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  • With: Stephanie, J.D., Kat, Reagan, NPCs
  • Locations: Breakwater Inn (Kodiak), Kat's Place
  • When: May 2017
  • Time of Day: Late afternoon through evening.

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Lucian sat in the middle row of seats next to Stephanie in Reagan's big SUV. J.D. was riding shotgun and Kat had obligingly taken the rear row of seats. Conversation had been sparse and sporadic. No doubt everyone was still sorting through the adrenalin rush from the events of the day and dealing with being exhausted. There was still quite a few things to sort out. First, they needed to let Stephanie see her friends and pack her bags. They needed to find a safe place for her to stay while Reagan performed her legal magic to block any moves Mason Stroud might be planning.

 

There was also the small matter of figuring out who had shot his parents. Lucian did not look forward to digging into his father's past. Liam MacLeod had always played the role of being a savvy businessman. That had been easy for him as it was also quite accurate. However, Lucian felt there was much more to their father and his past than his family knew about. Liam could be a master of deflection and deception when it came to conversations about his life.

 

The car slowed and swayed slightly as Reagan turned into the parking lot of the Breakwater Inn, one of Kodiak's nicest privately owned motels. Idly, Lucian wondered how long it would be before big hotel chains moved in. It could crush the locally run eco-tourism outfits. The car stopped near the rooms that belonged to Stephanie and her friends. Lucian slipped out of the car and walked around to open Stephanie's door for her. 

 

"Remember, Stephanie, we need to be quick and cautious. Even though our little fracas with the cops will not go on the books, Kodiak is a hive of gossip. By now the word is out that the KPD made a big bust this morning." Lucian offered a smile as he spoke, his quiet voice laced with humor as he mentioned the big bust.

 

Tags @Wayfarer

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"Oh,  great," Kat muttered, slumping in the back seat, although there was a hint of humor in her tone.  "Never been part of the rumor mill before, this should be fun!"  Not that she expected trouble with her employer, the ambulance service and PD were tight, and she knew things had been explained and smoothed over, and she'd even come out of it with a few gratis days off, courtesy of a guilty Lucian.

 

For now, she could only wait until she got home, and in the mean time make a list in her head of all the things she had to get done, not the least of which was a long ride in the mountains!

 

Reagan stopped herself as Lucian and J.D. piled out of the SUV with Stephanie. She had been on the verge of lecturing them about causing trouble. Starting the inevitable argument at that moment just did not seem like a good use of her time. Instead, she turned in her seat to face Kat with a genuine smile on her face. "Hang with my brothers very long and you will become accustomed to it, sorry to say. I was sorry to hear about your aunt, Kat. Griselda was a good friend of the family."

 

"Thank you." Relaxing. Kat smiled.  "I remember her from summers when I was a kid...I always loved coming here, the horses, of course, but her house, too, was just a mystery of eclectic...things."  She chuckled.  "So was she, I guess.   I just wish I had appreciated her more."  She shrugged.  "I was too wrapped up in the place and the fun to really have time for her, but I think she understood that, and that's why she left the place to me."

 

"I think that is normal for all of us when we're young. We love our families and the adults in our lives, but somehow we don't appreciate them totally," Reagan smiled at the younger woman. "I know it was brought home to me hard when Mom and Dad were shot. I have been so wrapped up in my career, my kids," she paused and then added wryly, "my divorce."

 

"Yeah, guys can be...a pain in the ass, I'm just glad that I figured that out before I got too involved...and that I had a chance to move a few thousand miles away."  She shrugged and smiled.  "I guess things just worked out for me, and I'm glad for that...and I'm sworn off men!"

 

She glanced over at the woman.  "Sorry, didn't mean to imply that your husband is horrible."  There were a lot of reasons that relationships fell apart besides abuse and psycho partners.  "How old are your kids?"

 

"My husband is not a bad man and he's a great dad when it's convenient. He calls the kids daily, sends them gifts, cards, visits here once a year and we fly them to Florida for part of the summer. But, he chose to move there, so it's been tough at times," Reagan replied, finding it nice to talk to someone that was not family for a change. "He just did not like being hitched to the CEO of Coldwater Holdings who earned three-times over what he did."

 

Reagan sighed and grinned ruefully, "Such is life. My twins are fourteen. Lily and Micah." There was a pause before she added, "Not all men are horrible."

 

"Yeah, I know."  Kat shrugged.  She wasn't so in a hurry to snag a man, though, that she was willing to take the first thing that crawled along, like some of her friends and done.    "But I have horses, who needs more?"  She grinned at that, then added,  "And dogs and cats...rabbits, chickens..."   She was joking, some, anyway, but she did have to wonder about breaking up a family just because you didn't want to live in the same place.  Maybe it was just different values, but if where you lived was the main argument,  she thought that she'd just suck it up and deal with it.  Probably more to it, but it wasn't her business.

 

"You and your girls are welcome to come out and visit the place sometime, ride horses..." she laughed, "I can teach them the value of mucking stalls and gathering eggs!"

 

Reagan laughed, her eyes sparkling, "The twins are ahead of the curve on that one. Whenever they visit, their grandfather and uncle make them work. They have helped with the inland eco-tour camping trips and out on the tour boats. They love being outside. Lily is the more outgoing of the two. Micah, my son, is the eldest, more studious, and probably, the hardest worker. I will bring them out. They love riding."

 

"Well, I'm looking to revive Aunt Griselda's tour business, so I'd be open to suggestions.  I think I'm going to just do some day trips at first, but I wouldn't mind getting into over night trips.  There's just a lot of logistics involved with that."  It was a dream, though, especially the chance to show 'city folk' the beauty of nature, and of the night sky, the Milky Way and the Aurora.  "Lucian is boarding some horses there, too...oh, here!"

