipart RF story for this summer and that’s it till next year.
In the Clan Reunion story, RF first had word of the yacht thefts. Once again she and Trey and Rupert were off on an adventure to find stolen yachts. We open the story at the Bakery Cafe where RF and her cousins have returned from the Clan Reunion.
RF got Darlene’s message, but important Bakery business and her demanding partner kept her busy all morning. Finally, she broke free and headed to her workshop, only to have Lula Mae stand right in front of her, glaring.
“WHAT?????” RF was feeling cranky.
“You heading to Big Daddy’s Barbados villa and not taking us?”
“No. we’re not going there.”
“Then where are you going?”
“Big Daddy has a villa on Anguilla?”
“No, a friend of his does and he’s loaning it to us.”
“There should be plenty of room for us then. I’ll tell everyone to pack.”
“I’m going on a business trip, Lula Mae, not a vacation!”
“Well, we can use a vacation too!”
“You just got back from one in Santa Barbara! Where you annoyed me!!!!!!”
“That was weeks ago, before the Reunion. We’re due for a nice beach trip.”
“That house was ON THE BEACH!”
“Yeah, well this is a TROPICAL beach, so that’s better.” Lula Mae saw Greta, “Greta, we’re heading for Anguilla. Better let Marilyn know.” She turned back to RF, “When we leaving?”
“NEVER! YOU’RE LEAVING NEVER!” Lula Mae moved out of her much larger cousin’s way as RF stormed into her workshop. Then she took a seat by Trey. “Mite cranky today, ain’t she?”
“She had books stolen again. And this could be dangerous, Lula Mae. Yacht thieves are often thugs and pretty ruthless.”
“All the more reason to be there are back-up. She takes too many chances.” That was too true, and Trey knew it. Lula Mae was one of the few that could get RF slightly under control. Too bad Tour wasn’t available. She would clobber her cousin if she did something stupid. And she was damn cunning. The way she handled that whole thing at the clan gathering was brilliant. Sadistic, but brilliant. Those two together, no wonder the guys who tried to kill Big Daddy didn’t stand a chance.
Big Daddy’s jet was waiting for them next morning and yes, Lula Mae, Cleatus, Greta, and Johann were all tagging along – much to RF disgust.
“The vile, evil, wretched, reprehensible Marion stole my books. I shall extract my revenge.” RF stalked to the bedroom at the back of the plane where Trey put her portable workshop.
Lula Mae looked up from the magazine she was reading about the latest Paris fashions – though what that had to do with a middle-aged groundhog, Trey couldn’t begin to guess. “She on a tear about a book thief again?”
“So it would seem. She’s not usually so dramatic about it.”
Rupert, who had consumed every scrap of food RF had packed in a hamper for him was looking around the private jet for more to eat. “Are they serving dinner? I’m hungry.”
“You just ate enough for a family of 8 humans. You should be full.” Lula Mae sounded fresh out of sympathy.
“I just spent a week visiting my mother. I have to be very careful about what I eat there. I need a good steak.”
“What, your momma don’t feed you steak?”
Rupert just stared at the older marmot, not saying a word.
“Oh. OK, yeah, I see the problem now. I’d probably eat vegetarian around her myself.” Rupert’s mother had highly suspect eating habits.
“And she can’t make dessert worth a damn. Are there any jelly donuts around?”
Trey didn’t even bother looking at Rupert when he said, “Didn’t you learn your lesson about hogging the jelly donuts back in LaJolla?”
Rupert blanched at the memory. “I’ll just look for something else then.”
“Do NOT get between RF and her desserts. She’s already cranky. Don’t make it worse.” Trey knew his partner all too well, and having her cousins under foot was making her very unhappy. She even tried to kick Lula Mae down the boarding steps. Luckily, Lula Mae had kept her distance by boarding behind Marilyn, but the witch was sporting a nasty bruise on her leg.
The loud *POOF!* from the sleeping cabin had the two flight attendants looking a bit pale. The attendant named Staci placed a tray of appetizers on the table in front of Trey and asked softly, “What did she just do?”
“Transformed a book thief into something ugly and smelly,” fully expecting the usual reaction – something between horror, abject fear, and complete disbelief. Instead, she looked …….. intrigued.
“Would she mind if I talked to her about something?”
Trey shrugged. “It might be better if you spoke with her after she’s had dinner. She’s more …… civil, when she’s full. And extra desserts help – but no custard type stuff. She hates anything that tastes like custard.”
“I like custard!” Rupert cheerfully announced. “I’ll eat hers!”
