The young couple held hands as they walked toward the old gatehouse that had been used as a clubhouse for the Bob-Whites. Reaching into his pocket, Mart pulled his key ring out and flicked through the contents until he came to the one for the building. Unlocking the door, he swung it wide and waved Di inside ahead of him.
As she moved briskly around the room, opening curtains and windows to let the soft breeze blow away the stale air, Mart closed the door and pulled the dust cover off of the old couch. Folding the cover neatly, he tossed it onto the far end of the couch before plopping on the end cushion, dropping his head onto the back and closing his eyes.
A gentle hand grasped his arm and lifted it to allow a warm, soft body to press into his side. Di sighed as she nuzzled her head into his shoulder. “I’m so glad you thought of going for a walk,” she admitted. “It was getting claustrophobic with everyone hovering around us.”
Drawing her closer to his side, Mart agreed, “Yeah, it’s like they expect the baby to pop out curly blonde hair and call me daddy.”
Lifting her head to see the scowl on his face, Di punched him lightly in the shoulder. “Don’t you say that, Mart Belden,” she ordered. “Your family and the Bob-Whites love you. They are only trying to help us get to the bottom of this.”
“I know,” he admitted. “They never once acted like they thought it was true but, still,” he paused to gather his thoughts. “It’s like they’re more concerned about the baby than about us.”
“Oh, Mart,” she scolded gently. “They are only worried about the baby because she can’t do anything to protect herself.”
A new thought came to her as Mart took a deep, cleansing breath. Rising up and away from him, she reseated herself facing him. Picking up the hand nearest her, she fiddled with his fingers nervously. “Mart?” she began.
“Mart, why did you want to keep the magazine articles secret? I don’t understand.”
Mart blushed to the tips of his sandy hair. “I needed some money,” he finally admitted.
“But what did you need money for?” she asked, biting her lower lip. “Why were you trying so hard to sell a story?”
Lifting his head, Mart looked at her anxious face. “Well, it wasn’t to pay off Myriam’s mom, Di,” he answered wearily.
“Mart, I know that. I also know with all my heart and mind that you are not Myriam’s father. Don’t insult yourself or me with this bullshit,” she maintained, watching him jerk when she finished. “Why did you need the money?” she asked again slowly.
Reaching out, he cradled her face in his hands. “I’m sorry, my love,” he declared, hanging his head for a moment. Meeting her moist, violet eyes with his, he explained, “The money was for your engagement ring.” Picking up her left hand, he placed kisses on each finger around her ring. “I wanted you to have the engagement ring you wanted. This one.”
Di looked at the classic emerald cut Amethyst engagement ring. Fingering the baguette diamonds along one side, tears pooled in her matching violet eyes. “Mart, I love you,” she cried, throwing her arms around his neck. “I don’t know what I did to deserve someone who loves me like you do, but I’m so grateful.” She kissed him until they were both breathless.
Mart tucked her head into his shoulder. “Your love makes me feel like I can move mountains,” he whispered into her ear.
Pulling away, Di stood up and grabbed both of Mart’s hands, pulling him to his feet.
“Come on, my darling husband-to-be,” she said. “It’s time for us to go tackle this situation. It won’t be the first mysterious problem we’ve ever had.” She giggled as she watched Mart roll his eyes at the “M” word. “And being in the Bob-White family, I know this definitely won’t be the last.”
Trixie sat down cross-legged on the carpet in front of the sofa in the den. Once she got comfortable, she pulled her work laptop out of the bag and placed it on the coffee table. As the computer booted up, she glanced through the copies and pages she had printed about Myriam’s mother, Elizabeth Ann Charles, and made notes on the pad of paper.
After logging into the secure network, she started digging through the intricately connected web that was Elizabeth Ann and Drew “The Screw” Charles. Drew Charles was currently serving the maximum sentence of 150 years in federal prison in Butner, North Carolina.
Before the feds had arrested him and seized his assets, Drew Charles was reportedly worth $126 million, plus an estimated $700 million for the value of his business interest in ACC Investment Securities LLC. Other major assets included securities of $45 million, cash on hand $17 million, a 2005 Leopard yacht valued at $7 million, $2.6 million worth of jewelry, a Manhattan apartment valued at $7 million, Montauk home worth $3 million, Palm Beach home purchased for $11 million, as well as furniture, household goods, and art estimated at $9.9 million.
Trixie sat back, ran her hands through her curls and started to chew on her bottom lip.
Carrying the baby into the den, Jim chuckled at the sight of his Shamus in thinking mode. “What are you trying to figure out, babe?”
“Hmm?” she asked, looking up and blinking, trying to bring her eyes into focus after staring at the computer screen. “Oh, I was just reading about Myriam’s grandfather. Jim, they are, I mean were, rich. Like super rich. I’m willing to bet that Elizabeth didn’t know what to do once the funds were gone and Daddy Warbucks was arrested.”
“From what you and Dan said earlier, she seemed to be a Park Avenue Princess,” Jim said sitting down on the couch next to Trixie.
Trixie rifled through the pages she had printed out. “It seems that until her father’s arrest, Banshee Beth, as they called her, was the Page 6 socialite. She was at every seen and be seen event. And if you consider tabloids a source of information, she was in every issue of OMG! until last April. Also, she and Lindsay Lohan were BFFs; she had many incidents with the paparazzi, and as Dan told us, the charges for shoplifting. The paparazzi bestowed the name Banshee Beth on her because of her penchant for screeching and screaming at them.”