 

They were pulling into the drive of her property, and two eager dogs and a curious cat were jogging over to greet them.

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Stephanie was not normally one to just sit in a vehicle while riding, she liked to talk. Quiet was not in her nature. Still, the ride was pretty subdued, she couldn't even give Reagan any directions as she didn't really know the local roads and turns. Fortunately she did remember the name of the motel and that was all one needed in this era of GPS. Or maybe Reagan even knew where the place was on her own. It didn't take them long to pull into the lot and Steph pointed toward where their room number was. The three young friends shared a room, it had two queen beds. Louis slept in one and Ava and Steph shared.

 

"OK, shouldn't be long," she assured Reagan then smiled at Lucien when he got the door for her, "Wow, you learn fast. You'd be a great menial for rich folk."

 

Lucien warned her about the risk that word of mouth still held for her even if the police department was trying to shut this up. Frankly, she did not see how they could even get away with it. The rave had been crowded and umpteen people witnessed the so called kidnapping.  Whatever....beyond her control.

 

"Not my fault ya know, Wiley Coyote Super Genius," she laughed then headed for the door of the room.

 

She didn't even get to knock before the door flung open and there was Ava practically leaping onto her in an embrace.

 

Avafor-RPG.jpg"Oh god, Steph!We were so worried! I was a wreck," Ava bit back tears then blinked at the sight of Lucien.

 

"Wait! Isn't that....OH MY GOD!" the petite blond backed up horrified.

 

"Just calm, huh. Don't worry. It's fine. This ..................gentleman....is one of my bodyguards now," Steph grinned.

 

"But...wasn't he....huh?" Ava was so confused, a state of mind Steph often found her in to be blunt.

 

"Long complicated story that even if I explained it all right now, you wouldn't get it so let's wait til we have a few hours, chill out girl," Steph reached out and patted the other girl's cheek.

 

"Oops, almost forgot. Lucien, this is Ava. Ava, Lucien," Steph did the whole intro thing.

 

"Miss," Lucian smiled and nodded at Ava. "We apologize for alarming you. I promise you that all we wanted to do and want to do is keep her safe." He decided to leave it up to Stephanie on how much she told her friends about everything. He assumed they knew she felt she was not safe with her uncle.

 

"I do not get it," Ava was being completely sincere. Of course Steph would tell you Ava didn't get a lot of things.

 

J.D. came up behind Lucian and Steph as they passed by the girl and entered the house. He saw the wide eyes and the expression on her and leaned a bit in her direction, tugging his sunglasses down to show his eyes a bit as he said "Boo..." in a low voice before smiling and pushing them back into place and following his brother.

 

Ava blinked and backed up a step not having any desire to get in this one's way as they entered the motel room. She then shut the door.  She barely whispered once he went by her, "Boo yourself."

 

Steph and Lucian were now looking down at the nearest bed in the room or rather at the young man lying on it.  Steph knew him of course. It was Louis and obviously something was wrong.

 

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First off Louis was not the sort to just lie there and let Ava greet whoever came to the door and then when it was obviously Steph, he'd have normally raced up to her in a joyous reunion moment. But he was on his back on the bed, head propped up on a balled up pillow, shoes off, socks off, and clad only in boxer shorts.  Was he sporting a black eye? On top of his chest and stomach were ice bags? Steph also noticed on the bed table an open bottle of Tylenol and a half finished  plastic bottle of Coke. He was awake though and he gave her his best attempt at one of his goofy smiles though it was plain to see he was in some real discomfort.

 

"Hey Steph, sorry I didn't get up. Not really all that mobile right now."

 

That's when Louis then noticed the men with her, "Oh shit. Those guys."

 

"Yeah dude, those guys. But don't worry about them. They work for me now.  I'll fill you in later but what the hell, dude?

You fall or something and what's with the ice bags? I think you put them over your eye," Steph frowned.

 

"Your uncle's douchebag security man...that Russian you hate so much...he paid us a visit," Louis wasn't smiling now.

 

"Oh shit!" Steph snapped.

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J.D. moved around to stand beside the bed, careful not to touch the young man as his eyes moved over him. "Looks like a pretty thorough job..." J.D. said as he looked up at Steph, "...Who is this Russian he's talking about?"

 

Before Stephanie could answer, Lucian moved quietly past his brother to crouch next to the bed. His eyes and expression was both kind and concerned. "This is a new game entirely if they would hurt someone like this." He directed his gaze at the boy, "We should get you to a doctor."

 

Louis winced, "Umm, he told me not to go but get on the first plane out of here.  Ava too.  That was after he beat me up, his buddy held me and then he worked me over but nothing to the face. He said that way I could get on the plane without any questions of what happened."

 

"Oh yeah, Steph! Almost forgot, we gotta leave today anyhow. Your credit card has been cancelled, the motel manager said today is the last day paid for and you know we can't afford it," Ava interjected.

 

"Well, fuck! Unky Mason probably cancelled it. He's probably frozen my bank account too, that prick," Steph snapped then turned to the brothers.

 

"To answer your question, the man who came here is Unky Mason's favorite thug....oh his official title is Head of Security but the only person he ever makes feel secure is my uncle. He's a Russian....green card or naturalized citizen I don't know but he came from Russia. Anatoly Lysenko. And he hates me with a passion. ," she calmly explained.

 

J.D. smiled as he tugged out his cellphone. "Well then, he can't be all bad..." He said with a grin as he moved toward the door.

 

Steph smiled back and gave him her middle finger.

 

"Let me make a few calls...learn more about out mysterious Mr. Lysenko." He went out into the main room, phone now stuck to his ear.

 

"You see what I have to deal with? And most people think I'm just making stuff up and am a Drama Llama.  That guy is scary," she added.

 

Avis eagerly chimed in, "He said to me if Louis or me called the cops, that would be very unwise. If we valued the well being of our families."

