Dan’s cell phone beeped while he was talking to Ramier. “Sorry, I need to take this. It’s Governor Haydenshire.”
“Guess I won’t be offended you’re dropping me for the Crown Governor. What do you want me to do with this video feed?”
“I have a feeling I’m about to get orders on exactly what we’re going to do with the Chancellor and his lover. If Wilshire and Terry Bryant get into it, call Portwood and get some extra hands out there.”
“Ugh, man, I do not want to think about Dean Wilshire fucking anyone much less someone who isn’t his wife. I'll go out there if Haydenshire and Ericsson can't handle it and you and I both know they can.”
“Agreed. I’ll call you back.”
“I’m still recording. Go talk to Governor Haydenshire. I'll keep the feed going until he ends it.”
“I’m already aware, sir,” Dan sighed as he switched the calls.
“You know, I still can’t get used to you’re not barking, ‘This is Vindico,’ whenever you answer the phone,” Governor Haydenshire admitted.
He sounded surprisingly at ease considering the late hour and what he had to have already heard about.
“You took my badge so I figured it was time for a new greeting.”
“I feel the need to remind you that you willingly gave it up at the time. If you’d like to try on the Crown Governor hat for a while, I’d be more than happy to share.”
“I’m guessing your day wasn’t any better than your night is going.”
“No,” the Governor stated thoughtfully. “My baby girl is asleep on my chest. My kids are healthy and happy, as far as I know. Patrick and Lucy just came by to tell us that they’re gonna make me a grandpa again. Lillian’s holding my hand, so, no, not a bad day at all.
Dan smiled. “Congratulations, sir.”
“When you have eleven of your own, I suppose having another grandbaby shouldn’t shock anyone, but it made my day.”
“I heard Levi proposed to Sarah Watson.” Dan recalled seeing the announcement in the Realm Times that afternoon.
“Yes, he did. Can’t say that announcement thrilled me but Levi’s got to make his own mistakes.”
Dan hated that he agreed. He and Levi had been friends when they were growing up. By his estimations, Levi deserved much better than Sarah Watson. She was beautiful. Dan had to give Levi that. But she was about as shallow as a teaspoon. In his wilder days, Dan would have said she was the kind of girl you fucked not the one you married. He cringed from his own thought.
“Dan, I need you to answer one question for me,” the Governor's voice dragged Dan back to the situation at hand.
“I cannot allow this kind of internet media attention to affect your father’s governorship. Terry Bryant has filed for separation. He wants full custody of their children along with half of Katherine’s paychecks and half of their savings. Katherine showed up here in tears a few hours ago begging me not to take her kids away. Now, Terry is over at the Wilshire’s taking their private pain and making it extremely public.”
“Yes, sir. I know.”
“Houses don’t burn down slowly, Daniel. Never, ever forget that.” Letting that potent piece of wisdom brand his mind and sear through his soul, Dan continued to listen. “We’ve got to temper things a little both for the Governing board and for the Bryant’s children. The Realm needs to see that we are doing something. I’ve set a temporary custody trial at eight tomorrow morning. I plan to order counseling for the entire family with the Auxiliary department, but before I take those children’s home away from them for something they had absolutely nothing to do with I need you to tell me if she and Dean did in fact have an affair. I need your word, Daniel, and I need it now. I’m trusting you implicitly.”
Shuddering from how an email from a colleague had twisted and spun and effectively ruined so many lives, Dan wondered if the debris could be resuscitated back into a recognizable life form.
“Truthfully, sir, all I know is they did have an emotional affair. As for a physical one, I’m not a hundred percent certain. I have no proof of anything like that. I’ve really only gotten as far as flirtatious emails.”
“One isn’t any better than the other. Don’t ever forget that either.”
“Fi and I started going through it the other night. I got sick of looking through it and haven’t gone back to it. I’ll figure it out tonight. I’ll have you your answer by morning, sir.”
“If you would rather I open this up to Iodex, Dan…”
“I’ve got it, sir. I’m up there at the school. This is my case. I’ll get you your answers.”
“Let me know in the morning. I want to spend a little more time with Abigail and then I want to spend some time with my wife tonight.”
“Give Fionna and Aida our love,” was the Governor’s parting line.
Dan extended his feet out on the coffee table as he switched on his laptop. Fionna handed him a beer and joined him with a large mug of tea.
“Fi, baby, why don’t you go on to bed? I’ll find what I need for Governor Haydenshire and then I’ll be up.”
“No. I want to help. Do you think they ever considered that this could all blow up in their faces? That the Governors could take her kids away from her? That he could lose the Academy over this?”
Dan kissed her forehead. “I don’t think either of them thought at all.”
“You’re right. It’s all about the very next moment. The next time they can see each other. It never occurred to them that anything bad could happen because they convinced themselves they weren’t hurting anyone. That’s probably the biggest lie of all when it comes to extramarital affairs,” she explained. “I can even feel the lies they tell themselves. They drown in the emotion of it so quickly.”
Deciding to start with the bad and then move to the gruesome, Dan pulled up Terry Bryant’s Facebook feed.
“Wow!” Fionna’s mouth hung open as Dan stared at his own computer in shock. Terry had posted screen shots of a home computer outlining the dates that Katherine had been out of town presumably with Chancellor Wilshire and what she’d missed in her children’s lives while she was away, ballet recitals along with pictures of their daughter flying in the air in toe shoes. Ball games, barbecues, their son being named ninth grade class Vice President at Langley High School.
