Tour’s Books Blog

June 15, 2014

Carly and the Tango Instructor – Part 8 & 9 THE END

Filed under: Adventures of Reacherfan Groundhog — toursbooks @ 3:46 pm
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Part 8

You know things will go badly when police say, “Why the hell are there coyotes carrying on out there?”  ….. and your small furry partner, a favorite coyote food, is outside.  Trey ran for the door yelling, “RF!”  Rupert and RJ hot on his heels.  Carly had already been questioned and her statement taken down when the police showed Carly the yearbooks.  She picked out Raul easily enough, but it was only years of dealing with ‘Hollywood magic’ – her term for plastic surgery and makeup artists – that let her pick out Alyssa – AKA Alice Baumgartner.  And then everything suddenly made sense, and Carly got mad as hell.

First she told off the Oceanside detectives for not believing someone kicked her and that her fall was no accident, then she told off the Laguna Beach detectives for making her friends solve their crime them, and finally she turned her wrath on the absent Raul/Ricky and Alyssa/Alice for putting her in a rehab center with a broken back.

“Now Ms Cady, I know you’d like to go and beat on those two, but it really will be best if I handle this part and file the lawsuits.  After all, if it weren’t for you and your friends, the two of them would have gotten away murder as well as assaulting you.”  RJ was once again dressed in a handmade tan summer weight Italian suit, with a blindingly white shirt with gold cufflinks each set with a large cabochon emerald, and a spectacular antique Japanese silk tie that had the same emerald green and gold thread in a dragon pattern.  But there was no designer that could hide the gleam in his eyes or that shark-like smile that said he enjoyed the discomfiture of the detectives and he planned to make them pay for their attitudes.

Still annoyed, but completely exhausted Carly was taken to her newly single room and given a pain killer.  As she drifted off to a well-earned nap, she reminded Trey, “Bring RF in again tomorrow so I can thank her properly.”

Thankfully she missed the cop’s comment on the coyotes barely 5 minutes later.  As Trey ran, he suddenly realized they’d been with the cops for damn near 2 hours and RF had been out here alone. …………. Wait, where was Cleatus?   Oh crap, he might be with her.

The still lingering summer heat slapped them all, but Trey was Cajun born and bred, so this dry heat, while damn uncomfortable, was more annoyance than killer.  As for Rupert, well a few months in Hell had given him a whole different perspective on heat.  RJ seemed OK, but the detectives were red faced, sweating, and panting as they brought up the rear.  He reached the spot where he’d left RF and searched for her.

“RF!  Where are you?”  He looked on the ground for blood, but found himself staring at a bunch of field mice – who promptly bolted away.  OK.  RF took care of the coyotes, but where was she?  A furry face peeked from the branch over his head.

“They gone?”

“A bunch of field mice just ran off.  You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”

She just grinned.  “I thought more were coming.  I can hear them in the distance.”  Apparently, so could the cops, who had drawn their weapons and stayed back, watching in the direction of the howls.  But the sound started heading away from them and everyone relaxed.  The groundhog looked at Trey and quietly said, “Catch!” and dropped into his arms.  “Now I know how the turkey feels at Thanksgiving.”  Cleatus appeared from wherever he’d been hiding and strolled over to Trey.  “Don’t much like cy-otes.”  RJ, raised in cattle country, hated them himself and lifted Cleatus up, making sure he was unharmed before setting him down near his cousin.  Rupert, holding Ralph in a small hamper like carrier, despite being repeatedly being assured the bedpan had been unused, joined them.  He was planning to dump his cousin directly into the shower when they got home.

Once everything calmed down, and the cops were back with them, Trey suggested they do the interview there, since his ‘pet’ wasn’t feeling well and needed to be outside.  Getting through the police questions with a gassy RF was not fun.  Twice she wandered off, but thankfully stayed downwind.  The whole meeting ended abruptly when a silent, but deadly fart hit them.  His annoying partner scowled at him like HE’D done it, then gotten hysterical with laughter after the cops left saying they’d see them tomorrow.

