TCSC EP 31 – Eyes Of Greed

I’ve seen greed take many forms, everything from the finest apparel, to the cheapest clothing. I had never seen it more embodied than when I saw Audley.  Had I not heard the story, I would have admired her dress, knowing it, I feared her eyes.

“Welcome to our little kingdom. William has been telling you his version of the story I suppose.  He sees it differently, but I am right. I have to protect him you see, and my children. They will need money, and your branch has so much more than mine.”

“So I thought I would shake a few branches. If I had wanted Sven dead, he would be. What I want, I get. I wanted his baby boy in my trap. Sven will pay anything to get you two back safely.  So we have rooms prepared for a prolonged stay.  It can be as pleasant, or as not, as you like.”

Monty’s Uncle Erik raised his voice. “Audley you cannot do this!”  She went over, kissed her husband, before speaking. 

“Dear, do you remember that letter I had you sign this morning. It’s a little gift from my friends in local government. You are now considered mentally unstable, and as a loving wife, it’s my duty to care for you. I can do anything I want. “

TCSC EP 30 – Enter The Villain

He looked like Monty’s Dad, only skinnier, and more weathered. I wasn’t sure, at first, whether it was the Caribbean climate, or the hard life he was describing.  After Monty explained Sven would never hurt family, we settled back for his Uncle’s tale.

I’ll never forget how a simple question could be  such chilling words. “Have you ever loved a dangerous woman? No, I can see that you haven’t. Understand ma’am, I mean no offense. I’m sure you are tough. You are capable of dealing with danger, but you yourself are not dangerous.”

“I fell in love with a woman who was, although I didn’t know it at the time.  Sven didn’t mention Audley did he?  He probably hasn’t given her a second thought, but she’s the real reason I left home.”

“Mother knew in time, but I had first to convince them I was a lazy, bum lacking any ambition.  It was the only way I could protect them, and keep Audley at the same time.  I had already married her when I knew, and I couldn’t leave her, but I also could not let her stay.”

Monty didn’t like it when men blamed their wives, and he interrupted.  “Are you blaming the attack on my family on your wife?  If you are, you’re proving my Dad’s point!”

“I assure you nephew, I’m doing the opposite.  It was at the party when Mother announced her fortune.  Audley and I had just been married. We were very happy, until Mother revealed how wealthy she was.  I saw a look in Audley’s eyes I had never seen before, and it terrified me.”

“I tried to tell myself I was wrong, but she continued to prove my point.  From that night out, every conversation was about the fortune.  Two days later, she asked who would inherit if something happened to Mom, would Sven and I split evenly?”

“I knew, if I didn’t get her away from Mom and Sven, I would lose all three, at Audley’s hand. So I concocted the convenient story of a man who didn’t want to try, asked Mom for a small percentage instead of a full inheritance, and brought Audley here.”

“In this town, with the money we had, I could make her a queen.  The businesses I’ve invested in have made me more.  She never wanted for anything, and I rarely saw the danger in her eyes.  That’s why I have to know.”

“Did Sven try and kill me, or is this all not enough for her any longer?” Before answering, Monty and I could see the grief in his eyes.  He already knew, but was hoping he was wrong.

Monty had just replied, when she walked into the room.  When I saw her, I could see what her husband had seen, all those years ago, and it was terrifying!  If my cousin Walter the scriptwriter was here, he’d caption it, “Enter the villain!”

TCSC EP 29 – Skip The Styling

I expected shooting, or being ran off the road.  It was worse. Two days of constantly being watched.  They made no secret about it, in fact they went out of their way to make it obvious. 

Monty does this smart Alec thing when people are stareing at us driving. He waves at them smiling with a silly grin. It’s embarrassing, and lovable at the same time.  I wish he had waved, but he didn’t. Instead he ordered a pizza, and headed outside.

He did this while I was in the shower, my husband knowing I wouldn’t have been comfortable with it.  He told me later, after my loud reaction, “… if they were going to kill us, they would have already.” Monty’s opening words to them were, “Cheese or pepperoni?”

“We could play the game. You beat me up, threaten me, I come back and beat you all up, but that’s messy. Instead can’t you just tell me who wants to scare us?”

