Maria DeMarco never thought that she would find trouble amongst her many businesses. After all they were the public face of where her money came from. She was after all a retired Prima Ballerina and like most such women she invested her money wisely. But trouble she did find and in the one place she would never have thought to look. One of the schools she loves and sponsors. Can the Black Badge Deputies ferret out the people behind the troubles before Gemini has to deal with Gym Class?
by Snowfall and Jessie Wolf.
Dedicated to the men and women of the US Marshal Service.
Edited by my husband Paul, and AJC Snowfall.
Bobby and Hunter had just entered the old Study Hall, only to stop dead in their tracks. Instead of the six cadets they were expecting, there were close to thirty. The original six second-chance cadets were there, but the other twenty-four were new cadets. The two deputies looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and entered the classroom.
“ATTENTION!” Stoney McFeeters was the first to see the new instructors, and call the room to attention.
“AT EASE!” Bobby called out. Once the cadets had assumed the position of at ease Bobby turned to McFeeters. “Okay Cadet McFeeters, care to explain how this nice tight little team grew five times its size since last night?”
“Yes Sergeant. It started with myself and Cadet Lange running interference for the lower years with the Drill Team last night. Cadet Hickman had just stepped into the hallway when things had gone south. Cadet Hickman joined in on the confrontation between us and the Drill Team. With his help, we were able to persuade the Drill Team to leave the lower years alone last night. Afterward, Cadet Hickman asked to join OUR team, after seeing as how we are under Presidential orders. Cadet Hickman pointed out that we needed real hand-to-hand training in some form of martial art. He offered to train us and knew a few others who had training that are like-minded. That doubled our numbers, Sergeant.”
“Okay, I can see that. Where did the others come from? I count a total of thirty personal in here.” Hunter asked.
“It was Cadet Simms who suggested that we should form five teams of six members each, kind of like real Special Forces A-teams. In each team, we have a computer expert, a weapons expert,” as McFeeters was answering he realized he was preaching to the quire. “Um… sorry Sergeant Taugh. However, we basically have every member of a real-life SF A-team. Or as close as we can get, for us.”
“We can see that Cadet, what Sergeant Taugh was asking is; how did you find them all?” Bobby asked McFeeters.
“OH! Sorry Sergeant, I didn’t understand the question. These guys are all Military Brats. Each one has a real gift for what they can do. Last night the six of us sat down with Cadet Hornsby and he suggested which cadets we should talk to. Every last one of those here, have had a run-in with the alpha assholes. They all want to help take back OUR school.” There was a passion in Stoney’s voice that no one had ever heard before.
“Looks like we got ourselves some real liberators on our hands here, Hunter. You think it is time to show them how?” Bobby smiled over at Hunter.
“That I do Bobby, that I do.” Hunter looked out over the gathered cadets. “Gentlemen, one of the first things to any successful operation is accurate Intel. Can any of you explain how it is that the Drill and Rifle Teams have been able to operate, thus far, unmolested?”
“Sure. Everyone knows that their Instructor runs interference for them with the rest of the Staff. Lieutenant Johnson is like big time in the Gilroys' pocket. The man is so transparent in his support of the teams, it is pathetic.” Said one of the cadets at the back of the room.
“What’s your name Cadet?” Hunter asked. “And can you prove your accusation?”
“Cadet Michael Rumley, Sergeant Taugh. As for proof, you just have to read the complaints that have been filed against the Drill and Rifle teams. Every time, Lieutenant Dick works out a deal for whoever the complaint is against. The Old Man and Gunny have been trying to get more leverage to use against the teams, but if the teams and Johnson get to them first.” Rumley just shrugged his shoulders.
“I take it that the teams have no problem with getting violent if someone rats them out, Rumley?” Hunter asked the cadet.
“No Sergeant, they don’t get just violent, they get vindictive. They find some way to set them up to get suspended, or expelled, after they put the person in the Aid station. I don’t know how they have been getting away with some of these attacks Sergeant. What I do know is there is never any video evidence of the attacks.” This grabbed both Bobby’s and Hunter’s full attention.
“Bobby, don’t you need to call Samantha and check on where Genny is?” Hunter had been looking at his watch as he asked Bobby to check in with Gemini.
“Yeah, she should be here soon. Cadets; I’ll be right back, why don’t you finish filling in Sergeant Taugh on what you all know?”
As Bobby stepped out into the hallway, he was already pulling out his phone. After entering the secure section of his phone, he placed a call to Samantha. It didn’t take long for Sam to answer his call.
