CHAPTER 44: MAC, TARTUFO BIANCO, HAROLD AND XANTHE
PASTA PALACE, TUSCANY - EARLY MORNING AFTER THANKSGIVING
BRIAN & JUSTIN'S ROOM
"Cold." Justin murmurs and wriggles as I apply salve to his tender bits.
"Still sore?" I kiss his shoulder and he shakes his head then groans. "Want me to stop?"
Blue eyes lock with mine clearly saying what do you think? I grin at him and slowly but gently stroke his prostate. The mewling noises he's making are sublime. Five minutes later, he shudders and writhes in my lap while I feel his seed mix with mine on my thighs.
"We need to have a shower." I gasp out.
"Hmm." He mumbles and waits for me to lie down before snuggling into my side. "Inamim..."
I chuckle as I realise he's gone to sleep and within a few minutes, I join him.
MATT & HUNTER'S ROOM
"As distraction techniques go..." I gasp. "That was awesome!"
"Great." My gorgeous husband pants out. "But you still want to send that email, don't you?"
"Yeah. I just want to know for sure that it's his and then we can sic Ephraim and Charles on him. I promise, I will just send it and that's all. You can keep my phone so I don't keep checking it."
"Deal." Matt grins sleepily at me. "Member to send it from Rudyard..."
I would've said well duh except he had fallen asleep on me and to be honest, he's hot in both ways and I soon join him.
70 PARK HOTEL, NEW YORK - DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING - AFTERNOON
Now that was a good Thanksgiving. No nauseating billing and cooing from those two. No eye rolling at what I wanted to watch from those two and I can forget about my legal problems, for now.
I still can't believe that my little Honeybun is doing this. Lindsay was right; she has been manipulated by that bitch Zee. And I'm not taking this shit lying down. On Saturday, I'm flying back to Pittsburgh to have it out with them, even if I have to camp outside of Britin to do so!
TALON'S CONDO - EVENING
It must be stress induced because she was fine and pain free but now the pain, literally and figuratively, is back.
"Michael, you've already left messages for them. Going to Pittsburgh is an unnecessary waste of money." Lindsay reasons.
I want to add, which you don't have to the end of her sentence, but don't.
"Lindsay, it's not you being sued and harassed right now!"
"No." She winces again. "But it is us bearing the brunt of it..."
"Well excuse me for wanting the support of my friends in my hour of need!" He bridles.
"We can only support you so far!" I interject and hand Lindsay another pill and some water which she takes gratefully. "And in case you haven't noticed, Lindsay hasn't been well these last couple of days!"
"I haven't been here for the last couple of days, remember?" He snipes sarcastically.
"Look, I still say that you should let them come to you. That Ephraim guy said that the trial wouldn't be for the next 3 weeks or so. Let them to do the running. Now excuse me, I'm going to bed. I'm really tired." Lindsay says, weariness heavy in her voice.
And still not a word of concern from him, even as I turn to look back at him while we leave.
Let them do the running... All well and good for her! She's not being got at from all sides. Why is everyone picking on me?
I logon to the computer and turn the TV to Cartoon Network. As I idly flick through my emails, the one from Rudyard Garages gets my attention. I hit reply and furnish them all of my details, with a grin. Part of me did feel a little guilty about how I acquired the car or I wouldn't have tried to get the money back from David but now that Ben and I have divorced, that guilt is long gone. Especially after he cheated on me with Steve. I sought comfort in my hour of need, especially as Brian was in New York looking after the blonde coward. Yes he just did it to cheat on me. And I don't care what they say!
PASTA PALACE - SATURDAY LATE MORNING
I look round the room and notice that Uncle Zander seems to be missing and knowing smirks are on certain people's faces.
"She stayed?" I whisper conspiratorially.
Mom nods and sips her coffee. "Seems to be quite the match." She murmurs. "But everyone is not to do what we do. Zan will let it roll but Mac is a good friend, so leave it be." She orders.
