Suburban Heat: House Of Swan

Suburban Heat: House Of Swan

Status: Finished

Genre: Thrillers

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Thrillers

Summary

PROLOG Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa had stood for more than fifteen generations, its overall design built purposely around the pre-sixteenth century Masonic architectural elegance of King Charles VIII of France, the sitter of “The House of Valois”, while in every way giving just as much luxury to the tenants that walked its very lush and almost certainly beautiful tainted halls. Sitting prominently upon Cacciatori Hill, the military advantage point gave Lord Arthur Barrisa-O’Neill the perfect pre-warning of any foreign approach – or attack. His family name having carried a much heavier form of authority than most other noble Stately Homes in and around the United Kingdom, much to the bitter taste which stayed within the local villager’s mouths many would tend to agree. And, for the many generations of Oak Wood Village, up until the early 1940’s, it was the Barrisa-O’Neill family that had no favors owing to them or their kind, or indeed that of their nobility claim. Lord Arthur Barrisa-O’Neill himself had become wrapped within controversy during his fifty-five year reign, as some twenty female staff members to his noble House stepped forward with tales to tell of their harsh treatment, sexual harassments and, in many instances – Claims of rape. Of course, being of noble blood and an immediate descendant of the Royal Crown of England, Lord Arthur’s charges were dissolved. As throughout the Barrisa-O’Neill legacy, more and more Lord’s and Master’s became shrouded in the protection of the “Royal Fortified Protection Guild”; a Guild that gave both Amnesty and Exclusion from Prosecution through their immoral acts, and yet, though not immune from the laws of the normal public, they were exposed and found themselves helpless from the avenging families and loved ones they had brought great shame against. As the centuries passed, so too did the Lord’s, while the elder son of the dying Father was made Master to the Manor. Only when their Fathers’ last breath left that of their lifeless body would they take their rightful place and gain a position upon the “Harpsen”, the unofficial throne of “Trono Di Signori” (Throne of Lords). Once sat upon this symbol of great power, it would be that of the Lord from Master who would begin his journey to the “Reale Gerarchia”, the Royal Hierarchy that would bring the single, most respected Lord upon a position much higher than any ruling King or Queen within the entire land – Damus Cinereo “The House of Grey”; the Overlords and Overseers to “The Twelve Houses” around the world. By the start of World War Two, the family bloodline of the Barrisa had almost been wiped away, while the O’Neill’s firm placement within the High Society realms became as well-known as any other. It came to pass through the previous three generations before the turn of the 21st Century that respect had been bestowed upon Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa (Hunter’s Wake Manor) and that of all the family’s members. Having managed to restore the family’s name from 1943 to 1971, Lord Victor O’Neill’s’ ill health brought forth a new breed of Lord, one who would bring an infestation of lies, betrayal, greed, thirst for the ultimate status within the Lord’s greatest secret Order, and finally burn bridges to every hope of restoring nobility to the name in which structured peace among its equals. Terrence O’Neill, Master of the Manor wanted nothing less than what he believed his family and the position he was to sit owed him – Reale Gerarchia, but for a most unforgivable discrepancy which took every hope away from him obtaining it. Eventually he fell into seclusion, until finally suffering from an intoxicating affliction of depression. In the summer of 1989, aged just forty three, Terrence fell gravely ill. His only son and heir, Xander beside him at his bedside awaiting the Priest to give his Father the Last Rites, it came to pass that the Lord of Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa was dead! And it was now that the whole Manor and its future Lord was thrown into chaos and turmoil as the line of the Lord’s title had been placed into mutual dormancy; Master Xander O’Neill’s young age had become the center of attention all over the country, as well as within the Secret Order, for the fact that at only seventeen years of age, he would not be at the correct mature age to take over as Lord of “Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa”. Therefore, with his best interest at heart – as well as his safety – Xanders’ Aunt, Lady Melissa James-Cartwright, makes the arrangements for her Nephew to be placed under protection of ‘Lupo Cresta Aumento House’, Lord O’Neill’s private home given to Lady Melissa James-Cartwright after her marriage to Lord James. Of course, the belief that the future Lord of Cacciatori Wake Villa would be safe within the ranks of those already with power was a thought built on haste, while those working alongside Lord London’s Agency were not so sure. Against this interference of Lady James-Cartwright’s own choice, the future Lord of Cacciatori is put into question, while in the background of Parliament it is those of The Law Lords – The Bakers’ Dozen – who are at odds on whether or not to take action. As for Lord Kasabian London, his priorities lay on a much higher definition of ‘Power’, as slowly the ‘Church of the New Found Faith’ draw in on their final phase of controlling the O’Neill Empire, of which only one person stands between them from gaining a major hold over the ‘House of Grey’…Xander O’Neill.

Summary

PROLOG

Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa had stood for more than fifteen generations, its overall design built purposely around the pre-sixteenth century Masonic architectural elegance of King Charles VIII of France, the sitter of “The House of Valois”, while in every way giving just as much luxury to the tenants that walked its very lush and almost certainly beautiful tainted halls.
Sitting prominently upon Cacciatori Hill, the military advantage point gave Lord Arthur Barrisa-O’Neill the perfect pre-warning of any foreign approach – or attack. His family name having carried a much heavier form of authority than most other noble Stately Homes in and around the United Kingdom, much to the bitter taste which stayed within the local villager’s mouths many would tend to agree. And, for the many generations of Oak Wood Village, up until the early 1940’s, it was the Barrisa-O’Neill family that had no favors owing to them or their kind, or indeed that of their nobility claim.
Lord Arthur Barrisa-O’Neill himself had become wrapped within controversy during his fifty-five year reign, as some twenty female staff members to his noble House stepped forward with tales to tell of their harsh treatment, sexual harassments and, in many instances – Claims of rape.
Of course, being of noble blood and an immediate descendant of the Royal Crown of England, Lord Arthur’s charges were dissolved. As throughout the Barrisa-O’Neill legacy, more and more Lord’s and Master’s became shrouded in the protection of the “Royal Fortified Protection Guild”; a Guild that gave both Amnesty and Exclusion from Prosecution through their immoral acts, and yet, though not immune from the laws of the normal public, they were exposed and found themselves helpless from the avenging families and loved ones they had brought great shame against.
As the centuries passed, so too did the Lord’s, while the elder son of the dying Father was made Master to the Manor. Only when their Fathers’ last breath left that of their lifeless body would they take their rightful place and gain a position upon the “Harpsen”, the unofficial throne of “Trono Di Signori” (Throne of Lords). Once sat upon this symbol of great power, it would be that of the Lord from Master who would begin his journey to the “Reale Gerarchia”, the Royal Hierarchy that would bring the single, most respected Lord upon a position much higher than any ruling King or Queen within the entire land – Damus Cinereo “The House of Grey”; the Overlords and Overseers to “The Twelve Houses” around the world.
By the start of World War Two, the family bloodline of the Barrisa had almost been wiped away, while the O’Neill’s firm placement within the High Society realms became as well-known as any other. It came to pass through the previous three generations before the turn of the 21st Century that respect had been bestowed upon Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa (Hunter’s Wake Manor) and that of all the family’s members.
Having managed to restore the family’s name from 1943 to 1971, Lord Victor O’Neill’s’ ill health brought forth a new breed of Lord, one who would bring an infestation of lies, betrayal, greed, thirst for the ultimate status within the Lord’s greatest secret Order, and finally burn bridges to every hope of restoring nobility to the name in which structured peace among its equals. Terrence O’Neill, Master of the Manor wanted nothing less than what he believed his family and the position he was to sit owed him – Reale Gerarchia, but for a most unforgivable discrepancy which took every hope away from him obtaining it. Eventually he fell into seclusion, until finally suffering from an intoxicating affliction of depression.
In the summer of 1989, aged just forty three, Terrence fell gravely ill. His only son and heir, Xander beside him at his bedside awaiting the Priest to give his Father the Last Rites, it came to pass that the Lord of Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa was dead! And it was now that the whole Manor and its future Lord was thrown into chaos and turmoil as the line of the Lord’s title had been placed into mutual dormancy; Master Xander O’Neill’s young age had become the center of attention all over the country, as well as within the Secret Order, for the fact that at only seventeen years of age, he would not be at the correct mature age to take over as Lord of “Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa”. Therefore, with his best interest at heart – as well as his safety – Xanders’ Aunt, Lady Melissa James-Cartwright, makes the arrangements for her Nephew to be placed under protection of ‘Lupo Cresta Aumento House’, Lord O’Neill’s private home given to Lady Melissa James-Cartwright after her marriage to Lord James. Of course, the belief that the future Lord of Cacciatori Wake Villa would be safe within the ranks of those already with power was a thought built on haste, while those working alongside Lord London’s Agency were not so sure.
Against this interference of Lady James-Cartwright’s own choice, the future Lord of Cacciatori is put into question, while in the background of Parliament it is those of The Law Lords – The Bakers’ Dozen – who are at odds on whether or not to take action. As for Lord Kasabian London, his priorities lay on a much higher definition of ‘Power’, as slowly the ‘Church of the New Found Faith’ draw in on their final phase of controlling the O’Neill Empire, of which only one person stands between them from gaining a major hold over the ‘House of Grey’…Xander O’Neill.

Chapter1 (v.1) - The Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa Connection

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: September 07, 2019

Reads: 222

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: September 07, 2019

A A A

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Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa stood silent on the outskirts of Oak Wood Village, but for the sound of the surrounding wildlife; peacocks that were scattered in and around the manor grounds while outside the walls ravens, crows and far distant calls from sheep and cows made their early morning calls into the approaching dense grey fog that rolled in and over the open countryside to leave a thin layer just above the ground. Between the temporary silence there echoed the cortege of several funeral cars carrying those mourners that were to meet at the family home of the late Terrence O’Neill, before laying him to rest within the private cemetery in the Manor grounds which sat on top of Dust Acre Hill, the name given from Terrence’s father, who in his time as a young boy played around in the dried-up corn fields until eventually becoming ill by the disturbed dust spores that spread out from the area. It was here on the very top of this hill that the undertakers hired from the village prepared for Terrence’s last and final journey.

Among the mourners were those of his friends, colleagues and associates, as well as the ‘Norms’, as Terrence referred to them, who were invited to pay their last respects through having had lost touch with him over the years – in particular the one woman that he would never have allowed enter the grounds until such a time as this, Mrs. Melissa James-Cartwright, Sister to Maria Cartwright-O’Neill, his late wife.

Even before she had reached the main entrance of the manor’s long driveway the memories of the past were well and truly coming back to her, with the ghost-like images of both her and her Sister Maria running down the lawn to the main gates to welcome the expected guests who had no choice but to use the intercom system to announce their arrival. The two of them were so young, naïve in many ways, but of this innocence, they enjoyed the freedom of laughter within everything that they did. There were hardly any dull moments when Maria and Melissa were together and on many occasions people of the village would comment on their flair for being ‘The life and soul of any event,’ as in hindsight, it was this thought alone that had Melissa chuckling to herself unintentionally while in the presence of two other older women guests who were themselves accompanying her in the limousine hearse that had picked them all up from the train station in the village. Her eyes opening wide to glare at the puzzled faces of the women was as though burning a hole straight through their souls, Melissa tilted her head and smiled. It was with this facial remark that the two women looked away quickly as if not to encourage her to proceed any further with the rude manner.

Melissa didn’t care, she had waited for this day for so long that even if those people around her knew of the thoughts she was conjuring up in her mind, it would not stop her from attending the funeral of the most hated man in her life.

Arriving at the main entrance of the house each car was quickly greeted by several of the servants employed to the Household services that in turn ushered, guided and directed the visitors through the high indented doorway and into the Main Hall where they were each shown through to the study where Terrence’s body lay on display in his casket. When it came time for Melissa to be shown into the Main Hall, however, she immediately informed the servant greeting her that she knew the way and that they should focus their attention on the other guests who were a lot less familiar with the layout of the building.

  ‘Let’s face it if I knew Terrence…And I did, by the way. There may be one or two that he didn’t fuck that will have problems knowing their way.’ she exclaimed looking around at all the parked Limousine’s. At first, the servant was a little reluctant to obey, as Melissa had been absent from the manor for so long she was not recognized by anyone straight away. When eventually the servant did recognize her a swift apology was given before a short curtsey which had her making her way through the lower part of the house to the rear corridors in an undisturbed swagger, while at the same time the clinking of high heeled shoes vibrated and echoed loudly throughout the rest of the house. Finally, she came to the last door on the left of a dark and cold corridor where a bedroom sat with an unlocked door where, with a slight momentary pause to sense someone, somewhere, was watching her.

  ‘I’m afraid that is Master Xander O’Neill’s room, Ma’am, he requested that he did not want to be disturbed until Father Richards arrived,’ a very young, thin and almost beautiful female Maid wearing the full manor uniform called over to her suddenly from halfway down the long staircase.

Turning to face the young maid, Melissa gave a reluctant smile while reaching out a hand for the door handle. Her actions were almost instantaneous, as the first thought of turning the light silver rounded handle was on her top list of priorities, and there was almost nothing to stop her from carrying out the simple task. It was upon looking at the young servant girl that Melissa gave a slight gasp, a moan that was not audible to the young woman before her, but definitely loud enough for her, herself to hear and notice upon the recognition of the young woman’s looks.

  ‘I see Terrence changed his taste from Pit bulls to Chihuahua’s before he died,’ she mocked teasingly.

The servant was not quite sure how to react to the remark as she didn’t understand what it was that Melissa was or, in fact, trying to say, nor did she intend to answer back so quickly at such a crass statement which sounded like that of an insult.

  ‘Father Richards’ will be so furious, Ma’am, he left strict instructions for…’

  ‘Listen here you, you…Who are you?’

  ‘I am Stacey, Ma’am, I’m the one who tends to Master Xander’s needs and wishes, Ma’am,’ she answered with a warm smile as she began to slowly descend the long, steep staircase.

  ‘Oh, right, so you’re the one fucking my Nephew are you?’

The young maid blushed with shock horror at the words that Melissa used and the tone of voice in which she directed them. The reaction gave only one thing to Melissa, however, and that was the satisfaction that she had the girl’s absolute attention.

  ‘I beg your pardon, Ma’am?’

  ‘Oh, I see, you’re one of them, are you? Tell me something my dear, how does one kiss arse and suck cock at the same time on your salary? And please, don’t overexert yourself to answer the question it’s going to be a bloody long day as it is. Now, I’ll be in my Nephews room should you or your House Master wish to speak with me, okay?’

Without waiting for a reply or reaction from the confused maid, Melissa turned the handle completely and pushed her way inside into the room before slamming it shut behind her. Now stood with her back to it for a few seconds while making sure nobody, including the maid, tried to walk in on her before she finished what she had gone there to do. Sounding out a long deep sigh into the air she tried to adjust her eyes to the dim, if not overshadowing darkness that had befallen the whole room, except for a small parting in a curtain near the end of the bedroom.

  ‘Who are you?’ a young man’s voice asked surprised at her entrance.

Startled by the voice sounding out within the dark, curtain drawn room, Melissa looked across through the dim light in the direction of a large bed where she made out the figure to be that of a young man still dressed in his pajamas sitting up with an expectant look of an answer on his face.

  ‘I’m your Aunt Melissa, don’t you remember me, Xander?’ she replied with the sound of hope in her voice that he would indeed recognize her.

Xander searched for some kind of memory where he could recall seeing or hearing of an Aunt Melissa around the house, and then for anyone bearing the name Melissa, but no matter how much he thought he could not find any trace of her within his memories at all.

  ‘No, I can’t say that I do remember you. Are you my real Aunt or a parental friend Aunt, you know, the ones that aren’t really your Aunt, but they still act as though they are?’

Melissa had only been in the company of Xander for five minutes and already she was more than amused by his greatly developed sense of humor. Xander had grown so much since the last time she saw him – or was allowed to see him by way of Terrence’s harsh and limited visiting rights to the manor.

  ‘Okay, let me say that I am your real Aunt, but a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there lived an evil daddy who shooed the Aunt away…’

  ‘You speak funny,’ Xander interrupted with a giggle.

  ‘So do you, when you don’t really speak any sense,’ she laughed.

  ‘Are you here to see the Old Man off then?’ he asked jumping from the bed and walking over to the nearest window where he opened the curtains enough to allow a decent amount of light into the room to see the woman standing before him. After he had done this he returned to the bed and sat cross-legged upon the duvet cover that in places shone with the light.

Suddenly, with a look of shock on her face, Melissa walked over to the bed and sat herself down hard onto the soft-covered mattress by his side. Looking at Xander for a moment before breaking her stare, she asked him why he was still in his pajamas.

  ‘I’m waiting for Father Richards to arrive and put my Father in that big dark hole that they dug for him late last night…the gravediggers, not Father Richards, he’s not a grave digger,’ Xander exclaimed correcting himself to Melissa’s amusement.