“Hi, honey. What’s going on?” Sam asked.
Bobby had to check, from her tone. “I take it that you can’t talk freely?”
“Yes, dear. I know, that I promised to cook dinner tonight. I’ll head home after I finish talking about the Carmen girls with Mrs. Henry.” Samantha replied.
“Do you know if Gemini was able to get into the SRMA security camera’s?” Bobby asked.
Samantha carefully worded her answer. “OH that! Yes, the service is totally worthless. From what Kristine was able to find out they have a very large rodent problem. She found a massive hole in one of their storage units. She sent us a link to a much better service. I forwarded the link to your phone and Hunter’s, love.”
Bobby smiled. “Copy that. Are you and Annette going to head over to the newspaper after classes?”
“Yes, dear. I know how much you love your deep-fried rice with shrimp and beef. What time can I expect you home?” Samantha was keeping up the story.
Bobby thought about it then answered. “No later than six. Why?”
“Can you be a dear and swing by the local ABC Store and pick up a nice wine? A good Italian would be nice.” Samantha suggested.
“Copy. We’ll check up on the Madam and the Maid. See you when we get home.” Bobby hung up and returned to the classroom.
As he entered he was brought up short by what he found. Hunter had the cadets formed up in teams and were now going over basic hand-to-hand techniques. “That’s it Jones. Remember people, the most powerful weapon you have is NOT a gun, knife or explosive, but what is between your ears. There is an old joke about Infantrymen. One that is very true. The deadliest thing on a battlefield is a highly motivated, extremely dedicated, fully trained, Infantryman with a can opener. That is what you need to become. Do you hear me?”
“Never forget that, Cadets. Dedication, motivation, and training will get you through more than just a firefight. Those are life lessons that will serve you in a civilian life as well. Take your studies for example. Hard work and perseverance will get you better results than cheat sheets and cliff notes. Shortcuts get people dead on the battlefield and are always the last resort.” Bobby walked toward one set of cadets.
“Hold your left hand flat when you bring it up to block that strike Cadet. If your opponent isn’t looking at your block, you can grab his forearm and revise their attack.” Bobby moved the young man out of the way. “Here, let me show you.”
“Alright come at me Cadet Mitchel.” When the cadet went to attack Bobby, he showed them what he was talking about by first blocking the strike with his left hand then grabbing ahold of Mitchel’s forearm. “Now that I have ahold of his arm, I can step in close like this.” Bobby had spun until he had Mitchel’s arm over his right should and the cadet close to his back. “From this position, I can flip Mitchel over my back, break his forearm, snap the elbow, dislocate the shoulder or by moving the other way.” Bobby stepped back then moved around to the side of Mitchel by pulling the cadet forward. “With just a small amount of leverage, I can force him to his knees into a killing position.”
“Excuse me, Sergeant Everbrite, but won’t it be better to go for the second option first?” Asked the Cadet that he had moved out of the way.
Bobby stood up and patted his demonstration cadet on the back. “Normally, Cadet Hanready, in hand-to-hand you want to do everything you can to keep space between you and your opponent so you can use your firearm. There are times though, that stealth is required. You’ll learn those times and technics, when you go to A.I.T. if you choose Infantry. I know that some of you already know some of these techniques, but NOW is not the time to use them. Those orders may give us leeway in dealing with a domestic terrorist cell, they do not give you authorization for deadly force. Yes, you can defend yourselves and others against the alpha assholes. We won’t stand in your way when it comes to that.”
“Understood, Sergeant. Broken bones, black eyes, bloody noses are okay, but trips to the coroner's office are off-limits.” Hanready just smiled at Bobby.
“That would be a No-Go. Now, I do have some good news. It seems that one of your fellow students has been stockpiling evidence on everybody’s favorite fuck sticks. Thanks to some friends of ours we now know HOW the video evidence has been getting lost. I can assure you all that it won’t be getting lost again.” That was one promise Bobby knew he could keep to these kids. “So, from now on do not start a fight, but make damned sure you finish them. Am I understood, Hoo-Ahh?”
“HOO-AHH SERGEANT!” they all called out as one.
Akin Equestrian Girls School 1600…
Chantel Henley could not believe what she was hearing. “WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING? NO, YOU WEREN’T THINKING. BECAUSE IF YOU WERE, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE SENT LONGMIRE AFTER THE CHILD OF A FORIEGN AMBASSADOR!” Chantel couldn’t believe that her father was screaming at her. “IF YOU WEREN’T MY DAUGHTER I WOULD BE MARRYING YOUR ASS OFF TO SOME SANDNIGGER RIGHT NOW! GRACE! HANDLE THIS!”
