#28 – An Art to These Things
- Leticia McKinelle discovered that her ex-husband was in Emerald Heights and was dating her best friend Sarah Price.
- Duncan Marshall was accused of murdering Claudio Breza in California.
- Oliver Jordan purchased the bulk of Lawrence Waterford‘s debt from Kent Armitage.
- A young boy was involved in a fatal accident that left him with amnesia.
- Kerstin Waterford and Jehua Stanley shared a highly-charged moment in the store room at The P & Q.
- Trevor Jordan made a deal with Leticia McKinelle to dig up dirt on Clara Preston in order to defeat the will of Leticia’s father.
Leticia McKinelle slipped into Price through the loading dock; she didn’t want to encounter Sarah until she had a chance to talk to Victor, Sarah’s father. It was clear to Leticia that Sarah’s mother, Mary, had already had the wool pulled over her eyes with regard to Leticia’s ex-husband Oswald and his intentions with Sarah, but she held out hope that she would find an ally in Sarah’s father; her employer.
She rounded a corner and spied Victor Price standing outside his office door. “Mr. Price,” she called down the hallway.
As she stepped up alongside him he smiled, “my dear, Leticia, I told you to call me Victor.”
She nodded, “yes sir,” she said, “I wanted to talk to you,” she glanced back and forth at the two men who were standing beside Victor. “It’s a private matter.”
He nodded, “of course, won’t you step in.” He looked at the men each in turn, “excuse us gentlemen.”
Once the door was closed and Victor rounded the desk Leticia sat in the chair opposite him. She leaned forward. “It’s about Sarah… and Oswald.”
Victor nodded, “oh yes,” he said clasping his hands together, “isn’t it wonderful?”
Her mouth hung open but no words escaped.
John Godspeed stopped as he walked down the aisle of the plane. He took two steps backward and looked at the lone woman seated against the window. “Liz? Elizabeth Armitage?”
The woman looked up and smiled, “Chief Godspeed,” she said. He nodded, “it’s good to see you,” she gestured toward the vacant seat. “Sit please.” He slipped into the seat, “it’s Marshall again, though,” she clarified, “since the divorce.”
“Guess it’s been that long, heh? I didn’t know you were gonna be on this flight.”
She nodded, “I wanted to be there for the arraignment.” She shifted slightly in her chair in order to be able to look more directly at the older man. “But what are you doing on this flight, if I might ask?”
He shrugged, “I’ve got a feeling,” he said, “there’s more to this case than these Californians have discovered.” He paused then added, “I didn’t know you did criminal law?”
She shook her head and chuckled, “I normally don’t. But when it’s your brother you buy a book.” She grinned and held up a copy of the California criminal code, “you brush up, and hop on a plane.” She paused for a moment, “John, I’m sure that Duncan and Cassandra are grateful that you’re going to look into the case but,” she said, “how’re you going to get past the jurisdictional issue?”
He shook his head, “not sure, really. I was gonna to appeal to the local DA for access.”
“Maybe I can help with that.”
“How?” He asked.
“Simple. You’re now the chief forensics expert for the defence.”
“He just ignored me, just like I hadn’t said a damned word,” Leticia explained as she held the phone to her ear. “I don’t get it. I mean, I tried to tell him about Oswald and all I got was ‘he makes Sarah so happy’ and ‘what a wonderful fellow’.”
“He called him a fellow?” Kerstin asked.
“Focus, Kerstin,” Leticia chided. “Something is going on. Sarah I get, she’s easy to convince, and Mary too because, well, Sarah’s got to get it from somewhere. But Victor is a shrewd man, he’s smart and should be able to see through Oswald… but he’s not.”
“Did you tell Victor about Oswald’s plan… about when he was going to operate on you.”
Leticia winced and pulled the phone away from her ear in reflex, “I tried… but he just went on to some other topic. It’s weird.”
“Yes, it is… what about John?”
Leticia replied, “I haven’t talk to John.”
“You have to, like, now. Is he there? In the office?”
Leticia nodded, although her friend couldn’t see it, “I think so. He’s supposed to be.”
“Good, go talk to him. He may be your only hope.”
“What am I supposed to say?”
“I don’t know something like ‘your sister is sleeping with a psycho-surgeon who redesigns women’s faces against their will’? Y’know, or something along those lines… you’ll figure it out. I’ve gotta go… it’s time for work.”
