#33 – The Big Day: Part II
- Kerstin Waterford threw a drink in Olivia Jordan’s face.
- Oliver Jordan plotted to buy Waterford Holdings’ debt in order to force Lawrence Waterford into foreclosure.
- Kerstin Waterford learned that her boyfriend Frank Denzre was working for Oliver Jordan.
- Leticia McKinelle burned down her ex-husband‘s secret lab in which he was developing some sort of drug.
- Jason Marshall rescued a drunk Kaitlyn Godspeed from the fate of waking up in a ditch.
- Kaitlyn vowed never to drink again.
“Did you know it’s an open bar?” Leticia repeated as the pair slipped back into the safety of the main house at Red Terrace.
“Yeah, I know. Shut up,” Kerstin said.
“No, really? That’s the best you could come up with?”
“Like you could do better.”
“Hmmm. How about, ‘looks like you need a top up’, or ‘have one on me’, oh, or better yet, ‘have one on you’.”
Kerstin frowned, “I got my point across.”
“The drink got your point across,” Leticia added, “the look on her face was priceless, I thought she was going to take a swing at you.”
“So did I.”
“What was she talking about? What did she mean by Jordan is expanding in more places than just Southeast Asia?” Leticia asked.
Kerstin realized that in all the day’s excitement she hadn’t mentioned Frank’s betrayal to Leticia. She rubbed the bridge of her nose, “that’s a long story but the crux of it is that Oliver Jordan had spies infiltrate Waterford Holdings and get information to allow Jordan to buy up my Dad’s debt. He plans to use that to… I dunno, take over the company somehow.”
“Whoa,” Leticia breathed. “What is your Dad going to do?”
Kerstin shrugged, “I don’t know, really.”
Leticia frowned over the rim of her glass as she took a sip, “who was the spy?”
Kerstin winced visibly, “actually there were two of them.”
“One of them was Marcus,” Kerstin said as she looked out the door at the bride and groom dancing happily on the dance floor that had been installed in the Red Terrace garden. “Tish doesn’t know and I have no idea why Daddy let her marry him,” she shook her head. She continued, “the other one was…” she turned to regard her cousin and felt the breath get knocked out of her as she regarded the man who stood at the end of the narrow hall in which the two women were.
“…Frank.” She gasped.
Lawrence Waterford approached Oliver Jordan with purpose. As the father of the bride he had been expected to dance one of the first dances of the night, but once his official duties were concluded – and before the speeches were to begin – he resolved to speak with Jordan.
“Jordan,” Lawrence said jovially clapping the older man on the shoulder, “come, join my father and I for a drink and a cigar in the pool house.”
To Lawrence, Jordan appeared to take the move in stride. Lawrence reckoned that Jordan figured that he had the upper hand no matter the play that the Waterfords attempted to make.
“Senator,” Oliver Jordan said as the man stood and clasped his hand. “I’m surprised to see you cavorting with this lot.”
The Senator smiled and nodded, “there was a time, Oliver, when I called the Waterfords my friends.”
Kirk stood and reached his hand out to Oliver Jordan, “if I don’t miss my understanding of the situation, Chuck, I think there may be a future for that friendship yet.”
“What’s this all about?” Oliver Jordan said after a moment’s silence.
“Would you like a cigar?” Lawrence Waterford said with a sly smile. “Or, perhaps, a cognac?”
Jordan shook his head, “get to the point, Waterford. I don’t have to sit here and listen to this… as a matter of fact I’ll tell you what…”
Lawrence stepped toward the cart that contained the liquor and poured some into a glass, “you’ll tell me what, Oliver? That you paid Frank Denzre and my new son in law to spy on me and my girls in order to get information about my deals with Kent’s financial contacts so that you could buy up my debt and force me into bankruptcy if I didn’t turn Waterford over to you?” Lawrence reached the drink out to Oliver Jordan, “does that just about sum it up? You, uh, might want that drink now, heh?”