"And she's flying the..." Blake stops talking in the face of the glare from dad.
"Where's Hunter?" Grandmom Jen asks, helping Alice with the breakfast.
"Walking the dogs with Gus and Phil. He's pumping Phil for as much information as he can about Rudyard Garages now that he can officially talk about it."
I look across to the wood fired oven and the balls of fur that are spread out in front of it. Storm and Milo are in one pile and Claude and Lilah are in another. I can't believe how big Storm and Claude are! They are the size of small Labs but with Claude... well he's more stocky and walks like a tomcat, full of swagger. Storm is sleeker and more elegant, but piss her off at your peril, a bit like mom!
The door opens and Gus, Hunter and Phil come in with the dogs. As usual, Miss Rhett and Scarlett dink their way over to Auntie Ems and Uncle Drew for the removal of their coats as they never sleep in them. Heaven forbid and then make their way over to the cats. It's so sweet to watch them gently squish down in between Milo and Lilah and within seconds they are asleep snuffling, for they do not snore, happily.
Aunt Mel and Aunt Leda sort out Butch and Sundance so they can curl round Storm and Claude to protect their little herd.
"What's in Sundance's mouth?" I ask.
"Sundance drop!" Aunt Leda orders and then she grimaces. "Ugh! Can someone give me some gloves looks like a turd?"
Grandmom Jen hands her the gloves and then looks at the thing on the floor, just as it's scooped up and thrown away.
"No!" She screams and launches herself at the bin and retrieves whatever it is and then sniffs it!
"Ewww gross-gross-gross!" Jenny squeals.
"Not on scrambled eggs, it isn't!" Grandmom Jen crows before rifling through drawers and finding a pastry brush and then a bowl.
"Personally I vote for not having turd sprinkled scrambled eggs." Uncle Brian snarks.
"Is-is that what I think it is?" Uncle Thomas stammers looking over her shoulder.
"I really hope so!"
"Grossed out family would like an explanation." Zeus cringes at their rhapsodising.
"Tartufo bianco or to give it the English translation, white truffle." He replies.
"Are you fucking with me?" Uncle Brian gets up and joins them.
"Where exactly did he find this?!" Uncle Thomas calls out as he runs to get, presumably his coat and boots.
"I can show you!" Hunter grins at me.
"Let me guess, you had the burger with truffle and bacon and fried egg in South Africa?" Uncle Justin grins at him.
"Oh my fucking God, it was so good!" I drool at the memory. "Mom?"
"Christmas or maybe the New Year, but not before." She looks at Auntie Ems and nods.
"So who is going truffle hunting and who's staying here to welcome the foragers with..." Dad trails off and looks at mom.
"Get dressed." She smiles indulgently at the speed he leaves the room, swiftly followed by Uncle Brian and Uncle Justin.
"Oh don't even pretend with me!" She flicks a towel in my direction and I take off.
Almost three hours later, I hear the front door open and excited chattering and yipping. So I'm going to go with it's been a success!
Zan and Mac made it downstairs and are currently walking the grounds. Mac appreciated the warning to the family but reminded me that she flies the plane and will make it difficult for anyone who opens up a mouth! Debs rubs off on most people!
I head to the kitchen and find them with a pile of truffles and bizarrely Hunter is holding a vacuum packing machine.
"Do I want to know?" I ask nobody in particular.
"Nope my lig, you don't." Faal grins at me.
MILLIE & HAROLD'S RESIDENCE - SUNDAY MORNING
Thirty thousand... she stole thirty thousand dollars! When I finally calmed down an understandably irate Anouk and Gregor, I persuaded them to hold off reporting it until they hear back from me. I've put calls into Lydia and Sidney to check their books, I doubt it would've happened there but you never know. Now my last call is to her parents.
Millie had wanted to make this call but now that we're in the realm of illegality, it's time for me to step in. Being a former prosecutor, my word will carry more weight than Millie's and she knows this. That's the thing about my darling WASP raised wife... she knows when to back away and let me, as Emmy Lou would say, do my thang.
