“Well, um, congratulations!” Fionna remembered her manners before anyone else.
“Thanks,” Lindley replied.
Dan was shocked by her kind smile to his wife. It was so unlike Lindley.
When Mrs. Vindico’s coloring returned, she set the bag down and stabbed her fork into one of the steaks. “We are eating,” she demanded as she served everyone’s plates. Her recovery seemed to be accompanied by her unfailing ability to spin a situation to show off her family. “When would you two like to have the ceremony? Ryan, you are after all a Senate Elite Officer and we are a Governing family. I’ll book the Senate Chamber room or I could book the Fairmount again where we had Dan and Fionna’s reception.”
Dan shuddered to think what Lindley might have in mind for a wedding ceremony.
“I want to do it soon. I only have to work ‘til noon next Saturday Ry,” Lindley seemed to speak only to Tuttle.
“Yeah baby, I know, but I might not be able to get us reservations at that camp in Jamaica you want to have the ceremony,” Tuttle lamented.
“Camp in Jamaica?” Dan’s shield eased slightly. His Visium predilection spiked in his rhythms.
“Let me see when they have openings.” Tuttle pulled his cell phone from his pocket and began searching.
“You want to get married next weekend?” Kara looked baffled. “In Jamaica?”
Camp in Jamaica. It took Dan another minute before he’d figured out what Lindley must’ve wanted for her wedding. “You are not getting married at a hedonist resort.” His roar shook the panes in Fionna’s china cabinet.
“Aida, baby, why don’t you, and Olivia, and Oliver take your plates very carefully up to your room. You can have a picnic up there.” Fionna soothed while she gathered the kid’s food and guided them out of the dining room.
“I will get married whenever and wherever I want,” Lindley spat. “You and what’s-her-name got married in like two days or something and you were in Hawaii.” Dan ground his teeth. He’d made a fatal mistake. You never ever told Lindley Vindico she couldn’t do something.
“Lind, look at this.” Tuttle handed Lindley his phone. “They have a wedding package and then you can stay for your honeymoon. And they have an available vacation package for next weekend.”
“I like your package,” Lindley laughed. “Let’s do it.”
“You’ll get to see lots of my package here, baby.”
“So, you’re planning on having a location wedding?” Mrs. Vindico demanded not understanding what was actually being planned. It was at this point that Dan’s carefully orchestrated world, the one he’d fought so hard to create, began to fall apart rapidly. “Because I don’t mind telling you that Arthur and I were very upset that we didn’t get to see Daniel and Fionna wed. I want to be at Lindley’s wedding, and I want her father to give her away.”
“No worries, Mrs. V. They have like a whole guest package and everything that goes with the wedding. You can all come down for the weekend then Lind and I will stay for the rest of the next week,” Tuttle assured his future mother in law.
Fionna held her hand over her mouth as she returned to the table, a physical barrier for the laughter she was trying to contain. If news sites weren’t currently reporting on an affair his father appeared to have had four decades ago, Dan might have been able to find humor in this as well.
Visions of his mother, one of the most prude women on the face of the planet, at a hedonist wedding were both horrifying and hysterical. Shaking his head, Dan jerked Tuttle’s phone out of Lindley’s hand. His eyes goggled as he took in the photos on the resort’s webpage.
“They want to get married at something called, Elusive Pleasures, Mother. This is nothing like our ceremony and you’re not going to enjoy being there. Trust me on this.”
“I want to get married there,” Lindley begged. “That would be amazing. But it’s kind of expensive.”
“Oh, so you’re worried about the cost but not the fact that the entire fucking Realm would figure out that you got married at a place that hosts a blow job festival and has nightly dong kong games,” Dan sneered.
“Daniel, your language,” Mrs. Vindico admonished.
“Oh my God.”
“That can’t be true, Dan. Jamaica has laws. And we’ll be happy to help with the cost. You are my baby girl,” Governor Vindico stupidly offered.
“Un-fucking-believable, Dad. Yes, let’s charge a wedding at a hedonist camp to your credit card. The press will have a field day.”
“Since when did you give a damn what was in the press, son?”
“It’ll be fun. If I can talk Portwood into giving me the week off, will you all come down for the wedding?” Tuttle asked the table at large.
“No,” Dan commanded. “No. No. No, my wife, and my mother, and my little sisters will not go somewhere like that.”
“Oh come on it’ll be great. And I really want you to be my best man.”
“Well, I mean, I’ve always looked up to you, and I’m marrying your sister so it’s perfect.”
“Yes, he will,” Mrs. Vindico decreed.
“No, I won’t,” Dan shot back furiously. “This isn’t happening. No one is going to Jamaica. I have something I have to go do, but hear me loud and clear – this is not happening.”
Recalling the last time he’d bolted from a family meal, Dan managed a few deep breaths. “I am fine. I will be back. I am not just walking out,” he informed his wife.
“I know. Go tell Aida that Uncle Garrett needs you and kiss her goodnight. We’ll be fine.”
“I love you.” He drew her up into his arms and planted a kiss on her head. “She is not to do any dishes. She is to sit. I’ll clean up when I get home. Do not ask her for anything,” he laid down the law to his family.
“Son, where are you going?”
“Something I have to do, Dad.”
“Yes. Right now.”