Oliver Jordan pressed the back of his hand against the drink. He chuckled softly and shook his head, “well done,” he said in a tone that dripped with sarcasm. He shrugged his shoulders and dipped his head slightly, “it seems that you’ve uncovered my plot.” His face cracked into a smile as he turned to face all the other men in the room simultaneously, “however that doesn’t change the fact that I still own all your debt. And, oh… I think it’s collection day.”
Leticia had excused herself from the hall when Frank had shown up in the hall that she and Kerstin were using as their hiding place. Leticia had scampered around the periphery of the Red Terrace garden, keeping a mindful watch out for her seemingly disappeared ex-husband, Oswald, and her friend-turned-employer-turned-ex-husband’s-lover, Sarah Price.
She stood under the Red Terrace pool house’s stone overhang, watching the wedding revelry from a safe distance buffered by the Red Terrace pool. She leaned against one of the high columns and listened to the music as it played gaily; tear began to roll down her cheek as she thought of the previous night’s events: her outburst at the Price estate, John Price’s conversion at the hands of Oswald, and the fire at the lab.
The heel of her hand ground into her eye in an unsuccessful attempt to stem the tide of tears. From across the pool Clara McKinelle, her father’s widow, glided into view and a deep shudder wracked her body.
Involuntarily she turned away and her vision was immediately disrupted by a man standing in front of her. Reflexively she stepped back and gasped. The gasp was deepened to an all out exhalation when she realized that the man was none other than her ex-husband. “Leticia,” he breathed, as if using the very breath that she had just lost. “We need to talk.”
He clasped his hand over her mouth and, with the muted sounds of the wedding’s festivities in the background, pulled her into the pool house unnoticed.
Kerstin’s voice still hadn’t come back to her.
“Kerstin?” Frank repeated. “I really am sorry.”
She stood, immobilized and dumbstruck. She really hadn’t expected to see him again as her grandfather had predicted. She hadn’t bothered to knock on his door when she’d gone back to her apartment to get her dress that morning – although Leticia’s news had somewhat supplanted the thought at the time. The events of the day had progressed at a pace that hadn’t allowed her time to plan what she would say should she end up face to face with the man again.
She hadn’t decided whether or not she was supposed to be mad at him; or whether she was supposed to be grateful that he came clean in time for her father to make an attempt to save his company. Or whether she should give him the very time of day, or whether she should tell him to get off their property, or whether she should have him arrested for attempting… whatever it was called that he was attempting.
“I…” she said by way of an attempt to speak. To her own mind it wasn’t clear whether it was the word or the sound that she was forming. “Why?” She managed finally, softly, and calmly. It was the only thing she could think of that would buy her the time necessary to decide what to think next.
“I needed the money,” he said simply. “I didn’t mean to… you know I care about you, right?”
She took a step backward and put her hands out in front of herself, “but, why me?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why would you do that to me?”
He shook his head, “I didn’t know you. I didn’t know anything about you, I never intended to like you…”
She turned away from him slightly and nodded slowly, “okay.”
“No, I mean… I was supposed to do all those things for money, but I ended up caring about you for real. I mean,” he said taking a step toward her, she flinched but didn’t move, “how could I not care about you?”
She chanced a glance up into his face, his eyes looked sincere. He had the silly crooked smile on his face, but it was marred with the lines of the honest pain that she could see he was feeling. “Can you forgive me?” He said as she watched his lips part and form the words. When he stopped talking the smile was gone, it was replaced with the tightly drawn grimace of a man awaiting his sentence; the eyes still held their sincerity but there was something else there, too. Something deeper, something that she hadn’t seen from him ever before: vulnerability.
She breathed in deeply and then exhaled just as deeply. And then she answered him.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Leticia screamed when finally Oswald’s hand was removed from her mouth. She had tried to bite him but hadn’t been able to manage it. She’d figured that a surgeon would freak out if his hand was suddenly latched onto by sharp teeth.
“My dear such language doesn’t become you,” Oswald said as he slowly paced around the small sauna. “But by all means, keep it up. It’s not like anyone can hear you through these walls.”
“You’re a psycho and I know what you were planning,” she said as she slid back into a corner of the room, Oswald’s laps made her feel uneasy; he paced like a cheetah choosing its prey and she was the only discernible prey in the room.
