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Authors: Fern Michaels

Tags: #Retail, #Suspense, #Fiction

Weekend Warriors (8 page)

BOOK: Weekend Warriors
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“Yoko, I think you’re absolutely right. What do the rest of you think? Is it a good idea or not?” Kathryn asked.
“Very good,” Nikki said. “Yoko is right, once you dump them you have to get far away. It’s a rough plan, but doable. Now we need to give some thought to what they’ll do when they pull their pants down for the first time. Are they going to go to the police? Will they call the other guys who were on the trip to find out if they’re minus any of their body parts? They’re going to be together so that means they’re going to discover their . . . respective surgeries around the same time. If you were the only one they attacked, Kathryn, they’re going to put two and two together. If attacking women is a pastime with them, they won’t know who to blame. The police will have to ask a lot of questions. They aren’t going to admit they raped anyone. We need to think about this a minute. What would be the charge if they reported it? In all the years of practicing law, this . . . this type of . . . case never came up.”
“Grand theft of the genitalia,” Alexis volunteered. She did her best not to laugh out loud.
“Police reports are a matter of public record. They could print the report in the newspaper. How’s that going to look? They’ll have to leave the country,” Isabelle smirked.
“They won’t tell their friends because part of the biker psyche is that testosterone thing. They’ll be like wild animals till they figure it out. They could come after you, Kathryn. Bikers are like truckers. They take care of their own. I saw that on a documentary once,” Myra said. “What do you think, Nikki?”
“I think you’re right. I think you were their one shot, Kathryn. The time was right for them. The situation felt right, where you parked, your incapacitated husband, the whole thing. If they’re pillars of their community and they probably are, they wouldn’t risk doing something that terrible again and again. What you’re going to need, Kathryn, is an airtight alibi for the time in question. Isabelle is about your height. Alexis can make her look enough like you to pass muster. We can have her go to a resort or something, register under your name, use your credit card. She’ll make herself scarce so people don’t get a good look at her. A good red wig, a little patching here and there with some spirit gum and voilà, she’s you. Can you deal with that, Kathryn?”
“Absolutely.”
Almost to the minute of Charles’s prediction, the e-mail pinged. “Oh, excuse me, incoming mail,” Nikki said, getting up from the table.
Nikki pressed download and waited for the sent material to complete the transition. She then clicked Print and waited. Page after page shot out of the printer with amazing speed. She scooped up the pages before she transferred them to the copy machine and printed out nine copies. One copy for everyone plus one extra. She was about to hit the Delete button a second later when the e-mail disappeared in front of her eyes. She felt a chill wash up her spine. She added the extra set of papers to the bottom of her own report.
“My goodness,” Myra said. “This is so thorough. I suggest we read them in silence and then discuss each man. Do you all approve?” The women nodded as they lowered their heads to read the reports in front of them.
A long time later, Myra removed her glasses and looked around at the women.
“This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read. These men are such upstanding citizens it boggles my mind. They sit on various charitable boards. They donate handsomely to many worthy causes. All three are incredibly wealthy. Their children go to Ivy League colleges. Their wives do volunteer work. They all donate one day a week at a free clinic. They go to church on Sunday with their wives. They play golf one day a month. Two weekends a month they take road trips with the Weekend Warriors. They’ve never been caught in an uncompromising position and there is no hint of scandal attached to them in any way. The three of them have been friends since college days. They’re well thought of with their patients and have a thriving, lucrative practice. They do not falsify insurance records and they don’t cheat on their income taxes.
“Each of them has an Indian and something called a Harley Hog. That about sums it up, sisters.”
“That’s a pretty impressive report,” Kathryn said quietly. She looked at the faces staring at her. “I’m not saying they aren’t all those things. They raped me and the one named Lee sodomized me. That should be added to the report.” Her voice turned desperate-sounding when she said, “They stripped me naked and knew my husband was watching when they did all those things to me. That makes them no better than wild animals in my eyes.”
“I think your gums just started to recede, Kathryn. I’ll call and make an appointment for you. In the meantime, we have the rest of the day to fine-tune our plan. Choose your partners for this project and tell me when you feel you’ll be ready to leave. You have a month to complete this project. You must be back here by the first Monday of the month, at which time we’ll pick our second case.”
“I need to take Murphy outside. He needs some exercise. Is it okay?” Kathryn asked.
“Of course. Come along, dear. I think we could all use a break about now. I can make some coffee and some tea for Yoko. The phone lines might be repaired and hopefully, the power is on. Charles said he was going to gas up the kitchen generator so let’s hope he did or we’ll be drinking soda pop.”
