Before Dakota came down from the office, Amy came scuffling out of her bedroom.
The Chauffeur (#42) Extortion
By PABLO DIABLO
Before Dakota came down from the office, Amy came scuffling out of her bedroom. Apparently, she was up late watching movies. The one I saw before going to bed was only one of three that the gang watched. I sat her down and gave her the update about what had happened. She looked like a lost puppy because this was not something that we had discussed as a means of security.
She asked if she could go take a quick shower and then help on the phones. I sent her to get that shower as I would need a wide-awake Amy.
Jill was pacing back and forth. I couldn’t tell if she was worried or if she was thinking about her next move. BJ was pretty much her shadow. They sat down together and began discussing their ideas of what the next step for them might be.
The back door opened and the seven from the studio and the pool house filed in. Allison wouldn’t look at me. I directed everyone to put their stuff in the bedroom that they stay in when we are in lockdown.
Fred took his two nephews aside and spoke to them. Although I couldn’t hear what was said, I knew it wasn’t good as both boys kept looking at the ground. Aurora sat nervously at the kitchen table, not really looking at me. The porn twins went upstairs to the room that they had chosen to put their stuff down and came back down to the kitchen.
While people were milling around, Dakota came downstairs with a big stack of papers. She set them on the kitchen table and headed back upstairs. I flipped through them to see that all the Pinetree locations were printed out, each location listed the address, the unit number, the phone, and fax number as well as the current General Manager’s name. I flipped through the stack and took off about 10 pages and began handing them out.
Since it didn’t really matter what locations you ended up with, I just took the top 10 pages then the next 10 and so on.
“If I hand anyone locations that are west of the Mississippi, please set them aside and move on. Look at what I’m handing you right now and see if I need to give you a different set of 10 pages,” I tell the group.
One of the CG boys had pages for Arkansas, I took those back and handed him the next 10. I decided to cover what should be said, “OK, everyone here’s what I would like you to say to the contact unit. ‘Hello Mr. Smith, I’m David from Jaxson, Inc. home office. We’re aware that you currently have no computer system. We’ve had a technical glitch and our IT department is working hard on fixing the issue as quickly as possible. When the system is restored you will receive a message that says our system is back online. Until you receive this message please have your people stay off our system. Do you have any questions at this point? That’s wonderful. Thank you for your assistance,” Then you should hang up and move on to the next unit.
“Does anyone have any questions about what they are supposed to be doing?” I ask.
“Yes sir, can Bobby and I make some phone calls to help?” Sammy says.
“Absolutely! That is great of you guys,” I tell the two chefs. I see both CG boys and Allison not looking at me. I’m sure that Fred lit his nephews up and well, Allison, I can tell she’s nervous about what will happen. Aurora is just sitting there with her ten pages acting as nothing has happened. I’ll address this issue when things are much more settled down. The porn twins and Belinda seem excited to participate as they have note pads, pens and their cell phones plugged into the wall to keep them charged.
My phone buzzes. It’s Agent Heidi Longmire.
“Hello Mr. Greene, this is Agent Longmire. I believe you spoke with Special Agent Fernandez and he let you know that I would be coming by to pick up your laptop. Please assure me you have not opened that email,” she says to me.
“Agent Longmire, the laptop is closed and unplugged from the wall. It is ready to be handed off to you when you get here. How far away are you?” I ask her.
“I’m coming down your service road right now,” she says.
“OK, then I’ll wait until I see your car and then open the gate,” I say.
I head to the security camera in the kitchen to watch until I see her car. When I do see it, I poke the necessary buttons to open the gate. I watch her pull the car into the courtyard and I poke the buttons to close the gate immediately after she pulls in.
I pick up the laptop and power cord and walk over by the front door. As I wait for her to come to the door, I hear my group making phone calls and almost repeating the speech exactly that I gave them to say.
There is a knock at the door.
“Who is it?” I ask.
“It’s Agent Longmire,” she says.
“Please show me your credentials,” I say to her.
I open the door just a few inches and see her holding her FBI ID. I open the door the rest of the way and let her come inside.
“Um, Mr. Greene, what is going on here?” she asks.
“I have my people calling each unit east of the Mississippi to let them know that we have a computer issue and are working on it as fast as we can. They are asking the General Managers to keep their people off the system until service is restored. Right now, we are working on the hotel division, but as soon as we have more contact information printed out I’ll split the group half working on the hotel division and half on the restaurant side,” I tell her. She sees the laptop but before I hand it over to her I ask my question, “Agent, are you married or in a relationship?”
“That’s kind of personal, isn’t it. Mr. Greene?”
“Not to me, it’s not. I saw you running things when we had the shooting of your agents here. Captain Perez showed up and you turned the investigation over to him. I asked Special Agent Fernandez about you and he tells me that you are a hard worker and very dedicated to the FBI. I would like to invite you to dinner to meet someone who works just as hard as you do. He owns his own business and, in my head, I think the two of you would be compatible. However, let me be clear, I’m not matchmaking, I’m just doing introductions. If nothing happens then that’s fine, but if you work as hard as I think you work then maybe having someone to talk about work to might be of interest to you. If not, well then you got a nice dinner out of it. Have I scared you off?” I ask her.