 

Lucian offered Avis a reassuring smile, "We will get you taken care of and safely home. First, I have to get my SUV from where we left it. Then my sister, Reagan, can come back, get Louis to the clinic and then get you both on a flight home. Do not worry. We will do our best to make sure nothing happens to any of you." He rose to his feet and grinned at Stephanie, "I am willing to be that J.D. knows some people that are just as scary as Lysenko."

 

"From what I know of your brother so far, they are no doubt his best friends," smirked Stephanie but then got more serious, "I don't know. Lysenko's threats are serious. Did you hear what Avis just said about his threat?  I think they should do as they were told and just go home. You guys are gonna have to lend me some money so their plane tickets can be paid for. My spigot is shut off. Oh, and I want a new cell phone.  A girl can't live without a cell phone you know."

 

"I am pretty sure a girl with a cellphone won't live long, either..." J.D. said as he walked back into the room. "...you know they will probably try to track you by it. You can't call anyone because they will probably be tracking their phones also and would be able to trace a burner back to you."

 

"Well crap," Steph frowned. She was pretty sure he knew more about such stuff than she did though so wasn't going to argue with the guy.

 

J.D. held his phone up and waved it as he sat down. "We might need to all get new phones so we stop making their job easier. I am waiting on a few friends to call me back with information, then I am dumping this one. I am also expecting some files via email...It should prove to be interesting reading about your friend Lysenko."

 

"Wonder if we'll find that he sleeps with Satan and his hobby is beheadings?" Steph grinned.

 

"We need to also decide on a safe house for Stephanie. My place is defensible, but it is also across the bay from Coldwater and our parents home is not exactly low-profile," Lucian remarked. "Now that Liam knows there is danger, he can do his share of helping to keep her safe - once he is out of the hospital, of course. Until then, I recommend we use Invictus. She has four staterooms. Plenty of space and easy to defend." Not to mention that the biggest of his tour boats had more power and range than all but the bigger USGS cutters.

 

"We had a really cool yacht," Steph declared then Avis giggled.

 

"Well, until I wrecked it," Steph added, "by accident of course."

 

That got Avis laughing all the more.

 

Lucian trusted J.D.'s assessment of their situation and agreed on the issue of cell phones. They would need a good supply of burners. However, Stephanie had grown up in her current situation. Her worry and fear of Lysenko seemed genuine. He looked back at Avis and Louis, "We will book you on the first flight out of here.  But,  you, young man," he said mock-sternly, "will see a doctor as soon as you are home." At any other time, Lucian could have piloted them back to Washington himself. Right now, he was needed here.

 

"I can't do that. The insurance and the hospital will be curious about these bruises. I can't exactly say I got them falling down the stairs when my face and hands and elbows etc are all fine," Louis had to disagree.

 

"Well, not sure about your face," grinned Avis.

 

"Shut up you," Louis retorted.

 

"We will need to go by the house and pick up some hardware..." J.D. added. "The boat is a good choice but if they guess the location they won't be coming with handguns alone. If Lysenko is the professional he seems to be on first look, his people will be competent at the very least...they may have orders to bring Steph back alive but I doubt those orders will extend to any of the rest of us."

 

"Oh I think Unky Mason wants me back without anything like murders to worry about. He is working on getting me committed for insanity. He's already got a psychiatrist in his pocket for it," Steph explained.

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"We will get Reagan on a preliminary injunction to hold up any commitment proceedings," Lucian said. "Avis, you and Louis get packed and ready to go. I will send my sister back for you as soon as possible. She is really tall, brown hair and eyes, looks like a lawyer." Lucian did not add that she also looked like a bossy older sister.

 

"They have a look?" Ava was confused, a fairly common state with her.

 

"He's joking around," Steph smiled.

 

Louis tensed and then slowly uncomfortably sat up on the bedside, "Ava can you pack my stuff for me, please? I'm not fussy, throw everything in and I can worry about it when I unpack at home."

 

"Miss Steph, we need to go. Get to Kat's and make sure we are not being watched and trailed yet. It was a risk coming here, But, I know why you had too." Finally, he turned to Avis and Louis again, "If anyone other than Reagan MacLeod knocks on your door, call 911. Even if you do not report anything, it will deter further incidents. Look Reagan MacLeod and Coldwater Holdings up online, her picture is on their site. She is the CEO."

 

"I'm used to risk, dude. Why just recently I got kidnapped right out of a party and thrown into a van against my.............oh wait! You know this," Steph grinned.

 

She then gave Avis a big hug and settled for kissing Louis sweetly on his cheek, the trio mumbling goodbyes and promising they would all see each other again soon.

 

"OK, I'm ready to go, bros, " Steph announced.

 

"J.D., after we get my SUV,  we will bring Stephanie back for her things and then take the chopper to the Lodge. We can stock up there," Lucian sighed as his mind tried to make sure everything was covered. "We need to make time to look in on Liam and Mother too, see if the police have talked to them yet or if there is anything else that the Old Bear is not sharing." The last part caused Lucian's voice to drop and harden a bit.

 

J.D. nodded. "Good, I will feel better in case his dogs try anything, and yes, I would love to know if we have not been working with all the useful information we need to know..."
 

Edited by Longshot (see edit history)

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On 7/20/2019 at 1:36 PM, Katherine Mercer said:

They were pulling into the drive of her property, and two eager dogs and a curious cat were jogging over to greet them.

Reagan smiled at the greeting by the dogs and the cat as she parked her SUV next to the one that she assumed belonged to her brothers. She missed hearing Griselda call out from the barn or the porch for her to come on in and sit a spell. She shook her head slightly, warding off the moment of nostalgia.

