Reggie Penn was so confused and so tired. He couldn’t understand why Marcus or Simon hadn’t called. Surely they’d be pissed none of the regular staff were at Faulds Park anymore. He didn’t know who he could trust though. They would only know about Agnes Wilde if The Boss deemed it allowed. Tabitha had sent everyone she could spare down to Northside in search of retribution. When he told her about Leona’s presence she screamed at him.
“She’s different,” he tried to explain.
“Different!?” Tabitha shrieked. “They’re all the fucking same.”
“Your grandma was different,” Reggie stated.
This stopped her cold. She didn’t like to be stopped cold. He’d probably regret it when they did meet in person. Tawny had a tumultuous relationship with the ultra religious mother she nicknamed bitch of the bay. Tabitha, on the other hand bonded with Dolores Mc Inney in the brief time they spent together.
The only thing consistent in his life was Leona. She was taking care of him. She had quietened the world around him. She helped him cope as they both lost themselves in the trips of the heether mushrooms.
“I don’t understand why folks would say you’re the weakest triplet. You’re the strongest man I’ve ever known,” Leona told him.
Damn right he was. He had been treated like the baby his whole life despite being born on the same day as his brothers. He had survived better than Simon or Marcus ever would. They all thought he was losing it but he was the triplet that was free. He was the triplet that bore their father’s name. They all underestimated him except Leona. She didn’t pity him. She saw strength in him.
He found a distraught Leona in the lounge. She fell into his arms.
“What’s happened?” he asked.
“Two of our youngsters were found dead,” she said. Their bodies were badly beaten. Their heads had been taken so we can’t bury them properly. They’re lost. They’re completely lost. When is this all going to end?”
Reggie held her closer. She sobbed on his shoulder.
“I’m so sorry about Agnes,” she said.
“She was a good woman,” Reggie said. “Tabitha will be cut up. Tee will be too.”
“I wish I could have stopped it from happening. I really do. I have to go back to the island. It’s not safe here.”
“You’re safe whilst you’re with me,” Reggie said. “I’ll look after you.”
“They hurt ye so badly. Everything was taken from ye and it breaks my heart.”
“I’ll be fine,” Reggie returned quite confidently.
“I know ye will,” Leona replied. “You’re a survivor.”
Reggie gave some consideration to what his father would have done. Growing up he was never to be the one with the authority over the Auction House. That was always Marcus’ place but he was the survivor. Even with Marcus’ strong, calculating mind and Simon’s physicality, Reggie was the survivor. Neither of them would have coped as well with everything he had gone through. Marcus would have snapped by now. Simon would have lashed out and they both would have gotten themselves killed.
“Stay, please,” Reggie said to the Wigan girl. “At least for now. I need you by my side.”
Leona smiled. “I know yer not a religious sort but would you mind if I prayed for ye?” she asked gently.
“I’m going to need all the help I can get,” Reggie jested.
“I’m standing outside The Channel in Swantin when in the last hour the bodies of twenty men were found slaughtered. The murders appear to be ritualistic in nature. Most of the bodies were beheaded. Although not all body parts have been identified yet it is believed they were all CPD officers. CPD badges were found hanging in a tree nearby. More information to follow. I’m Sandra Wake of Coldford Daily news.”
Reggie Penn switched off the television and sighed. He felt his wife’s hands clasp his shoulders. She gently drew his head back and kissed him.
“Ye shouldn’t pay so much attention to the news,” she said.
“Keeping up to date,” said Reggie. “I have to know what’s going on.”
Leona took a seat in the sofa beside him. “I’ve got some news for ye,” she said. “Ye know your doctor who was here yesterday? Well I had to ask him a couple of things.”
Reggie frowned. “You’re not sick are you?”
Leona shook her head. “No, it’s nothing like that,” she stated. She smiled. “I’m pregnant.”
Reggie gasped. He smiled excitedly.
“Really? You’re not shitting me?”
Leona laughed too. “Not at all. It was confirmed this morning.”
Reggie threw his arms around her.
“I can’t believe it!” he cheered. “Where to do we start? We need to get a nursery sorted, like. Is it a boy or a girl? You won’t know that yet. What if it’s triplets?” he asked.
His excited mind was darting nowhere and everywhere.
