San Francisco Chapter three
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Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: San Francisco Chapter three Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:10 pm|| |
Noe; The unedited version can be found on the 'Adults Only' link at the bottom of the page.
Finally the train pulled into the San Francisco depot and the platform was soon filled with a colorful array of swirling summer dresses and gentlemen's attire as passengers disembarked the cramped quarters of the steaming conveyance.
Heyes gave a hand to his wife to assist her down the steps and both stood to take in their surroundings. Heyes was grinning with the excitement of being in a big city again. Brookswood was fine and dandy for raising a family, and Denver offered some big town entertainment when the desire took hold, but nothing could beat the hustle and excitement of San Francisco.
Even above the loud voices on the platform and the noise of the locomotive they could hear the clanging of street cars and the yelling of vendors attempting to draw in customers to their wares. They were so mesmerized by the sights and sounds around them that a fellow passenger had to politely ask them to move so everyone else could step down off the passenger car.
Heyes was quick to apologize and with a hand placed in the small of his wife's back they moved on towards the holding area to retrieve their luggage. They didn't need to concern themselves with those details though, because on approaching the off-loaded mountain of trunks and bags, the couple was deftly intercepted.
“Mr. and Mrs. Heyes?” came the squeaky inquiry from a dimple faced lad.
Once again Heyes felt a slight chill go down his spine at the casual use of his name, but he smiled and covered the discomfort instantly.
The lad grinned with relief. His boss had sent him on this important errand and he had been stressing all the way here that he was going to mess it up.
“I'm Eli, sir,” the lad introduced himself. “Mr. O'Sullivan sent me to meet you.”
“Oh! Well that was nice of old Silky,” Heyes grinned. “His investments must be doing well these days.”
Eli creased his brow in confusion but then simply accepted the comment at face value.
“Yes sir,” he agreed, after all, guests of Mr. O'Sullivan were never wrong. “I've already loaded your bags into the back seat and Mr. O'Sullivan suggested that I give you a short tour of the city. He has been detained and cannot receive you right away. Anywhere you would like to go, I'll be pleased to drive you there.”
“Ah!” Enlightenment dawned. “That's why he sent you to get us. Didn't want us showing up at his front door while he was conducting business.”
“I thought Mr. O'Sullivan was retired,” Miranda commented. “Perhaps he's not well.”
“Oh, he's alright,” Heyes assured her. “I can't remember a day when Silky was ever sick.”
“Yes, but he is getting older Hannibal,” Miranda persisted. “William never got sick either until....well, perhaps we should stay at a hotel.”
“Oh no!” Eli was instantly concerned. This would not look good for him if he returned without his passengers. “That won't be necessary ma'am, he's just umm, busy.”
“See?” Heyes was all smug. “He's just busy. Let's go for a ride.”
Miranda had been hoping to get situated so she could refresh herself but it looked as though a ride around town was inevitable.
“Alright,” she consented, then brightened up as a thought occurred to her. “Let's go down to the wharf! I've always wanted to go down and walk around the fish mongers and the shops but William would never let me. Said it wasn't safe!”
“He was right,” Heyes told her. “It's not safe. I should know, Kid and I honed our pick pocketing skills down there. A fine lady such as yourself would make a tempting target.”
Miranda snorted most unladylike.
“All the more reason why it would be safe!” she pointed out. “Who better to escort me than an ex-pickpocket who knows all the tricks of the trade. Besides, it'll be fun! Come on Hannibal! You are far too protective sometimes—it'll be fun!”
Heyes and young Eli exchanged glances and she renewed her assault.
Grabbing her husband's arm she shook him playfully. “Oh come on. Don't be such a fuddy-duddy. We don't have to get out of the carriage!”
“Fuddy-duddy!?” Heyes looked incensed.
“Yes!” She increased her hold on his arm and began pulling him towards the indicated closed in landau. “Let's go!”
“Alright!” Heyes gave in and sent a quick smile to their escort. “To the fish mongers my good man!”
The couple settled into the plush interior of the elegant landau while Eli set about his duty of directing the impressive team of matched grays out into traffic. Heyes' eyes sparkled with memories as he went back to the time when living high had been taken for granted. Being under Silky O'Sullivan's protection and tutelage had given the orphans a sense of security and acceptance which had been gone from their lives for many a year. Now it felt good to be riding in one of Silky's opulent carriages again. It felt safe.
Miranda was just as pleased as her husband to be in such plush interiors once again. Sometimes she missed the high life she had enjoyed with William and the freedom it had afforded her. Being able to innocently indulge in it again now was a pleasant surprise. She was also looking forward to going down to the wharf just as much to be able to sample the 'forbidden zone' as it was to sample the wares!
The heavy smell of the ocean mingled with fish as the carriage moved steadily into the lower levels of living and commerce along the stretches of the busy wharf. Miranda's eyes never diverted from the view out her window. The many fishing boats and cargo barges that were tied up and bobbing with the waves held their own special magic. Men and boys hauled baskets filled with various seafood and sacks filled with salt. Other cargo lined up along the bustling wharf, awaiting in turn to be either moved to the shops and vending tables, or to be loaded on board a waiting barge to be sent to who knows where. Dogs ran around the legs of the tables and of the people with equal attention to both dexterity and avoidance in their hopes of finding or stealing some tasty morsel that might come within range.
The excitement was contagious and Heyes found himself enjoying the sights and sounds just as much as his wife was. The ships' bells and horns from further out in the bay, men calling out to co-workers and women's shrill voices cutting through it all. It was a busy place and Eli had his hand full just to keep his team of horses moving forward and not trample anybody.
“Oh, look at that!” Heyes pointed out his window with glee. “Ole' Barney's ship repair and supplies is still in business. Probably not ole' Barney anymore though. He was an old geezer thirty years ago. There's the sail maker's shop!” He actually started giggling. “Kid and I nearly got caught by the local constabulary breaking into that place. I wasn't quite so good at picking locks back then. Oh Silky was so mad, he tanned both our hides.”
“He punished you for stealing?” Miranda was surprised after all she had heard about her husband's time living here.
“No!” Heyes was adamant. “For nearly getting caught! Said we had behaved like silly amateurs and he was embarrassed to have us living under his roof. The tongue lashing we got from him hurt more than the whipping.” He smiled ruefully. “Compared to the punishments we got at the orphanage, Silky was a soft touch. It was his disapproval that hurt. We never tried to pull off a half-assed stunt like that again. Funny thing when I look back on it now, Jed and I weren't young children anymore. We could have easily defied Silky yet we didn't. We had too much respect for him—and fear!”
“How old were you?” Miranda asked, all curious about her husband's younger years.
Heyes sighed and crossed his arms in contemplation. “Oh gee. I don't think I was twenty yet but getting close. I certainly wasn't a child.” He smiled wistfully. “Lindy. I wonder where....”
Heyes snapped out of his daydream. “Oh. Just a girl I knew back then. She was....Oh, look there!” He was suddenly animated and thumped on the roof of the carriage to get Eli's attention. “Stop! Pull up here, let us out!”
“What?” Miranda asked. “I thought you didn't want us to get out....”
“No, but look!” As soon as the carriage had stopped on the side of the street Heyes opened the door and stepped out. “It's old Bannack's fish market.”
“It's hardly surprising there would be a fish market on the wharf,” Miranda commented dryly as she stepped out of the carriage. “What's so special about it?”
“Yes I know, but...” Heyes sighed as fond memories came wafting back. “Old Mr. Bannack moved here from Europe with his family. I don't suppose he's still running the place, but he had a son, Yannack....”
“Yannack Bannack?” Miranda queried.
“Yeah yeah!” Heyes missed the jest. “I wonder....just wait here a moment will you Eli? We'll be right back.”
“Are you sure, Mr. Heyes?” Eli was getting that uncomfortable feeling again. “It might not be safe...”
“No, it'll be fine. We won't be long.”
Heyes hurried his wife over to the shop entrance, ignoring the looks coming at them from the less fortunate of the local inhabitants. Miranda stayed close to her husband. Wanting to come here to view the busy wharf from the safety of the carriage was one thing, but once out on the street she no longer felt quite so comfortable. She then understood why William and now Hannibal had been reluctant to let her come here, and certainly not by herself!
She barely made contact with the hungry eyes staring at her and kept a solid hold on her husband's arm as he led her into the shop. Once inside they both stopped and took in the interior. It smelled heavily of fish which was hardly unexpected but still an onslaught to olfactory senses that were not accustomed to it. There was one customer at the counter. An older woman, hunched over and pointing a gnarled finger at a fine fat fish displayed on ice behind the glass case.
Heyes took a closer look at the man behind the counter and could have sworn on a bible that he was looking at old Mr. Bannack. Then he heard the voice and his heart did a little skip. It was Yannack, all grown up and taking over from his father in more ways than one. Heyes was a bit shocked. The fellow conspirator who had joined him and Jed on more than one nightly escapade had been thin and weedy, with a shock of dark unruly hair that refused to be tamed. Now Heyes found himself looking at a middle-aged man with a balding head and a large belly. It was fortunate that a customer was keeping Yannack busy as Heyes needed a moment to adjust his perception.
“There you go, Mrs. Goldstein,” Yannack was saying as he handed the wrapped fish to the old lady. “Nice fresh fish for dinner tonight.”
“Yeah yeah,” Mrs. Goldstein muttered as she took her package and paid for it. “with the prices you charge it's a miracle we can eat at all.”
She shuffled past the two people standing behind her and headed out the door still grumbling under her breath at the injustices of life. Heyes smiled at his old friend as he and Miranda approached the counter.
“Unhappy customer?” he asked the proprietor.
“No no,” the shopkeeper smiled and waved a dismissive hand. “She's always complaining about something. But she keeps coming back so it can't be too....” the light came on in the eyes and then they widened as the mouth stopped in mid sentence and simply hung there for a moment. Heyes! Is that you my old friend?”
Heyes grinned until his face seemed to split and both men began to laugh as Yannack came around the counter and they embraced one another with much back slapping and excited greetings. Miranda stepped back to watch this re-union in some amazement. Her husband kept so much to himself. Why had she never heard of this man before?
“You're looking good,” Heyes lied as the two men separated.
“Oh ho! I look like my father,” Yannack countered. “You and I; we were both skinny lads last time I saw you. You're still skinny. What's the matter my friend—your wife not feed you enough?”
“Hey!” Randa took mock offense. “It's hardly my fault that the man won't eat!”
Heyes chuckled and brought his wife forward.
“This is Miranda,” he introduced her. “my wife. Miranda this is Yannack, an old friend.”
“Yes, I gathered that much.”
Miranda extended a hand for shaking and was taken by surprise again when Yannack laughed and pulled her into a fish reeking hug.
“It is very good to meet you, Miranda!” he told her. “Heyes needs a good wife! You have children, yes?”
“Yes,” Heyes answered while Miranda found her footing. “we have a daughter. She is not with us on this trip though.”
“What a shame,” Yannack complained. “I would love to meet her. Come, come you must come in for a drink.”
“Oh, well we....”
“What you want?” came a woman's voice from behind a curtain.
“Come out and mind the counter for a bit! I have an old friend drop by for a visit.”
“What you think?” came the voice back again. “I'm back here doing nothing? I cook and clean and raise your children and you think I'm your servant? You think I can drop everything and come when you bark?”
“Gilda! Come! Meet my friend and his pretty wife.”
“Oh, he has a pretty wife does he?” came back the retort. “That is why you want to visit eh? I know what you men are like. Always gawking!”
Miranda wasn't sure whether to laugh or feel embarrassed, but her husband was smirking playfully and when the curtain parted and the woman in question put in an appearance, she relaxed and took it all as fun bantering.
A large woman with a round red face came out to greet them. Belying the previous complaining, Gilda smiled a huge greeting and came over to hug both of them.
“So, you are friends with this lazy sorry excuse for a husband eh?” Gilda asked them.
“Yes,” Heyes admitted. “Yannack and I go way back.”
“Gilda, this is Hannibal Heyes and his wife Miranda.”
Gilda's brows went up. “Oh! So you do exist. I was beginning to think my husband had too much wine in his gullet. Saying how he knew Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry when they were all just skinny lads! Ha! I can't remember when Yannack was skinny! He must be dreaming, I thought. He is losing his mind, I thought. But here you are. Tall and handsome and such nice broad shoulders. I think I should have married you eh? Instead of this slob of a man, eh?”
“Oh go on Gilda! You make our guests uncomfortable with your prattle.” He put an arm around his wife's shoulders and gave her a peck on the cheek. “Come on, mind the counter for a bit while I visit with my friend. Perhaps when Mia gets back from the docks she can take over and you can join us.”
“Yes yes,” she said as she patted her husband's arm. “the wife's work is never done. Do this do that. Go on, have your drink and your visit. I will stay here and do as I'm told.”
Miranda smiled at this debate, suspecting this woman wasn't likely to do anything she didn't want to do. She was a powerhouse and very possibly the backbone of not only the family but of the business as well.
“Come come!” Yannack insisted as he ushered his company through the curtain. “Don't mind Gilda, she's just a big tease. Come, come, sit.”
The couple found themselves stepping into a small but comfortable sitting room. The arm chairs they settled into were old but well kept and the visitors felt at their ease in this homey place. Yannack busied himself uncorking a liquor bottle and getting glasses from the small hutch by the dinning table.
“You like some whiskey Miranda?” Yannack asked. “I know some ladies find it too strong. Some wine perhaps?”
“No thank you,” Miranda declined. Since her pregnancy even wine tended to make her feel queasy. “Some tea perhaps?”
“GILDA!” Both guests jumped. “Come and make some tea for our guest!”
“What!?” came the indignant response. “You tell me to mind the counter, now you tell me to make tea! What, you think I am two people!?”