 

Turning in her seat, she gave Stephanie a warm look, "I will get your friends safely on a flight home and give them my mobile number in case they need to contact you for any reason. I am also going to start writing up the motion to stall any activity by your uncle in regard to you. You are close enough to twenty-one that our judges here will approve the motions. We can also get you to an independent psychologist that will dispute anything your uncle presents. The trick will be getting you to see them without putting you in  more danger."

 

"OK.............honestly I'm more concerned about Ava and Louis than me. This is my life and my fucked up family but I don't want those two sweeties to get hurt by making the mistake of befriending me," Stephanie replied, "I don't think age has anything to do with being committed though for insanity.  "

 

By now, Reagan's brothers had gotten out of the SUV and were waiting so she turned to Kat, "Stay safe! As soon as things settle down, I will bring the twins out for a day of riding and helping out in the barn."

 

Steph had clambered out of the vehicle then to stand next to Kat and whispered in her ear, "Good, two volunteers that day for shoveling horse shit."   It was a joke..............maybe.

 

"If we give them enough brownies and pull a Tom Sawyer on them, maybe."  Kat grinned, knowing that there were some kids who actually liked the messy work.  She wasn't above giving them chores, but she would make it worth their while.  But that was for later.

 

"Wow, does anybody actually still read those old novels?" Steph raised one eyebrow.

 

"I'll get us something quick to eat."  It was nearly lunch time,  she was famished, but she needed to get to the day's chores or she'd be doing them until midnight. 

 

"Sure, sounds cool," her house guest nodded even as she playfully greeted the dog running up to her.

 

They went inside, followed by a menagerie of critters, and Kat headed to the kitchen.  "Make yourself at home, you know where everything is, if you need a shower or anything....and there are some new toothbrushes in the linen closet."  She grinned.  "Not saying you have bad breath or anything."

 

"Well, catching and eating those jail rats can give a person pretty awful breath," joked the brunette, "I will get my stuff together while you make the lunch. I wish I could help you with some chores around here but my devoted bodyguard kidnappers want to take me someplace safe," Steph shrugged.

 

@Bongo @Stormwolfe @Longshot

 

@Wayfarer

 

Edited by Wayfarer (see edit history)

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"That's all right, I can get it."  Kat shrugged as she started to rummage through the fridge, finding some leftover pizza and pre-mix salad makings that she set out on the table.  Not gourmet, but filling and easy, and Steph could nuke her pizza if she wanted it warm.

 

"I have iced tea and Coke," she called, "or water..."  She grabbed a piece of the pizza to munch on as she set out plates and cups, then dished some of the salad onto a plate for herself.  The pizza would be enough, but the salad was 'healthy', and she was trying to behave.  She'd scarf it down quickly and be on her way, so she might have some free time in the evening to go for a ride.

 

@Wayfarer

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"Coke!  I'll take a coke please!" Stephanie called from upstairs as she grabbed her few things that she had left behind. Her top (and cell phone) were still back at that rave place where she got kidnapped...wait....rescued. She would have to get another phone, the top wasn't important. Soon enough she was back down to join Kat in her kitchen.

 

"Ugh, I can't stomach cold pizza..........or warmed over pizza...........it's gotta be fresh and hot or it's not pizza," she made a face at the pizza but sat down for a salad. She ate a lot of those so she could keep that toned tummy of hers.

 

Sipping the coke between bites of salad she looked over to Kat, "Thanks for everything. This is a cool place. And I'm sorry you got dragged into this mess but most of that was the fault of my .............employees. "

 

"I know you didn't go into the motel room back there but one of my uncle's thugs really beat up my friend Louis. He threatened both of them. And little Ava is like the nicest mousiest girl you'd ever meet.  She is the exact opposite of me. I hate that almost everyone I know gets sucked into this death struggle with my Unky Mason. It's bullshit."

 

Tags @Bongo

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"Coke!  I'll take a coke please!"

 

"Got it!"  She poured soda over ice and set it out on the table, then poured herself some iced tea. 

 

"Ugh, I can't stomach cold pizza..........or warmed over pizza...........it's gotta be fresh and hot or it's not pizza,"

 

"More for the rest of us!"  Kat grinned, knowing that not everyone liked cold pizza, and glad that the girl was happy with salad...otherwise, it was peanut-butter and honey, there wasn't time to cater to whims.  She could put more effort into dinner.

 

Grabbing another slice of cold pizza, she continued with making sure there were plenty of paper plates, cups and ice for everyone, as well as a few bottles of HooDoo Stout Ale.

 

Thanks for everything. This is a cool place. And I'm sorry you got dragged into this mess but most of that was the fault of my .............employees. "

 

"I don't mind."  She shrugged, then grinned.  "Well, kind of I do, but it's barely an inconvenience, and it helped to keep you safe."  She would have hated for anything to have happened to Steph, and wouldn't have wanted her anywhere else.

 

"I know you didn't go into the motel room back there but one of my uncle's thugs really beat up my friend Louis. He threatened both of them. And little Ava is like the nicest mousiest girl you'd ever meet.  She is the exact opposite of me. I hate that almost everyone I know gets sucked into this death struggle with my Unky Mason. It's bullshit."

 

"Sorry..."  It sucked that her uncle made her feel guilty by dragging her friends into this.  "Are they all right?  Do they need a place to stay?"  Her grin widened.  "I have plenty of tents for over night trail rides, and there's the barn...top-notch accommodations, and a shotgun...Uncle Mason won't get here."

 

She headed for the front door and called out, "Lunch is on!"  With her 'helpers' fed, they would work more efficiently, and soon the place would be in order.

 

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Lucian heard Kat's summons from where he stood near the barn with J.D. They had walked the immediate perimeter, making sure that everything was secure. That was the downside of small-town life. The rumor mill worked faster than any newspaper. Word would already be out about the MacLeods being detained along with a young lady not-local to Kodiak. Going from the premise that what Stephanie said was true, that information would get back to her uncle and his minions in no time at all. Lucian and J.D. really had no reason not to believe her after seeing the state that Louis was in, not to mention the preliminary information J.D. had gotten  on the uncle's head of security / enforcer.

