Tour’s Books Blog

July 19, 2015

RF and the Clan Reunion – Part 1

Filed under: Adventures of Reacherfan Groundhog — toursbooks @ 4:23 pm
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Earlier this summer, I promised another ReacherFan Groundhog story.  Here’s the first installment with Trey Dupress, her partner in the art recovery firm, and her look-alike cousin, Tourmaline Groundhog, former General in the Mutant Lizard War and the other High Priestess of Tortum.  This is the story of RF’s much hated annual Clan Reunion with her Southern cousins, her mother’s ‘kin’.  Since RF’s father and Tour’s mother were twins, she and Tour were raised together apart from both the Northern and Southern clans, so Tour isn’t part of this budding annual fiasco.  So why is she here?

**********************************************

A few days ago……………….

 

Refreshed from her shower after digging a burrow to help sooth her nerves, RF disposed of a book thief and went out to join her cousin Tourmaline.  She and Tour grew up together and spent summers in New England with their aunt, the one that initially trained RF.  Since her daddy and Tour’s mamma were twins, they looked like twins themselves and often played games on friends and relatives that couldn’t tell them apart.  They still did.  She chuckled.  Some things never got old.

She wandered out and chatted with a few customers, but the women all kept watching the door to kitchen like Johnny Depp was hiding in there.  She said hello to Mrs Waxman, head of the Garden Club, who simpered ……….. really, a 50+ year old human simpered!  “Will that handsome partner of yours be staying long?  I’d love to show him my beds.   They’re in full bloom.”

RF stared a bit, praying she meant flower beds, and replied, “I wasn’t aware he was coming so I have no idea what his plans are.  I’ll let him know about that bed offer.”

She really needed see why Trey was here.  She nodded to Peter who sent her a speaking glance at her office door.  Tee and Trey were in there together ……… plotting …… well, something.  RF strolled in and the two stop mid-sentence.  She could almost feel her good mood evaporating.  Staring at her cousin and partner, she demanded – “What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”  Tour gave her an innocent look.  “Just catching up on what happened with that art theft ring.”  She gave RF her best, ‘I am an angel!’ look, a look the two of them perfected in their early youth when they HAD been guilty of something.  Her eyes narrowed, but before she could start in, Trey scooped them both up and cheerfully announced, “Let’s have dinner!”

“It’s 4:30,” RF sarcastically drawled.

“Then we’ll have high tea.  I’m feeling hungry.”

“We can eat in my office.”

“No, no, it’s nicer at your private table.”

“Mrs Waxman is lying in wait for you.”  Trey stopped in his tracks.  “She wants to show you her beds.”

“You two have to protect me from that woman.  The last time she got near me, she grabbed my butt.”

“Oh sure, we can do that, can’t we RF?”

Tour was lying through her teeth.  She’d abandon Trey in a heartbeat just to see what happened.  RF should know, she’d do the same damn thing.  “Right!  We’ve got you covered.”

“You’re both liars, but I’m not putting you down till I’m safe in a chair.”  The two groundhogs had the nerve to laugh.  Sure enough Mrs Waxman pounced on Trey the moment he walked out.  His skill at maneuvering in tight places helped him keep facing her until he could plant himself at RF’s reserved table.  Even Peter had stepped into the Bakery to watch the show.  EVERYONE knew Mrs Waxman wanted to bag Trey, but his ability to elude her was legendary.

Finally, Tour spoke up.  “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, but we want to have tea and a private conversation.”  Mrs Waxman gave Tee a look that would have slayed a lesser being, but Tee just looked back with bland indifference while RF snickered.  Damn, Tour could really channel their stuffy Great Aunt Elsie when she wanted too – though Elsie usually had a shaker of martinis, not tea, handy.