“Oh come now! You always say I can't boil water worth bathing in!” the husband countered. “we will hear the door open if someone comes in. Come make tea!”
“Fine, fine! I make tea! My goodness you are a contrary man. You drive me to drink you know you do! I was a slim pretty little thing before I met you, now look at me!”
“Oh my dear, you exaggerate! You were always a big ship of a woman!” And he gave his wife a playful swat on her ample behind as she ploughed passed.
The large woman gave a girlish squeak as she headed for the kitchen and set about her task. Heyes was laughing into his hand by this time but he swallowed it down and presented a neutral expression as his friend handed over a glass of whiskey and then sat down himself.
“It is so good to see you again my old friend,” Yannack told him and raised his glass to tap.
Heyes obliged and the two glasses clinked.
“Likewise. I wasn't even sure if the shop would still be here. It's good to see you doing well.”
“Aw well, it was mainly Papa who got this business going,” Yannack confided. “You know what a hard working man he was.”
“Yes,” Heyes chuckled at old memories. “and we sure made his life miserable at times.”
“Yes we did!” Yannack agreed. “You would get me into so much trouble....”
“Me get you into trouble!?” Heyes was offended. “As I recall you were more of a scoundrel than we were! You knew where all the open doors were.”
“And you knew how to unlock the ones that weren't open!”
“You knew what shops would be empty at night!”
“And you knew how to get people out if they weren't!”
The entrance of the woman of the house put an end to this debate as she placed the tea tray down on the side table.
“You two! You sound like silly little boys again.” she accused them. “Women are here, time for more civilized talk. Here my dear have some sweet tea.”
“Thank you,” Miranda smiled greatfully. She did feel a little out of place with this line of bantering.
“So, how is that kid doing?” Yannack asked as his wife settled into her favorite comfortable chair. “He still think you the best thing since pickled herring?”
“What do you mean?” Heyes asked, totally perplexed.
“Oh come! He always look up to you. That boy do anything you say.” Yannack chided. “We were all surprised when he take off on his own like that.”
“Yeah well, that's all over and done with now,” Heyes mumbled. “Things are good. He's married now too, has a little boy.”
“Ah a son!” Yannack clapped his hands with great pleasure. “God has blessed him.” he winked slyly at Miranda. “Maybe next time eh? Maybe you give Hannibal a boy, eh?”
Miranda gaped wide-eyed at this strange man. Even she was taken aback by his forward comments. Even though she was usually the one who inadvertently overstepped etiquette she found it disquieting when someone else did it.
“You embarrass her!” Gilda scolded her husband. “Leave her alone. Nothing wrong with girls!”
“You ought to know!” Yannack retorted. “You gave me five of them before you saw fit to give me a son!”
“You have six children?” Miranda was further astounded. “Good heavens, how do you manage?”
“What do you mean?” Gilda asked.
“Oh, I'm sorry,” Miranda back pedaled. “Oh dear. I meant no offense. I'm always doing that. I didn't mean....it's just, it seems like quite a handful when you have the business as well.”
Miranda sent a pleading look over to her husband in the hopes of him bailing her out. Heyes was once again stifling a laugh.
“That's alright,” Gilda assured her with a pat on her knee. “the older ones look after the younger ones. Running a business needs lots of hands to help out. There are no idle children here that is for sure.”
“Ah but they go to school too though,” Yannack pointed out. “Many children here do not go as their parents think they do better learning the family business, but that is foolish eh? You remember my Papa Heyes! He insist I learn! Of course he insist I learn Yiddish and that is not much help in America, but he meant well eh?”
“Yes, he meant well.” Heyes agreed. “He was a good man.”
“Yes. Good man,” Yannack nodded. “And I learn enough to run this business. My children will learn more! I'll not have them running around in the streets like rats, stealing to survive. They start out good eh?”
Heyes nodded quietly as Miranda sipped her tea.
“You have the right idea Yannack,” he said. “Stealing never did anybody any good.”
“There's my husband putting his foot in his mouth again!” Gilda scolded him. “Look! You make our guests uncomfortable!”
“Me!?” Yannack argued. “You call me a fool, say I'm delusional! I tell you I know them! I read good enough english to read the paper! I say that is my old friend Hannibal Heyes and they railroad him! They send him to prison for life! You say I don't know what I'm talking about—that I'm making it up! But you see—here he is in the flesh! I make up nothing!”
“Yes yes! You can hardly blame me for that with all the old fish stories you tell around here,” his wife countered. “How am I suppose' to know when you speak the truth? You're enough to drive a woman to her death you are! Look at me...I was a slim pretty little thing before I married you—this is what you do!”
“Pah!” Yannack waved her complaints away. “Looking at your mother I should have known what I was getting into! A fishing barge if I ever saw one.”
“You are your father's son no doubt about that...” Gilda retorted.
“Ah, perhaps it is time we left,” Miranda commented discreetly. “after all Mr. O'Sullivan is probably waiting for us by now.”
“Oh, yeah,” Heyes perked up as he was reminded of previous commitments. “Miranda is right Yannack; Silky is waiting for us.”
“Oh my goodness!” Yannack waved both arms in the air. “That old squeaking hinge still alive? He was an old man back when we were running card games in the old Sutter's barn.”
Heyes chuckled again. “Yeah, he's still alive. And just as rusted and squeaky as ever. We should go.”
“Ha ha! Still scared of him eh?”
“Yes you are!” Yannack laughed. “Ahh, I don't blame you though. He knew how to put the fright into us boys that's for sure. But come, come. You take some fish with you.”
“What? Oh no, Yannack we couldn't do that,” Heyes protested.
“What do you mean?” Gilda demanded. “What is wrong with our fish?”
“No, nothing wrong with it, it's just...”
“Then you take some, yes?”
“Come come,” said Yannack as the small group once again headed out to the shop area. “You pick whatever you want. It's fresh. It's good.”
Now it was Miranda's turn to be hiding a smile. They weren't going to get out of this one.
“At least let us pay you for it,” Heyes insisted.
“Oh Heyes, you insult me!” Yannack threw back at him. “I haven't seen you in twenty years or more. Who knows when I see you again. Come. You take some fish. My gift to you, yes?”
Heyes sighed and exchanged a quick look with his wife. She twinkled a smile at him and he knew he was beat.
“Alright,” he agreed. “what would you suggest?”
“Anything you want. It's all good.”
Heyes was at a loss. He wasn't familiar with seafood anymore. When he and Jed lived here they had eaten various types of fish regularly but he had never really known what type of fish it was. It was just what ended up on his plate at supper time. He sent a pleading look to his wife.
“What would you like?” he asked her.
She smiled and leaned in to take a look at the wares for offer. She was pleased with what she saw as it was all fresh but she was going to have a hard time deciding. Then she saw them and her smile grew. Miranda straightened up and met Yannack's laughing gaze. He knew what she had spied.
“The oysters,” she said.
“Ah yes! Very good choice. They are fresh off the boat this afternoon. You have a very smart wife there Hannibal. She knows what's good.”
Heyes grinned proudly but then frowned as he watched Yannack fill a bucket with a large quantity of the gnarly shelled morsels.
“I don't think I've had oysters before,” he admitted. “I don't think we ever had them when we were younger.”
“No no, not likely,” Yannack agreed as he layered ice on top of the crustaceans. “these beauties are wasted on children.”
“How do you cook them?”
Yannack smiled wickedly “Some like them raw.”
Heyes looked disgusted, then scared. “Raw!?”
“Don't worry,” Randa laughed. “I'm sure Silky's kitchen staff know how to prepare them. Don't worry about it. I think you'll like them.”
“You will like them,” Gilda assured him. “They are good with cream and mild cheese when you can get it. You will be back for more!”
“There you go,” Yannack sealed the bucket and handed it over. “It was good to see you old friend. You must come back again—and bring your children next time eh?”
“Yes I will,” Heyes grinned and the two men hugged. “Goodbye Yannack. You take care of your wife now, you hear?”
“Ah her! She look after me!”
“That is God's honest truth for a change!” Gilda agreed. “You have yet to find your own way into the kitchen without the smell of food to get you there!” Yannack rolled his eyes as Gilda handed a small container of pickled herring over to Miranda. “Here you go dear. Good herring. Make your blood rich and strong. And you take care of your man here, he's a good man yes?”
“Yes, he is,” Miranda agreed and then found herself encased in another fishy hug. “Thank you for tea and for the oysters!”
It was with some relief that Heyes and Miranda finally made their way out of the fish shop only to be brought up short by Eli trying valiantly to keep the local ragamuffins off the fine carriage. The young driver looked up with his own look of relief when he saw his charges finally emerge.
“Thank goodness!” he exclaimed. “I was sure you had been kidnapped and shipped out to sea! Mr. O'Sullivan would have skinned me alive if I had lost you!”
“Sorry about that Eli,” Heyes truly looked contrite. “The reunion took a little longer than I expected.”
“Go on!” Eli waved his arms at a couple of persistent vagabonds. “Off with you!”
Heyes chuckled and motioned the two boys over to him.
“How old are you?” he asked them.
The two boys exchanged looks through the fish film that permanently bathed their flesh.
“What'cha wanna know fer?” asked the oldest of the two.
Heyes shrugged. “Just curious,” he said. “I'm willing to bet you two bits a piece that you're older than ten.”
The oldest puffed up to his full height.
“You lose mister,” he announced proudly. “I'm only nine years, ten months and twenty-two days old. And he's only eight. You owe us four bits!”
“Are you sure you're not ten yet?”
“Are you welchin' on a bet?”
“No, just want to be sure.” Heyes straightened up and digging into his pocket he came out with seventy-five cents. “Here, keep the change.”
The boy snatched the coins up faster than a cat on gutting day and two pairs of skinny bare legs made a dash for home turf.
“You shouldn't encourage them Mr. Heyes,” Eli told him. “It'll only bring them back for more.”
“Boys gotta eat,” Heyes mumbled to himself.
“Yes, but still...”
“Here you are Eli,” Heyes hoisted up the bucket of oysters along with the smaller container of herring. “Mind these for us will you? Don't want them smelling up the cab do we?”
“Oh!” Eli was first surprised then disgusted with the fish offereings he found himself saddled with.
“It's time we headed for home Eli,” Heyes announced. “to Mr. O'Sullivan's!”
“Yes, of course.”
“My lady, your carriage awaits.”
“Why thank you, kind sir. It is indeed time to depart.”
The landau made good time along the streets with the horses trotting with interest towards their own respite. Miranda's eyes were alight with pleasure as she watched the architecture change from wood and seedy drabs to stone and brick homes and fine classy businesses. She found herself pointing out landmarks along the way and laughing with pleasure at the memories coming back to her.
“There's Lily's Tea Shop!” she exclaimed. “Oh I can't count how many wonderful hours I have spent in that place!”
'Oh yes?” Heyes asked. “William brought you to San Francisco often did he?”
“Fairly often, yes,” Miranda agreed. “He had a lot of business meetings in this town. It was fun for me because all the men brought their wives and we'd spend the day shopping and gossiping while the men went about their business.” She sat back with a dreamy look on her face. “Oh the shops here Hannibal—they are amazing. Such beautiful dresses and hats. It was so much fun coming to San Francisco!”
“Hmm,” Heyes grumbled as he looked out the window. “A lot more to offer than Brookswood I suppose.”
Miranda sat back and eyed her husband, realizing she had hurt his feelings.
“Well, in some ways,” she admitted. “but I wouldn't want to live here permanently. It was a fun treat, like now, with us.”
“It certainly was nice though, when Amy opened that hat shop......” but Miranda stopped in mid-sentence and her expression dropped. “What a shame it all turned so sour.”
“Yes,” Heyes agreed. “I'm surprised it hasn't been taken on by anyone else by now.”
“It is my understanding that Mr. Calhoune has placed an advert in other papers in the hope of enticing someone to come and take it over,” Miranda informed him. “The building just sitting there empty is costing him money to maintain. He needs to get a new tenant in there.”
Heyes grinned at that prospect. “Serves him right for being a banker.”
Miranda sniffed playfully. “You and your peeves! I'm hoping he will find someone. It'll be nice to have a hat shop right in town again.”
“Yes, I know,” the husband acceded. “I know you all enjoyed it. A little bit of the city life coming to town.”
“You enjoyed it too,” his wife teased him. “I think you spent just as much time in that hat shop as the ladies did.”
“Hmmm,” Heyes grumbled again. “I don't like to be reminded how gullible I was. I wouldn't think you would want to go back to that time either.”
“No, you're right,” Miranda nodded. “It's sad the way it all turned out. But it was nice having a hat shop right in town!”
Heyes was back to grinning and decided that like his wife, he would move beyond the bad and remember the shop for the good it had brought.
“Yes it was,” he agreed charmingly “Hopefully we'll have another one soon. Oh, here we are.”
The landau pulled up in front of the elegant home of one of the most gifted grifters Heyes had ever known. It was a mansion even more impressive than Soapy's townhouse and he looked to his wife hoping to see an animated reaction. He couldn't help a slight twinge of disappointment when she seemed unfazed by the splendor.
He stepped down and offered his hand to the lady while Eli stepped down from the driver's seat and then escorted them through the archway and over to the front steps.
“I will take your luggage around to the side entrance and it will be delivered up to your room,” Eli informed them. “I'll also make sure the kitchen gets the bucket of oysters and...these other things as quickly as I can.”
Heyes smiled. “Thank you Eli. I'll let Silky know you did a good job.”
“Thank you sir,” Eli nodded and dutifully pulled the door bell. “I'll leave you for now. Have a nice evening.”
“Thank you,” Heyes smiled. “I'm sure we will.”
Eli quickly returned to the carriage and climbing aboard, clicked to the eager team and took his leave without a backward glance.
“What was that all about?” Miranda asked with some concern.
