CHAPTER 19: WHEN MAKING A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL...
Allegheny Courthouse Lock-up
“Thanks for agreeing to do this, Fred. This whole thing stinks!” Craig complained to his cousin.
“No problem, but I have to ask what you thought you would gain by doing all of this? Jennifer, and in turn, Justin are extremely intelligent people. You had to know that your lies would catch up with you someday.”
Craig shook his head. He really didn’t think that he would ever have to ask for help in reference to his family. “I thought I had things sufficiently under control, and in truth, I had. Jennifer was used to playing her part as the ignorant haus frau.”
“Yeah well, we see that she wasn’t as ignorant as you thought.”
“That’s only because of that faggot, Brian Kinney!”
“Not really, Craig. If you think about it, he was only the catalyst to have Jennifer take action. It wasn’t really even him, but the way you treated Justin because of him. Now, not only have I paid what you owed to Justin and Molly, but also the fine for the Defamation of Character suit to your nemesis. Do me a favor and show up to court regarding the Witness Intimidation when you’re supposed to. I may be a billionaire, but in no way do I relish wasting money.” Fred looked sternly at the man sitting across from him. He didn’t trust his cousin further than he could spit, but upon receiving the call, he put his own feelings to the side in favor of family loyalty. “What are you going to do now?”
“I don’t know. It’s not like I have a plethora of options. Between Jennifer and Justin, they have taken everything!”
Fred shook his head. “And let me guess, you are the innocent party in all of it? It’s no wonder that you are broke and homeless at the moment.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Your inability to take responsibility for your own fuck-ups is astounding. You had to put the business in your son's name because you didn't know when to cut your losses and move on. Your creditors were breathing down your neck, not Justin's, because you were an inept businessman!" He shook his head again. “Look, here’s what I am prepared to do. You come to live with and work for me until your trial happens. In turn, we will work out a payment plan for you to pay me back the eight-hundred thousand dollars I just shelled out for you.”
“But… but we’re family!”
“Can the dramatics, Rudyard. This is business, and if the shoe was on the other foot, I know you would milk your benevolence for all it was worth. I got permission for you to leave the county in light of your new circumstances and you are not to have any dealings with anyone involved in Justin's civil case, both local and federal. That means whatever schemes of revenge need to get out of your dimwitted brain right now. In turn, I am to know of every single court document that arrives at my house for you. I’m not intending to lose money because of your tendency not to follow through.”
“You know, I don’t need these conditions placed on me. I can always call Woodrow, you know!”
“Yes, you could, but he would leave you to rot in hell without even a drop of ice water to soothe you. So would Candace. But feel free to take your chances with either of them. I don’t need your brand of bullshit. We do business my way, or we don’t do it at all.” He got up to leave the table, but was stopped by Craig.
“Will you also hire me a lawyer? I need one if I’m to beat this bogus charge.”
Fred laughed. “Again, I don’t believe in wasting money. However, I do believe in the right to due process under the law, so yes, I’ll hire your attorney. Keep in mind that he will ultimately be working with me.”
“If you try to burn me, I’ll set your ass on fire before I turn it loose. Now let’s get out of here. This place reeks of desperation.”
Craig swallowed hard as he followed his cousin out of the bowels of the courthouse. On the one hand, he was grateful that he wasn’t going to be shipped to the county lock-up and then subsequently to prison to await his trial. But on the other hand, he knew he’d just cut a deal with a man who didn’t make idle threats. Indentured servitude didn’t seem so bad considering the alternative.
Just before boarding the private plane, Fred made a call. “It’s done. He’s going to earn every bit of it and then some until he goes upstate.”
“Good. I’ll be in touch.”
“Nice doing business with you,” he hung up the phone, looking forward to a bit of payback of his own.
1876 Pillbox Lane
If there was ever a night to drink heavily, this was it, Joan thought as she trudged up the walkway to her house. Considering that Claire was in jail, she was not looking forward to spending the rest of the evening with her two demonically-possessed grandsons. Oh she loved John and Peter, but more often than not, they were just too much to deal with. The constant trouble they indulged in was much like Brian, while the constant questioning of why they shouldn’t do something was reminiscent of Claire. It was exhausting! But this was her lot in life until she could find some way to get Claire out of jail and train her on how to be a proper mother.
Entering the house, she realized that the boys were noticeably absent. Looking down at her watch, she breathed a sigh of relief. They should have eaten and been in bed by now since it was well after nine p.m. Turning on the television, she searched for a clean glass and pulled the vodka out of the cabinet nearest the device. Pouring a healthy amount, she settled in to watch the nightly news, absorbing her hard-won peace after such a tumultuous day. After about an hour, she headed upstairs, clearly inebriated and resolving to have a talk with John and Peter about their mother in the morning.
