Dr. Kendall asked, “Is there a nearby BMW dealer where we can send our car to be repaired?”
Captain Wade answered, “About 45-minutes away, in Anderson, SC.”
“Ma’am,” Jacob said, “we have an excellent mechanic here in Vickery. He’s what we call a ‘car shark.’”
Captain Wade agreed, “Rufus repairs anything with wheels. I’ll have him pick up your BMW and take it to his shop.”
Dr. Kendall answered, “I don’t want the car damaged further.”
“You can trust Rufus,” Jason said.
“All right,” Dr. Kendall agreed. “Theodora and I need a ride to a local motel.”
Jacob motioned Captain Wade to be silent and turned to Jason. “Here’s your opportunity to redeem yourself with Miz Lizbeth.”
Jason took the blatant hint. “Dr. Kendall, we’d be honored to have you and your daughter stay with us at the Big House for as long as necessary or for as long as you like.”
“Dr. Kendal,” Captain Wade said, “the Andrews family will see to your well-being. You shouldn’t stay in a motel unprotected.”
Teddy asked, “What’s the Big House, a prison?”
“No,” Captain Wade laughed, “most everyone around here calls the Andrews’ home, ‘The Big House,’ because of its size.”
Jason said, “Dr. Kendall, Theodora. We’ll put you in one of the wings to the house. You’ll have as much privacy as you wish, although we’d like for you to share meals with us.”
“Let’s do it, Mom,” Teddy said. “We’ve been rescued with a promise of safety.”
Dr. Kendall took a big breath, “Thank you, Jason and Jacob. We’d rather stay with you and your family instead of being alone in a motel.”
Captain Wade said, “Good decision. “I’ll call Rufus and wait here until he comes for your car.”
Jacob stepped near the captain and spoke in a low voice, “Ain’t no reason for Rufus to hurry with the repairs. You feel me?”
Jason said, “OK, we have a plan. Dr. Kendall, if you’ll give me your keys, we’ll get your luggage transferred to our truck and be on our way.”
“We don’t have much luggage,” Dr. Kendall replied, “but please be sure to get my black bag.”
“And my laptop,” Teddy added.
* * * * * *
“Wow!” Theodora exclaimed when Jacob drove the F-150 into the circular driveway at the front of the Andrew’s residence. “It really is a big house.”
“No place like home,” Jason said.
Jackson Williams, a tall stately black man came out the front door of the house and walked to the truck. He inclined his head to Jason in the passenger’s seat before walking to the driver’s side. Jackson opened the rear door of the truck behind Jacob and helped Dr. Kendal step to the ground. “Welcome, Dr. Kendall,” Jackson said. “We received Jason’s call that you and your daughter were coming. I’m Jackson Williams. We’re happy to have the two of you with us.”
Jason opened the rear door behind him and Teddy bounded out of the truck. Jason escorted the two women to the front steps while Jacob and Jackson retrieved the luggage. Miz Lizbeth pushed through the screened front door with her wheelchair. “Ladies, I’m Elizabeth Andrews. I hope my two sons have treated you respectfully.”
Teddy said, “Mr. Jason and Mr. Jacob are our heroes.”
Miz Lizbeth smiled. “They do have their moments.” She motioned the group to come onto the wide porch. Jackson stood by the luggage and looked inquiringly at Miz Lizbeth. “Please put the bags in the north wing, Jackson.” She looked at Jason. “I’m assuming these two ladies will be our welcomed houseguests for awhile?”
“Yes, for as long as they need to stay,” Jason said. “Dr. Kendall and her daughter, Theodora, will be under our protection.”
“Certainly,” Miz Lizbeth said. “Dr. Kendall, Theodora, we’re pleased to have you with us as our valued guests.” She smiled. “Do you want to sleep in the same room or do you prefer separate bedrooms. We can accommodate either in the north wing.”