  ‘Quite,’ she replied with a giggle.

  ‘Father Richards says that we are all buried in the end.’

Melissa was surprised by Xanders’ words as she began to remember back to when he was younger, to a time when she was allowed to visit and a time when all of that changed by the death of Maria, Xanders’ Mother who had been killed in a tragic car accident. It was when Maria died that everything that was once precious to Melissa died too, and the bitter-sweet relationship between her and Terrence took a turn for the worse. Deep down she blamed Terrence for her Sister’s death, but there was no proof to suggest otherwise of it being a tragic accident.

  ‘Tell me, Xander, do you really not recognize me?’ she asked again changing the subject to a much more important topic.

Looking closer at the woman sat on the bed he placed his hands onto her face, paying special attention to the eyes, then the eyebrows, then her nose before moving down to her lips to give them a quick gentle kiss.

‘Did you work for my Father?’ he asked pulling away suddenly.

Nodding her head from side to side she advised him to try again.

  ‘You’re dressed like a Royal, a Princess, even, someone who has a position in life, and yet, you are filled with a saddened emptiness that you cannot fill,’ he replied with a strange concern in his voice.

  ‘Okay, before you get me crying Xander, I will tell you that I am your Aunt Melissa James-Cartwright, the James coming from my late husband and the Cartwright coming from the original name that your Mother and I shared,’ she revealed conceding to the chance he would never guess the right answer.

With a raised smile Xander lunged forward and flung his strong muscular wide arms around her shoulders excitedly. ‘Aunt Mel!’

He did remember her, but it was doubtful that it was the prompt explanation of her name that had caused some distant memory to bring itself forward in his mind. As Xander cuddled into her Melissa tried desperately to hold back her tears as Xander squeezed her tightly as if making up for the lost years of holding someone he loved. Was it the longing for his Mother’s tenderness, a hug or cuddle that he’d been waiting to acquire but never received?

  ‘That’s what you’re Mother used to call me, but that was a very long time ago,’ she whispered with a saddened gulp.

Pulling away as the door of the room swung open, Melissa turned to see a tall man enter with a look of thunder on his face. Dressed in a full black suit and a white collar that was clearly visible around his neck, while a single silver cross hung down to meet the center of his chest, Melissa guessed this to be that of Father Richards. By his side, the young maid that she had met on her arrival shuffled forward with Xanders’ change of clothes for the funeral service and proceeded to walk past her and place them onto the bed before instructing Xander to come to her so that he could get dressed.

  ‘Is this the woman with the foul mouth?’ Father Richards’ cried out angrily.

Before the maid could answer, Melissa jumped from the bed and walked over to the Priest with a smile. ‘I am that very same woman and you are Father Richards, I presume, the man who has been looking after my Nephew for me during my absence?’

The Priest looked down his nose at Melissa with contempt in his eyes, while at the same time he had this unknowing glare that could have almost indicated that he was a little perturbed – even fearful of her presence there at the Manor House.

  ‘Nephew…I don’t understand Miss…’

  ‘You see Father Richards, Xanders’ Mother, Maria, was my Sister and married to Terrence O’Neill. Of course, Maria died five years ago, as I am sure you know and the guardianship went to Terrence, his Father, who is now also dead. As I am his last remaining blood relative…’

  ‘Aunt Mel, Father Richards, its Aunt Mel,’ Xander cried out excitedly making the maid’s job of dressing him that little bit more difficult.

  ‘I see,’ Father Richards sighed. ‘And as you are his Aunt, you would like to apply yourself Guardianship, am I correct?’

Melissa looked back at Xander, his arms’ now being pushed gently into a freshly ironed white shirt that was soon being buttoned up by the young maid. On looking back at the Priest, who had moved his position from in front of her, he now walked quietly around Melissa where she was suddenly startled to see him looking her up and down before nodding his head from side to side, as though he was dissatisfied with what he saw before him.

  ‘Of course, whatever arrangements you made with my brother-in-law Terrence O’Neill…’

Raising a finger in the air swiftly, Father Richards shushed her words and then in an unusual way he began to adjust his black flannelled trousers to a more comfortable position around his waistline.

  ‘Miss Melissa Cartwright,’ he exclaimed clicking his fingers suddenly in recollection of her previous visits a long time ago.

  ‘Actually, I married, its Mrs. Melissa James-Cartwright now,’

Taking the correction as an insult he again raised his finger into the air, only this time he demanded that she be silent in a loud tone. ‘Please be quiet, Miss Cartwright!’

Looking at the man of the cloth before her, Melissa was in some way feeling very awkward, vulnerable…naked, even. And if there was one feeling in the whole world that she did not like it was feeling this way in which the man made her feel – especially those she would rather pull out her eyes than look into their faces to feel anything but the pleasure in allowing them their own way. This Priest was very obtuse.

  ‘Listen, Father Richards, if you have quite…’

  ‘I said, shut your fucking mouth…!’ he roared out in a booming voice.

  ‘And I’m saying, when you’ve quite finished ogling me like a piece of cheap meat, either you tear my clothes off and fuck me right here and now, or get the fuck out of the room and let me talk to my Nephew in peace!’

Both the Priest and the maid were shocked by Melissa’s colorful choice of words, especially in the circumstances of the day when her brother-in-law was about to be laid to rest after such a tragic sudden death. It was a death that many believed humane in the way that it would have been far less painful than if he had suffered a long Illness, although contrary to this belief Melissa revealed that Terrence should have departed the world in a much more fitting and agonizing way than he did.

  ‘Well, I had heard that you were of the…loose wench kind, Miss Cartwright, but I never did envisage you being that of a whore, too,’ he gasped with both astonishment and disbelief.

  ‘Get used to it, because where your principles lie, Father, the whole idea of chastity and turning a blind eye to sin is just so eighteenth century. Now, how do you want to take me?’

Father Richards glanced down to see that Melissa was starting to raise the hem of her dress in a very provocative way, a way in which had him nod to the maid and Xander, before finally excusing himself from the room. Without another word, he made his way to the door as fast as he could before disappearing outside into the hall and slamming it shut behind him.

  ‘Well, that is odd usually they leave me their telephone number before leaving.’

The two women laughed together while Xander watched them both, wondering what they were laughing at, and whether they were laughing at him.

  ‘I am Melissa James-Cartwright,’ she introduced herself formerly with an outstretched hand.

  ‘Stacey Harris, Ma’am.’ the maid replied accepting her hand and shaking it gently.

After the introductions were over Melissa looked at Xander the way in which the remainder of his clothes were set out on the top of the bed, something that begged an important question.

  ‘Why does Xander not dress himself? I mean, he’s seventeen years old for Christ’s sake…!’

  ‘He’s…’

  ‘Retarded? Please don’t say he is retarded?’

  ‘He’s not retarded, Ma’am, he just hasn’t left Cacciatori Wake Manor since his poor mother passed away five years ago,’ Stacey replied objectively and defensively.

Taking a step back Melissa thought for a moment before turning to the young woman with a kind and soothing look on her face.

  ‘Five years is a long time in one place, Stacey, what about school, education, socializing…’

  ‘Everything he needs is here in Cacciatori Wake Manor, Ma’am. Master O’Neill has more than enough of the things he needs here. The Father, the church, they see to it that he is well taken care of and that his every need is carried out.’ she replied sheepishly.

  ‘So what about you Xander, what do you think of all this?’

Xander looked up with a smile. ‘I have all I need here, Aunt Mel,’ he answered.

  ‘But the world Xander, the world is a huge and beautiful place, and the ways in which people are molded, developed and excelled onto the various levels of life exist outside, not here in a closed prison that you are trapped inside,’ Melissa said this with an uncontrollable anger building in her voice for which Stacey could clearly detect.

  ‘But Father Richards, he teaches Xander everything that he needs to know about the outside world, emotionally and physically, Mrs. James-Cartwright,’ Stacey spoke up for Xander.

Melissa was angered, just by blurting out something so expected from a maid who would be into a Priest that preaches the good book’s words each and every day. The very thought that Xander was being taught god only knows what, knowing that it was this that was the problem with the bigger picture – Xander had not lived.

  ‘Finish getting him ready and let’s get this damned funeral out of the way,’ Melissa cried taking out a cigarette and lighting it.

  ‘And what then? Father Richards won’t let you leave with him, Ma’am,’ Stacey warned.

  ‘I wouldn’t be too sure about that young lady.’

With a devilish smile on her face Melissa rushed to the bedroom door and left to find the Priest in the study room down the hall where the casket of Terrence O’Neill would be just about ready for those of the pallbearer’s to take out of the manor and carry the fourteen stone formaldehyde filled body to its final resting place. And, upon entering the room in which the casket lay, she finally caught sight of Father Richards who made every attempt to avoid her waves, eye contact, and even raised calls for him to speak to her. Impulsively she strode over to where he stood talking to an older looking woman who was also trying to direct his attention to the guest who was wishing to talk with him, but Father Richards was ignoring this prompt too.

  ‘Excuse me!’ Melissa loudly interrupted with a half-smile directed at the woman for her intrusion on the conversation, ‘I was wondering if I could ask Father Richards’ a question?’

Father Richards tried to make an excuse that he was needed at the hearse before the body could be moved until Melissa apologized for the rude way in which she had spoken to him in Xanders’ room. Now she had his attention, especially as the old woman in the company of the two added her two pennies worth to the half witnessed circumstances.

  ‘I don’t think you were the least bit rude, my dear, in fact, I’m sure that Father Richards will give you inner peace and forgiveness,’ she bleated with a most annoying giggle before walking away to mingle with the other guests.

Again in Melissa’s presence, Father Richards excused himself from the woman’s company before taking Melissa by the arm while guiding her through the roomful of gatherers and out into the hallway, once here he found a quiet spot before checking around them to make sure nobody was looking. Suddenly spinning her around like a rag doll to face him, his face was filled with anger at the way in which she had approached him and giving a sure sign that it was something that he did not like people doing.

  ‘Have I got your attention, Father Richards?’ Melissa hissed quietly.

  ‘Goddamn you, Miss Cartwright, I will not have you, or anyone else for that matter coming into my home and speaking to me like I am one of their punters from the gutter,’ Father Richards growled, keeping a firm tight hold of her arm while applying pressure that Melissa felt very uncomfortable with.

  ‘Your home! First of all, Father Richards, I feel insulted that you think of me as a whore. Secondly, I am Xanders’ Aunt – his flesh and blood – and, I will be leaving with him as soon as this lame fiasco of a funeral is over. You may have been given the Guardianship of Xander through the lack of Terrence’s responsibility to bring up his own child, but for me…’

  ‘Christ almighty, Miss Cartwright, if you could hear what you’re saying! We all know that he is not an O’Neill, but the result of a sinful wife-whore who laid her soul down for some quick and untrue love affair that…’

Suddenly, without realizing what she was doing, Melissa raised her hand quickly to strike the man who was now bad-mouthing her Sister – Xanders’ mother – and the woman who loved the man who was about to be buried. But for the sudden change in her expression which the Priest picked up on, her attempt to slap him across the face in anger was met with a very fast, and very strong hand that caught her wrist with perfect precision.

  ‘Don’t ever try that again, or I swear by almighty God, I will have you tied up, gagged and thrown into an empty dark room until the police arrive to take you away for assault. If I am making myself clear, please, by all means, nod your sad pathetic looking head.’ he growled after pulling her hand down to his groin and whispering in her ear.

Managing to free herself from his firm grip Melissa stepped back and away from him, while he was left to straighten his jacket and adjust his trousers before letting out a long sigh.

  ‘How the fuck can you call yourself a Priest? You’re nothing but a misfit in that cloth…No, actually, you’re less than that you are a human train wreck looking for a more vulnerable victim to crush’

  ‘I’m sorry, Miss Cartwright, I can’t explain what happened there, but you can be sure it had something to do with you,’ Father Richards tried to excuse his behavior by passing blame on her.

Rushing forward Melissa started to thump him on the chest with both her hands clenched.

  ‘How fucking very dare you try and put the blame on me, you worthless piece of shit. Do I look like a naïve choirboy to you, Father?’

Melissa’s voice was raised to such an extent that everyone in the study room was now making their way to stand out at the door, in the corridor and even at the top of the staircase looking down on the two adults arguing. Father Richards became instantly embarrassed by the confrontation that could have been avoided, if only he hadn’t ignored the woman, or if he had simply told her to talk to him after the funeral was concluded. But here he was, here they both were, stood in the now crowded hallway while all around them more than a hundred guests and well-wishers attending the funeral watched to see what was going to be said – or done – next.

  ‘Bravo, Miss Cartwright, but as they say in my profession, the next fight you have is the fight with God himself. Xander will never be placed in your care, and the reasons are quite simply because you are a whore in the eyes of the Lord. Terrence O’Neill’s instructions and the wishes that he left before his death clearly state that Xander belongs to the church, not the family of the O’Neill’s, not the family of the Cartwright’s, and certainly not to the woman that abandoned him when his mother died five years ago,’ Father Richards announced a couple of home truths that had awes and gasps echoing around the halls.

Without answering back to the hurtful words of the Priest, Melissa strode past him and made her way back to the study room where she asked politely for a moments privacy with the body of her late brother-in-law – Terrence – before he was carried out of the room, out of the house and taken to the family cemetery at the top of the Dust Acre Hill. She didn’t encounter anyone objecting to the request, quite the opposite, as one by one the well-wishers left while giving a gentle pat on her shoulder and giving words of comfort.

When the last person had left the room Melissa slumped herself over the top of the coffin and began to weep, but her tears were not of sympathy or sadness for the fact that Terrence had died, or that she had traveled all the way from London to be confronted by a brick wall of hostility. No, her tears were for that of her sister, who Terrence had forbade her to see her like she was seeing him now, wrapped up in a fancy casket, suit and tie displayed as though he was something so special, and the hundreds of guests that had arrived who probably hated him so much that they were testing themselves of the will-power to refrain themselves from pissing on the open grave as soon as he was lowered into it.

 

Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa - 1972

 

  ‘A penny for your thoughts, dear sister,’ Maria asked.

Melissa remembered back to when she and Maria spent the morning down by the side of Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa’s boathouse that lay on the banks of Cacciatori Lake, at a time when the sun shone with a heat unlike any other day since.

  ‘It’s nothing. I was just thinking that now your life is over…’

  ‘It’s not over, Mel, it’s only just beginning. Terrence is a good man, you already know that, so why are you so gloomy?’

  ‘Bullshit! You know yourself that more than seven out of ten marriages within the first two years due to the zestless thrill of passion end in divorce,’ Melissa revealed as though reading from memory a read article on the subject.

Maria didn’t seem to care about the claim or about the statistics that Melissa had picked up out of some second rate magazine or book because all that she cared about was the fact that she was there with her sister at that very moment in time enjoying the sunshine.

  ‘The zest won’t go out of my marriage, Mel, I’m going to make sure that Terrence loves me forever, and that we have a wonderful life, beautiful children and the days of happiness go on for all eternity,’ Maria said looking up into the beautiful clear blue sky in a dreamy way.

Melissa began to laugh, first to herself while staring up at the sky and then on turning to her sister who was now wondering what was so amusing. Of course, the long paused reasons behind the sudden laughter were starting to irritate Maria, who then demanded to know exactly what she was laughing at.

  ‘Okay, alright, I’ll tell you,’ Melissa shrieked out pulling her sunglasses from her eyes, ‘It’s just that…you know, Terrence’s thing doesn’t seem to worry you any…’

Maria was speechless with shock. ‘What?

Flipping herself over onto her stomach and throwing down the glasses in front of her Melissa shook her head. ‘You know it’s no secret that Terrence makes up his loss of cock size with the amount of money he spends, right? Well, if you’re going to make him “make” you happy for as long as you want to keep him happy, then you are going to have a big job.’

The words traveled through the warm summer air and absorbed themselves into Maria’s mind before dropping into place through the pure struggle of trying to get to grips with what her sister had just said to her.

  ‘Oh right, it’s a secret, is it? And exactly who shares this secret, Melissa?’ she demanded anxiously.

Now Melissa knew that disclosing such a personal matter of Terrence’s penis size may have been a mistake, but, looking on the brighter side of the statement Maria now knew that she had knowledge that the bedroom department was something of a bad area to discuss.

  ‘Jesus Christ, Maria, everyone knows that Terrence has a small cock! Well, not as small as Craig the gardener, but it is…I’m sorry,’ Melissa apologized on seeing her sister’s furious face staring right at her.

  ‘I can’t believe you are talking about this Melissa, Terrence is about to be my husband and already he seems to be the talk of the manor’

  ‘Actually, he’s the talk of the whole village, too, as we’re talking about Terrence like this let's get it all out into the open…as I’m sure Terrence has failed to do in the past.’

