We were driving quickly away from the nursing home when my logical mind kicked in, finally overcoming the shock of seeing both of Alex’s parents killed.“Wait,” I said to Jorge and Alex.
“Excuse me?” Alex asked, amazed that I wouldn’t want to escape from here as quickly as possible.
“I think it may be important for us to see this through, and to be there when the authorities arrive,” I suggested.Alex stared at me blankly.“Jorge, please ask the drivers to stop and pull over at a place that’s safe.” That would give me a chance to talk to Alex, and hopefully convince him to go back.
“Alright,” he said grudgingly.
“Alex, I don’t know how they could possibly cover this whole thing up, but if they do, it does you no good,” I explained.
“I cannot see how having yet another scandal involving me and my family in the news is a positive event,” he objected strongly.Like most of us, he had a healthy fear of how the media could portray things.
“It is important for your mother’s existence in that home to be public knowledge, and your father’s death is an important corollary.It will further help to make sure that Bianca and Cameron are not eligible to succeed to the dukedom,” I insisted.I watched him struggling to counter my logical arguments.“Besides, it’s bound to get out that we were there.Running away just makes us look guilty.”It also made us seem cowardly, something that rankled both of us.
“I can see your points,” he said, but was still undecided.
“We have done nothing wrong in this thing,” I said emphatically.“The sins that were committed here were done by your father, your great grandfather, my father, and my mother.The only one of them who is alive is my mother, and I am unconcerned about her reputation.”
“Some additional tarnishing would make no difference at this point,” Alex acknowledged with a chuckle.
“My own experience in dealing with my mother is that when things like this are out in the open, you will end up looking better,” I said.He grimaced, as if to think that he’d make a decision based on his reputation alone, which we both knew he’d do in a heartbeat.Isn’t that what he’d done when he’d dropped JJ like a hot rock?
“My instincts tell me to flee, but you have convinced me that is not the thing to do,” Alex agreed.
I nodded.“Jorge, get us back there as quickly as possible,” I instructed.“Can you call 9-1-1 and report it?”
“Sure,” he said, and got on the phone.I got on my phone as well, but I called Sean.I had to pull him out of a meeting, and that took a bit of time.
“Hey Wade,” Sean said pleasantly.
“I need your help,” I said crisply.“Alex and I went to meet his mother in the nursing home and his father was there as well.”
“Lord Preston was there?” he asked, stunned.
“He was, and after we talked for a while, he asked to be alone with his first wife.We left him in the room, and he shot her, then himself,” I said.“We are in our car, outside the nursing home, about to go in and explain things to the police.” We weren’t quite there yet, but this was no time to worry about details like that.
“Let me see who I can get to help you out,” he said, getting the urgency of the situation.
“You can reach out to Arthur Cabot if you think that’s appropriate,” I suggested.He’d been my father’s attorney and had always done a good job.
“Good idea,” he said, then ended the call.
“I recommend that we wait for the police to get there before we go in,” Jorge said to me.I nodded to agree, so we pulled into a more recessed parking lot and watched the action at the nursing home.Lord Preston’s guards were in the process of lugging a big bag out the door in preparation to load it into their Suburban when the police arrived.I could feel Jorge’s tension soar, as it was entirely possible that these guys would decide to simply shoot the cops and press on with what they were doing, but they ultimately thought better of it.It seemed that the bag contained one of the bodies, and that resulted in the cops promptly arresting Preston’s two thugs.
“I think it’s time,” I said.
“Alright,” Jorge said, and the big Suburban pulled up to the front of the nursing home. He got out first, cautiously scanning the area, which I thought was odd, since the police were here and that should surely divert any foul play. Alex and I followed him out, both of us putting on our suit jackets to look more formal.It was important in this situation to project power.
We walked up to the police officer, a sergeant.“What can I do for you?” he asked, and seemed annoyed that we were interrupting him.
“I’m Wade Danfield, and this is Alex Granger, the Earl of Bridgemont,” I said in a courteous way.“Was the person in that bag a man or a woman?”
“It was a man, but we have not yet identified him,” the sergeant said, eying us suspiciously.
“That man is my father, the Marquess of Preston,” Alex said.
“You’re telling me that you’re a British earl, and your father, a British marquess, is the guy in the bag who was killed?” he asked.“I guess the next part of this is you try to sell me some swampland.” He chuckled at his own joke.