“Well, in all my years of practice, that’s the first time a fart ended a police interview.”  He looked at Trey and RF.  “If you don’t want those detectives knowing RF can talk, you’d best get your stories straight tonight.”  He checked his very thin and ultra-expensive watch and sighed.  “It will take me forever to get back home.  Good thing I packed a bag.  I’ll just get a room at the Montage and we can meet for dinner to discuss how to handle the interview.”

“You’re welcome to stay at the house in La Jolla with us.  There’s an extra bedroom you can use.  It will save you a lot of driving.  And I think Cleatus and I will be out on the lounges by the pool tonight.”  The groundhog just grinned.  Damn he liked her.  He understood Trent McCauley’s attitude of bemused respect and extreme gratitude toward her.  Spending the night with this group wouldn’t be peaceful or relaxing, but he had plenty of that at home.  “Thank-you.  I’m obliged for the invitation, so dinner is on me.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dinner ended up being take-out from Girard Gourmet, yet another spot that had sent RF an invitation.  With her insides settled, for the moment, she went in with RJ and Trey and made the selections.  The staff and owners were excited about having the High Priestess of Tortum in their shop and were happy to sell her extra rolls and flat breads.  They also insisted she take a bit of everything from their dessert assortment.  The trio eventually made their exit, stopped to get fresh ground hamburger, and ground lamb, then headed back.  RJ was poorer by a few hundred dollars, but figured it was cheap at twice that for entertainment alone.  Actually, paying had been difficult at Girard’s.  They wanted RF to take it all as a gift, but she flatly refused.  She did graciously accept a few extra desserts, but nothing more.

By the time they were back, Ralph was in human form again, minus most of his piercings, thank heavens, but still a bit groggy.  Cleatus just rolled his eyes and went outside.  Rupert was in the pool swimming – naked.

“Since when do you skinny dip when there are females around?”, demanded Trey.

“RF is not a human female.  She will not be offended.  Will you RF?”

“Don’t mind me,” said she said, as she eyed Rupert.  “But I have to say, I don’t get why human females get so excited by those dangly bits.  Look a bit small and limp to me.”  She shrugged and went into the kitchen.  Rupert wrapped himself in a towel and went to put on trunks.

RF went to work on the food and RJ sat and watched, fascinated by how quickly and skillfully she put together stuffed hamburgers with the fillings of choice (his had blue cheese), then made kofta kabobs of the ground lamb.  The djinn and rather concussed ifrit were almost drooling.  You could tell she’d worked in a professional kitchen by her speed alone.

An hour later they sat down with salads and sandwiches from Girard’s, made to order burgers that were just amazing and juicy, and kofta kabobs in pita wraps with homemade tzatziki.  Fresh tomatoes, sweet onion, cucumbers, pickles and all manner of condiments were available.  She also had some of the best lemonade he’d had in years.  And, bless her heart, she’d even made sweet tea.  He and Trey enjoyed theirs with some bourbon in it.  It was like a typical family dinner, except the food was much better and he and Trey Dupress were the only humans there.  Funny thing was, he kept forgetting that RF and Cleatus weren’t human, but small furry animals.  They squabbled, ate, drank, Cleatus offered them some ‘shine, and he and Trey both accepted.  Goddamn that brought back memories, even as his eyes watered.  Cleatus laughed at him.  Rupert got wine for himself and Ralph was told no liquor since he had a concussion.  He sulked dramatically.  Apparently, Ralph was an Emo ifrit.

Like a family, they cleaned up together.  While RF cleaned the grill, the ‘guys’ did the dishes and put away what little food was left.  RJ hadn’t eaten like that since he was a teen, and it made him miss his parents enough he planned a trip back to Texas for mid-October.  They weren’t getting younger and he should really see his sister, the husband she adored and he barely tolerated, and his two beautiful nieces.

After dinner, RF and Cleatus went swimming and he and Trey joined them – wearing trunks, of course.  La Jolla was a beautiful place.   More desert like than where he lived on the cliffs above Malibu.  His practice was mostly in LA and California in general, but he went elsewhere, as most of the best lawyers did.  He’d kept his practice small, but included a very lucrative, if boring, corporate division.  He could do corporate law in his sleep, so he left most of that to his Senior Partners.  He was a trial attorney.  One of the best and he’d made a small fortune, which he’d invested wisely and escaped the 2008 economic mess with minor losses – thanks in large part to Trent McCauley.  That’s why when he called, RJ had been more than happy to help the individual who McCauley credited with saving his life.  He’d never believed that story until today, when he saw a bunch of field mice standing around where there were coyote tracks.