  ‘I am not talking about this with you Melissa, not now! Not ever! Terence is a good man who loves me with all of his heart, and for your information sister, sex is not the be-all and end-all of two people being in love.’

Waiting for a few moments for Maria to settle back down on her towel, Melissa shrugged her shoulders in a disregarding way of keeping quiet, until suddenly she sat back up and sighed.

  ‘So, you didn’t deny the rumor that he has a small cock, or was that some…’

Kneeling up and jumping on top of Melissa, Maria started to slap her sister while screaming at her to shut up about the whole thing. When finally Melissa gave her word she would not talk about the matter again with her, Maria settled down to relax and enjoy the warm weather. And true to her word Melissa never raised the subject again.

 

Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa – Present

 

  ‘You were once a good man, Terrence,’ Melissa whispered raising her head up from the coffin to look down at the man who had banished her from the house five years earlier, ‘unfortunately, when it came to my sister, the goodness was never put in the right places, was it? Your damned religious Order believes there is a hell that incinerates your sins with an eternity of pain and suffering, and I for one hope that it's true because that’s where you are headed, you sick bastard!’

Wiping away her tears carefully with her hand so as not to disturb the thin placement of makeup she had taken almost an hour preparing that morning, she made her way out of the room and into the hallway where Father Richards gave the pallbearer’s the nod to go in and prepare the casket for transport to the cemetery. His eyes glancing for a moment at the woman who he had just been locked in an argument with, before turning away and carrying on his routine of ushering the guests out of the house and onto the gravel-covered forecourt outside to wait until they were all gathered together.

Taking her wide-rimmed sunglasses out of her handbag, Melissa flipped them open with a quick single flick of her wrist before pushing them through the greying auburn hair until the arms rested comfortably behind her ears. It was now that she, too, walked outside and joined the rest of the guests and mourners who were readying themselves for the long walk over the lawns and up to the top of the hill, one walk that she remembered fondly doing numerous times as a young teenager who was no older than what Xander was now. Melissa’s sister too, Maria, a beautiful young flower that hadn’t had time to blossom as she was whisked off of her feet and taken into the life of marriage as a prisoner who would be taken to a darkened dungeon for the rest of her life.

  ‘Good morning, Miss, I’m Carl, may I ask if you knew the deceased?’ a man wearing a warm smile about his face asked suddenly breaking Melissa’s concentration.

  ‘Unfortunately Carl I did yes, did you know the old bastard, too?’ she replied dryly as though suddenly offended by the perky smile hanging from his face.

The man was beside himself with the response, so much so that he hurried forward and away from Melissa as fast as his legs could carry him. Only when he knew he had enough distance from her did he slow down and begin to chat with another guest, someone who would be more sympathetic to the late Lord O’Neill. To Melissa the man they thought that they knew as this great husband, father and successful businessman was nothing but a fake, a phony, and someone on the very edge of the reality box who was afraid to take a good look inside and see what great wonders his family could have had, shared and spoilt. Terrence’s egotistical attitude and anger had cost him more than his life, it had cost everyone around him so much, too, that he had no idea how much of a rift he had caused.

  ‘Aunt Mel! Aunt Mel!’ Xander cried out ecstatically as he caught sight of her walking up the hill and demanded that he and Stacey catch her up and walk alongside her to the top.

When finally they had reached Melissa, Stacey rubbed her hand down her arm and asked if she was okay, to which Melissa just turned and gave a strained smile without a single word of reply.

  ‘Father Richards, he really is a good man, Ma’am, he alone taught Xander everything that he knows,’ Stacey informed her.

  ‘I’m sure Xander is very well educated in the Do’s and Don’ts of the good Lord’s ways, and that Father Richards left nothing out where the errors of life’s consequences are concerned, Stacey because that, it would seem is all that the little prick knows and nothing else. Had he known anything about women, he would have actually realized that women like me don’t mix well with male bullies like him and his kind when they manhandle me like he did,’ Melissa cussed revealing a little too much of her encounter.

Stacey was shocked by the words describing the man who had shown nothing but warmth and kindness toward her and Xander and found it hard to believe that Father Richards could ever become enraged like that with any of his parish.

Stopping still for a few moments from the sudden steep rise in the hillside, Melissa asked both Stacey and Xander to sit down by her side while she told them both a little story of her days at Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa as a child. At first it was only the company of Xander and Stacey that gave Melissa a good warm feel, then she and Stacey noticed that others were sitting down to rest and listen to the story too, but it was considered both impolite and inappropriate for her or anyone else to tell them all to leave, so Melissa continued her story.

  ‘When your mother was just fourteen years old, Xander, she and I would always come here to Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa, where the handsome prince of our wild imagination and dreams would live. Your mother was a dreamer in a way that I never thought possible, she would always be the first to converse, the first to scale the great walls, and the first to speak up when Terrence O’Neill’s Father Lord Arthur O’Neill the third came to chase us away, but all the while it would be Terrence himself who would encourage us to call around more often. After a few weeks, Maria became Terrence’s favorite and therefore invited us both into the house to have milk and cookies with him, after all, they were our absolute favorite supper dish, I hasten to add. Nobody could understand exactly why your mother and father were inseparable, not until it was too late anyway. They had a unique bonding that went way back to when they were about eight or nine, the time when the Eton-like school that once stood in the center of Oak Wood Village was nothing but a normal every day mixed school that allowed the two to swan off now and again to chase kisses behind the bike sheds. The truth is, however, I’d never seen your mother happier, Xander, her smile back then could have launched a thousand ships into the deepest blue oceans and still kept shining through the doom and gloom of a Conservative cascade of national destruction. It was love that had bestowed itself upon the two young love birds, that and a dark intoxication for money, wealth and power on Terrence’s part which was to later drive their lives into completely opposite directions.’ Melissa revealed to the growing crowd who were wondering who she was talking about until Xander put them right on the identity of the two people in the story.

By the look on Stacey’s face, she was absorbed in the storytelling, while Xander was simply enjoying the tale told of his mother who he had lost at the tender age of only twelve.

Continuing on their way up to the top of the hill everyone was gathered together and was made to form a circle around the graveside whilst Father Richards took out his bible and began the service to bury Terrence. Melissa stood totally oblivious to his words that he spoke to mark the life and achievements of such a well-liked and loved man of the village, until at long last she heard the final words of “Ashes to ashes” where she joined the bee-line of guests as they picked up and threw a handful of soil into the hole to fall upon the coffin.

  ‘I would like to thank you all for coming on this deeply sad day and ask you all to take with you the fond memories that Lord Terrence has left you with, as our Brother now travels to the place of everlasting peace, let us know that he rests within the house of the lord,’ Father Richards called out as each man, woman and child passed him by to finally make their descent down the hill and back to the manor where they would stay and attend the wake.

  ‘God will always travel with you,’ he added.

  ‘And with you, Father,’ many gave their reply.

When it came to Melissa’s turn for the Priest to say the same words he had said to all of the others, however, he closed the book loudly and bowed his head until she had passed him by. Then, again, when she had passed he resumed his thanking of the guests behind her for attending the service.

  ‘Why do you hate him so much?’ Stacey inquired.

  ‘Well, for one thing, he and I play for totally different sides of the proverbial fence, so to speak’

  ‘Which is?’

  ‘Well, Stacey, his belief is that he can save people, whereas my belief is that nobody really gives a shit about the people, only their own arse. After the death of my sister, my faith in God was lost, though there could well be an upside in the death of Terrence. It is so overwhelming when you lose someone close to you, and the egos of some Priests don’t help those scars to heal quite as fast as they say that they do. Sure, Father Richards talks of the empty promises of reward in living a sin-free life, but those mistakes that the Order call “Sins”, they are the stepping stones which make us what we are – Human,’ Melissa revealed.

Reaching the bottom of the hill Stacey stopped and stayed behind as Xander was taken into the house by Father Richards, who in turn informed everyone within earshot that there would be plenty of food and refreshments in the dining hall. Taking out a cigarette Melissa offered one to Stacey who, with a screwed up face turned down the offer before finding a place to sit on the short run of concreted steps that led up to the back patio doors of the house. After lighting up the cigarette Melissa joined her on the freezing cold hard surface while shuffling across so that she was close enough to be able to speak without anyone else overhearing them.

  ‘Tell me, Stacey, do you want to be a maid for the rest of your life, or is this just a pit stop before you get yourself an education?’ Melissa whispered.

Shrugging her shoulders as though not having her mind made up, or maybe for the fact that she never gave it any thought at all, she nodded her head.

  ‘I would love to travel the world, just like you would like Xander to do. After I’ve seen what’s out there I would return home and get a job so that I could study to be what I’ve always wanted to be all my life,’ Stacey finally gave a reply.

  ‘The world is such a big place for a girl like you Stacey’

  ‘What and it isn’t at all big for someone like Xander?’ she snapped suddenly.

She was upset, angry and a little saddened by the way in which Melissa became that little bit condescending when it came to revealing her dream in life. At the same time, however, Melissa had to explain the reason behind saying what she did.

  ‘I am so sorry for my…’ Stacey returned to apologize before being stopped in mid-sentence.

Before being allowed to finish her sentence, Melissa pushed a finger to the servant girls’ lips to silence her from speaking. And, seeing something deep and hidden in Melissa’s eyes, the only reaction that she could make at that time was to remain quiet and listen.

  ‘Not another word Stacey. It is so obvious that you have been waiting on these jack-asses both hand and foot for far too long now, I can see it in your body language and I can certainly sense it from your tone of voice. Never apologize for anything that you are neither sorry or to blame for, okay? Do you understand what I’m saying?’

Stacey didn’t know whether she could speak now or whether she would be met with another finger, or the same finger darting to her mouth to hush her. As she was so unsure of the reaction from Melissa, at the same time she wanted to agree so much that a slight nod answered the question for her.

  ‘That’s good, now we’re on the same page let’s talk about your travel plans.’

For the next twenty minutes, both Melissa and Stacey sat talking about the countries and cities that she would love to visit, if and when she managed to get the finances together to pack up her things and leave the services of Father Richards and The Church of The New Found Faith, that was. After this talk which was cut short with the interruption of the Father in question, Melissa handed Stacey a small piece of paper which she had ripped from a small notebook before telling her that she was to contact her the following day.

  ‘This is my number…my private number Stacey, so don’t let it out of your sight. Now, if you will excuse me I shall go and find that Nephew of mine and get the hell out of this place.’

Melissa stood up and with a quick rub of her clothing to rid herself of the ground dust and gravel on the back of her dress, she gave a smile before leaving Stacey sitting on the steps staring at the piece of paper. Inside the manor, Melissa found that Father Richards was having a serious talk with Xander outside the Dining Hall, and this she knew for the fact that Xander was not responding very well to the raised tone of voice from his so-called Guardian.

  ‘You stupid retard, do you know what you’ve just done?’ Father Richards bellowed out with an angry red face.

Immediately, Melissa took her place next to the Priest, who was neither happy that she had witnessed his name-calling of Xander, or comfortable in the fact that she was present while he was punishing the young Master. Regardless of this, however, Father Richards carried on telling Xander off in a more civilized tone and manner.

  ‘Is there a problem here, Father Richards?’ Melissa probed.

  ‘No. No, there’s no problem here, is there Xander?’ Father Richards spoke up giving Xander a deep hard stare with an almost hidden secret warning message to not say anything that would cause suspicion.

Xander nodded his head nervously and smiled aimlessly at his Aunt Melissa.

  ‘No, it was my fault, Aunt Mel, I accidentally….’

  ‘Well, there’s no need to go over it all again Xander…at least you admitted to it being your fault, that’s all that matters.’ Father Richards silenced him.

It was almost straight away that Melissa made the split-second executive decision to grab a hold of Xander and escort him to the front entrance of the Manor House, where she was unfortunately confronted by several well-built security men hired by Father Richards to keep an eye on the son and heir of the whole O’Neill estate.

  ‘Sorry Miss, but Master Xander cannot leave,’ one of the security men declared putting an open hand in the air in front of a shocked Melissa.

  ‘Is that so?’ Melissa smiled sarcastically before turning to face Father Richards. ‘So, you’re going to remain keeping my Nephew here a prisoner? Are you aware how much shit I can bring down on this place you call your home, Father Richards?’

Father Richards ordered Stacey, who had just arrived back inside the house to take Xander back to his room and stay there until he said otherwise. Looking over to Melissa for some kind of reaction, Melissa nodded her head to allow her to take the confused young man back to his bedroom.

  ‘I am quite aware that people like you, people in your line of illicit business can have thugs fight in your corner, Miss Cartwright, but you see, Xander is not a prisoner here, it is his home and here he shall stay until he is ready to hand the entire estate over to the people who know how best to run it.’

  ‘Ah,’ Melissa gasped walking up to Father Richards, ‘and you’re the person who is going to do all that, are you? My Nephew is nothing but a pawn in your sick and twisted game of a Tug and Pull power struggle, isn’t he? Pathetic! The fucking House of Cards won’t protect you, Father…Mark my words well, I will see to it that you get what you deserve.’

Looking around at all the guests waiting to hear the end of the debate as to whether Xander was to stay or leave the manor, a sudden warm feeling of embarrassment came over Melissa, but nonetheless, the debate between them was begging to be concluded in a place a little more private and secluded, not here where the public were to overhear the family secrets and home truths as if listening to someone reading it from a newspaper.

  ‘If you will follow me Miss,’ the very same burly security man who had stopped her and Xander leaving the house whispered.

Leading her away from the gathered crowd of guests and mourners into a side room near the main entrance, Father Richards followed quickly behind before slamming the door of the room shut while at the same time instructing the security men to stand outside. Looking around the room puzzled, it was Father Richards who spoke up first to inform her that the room had been redecorated some three years ago and that the contents had been donated to the local village for distribution throughout various charities. It was hearing this that made Melissa turn with a taunting smirk clearly showing across her face. It was the look of pride – almost.

  ‘So, you do have a heart? Does that mean I can expect an apology from you sometime very soon on how you’ve treated me throughout the whole morning, Father Richards?’

  ‘Oh, don’t mistake my generosity for that of weaknesses, Miss Cartwright it was carried out under the instruction of Lord O’Neill. He believed that many things within this house reminded him of his ex-whore wife, you know, the woman that was such a great loyal sister to you,’ he informed her in an obnoxious tone of voice.

The words he spoke didn’t bother Melissa, what bothered her most was the way that he used her sister’s name to get a reaction and the way in which he truly expected her to believe Lord Terrence had actually given permission to do such a thing to the room that had accumulated so many good and happy memories over the past years.

  ‘This was Maria’s favorite room. There were many great hours spent here before Lord Terrence returned home and sat down to dine, and my sister and I would always insist on no men being able to enter for reasons that we were always changing out of our clothes, getting naked and getting into something new. Do you know, Father Richards, they say that on her final day she and the late Lord Terrence O’Neill planned to move away from here…do you know anything about that?’ Melissa spoke up dreamily.

The Priest looked away from Melissa’s sudden piercing stare to direct his attention at an old toy box that had remained under the window sill since it was originally placed there, its white paint peeling away from the pale sanded wood below, and the obscure engraving of a heart shape that had been made with some sharp object with the initials ‘MC + TO’ carved deeply into it.

  ‘Your sister…Maria, though I could not condone her betrayal against the late Lord O’Neill, I did help with giving her the last rites, Miss Cartwright,’ he mumbled under his breath.

  ‘Last rites, Father, my sister wasn’t a religious woman, so why would she…’

  ‘The affair had taken its toll on Master Terrence O’Neill, and as some last resort of saving the marriage between them, he had Maria agree to change her faith to that of our good church. It would have been against the Church's wishes if your sister was to remain a Paroxinate, especially as Terrence clearly followed The Light! ’

  ‘No, she was not religious, and by that I mean she would not have been…Oh My God! That evening after dinner, she gave in and went through with it! And, as far as Paroxinate, I think you’ll find that is a fairytale?’

  ‘As I said I could not condone her affair, but what I could do was offer her the next best thing and that was by granting her the rite of passage through her sins and allow acceptance into the bosom of the church. It is exactly what she and Master O’Neill wanted for Master Xander and as a Priest…’

  ‘As a Priest, you raped her of her belief so that twisted bastard O’Neill could save face with your perverted Order. How could you do that? How could you do that to my sister and stand there with no show of disgrace?’ Melissa was outraged at what she was hearing.

  ‘The rite of passage is a two-thousand-year-old sacred custom to the ways of our God, Miss Cartwright, not some satanic ritual that requires the lust tainted blood of a victim. What you have to understand is that the church will look after Xander, and I mean by my very own wisdom and experiences. If he is taken away from Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa, everything that we have worked on to enhance his mind, body, and spirit will be lost, probably forever,’ Father Richards explained.