Staci smiled at Rupert. “We have extra crème brulee for you. Ms RF’s request. Now I’ll just get more appetizers. I’m sure she’ll be hungry.”
As the flight attendant walked off, Rupert leaned in close to Trey, “I thought they were all scared to death of her.”
It was Marilyn who snorted. “She wants something from RF. Bet you anything it involves a cheating male.” Trey and Rupert protectively crossed their legs. Purely reflex. His cranky partner was not fond of cheaters. Trey had noticed a pale line on her ring finger where he suspected her wedding ring used to sit, so Marilyn was likely right.
RF stood there, looking at them, knowing something was going on. “WHAT?” Damn, she could be silent.
“Get up here and have some appetizers before Rupert eats them all.” Trey lifted his partner into her special seat and gave her the tray to pick from – much to Rupert’s annoyance. She looked at the sea of innocent faces. Damn. Someone wanted something. Well, it could wait till after dinner.
Sure enough, a whispered conversation between RF and flight attendant had RF back in the bedroom and another *POOF!* sounded. The flight attendant emerged looking smug and satisfied. RF refused to discuss it. Somewhere some male was paying a serious price for his transgressions.
The villa on Anguilla wasn’t as nice as Big Daddy’s place on Barbados, or as dramatic, but it was very nice, with 10 bedrooms and lots of staff. There was even a small private beach and many more huge beaches easily accessible. RF was enjoying the place.
Her favorite spot immediately became the palapa right on the water, where she shamelessly commandeered the lounge as HER’S! Big Daddy sent Jacob’s his head butler at his Barbados Villa to assist the Le Bleu staff as they adjusted to their bizarre visitors. The cooks, of course, had heard of RF and her cousin Tour and were anxious to please her. The rest of the staff was a bit nervous.
Afternoon tea – in this case, iced tea with fresh lemon – included trays of traditional and very non-traditional sandwiches and sweets carried out to RF – who promptly helped herself to generous servings. Rupert and Trey had just come back from ‘yacht shopping’ looking attractively windblown and starting to tan already. The female help at the villa was in constant danger of whiplash when they walked past, and Big Daddy was paying to replace a lot of broken china. Marilyn, meanwhile, was sending the male staff into fits in her very attractive, but skimpy, 2 piece swimsuit and her 3 other suits all of which showed off her well-endowed, curvy figure. She joined the two men and soon RF had everyone invading her private spot. She was going to grab a cast iron skillet tomorrow to help keep them out.
They’d arrived late, but Trey and Rupert headed to the casinos on St Marteen to start checking things out. RF look at Trey and Rupert and asked, “Well, any luck today over on St Maarten?”
“Rupert won about fifty grand at the poker table.”
RF gave Rupert an evil look. “We went over this. No playing tricks with the cards so you win!”
“I didn’t! It was a marked deck and I could see it!” Even Jacobs stared at the djinn in astonishment. The normally staid and quite butler was so shocked he said, “The Atlantis Casino would not use marked cards! They have a reputation and do NOT want to lose it!”
“I don’t think those were casino cards. The dealer palmed a deck and swapped it for a marked one that looked identical and suddenly I could read the cards. So I made a little money by hiding the marking on my cards so they read wrong.”
“Cheating a cheater is a dangerous thing to do Mr Rupert.” Jacobs sounded serious as a heart attack. “These rings of thieves can be quite violent. I’ve heard of killings over things like that.”
Rupert nodded. Yes, he was aware of that, but he couldn’t resist doing it. He was not any more fond of humans who cheated others than RF was. Trey sighed. “Do you remember who the dealer was?”
“A woman named Muriel, or that was the name on her badge, but I heard someone calling to her as we left and they called Sammy or Sanni.”
RF looked at Trey and this time they both sighed in resignation. One day in and it was already messy. “I’ll call Rast and see if he can get us in touch with someone quietly.”
RF looked at Rupert. “What did the man calling to the dealer look like?”
“Well, he was dressed like an American, but his accent was wrong. It’s like an American trying to pretend they’re French. They get it wrong. His mistakes were less obvious, but he was not American and certainly not Texan, which is how he dressed. Complete with boots. But he sounded nothing like Big Daddy or RJ.” Both men were native Texans, even though RJ’s accent was minimal after years of living in California, it was still there. Just like Trey’s Cajun accent was still there, slight, but noticeable and always stronger after he’d spent time at home.
Trey straightened up. “They man in the Western cut shirt and Tony Lamas?”
Rupert looked confused. “What is a ‘Tony Lama’?”