The wind had come up, cool and fresh off the Pacific, so they started the fire pit and sat chatting.  He noticed Trey keeping an eye on RF, as if he expected an explosion, and sure enough, Trey muttered, “Here it comes.”  He grabbed a bottle of Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, one of the best bourbons out there, and poured them each a generous shot.

“RF, we agreed you wouldn’t threaten Esme.”

“Billy Bob and the boys will not threaten Esme.  They’ll threaten Ruben Ray.  Discretely.”

“This is Billy Bob Watkins we’re talking about, RF.  He don’t know the meaning of that word.  To him, if you ain’t bleeding, you ain’t got the message.”

“I can live with Ruben Ray’s bleeding a bit.”

Cleatus sighed.  He was kind of hoping that beating the snot of Ralph had put RF in a better frame of mind, but apparently, she’d been stewing about Esme and Ruben Ray all day.  He knew Ruben Ray.  One look from RF and that boy would be running for his life.  Maybe Lula Mae was better suited to keeping his cousin under control.  He’d call her in the morning and maybe she’d talk sense into RF.

Trey and RJ had been whispering for a bit, then RJ cleared his throat.  “Trey has informed of the pertinent parts of this dispute over a ‘cradle contract’.  I believe I might be of some service in this matter, especially arguing this with your clan.  Such contracts are illegal in the US and attempting to seek enforcement can land you in jail.  Which state is this in?”

“Tennessee,” Cleatus immediately offered, beyond grateful for the lawyer’s help, even if he did use too many words.

“I believe as the individuals bartered in this agreement, it would be fair to seek financial redress for the attempt to enslave you.”

“You’re saying I should sue them?”  RF looked a bit nonplussed at the idea – then she grinned.

“For everything they own or have possession of, then you and Ruben Ray would split it 50/50. “  He smiled and RF was once again reminded of a shark.  “I doubt any of that will happen.  The family will be furious at Esme for getting them involved in such a dispute with you.  I gather you have a formidable reputation, so this is not a fight she can win if she has to fight Ruben Ray AND you.  He has as much reason to be angry as you do, and from what Cleatus has said, he’s afraid of you, so it’s not like he wants this either.  He’ll jump at a way out.  I think Lula Mae and Cleatus are right, just go in like you already own the place and let me do the rest.  Just to be safe, we’ll keep all the bedpans out of your reach.”

“That’s not my favorite weapon,” RF muttered.  Cleatus laughed and RF smiled and things settled down again.  Except RJ wondered what he’d just gotten himself into.  He just had to meet more of this family that Trey said were all varying degrees of crazy.  Exhausted from a long few days, everyone said goodnight early and they slept like rocks.

In the morning, Trey and RJ went back to the bakery and got more breakfast food, then stopped and bought some extra fresh fruit, milk, half-and-half, and juice.

Back at the house, they found Ralph and RF squared off in the kitchen, RF standing on the island yelling at Ralph to go home.  A shirtless Rupert staggered in looked like some sleepy Greek god and separated the two.  RJ muttered, “A man could get a complex around this group.”

All during breakfast, RF kept insisting Ralph go home, not back to Edinburgh, to his real home.

“You have a concussion.  You need to go home for a while.”  RF added softly, “Like for a thousand years or so.”

“I don’t need my mother coddling me!”

“No, you need another smack in the head, which is what you’ll get!”

“I’m bigger than you now!”

“AND I’M MEANER THAN YOU’LL EVER BE!  DO NOT CROSS ME!!!!!”  RF was waving a large wooden spoon and looked ready to use it.  Trey wondered if his coffee could use a little bourbon.

“Stop, just stop.  Ralph, she’s right.  Aunt Medea should keep an eye on you for a bit.”

“Since you know I’m right, you can take him home!” RF was yelling at Rupert now.

