TCSC Ep 8 – Not So Wicked Stepfather

They would certainly be watching any vehicle that drove into the prison that day. So I was worried about what would happen after Monty left visiting the prison infirmary. My clever stamp collector had a plan for this.

“It’s the one car they won’t suspect. I’ll ride in with him, and he can drop me off when he leaves for a prescheduled luncheon engagement he made. They’ll know I’m coming, but they won’t see me. What’s safer than being with the warden?”

I felt better, but would have preferred for myself and my gun to have been with him. Instead I was bored to tears looking for a thief who stole by a way of forty page contracts. It was necessary, but slow paced work. It was like cleaning a bathroom, it was horrible, but it had to be done.

That’s why I took the call I guess, boredom. It was Sven. “Hello, not much time. What have you let that husband of yours get into? He’s got to stop, it’s endangering his Mother, Brendan, himself, and you for that matter. I’m doing everything I can, but warn him. If he doesn’t stop, I’ll do what I don’t want to do to keep this family alive, most of them!”

He didn’t hear my anger, having hung up as soon as he was through. I often wondered how much my Cinderella Stamp Collector had in common with the stamp’s name sake. What a family! Of course he loved them. Then thought of my siblings and our holidays. Every family is crazy, but I wouldn’t spend a day without them in my life.

The more pressing question was this. Do I share Sven’s threat? Monty wouldn’t stop, I wouldn’t want him too. The only thing it would do is cause him to worry about me. The debate didn’t last long though Monty called while I was arguing with myself.

“Hello Lottie, I’m here with Sven. He has something to say to you.” The next voice had a very different tone than before. “I’m sorry I worried you Charlotte. What I said didn’t mean what it sounded like. I just needed you to think it did.”

Monty came back on the phone. “I’ve figured out a few things old girl. Sven is not a bad guy, as wicked Stepfathers go. He just wants everyone to think he is. By the way, it wasn’t for effect that I said that. Sven married my Mother about twenty years ago. We owe them an anniversary present, turns out it’s next week.”

“Monty what’s that I hear in the background?” I hoped I had been wrong, but I wasn’t. I knew by his sigh. “Sorry Honey, got to go. Getting shot at again, love you!”

TCSC Ep 7 – The Almost Victim

I heard from him every few days, while I was getting started into my own investigations. One for my job, and the other about all of this. Both cases were void of any signs of a solution it seemed.

Monty was having better luck, but his kind of good fortune can get you killed. He did find out two important things in the midst of staying a few steps ahead of danger. First, the name of the man who sold the stamp, and the date of that person’s death.

We had three victims, and I was praying Monty wouldn’t be number four. Why so much fuss over a stamp very few collectors wanted up to two years ago? Monty said one name kept surfacing, and he was still alive!

So Monty was trying to get into see him, but a federal prison frowns on strangers visiting inmates. Imagine his surprise a few days later when he got a call from the man’s lawyer. He had barely survived an attack in prison, and wanted to see Monty.

Apparently he had heard of my husband, which terrified me. If he knew, there was a good chance the murderer knew Monty wanted a meeting. I wasn’t happy about him visiting the almost victim, and eventually whoever masterminded all of this.

TCSC Ep 6 – Nosebleeds

We were at the hotel about an hour when we saw the news that proved Montague was right. Kurt was dead, and the primary suspect was the other corpse. We knew better, but his fingerprints had been all over the murder weapon.

He had literally been knifed in the back from a trophy weapon in his office. The news also reported the other man was dead, apparently a heart attack. Again, not true, but we don’t know what Brendan had rigged up.

It seemed the trail was cold, and I didn’t know what to do. Montague did, but I didn’t like it. “It’s time for you to go back to work my darling. Before you say no, I don’t know what we’re facing, who, or why. My brother factors in, but I don’t know how.”

“You’ll be safe enough in a new city, pretending to do one job, while doing another. Which cover is it, the HR manager, or the IT System Administrator? Also, what city?”

“This time, it’s Security Advisor, and I’m using my own name. It’s in Seattle. The owner of the consulting company knows me, so we have to be more careful.”

Montague shook his head. “That worries me. What was stolen this time? Some new computer software?”

“Actually no, patents. Someone in their legal department pulled a fast one, and sold forty two patents out from under us, to a holding company, through a loophole. It was too ingenious for one paralegal to have pulled it off. We need to know more.”

Montague packed his clothes, kissed me, and sent a text. “I can’t tell you where I’m going Love, it’ll make you safer. Before you say no, remember, I’m good at hiding in plain sight. I’ll be around.”

I knew there was no point in arguing, so I booked a flight to Seattle. It was the hardest thing I could do. He wouldn’t have me there to protect him.

The text I got, once off the flight, didn’t make me feel much better. “Safe now, only shot at once, a bit bruised up, but over all I’m good.” Monty liked to downplay things.

That meant, there had been bleeding, possibly a broken bone, he was hurt. People give me a pitiful look when they hear my husband is a stamp expert. They picture a boring, unimaginative person who gets nosebleeds.