“He’s a well-known Western style boot maker,” RF explained.
“Ah, yes. The boots were very fancy with pointy toes and an odd heel. Part of them looked like lizard or a small crocodile.”
“Probably caiman. He uses that for his bespoke boots. Now, why would someone wearing Tony Lama boots get involved in an attempt to swindle the casinos? And does this have anything to do with our boat thieves?” RF’s claws drummed on the lounge.
“If I may, Ms RF, several staff members here at the villa have extended family at the Atlantic as well as the Casino Royale and several in Phillipsburg. I can have them check to see if a man wearing such boots was seen. They would be quite unusual on the islands.”
RF smiled. “Thank-you Jacobs, excellent suggestion. I’m sure Rupert will be happy to reward them generously.” Rupert squawked a bit, but the look he got from RF stopped that. He graciously agreed under the unrelenting glare of the marmot.
Jacobs chuckled and went back to the villa to oversee dinner and have a chat with the staff. RF looked at Trey, “Did you have any luck?”
“Maybe. I’ll head to Casino Royale toniht and see if I get approached. You coming?”
Trey grinned. “I bribed the right guy. Yeah, my lucky pet can come in.” RF gives a disgruntled sigh and snuggled down into her cushion. Pet! Why was she always a PET? And Trey was enjoying this waaaaay too much.
“Oh, by the way, your books were stolen in the Darkness Released swap. See you at dinner!” Trey was gone like a shot with RF’s snarl ringing in his ears. Thank heavens she wasn’t cooking! There would be a meat fork in his ass. He took a shaded lounge on the far end of the covered terrace. Trey liked Barbados and Big Daddy’s villa, it was a stunning place, but he really loved the beaches of Anguilla. Shoal Bay was favorite. Of course, he loved a lot of the Caribbean. Each island seemed so different, it would be hard to choose a favorite. His musing about the charms of the different islands was broken by a loud *POOF!* The islands were better enjoyed without a testy marmot.
Later that night back on Anguilla …………..
Cleatus sauntered over to where RF sat eating popcorn while watching Trey pace back and forth lecturing her about turning humans in small animals or awful demons. There was some yelling and a lot of arm waving and finger pointing. “Something happen tonight?” Cleatus grabbed some popcorn and settled in near RF, careful not to crowd her.
“Oh, this man kept patting my head for luck and suddenly broke out in hives and had to leave the casino.”
“That’s all?” Cleatus didn’t believe that Trey was this upset over hives.
“Well this woman kept pestering Trey. Rubbing against him – and then she tried to grab his arm that was holding me.”
“She trying to kidnap you?”
“Doubt it. She just wanted me gone so she could have Trey.”
Cleatus nodded and ate more popcorn. “What did you do?”
“What makes you think I did anything?”
“Cause you’re not answering my question and Trey’s giving you a lecture.”
“ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME RF?” Trey yelled right at her. She stared for a moment, then gave a noncommittal shrug. “That woman had hair all over her body!”
“Fur,” she corrected.
“FUR???!!!!!! What kind of fur?”
“Weasel. Ferret to be precise.”
“You made her a giant ferret?” Her partner sounded rather stunned.
“No, I made her a human covered in ferret fur. See, I didn’t do a transformation, because I promised I wouldn’t, and didn’t give her hives, because after that head patter incident I promised I wouldn’t, but I didn’t promise anything about fur. So now she’s covered in ferret fur.”
“Why ferret?” Trey knew he should be lecturing her again, but honestly, what more could be said?
“Well, I could have made her a polecat I suppose, but ferret seemed a better idea.”
“Polecat? You mean a skunk?”
“No. A polecat is not a skunk. Americans call skunks that, but polecats are really a good sized weasel. Skunks aren’t weasels. They’re kind of distant cousins.”
“Janice Baker is now covered in ferret fur?”
“She almost made you drop me!!!!!! It was that or she was going straight to guinea pig.”
Trey sort of fell into a chair and stared at his partner. He had long since given up on her transforming book thieves but had stopped her turning rude waiters into lemurs. This was a first. And a woman in a lowcut evening gown covered in fur – two dark rings around her eyes and dark ears, was a very disconcerting sight.
Oblivious, or just ignoring Trey, RF cheerfully added, “Did you know the blackfoot ferret was also called the American polecat? The eat prairie dogs in the wild. Of course the ferrets in the Bakery are a lot smaller than me, or even Cleatus, and marmots in general, so we’re kind off the menu.”
“She’ll lose the fur?”
