Wow... this week is just flying by. So I have chapter 12 for you. I have been so busy with other things that I haven't had any time to write in my new book even. But, today I am writing a few chapters, before I get back to editing the one that is getting published by another company. I have to get that done so the book can be published. But, first here's Cali...
It would rain for three days with little respite. The ground could always use water but, too much of anything was not good. The people of the town were prepared, they had lived here for generations, and this was nothing new to them.
There was little for Cali to do. At first she reveled in relaxing. She called Connie and told her everything. Of course, Connie was concerned but, she knew better than to try and get Cali to come home. Besides if Patricia was involved then, Connie knew that Cali would be alright. She was in good hands.
Cali stewed. Inaction was not one of her strong points. She didn’t even have any case files to go over. Nonna had mending that she was willing to share, or she could learn how to crochet but, neither of those things were able to occupy her mind sufficiently.
She had nothing better to do than think. Patricia had told Nonna to take her to see Monica. When the rain stopped, she promised to do so. They stayed here just in case something happened, and more hands were needed. Cali understood that much.
On the first day, she was spending her thinking time with the domestic animals in the back yard. They had a lean to that she shared with them. It was therapeutic for her to simply brush the animals, and talk to them about what she was feeling. They weren’t Connie but, they were understanding.
“So, it turns out that Monica, is just a nut case… like the grandmother.” She explained to Daisy the Donkey, who obliged her by braying in response. “God only knows what she would have done had she been in my place with father.” The thought made her shiver. Daisy picked up on the body language, and butted her ears against Cali’s hand. Cali scratched vigorously at the spot between Daisy’s ears, causing Daisy’s eyes to flutter shut.
The ear scratching for Daisy became, an ear scratching for everyone. “Careful now, I’ve only got two hands. My feet don’t work the same.” She giggled and chided at the same time.
She had graduated to scratching Jenny the pigs chin when, her thoughts returned to Monica. “I can’t tell you how… liberating it feels to know that Mon wasn’t my fault.” She sat down on a milking stool. Jenny put her had down on Cali’s lap and grunted. “Thanks, I appreciate the sympathy.” Jenny was content to feel Cali’s hand on her head. A pregnant nanny goat name Clara, put her chin on Cali’s shoulder and nudged her wet little nose into Cali’s cheek. Cali sighed and smiled. She had forgotten how empathetic animals could be, and how good it felt to be in their company. Seldom do you find such a company of beings that have such compassion and intelligence, and extend such generous indulgence. Cali felt honored. She wrapped her free hand around Clara’s neck and gave her a hug and kissed her nose. The young nanny nickered softly.
Together, Cali and all the animals, sat in relative silence. The rain pattered on the roof and against the back wall. Small streams had developed in the grass. Cali had not noticed before that the pasture had as light slope to it. That made sense. She just hadn’t thought about it.
“I guess I should pull my head out of my ass, huh?” Clara butted her with her nose, baaed and stepped away. “Yah okay, no need to be rude. According to Nonna and my mother, I have no need to carry the guilt of shipping my so called family to hell. They made their own hell. That’s what I’m told. Yet… I played a part in it.” She let her mind drift for a minute. “Still, should I have been a martyr? If I had done nothing…” The thought was heavy. “If I had done nothing, the bitch would have killed me and given me no more thought than I gave her. Does that make it right?” Jenny looked up at her and grunted. “No, it doesn’t make it right. But it doesn’t make it wrong either. I was a child. I did the only thing that I knew to do that might save me. No-one else was going to step up. No-one could.” Cali felt a new resolve in her heart. “Had I been an adult, what I did might have been wrong… period. But, I was a child. I imagined that something bad would happen to them. I didn’t care if it did. But, I really didn’t think that others were actually more sadistic than my father… or that bitch Lilly.” She shook her head and snorted at the memory. Jenny grunted at her and she scratched the pig’s head. “I also thought that Ben was a more honorable man than he was… didn’t I love? He was… and I guess he still is, a pig… Oops no offense intended to you. He’s a human pig. A much worse creature than a mere human.” Jenny didn’t seem offended. She was quite content at the attention she was getting.