Melissa was almost spitting blood while numerous times standing and biting her tongue, rather than turn and shout at the man she was now sharing the room with, who, coincidentally was not doing himself any favors by the way he was trying to justify certain aspects of both Maria and Xander’s turning to his own religious Order – The Church of The New Found Faith.

  ‘You really are sick! Sick and repulsive, Father Richards and someone needs to stop you…?’

The Priest laughed in Melissa’s face before he reached over to a nearby blue button that sat on the wall just above the fireplace, a moment later and the two security men that had been standing outside were now entering the room with only one intention – to eject her from the house, whether she was willing to leave of her own accord or not.

  ‘I am not leaving here without Xander, Father,’ she cried out defiantly.

  ‘Oh, I’m sure that I can get Stacey to look you out a perfectly acceptable photo from one of his private albums, Miss Cartwright. I’ll even forward it on to you to save you the bother of waiting around any longer than you have to, too.’ he replied with a dry tone and slight nod at the security guards.

Escorting her from the main entrance onto the graveled forecourt, they pointed her to the driveway leading to the main gates before returning to the house and closing the large dark oak doors behind them. It was now that she would have a long walk ahead of her, but it was certainly not a walk she was unfamiliar with.

 

Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa - 1984

 

  ‘Your sister is a bad influence on you, Maria, and as such, I demand that she leave and never come back,’ a loud rasping cry from Terrence shouted out at the top of his voice that echoed around the whole bedroom.

It was the last hours of Melissa’s time at Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa, and only several months before Maria’s fatal accident that instantly changed Terrence’s whole life forever.

  ‘You blame Melissa like it was her who made me jump into bed with him, Terrence when all the time it was your neglect and lack of attention of me…’

  ‘Lack of attention…Neglect, now that truly is your sister speaking Maria,’ Terrence gasped with desperation to get his objection heard. ‘How many times have we left this house together and attended any important engagement’s that haven’t been down to Melissa? How many times have we done something together that hasn’t included the company of your sister? There are only so many functions that a person can attend before they realize that Melissa’s idea of important is less important than running a serious business.’

Maria had heard enough of Terrence’s cruel tone against her sister’s name. All that she had ever wanted was the perfect husband – the man she had married – to love her, protect her and allow her to breathe in a little private space of her own within the marriage. It has only been twelve years since Maria and Terrence had married, already Terrence had forgotten how to be that kind and caring man that she had met in what now felt like another lifetime.

  ‘Tell me what you want, Terrence?’

Terrence was puzzled for a moment before looking down at the small bulge showing under Maria’s dress, realizing that the question was directed at the pregnancy and not that of their relationship, marriage or public status which had made them appear as the perfect couple in the eyes of the villagers and business associates.

  ‘What and it’s that easy is it Maria? I honestly believed that the first time was the last time, but to be honest, it’s a repeat performance. Do you really think that we can get over this for a second time, Maria?’ he cried.

  ‘Tell me what you want and I will do it, Terrence, because if you don’t, I will take Xander and leave you and this goddamned fucking prison forever!’

Maria was quite serious about her husband making a decision on whether he wanted both her and the baby, or to grow old and die alone within the confines of the House.

Pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace Terrence thought hard about what Maria had offered him in a way of bringing an end to the many days and nights of arguing and bickering over the whole episode. It was a few minutes later that he stopped and turned to face her with a very sincere look.

  ‘Commit to me and the family name, Maria, it is the only way,’ he exclaimed.

Looking puzzled she asked what he meant while looking down at both her engagement and wedding ring on her finger.

  ‘Not a second marriage…My god! My father would roll over in his grave if he knew of this goddamned scandal. Commitment, Maria…with the Order of the Church!’ he finally revealed with a glow about his face showing that he was expecting Maria to accept the condition.

Anything but this and Maria would have agreed to do without any resistance, but this was ‘The Church of New Found Faith’; ‘The Church that invites anyone (with money or power – or both) to join the order which has saved more than one million lost souls who have lost their way, and who need balance within their life’, according to the elegant brochure that Terrence stuck under Maria’s nose one morning over breakfast. It was a Cult that had accumulated a lot of controversy, as well as government interest and serious questioning into the ways and methods of their initiations, especially that of their infamous “Rite of Passage” procedures that a small number of ex-members had over the space of two decades reported as both severely abusive and emotionally degrading.

  ‘You cannot be serious?’ Maria shrieked slumping down hard on the bed.

  ‘I have never been so serious in all my life, Maria, the church will give you and Xander something that the old life can never offer,’ he replied hastily.

  ‘There must be something else, maybe if I was to suck you for a while and let you whip me now and again…’

  ‘Enough! Christ Almighty Maria, you sound like your goddamned slut of a sister at an annual party meeting of freaks and geeks. Listen, if you agree, I will withdraw the file for divorce, if you refuse, you and those bastard children of yours can find your own way in this fucked up world. I’ll give you until eight o’clock tomorrow morning to decide and maybe then we can get on with our lives without all of this hanging over our heads. To be honest, it suits me either way. But it has to be your decision that makes this…Or breaks it. You just decide what your answer is going to be?’

Leaving Maria to make her decision on the offer Terrence left the room to return downstairs and greet several guests that had just arrived, one of those guests, in particular, being that of Father Richards, the main speaker and frontman of The Church of New Found Faith.

 

Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa – Present

 

Fighting hard with her decision to storm back into the house and tell Father Richards exactly what he could do with his ejection plan, Melissa conceded to play the more amicable role of the responsible Aunt, and so began making her way down the driveway to the front gates. The walk was quite far; farther than she remembered it being when she was younger. It was half a mile to the gates and time consuming, to which halfway along her journey she was suddenly stopped by the sound of someone wanting to get her attention in the hedgerow – Stacey.

  ‘You were amazing back there Mrs. James-Cartwright, the way you stood up to Father Richards, it was absolutely…’

  ‘What do you want Stacey?’ Melissa cut to the chase and demanded an explanation on why she had abandoned Xander to come running after her so urgently?

  ‘I think you’re right,’ Stacey replied with a falling smile.

  ‘Right about what, exactly?’

  ‘I need you to trust me, Mrs. James-Cartwright, meet me in the village this evening at eight O’clock inside The Old Bar. Most people around here believe that Father Richards is a very good man, while some have their doubts about his intentions and the plans of the church. Meet me tonight and I will give you everything that you need to bring his dirty deeds to light.’

With this, Stacey disappeared back into the bushes that lined the driveway’s grass verge, while Melissa continued on her way to the main gates before stopping to take her mobile phone from the small bag hanging around her shoulder to inform her driver to come and collect her as soon as possible. Unfortunately, as Melissa was to find out, the wait would be delayed for the fact that the main road which ran from Oak Wood Village to Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa had been damaged by a large fallen tree only an hour earlier. The local council in their wisdom deployed insufficient alternative routes to the area, only to cause delays by the maintenance contractor who had been repairing the collapsed tarmac and now unsafe foundations. The time was not put to waste, however, as Melissa began to allow her mind to wander again, only this time it was of a time that she would have rather forgotten.

 

 

Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa - 1984

 

  ‘Melissa, we really do need to talk,’ Maria yelled out across the back lawn to catch her sisters' attention as she ran barefoot in a skimpy two-piece bikini to the swimming pool.

Shouting back at Maria for her to relax before removing her bikini top and diving headfirst into the pool, Melissa sprang up and down out of the water and began splashing around. The fact that her sister was showing off her exposed breasts like she was oblivious to the risk of being seen by anyone else who happened to emerge from the house worried Maria, and yet the very same thought inside Melissa’s mind was somewhat visually arousing in the sense that her stiff dark raised nipples pointed out a welcome message.

  ‘Melissa, are you crazy?’ Maria cried grabbing a long towel and holding it up for her sister to come out of the pool and get covered up.

  ‘Oh come on Sis, I'm just having a bit of fun, you must remember that, surely?’ Melissa shouted back making her way to the side and slowly, teasingly climbing up the ladder.

Once out of the pool she purposely swaggered past Maria who was still holding the towel out in front of her and walked over to the nearby sun loungers that had been covered with fresh clean towels that morning. Sitting down to dry herself off while Maria rushed over and sat behind her to explain the best way she could that things had to change – which for Melissa that didn’t sound good.

  ‘Terrence and I have agreed...’

  ‘Hang on, Terrence and I, don't you mean Terrence and his egotistical testicles have agreed, little sister?’ Melissa interrupted bitterly.

Handing a half-empty bottle of sun cream to her sister, Melissa asked if she would rub some into her back while she informed her of what Terrence wanted to change. Unfortunately, the news wasn't going to be easy to tell such a highly strung young woman such as Melissa.

  ‘I've decided to follow Terrence and join The Church of The New Faith, Melissa. The thing is, if...I mean, when I have...When I do...!’

Maria was stumbling with her words as all the right sentences were coming to her mind, but were more than failing to come out right when she attempted to speak them. This was a complete disaster in Maria's mind and the one thing which managed to upset her in such a way that tears would quickly begin to follow in moments just like this.

‘Hey, come on Sis, stop that now. Here, use this and dry your tears,’ Melissa said flipping over onto her back and handing Maria her bikini top.

  ‘It’s...It’s...’

  ‘Hey, it’s going to be okay, listen, I'm here and I'm listening’

  ‘It’s not that, it’s just I’d have thought you would have chosen something a little less personal than your bra, you dirty bitch!’ Maria cried between tears and rising laughter.

As both sat laughing at the now crumpled swimming top that Maria threw down onto the wet floor, from behind them Lord Terrence and one of his personal security guards made their way down to the poolside. It was when they finally reached both Maria and Melissa that both women stopped laughing and Melissa covered up her bare breasts with the lounger towel quickly before she made her way back to the house.

  ‘Was it something I said?’ Terrence asked making his way over to the pool’s edge and staring into the shimmering clear blue water.

Watching Melissa walk all the way up to the house and disappear inside, she finally broke her stare to look at Terrence, his black silk dressing gown that displayed the insignia of the family crest was unfastened and dropped to the ground to reveal his fine toned masculine body that sported a tight-fitting pair of Speedo swimming trunks. Raising his arms into the air for just a second he pushed himself forward to launch his whole body into the cool water of the pool, while still sitting in the same seat as she had done to apply the sun cream onto Melissa’s back, Maria found she was frozen to the spot. Terrence swam about in the pool for a few minutes before he, too, climbed out and walked over to Maria to sit down in front of her. Maria stared at him, almost entranced by the even sun tanned skin that he showed off in the bright sunlight and what looked like a very deep scratch across his naked shoulder blades.

  ‘Oh my god, what happened to your back?’ she suddenly cried out with deep concern in her voice.

Immediately the security guard gazed down to see the markings before giving a sly smile that he immediately shrugged off with a discreet cough.

  ‘What is it, have I been in the sun too long?’

  ‘No, it’s a scratch on your back, it’s like...’

The moment of uncomfortable silence filled the air as the atmosphere became suddenly awkward. The markings on Terrence's back were never brought up or discussed again, not by Maria, anyway. However, the security guard who had been present that day happened to mention it to Victor Mellor, the Acting Managing Director of the family magazine, who by this time became well aware that there was something wrong in both Lady Maria and Lord Terrence’s marriage that could affect everyone in the days to come.

Getting up to go back to the house and join her sister, Terrence asked if she had talked with Melissa to let her know about the situation.

  ‘I'll tell her tonight if that's okay with you?’ she replied almost sarcastically.

  ‘Splendid, I just don’t want to embarrass her more than I need to when I have to have her lazy arse thrown out of the house. Tonight at dinner will be fine.’

 

Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa – Present

 

As Melissa’s driver pulled up outside the main gates of Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa, she gave one last long lingering look at the house at the top of the drive before jumping in the car and telling the driver to take her into the village. The short journey gave Melissa the time to think about who she was going to contact and start the ball rolling for the Guardianship of Xander, and to loosen the smile from Father Richards’ face for humiliating her the way that he did throughout the funeral in front of all the guests and mourners.

  ‘A Victor Travis rang the car phone while you were attending your early morning appointment, Ma’am, he thought it better to leave a message with me than interrupt you,’ the driver declared.

  ‘Good old Victor. What was the message, David?’ she asked leaning forward to take a hold of a large bottle of red wine from the drinks cabinet in front of her and then poured herself a moderate glass full.

  ‘Dinner reservations have been made at The Royal for eight-thirty this evening, Ma’am,’ he gave a half clear reply as from in front of them a van overtook an oncoming car that nearly veered into the front of them.

  ‘Jesus Christ! That was close,’ Melissa gasped.

  ‘The roads are filled with them Ma’am, more so around the village. It’s worse than bloody Redstone. Are you alright Ma’am,’ David asked glancing through the rearview mirror to see that Melissa was raising the unspilt glass of red wine to her lips quickly.

Waving her free hand in the air while gulping it down with the other, Melissa was shaking, trembling with fear as to the near-miss with the other car that had taken the risk to overtake theirs on such a tight road. ‘I’m fine, keep going David, and contact Victor please and inform him dinner will have to wait,’ she finally replied taking in a deep long breath of fresh air.

Raising the glass barrier between himself and Melissa, David used the car phone to speed dial Victor, to inform him of the changes. In the back of the car, Melissa poured herself a second glass of wine, only this time she began sipping it slowly whilst looking out of the window at the passing countryside.

  ‘Everything has changed in such a short time,’ she thought aloud to herself.

 

Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa - 1984

 

  ‘Do you really expect me to believe that you have nowhere to go?’ Terrence laughed out with disbelief.

  ‘Well, Terrence – Lord-All-Fucking-Mighty – some people are a lot less off than you if you hadn’t noticed lately. How the hell do you expect me to sort out all of my affairs in such a short time?’ Melissa cried out across the dining room table angrily.

The informing of Melissa by Maria of Terrence’s ‘Changes’, had been delayed too long for Terrence’s liking, and now it was time that he intervened and told his sister-in-law exactly what those changes were going to be, and when. This was much to the disapproval of Maria, who had already made it clear that she would tell Melissa in her own time.

  ‘Come on Little Sis, don’t let this wanker do this to me,’ Melissa pleaded over Terrence’s very loud objections at the name-calling.

  ‘I…I can’t, Melissa, it’s…It’s for the best,’ Maria concluded turning her back on Melissa and crying her tears into an already dampened handkerchief.

Melissa was infuriated by the lack of support from her own flesh and blood, but even more so at the callous and insensitive way in which Terrence suddenly gave her three hours’ notice to leave Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa.

  ‘Well, now I know exactly who is on my side in all of this…’

  ‘My god, Melissa, this is not about people taking sides with you, it is about the happiness of your sister and the smooth running of things in this house, you ungrateful little bitch!’ Terrence yelled.

Melissa now stood in the middle of the room, her face showing the embarrassment like that of a schoolgirl being reprimanded for some serious school disorder. It had been the first time that the two had come face to face in a heated argument, and, as much as Melissa wished this moment to end, she had no idea that it would be the very last.

  ‘Oh fuck you, Terrence! The only reason you’re telling me to go is because I turned down your offer of a blow job, isn’t it? Go on, it’s alright, you can tell my sister, she won’t hold it against you now that she’s joining that fucked up dysfunctional band of perverts you call an Order… Out of fucking Order more like, prancing around in your white gowns and hoodies playing with your balls under those habits all night. Sick and twisted, that’s what you are.’

Immediately defending that of The Church of New Found Faith, Terrence jumped up out of his seat and raised his hand to strike the now cowering Melissa, but for Maria who quickly moved between them and in a loud voice demanded them both to stop. Another moment and there would have been a casualty, and if Maria knew her sister, it would have been that of her husband being rushed to hospital to get his injuries treated.

  ‘Melissa, I think it would be better for everyone if you left, I’m sorry, but my mind is made up, Xander and I need some normality to breathe into the house. I will sign the London apartment over to you and you can stay there until such a time as you can pay me the money back. It’s the best I can do for you right now, I’m sorry.’

Maria didn’t turn around to face her sister while informing her of this offer of a roof over her head, but within a few minutes, Melissa was forcefully escorted from the premises by the private security.

  ‘I’ll have my fucking day with you, Terrence O’Neill, even if it means chasing you through heaven or hell, I’ll have my fucking day when you’ll regret setting eyes on any of my damned family.’ Melissa screamed at the closing doors, before turning and walking to her car.

 

Oak Wood Village, Yorkshire – Present

 

Feeling a sudden shake Melissa opened her eyes to realize that she had nodded off while looking outside at the passing trees and the shaking feeling was that of David, who gently began nudging her awake to inform her that they had reached Oak Wood Village.

  ‘I’m sorry to disturb you, Ma’am, you were mumbling in your sleep…’

  ‘Save it, David, I had fallen asleep, you woke me up with a kiss,’ she declared dreamily.