Chantel heard the phone being handed over to her mother and sighed. In the background, she could hear her father raising mortal hell as he stormed off. She knew that she had screwed up somehow, the problem was she didn’t know where.
“I take it you heard your father Chantel?” Grace Henley asked sternly.
Chantel knew it was a rhetorical question. “Yes ma’am. I heard him raising hell.”
Grace corrected her. “Those were not threats child! He meant every word. He would marry you off, TONIGHT, if he could get away with it. You’re just lucky that you’re already engaged to one of the Shumpert’s boys. If not for that, he would have you on the first plane heading for the Middle East to your new husband. You have fifteen minutes to convince me that you had no hand in Longmire’s arrest.”
Chantel knew it was time to try covering her ass. “Mama, please believe me that I don’t know what went wrong. I warned David Longmire to handle those girls carefully. I told him that they weren’t normal students. He just told me to make sure his money was in his drop box and leave the muscle jobs to the pros. He told me that he knew what he was doing and to shut up and not tell him how to do his. Hell, Mama, I only hired him to put the beat-down on those two wet-backs in front of the freaks and the others. That was all he was supposed to do with them. I told him that you wanted the new teachers scared off and he said it would be handled then hung up.”
“Wet-backs? Those girls are NOT Mexican. They're from Spain. That's in EUROPE! Now what about Alice Farley?” Grace demanded.
“She was fired yesterday afternoon Mama. She went after those girls all on her own. I really don’t know what her deal was with being there, but all it did was make matters worse. She, somehow, got accused of being part of Longmire’s crew. I don’t have all the answers yet, but I am working on getting them.” Chantel promised.
This was news to Grace, and she didn't like it. “HOW did Alice get fired?”
“That is something else we’re working on Mama. Alexis tried to get into Mrs. Farley’s old office and got stopped by Mrs. Gorman in the stables. She’s currently on stall cleanup, for the next seven days.” Chantel admitted.
Grace Henley roared at her daughter. “DAMN IT CHANTEL! You know that Alice has records for all the students in that school and over half of the other schools you compete against. It’s thanks to her that Patricia and I have been able to work the families into position to control this state. If those files fall into the wrong hands, it will expose both families.”
Chantel was confused. “I don’t understand Mama. Why would Alice Farley having competition records on students from other schools be dangerous to us? It’s not like she has the only copies of those files. Every Head Riding Mistress has copies of those files.”
“Chantel! I swear, if you were not my daughter, I would swear you were dropped on your damned head! She has more than just competition records. She has personal information on students for the last seven years that are from any FAMILY that is, or was, a threat to us and the Gilroys. Information that Patricia and I have used to destroy or blackmail those families into doing what we want.” Grace explained.
“OH HELL, MAMA! Are you telling me that Alice Farley is our Bookkeeper?”
“Worse! Alice Farley, has been the Keeper of Secrets for both the Gilroys and Henleys for the past fifteen years. She and her family have kept the Secrets for both the Henleys and Gilroys for over one hundred years. Get into that office and find those records!” Grace ordered her daughter.
“HOW? It’s not like I have a criminal degree or something?” Chantel whined.
“I DON’T CARE! JUST GET IT DONE! BRING ME THOSE RECORDS OR DON’T COME HOME!” The phone went dead in Chantel’s hand. In all her years, Chantel’s mother had never talked to her that way. Whatever was in those records was deadly to the family. If it was deadly to the family, then it was power in her hands. All Chantel needed to do; was get her hands on those records and she would be the one calling the shots from now on.
Chantel, knew that Mrs. Gorman never left the school until after dinner was served. She would have to make her move between dinner, when the bitch went to dinner with the students, and lights out. It wasn’t a big window, but she had to do it tonight.
If not, Mrs. Gorman could find those records and destroy all her plans for revenge. Thankfully Chantel had been one of Farley’s student instructors. She reached into her purse and doubled checked to make sure she still had the duplicate key to the Stable Offices. She may not know how to pick a lock, but she knew how to pay a locksmith off to make a duplicate key. She had duplicates to almost every door in the school, but a few. The Head Mistress’, Nurse's, and Guidance offices were the only doors that Chantel’s key would not open.
With a large part of her former support gone, Chantel knew that she would have to do this on her own. As it was now, the Varsity Dressage team had already begun to pull away from her and her sister. From what her brother told her during their phone call at lunch time, he was having problems as well. The second-chance and last-chance kids were getting out of line over at his school. They were daring to challenge the upper echelons of the student body. They had forgotten their place in the school, just as they were starting to here.