Heyes sighed. “Oh, Silky has kind of a reputation for being a bit of a tyrant.”
“Really?” Randa asked with surprise, “Beth seemed to like him. But you are nervous, aren't you?”
“I am not.”
“Silky's an old friend,” Heyes pointed out as he stared up at the opulent double front doors. “why would I be nervous?”
Miranda raised an eyebrow at him just as those same doors banged open and she felt her husband jump slightly and almost take a step back.
“Well it's about time you two got here!” came an old man's high pitched complaint. “Where is that young idiot? I'm gonna thrash his hide fer keeping ya' out that long!”
“Hi'ya Silky,” Heyes smiled. “It's good to see you again. Nice to see you haven't changed.”
“Uh huh,” Silky's eyes turned to the woman standing beside his protege and as usual, his stance softened.
“Silky, this is my wife, Miranda. Miranda this is Silky O'Sullivan.”
Miranda smiled and extended her hand. Silky took it and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“Well ain't you a looker,” the old man admired the view. “and you must have some smarts about ya' too, if you can keep up with this rascal.”
“Yes,” Miranda agreed politely. “he certainly does keep me guessing.”
“Yeah,” Silky agreed with a quick look back to Heyes. “me too. Well, come on in. Don't just stand there on the door step lookin' like peddlers. Harold! Drinks in the parlor before dinner!”
“Yessir,” came the response from somewhere within the corridors of the large house.
Fifteen minutes later the three people were seated in comfortable armchairs and enjoying some refreshment. Miranda was sipping on a hot cup of tea and quietly regretted not being able to join the men in a glass of brandy. But as much as she would like one, considering her current condition she knew the consequences and had showed some self-restraint.
She sat quietly, watching these two old 'friends' attempt to find their footing. Obviously it had been a number of years since their last meeting and there still seemed to be some animosity between them. She had never seen her husband this unsure of himself; as though he were an adolescent expecting a reprimand yet resenting it at the same time.
“How is your tea, young lady?”
Miranda was startled out of her musings and pulling her eyes off her husband, she smiled over at their host.
“It's lovely,” she assured him. “and please, call me Miranda. Or Randa, or Randi or Hannibal's crazy wife.....” She smiled at her small tease in the hopes of relieving the strained atmosphere. It failed.
Silky simply nodded and returned his scrutiny to Heyes.
Heyes fidgeted but had finally had enough.
“You know Silky, if you're still angry with me there was no need for us to come here.”
“Of course there was a need!” Silky insisted. “I met the Kid's wife, it's only proper I should meet yours as well. Never thought neither one of ya' would actually get married.”
“Thought we'd both end up in prison, is that it?” Heyes snarked. “Well you got your wish with me, didn't you? Or are you just mad that you weren't the one who sent me there?”
“Oh get off your soapbox!” Silky complained. “You always were one for dramatics. That was years ago and I didn't mean it anyway.”
“Then why are you mad at me?”
“I ain't mad at ya'!”
“I'm definitely feeling a cold shoulder,” Heyes contradicted him and turned to his wife. “Aren't you feeling a cold shoulder?”
Again Miranda was taken by surprise at being included in this apparent bit of history. She opened her mouth to respond but didn't get the chance.
“Stop being an ass,” Silky reprimanded him. “that's my job. And besides, you're making your wife uncomfortable.”
“I'm making her uncomfortable?” Heyes retorted. “You're the one who's being a grouch. If it's not about the Philpotts incident, then what is it?”
“Well....” Silky scowled now that he was being pushed into a corner. “alright, since you insist. I'm more frustrated at ya' than I am mad.”
“For what?” Heyes was the one getting frustrated now. “What did I do?”
“Nothin'—and everything!” Silky retorted. “Dag blast it! What was the big idea of gettin' yourself sent off to prison like that? That looks bad on me too ya' know. My protege, the one who was suppose to be so smart! Yeah. Too smart fer yer own good, that's what you are. And I saw it comin'! You were always gettin' up ta' somethin' over yer head, thinkin' you was invincible. Ya well it finally came round and bit ya' in the ass didn't it?”
“What? You mean you're saying that was my fault?” Heyes was incredulous.
“Ya didn't see the Kid go to prison did ya'?”
“That was just by fluke,” Heyes insisted. “It could have gone either way. If the Kid had gone to trial first then he would have done the time and I would have got off....”
“Aw balderdash! Ain't I taught you nothin'?” Silky countered. “There are no flukes. You was always pushin' the envelope Heyes and you would'a kept on pushin' it until ya' got burned.” Silky sighed regretfully and shook his head. “I seen it comin'. Right from the time ya' was a wild, headstrong teenager. You always knew best, you were always better than anybody else.”
“Well I was!” Heyes insisted.
“That's besides the point!” Silky snapped at him. “Ya' get yer head so swollen ya' can't see where yer puttin' yer feet! I tried gettin' ya' outa that streak, knock some caution into ya' but you'd have none of it. Always goin' yer own way.”
“I'd win the play though,” Heyes reminded him quietly. “I never lost one.”
“And that was part of the problem,” Silky continued. “If you'd a lost one or two maybe you'd a been a bit more humble. But you was too good so you got ta' thinkin' that you was untouchable.” Silky shook his head with regret. “It was inevitable you was gonna do time. I just hope it knocked some sense into that silly head 'a yers cause goodness knows I tried and never got anywheres.”
“Was he really that good?” Miranda asked to avoid an awkward silence.
Both men picked up from their musings and looked over at her.
“Was he that good?” Silky squeaked. “Dang it, he was the best I ever had here. If I could'a kept him under my wing fer a couple more years he'd a done alright. But no! He had to take off after the Kid.”
“I am sitting right here you know,” Heyes pointed out. “And I suppose you blame me for Jed taking off too.”
“Of course I do!” Silky renewed his attack. “You could'a stopped 'em. That boy would do anything fer you. You could'a talked 'em into stayin' but ya' didn't even try.”
“I did try Silky,” Heyes insisted. “I knew we had it good here. But you know that Jed could get just as bull headed as...”
“As you!” Silky finished for him.
“Well actually I was going to say as bull headed as you but I think you get my point. I tried to stop him Silky but he was having none of it. Why do you think he waited until I was gone for a few days? He knew I'd try to stop him.”
“Ya well,” Silky relented. “It's hindsight now. But I'm still mad at ya' fer goin' ta' prison.”
Heyes practically threw up his hands in defeat.
Suddenly Silky changed direction and turned his attention and his smile to Mrs. Heyes.
“So Miranda have you ever been to San Francisco before?”
“Oh yes!” Miranda perked up and smiled. “Yes, my first husband used to come here all the time on business trips. I didn't accompany him every time but when I did we always enjoyed our stay here. Such an active, vibrant town.”
“Your first husband?” Silky's brows went up, anticipating a scandal.
“Randa's a widow, Silky,” Heyes informed him.
Last edited by Keays on Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:17 pm; edited 2 times in total
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Re: San Francisco Chapter three Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:17 pm|| |
“Ahh. How unfortunate for him. He was a business man?”
“Yes,” Randa answered, thankful that they had quickly moved on from the topic of her husband's demise. “Railroads and banking mostly, but also real estate and investing.”
Silky's cackling laugh took over the conversation. “Railroads and banking? Hee hee hee! The poor man must have spun in his grave when you married this reprobate!”
Miranda smiled slyly at her current husband. Heyes was looking decidedly uncomfortable. Again.
“I don't know,” Miranda said. “They might have been on opposite sides of the fence but there are enough things in common between them. They might have even gotten along if they both weren't so bull headed.”
“See!” Silky pointed a finger at the younger man. “Even your wife knows yer bull headed!”
Heyes almost had a retort on his lips but was interrupted by the butler.
“Dinner is ready sir.”
“Oh, thank you Harold. Come on, let's eat!”
Heyes looked down at the steaming serving of shucked oysters that Harold had just placed in front of him. They looked innocent enough and the aroma was pleasing but still he hesitated. Miranda smiled at him as she cut one of her oysters in half and delicately placed it in her mouth. Her eyes instantly widened as she chewed and sucked in air to cool the morsel. She forgot all about table etiquette as she sent a sparkling smile over to the master of the house
“These are delicious!” she stated through the mouthful. “I've never had oysters prepared this way. Oh Hannibal you must try them.”
Heyes followed his wife's example and cutting one in half tentatively placed it in his mouth. Chewing cautiously he finally allowed his expression to soften and he nodded in appreciation.
“These are good,” he admitted. “Too bad we can't get them in Colorado.”
“Ya, that would be a mite awkward,” Silky agreed. “but you'd have ta take my chef with ya cause nobody does a baked oyster dish like Franco. Anybody else an' it'd just be a...a disappointment.”
“I believe you are quite right about that,” Randa agreed. “I've never had them like this before. They're wonderful. My compliments to Franco.”
The oyster appetizer was quickly dispensed with and the main meal of duck a l'orange along with root vegetables and wild rice took over the table.
“Yer husband was into banks and railroads, ya' say?” Silky picked up the conversation where they had left off in the sitting room.
“Yes,” Miranda confirmed.
“And he came to San Francisco on a regular basis?”
“Yes, quite regularly.”
“You were never interested in what the banks and railroads were doing Silky.”
“Keep outa this Heyes,” Silky snapped at him. “I was speakin' with your wife.”
Heyes brows went up in hurt surprise. He glanced at his wife and Randa sent him a nervous smile. She didn't mind speaking with Silky but she didn't want to insult her husband by doing so.
“Perhaps we should wait for...” Miranda began but was cut off.
“No, that's fine,” Heyes assured her. “You two go ahead.” He went back to assaulting his duck.
Miranda didn't like the look of this. She knew Hannibal was getting irritated but Silky diverted her attention once again.
“Ah, don't worry about him,” Silky dismissed Heyes' mood and kept his attention on the more enjoyable vision. “Why don't you have some wine? A glass or two of a nice Pinot shouldn't cause you any distress.”
“Excuse me?” Now it was Miranda's turn to be surprised.
“Hee hee hee!” Silky cackled with delight. “You don't think an old geezer like me can tell when a lady is in the family way?”
“Silky, you're embarrassing her,” Heyes complained.
“Oh I am not!” Silky denied. “She's a twice married lady! What's she got to be embarrassed about?”
“It's hardly proper to...”
“Since when do you care about what's proper?”
“Oh Hannibal, it's alright.” Miranda put a placating hand on his knee, her eyes dancing with mischief. “I'm not embarrassed. I'm overjoyed. And yes, Mr. O'Sullivan I will have a glass of wine.”
The wine arrived and once everyone at the table had a glass in front of them Silky raised his and the other two followed.
“To the new young'un,” he said, giving the toast. “I hope he don't give ya' the same grief his pa gave me.”
Heyes sighed in surrender. He smiled at the toast and clasped Miranda's hand where it still rested on his knee. She smiled over at him as she took her first sip.
“Hee hee!” Silky clapped his hands. “Young lovers! Never thought I would see the day when a young, intelligent lady would be willing to put up with your bullheadedness.”
Heyes' smile grew. “She is one of a kind, isn't she?” he agreed.
“Yes siree, she sure is,” Silky agreed. “just the kind of lady to appreciate the sapphire necklace I put aside for her. I didn't give it to ya' earlier cause I wasn't sure if it would fit. A fine set of jewels like that need to be partnered up with the right lady and I couldn't be sure until I met ya'. But you'll do, yes siree. You'll do just fine.”
“Oh now Silky, there's really no need...”
“A course there is!” Silky insisted. “I gave the Kid's new wife a necklace, a course I'm gonna do the same fer yours. Ahh, Beth is a pretty little thing but she's young and hasn't developed her own style yet. Presenting her with a necklace was easy. But a more mature lady such as yourself, well you already know who you are. The jewels have to fit the lady.”
As if on cue Harold showed up carrying a small oblong box which he set down on the table in front of Miranda. She was truly taken aback by this generous gift. She was hardly aware of the men in the room as she opened the box and admired the glittering stones.
“Oh my!” she exclaimed. “They're beautiful! But I have nothing to wear them with. The dress I brought with me for the concert tomorrow is blue but I would so love to wear these!”
“Ah, fiddlesticks!” Silky fluffed it off. “You go to the shops tomorrow and get yourself a gown that will do. One of my housekeepers can go with you. Melissa may be from the wrong side of the wharf but she knows a thing or two about ladies fashion I can tell you!”
“But that is too generous!” Miranda insisted. “You've already bought us the tickets and now this lovely necklace. You really shouldn't...”
“He can afford it Miranda,” Heyes commented as he began to rise from his chair. “Here, let me help you put them on....”
“You jest sit right back down there!” Silky ordered him as he himself got up to do the honours. “I'm the one givin' her the necklace so I get the privilege!”
Heyes settled back into his chair trying hard not to feel irritated. As the old man clasped the string of bright green emeralds around Miranda's neck he allowed his gnarly hand to caress the delicate neck and shoulder of his lovely guest. Miranda was too excited by the sparkling gift to really notice but her husband felt a rise of protective jealously assault him. He pushed the feeling down, knowing that Silky was just needling him and by the time Miranda turned laughing eyes to her husband again, his countenance was one of pleased acceptance.
The meal continued with happy conversation which focused more on the positive aspects of Heyes' life now. No more talk of prison or of past mistakes but of the present and of course the future. Growing families and a new detective agency tickled Silky's fancy and he wanted to know all the details of Heyes and the Kid's latest exploits both at home and abroad. The fact that Heyes and the Kid had both risked their lives over a silly horse amused the old man no end.
Brandy and more wine were taken as all retired to the smoking room for the evening, though no one smoked in consideration of Miranda's condition. She smiled appreciation for that gesture, knowing what cigar smoke would probably do to her stomach at this point.