I pulled out my wallet and handed him my driver’s license.“Clearly at least I am who I say I am,” I said, throwing out power almost like I was Brad.“I’m sure you’ve heard of me, or at least my family.”
“Alright, Mr. Danfield, I know who you are,” he said, mellowing a bit.I was pleased, while Alex was annoyed, at being in this situation where my name recognition eclipsed his in usefulness.“What are you doing here?”
“We were here when Lord Preston shot his first wife, then killed himself,” I explained.
“You were here?” he challenged. “Then why did you run away?”
“You no doubt heard about the attack on my home, on Goodwell?” I asked.
“I heard about that,” he said.“Bad situation.”
“It was,” I agreed.“Based on that, it was thought best that we leave quickly, as a security precaution.”
“Right,” he said skeptically, and clearly he didn’t believe me.Just then, our Suburban exploded.I turned around in time to see the fireball rise in the air.The driver had been fortunately standing outside the car, but the force of the explosion had blown him away from it.I was about to hurry over and check on him when I saw some medical personnel rushing toward him.I looked first at Alex, then at Jorge, who wasn’t afraid like us, he was furious.I gave him a withering look, since he was responsible for security, and he had clearly neglected to detect a bomb in our car, but I would deal with him later.
“Convinced?” I asked the sergeant.
Jorge walked up to the guard who had been standing by Lord Preston’s Suburban when we initially drove up.“No one was supposed to get hurt,” he snarled at the guard.I was impressed that the cops said nothing, just watched the exchange.
“No one got hurt here,” the guy almost said with a smirk.
“You worked for my father?” Alex asked him.
The man chuckled.“Fuck no.I work for your stepmother.”
“How’d you plant a bomb in our car?” Jorge asked.The man ignored him, so Jorge wrapped his hands around the man’s throat and started to strangle him.“Tell me!”It was stunning, and hilarious, that the cops didn’t intervene. I wondered if they’d let Jorge strangle him to death.
“That was planted before you ever got here,” the man said, even as he gasped for breath.
“That’s enough,” I said, and Jorge released him.It all made sense now.They’d known we were coming because of my mother’s demand for those papers, and because of Cameron’s kidnapping.They must have worked this plan out in advance.We’d get the papers, Cameron would be released, then we’d be blown up, along with the papers, before we even got to our plane.I pondered that they’d timed it quite well, since if we’d gone to the airport, we’d be just about there.I briefly wondered if my mother had known about this possibility, and if she’d decided that Alex and I were expendable in order to save everyone else.
Alex pulled me aside, even as the cops and Jorge continued to talk to Lord Preston’s guard.“If we would have been in that vehicle, we would have been blown up, and the papers my father gave us would have been destroyed as well.”
“That seems to have been their plan,” I agreed.“Next time you invite me to go somewhere, it’s going to take a lot of convincing,” I said, joking to ease the tension.
“I’ll plan to have a good argument,” he said.
“I need to make a few phone calls,” I told him.
“I do as well,” he said.We walked a few steps away from each other and I dialed my mother.
“Wade, I did not expect to hear from you again so soon,” she said.
“Alex and I are at the nursing home, talking to the police,” I said calmly.
“I would have thought you’d have been better served by leaving there as quickly as possible,” she said, because of course that would have been her course of action.
“It is fortunate that we did,” I said.“We arrived back here at the home and within ten minutes the Suburban we were in exploded.If we would have gone to the airport, we would have been incinerated.”
“Timed perfectly to happen just after Cameron was released,” she mused.“I am very sorry that you were almost blown to pieces.” She was being sincere, but it was almost comical. I smiled, but avoided laughing.
“I’m assuming that Cameron is safely returned?”
“That is my understanding,” she said.
“Then it is quite possible that this scheme of yours will turn out to be quite masterful,” I said, giving her a rare compliment.
“Thank you,” she replied.“It is not something you would have done, and as we think back, that is perhaps one of the reasons I was supposed to be out of the picture.”In other words, she was good at doing the dirty work none of the rest of us would stoop to deal with, or at least she had no scruples, and that allowed her to dream things like this up.
“Perhaps,” I said.“I’ll talk to you later.”We ended the call, but before I could call Matt, I was absorbed into meeting with the police, who were now augmented by a couple of detectives.
“It looks to be a long afternoon,” Alex said to me morosely.
“Indeed,” I agreed.