“Daniel, have a seat. You are not leaving,” Mrs. Vindico ordered.
“Watch me.” Okay, maybe Lindley wasn’t the only Vindico child who should never be told not to do something.
“I have no idea why you are behaving this way, but we are all going to Lindley’s wedding and all of her siblings are going as well. Daniel will be Ryan’s best man. Kara can be your maid of honor and Meredith and Fionna can be bridesmaids. Zach and Tim can be groomsmen.”
“Mother, I just had a baby,” Kara shrieked.
“I have no idea what that has to do with anything. You’ll be gone one or two nights. Zach’s mother has been wanting to keep little Aidan. This will be a perfect opportunity.” Zach was shaking his head but hadn’t yet managed words.
“Fionna will never go to a place like that,” Dan shouted furiously.
“Actually, Mrs. Vindico, I don’t think I can travel. I’ve had some issues with the pregnancy lately.”
“Dan told Arthur that you all were going back to Kauai in a few weeks. If you can go there, you can go to Jamaica.”
“Marion, you cannot dictate that everyone go to the wedding,” the Governor eased.
“I can and I will. A location wedding could be a perfect distraction from everything.”
“What?” Governor Vindico’s brow furrowed. “What are you talking about?”
Dan and Fionna’s eyes met. His mother had seen the article. What exactly was she trying to cover up?
With a deep breath, Fionna turned to Mrs. Vindico, placed her hand on her arm, and offered her a kind smile. “Mrs. Vindico, a hedonist resort is a place where all kinds of sexual acts are celebrated. It might be vulgar. I’ve never been to one but I have friends who’ve gone. Open relationships are generally encouraged. I don’t think this will be the kind of thing you want the press to know about.”
“Which is precisely why you two can pick somewhere else to get married,” Dan ordered. “I won’t be back until late.”
“We’ll help Fionna get everything cleaned up,” Meredith volunteered.
After telling Aida good night, Dan straddled his Agusta. The humid air in the garage was scented with motor oil. He needed to get out of there. He had to figure this out before Lindley announced to the world that she was getting married at some kind of obscene sex festival.
Bringing his phone to his ear, he willed Jeff to answer quickly.
“Hey, Mentor Vindico. I saw that blog. I honestly feel bad for the Governing families. They always go after you. Making up crazy stuff. I don’t get it.”
“About that, I need a little help.”
“Don’t say that yet. I’m going to sneak into Iodex.”
“Uh… how exactly?”
“Garrett can get us in.”
“I can’t scan my badge, sir. I’m not supposed to be up there. I can’t risk my job.”
“I’d never ask you to do that, and I’d get you out of any trouble if we got into any, which we won’t.”
“Okay. What do you need me to do?”
“Have you gotten a chance to look at the facial recognition software we installed last year?”
“I’ve looked at it but only from afar. Ramier’s pretty protective of that machine.”
“Yeah, I know. Hence the reason I’m not talking to Ramier.”
“I could probably figure it out but it might take me a little while.”
“Think you can have it figured out by sunrise?”
“Will Becca be okay if you leave?”
“I’m sure she won’t mind. I’ll have to work some nights anyway. Hey what are you going to do about whoever’s on call tonight? Won’t there be someone up there?”
“I’m sure Portwood has several Non-Elite officers on patrol. I doubt anyone’s in the office on Sunday night. If they are, I’ll figure something out. Using my dad as an excuse works very well but I hate to do that under these circumstances.”
“I guess that’s the good part about being a Governor’s kid. Becca has gotten out of two speeding tickets because of Governor Sapman. Her brothers get away with murder because of it.”
“Yeah, well maybe there’s more truth in that article than I wanted to admit.”
“You mean maybe the Governing families get away with stuff they shouldn’t?”
“Something like that. And I haven’t forgotten what the Sap-asses did to you. I’m still going to train you in taking on multiple opponents.”
“I’m looking forward to that.”
“Meet me and Garrett at Wygo’s at ten.”
“I’m not twenty-one, sir. They won’t let me in.”
“Sorry. I forgot about that. Okay, I’ll think of something. I’ll text you.”
“It’s just after eight. I’ll hang here with Bec until you need me.”
Dan ended the car, opened the garage, and sped away. He let the wind burn away his acrimony. He’d figure out who the hell the woman is, prove his father’s innocence, and then go after Wilshire. This was just a minor setback.
Garrett already had a table in the back corner when Dan arrived at the bar. He pulled a baseball cap he kept in the storage pocket on his bike low over his eyes as he made his way back.
“Jeff can’t get in here. He’s too young,” Dan explained when Garrett gestured to the bottle of beer he’d taken the liberty of ordering for Dan. “And if we sit here and drink for the next two hours we’re not going to be able to figure anything out.”
“We’re not drinking for two hours. We’re blending in. Tell Jeff to meet us at the exit from the Metro on Rotary Rd. We’ll walk in from there. But keep it quiet. Pretty sure that chick at the bar eyeing you is actually a reporter.”
“They’re like baited sharks.”
“Always have been. Always will be.”
“You’re sure you can get us in?”
“Dude, I’m me. We’re us. Where the fuck did your confidence go?”
“Honestly, it’s been circling the drain since my wife got shot because of me.”
“Fi’s fine. Get over yourself. We got shit to do.”