"Nah", Heather began then took a sip of Coors Light. "How could you have", she partially yelled over the noise of the music blaring from the jukebox. "I mean once Dad started talking about how he met Mom and how Uncle Jack met Aunt Carol the conversation had changed. You had no chance. You know it was actually kind of interesting listening to that as an adult, and it was cool what Alisha said about Jan being like a half sister to you, me, and Brice."
Taylor lifted the fourth shot glass to her lips. "Yeah that just makes it worse." Taylor looked over her shoulder at Jan on the dance floor surrounded by guys who normally wouldn't have a chance of being within thirty feet of her. Taylor tossed back that fourth shot. Her face flushed, but she managed not to cough. "You know honestly, I think this whole thing wouldn't even faze Uncle Jack. I think he'd just listen then pat me on the shoulder and say, That's nice Taylor", she lowered her voice to sound like her uncle. "But it's different with Jan."
Heather shook her head and sighed. This year's trip to Palm Beach was full of firsts and this might be another one. Heather had never seen Taylor so unsure of herself and nervous. "Stop beating yourself up over this. You're putting the entire burden on yourself. You're talking like I'm not even here to help. Why do you keep acting like you have to do this alone?"
"It's taken me years to make this box for myself Heather, and I don't really know how to get myself out. I don't know if I can tell the truth. It sounded like a good idea in theory, but in practice it kind of sucks."
Heather started to get angry. "You should use my idea. It kills two birds with one stone. You know I'm right, but you're too stubborn to admit it! You think it has to be all neat and wrapped with a bow. Sometimes you just have to take a chance."
From her stool at the bar, Taylor looked out over people's heads and past the lights and the pool tables to the far wall, but not really seeing any of it. "You're right", Taylor admitted like it as a huge personal failure. "Call Montez and tell him that we'll go ahead with it."
"Finally", Heather exclaimed and downed the last of her beer. She jumped off the stool. "Should I get the go ahead from Angie?"
Taylor cocked an eyebrow as she spoke, "This isn't Angie's choice to make."
"Technically, Taylor it's my call to make, but I should give her a heads up." Heather watched Taylor's face turn a little red.
"I don't care. Just get the ball rolling", she told Heather in frustration and watched as her younger sister went towards the nearest door. There was no way to have a conversation on the phone in this place. Taylor set her fourth glass on the table and motioned for the bartender. He cut off a conversation to hurry over. He'd been a bartender for 15 years and never had he seen a woman quite as striking as this one. She was the kind of woman that rarely entered this type of place. She was high bred he could tell that right off. He could also tell that she had something weighing on her mind. "Make this one a double", Taylor told him. He finished his pour and Taylor took the glass in her hand. She was about raise it when a huge guy came up to the bar and ordered a Michelob.
"That's your last one", Taylor told her little brother. "You got this gift. Don't abuse it." Brice was only 18, but Taylor had charmed the bouncer into allowing Brice in and allowing him to buy alcohol. It wasn't hard for Taylor to get what she wanted from men, but she didn't want Brice to take it too far.
"You're one to be talking", Brice said and motioned at the glasses arrayed in front of her.
Taylor blew out through her nose like a bull. "Am I going to have to take you home?"
"No", Brice whined he had done sometimes as a child. It was amusing to watch all 6'6", 270 pound Brice get put in his place by his sister. He took his beer and sat down next to her. "So what were you and Heather talking about?", he asked and took a sip.
"About me being chicken."
Brice frowned. "Taylor, why are you being so hard on yourself?"
"I'm always hard on myself", Taylor shot at her brother with more heat than she'd intended. She softened her tone as she continued. "Usually I can live up to my own expectations, but not this time. I told Heather that we'll do this her way", she admitted like it was a personal failure.
"I think its better this way. It gets the job done. It's like getting back on the horse after being thrown. Besides has Heather ever let you down?"
"No", Taylor answered softly. "She hasn't."
"And she won't start now. Man, I'd like to be there when this goes down."
"Oh no you won't", Taylor told him with a chuckle.
"Didn't think so", Brice said and drained the last of the beer. He slammed it down on the bar then let out an exaggerated belch.
He grinned and patted his sister on the shoulder. "That's for not ever letting me have any fun." Taylor chuckled again. Brice always complained that she was over-protective with him, but what were big sisters for? He'd always be her little brother no matter how big he got, and he was still growing she thought. Brice looked back towards the dance floor and got up. "And now if you would excuse me." He left the bar satisfied that he'd gotten at least one laugh from Taylor.
His mind shifted gears quickly. Jan had chosen the next song from the jukebox. She'd picked an obscure gritty, slow grinding blues song from the pretty impressive choices on the machine. Alisha had promised Brice a dance and this song was perfect. 'Damn this is going to be fun', the thought to himself as he imagined Alisha's body rubbing against his. Alisha was smoking hot.
Heather was outside in the barely lit parking lot on the phone. She never noticed a man in a car looking at her. Slater Hastings knew that Taylor might have noticed, but not Heather. She seemed to be wrapped up in her conversation. He wondered if she was talking to a guy. Whoever he was, was lucky because Heather was so effortlessly beautiful that it made him sick. With her auburn hair, Caufield blue eyes, long perfect body, and beautiful face, she had everything anybody could ever ask for, just like her sister. While Taylor was a stuck up bitch, Heather was more down to earth, almost a free spirit, but there was enough Taylor inside Heather to make Slater's hatred spill over. It had to have been Heather who chose this place to hangout. Slater himself wouldn't have been caught in a place like this even in disguise, but he'd seen Taylor, Heather, Brice, Jan, and her friends go right through the front door. It was like the landed nobility partying with the peasants. This was more than likely going to end badly for somebody. He hoped that somebody was Taylor Matthews. Slated eyed the rows of parked motorcycles in the lot and knew that there had to be some tough guys in the place. Slater's hand curled around the billy club on the seat next to him. Part of him wanted to take it to the side of Heather's head, but he knew better. She might seem sweet and free, but she could fight. No, he would just observe and keep the club handy in case something came close.
At a table near the wall, five guys were sitting down laughing and getting drunk. Three of the guys sitting on one side of the table couldn't keep their eyes off the blonde at the bar. She was wearing some barely there shorts and a tube top so tight that they could see her nipples poking out the material a little. The sight of her ass on that stool was enough to make a sober man want to drool and a drunk man want to howl. When the other two guys finally saw Taylor at the bar the topic of conversation instantly changed to her. After another round of drinks one of the guys had looked enough. His friends gassed him up and he went to the bar.
"Hey, what's your name?", the guy slurred and grinned like a moron.
Taylor looked down her nose at him. "Not in the mood", she told him honestly and decided to only sip her seventh and eighth shots instead of downing them. She turned to the basketball game on the screen above the bar.
"Oh come on baby, don't be that way", the guy breathed on her. When she didn't face him he glanced over at his boys at the table. They were laughing. He redoubled his efforts and tapped Taylor on her shoulder. "Come on, I'm trying to talk to you."
Taylor's normal look of detached superiority was tinged with some contempt as she told him, "I'm ignoring you on purpose."
The guy frowned. "Are you some kinda bitch?"
Taylor chuckled. "You have no idea. Now look, be a nice guy and go back to your friends. If you want I'll write down a fake number so the guys at the table will think that you wooed me. Will that be good enough to get you to go away?"
Taylor grabbed a pen from behind the bar and scribbled some numbers on a napkin quickly. "Here, now go away."
The guy took the napkin and started to get up, but sat back down. "What if they find out that its fake?"
Taylor turned towards him and sighed. "Don't dial it and they won't know. Now go away before you get on my nerves."
The guy took the number and stumbled back to his friends who greeted him like a conquering hero. Taylor just sipped on her drink, satisfied that she was drunk enough to smile. She could probably slow down now. She was still sipping when she felt someone coming up behind her. Taylor actually wasn't used to guys coming up to her like this. Usually they were intimidated, but Taylor didn't have a reputation at a place like this. Even guys without a chance came up to her. From the thump of the boots on the floor and the smell of old sweat and beer Taylor knew who was behind her. The biker's shadow covered her for half a minute before he realized that she wasn't going to turn around. He sat down next to her.
"Hey pretty thing, damn you're fine as hell. You have the most perfect lips. How about a blow job?" He laughed along with his buddies sitting not far away.
Taylor ignored him.
"Come on now sweet lips. Why'd you give a pencil dick like that guy the time of fucking day? You should want a real man like me", the biker said in a husky voice.
"If I wanted to sleep with something like you, I would head to the local zoo. Otherwise I try to stay very far away from shit stains like yourself."
The guy tried to laugh it off, but a frown came over his face. "You must have me confused sweet thing. This ain't Palm Beach."
"No", Taylor began with a sigh and a sip of her whiskey. "This most certainly is not Palm Beach."
"And I ain't no fagot punk like you're used to. Out here you ain't nothing but a little piece of ass who's gonna be suckin my dick before the night's over. Either that or you'll get fucked up." He laughed and Taylor didn't.
"Maddog, is that your name?" She read it on his jacket. "Maybe I was being a little rude. I'm not interested. I just want to have a couple more drinks in peace."
"And maybe I wasn't clear. Get on your fucking knees and suck my dick."
The muscles in Taylor's jaw flexed as she bit down. The biker's breath was enough to make Taylor want to gag. "I'm going to ask you this as nicely as I can", she paused to make sure the biker was listening. When she was sure that she had his attention she looked him straight in the eye and said, "Fuck off." Taylor tossed her hair in his face as she turned away.
She didn't see the biker's face turn beet red or his hands unconsciously ball into fists. Taylor simply ignored his angry pants and picked up her glass of whiskey. She brought it up towards the juicy lips that he'd been talking about earlier. The fiery brown liquid was about to touch her tongue when the biker reach out and grabbed Taylor's bare shoulder with his rough hands and spun her towards him.