September 20, 2003
New York, NY
We were at an afternoon event at the Oscar de la Renta tent, and it was a pretty highbrow affair.I drank champagne from a crystal flute, and wondered what the waiters would say if I asked them for a beer instead.“So Will, maybe we can do that threesome with Patrick?” Paris Hilton asked in a slutty way.
Patrick raised an eyebrow, which could mean he was interested. “There’s an idea,” he said.
“That is so hot,” Paris said, uttering her trademark line.
“Not this trip,” I said.
“Seriously?” she demanded, pretending to be annoyed.
“Bitch, do not even go chasing after my men,” I said, in a faux warning tone, making her laugh.
“Whatever,” she said.We continued to banter, even as I scanned the crowd.Stef was deep in conversation with Bellona and a group of people who looked like dour business types, while JJ was hanging out with Erika Christensen and a group of young, chic people.My phone vibrated, but I ignored it until it stopped ringing then started vibrating again.That meant it was probably my father, and that whatever he wanted was urgent.
“I’ll be right back,” I said, wondering if Paris would try to fuck Patrick while I was gone.I walked to a corner of the tent and saw that I was right, and that my father had called.Before I could call him back, he called again.I answered it with a cheerful hello.
“I’ve been trying to get in touch with JJ or Stef, but they didn’t answer their phones,” he said in his annoyed tone.
“So you settled for me?” I asked in a jocular way.
“There was a problem in Virginia,” he said seriously, his tone warning me that this was no time for any kind of comic relief.
“Wade went with Alex to meet his mother.Wade’s father was there.Evidently after they talked for a while, Alex’s father asked to be alone with his mother, and he took that opportunity to kill her, then kill himself,” he said.
“Holy shit!” I said, and felt so sorry for Alex.He must really be freaking out.
“After that big event, the Suburban that Wade and Alex were using blew up,” he said. I felt myself starting to fall into a pit of despair, freaking out that Wade was blown to bits, until my father pulled me out of it.“Both Alex and Wade are fine.”
“That’s a relief,” I said, sighing.
“Alex wants to go back to England, but they won’t let him leave the US until Monday,” Dad explained.“Since he’s planning to fly out of New York, it makes sense that he’d spend the next few days there.”
“Is it safe for him to be in the city?” I asked.
“Security will have to be tight, but they’re used to that in New York,” Dad said.“He’ll be arriving there this evening, probably around seven.”
“Alright,” I said, wondering how this impacted me.
“It was decided that the best place for him to stay was at JJ’s condo,” Dad explained.“It’s not a public building, so security will be easier than at a hotel.”
“Makes sense,” I agreed.“So you need me to talk to Stef and JJ, and tell them the plan?”
“I do,” he said.“If either one of them gives you any problems, let me know.”
“I think they’ll be fine,” I said.“There’s no one staying with JJ, so there should be lots of room for Alex and however many guards he has with him.”
“That’s good,” Dad said.“I’ll keep you posted.Tell those other two to turn their goddamn phones on.”
“I’ll pass that on,” I said, even as I ended the call.I walked back into the tent and went to grab JJ first.“I need to talk to you.”
“Now?” he demanded.
“Now,” I said assertively.
“This better be important,” he grumbled.He glared at me when I stopped by Stef and grabbed him as well.I dragged them to a quiet corner of the tent.“What?” JJ demanded.
“You’re going to have some houseguests for the next few days,” I told him in a casual way.
“No, I’m not,” he said.“It’s my house now, and only the people I invite get to stay there.”
I spoke before Stef tried to kill him.“Alex and a bunch of guards are going to be here until Monday.”I gave them both the brief version of what happened that my father laid out for me.
“If you would have told me that first, it wouldn’t have been a big deal,” JJ snapped.
“Or if you weren’t such a douche, you wouldn’t end up looking like one,” I said.“Alex should get here about seven.You should be there to welcome him.”
“What? That’s when the gala is on!I can’t be home then!” JJ objected.
“You said it.It’s your condo, so you’re the one who has to be there to welcome him.I’ve got plans,” I said.“And Dad said to tell both of you to turn on your fucking phones.”
“I will do that,” Stef said.“I think I will take this opportunity to call JP and check in with him.” He wandered off, leaving me alone with JJ.
“So typical,” JJ groused.“Just when things are great, and I’m having a good time, something comes along to fuck it all up.”
