Joey was unhappy. He needed the money, but part of him felt wrong about the damage and vandalism. He’d gone to jail before and didn’t want to go back there. He didn’t like being low man on the totem pole. He waited in the mall in the bathroom, sitting on a seat with his feet pulled up. He listened as people left. He listened to the rent-a-cops holler to each other as they sealed off sections of the Mall. Finally, he left the bathroom and walked over to the janitor’s closet he’d seen earlier. The door wasn’t locked, which meant they were cleaning. He found a spare shirt, got a broom and put a few garbage bags in his back pocket. He’d spent the afternoon watching the janitors work.
After pulling his cap down low, he started sweeping the floor. He turned left and headed for that shop the boss had told him about, the Silver Lode. He swept, and moved closer. He emptied a few trash cans and left the full bags next to them to pick up on his way back. He looked up at the Silver Lode. No lights on. As he got closer, he looked around. Propping the broom up against the door, he tried to pick the lock. No luck. Looking around, he didn’t see any other way to damage the shop. No wires, no way to break the glass without notice. Finally, he pulled the small can of spray paint out of his pocket and graffiti the side of the shop and across the front windows. He pocketed the can and then grabbing his broom, headed back the way he came.
“Andrew and Vivien will be here for dinner in about fifteen minutes.”
“Okay. Will you open the wine?” Meg asked as she checked on the last bits of dinner. “Why so long?”
“Andrew had to change a tire. Someone slashed it.”
“Just an accident, or do you think it is related to our mystery computer sabotager?”
“I don’t know. Figured I’d ask them when they got here.” Luc finished opening the wine and kissed Meg on the nose.
She kissed him back and headed out to the dining room to make sure the twins hadn’t ‘unset’ the table.
Andrew took the cake from Vivien and then helped her out of the car. “Careful.”
“Andrew, I’m not made out of glass.” Vivien took the cake pan from him and headed for the door where Luc and the twins waited.
“Hi Vivien, Andrew.”
“Hello Luc, Eliot and Linsey,” Vivien said with a smile. She slid past the crowd and headed for the kitchen. Once she put the cake down, she gave Meg a hug.
“How’s everything going here?”
“Just fine. And you?” Meg asked.
Vivien smiled. “Doing okay. Is dinner ready? I’m staving.”
Meg laughed. “Yes, it is. French onion soup, garlic bread, salad and roast beast, as Eliot says.”
Andrew and Luc walked into the kitchen. Kisses and hugs were exchanged and then Meg shooed everyone out to the dining room. She brought out the bread and salads first. Luc helped with the soup and the meat. In less than five minutes, everyone was sitting down and eating. The twins sat at the end of the table in high booster chairs with Luc on one side and Meg on the other.
‘So, tell me about this computer repair spree,” said Andrew between bites.
“Well, it’s mainly older clients, those involved with the court case. Stupid things, that makes me think it is deliberate sabotage. Crushed wires, covers left open, that kind of thing. Oh, and a few missing parts.”
“Hmm… Who has a grudge against you Luc?” asked Vivien.
“I don’t know. We only noticed the pattern a few days ago. Meg and Ginny had noticed it, but hadn’t realized what they were seeing.”
“No notes? Phone calls? Dire threats in the news?”
“Not a damn thing Vivien. Only real clue we have is that one of the bas… um… bad guys wears Axe cologne.”
“Well, that doesn’t help. 90% of the male population under twenty-five wears that stuff.” Vivien took another bite of salad. “Andrew, do you want to tell them our news?”
Meg and Luc looked at the other couple. “Are you publishing another book? One of those fur rippling bodice rippers?” asked Luc.
“No,” Andrew said shaking his head. The smile on his face grew bigger and bigger.
“Well, tell us! Don’t keep us in suspense!” cried Meg.
Andrew and Vivien looked at each other and smiled. “Um… well… in about six months…” was as far as Vivien got.
“You’re pregnant?” Luc and Meg said at the same time.
Andrew smiled, and Vivien nodded. “It was the last thing I ever expected,” said Vivien. “I’d been feeling horrid. Couldn’t keep food down, I thought I had the flu. Finally, Andrew made me go see Jeff Hayes. Half way through the door to the exam room, he started laughing.”
“Laughing? Why?” asked Meg.
“Apparently Dr. Jeff could ‘smell’ that I was pregnant. The idea of Andrew being a dad gave him a erious fit of the giggles.”
“Yeah. Said I’d have to share my frisbees,” Andrew said softly. That made everyone at the table laugh, and the twins just looked at the adults.
“Have you told your sister?” asked Luc.
“No. You two are the first to know. I’ll be writing Rose an email tonight.”
“You only just found out?” asked Meg.
“Yes.” Vivien smiled. “Not sure about all of this, but I figured you’d have a clue or two.”
Meg looked at the twins. “I think so. Oh, Ginny is going to be so conflicted!”
“Why?” Vivien was puzzled. She knew that Ginny and Andrew had been lovers briefly, but wasn’t sure where Meg was going.
“She’ll want to laugh at Andrew and want to take you shopping all at the same time. She may not be able to have kids, but it doesn’t stop her from being the world’s greatest aunty.”
After carrot cake and coffee, Luc and Andrew cleaned up the kitchen while Vivien and Meg put the twins to bed. It gave them a chance to talk without the women nearby.
“So, how serious do you think this threat is?
“I’m not sure Andrew. Right now it is centered on the business. However, we need to keep an eye on your shop and the B&B as well.”
“I see. Is David aware of this?”
“Yes. We had a bit of a run in with a stupid deputy at the school, just before it opened.”
“Oh?” Andrew paused in loading the dishwasher.
“Yeah…” Luc spent ten minutes explaining how he’d hoisted the deputy up by his throat. Then he explained about the other cop nearly losing his head.
“You know, working for the school district has really brought out the protective side of your nature.”
“Yeah… My school. My kids. All of them.”
Joey got back to the janitor’s closet without being noticed. He dumped the trash and on the way back, stumbled upon a huge electrical panel. Opening it up, he realized it had a lot of that Cat 5 stuff his boss was always talking about. He found the list with all the shop names and with is pliers, damaged the wires he thought went to the Silver Lode. Then he closed up the panel and finished putting stuff back. Ten minutes later, he was out the back door and heading for his car. When he got in, he stripped off his gloves and threw them in the trash bag on the floor.