Kathryn headed for the front door, Isabelle and Alexis headed for the stairs and the upstairs bathroom while Myra, Nikki, Yoko and Julia walked toward the kitchen.
Outside in the bright sunshine, Kathryn walked alongside her dog. She raised her eyes once to look upward. She muttered under her breath, words she’d said thousands of times, always under her breath. Except that one time when Alan had his last seizure and she’d screamed at the top of her lungs because she couldn’t take it one day longer. Her husband had just stared at her and then closed his eyes. She knew in that one split second that he’d finally given up. Two hours later she held him in her arms and kissed him for the last time.
“I hope you can hear me, Alan. It’s payback time!”
Murphy nudged her leg.
“I’m okay, Murphy. I’m okay now.”
Chapter Five
The TV wall monitor blossomed to light with a
zzzzzing
sound. The figure of the scales of justice consumed the entire screen within seconds. Kathryn felt like she should stand up and voice a loud cheer. She thought about it a second longer and then she did it, a look of pure joy on her face. “Hey, she’s my kind of lady! I’m taking that blindfold to mean she’s looking the other way because the other way sucks. Okay, that’s it, that’s all I have to say.” Her voice was sheepish-sounding. The others smiled.
Charles hit the computer keys, the clicking sound loud in the quiet room. A map of the state of California appeared. He clicked again and again, localizing different areas, talking and explaining as map after map took over the screen. “You need to decide on a specific area for your proposed road trip. Once you’ve settled on a route, we can fine-tune it so we don’t have any glitches. I took the liberty of making a list of twelve possible candidates for the trip. I selected four Road Warriors and eight Weekend Warriors plus the three ‘special guests.’ We’ll have a total of fifteen cycles on the trip. Since our three nefarious cyclists live in the Los Angeles area, it would seem logical to start the trip there.
“I would like to make a suggestion here. Lone Pine is about six hours from Los Angeles and about four hours north from where you were attacked, Kathryn. It’s remote but there is a little town. The overnight camp stay, if that’s what you’re considering, could take place in the Alabama Hills. If you’re planning on taking your truck, Kathryn, it would have to be parked on a dedicated road so as not to leave tire marks.” He clicked the keys and a map of Lone Pine appeared. “I’ll print these out for you and an alternative route if you decide this doesn’t fit your needs.”
“How are we going to decide who wins the Indian?” Kathryn asked.
Myra smiled and reached to the middle of the table for the shoebox. “The same way we chose your case to be first. It’s called the luck of the draw. Very apropos, don’t you think?”
“I like it,” Yoko smiled. The others beamed their approval.
“Then what?” Julia asked.
“Then they make camp, build a fire, have a few drinks followed by dinner at the restaurant in town. Assuming there is a restaurant in Lone Pine. Where, as luck would have it, we are sitting there in our biker duds, you know, tight black leather pants, our tits half hanging out of our vests, lots of silver stud jewelry, our Harleys parked out front, courtesy of my truck and Myra. The wealthy philanthropist, Charles in disguise, will appear with the shoebox and a certificate of ownership for the Indian that will be shipped to the lucky person in a fortnight. How’s that, Charles? A fortnight is two weeks, right?”
Charles allowed himself a small smile. “Correct.”
“We party hearty, make sure the others get back to camp while one of us keeps our three busy. We then load them and their bikes into my truck and split. When the others wake in the morning, they’ll have mega hangovers and just assume our three got lucky with us three and head off home. I think it will work as soon as we—as Charles puts it—fine-tune the whole scenario. What do you all think? Will it fly?”
The women’s heads bobbed up and down.
“Okay, this is what we need in the way of material things. Sisters, get your pencils ready. We need three Harley Hogs. That’s so they’ll take us seriously. Women on Hogs are special. Trust me on that. They’ll be brand new, Myra, so you can resell them to get your money back afterward.” Myra waved her hand in dismissal to show she wasn’t concerned about the cost.
“We have my truck. Julia knows what we’ll need for her list and will write everything down or bring it from her office. Whatever works for her. Alexis will need to replenish her disguise trunk or whatever she uses to change our appearances. We’ll need biker duds, the leather. Secondhand would be best, so they look worn in. Push-up bras. Our tits have to be up and almost out of the vests. Lots of silver junk stud jewelry. Worn boots in our size so we don’t get blisters.”
