Sound Of Silence
Author: Rose Hala

Chapter 22
Sound Of Silence by Rose Hala

CHAPTER: TWENTY - TWO

The man with the cufflinks paced. Mickey had screwed up their plans. What had processed him to go off half cocked this time? He had always played ball before. Mickey was their only scapegoat. Everything was there for him to take the fall. Some of the Federal agents were well known by The Ring but identifying the others had been tedious and they were complicating matters.

Mickey would be finding out real soon what he had to do. If need be, they’d lean on him. 

The merchandise had become available thanks to a turncoat military officer who’s palm was well-greased and the next job was already on deck. Anybody who performed internationally was always the best bet. They and their equipment traveled with relative ease. 

The stove in the plush, two bedroom apartment in Vegas blew on ignition but investigators were at a loss to determine who had turned on the stove. Eventually they determined it to be faulty wiring. As always, money spent by the organization for these inside jobs was always money well spent.

Preparations were in the works at the homestead for a dinner celebrating Annie and Maggie’s impending arrival. The barbeque was preheating while the steaks were marinating and potatoes and corn on the cob were wrapped in foil. Jiayi had found a ‘WELCOME HOME’ banner which she strung across patio after she and Diana had concocted a festive dessert. 

At the bleat of horns, Jiayi ran out to the car and into her Mother’s arms.  Her father, dressed in a suit and smiling the grin of a Cheshire cat, was right behind her. He had learned a valuable lesson the hard way: there was no certainty in life and every moment with loved ones was precious.

“Oh, Annie, you feel so good. I was afraid I had lost you. Madam, may I have the pleasure of escorting you to dinner?” Annie could only manage a teary smile as she took his proffered arm. Her heart was too full to speak.

Little by little, dressed in their finery, the group reassembled on the garden patio. Nearby was a large exterior tiled chess-board. The chess pieces were kept packed away in the storage shed as the area was used mainly for dancing.  

Bruce and Annie were tending the barbeque arms around each other.  

“Ladies. You all look beautiful.” Carl oozed charm as he extended his hand to Sue.  “May I have the pleasure of this dance?” Sue, rather taken by the Spaniard gorgeous in his suit, stepped into his arms.

 “Would you do me the honour.” Utah asked as he extended his hand to Angie.

“It would be a pleasure,” Angie responded and they joined the other couple on the makeshift dance floor. She could feel herself melt as he pulled her close.

Daniel was torn. He wanted to dance with Maggie and Jiayi. He loved them both. Maggie was the elder and, good old fashioned values learned from his father dictated he should ask Maggie first. But, he still had a lot to make up for with regards to his sister.

Maggie responded to his look with a smile and a nod in Jiayi’s direction. Daniel chuckled. That old woman could read him like a book.

He held out his hand to his sister and, without a word between them, they became the third couple on the floor. Jiayi was over being angry at her beloved big brother.

 “Maggie, have you seen Rachel?” Maggie took Sam’s face in her hands and kissed both his cheeks.

“I’m so proud of you, my boy. You fought for the honor of that young lady. She’s in the house trying to fix her poor face. Go to her.”

Samuel hugged the old women, kissed the top of her head, and hurried across the lawn

Rachel was frustrated. No matter what she did her face looked the same. While it didn’t hurt much anymore, it had become more discolored and the heavy foundation wasn’t doing anything to cover it. She washed everything off and started again, deciding on a bit of blush and more accent on her eyes.  

The beautiful peacock colored halter top bared her shoulders and slipped into a white mini skirt. At least she would look great from the neck down. Hopefully the outfit would outshine the bruise.

Samuel stopped short when he saw her.

“You’re beautiful.”  Sam’s first thought was to ravish her right then and there but there was no time for that. Besides, she had taken great care to look like this for him.

Rachel couldn’t help but smile at the look on his face. It was just what she needed.

She reached for his hand and put her lips softly to each bruised knuckle until Sam couldn’t stand it anymore and pulled her to him. 

The passion of their kiss left them shaking.

Something had just happened and they both felt it. They had crossed a line and were powerless to go back.

Samuel lowered himself to one knee and took Rachel’s hand.

“Rachel, mon amour, vous m’epouserez?”

Rachel smiled and her eyes welled with tears as she put her hands on his face.

“Yes. Oui. Oui!  At that moment, what command she had of French abandoned her and she resorted to English. “Oh, yes, Sam, I’ll marry you.”