“Um, well……. I guess it’s alright. I do work a lot and really have no time to go looking for someone to trust for a relationship. It’s not like I’m going down to the local pub to pick up someone that I can’t check out ahead of time. Yeah, I’ll be happy to go to dinner with whomever. One small note, I’m allergic to bell peppers. Doesn’t matter the color just bell peppers in general. Here’s my card, let me write my personal cell phone number on the back as I don’t want to get in trouble for using the agency cell phone for personal business,” she says to me as she pulls out a pen and writes her number on the back.
“Thank you, Agent. Here’s the laptop,” I say as I hand her the computer. She puts the laptop into an evidence bag and seals it. I open the front door for her and out she goes. I go back to the security system and poke the buttons to open the gate and watch her leave.
I call Donna.
“Donna, how are things going?”
“Well, David I’m glad you gave me John. He’s been a big help calming people down that are here. He is also taking call escalations and handling frantic customers. He’s sorting the manual reservations into 27 piles, one for each state and one pile for Washington DC. I kind of feel useless he’s doing so much for the call center,” Donna tells me.
“Well, then we made a good call sending him to your group. We’re making calls from here. We have everyone working on it, even Bobby and Sammy. Mom and Fred are making calls as well,” I tell her. She laughs a bit, but I can tell it’s a nervous laugh.
“I’ll touch base with you later, keep working. Oh, one more thing how many people do you have working?”
“Right now, 75, but in about 90 minutes the second shift arrives and that will take us to about 200. Why do you ask?”
“I just wanted to keep tabs on how much help you have there since you are doing things manually. If you feel you need more people, then call them in. We’ll work on the OT later,” I tell her. She thanks me and we end the call.
I dial up Paula next.
“Hello Paula, how goes the limo business?”
“Really slow. The system is virtually down so we are taking reservations for limos manually. We’re explaining that we have a system issue but not to worry as our IT department is working on it as fast as possible. So far everyone seems OK with that explanation,” she tells me. I exhale a bit, as we have two businesses doing ok manually.
I hear Amy behind me telling someone that I’m on the phone.
I end my call with Paula and walk over to Amy and gently take the phone from her.
“Hello, this is David Greene. Whom am I speaking to?” I ask.
“This is Mark Reading. I’m a district manager for a Pinetree district in Dallas. What the hell is going on with our system?”
“Mr. Reading, we have a large issue with our computer system for every computer east of the Mississippi. Did Amy not tell you that we have a computer issue and that the IT department is working on the issue?” I ask him in an annoyed voice.
“Well, I can’t do my job with no computer. I need to look at yesterday’s numbers before I go home,” he tells me. I look at my watch it’s 12:05 pm which makes it only 2 pm in Dallas.
“Please tell me when you go home,” I say to this district manager.
“I stay all the way until 3:30 pm since I got here at 9:30 this morning,” he replies.
“Well, since we are having issues, you may need to stay a bit longer tonight,” I tell him rather than explode on him as we are quite vulnerable.
I hear a long pause before I get an answer, “OK, I guess I can stay since its only one night,” he tells me.
“Well thank you. I’ll be in touch sometime over the next few days,” I say to him. In my head, I don’t understand how the district managers think it is OK to go home at 3:30 pm. After we get through this major issue, I’m going to rattle a few cages to remind them that since they are on salary, they must work a minimum of 45 hours a week. As I count, this district manager is working a total of 6 hours a day times 5 days and that comes to 30 hours. He’s a full 15 hours short and being paid for 45 but only working 30. That is going to change rather quickly. I have my plan B ready for my unannounced visit back to Dallas. I think about Seattle having the same issue and need to look at management files, but with the FBI having my laptop, that will have to wait a bit.
I decide to text Rob. “I know you’re very busy. Are you making any progress?”
I let my phone sit for a bit as I plug it into the charger in the kitchen. I see people making big strides with the pages that I gave them. Dakota comes down the steps with another large package of papers for making calls.
“Everyone, when you finish the call, you’re on. Don’t make another call until I tell you,” I say out loud for everyone to hear.
I see people putting their phone down. Bobby and Sammy are chatting quietly about one of them making lunch for everyone. I’m quite proud of the porn twins and Belinda, they look like they have made the most calls as their stack of papers is much larger than anyone else.
When everyone ends their current calls, I divide the table in half so some may make hotel calls and others will make restaurant calls. I put the porn twins and Belinda to begin making restaurant calls.
I get a text from Rob. It reads, “MAKING PROGRESS. MIGHT BE UP IN ABOUT 75-90 MINUTES. STAY TUNED” I smile seeing this reply.
I call Boston Market to order lunch for the call center and Happy Limo and Black Car Limo.
“Thank you for calling the Pasadena Boston Market, this is Carol speaking. Will this order be to go or dine in?” I am told on the phone.
“Carol, I want to make three large orders. How quickly can they be ready?” I ask.
“Well 5-15 sandwiches about 35-40 minutes forever 5 sandwiches add 10 more minutes,” she says. I think to myself that it will be dinner time before all the food is ready. Carol, that’s all I needed to know, I’ll call you another time,” and hang up the phone.
Next, I call El Polo Norteno and ask about catering for 150-200 people, how long would it take and what would be the delivery fee for it going to two different locations. The delightful lady tells me it will take about one hour to have all the lunches made and be on the road for delivery. I place two sets of lunches: one is chicken on a salad, the other is three fully loaded beef tacos. The lady gives me a price plus the delivery fee. I give her my Visa and add a 20% tip for the driver. She asked the address and some other pertinent questions, such as do the buildings have a secure entrance, whom to call if the driver can’t find a parking spot, and is there anyone who can meet the driver at the door since the order is so large. I answer the questions and she tells me an order number. I thank her and go check on my phone callers.