Teddy spoke before her mother. “Together tonight but probably separate bedrooms afterwards, please.”
“Make it so, Jackson.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Jackson moved the luggage inside the front door.
Miz Lizbeth said, “Dr. Kendall, Theodora. Perhaps, at cocktail hour, you can tell us about your adventures with my sons. I suspect you might first wish to rest and clean up. I understand you’ve had a hard day.”
A tall and strikingly beautiful woman with a milk chocolate skin came through the front door. The last stages of pregnancy did not detract from her regal bearing. She kissed Jacob on his check. “Welcome home, husband.”
Teddy’s eyes widened. “You’re Shanna Graves and Mr. Jacob was a player and coach with the Oakland Raiders, that’s why he looks familiar to me!”
“Well, child,” Shanna said, “You’ve tagged us.”
Dr. Kendall looked at her daughter. “Mom,” Teddy said, “Shanna’s a super model. Everyone’s been wondering why she dropped out of sight.”
“How do you know about this lady and Mr. Jacob?” Dr. Kendall asked.
“Because I read Entertainment Today and People magazines.”
Shanna said, “I’m here in the wilds of northeast Georgia in order to avoid publicity over this birth. I’d like to have the boy child in a quiet and peaceful place whenever he finally decides to make his appearance.”
“When’s your due date?” Dr. Kendall asked.
“Two weeks ago.”
“Your first birth?”
“Yes. I saw Jackson taking your luggage and a small black bag to the north wing. Are you a physician?”
“I am,” Dr. Kendall replied. “I work, or at least I worked until yesterday, in the ER at Grady—Grady Memorial Hospital—in Atlanta.”
“Enough chit-chat for now,” Miz Lizbeth said, “our guests must rest.” She smiled at Theodora. “Theodora . . .”
“Teddy,” the girl inserted.”
“Teddy, it is. I know how you young people like to keep in touch with one another on social media; even so, please don’t let anyone know that Shanna stays with us. We can’t allow a gaggle of paparazzi or even legitimate reporters access to the property.”
“Theodora,” Dr. Kendall asked, “you understand the importance of Mrs. Andrews’ request?”
Dr. Kendall said, “Mrs. Andrews, as I’m sure your sons will inform you, Theodora and I have no wish to alert anyone about our presence here. Thank you for your hospitality.”
Miz Lizbeth smiled. “Let’s not be formal. Most everyone calls me ‘Miz Lizbeth.’”
“Thank, you, Miz Lizbeth. I’d like for you to call me Pam or Pamela.”
Teddy said, “I won’t tell anyone we’re here, Miz Lizbeth, but do you have an infranet here at the Big House? I’d like to keep up with what’s happening back in the world.”
“We do,” Miz Lizbeth affirmed. “You’ll see ‘Andrews Poultry Industries’ when you turn on your laptop. The access code is: LizJasJac1960.”
“I get the name abbreviations but why the 1960?”
“That’s the year my husband, Marshall, and I formed Andrews Poultry Industries.”
Jackson came back to the porch. “If our guests are ready, I’ll take them to their rooms.”
“By all means,” Miz Lizbeth said. “Pam, Teddy. Cocktails will be available in about an hour. Someone will knock on your door.”
Teddy brightened. “Adult libations?”
“I imagine Miz Lizbeth will have soft drinks for you,” Pam said.
“We’ll offer Teddy a variety of non-alcoholic choices,” Miz Lizbeth affirmed.
Jackson escorted Pam and Teddy to the north wing.
Miz Lizbeth spoke to Jason and Jacob, “Unless you two are exhausted from your heroic deeds, I’d appreciate your telling Shanna, Jackson, and me the backstory.”
“A pre-happy hour drink of Jameson’s would help,” Jason said.
Jacob shook his head. “I’ll have a real man’s drink, Wild Turkey.”