"Fuckin bitch!", he grunted and backhanded Taylor across her jaw causing an instant red mark to appear on her otherwise flawless skin. She let out a quick cry of surprise at the impact and her left hand went to the sore spot on the side of her face. The biker gloated and laughed at the look of shock on this tall bitch's face. "So you ready to suck my dick now? You fuckin cunt?"
Taylor's eyes opened wide in her skull. Before he could even think, a hard punch buried Taylor's fist right above the biker's bladder. He bent forward and Taylor jumped off the stool and took the biker by the head. She pulled him up then pushed him down as hard as she could. Everybody was getting to see just how impressive Taylor's body really was. Every muscle in her upper body flexed to prominence from the heads of her shoulders to her triceps to the abdominals that showed through her top. The biker's head was a blur until his skull impacted the bar with a crack like a rifle shot. People grimaced at the sound and the sight. The booming crack had sounded even over the music and every head in the place turned to the bar in time to see the biker falling like a chopped redwood. He'd left two teeth embedded in the bar and his face looked like he'd been sliced open by a straight razor.
"Nobody smacks me you piece of dog shit! Nobody!!!", Taylor yelled down at the man who couldn't hear it. She grabbed her glass and downed the whisky in one gulp. The bartender backed away, and Taylor looked over her shoulder at four more bikers coming up behind her.
They looked down at their buddy and then up at this smoking hot chick who had put him down without breaking a sweat. "You're gonna pay for that, bitch", one of them yelled in a gravely voice. He was used to that voice making grown men back away, but this Amazon just turned towards them and squared her shoulders.
She looked at them and then at their friend on the floor. "Pay for that? Or for this?", she asked as she raised her hand and threw the glass down hard, breaking it across the biker's already bloody forehead.
The four bikers were shocked into inaction for a second. They looked at each other then rushed Taylor like a pack of wolves aiming to tear her to pieces. Taylor just stood there until the first one got closer. They were focused on that pretty face and didn't even pay attention to those long legs until a quick front kick to the center of a biker's gut sent him flying backwards into a table. The biker to her right threw a punch. Taylor moved her head to away and raised her arm at the same time. The punch missed and she captured this biker's shoulder. He was at her mercy, and she didn't have any at the moment. She used her foot to trip him as he ran towards the bar and at the same time put her palm on the back of his head. With a grunt of effort, Taylor smashed his head in the bar leaving two more teeth in the wood. The other two bikers were on her. One threw a punch at her face which she dodged and the other hit her in the ribs. It was a smart move, but too little too late. She used the tension of her torqued body to deliver an elbow to the biker who'd hit her in the ribs. The blow caused his neck to turn past his shoulder and he stumbled away while the fourth guy roared in frustration and wrapped his big arms around Taylor's torso and pushed her towards the bar.
"Shit", was the last word to come from Taylor's mouth before they both tumbled over the bar knocking down glasses and whiskey bottles. From the shield of the bar no one could see the tussling. Finally they just saw a mane of blonde hair rise to the level of the bar and then they saw her fist rise to the level of her ear before it crashed down with bone crunching force, once, twice, and a third and final time. Taylor put a blood splattered hand to the bar top to steady herself as she stood up. The rest of the bikers in the joint were standing across from the bar in various stages of disbelief and anger. Their leather clad biker chicks were there too looking at the four men who'd just been put down. The entire group ran towards Taylor as the bouncers ran in to break it all up. They shouldn't have bothered. The bouncers got tossed like little boys and kicked and punched for their trouble while Taylor wondered exactly what to do.
Brice had been at the edge of the dance floor when the fight had started, but now he rushed in behind the bikers. He saw them all coming towards his sister. He rushed forward and grabbed one of the bikers by his britches and by his neck. "Oh no you don't", Brice growled and lifted the burley biker off his feet and tossed him to a table full of drunk guys with their drunk girlfriends. They scrambled to their feet and came at Brice. He grabbed another biker and threw him into one of the charging guys.
Jan pushed her way through the crowd and surprised one of the bikers. The guy thought he was seeing double. He already seen one beautiful Amazon, and here was another who unfortunately for him hit just as hard. Jan's first punch dropped him to his knees. Her second punch put his lights out for a while.
Brian had been on the dance floor, but he tried to make his way to Jan. He bumped into a guy on the dance floor who pulled his fist back. Brian ducked out of instinct and punched the guy in the gut and followed with a short quick blow to the guy's jaw. Sara was close to Brian and saw a guy coming from behind her friend. Sara cut the guy off and kneed him in the balls before kneeing him in the chin. He wouldn't have expected a petite looking girl to hit so hard, but Sara packed a lot of power on her small frame. Alisha made her way towards Jan, but not in time keep her friend from getting punched in the side of the head. A swift kick to the knee and a blow to the back of his head made sure he wouldn't touch Jan again.
Outside, Heather was still on the phone oblivious to the burgeoning brawl. She was happily chatting up Montez until a window shattered, showering her with tiny fragments of glass as a man in a torn bloody shirt crashed to the pavement. "Oh my goodness!", Heather exclaimed and looked through the window.
"Hey you alright?", Montez yelled into the phone.
Heather grinned while looking at the melee. "Yeah Montez. It's a real life bar brawl. I bet you wish you were here. Talk to you later." Heather hung up and jumped through the open window. She'd only taken three steps before she'd walleyed a guy with one powerful punch. The guys were having enough trouble with two hard hitting Amazons, now here came a third. Heather ran towards the other side of the room when she saw her brother being surrounded by bikers. She jumped between two men and ended up next to her brother. "Come on guys you know six on one isn't fair. Even if he is big with a head like a block of wood."
"Hey", Brice protested.
"You think its fair now?", one of the bikers challenged and took a step forward.
Heather smiled. "Yeah. It sure
is." She lunged into him and uncorked a left hook that nearly took the
biker from his boots. Brice grinned and waded into the sea of angry men
right behind his sister.
In the parking lot Slater could see people running out the door and others being tossed through those same doors. He'd seen three guys thrown through broken windows. Two of those three had gotten up and run back inside. He could see the shadows, but he was missing all the action. He wondered if some big burley guy was working Taylor over, ruining her perfect little face and knocking her down off her high horse. The suspense of it all was tearing his mind up so he took his club and hopped out of the car. He crouched and made his way to a broken window. He even daydreamed about being able to get behind Taylor and crack her skull with his club. That would be fun, but that dream was dashed by the cold water of reality when he looked through the window. Taylor was tangling with a burley guy, two of them actually and they were getting the worst of it.
The guy to her right threw a hook that went right over her head. "Damn", Slater cursed after the miss. Taylor sent a viper like strike to the center of the man's nose and then kicked the other guy between the legs. He folded up like a cheap suit. The biker still on his feet got in close and clinched up with Taylor. He was slightly taller than she and much heavier, but it quickly became a test of strength. Slater's mouth was salivating waiting to see Taylor defeated, but then he began to understand Taylor's absolute physical perfection. It was much more than skin deep. He watched as the biker started to force Taylor over backwards, but his progress stopped. Her eyes narrowed and locked in on the bikers. She exhaled slowly. Her mouth snarled slightly and Taylor's sharp muscles revealed themselves to Slater for the first time. They took his breath away. Her muscles flexed harder still and the big biker started moving backwards. He couldn't believe it, but this girl was overpowering him. He grunted and pushed with all he had. All his muscles tightened and shook with strain. Taylor's muscles matched him effort for effort and hers were still getting harder and bigger when he'd reached his max. Only pride was keeping him fighting because Taylor's eyes were burning and her face looked like she was trying to push a loaded dump truck. The man's knees began to buckle as she forced him further and further back.
Muscles burst to her skin and veins begin to show on the surface of Taylor's skin. Her tank top rode up exposing her abs. Slater frowned as he saw the muscles squeeze and flex harder than any muscle he'd ever seen. Slater hated that bitch Taylor, but he felt stirring in his pants as he realized that she was literately overpowering this man. She was standing up straight now and using that leverage to force the biker down more. She looked like she'd just stepped off of a competition stage. Slater had never seen muscles so defined. He didn't even have words to describe it. He finally understood the truth when that biker gave up and went down to the floor. When his back hit the ground, Taylor drew up her right arm and landed two atom bomb like punches to the side of the biker's face. The first one knocked him out. The second one was for making her have to work hard to put him down.
The guy who'd been kicked in the nuts stood up and tried to bash Taylor's face in with both of his hands. Taylor caught his arms coming down. Her sleek muscles flexed to granite hardness the instant she stopped the biker's blow. She quickly elbowed him in the ribs. Air rushed from his lungs in a quick whoosh before Taylor bent down and draped the man across her shoulders using her long arms for balance. Then she lifted him. Her face contorted under the strain of this big biker, but Taylor's power was on full display as she picked him up before twisting him and dropping him hard on the top of the bar. Her arm went up and came down so hard and so fast that it was a blur. The impact was terrible. The man doubled over in immediate pain.
Slater backed away from the window quickly hoping to not get spotted. He knew that if she saw him that there was a good chance that he would be beaten to a pulp again, billy club and all. As he ran, Slater pulled out the prepaid phone and dialed 911.
Taylor was still behind the bar and she turned to left just in time to see one of the leather clad biker chicks swinging a beer bottle at her head. Taylor ducked, but barely. She grabbed the woman's arm and pushed it to the bar with hand and snatched the bottle loose with her other hand. When the woman was unarmed, Taylor simply pushed her down. Taylor leapt to the bar in one bound and ran down it's length where she saw the drunk guy who had gotten the fake number from her. He was trying and failing at defending himself against two guys. That was cut down to one guy when Taylor grabbed one of them from behind and tossed him into a table. Taylor was about punch the other guy when she felt two big strong hands grab her and before she could even squirm, they'd lifted Taylor completely off her feet. A big biker lifted Taylor over his head and threw her as hard as he could. She landed behind the bar with a thud taking a dozen shot glasses down with her. A guy who'd been socked in the head by Taylor jumped over the bar when she was still face down on the tile. He grabbed her by her hair and pulled her head up just enough to plant the first solid blow to that pretty face since she'd been slapped. He was pulling his hand back for another blow and Taylor had her hand wrapped around his lower leg about to trip him. Neither got the chance. The bar owner had seen enough. A big deep 12 gauge boom echoed throughout in the roadhouse. Followed quickly by another.
