I know that I have been super busy and not having the best of luck. I am still sick and busy at the same time. But, I really wanted to write here in my blog today. I know that a lot of you don't like to see what I am writing, while others really do like to see what I am working on. So... I am caught between the two. I have decided to give you the first chapter of my latest book, for two reasons. First off it will help answer some questions that were certainly left after A Family Affair ended and two I would like your opinion on the direction that I took this chapter.
Connie had been studying the side of Cali’s face for the last ten minutes. Cali had her eyes closed and was trying to ignore it. She knew that Connie would ask whatever was on her mind, when she was good and ready. How does one bring up a topic like that, especially on a plane full of people? Connie of all people, will find away. Cali actually had to control her face while she thought of the tenacity of her beloved girlfriend.
I know that she’s awake, and I know that she knows that I’m watching her. Connie sighed and glanced out the window beyond Cali’s face. They were in first class, so there was no wing in the way of her view, and for the first time since take-off, there were no clouds either. She sighed again and lay her head on Cali’s shoulder while wrapping her hand around Cali’s arm. Connie was worried. So much had happened in Italy, and yet with a wake of dead bodies behind her, Cali had waltzed into the airport, boarded a plane and now sat here pretending to be asleep. Italy had not objected. They hadn’t even given either of them a second glance. Angela had escorted them all the way to the check-point. Of course when you say Angela escorted them, what you really mean to say is that Angela and half a dozen body guards escorted them. Still, it had been too easy to leave Italy behind after such chaos.
The concern was oozing off of Connie. Anyone that bothered to look would see it. Cali didn’t need to look. She turned her head enough to kiss Connie on the top of her head and wrapped her own hand around Connie’s.
“So, you’re done pretending to be asleep?” She looked at the gleaming gold ring on Cali’s hand. House Vinccencio. It had been changed slightly, a blood red ruby had been placed at its crown. It was Angela’s color, and a message to anyone that knew how to read it, it said, “I’m family, and I’m deadly, and harming me brings deadly retribution”.
Cali laughed in her chest, it sounded like a grunt. Then she let out a quiet sigh. “I wasn’t sure if you were ready yet.”
“Ready?” Connie pretended to not know what Cali was talking about, to buy herself a few more seconds. Maybe in those seconds she would figure out how to ask what she needed to know.
“Yeah, ready.” She stretched her neck and let it pop, then clenched her fists and let her hands pop. Her left hand looked good. It had a nice white scar on the back that looked like a paint splotch. Maybe, I’ll keep that. It’s kind of cool looking.
Connie twisted her head a little so her mouth was closer to Cali’s ear. She didn’t whisper, as that would surly draw attention, even herein first class with these new privacy minded seats, but she did lower her voice. Let them all assume that it’s pillow talk. Maybe they’ll be less likely to intrude. “Now that we’re a mile in the sky and halfway over the Atlantic, we might not be over heard, right?”
“Yeah.” They may not be overheard, but then again… There was no need to give up anything.
Connie understood the short answer for what it really was, a single word of caution. She decided to start with something less problematic. “What do you think of Bobbie staying with Nonna?” Bobbie was their 98 year-old friend and Nonna was the kind old woman that had taken Cali in while Cali was in Italy.
Cali smiled. Damn my woman is smart! But, I’ve always known that. “I liked her logic. She and Nonna got on famously and Bobbie is no stranger to Europe. It does mean that you’re going to have to return to Italy to bring her Mr. Giggles and Mrs.Frisky.”
“What?” Connie was truly surprised. “I thought that we were going to send them.”
“Seriously, you want to package up two fourteen year old cats into a crate, pack them into the suitcase compartment of a huge noisy plane, and ship them half way across the world?” Cali was just as surprised, for a different reason.
Connie lifted her head and leaned back. “I hadn’t considered all of that. Now that you mention it… no, I wouldn’t do that. But, why can’t we both take them?”
“Hmm, after all of the time that I’ve been gone, I doubt seriously if I have any sick time or vacation time left, and maybe not a whole hell of a lot of good will either. I will charter a plane for you and the cats. You can all ride in style.”
Connie nodded her agreement. The conversation lagged. They had been talking about cats, but there was an elephant in the room.
“You can also take Bobbie’s stuff to her.”
“Whew, she’s got a whole house full of stuff.”
