© 2008 By C. J. Wells
Disclaimers: See Chapter One.
CASTING OUT ARGUS
Lindsay stood stunned at the sight of her mother and father standing side-by-side in her library.
"What in the hell is going on with you‚ Lindsay‚" Richard Alastair began. "I get this frenetic call from Marty last week. He was hysterical‚ claiming that you broke his jaw…"
Rejeanne looked up at Lindsay astonished.
"… and that you were having some illicit‚ and dare I say‚ unnatural affair with a woman reporter."
"You broke Martin’s jaw?" Rejeanne asked.
"I was going to tell you about that‚" Lindsay whispered before returning her attention to her parents.
"What on earth are you wearing?" Richard asked‚ referencing Lindsay’s casual attire.
"Good to see you too‚ Dad‚" Lindsay responded sarcastically.
"In the face of this assault on your husband‚ I also hear that you’ve been neglecting your work‚" he continued condescendingly. "You’ve postponed important meetings with investors‚ and I called your secretary. I had to prod‚ but she reluctantly told me that you haven’t remained at the office beyond six-o’clock any day for the past week. So‚ I must assume that you’ve been wasting valuable time that could be spent at the office lounging around here doing God only knows what."
Lindsay stood emotionless as Richard waived his finger at her as if she were a ten-year-old. "Why do you feel the need to continually disappoint me‚ young lady?"
Lindsay rolled her eyes and shook her head.
"Are you not where you are today because of my guidance and leadership?"
Lindsay folded her arms.
"My every decision since your birth was made so that you could carry on the Alastair name ethically‚ admirably‚ morally and judiciously."
Lindsay let out a dismissive sigh as she stood quietly and allowed her father to continue in his tirade.
"Oh‚ you think that this is trivial‚ don’t you?" he continued. "Well‚ why you stand there nonchalantly dismissing me‚ with your actions‚ you are likely sending this family‚ our family‚ down a black hole that I doubt we will ever be able to escape. You have desecrated this family and…"
Rejeanne had had enough. "Yo‚ hold it right there!" she exclaimed.
"Who are you?" Richard asked.
"I’m the woman reporter‚" Rejeanne replied.
"I’m not addressing you‚" Richard said.
"Too bad‚ cuz I’m addressing you‚" Rejeanne announced.
Richard attempted to ignore Rejeanne‚ turning his attention back to Lindsay. "How dare you let this‚ this degenerate disrespect…"
"Whoa‚ wait a fucking minute‚" Lindsay’s arms came down‚ ready to pounce her father‚ but Rejeanne grabbed Lindsay’s forearm‚ stopping her.
"How dare you‚" Rejeanne snapped at Richard. "What kind of a father are you? Everything Lindsay has done‚ every degree that she’s earned‚ every million that she’s made‚ she has done in her family name. She sacrificed her own personal happiness for years in order to fulfill her destiny as an Alasdair. Yet‚ instead of recognizing her brilliance‚ her commitment and her sacrifice‚ you stand here in HER house and call her disrespectful."
"Look‚ you…" Richard attempted to interrupt.
"…No‚ you look‚" Lindsay snapped. "You know‚ my dad… my dad may only have a GED‚ and he has a conviction for drunk driving‚ and he has his share of baby-mamma drama. But you know what? When I was a kid‚ he was at every softball game‚ screaming his lungs out when I hit a double. When I graduated from college‚ he was the proudest guy at my commencement ceremony. And when I came out to him‚ he supported me‚ he encouraged me and he told me that he was proud of my strength and my conviction. That’s the definition of a father‚ far more so than some rich asshole that claims to give everything to his kid‚ but makes that kid pay the price of her so-called good fortune with her own happiness‚ dignity and self-identity."
"You…" Richard tried again to interject.
"So don’t give us this bullshit about how she is where she is today because of you‚" Rejeanne asserted. "Lindsay is where she is today because of her."
"Are you done?" Richard asked.
"Almost‚" Rejeanne replied. "You were right about one thing. Lindsay IS the reincarnated Xena the Conqueror."
Lindsay smiled that "Xena" smile.
"I’m leaving this insane asylum‚ Evelyn‚" Richard addresses his ex-wife. "Call me if you’re able to make any headway with your daughter."
"Don’t let the door slam your ass on the way out‚" Rejeanne exclaimed to the abruptly departing Richard.