“There’s an art to these things,” Oliver Jordan explained. “When you are one blow away from defeating your mortal enemy on the field of battle you don’t just walk over and plunge the sword into his chest. You take a moment to revel in the fact that yours was the superior strategy. That you were able to best him, to unseat him from his horse, to crush his armies and then, in the penultimate moments of the great skirmish you have emerged as the victor.”
“I see,” Harry Custone said.
“No, you don’t,” Oliver continued, “because more important than taking the time to recognize all of this for yourself, Harry, is that you give your opponent the time to see it, too. He must see it all from the side of the loser and to realize that he has been defeated, bested, crushed under the heel of a superior warrior… otherwise you might as well stab him in the back.” He shook his head, “no, I want Lawrence Waterford to see the final blow come down on his head.” He pressed his fingers-tips together and watched the gentle smoke from the lit cigar drift up from the ash tray.
“Nice,” Harry Custone replied genuinely impressed. As a native of Emerald Heights Harry had watched Oliver Jordan’s influence spread across the town. He’d watched as Jordan Manufacturing became Jordan Industries and slowly consumed company after company; then the buy-out of Stanley Enterprises that propelled the then-new, then-named Jordan-Stanley Enterprises to its status as the largest employer in all of Massachusetts.
But through it all the Waterfords had maintained social control of Emerald Heights.
“Have you decided when you’re going… finish him?” Harry asked, unable to find a better way to describe Oliver’s planned reveal.
“As a matter of fact, I have,” Oliver replied and leaned forward to pick up a square card from the desk. He tossed it at Harry who caught it handily.
Harry read the first line of the card and smiled.
You are cordially invited to the wedding
of our daughter Tish Waterford
to Marcus LeBrandt
Harry chuckled lightly to himself, “I see,” he said as he took a sip of the scotch, “and are you going to tell him at the same time that it was his future son in law who sold you the information?”
Oliver Jordan grinned, “it’s going to be a hell of a toast.”
“I’m glad this isn’t awkward for the two of you,” Gordon Stanley said clasping Kerstin Waterford and his son Jehua on the shoulder at the same time. The three of them looked out across the bar of the P & Q at the slowly filling room. “I was worried that it would be.”
“It’s kind of awkward that we’re having this conversation, Dad,” Jehua said slipping out of his father’s grasp. He knew it had been a mistake to tell his father about his feelings for Kerstin.
Gordon laughed a belly laugh and pulled Kerstin in tighter, “Kerstin here doesn’t think so, do you Kerstin?” He shook her playfully.
Jehua saw her smile at him sheepishly; Jehua smiled back and said, “let her go, Dad, you’re totally creeping her out.”
“Bah, you two are too serious for me anyhow,” Gordon quipped. He zigged around the bar and threw his hands into the air, “Bruce! You old so and so…”
“I’m so sorry,” Jehua said as they watched his father greeting patrons in his jovial way.
Kerstin shook her head, “no, it’s okay…”
“This really isn’t going to be awkward is it?” He asked.
She looked at him and smiled. There was something missing in her eyes; they didn’t reflect the smile, they didn’t sparkle. “No,” she said more softly than he’d have liked.
He toed the floor, “uh, okay then. I mean, that’s good.” He smiled back at her, “I was worried because I didn’t want to lose you…” his voice trailed off.
“…as… as a friend,” she added. “Yeah, of course. Me either. You’ve become a great friend, Jehua.” She seemed nervous and she twisted her thumb ring, “I… am glad that we can be… friends.”
The two stood in silence for a few minutes before Kerstin added, “oh, you were going to tell me something before your father came along,” she smiled this time and Jehua immediately noticed the difference in the smile. And ache crawled through him. “What were you going to say?”
“Uh, oh…” he said, “just a bit of news. Y’know that kid that was in the accident? The kid that they didn’t know who he was… well, my uncle Brentwood and aunt Gloria adopted him. He’s a Stanley now… they call him James. He’s quite the kid… it’s funny, you’d swear he was one of us, he fits in so well…” Jehua’s brow creased slightly, “are you okay?” He asked.
“What?” She said shaking her head slightly, her chest was heaving heavily and she seemed short of breath, “I… I’m sorry. I, uh… don’t feel so well all of a sudden. I’ll be right back”, she turned and walked away from him; he watched her rub her temples as she rounded the corner and disappeared from his view.
Trevor Jordan looked up from the elaborate menu that he held in his hand. He watched Clara Preston sitting in a booth on the other side of the dining room. He stood the half-folded menu in front of him and flipped open the pocket mirror that he’d laid on the table and checked himself out it in. He flashed his reflection his most dashing smile.