 

He glanced at his brother as they turned to walk toward the house, "We need more information on Vitaly Lysenko. We also need to make sure that Liam is alright and look into why he and Mother were shot."

 

J.D.  shrugged a bit. "I can ask some more questions, but with him working in the private sector it limits some of my lines of information..." J.D. walked along for a bit before he spoke again, "...is there anyone else we can ask about how he ended up shot? I'm not saying he's lying, but he could definitely be holding back on what he knows."

 

Lucian considered J.D.'s question regarding who might know something about Liam's private affairs. It occurred to him that he really did not know very much about his father's life. He shook his head, "I cannot think of anyone we can ask other than Mother." His tone of voice made it clear that he would rather not pursue that course of action. "However, I might know someone that can help us on the Lysenko front. There is a private investigator that recently moved to Kodiak. I have not had a need to contract out investigative work lately. We can see if Mark Carson is available and if he will take on the job."

 

J.D.  glanced over as they walked. "Who is Mark Carson? That doesn't ring any bells for me."

 

"He and his brother, David, moved here last year. Brother works in IT and Mark Carson opened a private investigation and security business. I have been meaning to talk to him because I do use independent contractors for some of Storm Shelter's jobs, especially if they involve travel. I cannot stay away for long because of the bar and charters," Lucian explained quietly. "Depending on what Liam has landed us in the middle of, we might need help. And I know a guy...or rather...a girl that can help out with some things. She is with CGIS."

 

"CGIS? Will that end up causing problems for us down the road? We don't really need LEO's looking over our shoulders any more than they already will be..." J.D. had his hands tucked into his pockets as they strolled along.

 

"Do not worry about Akela Noelani. We just need to make sure we do not ask her to do anything that is not quite legal," Lucian told his brother. "She can be trusted." Mentally, he added I hope.

 

"Is this the Patented Lucian MacLeod 'Trust Me'"? J.D. asked as they reached the house. "...I definitely need more firepower than I have on me."

 

"It is not," Lucian stated. "And yes, we will need more firepower on the boat. My home in the basin is well-stocked." He did not add that over the years he had seen more than one questionable person come and go from their parents' lodge.

 

@Longshot

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"Sorry..."  Kat replied,  "Are they all right?  Do they need a place to stay?"  Her grin widened.  "I have plenty of tents for over night trail rides, and there's the barn...top-notch accommodations, and a shotgun...Uncle Mason won't get here."

 

"None of it was your fault, nothing for you to be sorry for.  But it is mine. It was my brilliant idea to bring them along on my little trip. They don't have any money so I offered to pay for everything. I should have thought it out better and realized that my uncle might lash out at them too," Steph confessed, she genuinely felt rotten about it.

 

"But thanks for the offer, they're gone  though. Lawyer lady bought them plane tickets to go back home - where they belong. The war is between me and my uncle," she answered Kat.

 

"You won't ever see my uncle show up, he never does anything himself. He sends people to do his dirty work.  Lawyers, thugs...he's got 'em all. Speaking of which, if a big dude with a Russian accent shows up here, do not let him in. He is my uncle's main thug and he is as mean as they come. He beat up Louis.  He killed my dog. And I'm pretty sure he has killed people too. Shit, I might well have dragged you into this mess now too....not intentionally, but my two rescuers by bringing me here."

 

Kat now called out that lunch was on as she stood by the door.

 

"I'd love to stay here, you got a great place but I would only make it unsafe for you. And Lucian and his brother, Attila the Hun, want to take me to some hideaway on another island I guess. We'll see if I can stand it there," Stephanie shrugged.

 

@Bongo

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"Ohhh...yeah, I know that place."  Well, no, Kat didn't, but why pass up a chance for some teasing?  "Yeah, no running water, generator for electricity, outhouse...and no internet!  Good luck out there.  But I do think you'll be pretty safe, no one would think of looking for you there, it's nearly uninhabitable."  She munched on a piece of pizza.  "Good luck.  I'll give you a couple extra blankets in case the generator doesn't work!"

 

@Wayfarer

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Stephanie blinked and set down the coke, "You do?"

 

After hearing that glorious description, she frowned, "Holy shit. I'm not some pioneer chick. I like the current century just fine, no interest in the Middle Ages. "

 

"Maybe I should just demand they put me up in a luxury hotel? That's more my speed. I'd demand they let me stay here but Iike I said.......I don't want to bring any more trouble down on you. "

 

"But I'll be damned if I'm gonna park my sweet little ass in some primitive dump," she huffed.

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Kat laughed and shook her head.   "Sorry, I was just teasing you, I don't really know what it's like.   It's probably not too bad, I can't imagine that Lucian would take you some place too primitive.  And hopefully you can get to a phone, and you can call me to come rescue you."  She frowned.  "You said it's on an island?  I'd have to come get you in  a kayak, but we can figure it out."  Grinning, she munched on her pizza, then commented, "Really, though, they'll take good care of you, and with Regan helping, they'll get this all straightened out and life can go back to normal."  Then she could have a life and not have to worry about her uncle and his crazy schemes.

 

@Wayfarer; @Stormwolfe; @Longshot

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Kat then admitted she had been only teasing about the conditions on this island place Lucian had been talking about sending the heiress.  Stephanie nodded then replied, "Yeah I do need another phone, even if it's just some cheap one or a burner like in those spy movies. If I do call you though, you have to promise to bring pizza when you make your rescue run."

 

"I think it's an island...not positive but while I have been in a canoe never was in a kayak. Sounds like it could be cool," she smiled.

 

Kat assured her," Really, though, they'll take good care of you, and with Regan helping, they'll get this all straightened out and life can go back to normal."