“Wouldn’t that be something,” Leona laughed.
He loved the sound of her musical laughter. It was one of the things that caught his attention when they first met.
“This changes everything,” Reggie remarked.
A Penn baby of Main raised in the Wigan faith of its mother? It certainly did.
Just when he was ready to give in to despair another familiar face did arrive.
“Reggie, baby!” Elsa Bergman greeted. She wrapped an arm around him and tousled his hair. “How ya doin?”
“How’s the little trouble maker?” She asked of Tabitha as they both sat comfortably in the lounge.
The television had a paused game of Coby inc.’s ‘Cage Match’.
“As well as she can be. She’s still being held at the club,” he said. “You want a smoke?”
Elsa nodded. “Sure.”
Reggie passed her a joint which she lit with her own lighter. She was wearing the Bergman uniform – black waistcoat with the diamond logo and white shirt. She must have come straight from the Parade.
“Is Seth pissed I sent him away?” Reggie asked.
He was keen to at least hear something from the outside world. He and Leona had been confined to the building for what felt like an eternity.
“It’s cool,” Elsa assured. “We’re worried about you though.”
Elsa was something of a black sheep just like him. She would get it. She knew what it was like to have big brothers breathing down your neck.
“I’m good. I’m good,” Reggie stated, not sure who he was trying to convince. He unpaused his game. “You want a fight?”
Elsa crossed her legs on the sofa. She passed the joint and picked up a controller. The two began to fight it out on screen. Reggie, a three breasted woman. Elsa, a monstrous man with four arms.
That was when Leona emerged from the kitchens carrying a tray of tea.
“Hello,” she greeted Elsa warmly.
The first thing Elsa noticed was the purple ribbon around her neck. She was familiar with the Wigan order. She had had her experiences with them too. She wore a black wig because her natural hair had been destroyed thanks to an attack on her.
“Hi,” she said to Leona.
It had been some time since she had been over on the commune but she was sure she recognised the girl. What she couldn’t understand was why she was making herself at home. Although her presence wasn’t a complete shock. Elsa had to pass through Wigan crowds crying their sentiments between Timeline and Faulds park. The death of Agnes Wilde had caused a wave of attacks against them. The situation in Main was becoming more destructive by the day.
“I can’t stay,” Elsa announced as their match came to the end with Reggie knocking her to the ground.
Elsa watched keenly as Leona perched herself on the edge of the sofa close to the triplet.
As she was leaving Elsa hugged him carefully.
“What is she doing here?” she asked him tentatively.
“Her name’s Leona,” Reggie responded with a little frustration. “She’s here for me.”
Reggie was annoyed that he would have to answer for himself in his own home, his own kingdom. All he needed to know was how much better he was starting to feel since Leona arrived.
“Does Marcus know?” she asked.
This seemed to irritate Reggie further.
“What does it matter to him?” he asked. “I don’t have to run my whole life past him you know. If he weren’t banged up in The Boss then he could have a say.”
Elsa didn’t want to push it any further. “I got to get back,” she said. “But you call me if you need anything.”
“Sorry,” Reggie said to her, realising he must have come off a little short. “I’m dealing, like,” he said.
Elsa nodded. “You deal how you have to, baby,” said Elsa. “Just be careful.”
“It’s been a long day and I realise you haven’t ate. You should eat something,” said Leona when they were alone again.
Wigan bless the food they would consume. Wigan bless the strength he would build. Wigan bless the sweet girl who had come from the island to help him become the prince he needed to be.
It had been a long night with little sleep. I had only just begun to doze off when dawns early light hit the window. I was startled awake with a call. It was a Timeline Main number.
“Good morning, Sam. Did I wake you?”
It was Seth Bergman. I sat up in bed, brushing my hair back and trying to wash off the sleepy haze.
“Seth? What’s wrong?”
“I spoke to my dad this morning and he asked me to give you a call.”
“How is he?” I enquired of Howard.
“How’s doing fine for now. He’s in good spirits despite the mess. He has my aunt looking out for him. There’s a lot to go through but we’re hopeful he’ll be fine. The reason I’m calling is I’m going to Beckingridge Tower to see what can be done about the Stoker tent. My dad believes that there might be a lot of press. He took a shine to you and was quite annoyed he couldn’t finish your conversation. He asked if you would like to join me. If things go awry then at least someone could show the city the truth.
