CHAPTER 33: SO RANCH...DRESSING AND RUBS
PITTSBURGH AIRPORT - SUNDAY AFTERNOON
I am trying very hard not to cry as I bury my head in his neck.
"Come on it's only 3 weeks." Sol rubs my back and I heave a calming breath.
"It's getting harder and harder to go home." I mumble.
"And it's harder and harder to let you go, but you can't stay here and I can't go there."
"I know." I hiccup. My flight is called and with one more kiss, I head to security and home, which doesn't feel like that anymore.
WHITE & SULLIVAN - MONDAY AFTERNOON
OUTSIDE SOLLY'S OFFICE
I look in on Sol and of course he looks miserable as he always does when Menno goes home. On day three he's back to normal but it's best to leave him be until he feels more Dump Truck like.
"Shall we attempt to get him to have something to eat?" Adam asks.
I shake my head. "Not on day one of mourning, day two yes. Have you learned nothing from the Dior tie incident?"
He shudders at the memory and we both try not to snicker but it was priceless when Rafe, one of the other lawyers, thought that teasing an emotional 6 foot two man about missing his partner was a good idea. He realised the error of his ways, when his tie was stapled to the desk, while he was still wearing it. Sol apologised but Rafe had to snark so he cut his tie up...again while he was wearing it.
"What about that sometime emissary of love that is Zee? Can't she do something?"
I shrug but resolve to call her tonight.
TAYLOR ELECTRONICS - TUESDAY MORNING
The store has been completely gutted and Cynthia and I are staring at the space. It's huge! We've been in touch with his previous suppliers and they are delighted to be able to provide us with the up to date stock at a reasonable price.
The staff couldn't believe it when we told them what to do with the stock. Turns out at least 3 of them are gay but said nothing through fear of losing their jobs. Cynthia has drawn up new contracts for everyone and pretty much all of them have signed. We didn't have as many severance packages to organise as we thought.
"What colour do you want the walls?" Cynthia interrupts my day dreaming.
"Light grey and the frames, dark silver so it looks like..."
"...the stock is floating. Nice!"
"What are you going to do with his office? It's pretty grim. He was clearly overcompensating with that desk!" She chuckles.
It's an oak monstrosity that takes up almost two thirds of his office. And we are not even going to discuss the sofa that has some dubious looking stains on it.
"How the hell did he get that in here?" I ponder, watching in amusement as she crawls under the desk. "What exactly are you doing?" I ask, moving from the very nice view.
"Seeing if...ouch fuck it...if the desk was a put together job. Yep it's a put together job. Let's call in the sales team."
"What on earth for?"
"So they can rip it apart and pretend it's him of course!" She crawls out backwards, grinning.
"How long have you worked with Brian?" I smile at her.
"Long enough! So what are we going to use this for?"
"Presentation room. I mean rooms. One for home entertainment and the other for computers. What do you think?"
"There's a brain in that hands...head of yours."
"Thanks." I grin at her and head to gather our sales team.
I hear a thud and turn round to see her hitting her head on the desk and groaning.
WHITE & SULLIVAN - FRIDAY MORNING
"Are you sure we can't open an office in South Africa?"
I try not to laugh at his mournful expression. "Yes I'm pretty sure. Why does he keep going home though?"
"To help his dad on the homestead. Not that he needs the help but he misses the high plains aspect of that."
"Well there must be some way to compromise surely?" I gather my papers.
He sighs. "If there is I'm fucked if I know what it is. Let's go I feel like kicking some fucking ass today."
TREEHOUSE - FRIDAY AFTERNOON
Jesus, he looks even more miserable than normal. It's really taking its toll on him. Nothing is cheering him up.
"Only another two weeks." He scowls at me and sniffs. Oh he has it bad! "Menno, this is painful. Come on, speak to me."
Before he can do that, Zee bustles in with Zeus and Sol. Immediately, Menno goes to switch off. They have this rule that they don't see each other between visits. It's so sweet!
"No Menno please don't!" Zee is practically bouncing of the walls. "Sol face the wall!" She orders.
"What?" Sol looks confused.
"Please!" She begs.
"Fine." He turns round and my heart breaks for my little brother as he wipes away tears.
"Zeus and I were out last night and he was complaining about not being able to rent his place out and how he might just sell it. But... well... go on and tell them!" She's jabbing him in the side.
"Stop it Zay or I won't say a word!" She stops immediately but does poke her tongue out.
"As I was saying. I have a five bed, 3 bath house and..."
Menno clears his throat. "I can't do city living. I just can't and..."
"150 acre ranch."
"A what?" I gape at him.
"Well, I wanted to move after Meredith left and then dad staying there, what with everything he did, I just wanted rid of it. So I decided that country life was for me but I've never been so bored in my life. I lasted 2 days before I rented an apartment in town. And now I'm in Pittsburgh for keeps it's just..."
Zee interrupts. "Pittsburgh to Ohio is an hour flight wise. You can stay at the BroHouse when you're working cases or you can stay at your place but then you can go back to Ohio and be with your man. What do you think?"
"Sol, look at me." Menno's voice is barely a whisper so Sol doesn't move. "Sol." He repeats louder and firmer.
Slowly Sol turns round and looks so hopeful. "What do you think babe?"
A smile is starting to tug at his face. "Is it furnished?"
"Barely. So you could put your own stamp on it."
"Can you send pictures? I want an idea of the space inside and out." Menno is now grinning.
"Give me half an hour." Zeus gets on the computer and I wink at my lig.
She winks back and jerks her head to the door and I follow her out. I close the door and pull her into my arms and kiss her. "You little romantic."