Chantel knew that she needed to reassert her power over the Lipizzan Girls or all her plans would be trashed. It was bad enough that Adaline had undermined her position, as the leader for the Lipizzan Girls, with that threat. Now her mother was ordering her to break into the Riding Mistress’ stable office and find a bunch of old records, then hand them over. No, that would not be happening.
What she didn’t understand was; why Longmire didn’t just put those two sluts in the hospital like she ordered. Even if they had some kind of training, Longmire and his crew were bigger and stronger. They should have been able to handle a pair of teenage girls as if they were kittens. It just didn’t add up for Chantel. She had even seen the YouTube video of the fight. Going over to her laptop Chantel pulled up the video one more time.
As she watched the fight again, Chantel noticed something she had missed the first time. The two new girls were using some type of weapons. Only they weren’t knives or guns, but a baton and some kind of glove. As she watched the video again and on the fourth time, she used the zoom feature of the program. With the face of the two girls magnified, so she could see just their faces, Chantel saw something else. Both girls’ faces held the eyes of killers. Chantel had never seen such controlled unbridled fury in her life.
The eyes of the one called Justina held nothing but ice and cold death. While the younger one Angeles had eyes that blazed with a cold fury that was unmatched by anyone that Chantel knew. It was then that Chantel remembered the warning that Justina tossed over her shoulder the day before.
“Drop it, or die. You push us and we push back, harder than you can. Let it go or it will get deadly. This is OUR kind of fun." This is what those two girls meant. They could and would kill someone. And they would have fun while doing it.
Chantel knew that if she didn’t get a handle on those two girls somehow, she was next. And when they came for her, they wouldn’t be holding back any longer. The Carmen girls were supposed to be a pair of high society princesses, but they weren’t. They were Military Brats with real power and connections behind them. They could make Chantel’s life very, very, hard if she didn’t get ahead of them.
Her alarm clock sounded, bringing her out of her thoughts. She looked over and noticed that she had been thinking over her options for the past hour and a half. Now it was time for dinner. Grabbing her keys and meal card, Chantel headed for the dining hall. As Chantel closed her door, she never thought to look at the plant on her roommate’s desk. If she had; she might have seen the pin mike and camera hidden there.
On the other side of campus…
Kasey made sure that the door to their room was locked and stood guard while Kristine dug through the latest recordings. “Make it quick sis. We only have a forty-minute window here. If I’m right Chantel will just be getting done with a phone call to her mother.”
“I’m going as fast as I can Justi. Remember, we have twenty different mikes and cameras scattered throughout the school. It’s going to take me a minute to find the one we want. I know we tagged the one for Chantel Henley’s room, but there are ten different entries under that file right now.” Kristine was scanning through the entries one at a time. She knew that she needed the right one.
“What the hell do you mean there are ten different entries?” Kasey asked.
“That is exactly what I mean. I have two here from last night just after we left for the pizza place. Another one about two hours later, and then this morning one every four hours thereafter. It’s like she is holding meetings in her room or something.”
Kasey thought about what Kristine had just told her. Thinking about the time-frames, Kasey quickly put it all together. “She is holding meetings. Only they are not with who we think they are. We’ll need to go through them all when we get back from dinner. Right now, just pull up the last entry.”
“But sis, this could be important. If she is holding meetings, it could spell trouble for us. We don’t need to be blindsided again like last night.” Kristine tried to argue.
“I know that, Ange. Right now, though we need to know what that last conversation was about. That is going to decide our next move.” There was something about Kasey’s tone that grabbed Kristine’s attention.
“Okay, Justi I’ll bring it up. Why though? What’s so important about the last conversation that’s got your panties in a twist?” Kristine asked.
Kasey shook her head. “I don’t know, it’s just a gut feeling. You know like the ones Mama-Sam gets. There is something about the time frames that doesn’t set right with me. It's like Prima Lyssa says; If you feel it, then it probably is and likely too late.”
Once Kristine pulled up the last entry and played it both girls knew that Kasey was right. They listened to Chantel first get chewed out by her father. They knew that Chantel was on thin ice with her father, but the part with her mother really had the girls thinking. It was Kasey who pointed out the big picture.