Sammy asks if grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup would be alright for lunch. I shrug my shoulders and tell him that it sounds fine.
I walk around and view everyone’s progress. Mom is doing well, she doesn’t have as many calls as some of the others, but Fred is more than making up for her lack of progress.
Surprising to me is that the porn twins and Belinda are making huge strides with their call lists. When they run across an incorrect phone number, they dial the fax line to see if that would be answered. If that line isn’t answered, they circle the number and hand the sheet to Dakota for her to track down the correct number.
Everyone is doing a great job. I pull out some cups and fill them with ice water for the ladies. They take the cups and drink the water down quickly. I carefully watch Dakota to make sure my darling is drinking enough water.
I get a call from Donna; she is completely surprised that lunch showed up. I told her that I appreciated all the work they were doing and to please make sure that John gets at least one lunch, maybe even two. Donna laughs and thanks me for taking care of the staff.
A few minutes later I get a call from Paula thanking me for lunch for her people. I tell her that I appreciate all the hard work that her group is doing.
The phone calls go on for a couple more hours. The lunch that Sammy made was delicious. The phone group stopped, and we all enjoyed the food, but there were lots of conversations about how people reacted to the phone calls.
At the end of the lunch, Allison came over to me.
“I guess I’m in trouble. Do you want me to move out?” She says in a defeated manner.
“Why would I want you to move out?” I ask.
“Because I think that you’re mad at me,” she says.
“Should I be mad or is there a reasonable explanation for what happened?” I asked.
“Well, it seemed reasonable at the time, but now that I’ve had a chance to think about it maybe not,” she says.
“Allison, as I see it, you violated the one thing I asked you to not do. Film any of the family or playgroup and you did that. Do I not take care of you? Was what I asked to difficult? I’m at a loss, please explain how we got to what I found you doing with the CG boys and Aurora,” I say to her.
Her eyes tear up. She’s finding it hard to speak and hold back the sobbing. I put my arms around her. Yes, I’m annoyed but I just want an explanation.
“Allison, what made you do what I had asked not to have done?” I ask her again.
“David, I’m so sorry. Aurora came to me asking to have a private film of a fantasy of hers. She brings the two CG boys along. The porn twins tell the boys and Aurora that they should make porn together, that it will be fun and exciting,” she starts to tell me.
“So how did you agree to do the filming?” I ask.
“Aurora kept telling me that she isn’t part of the playgroup, that she is just an old girlfriend. I believed her. I shouldn’t have, but I did. I still have the whole thing on the camera. What do you want me to do with it?” she asks.
“Plug your camera into the security system and make me five DVDs. Once for Aurora, one for each of the CG boys, one for Fred, and one for me.” I tell her.
At this point, her eyes are a steady stream of tears. I pull the sleeve of my tee shirt out and wipe her eyes. She really looks pitiful, her eyes all puffy, her nose running, and her breathing a bit stuttered.
“Allison let’s call this a poor case of judgment. But please understand, even if they beg you on their hands and knees you will not film anyone that lives or stays here in the Chateau. I hope you understand what I’m telling you. NO ONE gets filmed, without my OK. My house, my rules. Got it?” I ask her. She is barely able to communicate with me she is crying so profusely.
“Please do me a favor and go get the CG boys,” I ask her to do.
She gets up and others ask what’s wrong and what’s going on and why is she crying. She just shakes her head and walks away going to find the CG boys. I see Dakota watching Allison as she walks away. Dakota knows but so far, she hasn’t included herself in this issue.
It takes a few minutes, but Allison returns with both CG boys. I kiss Allison on the cheek and tell her to make the DVDs that I had asked for. She picks up the camera and plugs it into the security system and calls up the film.
The two CG boys come over to me as if they have no idea what I summoned them for.
“Gentlemen lets go out to the living room to chat for a couple of minutes please,” I turn and walk to the living room. They follow me.
“Guys, do either of you have any idea why I want to speak to you two away from everyone else?” I ask.
“You have no idea. I find that hard to believe. Let me clue you into what I saw that annoyed me. The two of you making porn with Aurora and having Allison film it. Was I not clear, weeks ago when you two came to live with me and the family that no one from our group gets filmed without my OK? I don’t want anyone of the playgroup making porn. That’s the type of thing that brings unwanted attention to the house. Was I not clear about that when you two moved in here?” I ask of them.
“Yes, sir you were clear. We didn’t think we were making porn. We thought we were satisfying the fantasy of the Aurora chick. However, she suggested that you might be jealous that we were having fun with her,” One of the guys tells me.
“Gentlemen, I don’t care if you fuck her until the skin on your dicks fall off. What I care about is things like that of the people that live here, including you two knuckleheads. Why would you two do this?” I ask.
“Because it sounded like fun. Our girlfriends told us that making porn can be fun and exciting,” the other one tells me.
“Please don’t tell me that you’re now blaming your actions on the twins,” I say to them.
“No, sir. We’re not saying that. We made a small error in judgment and am sorry for it,”
Allison comes over to me and hands me 5 DVD disks. I had one each to the CG boys. They sheepishly accept the disk.