 

Stephanie sighed, "Honestly I've never had what most people would call a normal life. That's not how the Strouds live. We are one twisted bunch. I mean Unky Mason is the worst of us currently but ..........well...I wouldn't wish my family on anyone.  But it must be nice to be like you.....I mean to have your optimistic outlook on things. You know what my definition of an optimist is? An optimist is somebody BEFORE the event happens."

 

@Bongo@Stormwolfe@Longshot

 

 

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The brothers reached the backdoor of Kat's cabin. Lucian paused long enough to wipe his hiking boots on the welcome mat before pushing the door open and entering. "Kat," he called out quietly to let her know it was them. "Everything is good with the animals."


Entering the kitchen, he headed straight for the coffee pot and tapped its side to make sure it was hot. Lucian then poured a cup and leaned against the counter with a heartfelt sigh. The long day and restless night were catching up with him.


"Miss Stephanie, we are going to take you to my home in Hidden Basin. It is across the bay from my parents' place. It will be safe for a while," Lucian paused long enough to sip the coffee. "After that, we will move to my charter boat, The Invictus. That will make it easier to stay on the move if we need to."


Lucian wanted to outline the plans for keeping Stephanie safe. He figured it would gain her trust and cooperation far better than treating her like a child would.

 

@Wayfarer @Bongo @Longshot

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"Honestly I've never had what most people would call a normal life. That's not how the Strouds live. We are one twisted bunch. I mean Unky Mason is the worst of us currently but ..........well...I wouldn't wish my family on anyone.  But it must be nice to be like you.....I mean to have your optimistic outlook on things. You know what my definition of an optimist is? An optimist is somebody BEFORE the event happens."

 

It was pretty sad, Kat thought, to envy what most people took for granted, just living life and getting support from your family.   Maybe once her uncle was out of the picture and she was independent, Steph would find some peace?

 

"Life has its issues," Kat commented, "but yeah, mostly haven't had anything too earth-shattering."  Besides having to relocate due to a psycho ex-boyfriend!  But even that had worked out...she was finding that she loved it here, and had even stumbled into the inheritance.   "Anyway, once they whisk you away, don't be a stranger, all right?  And if you need anything, you know where to find me."

 

As the men clamored in, she glanced their way with a smile.  "Thanks for helping out.  Of course, that's the least you owe me!"   Then she nodded to the table.  "Cold pizza there, and there are some beers in the fridge. " 

 

@Wayfarer; @Stormwolfe; @Longshot

 

 

 

 

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Lucian had now entered the kitchen and immediately informed her that she was going to be taken to his own home in Hidden Basin and then later put on a boat. Steph nodded and grinned, "Ooh, you don't waste time, do you? Already inviting me into your place? So we going to share a bed too?"

 

But Steph also wanted to say something to Kat too, "Oh yeah, I'd like to stay in touch too. You got a nice place here and I love the horses, dogs, etc. Who knows, if my jailers let me maybe I can come back and we go on another horseback ride......minus the moose in the mud."

 

Kat was offering the two men cold pizza (ugh) and beer in the fridge. Steph stood up and got to the fridge first, opening the door and grabbing a beer, "Don't mind if I do."

 

Turning around she pointed out, "Come on, everyone, we're in a private home and it's just one beer. I was drinking hard liquor at the mansion since I was thirteen and my family knew it. "

 

@Bongo@Stormwolfe@Longshot

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Lucian reached out and snagged the beer out of Stephanie's hand, returning it to the refrigerator, "I do not care what you were drinking under your family's watch. Here, you are still underage." He reached past her for a pitcher of cold water and poured himself and J.D. a glass. "And no, we will not be sharing a bed." Although his voice was low and stern, there was an amused twinkle in his dark eyes. He had to admire the girl's spirit, all things considered.

 

J.D. looked at the glass of water, wishing deeply that it was soda, but he shrugged and took a drink as he nodded in agreement with Lucian about their party girl.

 

"Kat, we owe you several weeks of chores. Once we get this case settled, I will try to make good on some of it," Lucian said to the other woman. "I never meant to bring you trouble. Once we know more about Stephanie's situation and the level of danger, we will see about bringing her to visit. Reagan will be able to legally block her uncle from having her committed, at least temporarily. It does sound like he will likely try other means if thwarted."

 

J.D.'s head came up. "Yeah, Kat. I for one apologize for my brother's behavior..." He said as he reached for a pizza slice.

 

Settling at the table, Lucian picked up a slice of the cold pizza. "I will put Miss Stephanie to work on the Invictus. Might as well do a little lobster or crab fishing, make some money."

 

A sigh came from J.D. as he chewed pizza. "I have been home approximately a day...maybe a day and a half and I have been press-ganged into being a farmhand and a commercial fisherman. Can we have some more people shoot at us instead?"

 

Tags @Wayfarer  @Bongo @Stormwolfe

Edited by Longshot (see edit history)

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"Oh yeah, I'd like to stay in touch too. You got a nice place here and I love the horses, dogs, etc. Who knows, if my jailers let me maybe I can come back and we go on another horseback ride......minus the moose in the mud."

 

"But no baby mooseses takes all the fun out of it!"  Kat laughed, shaking her head.  "Well, there's always elk, fox, wolves..."

 

Kat was offering the two men cold pizza (ugh) and beer in the fridge. Steph stood up and got to the fridge first, opening the door and grabbing a beer, "Don't mind if I do."

 

Kat raised an eyebrow at that, but she decided to let the adults deal with it.  Honestly, she didn't have a huge problem with it, for the very reason that Steph pointed out.

 

"Come on, everyone, we're in a private home and it's just one beer. I was drinking hard liquor at the mansion since I was thirteen and my family knew it. "

 

"Thirteen?"  Well, that changed things...it was pretty messed up. but then, now that she thought about it, the kid hadn't had anyone to tell her 'no', or to give her a reason not to drink.