“We need to get into the Head Riding Instructress office before Chantel or hit her after she retrieves the records. We need those files Ange. They could be the nail in the coffin that shuts this whole operation down. That or expose everything the Gilroy’s and Henley’s have been up to. Either way we got to get our hands record books. If we should go the route the best time to hit her will be just after she leaves the stables. The breeze way between the stables and the dorms.” Kasey said firmly.
Kristine agreed. “Okay, I can see that. Why not just go after the records ourselves, now?”
“Check the time little sister. Just like us, Chantel has to be in the chow hall for evening rollcall. Now we need to getting moving. I figure she’ll get there five to ten minutes before we do. The problem will be if she leaves ahead of us or we get delayed somehow. I think we might have to break into her room tonight, if we cannot intercept her in the breezeway or get to the office ahead of her.” Kasey answered
“Then let’s get moving. I doubt we’ll be able to get those records from her room. That phone call with her mother made it sound like she was to head home right after she gets those files. If I were to lay odds, I would say that she’ll grab those files and head straight for mama. If she doesn’t, then she is going to make copies for her own use. I would say for blackmailing her own family and the Gilroys. that girl has some real mommy and daddy issues.” Kristine commented.
“OH MAN does she ever. Here listen to this.” Kasey pulled up and played the confrontation between Chantel and her sister Adaline from the day before.
“HOLY SHIT! I knew that the Henleys and Gilroys were in deep, but that crazy bitch is talking about sending her OWN sister to a whorehouse in South America. Not that I would shed a tear over that happening to Chantel, but that is still some twisted shit, sis. Okay we hit the office, now. Chantel isn’t going to take a chance at someone else finding those records.” Kristine said then began working her keyboard. "Let me set up something and make us invisible."
Kristine didn’t argue with Kasey. She knew that those records were way too important to be left to fall into the wrong hands, i.e. Chantel’s hands. The two teens headed straight for the stables using the stairwell at the far end of the dorm building. Kristine had already hacked into the security server and looped the cameras along their route. Timing would be everything. They knew that there could be no record of what they were about to do. As they approached the stable office, Kasey held up her left hand signaling Kristine to stop.
Moving over to the wall, Kasey put her back to it then looked around the corner. Using hand signs Kasey signaled Kristine that they were not alone. At the end of the box stalls just outside of the office were two women with long black hair. After taking a closer look at them Kasey smiled and waved Kristine to follow her.
“Mama Annette, you’ll never open that door at this rate. Why don’t you let us take care of that for you?” Kasey told her adopted mother as they walked up on them. Sam and Annette were both startled, to the point of reaching for their concealed sidearms. “WHOA! Calm down there Mom. We didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Just what do you two think you’re doing here?” Sam hissed.
“We’re going after the records that Farley has hidden in her office. It seems she was more than just the main trouble-maker amongst the teachers. She was also something called a Keeper of Secrets for the Henleys and the Gilroys.” Kristine told both of her mothers.
“Wait! What!?” Both Sam and Annette asked at the same time.
Kasey repeated. “I said that Alice Farley is something called the Keeper of Secrets for the Henley and Gilroy families. Somewhere in that office are files and records for everything those two families have been doing for the last hundred years. There are also records with personal information on students for the last seven years that are from any FAMILY that is or was a threat to the Henleys or the Gilroys. Information that Patricia Gilroy and Grace Henley have used to destroy or blackmail those families into doing what they want. What are you doing here?”
“We figured that Farley had something we could use to help nail down the Alpha bitches in her office. Now though I think we all need to get in there and find those other files.” Annette told her daughters. “By the way how did you two find out about Farley being this Keeper of Secrets?”
The teens smiled then giggled. “Pin mike and lipstick cam in Chantel's room. We put them there yesterday after we had our little run in with the Varsity Dressage team in the stables. We have all their rooms bugged, but two.”
“Which two?” asked Annette as she worked on the deadbolt lock to the office door.
“Cassidy Woolworth and Adaline Henley. Before you ask Mammas, the reason is simple. They are both Teacher’s Assistants and have their own rooms on the ground floor with all the other TAs.” Kasey had just finished with her explanation when Annette finally opened the deadbolt. “Damn mama, I’ve never seen you take so long with a lock before.”
“It has been a while since I have had to deal with a Gorman and Heckler seven fifty deadbolt, daughter. By the way, how long of a loop have you put the cameras on?” Annette said.
“We have a twenty-minute window before they switch back to live feed. We had a thirty-minute window, but ten of that is gone already. I suggest we get in there and get what we came for fast. I figure that Chantel Henley will be heading this way in another ten minutes or so.” Kristine told her mothers.
