Tour’s Books Blog

July 20, 2015

The Adventures Of ReachFan Groundhog – Clan Reunion Part 2 and 3

Filed under: Adventures of Reacherfan Groundhog — toursbooks @ 4:23 pm
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RF and Tour were having a quite lunch when Trey – after making sure Mrs Waxman wasn’t around – joined them.  “I heard from 2 more insurance companies who agreed to pay the rewards they’d offered for the items found in the locker.  Peter Abruzzi’s greed turned out to be quite the windfall.  And we have another job offer.  An insurance company thinks one of its customers is pulling a scam.”  RF perked right up.

“Art?”  RF’s tail wagged a bit in excitement.

“No, yachts.”

“Missing yachts?” Tour and RF chorused.

“That’s right.”

“Well, they won’t be in any handy locker in Charleston.”

“It would seem unlikely.”

“I guess that means I’ll have to miss the Clan Reunion.  But business comes first!”  RF sounded so cheerful, Trey almost hated to tell her the rest.

“Actually, the meeting is scheduled AFTER the reunion.  Gerald Housemann, the man in charge, has plans for this week and next.”

“Can’t we meet him next week?”  Now RF sounded a bit desperate.

“Sorry.  Just not possible.   He’ll be completely out of touch.”

“Oh, isn’t that just too bad?”  Tour smiled sweetly at her cousin.

RF sent a killing look at her amused cousin and turns to her partner, ready to beg.  “We can go meet him!”

“Wouldn’t do any good.”

“Why the hell not?  He taking a vow of silence or something?”

“Yes he is.  He’s going on a 2 week spiritual retreat to a monastery, or is it lamastary? Anyway, it’s in Nepal and run by Buddhist monks.  No talking.  Apparently he has a wife and 3 daughters and this is how he stays sane.  We’ll see him when he gets back.”

“Maybe Gil could ………….”

“NO!  You are not dragging Gil into some crazed scheme because you want to avoid your clan reunion.  Suck it up! And stop sitting there plotting ways out of going.”

“Who made you the boss of me?” RF was snarling.

Now the two groundhogs were nose to in the middle of the table, glaring at each other.  Tour snapped.  Wait, wasn’t she the ‘nice’ cousin?  “You remember what happened in Acadia National Park?  Well I have that phone number right here and I’ll call it if you don’t stop trying to get out of this.”

“How could you do that to me?  Your own cousin?  Your best friend?”  RF was channeling Susan Lucci does Lady Macbeth.

“Easy.  I just have to remember that little boating incident on Sebago Lake!”

“It wasn’t my fault!  It was just an accident!”

“There are no accidents.”  Both groundhogs turned on Trey wearing identical looks – killing looks.  “Momma always said that.”  Then he rattled an ice bucket.  “This wouldn’t be an accident either.”  Tour and RF eyed him as he rattled the bucket again.  Being a world class thief required more than skill, it required nerve and the ability to stare down everyone from victims to law enforcement.  RF was tough, but so was he.  Finally, both groundhogs returned to their seats.

“I still think we should go see that insurance guy ASAP.”

“And invade the only two weeks of quiet he gets all year in some remote monastery in Nepal?  I don’t think so.  Let the man be.”  He looked at his partner.  “You really just have to deal with this RF.  It’s family.”

“I hate my family,” she muttered.

Before she could do her dramatic interpretation of Little Eva on the ice floe, Trey and Tour were saved by the Book Theft Alarm.  RF snarled and headed to her workshop yelling, “We’re not done!”

Trey sighed and looked at Tour who had resumed eating like nothing had happened.  “So, what phone number do you have?”

Tour laughed.  “One that RF wants to forget all about – and something she seriously does NOT want her Southern cousins knowing anything about.”

“A youthful indiscretion?”

“Something like that.”

They both heard the …… *POOF!*  RF had just turned some hapless book thief into a smelly, grotesque monster for stealing her books.  The irony she was, in fact, herself a notorious book thief was lost on her.

Tour leaned across the table and spoke softly to Trey.  “You might want to make a quick getaway before she gets back.  I’m sure she has at least a good hour of dramatics to get through.”

“I feel like I’m abandoning you.”

“I’m fine.  If she gets carried away, I have the tranq gun.  Peter has the spare, just in case.”  Trey nodded and ran for it.  Mrs Waxman was coming through the door and he had to swerve through the kitchen and out the back.