“What are you planning on doing?”
He was unable to answer. I don’t know if this was because he wasn’t willing to discuss it over the phone or because he wasn’t sure himself what the Stokers would have waiting. The question of who would be helping him was at least answered when I received another call. This time it was from within Beck Tower.
“Guess who’s back out to play!” Elizabeth Beckingridge cheered. Her lock down period was finally spent. I caught myself smiling.
“Yes, but for how long?”
Elizabeth ignored the question. “Seth Bergman told me he’s invited you up. He’s a dish, isn’t he?”
“Can’t say I noticed Liz. What are you up to?”
“Nothing,” she said. “Law Maker rules said I’m not allowed to do squat but there is probably going to be trouble here and if you want the story you had better get here pronto.”
With George now in The Boss, The Tower had fallen back into Elizabeth’s well manicured hands. With a life long grudge, billions in cold hard cash and diamonds to spare I would learn that money still talks.
I arrived at Beck Tower just as Seth too was arriving.
“Glad you could make it, Sam.”
“I still don’t know what exactly I’m making,” I told him as he pulled the door open and we stepped inside the main foyer. One of the Stokers had called a comment to Seth from across at the hotel. In credit to the current Bergman figurehead he ignored it.
“Did you call the Law Makers?” I questioned.
“They can’t do anything about it,” Seth explained. His aunt had already tried but there was little that could be done when no city rules had been violated and Rodney Weir had given them permission to set up at his hotel.
Our conversation was interrupted by an almighty crash, almost shattering the windows.
“You absolute bastards!” Elizabeth screamed in a true vexation I had never heard from her before.
Gramps’ statue had been brought down. Surely the Law Makers could be called now? A troupe in Stoker jackets skipped back across the courtyard back to their tent.
The Beckingridge dragon was prevented from rushing out after them to throw her fire by the arrival of another woman. She had long hair, she was full lipped and dressed in a neat skirt suit. I recognised her but I hadn’t been introduced. She had a little girl beside her dressed in a full Fullerton football kit.
“We’re all set,” said the woman holding a box of communication devices and passing them around.
“You know Jenna Fullerton?” Elizabeth asked me.
“Only by reputation,” I admitted.
Jenna shook my hand. “Seen my movies then?”
I had meant during my research into the construction family but I was aware Jenna’s main pursuit was the production of adult films.
“I … errr… Can’t say I have.”
“Oh sure you have,” Elizabeth dismissed wanting to move on to other things.
As Jenna finished passing out comm devices the little girl crossed to the window to look out at the circus. She was Lucy Fullerton, Jenna’s niece.
“There’s a little work needing done. Hopefully that will usher them on.”
Jenna’s phone jingled. “I’ve got him,” she announced.
She slipped her comm into her own ear as I did mine.
“You there?” Elizabeth asked.
“I’m here,” a man returned. “Haven’t got a lot of time. I might get cut off.”
From the confines of The Boss spoke Jenna’s elder brother, Jake. He was head of the Fullerton family and currently serving time for aggravated assault. He was stood in the clerical room with his head rested on his arm leaning against the wall with the phone to his ear.
“Keep Lucy inside the building,” instructed the girl’s father from prison. “Jenna?” He put to his sister. “You better go out and show the foremen where to set up.”
I could hear the voice clearly.
“Hello?” I put in.
“Who’s this?” asked Jake.
“Sam Crusow,” I said. “I’m at Beckingridge Tower.”
“Crusow? Hey! I’m talking to a famous bloke here,” he said to the others listening.
“Are you wanting to make a statement?” I asked.
“Nah, mate,” was Jake’s reply. “Don’t talk to reporters.”
Meanwhile, Jenna had been met with a bus load of construction workers. She began to coordinate them to their designated areas.
Seth stepped out onto the courtyard to watch. The Fullerton team were now arriving with more bus loads. They were quickly erecting fencing. The Stokers were becoming nervous. They started to emerge from their tent. The lizard woman, Heidi, tried lashing out at Jenna but one of the Fullerton crew swung a piece of the barrier he was carrying. She retreated back to her tent screaming at them and wagging her forked tongue. I saw one of the foremen punch Fritz, the little person who was trying to pull his blockade from him. He looked about himself to see if anyone had noticed.