Oswald nodded, “and I know that you killed a man.”
“It was an accident,” she seethed, “and he was helping you to drug the whole town.”
Oswald laughed, “good luck proving that. But proving that you set the fire should be a great deal more easy… and that will serve my purposes just fine.”
Leticia drew herself back against the wall more firmly at hearing this. He was right, her tire tracks, or her fingerprints – because fingerprints were probably fireproof, or a strand of her hair, something would have been left behind at the scene of the fire and it would only be a matter of time before it was discovered. And she’d fled. People who’re involved in accidents don’t flee.
“Why are you doing this to me?” She said, her eyes scanning the room for a means of escape.
Oswald smiled, “I have Sarah now, and I’m happy. I need to make sure that nothing can ruin that.”
“What if I promise that I won’t ever tell anyone?” Oswald laughed and continued pacing around the room. “I… I… I promise,” she said again, her tone changing in spite of herself, “I’ll tell Kerstin not to pursue it and I won’t either.”
Oswald stopped in his tracks. “Kerstin?” He said, his voice raising. He nodded, “figures,” he said. “No, I can’t trust you Leticia. Look at what you did to me in California.”
She slid across the bench into the opposite corner of the small room, “what I did to you?” She asked incredulous, “you had me drugged on an operating table against my will.”
“Not against your will,” Oswald said, “you told me what you would do anything to make me happy…”
If there was more to that sentence she wouldn’t hear it, because as he had circled around to make his loop of the little room she’d leapt out and grabbed the kettle that sat near the rack where the coals would be heated to generate steam in the room. The kettle, in her hand, swung hard and landed solidly against the back of Oswald’s head, sending the man, the kettle, its lid and its handle each flying in a different direction.
Kaitlyn laughed and raised her glass in a silent toast all alone and tossed back the contents of the glass, “this is really good booze.”
Jason laughed in spite of himself, “that mouthful of champagne probably cost 800$.”
Kaitlyn’s eyes widened, “really? That’s awesome.” She tossed the glass onto the grass, “I’m glad that you talked me into coming to here.”
“Coming to here? What?” He sighed, “you really are a lightweight.” He shook his head.
“Listen, we should head home,” he said, “you’re already plastered and we’ve seen just about as much of this place as we’re gonna.”
“Nuh uh,” she said, tumbling slightly forward and ending up pressing herself bodily into him. “We haven’t been in there,” she swung herself around in what was thankfully a sort of twisting dip brought about only by Jason’s quick reflexes, else Kaitlyn Godspeed would have been pointing at the Red Terrace pool house while laying flat on her back.
“Fine, but after we go through there I’m taking you home,” he said finally.
Anders Wateford lurked outside the Red Terrace pool house’s sitting room and listened to his grandfather and uncle explain to Oliver Jordan how it was that they were going to expose Jordan for securities fraud if he went through with his plans to foreclose on Waterford Holdings debt.
“It’s as simple as this,” Kirk had explained, “I’ve got documents that run back almost forty years that show anti-competitive behaviour, tax fraud, falsified environmental documents, internal memos that include instructions from you to use intimidation and violence in business deals. I’ve known that this was coming for a while, Oliver… I’ve been preparing.”
“I don’t suppose you have anything to do with this,” Jordan had said to Senator Charles Taylor.
“I may have supplemented the pile,” he said flatly.
Anders continued to listen as the men pressed Jordan into acquiescing that he would turn the debt back over to Kent Armitage and give up on his plans to take over Waterford Holdings. Anders was rather dubious that this last clause would be adhered to.
He leaned against the wall in order to be able to hear further what the men were saying when he was startled into standing upright, “figures,” the voice seethed, “they don’t bother to breed any manners into any of you Waterfords.”
Anders spun around and spied Olivia Jordan standing in the candle-lit bay hall of the pool house. “What are you doing here, bitch?”
Olivia laughed, “way to prove my point little man,” she sighed, “I’m looking for my father, I figure that it’s time to bring these festivities to an end and put a move on the… riff-raff.”