“What night should we show it to the house?” I ask.
“Um, we would prefer you not do that please,” one says to me.
“But why not? You wouldn’t be embarrassed, would you?” I ask.
“Um, yes sir we probably would be embarrassed,” they tell me.
“I would like you to take this one DVD and hand it to your Uncle Fred. A man who has been loyal and handles himself like a gentleman,” I say to them.
One of the boys accepts the DVD but just holds it staring at it. The other boy doesn’t even look at the DVD. I know that asking them to give one of the DVDs to their uncle will embarrass them and him. I hold my hand out and ask for the disk back.
The boy holding it exhales as he puts the disk in my hand.
“Gentlemen, please don’t do this type of thing again without checking with me. If you want to have Allison film you and whomever, that’s fine with me, but not here not on these grounds, got it?” I say to them in a very stern manner. They both shake their heads in agreement and once again apologize.
“Gentlemen, please remember you are a guest here and everything you do reflects on your uncle,” I say to them. They both thank me for giving them a second chance.
“Please ask Aurora to come to sit with me,” I say to the CG boys.
Both get up and go over to her. She finishes her phone call up and walks over to me and plops herself down on the couch.
“Yeah, is there something you need?” she asks.
“You to pack your stuff and move out of my house,” I say to her. Her eyes get large and I see she is now pissed off.
“Oh, you’re jealous of me choosing the two guys to have sex with. I’m an adult. I’m a grown woman and can choose to have sex with or not have sex with anyone I choose,” she tells me.
“Aurora, you are absolutely correct. However, you violated one of my few rules here. But clearly, you don’t care. So, it’s an easy choice, you have until tonight to pack your stuff and leave. I’ll call you a cab when you’re ready to go,” I tell her in a calm non-threatening voice.
“Fuck you. I’m done with this shit. Your rules are stupid. I don’t live here so they don’t pertain to me. You should get that through your thick head,” she barks at me. I see a couple of the phone group turning to watch. Dakota changes seats to the end of the dining room table, where I usually sit.
I just smile at her; this I know really pisses her off. She tries to get under your skin and poke your buttons to get a reaction out of you, but when you don’t react it only infuriates her.
She gets up and storms to the bedroom that she is staying in. It takes less than 5 minutes for her to gather her stuff and come stomping back to the living room. Dakota had already called for a cab while she was packing her stuff.
“Your cab will be here in just a few minutes. I’ll let you go outside the gate to wait for the cab. The cab is already paid for and is going to take you back to your own home. I hope you have a good life,” I say to her again in a calm manner. She is furious now and is stomping around. I open the front door for her and let her walk outside into the courtyard cussing and swearing at me. When she gets to the security gate, I poke the button to have it start opening. When she goes through the partially open gate, I poke the button again and it begins closing.
I turn around and ask how things are going on the phone calls. I get a cheer that they have completed all the phone calls. I tell them that we are through for the day. I missed my phone buzzing when I was speaking with the CG boys and Aurora. The text was from Rob. It read “SYSTEM FIXED. EVERYTHING IS BACK UP. WE NEED TO HAVE A SERIOUS DISCUSSION ABOUT UPGRADING THINGS IN OUR SYSTEM TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN. GOOD NIGHT, ROB”.
I read the text to everyone and the whole room cheers. I tell the pool house gals and the CG boys to head back to their house.
I open the security shutters on the backside but only the ground floor.
Sammy and Bobby want to take an hour off to rest a bit before they make dinner. I offer to buy dinner for everyone from either Outback or Carrabba’s, the room chose Outback. I told them to write down what they wanted to eat, and Dakota will call it in. She looked surprised that I assigned this to her to get done. She smiles and blows me a kiss.
I hustle upstairs to the office to let Jill know that the system is back up. She thanks me and gets back to work with BJ. I tell them both that Outback is being ordered and to text Dakota what they want for dinner.
I kiss Jill and tell her she was great. I kiss BJ on the cheek and tell her thank you for keeping Jill sane for the day. She smiles at me and tells me that I’m welcome.
When the dinner from Outback arrives, everyone is circling the poor delivery boy like a shark circle a swimmer.
I put the food on the dining room table and tell everyone to dig in. Most of the ladies took some of the Cesar salad but Diane and Dakota took no salad but took a steak each. Dakota texted Jill and BJ that the food was here, and they need to come down before John gets home.
I don’t know why but an Outback steak didn’t really sound that interesting. I did some quick math to ensure that we had enough food for everyone, including the ones at the Hawk, the call center, and the limo companies. I’m always impressed with Dakota. She anticipates things, but she has done a wonderful job at teaching John to anticipate both issues and fixes.
As it is now after 5 pm, I have Amy sort the pages into two piles, hotel pile, and restaurant pile. I make the decision that we need to have a master listing here at the house for future problems.
My phone buzzes, its Agent Longmire.
“Hello Agent, what do I owe this phone call?”
“Mr. Greene, I’m really glad you didn’t open that email. Our techs moved that email into a blank computer and it fried the hard drive in about 45 seconds. It’s a technology that we haven’t seen used in quite a while,” she tells me.
“I’m going to take a guess that you believe that it belongs to that Mexican drug cartel. Am I close?” I ask her.