  ‘N…No, Ma’am, I was shaking you gently!’ David exclaimed with a shocked look of embarrassment about his face.

  ‘Hey, come on relax, I’m just fucking with you, David…Obviously not in the physical sense of the word…Which is a pity? Now, we need a room for the night,’ she laughed replacing the empty wine bottle and glass back into the minibar and readying herself to exit the car.

  ‘Two rooms…separate, non-adjoining and for one night, Ma’am.’

David was rattled with what Melissa had said to him as a somewhat twisted joke, something of a sense of humor that he still hadn’t got used to while in the services of Lady Melissa James-Cartwright.

  ‘Isn’t that what I said?’ Melissa taunted with a mischievous smile.

  ‘Yes, Ma’am, that’s exactly what you said. I will go make the arrangements.’

Leaving Melissa alone in the car for a few minutes while he rushed into the nearest hotel, David was confronted by a well-dressed man who he understood to be the Manager; suit, tie, shiny shoes and a well-kept mullet of hair on his head – He was the perfect candidate.

  ‘Good afternoon,’ the man greeted David with a smile.

  ‘Good afternoon, I would like to book two rooms in this fine hotel for one night,’ David revealed taking out a large light tanned wallet holding a checkbook.

  ‘Well, you’ve come to the right place there are several beautiful rooms in this hotel. In all honesty, I would go for the Penthouse Suite as it has one of the most breathtaking views of the village fountain.’

Making no attempt to move from his position in front of him, the man looked at David for some other reaction than waving the checkbook under his nose.

  ‘Is there a problem?’ the man asked, looking at the checkbook until finally grabbing a hold of it to stop it waving.

  ‘Two of your finest…Oh, you’re not the Manager are you?’ David finally realized his mistake with a show of embarrassment.

The man smirked slightly before letting out a loud laugh. ‘No, I am not, but if you go and see that gentleman over there near the hotel bar, I’m sure he will help you get your two rooms, Sir.’

A moment later Melissa came staggering through the doors of the hotel’s main entrance and into the foyer to stand next to an extremely embarrassed David, who turned to her with a pretty vacant look.

  ‘David is everything alright?’ she inquired glancing back and forth between him and the other man waiting for a response from one or the other.

  ‘I was just telling your husband that there are…’

  ‘Driver, David here is my driver, and you are?’ Melissa interrupted gently squeezing at David’s arm to steady her legs from the intoxicating effects of the bottle of wine she had consumed on the way there.

The man was a little surprised at the interruption, but not so as to complain when learning that David was who she said he was. Of course, Melissa knew straight away that by her revealing that David was of no threat to any kind of advances he wished to make on her, he would not be faced with the jealousy or the disappointment of being told that he was wasting his time even trying.

  ‘My name is Giles Penistone, and it’s an absolute pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss...?’

  ‘Lady Melissa James-Cartwright and the pleasure is all mine Giles,’ she purred with a hovering smile that had the man’s heart racing in his chest.

Tilting his head to look at Giles, then to Melissa, David gave a short sigh before he excused himself from the company of the two and made his way over to the man that Giles had told him would arrange their hotel rooms for the night. Leaving Melissa and Giles to converse and the sorts, as David knew only too well the behavior of his employer was like that of a Cougar looking for the cast-offs, rejects and less experienced virginal novice’s, which of course Giles was far from being any of these, he caught the attention of the Hotel Manager and began to repeat his conversation again as to what he required.

Melissa stood with Giles, her attempts to stand up straight from the strength of the wine almost failing her now that her leaning post had vacated the area, she excused her condition by making a passing comment on how her shoes were hurting her feet. Of course, this made no difference to Giles, who now stood in admiration of Melissa’s beauty and elegance.

  ‘Absolute buggers, so I’m told, would you be here for business or pleasure, Mrs. James-Cartwright?’ he asked with a much softer and more confident tone in his voice.

Stepping up close to the man who was expecting an answer, Melissa took a tight hold of his tie and pulled on it as though reeling in a large Sea Bass. Her eyes fixed on his as she moved her leg to brush against his inner thigh and wrap it around the back of his knee slightly before giving one last pull at the necktie that brought him to within an inch of her soft warm lips. In his attempt to control himself from the advances of the beautiful woman, Giles felt the rush of blood filling each and every vein throughout his entire body, moving at great speed as though guided and directed into the one place that began to stiffen, harden and finally raise his erecting cock that was hidden under the thin dark fabric of his trousers. With her free hand now placed on Giles’ hip, Melissa moved it around, across and down to surround the large bulge that raised her eyebrows and instantly caused her pupils to dilate at the size of his manhood wrestling to escape his zipper.

  ‘A bit of both I hope. What about you Giles, are you here for business or the pleasure?’

Giles was boiling in his own testosterone, which was presently being mixed slightly by an amount of Melissa’s wine fume-filled breath that became visible over the elegantly rich smell of his aromatic and full-bodied Aramis aftershave that set off an alluring attraction.

  ‘That all depends on where the business ends and the pleasure begins, would you not agree Mrs. James-Cartwright?’ he replied over the intense inner drumming of his heartbeat.

The Tremadale had begun; the moment was savored and transformed into a virtual forever where everything around them both appeared to last an eternal moment before David returned with a key for Melissa and broke the concentration of the two, like the shattering of a glass case filled with sheer and utter desire.

  ‘Your key, Ma’am, I will return to the car and bring your overnight bag up to your room as soon as I’m finished down here,’ David informed her before turning and walking away toward the entrance and back to the car.

Melissa and Giles now separated due to their interruption staring at one another for a few moments more before Giles asked if he could buy her dinner that evening, unfortunately, the dinner would have to wait until after the meeting with Stacey in the village. Forcing herself to give Giles the bad news that she would have rather not revealed, she diverted her eyes momentarily until finally in an almost paused dread, she took in a deep breath.

  ‘I’m sorry Giles, I’d love to have dinner with you, but I’m having dinner with a girlfriend this evening’

  ‘Another time then, perhaps’

  ‘Yes, that’s a possibility, I may be staying here for a couple of days, why don’t you give me your room number and I will make sure to leave you a message when I am available?’

Taking out a small blank white plain piece of card from one of the inside pockets of his suit jacket along with a pen from the other, Giles handed them both over to Melissa who took them from his warm soft hands that showed no sign of nervousness or unease. As their skin touched they both felt some unknown intrusion, but not unwanted or unneeded, it was welcomed with a joint smile that flowed through each their bodies in turn.

  ‘I’m in room 205, as in the series of car you have outside,’ he declared with a cheeky wink.

Looking over her shoulder and out of the entrance to where David was gathering the bags from the boot, Melissa gave out a loud burst of laughter before turning back to a puzzled looking Giles. Her laughter containing neither malice nor skit, she turned back to hush her amusement to show just that of a wide smile which Giles found alluring.

  ‘I have to say this Giles, and please, don’t be offended when I do, but I really do hope you fuck better than you suck at knowing your cars! My car is a 305, but just as powerful in the right hands,’ she corrected him with a slow lick of her lips and roll of her eyes.

Overwhelmed by the forwardness of Melissa, Giles became slightly red with embarrassment before nodding his head to agree. The nod that had Melissa shrugging her shoulders. And now it was she who was half expecting an answer from the man who had approached her with all intent and purpose of scoring lucky that day, and at least the opportunity to climb into her underwear for a midnight pleasure ride until the rise of Dawn.

  ‘I believe that my ability to fuck is far way better than my knowledge of cars, Mrs. James-Cartwright, and I would really like the opportunity to demonstrate,’ he replied right on-queue before the moment was lost forever in which to reply.

Melissa looked into his soft cerulean blue eyes which were glazed over with a dreamy gloss tincture shining and sparkling with the frequent reflection of the sunlight that seeped in from the main entrance doors that opened and closed to allow the clientele to enter and leave the hotel. It was this look – this moment - of eye-catching magnetism that had them both fighting the temptation on moving closer to one another; moving closer to kiss, to caress, to fondle and make wild passionate love right there in the middle of the foyer.

  ‘I think I’ve burst it! ’ Melissa exclaimed suddenly.

  ‘I do believe you may have, Mrs. James-Cartwright,’ he whispered softly.

  ‘Your pen, I think I’ve burst it with holding it so tight,’ she quickly explained her statement showing him the broken pen in her palm.

Looking down at her hands, true enough, the pen he had handed her only a few moments ago had lost its secure top and from the open end of the refill the dark black ink had risen up with the heat from her hot clammy hand and spewed out all over Melissa’s palm and between her fingers.

  ‘Please, allow me,’ Giles insisted taking out of his pocket a pure white handkerchief with one hand and taking hold of the deeply aroused woman’s hand with the other to clean off the quick-drying ink.

  ‘If you don’t get it off quickly, your fingers will become sticky,’ he spoke out innocently.

  ‘Oh, you’d be surprised the many sticky things I’ve had in my hands, Giles!’

  ‘I can only imagine.’ he replied with a giggle, now realizing that their words were those of innuendo and fantasy-filled overtures.

Not being able to stand it any longer, Melissa made her apologies before she quickly made her way to the elevator. Rushing after her Giles begged to know what he had done wrong if anything, but all that Melissa could manage to get out of her mouth was the gasping word ‘Sorry.’

After making sure that she was securely behind her hotel room door, Melissa made her way quickly through the bedroom and into the En-Suite bathroom where she began to run herself a warm bath to wash off the frustration and tension of the almost unbearable encounter with the man in the foyer. Once the water had started running she returned to the bedroom and began to undress while all the time she was stopping, pausing, hesitating and deciding whether or not to jump into the bath or return downstairs to join Giles – the warm bath won – this time.

Having just submerged herself under the strong peach-scented bubble’s that covered her whole body, except for her head from the thin jawline that hovered just above the waterline, the door sounded a loud knock. In hearing the sound, Melissa rose up cursing the interruption, stepping out from the low bathtub and walking to the door without picking up a towel or robe – this was the way that Melissa was.

  ‘Christ, David, how many times…!

Standing before her was Giles, with a bottle of champagne in one hand while presenting a short spray of flowers with the other, and upon his face a show of slight surprise and excitement. The time he had before entering the room was not wasted on small talk or diverting his eyes, however, instead, he gazed upon her naked beauty as though drowning in a lust-filled forbidden dream.

  ‘Well, Melissa, not quite on my fantasy list this early in the evening, but a beautiful fantasy come true all the same,’ he exclaimed with a smile while handing her the flowers.

Shaking off the moment and accepting the flowers Melissa pushed the door wide open and demanded that he come inside before others on the landing got the wrong idea, to which he did while closing it behind him and walking further inside.

  ‘Your driver…David, he erm, he gave me your room number’

  ‘Yes, that’s David all over. Now, if you will excuse me, Giles, I will…’

‘Slip into something a lot less comfortable? I would vouch for what you’re already wearing any time of the day or night, Mrs. James-Cartwright.’

Turning and walking back into the bathroom Melissa gave a short indirect wave as she closed the door behind her and began to dry herself free of the bubbles that were now fewer than when she had first climbed out of the bath, while Giles was left to inspect the room in more detail before she would re-join him for a glass of champagne.

  ‘I was so very disappointed when you turned me down for dinner that I decided to bring dinner to you, I hope you like Thai food?’ he shouted aloud so she could hear him through the bathroom door.

A moment later the door of the bathroom opened for Giles to see Melissa standing in the doorway with nothing but her panties on, something that had him wolf-whistling and clapping his hands excitedly at. The dampened hair around the shoulders setting off the glistening pale skin that made the hard large dark brown nipples and areolas on her ample sized breasts more prominent, while the well-kept toned stomach, waistline and well-shaped legs brought the sensation and stir within his trousers displaying again the noticeably large Man-Dong bulge between Giles’ crouch.

  ‘Calm down Fido, I need the dress,’ Melissa smiled pointing a steady finger directly toward him with an arc.

  ‘I don’t normally buy gifts until we’ve dated a few times…okay, at least once’

  ‘The dress behind you on the bed, would you mind passing me it over?’

Hesitating for a moment Giles sensed that something was wrong, as Melissa seemed to be somehow distant and detached from the situation, unlike when she was all over him like a rash downstairs in the lobby. Turning to the bed Giles picked up the long blue sequined dress carefully and proceeded to pass it across to the half-naked woman who was standing waiting patiently before him. Melissa’s eyes burning brightly, but alas, the light was not for him.

‘Do you have to…?’

  ‘Yes, I don’t want to be late for my appointment’

  ‘And your appointment is at…’

  ‘Eight O’clock with an old maid of mine in the village, or rather an old maid from my old house where I lived outside the village,’ Melissa replied sharply climbing into her dress.

  ‘So you haven’t got time for a…’

  ‘Just one, and then I must leave you to it. I’m sorry for the interruption Giles, but this is very important to me, like I said, maybe some other time, perhaps.’

Without another word Giles nodded slowly and began twisting at the champagne bottle’s neck to rid it of its foiled covered seal so that he could pop the wooden cork, something that he did with perfect precision and swiftness before pouring two glasses from it.

  ‘You’re glass of champagne, Mrs. James-Cartwright.’

Taking the glass from his hand Giles held it back a little to get her attention.

  ‘Tonight, I really do need to see you tonight, Melissa, you will come to my room after you have been to your appointment, won’t you?’ he asked with an almost completely visible tone of wanton lust in his soothing voice.

The sparkle was still showing in his eyes from the encounter downstairs in the foyer, his voice, too, had become a whole lot softer and more alluring. This was putting Melissa in an awkward position – a very awkward position indeed.

  ‘Okay, listen, if you answer my question correctly, I will come to your room tonight and you can fuck me with that big cock of yours until the sun comes up. But, if you answer incorrectly, you get the booby prize of only getting to savor the vision of me in my panties and wank yourself stupid when I’m gone,’ Melissa piped up crudely.

Giles was beside himself, wondering what exactly it was that she was going to ask him and, whether he could answer it to gain his grand prize.

  ‘Alright, I agree. What’s the question?’ he asked confidently.

Satisfied with his eager response she walked over to the table in front of where he sat and put down the half-empty glass of champagne before placing both her hands on her hips.

  ‘Tell me what your association is with Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa?’

Concentrating on Giles’ face for any signs of a sudden change or avoidance, Melissa waited a couple of seconds for his reply.

  ‘Nothing, I mean, I’ve never heard of it,’ Giles answered carefully – too carefully.

Breaking her stare Melissa carefully raveled up the sequined dress before pulling it over her shapely body, a sight that Giles found quite gratifying. It was now that she walked over to the windowsill near the balcony door and stuck a hand into her purse to take out a mobile phone, then brought it up in her hand to face the well-lit menu screen before searching the address book for a specific number.

  ‘Well?’ Giles gasped.

  ‘Well, what?’ Melissa replied pointing to the back of the dress while turning away to listen for the dialing tone.

  ‘Did I get the answer right?’ Giles asked with a worried look, but still standing to push the zipper all the way to the top for her.

Shaking her head from side to side, Melissa pressed the ‘Call’ button on the mobile phone before placing the handset to her ear, making her way out of the room and into the hallway.

  ‘David, bring the car to the front of the hotel will you, please?’ she finally spoke when the phone connected.

Hanging up the phone she turned to face a very confused Giles staring back at her from inside the room.

  ‘I’m sure that vision will last a couple of weeks before you move on to the next woman in your web of lies and deceit, Giles – if Giles is your real name. There are some tissues in the bathroom, use them all if you wish. Goodnight.’

Closing the door behind her she continued on her way to meet up with David at the front entrance of the hotel and finally set off to meet Stacey in the village.

  ‘Where to Ma’am,’ David asked with a wide yawn.

  ‘To The Old Mill in the village, of course, I’ll leave it up to you to follow your instincts, David, and if you get us there before eight O’clock, I will give you a bonus.’

Melissa was angry, and when she was angry the loyal people around her were awarded the best rewards to simmer the rage running through her body. Of course, David knew only too well how Melissa operated when she needed to blow off steam, and sometimes it was just a simple matter of making her happy in doing the job that she asked you to do.

  ‘The Old Mill it is then Ma’am,’ David nodded and set off driving around to find the one place that would again bring a smile to his employers face – The Old Mill Pub.

Just eight minutes had passed before David pulled up across from the small dim-lit bar that in its windows boasted the best beer and lowest prices in the entire area, and certainly, by the look of the main door, this was a cheap bar. It was seven-forty-five in the evening and they still had fifteen minutes to kill before Stacey was due to meet up with them, which was far too long to wait around in a chauffeur-driven car looking suspicious. Stepping out from the back seat and getting into the front with David, Melissa pointed at the two bouncers standing at the entrance doors.

  ‘What do you think about those two, David?’

  ‘What, you’re doing this now?’ David objected loudly.