Looking over her shoulder, she saw Jim studying the pictures, with Myriam cradled in his arms. The photos appeared to show a young lady under the influence and spinning dangerously out of control. “Wonder what made her go from Bungalow 8 to a hole in the wall pub?”
Twisting to look into emerald eyes, her own blue eyes wide with astonishment, Trixie asked, “YOU know Pacha?”
Leaning down to place a tender kiss on her pink lips, he whispered, “I know everything, Shamus.”
As Myriam started to whimper fretfully, Trixie couldn’t help but tease Jim. “Everything? I don’t think so. You’re squishing the baby.”
“Crap!” Jim sat up like he’d been electrocuted and stared at the baby in his arms, expecting to see her visibly harmed.
Pushing the coffee table back, Trixie sat up to her knees. Turning around and facing Jim, she giggled softly at the horror on his face. “Baby, there’s no harm done.” She touched the downy hair on the baby’s head. Myriam was already sucking on her fist. “She’s fine.”
“Oh my God. Don’t tell Dan I squished his daughter.” Jim looked so serious. “We can’t kiss with the baby around. It’s too dangerous.”
Trixie reached up and gently caressed his cheek. “I promise you, she’s fine and I won’t tell Dan that you squished Myriam.” He looked so relieved, she couldn’t help herself. She leaned in and kissed him tenderly. This time, she leaned into him and cradled the baby with her free arm, creating a baby safe cocoon. Nibbling on his lips, she whispered, “See, she’s happy and we’re happy.”
“Have I mentioned lately that I love you, Trixie Belden?”
“Not since this morning when I was washing your back in the shower,” she replied with a saucy smile.
Brian and Dan were in the curtained area waiting for the buccal swab to be administered. The young doctor was relaxed and leaning back on the stool in the corner. His dark-haired friend, however, was anything but relaxed. Dan was pacing like a caged tiger. “Where is that guy? How hard is it to get a DNA test done in Squaresville?”
“Squaresville? Wow, you must we upset. I haven’t heard you call this place that since you first came to Sleepyside,” Brian commented laconically.
Dan ran a hand through his hair, randomly thinking again that he needed a haircut, but he didn’t stop pacing. “This waiting is killing me. I mean, part of me knows that the baby isn’t Mart’s and I am dying because of the pain and hurt this has caused him and Di. AND then another part of me is wondering if the baby is mine, she isn’t black Irish like I am or Da was. And then another part of me is pretty sure that the baby IS mine, but, oh my God, Brian, what the hell am I going to do with a baby?”
Brian stood up during Dan’s diatribe. He grabbed his friend by the shoulders, stopping his pacing. “That’s too many parts, Dan. Sit down. The tech will be here soon. Let’s make a plan. What did you and Regan talk about last night, if Myriam is yours?” He pushed his friend towards the end of the exam table and with skills learned through repeated use; he pulled up the stool with his foot and sat down in front of Dan, effectively boxing him in.
Dan sat down on the exam table and leaned his elbows on his knees. “The first thing I know for sure. If that baby is mine, I am changing her name, Porsche Cristal. My daughter isn’t going to grow up and have jerks say things like 'hey, baby, can I race your motor' or 'I'd like to strip you and your gears'," he growled.
Taking the opportunity, Brian asked, “What do you think you want to call her?”
Dan looked up through his dark lashes, and admitted softly, “Brenna. My Ma’s name was Brenna.”
“Brenna, I like it.”
The curtain was pulled back and a haggard looking tech walked in carrying the tote full of vials, alcohol swabs, bandages, and tourniquets. “I’m sorry for the wait. Hey, Dr. Belden, I’m surprised to see you again. It’s been a busy weekend for you, too?” The tech was talking aimlessly as he prepared the paperwork for the swab. “ID, please. Just had an emergency come in and it was a kicker. You woulda thought OD. Patient was seizing, bradycardic and cyanotic. They had to put in a central line. Open up please, I’m going to collect cells from the inside of your cheek and we’ll send it away for DNA analysis.”
“Thanks, Tony, we need this rushed to WGen labs ASAP,” Brian said, not really paying attention to the tech’s play-by-play of the latest ER patient.
“Sure thing, Dr. Belden. We can still make the noon pick-up. Thank you, Mr. Mangan. WGen labs will send the results to your address,” the tech said, gathering his supplies. “You all are gonna want to get outta here before the press gets here. It’s gonna be a madhouse.”
“Press? Why is the press going to be coming?” Brian asked out of curiosity.
“I didn’t tell you? How did I miss that? The ER patient, it’s Beth Charles. You know, she’s the party-girl daughter of Drew the Screw. The press calls her Banshee Beth.”
Our lovely editors of Joycey, Kelly and Mylee make our stories sooooooo much better with their edits and suggestions. If there are boo-boos left in this story, they belong to us, Jenny and Jo.
A big thank you to cestmoi1/Deanna for helping us with Dan’s term of “Squaresville” from Black Jacket. We couldn’t think of it at all.
The sentence for Drew “The Screw” Charles and the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, as based on Bernie Madoff’s.
Lindsay Lohan is an American actress, model and recording artist.
Bungalow 8 is a tiny New York lounge, with a tough door policy, potted palm trees, and PVC-happy celeb stalkers, that makes it way too South Beach to actually exist in South Beach. The “it” place to go.
For those readers who aren’t medical drama junkies, bradycardic is a slow heart rate and cyanotic is When a patient's skin and mucous membranes are bluish in color from an inadequate supply of oxygen in the blood.
Background is from allfreebackgrounds.com
Header and dividers created using MS Clipart manipulated by Jo
Word count – 1988