“In about 2 to 3 days. A little longer for her rump.”
“Why fur or why does the rump take longer?”
“The rump fur.” Was he really having this conversation about ferret fur on human rear ends?
“I’m not really sure, but she might have to get it waxed. For some reason, ferret fur does really well on human rumps. She can just wear jeans. The tail will hardly show.”
“Tail? SHE HAS A TAIL?????”
OOPS. hummmmmmm “Didn’t I mention that? I’m sure I did. It will go away.”
“You’re shouting again and that vein in your head has popped. You really should just relax and have a drink. Wild Turkey. I’m sure Jacobs has some around here.”
As she tried to scurry past, Trey grabbed RF by the scruff of her neck and held her up till they were eye level. ” How. Long. Will. She. Have. A. TAIL?”
“Oh, a week, maybe 10 days. ……………… a month at most.” He stared at her silently, then put her back on the patio where she sat, patiently watching him. Twice he opened his mouth, but nothing came out. Finally he managed, “No more tails on humans.” Damn, another rule. He had an awful lot of rules. Then he walked away.
“Shouldn’t have mentioned the tail, RF.”
“It just sort of slipped out.”
“Not sure he’s taking it real well.”
“If she’d made him drop me, I would have broken a paw, maybe more than one, and maybe my ribs. I’ve had a broken paw, thank-you, I don’t need more.”
“She involved in this yacht thing?”
“I don’t think so, or if she is, she’s just the distraction. Her husband looks like a constipated toad, but he’s rich. I don’t blame her for going after Trey, just for trying to get me dropped. That was dangerous and she didn’t care if I got hurt.”
RF never heard Trey come up behind them, but as the breeze shifted she scented him. “I didn’t do it for laughs, you know.” He nodded. She was right. Janice had tried to get him to drop RF, not caring if the animal was hurt. “No more tails.”
He walked off as silently as he came. She forgot sometimes that he was a world class thief and had all the skills.
“Well, that could have been worse,” Cleatus said as he ate the last of the popcorn and got a good glare from RF. “See you in the morning RF!” And he made his getaway before she threw the bowl at him. Good thing it was plastic so they wouldn’t have bleeding paws tomorrow.
The book theft alarm went off early, but Lula Mae and RF were busy fighting while Cleatus, Johann and Greta watched …………… until RF looked at them and snarled, “If you three have nothing better to do, I’m sure I can find some work for you!” at which point Trey grabbed RF and Rupert grabbed Lula Mae and walked in opposite directions. Finally, Trey sat on the sand on the tiny private beach. “You should try discussing things first, before fighting with Lula Mae.”
“She tries to boss me around! NO ONE TELLS ME WHAT TO DO!”
“Except your cousin Tour.”
“Tour doesn’t try and run my life like that Southern busybody.”
“Tour just walks softly and carries a cast iron skillet.”
RF shrugged. She and her cousin knew each other too well and they both knew Tour would use that damn skillet. “She doesn’t tell me what to do like Lula Mae.” Now she sounded petulant.
Trey sighed. RF and Lula Mae were way too much alike. “Just walk away RF.”
“She followed me and kept badgering me.”
RF was quiet and looked around at the view and the amazing clear water. “Beautiful place, not the way Barbados is or St John in the USVI, but amazing beaches and water.”
Trey picked his wandering partner up and held her. “What was she fighting with you about?”
RF sighed. “The pictures from the clan gathering.”
“The ones Tour gave you so you could use them to blackmail everyone in sight.” It was a statement, not a question, so she shrugged.
“What does she want? Copies for herself?”
“No. She wants me to get rid of them. That way I can’t ever be tempted to do anything with them.” Trey was quiet for a long time. “OK, I see her point, but I know why you won’t do it. However, I think you’ve both forgotten something.” RF looked at him curiously. “Tour had all those pictures and she gave them to you. Do you think for one minute that your very shrewd cousin doesn’t have a full set herself? Probably multiple sets?”
RF got a small smile, it grew, then she laughed. “You’re right. It doesn’t matter what I do. Tour has them and Lula Mae wouldn’t DARE go after her.”
“See, there’s no need to argue. Now, you’ve had a book theft that needs taking care of, unless you’ve given up transforming book thieves.”
“HA! Not happening!”
“I assumed as much.” He’d carried her back to the beach palapa where her workshop was stored. “We’ll go over to Casino Royale after dinner. The man who has the yacht for sale is coming for drinks later. I think you should be around.” She nodded and checked the book theft info.
To be continued ……………………….