 

"I do not care what you were drinking under your family's watch. Here, you are still underage." He reached past her for a pitcher of cold water and poured himself and J.D. a glass. "And no, we will not be sharing a bed."

 

"Boy, this guy is no fun.  You sure you don't want to take your chances here?"

 

"Kat, we owe you several weeks of chores. Once we get this case settled, I will try to make good on some of it," Lucian said to the other woman. "I never meant to bring you trouble. Once we know more about Stephanie's situation and the level of danger, we will see about bringing her to visit. Reagan will be able to legally block her uncle from having her committed, at least temporarily. It does sound like he will likely try other means if thwarted."

 

"I don't mind, really."  Kat shrugged.  "I'm glad I was able to help a friend, and hey, who doesn't need a little excitement in their life?"  Honestly, she liked Steph, and she was happy that she had been able to do something to keep her safe.

 

"I will put Miss Stephanie to work on the Invictus. Might as well do a little lobster or crab fishing, make some money."

 

"Oh, seeing that would make all this worth it!"  Laughing, Kat glanced at Steph.  "And hey, at least it isn't negative eighty out, so it should be a cake-walk!  Just watch those pinchy-claws, I hear they can take off fingers in, like, two seconds!"

 

@Wayfarer; @Stormwolfe; @Longshot

 

 

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Lucian suddenly snatched the bottle right out of her hand. How rude! He followed that up with a condescending comment.

 

I do not care what you were drinking under your family's watch. Here, you are still underage." He reached past her for a pitcher of cold water and poured himself and J.D. a glass. "And no, we will not be sharing a bed."

 

"Boy, this guy is no fun.  You sure you don't want to take your chances here?" declared Kat.

 

"I'm definitely considering it," Steph was beginning a slow burn. One thing everyone who knew the young woman realized was she was terrible at taking orders. Be that orders given by family or people in authority or certainly.....................employees! Which is what these two men now were.  They seemed to forget that. And then Lucian made the mistake of adding to the looming confrontation (even if he was unaware that was what it had suddenly become).

 

"I will put Miss Stephanie to work on the Invictus. Might as well do a little lobster or crab fishing, make some money."

 

"Work?" Steph raised one eyebrow.

 

"Oh, seeing that would make all this worth it!"  Laughing, Kat glanced at Steph.  "And hey, at least it isn't negative eighty out, so it should be a cake-walk!  Just watch those pinchy-claws, I hear they can take off fingers in, like, two seconds!"

 

"Yeah, he's fuckin' hilarious isn't he?" Steph remarked the tone dripping in sarcasm.

 

"Alright, I think we need to get something straight right here and now. I didn't ask for this whole situation. I got it dumped on me. I got humiliated publicly when I was taken against my will, but then I went to bat for you dudes with the cops so you wouldn't get into trouble. And now you work for me. I have never thought of myself as a demanding boss type at all. You can ask any of the hired help at the Stroud mansion, bet they'll tell you that I'm the really nice one to all of them. But I'm not going to take being treated and spoken to like a child, " she spoke out, hands on hips.

 

"I want that beer. Hell, most underage adults drink. Take off the goddamn rose tinted glasses. It's one beer in the privacy of a residence not the end of civilization as we know it.  And if I can't have it, then I'm firing the both of you. And your lawyer too. And I'll stay with Kat unless she kicks me out.  Hell will freeze over before I will risk these nicely manicured hands handling crabs.  I didn't agree to hire you so you could tell me how to live my life or fuckin' put me to work in some job I have absolutely no aptitude to do.  Strouds don't do manual labor. I'd rather die first. "

 

And with that she opened the fridge again and grabbed that beer bottle.

 

Lucian thought hard about taking it away from her again. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he heard his father's voice say, "pick your battles, lad". Still, he was exhausted and his mouth engaged before his brain could stop it, "Suit yourself, Miss Stroud," he said quietly. "Thank you for  your intervention with the police. Kat, I will return in a day or two. I need a long quiet ride in the wilderness." Nodding at J.D., Lucian rose to his feet and headed for the door.

 

J.D.'s features had locked at Stephanie's display. He watched Lucian walk out and he knew he couldn't leave because someone still had to keep an eye on their charge until the situation was decided one way or the other. He then turned and watched her as she stood there with her beer. "My brother sometimes doesn't understand that not everyone gets a sense of fulfillment at doing manual labor out in the elements..." J.D. said before his eyes met hers. "...But I do know one thing.  Protecting someone from harm works a lot better when you care whether they live or die...and if there is one thing I would think you cared about in this world, it would be yourself. " J.D. glanced around then picked up the first bottle from the fridge, taking a long drink in silence.

 

@Wayfarer @Bongo

 

Edited by Longshot (see edit history)

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Kat watched the exchange in silence, trying not to grin too much.  To her thinking, they all deserved each other, and as annoying as it was sometimes, it was amusing to watch, and really no harm. 

 

"Long ride in the wilderness...got it!"  She nodded to Lucian, then grinned at Steph.  "So, you prefer dipping your crabs in Cholula  Sauce over actually catching them and plunging them into boiling water?  Who would have guessed!"

 

In a way, though, she did feel a little sorry for the kid...it was going to be a rough time for her, if she wanted to survive her uncle's nefarious plots, but at least she had a good bunch of people who were willing to help her out, if she would only accept the hand.

 

@Wayfarer @Stormwolfe @Longshot

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Lucian walked around the yard for a few moments and then over to the SUV. He got in, leaned forward, and pressed the ignition button. For several moments, Lucian sat still, letting the engine idle. He really wanted to drive off, leaving Stephanie Stroud and her problems in the rearview mirror. What stopped him was the fact that J.D. had not followed him out of Kat's cabin and the fact that he could not bring himself to leave the two women to fend for themselves against a man like Anatoly Lysenko.