Miz Lizbeth motioned to Jason. “Wheel me into the den. I’ll need a belt of something stronger than Chardonnay while we assess the implications of what you two have done. In addition, Jason, I want at least a summary of the deal you closed in Moscow with the ‘Evil Empire.’”
“In view of my precarious condition,” Shanna laughed, “ice water for me.”
Sunday, Early Evening
Miz Lizbeth greeted Pamela and Teddy when they came into to the den an hour later. “I hope you’ve had a good rest. Please sit with us. Jackson will prepare whatever libation you wish.”
“A single malt Scotch for me,” Teddy said, “on ice.”
Pam shook her head and looked to Jackson. “Don’t waste a single malt on her. Please give her something like Dewar’s diluted with a lot of water and ice.”
“Mom,” Teddy protested.
“Theodora, in view of what we’ve suffered today, I am willing to prescribe a weak Dewar’s for you, nothing stronger.”
Teddy grinned. “Mr. Jackson, I’ll start with Mom’s prescription.”
Jackson asked, “Dr. Kendall, what may I fix for you?”
“A dry Martini, please, if you have the ingredients.”
“Gin or vodka?”
“Gin,” Pam said, “with only a few drops of vermouth.”
“I have Noilly Pratt extra dry vermouth and Beefeater’s gin. Up or on ice, Ma’am?”
Pam sank into an easy chair next to Jason. “Dry, up, and very cold.”
Miz Lizbeth held up her own Martini glass for Jackson to refill. “Teddy, please sit beside me.” Teddy complied and sat in a large overstuffed chair next to Miz Lizbeth’s wheelchair.
Once everyone had drinks, Miz Lizbeth said, “Let’s review the bidding from this afternoon. From what I’ve been told, Pam and Teddy, my sons prevented two hoodlums from abducting you, from taking you back to Atlanta.”
Pam sighed. “They primarily wanted Teddy.”
“Giovanni and Alberto,” Teddy spoke before her mother could intervene, “had orders to return me to my perverted stepfather.”
“The two men work for Frank Gordon,” Pam said, “my second husband’s primary, maybe his only, client.”
“He’s a mobster in Atlanta, probably Mafioso,” Teddy said.
Miz Lizbeth held a finger to her lips to indicate Teddy should be quiet for the time being. “Pam, I take it that Teddy is your daughter from a previous marriage?”
“She is. Her father, Theodore Nelson, was killed in Iraq.” Pam looked quickly at Jason. “He was a captain in the Army, he led a Special Forces team.”
“You subsequently remarried?” Miz Lizbeth asked.
“I did, to L. Thompson Kendall.”
“Teddy’s last name is “Nelson?”
“Yes, despite Thompson’s objections.”
Teddy started to speak but Miz Lizbeth once again held her finger to her lips. “You’ve been happy in this marriage?”
Pam took a deep breath. “Problems surfaced in recent years.”
“Related to the sexual abuse Teddy claims?”
Teddy spoke forcibly, “Not claimed, real.”
Pam said, looking at Teddy and then away, “I only found about the abuse night before last.”
Mother Lizbeth said, “Jason, Jacob, Jackson—perhaps, you’d best check on the fence lines and progress with our dinner while we ladies talk.”
Teddy stopped her foot. “Miz Lizbeth, it is what it is. I don’t mind telling all of you what happened. My Mom doesn’t even know the whole story.”
“The floor is yours, Teddy,” Miz Lizbeth said, “to whatever extent you wish to share.”
“My stepfather started sexually abusing me when I turned twelve, right after I began menstruating. He said he would kill Mom and me, if I protested or told her what was happening.”
“How old are you?” Miz Lizbeth asked.
“Fifteen, almost sixteen. The abuse took place in my bedroom on nights when Mom was working. I have no doubt he would have had us killed, if I had revealed what he was doing.”
“Had you killed?”
“He probably doesn’t have the balls to do it himself. He’d have contracted with Giovanni and Alberto to kill us.”
