CHAPTER 75: REGROUPING AND GATHERING INTEL
TREEHOUSE – WEDNESDAY EARLY EVENING
My wonderful family has recovered from the trauma of the last couple of days. We are resting after dinner. Zeus is the only one of the brothers here as the rest have made their way over to New York to catch up the family over there. Talon and Ralph went with them. I raise my glass at Carl, Debs, Jen and Tucker earning a jealous glare from Zee.
“So what happens now with Michael, I mean?” Ben asks before beaming as Taylor shows him her writing of her words. “Hang on Faal. No sweetheart you’ve got your ‘b’ back to front.”
“My ‘b’?” She looks confused.
“Yes the one on the end. Wait let’s try it another way; what’s she called?” He points at Debs.
“Grandmop Deb.” She replies, grinning at her and earning a beaming smile back.
“So how did you say the end of Deb?”
“Buh?” She replies slowly then looks at her paper; she frowns and bites her lip. “This is a ‘dee’ isn’t it?”
“Yes. You need to write it the opposite way around…”
“You need to do it like this.” Steve interrupts him and I watch the small twitch of annoyance cross Ben’s face.
“Steve.” He pauses. It’s clear that this is a bone of contention between them. “We’ve discussed this, let her do it.”
“I just don’t understand why I can’t help her.” He protests but does give the paper back. Taylor goes and sits back down to do it again.
“You don’t help though. You do it for her. I know you mean well but she has to learn to work the mistake out herself and she was doing fine.”
He rolls his eyes and goes silent. Ben just shakes his head.
“Actually Ben, you’re correct. If they…” Tucker begins.
“Of course the teachers would band together.” Steve grumbles.
“No I’m with Ben and Tucker too.” Alice tells him. “You have to guide, not do.”
“Papa Ben? Is this right?” Taylor interrupts.
“Yes that’s right. Well done sweetheart. Now you can go and watch a movie with Jenny and Gus.”
“Can I show them?” Ben nods and she trots off grinning happily.
“See how happy she looked because she did it herself.” Alice points out. “The amount of times I have to pull George out when my grandbabies are doing their homework...” She rolls her eyes fondly. “He’s a big kid himself and just wants to take them around the grounds instead.”
“I missed that with Gus. By the time he was in school, he was in Canada.” Brian sighs.
“Well you’ll get to experience it again with your new baby.” Steve smiles.
“I hope so but we’re not counting our chickens.” Justin and Brian exchange very sweet looks.
“Speaking of babies. Zee, have you finished your birth plan?”
“Didn’t start.” Zee replies grinning at me and chuckling. “Faal handled that.”
“Oh so what have you decided Faal?” Steve asks keenly.
Oh no big mistake. I can feel her tensing up and start to rub her stomach as she takes a breath.
“When I was having Taylor, I thought pain relief was not necessary…”
Oh please shut up!!!
“How ever did you keep that quiet?” Zee drawls, the icy edge to her tone unmistakable to everyone but Steve until he notices the expression on her face and Alice rubbing her feet.
“Oh come on Zee. Stop being so sensitive, you know what I meant.” He scoffs.
“Yes I know exactly what you meant Steve. You didn’t have a baby and Faal’s not going to. As a matter of interest, what did Taylor’s mom think of your idea about how she should have the baby?”
He starts to blush.
“She told you to fuck off right?”
“Well as much as I loved Faal’s considerable contribution to putting Bubble in there, he has absolutely no say in how she comes out.”
“And is Faal happy about that?” Steve snipes.
For the love of fuck man shut up! You are about to get a beat down!
Zee stalks out and is back in seconds and hands Steve a piece of paper and settles back against my chest.
“What’s this?” Steve looks at it. “It says whatever you want.”
“The birth plan.” I reply, I’m starting to get a bit annoyed with his tone. “Lig is having the baby and thanks to her, I don’t have to be there when she does.”
Steve isn’t the only one who looks surprised.
“How can you not be there to watch the birth of your child?” Tucker asks.
“I can’t do pain…”
“But you’re not the one giving birth!” Steve interrupts.
“Nice of you to notice.” I growl. “For a man so enlightened, you are surprisingly backward when it comes to women. Lig is giving birth not me and the one thing, if you had let me finish, I can’t stand is seeing is her in pain. And it is going to hurt like fuck!”
Steve starts to go red. “I didn’t…”
“Yes, yes you did.” Zeus interrupts. “Keep that shit in your house!”
“No that shit isn’t coming in our house either!” Ben glares at him.
“Honey, you know we love you…” Debs begins. “But you need to say sorry.”
“I’m entitled to my opinion.” Steve replies quietly, realisation finally dawning.
“Yes you are. But you don’t decide what happens to a body that isn’t yours.” Zee replies firmly. “Now let’s move on from here. To return to your original question Ben, it seems he managed to delay the transfer.”
“Wait, what about the apology?” Zeus growls and I love that guy a bit more.
“We’re moving on.” Zee glares at Zeus until he slowly sits back. “But he will be transferred tomorrow morning.”
“How did he do that?” Debs sighs.
