TCSC Ep 12 – Way Passed Mrs Kelly

How did I go from being kidnapped by my Mother-in-law on December 28, to falling from a plane New Year’s Eve? I’ll tell you, but it’s a blur to me too. I was so used to a eccentric, almost disconnected version of Isla Lindsay, that this sharper version made me feel disconnected.

“Mrs. Kelly, what’s going on?” I asked, remembering her pseudonym. She laughed, then sighed.

“Dear, I think we’re way passed Mrs. Kelly. Monty’s piecing things together, much to Sven and Brendan’s dismay. Now it’s up to me to step in and mop it all up.”

She offered to drive me to where I was staying. I agreed, and thought I’d ask a few questions, since she was in a talking mood. “What are the three of you all involved in? Why the big act? You can’t be trying to go unnoticed, the eccentric bit draws to much attention.”

She smiled. “Honey, there’s more than one way to keep a secret. The important thing is we’re all still alive to keep it. Although you almost couldn’t say that. Your investigation is much bigger than you know. Do me a favor, keep safe, Monty needs you.”

With that, she dropped me off. I spent the next few hours, gun in hand, my bedroom door locked, and trying to piece together this mess. After dozing off for a few hours, I got ready, and went to confront my client.

I called from the car. “I need to see you. I have some questions. Where can we meet?” When he said he was heading to the airport, I should have refused, I didn’t. Next week, I’ll tell you how a crash landing leads to my dropping into New Year’s.

TCSC Ep 11 – Bullets For An Appetizer

It’s a funny how your mind works in a crisis. I imagined a conversation with my supervisor. “How did you spend New Year’s Eve? You watched the ball drop you say? My spouse and I were pushed out of a plane over a canyon.” I told you I’d get back to that.

Monty and I, through his amazing surprise, we’re able to celebrate Christmas, but New Years was another story. He said goodbye December 26, and I went back to my undercover work. The next couple of days, I thought I had hit a breakthrough.

I had found something that would give me the leverage I needed to turn one of the minor players against one of his bosses. It turned out, it was a setup. Although I didn’t know it until we were to meet in a small restaurant outside of the city. It was an ambush.

Before I got to the door, I was hit on the head, muffled, and blindfolded . Then thrown into the passenger side of a car. It took off at a high rate of speed, and I heard shots, and felt swerving. I was angry, tired, and confused. When the blindfold came off, and I saw my captor, I was thoroughly surprised.

A lot of Mother-In-Laws have wanted to tie up their daughter-in-laws, mine had actually followed through with it. “Don’t look so surprised dear. It was either this, or let them serve you bullets for an appetizer.”

TCSC – Christmas At The Fairmont

The thoughts of spending Christmas with your husband hours away is very sad but, days had turned to months, and here I was. Two days before Christmas, trying to decide what to do on Christmas by myself. My family understood, I was on assignment, and we’d talk by phone.

Yes, I knew it was not the same, but there was nothing I could do. Monty had made it safely out of the last gunfight with his Stepdad, but I hadn’t heard from him since yesterday morning. All of the sad Christmas songs I refuse to sing were echoing through my mind.

Then there was a delivery and at the door. It was a small package, very light. On it was a label which read, “Do Open Before Christmas!” While the kid in me was arguing with the detective in me whether or not to open a strange package, I got a text from Monty.

“Open it all ready Lottie! An no I’m not there.” Puzzled, but curious, I opened it. Inside was a Christmas red envelope with a Christmas green stamp. A yellow post it on top broke the Christmas shading with a handwritten note from Monty. “Take to the Fairmont Olympic immediately!”

Two unanswered calls, and five unresponsive text attempts later, I gave up, and drove to the Fairmont. I presented the red and green Christmas package to the Concierge desk. Without opening, he smiled, asked me to follow him, and we went into a private elevator.

It opened to the most beautiful Christmas tree I ever remember seeing, with my Mother standing beside it. Dad was carrying gifts to the tree. All of my family, including siblings, were there. I hugged them all, knowing Monty had done all of this.

After a few greetings I asked Mom where he was. She smiled sadly. “He isn’t here dear. He sent us the tickets, and had your Dad arrange the invitation to you. He said to tell you no one knows any of us are here, and your cover is safe.”

It was bittersweet. He had made Christmas happen for me, but it wouldn’t be the same with him miles away. I had changed for dinner, he had clothes bought and everything, and we were setting down to eat. Dad was saying Grace, and I was praying for the one Christmas gift I knew I wasn’t getting.

A familiar voice from behind me echoed the Amen when Dad was done. “Sorry love, there was a delay at baggage claim. You didn’t think I’d miss Christmas did you?” I hugged him, holding on to him even when he sat down. I’d ask him about the bruises on his face later. I was just glad to have my stamp collector home for Christmas!

Merry Christmas from The Cinderella Stamp Collector And PruittWrites!

TCSC Ep 9 – Danger Is A Family Trait

“Half of my life is classified, and I don’t have enough clearance to know what it is.” Monty was joking through his frustrations, but he was upset. Apparently, most likely for safety, he has been kept in the dark about his life for almost the entirety of it so far.

He had a Stepfather that he didn’t know he had. He didn’t know how his crook of a relative , Brendan, figured in, if he was a crook that is. His line over, “We weren’t supposed to be important.”, kept rolling through our brains.

Now, he finds out just enough to create a thousand questions without answers. Sven had been at the prison when Monty got there. He wouldn’t let him talk to the man. Apparently he had a court order that changed everything.

The two of them argued. Monty wasn’t getting anywhere. Until Monty suddenly stopped, smiled, and asked to use the Warden’s office a minute. The man agreed, they both waited at the closed door to keep Monty from trying something. A half hour later they opened it, to make sure he was still there.

He was, and was just ending a call when they did. Monty had found a loophole. The order barred Monty from seeing the man, not talking to him. He had called the man’s lawyer back, and asked for him to conference in his client.

The man agreed, and Monty got his answers. He didn’t tell the Warden, but Sven insisted Monty leave with him instead of the Warden. An Monty shared this story with Sven as they were walking to the car. That was when the argument started, right before a vehicle ran them off the road.

Then the three men in the suv started shooting at them. Monty took out his weapons, yes he carries two when necessary, and is a sharp marksman. He’s almost as good as I am. What surprised him was the gun Sven took out.

It wasn’t the fact that he had a gun, but the kind it was. Once they had wounded the three men, they forced them to switch cars, Sven’s being no longer mobile. Monty held his weapons on both until they pulled away.

After this Monty asked Sven what government agency he worked for. Sven made some joke about no one that knew him believing he worked for the government. Monty’s reply let him know he wasn’t falling for it.

“Exactly what an agent would want people around him to think. What’s so important that you’ve kept secrets from me my entire life. Do I ever get to know why my family is crazy?”

Sven looked at him, smiled, and responded. “My boy, didn’t you know, all families are crazy. You’ll learn the truth one day, but I’m hoping able to put some distance between the parties involved before you do.”

That’s when another vehicle rammed into them head on. This one, Monty had to help Sven limp away from. The other driver took a little while to extract himself from his overturned vehicle. While they did, they looked for cover. It was during these events that Sven shared just enough to make Monty want to know more.

All of this he told me after at least two more gunfights. It was a long day for him, and would be a long night for me. I had just discovered something when Monty hung up the last time. If it was true, Monty wasn’t the only one in trouble, my employer was too, from me. Apparently danger is a family trait!

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…