Miz Lizbeth asked Pam, “You were unaware of what was happening?”
“Thompson and I experienced problems with our sex life as our marriage progressed, but I had no idea about the abuse.”
“When did you find out?”
“Night before last. I had difficulty sleeping. Thompson was not in our bed. I went looking for him.” Pam shuddered. “I found him masturbating in his study while he looked at his laptop—at a video recording he had made of him and Teddy having sex.”
“You confronted him?” Miz Lizbeth asked.
“I did. He said I should go back to bed or he would have me killed while he kept Teddy for himself.”
“You believed him?”
“No doubt in my mind,” Pam said.
Miz Lizbeth kept her face impassive. “You left the next day?”
“I called Grady Hospital, told them I needed a leave of absence for personal reasons. I took Teddy out of computer day camp and we headed north, until Giovanni and Alberto ran us off the road.”
“Where were you going?”
“To Durham, NC. I went to medical school at Duke, and still have friends there. I thought they might give us shelter until we figured out our next move.”
Miz Lizbeth said, “Pam, Teddy. You may stay with us for as long as you want. I concur with what Jason declared earlier: You are under our protection.”
“Thank you, Miz Lizbeth. Nevertheless, you need to know that my husband associates with some dangerous men, like Giovanni and Alberto.”
Teddy laughed, “They didn’t look too dangerous this afternoon when Mr. Jason, Mr. Jacob, and Captain Wade dealt with them.”
“Frank Gordon, has many more men at his disposal,” Pam said.
Miz Lizbeth asked Pam, “Did you know about your husband’s association with this Frank Gordon?”
“Before we married, Thompson told me he was a criminal defense attorney. As time went on, I learned about Frank’s reputation as a mobster from newspaper and TV stories. Thompson, on many occasions, kept Frank and several of his associates, including Giovanni and Alberto, out of jail. Thompson’s a great lawyer, and he’s well-paid.”
“This association didn’t concern you?”
“Thompson explained that all persons, even reputed mobsters, were entitled to adequate legal representation. I accepted the concept.”
Jacob asked, “How did Giovanni and Alberto come into the picture with you, Teddy?”
“They often took me to school,” Teddy answered, “and brought me home when Mom was busy at the hospital. If I wanted to go to the mall, they would take me, stay with me.”
“Were you able to see your friends,” Miz Lizbeth asked, “without Giovanni and Alberto?”
“The two guys were always in the background. Mostly, my friends came to our house.”
Jason asked, “Pam, you told us you saw a video recording of the abuse?”
“The pervert,” Teddy interrupted, “has a safe full of those recordings. He almost always recorded us having sex.” Pam looked startled. “That’s right, Mom, he must have recorded us at least fifty or sixty times.”
Pam sank back in her chair. “My God in heaven! I had no idea.”
“We haven’t had much time to talk, you know.”
“Where does Thompson keep the discs?” Jason asked.
“In the safe in his study, where Mom caught him.” Teddy took a deep breath. “Sometimes after we had sex, he wanted me to give him hand jobs while he watched what we had just done.”
Mother Lizbeth asked, “Teddy, are you sure you don’t need a break?”
“In a few minutes, Miz Lizbeth. I want to tell you all something more.”
“There’s more?” Pam asked.
“Yes. Once I quit struggling to fight off Thompson, I figured out how to use my body to help him orgasm. He sometimes had a lot of trouble with that. I couldn’t take the chance he’d get frustrated, and kill Mom and me.”
“How absolutely brave and awful at the same time,” Shanna spoke for the first time.
Teddy flushed. “You know that old red neck saying . . .”
Jason asked, “which one?”
“‘If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it.’” Teddy grabbed the arms of her chair so hard her knuckles whitened. “That’s what I did. I learned to orgasm myself and, when I did, it drove Thompson even more insane.” She relaxed. “I liked driving him crazy during sex even more than I enjoyed my own orgasms.”