Why should I take him?  He can go by himself.”

“Do you really think he’s in any shape to do that?”

“Well you’re the one that caused the problem!”

“And you’re the one currently bound to me.”

Rupert’s eyes narrow.  “I will take him, but I demand payment for services.”

“You’re already bound, Rupert.”

“I can still get payment for services and I demand the remaining four jelly donuts!!!!!!”

“I haven’t even had one yet!”

“Not my problem.  That’s my price for taking Ralph home and explaining things to Aunt Medea.”

A look came over RF’s face.  Trey didn’t trust that look for 5 seconds.  “Very well, you’ll get the four jelly donuts.”

“And you won’t nibble on them, or cover them with pepper sauce or anything before I get back!”  The djinn did not entirely trust RF’s capitulation.

“They will be pristine.  My word on that.”

OK, now Trey was really worried.  RJ shot him a look.  He shrugged.  This was not ending well, but he hadn’t a clue what was going on in his partner’s devious mind.

Rupert stood, grabbed his whining smaller cousin and disappeared in a cloud of faint blue smoke.  RF carefully arranged the four jelly donuts, two stacks of two donuts, putting a whole ripe strawberry on the plate as decoration, setting the finished plate precisely in front of Rupert’s seat.  Then she sat by it, eating a blueberry Danish, waiting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Aunt Medea, I brought Ralph back to stay for a bit.”

“Rupert?  Is everything all right?”

“That damn groundhog beat me up!”

Medea turned to her son of 700 years, “What groundhog?”

“RF, Rupert’s friend.”  Ralph sounded sulky.  You’d think he was still 200.

“Why would RF beat you up, Ralph?”  Medea knew her son.

“I was just having fun!”

“What kind of fun, dear?”

“Well, she and this old human woman were having a farting contest and she’d only let me in as another small animal, so I became a mongoose.  I started to do a kind of running description of what was going on.  She told me to stop, then hit me with a bedpan.”

“And you went right on doing it, didn’t you?”

“IT WAS A JOKE!”

WHACK!  Medea head slapped Ralph.  Ungrateful git.   RF had gotten her son out of hell as a favor to Rupert, now she had another debt to the little animal.  This was embarrassing.  “I’ll look after him Rupert and thank-you.  Do give RF my apologies for his behavior.  It would seem I am in her debt again.”

“He has a concussion, so you might not want to slap his head around.”

“Yes well, maybe it will teach him a lesson, though I rather doubt it.  Goodbye Rupert.”

He’d been dismissed, so he popped back to the house.  There sat the four, plump jelly donuts, right in front of his chair.  He grinned in triumph at RF, who nodded politely.  He sat down, but as he reached for a donut, RF leapt forward, her full body weight on her front paws, striking the donuts directly on the jelly pockets and spraying red jam out of those holes and all over his chin, chest, and dripping down onto his pants.  Then she turned, and using her powerful rear claws, ripped the donuts and the strawberry into tiny pieces, spraying bits all over him.  He could feel a few of donut bits stuck to his face with the remains of the jam filling or strawberry juice.  She turned again, spat on what was left on the plate, looked him in the eye, and said, “Enjoy your donuts.”

She calmly walked down the table to her seat and climbed down, saying, “Excuse me while I get cleaned up.”

Cleatus started laughing so hard he nearly fell on the floor.  Rupert sighed and said despondently, “Thank the gods she’s not a djinn, or I’d have to propose marriage.”

“I HEARD THAT AND I WOULDN’T HAVE YOU AS A GIFT!”

Cleatus laughed harder, RJ along with him.  Trey couldn’t resist asking, “Why?”

“It’s how djinn do it.  When a male is bested three times by a female, he must propose.  My uncle ended up married to a demon that way.  It was quite the family scandal.”

“That was your third strike, so’s to speak.”  RJ was grinning like a maniac.  “So it’s an automatic life sentence?”

“If I understand your reference correctly, then yes.  It’s embarrassing really.”  Rupert paused, then added confidentially, “At my age to be bested 3 times by a mortal is, well, it’s never happened before.  Not even Merlin could do it.”

