Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Episode 40 Blake's Very Bad Day

"I'm running over to the office for some paperwork," Blake said to his wife.

"What, now?" Genvra Adams looked at her watch. "It's almost nine o'clock and we have things to discuss."

"It will have to wait. I have a 7 a.m. conference call tomorrow, and I need to review some numbers." He grabbed his keys and went out the door.

Instead of going to the office, however, Blake turned his car toward Jeni DuMont's house in Hunter Ridge. She'd texted him five times that afternoon asking--no, demanding--that he come to her this evening. Over the course of their months together Blake had learned that she was not a woman who took "no" for an answer. The trouble was, neither was Genevra. Blake would have to get home asap, especially since Genevra was in a particularly foul temper. That would be thanks to their daughter, Whitney, who had stopped by just before dinner to announce that she and her fiance, Jack, were pregnant, and all the wedding plans would have to be moved up six months.

Blake knew that the "things" Genevra wanted to discuss involved how much money they would need to donate to the church and country club in order to change the dates she'd already booked for the ceremony and reception. Genevra was insisting that Whitney's wedding have all the bells and whistles necessary to make it the social event of the decade in Pine Lake. It would be a grand display; never mind the kids didn't want a big wedding, and Genevra couldn't stand the groom. She'd be the mother-in-law from hell.

Just before nine, Blake pulled up in front of Jeni's  4-bedroom house in the brand new, upscale development on the edge of Pine Lake. He had enjoyed her company in every one of those four bedrooms, as well as the kitchen and family room. If they were fast, maybe the screened porch would be nice tonight . . .

Jenny was waiting at the door. "You're late," she said, offering her cheek for a kiss.

"Lots of stuff going on at home. I had a tough time getting out here at all."

She led him into the house. "I'll get you a drink."

In the kitchen, Blake tossed his keys on the granite countertop and watched Jeni pour a generous shot of whiskey in a crystal tumbler.

"Where's yours?" he asked, taking the glass from her.

She answered with a sly little smile. "That brings us right to what I wanted to tell you. I'm pregnant."

Blake nearly dropped the glass. "Oh, Christ, not you, too!"

Jeni's smile froze. "What the hell does that mean?"

Realizing how she'd misinterpreted his comment, Blake explained. "My daughter, Whitney. She just told us tonight that she and Jack are expecting."

"Well, isn't that nice for you. You'll have a child and a grandchild growing up together. They'll graduate in the same class at Pine Lake High."

Blake's first thought was that the way his life was going, he'd never live to see that day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Episode 39 Graveyard

John Donati had never found much to like about Caroline Wilson, but he felt a certain sadness at her passing. She wasn't popular, even when they were kids, and she'd grown into a bitter, unpleasant woman, but still, they had that shared history, that common bond of growing up in Pine Lake. Now, after a brief graveside service which a surprisingly large number of people had attended, there was a crowd at Taverna, drinking and eating food donated by Matt Wilson's friends and neighbors.

"Look at all these people," Donati's ex-wife, April, said. "Caroline would have been stunned."

"Yeah. I think there were a bunch of folks not too sad to see her go," Donati replied, taking a swig of his Diet Coke. Technically, he was on duty, so no booze.

"That's awful. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead," April replied.

John glanced at his ex. She was still pretty, though in a softer way than when they had first met. Her auburn hair was lighter, threads of gray woven in here and there, and her face and figure were slightly fuller. Despite the divorce (her idea), he still loved her, though not with the blazing passion of their early years.

"Caroline wasn't a happy person. Not our fault," he said.

"No. I guess not." April sipped her white wine.

In the silence between them, John looked over the room. Nick Kallias was sitting at a table all alone. Pale and thin, he was a shadow of his former self. Donati had heard from Claire Monroe that Nick would be having triple bypass in a week or two, once Selena was better.

Helen Kallias was bustling around, keeping the restaurant functioning, but she, too, had aged ten years in the past two weeks. Something had gone down in that family even before Selena's accident; Donati didn't know what it was, but it had to be more than coincidence that Nick and his daughter were both perfectly healthy one minute, and in intensive care the next.

