Okay so I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession with gif’s!!! If you have a twitter account, tweet me (@fatfaceheart) a gif representing your reaction of this chapter. I’m posting mine at the end of this chapter.
Lily found Natasha in the kitchen early in the morning, preparing the cupcakes for the bakery.
“Good morning,” she said as she tied the sash on her robe before perching on the high chairs by the counter.
Natasha briefly looked up from the bowl of dough she was mixing and gave her mother a nod of acknowledgement before returning to her task.
“You’re still mad at me,” Lily observed, drumming her fingers on the counter.
“No I just forgot to wear my ‘happy to see mum’ face today.”
Lily sighed. “I’m sorry I was hard on you yesterday but I’m only trying to protect you.”
“Nathan isn’t the bad guy here,” Natasha argued.
“Then who is? Me?” Lily asked, eyebrow raised.
“Are you?” Natasha stopped mixing again. “Where did you go last night?”
Lily leaned over and scooped some dough up from the bowl with her finger. She licked it off and said “Could use a little sugar.”
She stood and shuffled back upstairs in her nightgown and fluffy slippers. “When you’re done with those, let me know. We’re going to see David.”
Natasha stared after her mother’s retreating back and shoved the bowl away in frustration. After stewing for a few seconds, she went back to work. By the time she had finished everything including a quick change of outfit, she found her mother waiting for her downstairs, dressed in a cream long sleeved blouse, black slacks and matching black heels.
She walked past her and picked up the big box of cupcakes then strode past her again, heading for the door. Lily followed and opened the door for her.
“Smile Tasha,” she said cheerily, ignoring the sour faced expression Natasha gave her. “We’re putting a criminal behind bars.”
“We have a solid case right?” Lily asked David as they sat in his office after the cupcake drop off. Natasha sat quietly in a corner of the office, nursing the coffee that David’s assistant had provided in one hand as she tapped away on her phone with the other.
“Yes.” David knit his fingers together, holding them under his chin. “You know the Bandieer’s aren’t going to go down without a fight. Is Natasha ready for all that?” He glanced briefly at Natasha.
Natasha looked up from her texts as Lily approached her and sat on the armrest of her chair. Lily put an arm around her shoulders and hugged her daughter close.
“When you were five years old and in pre-school, there was a girl who used to bully Kelsey. I think her name was Angela. She used to take Kelsey’s food and colored pencils and Kelsey never told on her to the teachers or her parents. You saw Kelsey crying one time and you comforted her even though you had no idea what was going on and you eventually became friends. One day, Angela came and demanded both of your lunches and you took your peanut butter sandwiches and threw them in the garbage can then told Angela that if she wanted them then she should dig them out of the trash like the rubbish person she is,” Lily laughed when she said the last line.
“My point is, you’ve always been so strong even when you were a child and you always stood up to bullies but Max hurt you so badly that the only way you felt safe was with a stolen gun. That’s not the Natasha I know and it makes me so angry to know that some lowlife did this to you and I want him to pay. I want my strong, brave girl back.” She smiled ruefully at Natasha who was touched by the trip down memory lane. David looked on with a smile as Natasha hugged her mother.
“I can do it Uncle David,” Natasha said when she finally let go of her mother.
David nodded. “Good. Now we prepare. Your mother already told me what you told her so I’ll ask you a couple of questions then we’ll take it from there.”
By the time they were done, David had listed all of Natasha’s encounters with Max as well as any witnesses that had been present.
“I’m sure Kelsey and Detective Henderson will readily attest to Max’s abuse but Macmillan Bandieer…” David trailed off tapping the notepad he’d been writing on.
“Subpoena him if you have to,” Lily shrugged.
“I don’t think that’s necessary. At least ask him nicely first,” Natasha protested.
“He kept his mouth shut even though his brother almost killed you. What makes you think he’ll agree to this if we ask nicely?”
“He’s a good man mum. At least give him a chance to show us that.”
Lily considered Natasha’s words and eventually agreed.
“I’ll call him then and set up a meeting,” David said.
“Can I call him? I think I’ll be able to convince him better,” Natasha piped up, surprising both Lily and David.
“Really?” Lily asked surprised.
“Yeah,” Natasha said running her hand through her hair.
“Okay then. Do you have his number?”
“Uhmm yeah but I need to go. I’ll call him later.” Natasha stood and picked her bag up from the floor.
“Where are you going?” Lily asked.
“I’m meeting with Kelsey,” Natasha replied tugging on the hem of her grey t-shirt. “I’ll call Mac on my way and let you know then you can get started on the paperwork Uncle David.”
Natasha took a cab to the baseball field where she and Nathan had agreed to meet over text. She found him already sitting by the bleachers playing a game on his phone.
“Asphalt?” Natasha asked peering at his screen as she sat next to him.
“Yeah,” Nathan said before he shut the application off and turned his attention to her. “Hi.”
“How are you?”