They’re wrong of course, on two counts. Monty is neither boring, or unimaginative, but he does get nosebleeds. Sadly, they’re usually from the fists of 280 pound, angry bad buys.

TCSC Ep 5 – Hiring The Hated Man

“I’d like to think they will fall in love. That we helped them find each other.” I said to my, now unrecognizable, husband. “Perhaps. But they were both so shy, I don’t know. What I do know is that we’ve got an hour to find Kurt before we have to disappear all over again.”

He said this as we got in the car he had just bought for two thousand of the ten. We couldn’t rent a car if we were supposed to be on that plane. About ten minutes into the drive he started telling me his plan.

“Kurt could buy and sell the Caribbean islands, he doesn’t have to kill for a stamp. Especially for that stamp, it is not even unique. Also, why send the victim to me?”

“According to our brief conversation, he was doing Kurt a favor. Why not hire me himself? He had to know the man would die. He has to be behind the poison. Unless… Lotty, change of plans. See that hotel, we’re staying there tonight.”

“Monty, what are you thinking? Are you saying Kurt isn’t the murderer now?” He nodded, while he turned the car.

“Oh, he was definitely behind the murder. Except, my mistake was thinking that Kurt was the brain behind the killing. I missed the fact that he was merely the muscle. An unless I’ve guessed wrong, he was also the next to die. I suspect he’s dead now.”

“Why do you think he’s dead? What piece fell into place? What did you remember?”

“It was the handwriting. It was different than the victim’s. He told me the envelope was directly from Kurt. I remembered the address. It was shaky, as if written by a nervous or scared man.”

“When did you see the victim’s handwriting to know the difference? I thought you had never met him before? Or were you wrong about that?”

“Oh no, I wasn’t wrong about that. It was my first opportunity to meet the man, but I’ve seen his handiwork. I read a letter from him once, and didn’t care for it’s contents. In it, he said he wished I were dead. That’s why the case intrigued me. You have to be desperate, to hire a man you hate.”

TCSC Ep 4 – Two Tickets To San Francisco

“We weren’t supposed to be important.” Brendan muttered under his breath as he looked at the body. Montague hadn’t expected his accountant, and one of his mystery relatives, to stop by with a dead man on the floor.

I showed up a few minutes later, while Brendan was examining the body. I didn’t bother to ask why he was here, he wouldn’t have said anyway. What he did say was this. “Look Montague, Charlotte, you’ve dealt with a lot, but I’ve had more experience dealing with dead bodies. Take a walk, I’ll deal with this.”

Montague refused, but Brendan persisted. “Look Monty, I know we’ve had differences, but I need you to trust me. So does Mom and Sven. I can’t explain, but you’ve got to get out of here. Take this and go.”

We were stunned, and we did exactly what he had said. I got over this in about twenty minutes, Montague was still looking strange an hour later. He hadn’t spoken since, and his first words were a question. “What’s in the envelope?”

I hadn’t thought to open it until he asked. “Two tickets to San Francisco, and ten thousand dollars. Monty, what’s going on? Why did we listen to him?”

“Because other than you, only one person ever called me Monty, and he hasn’t for fifteen years, until today. We were close growing up, but when he turned seventeen, things began to change. I never really knew why. Today he looked at me like he did when we were kids.”

Montague is a romantic realist, but not a strict sentimentalist. There was more to his statement than memories. “What are you thinking Monty?”

“I’m trying to decide which was the act, today, or the last fifteen years? Also, why was the dead body so important? Finally, how did Brendan get there so fast?”

“Well excuse me for asking, but what about the dead guy? Have any questions about him? The answer to that question could matter.” I get sarcastic when I’m confused.

Montague shook his head. “I knew the answer to those questions before you and Brendan each showed up. He was killed for a Stamp. It was poison, administered through the skin.”

“Most likely, the agent was the sponge he used to wet the Stamp with. I even know who the murderer was. There’s only two questions about him I don’t yet know yet Lotty. Why this Stamp, and why did Kurt send him to me if he wanted him dead?”

“So where are we going? An who’s Kurt? How does he fit in with Brendan?”

“He’s a billionaire, which makes me wonder why he killed a millionaire? We are going to the airport, but not to get on a plane. As for Brendan, I’ve got a theory, but we may have to wait on that. More pressing right now is how we find two strangers to go to California.”

The Cinderella Stamp Collector- Ep 3 You Have Not Met Mother

You would think that Montague’s Mom would shed some light on the strange predicament her son was in.  However, you have not met Mother.  Isla Lindsay is herself lovable, eccentric is being kind, and totally closed lip about family.

Only Montague is allowed to call her Mother, and then only at Christmas.  Every other time he must refer to her as Mrs Kelly.  He stopped asking why, it does no good.  She’s changed it three times over the years.

Now that you’ve met her, you’ll understand the story I’m about to relate.  It started four weeks ago, and would eventually return us to the side of the cliff you came in on.  Montague had been hired to locate a stamp again, it was another day at the office. Until his client did in his arms, and it was anything but natural.