Belle Aire Country Club
Nancy listened to Lindsay’s frantic voice as she explained her new set of circumstances. She couldn’t believe the stupidity of her daughter.
“And you couldn’t find anyone to watch little Gabe while you took care of your business?”
“His name is Gus, Mother. And no, there wasn’t time. I was in a hurry.”
“Well did you get your goal accomplished before you were so rudely interrupted?” Lindsay’s answer was muffled, so Nancy, who was already short on patience from hearing her daughter whining, was just short of yelling. “Lindsay… Lindsay, get ahold of yourself and speak clearly,” she ordered through gritted teeth.
“No! No, I didn’t get a chance to complete the transactions. I don’t know how they knew what I was planning to do, but somehow Mel and Brian changed the codes to the accounts. And in Mel’s case, she moved the bulk of the money from the joint account into her personal one. I don’t know but…”
“Oh, I have a good idea of just what happened. Lindsay, I must go now. Your father and I will be there soon to bail you out. In the meantime, keep your mouth closed. Don’t admit to anything else. I’ll call our attorney to accompany us.” She hung up the phone and returned to the table, annoyed to see Ronald still talking to that bitch, Aurora Kelly.
“Problems, dear?” Belinda Ryder asked her.
“Nothing that I can’t handle, although my daughter is having a hard time right now.”
“Lynette? I just saw her the other day and she looked well.”
“No, it’s my other daughter, Lindsay. She’s in a bit of a bind thanks to that no-good father of her child and the wicked woman she’s been living with for the past ten years.”
“Now there’s a situation you don’t hear of everyday. Your daughter has a child by a man, but is living with a woman who isn’t related?”
“Yes, that’s the situation exactly. I’ve always warned her about Brian Kinney.”
“Brian Kinney, you say.” Gardner sneered. “Well, I have my own concerns about him. Perhaps there is a way that I can help your daughter out of her current situation. I’m sure that Brian will either be indebted to me, or be pissed.”
Nancy smiled tightly. She didn’t trust these people any further than she could bodily throw them, but if there was a way for Lindsay to be released and to regain control of her situation to their benefit, then she would share just enough information for them to make Brian and Melanie’s lives a living hell. “Well it seems that while my daughter was at the bank, she made an unfortunate error in judgment. Anyway, until it’s resolved, the 57th precinct is not releasing my daughter in order for her to return home to her child.”
“That’s terrible. Is there anything I can do?”
“That’s sweet of you to offer, Gardner. I would ask Ronald to handle it, but based upon the looks of it, he’s going to be involved with Aurora for awhile. It’s probably in reference to our investments or some other such nonsense. Sadly, he has all of the attorney information and such, but I’d hate to interrupt his impromptu meeting,” she simpered.
“I completely understand. There’s never a correct time to see where you stand where the market is concerned. I’ll call you when I know what the situation with Lindsay is. Try not to worry.”
“Oh, thank you, Gardner. And I imagine we will talk about what we’re going to do regarding Brian Kinney once this is finished?”
As he left the restaurant, Belinda turned to her. “That was smooth, Nancy. Now tell me what the real story is with Lindsay, and perhaps I can help. I am sleeping with Judge Mathers after all.”
Nancy’s nostrils flared at the mention of her lover, Nathan Mathers, but she knew she had to play her own affair with him close to the vest. There was always a chance that you were going to have to interact with another of your lover’s mistresses, and this was no different. Sighing forlornly, she explained the true nature of Lindsay’s woes to the nosy woman. “I swear if it wasn’t for the fact that I pushed her out, I would really wonder if she was my daughter.”
Belinda tittered at Nancy’s annoyance. “I think we all have had that kind of reaction to the stupid things our offspring tend to do.”
“What’s worse is that she wasn’t even planned. I had intended for Lynette to be the only one but… well Joseph just looked so good and…”
“Joseph? Who’s Joseph?”
A throat cleared behind them causing Nancy to cringe. “I believe she is talking about Joseph Mathers, father of the man she is currently screwing. Isn’t that right, Nancy?” Ronald’s voice dripped with censure. As he watched his wife pale under his scrutiny, he laughed aloud. “You thought I didn’t know about Lindsay, huh? Although, I’m still not sure that old Joe is her biological father, after all there were so many men who took your fancy, weren’t there Nancy? But no matter. I only stayed with you long enough for the pre-nup agreement between us not to interfere with my assets anymore. Remember that twenty-five year clause I had added? The one that stated if we were married for at least that, barring death I wouldn’t have to give you anything from my inheritance or my wealth made since then? It came about because I was totally against our marriage from the start and asked that my father put it in, and well, it’s coming in handy right now. Enjoy your last meal on me and find somewhere else to sleep from now on, since the locks will be changed by the time you arrive home and I will not be answering the door. You’ll be hearing from my attorney tomorrow. Good night, all.” And with that last parting shot, he left the Country Club with his head held high.