As they entered the office, Sam closed the door and took up a lookout position. “Why would Chantel Henley becoming down here?”
“Those records are why. Her mother REALLY tore into her just after classes. We were going through our recordings and listened to the last one. We heard Chantel’s mother ordering her to get the records or not come home.” Kasey answered Sam. "Oh, and it was Chantel that sicced the two guys on us. They went off-script though. They were supposed to throw down on me and sis, send us to the hospital."
“Shit. No wonder you two decided to pull this stunt. If those records are really here then they could be the evidence that breaks this case wide open. By the way, your papa is really proud of you two right now. How did you find that hole in the security over at SRMA?” Annette asked as she looked over the book shelves behind the office desk.
“That was easy. Seeing as how we didn’t have the needed resources to hunt down the security server ourselves, Kristine contacted Miss Krystel back on the island. She sent us the link to the server, in like four minutes, and from there it was a simple matter of piggy-backing the feed to an alternate cloud server. Which we then looped back to Uncle Hunter and Papa Bobby. As it stands right now, we have total control over the cameras both here and over at SRMA. We also know WHO has been screwing with the feeds for the security systems. And I know that Papa and Uncle Hunter are NOT going to like who it is.” Kristine said sadly.
“Who is it Kristine?” The fact that Sam had used Kristine’s real name on an operation, let the teen know that they weren’t angry with her.
“It is the Drill and Rifle Team Instructor, First Lieutenant Clark Griswold, U.S.M.C. medically retired. Mammas, that man is a former Military Cyberwarfare Specialist. He knows computers pretty good. Not as well as we do though. I would place his skills somewhere around two or three levels below ours individually, but nowhere near what Miss Krystel can do. He is still dangerous though, I think he is a Code-slinger class. If he is the one who has been covering for both the Lipizzan girls over here and the DR team over at SRMA then he is good. They have ice over there. It probably took him a few months to crack it.”
Both deputies looked over at Kristine when she said this. It was Annette who put their worries into words. “Can this Griswold track you or your work?”
“No way. Like I said, he is good, but nowhere near Miss Krystel’s level and she has been the only one to ever trace me or Kasey down. He would have to get extremely lucky to figure out what we’ve done. Besides, if he does try tracking us then he becomes OUR meat.” The predatory smile that came to Kristine’s face eased the minds of the two mothers.
“FOUND IT!” Kasey called out in triumph. Everyone in the room looked over to where Kasey had removed a panel from the wall next to the file cabinets. Then in the wall was a hole with ten hard bond books and a stake of around forty vanilla file folders. In the top right corner of each folder was a name with a date. Kasey opened the top folder and whistled. “Talk about your blackmail material. Look at this shit Mamma-Sam.”
Sam took the folder and started to read then flip through the pages on the opposite side. “Shit! Yeah, I can see why the Henleys and Gilroys would want this.” Looking at the name on the file Sam got a faraway look in her eyes and then snapped her fingers. “Annette, does this girl look like who I think it does?”
Annette looked at the picture Sam showed her and nodded her head. “If you’re thinking that is the granddaughter of Hershel Rice, Governor for North Carolina? Then yeah, you’re right.”
“What about this one?” Kasey held out another file. “The name sounds familiar, but I can’t place it.”
Both adults looked at the photo and the name. “Yep, that’s Congresswoman Hailey’s son-in-law when he went to SRMA. What do they have on him?”
“Let’s just say the good Congresswoman wouldn’t want it to get out that her son-in-law had a homosexual affair when he was still in high school.” Kasey said sadly. The Congresswoman she was talking about was a known anti-LGBT advocate.
Kristine looked down at her watch and got all their attention. “We got less than eight minutes before the cameras flip back to live feed. We need to get out of here now.” Hearing this the adults grabbed the books and files out of the wall and began to put them in their briefcases. While they were doing that Kasey put the panel back and covered their tracks by picking up the office. With just three minutes to spare, the two women and two teens left the office. After relocking the door, Kasey smiled at her mothers.
Annette noticed the lock picks were in a hair barrette and Kristine had one identical. “That was quicker than I ever managed, dear. Nicely done. Now how are we going to get you back into the chow hall so you’re not counted absent?”
“I got that covered Mamma.” Kristine looked down at her watch and held up her hand. With her fingers spread out she began to drop them one at a time in a countdown. When she reached one, the over-head sprinkler system went off. The sounds of screams coming from the main building and the chow hall area could be heard clear over at the stables. “Oh dear. It sounds like somebody may have done something to the fire sprinkler system. Hackers are pesky people.”