Suddenly RF was standing in the doorway, still wet from her shower.  “Then you’d be willing to pay a fairly steep price for this to not get out to the other djinn?”

Rupert stared at her.  Maybe she was a demon!  “Do you demand my treasure?”  How would he ever explain losing his treasure?

She waved her paw as if his treasure was of no interest, though she’d love a peek at the gems.  No she wanted something else.  “You’ll be my fiancée when I go see Esme and Ruben Ray.  Groundhogs have rules too, and it says Ruben Ray must win a fight with you.”  She smiled.  “And you won’t be there as human either, but in your real form.”

Rupert dropped his head into his hands, bits of donut and strawberry falling off his face.  How did he let this happen?  Why could he not see this coming?

“Well son, I hate to say this, but I’d agree with her terms.  At least you could claim it was only you posing as repayment for a previous debt.”  The lawyer seemed sympathetic.  He also gave him a graceful out with his family, should they ever hear of it.  And knowing the gossipy djinn, they would.

Trey picked up his coffee and sipped it, then shook his head.  “Merlin never heard of Machiavelli or Sun Tzu.  I think RF could add a few chapters to their books.”

Carly’s Story – Part 9

 

“I think we should go talk to Caryn and Dimitri today, before we see the police.  I still have a few questions I’d like answered.”  Trey nodded.  He had a few himself.  He and JR programmed the address of the dance studio into their navigation systems.  Rupert, in a fit of sulking, rode with JR, something the lawyer found amusing.  RF and Cleatus went with Trey.

The studio in Oceanside was upstairs above a deli and a real estate office.  Mid-morning, both were quiet, so some street parking was available.  The door for the studio was open, so they went up to the strains of the Vienna Blood Waltz.  Dimitri and Caryn seemed to be practicing for a competition.  Catching sight of the three men, they stopped their graceful dancing.

Caryn eyed them and knew these weren’t prospective students.  “Can I help you gentlemen?”

“I’m R. Jason Rutledge, attorney for Ms Carly Cady.  We have a few questions about what happened here and your employee, Raul.”

Caryn went white at the lawyer’s name.  She obviously knew who and what he was.  Dimitri merely looked curious.  “I was here, yes, but I did not see how she fell.  My back, it was to Raul.”  He shrugged.

Trey looked at Dimitri.  “And you saw nothing in that wall of mirrors?”

Now the Russian looked rattled.  No one had questioned that before.  Then he sighed.  “Dimitri, we could be sued!”  Caryn obviously knew about what he’d seen, or suspected.

“Yes, but we cannot lie.  A man died.  Ms Cady, she is badly hurt.  A teacher and student did this thing.”  He looked at them, then saw Cleatus and RF.  “They are not dangerous?”, he asked suspiciously.

“Only if you take their food.”

The Russian laughed.  “Come, we’ll sit and I’ll tell you what I know.”

They gathered in the break room and Caryn made coffee.  Professional dancers weren’t the type to have cookies around, so Trey wisely brought some to keep his partner happy – and quiet.  The Russian just drank water while he told them what happened.

“Mrs Benson, she came here suddenly 6 months ago.  She had been at a studio in Laguna Beach with a good professional, competitor like me, only not so highly ranked.  She say she needed more and wanted to study here.  It happens.  Students, teachers they fight, or student think by getting another instructor they know more or dance better, they leave, find new one.  I am famous among dancers, but not celebrity, so not sure how she knew I was here.  I had come maybe a year ago.  Still, not that odd, so I accepted her as private student.  She was …..” he gave an eloquent shrug.  “How to say this, she was not as advanced as she thought, but still, good for amateur.  Came twice a week and began improving.  But it seemed she and Raul, “ he sneered the name, “Knew each other, though they hide it.”

“Why were they hiding it?”

Again he shrugged, apparently inured to the capricious nature of rich California trophy wives.  “Former lovers I thought, but maybe not.  I know Argentines well,” he smiled, “very well, and Raul was no Argentine.  Thought it might be that.  California, everyone is really someone else.”

“Did it bother you?”, JR asked.

“You mean his faking being Argentine?  It matters not.  Many fake Russians here too.  He was good teacher, but …..”  he looked at Caryn.