“Better than I’ve been in a long time,” Nathan replied. Natasha suspected she knew the reason why but she didn’t comment on that.
“Tell me about your mum,” Nathan said.
“Don’t get mad,” Natasha began, making Nathan frown. “I left out some stuff when I told you about the issue with Henry. He mentioned something about me being a gold digger like my mum.” She paused trying to recall his exact words. “Something like the rotten apple doesn’t fall far from the rotten tree. And then he had this pen, a golden fountain pen with the letters H.B on it and I found the exact same pen in my mum’s study when I broke in there.”
“H.B? Like Henry Bandieer Media?”
“I think so. I don’t know why my mum would have that in her study,” Natasha said.
Nathan thought about this for a while. “Why did you break into your mum’s study?”
Natasha shifted uncomfortably. “The night you arrested me, I overheard my mum on the phone. I don’t know who she was talking to but she said something like she might as well have killed Henry and that whoever was on the other line had been careless letting me get arrested because I would end up finding out the truth about my father.”
Nathan leaned back, processing what Natasha had just said.
“When she confronted me about breaking into her study I told her what I had heard and she said she was talking to uncle David about the arrest. But when I checked her call log she’d cleared it. Which I thought was very suspicious,” Natasha added.
“So you want us to look into a possible connection between your mother and Henry? Are you suggesting that whatever it is might be motive for her to have Henry killed?”
“No!” Natasha shouted. “I mean yes. I don’t know. I don’t think my mother is capable of murder but she lied about a lot of things and she has a lot of secrets. She’s hiding something and I have a feeling it’ll help us get the real killer.”
“And how does your dad fit into all this?” Nathan asked.
“I don’t know.” Natasha paused. “He died when I was a couple of months old in a car accident. I don’t know what my mum was talking about.”
“I’m sorry about your dad,” Nathan sympathized.
“Thank you,” Natasha said, looking away. before Nathan could say something else, she spoke again hastily. “I found a way to get to Macmillan.”
“Oh?” Nathan asked not questioning the abrupt change of topic.
“Uncle David is getting the paperwork ready for my case against Max. I’m supposed to call Mac and ask him to be a witness along with you and Kelsey. Mum wanted to subpoena him but I thought it would be better if we asked first.”
“You’re really doing it?” Nathan said and Natasha thought she detected a hint of pride in his voice. “Finally fighting back.”
“Yeah, I guess I am.”
“Call Macmillan and ask him to meet you in person, in a public place. I can come with you if you want and sit on the sidelines in case he decides to pull a Henry on you,” Nathan offered.
“I would like that,” Natasha said with a smile. She took her phone out of the pocket of her jeans and called Macmillan. She only managed to get to his secretary though who informed her that he was in a meeting and asked her to leave a message.
“Should I take you back home while you wait for Macmillan’s call?” Nathan asked as they walked out of the sports center.
“Actually, could you give me a ride to the police station?”
“The police station?” Nathan asked surprised. “Why?”
“I would like to report a missing gun.”
Nathan took Natasha to the station and helped her file the report for the missing gun after which he offered to drive her home but she declined, deciding to hang around town for a while. He let her go after making her promise to call her if Macmillan called her back. While she was having ice cream seated outside the ice cream parlor, Macmillan called her.
“Hie Mac. Thanks for calling me back,” Natasha said when she answered the phone.
“How can I help you?” His formal tone surprised Natasha, she almost forgot what she wanted to ask him.
“I was hoping you could spare me an hour. I need to talk to you about something urgent and important.”
“I’m a busy man. What is this about?” Macmillan said
“Oh just the small issue of how your brother cracked my head open a while back,” Natasha snapped, annoyed with his insensitive tone.
“Of course,” Macmillan sighed in annoyance. “Where should I meet you?”
“I’m outside Ice Land.”
“See you there in five minutes.”
True to his word, Macmillan joined her not long after their call. Natasha felt a little apprehensive as she waved him over to her table and the grim look on his face made her feel worse. She wished she had kept her promise to Nathan so that she wouldn’t have to face him alone.
“How much this time?” Macmillan asked when he reached her, not even bothering to sit down.
“Hello Mac. I’m good, thank you for asking. How are you?”
“I’m good. You look well,” Macmillan said in a matching sarcastic tone.
“As opposed to the last time when you saw me and I had a huge crater on my head?” she said tilting her head as she took in his burly form dressed in an expensive looking black suit and well combed hair. Despite the ten year difference between them, he still looked fresh and preppy.
Macmillan took a deep breath and pulled a cheque book and a golden fountain pen from the inside pocket of his suit jacket. “I know you want money to keep your mouth shut about Max so how much?”
“Huh?” Natasha looked up at him confused.
“Save us both the agony of your act. My father told me about your arrangement.” Macmillan tapped the pen against the book, impatiently and Natasha caught a flash of the letters H.B on it. The sight momentarily distracted her from what he had said until he cleared his throat expectantly.