RF came back to the table.  “Where did he sneak off to?”

“Avoiding her.”  Tee pointed to Mrs Waxman.

“That woman needs a life.  Trey is NOT interested.”

“This from the Queen of Family Avoidance?”

And the two groundhogs bickered for a good two hours, much to the entertainment of RF’s customers.

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

RF and Tour spent a glorious 4th of July at the Bakery, which supported the town fireworks display to raise money for the volunteer firefighters and EMT’s.  The firemen grilled hamburgers and hot dogs while the Bakery supplied its famous chili, and things like potato salad and coleslaw.  But mostly, RF and Tour dished up ice cream and frozen fruit treats.  The Bakery’s Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies were, as always, a huge seller.  Tour’s chunky pineapple sorbet and Mad Passion – a combination of passion fruit and mango sorbets topped with lemon sorbet and her classic Italian Lemon Ice sold just as fast.  The firemen and EMT’s raised a lot of money for a good cause. As gratifying as it was, RF and Tour felt like they’d run their paws off after a full day at the Bakery and then here.  Luckily, all the food shut down so they could watch the fireworks.  Trey saved them a prime spot and he Rupert, who arrived unannounced a few days earlier, acted as groundhog structural support to give them good views.  They were fast asleep with seconds of hitting the backseat of the car.  When the two males reached in to carry them up to their bedrooms, Rupert murmured, “They look so sweet asleep.”

“If I wasn’t so tired, I’d bite you.”

“Oh, just turn him into a field mouse and let it go.  A hawk will take care it for you.”  Who knew Tour could be so bloodthirsty?

“I thought you were the nice cousin?”  Rupert sounded insulted.

“I am.  Now shut and go away so we can sleep.”

“Evil little creature,” he muttered as he closed the door on Tour yelling, “HAWK CHOW!”

Trey chuckled.  “They’re a lot more alike than either will admit.”

The busy weekend was over and they had to get ready for RF’s 3 days in Hell, otherwise known as the Clan Reunion.  Lula Mae had been ominously quite.  Not one phone call.  Johann and Greta evaded RF and Trey seemed mighty busy with something.  Tour said nothing at all about the reunion knowing RF wasn’t entirely sane on the subject.  Or as Trey observed, “RF isn’t sanity’s poster child for anything.” hummmmmmmmmmm  He had a point.

Tour handed RF a lemonade and sat next to her watching the weekend Farmer’s Market and Crafts Fair people pack up.  RF had placed orders for local artisan cheeses to add to the menu and so she and Peter could experiment with them, creating new recipes.  But first she had to survive her annual trip to Hell.  Tour sipped and nudged RF.  “We decided on a backup plan for this fiasco?”

“Kill ’em all?”  RF sounded so hopeful.

“No, we discarded that one last week.”

“Still my favorite.”

“While it does have a certain permanence to it, it’s just not doable.  I still think making Lula Mae take the job is a good bet.  She’ll hate it and she won’t be in your business so much.”

“Better her than all those Watkins boys hanging out here, because she’d make sure they did.”

Tour thought for a minute.  “You remember that war I fought against the Mutant Lizards?”

“Sure, you and that strange little naked rainbow haired troll, what’s her name.”

“JustMiss.  Anyway, Erma the Evil U-Haul Clerk is on parole and back living in that trailer in the swamp in Florida.  We could send the Watkins down there.  Won’t matter if the gators get them or Erma.  It’s a win-win.  And they are a hungry lot.”

“Not bad.  We’ll keep that on the list.”

They were both quite while things closed down and folks said their goodnights, RF nodding at the folks who called out their goodbyes and thanks.  Trey and Rupert joined them on the stacked stone wall, Trey sitting next to RF and Rupert next to Tour.  RF could smell Trey’s bourbon, but Rupert had a huge slice of Tour’s Creamsicle Cake – a lush dessert even RF drooled over – layers of orange sponge brushed with orange rum, then spread with homemade orange curd, a layer whipped cream flavored with Cointreau for 3 layers of yum with a top of  thick whipped cream icing, shaved orange white chocolate bark mixed with orange zest served on its side with a huge rosette of the orange liqueur flavored whipped cream and wedge of ripe orange.  It was amazing and sold like crazy.  She’d made a white chocolate raspberry one using Framboise as well.  RF would kill for it, so would half her customers.