“WOW, you are pretty good. However, you let me get away without discussing the two guys you say were Russian types that came to your security gate trying to get in. Agent Fernandez tells me you can make a DVD of them. If that is true, may I ask you for a favor to make us a couple of those DVDs please?” she asks.
“I would be happy to. When will you come by to pick them up?” I ask her.
“Um, can’t I just send another agent?”
“No, since you’re getting a free dinner out of me, you can stop by and pick them up. We can also discuss when you’re available for dinner and where you would like to go,” I tell her.
“Uggggh, you’re killing me. OK, how about tomorrow morning, I’ll stop by and get the DVDs from you and we can discuss your ‘introductions’ to this guy,” she says with a bit of a giggle in her voice.
“That sounds wonderful. I look forward to seeing you, Agent Longmire. Have a good night,” I say to her as we end the call.
I decide to dial up Patrick, Aurora’s boss. In my head, this might be a difficult phone call but I’m ready for virtually anything after today.
“Hello, this is Patrick,” he answers the phone.
“Patrick, this is David Greene. Do you have a couple of minutes to talk?” I ask.
“Um, WOW, did you ever piss off Aurora. I’ve never seen her so mad and boy o boy does she not have lady-like words for you. I thought that I was the only one that can piss her off that badly,” he says to me.
“Patrick, I have a delightful lady who works as many hours a week as you do. I think, at least in my head, that you two might be well suited for each other. However, if you’re in a relationship, then forget I asked, but if you’re not, then my wife and I would like to take you two to dinner. We will do the introductions. We’ll have a nice dinner and if you and she are interested, you can exchange phone numbers. Jill and I are only offering you dinner and an introduction. Sound like something that you might be willing to do?” I ask.
There’s a long pause. Just before I say something Patrick says, “Yeah, that sounds like a nice evening. What kind of restaurant would this be, as I’m not much for the whole suit thing,” he says to me.
“How about Outback, Carrabba’s, or Longhorn’s Steakhouse. Does any of those sound OK for you?” I ask.
“Heck, all of them are wonderful. How about you and your wife make the choice. Just let me know where and when to show up and we’re on,” he tells me. However, I have a plan to pick him up in a limo and her as well, let them have a conversation before we even get to the restaurant.
After I hang up, I go upstairs to visit Jill and BJ. Once again, they are working hard. I’m not sure what they are doing, but they’re having discussions about the stock and the conversion to a whole new setup. I see Jill looking through paperwork from the SEC regarding conversion of publicly held stock. Jill and BJ are ensuring that they follow the rules for what’s planned.
“Darling, we are going to be taking two people out to dinner soon, one of my introduction dinners, do you have a preference for where we go to dinner, or should I just set everything up and let you know after its all set up?” I ask.
“Just take care of it, darling. You know I trust you,” she says to me.
I go over and kiss her, but she seems annoyed with me now. I kiss BJ on the cheek and head back downstairs. Once there, I hear several voices, everyone from the Hawk has made it home. Paula and Donna, along with John have all arrived as well.
Mom and Fred excuse themselves from the group. I think that Mom hasn’t worked that hard in a long, long time and she is just plain worn out. Fred has made her a dinner plate and is carrying it behind her as they head to her bedroom.
“Hey, Mom. Thank you for all the hard work that you and Fred put in today. We couldn’t have gotten through it all without your help,” I say before they go into her room. I see her blow me a kiss through the air as they shut the door behind them. In my head, I really like having Mom here at the Chateau. She’s sort of taking the grandmother position giving some of the younger girls’ advice and for the older ones like Paula, she listens when they have questions. Mom will have a glass of wine with some of the ladies, something she is probably enjoying. I make no mention of Bob as she is enjoying life and there is no need to get her emotions all stirred up about being a widow.
I head over to the kitchen, where the group is hanging out. John is eating like a man who hasn’t had food in days. First, he attacked the Caesar salad, which surprised virtually everyone. From there he took not one, but two sirloin steaks, a large baked potato, and some broccoli. He loaded the potato with butter, sour cream, and bacon. Then he just sat down at the dining room table and began to eat. He didn’t say a word about the day, but I am very proud of him. He probably is the reason the call center went as well as it did. In my head, he is really showing signs of making good decisions and helping everything we have going on.
I sit down in one of the dining room chairs, I get kissed from Jennifer, Paula, and Donna as they are picking a chair at the table to eat their Outback dinner. Diane gets her plate and sits down next to John.
I see Allison sitting at the other end of the table. She is eating and not participating in any of the discussions going on. She looks up at me and then backs down at her food. I make myself a plate and go sit by her.
“Interesting day today, eh?” I ask trying to lighten the mood.
“David, I’m sorry,” she says right off the bat.
“Hey, we’re done with all that. I’m not looking to get rid of you. I see you as part of the family, I hope you know that” I say to her. However, that draws the tears out once again. I still haven’t figured out how to have this conversation with her without her sobbing.
I pull my chair right up next to her. I put my arms around her and pull her in tightly to me. I just hold her as she tries to contain the tears. I don’t say a word; I just hold her. We probably sit there for about 9 or 10 minutes before she has finally gotten control of her emotions.
As she lifts her head off my shoulder, I lean in and kiss her. She responds kissing me as well. I begin to caress the back of her head as we embrace. I hear her purr a bit in my ear, which makes me smile. I lean back and see that she is now smiling a bit, not a big smile, but a smile none the less. She goes back to eating her dinner and finally starts participating in our group discussion of the entire day.