As Mrs Waxman huffed off, Trey finally set them down – and watched as they shamelessly started laughing at him.  As always, food was promptly delivered to the table and rather than a pot of hot tea, they had iced tea and lemonade – but not mixed into an Arnold Palmer.  A bottle of bourbon showed up too, thanks to a sympathetic looking Amanda, along with a big roast beef sandwich slathered generously with horseradish cream.  Trey didn’t know if the sympathy was because of Mrs Waxman or the two still snickering marmots, and he honestly didn’t care.  That sandwich looked great and he’d need the bourbon before they were done here.

“So ….” RF filled her plate with little sandwiches, puff pastry shells filled with various kinds of seafood or cheeses, and a second plate with choice desserts.  “Are you two going to tell me what’s going on?  Lula Mae and Cleatus left like someone set fire to their tails, then Tour shows up 3 days later and now your back a week ahead of schedule.”  She popped a cherry tomato filled with garlic herb goat cheese in her mouth and stared at Trey.

“Actually, I’m here because we have the insurance company agreements already on Bryce’s painting, as well as 7 others recovered in that storage unit in Charleston.  Milo has recovered and is singing like a bird about a fairly large tax and divorce asset hiding scheme he’s been running.  The IRS is going insane trying to nail a large part of California’s rich tax cheats while divorce lawyers are taking people back to court for hiding marital assets.  Businessmen to socialites to politicians are claiming, ‘errors were made on back taxes that they are in the process of correcting them.’  Thing is, there’s at least 3 dozen insurance fraud cases too, and that just scratching the surface.  Courts will be busy for awhile.  Witlow sends his regards.  He also said to tell you Garrison took medical leave.  Seems this latest coup by Witlow has caused acute depression.”

“Very interesting, but why were you and Tour acting like villains in a James Bond movie?”

“Oh don’t be silly, we were just catching up.”

RF stared at her cousin, which was kind of like looking in a mirror.  “You lie.”

“Not really.”

RF’s claws drummed on the table as she studied her cousin, who remained completely indifferent to her glaring regard.  She was even better at ignoring her than Cleatus.  “You’re not lying, you’re just not telling the whole truth.”  RF was too shrewd for her own damn good.  “This has to do with why Lula Mae went back home and Cleatus went with her.  That means it’s about the damn clan reunion, and she wants you there to keep an eye on me.  So what is it?  Another fake cradle contract?  Jasper put out a hit on me?  The aunt’s planning to gang up on me?”

Tour shrugged and bit into a triangle ofcroque monsieur.  Damn.  They made a good one here.

That’s when RF snarled.  “It’s that damn scheming matriarch again, isn’t it?  She’s planning to announce her successor ……. AGAIN!  What?  She wants more bribes?????”  RF was almost shouting.  Trey tried to shush her, but she was standing on the table, almost none to nose to Tour, yelling about the conniving matriarch and her greed for gifts.

“I’m not in your clan, so how would I know?”

“You know because that Southern Rasputin called you and told you to come!”

“I think Lula Mae might take exception to be lumped in with a drunken, dissolute, syphilitic, fake Russian monk.”

“I DON’T CARE!”

“You’re scaring the customers.”

“TELL ME WHAT’S GOING ON BEFORE I …………….”

Tour dumped an entire bucket of ice water over RF.  Her cousin stared at her, blinking as the water dripped in her eyes and the ice slithered off her fur, landing on the table with a soft ‘plink’.  “That wasn’t necessary.”  RF sounded quite calm.  Trey pushed the ice away from his part of the table and set his sandwich plate back down.  Good thing he had fast reflexes.

“I disagree.  You have customers throwing money on their tables and running out.  I think 2 of your new wait staff just quit.”

“Sissies.” RF muttered as she fought to calm down.   She smiled at her customers.  Peter stepped out and gave her a dirty look and went about visiting customers, soothing them with his presence.  “You better tell me what’s going on.”

“Apparently, the Matriarch plans to name a successor.”

RF snorted derisively.  “She does that every time she wants bribes.  So what?”

“So this time, she means it.”

“If Esme Willet gets named, her days are numbered.”