“Did you bring any of that for us?”  RF sounded a bit cranky.

“Last piece and I had to fight some little old lady for it.”

“If you hurt Mrs Cranston, I really will turn you into a field mouse!”

“She’s fine.  She’d had 3 slices and hit me with her cane when I grabbed this one.  I wanted a corner.  More cream there, but she’d eaten them.”

“Maybe she was taking it home to Mr Cranston!”

Rupert popped the last of the cake in his mouth and just looked at RF.  He swallowed.  “Not even you believe that one!”  Well, no, she didn’t.  Mrs Cranston was quite greedy about that cake of Tour’s.  She sighed.  She wanted some of that.  Honestly, she could just eat the whole thing.  Tee nudged her and motioned her inside.

The groundhogs headed indoors as Trey reminded them, “Big Daddy’s plane will be here early, so you two be ready.”  RF gave him ‘the finger’ – or in her case, ‘the claw’.   “You should treat him better.  He puts up with a lot from you.”

“And he’s gotten damn rich doing it, so it’s not like he’s doing me a favor.”

“He’s going to this stupid reunion isn’t he?  Be nice – or at least a little nicer than you usually are.”  A rabid skunk was generally nicer than RF, so that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge – except for the whole clan thing.  But Tee had a plan and she pulled it out of the private refrigerator in RF’s office.  Her raspberry white chocolate cream cake laced with extra Frambois.  She handed the drooling RF a fork before she just shoved her claws in and started eating.  She cut a big corner square, added extra raspberry coulis and a swirl of cream and fresh raspberries then handed it to RF.  The alarm went off signaling her turn to play in the JulyTBR swap.  No way was she unlocking this door.  She texted Daisy with instructions and went right back to the cake.  Tee smiled and delicately nibbled on her own slice, a much, much smaller one than RF’s.  She thoughtfully served her cousin more before nibbling a bit more.  It took two more servings before RF couldn’t stay awake any more.  “I’ll eat the rest later.”  She walked over and climbed in her portable bed and was snoring up a storm in about 15 seconds flat, not once wondering why that bed was in her office.

Half an hour later, Tee walked out into the kitchen where Trey and Rupert waited, ready to go.  “Should be safe to move her now.  She’ll be out till long after we touchdown, but just in case, I’m taking more cake.”

“You’re sure this is the best way?”  Trey didn’t like tricking RF.  It tended to end badly.

“She promised to go to ‘the clan reunion’.  She did NOT agree to go to her MOTHER’S clan reunion.  We both belong to a different clan that meets about every 3 years.  By dawn tomorrow she’d be off for Nova Scotia.  You want to deal with that?”

Trey sighed.  His partner was tricky and Tee was right.  She’d been very careful about what she promised.  And if there was a way out, she’d take it.  “She’s not drugged, is she?”

“Just drunk off her paws.”

“What the hell was in that cake?”

“Raspberry vodka and Framboise in the cake plus grain alcohol from Cleatus in the raspberry coulis.  Tastes pretty good, but it’s potent as all get out.  That stuff must be 180 proof.”

Trey looked horrified.  “She won’t need a liver transplant, will she?”

“Just an ice pack when she wakes up.  I’m taking extra cake along, just in case she comes around too soon.”

“I have got to try that cake!”

Tour eyed the djinn.  “If there’s any left when we land, you can try it.  I am not getting in a plane with a drunk djinn.”

“Djinn don’t get drunk!”  He sounded haughty, condescending, and insulted.  Not an easy combination to pull of, but he’d had lots of years of practice.

“Famous last words.  You’ll still wait till we land.  Now let’s get moving.  I don’t want to get in all this trouble for nothing!”

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

Peter, RF’s head chef and former Navy SEAL – a man with nerves like steel,  and Daisy the ferret, along with a good portion of the staff watched them leave carrying the snoring RF to Trey’s car.  Peter shook his head.  “I’m glad I’ll be up here when she wakes up.  And I sure as hell hope no one checks that raspberry coulis for a fire hazard.  It probably violates half a dozen FAA and DOT rules and should be in a HazMat container.”  Courtney and Amanda nodded.  Daisy wasn’t sure they’d be far enough away.  It was only 800 miles.  She’d feel better if it was in Nicaragua or something.

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