As I listen, I hear a family-like effort to overcome the events that were presented to us today. I need to spend some time on the phone with Rob, what will it take to protect our system? Does it require new servers? Are there firewalls that can’t be broken? Is there software that will help protect from an invasion? Are there triggers for unauthorized people? I have lots of questions for Rob, but I want to give him a few hours of sleep first.
“David, you need to look at this,” Jennifer says to me.
I get up from my chair and walk over to the security camera. Once again, we have three people standing at our gate shaking it and rattling it trying to get into the courtyard. I poke a button and say into the speaker, “Hello, who are you?”
The three guys, who are speaking in a Spanish dialect say something that I can’t understand. “Guys, the police have been called. Please stay where you are until the authorities arrive,” I say to them. This prompts them to take off running. Apparently, they have learned their lesson about driving a car down the service road.
“John, go get your gun,” I tell him. It only takes a couple of moments before he returns with his pistol. I go to my bedroom and get my weapon as well.
“Let’s go check the front gate out. I hit the security lights, which lights the courtyard up like a baseball stadium. I unlock the front door and John and I step outside. I hear Dakota tell us to be careful. No one is at the gate, but there is something sitting on the ground. John and I approach it slowly. John gets close to the box, but I warn him that it may be an explosive or something else that will harm him. He tries to look at the box without touching it.
He tells me he can’t tell what is in it and will not try to move it. I hear something behind us, I turn and see both Bobby and Sammy with their guns on their hips. Bobby suggests that we call the police and let them deal with it. I agree and pull out my cell phone and dial up 911. I explain to the emergency dispatcher what is going on and that three guys of Hispanic backgrounds have left a box at our front gate and we are unsure if it is safe to open or not. The operator tells me to not touch the box and units should be at the house in just a couple of minutes.
I back John away from the gate and ask everyone to go back into the house. In about three minutes, police have arrived. I step outside and point to the box. They tell me that they are going to have the bomb squad come to the house and check out the box. They want us all to stay inside, which I push everyone back in the house.
It takes the bomb squad about another 20 minutes before they show up. Once they do, it takes them a few more minutes deploying their robot. The robot picks up the box and takes it down the service road. Once it is away from everyone, the robot opens the box. Nothing happens. The Sargent in charge yells at me to come out to the gate, which I do. John follows me acting as my bodyguard.
The Sargent introduces himself. He tells us that the box has a mannequin head decorated to look like me. I ask if he’s sure that there is no explosive material, the Sargent tells me that they will take the head back to the police station and x-ray it and dust it for fingerprints. He also told us that the forensic team will scan the box and check it for the residue of explosive material. I watched as the robot took the box and loaded it into a police van.
I thanked the Sargent for his team’s hard work and asked when I will get a copy of the report, he told me it would be a couple of days, but they would make sure that I got a copy. After about an hour, they packed up all their stuff and left.
As I got inside, Jill came running down telling me she had a strange email on her computer.
“Don’t open it. I’ll call Special Agent Fernandez,” I tell her.
I dial up Fernandez. It rings a couple of times before it goes to voicemail. I tell him on voicemail that we have, well Jill has, another one of those emails and that we are not opening it or touching it. I ask Jill to turn off her computer and unplug it. She heads back upstairs and does just that. As I begin to worry about this new email, I wonder if maybe I should be using a public use computer, like the ones they have at the public library. I’ll check with Fernandez and ask his opinion.
Jennifer comes over to me, once I was back in the house and hands me an odd-looking envelope. It had my name and the house address handwritten on it, with no return address and the postage stamp was that of an American Flag, but it was upside down, a sign of distress.
I took the letter to the kitchen, where I retrieved a sharp paring knife from the butcher block to open this letter. Slowly and carefully, I slid the edge of the blade along the edge of the back flap. I let the knife cut through the edge of the envelope.
Carefully, I looked at it to see if there was anything that resembled some sort of tripwire. I didn’t see any, nor did I feel any. I decided to take the envelope out back by the pool. I figured if there is some sort of explosive material, I can toss it into the water. As I pulled the sides of the envelope apart, I see that there is a piece of paper inside the envelope folded in a tri-fold manner. I gently pull the paper out of the envelope, setting the envelope down on the pool deck.
Looking carefully at the piece of trifold paper, I began to unfold it. On the face of the paper is words that are obviously cut out from magazines and glued on the paper. I read the note. It says, “We asked you nicely the first time to pay, but you refused. We asked you nicely a second time, and again you refused. Now, someone close to you, that is important to you will die before the end of the week. Maybe that will get you to pay. Trouble is coming and coming soon”
I sit and stare at this letter. I’m not sure how to respond. Trying not to touch the letter, I fold it back up and put it back into the envelope.
I set the letter down on the table at the end of the living room couch. I dial up Fernandez, it goes to voicemail. I hang up and dial him again, and again it goes to voice mail. I decide to dial up Agent Longmire.
“Hello, this is Agent Longmire. Who is calling?” She asks.
“Agent Longmire, this is David Greene. I’m calling because we have received an odd letter that is telling me that someone close to me will die before the end of the week,” I say to her.
“Have you touched the letter?”
“Yes, I held onto the edges of the envelope and used a paring knife to open the envelope. Once it was open, I carefully pulled the letter out, trying not to touch the paper but I’m sure that I did. I’m really not sure what I should do about this,” I tell her.
