CHAPTER 50: REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL...
STORM ROOM - MONDAY MORNING
I wake up and the first things I feel are the empty space where my husband is supposed to be and a weight on my feet. I look at the bottom of the bed and Justin is sleeping with a pad by his side and a sweet smile on his face. I reach for my phone and quickly take a picture.
I move my feet gently and call his name a couple of times before he starts to wake up. "Come back in here. You must be cold."
He nods sleepily and crawls back into bed. I wrap my arms round him. "Jeez, rub your feet before they come near me again!" I grumble into his hair.
He rubs them against the bed. "Better?" He presses one foot against my calf. "Rub a bit more." More rustling and another press. "That's better."
We're silent for a while before he sighs and burrows deeper into my chest. "How's your goose?"
I rub my head gingerly against the pillow. "Not too bad." I nuzzle the top of his head. "It's been a while."
"Hmmm. It has. But I just felt like I could and not a tremble..."
"I'm glad. Ironic, isn't it? I feel closer to you now because of the person who has always tried to keep us apart."
I feel him smile against my chest. "We should send him a thank you card." He snickers.
"You could draw him one." I chuckle and laugh some more at his snort. "It could be of..."
"Sssh. Can you hear that?" He lifts his head and smiles. "Hold up, I'm coming!" He wriggles out of my embrace and gets up to open the door. "Good morning."
I look up and can't see who he's talking to but then I hear the chirrup. "Lilah up." Another chirrup and she pads up the bed to nuzzle my chin before settling down behind my head.
"Finally. It's cold with no clothes on and you have the benefit of fur!" He grumbles and closes the door. He crawls back into bed and Milo settles down in between our feet.
Ten minutes later, we're sound asleep and wrapped around each other.
PENNSYLVANIA UPSTATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
I glare at my babysitting guard and ask again. "Why am I in here?" I look around the room and in front of me is a pad, a pen and two empty chairs.
"Medical fraud, theft, suspicion of burglary, handling stolen goods, copyright fraud, resisting arrest, bribery and..."
"That's not what I meant! And..."
"Every prisoner has a meeting with their attorney. This is yours."
"My attorney? What are you talking about? I'm representing myself!"
"Oh I didn't know that. In that case... Up." I glare at him. "Would you like me to help you?"
I stand up and he puts the cuffs back on. "Now what are you doing?"
"Taking you back to your cell, of course. You can meet your attorney in there."
"I have a good mind to report you." I snarl as he takes me back.
"First, you don't even know my name and secondly, what for?" He scoffs.
"Bullying me and I do know your name." I sneer.
"Hang on." He pulls me up and then guides me down another corridor.
"Where are we going?" I start to worry.
He doesn't say anything but just knocks on a door and we're in an office. I almost faint with relief.
"Hey, Cora, Novotny here wants to report me for bullying."
"Uh okay." The woman at the desk mutters. "Have a seat." She turns to her screen and then looks at me. "Name?"
"Michael Charles Novotny."
"Uh huh, ah there you are. Okay, this should be interesting. Nature of complaint?"
I look at him smugly. "Bullying and harassment."
"Date of incident?"
"Location of incident?"
"First my cell and secondly in an interview room." I blink at her, my eyes shimmering.
She stares back at me. "You're not even as good as my two year old." She sighs impatiently. "So what did he do?"
"He shouted at me and threatened me."
"Need the exact words."
"I don't remember the exact words but I felt very frightened. I don't want to be alone with him. In fact, I want another guard. I think he might be racist."
His snort, for some reason, makes her smile. She turns to face me.
"Before we continue this, let me advise you that making a false allegation against a Corrections Officer is a serious offence and there are punishments for it. Are you sure you want to continue?"
"So you claim the first incident happened in your cell. Correct?" I nod. "Give me a moment. Janet, can you come in please? I need someone to review a video for me."
Janet comes in and sits next to me. Then she nods and Cora turns the screen to face us both and we watch for five minutes. "See anything to indicate that he is in anyway being harassed or bullied?"
"No I do not."
"And the second incident was in the interview room you said?" She looks at me coldly. "Are you absolutely sure you want us to watch this?"
"No." I mutter.
"So you were trying to submit a false report?"
I don't say anything.
"That would be a yes then. You were wise not to let us watch the second video. Or that would have been two days' worth of privileges revoked. Return him to his cell."
I stare hatefully at her as he pulls me to my feet and out the door. We walk back to my cell in silence... well I'm silent but he's humming.
"So what did she mean privileges revoked? What possible privileges do I get in solitary confinement?"
"Since we can't take away your hour out of your cell, as that's your civil right...oh the irony of those words when referring to you. We take away everything else, no phone call, no TV and no post...but the latter is okay as nobody is going to write to you."
I am furious!
"Well goodnight Novotny. See you in the morning." He smirks as the cell door closes.
"What do you mean goodnight?!" I demand. "You said I have an hour out of my cell!"
"And you had it. In fact, you had more. Goodnight."
"But Corrections Officer... Uh Officer! It's only minutes passed eleven in the morning!" I yell at his retreating back.
"And you still don't know my name!" He shouts back laughing.
We are finally clearing out the condo, now that the police, FBI and Ephraim are done with it.
It feels so good to get rid of their bad air!
"So are you just going to rent it or sell it?"
"Rent it to Daphne. She wants to get out of her apartment. And as much as she loves Uncle Luc and Aunt Dee, she wants her independence. This is perfect for her, and Vince when he visits."
I nod and pull her into my arms to give her a kiss.
"I still can't believe what was here though." I sigh. "What are you going to do with the jewellery in the safe?"
"Give it back to the family. I'm not sure who he wanted to give it to but I definitely don't want it."
I nod in agreement and then have to laugh. "Bet Michael will regret keeping such thorough records of his collection."
"Even if he doesn't realise it yet. I've never seen a happy dancing attorney before." She snickers then frowns. "The fact that he had the list of everything that was in the garage proves he knew exactly what he was doing. He even listed who it was from and the date." She shudders.
"Hmmm, please tell me we are done here?" She nods and we head back to the car and then she pauses.
"What's that noise?" She asks.
"Sssh." She pushes her hair behind her ear and goes still. "I can hear yipping."
I push the button on the remote that opens the car window and immediately a head pops out, unfortunately, she takes that moment to walk round the corner of the condo, so I wait and hope the puppy doesn't wriggle out.
"Anything?" I ask, hopefully disguising my relief when she returns quickly.
"No I must have... ohmygod what? What... no... who is that?!" She squeals, approaching the car carefully.
"Not sure. You have to name them." I tell her quietly.
"Them? Are they Dobermanns?" She gently opens the door and her arms are full of puppies.
"Yes, pedigree, Happy Thanksgiving Talon." I kiss her neck and she's shaking and I realise she's sobbing. "You, you don't like them?"
"I love them! How-how did you know I love Dobermanns, I've always wanted them but..."
"I love you Ralph; I really do!" She sniffles and kisses my cheek.
"And I love you too, my wicked lady. Now come on let's get to the airport. They have a family to meet."