It was only after Richard had exited that Rejeanne fully realized just what had transpired between her and her lover’s father. She warily looked over at Lindsay‚ not knowing what to expect. "I’m sorry about that‚ Lin‚" she said. "He’s your dad and I shouldn’t have…"
Lindsay turned to Rejeanne and placed her hand on Rejeanne’s shoulder. "Do you know how much I truly love you right this minute?" Lindsay responded before returning her attention to her silently stunned mother. "Mom‚ how have you been?" she asked as she closed the space between herself and her mother.
Evelyn threw her arms around her daughter. "I’m good‚ dear‚" she said.
"I know what brought Dad here‚" Lindsay said. "What brings you here?"
"You know your father‚ sweetie‚" Evelyn replied. "He called me after getting the call from Marty. He wanted to fly here that day‚ but I convinced him to wait until I could join him. We both arrived only about two hours ago." She looked around Lindsay and over at Rejeanne. "Aren’t you going to introduce us?"
"I’m sorry‚ Mom‚" Lindsay said modestly. "Mom‚ this is Rejeanne Piscard. Jeannie‚ this is my Mom‚ Evelyn Summerfield."
"Nice to meet you‚" Rejeanne said as she extended her hand to Evelyn.
"The pleasure is mine‚" Evelyn replied.
"So‚ Mom‚ what do you have to say about all of this?" Lindsay asked tentatively.
Evelyn glanced at Rejeanne for only a few moments before returning her attention to her daughter. "She’s quite lovely‚" she said‚ "And as you know‚ I never really cared for Marty."
Lindsay could no longer contain her tears. Evelyn embraced her daughter again and motioned for Rejeanne to join them. "The only thing that I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy‚" Evelyn said to Lindsay as she hugged both women. "And there’s no doubt in my mind that you’re happy now."
"Thank you‚ Mom‚" Lindsay said.
Evelyn withdrew from the embrace in order to look into the eyes of her daughter. "I know of your sacrifices‚ darling‚" she said. "Don’t let anyone or anything make you have to sacrifice anymore." She turned her attention to Rejeanne. "And you‚ young lady‚" she said‚ "I like your spunk."
"So do I‚ Mom‚" Lindsay agreed.
"Well‚ if it’s all the same to you girls‚ I’d like to call it an evening."
"Sure‚ Mom‚" Lindsay said. "Will you join us for breakfast in the morning?"
"Absolutely‚" Evelyn replied as she retreated from the library to retire to what was still her old bedroom in the mansion.
* * * *
Lindsay and Rejeanne lay embracing in bed when Lindsay began nibbling on Rejeanne’s neck. After impishly giggling to the tickling feeling of Lindsay’s romantic gestures for a few moments‚ Rejeanne released Lindsay from the embrace. "Do you feel comfortable with doin’ the nasty while your mom is under your roof?" she asked.
"Sure‚" Lindsay replied enthusiastically.
Rejeanne chuckled. "You know‚ I have this picture of Xena’s mom Cyrene in my mind‚ and your mom looks nothing like her‚" she said. "You mom is too tall and blonde."
"Well‚ that’s interesting‚" Lindsay responded‚ "Because I don’t have any image of Xena’s mother in my mind."
"Really?" Rejeanne posed astonished. "That’s weird."
Lindsay reflected. "Yeah‚ it is."
"What about Gabrielle’s parents?" Rejeanne inquired. "Do you have any image of them‚ because I don’t?"
"Wow!" Lindsay exclaimed as she leaned up. "You don’t? Because I do have this image of Gabrielle’s parents. Her mom‚ I believe that her name was Hecuba‚ was short like Gabrielle‚ but somewhat heavier‚ and she too had blond hair and green eyes. Gabrielle’s father‚ Herodotus‚ was of average height and weight. His hair was brown‚ but graying. That’s the extent of my image of him."
Rejeanne leaned up. "This is truly strange‚" she said‚ "because I have no doubt that you’re correct. But my parents don’t remotely fit that description."
"Really‚" Lindsay rose. "What do your folks look like?"
"My mother is actually taller than me‚" Rejeanne said. "She’s five-feet-seven-inches tall‚ thin‚ and has ash blonde hair and blue eyes. My dad is a short‚ stocky‚ freckle-face‚ bearded flaming redhead. He looks like a leprechaun."
Lindsay chuckled. "And what did Xena’s mom look like?"
"She was a shorter and older version of Xena‚" Rejeanne answered. "Brunette hair‚ blue eyes and quite buxom."
"I guess you wouldn’t know what Xena’s father looked like."
"I don’t think that Gabrielle ever met the man."
Lindsay sighed. "So‚ do you have any other images of people from Xena and Gabrielle’s life?"