“Why do our tits have to hang out?” Yoko asked, her face miserable. “My breasts are small.”
“Because they do,”Julia said. “Alexis can build you up with that putty stuff. You can be a thirty-six B if you want. You might be a little top-heavy but you won’t be bending over so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Yoko’s almond-shaped eyes literally turned round. “You can do this?” she said, directing her question to Alexis.
“Honey, I can give you a set of knockers that will blow any man’s socks off,” Alexis grinned.
Myra laughed aloud while Charles turned about, his ears and neck bright red.
“I accept,” Yoko said smartly.
“Done,” Kathryn said, smacking the tabletop. “What’s next?”
“What’s next are the wives,” Nikki said. “I think it should be a separate entity and not part of the bike deal. We’ll send them two weeks ahead of the bike trip and then they have two weeks afterward. That will also make it easier for the men to accept the road trip without harping wives. Their kids are all in college so that won’t pose any problems. Myra, you will be the wealthy female philanthropic person like Charles who donates these three free months to their wives. All three of them do volunteer charity work, according to the dossier Charles printed out. Just pick out an organization they help out, make it your pet charity, and award the certificates. How does that sound?”
“I love it,” Myra said. “Thank you for giving me a job to do. I was afraid I would have to sit here and wait for details.” She looked so pleased, so grateful, Nikki found herself smiling.
“You are the CIC, Myra. You need to keep your hand in all this,” Kathryn laughed.
“CIC?” Myra said, looking perplexed.
“Yeah. You know, Cat
In
Charge!”
“Oh, I see. Yes. Cat
In
Charge. So I am, dear. Did you hear that, Charles?”
“Meow!” Charles said.
“Doncha love it when a plan starts to come together?” Kathryn said. “What does that leave us yet to do?”
“The invitations. I’m sure Charles has a program for that. We have to cover our butts in our private lives and then we have to make arrangements to get to California,” Isabelle said.
“I have to pick up a load of toilet seats, four thousand to be exact, and they have to be in San Francisco by next week. I was supposed to dead head back with a load of carrots but I can cancel that and pick up a load of lettuce when we’re done. You’re welcome to drive with me or you can fly and we’ll meet up. If Isabelle is staying here, and Nikki has to be here for her court case, that means Julia, Alexis and Yoko have to partner with me.”
“I will drive with you, Kathryn. We can get to know one another. Perhaps I can learn not to be afraid of your dog. Will you have me as your navigator?”
“No!” The single word shot out of Kathryn’s mouth so fast her tongue felt like it had been scorched. “Wait! I didn’t mean no you can’t go with me. What I meant was . . . Alan always said he was my navigator. That means you can’t be my navigator. You can be . . . you can be . . .”
“. . . your lookout?” Yoko said.
“Yeah. Yeah, lookout is good. No offense, Yoko.”
“None taken, Kathryn. I understand. It is possible we might become friends.”
Anything is possible,
Kathryn thought. “I suppose.” Yoko smiled warmly.
“We need to make reservations if Kathryn’s stand-in is to go on vacation. It’s still Isabelle, isn’t it?”
Myra looked at Isabelle, who nodded. “Isabelle can make the reservations and work with Alexis on her disguise. I see a possible problem.”
Nikki stopped writing long enough to look up and say, “What do you see?”
“Kathryn’s truck. Earlier we said when the men try to figure out what happened to them, they would start looking at possibilities and eventually Kathryn’s name will come up. If her truck isn’t here, and she makes a delivery to San Francisco, that puts her and her truck in California. Even though she is making a legitimate delivery and picking up a legitimate delivery on the way back, it’s still going to be a problem.”
Julia jumped in. “Unless, after the delivery of the . . . ah toilet seats, she offhandedly tells the people at the delivery site that she’s taking two weeks off and going to a resort for a few weeks. Isabelle will make her reservation from San Francisco so she has a ticket to prove that she, a.k.a. Kathryn, did indeed leave there, registered at a resort and then flew back to San Francisco and from there back to here under her own name.”
“You need to tell us, Kathryn, how you’re going to get fuel on your way to Lone Pine or whatever destination you choose. If you stop along the way, someone is going to remember a woman truck driver. This is all based on the men honing in on you, Kathryn. It may never happen. But, if it does, we need to protect you,” Nikki said.
Kathryn looked up at the platform where Charles was standing next to the computer bank. He nodded. “I think I can make arrangements for fuel along the way.” He scribbled something on the pad he was holding in his hands.