“As I said, that’s because you’re a douche.” God he was being moody and petulant.I gave him a snarky smile that really set him free, then walked back over to talk to Patrick.
“Everything alright?” Patrick asked, concerned.
“Just family bullshit,” I said, because I didn’t want to go into all this with him and ruin our time together.
He looked at his watch.“We’ve got a couple of hours until the big gala tonight.I was thinking of heading home for a little bit.”
“I like that idea,” I said, and forced my body not to react to the thought of sex with him.“Let me tell Stef and JJ what I’m doing.”That turned out to be much easier than I thought, because they were both on the phone, so I just had to interrupt them long enough to let them know my plan.“Got away,” I said, as we strode quickly out of that tent.
“So far,” he said.A bunch of people tried to talk to him as we made our way out of the park, but he was brusque in a polite way, and managed to grab a cab pretty quickly.
The cab driver was listening to college football on the radio.“I can turn this off,” he volunteered.
“No, it’s good,” Patrick said.We sat there neither one of us talking, while the noise of the radio rambled on in the background, until I realized it was the Oklahoma vs. UCLA game.
“Sooners are kicking ass,” the guy said, with a twang that made me guess he was from Oklahoma.“It’s 36 to 17.”I wondered how Zach was doing when I heard the radio announcer mention his name. Oklahoma had kicked off to the Bruins, Zach caught the ball, and ran it back 91 yards for a touchdown.They said it was his second touchdown of the game.I smiled for him, knowing how stoked he’d be, and put aside our issues.
We got to Patrick’s condo, and he started fumbling around, getting things organized.“I’ve got a quick call to make.”
“No problem,” he said.
I called Zach’s phone and left him a nice message, congratulating him on doing so well, then went in and found Patrick waiting in bed for me.
September 20, 2003
New York, NY
I rolled my eyes at Will as he and Patrick all but snuck out of the Oscar de la Renta tent.I had thought having Stef here was bad, but now that Will was here it was like twice the sluttiness.Neither one of those guys could talk to someone for more than a minute without trying to fuck them.It was gross, it was pathetic, and it was embarrassing. I was willing to bet that at the gala tonight, Stef would be flirting his ass off with Anthony Kiedis or Cuba Gooding Jr., and Will would probably hang around with Paris Hilton.Everyone would look at them, then look at me, and wonder if I was as easy and as totally lacking in self-respect like they were.
Then I remembered that I wasn’t going to the gala tonight, because I had to go back to my condo and welcome Alex, who was in this fucking nightmare from hell because he’d fucked that skank of a wife of his when we were dating.So I was supposed to blow off my evening, where I’d managed to get a seat at a really fun table, and go console him over the bad decisions he’d made with his dick?I would have stomped my foot in annoyance if I hadn’t been in the middle of a reception.
Stef chose that moment to come walking up to me.“Can you spare me a moment of your time?” he asked.His tone wasn’t all that friendly, so I responded in kind.
“Certainly,” I said.I followed him out of the tent and into the hubbub that was Bryant Park.
“I wanted to talk to you about the night of the party,” he said.He was clearly trying to grovel and beg me to forgive him, but with my mood the way it was, there was no way I was going to help him out.
“So talk,” I said.
“I am truly sorry that I did not let you know what I had planned and that you were unaware I was hosting a party, and I feel very badly about those two men sneaking into your room, but I think it is unreasonable for you to hold me responsible for John Carullo and who he decides to have sex with,” Stef said.
“It was a shitty thing that you did,” I said, launching into him.“You have a big enough entourage that one of those incompetent people could have kept an eye on things, and you could have made sure to have it staffed well enough that people didn’t trash the place.”
“Indeed,” he said, with fury blazing from his eyes.
“And I know that you and everyone else think that Carullo hooking up with those guys wasn’t your fault, but I think it was,” I said boldly.
“How am I responsible for that?” he demanded, a bit too loudly even for this venue, which was an outdoor park.
“Because we had just started to work things out, and you threw temptation right at him.It’s like serving drinks to an alcoholic,” I responded, at only a slightly lower volume level than his.“And you did this, you set this whole thing up, and didn’t give a shit about me.”
“That is not true!” he objected.
“You have embarrassed the fuck out of me this week, acting like you’re a twenty-five-year-old guy with no self-control.You’re acting like you’re Will.Then the two of you show up and prance around here, acting like you’ll fuck anyone, anytime,” I spat,“At least I won’t have to watch you two at the gala, because I’m not going, because I have to go and be a good host.”
