Beneath The Brambles, Chapter 27
Sleep that night was easy for Emily. The booze helped but most of all it was the quiet sense of satisfaction shed carried with her from the moment she pushed Harley into that kiss on the porch. She felt she was making progress with the beautiful woman and that could be nothing less than a very good thing.
This morning also, lying in her bed, she felt rested and contented. The hangover she half expected wasnt there. Her wrist felt awkward and achy, but nothing like the last few days.
She stretched and yawned then glanced at her watch on the nightstand to see that it was just barely seven. She never woke this early unless she was forced into it. It just wasnt her nature to be a morning person. Most of her evenings were filled with partying, writing, or both and either activity usually took up most of the night.
It felt funny. She wasnt sure what to do with herself. She wasnt sure if Twyla and Josh would be up this early on a Saturday morning, yet she felt she just couldnt stay in bed any longer.
She finally decided on a long bath and some coffee. She remembered Twylas instructions about considering herself welcome and to avail herself of anything the house had to offer, so she wrapped herself in her comfort robe and made her way downstairs as quietly as she could.
She had to hold the robe up above her feet with her casted hand as she held the banister with the other. The drapes were still closed in the downstairs rooms and there was little light. Besides the robe was large and always hung on her smaller frame as if she was wearing her Daddys clothes. In a way it was. Her sister, Lisa, bought the huge white terrycloth monster for Emily in her first year of college. Lisa told her sister that when Emily got lonely or sad she should wear it and pretend Lisa, Mom, or Dad was wrapping Emily up in their arms. It worked remarkably well. Each time she was missing her sister or her folks, or when she felt sad, frightened or even sick, the robe made her feel surrounded by caring but unseen hands.
Today, the best part was that due its size she could put it on over her cast by herself and didnt need to wake Twyla for help dressing.
More than twenty feet from the kitchen door, she smelled the remarkable and unmistakable aroma of coffee as only Twyla could make it. It made her smile and she moved faster to get to the door.
Entering, she found Twyla and Josh talking quietly at the large breakfast nook and sipping coffee.
"Morning," Emily said.
"Well, good morning to you. Come on in and Ill get you some coffee."
While Twyla moved to do just that, Josh laid a new place setting out for Emily on the far side of the table. He switched his seat and Twylas so that now he and his wife sat on one side and Emily had the other to herself.
"Here, now. Are you ready for breakfast?" Twyla set the large steamy mug down and then waited politely for Emily to ingest the first caffeine of the day.
As she finished swallowing, the blonde smiled the same smile she always did when taking the first sip of Twylas nectar. Twyla had become accustomed to it and Josh could understand the blissful look without explanation.
"Actually, I was planning to slip down here for a mug of your elixir-of-life and take it back upstairs to sip while I took a long, hot bath. For some reason Ill make no excuse for, my more decadent nature is out in full force this morning." Her smile got bigger and Josh was once again reminded why this small woman had his Mongoose all wound up. He could relate.
Actually, theyd only just stopped talking about the two of them before Emily came to the door. Twyla seemed as pleased as could be that the young writer was smitten with their daughter. Theyd been brainstorming over why, even though it was as obvious as the perfect nose on her face that the dark haired beauty was very interested in the smaller woman, she was going out of her way to fight it. It just wasnt in Harleys nature to be so stupid.
Josh had never known his daughter to do anything without a reason. She was as methodical and purposeful in her personal life as she was in her business, so this reluctance to pursue the connection with Emily had to have a reason to it. He was determined to find out what it was.
Twyla had agreed that a long, hot bath sounded like just the thing and assisted by brewing another pot of coffee and filling a thermal carafe with it. She placed that and a basket of warm croissants on a tray and insisted she carry them up to Emilys room for her.
Josh rose as they left and decided there was no time like the present to find out what the major damn malfunction was with his seemingly clueless little girl.
This morning it was South Pacific. Harley was glad it was. She was in a kind of Rodgers and Hammerstein mood and as the last haunting notes of Some Enchanted Evening trailed off, she was reminded that shed promised to bring Emily with her one morning to do this.
Well, damn! That just blew the whole reason I came here.
After sleeping fitfully for most of the night, she finally called it quits at about five and drove herself home. She thought maybe a little exercise would clear her head and spent over an hour on her equipment, running, rowing, lifting, lunging, and punching.
She ended it by feeling pleasantly fatigued, very sweaty, and still just as unsettled as when she started.
The quarter hour in her steam room and the same amount of time in a cool shower left her smelling nice, but no better off.
Then, inspiration hit. She dressed in her clean uniform with a pale blue jersey turtleneck under her shirt, and grabbed her cell phone. A few minutes later she was sitting in her car under the old maple tree in front of Tarentella Capriollis place just as the opening bars of Im Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair came trilling out the open window. It seemed just what she needed at the time.
Then she had to think about Emily and all the agitation was back. She gritted her teeth and decided she needed more coffee and took off for the diner.
Cole looked up from his computer as his father entered the station.
"Hey, Pops. Whats up?"
Josh made his way around the counter and settled into a chair in front of his son.
"Not a thing. Just thought Id drop by and find out whats been happening around here while Ive been gone. How are Sally and the boys?"
Cole smiled as he always did when talking about his family as he went to pour his father some coffee and bring over the box of ever-present donuts.
"Fine. Good. Johnny helped me when Trixie foaled and this time she got a nice little colt." His smile got bigger. "I think my oldest son may be rethinking his career choices and instead of marine biology, we just might end up with another vet in the family." He sat back down. "You should have seen his face when that little guy finally stood up to nurse. Youd have thought it was his own kid."
Josh laughed. "Ill just bet. That boy doesnt do anything by halves."