It took Sam and Annette a few moments to figure out what Kristine was talking about, but when they did they started laughing. After waving the teens to get to their fire regrouping point, Sam and Annette headed for theirs.
Chantel was half way to the stables when the fire alarm went off. She stood there cussing her luck for a few seconds then headed for the regrouping area. As she headed for the regrouping point, she started thinking about how she was going to get into the stable office now. She knew that the new Head Instructor would be taking over the office tomorrow morning. That meant she needed to get into that office, tonight. Then it came to her. The fire would have all the students and teachers in one area. All she had to do was show up to be counted and then she could slip away.
She knew that her sister and the Gilroys would cover for her. This alarm could not have happened at a better time. After checking in with her dorm mother, Chantel pulled her sister off to one side along with the Henley girls. “Look, I need you three to run interference for me with old iron pants.”
“Why?” Alex asked.
“Just fucking do it.” Chantel snarled at her sister.
Alex snapped. “Not until you tell us what is going on Chan. You’ve been on pins and needles ever since you talked to Mamma.”
“Fine! Farley has records in her office that could expose us all to legal actions. I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to wind up in Juvie like some street whore. That goes for Adaline as well. She may be a TA now, but Farley has records going back the last seven years. More than enough to get her ass thrown behind bars, right along with ours.” Chantel didn’t tell them about the rest as she felt it was none of their business. Besides if she had the Books then she would be the one in control.
“Okay, sis we’ll cover for you. Go get those files before someone else finds them.” Alex turned and walked over to the dorm mothers. She quickly had their attention focused on her allowing Chantel to slip away.
On the other side of the group Kasey and Kristine noticed Chantel slipping away. They looked at each other and smiled. They knew where Chantel was heading and what she would, or rather wouldn't, find. The smiles they shared were ones of pure malice, knowing that not only their parents and grandparents would be proud of them, but their REAL instructors would too.
SCT Offices 1800…
Maria and Anna were setting the table when the Receptionist stepped into the doorway of the Boardroom. “Mrs. DeMarco, your guests have arrived.”
“Thank you Lisa, please show them in.” Maria told the young woman. Maria left Anna to finish setting the table and stepped out into the reception area of her private offices. As she waited for the Gilroys and Henleys, Maria thought about how she was going to lay the trap for them.
A few minutes later Lisa returned with Gray and Patricia Henley, followed by Malcom and Grace Gilroy. Maria could see right away that her little dinner plan was going to be more like a last-minute truce talks. She also knew that it was the women she needed to control, and not the husbands. They may be the public face for the families, but the real power lay with the wives.
“Welcome ladies and gentlemen, I am so happy that you were able to accept my invitation to dinner. I also want to thank you all for agreeing to have dinner here at my offices.” Maria turned on the charm and smiled as she greeted her ‘guests’. “I know that it is not normal, but it seems that my time on the stage still haunts me, even here in your lovely town. Only now it seems that the older I have become, the harder it is for me to fade into the background.”
Grace and Patricia both looked the older woman over; as if trying to gauge her age and Maria could already see the green-eyed monster rearing its head in their eyes. Maria knew that the next stab of her verbal knives would really goad them. “Why just the other day, I had a young man actually ask to escort me to dinner and a show. I am sure you ladies understand my situation.”
The fact that both Grace and Patricia were carrying more than a few extra pounds that they had never been able to get rid of, from carrying children, did not go unnoticed by Maria. She also knew by looking at the two women, they were lazy in more ways than one. “Surely you ladies still dance, no?”
It was a targeted insult, one that Maria knew would evoke a slow, simmering burn in the two women. Turning to the two men, Maria continued to smile and drop veiled insults. “Ah, gentlemen. Finally, we can have a nice, face to face conversation. One without all the nastiness and threats. I do hope that we can all remain civil and keep a polite tongue in your heads?”
“Just what do you mean by that DeMarco? Until the other day, neither Malcom nor myself have had any contact with you. Even then, it was through the Garcia woman.” Gray felt that it would be best to try and keep DeMarco in the dark to what they were there for, for as long as possible.
Maria arched an eyebrow. “Oh? Then the individual that called and threatened me to sell my interest in AEGS and SRMA was NOT in your employ? They certainly implied as much. I found it most disappointing, along with being rather tacky.”
“NOT hardly. I can assure you Mrs. DeMarco that Gilroy and Henley Investments only use legal and ethical means in our business practices. No, we abhor those practices in all their forms.” Gray felt he needed to get Maria off this line of discussion as fast as possible.