Upon entering the subdued room with the plush carpeting and comfortable arm chairs the two gentlemen prepared to settle themselves in and relax, but politely waited for the lady to be seated first. Miranda had instantly been seduced by the beautiful, star-studded view of the bay the large back window afforded them from their idyllic location.
“Oh look,” she breathed as she gazed out at the night sky and the shimmering water. “That is a sight I have not seen before.”
Hannibal came up and slipped an arm around his wife's waist and looked out over the view with her. He smiled in memory of days long ago when he was in this same room and saw this same view but was too young and too full of himself to appreciate the magnificence of it.
“It is lovely, isn't it?” he whispered.
“Yes,” Miranda agreed as she leaned against him. “William spoke of views like this when he visited the homes of his business partners, but I never had the chance to see them.”
“You won't find too many more views like that,” Silky crowed. “I've got the best one in town.”
Heyes snorted. Trust Silky to blow his own horn whenever he could.
Miranda looked around at their host in some confusion.
“Really?” she queried. “But this seems very much like what William described to me. He made me so jealous and yet he refused to let me come with him.”
“And rightly so!” Silky insisted. “No women allowed at our meetings either. Business matters are a man's territory.”
Now Heyes turned away from the view and looked at his ex-mentor.
“What do you mean, business meetings?” he asked. “All your meetings were with fellow confidence players. You never knew any legitimate business men.”
“Of course I did!” Silky was incensed. “How do you think I kept up a convincing cover? I couldn't just be making money running cons or the authorities would have been suspicious. I had to have legitimate business dealings just to cover my more lucrative activities.”
“You never told me that!” Heyes complained.
“Well ya' didn't stick around long enough, did ya'?” Silky snarked. “There was a lot more to this business that you were just too damned impatient ta' learn, and look where it got ya'! You could'a been livin' like this Heyes, you could'a had everything and ya' threw it all away. Leader of the Devil's Ass Gang! Like that was somethin' ta' be proud of!”
“Devil's Hole Gang,” Heyes sniffed.
“Same difference!” Silky snapped. “Still had ya' livin' in the dirt with the lowest class of criminals that God put on this earth. I was offerin' ya' the best....”
“Could we please not do this again?” Miranda asked. “I would much rather hear about these business meetings and just who it was that attended them.”
“You're quite right,” Silky's tone softened. “Enough of this. Water under the bridge, even if ya' did make the biggest mistake of yer life.”
Heyes felt a retort coming again, but Silky quickly moved in and sneaking Miranda out of her husband's grasp, led her over to the comfortable sofa and sat down with her to continue enjoying their after dinner drinks. Heyes sighed deeply and moved over to settle into an armchair while he awaited the onslaught of yet another contrary conversation. Kid never mentioned Silky being this ornery when he and Beth had come to visit.
“There must be other homes in the area with this kind of view,” Miranda continued. “William described it quite accurately and what you have here easily fits.”
Silky was dubious. “Well, could be. I expect your husband was far too young to be at any meetings here. I only deal with the more experienced investors.”
“Miranda's husband was much older than she is,” Heyes put in, then instantly regretted the remark when he saw both people across from him brighten up as the idea struck them simultaneously.
“Really?” was Silky's squeaky response. “Well....what was his name?”
“William Thorton,” Miranda informed him.
Silky's eyes lit up even more and he began to cackle.
“Ole Bill Thorton!? Hee hee hee! Is that a fact?”
Miranda smiled uncertainly and met her husband's gaze. Heyes' jaw was tight in irritation and Miranda frowned slightly as she wondered why he was behaving so defensively. She turned her attention back to her host.
“You knew him?” she asked, almost not believing what was now becoming obvious.
“I'll say I knew him!” Silky agreed. “Shrewdest damn investor I ever knew. Hee hee hee! He helped ta' fund more than one of our little escapades. Helped to give me the retirement I enjoy today!”
“You mean he was involved with...?” Miranda was thunderstruck. “No, I can't believe that William ever did anything underhanded. He was very adamant about staying above reproach. He would never...”
“That's what made him perfect!” Silky informed her. “He was so honest that no one ever suspected that anyone associated with him could be a flim flammer. Ahh, old Bill Thorton. He sure knew his stuff. I remember him telling me he had married a woman much younger than himself. Daughter of a long time friend he said. Yup. We teased him about it no end. Confirmed bachelor we thought and then he up and robs the cradle!”
Heyes was feeling threatened now as well as irritated.
“You mean Miranda's husband was here during the time that Kid and I...”
“No no!” Silky waved off the concern. “He was after you two jumped ship. You never met him.”
“Well that's some relief at least.” Heyes grumbled but Silky didn't hear him, or didn't care.
“I was saddened when we got word of his passing,” Silky admitted. “Hadn't seen him for a couple of years as I was retired by that time but we sure did have some interesting discussions together.”
“Really?” Miranda was animated now, both her hands holding onto Silky's arm, imploring him for more details. “What did you talk about? Did he ever talk about me? Was he really a good investor?”
Silky grinned, pleased with the feminine attention and he easily warmed to the topic.
“He was one of the best I'd ever worked with,” Silky complimented. “Sly. He knew just when to jump in and jump out and he was no man's fool, no siree. I'm sure he left you well heeled, my dear.”
“Lucky for you Heyes!” Silky continued. “Always landin' on your feet, ain't ya'?”
“That wasn't what....”
“Oh please, tell me more!” Miranda pleaded. “I know so little about that side of him.”
“The only fault I found in Billy Thorton is that he was too honest,” Silky continued. “but I suppose nobody's perfect. He was smart enough but I never even hinted that he join the other side of my business because I knew he wouldn't have gone fer it. Probably would have lost him as a friend too.”
“Imagine that,” Heyes grumbled.
“He sure was proud of you though,” Silky continued in his conversation with Miranda. “Hee, hee, always talkin' about his young, pretty wife. Yes siree! We indulged him, yes sir. A man his age getting a young thing to marry him for more than his money—well he has a right to be proud. We kinda chuckled amongst ourselves though, convinced that she couldn't possibly be as pretty as he was lettin' on. But now that I see ya', well he sure weren't exaggeratin'. No sir.”
Miranda was smiling in her bliss.
“He was proud of me?” she asked. “He was such a sweet man. I still miss him terribly.”
“Sweet!?” Silky cackled again. “Well I suppose he was sweet to some. He sure weren't sweet when it come to business though. He was one shrewd wheeler and dealer. You probably could'a learned a thing or two from him Heyes.”
Heyes sent the older man a pointed look but his mood was being ignored.
“How often was he here?” Miranda continued to query. “I know I came with him a number of times, but he did occasionally come on his own. I was so envious when he came to San Francisco without me, I always had so much fun here.”
“Oh well, let me see,” Silky pondered. “I suppose we had meetings twice a year with the proven business men. Your husband I think came here about six times.”
“I'm her husband,” Heyes pointed out. “and I don't remember you holding business meetings here. Where were we when this was going on.”
“You think serious investors want to talk business with a bunch of snot nosed little kids running around?” Silky responded. “I always made sure you boys were off runnin' some numbers or somethin'. Kept ya' outa the way.”
“Oh, no wonder I never met him.”
“I already told ya' he was after yer time!” Silky was losing his patience. “What's with you tonight Heyes? Yer actin' as ornery as a cow that's all blocked up.”
Heyes sighed and tried to bring his irritation back down again.
“I donno,” he admitted. “I think I'm just tired. It's been a long day.”
“It's only 10:00!” Silky complained.
“No, Hannibal is right,” Miranda put in. “We had a late night yesterday and a long day today. We should probably retire for the evening.”
“Oh well alright. If you say so,” Silky reluctantly accepted that. “I'll have Harold show ya up to yer room then.”
“Thank you,” Miranda responded politely and came to her feet.
The two gentlemen quickly rose with her and the evening of visiting came to a close.
Miranda sat quietly at the vanity, slowly brushing out her long hair in preparation for bed when she felt rather than heard the presence of her husband standing behind her. A knot of anxiety passed through her when she felt him touch her shoulder. She wasn't concerned about him hurting her but she could feel his frustration and knew that it was time to clear the air, even if he didn't want to.
His fingers took advantage of her long hair brought forward for its nightly ritual and he unclasped the necklace that had still been adorning her throat. He leaned forward to place the jewelry on the vanity and their eyes met in the mirror's reflection. His dark eyes were sharp yet smouldering at the same time and Miranda felt the unease grow in the pit of her stomach. His mood was almost impossible to read. She waited the recommended few seconds for him to make the first move but then took a deep breath and resolved herself to begin.
“What was that all about?” came the quiet query.
She saw the twitch of irritation, the tightening of the lips and his hand dropped from her shoulder.
“What?” came the sharp reply.
His countenance took on a stubborn stance.
She looked away. This was going nowhere.
“Are you angry with me?” she asked quietly.
Silence. She sighed again and turned around on her chair to face him.
“Are you jealous over William?” she asked him. “Is that why you became so angry when your friend admitted to knowing him? That I enjoyed hearing about him?”
“Jealous over a dead man?” Hannibal asked incredulously. “How logical is that?”
“Not very,” Randa agreed. “and yet....”
“Well...he keeps coming up doesn't he!” Hannibal finally blurted out. “It's like there's three people in this marriage. Now Silky actually knew him as well? I feel like I'm inconsequential, like I'm just being waved away like a foolish boy. I know you still love him, I know you do. You've been very upfront about that. But why do you have to keep talking about him? You're my wife now, not his. Why do you keep talking about him like he's still....”
Heyes' voice trailed off and he waved his hand as though to chase the whole discussion away.
“Like he's still my husband?” Miranda finished for him. “And you feel threatened that he's going to suddenly show up in my life again and spirit me away?”
“That's ridiculous!” Hannibal snarked. “Why should I feel threatened by a dead man?”
“Is it because he left me well situated?” she asked him. “Does that anger you?”
“Of course not.”
“Why would I be angry about that?” Hannibal asked reasonably. “In a way it's taken a weight off me, knowing that you'll have an income if anything were to happen to me. It's actually made our lives a lot easier.”
“Yes it has,” Miranda agreed. “but you could still resent it. I can certainly understand it. You're my second husband living off the leavings of my first....”
“Oh well, when you put it that way!” Heyes snarked and began his usual pacing. “And now that you mention it—everyone in Brookswood thinks it's a joke! Some of them even say that's the only reason I married you. Now Silky had to comment on it. Married a wealthy widow huh? You lucky son of a gun! Dammit!”
“Well did you?”
“Marry me for my money.”
“Then why do you let it bother you?” Miranda was being too reasonable. “Why can't you just let it go? Relax and enjoy it.”
Heyes stopped pacing and stared at the far wall. Miranda sat quietly. She had also learned that once her husband started talking there was no point in pushing him or trying to control the flow. He would carry on again as soon as he was ready.
“He's always in the background,” Hannibal repeated. “He's always there. Even the house we live in was bought with his money. I should be providing for you and for our children and I'm not. Used to be a $20,000 paycheck was standard fare now I'm lucky if I bring home $20.00 for the week. And now Silky's doing his damnedest to rub my face in it, letting me know just how much better a provider your first husband was compared to me. Just how the hell am I suppose to react?”
“Maybe we both came into this marriage too soon,” Miranda ventured. “I wasn't....I never....I was still in mourning when you came into my life. I wasn't looking for another marriage. I really hadn't had time to let William go and then there you were forcing me to fall in love again.”
“I never forced....”
“Of course you did,” she told him with a quiet smile. “I had no choice. You simply over-whelmed me. I don't blame you for that. You didn't have a choice either. But how do you think I feel? Abi is still alive. If things had gone the way you both had hoped, you'd be with her. How do you think that makes me feel, to be second choice? Abi and Anya are still out there and could come back into your life anytime.”
“Abi has re-married. You know that.”
“Oh so what, Hannibal?” Miranda continued. “You and I both know that marriage doesn't guarantee anything. You've had two children with her. That is a bond stronger than any other.”
“Yes. One who's dead and one who won't even acknowledge me.”
Miranda softened her tone in empathy. “Anya could come around in time.”
“You and I have a child together,” Heyes pointed out, quickly brushing past the painful subject of his previous children. “and another one on the way,”
“I know,” Miranda conceded. “I'm just saying, we both have history with other people.”
“But Abi doesn't invade our lives the way William seems to be doing,” Heyes persisted.
“Of course she does!” Miranda challenged him. “Every time you mention Anya, Abi is in the background. You can't escape it. And once Anya does acknowledge you she'll want to know her father better. She'll be a part of our lives and then of course, so will Abi even if she's just in the background.”
“And you agreed to that.”
“I know I did. And I still do. Your child will always be welcome. I'm just trying to point out that we both have ghosts from the past to deal with. I still love William but I'm in love with you. Doesn't that count for anything?”
“Yes it does,” Heyes admitted begrudgingly. “and I'm very much in love with you. I'm sorry. I try not to let it bother me but then Silky comes along and tells me what a fool I was...”
Miranda got to her feet and coming over to her husband she placed her fingers over his lips.
“Hush,” she whispered to him. “I know that you and Abi had a very....intense relationship. One thing about being with William,” Heyes groaned. “No, no,” Miranda was quick to assure him. “William was a dear man, at least he was to me. But he always treated me as though I were a child or that I might break during love making. To be quite honest, and I feel ashamed to say it, but it got a little boring after a few years. One of the things I enjoy about you Hannibal, is that you're a very...versatile lover. I sometimes wonder if....”
Miranda bit her lower lip, suddenly feeling unsure of how to address this.
“You wonder what?” It was Heyes' turn to push.
“Do I satisfy you?” she asked in a quiet almost fearful voice.
“Of course you do!” Hannibal was surprised at the question. “Why would you think otherwise?”
“Just....you and Abi. I thought....you're both so, oh what's the word....”
“Over-bearing? Domineering? Controlling?”