“Raul had a history of fooling around with his students.  I thought at first that’s what he was doing with Alyssa, but honestly, he seemed to bait her when he thought no one was around.  I found them arguing in my office and warned him then, he had to stop getting involved with our students or I’d fire him.”

“It happened before?”

“Twice that I know of for sure, and once it caused quite a scene, but Raul loved scenes.  He loved being the center of attention and was jealous as hell of Dimitri.”

“Because he became your dance partner, or your business partner?”

“Both really.  Raul hit on me, tried to get me to take him as my new pro partner when my last one got injured skiing and had to quit, but honestly, aside from Latin dancing, he wasn’t that good, and even then, he wasn’t world class.  He simply could NOT take the criticizing – of your own work and your partner’s – that you have to do to make it to the top.  He didn’t want to work that hard either.  When Dimitri came out here and contacted me, I jumped.  We didn’t know if we could dance as partners, but it works for us.  It’s personality as well as skill.  You spend a lot of time together, so you need to respect each other to get past the drama.”  She laughed.  “And there’s plenty of drama even with the best teams.”

“So you knew there was something between Alyssa and Raul, but not what?”

Caryn nodded.  “I’m not sure I really wanted to know ‘what’, if you understand.  Raul could be charming and he drew in a lot of customers, so I put up with it.  It’s a business, Mr Rutledge.  He was a part of it.  Just like a good salesman.”

Trey turned to Dimitri.  “How did you feel about it?”

“He was not my competition.  The women he drew, they wanted attention, he gave it.  I wish to teach serious students.”  Dimitri was a snob.  Trey felt RF shift in his arms and move to climb to his shoulder.

“Ask him why he didn’t tell the police the truth the day Carly was hurt,” she whispered.

“The day Ms Cady was hurt, you claimed you saw nothing, but you did see something.  What was it and why lie?”

Dimitri sighed.  “I wasn’t sure if I saw it.  Alyssa, she stumbled and I caught her just as I turned to the mirror wall.  Then Ms Carly, she was crying in pain and said she was kicked.  I look at Raul and he just shake head no, but you could see mark on inside of her ankle.  They take her away in ambulance and we hear about how it is.  Then Raul disappear.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  I had said, I saw nothing because I was unsure, now I know Alyssa try to distract me, that I did see Raul deliberately kick her and then let her go, pretending to shift holds.”  He sighed unhappily.  “Impossible to prove.  I stayed silent.”

“Did either of you question Raul?”

“We did, as did police, but he insist it was accident.  I have no proof.  Alyssa would have claimed we misstepped and saw nothing.”

“And you were afraid of being sued if your employee was found to have injured a client deliberately.”  JR went straight for the jugular.  RF have him a good glare.

Caryn and Dimitri exchanged looks, but finally nodded.  “Yes.  We couldn’t prove he’d hurt her and were afraid of making any lawsuit more difficult if we appeared to be claiming incompetence by our instructor.”

“That’s what Raul wanted.  To get them sued out of existence,” RF whispered in Trey’s ear.

“Did you think that Raul did it just so you would be sued?”  Trey watched the two react.  It was obvious neither had considered that possibility.

“You think he wanted to make trouble for us?”  Caryn didn’t sound convinced, but she was thinking hard about it.  “That slimy SOB.  Was he getting back at me because I refused to make him my dance partner?”

“Probably more because you didn’t make him a business partner.”  Trey went for the money.

“He couldn’t afford to buy out my last partner!  He wanted ME to loan him the money!”  Now she was mad.

“Dimitri had the money?”  Trey gaze went between the two dancers.

“Of course.  I invest well.  Plus I knew Caryn from competitions and needed new partner.  It worked for us both.”

“It helps his doting uncle was a Russian oil billionaire,” RF muttered.

“Plus a generous inheritance?”, Trey asked.

The Russian smiled.  “I was in England, guest at house party when Wentworth Emeralds were returned to the family.  The story of the recovery was ………… memorable.”  He smiled widely, though Caryn looked confused.  “You would be excellent dancer, Mr Dupress.”

“Thank-you.  Mama seems satisfied I don’t embarrass her formal gatherings.”