"Ronald, it's Harold. Is Nancy with you?"
"Harold! How lovely to hear from you. Yes, I'll just get her... one moment."
"Harold." Nancy's voice comes over, laced with warmth. "How nice to hear from you. How are you both?"
"We're both fine and yourselves?" Millie cuts in. My eye roll gets a poked out tongue - she has got to stop spending so much time with Emmy Lou!
"Reason for the call, Nancy, Ronald is a serious one..." I pause and let that sink in for a minute. "As you know, I have prosecuted a fair few cases in my time and I don't mess about when it comes to law. So what I'm going to do is point out, legally, where you stand..."
"Stand? Legally? Harold what are you talking about?" Ronald demands.
"Accessory to fraud, of course. I would recommend a couple of lawyers I know but realistically you're..."
"Accessory to fraud?!" Nancy squeals and Millie frowns at me. I blow her a kiss. "What are you talking about? We've never committed fraud nor have we helped anyone to do that!"
"Oh. I have it on good authority that at the time, that's not what she said. She said that she did it to help pay the money back that she and Michael owe you."
"Lindsay!" Ronald growls. "What the hell has the leech done this time?"
"I've given you as much as I can at the moment but don't be surprised if you get a visitor in the next couple of days. It's lucky that I'm already retired; I could be disbarred for this."
"Do you think it was because we asked for the money back from Michael?" Nancy asks, her voice devoid of all warmth now. "Because we still want that back, no matter how long it takes him!"
"No, now you come to mention it, it can't be that because you served the papers before that. Hmm, want me to see what I can dig up and keep you informed?"
"Absolutely, and Harold than-thank you for this warning. She sinks this time. How could she try and implicate us?!" Nancy is in full steam WASP-hiss!
"Yes, Harold, Millie thank you. I promise you, we have nothing to do with whatever she's done."
"I believe you and will keep you informed. Try not to worry too much. I know it's difficult for me to say that to you and you not worry but..."
"Should we get lawyers involved now, do you think?" Nancy asks quietly, her voice laced with fear.
"No. Not yet. I'm sure any lawyer worth their salt will see through that and besides how was she going to contact you to give you the money back? She doesn't have any details, does she?"
"No she doesn't!" Nancy practically weeps in relief. "All correspondence goes through our lawyer and he's not heard from her since we served the papers to her fellow leech!."
"Well then. I'm sure you've got nothing to worry about. Now our guests are arriving. I'll call you as soon as I hear anything."
"Bye." They say in unison.
"Harold? A point of order Mr Prosecutor...she's not been arrested." Millie wraps her arms round my neck and kisses my temple.
"Hasn't she? Oh dear, seems that in my increasing dotage, my mind and ears are playing tricks on me. I could've sworn that's what I heard."
"Come on give, why did you do that?"
"They're happy. They would've used some sway to try and keep this quiet and her out of prison. I just hope I've given them the strength to not do that, admittedly, by truth fudging. Time for her to learn the consequences of her actions."
"We'll tell Jen and Zee when they're back from Tuscany." She smooths down my hair.
"Oh yes. Jen told me when she called to wish us Happy Thanksgiving. It's called the Pasta Palace of all things but it's really a castle with forts and everything. And that reminds me, the auction is next weekend, are you coming?"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world." I smile at her. "The Pasta Palace, really?"
"Yes really, though I think they are going to name it something else..."
PASTA PALACE - SUNDAY AFTERNOON
"My darling, we cannot call it the Pasta Palace. First, it's mildly insulting to Italians and secondly, it's not a palace, it's a castle." She looks up from my lap.
"So what do you suggest we call it?" Brian asks from the other side of the massive fire, where Justin is trying and failing to stay awake. "Is he out?"
Zee nods and gets up to hand him a blanket.
