A Dish Best Served Cold Ch. 06


"After he finished screwing her butt, he moved to her mouth and made her suck his dick while the other guys helped themselves to her cunt 'n' ass. Evr'y Friday morning until the guy paid off his bet, that's what he told her.

"Tell Maxie that. She's a first class bitch, but I do care about her and don't want to see it happen to her. 'N' they won't care about any baby; prob'ly jus' fuck her harder.

"Unless Caruso tells them sooner, 'n' I don' think he will 'cuz he's in the same effin' boat, I got two weeks to get the money to cover our losses." He lifted himself from the chair.

"Oh, shit. I need a drink; you...no, home first. Did Maxie move out on me today?" Lee nodded. "Figgered she would. Tell her, in spite of everything, I really do wish her well."

He made it to the door, stopped and turned. "One more thing. I quit. I have two weeks vacation coming. Consider that my notice. I'd like to say it's been a pleasure working with you, but that would be a lie. Good night and good-bye."

"Don, let me call you a cab, or have someone drive you home."

"I don't want anything from you now except your absence in my life," Don replied, pulling himself into a drunk's imitation of sobriety.

"Then let me have Ashley or Mrs Bridges make the call." Don considered this briefly. "Or I'll have to call the cops," Lee added. Don looked at him out of the corner of his eye, and nodded.

Lee hit his intercom and gave Ashley the instruction. "Give me your keys, Don. I'll give them back to you when you're in the cab."

Don patted his pockets, looking for the keys. "Musta lef' 'em in the car," he slurred.

The inter com buzzed. Ashley told him the cab was on the way. Lee asked her to have one of the men on the cleaning crew help Don out to the front entrance and stay with him until the cab came.

A few minutes later, a large black teen appeared. "Let me know when he's gone. He drove a 2011 cherry red Caddy here. The keys may still be in the ignition. Check, and bring them to me, would you?"

The youngster nodded and helped Don to his feet. "Come with me, sir."

Before Don was out the door, Ashley and Pete both entered Lee's office, closely followed by Mrs Bridges and Thelma. Lee looked up, startled at the invasion. He glanced at his intercom and smiled. He was going to have to do something about that.

The four of them started talking as soon as they were inside the office--all starting with the same question, "What are you going to do?"

"I don't kn..." He was interrupted by his cell phone ringing. It was Max.

"Hi, sweetie. I'm at Dad's; Rosa drove me over, so you have to come get me, and bring Pete. Dad offered to cook dinner for all of us, and explain..."

"Good. We'll be there. We have to drop Don's car off on the way...he came back drunk as a skunk; I'll tell you about it later. As soon as Don's cab comes, we'll be on our way. See you in a bit."

Ian Carruthers sat back in his chair after finishing his dinner wine. His children, their two friends and his mother-in-law/lover sat around the table, waiting for him to speak. His "I guess I owe you guys an explanation," was met with soft laughs and nods.

"It all started out in Indiana, near the farm Edie and I just visited. Your mother, Carole, and I were living in a farmhouse we were renting from a man married to a not-too-distant cousin. Nels also owned the building where I had started the business. We had met him at one of the holiday family gatherings we told you about.

I came home early one afternoon and found him all over Carole. She was successful in fending him off, but her shirt was open and she was getting tired when I showed up. I grabbed him by the belt and back of the neck and threw him off the porch, telling him to get out and stay out.

"He tried to say he had rights as the landlord, and I told him unless the house was in danger of burning down he had no rights at all, and if I caught him even lookin' at Carole again, he wouldn't have to worry about landlords' rights because he'd be dead.

"After watching him drive away, I went back in to take care of your ma. She was checking on you guys. She told me he had come in when she was upstairs and grabbed her when she came down; he told her he'd wanted her ever since he saw her at the gathering, and decided that was the day.

"That night, we figured later, your ma got pregnant, but, unbeknown to us, the eggs got stuck in her tubes. Everything seemed fine for a couple of months, then she started spotting and complaining of pain down there. Then, about three months after I threw that SOB off the porch, I came home and found her collapsed on the floor, in a pool of blood. I called the ambulance, but it was too late. She'd been pregnant with twins; something about them invading the uterus and its blood supply; I don't know...

"I was totally...she had been my whole life, the reason for everything I ever did. Don't get me wrong, I loved you guys, but you were hers...Anyway, I went to hell, stopped working, defaulted on contracts, became a recluse. If Edie hadn't come to take care of you kids, I don't know what woulda happened.

"On top of everything, Nels doubled the rents on the house and the shop. He made a mistake, though; actually a couple. I'd insisted on 120 days notice if there was an increase of more than twenty-five percent in the rent. He only gave me thirty. When he dropped off the new lease, he reminded me that if anything was permanently affixed to the building, I had to leave it.

"I went to court to enjoin the increase in rent, and immediately began to dismantle the shop. Nels had come in one day when we were pouring new footings for some of the machinery, laying out threaded inserts to bolt them to the floor. He must have thought we were going to embed the machines in the concrete.

"Well, we left everything that was nailed to the walls. Everything else we broke up and left in a pile in the middle of the floor, after we made sure it wasn't useable.