“Mr. Greene, that is OK. Please put the envelope into a Ziploc bag without touching it again. Use a pair of tweezers to pick it up,” she says to me.
“Yes Ma’am, so you’ll be here in the morning to get it from us?” I ask.
“Oh no, I’m coming right now. I should be there in about 20 minutes, if that’s OK with you,” Agent Longmire says to me.
“Of course, it’s OK. Hell, it could be 4 am and it would be OK,” I say to her. She thanks me and hangs up.
I head over to the security system in the kitchen. I make the system go back to midnight and make a DVD of the front gate from midnight until about 5 minutes ago. I know that there is something there for the FBI to pursue.
My mind immediately goes to Dakota or Jill as the targets. I gather the entire family back in the TV room to discuss this new threat.
Once I have everyone in the TV room, I begin to tell everyone what we know so far and what the FBI and local police are doing.
“Right now, we have a threatening letter claiming that because I didn’t pay the extortion money that they asked, someone close to me will die before the end of the week. I’m not sure if this letter is credible or not, but all of you know that we just replaced all the windows because of the shooting back at the FBI party. Agent Longmire is on her way over here to collect the letter, the envelope, and a DVD of our security camera for the past 24 hours,” I tell everyone.
I see the concern in the eyes of my family. I’m not sure what to do. I hear Fred’s voice behind me asking me a question, “David, didn’t you mention that you had 4 guys from the Secret Service willing to be your bodyguards and Jill’s? Maybe you need to hire them. I would also suggest that no one drives to work alone. We should probably pair up and those who have a carry permit should start carrying their weapon for safety,” Fred suggests to me, which makes a whole bunch of sense.
“Fred, that is a good idea. Does anyone else have any ideas about how we can keep every one of the family safe?” I ask the room.
Jennifer speaks first, “Maybe those of us who work at the same place, such as the Hawk should all ride in one vehicle, say John’s truck or my truck. Both trucks have tinted windows, so coming out of the garage, it would be difficult for the bad guys to see who is in the vehicle,” she says.
Paula adds, “We could also schedule a limo or two to come to the house as if it is picking up someone from the family, when in fact it isn’t getting anyone.”
Dakota joins the conversation, “I think you need to have your new PR person announce to the media that someone is trying to shake you down by threatening you. Announce that both the FBI and the local police are involved
“We probably should alter our routines of when we leave and return to the house,” Donna says.
“I like all of these ideas. Let me just say that this threat against one of you makes me worry. You all know that you mean the world to me and I don’t want to risk even one life in this house. I just don’t know what the proper move it to protect you,” I say to the room.
“David, we’re not children. We are a family and will watch each other’s backs until we know for sure all is safe,” John says to me. I know he’s right, but I’m not willing to risk anyone. My mind begins to wonder if I should just pay and be done with it, but my gut tells me ‘HELL NO’, which is the route I’m taking now.
I hear my phone buzzing. I walk over to it and answer it.
“Hello, this is David,” I say into my phone.
“You should have paid senor. Now you are down one of your group. Pay up or you’ll be down another,” the person on the other end of the phone call says to me in a Hispanic accent.
I scan the room trying to figure out who I’m missing. The guy said that I’m down one, who is not here?
Dakota, Jill, Amy, Jennifer, Donna, BJ, Danni, Diane, Allison, Paula, and Sharon are all here for the ladies.
“Someone go out to the pool home and check on the ladies and Fred’s nephews,” I say to the room. John hops up and heads outside to the pool house.
“Jill, call Ronda. Make sure she is OK,” I say to Jill.
She picks up her phone and begins dialing. Ronda answers on the first ring. Jill chats with her and updates her on what’s going on. She says she hasn’t seen anyone following her or watching her. She did ask Jill when she gets to drag my ass into bed again. Jill giggled and asked, “Do you think about sex all the time?”
“Of course, what else do you think of my dear?” Ronda asked giggling.
They wish each other pleasantries and end the call. Jill tells me that everything is OK with Ronda. I exhale a bit.
John comes back into the house telling me that all three ladies are in the pool house and both of Fred’s nephews are there as well.
Now I’m confused. Who are they talking about? Or are they even being truthful, maybe they are just trying to rattle my cage? Either way, I put in another call to Special Agent Fernandez. Again, it goes right to voicemail.
My phone rings, it’s Agent Longmire. I know she’s here to pick up the letter. I check the gate camera and see her car. I poke the button to open the gate, she pulls in and I poke the necessary button to close it right behind her. I wait for her to come to the front door.
“Agent Longmire, nice to see you, please come inside,” I say to her.
“Do you have this letter?” She asks.
“Yes, and I have another computer issue. This time it’s on my wife’s computer. We shut it off and am ready to give you the hard drive tower to take with you. I’m not sure what we should be doing, we still live by the computer and we need to be able to access our system. Any suggestions?” I ask the agent.
“Well, you’ll get your laptop back tomorrow. We installed a program that will give you another level of security. However, we also have installed a trigger guard. If you receive anything from the sources of that last email, our program will move whatever was sent into a separate file and transfer it to our IT group,” she says to me. This idea makes me smile. I know that they could look at what my work is like, but I don’t think that is what they are after. They probably have a listing of where the email was sent from and their program will continually search for anything from them again.