"Truffle Castle?" Tom pipes up and then frowns. "No even better, Tartufo Castle."
"Done!" Brian decrees.
"This is Zee. Oh, hey! Wait let me just turn down the TV. And you're on speaker. Happy Thanksgiving Xanthe! Well you know what I mean!"
"Yes and the same to you. Did you have a good time?"
"We did and still are. Did you celebrate at all?"
"No not really, will be back in Pittsburgh for Christmas so maybe we could meet up?"
"We're going to be in Portland but you're more than welcome to join us?" Zee scribbles down something for a curious Zeph.
"Are you serious?" Xanthe gasps. "I'd love to, if it's not too much of an imp..."
"If it was she wouldn't offer, just let us know your info and we'll pick you up." Jen interjects.
"Okay great. Actually the reason for the call. I heard what happened to Luther. And I'm glad but they've sent me papers to attend the trial in regards to the deal that started it all, so it's just a heads up?"
"Why have they sent you papers?" Mel interrupts.
"Seems that Luther is trying to take down as many people as he can and has implied that I knew about this but backed out at the last minute but didn't inform the authorities."
"Fucking hell!" Zee grinds out.
"Oh don't worry, I'm covered but I just thought you might want a heads up..."
"When do you have to attend? Oh sorry my name is Charles Phelps-Gordon and I worked closely with them on this."
"At the end of the week. So I'm flying there on Tuesday night. Might as well get some NYC shopping in before then." She sighs. "Bastard! And all because I had the last word."
"Hi, Xan, Xanthe, is it?" Sol asks and I nod. "My name is Solomon Sullivan and I work for..."
"White and Sullivan. Your reputation precedes you! Zee is everything okay?" She asks, worriedly.
"Fine, Sol is Menno's boyfriend. Menno is my brother-in-law."
"Oh good. So Solomon, what were you going to ask?"
"Can you get to Pittsburgh airport first on Tuesday night? I'd be more than happy to fly up with you as your lawyer. Heard we couldn't have gotten the break without you."
There is a stunned silence at her end. "Yes, yes of course!"
"Xanthe, where are you right now?" Zee looks at me and then Jen. We both nod.
"Well we're in Tuscany and don't leave until tomorrow afternoon. So if you can get yourself here for tomorrow morning then you can fly back with us. Then it's up to NYC with Solomon and Menno. How does that sound?"
"Tuscany? Why are you in... you know what never mind! You can tell me tomorrow; I'll make the arrangements now."
"Great ping me then we'll send a car to pick you up."
"Thanks again. See you tomorrow."
"No worries. Safe flight."
The room goes quiet as we take in what she's said. The mendacity of Luther Stark is astounding! He knows she did nothing but still he's been a cunt about her splitting up with him!
"She'll be fine, don't worry." Sol reassures us.
"Anyone want a drink? I know I sure as hell can do with one," Debs sighs. "If it's not one snake, it's another."
"Speaking of snakes..." Hunter begins. "I was going to send the email out to the renters but I got, uh, distracted, so I will do that tomorrow." He's blushing to the tips of his ears.
"And whilst you were finding the funghi equivalent of white gold, I did send the email and added a little more, getting them to confirm what is in their garage." Matt tells him.
"Oh thanks babe! Now we just need to hear from him." He rolls his eyes.
"A 1989 working model of the Batmobile from the Michael Keaton movie. Original movie costumes, vintage toys, posters and personal effects." Matt announces with a grin on his face.
"He replied?" Debs gapes.
"Yep!" Matt is being peppered with kisses by Hunter.
"What's the personal effects?" Justin settles into the vee of Brian's legs and adjust the blankets.
"Didn't say but did say that they were from his place on Tremont and that's how it's labelled."
Brian and Justin freeze and look at each other. "What? What's wrong?" I demand.
"He doesn't have a place on Tremont; he never did." Justin whispers going pale.
"Tremont is where the loft is." Brian kisses the top of his head and pulls him closer to him.