“Lucy darling, what do we say to the circus folk?” asked Elizabeth.
“Fuck off, muppets!” the child yelled without hesitation.
Elizabeth chuckled. “She’s a treasure, isn’t she?”
Elizabeth and I joined Seth in the Court Yard just as a press corp was drawing up.
“I thought the word might spread,” said Seth. “Here come your brethren, Sam.”
He crossed the yard to greet them.
“Good morning, ladies, gents. How are you?” he asked.
The press swarmed him with questions to which he replied he was simply taking a walk.
Elizabeth had been looking at her grandfather’s statue.
“It’ll get put back up,” I assured her.
“Damn right it will.” She drew out a cigarette and placed it between her lips. She lit the cigarette and drew. “You hear that!” she screamed across the courtyard to the Stokers. “You’ve really pissed me off.”
That was when the rumbling began, as the diggers and bulldozers arrived on site. I had read often of how the Baroness had faced down the Fullerton Bulldozers. I hadn’t fully appreciated just how much nerve that actually took until I heard the noise of the great steel monsters for myself. Twin diggers charged through paying no care to any Stoker who got in their way.
Digger driver, Lionel Fullerton, switched on his comm in a hurry.
“You there, gaffer?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m here,” Jake replied. “What’s going on?”
“I got an honest to God clown on my windscreen. I fucking hate clowns.”
It seems the Stokers would protect their tent at all costs.
“Shake them off,” Jake suggested. “It’s their own damn fault being there in the first place.”
Lionel spun his digger, throwing the performer to the ground.
Lucy had ran out onto the steps. “Oih! Muppet!” she called to one of the foremen. “You’ve left that open!”
The foreman – realising there was a gap in the fencing saluted the construction princess and set about fixing it.
“Lucy! Get back inside,” warned her father.
“Sorry dad,” Lucy said and scampered back into the building.
Rodney Weir had been pulled away from a board meeting to come and check on the commotion. He came to the entrance of his hotel in a rush.
“Hey!” he barked at Jenna. “What the fuck are you doing?”
Jenna ignored him at first, focusing on the twin diggers that were taking their first bites, but he persisted. He snatched her and pulled her back.
“Get your diggers packed up right now you scummy boot,” he spat in her ear.
One of the foremen took to heel and pulled her away from him. Rodney raised his hands. Jenna landed a heavy slap on the hotelier
“Do that again and you’ll wish you hadn’t,” she warned. “Get back to work,” she said to the foreman.
“I’m calling CPD,” he said.
“Call the cops all you like,” she said. “You wanted work done here and we’re here to do it.”
Rodney lowered his voice. He didn’t want anyone to hear. “You know fine well I didn’t have the money,” he growled.
“Well it’s your lucky day, innit? Someone covered the cost for you,” Jenna explained.
“Who?” he demanded to know but Jenna raised her palm to his face and walked away. At first he thought it might have been his brother Eddy who ran the Weir in Luen but a glance across to the Beckingridge Court yard would give hint to the culprit as Liz wiggled her fingers at him.
“Hey Rodney,” she said. “Nice morning.”
“Liz, you crazy bitch! Get them away from here.”
“No can do. The money has already been paid. It will look fabulous when it’s finished. That I can promise you.”
Their cross court conflab was interrupted as Heidi Stoker, the lizard woman, was trying to drag Lionel from his digger.
“Geroff! Geroff!” Lionel was shaking her away. There was blood where she had tried to gnaw him with her sharpened teeth.
Fullerton workers dashed to help. No one had seen Heidi leave the tent, which was remarkable considering how of much of a figure she cut. One of the foremen punched her. This time he didn’t look about himself. He didn’t care who noticed. The others got inbetween and she rushed back to her tent.
Whilst Lionel gathered himself the diggers twin continued to tear its way into the ground at the tent. If the red tent wasn’t moved it was being pulled down.
Capturing it all as best I could I managed to collect varying expressions on Rodney Weir’s face.
“Yeah Gaffer?” Rodney overhead one of the foremen say.
“Wait a minute. Jake? Jake’s in jail.” Rodney expressed his concern but no one was listening. “Jakes in the jail, right?” he asked a foreman but he just glared at him.