A smile spread across Anders face, “oh? How are you going to bring the festivities to an end?”
Olivia shook her head, “you wouldn’t understand, boy.” She said, “it’s all very… business-y, you see, big words and the like. Grown up stuff.”
“Your, uh, father is in there.” Anders offered calmly, “talking to my grandfather about how he just got his ass handed to him for trying to take over my family’s company. Funny thing is that the words they’re using aren’t that big… mostly ‘fraud’ and ‘anti-trust’… maybe you should look those up before you go in, though.”
Olivia gave Anders a solid shove into the table beside which he stood as she stormed past sending him and the contents of the table clattering in every direction.
She dashed the few steps toward the door of the small room, and turned back. She winced as she looked at Oswald laying prone on the floor.
She bent down and rolled him up against the wall as best she could, kicking parts of the smashed kettle out of the way as she did so. Satisfied that the man would in no way be prone to succumbing to some accidental death or harm – at least more than the bump on the head – by her hand, she pulled open the door to the small sauna and stepped out.
As her left foot came down, instead of landing firmly on the floor, it came to rest on the handle of the kettle that she had previously kicked out of the way. The handle slid forward and carried her foot with it. She lost her balance in spite of herself and she tumbled backwards, crashing into the pedestal from which she’d picked up the kettle as she fell.
Before she had time to react a burst of sparks and stars exploded in her vision; and then the world went black.
“Why are there no lights on in here?” Kaitlyn whined as they minced their way through the pool house. As they’d entered Jason had heard voices in the long open halls and so had herded Kaitlyn away to avoid chastisement for snooping by the Waterford household staff or the Waterfords themselves.
“Ambiance I think,” Jason offered, “so that it doesn’t take away from the wedding decorations. Or maybe it’s like this all the time… it’s not like I’ve been here before you know.”
“It makes a nice ambinance,” Kaitlyn said softly and directly into his ear. She plucked a candle from a table in the bay hall as they ducked into a darkened room. “What’s this place?”
“It looks like a bedroom,” Jason said simply as he peered through the darkness that Kaitlyn’s candle singly penetrated. As the light source dipped toward the ground he spun around to see Kaitlyn, too, making a move for the floor. “What are you… okay, let’s keep standing,” he said as he hooked his arm under hers and hauled her back up.
She pulled the candle up to both of their faces and smiled a drunken smile, “thank you,” she said, he could feel her breath tickle his nose. “Do you think I’m pretty?” She said quietly.
“I… what?” He replied.
“Do you think I’m pretty?” She repeated, then, after a moment, continued, “I think you are.”
Jason chuckled, “you think I’m pretty, thank you.” He said.
She frowned, “not pretty… you know what I meant.” She sighed, “but you don’t think I am do you?”
He stepped toward her, “as a matter of fact, I do.” He leaned in and kissed her soundly on the lips as together they fell backwards onto the nearby bed.
Kerstin stood silently in the presence of Frank Denzre. Neither had spoken for several minutes. Her hands were in his hands and their eyes were locked. She was satisfied with her decision about the future of their… whatever it was, had been, was going to be.
The crooked smile was back on his face and hers, she presumed, was similarly laced with a smile – although not crooked. She would have to get used to these new eyes of his. They were no longer the eyes of a stranger, the eyes of someone to whom Emerald Heights was foreign, was unknown. She could distinctly see the brand of Emerald Heights in those eyes; she could see beyond their rim and into the depth of his soul.
And she liked what she saw.
As she watched him a frown drew across his face and in the same instant an orange light flashed over his face. His mouth opened in silent speech, but she heard the word nonetheless: fire.
In that same instant, as if in answer to a question neither of them dared to ask, a scream from outside pierced the silence and flooded their ears: “oh my God, the pool house is burning!”Tags:Anders Waterford, Frank Denzre, Jason Marshall, Kaitlyn Godspeed, Kent Armitage, Kerstin Waterford, Kirk Waterford, Leticia McKinelle-Glendale, Oliver Jordan, Olivia Jordan, Oswald Glendale, Senator Charles Taylor