See you next week for the next episode…

The Cinderella Stamp Collector Episode 2 – Deadly Fortune

A Cinderella stamp is almost anything that looks like a postage stamp, but wasn’t issued for postal purposes by a government. A lot are common, but some are rare, and those are very rare. Like Montague they have a strange history, and they’re worth a lot of money.

I didn’t know it when I married him, but he’s loaded. You’re probably thinking I’m loaded now too, but not really. Oh, on paper we’re close to Bill Gates money, the reality is a little different.

We do pretty good, but the considerable fortune that’s in Montague’s name is untouchable. Any money that Montague earns, can’t be spent. Instead it’s controlled by a man named Brendan Ross.

You know how they say family is complicated, well for Montague that’s an understatement. Most people don’t like their accountant, but very few have ever been threatened by their money manager.

Montague had. The man who kept him from killing him was Sven Lindsay, a mystery man. He’s the genius who put Montague’s financial future in a madman’s hands.

Brendan can touch a portion of his money, but only a small percentage.  Montague is the trustee on Brendan’s trust fund.  He has to sign off on any purchase more 250,000 dollars.

Sven is the one with the money originally.  They don’t know how, or where he got it. According to everyone from the CIA to Interpol, Sven doesn’t exist.  Montague doesn’t know if he’s a rogue, or an agent, or how deadly his fortune actually may be.

Sven also happens to be related to each of them, though neither knows how. Montague or Brendan only know three things about the man. He’s family, he’s powerful, and he’s determined they both stay alive and out of prison.

The other thing they found out, is that neither can kill the other without consequences. If Brendan ever touches Montague again directly, he loses everything. Montague isn’t a murderer, but he’s also not a criminal, Brendan is.

Montague has all the evidence in the world to have Brendan convicted, there’s just one catch. If he turns him in, a contract will be put on Brendan’s head within the hour. To keep the man who despises him alive, he can’t have him arrested.

I told you it was crazy, but I was there when the man told them both this. To show how serious he was, he gave them the name of the hit man he had placed on retainer.

Sven walked out of the mansion that night, and they’ve not seen him since. They get a postcard every birthday, with the same phrase above his signature. Families fight to stay alive and together.

The Cinderella Stamp Collector – Montague Lindsay

“Why?” “Because my dear, it’s too dangerous to stand back and do nothing.” We were talking about a stamp. Montague Lindsay is a stamp collector, but saying that is like comparing chicken and beef. He is much more than a stamp collector.

Montague is an expert, a brilliant young gentleman in his thirties. A child prodigy in stamp collecting, as well as almost anything else he’s attempted. His first heroic effort involved the rescue of a Mauritius Post Office Stamp from the owner’s cousin.

The cousin in question attempted to separate Montague from his arms at the shoulders, thankfully unsuccessfully. Since then, Montague has become an “active” consultant. If a stamp needs located, protected, or strategically brokered, they called Montague.

Which is why we found ourselves hurdling towards the ground without any parachute this afternoon. At the moment of my opening question, he was cleaning his glasses. I was looking for anything to keep from dying.

The difficulty with Montague is that you don’t always know what he’s thinking. Such was the case at that moment. Instead of cleaning his glasses, as I assumed, he broke them in half, wrapping his handkerchief around the metal hook he was forming.

“Things aren’t always what they seem old girl.” He said as he grabbed me and shot this hook towards a nearby cliff. A wire line kept us connected to the hook as we hung from the side. It took us two hours to climb up.

Upon feeling the ground underneath my feet, my first act was to hit Montague squarely in the face. It was a theatrical punch and not a real one. To his credit he took it, then explained.

“I couldn’t tell you my plan. They questioned you, he would have figured it out. He’s almost as smart as my mother’s son.” Montague’s mom only had one child, him. “Why involve me at all?”

At that point he reminded me of what I had momentarily forgot. “I didn’t, you held me at knife point remember?” An action I would seriously dissuade in the future. Especially if it was a gift from the person you are pointing the knife at to begin with.

I’ll explain that in a minute, I should introduce myself first. As you may have guessed, I am Mrs. Montague Lindsay, Charlotte, he calls me Lottie for short. As for the knife point part of it, I was undercover at the time, and it was the only way to save both our lives.

When I began dating Montague, I thought that a stamp collector would be a nice change of pace, considering my career choice. I am a professional security specialist, a fancy title for a company detective.

When we met, I was pretending to be someone else, to recover a half million dollars in stolen funds. Montague had inserted himself in the middle of one of my operations. He did so to save my life, although he never attempted to give me a heads up.

My prey was playing me. The spy had discovered who I was, and was setting me up for a dangerous accident. By inserting himself into the situation, he was able to upset the dynamic, a Montague tactic.

One that he would continue to use, and one that always surprises me. Including disarming me of said knife, and sending it spinning towards a stranger a few feet away. The man ducked, which kept the bullet from his gun from hitting my temples.

The man with what most people would call the most mundane profession, was the most exciting person I’ve ever known. Montague Lindsay, the Cinderella Stamp Collector.