The Stokers were not taking the attack on their tent lightly. The Stoker jackets could be seen swarming across the yellow and black of Fullerton Construction as more crew arrived and more equipment.
Lionel had pulled himself together was back inside his digger.
“Scary bitch,” he sniffed. He wiped away a tear from his eye with the back of his hand, feeling a little traumatised by the attack from the lizard woman. She had a forked tongue and everything. Yeesh!
“That’s fucking sick,” he sobbed. But he was a good digger and dig on he must.
He wished Jake was there.
“Who’s the man?” he would ask.
“I’m the man,” Lionel would reply.
“Who’s the man?” Jake would want to know.
“I’m the man!”
Yeah you are Lionel, Lizard lady got nothing on you.
He pushed the digger deeper. The Stokers were climbing their tent, they were pulling guy ropes but they were stabilising it, not bringing it down.
“You there, gaffer?” Lionel said into the comm.
“I’m here,” Jake replied.
“We’ve got a problem. If we dig any deeper we’re going to knock the hotel. The structure here is shit. The Weir cheaped out. We need to pull back.”
Jake grunted. “Did you hear that, Liz? I’m going to need to pull back. We’ve done all we can.”
Elizabeth watched one of the foremen relay that message to Rodney. She was shaking with rage when he turned that smug expression across the courtyard towards her.
“No!” she said. “Not happening.”
“I can’t,” Jake said.
Elizabeth pursed her lips.
“One million in your account right now if you bring down that fucking hotel too!”
“What!” I gasped. “Liz, you can’t do that!”
“Watch me,” she growled.
“I’ll match that,” said Seth, “if it means that tent goes with it.”
Liz took out her phone. “What do you say Jake? I have my finger on the button.”
“I’m in enough trouble as it is,” the Fullerton gaffer responded.
“2 mil,” Elizabeth said. “That’s not to be sneezed at. I’ll take the heat.”
Jake had fallen silent.
“What do you say?”
“I’m thinking. I’m thinking,” he said.
“Can’t stay here all day,” Elizabeth was pushing.
“Fuck it,” said Jake. “He’s being a dick. Bring it down. Jenna? How far out is the demolition crew.”
“They’re just arriving.”
Elizabeth squealed with glee. She called across the courtyard.
“You hear that? You’re not the only one who can afford contractors! Kill my cat and make a mockery of my family? How dare you! Pull down my school will you? My grandfather’s statue? Well I’m pulling down your whole fucking hotel. Maybe I’ll have the whole place made into a memorial for Susie Winkle.”
“Liz there are people in that hotel!” I objected.
“Obviously they are evacuated first,” she replied as though I was the insane one.
The alarm at the hotel began to rattle. She reached her arm out as though to say, ‘you see?’
The Fullerton wrecking ball was escorted like a great trebuchet of old. Even the greatest of structures in Coldford would struggle under it’s mighty swing, especially when it’s explosive foot soldiers led the charge. The Stokers could pull all the gang ropes they liked. One way or another their red tent was coming down.
“Stop! Stop!” Rodney was screaming. He was trying to shoo the Stokers off his property now to save his hotel.
The time had come for wrecker to impart his wrath. The groan of its wheels angrily stomped towards its target causing a vibration underfoot that spread straight across the courtyard.
“Gaffer?” asked operator, Jason. “Just waiting on your word.”
WOOSH! The first hit tore into the tent but it didn’t break it. Red had a spine of steel. Jake had gotten that it wasn’t coming down.
“C’mon mate, swing!”
WOOSH! The second hit did break it.
“It’s still not coming down,” Jason complained.
“How hard can it be it’s a fucking tent!?” Jake spat.
“You ain’t seen the size of this thing.”
With the third hit there was a snap. It was quite a sight to behold as the Stokers scattered.
“It’s down! It’s coming down!”
With the nuisance falling away, Elizabeth Beckingridge could have left it at that. There was no need to go any further but she had set her mind on the Weir being reduced to rubble for having the audacity to challenge her. I had only ever seen that level of pettiness in one other person. The Boss Lady. Little red dress had flouted the lustful Owen troll. She had fended off the Big Bad Judge Wolf. I wondered how she would fair against the dragon of Beck Tower.