There’s silence for a few seconds.
“Who the hell did he blow?” Brian smirks.
“And badly.” Ben adds making Justin giggle.
“Nobody.” Zee grins. “He was screaming about the injustice of it all. Somehow he managed to wriggle out of Tank’s grasp but in doing so face planted hard…we are talking wham!”
“From where on Tank?” Ben asks, aiming for concerned but missing considerably.
“Ouch!” Carl chortles and the previous tension is forgotten.
BEN & STEVE’S HOUSE – LATE NIGHT
I’ve been lying here for the last hour replaying the earlier conversation and other conversations that I have had with Taylor’s mom, with Mel, Leda and Jenny. And, while the look was less fierce, the expressions were the same.
“Yes you were an idiot and you have been in the past. You need enlightening in some areas in your mindset. Look how far Papa Bear has come…sorry Grandpapa Bear. Now snuggle back and go back to sleep.” Ben mumbles.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I whisper, my face heated and a catch in my throat.
The light goes on and he sits up. “Come here.” He opens his arms and I sob on his chest.
“I didn’t realise how…”
“Obstreperous and objectionable you came across?”
“Why do you think we always have the girls here? No wrenches.” He tries to joke but I just shake my head and sigh.
“Our relationship was difficult. She knew before I did.” I whisper and I look up at him. “When she got pregnant, we tried to make it work but I couldn’t. I stayed because I was scared she would give Taylor away. But she wouldn’t let me have any input and it wasn’t until I admitted my homosexuality and wanting to keep Taylor that she relaxed. For the first two years of Taylor’s life, it was a war zone. I will try to be better I promise. But Zee is so strong and I worry that…”
“Stop it. Haven’t you noticed all the women in this family are strong? Just try to be better and send her a very large box of KFC tomorrow…the K stands for Korean not Kentucky and Debs will show you how to make it.”
I wipe my eyes and kiss my husband and thank God that Zee, Faal and Zeus kicked my head out of my ass.
PENNSYLVANIA UPSTATE MEDICAL WING – THURSDAY MORNING
I look in the mirror. I look I have gone ten rounds with Tyson. I can’t believe that Emmett hit me and then that bastard Tank dropped me. I tried to explain to the authorities that if he hadn’t had picked me up in the first place that I wouldn’t have been trying to get out of his grasp but they always support their own.
“Novotny walk or I shall carry you!” A new guard yells, bringing me out of my thoughts.
“I really don’t feel very well.” I groan and look at him pitifully.
“And I really don’t care. You’ve been passed as physically fit, so let’s go.”
As I walk ahead of him to the van, I spot Officer No-Name and he has the fucking nerve to smirk and then blow me a kiss.
“Did you see that?” I protest, stopping and pointing in his direction, turning to the guard behind me. “Officer No-Name was taunting me!”
“Who?” He looks where I am pointing and frowns. “Did you say Officer No-Name?”
“Why do you call him that?” He laughs, pushing me forward.
“Because…wait what do you call him?” I enquire, spotting my chance to say goodbye properly.
He looks up again. “I can’t answer that as there’s nobody there.” He replies and continues to propel me forward.
“For fuck sake!” I mutter and despite me slowing my steps, I’m in the van in minutes and on my way to New York.
FIRST PRISON VAN TO NEW YORK
“Ooh lookie-lookie, he’s gonna be pretty when he heals.” Someone snickers.
“Shut up Mouse! He might not be in the same place as us, so don’t get your dick up!”
I turn to face the wall and feel the first trickle of tears run down my face.
Brian, why didn’t you choose me?
PITTSBURGH CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
WARDEN BARKER’S OFFICE
SUPREME JUSTICE RAUSCH
“Sorry!” Warden Barker pauses in helping him remove the stuck on cheekbones as he hisses.
“Fucker caught me on the way down!” He grimaces as it eventually comes off.
He pulls out the teeth and swills out his mouth gratefully. “Seriously they need to work on a more comfortable set.” Bit by bit, the bald head of FBI Agent Tony ‘Tank’ Williams is revealed and he rubs it in relief. “And get a wig that doesn’t itch so fucking much.”
I know it’s not funny but I can't help the chuckle. “So what happens now?”
“One guy is already on his way. I follow on if they send him to the same place and try to keep him and Stockwell apart. After all she’s done in the past and what he did to get him, we owe them.”
“Indeed.” I nod. “Indeed.”
“But surely he wouldn't do that... tell Stockwell about Brian Taylor-Kinney’s involvement in his downfall?” Warden Barker looks between us.
“Stockwell knows about the posters; that's why Brian and Justin were fired from Vanguard. But he doesn't know about the advert and unfortunately Novotny does.” I hold up my hand to stave off the question on Barker’s lips. “He may see it as an opportunity to get rid of Justin by throwing him under the proverbial bus instead of Brian.”
“And after all he’s done as his best friend, I wouldn’t put it past him.” Tank sighs.
“And this guy was declared sane?” Barker asks incredulously.
“Yeah. Scary ain't it?” I smirk at Tank and he just nods.