No one spoke for several seconds until Miz Lizbeth broke the silence. “Birth control? Did Thompson provide you with birth control?”
Teddy looked to her mother. “He had a physician prescribe the pill for me.”
“Who, for God’s sake?” Pam asked.
“I don’t know the name. Thompson simply brought me a new supply of pills every month.”
Jackson came to the door of the den and caught Miz Lizbeth’s eye. She said, “Dinner is ready but I have one more thing to add to this conversation: Teddy, you are a brave and resourceful young lady who has been thrust into a terrible situation. I’m sure Pam will arrange for appropriate therapy for you . . . and for herself.”
Teddy smiled weakly before her face darkened. “The best therapy would be for someone to shoot the bastard in his testicles.” She looked hard at Jason. “I intended to kill him myself but Mom prevented that.”
“What?” Pam shouted.
“I was going to shoot him while we having sex and claim he raped me. I’m still underage. What’s the worst that could have happened? I’d go to a juvenile facility until I became eighteen, even if I were convicted.”
“My God in heaven!” Pam shook her head in disbelief.
“I had the combination to the gun safe. One of my computer geek friends was going to help me hack into Thompson’s wall safe so I could copy the discs.”
Jason asked, “The safe has an electronic lock?”
“It does. Why?”
“Simply a point of information, trying to get the whole picture.”
Jacob asked, “What kind of pistol would you have used?”
“A nine-millimeter Baby Glock. That’s what Thompson taught me to shoot.”
“Don’t say it, Jacob,” Jason said, grinning.
“What? It’s a perfect pistol for . . . a young lady,” Jacob replied.
Mother Lizbeth spoke to her sons, “Enough already, you two.”
Teddy shrugged her shoulders. “That’s all I have to say today, except—thanks to all of you.” She swept her hands across the room.
“Jackson,” Miz Lizbeth said, “unless Pam strenuously objects, please pour this brave young lady a generous portion of the twenty-five-year old Glenmorangie single malt. She deserves it, as well as our respect and admiration.”
“Mom?” Teddy asked.
Pam laughed. “Of course. Don’t expect to make a habit of it.”
“Shall I refresh everyone’s drinks?” Jackson asked. “You all look like you’ve been put through a wringer.”
“We have,” Miz Lizbeth agreed. “I think all of us deserve refills. And, please tell the ladies in the kitchen to keep dinner warm for a little while longer.” After Jackson left, Miz Lizbeth took over the conversation. “Pamela, Theodora, this unfortunate business cannot be over until the legal system becomes involved or the situation is resolved through other means. I remind you about what I said earlier: The two of you are under our protection for as long as necessary.” She held up a hand to forestall any comment. “I will not have this family’s friends, new or old, threatened. Our family lawyer will be in her Vickery office tomorrow. We must confer with her.”
Pam said, “Thompson knows how to work the legal system and, as I said, he’s a great lawyer.”
“We have our own fearless barracuda,” Miz Lizbeth answered, “who has helped this family on many occasions. I have complete confidence in her.”
“Thank, you, “Pam said.
Jackson came back into the room. “Miz Lizbeth, time to eat.”
“So it is. Please lead our guests and Shanna into the dinning room and get them seated. My sons and I will be there directly. Shanna, please act as hostess until I get there.”
Jackson followed his instructions. Miz Lizbeth spoke to her sons. “We’ll have a nice dinner and you two will be on your best behavior. After dinner, you must set up some security. Get Jackson to recommend a few of our most reliable men to take turns guarding the road coming into the property. Make sure they have cell phones.”
“You want them armed?” Jason asked.
“For damn sure,” Miz Lizbeth said. “We will be dealing with monsters. Our men should exercise restraint and call the Big House first when someone unknown comes onto the property. But, if fired upon, they should fire back.” She propelled the wheelchair to face the hallway leading to the dinning room. “One of you wheel me to the table. I’m starving.”