“What are you going to do now, Nancy?” Belinda asked, trying to somewhat keep the shock and glee from her voice. Ronald Peterson was going to be a free agent! I can finally stop fucking Nathan for favors and divorce Martin! With Nancy gone, he would be one of the most eligible bachelors in the state who wasn't gay.
“Nothing. He’s all bluff and bluster. He can’t prove any of what he’s saying and it was all for show. Something that bitch said to him has pissed him off in order for him to cause a scene like this,” Nancy answered, with a bravado she was far from feeling. She picked up her wine glass, taking a huge sip to calm her nerves. Her relief was very short lived, however.
“Since said bitch just told him what you instructed your whelp to do and has had him move ALL of his assets out of your reach, Nancy, I would say that Ronald Peterson is far from bluffing,” Aurora informed her.
“Indeed, me.” Aurora smiled. “You see, I have a significant problem with women like you, Nancy. You’re the most dangerous type of thieves… misguided. You think if you control the purse strings that you can bend people to your will, even when the money is not yours. It’s a situation that I was all too happy to remedy for a respected client. But on a positive note, Ronald was kind enough to leave you with the exact amount of money you came into the marriage with in the joint account. Spend it wisely. Good night.”
Nancy gulped hard as she called the automated system at the bank. Keying in the details, Nancy nearly fell off her chair in shock, disbelief, and embarrassment. Six thousand dollars was all she had left to her name. Fuck!
Pittsburgh International Airport
Brian’s cell phone rang just as he’d made it to the counter with Gus in his arms. Handing him off to Melanie, he answered the unknown number. If this was going to be an attempt of Lindsay trying to reach him again, he was going to blow a gasket. Realizing this, he was stunned when Justin snatched the phone from his hand.
“Is this Brian Kinney?”
“No, but this is his partner, Justin Taylor. May I ask who’s calling?”
“This is Trevor Brown, Mr. Taylor. It’s quite important that I speak with Mr. Kinney immediately.”
“Mr. Brown, I’m sure that you are aware that this isn’t a good time. Besides, we’ve already managed the situation regarding Gus.”
“I know, Mr. Taylor, and Gus isn’t the issue…”
“Then what is?”
“I… you know what, I think you need to hear this from someone else. Please hold on.”
“Give me a moment to get to the bottom of it, Brian.”
“This is bordering on harassment!” Mel said. “What the hell is it with people today?”
“I don’t know, Mel. Perhaps Lindsay has made another claim or some such bullshit. Look, why don’t you guys keep checking in and let me handle this. Okay?”
“Fine, but Sunshine, if…”
“Don’t worry about it, Brian. I’ll let you know as soon as I know something.”
Justin frowned, waiting for Trevor Brown to come back to the phone. There was no question that he was incredibly tired of being fucked with today, but he was especially tired of people fucking with Brian’s peace of mind. Between his mother and his cow of a sister showing up to the courthouse earlier in the day, then Ryder and Vance’s shenanigans and threats, his patience was already wearing quite thin. But this bullshit with Lindsay had Justin about to blow through the fucking roof. If this was another one of her ploys to get Brian to bend to her will, he’d…
“Yes, I’m still here.”
“I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I just had to clear it with my boss to fill you in myself without him having to get involved.”
“He said that your relationship with Mr. Kinney is public knowledge and that you each had each other’s powers of attorney.”
“Yes, so what of it?”
“The fact… the fact is that I have Mr. Kinney’s nephews here within my office.”
“John and Peter?” At the mention of his sister’s spawn, Brian came to stand next to Justin and placed his ear by the phone. “Why are they in your office instead of at the police station?”
“A neighbor brought them in while I was at the hospital. Apparently, their mother has been arrested and their grandmother was not at home, which I’ve just learned. Since they are both minors, she felt that it was in their best interests to bring them into Child Protective Services before involving the police. We’re only just now finding out why.”
“They had been left at home for the last twelve hours with no food or supervision. They were caught by a local store owner trying to steal food. Mrs. Alice Mulhoney happened to be in there and talked the owner out of having them arrested. We thought that in lieu of them being placed in foster care, it was perhaps in their best interests to be placed with another family member… in short, Mr. Kinney.”
“Wait, you said that Claire was arrested. On what charge?”