Placing a steady hand on David’s knee Melissa began to rub it slowly at first until she moved back and across slightly to his groin. Becoming aware that she was about to touch the semi-hard erection that was nicely tucked away in his jeans, David stopped her and nodded.

  ‘Humor my grumpy mood, David, please?’

  ‘Alright,’ he conceded moving her hand onto her own leg, ‘the guy on the left, I’d say is an ex-gang member, fourteen stone, loves his foreign food and is in no relationship. The guy on the right trained martial artist, a little less weighty than his friend, and again, he has no long-standing relationship.’

Melissa was impressed, but not satisfied that David had taken in all the details of the two men well enough.

  ‘What about the way in which the man on the left has no head of hair and yet he is so much more confident than his friend?’ she questioned with a knowing smile.

David shuffled in his seat while pondering on a single thought before suddenly holding up a hand and clicking his fingers loudly. ‘That’s it, he lost his hair in a heated argument with a past girlfriend who pulled it all out, am I right?’

Melissa was suddenly startled by the sudden action he made, one which she was not expecting. ‘Christ, David, what the…!’

Silencing her words for a second David held a finger to her lips and poised to look out of the windscreen. ‘Look over there?’

Looking over to her left Melissa saw a young woman walking on the opposite side of the road toward the bar, her head covered by a dark hooded top while her face obscured by the low lighting of the street lamps and neon signs from the buildings in her path.

  ‘Stacey! That’s got to be Stacey,’ Melissa gasped in a low quiet voice.

Looking at one another for a brief moment they each nodded before reaching out to open their doors and exit the car, just before Stacey disappeared into the bar and out of sight. Following closely behind her were both Melissa and David, preparing to confront the two bouncers standing at the door.

  ‘Sorry Sir, Miss, inappropriately dressed, we couldn’t possibly let you enter,’ the man on the left with the bald smooth head exclaimed pushing a hand into David’s chest. This, however, was something that in any normal situation nobody would have done or even tried to attempt to do, especially as David was an ex-SAS Officer assigned to Melissa from Lord Beacham and Lord Davies themselves.

  ‘It’s alright David, I will handle this,’ Melissa assured him with a wide smile. ‘Now, how would you two boys like a small financial donation? I’m sure that somewhere in my bag there is something that will change your mind.’

Rubbing their hands together with glee at the offer, the two bouncers nodded their heads in agreement as Melissa took out her purse and opened it. Looking inside, the men found that there was no cash, only that of credit cards and a single photograph of a man once loved very much by Melissa in what seemed like a lifetime ago.

  ‘Hang on,’ the bouncer on the right said turning to get his colleague's attention, ‘isn’t that John Parson’s?’

Melissa nodded her head up and down slowly so as not to confuse the two men’s concentration while looking at the picture.

  ‘Sorry for holding you up Miss, please, go straight inside.’

David looked at her with contempt as they made their way inside and across to the bar where Stacey stood waiting for Melissa to arrive, a beer at the side of her showed that she had the initiative to stop any suspicion befalling her being there other than to drink or socialize.

  ‘Stacey, hey how are you?’ Melissa shouted loud enough for her to hear over the music playing out of the speakers from the Juke Box.

Turning to face Melissa, Stacey noticed David and the way that he was dressed which made her a little nervous. After introducing them both to one another, however, Stacey became more at ease, but not for long as from the main doors an associate of Father Richards walked in and sat down just several seats away from where they were sitting at the bar.

  ‘You said that you were bringing evidence for me to use against…’

  ‘Not here, we must leave before more of Father Richards men arrive,’ Stacey prompted moving her eyes directly to her right to signify that there was someone near to her who was trying to listen in on their conversation.

Escorting Stacey from the pub Melissa and David pointed over to their car, but not before Melissa gave David a little mischievous smile and turned to the two doormen unexpectedly.

  ‘Tell me something you two?’ she called scratching her head. ‘Are any of you ex-military? It’s just that you look ex-mill, that’s all?’

David couldn’t believe that Melissa had stopped to ask trivial questions of their observation profiling earlier, but more so to the fact that she had actually taken the decision to inquire whether the profile on both men was right or not.

  ‘Well, Steve here was in the Para’s, if that answers your question, Sweet Heart?’ the man on the right exclaimed with a slow lick of his lips while staring at her bulging cleavage.

Amused by the childish and vulgar sexual gesture from such a mature man Melissa smiled back before turning to the other doorman with a quick nod, and it was this that annoyed the man who was trying to impress the woman standing before them.

  ‘What about you? Would you like to give me a good licking, too?’ she teased.

The man backed off a little and then turned away without saying anything.

  ‘What’s wrong, you’re not gay are you?’

The other doorman stepped forward and took a hold of Melissa’s arm, pulling her toward him by force. Seeing this happening Stacey and David rushed over to calm the man down.

  ‘Okay big man, put the woman down and step back,’ David said with a demanding voice that seemed to go unheard.

The doorman, however, didn’t listen, nor did he let Melissa go.

  ‘I said,’ David growled, thrusting a hand through the air and taking a firm grip of the doorman’s throat while applying pressure, ‘put the woman down and step back…Now!

It was now that he let go of Melissa and tried hard to step back, but for the tightening hand that was gripping him. He could not move at all. Having been released from the man’s hold Melissa rushed over to David and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.

  ‘Okay, David, you can let him go now,’ Melissa assured him it was safe.

Releasing his hold around the doorman’s throat David glared at him and then looking over to his associate, Stacey intervened and told the other doorman to get his friend inside the pub before there was more trouble. Agreeing with a nod the man propped up his friend and led him through the doors and into the pub. Outside, Melissa, Stacey, and David, again, made their way to the car where they jumped in and began driving away.

  ‘Do you mind telling me what the hell that was all about back there?’ David demanded angrily.

  ‘I simply wanted to know whether your profile of those men was correct David, nothing else, surely you aren’t going to make a big thing out it?’ Melissa answered sheepishly.

  ‘Profile, you mean like a portfolio or something like that?’ Stacey blurted out from the back seat suddenly.

Melissa and David looked at one another for a moment before bursting out into laughter, then Stacey joined them not knowing that it was her comment that they were laughing at. Pulling off of the main road and into a long dark alleyway, David turned off the engine and external lights before turning in his seat to face Melissa. In turn, Melissa did the same, only her angle was to face David while enabling her to see and speak to Stacey sat in the back, too.

  ‘We should be okay here for a little while, I’m sure that we weren’t followed by anyone,’ David reassured the two before stepping out of the car to keep watch at the entrance of the alleyway while Melissa and Stacey spoke in private.

When Melissa knew that both she and Stacey were alone to talk, she reached into her purse and took out a cigarette case and offered one to the young woman. Stacey reached over the seat and with a smile took a cigarette from the packet before thanking Melissa and sitting back in her place. Taking a lighter from her pocket Stacey lit it and before taking a long single drag she wound down the back window slightly to blow out the smoke slowly. Melissa watched her for a moment before taking from her bag her lighter to light the cigarette she was holding between her fingers.

  ‘The whole concept of privacy was created for the nobles in the late eleven hundreds, and in today’s world, many high seated Orders take it for granted that this means listening in and recording many conversations. Xanders’ father, God bless his soul was one of the men in the middle, one who called out in an almost silent tongue for the changes to be fixed. It was soon after this that he died, leaving Xander in the wake of danger,’ Melissa spoke up while she rearranged her position in the seat.

  ‘He was a good businessman…Mr. O’Neill,’ Stacey exclaimed between short drags of the cigarette that she held between her trembling fingers.

Melissa glared at her guest as though pondering on the notion of whether to strike her across the face for being outright rude or pass it off in the moment to remain silent. But, as this was Melissa James-Cartwright, it was a third option that came to the very forefront of the conversation and one which would surely prove whether Stacey was as real as she made herself out to be.

  ‘Tell me, Stacey, the job that you do for Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa, what exactly does it entail? I mean the dressing and fucking of my young Nephew can’t be all that you do there, surely?’

In many ways the question was found to be inappropriate to Stacey, especially as it seemed to be untrue in two ways, the first was the several tell-tale signs that Stacey was still that of a virgin, and secondly, that Stacey clammed up and did not defend herself to the bold vulgar assumption. The shyness indicated her innocence, while the blushing red shade that could be seen across her face even in the darkness was another sure sign that the mature undertones in Melissa’s voice were embarrassing to her.

  ‘My duties around the House include the bookkeeping of Father Richards’ Church business, and on occasion, I help out in the kitchens when there are special functions being held,’ Stacey replied desperately trying to avoid eye contact with Melissa.

  ‘Oh, I see, so you fuck Father Richards’, too?’ there came a second uncomfortable claim, one that had Stacey reaching for the car door handle rather quickly.

  ‘Wait! You’ll find that the doors are locked, Stacey. I want my Nephew to be safe from harm, and to be completely honest with you I have not got the time for petty little problems to stand in my way. Did I offend you in some way with my observations?’

Thinking for a moment Stacey released the door handle and sat back in the seat looking over at Melissa who now had the strangest expression hanging from her face.

  ‘Are you asking me whether or not I am in a relationship with Xander, or having some kind of sexual interaction with Father Richards’, Mrs. James-Cartwright?’

This was the moment that Melissa had been waiting for, and the wait it would seem was well and truly over, not to mention worth it. The stern expression fell from her face and became replaced by that of a smile, and a moment later Melissa clambered out of the front seat to make her way into the back of the car where she sat closer to Stacey.

  ‘Tomorrow you will leave the service of Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa and take a taxi straight to the airport where a private plane will take you to any destination in the world that you choose. While you are away, the affairs of Father Richards’ will not spoil your dreams of becoming whatever you want to be in this life. But, tonight, you will arrange to have Xander brought to me so that he and I may return to London where his real home is, do I make myself clear?’

  ‘Mrs. James-Cartwright, I am fully aware of who you are! I doubt there are any staff members in the service of Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa who do not know you by your reputation, but what you ask is impossible. My loyalties are not to Father Richards, they are to the house itself and no other,’ Stacey gave a confident reply, one that was very much valid at that, too.

Thinking for a moment of the situation Melissa took hold of Stacey’s hand and began slowly stroking it, while with her other hand free she took from the bar at the side of her a large brown envelope that had not yet been sealed shut before handing it over to the young girl.

  ‘Take this.’

  ‘What is it?’ Stacey asked cautiously.

  ‘A gift…a new start to a fruitful and engaging friendship,’ Melissa answered, as Stacey took the envelope and proceeded to open it and look inside.

Inside the envelope, she found to her surprise a large neat pile of fifty-pound notes and a passport holder that contained an open prepaid air ticket for any global destination. This was something that Stacey didn’t understand, but to cure her own curiosity she had to find out exactly why Mrs. James-Cartwright was handing these items over, even after she had made it clear that delivering Xander was something that she just could not do.

  ‘Either way, whether you help me or not Stacey, Xander will be leaving Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa tonight and joining me in London. Unfortunately, you, yourself will be leaving the house too, and the ticket and the money you are holding will be used.’

  ‘You sound so sure of yourself Mrs. James…’

  ‘Let’s cut through the crap, shall we Stacey, my name is Melissa, and tomorrow the once favored Father Richards is going to be arrested and charged for some very serious crimes. You will get into a taxi and do exactly what I say or…’

  ‘Or what, what could you possibly do to me that Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa hasn’t already done over the short time that I have been there?’ Stacey barked.

  ‘I can have you arrested too, and together, you and the Priest can share a prison cell for a very long time. I am not angry at you, Stacey, I am just happy that Xander was not being used as a sex toy for that bastard Father Richards’. Now, take the money, the ticket and give me your word that you will not be anywhere near that house in the morning when the police show up?’

Stacey nodded her head reluctantly, and with a slight pause, too, as she now reached for the door handle. Melissa reached out and grabbed her elbow hastily with one hand while with her other she released the door locks before the young girl could swing both feet out of the car and leave.

  ‘Do we have a deal, Stacey?’ she asked demanding an answer.

Nodding again, only this time with a half-hearted smile, Stacey agreed to be nowhere near the house when the police arrived that following morning. Melissa was glad that finally, she had received an answer and then gave a shout out of the window for David to get back into the car. After watching Stacey exit the alleyway David jumped back into the driver’s seat, put on his seatbelt and sat looking through the rearview mirror at Melissa. ‘Well?’

  ‘Back to the hotel please, David.’ she replied without another word.

Taking the shortest route back to the hotel, David opened the car door and allowed Melissa to make her way inside while he locked up and secured the vehicle across the street in the hotel's residential parking bay. Satisfied that it was safe he, too, made his way over and into the hotel foyer before approaching the main reception desk for his room key.

  ‘Ah Mr. Price, you have a message,’ the desk clerk declared handing him a small envelope along with his key.

Opening the envelope with haste he took out the small piece of paper from within and read through it quickly before slamming his hand down on the desk counter loudly with frustration, the sound of his hand thudding on the hardwood made the desk clerk and several other people standing around him jump half out of their skins.

  ‘Is there a problem, Sir?’ the desk clerk asked inquisitively.

  ‘Nothing that won’t keep, has Mrs. James-Cartwright retired to her room?’

  ‘Mrs. James-Cartwright has just collected her key, I cannot say for sure, however, whether she has taken the lift to her room or retired to the Hotel Bar, Sir,’ he replied with a job-cloned smile that irritated David very much.

Battling the decision on whether to go straight to his room or go to the bar, David was torn between the two for a few moments before deciding to turn around and head for the latter. Strolling straight up to the almost empty bar he waved a hand in the air to get the attention of the waiter, then found an out of the way table that was situated behind the entrance that would give him the perfect cover of seeing who was coming and going, but also to stay away from prying eyes. Ordering a double measure of peach vodka the waiter nodded only to confirm that his order had been taken before walking off to the bar to inform the barman.

  ‘Hello David,’ a low sounding voice called out to him suddenly.

Looking up from the dark varnished stained tabletop David looked into the eyes of a young woman, probably in her mid to late twenties and sporting a very elegant green dress that clung to her well-proportioned hourglass figure. As for knowing the woman, it was a very tricky area for the fact that he did – and yet he didn’t.

Suddenly David felt uncomfortable. ‘Hello, do I know you?’

Trying desperately to be polite he stood to his feet and greeted the woman with a steady gentle handshake, then while waiting for the waiter to return from the bar he asked if she would like to join him for a drink, to which she kindly declined.

  ‘Maria, my name is Maria, you work for Lord Ellison in London,’ she revealed, suddenly raising his suspicions of her intentions as she knew something that nobody else should have known about his employment.

  ‘Lord Ellison, of London, did you say?’ David was playing the avoidance game.

  ‘Hey, come on, relax, it’s me…Maria Kensington, I’m on the staff,’ she replied apologetically.

As the job that David had was more secret than what the job description actually revealed, it was this secretive interaction between the two worlds of normal and political that had taken its toll on him over the years.

  ‘OH-MY-GOD! Maria Kensington, the security attaché with…?’ he suddenly remembered her face, but unfortunately not her posting, however.

  ‘The Ambassador Kale Var,’ she replied rolling her eyes.

  ‘That’s right, I remember. Did you ever find out where that place was?’

  ‘Nope, I’m still trading some of my favors to see if Intelligence Services can give me anything,’ she joked.

Offering Maria a seat next to him she screwed up her face and informed him that she was on a job and that she could only spare a couple of minutes. And it was the couple of minutes chat and the fact that she was on a job in the same place he and Melissa were that made him all the more wary. The woman who sat down next to him was very efficient in what she did, as was David, which was an explosive combination for any future romantic involvement together. The department, however, didn’t like it when two officers became personally involved with an attachment of a relationship, although according to some very rare rumors circulating, only the best of the best had actually found a way to be together with their opposite-sex operatives who they had fallen in love with.

  ‘Is there anything that I should know, Maria?’ he asked with hope of finding out what she was up to.

  ‘Yeah, the department wants you back, and they gave me a message to give you, too,’ she revealed with a warm smile.

Was this something that he should be afraid of finding out? Was Maria the one that had been sent by the department to do Father Richards’s dirty deed of ridding Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa of the only real true blood of Xanders family and fortune?

  ‘Should I be armed to hear this message Maria?’ he laughed nervously.

  ‘Don’t be silly, David, you don’t still carry weapons, do you?’

  ‘Well, don’t you?’ David was worried and began to look around.

  ‘I’m sorry David, are you working?’ she asked suddenly realizing that he was a little more tense than the last time they had seen one another.

The waiter approached the table and handed him his drink while Maria glanced over to the doorway to see a dark tall suited man waving a hand, it was now that she excused herself from David’s company and walked over to the man standing with his back to them both. A couple of seconds later she returned to David’s table and told him that she had to get back to work.