“Oh, I see. Then I apologize then sir. You see; only a few hours before I had contacted you, I received a vile threat to either sell out to or something unfortunate would happen. I see that I was mistaken, it must have been someone working outside of your knowledge. Trying to work up some kind of deal for your companies, perhaps?” About that time, Anna stepped in and smiled.
“Madam, dinner is ready to be served.” Anna had dressed in a maid’s uniform while they were waiting for the Gilroys and Henleys.
“Thank you, Anna. Shall we ladies and gentlemen?” Maria led the way back into the boardroom. As they entered Gray, Patricia, Malcom, and Grace were brought up short by what awaited them. While they had dined at the Country Club on a regular basis, along with some of the finer restaurants in the state, but here before them was something out of a European fine dining guide. Maria, just smiled and took her place at the Head of the table. As Maria was seating herself, a thought ran through her head. ‘Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's right. I am the one in charge here.’
As they followed Maria into the boardroom, Grace and Patricia were made to feel once more; inadequate. The grace and poise of Maria DeMarco as she walked in five inch heels at her age so flawless. As was the fit of her black silk dress, made to hug her figure, easily admired by any man and envied by any woman. To them, Maria was more than just someone that needed to be put in her place. She was everything the two women had ever wanted to be. Intelligent, beautiful, self-sufficient, graceful, poised, powerful, and wealthy in her own right. Here was a woman that never bowed to any man unless she chose to. It drove the two Southern belles insane with jealousy.
Once everyone was seated, Anna started serving. The appetizer was a shrimp cocktail in a light white sauce, with spinach stuffed mushrooms. The entrée consisted of twelve-layer lasagna, fettucine alfredo in white sauce, served with red wine. And dessert was a chocolate mouse served with espresso. All of it, worthy of coming from a Michelin Red Guide rated boutique restaurant. During dinner, Maria kept the conversation light and away from the schools. This made the two couples relax, and let down their guard more than they intended.
With subtle questioning and slight probes, Maria was able to find out the underlying reasons for their interest in the two schools. She was also able to get the reason behind Grace and Patricia’s hatred of Scarlet Boatwright. Thanks to Grace’s need to show-up Maria and anyone else who thought they were her better. It seems that Scarlet had come into town and displaced both women on the Arts Council. That was the first of what seemed to be slights the two women suffered at the hands of Scarlet. The first to Patricia was when Scarlet was able to garner attention to the local dance and theater troops, where she had not.
Maria then got the real reasons why the two families wanted the schools. It was all about controlling the future generations that would come throw the schools and laundering monies from other illicit sources. While the Gilroys and Henleys failed to realize that Maria was interrogating them, Maria gathered more than enough Intel to confirm her suspicions.
When dinner was over Gray Henley decided, it was time to make their offer. “Mrs. DeMarco, I know that you want to end any unpleasantness between our two organizations. To that end, we have decided to offer you a very lucrative deal for the two schools.”
Maria sat back in her chair and looked over at Gray before wiping her mouth with her napkin. “Do tell, sir. And just what would you consider lucrative?”
“We are willing to pay you one point five million for your share of the two schools. As it is now, they are hardly profitable. We believe that with all of your other investments, you lack the time needed to properly oversee the running of the schools. We, however, are local and can ensure they are run in a proper manner befitting a private Southern school.”
The more Gray talked the madder Maria became. She wanted to rip the man’s head off and shit down his throat by the time he reached the end of his little speech.
Maria placed her napkin on her plate and looked around the table then with a voice of pure malice asked. “I take it that this is an offer I should not refuse?”
The temperature of the room dropped twenty degrees from the ice in Maria’s voice. Both couples realized that this was not a woman who would be intimidated. “Ladies and gentlemen, I had hoped to put this matter to rest in a civil manner. Alas, it seems that is not to be. I suggest that you leave.”
As they stood to leave Gray Henley turned and looked at Maria. “Think it over DeMarco. You have until this time tomorrow to give us an answer we like. After that you won’t last past to the next weekend.”
"I will give it now. I refuse." Maria gave him a smile that sent chills as she purred. "Io ballare sulle vostre tombe." I will dance upon your graves.
Once the two couples had stormed out Maria’s offices and left STC Maria sighed. Anna walked into the room and looked over at her old friend. “I take that they gave you an offer you were not supposed refuse?”
“Yes, they did. The fools. I have never seen such a heavy-handed approach to business either. I believe that it is time for the Dove or Swans to fly.”
----- to be continued -----
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