Jill goes upstairs to the office to bring down her computer tower to hand it off to Agent Longmire. While Jill is upstairs, I get the envelope and carefully hand it to Longmire. She puts on a pair of rubber gloves and puts the envelope in an evidence bag and seals it up putting her initials on the front.
She asks about why John is wearing a firearm. I explain that most of my group have carry permits and since it seems as if we are under siege, we are trying to protect ourselves. She doesn’t say anything to my point.
I do ask her when she is free for the meeting dinner. “You mean you still want to go through with this even though you feel your family is in peril?” She asks.
“Of course. I’m not going to hide for the rest of my life here in the house. They might get me to change my routine for a day or two at the most, but that’s all. Now, when are you available for dinner?” I persist.
Longmire pulls out her personal cell phone to look at her calendar. She gives me several days that she thinks will work. I grab my phone and put these days in the notes section of my phone and mark it on the calendar. Looking at the days she gave me I pick one and ask her if she is OK with that day. She thinks about it for a moment or two, then agrees to the day.
“Great, I’ll send a car to pick you up and bring you to dinner,” I tell her.
“Mr. Greene, you don’t need to send a car for me. I’m perfectly able to drive myself,” she tells me. However, I’m not backing down from my introduction dinner plan.
“Look, I own a limo company, just smile and say yes,” I say to her smiling myself.
“OK, Mr. Greene, you are persistent, aren’t you? Yes, sending a car to pick me up would be fine. However, I think you want to have me in a limo, so I don’t try to leave early,” she says to me smiling.
“Yeah, that’s it. I don’t want you trying to run away before the dinner,” I laugh a little as I agree with her.
Jill comes down from the office carrying the tower. Agent Longmire, still wearing the rubber gloves takes the tower. I also hand her a DVD of the last 24 hours of our front gate. She puts the DVD in her pocket. I ask John to carry the computer tower to her car for her. She tries to object, but I won’t hear of it. John takes the tower from her and follows her to her car, where he put the tower on the floor of the back seat.
As she circles the courtyard to exit, I open the front gate for her. Once she is past the gate, I hit the buttons to close it again.
Jill turns and takes a seat at the dining room table. I guess taking her computer tower put her at a standstill.
“Honey, should we go out and buy a new computer for each of us, or can you take a night off?” I ask her.
“I’ll take a night off. BJ and I certainly could use it,” she says. Jill makes herself another plate of food from the leftover Outback meal. It was nice to see both Dakota and Diane decide to have a small plate of the Cesar salad. All three of them refill their cup with ice water. This is the first thing that has made me smile tonight.
I guess seeing the three ladies having some salad, I decided to join them. I encouraged anyone who was interested to have themselves some salad, as it is something that really doesn’t keep very well. Steaks and chicken keep just fine as do baked potatoes and steamed broccoli.
As it gets into the evening, it seems a bit odd that my wife and BJ are out among the rest of us. They both seem happy and chipper to not be doing the work they have been slaving over the past few nights. BJ is busy chatting with Danni. Jill is chatting with Dakota, Diane, and many of the ladies. I still sit next to Allison. I want her to understand that I’m not wanting to get rid of her and judging by her actions throughout dinner, I think my message has sunk in.
Mom and Fred come back out for a couple of minutes, as they heard Agent Longmire leave and were interested in what the Feds had to say. I updated them and they seemed to feel like things were OK at the Chateau. Fred looked around for one of Sammy’s great desserts. Thankfully, he still had a couple of his nice cakes in the big fridge in the big kitchen. He went there with John only steps behind him willing to ‘help’ Sammy. Of course, John took control of the double chocolate cake to carry it back to the dining room. Sammy brought his strawberry cream vanilla cake.
When John came to the kitchen with the chocolate cake, several of the ladies made their way over to him to get a slice of the cake. John was the gentleman and just stepped aside letting the ladies have first shot at the cake. Diane asked John to get her a slice of the strawberry cake. When he gave her a plate with a slice on it, Diane took a bite and moaned as if she was having an orgasm. She truly enjoyed the slice that John gave her.
After all the ladies who wanted a slice of the chocolate cake got one, John cut himself a larger slice and slid it onto a plate.
Just as I was about to settle for a slice of the strawberry cake, Sammy appeared with a big container of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Each cookie was about the size of a drink coaster. I took 4 cookies and poured myself a glass of milk. Just as I was about to sit down, I saw that Jill was taking the last bite of her salad. I got up and got her a slice of the chocolate cake, knowing that she really likes chocolate cake. I also put three cookies on the plate. Since I had the milk still out of the fridge, I poured her a cup of milk as well.
Having the slices of cake seemed to help relieve the situation that had been building here at the Chateau. Diane sent John out to the pool house to offer them slices of strawberry cake, they declined but thanked him for the offering.
As Jill finished up eating her cake, she got up and took me by the hand to go with her to our bedroom. I heard a couple of hoots and whistles as Jill shook her ass at everyone, much like Dakota does with me. We went into our bedroom and shut the door behind us. There we stayed and played for the rest of the night. We made passionate love for several hours and then again in the shower cleaning the sex off us. It was so nice to feel the arms and body of my darling wife.
Sleeping together with my wife after a couple of hours of loving sex was delightful, of course, us taking a long hot shower together didn’t hurt things either.
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS CHAPTER, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT. THANK YOU PABLO DIABLO.