  ‘Maybe we could meet up tomorrow evening, I have the night off and this would be the best place to take up that rain check you gave me back in London last year,’ she said handing a calling card displaying her name and telephone number.

  ‘Well, that sounds like a very tempting offer Maria, unfortunately…’

  ‘You’re working, that’s fine, that’s okay we can catch up some other time.’

  ‘Yes, that would be good. Before you go, Maria, what was the message from London?’

Thinking for a second before throwing a poised finger up in front of her signaling her associate outside the bar that she would be another minute, Maria sat down close to David and in a quiet voice, she whispered into his ear.

  ‘23…48, the poison is in the mix.’

With this Maria stood to her feet to leave with the other man and finally, she was gone. David was left at the table wondering what had just happened when suddenly he caught sight of Melissa at the bar trying to get the attention of the barman. Making his way over with his drink in one hand and a brushing free hand to move the disorganized chairs that were sticking out in his path, David finally reached Melissa and placed his drink down by her side.

  ‘David,’ she exclaimed with a guess before turning to face him, ‘there are only two people on this planet who drink peach vodka and I believe that I’m one of them.’

  ‘Low key,’ David whispered.

  ‘Low Key, is that a new drink made with peach vodka, David?’

David was not amused one bit. ‘We agreed on low key, Melissa, not going out and painting the town red by getting piss drunk and looking like a fool. There could be hostiles lurking around here!’

Telling him to pipe down with the lectures on alcohol abuse and drinking habits, she called the barman over and ordered four double shot peach vodkas before telling David to go find them a table in the recesses of the bar somewhere. Shaking his head with disappointment he did as he was told and then escorted Melissa over to the far side of the room behind the bar where there were no windows or doors anywhere close, only the main door to the bathroom where Melissa would most probably spend a good part of her evening, if David knew his employer as well as he thought he did.

  ‘I’ve made the arrangements for tomorrow morning, David,’ Melissa called over to him as she walked closer to the table. ‘I dare say that Father Richards won’t know what hit him come ten O’clock tomorrow morning, I just hope that the second part of my plan works too, or we are both going to be returning back to London with more than egg on our faces. Now, drink up and I’ll order another round for us.’

The one thing about Melissa was that she could drink and hold her liquor – or most of it anyway. The nights of going out dancing and pulling complete strangers had passed her some years ago, but there was always the urge there that burned deep in her behavior where she needed to see if she was still in the game – that she was still alive – and that no matter how many bars she had to be rejected from, it would be David that would be the one to catch her fall if and when anything went wrong.

  ‘What about the young girl…Stacey, what happens to her?’

  ‘Oh come on David, you know as well as me, there has always got to be a little…’

  ‘Collateral damage, so you keep saying. But don’t you think that for once there should be a time when you actually help someone that you originally set out to help in the first place, instead of going around destroying their lives? The way I see it, you gave that girl all the right means of a perfect escape, and yet, you sit there with glee knowing that the one person who caused you harm and embarrassment is going to be hung, drawn and quartered…in fact, I’m surprised you didn’t arrange for the Priest to have his balls cut off, too!’

With a raised sadistic grin Melissa rose a glass of peach vodka into the air.

  ‘Oh, but I did, but you having a pair of balls too, I didn’t want to scare you’

  ‘There are few things in this world that scare me, Melissa, and right now, the details of the Priest are far from scratching the surface. Sometimes I think you love being a sadistic bitch, it’s as though you’re hurting all the time and…Fuck it! Listen, we need to drink up and get out of here.’

David was rattled, more than Melissa had ever seen him rattled before, and in the almighty book of ‘Rattled’, Melissa had only seen David act like this three times during his entire employment with her. Of course, one of those times was when Melissa’s housekeeper Mrs. Angelis had arrived home early one afternoon to find him stood in just his boxer shorts while Melissa was sat in a very compromising position on her luxury sofa, but it was as Melissa explained a legitimate mistake.

  ‘Have we got a problem, David?’ Melissa asked openly and directly.

Looking into his half-empty glass of peach vodka David shook his head from side to side before letting out a loud sigh as he forced himself back into his seat, his eyes filled with something that Melissa was unfamiliar with. Sorrow, maybe.

  ‘Before I came to work for Lord London and The Agency, Melissa…’

  ‘For me, David! Please, don’t forget your position in my employment. When you came to work FOR me,’ she interrupted.

Suddenly with an anxious hand grappling at his jacket David eventually managed to get into the inside pocket and take out a packet of cigarettes, then nodding his head silently after lighting it he pointed through the expanding vortex cloud of grey smoke at Melissa with anticipated breath.

  ‘Why I put up with you and your shit I will never know, you even correct me when I’m trying to be a total cunt! Have you any idea how belittling that is, Melissa? Have I not earned at least a little bit of respect?’ he finally cried out in a half sober tone.

Surprised, but not exactly shocked at the sudden change in attitude from her CPS, Melissa reached over the table and took hold of his hand, while gently squeezing it to some degree of effect.

  ‘Oh my god, David, is this because of Edinburgh?’ she whispered.

David’s train of thought began to derail fast as his face changed to that of embarrassment and raging anger.

  ‘Are you…do you think…for fucks sake Melissa, this is nothing to do with you – it is definitely nothing at all to do with Edinburgh.’

Glancing over her shoulder toward the bar Melissa waved an unsteady hand at the waiter who walked over and asked if there was anything that he could do, to which Melissa pointed down at the empty glasses on the table and asked for the same again. At that moment David pushed his hand over the tops of the glasses and nodded his head adamantly.

  ‘The Lady has had enough,’ he spoke up in a dry angry tone.

  ‘Very well Sir, could I draw your attention to the No Smoking signs displayed around the building?’ the Waiter smiled pointing around at each sign in turn.

  ‘Very pretty, now fuck off!’ David snapped with a sarcastic smile.

The Waiter did not answer him back, nor did he engage in any confrontation, he just made his way back to the bar and shrugged his shoulders while asking the barman what he made of the bad attitude that he had just been subjected to? The barman, too, just shrugged and continued getting on with what he was doing while David knocked back the remainder of his drink and calmed down.

  ‘David Price, why are you acting like a complete twat?’ Melissa asked in a very drunken way while trying to take his hand in hers.

  ‘London is calling, Lady Cartwright,’ he answered finally pulling his hand away very quickly.

This brought Melissa down to Earth with a big bump, especially as the words that David spoke were just a few of the most common dreaded words that would actually manage to do this to her. The last time that this happened was the morning of her Corpus Initiation into the Beacham Varsity Society when news of Lord Terrence O’Neill’s death was announced in the Chamber Bar of the Commons. This news, however, as well as knocking the wind out of her sails managed to sober her up enough to concentrate a little better on her reaction.

  ‘London…!’

  ‘London, Lady Cartwright, they want us to return,’ he confirmed.

Now Melissa began nodding her head silently while rolling her forefinger around a half-empty glass of peach vodka.

  ‘Then we have to finish up here with our business concerning Father Richards and Xander before we return and face the music.’

  ‘And what about the unfinished business with The Squirrel, when does he get his phone call?’

  ‘The Squirrel can bloody well wait until tomorrow, for the moment I need to know that Xander is safe and well, and that he is at least a million miles away from that sick fuck Father bloody I’m a saint, Richards. It’s going to be a little bumpy David, so I need to know if you're behind me on this, there can be no room for mistakes here.’

David nodded his head. ‘I’m always one hundred percent behind you, Lady Cartwright it’s what I’m paid to do’

  ‘No David, I believe sometimes you choose to be behind me, and for this, I am eternally grateful, you really are a true friend and employee. Now, let’s get the hell out of here and get some sleep before we get barred.’

Standing to their feet both David and Melissa made their way out of the hotel bar and over to the lift where upon entering Melissa waited for David to press the button for their floor, his shoulders being taken hold of by Melissa’s soft hands and massaged gently.

  ‘Everything is going to be okay David, you’ll see. Let’s face it, we’ve been in bigger scrapes than this before and lived to tell the tale, haven’t we?’

Falling into the moment of starting to enjoy the delicately placed pressure across both his shoulders and the nape of his neck, David just nodded to confirm her words, and then suddenly with a raised stiffening body he shrugged to shake the two hands away from him.

  ‘I think we have both had too much to drink tonight’

  ‘Alright, so come back to my room and have a little totty with me?’

  ‘I’m sorry, Melissa, but I’m going to have to say no. We need as much rest as possible for tomorrow…’

  ‘Okay, David as you wish, but if you change your mind you know where I am, right?’ she answered with a little sadness.

The journey from the elevator to their rooms was almost silent and without words or any last reactions until suddenly, Melissa turned wearily and pointed at David. ‘You smoke?’

  ‘Only when I’m nervous, now get yourself to bed and I’ll see you in the morning,’ David answered shooing her through the lift door and in the direction of her room down the long empty corridor.

Being the only one of the two not affected as much by the alcohol, David made his way into his dark lit room with a stray roaming hand for the light switch which he reached out for once he had entered enough to close the door behind him. It was while feeling around for the switch that he suddenly became aware of a strong smell of perfume hovering around him, and immediately stopped his search for the light switch and began looking through the darkness for any sudden movements.

  ‘Maria!’ he whispered a low gasp.

  ‘And you are still as good as you’ve always been, David, congratulations,’ a woman’s voice applauded him from the darkness before she turned on the nightstand lamp near the window to reveal herself. It was indeed Maria Kensington.

  ‘Do I ask why you’re here…I mean, in my room at this late hour, or do I go for my gun and shoot you first and then ask questions later?’ David growled out dryly unbuttoning his jacket.

  ‘There’s that word again – gun. Do you have a gun David, or are you just pleased…’

  ‘Cut the shit, Maria, tell me why you’re here?’

David was in no mood to play games, and he certainly wasn’t in the mood to reminisce with the ex-associate who had been very elusive about her visit to Oak Wood Village downstairs in the bar earlier.

  ‘Okay David, you win, I’ll tell you everything,’ Maria joked walking over to him slowly with a teasing swagger.

  ‘No, I don’t want to know everything I just want to know the part that is to do with me. It’s obvious that you’re not up here from London on a camping trip, Maria, so what is it?’

The smile dropped from her face as she leaned over for a small shoulder bag that was laid on the table, taking from it a document which she then passed over to David, he took a hold of it. Reading through it his eyes lit up and began to show concern, and this was something that Maria found strange.

  ‘What is it David, what’s wrong?’ she asked.

  ‘This is an order made out from Lord…Oh my god,’ David was suddenly taken aback by some great urge to scream out into the air, but for the present company who could well be the perfect alternative for him to shout at instead, he remained tight-lipped.

  ‘It’s just a simple in and out job, nothing major, David’

  ‘And you have no idea that the target is just a boy, do you, Maria?’

  ‘The instructions were for the target only David, not you or that bitch! Oh…I’m sorry, I mean, Lady Cartwright’

  ‘Watch your fucking mouth Maria, that’s my employer that you’re disrespecting’

  ‘She’s a fucking Cougar, David, and for the record, it’s you with the dirty mouth. Is this the new you now, because that’s the way your boss likes it? Wake up and smell the coffee David, she is as much to blame for all of this as you are, and sooner or later you’ll have to let go of all that if you expect to return back to London for a better commission.’

Rushing over to Maria with a face of fury David attempted to take a hold of Maria’s top, but for Maria acting much quicker by taking a hold of his hand and turning it along with David so that he was facing the door. David was impressed.

  ‘Christ, David! What the hell are you trying to do?’ Maria demanded attempting to hold him still.

Without answering David spun around, freeing himself from the hold and taking Maria into a full inescapable headlock – or so David thought.

  ‘Cancel the contract Maria and leave for London, tonight, or I’ll have to…’

  ‘You’ll have to what, David? Kill me? Fuck me? Well, you’ll have to do one or the other soon because I’m starting to grow bored of this position,’ Maria laughed sarcastically.

  ‘Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa is none of your concern Maria, and it’s certainly nothing to do with The Agency or London. He’s just a boy for Christ's sake, the son and heir to the family business that the bureaucratic bastards in London want to take away from him. Are you really going to let them do this to him – to kill him?’

  ‘Yes, David, I am paid to seek, trace and eliminate the target. What they do to that target, regardless of whether it is a child or adult, that has nothing to do with me. And besides, Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa has everything to do with me and London. You know yourself how The Baker’s Dozen works and how they have their fingers in all of those pies, from the Dukes and Earl’s to the Lords, Queens and King’s,’ Maria cried breaking herself free from the fatal hold that she was in.

Pushing David back toward the door she quickly reached over again to her bag, only this time to take out a small handgun which she pointed at his head while pulling back the hammer that clicked into place.

  ‘Impossible!’ he gasped, referring to the headlock which she had just released herself from very easily.

  ‘For some, now, put your hands up and turn around David,’ she ordered.

Doing as she asked David put his hands up and locked his fingers behind his head, only for Maria to place handcuffs around his wrists. Making sure that they were secure she turned him around again to face her before pushing him down onto the sofa and returning the gun to her purse. This was not the best position that he preferred to be in, though the handcuffs did set off the great color around his shirt and jacket.

  ‘London insists that the target be taken out tomorrow David, and there is nothing that you or anyone else can do to stop that. Lady Cartwright has become involved in something that is way over her head, and even with your services, it would make no difference. Did you really think you could do this and get away with it?’

Shifting in his seat Maria thought that he was trying to free himself from the handcuffs, but on a much closer inspection by sitting down by his side she saw that he had landed awkwardly and was shifting to release his twisted leg from going into a cramp.

  ‘Do you really think that all of this was planned out by either of us?’ David cried. ‘This was just a simple “Off-the-wall” decision.’

  ‘If all of this wasn’t planned how do you explain the call to London earlier?’ Maria revealed.

This was new on David for the fact that he hadn’t contacted London since he began his location transfer from The Quadro Corporation into the service of Lady James-Cartwright. Even when London had insisted on monthly reports on the status of Melissa, he had in not so many words told the agency where to go – his contract was to protect the clientele, not fill out forms.

  ‘Tell me, Maria, how is Lord Beacham after his unfortunate accident?’

Maria was swift in her grappling of David’s face between her hands, though not as quick in reacting to David’s wrapping of his arms around her neck as a result of the momentary lapse of concentration that allowed David to release the handcuffs from his wrists. And before she was able to say anything else her head was twisted and within the blink of an eye her neck broken instantaneously – Maria was dead.

Without any delay or hesitation, David packed his things together without organizing them in any particular way or order in his case and then looking back at Maria laid across the sofa as if she were asleep he grabbed her bag and removed the gun before leaving for Melissa’s room to alert her of their unwelcome guests. But as he knocked on the door softly he couldn’t help but think that if Maria had accessed his room to wait for his return that night, then what would stop her male associate from doing the very same to Melissa? This was a moment when he had to decide what was best for the safety of his client – Lady Cartwright.

Taking the executive decision on getting into Melissa’s room he kicked the door twice before the lock creaked, cracked and eventually splintered to allow him to get inside. This was, unfortunately, an embarrassing moment, as he was suddenly faced with the sight of both Melissa and Maria’s associate, Giles, lying naked on the bed showing two shocked expressions. The man scrambled as fast as he could from under Melissa’s straddling legs to his feet to defend himself against David, who was now taking from his pocket the gun that Maria had pointed at him before her unfortunate death.

  ‘Now hang on big boy, don’t do anything that you’ll regret,’ David rasped, not being able to help himself from looking down at the man’s now slackening Man-Dong which dripped with the fresh remnants of Melissa’s virginal love juice. Not seeing him as any threat to the situation, nor that of his Man-Dong, David shook off the moment and focused his sights down the barrel that pointed at Giles’ head.

  ‘My God, David, what the hell are you doing?’ Melissa gasped, she too, scrambling to her feet while quickly pulling on her dressing gown to cover her nakedness.

  ‘Don’t worry Lady Cartwright, your safe now,’ David replied signaling to the man to step back and away from Melissa with a swift nod.

Joining David by his side Melissa fastened her dressing gown securely before pointing at the naked man standing before them.

  ‘This is Giles Penistone, we were…’

  ‘He’s not who he says he is, he’s a goddamned Spook, Melissa,’ David announced to both her and Giles’ surprise. A surprise that indicated an expression that Giles knew something was wrong with Maria, and that David would not be standing holding him at gunpoint if the plan to kill him had not gone wrong somehow. His sudden concerned look now brought Maria to the forefront of Giles’ mind.

Melissa was beside herself with what she had been told, and as for Giles, he was beside himself with both embarrassment at standing there naked and for the fact that his cover as a government operative had been blown.

  ‘Is this true? I mean, I knew that you were involved with Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa, but I never would have thought you were government.’

Giles nodded confidently – too confidently for David’s liking.