The rain slowed to a drizzle. The townsfolk came out their back doors, almost on cue. They called to the animals in the yard and the animals responded. Cali followed a herd of chickens, two ducks and three young piglets into Nonna’s house. As she shut the door behind her she noticed that the field was now empty.
As it turns out, chickens, ducks and baby pigs, are not very good listeners. So, Cali’s night was not filled with the same type of companionship. Maybe that was a good thing. For it was at this time that Nickola chose to approach her.
“Miss Casey” He knocked on the door frame.
Cali had heard him coming down the hall and had already putdown the magazine that she had been absently thumbing through. She nodded to him, but did not invite him in. She felt a need to remain distant with him.
He held out a cell phone. “I have been asked to give this to you.” He hesitated.
There was more, it hung in the air. “And”
“And, I need to take your old one.” The comment seemed rushed. As if he forced it out.
She took the phone from him. It was a brand new model smartphone. Not much different than the one she already had. Except that the one she had contained all of her numbers. Still, she reached into her pocket and pulled out her old phone. She took the cover off, and stopped. “Can I keep the memory chip?”
“No, but I can retrieve your numbers.” He held out his hand…insistent.
The caution lights went off in Cali’s head. “What of Connie’s phone?”
He shrugged. Connie was not his concern. He turned to go.
“Nickola, what made you think to bring me here?” Her question stopped him in his tracks but, he did not turn around.
“You spoke to ghosts. I had seen it before, with Nonna.”
“That’s not really an answer.” Her original question had been only a ploy to keep him in her doorway until she could figure out what was bugging her but, it had turned into a relevant question.
He turned to look at her. “You seemed lost. I thought my Nonna could help you find your way.”
The answer sounded like one of the truly honest things he had said since they had met. Still… “That’s very presumptuous.” Cali realized that she had allowed him to simply take over her trip. This was not his function. It didn’t matter that he had been right. He was an employee of the mob. He wasn’t supposed to take such liberties. Had Cali been someone else, there’s no telling what kind of trouble he might have gotten into.
“Yes Ma’am, it was. I apologize if I offended you.” He looked like he was holding his breath. She had his life in her hands, and he knew it. Worse, he still knew something that he had not yet told her.
Cali was very good at picking up on non-verbal cues. The talent had kept her alive for a very long time. “There is something that you are not saying. What is it?”
He suddenly looked very uncomfortable. “The lady Vinccencio wants you to call her.” Again, the words seem to have been forced out of him.
Cali looked down at the phone. How long have you had this phone? More importantly, how long were you planning on waiting to tell me to call Angela? You are digging your own grave, Nickola… or you could be. If I were almost anyone else. “I assume the number is in the phone?”
“Yes” He squirmed.
“You have more that you wish to say to me?” His body became rigid but, his eyes flashed with a hint of fear.
Fear, was not a good trait for an assassin. But, a man such as this would fear only one person in his world, his employer. “You haven’t checked in with her since bringing me here, have you? She found you, and now she wants me to give her a report.” He was terrified at what Cali might say to Angela. Now that I think of it, what do I say to Angela?
He was still standing rigidly. He was awaiting a blow. “She is waiting.” More forced words.
“And if I don’t call soon, all hell will break loose. Because, you got this phone yesterday… didn’t you.” It was an accusation, andshe let it fall like one. Cali’s only reason for trusting him with her life had been, because Angela controlled his strings. But, if he could defy Angela so easily… could he be trusted with Cali’s life? She held out her hand. “Give me back my phone.”
He hesitated and reluctantly reached into his pocket and handed her back her phone. “What will you do?”
His tone told Cali that he assumed that she knew more than she actually did. But, Cali could bluff, and she could bluff very well. She had unconsciously transformed into a mob princess when he had entered the doorway. Now, she realized how well her instincts and chameleon skills had served her. Her mind ran through the possibilities very quickly. There’s only one possibility. “I’m going to call my sister.” Time to throw on the bluff. “I’m going to tell her where I am and what I’m doing…and while I’ve got her on the phone, I think I’m going to see just how much she knows about this little town.” That got his attention. His spine straightened like a sting had pulled it taunt. Good, I refuse to disappear like a naïve tourist!
Okay, things are getting a bit sticky for Cali. Should she trust Nickola? What about Nonna? What the heck is really going on?
Stay tuned, meanwhile live well and be good to each other.