Miranda gave a nervous giggle and squeezed his arm.
“Yes, alright,” she agreed. “I mean, that friction between you. There was always sparks there, for good or bad. That must have come through in your love making...I just feel sometimes that I don't measure up to that.”
“You measure up,” Hannibal assured her. He hugged her close, feeling her loose and budding form pressing into him. His arousal was instant. “I love making love to you.”
“Yes but, do you ever wish....?”
“What?” he asked as he nuzzled in close.
“Wish I was Abi?”
Hannibal stepped back, suddenly unsure of his footing.
“No. Of course not.”
Miranda's eyes pushed him to be honest. He felt uncomfortable with this line of questioning. He wasn't sure how much he should reveal about a previous lover.
“Yes, sometimes,” he finally admitted. “Abi was, well as Jesse once noted; she always brought out the 'outlaw' in me.” He smiled shyly. “She drove me crazy. She was exhilarating and exhausting both at the same time. But she did help me to get over....”
Heyes staggered to a halt, suddenly fearful of what he had almost let slip. Miranda was no fool though and she picked up on his embarrassment right a way.
“Get over what?” she asked.
Heyes gulped. Damn. Never lie to his wife. Now he'd gone and backed himself into a corner.
“Hannibal?” her voice softened even more. “Get over what?”
Heyes' jaw tightened and he diverted his eyes with some embarrassment.
“I couldn't...” he started and faltered. “Prison nearly destroyed me. When I finally got out I couldn't...well, I couldn't perform with a woman.”
“Oh,” Miranda commented. “is that all?”
“What! What do you mean 'is that all?' I thought I was never going to be able to...you know, again.”
“Oh Hannibal. My sweet Hannibal,” Miranda smiled and caressed his face. “When I think back to our first meeting and just how terrible you looked, it's hardly surprising you'd be suffering from a certain amount of anxiety.”
“I didn't look that bad.”
Randa actually laughed. “You looked like someone in those photographs I saw of the prisoners of war. Those poor men were on death's door. When I saw you I could hardly believe that you could still stand up. I'd never seen anyone look as emaciated as you did that evening.”
“I must have been a wretched sight,” Heyes grumbled. “You were good though, you didn't show how disgusted you were.”
“I wasn't disgusted!” Randa insisted. “Just the opposite. My heart went out to you. You were a wretched sight, but there was something in your eyes, something in your smile that touched my heart. That told me that the man you once were was still in there. That you weren't broken. The minor detail that you 'couldn't perform' during that time is hardly surprising.”
“I know that now,” Heyes told her. “but at the time it terrified me. David assured me it would pass, but it took Abi to really...”
“Yes alright!” Miranda laughed. “I get the picture.” She sobered again and looked deeply into those beautiful chocolate eyes. “I want you to enjoy being with me as much as you did being with her.”
“Miranda I do,” Heyes insisted. “I love you, I love being with you.”
“I know. But over time, if I'm not giving you what you need, if I don't excite you....”
“I'm not a naive maiden,” she needlessly pointed out. “I know that Madam Flo's business stays in business because of married men who don't get satisfaction at home. I don't ever want you to feel that you need to go there. I want to keep you at home. I'm not a porcelain doll, Hannibal. And I certainly don't want you thinking that maybe you got more from Abi that way than you do from me.”
“I don't feel that way,” Hannibal insisted. “We're good together. I don't know why I can't let this jealousy go.”
“I do,” Randa said with a wicked smile. “I've said it before; you're a passionate man. You're also a very controlling man.”
“I am not!”
“You are so! Your frustration this evening was becoming very obvious, then we discovered your friend Mr. O'Sullivan knew William. You said yourself that it made you feel threatened and maybe, just a little out of control. So then you got snarky and let your temper show.”
“That sounds despicable,” Heyes grumbled. “Is that what you think of me? That I'm an insecure and controlling husband?”
“No!” Randa was adamant. “I'm just saying it all finally came to a head. Finding yourself back here with your old mentor who wasn't letting you live down past mistakes, William being brought into the conversation more often than was comfortable for you. Maybe you're a little worried about this pregnancy too, about how it's going to affect our love making.”
“That would be pretty selfish,” Heyes replied. “So now I'm a selfish, insecure and controlling husband.”
Miranda sighed with frustration. This man could be a challenge sometimes.
“I love you,” she told him. “I want you to be happy. I want you to be satisfied. I realize that as I get bigger our love making will be hindered to some degree. But I'm sure we'll manage. Jed and Beth certainly found a way...”
“There we go with the mental images again,” Heyes complained. “We don't need to bring them into this. Besides, there's not enough room in the bed for all four of us.”
Randa chuckled. At least he was starting to lighten up.
“I'm sure we can figure this out on our own,” she assured her husband. “But you need to relax a little bit. Everything happened so fast between us. Marriage and adopting Sally, your new business, now a new baby on the way. There has been a lot for us to adjust to. This trip was suppose to help us relax and enjoy ourselves before the pending explosion. So stop taking everything so seriously, alright?”
Hannibal sighed in resignation. “Okay. I suppose you're right. I suppose this evening was just too much with Silky going on and on about how great a business man William was and how I could have learned a lot from him.....”
“Well, you could have,” Randa smiled. “but he could have learned a whole lot from you too.”
Hannibal smiled then, a true and spontaneous smile that brought his dimples out to play.
“You don't have to feel jealous over William,” Randa assured him. “nor do you have to treat me like I'm going to break, and our baby won't break either. Alright?”
“I know that,” Heyes insisted. “I'm fine. Everything's fine.”
“But there's more to it, isn't there?” Miranda asked him. “It's not just William that got you riled. Something about coming back here and your friend and mentor scolding you. I think you know what it is and you just don't want to say. What are you thinking? What's going on behind those innocent brown eyes?”
Heyes hinted a smile but quickly turned serious again. Miranda was right; his mind was churning but it was also beginning to settle down onto the real issue at hand.
“Silky was right,” he finally admitted. “I blew it, big time.”
“How?” Randa asked. “By not staying here and learning to be an even bigger con man?”
“Oh, come on...”
“I was good Randa,” Hannibal continued. “I was better than any of them, even those who had been at the game for years. Silky and Soapy both put a lot of time and focus into my education and I walked away from it all. I just had to go in search of Jed. Even at that, I didn't find him and then I was too stubborn and proud to come back here. Too stubborn and proud. My life would have been so much better if I had just stayed put.”
“You can't know that,” Randa argued. “Look at all the experiences you've had, the people you've met and relationships you had a hand in forming. Are you so willing to throw it all away just on a whim? Based on an assumption that things would have been better if only you had made a different choice way back when you were twenty years old? Does Sally, do I and our baby, do we all mean so little to you?”
“No, of course not,” Hannibal was quick to deny. “That's not what I meant at all. I just wish I had made a different choice back then, that's all.”
“The way I see it, having known you now for a number of years,” Randa responded. “is that if it hadn't been Jed running off then it would have been something else.”
“What do you mean?”
“Hannibal,” she gave him an indulgent smile. “One of the first things I recognized about you is that you are a restless spirit. Something would have eventually pulled you away from this life. You would have found it too mundane. Maybe that's part of the reason you went after Jed in the first place, and why you didn't simply come back here afterward. Your own soul was telling you something that you had yet to figure out for yourself. You simply cannot sit still.
“I don't believe for one minute that you simply fell into being an outlaw. That it was just circumstances. You were drawn to that life like a bear to honey. But you didn't do it for malicious reasons at least not towards the common people. Hurting individuals had nothing to do with it. Oh, I laugh every time I read over the newspaper articles about your trial and how the judge accused you of being a sociopath. He certainly didn't understand you at all. You did it for the challenge, the excitement. The rush of the game. Catch me if you can and be damned.
“It was only as you got older and you began to realize the harm you were causing others. People who were hard working folks like your parents. Only then did you back off and try to put things right. Unfortunately you were too deep into it by then and turning over a new leaf proved harder that you first thought.”
Heyes snorted. “That's the God's honest truth.”
Miranda smiled at his cynical response.
“Don't be too hard on yourself,” she advised him. “We all make mistakes and hopefully we grow and learn from them. I can understand Mr. O'Sullivan's frustration, I'm sure you were a brilliant student. But he does love you.”
Heyes rolled his eyes. “He sure knows how to show it.”
“No he doesn't,” Miranda intentionally contradicted him. “Oh I know he has a soft side to him, he's being very kind to me. But I wasn't his protege. You were. He surely had high hopes for you.”
“And I let him down,” Heyes grumbled. “I thought we had gotten past all that. We got along fine before the Philpotts episode but after that..I donno, he was so angry. I hoped he would be over it by now. Kid didn't say anything about Silky still holding a grudge, but then it wasn't Kid who came up with the idea. It was my idea and it blew up in our faces. Silky can be a mean old man when chooses to be. No wonder Kid ran out on us.”
Miranda smiled gently as she picked up on a new emotion drifting off her husband. It would seem that this visit to his mentor had stirred up a number of long buried hurts and disappointments.
“He hurt you, didn't he?” she asked quietly. “Jed, I mean. When he left without you.”
She knew she had hit the nail on the head when Hannibal's expression broke and he swallowed tightly. He didn't answer for a moment, not wanting to admit to such a raw emotion. 'Never lie to your wife' sprang to the surface of his thoughts yet again. There were times he wished he had never made that promise to himself.
“Yes,” he finally admitted, his voice hardly more than a whisper. “He broke my heart.” Another swallow followed by a deep sigh and a hand through the hair. “We were the only family we had. We did everything together, went everywhere together. He always listened to me, always did what I told him and.....”
“That was the first time he didn't?”
Heyes smiled ironically. “Yes. I felt betrayed by the one person I thought would never betray me. I lost my love for this game. I was no longer happy here, this was no longer my home. I had to leave and I knew I could never come back and have it be the same again.”
“There, you see?” Randa commented. “You did have good reason for leaving, you just needed to think about it. You had to go.”
Heyes nodded. “Yes. Just like Jed had to go. I came to realize that eventually. Once the pain of his 'betrayal' changed to simply the pain of missing him I could see that he hadn't betrayed me at all. It had nothing to do with me. It was something he simply had to do and now that I understand what was behind it, I can understand why. He was becoming his own man and he needed to be on his own to do that. I guess that was part of why I left as well.” He chuckled sardonically. “Talk about making mistakes though. I fell in with Frank Plummer who ended up being a real back stabber and Jed....well, he's lucky he didn't get hanged.”
“Yes,” Randa agreed. “You two definitely do better together. Oh dear, and now we've left him on his own to organize Harry's wedding.”
“Aw, he's a big boy now; he'll do fine,” Heyes shrugged it off. “Right now I don't want to worry about what might be going on at home. Like you said; we're on our honeymoon.”
Miranda smiled and that special glint came into her eyes at the thought of it being their honeymoon. Hannibal didn't need much encouraging. This soul searching had been had been difficult and he was feeling the need of some comfort food. Slipping his arms around her waist, he kissed her gently while expertly maneuvering her to the bed.
Randa giggled with anticipation and brought her husband down with her.
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Re: San Francisco Chapter three Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:18 pm|| |
The following morning, Randa and Hannibal were seated in the morning room enjoying coffee after their late breakfast. Despite retiring early to bed the couple did not actually get any sleep until the early morning hours and they appreciated being left alone until they decided for themselves that it was time to amble downstairs.Silky had already eaten, but a light brunch was quickly brought out for the couple and they had been left to enjoy their breakfast in privacy. Silky joined them later with Melissa in tow and the two ladies became acquainted. The way Silky had spoken of this particular woman, the Heyes' had assumed that she was hardly more than a teenager so it was with much surprise that they were presented with a much older, plumper lady.
“Hello,” Randa greeted her with a friendly smile. “I understand that we are to spend the day together.”
“Yes ma'am,” Melaissa answered her. “and I know all the shops to go to without wastin' no time. Why, we'll get you a fine dress to go with them joowls. Yes ma'am.”
“Oh fine.” Miranda sent her husband an uncomfortable smile but Hannibal just shrugged. “When would you like to go?”
“Why, right now ma'am,” she stated. “But I suggest you bring that necklace with you.”
“Bring it with me?” Miranda's hand went protectively to her throat even though the jewels were not there. “Why would I bring them with me?” Melissa almost rolled her eyes at the ignorance of the upper crust.
“You want to buy a dress to go with the joowls don't ya'?”
“Yes,” Miranda agreed. “That is the idea.”
“Then you must bring them with you ma'am,” Melissa reiterated. “to compare.”
“Yes, I suppose...”
“Ya' don't need ta' wear 'em,” Melissa assured her. “Just put 'em in yer hand bag.”
“They'll be save enough,” Silky assured his guest. “Everyone in this town knows that Melissa works fer me. Any of 'em try anything they knows who they'll be answerin' to.” Heyes slipped an arm around his wife's waist and leaned in close to kiss her cheek.
“It'll be alright,” he whispered in her ear. “Silky's right. No one would dare steal from a guest of his.”
“I don't know about that,” Miranda whispered to him. “Those boys on the wharf yesterday seemed awfully interested.”
“Boys being boys,” Heyes shrugged it off. “Besides, the wharf lives by its own code, that's why it was really not safe for you to go down there. Especially on your own. But in the shopping district? No one would dare.” Miranda laughed, suddenly feeling relieved and a little foolish all at once. “Well then I guess I'm ready!” she stated. “Just let me go get them.” She turned to give her husband a peck on the cheek. “Behave yourself Hannibal.”
“Of course,” he assured her innocently, then brought her into a hug and gave her a full kiss that caused Melissa to giggle with delight. “You have a good day.” Miranda smiled at her husband and then dutifully followed the woman out of the room.
“Harold!” Silky's stringent voice cut through the morning air. “More coffee in here!”