That’s when the back seat window rolled down, and Monty’s Uncle stuck his head out of the car. “First you can tell me why my super spy brother is trying to kill me? I left him all the money like he wanted. Can’t he leave me to die in peace?”

Obviously this was a whole new wrinkle in the story.  It’s also when Monty excused himself rushed back, told me to throw my hair in a ponytail, and to join them in the car.  I don’t like wet hair, and Monty knows it.  All I knew at that point was, for him to ask me to skip the styling, it had to be bad.

TCSC EP 28 – Passport To Trouble

Four names on the list, each was associated with the death of Monty’s biological Grandfather. Number one of course was the Ambassador’s brother, number two and four were major players in the government, but number three was the fuse for the firefight we escaped from.

It was also the only international name on the list.  We had reason to think he was involved, we just didn’t know how deeply at first.  Now we did, you see, he was the only American on the list.  No one else could have organized an attack that quickly.

We were starting to piece together what had happened all those years ago.  Monty didn’t know everything, but we knew the initial person behind the murders, and now we knew the trigger man.  What we had to complete, was how Sven’s brother fits into it all.

Which is why we booked two tickets for a trip, only this time we were going to use them.  Monty and I were headed to the island where Sven’s brother disappeared to, hoping to locate the link between the two groups.

The plane ride was long, and uneventful. It was while they were stamping our passports that we first saw two pairs of eyes watching us. Any hopes I had for a little vacation ended at that moment.  There was going to be trouble, again! I did laugh though when my Cinderella Stamp Collector and I hired a driver, his name was Gus.

TCSC Ep 27 – An Explosive Response

The windows blasted open, glass went everywhere.  We would have been dead, had we been inside. That’s the beauty of a fake entry, if you live underneath it, and the first floor gets blown up, you’re as safe as the ground level’s roof, ours was titanium.

At least Sven said it was that strong. He had safe houses stashed everywhere it seemed. Monty told us this one was where his Mom had took them on vacation once.   

He had asked her why it was mostly underground, and she had explained to the eleven year old genius, “It’s safer during storms.” It was logical, so he accepted it. Now the type of storm she had really meant, was raining down on the top level.  

We used one of the tunnel exits to walk out two blocks down.  The news that night had some cover story about a small gas explosion.  We knew the truth.  I’m tempted here to use some cliche around the word Stamp, but instead I’ll tell you about our delivery to them.

It’s probably what caused such an explosive response, sorry, had to do it.  We sent a thumb drive containing old news reports about the death of a Chinese Ambassador, and a list of four names on it.  We suspect it was the third name that made them nervous, so much so they didn’t care how we knew, they just wanted us dead.

TCSC Ep 25 – Penny Black

Sir Rowland Hill, credited as the primary force behind the creation of the postage stamp, that was the name Monty left at the hotel. My husbands as a sense of humor, and history. 

What we were selling, no one knew, including us.  All we had said was that we had something of value, connected to the family of a certain deceased Chinese Diplomat. Since anything we sold was connected, because of family, we could sell a toothpick and it be the truth, or a postage stamp.

We weren’t interested in the sale, as much as the buyer.  Whoever contacted us, apparently also had a sense of humor.  When asked for a name, the person had left the name of Thomas Neale.

The first person, back when we were under British rule, appointed as a Postmaster in 1691.  The first part of the message was simple, an offer for a million three hundred thousand, but the second part was strange. 

“Tell your Dad I want my Penny Black!”  Monty immediately called Sven.  I thought this was weird, but it was going to get even stranger next week!

TCSC Ep 24 – Stamp Of Approval

We took a break from our struggles this weekend, to do something very special. Monty had it in his coat pocket when we slipped into the pew. We were near a little Church on the outskirts of town.

After the Easter service, which was wonderful, Monty handed the Pastor an envelope. He whispered quickly to him, and we left. Each of us couldn’t help smiling on the way to the car.

We read the story in the paper two days later. “Pastor sells rare Stamp, pays off Church mortgage.” When interviewed, they asked the Pastor how he had obtained it. His answer thrilled us.