As the Hotel crumbled Seth spotted Freddy Stoker darting off towards Timeline. He was no doubt looking to slip into to Coldridge where the Big Top still stood. He didn’t get far though. His exit was blocked by a host of Law Makers led by Sophie Bergman. Breaking and entering, murder, abduction, drugs, whatever they could get on him to hold him.
That was when they turned their attention to Elizabeth. Not one whole morning away from her house arrest and Sophie Bergman had her cold blue eyed stare on her.
“You are to return to the manor. You have violated your sanctions,” Golem informed her.
“I’ll go when I finish with this hotel,” Elizabeth said.
“You will go now,” she was warned.
As she was being escorted back to Filton, Rodney Weir called to her, “you crazy fucking bitch, Liz! What have you done with my hotel?”
“Wrecked it seemed,” Elizabeth responded. “Don’t fuck with me Rodney.”
Three more weeks at least on house arrest for Elizabeth Beckingridge. The dragon lady considered it very much worth it.
Before he was cut off, Jake could be heard offering the warden some protection money from the deal that had been done.
Seth and Elsa were allowed into CPD holding to see their father. He looked really old, Elsa thought. He looked so tired but when he seen them both he smiled like his old self.
“Good afternoon, kids.”
Seth and Elsa took a seat across from him.
“How’s it going daddio?” Elsa asked at first.
Howard could see the look in Elsa’s eyes. She was a little shocked so he tried to remain positive.
“I’m fine. Everyone has been really nice. Asking a lot of questions but nothing I can’t handle. I’m worried for Karyn though. She has lost her son.”
No one wanted to bring it up but Seth felt he had to.
“Article 22,” he said.
“That is for criminals. That’s not for an innocent man. I’ll be home soon enough. The Law Makers just have to be thorough and boy are they thorough. Mustn’t complain though. Their attention to detail will be what gets to the truth of the matter in the end. In the meantime I just have to sit tight and carry out the process. I’ve never been in trouble with the law before. The Rothensteins want a copy of the mug shot for the parade.”
Elsa laughed at this.
He rubbed his arms. “I might cover myself in tattoos.”
Elsa laughed even harder. She herself had a sleeve of tattoos on her left arm.
“You hate needles,” she teased.
“Yes but I’m a hard knock now,” the father replied.
“I have some good news and some bad,” Seth said. “The red tent has been removed and Freddy Stoker has been taken into custody.”
“I don’t see what bad news there could be to top that,” Howard said optimistically.
It was then Seth admitted. “They haven’t found Isaac.”
Howard fell quiet. “They will,” he said. “They will find him.” He addressed his son. “I want you to tread very carefully Seth. It would be so easy to rush out there and lash at those that have done us wrong, but where does that leave us? All that does is put yet another wrong out there in the world.”
“After what has been done to you!” Seth was outraged.
Howard maintained his stance. “I don’t want you going down that path,” the father warned. “It leads nowhere good. I’m an innocent man and I have faith that our system will see that and there will be no real harm done to me. But what I don’t want, and I make that very clear to both of you, is my family becoming involved in the chaos that is this city at the moment. Find Isaac, work with the Law Makers and do your best by others. Those are my instructions.”
The supervising CPD officer knocked on the door.
“Your time is up.”
“Don’t worry about me. Take care of each other and I’ll be back home before the milk expires.”
Seth and Elsa hugged their father.
By the time they got outside Elsa was weeping. She couldn’t bear to see him in such a surrounding.
‘Don’t go down that path,’ Seth thought to himself. The filth of the night hides down dark paths though. How would you rid of them if you feared treading them?
“Nah bro,” Chad Perry was saying. “It was about this big.”
He reached his hands out.
Cooper was shaking his head. “No way, bro. It was about this big!”
He had stretched his finger and thumb out.
Buddy and the bros were at Harbour House signing their final papers. Rehab complete. It was a little peace of mind for the Law Makers for the time being.
“Coops. Coops. Coops!” Buddy – who had been focused on the entrance was whacking Coopers arm. He had clocked the arrival of Seth Bergman, looking furious.
“It’s one of the Jew boys. Did we piss the Jews off again?”
Seth brought Buddy into sight.
“I’d like a word with you if I may,” he said.