  ‘We were assigned by London to come here and sort out the mess you two have left behind. Obviously, both you and David don’t know what you’re getting yourselves into. With a bit of luck, the least you’ll have to worry about is answering to them, while The Agency deals with the real work.’

Melissa noticed David’s urge was to hurt Giles and for a single second she, too, wanted him to hurt the imposter as much as he could until suddenly the reality of the moment returned.

  ‘David, use the phone in the bedroom and ring The Agency,’ she said, raising her voice to get his attention.

  ‘I’d rather stay here and…’

  ‘David! Go and make the call, now please?’

The firm tone in Melissa’s voice had him break his attention on Giles – for now – as he turned away to hand the gun over to Melissa and walk into the bedroom to make the call to The Agency. Melissa now stood with the gun pointed at Giles while occasionally averting her eyes to his groin where she noticed the juices that were once inside her moist wet pussy had now started to leave an almost powdery residue that had started to dry into the thick skin of his now limp softened, but still rather long cock that hung between his legs in clear view.

  ‘As soon as he phones in you know they’ll send others, and by morning you and David will be either dead or in prison,’ Giles taunted, bringing her eyes back up to look him in the face.

The situation was tense, but for Lady Cartwright, the position was not new. On her leaving of Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa, Melissa had taken up with a man she had met in Manchester, who as well as promising her the world, was found to be something more than a normal nine-to-five office worker. Lord Gordon James had been a government Spook for more than three years where his job had taken him to the Far East and resulted in the death of a good friend. Although The Agency insisted on a ‘No Ties’ relationship with any of its operatives Gordon had broken the golden rule and so suffered the consequences, and unfortunately, it was those consequences that were to be like ‘Gulf War Syndrome’ to his mind, body, and soul. On the eve of their one year Wedding Anniversary, she received a phone call from the agency telling her that Gordon had been killed by a hit and run driver at Hyde Park in London. A few weeks later Sergeant David Price was assigned to her until such a time as the killer was caught and tried by the authorities – he was never found, and as a result, David stayed on as her Close Protection Security.

  ‘Tell me what your mission was, Giles, and speak up quickly because I really don’t have the time or patience to be playing this Cloak and Dagger shit with you,’ she demanded.

  ‘Ah, you want me to spill my guts to you, while you’re pointing a fucking gun in my face?’

  ‘That’s rich, not five minutes ago as I remember you had your cock pointed in mine. What was it going to be, Giles, a quick fuck and then a bullet to the head? I want you to tell me what’s going on around here. This is just a normal village in the arse end of fucking nowhere and all of a sudden we have government agents all around us, I want you to tell me what the operation is and who it involves?’

Before Giles could answer, or refuse to answer the question as to what the case would have been, David returned from the bedroom not looking too happy with himself.

  ‘He’s trained to withstand intensive interrogation and torture, Lady Cartwright, so there’s no use asking him what the game plan is. The Agency has deployed more agents to rendezvous here at the hotel in the morning, and as far as Giles is concerned he’s a lost cause,’ David exclaimed.

Turning for a second to look at David, Melissa nodded her head from side to side confused.

  ‘What do you mean “Lost Cause? What does that mean, David?’

  ‘Well, basically it means…’

  ‘It means we’re all dead! Come on David, don’t beat around the bush on my account, with the call going through to The Agency, London has seen us all as a threat now, am I right?’

Walking over to Melissa and taking the gun from her hands David pointed it into Giles’ face and nodded. ‘That’s right.’ And pulled the trigger without another thought.

  ‘Whoa…What the fuck did you just do? What have you done?’ Melissa screamed dropping to her knees next to Giles’ naked dead body.

Grabbing for her arm David lifted Melissa off of the floor and pulled her toward him forcefully.

  ‘Listen to me, Melissa, focus on me. The Agency has something bigger than our agenda going on here at Oak Wood Village, something that will put us and everyone that has had contact with us in extreme danger. We have to leave, now, before the other agents get here and find their bodies.’ David did not mince his words, nor did he hold back on telling the distraught woman exactly how the situation was.

  ‘Bodies! What do you mean bodies?’ she gasped suddenly realizing what he had just said.

David had a lot of explaining to do, but as time was of the essence for them both to get out and away from the hotel, he handed Melissa the gun and ordered her to follow him.

Packing as much of her clothes and belongings while dressing as fast as she could, Melissa and David left the room to make their way to the ground floor where they walked past the reception desk slowly and calmly, only for David to be called back by the desk clerk who handed him a small envelope. From the desk, he and Melissa continued to their car where they jumped in and drove away from the village in the direction of Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa. When the manor house was in view from the main road David pulled over and took from his pocket the small sealed envelope he had been handed. It looked official.

  ‘What is it? Who is it from?’ Melissa asked intrigued.

Taking a moment to read the note Melissa left him to it, stepping out of the car and making her way over to the high wall that surrounded the whole house and grounds, checking its height, observing the gaps in the old weather-worn stone with her hands and fingertips, before returning back to the car to ask David to get out and follow her. David was sat staring aimlessly out of the window as though in a world of his own. The contents of the letter were swirling around in his head almost like the uncomfortable feeling of red hot water flushing about every vein in his body.

  ‘Hey, David, wake up!’ Melissa shouted in through the passenger window.

Breaking his concentration and snapping his head around to see Melissa’s expectant face, he grabbed for the door handle and climbed out of the car.

  ‘What are we doing, Melissa?’ he asked in a deep tone.

  ‘Finding a way inside without them being able to see us,’ she replied pointing over to the wall.

  ‘NO! I mean, what the hell are we doing? Shouldn’t we wait until morning before we even attempt to enter the manor? What if they are expecting us, have you thought of that?’

Melissa stopped in her stride while walking away from the car, but she didn’t turn around. ‘Wait for what exactly, David? What’s wrong with you?’

Walking up behind her he placed a gentle hand on her shoulder before pulling her around to face him as in his eyes she saw that they were filled with pain, remorse and most of all tiredness. ‘London.’

Bowing her head Melissa began to nod before taking a hold of his hands.

  ‘The note is that what all of this is about?’

  ‘The note has nothing to do with anything, I just think that…’

  ‘I’m sorry David, but I don’t pay you to think, I pay you to work,’ she corrected him. ‘The last job you had was for London, right? Those days are gone now David, and now you work for me. Now, my Nephew is in that house waiting for me to go and take him somewhere safer than here. The point is, either you’re with me, or you’re against me, and if you’re the latter then…Well, you can get the fuck out of here.’

Pulling his hands away from Melissa, David turned and began walking away in the opposite direction. It was the direction that had Melissa thinking that he had decided to leave her to it and head back on foot to London, or at least the shortest option of returning back to the village where they had left behind the two bodies and catch the next earliest train.

  ‘Good luck David,’ Melissa whispered under her breath.

Returning back to the wall she made her way further down the roadside towards the main gates where finally she found what she was looking for, the lowered shelf where both she and her Sister Maria used to get into the manor grounds a long time ago. Jumping up and grabbing a hold of the wall the best way she could, Melissa pulled herself up with a struggle, but eventually, she managed to scale the cold stone obstacle and without any further thought drop down into the leaf-covered ground below – she had made it into Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa and now the rest of the way should be a whole lot easier. Making her way through the various sized trees, bushes and plants that gave her the perfect cover from anyone searching around the rear building grounds, she made a beeline for the kitchens where the door would still be open and the staff at a very minimum, considering the late hour.

 

Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa - 1984

 

  ‘What if someone sees us?’ Maria gasped pulling at her torn dress that had become caught and tangled on a bramble bush as she and Melissa neared the kitchen’s entrance at the rear of the manor.

  ‘We can tell them that we’re lost,’ Melissa replied quickly.

Pulling harder at the tangled dress Maria suddenly collapsed backward as the fabric gave way to rip away before unhooking itself from the bush sending her onto her back in between two small fern trees.

  ‘Oh My God, Maria, what are you doing?’ Melissa cried howling out with uncontrollable laughter.

Looking down in the darkness she saw that Maria’s dress had torn all the way up to her chest to leave her lying on the ground, her half-naked body exposed, except for the now dirtied tiny pair of white knickers that became illuminated under the strong eerie light of the full moon.

Struggling to her feet she pushed Melissa away from her with bemusement of her sister's unkind reaction at the situation, one which both young women were about to find out the results by a sudden presence before them.

  ‘Stop where you are, I’ve called the…Oh, Maria, Melissa.’ it was Master Terrence O’Neill out and about checking the grounds.

Finding it hard not to stare at Maria’s exposed breasts as the hardened dark nipples stood out from the soft pale skin, the fresh night breeze making them become so clear to see under the night light, which had Maria stood frozen to the spot under the moonlight, while staring back at the young Master who was standing behind a tall bush mesmerized. A few moments later he broke his stare and on turning around he unzipped his coat, taking it off he handed it behind him to Melissa, who was stood closest to him and suggested giving it to Maria to cover herself up, which she did with a wide knowing smile.

  ‘Christ, are we glad it was you and not your father Terrence, the humiliation would have been too much,’ Melissa blurted without a second thought as to Maria’s embarrassment.

Placing a finger to his lips to shush the two young women, Terrence pointed behind them before clambering through the bush to stand between them.

  ‘This way, come on quick, my Father knows there’s someone in the grounds. He won’t be happy finding you two here.’

Leading them to the wall, Terrence showed the way back to the low dipped point of the wall that had been made as the result of a lorry accident that took away a small section but had never been maintained properly or fixed by the owners of Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa.

  ‘You can get out here,’ Terrence whispered putting his hands together and offering to help peg them up onto the top of the wall so that they could make their quick escape.

Melissa was the first to be helped onto the wall, while Maria waited a couple of seconds to remove the coat and hand it back to the kind gentleman with a somewhat besotted smile. Shaking his head puzzled he told her to keep the coat, telling her that she would need it more than him for the long walk home back to Oak Wood Village.

  ‘But your father will be asking lots of questions…Like where’s your coat and stuff…Terrence!’

Again, Terrence was mesmerized with the beautiful vision of Maria stood before him with her exposed body that now seemed to glisten in the moonlight even more than it did before. But in all the strangeness of the situation, however, Maria stood and without responding or covering up she took a step forward and gave him a long, deep, full kiss on the lips to which his reaction was of wrapping his arms around her neck and kissing her back with a need, a longing for the moment to never pass before she would soon be gone from the grounds.

  ‘For god’s sake, will you two stop eating one another and get your acts together?’ Melissa cried out after a long paused minute of watching the two sticking their tongues down each other’s throats passionately.

It was after this night that Terrence’s father allowed the two young women to use the main gates to enter the grounds, though the incident leading to both Maria and Terrence’s very passionate embrace was never revealed to Lord O’Neill.

 

Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa – Present

 

Working up the courage to leave the bushes and begin the short walk over to the kitchen’s main entrance, Melissa found that she was unable to move from her position for the fact something had a hold of her clothes – the memory of Maria becoming caught on the bramble bush came to mind straight away - but on looking around she came face to face with not the bramble, but with David who had taken a hold of her dress.

  ‘David!’ she gasped in a low cry.

  ‘Melissa, what are you doing?’ he whispered.

Pointing over to the kitchen door she was greeted with a nodding head from David as he grabbed a hold of her hand and pulled her gently but firmly back around as he led the way through the dense bushes in the opposite direction at first, then changed to walk toward the main building, passing the swimming pool that came down in a dome-like design to cover a good part of the patio area, that was in itself pretty vast.

  ‘Xander is in that room over there,’ David said pointing over to a large bay window with half-drawn curtains restricting the view of who was inside.

Looking through the window directly at her Nephew, Melissa happened to notice that with him was Stacey, helping him read a book while laughing along with him as he found some part of the page amusing. As Melissa looked through the window she began to experience the strangest feeling that had arose from the fact that although both she and David could not be seen by the two people inside the house, she could only imagine the reaction of both Stacey and Xander knowing that they were so close to making contact. It was this feeling that had Melissa looking over at David, who himself wore the expression similar to that of his employer.

  ‘I have a plan,’ David whispered moving away from his position, ‘wait here.’

Waiting in the exact same place as where he had left her, David returned a few minutes later with a strained smile pointing at the room where Xander was. ‘Go get him…and, while you’re there you can get Stacey, too.’ David declared with haste while frequently glancing over toward the kitchens.

Without question or hesitation, Melissa rushed forward up to the window and tapped on the glass gently to get Stacey’s attention. When this was achieved she put a finger to her lips and pointed at Xander, before waving her forward to open the bay window door so that she could talk to her.

  ‘Lady James…I mean, Melissa, what are you doing here?’ Stacey gasped quietly.

  ‘There’s not a lot of time Stacey, we have to get Xander and leave…right now, come on... you’re coming with us, too.’

Without questioning Melissa about any of this, Stacey nodded her head before telling her to wait outside and they would be out in a couple of minutes. Closing the bay doors Stacey rushed over to Xander and helped him get some of his things together before telling him that they were about to go on a little trip, somewhere that he was going to enjoy and be very happy. Another couple of moments and both he and Stacey were back at the bay door making their way outside into the garden to meet up with Melissa and David by the swimming pool. Xander was very excited when he saw his Aunt Melissa crouched down by the side of the pool, excited enough for the fact that Stacey had to silence him by placing a firm hand over his mouth.

  ‘How are you going to get Xander out of the grounds?’ Stacey asked with a puzzled look.

  ‘Don’t worry about that, there’s a door in the far wall near the gardener’s tool shed,’ David whispered leading the way into the tall bushes.

This was the moment that Melissa had been waiting for since she first arrived at the manor and see that Terrence was finally put in his grave, as well as pick up the final piece of the Cacciatori Svegliarsi Villa’s political edge – Xander O’Neill; Son to the late Terrence and Maria O’Neill, Nephew to both Melissa and Gordon James-Cartwright, and most importantly, the key to the largest fortune in the North-East of England – “Suburban Life Magazine”.

  ‘What about Father Richards? When he discovers that Xanders’ missing he’ll be calling the police to find us,’ Stacey panicked.

  ‘By the time Father Richards discovers that Xander is gone…’

Suddenly and without warning, from all around the grounds of the house large bright floodlights blinked on and searched around the garden like lighthouse beams searching through the dense and heavy fog for struggling ships in the night. They were very bright and responsive in their purpose.

  ‘Shit!’ Melissa cried out angrily.

  ‘Over this way, quickly, before the lights see us.’

David pulled both Melissa and Stacey back before finally pulling Xander behind a nearby tree where he pointed over to the tall wall where directly in front of them the old weather-worn door stood slightly ajar.

  ‘David!’ Melissa said with concern.

  ‘It’s okay, I left it open slightly so that it wouldn’t jam closed if we needed to make a fast getaway from the house. Go on go through, the car is on the other side.’ David declared looking back at the lights and watching for the security exiting the house.

Walking through the doorway that the four of them found, the road was completely empty of any traffic and, that the car was indeed waiting right by the side of the grass verge next to the wall for them to climb inside. It was only when Melissa helped Xander into the back seat that she turned to see a very strange look on Stacey’s face, and it was this look that had Melissa rush up to her and cuddle into her tightly before ordering David into the car.

  ‘No, no, no. The deal is that you get Stacey out of that house, too, Melissa, not just Xander. If she goes back they will make her pay for all of this,’ David was beside himself with a concern that only grew into anger the more that Melissa said nothing to change Stacey’s mind on returning back to the manor.

Again telling David to get into the car and start the engine Melissa turned to back Stacey.

  ‘Are you sure about this?’ Melissa asked.

  ‘Absolutely, it’s just until the morning, right?’

Stacey was referring to the arrangement that had been discussed earlier at the funeral and The Old Mill Bar in the village, as Melissa now recalled changed somewhat with the unfortunate but unavoidable deaths of both government agents sent by The London Agency. Nevertheless, with only two people knowing that the plan had changed, the responsibility of letting Stacey in on the act was completely at the discretion of Melissa; if she revealed everything to the maid, then there was nothing stopping her from going to someone else and telling them Melissa and David’s intentions and plans on Master Xander.

  ‘That’s right, Stacey, just till morning. Now, remember to be out of the house first thing and don’t you dilly dally, okay?’ Melissa replied with a strained smile that hid away the self-explanatory details which were nearly revealed to her.

Thanking Melissa for all of her help, Stacey made her way back through the wooden door while Melissa jumped back into the car and told David to get them all out of there and back to London – back home where it was safe.

  ‘You know this could get…messy.’

  ‘Fuck them! Fuck them all, I swore that I would see my day with the O’Neill’s, and now I have. If they want to come at me for a war then let them bring it on.’

Looking back into the rearview mirror, David saw that the look on Lady Cartwright’s face told him everything that he needed to know, and that was that Melissa was expecting a war.

  ‘Yes, Ma’am.’


© Copyright 2020 MKDS. All rights reserved.

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