“It was Easter. God reminded us through this, that He continuously watches over His people. From empty tombs, to unexpected blessings, God always opens a door. No matter the obstacle, He puts His stamp of approval on those who trust in Him!”

TCSC Ep 23 – Beautiful Trap

The next few days were blissfully uneventful. I called my real boss, told them I was in danger, dropping the case I had been hired for, and to fire our client. According to what I was told, it would happen, but I knew it wouldn’t.

I’ll explain why later, right then I didn’t care. I wasn’t a quitter, and the case would get wrapped up, but I couldn’t put the guy in prison while working for him. I had to be free to work against him. He had threatened my family, and thrown my husband and I out of a plane.

It was time to rearrange the pieces. Ironically it would take a stamp to do it, though not the kind I expected. Monty came in after the call, holding a piece of porcelain. He flipped it over, showed me the stamped underside of the piece, and began to smile. When it clicked, I did too.

This whole time, evil men were looking for their own version of Cinderella. Whether it was dominance, power, or a family treasure, they wanted something to slip their ugly foot in. We’d give them something to step into all right, a very beautiful trap.

TCSC Ep 22 – A Strange Combination

“It’s a horrible thing to find out your brother wants you dead, but that’s what it looks like. The hit originated in the same island Roger was last seen at. I’m not sure yet, but it points his way.” Sven looked heartbroken and tired.

Monty smiled. “Well, now we’re all out of secrets, what’s next?” His Mother laughed. “Montague we’ve both been spies for most of our lives, were far from out of secrets, or ideas. Here’s what we’re going to do.”

She spent the next half hour laying out the plan for the next few days. Then Sven, an excellent chef, cooked an early dinner and we all crashed for the rest of the night. Monty and I talked over all this late into the night.

Monty had a lot to process. I mostly listened. Finally he drifted off to sleep. He had his family back. In the middle of people trying to kill us, he was happier than I had ever seen him.  There was happiness, and there was danger, what a strange combination!

TCSC Ep 21 – Love, Not Money

Monty continued his explanation. “The man said the people who wanted us dead were no longer worried about the Chinese Diplomat’s influence, they wanted his treasure. That it was the real reason everyone wanted us dead. That’s why I was wondering about where our finances came from.”

Sven looked at his wife, then sighed. “I was hoping to keep you boys safe, but you have to know. There is no porcelain treasure, or ancient artifacts. What the Diplomat called an imperial collection, was the burden and responsibility he felt, for all those innocents hurt by people in his family. He came from a long line that had worked in the different forms of his government from ancient time.”

“He felt his responsibility was to rescue as many as he could, protect, and free everyone in danger that he could. He sold piece by piece, the family collection to pay for operations to move people to safer situations. Over time, he decided to use the names of the collection as code.”

“This way, if anyone outside of his team discovered any paperwork, they’d assume he was smuggling artifacts, and not people. Hiding his most precious treasure in plain sight, the lives he saved. Those lives are still in danger, and your Mother and I, along with some others, sort of inherited the job.”

“Our money doesn’t come from anywhere exciting, or dangerous. The fact is, your Grandmother, my Mom, was loaded. She made several bundles in the stock market, and those bundles continue to make more.”

“Mom worked as a secretary for twenty five years for a company. She believed in it, and invested in it early. Then she started using it to make more purchases.”

“At her retirement party, she bought the company. The only mistake she made, was telling my brother we were wealthy. He never worked another day, and wasted his life. I wanted you boys to have what you needed, but I wanted you to have initiative too.”

“My brother was a genius, we’ve got the IQ tests to prove it, but he stopped trying. Last I heard of him, he vanished after a week in a little island off the coast of the Caribbean. I loved you boys too much to let money ruin you.”

“That’s also why I was so cold and distant the last few years. There was a hit out on me, and I couldn’t risk being near you all. Telling you would have meant you wanted to protect me, and I couldn’t have that.”

“Brendan didn’t even know that part til now. I used other excuses to keep him away. They bombed a hotel I was supposed to have been in when you were 17. My plane was late, it’s the day I decided to play the heavy to keep you away.”

“I couldn’t risk your Mother, or you all. So I advised a plan to root out the money behind who was trying to kill me. I recently found the answer, and I didn’t like the news.”