"Not romantic, okay maybe a little. Papa said that if he heard him sniffle one more time..."
"What's for dinner?" I ask, shuffling her along to the kitchen as she wants to eavesdrop.
"Spoilsport." She snickers. "Yellow duck curry with rice. But for lunch roasted tomato soup and grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches."
"Have I told you lately how perfect you are?"
"No but you can show me later." She kisses my nose. "In the meantime, slice the cheese and fry the pancetta."
Twenty minutes later Zeus and Sol come out with the latter grinning from ear to ear. "So when is he moving to the good ole USA?" I smile at them.
"Two weeks' time. And I need to speak to Jen about putting my place on the market or renting it out. I only want one home and that's in Ohio with my man in it." Sol beams.
Zee does her ‘that's that' hand movement and pours some wine. "My work here is done!"
TALON'S CONDO - MONDAY AFTERNOON
Lindsay has been bitching about her sore back. I'm not happy that she and Grady are on my case about getting a job again! I don't want to work, plain and simple. Well unless it's in a comic book store. I couldn't wait to get out of that job in Canada and now that she's back in the art scene, she's Miss Hoity Fucking Toity!
And don't get me started on the spies! Talon said she was giving us staff, but what's the point of having fucking staff if they don't do what they are told? Medusa especially. She's a stickler for her duties. Every time I tell her to do something, she comes back with that's not in my remit.
"Grady!" I call out to him. "Lindz!" I wait for their response and there is none.
I head to the basement and the door is locked. So they are either doing whatever the fuck they are doing in there or they're out. I head upstairs to her quarters and again it's locked.
I sigh in relief and head back to the driveway to collect the extra collectibles that I bought today. Lindsay can't complain about me buying this as I bought it with my money but I don't want Talentless to see it.
I can't believe how much I got these for. As I pick up the first box, it slips but I manage to save it before it hits the ground. Heaving a sigh of relief, I turn to go back inside but find the door closed.
Putting the box down, I go to grab my keys but they are not in my pocket, neither is my phone or my wallet.
"Fuck!" I take a deep breath. "Okay Michael, you are panicking and because you are panicking, you can't find them. Be calm and you will find them."
I come up empty. Scratching my head, I'm not sure what to do. I pile the boxes by the front door and head round the back to see if there is a way in that way but after 15 minutes, I can't find it.
I look through the panes by the front door and sure enough there are my keys and phone!
I look at the time and realise I can be stuck out here for a while unless the spies come out or back from wherever they are. Lindsay won't be back until this evening. And fuck alone knows where Grady is.
I sit on the stoop and try to think of a way in. Then it hits me! If I break one of the panes, I might be able to reach in and open the door that way! I make my way round the back of the building again to find a rock or something that I can break the glass with.
I'm surprised when I come back to find not only the door open but the parcels gone.
"Hello! Who's here?!" I call out, as I head inside; there's no response. "I'm calling 911!"
"What on earth for? I live here." Grady laughs at me but I'm too relieved to care.
"When did you get back?" I look around and frown. "And where are my parcels?"
"About 10 minutes ago and what parcels?"
"The ones that were on the steps. Where have you put them?" I demand.
"Nowhere. There was nothing on the steps when I got here." He replies, looking confused.
"This isn't funny Grady!" I snap. "I paid a lot of money for them. Now where are they?!"
"Look I don't know what the fuck you are talking about. I met Lindz for lunch and I bumped into Talon on Fifth and she gave me a lift home and that's it!" He snaps back. "Ask Jason if he did something with them. He came in at the same time."
"Talon and Jason were here?" I ask weakly, silently sending up fervent prayers.
"Yeah. Why? What's the big deal?" He starts to head upstairs with his shopping in his hands.
"Nothing. Nothing at all."
I wait till he closes the door and immediately head downstairs and knock on Jason's door.
"Yes?" His tone is less than friendly.
"Did you pick up some packages from the steps when you came in?"
I heave a sigh of relief. "Great! Thanks." I head upstairs to the kitchen and make myself a sandwich and relax for an hour.
Then I notice the time and realise that Lindsay will be home soon and it won't do if she finds the packaging in the bin. I head to the kitchen but the packaging isn't there; the bin is empty.
I smack myself on the forehead when I realise that he wouldn't have opened it so head to my room but they're not there.
I knock on his door again and when he opens it he has a toothbrush in his mouth. "Ummf?"
"Where did you put my parcels?" I smile tightly at him and then my heart sinks when he points to the cabinet and then shuts the door.
I knock again. "What is it now?" He sighs.
"Why did you put them in there?" I ask, near tears.
"Why wouldn't I? It's where the rest of that stuff is."
E&ZHoD - WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON
"Okay guys we have a problem." All eyes turn to me. "Darius and Tobias have gone a bit nutso on the food and want practically everything we've suggested and that's just not possible. Well, unless we split the food over the wedding and the blessing"
"Would Matt and Hunter go for that though?" Cara asks.
"Would Matt and Hunter go for what?" Right on cue Hunter lopes into the room. "Hi mom. Lydia sent me for and I quote ‘butter confit turkey wings stat'."
I head to the kitchen and box her up a portion by the time I come back Hunter is looking through their menu and picking up his phone.
"Hey, can we have a BBQ/smokehouse themed menu for our blessing? Why? Okay so far I'm reading mead salad dressing, beef short ribs, anchovy salad cream...and you love anchovies. Also there's some things with smoked bacon rub, duck rub and then of course there's the pulled duck and caviar burgers and..."
He grins from ear to ear. "He said yes."