"Other than Bahri and Callisto?" Rejeanne asked.
Rejeanne thought. "Not right now‚" she said. "But I suspect that could change. How about you?"
"I can’t even remember what Palaemon looks like anymore‚" Lindsay responded. "But like you‚ I’m not convinced that Bahri and Callisto are the only two souls that are intertwined with ours."
* * * *
Rejeanne thoroughly enjoyed breakfast with Lindsay and her mother. Sitting quietly through most of it‚ she was able to observe their mother-daughter dynamic. It was obvious to her that Lindsay had a great deal of love and admiration for her mother. Always in the back of Rejeanne’s mind‚ however‚ was the reality that Evelyn bore no resemblance to the mother of Xena the Conqueror. She began to wonder if so many of the questions that have been filling her mind would ever be answered.
"So‚" Rejeanne finally spoke up‚ "just how did you break Marty’s jaw?"
Lindsay folded her arms and smiled smugly at Rejeanne. "A good pivot jab did the trick‚" she replied.
"That’s kind of scary‚" Rejeanne remarked with genuine trepidation‚ which caused Lindsay to immediately unfold her arms and sigh humbly.
"I’m so sorry‚" Lindsay said to both Rejeanne and Evelyn. "I didn’t mean to gloat. Marty was saying some pretty mean things about Rejeanne that angered me greatly. I guess the combination of that and all of the years of putting up with the deception of our marriage came to a boiling point. I had had enough."
"I don’t condone violence‚ Lindsay‚" Evelyn remarked‚ "but Marty had it coming."
Lindsay returned her attention to Rejeanne. "What are you thinking?" she asked with reticence‚ concerned that Rejeanne would begin to fear the chi of Xena within her.
"I’m thinking it’s a good thing I have backup‚" she responded with a puckish smile.
Evelyn smiled as well. "I told you‚ dear‚" she said to Lindsay‚ "this girl has spunk."
Lindsay dropped Rejeanne off at the newspaper headquarters before heading to her office. Her secretary Leigh immediately apologized for whatever ammunition Richard gleaned from her that he may have tried to use against Lindsay. Lindsay reassured her secretary that she was not upset. As far as Lindsay was concerned‚ the episode with her father was history. Her parents knew about her love for Rejeanne. It was not the way she would have staged her coming out‚ but she was greatly relieved that it was done and behind her. Sitting at her desk‚ she began to listen to and note the backlog of voicemail messages on her office phone. She then turned her attention to her cell phone and noticed that there was a missed message on it as well. Calling her voicemail‚ she listened to the message from her cousin Keith;
Hey girlfriend. I just got off the phone with my mom who just got off the phone with your mom. Heads up‚ cuz. Big Dickster is on the warpath apparently. He’s screaming bloody murder about you being a let’s-be-friend. So‚ is it true? Are you a member of the choir? Of course‚ I’m not surprised. I suspected since your fencing days at Dartmouth. You took way too much pleasure in poking and prodding those other girls in their slick little white fencing tights. And let’s face it‚ Sister. Marty’s enough to make me wanna consider fishing for oysters. Anyhoo… you call me and give me the full dish. And try not to deck your daddy. Oh‚ and I cannot wait to meet your reporter. I bet she’s a real pearl. Love you lots! Bye.
Lindsay chuckled briefly at the message before contemplating the day before her. She had several projects that needed her attention and two important meetings scheduled for that day. But before embarking on any of it‚ she called Betty at the house to inquire about her efforts to get the contact information on Sir Malcolm. She preferred to have Betty make the inquiries as opposed to Leigh or someone connected with any of the Alasdair businesses because she never believed in forcing her corporate subordinates to do her personal bidding. One of Betty’s many roles was to manage Lindsay’s personal affairs‚ from overseeing the keeping of the grounds surrounding Stone Hills to stocking the kitchen shelves with Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes‚ Lindsay’s favorite breakfast cereal.
"Did you make any headway in connecting with this Sir Malcolm?" Lindsay asked Betty.
"Not yet‚" Betty replied. "I’ve talked to about fifteen people so far‚ but I did learn that he doesn’t live in Birmingham anymore. He retired to his family estate just outside of the village of Leominster in Herefordshire County. He also owns a small apple cider mill adjacent to the estate. This last individual I spoke with advised that I could possibly connect with him through one of the fellows on the county council. That was my next call."
"Thanks‚ Betty‚" Lindsay said. "Let me know when you’ve successfully obtained Sir Malcolm’s contact information."