"That's enough!", the older man yelled when the last punch had been thrown. The owner quickly loaded two more rocksalt shells.
Taylor jumped to her feet with the biggest smile on her face. "Wow wasn't that fun!", she yelled. People stared at her not knowing what to make of it. Her clothes were covered in tiny droplets of blood, spilled beer, and sweat, but she looked as happy and burden-free as Brian had ever seen her. His shirt was torn from neck to belt, but he'd given more than he gotten. He couldn't believe the look of childlike joy on Taylor's usually guarded face, but he was floored when she shouted, "Drinks on me everybody! Get whatever you want!"
The people in the bar went from confused to yelling their orders in the space of a couple of heartbeats. The owner came over to Taylor, shotgun still in hand. "Are you serious?"
"Yeah, the bartender has my card on file." She bent down and helped one of the bikers to his feet. "Give this guy two beers. One for the knot on his head."
The biker shook his head and smiled with even less teeth in his mouth than he'd had at the beginning of the night. "You know I never thought a bi… a woman could hit that fucking hard", he muttered and tried to shake loose the cobwebs.
By the time the cops arrived with a fleet of squad cars and 25 cops, the patrons in the bar were singing along to The Righteous Brothers' You've Lost that Loving Feeling. There was plenty of property damage and more black eyes than could be quickly counted and some knots and probably a concussion or two, but no one wanted to even admit that there had been a fight. The owner looked at the all the damage, but also looked at the tab that this young lady was ringing up. After about an hour of the liquor and beer flowing freely he asked her, "Does this card have a limit?"
"Not that I'm aware of", Taylor replied and downed her sixteenth shot of whiskey. She was getting giggly now which meant that she was pretty well in her cups. "You know I got this inheritance last year, but I really didn't need it. I'd made a million dollars on my own by the time I was fifteen. People look at me and think they know all about me, but they don't. Wow, why am I telling you this like you give a shit."
A couple of hours after the cops left, and an hour after Taylor had stopped drinking, people began to clear out. She was more steady as she went to the bar and grabbed another pen and napkin. This time she wrote real numbers. She folded the napkin and handed it to the bar owner who'd finally put his shotgun away. "This is the number to my accountant in New York. I'll send him an e-mail telling him to expect your call. Give him a call tomorrow and he'll make the arrangements for me to pay for all of this damage."
The owner looked at the number skeptically. "Let me get this straight? You're going to pay a $12,000 bar tab and whatever the hell it's going to cost to fix my place?"
"Sure", Taylor said with a smile. "Some people listen to music, or go to the beach to decompress after a bad day, but this was much more effective. Well for me anyway. Don't forget to call."
The owner and his employees watched Taylor and the rest of the crew drive away wondering if they really wanted them to come back again or not. They'd had brawls before, but this was by far the strangest one he'd ever seen.
The car ride home was loud. People had ten years worth of stories in their heads and all of them were trying to tell them at once. Heather had several stories to tell, but she and Brice were mostly silent. When they'd left the house their plan had been to cheer Taylor up. Neither of them had thought that it would work out quite like it had, but no one had gotten really hurt so it had been worth it. Taylor was out of her melancholy and since she'd drunk much more than she normally did, she was actually quite chatty. Before they exited the car, everyone inside agreed to not inform their parents about the brawl. They all agreed that there was no reason to get their parents upset. They would learn that their parents had plenty to be upset about on their own. The next day was supposed to be smooth and busy, but it would end up uneven and tense.
The next morning, Jan went through a quick workout and did some ring work with Thomas who was in the middle of his first season of wrestling. While they were alone, she told him all about the fight the day before. He complained that he hadn't been there, but Jan told him that he was still too young for that sort of thing, plus he needed a few more years of training to be able to handle himself in a fight like that. After a shower, they went outside to join their mother for breakfast.
Carol was looking for her husband. He'd left out before sunrise and kissed her on the cheek before walking out of the room. She asked Jan, but she hadn't seen her father since the night before. They'd gone to the parts store to buy some new jackstands. She had planned to stay down there with him for a while, but instead Heather had convinced Jan to go to that roadhouse. Part of Jan hated admitting that she liked action, but she did. That little brawl had been great. She thought about telling her mother about it, but she'd do it later. Jan didn't keep secrets from her family anymore. That thought hit her like a ton of bricks because both she and Thomas were keeping very big secrets. Jan pushed that idea away. It was much too nice a day to cloud it with serious thoughts like that.
Carol's mouth twisted a little as she wondered why her husband had left out so early. Thomas finally came out of the house and climbed onto the stool. He promptly snatched one of Jan's eggs. Carol shot him a disapproving look before asking him, "Have you seen your father?"
He shook his head, unable to talk with a mouthful of egg yoke. Carol hadn't really searched for Jack, but she thought it would be nice to eat breakfast as a family. Carol spotted Katherine getting closer. Her sister-in-law was moving with a purpose, but she had a pleasant look on her face. It went away when Carol asked, "Kat you haven't seen Jack have you?"
"I can't say I have", she replied without even slowing down. She had several things to do this morning and worrying about her big brother wasn't one of them. The one thing she never worried about was Jack getting himself into trouble that he couldn't get himself out of. As she walked towards the back of the house, her younger brother Drew joined her. She wanted his opinion on something for the Cook Out which was fast approaching. As they were walking towards the tent where the chefs were working on test dishes they both stopped suddenly. They'd heard something.
Both had puzzlement on their faces as they turned to look in the direction of the source of the sound. They'd heard the growl of an engine from the far side of the yard. She might not have believed it but she saw her brother's reaction. The engine accelerated up the ramp and then they caught the first glint of the sun off the polished chrome of the front bumper. "No fucking way", Drew muttered under his breath as he saw something that he hadn't seen since his childhood. Kat gasped when she saw her father's car being driven for the first time decades. Jack smiled and honked the horn when he saw his siblings.
"He looks just like Daddy sitting in the car like that", Kat said softly. Never in her life had she ever wanted to be a child again so much as that moment. It was like all the years since their father's death and melted away when that Copenhagen blue 1957 Eldorado Brougham came into view bouncing easily with its boulevard ride.
Jack couldn't keep the smile off his face. The passenger window rolled down and Jack came to a stop. The brakes didn't even squeak. "Hey guys."
"Jack, what are you doing?", Drew asked with a half chuckle to hide his emotions.
"Going for a spin. This old girl hasn't seen the light of day since the Nixon administration. Go get Mom."
Drew instantly turned to the house, but Kat stopped him. "Not now Jack", Kat forced herself to say. "Drew's got to help me with something, and Mom is with the florists. We're on a tight schedule."
Jack just grinned. "Oh stop making excuses. You know you want to get in. I even vacuumed the interior this morning. Guess what scent I put in here?"
"Cinnamon, just like Dad used to", Drew answered. He was taking his own mental trip into the past as he stood half turned to the house. He looked at his older brother for instruction, but Jack was still trying to convince his sister. "You know you want to Kat." He patted the middle spot of the bench seat. "You can sit right here like the good old days."
He could see the decision play out across her face. Kat's countenance had always been expressive. She had a face that advertisers and modeling agencies stumbled over themselves to get. For years there were contracts waiting for her sign, but just like her daughters Kat hadn't been interested in that sort of attention. Jack exhaled before Kat spoke because he could read the choice on that expressive face. "This isn't the good old days, Jack", she said with a sigh. "I have to meet up with the caterers. I'll see you later." She turned and walked the way she'd been going.
There were all sorts of things floating in Jack's mind as Kat walked away, some of them angry, but this wasn't a time to get angry. It was just disappointing.
Drew went up to the window and leaned his head inside. "Man, if Mom saw this car, she'd love to ride in it again."
"Or break down in tears", Jack said with a half smile.
"Tears of joy, Jack." He slapped his brother on the shoulder a couple of times. "I'm going to get her. Kat shouldn't ruin it for Mom just because she doesn't want to go."
"No, don't. We'll do it some other time."
"Fine if that's how you want to play it, but I'm going to tell Mom about it anyway. I really am glad you got this car driving again. Dad loved this car."
Jack chuckled. "Do you remember every time Dad got a little pissed like when the Colts lost or something, he would blow off steam by washing this car with a diaper?"
Drew laughed. "Yeah, I do remember. He'd wipe it for like an hour and the damn thing was sparkling already. I used to think that Dad was seeing dirt that my eyes couldn't."
"Maybe he was. We'll you better catch up to Kat. I'll see you later, and we'll go for that drive."
"Hey, you have to let me drive it."
"Ah, Drew I don't know about that. How many accidents have you been in?"
"Oh okay, you're going to pull that on me. You just wait." Drew had wrecked his very first car about a week after he'd gotten it, and Jack used it against him every chance he got. Drew laughed again as Jack pulled up the driveway. He watched the Cadillac not thinking about the strange relationship between he and Jack. Drew was Jack's boss at CSB Systems. He was CEO and Jack was COO, but Drew was always Jack's little brother. In everything except business, where they usually agreed anyway, Drew deferred to Jack. Drew had always looked up to Jack figuratively because Drew had passed Jack's 6'4" when he was a sophomore in high school. But Jack had never treated him like anything other than his own man since he'd become one. Jack wasn't one to have to put little brother in his place, which served Jack well these days because Drew was now the main go between with Jack and Kat. There was a time when Jack had simply avoided Kat as much as he could, but now Jack was making an effort and Kat didn't seem too receptive. As much as Drew admired his older brother, he had to admit that Jack had this coming. Kat's emotions towards Jack had simmered at a low boil for a couple of decades, but for the last five years, her feelings had become much more heated.