Closing the mirror, he slid it back into his pocket, tossed the menu down onto the seat and made his way across the dining room. He walked half-way passed Clara Preston, stopped and backed up. “Excuse me,” he said, “are you dining alone?” He knew that she was.
She smiled wanly, “yes, I am.”
He reached out his hand, “Trevor Jordan, yes, those Jordans.” He winked and leaned down to kiss the back of her hand. “It’s simply unacceptable for a woman of such beauty to dine alone,” he said, “may I join you?”
He could see a blush cross her cheeks, “by all means,” she said.
“Thank you,” he said as he slid into the booth. He made an effort to look around the dining room before looking her in the eye, “so, do you come here often?”
Leticia swung herself in through the door of John Price’s office; her hand working as a hinge against the door frame. She leaned, still holding the frame, and smiled at the man who sitting behind the desk.
Lord God he’s sexy, she thought to herself. “Hey,” she said, releasing the door and stepping into the room. “Busy?”
“Not really,” he said and stood while gesturing toward the chair across from him. “What can I do for you?”
“Uhm,” she said as she slipped into the chair, “well, it’s not really business related.”
“Oh?” John said as he quirked an eyebrow.
“It’s about Sarah,” she said.
“Yeah,” Leticia continued, “it’s about Sarah… and Oswald.” She frowned. “Do you know who he is?”
John shook his head, “just what my parents have told me,” he said, “I haven’t seen my sister in days. She hasn’t been in to work this week. And I haven’t met the guy.”
Leticia nodded her head slowly, “well,” she said, drawing out the word, “he and I used to be married.”
“Whoa,” John said, “that’s crazy.”
“That’s not even the half of it, John,” Leticia said, sliding forward in her chair. “He’s… deranged. He’s crazy. He planned to operate on me without my permission.”
“He did? I thought he was a magazine author?”
Leticia shook her head, “what? No. He’s a plastic surgeon. He was a world famous one… but then his first wife died in the middle of a procedure that he was performing on her… and he went… I dunno… he went crazy.”
“Why did you marry him?”
“I didn’t know… I mean… I knew that he was married, but he told me that he divorced his wife. It wasn’t until his sister, Valerie, finally found out what he was planning to do and managed to break into the hospital operating room and save me.”
“Wow,” John breathed.
“He planned to turn me into his ex-wife,” Leticia said finally, “he was going to change my face to look just like her.” She shook her head, “we have to stop him or I’m afraid he’ll do the same thing to Sarah.”
“We’re supposed to get together for dinner tomorrow night, the whole family. I can tell her then… I’ll take care of it.”
Leticia nodded, “good. John, you have to be careful. He’s a dangerous man and Sarah and your parents are totally taken in by him.”
“Don’t worry Leticia,” John said, “I won’t let this bastard hurt my sister.”
Leticia stood and turned toward the door. She stopped and turned back and looked at John Price again; she smiled in spite of herself. He looked up from his work and grinned, “what?”
“Nothing,” she said and turned back toward the door.
“Leticia,” John said and she turned back again, “this was not even close to what I thought you were coming in here to say.”
“Oh?” She said.
“Yeah,” he replied and shrugged slightly, “after this is over do you, maybe, wanna get dinner or something?”
Her smile broadened, “sure.”
Clara’s laughter increased. Trevor continued, “so, Dad paid for the thing… it was like eight billion rubles or something. Yeltsin was pissed, but what can ya do? I was like nine.”
“Oh, you’re so bad,” she said as she laid her hand on his arm.
He smirked, although not to anyone in particular. He gestured for the sommelier to return to the table. “Wait ‘til you hear about the time that I let Castro’s dog out…“ As the sommelier stepped alongside the table Trevor said, “another bottle of the same, please.”
“No, no,” Clara said waving her hand in the air, “we’ve had enough… I should be going… going home.”
Trevor leaned in close, as if he was trying to conceal his words from the sommelier, “I wasn’t planning to drink it here.”
“Oh, you!” She said, swatting at him playfully. “So bad!” She waved her hand at the man who remained stalwart while standing beside the time, “okay, okay, bring the bottle. But we’ll take it with us.”
“Very good, sir,” the man said simply and left the table to retrieve the bottle.Tags:Chief John Godspeed, Clara Preston-McKinelle, Elizabeth Marshall, Gordan Stanley, Harry Custone, Jehua Stanley, John Price, Kerstin Waterford, Leticia McKinelle-Glendale, Oliver Jordan, Trevor Jordan, Victor Price