"So whats up with the case you guys are working on? Harley says shes gut sure that theres more to it than meets the eye. Any news yet on Pollys condition? What did Hobie say?"
As Cole repeated much of what Harley said last night, adding only the medical report Hobie had given, Josh silently filed it all away and mentally came back to his main reason for being here. As much as he loved Cole, and he did, the man had always been a sweet boy with a big heart; he was wishing that just now J.D. was in the deputy chair. Cole just wasnt a people person and if his very private daughter were to confide in any of her brothers, it would be J.D. Nonetheless, he was the one sharing space with her for the month so he had no choice but to begin his interrogation with the veterinarian.
As he was about to pose his first question, the object of his curiosity came though the door.
"Hey Daddy. Whats up?"
"Hi, sweetheart. Just thought Id drop by and find out what all has happened in town while Ive been gone." He met her halfway to her desk and gave her a hug and kiss.
Cole may not be a people person but he knew when his company would be better appreciated elsewhere. His Dad had that whats up with you look on his face and it was directed at his sister in no uncertain terms. He stood and announced he was going out on foot patrol and before his sister could question it, he was gone.
Harley wasnt unaware of her fathers intentions either. She settled in behind her desk and tried to fix her gaze on her notes of the case, waiting for the man who knew her better than anyone to say what was on his mind.
Josh cleared his throat. "Im a little uneasy about whats been going on here, Honey. Id like to see whether you would agree to get some help from Gunny and the state police to get a handle on this thing."
"Theyre already involved Dad. I had Gunny down the day we found the knife in Emilys bed. He took all the physical evidence back with him and the state is processing it through their lab. I dont think theyre going to find anything though. Weve already determined that it was Nancy McKinnon who did the break in. We just have to prove it and to do that; we need to talk to her. Emilys friend is supposed to get back to us on Monday with the info to tie Nancy to Valerie. Now its just a waiting game."
She settled back in her chair and hooked one long leg over the other at the knee. Picking up a pencil she started to tap the eraser end gently on her desk. "Gunny is also trying to track down the money angle for me. Of course, I dont expect hell be as good or as fast at it as J.D. and his contacts are." She tossed down the pencil and put both hands behind her head as she leaned even further back in the swivel chair.
"So, whats going on with you and Emily?"
She should have seen that coming. Her father was nothing if not blunt and by now, she knew her mother would have filled him in on her behavior. Damn, they all know me so well. There is definitely something to be said about having some distance from your family.
She knew it wouldnt fly but took a shot at it anyway. "What do you mean, me and Emily? Shes a victim of a crime and Im the one who has to solve it. End of story."
"Dont you lie to your Daddy, little girl. Im still bigger and stronger than you and if I need to, I can put you over my knee until you I hear you tell me the truth." He leaned both arms on her desk and looked her dead in the eye.
"Ah, shit." She closed her eyes and prayed for a distraction. She thought shed settle for a bank robbery right now
She felt absolutely beautiful today. The bath, scented with some of Twylas gardenia bath oil had been perfect. She soaked for an hour, nibbling on the croissants and sipping the coffee from the bath tray Tywla had insisted she use. Shed listened to some of her meditation tapes and the sound of the ocean, rain, and sitar melodies had soothed her into a near stupor. When she finally decided to get out, she felt pampered and perfect.
Deciding that she liked the feeling of being good to herself, she sat back down in bed and read the paperback shed been toying with for the last six months.
Finally, at around noon she started to dress knowing she was expected for brunch at her editors by one.
Getting dressed was a breeze when she realized Tywla had packed her favorite casual outfit, and now, dressed in her softest 501s, her best red Victorias Secret satin underwear and her favorite short sleeved, scarlet cashmere cardigan she felt even better.
Twyla had helped with her hair and after she brushed it fully, had pulled the long strands on each side up to be clipped behind her head. With her cushiest socks and best fitting sneakers on, she was feeling altogether luscious.
The day was clear but very chilly and she was glad she didnt have to be out in it longer than the time it would take to leave Twylas car and get to Stephanies front porch.
She pulled up the paperwork on her computer. As she opened the file she began to smile. It wasnt a nice smile at all.
It was coming together. Of course there was still an obstacle or two, but she was almost there. She congratulated herself again for having the good sense to scan in the documents and encrypt them into a secret file, which opened only with her password. That way the real paper didnt have to stay anywhere near her. It was all locked up in a safe deposit box where youd have to have a warrant or her permission to get to it.
Over my dead body, she thought.
But theyd never figure it out. Not until she finished and then it would be too late. Shed have it all and shed get everything she had wanted all these years. Everything.
Of course Ill have to find a way to make nasty Valerie go away. It was an annoying, tedious thought. Shed had it before but always managed to decide on the solution later.
Maybe itll be more fun than I thought it would.
It wasnt a bank robbery, but having Cole come back sooner than expected at least saved her from having to answer for a few minutes.
She asked her Dad to come on drive patrol with her and set her mind on high, trying to find a way to tell him the truth without sounding like such a a wuss.
Josh Ravensdown was an opinionated man. One of his opinions had to do with people standing up for what they believed in and not backing away from things just because they scared you. She certainly didnt want him to be disappointed in her, but she knew he might be. The whole situation made her brow furrow and her shoulders slump as she took the turn off Bender up the mountain toward The Village. She just couldnt seem to find the words.
Josh was never one to beat a dead horse. He knew his daughter heard him the first time so he wasnt about to ask her the same question again, but as he watched her body language he was suddenly aware of two things. The first was she really didnt want to talk about this, which made the second thing very clear. She was close to tears, and he hadnt seen her cry in seven years.
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