“Wait. Did you just ask me how much money I want in return for keeping quiet about Max? As in blackmail?” she asked.
“Yes. That’s why you called me isn’t it?”
“Why would you think that?” Natasha asked incredulously.
“Because it’s what you do.”
“No, no. Hold it right there.” She stood, drawing herself up to her full height and stared defiantly at Macmillan even though he was a head taller than her. “I don’t know what you think you know but I am not some gold digging tramp!”
“Then explain why you changed your mind about calling the police and asked my father for money instead after my brother ‘cracked your head open’ as you so nicely put it?”
“I didn’t! Your father threatened me and practically forced the money down my throat!” Natasha protested. A couple sitting by the table behind them looked over, listening intently to their argument.
“You’re lying,” Macmillan fairly yelled but there was a hint of hesitation in his voice.
“Is everything okay?” one of the waiters asked from behind Natasha.
“We’re fine,” Macmillan snapped. “Let’s go somewhere we won’t make a spectacle of ourselves.” He walked away, not waiting for Natasha to agree to his suggestion. She stomped angrily after him until they got to his car where he opened the passenger door for her.
“Why would I lie?” Natasha questioned as soon as he entered the car. “I fought a girl in the high school cafeteria when she stole a plastic spoon from my plate during lunch. Do you really think I would let Max off the hook after what he did for money?”
Macmillan considered this, narrowing his eyes in thought.
“I’m sorry I yelled and I know you probably won’t believe me over your family but I…”
“No. I do believe you,” Macmillan said, surprising her.
“It makes a lot more sense. I’m so sorry Natasha. I should have known my father was lying about you blackmailing him. And I’m even more sorry I didn’t stand up for you.”
“It’s okay. And I’m sorry you lost your dad. But I need your help now,” Natasha said dusting rainbow colored sprinkles off her faded blue jeans.
“Is it about Max’s recent attack on you?” Macmillan asked.
“Partly. I finally told my mum about what happened with Max and she’s determined to hang him for his transgressions. Which means I’m going to need any witnesses to come forward and testify against him. Which means I’m going to need you to testify against your brother.” Natasha licked her lips nervously as she waited for Macmillan’s response.
“I see,” Macmillan nodded, looking out at the relatively quiet street.
“I know it’s hard because Max is your brother but you once wanted to do the right thing in spite of this. I’m hoping you still want that,” Natasha said hopefully.
Macmillan turned his head towards her as he jiggled his car keys. “I’ll get hold of the nurse and doctor who took care of you after Max hurt you. They’ll be able to provide a full report of your injuries for the court.”
Natasha felt like hugging him. “Thank you so much!” She hesitated before asking him, “What about you?”
“I’ll testify because even though he’s my brother, hurting a woman is unacceptable.” He looked away again and Natasha stared at the back of his brown haired head.
“I just wish all the other stuff wouldn’t come up,” he said though from his low tone it sounded like he was talking more to himself.
“What other stuff? Did Max hurt other girls besides me?” Natasha asked alarmed.
“No! Nothing like that,” Macmillan assured her. He regarded her silently for a moment before answering her other question. “You’ll find out anyway in court so there’s no harm telling you now. The reason why Max was so trashed that night when he came to your house was because we’d just found out the truth about his paternity.”
He sighed and rubbed at his eyes tiredly. “Max is not a Bandieer.”
“What?” Natasha exclaimed to which Macmillan nodded.
“It’s a long complicated story and it has torn my family apart,” he said sadly.
“Wow Mac, I had no idea. I’m so sorry,” Natasha sympathized but the wheels were turning in her head with this new information.
“Thank you. I have to get back to work, please let me know about the court issue,” Macmillan said.
“Sure!” Natasha said opening her door. She was halfway out of the car when she remembered something. “This is going to sound strange but where did you get that golden fountain pen?”
“This?” Macmillan asked, brow furrowed as he took the pen out of his pocket again. “It was part of a thank you package that my father made for his campaign staff.”
“When he ran for governor a long time ago. I think I was 10 at the time and they gave me a package because I hung around there a lot although I probably lost it. This pen is from the left over packages that my father was keeping in storage. I’ll send one over to you if you’d like,” Macmillan offered.
“So the packages were only for campaign staff not friends or fans?” Natasha barely heard her own question over the erratic beating of her heart.
“Yes,” Macmillan replied wondering why she was fixated on something from so long ago then he snapped his fingers as realization dawned on him. “Your mother worked on the campaign for a while too, that’s why you’re asking isn’t it?”
Her eyes widened as she stared at the burly man before her until she finally managed to cough out, “My mum?”
“She used to bring me muffins made by your grandmother I think,” Macmillan confirmed.
Natasha mumbled her thanks to him before stumbling out of the car and heading for the nearest chair outside the ice cream parlor where she sat wondering, what the hell had she just been told?