Across the room, Blake Adams was making a fool of himself over Jeni DuMont. It didn't take the Chief of Police to figure there was something hinky going on there, too. Blake had been behaving badly lately, trying to escape the pressures of his life by diving head-first into mid-life crisis mode.

"So, John-D, there's something I've been meaning to tell you," April said, referring to Donati by his childhood nickname.

Donati felt his breath catch; there was usually something dark beneath those words.

"Yeah? What?" He wasn't sure he wanted to know.

"I'm leaving."

"What do you mean 'leaving'?"

"Moving. I'm going to California."

The blood ran out of John's head. "What?"

"I've been offered a job in a gallery in San Francisco. It's a new start for me."

"You can't be serious."

"I'm very serious. I leave next week."

"But we have a son. You can't leave Jack."

April tilted her head to one side--a gesture that John had always loved. "Our son is twenty-five. He's getting married. I'll come back for the wedding, but he doesn't need his mommy to tuck him in at night."

"But he still needs you. And you can't leave Pine Lake."

"Oh, John."

"Don't 'oh, John' me. That's what you always do." He reached for her arm.

Anticipating his move, she put her hand out and grasped his wrist. "John. We're done. Finished.  We have been for years." She released her grasp, turned again, and walked away.

It wasn't true, John thought. They would never be finished.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Episode 38 Selena

It wasn't like she was floating above herself or any of that other out-of-body nonsense she'd read about, but it was weird.

Selena couldn't talk, or move, and her eyes weren't just closed, they were bandaged over. Yet, somehow, she could see everything that was going on around her. At first, she'd been terrified, trapped within herself, unable to communicate in any way, but the fear was forgotten because Biff had come back. He was here, beside her, and that made the world wonderful again.

She could feel his hand touch hers; she could hear his voice as he said, "I should never have left. I don't know what I was thinking."

As if the bandages didn't exist, she could see his eyes fill with tears, see the anxious glances he gave the monitors all around her, the wincing twitch of his cheek muscles when he looked at the IV snaking into her right arm.

You're here, so I'll be all right. We'll be all right. Everything will be all right.

"Selena, I'll never leave you again, I swear." She heard the catch in his voice and wished she could reach out to him, comfort him as he was comforting her.

"I have something for you," he said. "I've had it for a while now. Just didn't know when to give it to you. I guess I was waiting for the perfect time. There seemed to be so much time. . ." Again, his voice caught.

She heard the rustle of his jacket pocket as he pulled out a small black velvet box. In her mind, she could see every detail as he opened the box to reveal a tiny, perfect diamond, shining like a single star in the dark of night.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Episode 37

The week had dragged on forever. Biff Monroe was in New York, the last place he wanted to be, but it was easy to stay under the radar in the indifference of a big city.

He'd found a crappy hotel that wasn't too particular about a person's identity as long as they had cash to pay for the room in advance, and he'd spent the last few days holed up with his laptop, trying to figure out what to do next.

He had options: he could go back to the DEA and tell Jackson that Selena's father, Nick Kallias, had ratted him out to the Gonzales boys. But that meant getting involved again, and Biff wanted out. He'd had enough of playing footsie with sleaze balls and druggies to last a life time. Option two was running farther: Europe, Australia, maybe even South America. The bad guys probably wouldn't think to look for him in their own back yard.

But all the options he thought about were pointless without Selena. He had to find a way for her to be with him. Biff still didn't understand how the hell her father had figured out that he, Biff, was working undercover, or how he would have any contact with the very bad people on whom Biff was collecting indictment-worthy evidence.

With Selena and Pine Lake on his mind, he fired up his laptop and googled the town's community news page. He broke out in a cold sweat as he read:

Crash on Highway 10 Claims a Life

Two cars collided yesterday on Highway 10 near Pine Lake. Witnesses say a Ford Escort apparently lost control after being clipped by a Toyota Camry. The Ford spun and flipped twice before smashing into a bridge support. 52-year-old Caroline Wilson died shortly after being rushed to Pine Lake Hospital. The other car, driven by Selena Kallias,age 25, skidded into a light pole. Miss Kallias was also transported to the hospital, where she remains in critical condition.