“I don’t have all of the particulars about that as of yet, but if I were to hazard a guess, I would say that the matter is pretty serious.”
Brian sighed standing next to Justin, and pinching the bridge of his nose. “Hand me the phone, Sunshine.” Once Justin did as requested, Brian said, “Mr. Brown, I will try, once again, to move our flights. We have our own family emergency happening, but I will take the boys with us providing I can be granted temporary custody until either my mother claims them, or the situation with Claire is resolved. Keep in mind that I barely know my nephews, and what we do know of each other has been tainted by my mother and sister’s hate for all things concerning me, so a tearful and happy reunion is not likely to be in the cards.”
“I understand, but Mr. Kinney the alternative…”
“I know the alternative, which is why I’m willing to take them with us. I just need you to clear the way by the time I get there. Do we have an understanding?”
“Yes, Sir. I’ll work on it while you’re en route.”
“Good. Please inform the boys that I will see them as soon as I can.”
“Will do,” Trevor said before disconnecting the call. He breathed a sigh of relief, acknowledging that this was not going to be an easy case to deal with.
Meanwhile at the airport, Melanie looked at Brian’s concerned countenance. “What’s happened now, Brian?”
He shook his head, still in shock about what he just agreed to. “I just… for some reason… Fuck, I just couldn’t leave them there.”
“The Spawn of Satan and the Seed of Chucky.”
Justin elbowed Brian. “His nephews were left home alone earlier today and were caught trying to steal food from a local store. I wonder how Joan will try to explain this one.”
“She can’t, but I would like to know where the fuck she and Claire were,” Brian muttered as he marched over to the counter to change their tickets to a red-eye flight, leaving at midnight. “Okay, now that’s done, let’s go fucking play hero to some ungrateful brats.”
Outside of the 57th Precinct
Lindsay breathed deeply of the night air. She was so relieved to be out of that fucking jail cell. She turned to her savior and smiled.
“So you’ll do it?”
“Absolutely. They won’t know what hit them.” She smiled tightly.
“That’s what I’m counting on. You’ll start Monday as my new assistant within the Art Department. I want to know what campaigns Brian is in charge of and then I want you to systematically sabotage them right before he’s to present them.”
“Okay, I can do that, but are you sure it’s going to work?”
“What do you mean?”
“Only with the backing of George Schickle, I think sabotaging him in this way can backfire on you. I mean, what if he starts his own company? It’s what I would do,” Lindsay said. She could see that this was a situation Gardner had never even considered.
“Then we wait and see what he does. I know you have a lot of contacts within the WASP nest even though you haven’t been a part of it in recent years. Not only that but you are an artist, and Brian’s partner…”
“He is NOT his partner. Justin Taylor is a fucktoy for when Brian gets bored, no more!”
“Calm yourself, Lindsay. We both know that, although that’s not how they are presenting themselves to the world at large. This is another thing I will expect you to help out with.”
“Dispelling myths. If we destroy his public persona, Brian will have no choice but to do what we want.” He laughed, and her high-pitched chuckled joined in. “Those doors he thinks are opened for him now will shut quickly. It will take using your contacts and that faux-innocence you portray so well. It’s a valuable tool in our business.”
Lindsay smiled at Gardner’s assessment of her. If she played her cards right, she would not only have Gardner eating out of the palm of her hand, but Brian’s future would rest solely on her benevolence. She got moist just thinking about it. Yes, Brian will fall back into line, however the first order of business is to ruin any chance he has of starting his own company. Without money, Justin will leave. It’s the WASP gene in us; we’re all about acquisition and none more so than Justin Taylor. But once his defection is accomplished, I will finally have what should have been MINE from the beginning. After all, I made Brian and trained him to my definition of perfection, so I should reap the benefits, not that little upstart. I encouraged him in his career; I gave him a taste of what a nuclear family could be like. It’s something Justin could never do for him, and I’ll be damned if the little fucker takes MY place! But first…
She ran her fingers over his bald head, slowly pulling him towards her. “Gardner, I think a proper thanks is in order. Don’t you?”
Pressing her lips to his, her message couldn’t have been any more clear. Lindsay was definitely not above whoring herself for her freedom- both her physical freedom now and the financial kind later. She simply considered performing sexual acts as a down payment towards her future. That was the way it was supposed to work with Brian when they were in college, and then later with Melanie. Perhaps Gardner could be considered good practice for now, before she tried again with Brian. If the end game was having Brian Kinney by her side where he belonged, she wouldn’t make the same mistakes again. This time, she would make sure she was fertile when Brian took her to bed. The debacle at the bank aside, her mother had taught her well and Lindsay was nothing if not a good student.