“I’ve got a feeling everyone knows that, RF, including Esme Willet.  You did threaten to skin her and roast her over a slow fire if she pulled another cradle contract stunt.”

RF shrugged.  “There are lots of other candidates.”

“Including you.”

RF froze.  “WHAT?”  She knew she was screeching, but couldn’t help it.

“Don’t make me use my skillet!”  That when she noticed Tour had her weapon of choice, a cast-iron skillet, propped against the wall.  “Now sit down.  Apparently, the fact that you’re one of the top five candidates has a whole lot of folks on edge.  And the whole clan knows how you feel about Esme, so if she’s named her life expectancy will be measured in minutes and ANOTHER successor will have to be named.”

“So?  Let Lula Mae take the job.  She loves telling everyone what to do.”

“Yeah, well, her being a Wakins by mating is a bit of an issue.”

“I’m distantly related to them and Cleatus, he’s Watkins by his momma, he all but lives up here.  Can’t see where I’d be a better choice.”

Tour cleared her throat and gave Trey a look.  “What????  I’m not a groundhog!  I don’t even know what’s going on!  I can barely understand Congress!”

“They’re easy.  They’re just greedy, incompetent fools.”

Trey glared at his partner.  “And yours are better?”

“No, we just have fewer of them.”

OK, Trey had to agree she had a point there.  Tour cleared her throat again.  Damn, why was she stuck with this?  “Maybe she wants you to be Matriarch.”

RF choked on the bite of shrimp she’d just swallowed.  Tour sighed, stepped over the wet table and pounded her back till the damn thing came up.  “ME?”  It was barely a rasp, but she could tell by the look on Tee’s face this was serious.  “I don’t even LIKE them?  Why would I be named Matriarch?”

“You know the answer to that as well as I do.  Besides, I get the impression the current Matriarch doesn’t like them much either, so I don’t think that part matters,” Tour said patiently.

“I am NOT letting that good-for-nothing lot of inbred hillbilly groundhogs interfere in my life.  If they try, I swear, I will wipe them off the face of the Earth.”

“Yeah, I think that’s what has Lula Mae so upset.”

“Why?  The gene pool would be smaller, but who would miss those idiots?”

“The surviving idiots.  You cannot kill off your clan.”

“Fine, I’ll abdicate and give the job to Lula Mae.”

“And we’re back to the Watkins.”

RF sighed.  “OK, so obviously you and Lula Mae have talked about this.  Is there a solution that does not include Esme Willet dying by my paws or my knocking off half the clan?”

“She’s working on that.  You just have to stay calm and let her negotiate a compromise.”

RF looked at Tour.  “And why are you coming to this clan reunion?”

“I find your family amusing.”

“You’re not related to those morons.”

“That’s why I can be amused.  Mostly I’m there to try and keep you from killing anyone – or help hide the bodies if necessary.”  Trey choked and stared at Tee.  “Trey will be nearby if we need him.”

“Or I could just call Lucifer and have him wipe them out.”

“Not a good idea.  He’d want a lot more than your triple chocolate ice cream pie and it wouldn’t be worth it.”

“Then Rupert’s mother can have as many as she wants.”

Tour sighed.  She told Trey this would happen.  “No sending them to Rupert’s mother, though calling him in might be necessary to impress upon ……… certain members of your clan that you are NOT to be messed with.”

“You would have thought they’d know that by now.”

“Apparently they have limited capacity to retain vital information.”

“That’s just you politely called them stupid.”

“It sounds better the way I say it.”

“I’ll think about it.  But if that scheming old battleax thinks she’s conning me into buying my way out of being named her successor, she’s in for a nasty surprise.”

Tour was going to have to scout out locations that would be good for hiding bodies.  After RF went to talk to Peter and smooth things over, Tee turned to Trey.  “You know, it might be a real good idea if your rental car was good for a fast get-away after all.”

 

To be continued………………

 

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