“I would have thought that you still had some feelings for Alex such that you would want to help him out now, in one of his darkest and most challenging times,” he said.
“You mean help him clean up his mess again?Just like I had to do with Mary Ellen?” I demanded.
“But for a serendipitous decision on Wade’s part, both he and Alex would have been blown to bits this afternoon,” Stef said to me.“I would think that would be enough to shock you out of your self-absorption.”He turned on his heel and walked back into the tent, leaving me standing there feeling like an idiot.With my mood as bad as it was, I just decided to leave.I called for my car, walked out of the park, and got into my Maybach, letting the isolation from everyone calm my nerves.I got back to the condo and felt safe, like it was my sanctuary.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Jeremy,” Jacinta said pleasantly.
“Good afternoon,” I said, trying to sound as perky as she was.
“How was your day?”
“Shitty,” I said, then felt bad for being a buzz-kill.“Alex is going to come and spend a few days here, and he’s got some people after him, so security will be tight.”
“He is dangerous?” she asked, alarmed.
“He isn’t, but the people after him are,” I explained.“I understand if you don’t want to be around.He’ll be leaving on Monday.”
“No, it will be fine. We will face the danger together,” she said, smiling at me.
“Thanks,” I said, and genuinely appreciated her support.
“Do you know how many people are going to be with him?” she asked.
“I’ll call him and try to find out,” I said.I pulled out my phone and found Alex’s number.It used to be on my speed dial list, but he’d lost his position on that select roster, so now I had to rummage through my contacts for him.He didn’t answer, so I left him a brief message, then escaped back to my room and lay down on my bed.Maybe a nap would cheer me up.My phone rang and I saw it was Alex.“Hello,” I said as cheerfully as I could manage.
“Jays, it is so good to hear your voice,” Alex said.I rolled my eyes at his attempt to be charming.
“It’s good to talk to you, too,” I said, since I found his accent to be incredibly sexy.“I’m looking forward to seeing you this evening.”
“I was just about to call you and tell you that our plans have changed, and I won’t need to impose upon your hospitality,” he said smoothly.
“That’s too bad,” I said, and wondered if my words were sincere.“What happened?”
“It was decided that I would be better off in Boston, especially since I need to spend some time with Wade and Matt is adamant that he return home at once,” Alex explained.
“I can see how that would be the case, but it’s a shame I won’t get to see you,” I said.“You’ll let me know the next time you’re in New York?”
“I will,” he promised.With that we ended our call.I lay down on my bed and slowly my bad mood evaporated only to be replaced by extreme guilt.Stef had tried to apologize to me, and I’d all but flayed him alive.Alex had just had his second near-death experience in the past two weekends, and I was mad that he was coming to see me and I’d have to blow him off to go to a party.What the fuck was wrong with me?
I sighed and dialed Stef’s line, wondering if he’d even answer it.“Yes,” he said coldly.
“I am really sorry about the way I treated you,” I said hastily, in case he was tempted to hang up.“You tried to apologize to me and I just ripped you apart.”
There was a pause, probably because he was shocked at my change in demeanor.“Perhaps it was not the right venue,” he said.
“No, it wasn’t you, it was me.I was just moody,” I said.
“We all have those moments,” he said, which was probably a lie, but he was trying to give me a way out.
“Will you guys be at the gala tonight?” I asked, hoping I could patch things up with him and Will there.
“I do not think so,” Stef said. “It seems that JP, your father, and Jake are flying out to Boston to meet with Wade and Alex, and I am expected to meet them there.”
“That’s too bad,” I said sincerely.“What about Will?”
“He is contemplating whether he wants to go or not,” Stef said.
“Well if he gives up Patrick to go to Boston, tell him I said it’s okay if he wants to fuck Alex again.After what Alex has been through, he can probably use some physical love,” I said in a relatively jocular way.
“Or you could join us as well,” Stef suggested.
I considered his suggestion.It would be fun to see Alex, but this whole thing would be a shit show, and they’d spend hours strategizing over how not to get blown up.On top of that, I’d have to put up with Tiffany and the three loud brats.“I think it would be better if I stayed here and went to the gala.I can make excuses for you guys not being there.”
“I will let you know when we are leaving,” Stef said.“In case you change your mind.”
“Thanks,” I said.I ended the call and collapsed back onto my bed, feeling exhausted.