“Yessir, Mr. O'Sullivan,” came the answer from somewhere down the hall. Heyes took a deep breath and sat back down in the comfortable armchair to await the fresh coffee. Silky settled into the chair opposite him and then Harold was there with the fine china coffee pot and busied himself pouring coffee. He added cream according to each person's taste, then leaving the tray he discreetly made his departure.Heyes sat quietly, wondering what antagonisms he was going to have to endure this time around.
“That sure is a fine young woman ya' got there Heyes,” Silky stated out of the blue. “You treat her right, ya' hear?” Heyes smiled. “Yeah, I know Silky,” he acknowledged. “And we treat each other right.
“Good! Glad ta' hear it.” Silence settled over the room again. Silky seemed like he wanted to say more but was unsure of how to start.
“I didn't really mean it when I threatened ta' turn you and the Kid in,” the old man finally commented.
“Yeah, I know Silky,” Heyes assured him though hearing it made him feel more at ease.
“I was just so dang blasted mad at ya'!” he continued to explain. “I ain't never even come close to bein' arrested a'fore, and then there I was over some silly cockamamie scam of yours!” Heyes smiled just enough for his left dimple to make an appearance. “Yeah, it worked though didn't it?”
“It did not!” Silky snapped. “Weren't nothin' about that plan that worked! You was just lucky that's all! Dagnabbit! You was always lucky, until...well, until ya' weren't.” Heyes made no comment. Was he about to get another chewing out?
“We all know prison was hard on ya',” Silky continued. “and well, we all know what ya' done too. I mean, ya' stayed true Heyes. You didn't betray your friends and well, I just want ta' let ya' know that we all know it and we won't forget neither.” Heyes sat silently. This was not what he had expected.
“And dag blast that Chuck!” Silky continued with some heat. “I think Soapy must be goin' soft in the head, keepin' that little weasel in the family. He was set ta' give every one 'a us away just ta' save his own miserable hide! I never did trust him. He was a weasel when we brung 'em in and he ain't changed.”
“Why did you bring him in?” Heyes asked quietly.
“Well,” Silky's tone softened. “he didn't have much goin' fer 'em neither Heyes, just like you and the Kid. So we brung 'em in ta give him a chance. Ya' never know, ya' see? That's just it. Ya' never know who's gonna be yer next ringer. Now Chuck, he could'a bin good. He was smooth Heyes, just as smooth as you. But he weren't as steady. I never did trust him and what he done at yer trial sure proved me right. Yessir.”
“Then why did you keep him on?” Heyes asked, feeling slightly frustrated. “He betrayed all of us Silky and now Soapy still has him on the payroll? He's part of the reason I got hit with that sentence. I'm likely to wring his neck myself if I ever see him again.”
“I know Heyes,” Silky commiserated. “but even without his testimony, you was goin' down. You had yourself backed into a corner that you just weren't gonna get out of. It's what he was willin' to do to the rest 'a us that has me riled.”
“Oh, I see,” Heyes commented. “Knifing me in the back was okay but going after you and Soapy and Diamond Jim, that was...”
“Get off that pedestal you keep puttin' yerself on!” Silky snarked. “That ain't what I'm sayin' at all and you know it! That judge didn't need his testimony with all that other stuff they had ta' throw at ya'. That's the only reason the law didn't come after us; 'cause they didn't need us. They had you and that's all they wanted. No, I'm mad at Chuck fer what he was willin' ta' do just ta' save his own neck. Willin' ta' turn on those who took him in, taught 'im a trade, gave 'im a livin'. And he did save his own neck too, he didn't get no time at all, while you, well they throwed the book at you.”
“Yeah, they sure did,” Heyes agreed as he poured more coffee for both of them. “but that's all past now. Things are going good.”
“Good.” Silky smiled. “I'm proud of ya' Heyes. You and Kid both. We all are.”
“Oh.” Again, this was not what Heyes had expected. “You sure had a funny way of showing it last night.”
“Hee, hee, hee,” Silky cackled. “I sure had you goin'! Hee, hee. Yer gonna havta' get yurself a thicker skin if yer gonna get into the detective business. You always was easy to rile. Unless you was workin' a'course.” Heyes felt an irritation start to grate but then he relaxed and chuckled instead.
“Yeah, alright. Point taken.”
“Good! Now, knowin' the lady folk as well as I do, I'd say we have most of the day ta' ourselves,” Silky surmised. “How about we adjourn to the study and pass the time with some card playin'?” Heyes grinned. “Okay.”
“You can show me some of yer high falootin' parlor tricks.”
“They're not parlor tricks,” Heyes insisted as they left the morning room. “they are an impressive display of my natural dexterity and showmanship of..”
“Yeah!” Silky insisted. “Parlor tricks!” xxx Miranda had a very interesting day out on the town with Melissa. Eli had the open landau ready and waiting for them and the half hour trip into downtown was filled with enough interesting sights and sounds to keep the ladies occupied. Randa was at first uncomfortable with the older woman, not sure how to respond to her but by the time they had stopped the coach and were entering the dress shop, the ice had been broken and they chatted and laughed together like a pair of life long friends. The matron of the shop spied Miranda running her hand down one of the dresses and approached the stranger with a raised eye brow and a snooty air. That is until she spied Melissa coming in as escort. Suddenly a smile lit up the layered on face powder and the woman's haughty demeanor was replaced with high end servitude.
“Good morning ladies,” the laced up prune greeted her visitors. “May I be of service to you?”
“Well I hope so,” Randa smiled sweetly. “I appear to be in the market for a new dress. I was given a lovely emeralds to wear at the theatre tonight, and I'm in need of the appropriate apparel to set them off.” Mrs. Holstein's eyes glistened. “Might I assume that this purchase will be going onto Mr. O'Sullivan's tab?”
“Yeas, you might,” Melissa responded. “so nothin' but the best fer the lady.” Mrs. Holstein's smile expanded until the face powder cracked.
“Of course,” she cooed. “Right this way.” Turning her back on Melissa, the matron tucked Randa's arm under hers and led her past the racks of perfectly lovely dresses and into the back room where the more exquisite designs were on display for the upper, upper crust of patrons. Each dress was a work of art and of course, each one had a fine array of shoes, hats and small beaded purses available to mix and match along with a lovely collection of fine jewelry and even suggested eye and lip colorings to help a young woman complete her attire. Shopping in the ritzy district of downtown San Francisco is not for the weak of heart, or the currency starved pocket book. Miranda was accustomed to this life style so was at her ease in the fine boutique but again she felt unsure of accepting this gift. She knew that Silky had the money and obviously, the owner of the shop knew it also, but that was not her main concern. After the talk she'd had with Hannibal the night before, she did not want to tread too harshly on his financial toes. The man had his pride and if she showed up with something too exquisite, he might take exception to it and be back into his foul mood once again. She tried on many of the dresses and took note that as is often the case in the more established shops, none of the wares displayed a price. Again, this caused her some concern, not wanting to assume that there was no limit to what she should spend. But when she asked about this obvious omission, Mrs. Holstein simply laughed and waved the inquiry away as being unimportant. Even Melissa assured her not to worry herself over that minor detail so Miranda smiled and accepted the inevitable. She found that Melissa's advice to bring the necklace with her had been well founded. She tried on a number of dresses without presenting the jewels, choosing to keep them safe within her handbag. But trying to remember the exact color and essence of the stones was proving to be impossible. And there were so many different choices of colors and patterns of the dresses, that choosing the right one needed to have some point of reference. The totally inappropriate styles were quickly set to the side until five possibles were all that remained and they were down to decision time. With a deep breath, Randa pulled her necklace out of safe keeping and with Melissa's help, clasped the emerald string around her throat. Mrs. Holstein gasped in admiration and her eyes lit up with a greedy spark.
“My what lovely jewels,” she exclaimed. “No doubt a gift from Mr. O'Sullivan.”
“Yes,” Randa answered, feeling both flattered and insulted. Was this woman insinuating that Randa was from a disadvantaged station and that her own husband could not have afforded such a gift? She let the irritation of this assumption slip away, but she did not forget it.
“I have the most exquisite earrings that were simply made for that necklace,” Mrs. Holstein moved in for the kill. She hurried over to her glass cabinet and unlocking the door, she slid it open and pulled out a pair of green emerald earrings which would indeed set the necklace off nicely. “Here, my dear. Put these on and once we find the right dress, we can focus on the perfect shoes and of course a new purse!” Two hours later, both ladies exited the shop loaded down with boxes of various sizes and colors. Miranda had been of a mind to leave and go shop elsewhere due to Mrs. Holstein's condescending yet persistent sales pitch but Melissa had insisted that this was the best shop in town. Not only were the dresses of the best quality and latest design but it was the only shop in town where one could purchase all the accessories needed to go with such a lovely dress. And be able to walk out with the whole outfit that same day. Even a hat had been added to the list, since as Mrs. Holstein pointed out; a fine lady can not go to the dinner theatre without a fine hat! Eli stepped down from the driver's seat and assisted with storing the numerous boxes in the backward facing seat of the open carriage. It wasn't until the ladies were settled into their seats and the carriage was on its way to a highly recommended cafe that they allowed their expressions to relax and they burst out laughing.
“Oh my goodness!” Miranda exclaimed once she got her breath back. “I've been to high class shops before, but this was ridiculous.”
“Mrs. Holstein is certainly in a class by herself,” Melissa agreed. “but it's still the best shop in town.”
“Yes,” Randa took a deep breath. “she does have an exquisite inventory, but what an attitude! She must have put in years of practice to get just the right mix of snooty arrogance and feigned unctuous subservience. I'm amazed she has people coming back to her.” Melissa shrugged. “Mrs. Holstein is the best in town,” she reiterated. “an' she knows it.”xxxThe ladies settled in at the open air cafe and prepared to enjoy a light lunch before heading back to the O'Sullivan mansion. Miranda smiled at the thought of her husband and his mentor spending the day together and hoped that it wouldn't come to fisticuffs. They were two birds of a feather when it came to their pride with neither one willing to back down. Hopefully the mansion would still be intact when the ladies arrived home.The young waitress came up to their table and greeted Miranda with a friendly smile. “Good afternoon ma'am. What can I get for you?” “Oh,” Miranda picked up the menu and tentatively opened it. “Oh dear, we haven't really looked at it yet, let me see. Well a nice pot of tea of course, Orange Pekoe if you have it.” “Yes ma'am.” “And for lunch, well...” she glanced at her companion. “you've been here before Melissa, what do you recommend?” Melissa smiled. “The mixed seafood salad is very nice.” “Sounds perfect.” Miranda closed the menu and smiled up at the waitress. “Seafood salad it is.” “Of course ma'am. A pot of Orange Pekoe tea and one seafood salad.” “No,” Randa corrected her. “Two seafood salads.” The waitress sent a quick sidelong glance to the lady's companion and with a slight tightening of the lips, changed the order to two salads. “Yes ma'am. Two seafood salads.” “And make sure you bring two services for the tea,” Randa added as the waitress turned to leave. The young woman gave a brief nod and without a second glance to Melissa, went off to tend to the order. Miranda scowled and looked to her companion. “How rude,” she commented. “Does she not know you?” “Oh yes ma'am,” Melissa assured her. “but I'm used ta' that attitude in this part 'a town. I wouldn't even be permitted ta' ask fer a glass 'a water here if I didn't work fer Mr. O'Sullivan. Mrs. Holstein ain't the only one with a snooty attitude.” “Oh dear, I feel so guilty now.” “Why? Ain't nothin' you done” “Well,” Miranda did look uncomfortable. “I grew up in a well to do family. My first husband was quite wealthy. Up until he passed, all I knew was this side of life; the parties, the shops, the lovely cafes. I must admit I never gave any thought to the servants. I'm ashamed to admit now but I may not have been any different from our young waitress there.” “Aw no,” Melissa waved Randa's concerns away. “you ain't nothin' like these hoity-toities. I could tell right off that yur a real lady. You have class. Not like these uppity young things. They think they's got class, but it takes more'n just bein' born to it ta' make ya' a real lady. Believe me, I've seen all sorts come by Mr. O'Sullivan's place. I been there a lot a' years, and I've seen my share a' upper crust wannabes. It gets so's you can tell the difference real quick.”Conversation paused as the waitress returned with the tray laden with the tea pot and two services. The dishes were set upon the table and the waitress poured Miranda's cup for her. She was just about to set the pot down when a quick look from Miranda stopped her, and the waitress turned to pour tea for her other guest as well. “Milk or lemon, ma'am?” “Milk please, just a little.” Miranda told her. The waitress added the milk, then with demonstrative reluctance offered the same choice to Melissa. Melissa smiled at the 'child's' discomfort. “I'll have milk too.” The waitress poured the milk and quickly departed. “Oh dear,” Randa chuckled. “she is having a hard time with this.” “I sure ain't.” They laughed and tapped their tea cups before taking appreciative sips. “How long have you been working for Mr. O'Sullivan?” Miranda asked. “Oh, I been with him fer years ma'am,” Melissa informed her. “My husband drove cab ya' see. We was doin' alright but it's a hard life and he got hisself sick with pneumonia and up an' died on me.” “I'm sorry,” Randa commiserated. “I know how hard that is.” “Yes ma'am,” Melissa shrugged it off. “It were years ago now and I can't say there were any love loss between us. He was fine when sober, but lots 'a our money went to the booze and he'd beat me somethin' awful when he got drunk. Which was often. It was almost a relief when he passed, God forgive me, but it was. My real concern was how I was gonna get by. I had no family as such and no ways ta' make a livin'. I was still young and kinda' pretty back then, believe it or not so I found that I could make some money bein' nice to the boys, if'n you get my meanin'.” Randa nodded silently. “Yeah, I was headin' down the wrong path fer sure. But then one a' them boys who got took in by Mr. O'Sullivan, why he told that kindly gentleman of my predicament and the next thing I knows I'm wisked off ta' his mansion and livin' the good life!