She never let it spill over
though. She didn't treat Jan or Carol any differently and she'd even
accepted Jack's adopted son with open arms. As a matter of fact she'd
much rather spend time with Thomas than with Jack. Drew wanted his
siblings to patch things up despite it all. The fact that Jack was down
here in Florida was a move in the right direction but if Jack was going
to repair the rift with Kat, then as the young folks said, Jack was
going to have to step his game up.
Carol stopped chewing when she saw her husband drive around the house in an old Caddy looking like he was king of the world. Now she knew why he'd left out so early.
"Well, Mom, I found Dad", Thomas said and got off the stool to go over to the car. It was so shiny that looking off into the layers of paint was like looking into a blue infinity. Jack reached to the other side of the car and pushed open the rear door. Thomas got really excited when he saw the suicide door. He got in immediately and slid across the supple seats and was nervous about putting his shoes on the real wool carpet.
Jan clapped her hands softly in mock applauds. "I see you got finished."
"That's right pumpkin. It didn't need much. I changed the belts, all the fluids, the brake shoes, and fixed a little timing problem, but now it's running like a champ."
"I can hear that."
"Let's go for a ride", Jack said. Jan looked down at the sandwich in her hand.
"Come on Jan!" Thomas was always excited to try something new. Jan put down her food and slid into the rear seat. She had to duck her head. She had no idea the stainless steel roof was so low.
"You too Carol."
"But we're not finished eating Jack", Carol told her husband. She'd taken about three bites. He wouldn't take no for an answer, and Carol got in next to him. She had to admit that it was nice. It was also nice to be together as a family out for a leisurely drive. They rode around town a little bit. Jack made a special stop by their former neighbors in Baltimore, the Bersteins. They had remembered when Big John, Jack's father, used to drive that car all the time. The family ended up in West Palm Beach at a restaurant to eat brunch.
Jack made it back to house around noon and dropped Carol off because she and Kat had an appointment at the spa. Jack had other ideas for Jan and Thomas. They took off again.
"Where're we going?", Jan asked from the passenger seat.
"Got a date?"
Jan smiled and shook her head. "No, but I am curious."
Her father pushed the pedal down a little as they got on the interstate. He hadn't opened up the big V-8 yet, but now she was getting a chance to stretch her legs at highway speeds. The ride was as smooth as ever. "I think we're going to show off a little bit to people who know what they're looking at."
Jan actually got a little excited when she saw the Auto Auction signs. Some of Jan's earliest memories were going to auctions with her father getting more cars for his large collection. It had been at least a couple of years since she'd gone to an auction with him, and this would be Thomas' first. There was a fraternity in collector circles, and Jack Caufield was well known within it. Jack couldn't help but grin as he drove slowly over the grass looking at people turning their heads. Some of them just saw a classic Caddy, but others knew. Jack parked the car between a vintage Jaguar and a '70 Cuda. Nice company he thought. He walked between Jan and Thomas with his hand on Thomas' shoulder and an arm around Jan's. Some guys did all sorts of things for fun, but to Jack there was no place better than this.
Jack, Jan, and Thomas spent an hour or so looking at cars before registering with the auction guys. The two young men didn't know anything about Jack Caufield, but their boss did. He knew that Jack was a player and ordered at least one rep to stay very close at all times. When Jack bid on a car he didn't want him to have a wait even a second to get acknowledged, but when they sat down, Jack handed the official bid card to Jan.
"So what do you want to buy?", Jan asked. This wasn't the first time he'd let her do the bidding on what he wanted, but this was a trip of firsts.
"Whatever you think we might want", he replied. She frowned. "Yeah, if you see something you like, get it."
"How much do you want to spend?" Jan was stepping where she'd never stepped before. It was exciting, but she was a little nervous too.
"If you think the price is good. Then get it. I know it's been a while, but you know all about making a good buy." Jan beamed and Jack started explaining the process to Thomas as the bidding began on the first automobile. For Jan this was even better than the night before. She hadn't expected to get so excited about something like this, but she could hardly stay in her seat as the first car rolled across the block.
While Jan was looking at a cherry red Mustang Boss, a man carefully pushed a small solvent dipped rag through the barrel of his disassembled gun, carefully checking the color of the rag as it came out the other end. When he was satisfied, he took a toothbrush and started working on some other components. He looked up at the guy in the expensive suit standing a few feet away.
"You nervous motherfucka?", he asked not intending to sound threatening, but his voice had that effect on people.
"No", Slater replied, trying to make himself believe his own words.
"Then take a fuckin seat!", the head hitman urged. "Damn, you standin over me a like a drill sergeant."
Slater sat in an open chair. There were only three chairs in the room, and two of them were taken up by scary men cleaning guns. "I bet you didn't think guys like us even took care of our firearms. This is how I earn a motherfuckin livin." He took a mini-uzi and pushed it near Slater who was able to not flinch. The hitman smiled and nodded. Slater might be a little rich boy, but he had balls at least.
"What you here for?", the hitman asked, putting down his toothbrush.
"I need a gun", Slater answered strongly.
That made the hitman lean back in his seat a little. "You thinkin' of doing the deed yourself?"
"Maybe", Slater allowed. The truth was that he wanted to be in the presence of Taylor without feeling inadequate. "But I'll still pay you in full."
"Damn right you will", the hitman said then sighed.
"I need a gun that hasn't been used in a crime and can't be traced to anybody. That's why I came here." When Slater had talked to these guys on the phone he thought that they were giving him the address to their home or something, but a quick look around revealed that no one lived here. This small house in a nearly empty neighborhood could best be described as their office.
"Here", the head hitman said and tossed Slater a pistol.
He turned it over in his hands. It wasn't too big; it was easy to conceal, and had a pretty heavy trigger pull, but Slater wasn't really versed in that sort of thing. "How do you I know it works?", he asked.
The two hitmen looked at each other and laughed. "Motherfucka you owe me 10 large and you think I'm gonna give you a gun that don't work before I get my money? You gotta be fuckin crazy. Hell yeah that gun works, and it's untraceable. But if you want to try it out…" He motioned towards his silent associate. "Take him downstairs. Let him squeeze off a few rounds. And make sure you take the earplugs. It's loud as shit downstairs."
Slater saw that the two hitmen had turned the basemen of this house in a shooting gallery more for their amusement than for practice. The walls were thick. There were no windows, and no neighbors. So when Slater picked out a target, he knew that no one would hear the shots and call the police. He raised his arm up and leveled the gun as best he knew how, then turned his wrist so that the grip was parallel to the ground. That caused the hitman with him to burst out in laugher.
"You think this is a goddamned movie!" He stepped next to Slater and turned his hand over and roughly fixed the novice's grip on the weapon. "Respect the fuckin weapon if you want it to do what you want", the hitman told him in a whiny but terrifying voice. "This ain't no toy. It's made to do one thing, and it's fuckin good at it." He showed Slater how to load and chamber the weapon, then Slater pulled the trigger at a burlap sack filled with sand. The sacks were mocked up to look like a person's body, and the red colored sand looked like blood from a distance. Slater pulled the trigger again. The feeling of power was intoxicating. He had felt powerless this many days, but now he felt like himself. He felt like the man who could conquer the world, but what he had in mind was slightly easier than that. With the gun in his hand and the power he felt coursing through his every fiber, he was going to conquer Taylor Matthews.
At the auction Jan ended up buying three cars, a 1937 Cord in showroom condition, a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, because anything Mopar was hot at the moment, plus Richard Petty used to drive one, and she bought a fairly rough '48 Chevy pickup that would be perfect for her father to fix up. Jack had to admit that he liked her taste. She'd dropped a lot of money filling a couple of minor holes in his collection with the first two buys, and had given Jack his next project with her third buy. As they drove home, Jack realized that his daughter knew him pretty darn well.
At home things weren't quite as rosy. Jack had pulled his father's smooth running Caddy up to the house where his mother, Joyce, had seen it and instantly gushed about what a good son Jack was, not that she was putting her other children down, but that car had meant so much to them as a family in the old days. Both Kat and Drew had come down here every year knowing full well that their father had put that car in the garage with every intention of fixing it and getting it on the road again but he'd been murdered. That car had been down there collecting dust and neither of them had thought to have it fixed. It had only taken Jack several hours to get it back on the road. Never mind that it wasn't a fair comparison. Jack had learned to work on cars next to his father and had been a mechanic in the Army before going to infantry and then to Special Forces. Joyce had gotten in the passenger seat while Drew managed to climb into the back seat. Everybody had seen the look on Kat's face. Her eyes were burning, but Joyce had completely ignored her middle child's displeasure. She insisted that she get in the car. At least she didn't force Kat to sit in the middle of the front seat.
The ride was rather smooth despite Kat's silence. It didn't heat up again until Jack decided to let Drew drive, without being asked. The entire left side of the car opened up when Drew and Jack switched places. Jack slid in next to Kat who looked at him and crossed her arms. Jack had been planning to say something, but he didn't. When she was angry, her sharp facial features tightened like a predatory cat and her eyes seemed like they could cut solid steel.
Drew drove back slowly which gave Jack plenty of time to say something, anything, but just like his niece, Jack had chickened out. The big bad former soldier and CIA black ops specialist had clamed up, forced into silence by nothing more than the displeased scowl of his younger sister.
He looked out the window from the back seat wondering if coming down to Palm Beach after all these years had been a good idea at all. Then he'd get a short glimpse of the look on Drew's face as he drove or the look on his mother's face as she was obviously reliving memories of the man she had loved. It was tearing Jack's mind in half so he stopped thinking about it.
Dinner was even worse than the car ride. Kat's simmer was just under a full boil. It took all of her self control to not scream in frustration. It didn't help that both Joyce and Jan gushed about their experiences that day. Joyce talked about when she'd gone with her husband to pick up that car and how Jack had been a little baby wrapped in a blanket in her arms. She couldn't stop about how nice it had been to see her husband's wishes finally carried out. Jan went over her experience at the auction and how her father had let her do all the bidding and haggling and deal making. While Jan spoke, Thomas chimed in with impersonations of the auctioneer. That seemed to relieve some of the tension at the table, but only for a few moments.