“I have heard of your partner, but thought it child’s story.  Now, I think it real.”  He looked at RF who just stared back.  “We will tell police all we know.  My word.  To you both.”

Caryn watched the exchange.  “Am I getting a translation of this?”

Dimitri laughed.  “You would not believe, eh.”  He sobered quickly and looked at RJ, “Ms Cady, she will sue?”

“I don’t know, but I would think medical expenses would be your responsibility at the very least.  Beyond that?”  He shrugged.  They all knew what Raul had done exposed the studio to a lot of liability.  “You might find visiting her would help your cause.”

“She would see us?  After all this?”  Both owners leaned forward.  They felt very badly about what happened, and were worried about Carly as well as themselves.

“Yes.  You’d be surprised how far genuine apologies go to smooth things over.”

RF thought more of RJ for being so practical and putting Carly first, not the size of the any settlement.

Trey checked the time.  “We have to see the police to finish out discussion from yesterday.  Good luck.”  On the way out, Dimitri whispered something to Rupert, causing Cleatus to shoot her a look.  BUT RF was already pre-occupied with some inner thoughts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

They left for the station where Trey and RJ fielded questions and Rupert said as little as humanly possible.  RF barely managed to contain her impatience during the interview.  Cleatus fell asleep – and snored.  RF was pacing restlessly under the table.  The clicking of her nails annoyed the cops – which was why she kept doing it.

Both sets of detectives were none too pleased to hear Trey and Rupert would be leaving town on business, but they had no legal means of keeping there.  Trey politely pointed out that, given his background, the DA might want to build his case on the physical evidence, not his testimony.

“What about you Mr Soulis, do you have a problem with testifying?  You have a past you need hidden?”  RF snickered.  Other than being a 5,000 year, old 8 foot tall, blue djinn with pointy teeth and a mother with highly suspect eating habits? Nah.

Rupert smiled politely, “None at all detective,” RF nipped his ankle, “but I do travel in remote areas, so I might be hard to reach.”  Yeah, the djinn home world was not on any cellphone plan.

Finally, the detectives turned to RJ.  “We want to re-interview your client, Ms Cady.  Today if possible.  Our crime scene people need photos of her ankle and copies of any x-rays or other images taken while she was hospitalized.  ”

“Unfortunately, today is inconvenient.  She and I have private matters to discuss.  As for release of her medical information, I’ll see if she’ll sign a waiver on any images.  You crime scene people can be there at 4PM and they have an hour.  It’s a bit late to be chasing this.”  RJ sounded polite, yet condescending.  The police had screwed up and he was rubbing it in – gently, but with a certain enjoyment.

RF pawed at Trey’s leg and reached down to lift her as she whispered, “Outside!”

“I believe I need my pet needs a little outside break, excuse us a moment.  A uniformed officer walked them out and Trey took RF to a shady spot to do ….. whatever.  Pretending to squat down and pet her, she quickly said, “I think Alyssa set the whole thing up really fast.  She was planning to kill her husband AND Raul and make it look like he shot her husband and then she shot him in self-defense.  It was the only way she could be rid of both of them.  She could claim, correctly, Raul/Ricky was blackmailing her, she threatened him with being willing to tell her husband the truth.  He showed up at the house to confront her when her husband walked in and Raul shot him in a panic.  Then she would shoot Raul in self-defense.  Problem was, her husband needed to be there.  He was home early because she CALLED him asking him to come home early, BEFORE we got there, so she could stage it and be the victim, but we were early too, and she could pull it off and switch with us outside.  And, since Raul ‘killed’ her husband, she could inherit a lot more than any divorce settlement!  Maybe knowing that might get Raul/Ricky talking.”

“OK, I’ll try it on the cops.  How did you come up with that?”

“There was just something wrong about what was happening inside the house, like Alyssa was delaying things, timing them.  They could have gone there and been out in nothing flat, but they stayed there for over an hour.  She needed all the players, but we came too soon and spoiled it all.  She couldn’t shoot Raul with us as witnesses.  Plus she had to get an extra shot off with the gun in his hand, like he shot the ceiling as he fell.  They had to die really close together and we pulled up within seconds of that first shot.  She needed a few more minutes and didn’t have it, especially when I pushed at that door.  It was all over.  All they could do was run.