“I got myself my own room, clean clothes and good food. And he even pays me, twice a month, on time ev’ry time. An' I even get four days off ev'ry month! It was a godsend, yes ma'am. I never had it so good. Mr. O'Sullivan is the finest gentleman I ever known, and I've known quite a few, I can assure you. I got no intentions of goin' nowhere's!” Again the conversation paused when their salads arrived and the two ladies settled in to lunch. “You never thought to re-marry?” Randa inquired. “I'm sure Mr. O'Sullivan could have set you up...” Melissa chuckled. “Oh no ma'am. No decent gentleman would a' wanted me in that way. Not after how I'd had ta' make my livin' afore comin' to that fine house. A'sides, what would I want with another fool husband? I only married in the first place 'cause I had nothin' else and I already told ya' how that worked out. Nope. I'm quite happy with the way my life is goin'. Don't fix it if it ain't broke.” Randa laughed. “Yes. You're quite right. I must remind myself at times to realize how fortunate I have been. Not only with my own family and circumstances, but also with both of my husbands. I never thought I could love again after William died, and then Hannibal showed up.” She smiled lovingly. “He's a good man, but he started out on the streets as well. Goodness knows what would have become of him and his cousin if not for Mr. Saunders and Mr. O'Sullivan. Those gentlemen seem to make a habit of saving souls—well, so to speak. I doubt Hannibal and Jed would have survived at all if not for them.” Melissa nodded. “Yes ma'am. You do have yourself a fine husband. Now if that one had come a callin' I might'a been tempted ta' try fer wedded bliss again.” she laughed. “So probably best that he didn't! I'm happy.” “Good,” Miranda said, and her eyes sparkled with mischief. “and to celebrate our wise choices, we'll be naughty and order dessert!” “Oh yes!” xxx The ladies arrived back at the mansion just in time for Randa to get cleaned up and prepared for their evening out. Heyes was in the study reading one of Silky's books when he heard the front door open and the happy laughter of two females in full flight told him his wife was home. He stood up and came to the front hall just as Eli was depositing the last of numerous boxes inside the alcove. “Oh my goodness,” Hannibal looked amazed. “Did you buy the whole store?” Randa laughed and rolled her eyes. “We would have if Mrs. Holstein had had her way! As it is, I think I bought more than I should have.” “No such thing!” came the cackled response from down the hallway and Silky put in an appearance. “My, I've known ladies ta' come back from a shoppin' spree with four times as many boxes! What's the matter Melissa? Didn't ya' tell her ta' git whatever she liked?” “Of course, Mr. O'Sullivan,” Melissa insisted. “but the lady was very particular.” “You mustn't blame her,” Miranda came to her new friend's defense. “I would have bought far less if not for her insistence.” “Okay, if that's what ya' wanted,” Silky agreed. “Well go on! What's ya' standin' around here fer? I wanna see what my money bought! Git on up there! Eli, help the ladies!” “No, that's alright Eli,” Heyes broke in through his chuckle. “I'll help the lady with her boxes.” Eli hesitated, not quite sure which order to follow. “Well go on then!” Silky let him know. “Get them horses back to the stable. And get that team of blacks ready for the evenin' outin'!” “Yessir,” Eli nodded and made a hasty retreat. Heyes grinned over at his mentor. “Why must you always be a tyrant? It makes your employees afraid of you.” “Ahh, a little fear is good fer 'em,” Silky retorted. “Keeps 'em on their toes. Ain't that right Melissa?” Melissa giggled like a young girl as she picked up a couple of boxes to take upstairs. “Yessir Mr. O'Sullivan.” she agreed playfully as the two ladies trotted up the stairs to attend to their toilette. “See?” Silky persisted. “Keep 'em shakin' in their boots so's they know their place.” “Uh huh,” Heyes agreed as he picked up the remaining boxes. “Works like a charm, every time.” “Well yeah! A' course it does.” Heyes carried on upstairs and gave a discreet knock on the door of their suite. He smiled again as he heard shuffling and laughter coming from inside and was amazed at how quickly his wife made friends. It generally took him at least six months to even consider someone a friend. Oh he was a charmer alright and could easily fit in with any situation. But he was a cautious con man too and more often than not his easy banter with new people was cover for his own suspicious nature. The door opened and Melissa popped her head out. “Yes?” “The rest of the boxes, ma'am,” Heyes handed them over and gave the lady a gentlemanly bow. She accepted the boxes and shut the door in his face. Excited laughter picked up again on the other side of the barrier as Heyes turned and with a smile on his face, headed back downstairs to await his date for the evening. He returned to the study to find Silky already there and pouring out two glasses of sherry. Silky smiled over at his protege and set a glass on the side table beside the book Heyes had been reading. “May as well get settled in again,” Silky advised him. “I've known the ladies to take all afternoon ta' get ready just fer a jaunt inta' town.” “Hmm,” Heyes nodded as he sat. “Hopefully she won't take that long. I still have to get ready and my suit is up in our suite.” “Hee hee hee. Ya' might just end up goin' in yer workin' duds.” Heyes let loose a resignated sigh and took a sip from his sherry. Two hours later Melissa put in an appearance at the door to the study. Heyes looked up from his book and blinked a couple to times to clear his focus. Melissa gave a slight courtesy, being the best her knees could handle. “Your lady awaits you sir,” she announced with pleasure. “Ahh, thank you.” Heyes put his book down and pushed himself out of the armchair. Silky glanced up from his newspaper and chuckled. “Don't be too long Heyes,” he told the departing back. “I want a look see too afore ya' make a dash out the door!” Heyes sent him back a quick wave as he headed for the stairs. Another discreet knock on the door to their suite was followed by a quiet beckoning. Heyes turned the knob and walked in and was stopped in his tracks as the breath was knocked out of him. She was so beautiful and once again he couldn't believe how lucky he was. Miranda stood in front of the vanity and her eyes smiled playfully at him from behind a delicate peach and emerald fan that effectively hid her features from interested eyes. She gave the fan a couple of seductive flutters before slowly lowering it to show off her fine nose and then sensuous lips. Melissa had done a wonderful job of setting Randa's rich, dark brown hair up in a coiffure which allowed an uninhibited view of her long, graceful neck and sloping shoulders. The emerald teardrop earrings draped elegantly down in front of wisps of dark hair as they glittered and danced with every move she made.The dress was perfect. A dark, dusty peach silk made up the sleek design which was then covered with a dark emerald green lace of intricate pattern which fell all the way to the floor and added just enough dark to the peach to make it a perfect evening gown. The wide V-shaped neckline made the dress almost come off the shoulders and the material fitted her form so perfectly that Heyes could not help but notice her bosom being seductively enhanced by the material. She smiled at him shyly, hoping she was pleasing him. She looked at her image in the mirror and ran her hand down the slope of her waist and hips and admired what she saw. “Do you like it?” she asked him. He grinned like a schoolboy. Coming over to her he turned her so she could see herself fully in the mirror and snuggling in behind, he laced his fingers around in front. “You're as beautiful as you were on our wedding day,” he whispered in her ear. Her hands came in to cover his where they set on her belly. “It's so form fitting,” she stated needlessly. “I was afraid it would show. It does show, doesn't it?” “A little bit,” Hannibal agreed. “but not so much that anyone other than us would notice. You look lovely. But where is the necklace? Don't tell me that after all this you're not going to wear it!” “Of course I'm going to wear it,” Miranda laughed. She picked the necklace up from the vanity, and turning in her husband's arms, she presented the jewels to him. “but I wanted you to add the finishing touch.” Heyes smiled and took the necklace from her. He didn't know why, but it made him feel special that she would save this for him to do. She turned away from him again and he draped the necklace around her throat and clasped it securely. He ran his hands gently down the slope of her shoulders and leaned in to give her a kiss on the back of the neck. She cringed, but giggled with delight. “Let me look at you,” he said, and turned her to face him again. His appreciation started with her sparkling dark eyes, travelling down her form from there taking in her elegant neck and gracefully sloping shoulders. His smile widened and his eyes lingered a moment as he appreciated her full round bosom. He moved on into the natural curve of her waist line and hips and felt a surge of excited emotion with the slight bulging of her small tummy. His eyes travelled downwards, noting how the silky material fell gracefully off her hips and floated down her long legs which he already knew were very shapely. The hem of the dress just missed kissing the floor and the toe of one delicately booted foot peeked out from under. With a sigh of appreciation he allowed his eyes to roam upward again until he reconnected with his wife's laughing eyes and his cheeky grin deepened the dimples.“Perfection.”Half an hour later Miranda was helping her husband finish up the last touches of his finery before they went downstairs for final inspection. She was buttoning up his white collar as Hannibal draped the tie around his neck and prepared to knot it. Miranda practically gasped and the creased her brow in concern.“What's wrong?” her husband asked and he looked down at the material now feeling his own level of anxiety. “Is there a stain on it?”“No no,” Miranda assured him. “but it's the same tie you wore at Jed's wedding.”“Yes. What's wrong with that?”Miranda sighed. “When I packed it for you, I thought I was going to be wearing the blue satin dress. This tie would have complimented it very nicely,” she explained. “But it doesn't go at all with the green I'm now wearing.”“I'm sure no one will notice,” Hannibal countered. “Is it really that important?”Randa's brows went up. “Yes! Just wait a moment. Don't move, I'll be right back.”“Oh Miranda, I'm sure it's not that....”But his wife had quickly exited the suite. She went to the landing at the top of the staircase and quickly rang the bell to call a servant. Within seconds Melissa's head popped around the banister down on the main floor.“Yes ma'am?” she asked helpfully.“Melissa!” Randa smiled. “thank goodness it's you. Will you ask Mr. O'Sullivan if he has a dark green tie that my husband can borrow for tonight? The one we packed simply will not do with this dress.”
Last edited by Keays on Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 1467
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 63
Location : Camano Island Washington
|Subject: Re: San Francisco Chapter three Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:19 pm|| |
Melissa's eyes widen in apprehension.
“Oh ma'am, I apologize!” she declared. “This is all my fault. I shoulda' thought ta' buy a new tie for the dress. Yes yes, just one moment. I will go ask.” the servant disappeared but her voice could be heard fading into the bowls of the house. “Oh dear, this is dreadful....we should'a thought. Ole' Mrs. Holstein really dropped the biscuit this time.....”
Miranda waited patiently at the top of the stairs for what seemed an eternity. She could hear Silky's pitched tones coming from the study but could not make out what he was saying. She hoped that dear Melissa was not getting a chewing out for this happenstance. It was certainly not her fault. Randa should have thought of it herself. Oh, she was so out of practice at all this.
Finally Melissa came around the bannister again and trotted up the stairs She wore a triumphant smile on her round wrinkled face and in her hand, held high above her head was a green tie that would do perfectly.
“Here you are ma'am!” Melissa was breathless by the time she reached the second landing, but her smile grew with delight as she handed the strip of material over. “Look it that,” she exclaimed as the tie brushed against Randa's dress. “they match perfectly. We could not 'a done better if'n we'd tried.”
“Thank you Melissa, you have saved the day!”
Melissa grinned even more.
“Tell Mr. O'Sullivan that we will be down presently,” Miranda told her. “Perhaps if he could summon the coach?”
“Of course ma'am,” Melissa accepted her new assignment. “I'll tell 'im right away.”
The two ladies parted company. Miranda returned to the suite with tie in hand and a sparkle in her eye.
“Here we are!” she announced with pleasure. “This will be so much better. Come on, stand up. Let me put it on you.”
Hannibal sighed in resignation but smiled as he stood for his wife. He could see how excited she was to be getting dressed up and going out on the town once again. Her joy and energy were contagious and Hannibal was feeling the excitement of the evening, as well as enjoying the vision of his wife skipping about like a child on Christmas morning.
Randa positioned the tie around her husband's collar and carefully knotted it. She gave it a couple of gentle tugs and stood back to admire her work. She looked up and didn't mind at all that her husband's eyes were laughing at her.
“Okay, where is your waist coat and jacket?” she asked as she looked around at all possible locations. “Oh there they are. Here, put them on.”
Hannibal complied and had to admit himself that it felt good and even a bit thrilling to be donning this fine suit again. It always seemed to precede a happy occasion. He finished up with the buttons, gave the jacket a quick tug and turned to his wife for inspection.
Miranda stood back from him. A soft smile played about her lips as her eyes took in his dark, slicked back hair looking dapper and tidy. She sank into those eyes of molten chocolate and remembered back to their first meeting and how it was those very same eyes that had entrapped her and pulled her in to his soul where she remained sweetly lost forever. His perky nose caused her to chuckled silently and his left dimple betrayed a bemused smile knowing what it was that had caught his wife's fancy.
She travelled on, appreciating his broad shoulders and his straight posture. The dark green of the tie that so nicely completed the picture caught her eye and pulled her gaze down to note how naturally the suit jacket enhanced his slim waist and narrow hips. She loved his hands; strong and trustworthy combined with the long, slender artistic fingers where the wedding band sat, looking very comfortable in its proper place. Her glance shifted then to his long legs and carried all the way down his slender form to rest upon the polished black shoes that peeked out from under the dark coal material of the pant leg.
She then allowed her eyes to take their time making the trip back up until once again their gazes met and locked.
Her smile of appreciation broadened and she nodded. “Perfection.”
The couple made their way downstairs to find Silky and Melissa already in the front hall awaiting their arrival.
Silky's eyes lit up as soon as he saw the lady of honorur.
“My my my!” he cackled. “And they say money can't buy happiness, hee hee hee. You look lovely my dear.” And he took Miranda's hand and gave it a gentlemanly kiss.
Miranda blushed a soft pink.