Kat couldn't believe it. Jack hadn't been down to this annual family gathering in 20 years and it had only taken a day for him to have everybody eating out of his hand. He was the son who could do no wrong. He was the one who had finally done what Big John had wanted while both Kat and Drew had sat on their damn hands. Kat knew that her mother didn't mean it that way, but Jack was the topic at dinner the entire time. Kat didn't even know why she was upset. She just was.
Taylor was getting a little upset too. Her mother usually had such a good time down here, but now there was this strain in the family. It wasn't really a rift because no one was choosing sides. It was more like a pall had been cast on the fun of this occasion. After she finished eating, Taylor went to her room and got dressed up to go out. She called a group of friends and left the house without saying anything to anybody.
Heather and Brice were a little surprised about that. She usually told one or the other where she was going, but she had a lot on her mind. Heather picked up the phone to call her, but thought better of it. She'd let Taylor have her space. She just hoped that Taylor's temper didn't heat up because Heather wasn't there to cool her off.
Despite Heather's fears, Taylor was having a good time. She'd drunk more than usual, but not too much. She and her friends were at a trendy club that had a great DJ so Taylor was on the dance floor for a long time. Unlike her cousin Jan, Taylor was actually a pretty good dancer. The super gorgeous amazon on the dance floor was of course the center of attention, but after a while she decided to take a break. She grabbed a mojito from the bar and headed to a booth off to itself. She wasn't planning on drinking like she had the night before. She picked out a booth off to itself and was content to chill and observe for a while.
Slater entered the club through a side door, taking care to move quickly but not to draw attention to himself. He searched the area quickly. It didn't take him long to find Miss Matthews, off to herself perched in the booth like a queen on her unapproachable throne. The booths on that side of the club were raised like stadium seating, but partially obscured. It was perfect. He could see her face, her flawlessly magnificent face looking out over the crowded club floor like a true goddess, but there was no way she could spot him in this sea of people. She might act like she was superhuman, but Slater was out to prove that she wasn't. She'd brought him down and now it was her turn. He was going to have some fun first, at her expense of course.
Slater's hands tightened around the grip of the pistol in the pocket of his stylish jacket. He made his way past the bar, but didn't stop to get a drink. He didn't need any liquid courage for what he planned to do. He was cold and calculating and rational as he finished his wide circle to end up behind her. He slowly drew the pistol. A sharp exhale escaped his lips. His pulse quickened as the gun came out into the open. He picked out spot on the back of her head where he could shoot her. It was so loud that no one would even know she was dead for a very long time, but that's not what he came here to do. Those scary hitmen were supposed to kill like that. No Slater wanted Taylor to know who was going to do this to her.
He moved quickly, switching the gun to his left hand. He slid into the booth quickly and pushed the gun across his body and jabbed the front of it into her ribs while at the same time wrapping his arm around her shoulder in mock affection. He felt her body tense at his touch.
"Scream and I'll kill you", Slater hissed and forced her over so he could sit down comfortably.
"I wasn't planning on screaming", Taylor said calmly. "No one would hear me anyway."
Slater's grin was like a serpent. "You always were really smart. So are you smart enough to know what this is?", he asked and pushed the gun into her ribs painfully. He searched Taylor's face as he pushed the steel gun into her unprotected side. He saw the pain there for an instant, but then her countenance went back to one of smooth detachment like usual.
"It feels like a Taurus model 909, but I'm guessing you just expect me to say it's a gun."
Slater's chuckle had no humor in it. "Do you ever know when to turn it off?"
"Turn what off my disdain of you?"
"No! You're haughty bullshit act!"
"Sure, I'll turn if off as soon as you turn off the 'I'm a fucking degenerate small dick rapist act'. Oh wait, you can't do that, so I guess I can't either."
Slater's lip curled and he put a little tension on the trigger. "So this is a game to you! A fucking game!"
She turned to him slowly, taking care to make no sudden moves. "No, Slater this isn't a game. You have a gun to my ribs, oh and for your information you don't have to push so hard. Bullets come out." He just pushed it harder. She groaned, but didn't turn away. "I could have beaten you worse at that party. I could have beaten you brain dead if I'd wanted to. So since I didn't kill you, you've come here to kill me. Just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished."
"You think you did me a good deed!!! You delusional bitch!" Taylor turned away from him and picked her drink. "You gonna throw that on me, you little tramp?"
She shook her head slowly. "I wouldn't think of it. Why waste a really good mojito on your fucked up face?" She took a sip just before Slater slapped it from her hands. The glass broke when it hit the floor. Taylor looked at it and sighed.
"Are you trying to die?", Slater asked through clenched teeth. He was so mad his body was shaking, including his finger on the trigger. "I've got a gun to your ribs. One shot and you're dead."
"I know that", Taylor said simply.
"Then aren't you fucking afraid!", he yelled. "Aren't you afraid of dying?"
Taylor cocked her head before she answered, "Yeah… a little. I mean everybody's afraid of the unknown." She turned to face him again, and this time the look of detachment was gone. Her face held no emotion at all, just her eyes. They showed a fiery disdain for him as she told him, "I'm just not afraid of you."
Her tone made Slater flinch and the color drained from his face. Taylor saw the change come over him. The only muscle in his body that could move was his trigger finger. He couldn't even blink. He was beyond that. He couldn't hear the music. He couldn't see the crowd. He couldn't even see Taylor. It was like his body was being controlled by something else. The trigger was depressing. The hammer was just starting to move. It would only be a matter of seconds before it reached the top of its journey and started down. There was no right or wrong anymore. There were no laws. The only thing left was to pull the trigger.
"How long do you think you'll live after you shoot me?", Taylor asked as if there was nothing serious going on.
It broke through Slater's automatic pilot. "What?"
"Once you shoot me, how long do you think it'll be before you're dead? An hour? A day? Certainly not a week."
"Trying to save your life now, Taylor?"
"No, trying to save yours. You think you have all of this worked out. You won't be able to hide."
"I'll get good security. I can buy that. Don't be pathetic now Taylor. I was just starting to respect you."
That made Taylor crack a smile. It fell away quickly. "You're not that slick Slater, and money won't help when my family comes after you. I know my Dad would go, but I think my Uncle Jack would find you first. You've never met my Uncle Jack, but I've heard stories about him. He used to be a fixer for the CIA. You know what a fixer is, Slater? He was the go to guy for ten years for the United States government. He tracked down spies and warlords and all sorts of bad guys to make sure they disappeared or stopped breathing. What do you think he would do to some punk like you after you shot his only sister's oldest child? I don't know for sure, but it won't be pretty."
"He won't know it's me", Slater offered up quickly. The wheels of his mind were starting to turn.
"How won't he know it's you? You're the only person I have a beef with who would even know where this club is. You might as well announce it to the world. Only a guy with your clout could get in here, especially with a gun. So go ahead and pull the trigger if you think it'll satisfy that itch inside your head. Otherwise, I think you should come up with another plan."
"Damn you!", Slater swore as he separated from her. He kept the barrel trained on her, but he knew the moment had passed. He was the one holding the firearm, and the one showing fear. Taylor sat there like they'd simply had a disagreement. She didn't look scared in the least. "This isn't over! I have another plan. You're going to hate me. This was the easy way out Taylor and now you blew it!", Slater yelled as he pushed the gun into his pocket and hurried away.
"Whew", Taylor sighed after he'd gone. "That could have gotten very bad very quickly", she said out loud wishing that he hadn't spilled her mojito. She could use a bit of alcohol. Instead she sat in the booth long enough to gather her thoughts and her nerves. Once she figured that she was calm enough, she stood up and found her friends on the dance floor. One by one she told them that she was leaving.
"Already?", Kelsey moaned. "It's just getting fun."
"I know, but I'll see you later. You're coming to the Cook Out aren't you?", Taylor asked.
"For sure!", Kelsey exclaimed.
Taylor leaned down and kissed her on the jaw before making her way towards a side door. The bouncer eyed her as soon as she broke out of the crowd. The bouncer actually moaned when he saw Taylor coming towards him. The sexy sway of her hips in that tight little skirt was enough to make him forget everything. He was supposed to keep an eye on things and make sure no one used this door.
"I parked closer to this side", Taylor told him with just the tiniest hint of seduction in her voice. For Taylor it didn't take much. "Are you going to make me walk that far?"
"I could get in trouble for this though", he said as he reached to open the door.
Taylor grinned and stepped closer to him. "I'll make it worth your while", she said in his ear and ran her hand up his thigh towards his crotch. He couldn't take his eyes off of this stunning woman as he pushed the door open. He went out into the alley way with her. He was in a lustful daze as the door closed. Seeing, smelling, and touching a woman this hot was almost more than he could take. As a bouncer he saw plenty of hot women, but this one burned like an inferno. Taylor's tight body was against his as the door banged shut. As soon as it closed, Taylor's hands went from his thigh to his crotch. He swooned for an instant before she clamped her fingers down on his balls like a bear trap.
The pressure was so great that he let out a short squeak of pain. He tried to push her off, but Taylor drew her hand forward and backslapped the bouncer in the jaw so hard that for a moment his face hurt worse than is balls, but a second tighter squeeze from Taylor's big hand reversed that.
He pressed his body against her trying to separate them. She was tall, but he was bigger and heavier. To his surprise, this tall young woman took him around the throat. Her face twitched in effort as she pushed him against the wall with one arm. He watched in awe as the muscles of her bare arm flexed sharply as she compressed his windpipe.
"Why did you let that guy in through this side door?", she asked. Her tone and her strength didn't leave any room for argument or stalling because when he hesitated her hand tightened and it felt like she was trying to rip his ball sack from his body.
"He paid me."
His stomach did a flip when this amazon's face turned angry. "This place has security for a reason you asshole. How much did he pay you?"
"A hundred dollars", he grunted through Taylor's painful grasp.