“Any other questions or details you think we need to discuss?” Nikki asked, looking around the table.
Myra stood up. “I’m going to make us some lunch. Kathryn, you might want to take your dog for a walk. Nikki will assign each of you to a computer where you will order whatever you need shipped to this box number in Washington, D.C. Overnight everything. We have a special Visa for things like this. She’ll give you the number. Charles will work on getting the motorcycles. He’ll arrange for you to pick them up in San Francisco for your trip north. Talk among yourselves, make it as easy as possible. Pay attention to all the little details people tend to ignore. The little details that can trip you up. I’ll come for you when lunch is ready.”
In the foyer, Myra looked up at the chandelier. “Ah, the power is on again. Light always makes things so much better, don’t you think, dear?”
Kathryn held the door open for the dog. He bounded outside. “I don’t know. Myra. It seems I’ve lived in darkness for so long I can’t tell the difference anymore. I don’t know what to do. I’m lost. It was like Alan was an extension of myself. I took care of him for so long I don’t know what to do with myself. When he was lying there in that . . . that box . . . I got so angry. I screamed and yelled at him for leaving me. He didn’t give a good rat’s ass about me. He was so ready to die it was pathetic.
“You know what else, Myra. There was only one other person at Alan’s funeral beside myself. A trucker who just happened to be in the area. I wanted to kick him out of the funeral home but I didn’t. The damn funeral director kept coming into the room that was bare of flowers because I didn’t even have enough money left to buy a bunch of daisies to put on his casket. I have to deliver those toilet seats and I have to bring back a load of lettuce or I won’t be able to pay for his funeral. I had to charge his funeral. Alan must be spinning in his grave. That damn undertaker wanted me to cremate him, said it was cheaper. I couldn’t do that because I need to have him in a place where I can . . . I can go. I didn’t want him blowing away in the wind. What does that make me, Myra?”
“A grieving widow who loved her husband. I paid for your husband’s funeral, Kathryn. You can pay me back someday or not pay me back. It really doesn’t matter. I’m so sorry for your loss because I know
exactly
how you feel. When my daughter died, I wanted to die with her. It wasn’t until Nikki and I saw Marie Lewellen shoot the man on the courthouse steps that I came to life. That’s what I should have done but I was so grief-stricken, all I could do was think about my own misery. She had the guts to shoot and kill the man who took her child’s life. I can’t wait till my case comes up,” Myra said vehemently.
“I’ll personally kill the son of a bitch for you, Myra. No parent should have to bury a child. I do thank you for paying for Alan’s funeral. I didn’t know you had done that. I swear, I’ll pay you back.” She opened the door for Murphy.
“Kathryn, you may not be able to go back to trucking if you stay in the Sisterhood. Your time will be required on the cases we have to deal with. Perhaps not every one, but on most of them. Charles and I have taken the liberty of fattening up your bank account as well as the other sisters’. If we want this project to be successful, we can’t have you worrying about food and bills, now can we?”
“Just how rich are you, Myra?” Kathryn asked bluntly. “If I had a hundred bucks in my bank account, I’d feel rich. Dog food and diesel fuel are expensive.”
“I’m sure they are, but you don’t have to worry about that anymore. As to how rich I am, I’m not sure. My accountants tell me I’m a billionaire. And all that money comes from making candy. The first batch was made right here in this kitchen on this very table. The old wood-burning stove is gone, but I’m sure they poured the candy into trays on this table. Is your dog hungry?”
“He’s always hungry. The day I got him I forgot to feed him. He didn’t whine or cry or anything. He just waited. I have so many regrets, Myra. I need to know something. I don’t know if you have the answer or not but I have to ask. When my case is over, what if I don’t feel vindicated? What if . . . I’m not doing this for me. I’m doing it for Alan.”
Myra whirled around. “Stop right there. You are not doing this for Alan. You are doing it for yourself. You have to admit that to yourself. You cannot hide behind your husband. Make no mistake about that. I think there are many things you need to come to terms with, Kathryn. In your off time, dear, I’ll make arrangements for you to talk to a psychiatrist and a grief counselor. I should have done that but I didn’t. You’re much too young to let all of what went on before destroy your life. Don’t even think about saying no. Mothers always know best.”
“Then I won’t say no. Do you have any scraps or leftovers I can feed Murphy?”
“I thought you said he ate what you ate. We have turkey, ham and I think there’s some roast beef. Fix him a plate and then you can set the table while I make sandwiches and coffee.”
BOOK: Weekend Warriors
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