The next post was of receipts from lingerie shops in the cities that Katherine had traveled to under the guise of attending yet another seminar or convention. There were three photographed together from one of Fionna’s favorite lingerie shops in D.C. Dan recognized the pink heart shaped hand written receipts.
Each ticket totaled well over a hundred dollars. The totals of each receipt were highlighted. There was another from the sex shop where Lindley was currently employed.
“I only saw one of these purchases. The day I came home from dropping Brad off at soccer practice and found my wife posed on the bed slamming her laptop shut. Guess I should have investigated a little further,” was Terry’s quote posted above the photographed receipts.
“Damn!” Fionna’s curse shocked Dan into a sick kind of laughter. “So, she bought all of that stuff for another man, and then kept the receipts so her husband would find them? That’s crazy. Look, those are dated over a year ago.” She pointed to one of pictures.
Tapping into his additional Predilect again, Dan shrugged. “Everything becomes a momento, I guess. It’s just like you said, baby, she was utterly consumed.”
“Her only thoughts became when she would get the next fix. Each and every single thing that reminded her of the Chancellor and their time together became some kind of treasured momento.”
“That’s it, Fi. Can you tap into the emotions here? Tell me everything you can.”
Nodding, she allowed herself to really focus on the situation. “She kept those momentos because in some way that meant he was hers and she was his. She couldn’t have a wedding band or a marriage license so she kept those as proof to herself that she had something important. In reality, she had nothing at all. Nothing but the tangled web of lies she kept telling herself, and her kids, and her husband.” Fionna shuddered from allowing the emotions to register.
“Deep breaths, Fi,” he soothed. “We can stop if you need to.”
She shook herself free. “Look at all of the comments on the post. Twere hundreds of comments, including outcries from Katherine’s students both in her defense and blasting her actions. Several male students urged Terry Bryant to post the videos from Mentor Bryant’s laptop.
The next posted photograph was of Katherine and Terry talking with the Chancellor and Ellen at the Venton Picnic at the beginning of the summer. “Hungry for a little more than fried chicken Chancellor?” was the sneering tag on the photo.
Dan shook his head as he enlarged the photograph. The Chancellor’s arm was around his wife but his ravenous eyes were undeniably locked on to Katherine Bryant’s cleavage.
“I have students more mature than that,” Dan quipped.
“Consumed,” Fionna reminded.
Dan continued to scroll down as she grew thoughtful. She closed her eyes tapping into the full power of her abilities once again. “Dan, this isn’t going to work,” she explained.
“What isn’t going to work?”
“If Governor Haydenshire wants you to tell him they most definitely had an emotional and a physical affair that isn’t going to be in their emails and it certainly isn’t going to be on Facebook. How many times have we emailed about the amazing sex we had? I don’t think I’ve ever emailed, Hey, baby, thanks for the amazing O’s last night. You rock my world.” She grabbed the cloned copy of the Chancellors phone. “Texts are far more intimate. You feel like it’s this sweet, special message between just the two of you. An email almost has too much business in its energy.”
Even knowing that phones were rarely truly secure and that there were records of all texts sent and received, Dan and Fionna did send rather overt lusty text messages throughout the day most every day.
She was absolutely right. Dan was approaching it all too logistically. It was a passionate crime.
“So, we switch to the cloned phone?”
“I think so.”
Dan refreshed Terry Bryant’s Facebook page to make certain there was nothing else he might’ve missed.
“Oh, my,” fell from Fionna’s mouth as she took in the newest update. On the screen in front of them was an uploaded video. Katherine was in the opening screenshot. She was dressed in a long silk negligee seated on her bed. Dan handed Fionna the laptop. He didn’t want to see any woman dressed that way besides his wife. “Just tell me what you think is going on here.”
“Best husband ever.” Fionna breathed a sigh of relief. A full minute later, she gasped.
“What?” Dan leapt.
“I know why he posted this one.” She cringed.
“The way she had her laptop positioned so they could Skype,” Fionna grimaced in horror. Dan willed patience. “You can see the laptop screen in the dresser mirror behind her. He enhanced the picture. I can see Chancellor Wilshire. It looks like he’s at his desk in his office at the Academy.” Disgust dripped like acid through her words. “Is this cheating? Is this an affair? Is this what Governor Haydenshire wants? I mean where is the line? Is a kiss too far? Touching someone? Making them orgasm? Where does the line begin and end? If he finishes, and she doesn’t, does that not count? To me anything above a handshake or a polite hug would have me ending you violently. You know like in a car explosion, or something.”
“You don’t have to threaten me, honey. I completely agree. I think it depends on the couples in question. But for Governor Haydenshire, I’m looking for either a full on sex tape or verbal acknowledgement from either of them that they had sex. I have to have proof.”
“Okay, I’m gonna watch the whole thing.”
“Fi, you don’t have to.”
“The entire school is watching this so here goes.”
Dan heard Mentor Bryant greet the Chancellor.
“Hey, angel,” he replied.
“Ugh, you pig,” Fionna sneered.
“Fi.” Dan sighed.
“Sorry.” She rewound the video and began it again. “Okay, I can tell you this, she’s very uncomfortable.” Fionna explained. “Well, she is cheating on her husband so she should be uncomfortable. That actually gives me a little faith maybe all of this can be salvaged.”
“I meant she’s very uncomfortable in the lingerie. She’s not used to wearing stuff like that.”
“This is more than I ever want to know about any other couple. God, I hate this.”
“Does that mean you’re going to take your father’s word on that blog picture of the lady in red and let it go?”