She sighed. "I should beat you until I get tired, but I tell you what. Take that hundred dollars and donate it to some good charity. Oh and make sure you get a receipt because I'll check back and you better have it, or you won't have these." Taylor squeezed his balls so hard that he nearly passed out. She let her muscles just get to the beginning of a pump before she let him go and pushed him hard. He lost his footing and fell to the pavement. She looked down her nose at him before turning and walking away.
Slater was only a few dozen yards away fumbling with the phone in the borrowed car. He was sitting in the car watching when he saw Taylor stride across his field of view. He had the gun on the seat next to him, but it was just as useless against her as the billy club. That thought made him sick. What power did she have? How could she just make him feel so small, so insignificant, so weak, and so useless? She looked in his direction as she crossed the street and Slater froze. He didn't even breathe as long as those deep blue eyes were in his direction. He wasn't sure if she could see him in the darkness, but he did know that she had seen when he'd come into the club because she'd come out the very same side door he'd gone in. That made Slater mentally and emotionally shrink even more. Maybe his father had been right all along. Taylor was on another level, a higher rung of the ladder. She was better than him, and he finally acknowledged the truth that he'd known all along. She was stronger than him, and tougher than him, and braver than him, and despite her demeanor people actually liked her. Sure she acted superior, but Taylor backed it up. She was smarter than him, and could emasculate him with her words alone. Her very presence made Slater feel like he should scrape and bow, but she wasn't as ruthless as him. She had real feelings while Slater had none. That's why Slater's plan was going to work. The fear went away even before he saw Taylor get into her Porsche and drive away. He dialed the number and the hitman answered on the first ring. "Do it", he ordered and hung up the phone.
Things had settled by the next day. Kat's anger had dissipated. It was one day before the Cook Out and she kept herself busy. At least the mention of Jack's name didn't make her want to pull her hair out anymore. She just resigned herself to the fact that there was going to be some tension with him. At least she didn't have to see him. He and Jan were in the garage with the three cars that they'd gotten at the auction. They were going to ship them to Baltimore, but not before they had some fun first.
Kat's girls were slightly pensive all morning. It was like they had something planned that she didn't know about, but the house was really busy and that had an effect on them. They weren't able to relax really. They went to the Equestrian Club to do some jumping. That would kill some time, and when they came back they seemed in better spirits. Jan joined them in Heather's room when they got back and she'd finished taking that Superbird out for a spin.
"Hey Jan, I just wanted to ask you a question", Taylor began. "Do you trust your friends?"
"Sara, Alisha, and Brian? Yeah I trust them."
Jan was a little confused as she replied, "Yeah. I do trust them a lot. Why did something happen?"
"Oh no, I was just wondering that's all. Heather and I are planning on going to this place down in Miami. Do you want to go?", Taylor asked, but Jan could tell that she really wanted the answer to be yes.
"Sure why not. Might as well have some fun before the Cook Out", Jan said with a grin.
"Cool. Tell everybody to get dressed. I've got us a flight down. No need in sitting in a car for that long."
"Ok", Jan said quickly. She left the room and didn't see the look that Heather and Taylor shared. This would all be over soon.
The flight down on the commuter jet was nice and it gave the group a chance to get ready to have a good time. Jan still noticed that Taylor wasn't quite herself, but she didn't want to make an issue of it. There was no telling what was on Taylor's mind. Sara could feel the tension inside Taylor, but she didn't use her power to pry. Sara just let it be what it was, because in the days she spent around Taylor, she realized that she was just as passionate about things as Jan was although she showed it differently. Sara just figured that Caufields/Matthews were hot bloodied or at least they were when mixed together.
There wasn't much around this fairly new club except a well manicured park and neighborhood garden. The driver had taken them straight to the place, but it had seemed like they'd driven through darkness for twenty minutes before breaking into the light. Everybody filed out of the limo and quickly into the club. Jan for one could tell that she was going to enjoy this place.
While his daughter was having fun, Jack wasn't. He was quietly in search of his sister. He couldn't wait any longer. Jack had come down to Palm Beach with all these great plans for what he would do and how he would do it, but he abandoned those as he searched for Katherine. He tracked her across the road sitting on the beach watching the moon rise over the waves. It was always easy to spot Kat and her flaming red hair. Jack could have come up behind his sister quietly, but he made enough noise for her to know that he was coming. She turned and looked up at him, her eyes glistening in the low light. Jack didn't say anything before sitting down beside her. He searched for the words to start out this conversation, unable to find anything that didn't sound forced or contrived. He had to seize this moment, but he didn't know how.
Kat looked at her brother sitting next to her knowing full well why he was there and how hard it must be for him. His big broad shoulders were slightly slumped and all the thick hard muscles on his body looked useless. She should have made him squirm and twist in the wind, but she didn't. She sighed and asked, "What made you decide to come down here after so many years?"
Jack thanked God that she had spoken. "I've been reevaluating some things in my life."
Kat scoffed. "So am I part of this reevaluation?"
"You make it sound like an audit. It's not like that."
"Then what it is like?"
Jack paused to get his thoughts together, but they were just going 100 miles a minute. "For a long time, since I stopped working for Uncle Sam, I thought that I'd put my life back together. I thought that I'd become a better man. You know, a better husband and father. I figured that I had it all put back together, but I didn't. I realized that I've never made things right with you Kat."
"So what's changed now? You think that by coming down here for the Holiday Trip and hanging around for the Cook Out that I'm just going to forget about the times when you blew me off? You think that coming down here would just erase all the memories I have of trying to make time for us to be a family together only to have you come up with one lame excuse after another. You never had to deal with explaining to your young daughter why we were all sailing across the Atlantic or the Med and her father was staying behind. You didn't have to look her in the eye and try to give an explanation when there really wasn't one. You didn't have to do that because I did it. Sometimes Carol did it, but she never wanted to. That fell to me."
"I couldn't face it Kat, not even for Jan's sake I couldn't. Every time I looked at your face I saw that same accusation. Even when you'd grown up into a beautiful young woman and had kids of your own, all I saw was the look on your face as a ten year old when you looked down and saw Daddy lying in a casket. When you looked down at him and then looked up at me, that tore my heart to pieces."
"I guess you don't see that ten year old girl anymore. Is that why you've come?" Kat wiped at her eyes as she looked up at her brother.
"No, Kat, I see it still, but I can't run away from my own guilt anymore. You ask me what's changed. I'll tell you. A couple of weeks ago, a young woman named Amaris came into my office to ask me for help. I refused at first. I was lost in my own sanctimony, but then that young woman begged. She bared her inner most fears and doubts to me because she wanted to make her life right. She looked to me as a man who'd come through hell and lived to tell about it, but the more I thought about the courage of that young woman, the more I realized what a coward I had been. I could face Mom and Drew, but not you. I'd run away from you in every way imaginable and you deserved better than that. You deserved to have a better man be your brother."
Kat had never seen her older brother tear up. Not even at their father's funeral or when they'd watched their father's body being lowered in the grave while the bugler played Taps and the rifles fired a final salute. No Jack had stood like an oak. Kat had been at the hospital on a cold November morning when Jack had rushed in with only minutes to spare before Jan had been born. He hadn't cried when he'd held his baby girl in his hands for the first time, but as he sat here next to her, she watched tears fall from Jack's eyes.
He turned towards his sister with the tears still falling and said, "We both know what it was like to lose Dad, and I'm sorry Kat. I've been so sorry all these years, but I could never say it. I thought I was strong enough, but I wasn't. I know you blame me for Daddy's death, and I know why. I should have been there! I should have been there to help him when they killed him! It's all my fault that's he's dead. I should have been there…" Jack trailed off when his voice would no longer come out.
Kat didn't try to hide her sobs. "You are so stupid and bull headed and stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" She hit him on the shoulder harder each time, but he didn't try to stop her. "What would you have done Jack, back then when you were kid!! Gotten yourself killed too, that's what! If those guys could have killed Daddy, back then they would have killed you too, you big stupid idiot! I have never blamed you for Daddy's death. I never even thought about it. I can't believe that for all these years you thought that I blamed you. How stupid can you be, but you never asked me did you."
"Then what is it, Kat. Why's there been this strain between us for all this time?"
Kat wiped her eyes with both hands. "You really don't know??"
"No, Kat I don't."
"YOU LEFT US JACK!!!", Kat screamed at the top of her lungs. "As soon as Mom got well and you graduated from high school, you ran out on me, Mom, and Drew to become some damn action hero! You were trying to prove something to yourself I guess, because you never had to prove anything to me. I just wanted my big brother around to help us through the hardest time in our lives, and every morning when I woke up you weren't there. Do you know what it was like watching nine year old Drew try and be the man of the house because he thought that's what Daddy would have wanted? He would always say that he had be strong for me and Mom like Daddy used to be. That should have been you Jack.
"Why do you think I always got so happy when you came home? If I'd blamed you for Daddy's death like you thought then Taylor and Heather and Brice probably wouldn't exist because I never would have met Ted. I wouldn't have been in your apartment in the first place. I was there so I wouldn't miss you. If I hung around your apartment I could make sure that I would at least get to talk to you and maybe go somewhere with you for a while before you left to do God knows what to God knows who. When you were home I felt like I had a whole family again, but I guess you never understood that. You just left to go off on some damned mission that I could care less about." She felt like hitting him again, but instead just wiped her own tears.
"I'm sorry, Kat", Jack managed through sobs of his own. "I'm so sorry. I… I know I don't deserve it, but can you forgive me? I just need to hear it."
Kat threw her arms around her brother's broad shoulders. "Yeah, I forgive you", she said in his ear. She felt his body relax immeasurably. "I think I actually forgave you sometime between 1980 and 1984. That's when I realized that sometimes a person can't be who they want to be, and sometimes our expectations for ourselves exceed our grasp because we're all human and we all have faults. I thought I was going to be an Olympic gold medalist, but guess what, I wasn't. And I realized that you wanted to prove something to yourself that you never had to prove to me. Of course it took you all this time to figure it out." They held each other for a while, but finally Kat pushed herself away. "Jack, please clean yourself up before somebody sees. I mean its okay for me to look like this, but you have a reputation to uphold."