The polite words were by no means said with a polite tone.
Lydia stepped in Seth’s way. She placed a hand on his chest and urged him back. Buddy’s eyes widened.
“He’s still with me at the moment, Mr Bergman. I can’t allow that,” she warned.
“Yeah, bro,” Buddy spoke up. “She’s with me.”
“It’s alright,” Agent Reynolds called to her. Returning to deliver reports on the situation in Bellfield. “You can let him through.”
With Reynolds’ assurance that Seth was not there to cause trouble Lydia stepped aside.
“You,” Seth beckoned Buddy. “Come with me. The other two stay here.”
Reynolds was joined by Golem as he waited the return of the acting Bergman figurehead. Reynolds stuffed his hands inside his pocket as he watched Buddy follow Seth towards the rec room. Golem reached out a large hand, holding a cigarette.
“A smoke, my dude?” He offered.
“Trying to quit,” the agent said.
Golem laughed. It was a low, rumbling sound.
“You are no quitter, John,” he said in jest.
Reynolds removed his hands from his pockets again. “Ah go on then …”
Meanwhile, on the way to the Rec room Buddy and Seth were stopped by Agent Kim.
“Agent? I am not looking to cause trouble but I would like a word with this man and his father,” explained Seth politely but firmly.
Kim nodded, stepped aside and allowed access to the rec room. “I’ll be watching though.”
“Fine by me,” said Seth.
They found Chick standing by a table. He had been waiting to escort his son back to the Chapter House. His lips curled when he saw Seth and his shoulders tightened but before he could question, Seth swung the bag he carried and rolled out the golden asset onto the table between them. The Cappy had admired it for so long he knew immediately what it was, even with Buddy’s alterations.
“I was in two minds on whether to give you this back or not after the stunt that was pulled with my father,” Seth began. “But then I realised my father is a much better man than you will ever be. He would never lower himself to your pathetic level.”
The Cappy scowled. “Watcher tone you little shit.”
“I want my cousin back,” demanded Seth.
“I don’t give a damn what you want,” The Cappy assured. “You come in here speaking to me like that? You will learn some manners, boy, before you pull up a chair at the grown ups table. If you need some lessons I will be happy to be your teacher.”
Seth scowled. “I’m giving you your precious heirloom back and for that you will have my cousin returned. I don’t care how. Just have him taken somewhere safe and we’ll speak no more of it. I’m giving you your asset back in good faith. If you ignore that my aunt will move to lock you down again and this time it won’t be in your home.”
The Cappy growled. Buddy had never seen him more angry and he had done some shit to piss him off over the years. He didn’t think he could get any angrier.
“You returned this … item … and because I’m grateful for that I will put out the word for your cousin. But you had better realise I do not take threats lightly.”
Seth stood his ground. “Isaac comes home and we are done.”
The Cappy sneered. “Now get out of here before I test just how quick those agents are.”
“Seth?” It was Kim calling. “Get out.”
Seth listened to the agent. When he departed, Ozzy, who had been overlooking Chad’s departure approached him.
“Crikey,” he said. “Who’s that little bastard?”
“Howard Bergman’s boy.”
“There’s another meal for Snowflake just waiting,” Ozzy jested.
The Cappy managed a snicker.
“Does he like kosher?”
Chick snatched up the asset. He pointed it at Buddy. It turned out he could get angrier.
“Buddy … Would you mind explaining to me why some too big for his britches little kike is coming in here, waving a cock in my face, pressing his demands? He seems to believe that he is doing me a favour. What makes about as much sense as tits on a bull is why he’s returning something to my grand knowledge wasn’t lost! I guess the question I put to you, sir, is what … in the seven circles … of Holy Hell … is this!?”
Reggie was stirred by a woman’s cries. Moving a little easier every day he was on the mend. He had contacted the Auction House in Luen and they told him Jean Luc would be with him soon. He had word that Simon could very well be joining him again with rumours that Marcus could be too. He still wondered why they hadn’t called. Maybe he had been tripping so much he had missed them. Faulds Park was quieter. The situation in Northside had pulled most of the Wigans back to the island. Reggie was healing and soon enough it would all be under control. So why was a woman crying?