“Thank you so much for these wonderful gifts,” she told him. “I just know we're going to have an amazing evening.”
“Yeah well a lady needs to be treated special sometimes,” Silky responded. “and yer lookin' good there too Heyes. Dag blast it, I don't know how ya' do it! Clean ya' up some and put ya' in a decent suit and you look like you was born to the upper crust. Yessiree, that's what made ya' such a good con man; you always looked the part, like you was born to it.”
“Well, we're doing it for real tonight Silky, thanks to you,” Heyes told him. “And speaking of which, I suppose it's time we got going.”
“Yeah yeah,” Silky assured him. “Eli's bringin' the clarence around. If yer goin' as my guests I insists ya' go in style. Oughta be here any minute.”
Miranda allowed Melissa to assist with getting the matching hat settled on Randa's coiffure while Randa herself slipped on the long elegant gloves that all high society ladies were expected to wear to the theatre. Hannibal took the shawl from Melissa's arm and gently draped it over his wife's exposed shoulders to keep them protected from the evening chill. And from the goggling eyes of passers-by until they arrived at the theatre and seated at their table for dinner. At which point, it would suddenly become not only accepted, but expected for the ladies to openly display a shapely neckline, bared shoulders and an ample bosom for all to see.
“Well it's about time!” Silky suddenly cut in on Heyes' musings. “Here's the clarence. Now be off with ya' and leave an old man in peace!”
Eli timed their arrival at the theatre perfectly. The high stepping team of black carriage horses would have made Kenny's father envious as they stopped perfectly on their mark in front of the entrance to the impressive Geary Street Theatre. One of the numerous doormen rushed forward to greet the couple as they disembarked the clarence and discreetly made sure their evening attire was appropriately presented.
Heyes thanked the man and discreetly handed him a gratuity before turning to have a word with their driver.
“Is there a place for you to wait, or will you be going back to the mansion for now?”
“Oh no sir, I'll be waiting here,” Eli informed him. “Union Square offers a number of nice supper clubs for the coachmen and it'll give me a chance to meet up with some friends.”
Heyes grinned. “Of course. Don't get too carried away.”
“No sir!” Eli almost sounded insulted. “I'll be right back here with the coach when the show is over. No need to worry about that.”
“Good. Have a pleasant evening.”
“Thank you sir. To you and your missus as well.”
Eli clucked to the team, and picking up their feathered feet, the impressive black horses collected themselves to show off to everyone how handsome they were and moved away to make room for the next coach.
Heyes turned to his wife and offered her his arm. She smiled and graciously accepted.
“I do hope they don't make us wait too long for dinner,” she whispered as they started up the steps. “I'm starving!”
Entering the lobby of the plush theatre, Heyes found himself excited about the upcoming entertainment but was no longer overly impressed with the elegance of this exquisite structure. It would seem that after staying at the Brown Palace in Denver, nothing short of Windsor Castle was going to leave much of an impression upon him now.
Still, the anticipatory atmosphere created by low murmuring conversation of so many well to do patrons, all dressed in their finery couldn't help but bring a sparkle to his eye and a smile to his face. Miranda, still on his arm was flush with excitement as though this were her first time at the theatre. But it had been such a long time and so much had happened since viewing her last performance that it was almost as though this were her first visit all over again. She had every intention of sitting back and enjoying 'The Barber From Seville” once she'd had a chance to quiet her gurgling stomach.
Leaving her shawl and both their hats with the coat man, the pair made their way to the lobby of the restaurant and waited their turn for one of the hosts to accept their tickets and escort them to their table. Following the young man through the maze of occupied tables Heyes could not help but notice a number of male eyes sneaking a discreet glance at his wife. Part of him felt a slight twinge of jealousy, but pride was the stronger emotion and he smiled smugly as the host presented them with their places for the evening.
Miranda allowed the host to pull out her chair so she could sit and get settled. While doing so she was able to look casually around her and couldn't help but notice a number of female eyes coyly looking over her husband. She smiled smugly and glanced over at her date to note that he was apparently oblivious to the feminine scrutiny being sent his way. Men could be so obtuse sometimes.
“On the menu tonight we are offering either a poached salmon steak with butter and sliced lemons and limes or a roast of lamb with mint and herbs. Both are served with our seasonal vegetables and a mixed rice pilaff,” the host informed them politely. “Here is our wine list for your convenience and your server, Carson will be with you shortly.”
“Thank you,” Heyes responded and accepted the wine list then turned to his wife once their host had moved away. “Do you think you're up to wine tonight?”
“For tonight, I'm going to take the chance,” Miranda stated. “The white wine last night didn't upset me at all so I think it'll be safe.”
Heyes nodded and began his scrutiny of the list until a light touch from his wife brought his eyes up to hers again.
“I'm just going to make a quick trip to the convenience,” she said quietly. “I won't be long.”
“Oh. Would you like me to come with you?”
“That's quite alright dear,” she assured him with a hint of a tease. “I don't think there's much chance of running into unsavory individuals in this lobby.”
Heyes smiled. “Yes alright.”
Finding himself alone at the table, Heyes picked up the menu to read the details of the offered fare just to give himself something to do until his wife returned.
“Excuse me young man.” a woman's polite voice interrupted his reading.
Heyes glanced over to the table next to them where an older couple was already indulging in the first glasses of wine for the evening.
“Yes ma'am?” Heyes responded.
“I couldn't help over hearing,” she commented and her husband let loose a mild snort. “Is you wife not well?”
“Not well ma'am?”
“You seemed concerned about her taking some wine....”
“Mildred stop being such a snoop,” her husband scolded her. “You haven't even been introduced.”
“No, that's quite alright,” Heyes assured them. “As my wife likes to say; If you want to know something the best thing to do is ask.”
“Yes!” Mildred grabbed onto the handy excuse. “My feelings exactly.”
“And in order to solve the other problem,” Heyes continued. “my name is Mr. Heyes.”
“Heyes is it?” the rather large man humphed as both men rose to their feet and shook hands. “Interesting name. I'm Mr. Caldwell and my wife, Mildred.”
“Ma'am.” Heyes gave her a polite nod and sat back down.
“My husband and I come to the theatre quite regularly,” Mildred continued with the snooping. “but I don't recall seeing you and your wife here before.”
“No ma'am,” Heyes agreed. “My wife and I are visiting here in San Francisco and the dinner theatre came highly recommended. We agreed that it would make for an interesting distraction for the evening.”
“Oh. So where are you and your wife from?” Mildred asked.
“Oh,” Mildred practically recoiled from the 'foreigner'. “How quaint.”
“What does a man of your obvious standing do for a living in Denver?” Caldwell asked in mild curiosity. “Or are you 'old money'?” At which point Mildred administered a slight kick under the table for his rudeness. Caldwell jumped and frowned at her.
“Oh good heavens no,” Heyes responded with a chuckle, choosing not to mention his wife's fortune at this time. “No, my partner and I run a detective agency, Mr. Caldwell.”
Caldwell arched an eye brow. “Really? You're in law enforcement?”
“Ah, not exactly,” Heyes explained. “More security and investigation. We try to leave the gun play and arresting to the actual lawmen.”
Mildred's hand went to her bosom. “Oh dear. It still sounds awfully dangerous though. It must be very hard on your dear wife.”
“She hasn't complained yet,” Heyes assured her.
“Still,” Caldwell carried on with his original thought. “You work closely with law enforcement I take it?”
“Oh well yes,” Heyes agreed, wondering where this was going.
Suddenly Mr. Caldwell began to chuckle while Heyes and Mildred exchanged puzzled glances.
“Herbert, what are you going on about?” Mildred finally asked him.
“I can't help but think Mr. Heyes,” Caldwell explained through his chuckling. “that your unfortunate name must be no end of an embarrassment for you considering your particular line of work.”
“An embarrassment?” Heyes' brows creased.
“Yes!” Caldwell insisted. “There was that outlaw running rampant down in your neck of the woods for, I don't know how long! Years it was before the law finally caught him! Must have made life miserable for honest folks trying to make a living. Surely you've heard of him Mr. Heyes, considering he had the same name as you. Can't remember the scoundrel's fist name though—something totally outlandish....”
“His first name was Hannibal,” Mildred informed him. “I remember hearing about him from all the young ladies where I shop.”
“Oh yes! You're quite right my dear. Hannibal it was. What in the world were that rogue's parents thinking, sticking the lad with a name like that? No wonder he grew up so mean, eh? Ha ha ha!” At which point he actually reached over and gave Heyes a slap on the shoulder. “When you first told me your name I thought that perhaps you were related to that low class bank robber, but considering your line of work and the fact that you're obviously a gentleman, it's hardly likely now is it? Still, like I said it must cause you no end of embarrassment, eh?”
Heyes was still working on a response to these comments when Miranda saved him by returning to the table.
“That's better,” she stated with a contented sigh. “Have you had the chance to order wine yet?”
“No,” Heyes told her. “Our server hasn't been by. I thought I might order the salmon so with that, and your situation being what it is, we'll ask Carson to recommend a nice white.”
“Well that's fine for me,” Miranda stated. “but Hannibal, I know you enjoy a nice oaky red when you get....”
Her comment was interrupted by the woman sitting at the next table suddenly letting out a loud, high pitched squeak. Miranda's brow went up in consternation as the woman's gentleman companion sputtered and choked on his wine. Miranda sent a quizzical look to her husband. Heyes couldn't help it and broke out laughing.
After the initial awkwardness over the re-introduction, the two couples ended up getting along famously. A carafe of white arrived at the table for Miranda along with a carafe of red for her husband and before their meals of poached salmon put in an appearance, Mildred and Miranda were already chatting without restraint. It wasn't long before the Caldwells knew all about Miranda's past history, and the fact that she and her new husband were on their belated honeymoon. Miranda made no mention of her family way but Mildred was no slump in that department and smiled knowingly when Miranda only made reference to their adorable adopted daughter awaiting them at home.
Herbert and Hannibal sat back sipping their wine and letting their wives prattle on. That is until the meals arrived. Silence prevailed as diners throughout the room focused on their choices and only soft murmurings and the clinking of dishes could be heard.
The two couples tended to their own affairs during the meal, but as Mildred satisfied her appetite and again became interested in the activities of others she allowed a glance to land on Heyes' plate and she arched brow in his direction.
“You're having red wine with poached salmon?” she queried incredulously.
Heyes flashed a charming dimple. “Yes ma'am,” he admitted. “I suppose I never was one to stand on convention.”
The dimple grew into a full smile as Mildred tee heed into her lace handkerchief.
The rest of the evening only got better. Desserts along with coffee or brandy were distributed amongst the guests just in time for the play to begin. Sounds of chairs thumping against plushly carpeted floors took over as people re-arranged their seating to be able to comfortably view the stage. The lights dimmed and an anticipatory hush fell over the audience as the curtain lifted and the players made their entrance.
“Did you have a pleasant evening?” Hannibal asked his wife as they sat comfortably in the clarence on their way back to Silky's mansion.
The lamp inside the coach was lit to chase away the darkness of the late evening and Heyes couldn't help but admire the way the shadows danced across his wife's lovely face. Her eyes were tired but happy and the flickering light from the lamp sparkled playfully upon the emeralds that adorned her throat and hung from her ears. He sighed in contentment.
“Yes,” she told him. “It will be up there as one of the best evenings of my life. I might wish it could go on forever if I weren't so tired.”
Heyes tried to stifle a yawn.
“I'm unexpectedly tired as well,” he admitted. “Although I suspect the red wine and brandy have something to do with that.”
“Did you enjoy the play?”
Heyes chuckled and a hand came up to rub his throat.
“Yes!” he told her. “So much so, I think my throat is going to be sore for a week, I laughed so hard. You didn't tell me it was a comedy.”
“Some things are best left to be enjoyed as they're presented.”
Heyes nodded and a comfortable silence settled in for a few moments.
“It seems we made some new friends,” Miranda commented, breaking the silence. “They appeared quite amiable to keeping in touch.”
“Amiable?” Heyes snorted. “Down right pushy is more like it.”
“Ah yes, the life of being famous.” Heyes rolled his eyes and Miranda snickered. “Well, at least it's someone else we can now visit when we return to San Francisco. Everyone seems to want to meet the children. Even the ones who aren't born yet!”
“It would make things a lot easier if they would all just come over to Colorado.”
“I can't see Silky doing that,” Miranda mused. “A bit of a distance for him now, I expect.”
“I suppose. I'm sure we'll be back.” Heyes mused. “Perhaps with Jed and Beth and however many children we all might have by then. Silky would love that.”
Miranda snickered quietly then sighed with contentment.
“I've had such a nice time here I almost don't want to leave,” she admitted. “Except that I am so looking forward to seeing Santa Marta! At least we don't have to get up early for the train in the morning. I could really do with a lay in.”
“Again?” Heyes teased. “We had a lay in this morning. You're starting to get lazy.”
“I'm on vacation!” Randa pointed out, but then her expression softened and a hint of worry passed through her eyes. “I wonder though, if we should get in touch with home before we head south. I must admit to behaving like a mother hen and feeling some concern for Sally. She can feel quite insecure sometimes and this is the first time we have both been away from her.”
“I wouldn't worry about it,” Heyes assured her. “She loves being out with her grandparents, you know that. And she has Fanny and J.J. to keep her busy. She's probably having the time of her life.”
“Yes, I know. It's just....”
“Besides, Jed knows our route and so does Sheriff Jacobs,” Heyes continued, easing his wife's fears. “I'm sure if anything serious were to come up, they would get in touch. Just relax and enjoy our honeymoon.”
Miranda smiled and then did relax.
“Of course, you're right,” she agreed. “I'm just acting like an old mother hen. No more of that. I'm sure everything is just fine at home.”
|Subject: Re: San Francisco Chapter three || |
San Francisco Chapter three