Jack smiled and tried to dry is face, but his eyes were still red and puffy. He didn't care. "So does this mean we can be friends again?", he asked trying to manage a grin.
Kat crossed her arms. "You're on probation, Jack."
Jack nodded and smiled. "I can live with that."
"Don't run away when I need you", Kat said through returning sobs. This time Jack leaned over and pulled her close.
"I won't. I can promise you that. I can't change what I've done, but I won't make the same mistakes again."
Kat was about to say something when her phone rang. "Oh hey Taylor. I'm fine. Yeah, actually I have been crying, but don't worry about it. You know you pay attention too much. Can I sneak anything by you?"
"Not much", Taylor told her mother from the club. She was in a hallway near the bathroom. It was the quietest place in the building. "Well I didn't want anything. I'll see you when I get back."
"Okay, you all be safe, and don't stay out too late. You need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow."
Taylor chuckled. "Yeah, I know. Talk to you later." Taylor hung up the phone and looked at the time. It wasn't too late. They probably had at least another couple of hours to party before Taylor would round up the group and usher them towards the door like a shepherd. She grinned thinking about it. Being the oldest had its perks, but not always. Taylor went out to the main area of the club and went right back to the dance floor. The club wasn't packed, but the crowd was lively and they weren't all trying to fawn over Taylor. She figured that having Jan and Heather plus Alisha and Sara around defused the focus on her enough so that she could let her guard down a little. She shouldn't have let it down at all.
Two men were in the club too, at a corner table wearing hats and shades in the darkened room. Nobody said anything to the dangerous looking men. The leader of the two tipped his head towards his partner. "Is that the one?", he asked as they looked out over the dance floor. The partner looked at the picture of the smiling girl wearing a private school uniform.
"Yeah, that's the one. That bastard said she was going to be here, and he was right."
"Let's go", the leader said. "It's time to earn some fuckin money." The two men got up and sauntered out the door. Nobody looked them in the face and no body got in their way. They simply walked out and waited.
Taylor and the rest were on the dance floor and as the time ticked away, they continued having fun. Taylor lost track of time and simply enjoyed herself dancing with a guy who was a regular on Broadway. That was fun. He'd asked for her phone number, and she'd given it to him. He was the first guy to earn that privilege since she'd been down in Palm Beach. As the crowd dwindled a bit the group came together enjoying the company and resisting the call to leave. They knew it was about time. They did have to fly back to Palm Beach after all. The laughing somewhat stumbling group of six burst out of the doors of the club. Brian had told a joke that caused Taylor to blush and Heather to nearly gag with laugher. The only reason Sara wasn't blushing was because she'd already heard it. Jan was the furthest away from the door waiting on the limo driver to get moving. She glanced in his direction and saw another car moving in the parking lot. Taylor saw it too, but she turned away. It was a mid 80's model Buick sitting on 22" chrome wheels and painted a flip flop green and purple. It wasn't Jan's style, but the owner had pretty decent taste. She could hear the rumble of the engine as it moved out of the parking lot.
The limousine lights came on. The driver had finally noticed the six of them standing there at the front door. The doorman was trying to hit on Sara who was trying to shoo him away. The bouncer's eyes were glued to Alisha's cleavage much the same way Brice's eyes had been the night before. Alisha didn't mind the attention, but it was sort of a chilly night and she wasn't wearing much in the way of clothing. She could even see her breath in the air when she exhaled.
Jan smiled as Heather patted her chest after her fit of laugher. She looked at Jan and smiled that sweet innocent smile that she'd had since she'd been a small child. Taylor was right next to her. She turned slowly and glanced over her shoulder and then back again. The limo wasn't moving, but Jan's eyes went back to the Regal. Something wasn't right. She couldn't figure out what. It was moving down the street slowly, but they were on a curved end of a looping road so there was no need to go fast, but every time she came up with a rational thought, the hairs on the back of her neck would stay raised. She frowned as the darkened passenger window rolled down. Jan narrowed her eyes and focused her better than perfect vision on the car, but it was so dark inside, no dashboard lights, no radio lights no nothing. That's why she didn't see the muzzle of the uzi until the first zipper like burst from the barrel.
Jan's head whipped to the side following the tracks of the bullets leaving the gun. In the shock, all time slowed to a virtual crawl as the bullets lanced towards their target. She could see the trails of the projectiles and she felt like life itself drained from her when the first bullet drove home to center of Heather's chest. Blood spray out in a fine mist as the bullet knocked Heather backwards. More bullets came in rapid succession. The flaming barrel kept firing bullet after bullet after bullet that all hit Heather, tearing a huge wound in her chest. The shooter never missed his target, walking the bullets from low to high with precision.
Heather's legs gave way and she started to fall, her blood hanging in the air as he body fell towards the cold pavement. Jan saw Taylor's face in its first reactions of horror and the blank stare of Heather's eyes as she dropped. The doorman took Sara by the arm to pull her behind the wall for cover while the bouncer's arm straightened to point towards the car. The driver pushed his foot to the floor and the car sped off, but in Jan's mind it was all happening frame by agonizing frame. As Jan looked again, seeing her cousin's limp body falling, something inside her mind snapped. The blocks that Jan put on her power to keep it at bay disintegrated and all the terrible earthshaking rage poured out like a mighty wave. Jan's body instantly swelled with mind numbing power and her brain locked in on only one though. Revenge. Jan took off running after the speeding car faster than any human could have ever moved. She didn't even give a single thought to who might see what. She was focused and past caring. Whoever was in that car was going to die and she was going to use her power to its utmost to get that done. For the first time in a very long time, the monster inside Jan was completely unleashed.
Her stylish shoes had fallen apart after the first step. She ran barefoot over the asphalt and over the grass. She knew that the car had to circle around the park to get out so Jan cut straight across it moving like a blur. Only the balls of her feet ever hit the ground and only for the smallest fraction of a second. She moved so fast that the leaves were ripped from the bushes and trees as she came by. She saw the headlights and heard the squeal of the tires as the car tried to get away. Jan could smell their sweat and she could almost taste their blood. The muscles of her thighs and calves were pumped, flexing, and moving at insane speed. Veins snaked across the contours of her powerful quads and hamstrings feeding more and more oxygen into Jan's hyperflexing muscles. The car was almost on the straight road. The guys inside could see their freedom. They were almost away when the passenger window exploded and the car rocked like it had been hit by a wrecking ball. The car rolled to the left, the right side wheels almost leaving the ground. The driver worked frantically to correct and keep control.
Jan had come at the car from the right rear and when she was close enough she'd jumped like some sort of superpowered creature. Her powerful leap had cracked the pavement and sent her flying through the air at great speed. She reached out with her right hand to stop her from going too far. Her fingers had touched the glass and instantly it had shattered. She grabbed onto the roof and the momentum had nearly toppled the car. The driver regained control, but Jan was on top of the car now.
"Something's on the roof!", the lead hitman yelled to the driver.
"What!", the driver screamed back suddenly very afraid. "Nothing can move that fuckin fast!"
Jan could hear them and it only fed her anger, her rage, and her power. She reached down and grabbed hold of the roof support on the passenger side. She gripped it so hard that the cords and ropelike sinews and muscles of her forearms crushed the steel flat. The windshield cracked as the steel around it was misshapen.
"What the fuck!!", the driver yelled in terror and started swerving to shake loose whatever was on the roof, but it was no use. The passenger reached for a gun, but fumbled it with his urgency.
Jan's back muscles came alive with a landscape of ultra defined writhing muscle as she peeled the roof of the sedan back like a tin can. The inside of the car opened up for her and she saw the two men. They weren't even men to her. They weren't even human. They were the object of her hatred. The passenger finally got hold of a pistol and quickly fired. The bullet grazed her shoulder and she didn't even notice. She snatched the gun away from him with her right hand and both men watched as her big hand circled the gun and the bulging muscles of her arm flexed so hard that they could see the tiny fibers of her shredded muscles getting harder and bigger. The heard the steel of the gun surrendering, but they lost it when the pressure caused a bullet to detonate inside of her grasp and she didn't even flinch. The bullet never made it out of the prison of her grip. Another bullet fired and she didn't even flinch. It only took a moment for Jan to crush the gun. She opened her hand. The crushed hunk of steel fell to the shooter's lap with the two useless bullets that had fired.
In her seething rage, Jan wanted to rip the driver's head from his body, but he could wait. She took the passenger, the man who had shot Heather, by the jacket and pulled up. The man flew out of the car like he'd been attached to an ejection seat. The driver's mouth fell open and he lost control of the car. Jan leapt off before the car hit a tree. She landed in the middle of the road and turned quickly to find the passenger. She snarled when she noticed that he'd gotten lucky and landed on the soft grass of the park. His luck was about to run out. He was trying to get away, crawling on his hands and knees to get back to his feet. Tatters of Jan's ruined clothes flapped behind her like banners as she ran over to this man with her superhuman speed. She straddled him. All he could see of her were the inhumanly hard calves. He yelled as she reached down and turned him over.
She had nothing but hate in her heart. She wanted him to see her, and she wanted to see him when she put her fist through his skull. He watched in wide eyed panic as the muscles of Jan's body got even bigger and more impossibly shredded. He could see her eight pack abs covered in veins looking bulletproof, and he could see her pecs, striated and dense flexing with power as she drew her arm back. Her biceps muscle was beyond words. The peak was sharp and jagged with pure muscle. The individual fibers massed and bulged atop one another as she tried to punch through the world itself. She couldn't hit him hard enough. She couldn't tear his body apart fast enough. There wasn't enough strength in all the world to punish this man for what he had done, but she was going to put every ounce of her awesome power into this one punch. It was going to detonate like a bomb. She was punching so hard that air was compressing in front of her fist like a blast wave that would begin to liquefy this man's body before her fist even made contact with what would be left of his face. Still that was too good for him. It wasn't enough. The frustration further fueled Jan's power. Her beautiful face twisted into an unrecognizable mask of animal hatred as her fist started to come down. Images of Heather came into her mind in the last moments as the fist came down.