He wasn’t entirely sure if it was reality or if it was more heether induced hallucinations. He had sat and watched his mother the night before. She was crying too. He knew it wasn’t real but it still chilled him. That was when he had felt a warm blanket being dropped around his shoulders. Then there was a soft touch on his face. Then there was a whisper.
“Wigan bless her.”
Mother was Albans but Reggie assumed Rita Penn would appreciate prayers all the same. He never pined for his father though. This surprised him because he and Reginald were close. He was the king’s namesake after all. He supposed it was because ever since they were little the triplets knew Reginald would meet a bloody end. They had come to accept that and the king didn’t fear it. That was why he was so widely respected.
Reggie had to face the reality of his life. He had responsibility on his shoulders. He was drawn to the woman’s cries.
The sobbing led him to the lounge. Knelt on the floor by the window was Leona. She was clutching her Wigan cross and praying.
“What’s wrong?” Reggie asked, padding slowly towards her, unsure if he should disturb her thoughts.
“Bart wrote me again,” she said. “He wants me to go home.”
“You’re okay here. I mean you’re comfortable, like?” Reggie responded.
“Of course I am,” Leona assured. “You’ve been so good to me but it’s not safe for me here. Not whilst CPD run your City Main. Not after what happened to that woman, Agnes.”
Reggie sat on the floor next to her.
“I’ll talk to Tabitha again. I’ll make sure she knows it wasn’t your doing.”
“It won’t matter. I’ll never be accepted here. I’ve ignored Bart’s letters long enough. I really should go home.”
“No, wait,” Reggie requested with some urgency. “I want you to stay. I’ll keep you safe. I promise.”
Leona leaned over and kissed him. “You are sweet, Reggie,” she beamed. “You really are. I don’t belong here though. I have to go.”
“You’re all I’ve got,” Reggie protested. “You’re the only one I feel I can trust right now.”
Leona shook her head. “What happens when you have your family around ye again? Do you really think they would accept me here?”
The bell rang.
“I’ll get it,” Leona offered. She stood and answered the call from the front desk.
“You had better send him up,” Reggie could hear her say.
When she returned she looked a little unsettled. “It’s Bart,” she informed him. She reached her hand out and helped Reggie onto his feet.
The elevator opened. Dressed in City dweller clothes stepped off Bartholemew. Leona received him with a warm embrace.
“I’ve been worried,” he said. “Are ye alright?”
“I’m fine,” she confirmed.
“Forget how to write did ye?” Bart groaned. “No telephones about here?” He turned his attention to Reggie and said, “I heard talk of what happened to ye. I prayed for ye.”
“Thanks,” responded the triplet.
“His Eminence will hold Father Renfield accountable for what happened in Northside,” assured Bart.
“He won’t have to,” Reggie replied. “He’ll get his comeuppance.”
Bartholemew nodded. “St Michael be praised that he gets what he deserves then.”
To his sister he ordered, “yer coming home,” clasping her arm.
Leona tugged her arm away.
“I’ll go when I’m good and ready,” she snapped back.
“I’ll not ask ye twice!” Bart warned.
Reggie interrupted. “I asked her to stay. I want her to stay.”
Bart clasped Leona’s arm again. “This is no place for ye. You’re coming home. Move.”
He started to pull her towards the elevator when Reggie objected.
“She’s here for me. If she wants to stay she can,” he said. “What do I need to do to prove she belongs here?”
Reggie surprised himself by how hard he he took the idea of having to cope without her.
“I want her to stay here,” he said.
After much deliberation Bart relented.
“There’s only one way I’d even consider letting her stay here, ” he said. “There’s only one way you would show you truly mean to look after her no matter what happens.”
Later that evening, standing before Bartholemew, Reggie clasped Leona’s hands in his and was told, “as yer wife, Wigan asks that you protect her, keep her and provide for her.”
“Praise Wigan,” Reggie responded as was expected of him.
Bartholemew tied a purple ribbon around their hands.
“As yer husband, Wigan asks that you honour him, support him and be fruitful for him.”
“Praise Wigan,” Leona accepted.
Bart kissed his sister’s forehead as he was leaving.
“Dom will be pleased,” he said.
“I’m glad,” Leona replied with a smile.
At that the Wigan monk departed, leaving behind his sister and her new Prince of Main husband.