“To be honest, I’m amazed she didn’t just shoot Raul in sheer frustration.  He’d wrecked all her plans.  He was destined for a body bag when he started to blackmail her.  He was just too stupid to know it.  See if the police found a second handgun anywhere in the hall.”

“Worth a try.  Let’s get inside.”

Trey returned to the interview room and as the detectives were wrapping things up, he looked thoughtfully at them.  He started with, “You know, it just occurred to me ………”  He did a brilliant job of thinking through what RF had just said as if it had just come to him.  The detectives from Laguna Beach listened very carefully.  When Trey was done, he asked, “Did you by any chance find a gun hidden somewhere in the foyer?”

They detectives looked at each other, hesitated, then finally said.  “Mr Benson had a license for a Glock 9 mm.  We did find it.  Where it was does make sense with that scenario.  Maybe your idea can shake that idiot Ricky loose from his story and get what really happened to Ms Cady on the record.”

The lead detective smiled wryly, “I have a feeling we might not be seeing each other again, but it’s been …………. interesting.  Good luck in the UK.  I hear you’re up against someone a lot more dangerous than the two amateurs we had here.”

“It’s personal.”

“Yeah, that’s what I was told.  Maybe, if we ever cross paths again, your partner will talk to me.”

Trey shrugged.  RF had her reasons.  As they left, she pushed at Trey’s hold till she could look back at the one detective still standing at the top of the stairs – and winked.  The man laughed and went inside.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Wow, you really think Alyssa would have killed Raul too?”  Carly was in bed, but looked good and was finished her therapy for the day.

“I think so, and since the police found the second gun, I’d say it was a good bet.”

JR walked back in the room.  “Dimitri kept his word and between his testimony, Caryn’s and the second gun, the cops convinced Raul/Ricky he was lucky to be alive and he gave them everything they asked for and a few things they didn’t know about, including Alyssa embezzling from the Laguna Beach Ballroom Dance Club.  Remember, she is the treasurer for the competition, so it wasn’t that hard.  I guess she planned to replace the funds once hubby was dead and no one would be the wiser.”

“Wow.  All this because you came to see me when I told you about what happened.  Thank-you.”  Carly was amazed at what her accident, that had been no accident, had ended up uncovering.  Blackmail, identity theft, murder, embezzlement, and her own assault.   Wow – maybe she could write a book.

“It was a nice break from Scotland and the ghosts.”

“Ghosts?”  Carly’s eyes widened.

“Annoyingly chatty ones.  And then there’s that psycho female out to kill everyone who can link to her crimes.  Her I want.  Even if it’s just to send her to Hell.”

“Why do I think you mean that literally?”

“Probably because I do.

“Will you visit again?”

“If I can.  I have two businesses and lots of projects, and not a lot of free time.  Maybe if we get to go to Big Daddy’s place on Barbados for a REAL vacation, you can join us.  I don’t get a lot of free time.”  RF smiled.  “But I think you might get other visitors.”

Carly looked a bit panicked, “Not the skunks?”

RF laughed so hard she nearly fell off the bed.  “I think RF means from the studio.  Give them a chance.  They did the right thing today and that wasn’t in their best interest.”  Yes, RJ was alright in RF’s book – for a lawyer.

“OK, I guess.”

“Oh, when I see you again, you must explain the human female obsession with the male dangly bits.  They seem quite …….. unimpressive to me.”

“And we’re done.”  Trey scooped her off the bed.  “We need to get back before Lula Mae and the rest show up here and drag us back.”

“RJ, don’t forget, you’re coming with me to see Esme and Ruben Ray.”

Carly waved goodbye to her friends, then looked at RJ.  “Who is Ruben Ray?”

“Apparently, he thinks he’s RF’s fiancé.”

Carly choked on the truffle she was swallowing.  “HER WHAT?”

This was going to take awhile.  RJ settled in.  “It all started with someone named Esme claiming …………”

And Carly was entertained even after her friends had gone.

 

THE END

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