Giving in to a rare display of pure temper, Lucian pounded the sturdy steering wheel with his fists. He took a deep breath and switched the engine off. Schooling his thoughts and his emotions, Lucian opened the vehicle's door and stepped out. He might walk out on a client that did not want to continue the contract, but he could not leave his brother. Resolutely, Lucian strode back to the house and into the kitchen.


Lucian had entered quietly, his stealthy manner of moving about was so ingrained, it was now second-nature. When he spoke, his voice was pitched low as always, his tone mild and non-combative. Lucian's manner of speech was also ingrained in him. He had found that he did not need to raise his voice or shout to command his teams when he worked for the United States Marshals Service. 


"Miss Stroud, you may, of course, have one beer or fifty. I am not your guardian and cannot force you to do what is smart. You also have every right to fire Storm Shelter and your attorney, although I would advise against the latter. Reagan may be all that stands between you and the nuthouse, providing what you have said about your uncle's plans is true, and I have no reason to doubt that it is."


"However, we need to get the terms of our employment settled. In return for your intervening with the police, Storm Shelter agrees to take you on as a client - pro bono. We will see to your personal safety and security. You may terminate employment at your discretion."


There was a moment's pause as Lucian thought about how to explain things to the girl in a way she would understand. "Part of keeping you safe is to make sure you blend in with the population of Kodiak. We started out badly, but you need to understand that our one and only concern is your safety. Invictus is primarily a fishing charter and eco-tourism vessel. I have some people I can trust to play the part of tourists. No one will remark us going out to sea. I also have a fishing trawler that is unremarkable, which will work as an alternate safe house. Other places we can use are my parents' lodge, my place, here, and the wilderness. I hope you like camping as long as you do not have to expend any effort?"

 

@Wayfarer

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The one brother left then. Stephanie did not try to make him stay but she also had not indicated in actual words his family were really truly fired. She was making a point. Yeah, that was it. The first sip of the beer was good, though to be honest, she had always preferred hard liquor.  But one made due with what one had.  The more quiet of the two brothers eyed her then stated his views.

 

"My brother sometimes doesn't understand that not everyone gets a sense of fulfillment at doing manual labor out in the elements..." J.D. said before his eyes met hers. "...But I do know one thing.  Protecting someone from harm works a lot better when you care whether they live or die...and if there is one thing I would think you cared about in this world, it would be yourself. " J.D. glanced around then picked up the first bottle from the fridge, taking a long drink in silence.

 

"If you mean whether you guys care whether I live or die. I'm quite aware you have nothing but contempt for me and are only doing this because of your father...and maybe the money.  Though let me point out, I did say  that currently I do not have any access to funds so guess you'll have to rely on my word," she replied then took another big gulp of beer.

 

"And as far as to whether I value my life...........I do. I at least want to live long enough to see my uncle dead," her smile was telling.

 

Of course Kat, who truly was nicer than the two brothers and the heiress combined in Steph's opinion tried a little levity to lower the tension. Bless her heart.

 

"So, you prefer dipping your crabs in Cholula  Sauce over actually catching them and plunging them into boiling water?  Who would have guessed!"

 

"I don't even like crab. I do love lobster dipped in butter and I'm also a big shrimp fan too but I'm not gonna jump at their every order like I'm some menial to them. Not when they can't even let me have a drink once and awhile. Hell, I bet I could drink the both of them under the table," Steph grinned and drank from the bottle again.

 

She was a bit startled when there was Lucian back again. He had come back out of nowhere. Now what? Steph gripped the bottle tighter just in case he was back for round two and was going to try and wrench it out of her hand. Nope, not this time. But no, he just had something to say. As usual Steph listened, letting him have his say.  Now he conceded on the beer. Then made a very good point about the lawyer, it was true her uncle was trying to have her committed as insane.  He also indicated he believed her, that was nice to know. She doubted JD would believe her if she stated that water was wet.

 

He went on and she let him finish before responding.

 

"Pro bono...that's like for free, right? Or payment deferred to later," she guessed, "If I get my hands back on my parents' fortune, you will get paid, more than fairly. I'm not a cheapskate."

 

"As for terminating your service,  honestly dude, I haven't fired either of you or your sister. I just want to treated better. That's all."

 

He explained then in detail other possible options now on the table for keeping her from her uncle's grasp.

 

"I love camping. What I don't love is working on some fishing trawler ruining my hands. Oh, and another thing, I want to be able to visit Kat anytime I feel like it. Agree to that and I won't try and run off and do it on my own anyhow," she named a condition of her own then.

 

J.D.'s eyes widened a bit in surprise as he was not expecting her to put Kat in as a condition. The hundred headaches of keeping her safe around here flooded into his mind, but he could think of worse problems from their charge.

 

@Bongo @Stormwolfe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Longshot (see edit history)

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Lucian sighed and shook his head. It was probably a good thing that the girl was so strong willed and determined. However, it made securing her safety far more difficult than it needed to be.

 

"Miss Stroud, we can only agree to visits to Kat if it is determined that it will not endanger either of you. Personally,  I would prefer to keep Kat with us, providing she would agree to that. The problem with that is getting someone out to watch her place and care for the animals," Lucian told Stephanie. "Right now, we do not know what is coming at us. It makes it very difficult to know what course of action is safest for you."

 

@Wayfarer @Bongo 

Edited by Longshot (see edit history)

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About Storm Shelter

Storm Shelter brings crime drama and not quite soapy soap-opera to the online written RPG world. Set in one of America's last frontiers, the residents of Kodiak Island and Storm Shelter Air & Rescue encounter bad guys and storm gales in equal measure. The RPG offers guided site-wide plots and open character driven stories..

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