“Yeah, but I really don’t think that she wants most of it. Her stuff isn’t who she is. It might have been once, but now it’s just there, so she leaves it.” She thought for a moment. “I think the only thing in that house that she really cares about is that box, and the picture on the mantle of her and Anna.” For a blissful moment Cali remembered back to that first time she had met Bobbie. Cali had been on the trail of a nasty serial killer. He had been a sadistic bastard as she recalled. But, Bobbie had been a breath of fresh air in the midst of a case that had stretched Cali’s control to the limits. For a moment she could still taste the pumpkin cookies on her tongue, and the hot tea that she had used to wash them down.
The box that Cali referred to was hand tooled silver and oak. It had once belonged to Bobbie’s grandmother. Cali had never seen inside the box. She had never even been told what was in it. But, she had seen the loving caress that Bobbie had given it on more than on occasion, while at her home for dinner and conversation. It wasn’t one of those tiny little trinket boxes. This one was shaped more like a document keeper. The kind that you might see on an old ship in the Captain’s quarters. Bobbie had called it a jewelry box. But, Cali had thought that it had been made for another purpose.
Connie had let Cali reminisce. Cali had far too many dark memories. To have a good one that could be brought up, was a treasure that Connie was more than happy to let her have. Eventually, Cali did return her attention to her girlfriend. “So, what would you like to know, really?”
The time was finally upon her. She was ready. “Did you get what you were after?”
It took a moment before Cali responded. “I got something, but not the something that I thought I was seeking.”
“You were seeking ghosts.” It wasn’t a question.
“I thought that I was supposed to seek out the ghosts of Lilly and maybe even JW, but they are gone. Apparently they have been for along time. Neither of them ever blamed me or even thought much about me again. I guess Lilly was too vain and JW was just too stupid.”
“So you have blamed yourself all these years for something that only Monica blamed you for?”
Cali’s face screwed up in thought. “Yeah, it looks that way.”
“Still, you did run into a few ghosts?”
Running into ghosts was common for Cali. She had been given the gift of ghost whispering from her mother, the Angel. Her relationship with them was twofold. They helped her when they could, and she in turn helped those that wanted to move on. “I did, but I think that they were supposed to leave me alone to find what I was supposed to find. But, they were there and they were in so much pain. I couldn’t leave them there if I could help them.”
“So you did.”
“So I did.”
Connie smiled and kissed Cali on the cheek and quietly whispered in her ear. “Did you kill him?” Him, referred to Ben Vinccencio. He had purchased the then twelve-year-old Cali when her stepmother, Lily had been selling her as a child prostitute. His crimes against Cali had been many. As a mob boss, his crimes against humanity were innumerable.
It was Cali’s turn to smile. She took Connie’s face in her hand and pulled her in for a real kiss and a nuzzle afterwards. In her ear she whispered, “You know”.
Connie tried not to swallow hard. She had known that Cali had done it. She had seen how she and Angela had looked at each other. He had deserved it. That much was certain. He had kidnapped Cali and had intended to kill her and Angela both. Angela was his daughter, but that didn’t matter. They had simply beat him to the punch. Connie was not upset that Cali had once again defended herself. She was concerned because as a mob boss, Ben’s house had surely been bugged and watched electronically and by people. This isn’t over, not by a long shot. She wrapped her arms around Cali’s neck. “They’ll be waiting for us at the airport.”
“I know, that’s why we’re getting Bobbie’s cats.”
“She’s too old for such hassle.”
“Yes she is.”
“What are we going to do?”
“You weren’t there. Angela never spoke to you about it. Tell the truth. You saw nothing. Any evidence given by you is circumstantial. Besides, there is no crime, because there is no body.”
“You don’t really think that I would turn States evidence against you, do you?”
“Of course not, I’m just laying out the facts. Even if for some unknown reason, like you were possessed by an alien or something, and you turned on me, your word would not be enough. You saw nothing at all, and I’ve not told you anything except, ‘you know’.”
“Mmm, I get it. That’s why you’re not speaking, plausible deniability.”
“Right, what you don’t know, you can’t say. So, tell the truth. You will be more believable if you just tell the truth. You don’t need to make up anything.”
“What about you?”
“Don’t worry about me. I know that you will anyway, but there is no need.”
Connie knew better than to ask for details. She would get them later, after the F.B.I. or the C.I.A. and whoever else, were done with them.
They had many hours before the plane touched down and suddenly Connie was exhausted. She asked Cali if they could lay the chairs down and make a bed. Cali was more than happy to sleep the rest of the way as well.
Live well and be good to each other.