Moments after ending her conversation with Betty‚ Lindsay’s cell phone rang. The caller ID indicated that it was Rejeanne.
"Hey‚" Lindsay said.
"Can you talk for a minute?" Rejeanne whispered into her phone receiver.
"Sure‚" Lindsay responded. "What’s wrong?"
"I just left my managing editor’s office‚" Rejeanne began. "Martin’s apparently been flapping his gums to the press‚ because my boss just spent the last half hour grilling me about my relationship with you."
Lindsay immediately felt a burning sensation in her stomach. "What did your editor want?"
"He said that he had received voicemail messages and emails from some news sources inquiring about the quote‚ ‘million-heiress Lindsay Alasdair and her alleged lesbian dalliance with a beat reporter at the Gazette.’ He said that an unnamed source had tipped off at least three regional dailies‚ including the Sun Times that‚ in their words‚ ‘the two were spotted at an upscale Chicago hotel lobby engaging in some titillating PDA‚’ which is bullshit because I don’t recall us doing any PDAing in the Fairmont lobby."
Lindsay thought for a moment. "Martin blabbed to my dad‚ yes‚" she said. "But I doubt it was him who went to the press. It’s not his style. Anyway‚ he had no way of knowing where or what we did in Chicago."
"Well‚ it wasn’t any of my friends‚" Rejeanne assured. "I don’t think that I told anyone where we were staying anyway. Do you think that your Bobby Bakala-looking driver sold a story to the press?"
"Who is Bobby Bakala?" Lindsay asked.
"He’s a character on The Sopranos‚" Rejeanne replied. "Don’t you watch The Sopranos?"
"No‚ not really‚" Lindsay said‚ "And no‚ my driver’s not the source."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Trust me‚" Lindsay said. "It wasn’t him."
"But really‚ how can you be so sure?" Rejeanne repeated. "I saw you whisper to him and give him that hundred. Were you buying his silence?"
Lindsay took in a deep breath. "I know it wasn’t him because he’s Keith’s ex-boyfriend‚ Jeannie." Lindsay said. "I’ve known GC since I was in undergrad. He used to bounce at a mob-run gambling house in Brooklyn. Keith introduced us over coffee twelve or so years ago. About a month later‚ the Feds raided the gambling house. Keith begged me to help GC. I had one of our criminal lawyers on retainer take his case. The lawyer got him a deal and then I got him his job with the security detail in our corporate office in Chicago. He’s totally ecstatic about our relationship and the prospect of me being gay. He only drives for me as a side gig. The money was payment for his time."
"What did you whisper to him?"
Lindsay was grateful that Rejeanne could not see her face blush. "If you must know‚ after that argument you and I were having‚ I told him that I was looking forward to our make-up sex."
Rejeanne laughed. "Like I said‚ nothing beats good make-up sex."
Lindsay laughed as well. "I miss you‚" she said.
"I miss you too‚" Rejeanne replied before returning to the issue at hand. "But what about this press thing?"
"How much detail did these emails and voicemails give your editor?" Lindsay asked.
"Not much‚ from what I gathered‚ because he was grilling me for confirmation and details. I told him that we had befriended each other after my interview of you‚ and that you had asked me to accompany you on a research project. That was all. I haven’t discussed my relationship to you with anyone at the paper except my friend Tyler‚ and he only knows because he figured it out on his own. If he was going to blab‚ he would have done so weeks ago. I haven’t given him any details of our love life and he doesn’t even know about our second Chicago trip‚ although I have to admit that he knows about the first one."
"Are you under pressure from your paper to confirm our relationship?" Lindsay asked.
"I’m totally out at work‚" Rejeanne replied. "And everyone’s totally cool about it. My managing editor’s only beef is that if there’s going to be a news story about one of his staff‚ he wants his paper to be the first to print it. He doesn’t want our paper to become a cheesy headline for competitors. Does that make sense?"
"What do you want me to do‚ Lindsay?" Rejeanne asked.
"What do you want to do?"
"I want to tell our story‚" Rejeanne replied. "But on our own terms‚ and not mention anything about our search for the scrolls. If we find them… then THAT will be a story."
"Well‚ you’re the reporter‚" Lindsay said. "What’s the best way to tell our story on our own terms?"
Rejeanne thought‚ but for only a moment. "I could write an op-ed piece that would diffuse the rumors. And then‚ we could both give an interview for a widely circulated legitimate gay publication like The Advocate. If you’re on board with that‚ I’ll go tell my editor right now."
"You’re the journalist‚" Lindsay said. "I will defer to your expertise."
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER 17
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