Jan's ears heard a voice off in the distance calling her name. It was a familiar voice. A frantic voice, but it was too late. Nothing could stop this punch, not even Jan herself. She heard her name again, but she didn't stop. The voice was closer, and it repeated a third time. "Jan don't!", Taylor yelled as loudly as she could. Jan wondered how Taylor had gotten here so fast, but still it was too late. Her punch was on its way. Then Taylor was close, right next to her. Jan felt something hook into the crook of her arm and she saw Taylor's leg step across her view. Her shoes were gone as well, and then as Jan's massive punch came down, she felt resistance. It was slowing. How? Jan wondered and saw all the muscles in Taylor's legs flex to match her own as Taylor absorbed the power of Jan's punch. Taylor's foot sank deep into the ground as the punch slowed. Taylor strained and braced herself, barely able to contain her cousin, but she stopped the punch before it could do harm to the man on the ground.
Jan looked up at Taylor, but her mind couldn't catch up, not yet. "Wha… how?", Jan muttered before she heard someone else running. It was Heather, moving at a tremendous clip. Her face was worried and urgent as she ran up to Jan and slid to a stop on knees.
"Jan, Jan I'm okay!", Heather breathlessly explained. "See look." She reached into her chest and dug out one of the flattened slugs. "They were only 9 millimeters. I'm fine. Don't kill him." This was a big rush for Heather too. Just when she thought she'd gotten a handle on what had happened. She looked up above the trees and saw Alisha and Sara floating down slowly. Heather didn't know what to think and Taylor was shocked too. Behind them the driver of the Regal had gotten out of the car and was coming over with an assault rifle in his hands aiming to protect his partner.
"Sara stop him", Alisha yelled. The man stopped cold in the center of the street unable to even blink his eyes.
"No Sara, don't hurt him. He's with us!", Heather yelled and stood up. Sara released the man, but snatched the gun from his hand with her power. It hung in the air for a moment before flying to Alisha's hands. She didn't point it at anybody, but the driver could tell by the way she held it, that she knew how to use it.
"What is going on here?!?", Jan yelled and pushed herself up to her feet. Her power was still running loose inside of her and Taylor stayed close. Jan looked down as the shooter backed away. Jan frowned when Heather helped him to his feet. He was so scared that he was shaking. "Taylor what the fuck is this. This wasn't the goddamned plan!" His quivering voice betrayed his complete fear.
"Cool it Montez", Taylor warned. She could look in Jan's eyes and see that she hadn't reigned in her powers, but she was working on it.
Confusion covered the group like a blanket, and as the adrenaline was starting to die, a white van came speeding around the corner kicking up white smoke and laying down rubber. Jan, Sara, and Alisha instantly went on guard. The van skidded to a stop and a woman their age jumped out.
"Well this is all fucked up now!", the woman yelled.
"Angie James?", Jan, Sara, and Alisha all said at the same time.
"Yeah its me and you guys have really fucked up an op this time." They hadn't seen Angie since the day they had left Livingston School as high school seniors. Angie and Jan had been on opposite sides of a tiff that they'd never really gotten over.
"Are you behind this?", Jan accused and stepped forward. Angie held her ground and put her hands on her hips.
In the next moment, the limo came speeding around the corner and it skidded to a stop. The driver got out. "Angie, Taylor, what the fuck is this?"
"A complete mess", Angie answered and looked at her watch. Before she'd finished a tow truck came around the corner too. They'd had it handy in case something had happened to the Regal, and looking at the car wrapped around a tree with the roof peeled back, something had happened to the Regal. Before anybody could say another word, they saw a river of blue lights coming their way.
"Hurry up!", Angie yelled to the tow truck driver.
He was snatching on his gloves, and moving the levers at the same time, but it was all much too slow. The cops would be on top of them before he could even get the car hooked to the winch. Jan's mind finally caught up to events. "Taylor help me!", she yelled and ran towards the car. "Put the bed back flat", she ordered the tow truck driver.
She and Taylor ran over to the Regal. They both bent down and grabbed the frame about midway back. It wasn't even much of a strain for the two of them to lift the car. The big wheels left the ground like it was a love seat. The springs and shocks popped and squeaked. Their mountainous peaks rose up effortlessly as they lifted the 2 ton car up and finally over their heads before slamming it down on the back of the truck. Jan grabbed a chain and quickly wrapped it around the front axle while Taylor did the same to the rear axle on her side. "Okay go", Taylor said to the tow truck driver who hopped into the seat and left.
"Everybody get in something we have to sort this out at headquarters", Angie yelled and rushed to the van that she'd gotten out of. Taylor, Heather, and the two hitmen went with Angie to the van while the rest ran towards the limo. Jan stopped short.
"Right here", Brian managed
through deep breaths. He was just now running up with sweat pouring off
of him. "Damn do you know how far you ran? I'm dying here." He stopped
short of the scene gulping air as fast as his lungs could manage. Jan
took him by the arm and helped him into the limo. The driver drove away
even before the door closed.
It was a short ride to the headquarters. It was located in a warehouse building just off the main road. The limo pulled into a garage area and used his thumb to unlock the door so the girls could enter the main office.
Jan was angry when she came inside. She had so many questions that she thought her head was going to explode. She saw Angie standing there. "Can you explain what happened now?", Jan demanded once she saw her.
"Yeah actually, I can. Some guy named Slater Hastings got beaten up by Taylor, so he wanted some payback. His father sent some goons after her, but Heather and your friend Brian took care of them. So much for that idea, and since Slater is too much of a coward to do anything against Taylor himself, he figured that he would hire some hitmen. He didn't know that the two guys he hired work for us. Montez and Kevin might look like thugs, but they're Special Programs men. They're deep cover agents trying to get close to a Colombian cartel bigwig. They needed some more street cred so shooting a society princess at a club would up their profile quite a bit. We always figured that Slater would want Taylor dead, but instead he wanted them to kill Heather. He actually sent her high school yearbook picture. He wanted Heather killed so Taylor would have to live with the guilt and loss or some bullshit like that. We were going to stage the thing and fake it, but Heather got the bright idea to really go along with it and make it a real shooting for your benefit."
Jan frowned. "My benefit? I don't understand."
"I'll let them explain", Angie said and turned away. She had some calls to make.
Jan looked over her shoulder and saw Taylor and Heather standing there. Both had been crying, and instantly Jan began to cry too. It didn't take much to get Jan to tear up, but this was a good reason. This moment felt like the first time she'd really met her own cousins, and the first time that they'd really met her. Sure they'd known each other for their entire lives, but they'd kept this big secret, a secret so big that it had shaped all three of their lives. Now, as they stood there, they could see each other for what they were. It was a terrible and wonderful moment. They came together in a three way embrace. "Why'd you guys do that to me?", Jan whispered to keep her voice from cracking.
"Because I couldn't bring myself to tell you the truth about me and Heather", Taylor began softly. "I've been wanting to tell you, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was too scared."
Jan scoffed through her tears. "Taylor, you're not scared of anything."
"I'm not scared of much, but the thought that you might shun me because of my powers was enough to keep me awake at night. I mean we've always been neck and neck in life, but I was afraid that you would realize that it's all been a fraud. And I didn't want you to look at me and Heather like monsters. I tried to tell someone once and the look on his face made me feel like a gargoyle."
Jan pushed back a little so she could look Taylor in the face. "I've seen that look before. Trust me it hurts, but I never would have felt that way. I love you both and that trumps everything."
Sara, Alisha, Brian, and everyone else stayed away and gave them their space. This was a special moment, and everybody knew it. They didn't say anything for a while. They simply alternated from crying to laughing, but all the while holding each other close. "I should have known that you were gifted", Heather began. "I mean after I thought about how related we are, I should have known."
"Why didn't you know?" Jan frowned and turned around again. "Angie, you knew about me. You knew that I was gifted. You knew about Sara and Alisha too. Why didn't you tell Taylor and Heather?"
Angie shrugged. "I was ordered not to."
"By me", a familiar voice called from around the corner. Martha Worthington came into the open room and looked at the group. "I told Angie and everybody else in Special Programs to not even mention that they knew you or Sara or Alisha. It wasn't our place to tell your cousins that you were gifted, just like I made sure that no one told you about them. That's something that needed to happen between the three of you without interference."
"But Mrs. Worthington, I could have killed a guy."
"I'll take the blame for that. To be honest, I'd forgotten just how explosive you are when you're going full bore. I knew how you would react, but I figured that between Taylor and Heather that they could keep you from hurting somebody. I was almost wrong, but luckily for Montez and Kevin, Taylor got to you in time. I know you have more questions, but it's late. We'll pick it up tomorrow. I've got a plane ready to take you guys back to Palm Beach. I'm sure you have a lot to talk about."
Truer words had never been spoken.
|Power and Fury: The Early Days pt.1||The Femme Soldiers Attack||The Terror Gallery pt.2||Power
and Fury: Full Circle pt.2
Double Cousins 2
|Power and Fury: The Early Days pt. 2||The Strength Serum||The Femme Soldier: Strength Conquers All||Power
and Fury: Killer
on the Road
Double Cousins 3
|Power and Fury: Just Warming Up||Power and Fury: Power Problems||The Femme Rampage||Power
and Fury: Down on the Farm
||The Femme Soldiers: New Recruits|
|Power and Fury: Itching for a Fight||The Femme Revolution||Power and Fury: Pushed to the Edge||Power
and Fury: Steel Embrace
|Power and Fury: The Heist||The Femme Revolution Pt. 2||Power
and Fury: Sara's Bad Day
and Fury: Steel Embrace 2
and Fury Backwater Justice 2
|The Femme Soldiers||The Terror Gallery pt. 1||Power
and Fury: Full Circle
and Fury: Double Cousins
and Fury: Family Traditions
There are plenty of others where this story came
from. Please check out the bookshelf for all the past chapters of
Power and Fury and my other series.
comments and critisisms welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org