“Let’s do it right away; here if it’s okay with Bruce and Annie. We’ll have a big party when we get back to France.”

He would give her the heirloom emerald with diamonds then. The ring had been crafted for his Great-Grand-Mother and it had been in his family ever since. In the meantime, they would buy a wedding band in Denver for the ceremony.

 

Maggie was the first to notice something different about them as they walked hand in hand to the patio. She was tickled, suspecting they might have some news but she stayed quiet as a huge grin played across her face. Samuel gave her a wink. Maggie’s eyes welled up with happiness for this lovely young couple.

Slowly everyone stopped and looked in their direction. Daniel, Carl and Utah looked at each other and grinned. They looked back at Samuel and gave him a collective thumbs up. Samuel knew they’d already guessed what had happened.

“My friends and my brothers, I am happy and proud to tell you that this beautiful lady has agreed to become my wife,” Samuel announced. When the cheering subsided, he continued. “We would like to be married here.”  He looked at Bruce and Annie who nodded immediately. “Then, at the first opportunity, we’ll have a big party in France and we would like you all to be there.”

Glasses were raised in a toast to the newly engaged couple and the party continued.

All the news of the day was enough reason for the festivities to last well into the night. It had been an early start and a long emotional day for everyone.  Angie, Sue, Janey and Cathy had taken turns at dancing with Daniel, Carl and Utah during the night. Mostly they danced slow, romantic waltzes. They were the best dances to have with such handsomely attired men like these. Although, Samuel danced with the ladies and Rachel took turns dancing with the men, they constantly made eye contact and smiled at each other across the room.

It was after midnight when Carl and Utah made their way to their cabin.

“So another brother falls, huh? Well, my friend, you’ve been with your sweetie three years. When is it going to be your turn?”

“Don’t even go there. Things are fine the way they are. Besides, how long did it take you to pop the Q? The number sixteen comes to mind. We’ve got a long time to go before we catch up with you two.” Carl laughed and slapped Utah on the back.

“You know the Spanish, Utah. We take our time. We don’t like to rush things.”  Utah joined Carl’s good natured laughter as they went inside.

There were lots for Jiayi and Diana to talk about before bed. They couldn’t sleep. Samuel and Rachel had asked them to be attendants on horseback, riding ahead of Rachel and dropping rose petals down the isle for the processional to walk on.  They were as excited about dressing the horses for the occasion as they were about what they would wear themselves.

Rachel had asked Bruce to give her away and he was both humbled and proud.

Samuel’s  “brothers” would be at his side.

Together they would sing “Ave Maria” during the procession and then three would sing “Amazing Grace” for the bridal couple’s first dance.

On the way back to their cabin, Rachel let go of Samuel’s hand and twirled. Rachel’s skirt aloft made him catch his breath and she heard it. 

“Monsieur, do you like?” Samuel pulled her close enough for her to feel how much.

“I guess you like it a lot,” she teased with her hips against him. Clearly she could hear the sound that came from deep in his throat.

“God, Rachel.”  He kissed her deeply, his tongue playing within the sweet cavern of her mouth.

They enticed each other by undressing slowly. In the midst of the dance, Rachel put her legs around his waist and joined with him. They were sated in the first round but their passion reignited as he carried her to the bedroom.

Mickey learned about the fire in his condo from pictures included in a note from his ‘lawyer’. ‘PLAY BALL…TAKE THE FALL,’ was all it said. 

“Jesus,” Mickey muttered to himself. “Does he always have to be so straight and to the point?”

He knew he would have to do the time. He’d have to plan his revenge from inside. Eventually they’d pay. They would all pay but that old woman with the damn frying pan would be the first.

Maggie and Annie were up before 6am, quietly planning the menu for the wedding over a coffee at the kitchen table. Tomorrow’s forecast was perfect so they decided on a chateaubriand turned on an outdoor rotisserie and grilled salmon for entrees. Bountiful fresh vegetables and a Caesar salad rounded out the list and they would prepare assorted sweet treats before the surprise of their special wedding cake.  

While Maggie checked their supplies to see what they needed to get from the supermarket, Annie thumbed through a picture book of decorated cakes for ideas.

“Maggie, we can do this, yes?”  Maggie peered over her shoulder and smiled.

 “Yes. We’ll alter the decorations a bit and it’ll be our secret.”

 

 

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