"After all of that, I shipped the machinery back here. Friends of the family had taken over the farm, leaving the house and barns empty...problem was, after six months of broken contracts and Nels' report, my credit wasn't worth a pile of cat shit. I set up the machines I could and started taking subcontracts to just keep body and soul together. Meantime, I was all over the Lake Country and Niagara Frontier trying to borrow money to get set up decently.

"Then one day, in early Spring, Marco showed up. He offered to finance the shop, without interest. I must have looked puzzled as hell; I can still hear those goddam words, "From time to time, I might need a favor from you."

"His companies built the shop. Within five years, I had to rewire all the electrical, replace the heating and A/C, and replace the roof. If I hadn't insisted the flooring and walls be done right...I shudder to think what it woulda been like.

"About a year after the shop was done, he asked his first favor. He said he needed me to broker a purchase for him. He'd order some parts from me, to be purchased from another company he'd specify, which would deliver it to his business site. I just had to handle the money. He said I could add two percent to the bill for my handling fee, for making the phone call and typing up the bill.

I figured, "What the hell; why not?" At first, it was once or twice a month, then once or twice a week. Just before he came to me to hire Don, it was daily. That day, I had the feelin' I shoulda said no.

"He said he had a nephew, just out of college, who needed an entry level job, maybe something in sales, where he could learn how to act properly with people. A job where he could oversee Marco's dealings with Carruthers. He even offered to increase our fee to cover Don's salary.

"A few years went by and I didn't hear from him. Don worked out, sort of. He handled Marco's orders, and I was able to use him with more experienced salesmen to move specialty orders.

"Then one day, I got a call from payroll, with a question about Don's commission. I told them he wasn't on commission. They told me he thought he was, and had included all the orders from Marco's company, at that time, running about 125K a week. Our top guys got a five percent commission; that's what he wanted, over six grand a week.

"I called him in and explained that Marco's business wasn't part of our commission structure, and if he had any questions about it, he should talk to his uncle. The next week, I got a call from Marco. Don was to be promoted to Sales Manager. He would earn commission on Marco's business, and our fee was increased to cover his salary, overhead, and our other associated expenses.

"I gotta give the kid credit, though. He became a good employee. He worked with his salesmen, showed them some things to make them better. Worked up a sales brochure presenting the shop as a modern facility, capable of turning out precision work on any scale. Came up with the addition to the retirement plan.

"Just before Maxie came on, we changed our structure, creating the VP positions. He applied just like everyone else. When Marco called to 'recommend' him, I told him Don was already at the top of the short list. He sounded surprised.

"Somehow, getting the VP spoiled him; he really became a bastard. He started looking like a gangster, and sounding like one. I can't count the number of times I had to reprimand him for his language in front of customers and the women in the office.

"About that time, when Don got the VP, I heard from Marco, he wouldn't be using us as a vendor any more. No explanation. I said that was fine by me, and told him I thought I had repaid his favors a few times over. All he said was maybe. That's when I asked Virginia to keep an eye on Don. I didn't realize she still did. I'm gonna have to find a way to reward her."

"So you knew about the money laundering? Christ, Dad, why didn't you say something when we told you what we were planning, before the wedding?"

"Like I said, I thought it had stopped. In all this time that Virginia's been watching him, she never said anything."

"She never said she suspected any thing?"

"Suspected? Yeah, she said she was sure he was doing something funny; she told me about the accounts, but said it didn't look like any money from the business was involved. That's all I cared about, at the time...and I felt I owed Marco," he finished, barely loud enough to be heard.

Lee blew his breath out, expressing his exasperation. Before he could speak, Pete asked, "Are you going to tell them about what Don said when he came back?"

The other four looked at him expectantly, and listened without interruption until he reached the point in his narration when Don said he wished Max well. That elicited a snort from Max.

"Actually, Max, I think he was sincere. He could have gone straight to Marco and told him what you had done. He would have had to take some lumps, but I have a hunch he thinks if he can replace the money, he'll be able to shield you from his gang boss.

"The big question is, what do we do now?"

At the end of two hours of discussion, they came up with three steps to take. First, Lee and Max were going to move back in with Ian, keeping up the lease on his present house.

Second, they needed to get Don back on board to handle the launderette, while they tried to find legitimate money he could use to cover the stock losses.

Third, wait to hear from Marco, which they were sure they would do. Either Don or the banker would let something slip, they were sure.

After warning each other to be careful, the two younger couples left to go to their respective homes. After locking the front door, Lee drew Max into his arms. "God, I'm glad you're here. I worried about you, there, with him. I was afraid he might get...aggressive, I guess is the word."

Max smiled, knowing what lay behind his words. "I love you, too. Now that you have me permanently in your bed, are you ready to give up all those other women you've been messing around with?" she asked, slipping her arms around his waist, pulling him into her just barely visible baby bump.

Lee smiled at the contact, content with the fact of approaching parenthood. "What women? I don't remember any other women."

"And he's smart, too," she said, kissing him. "C'mon, lets get to bed. Starting tomorrow, we have to back away from the brink of bankruptcy."

As she crawled into bed with him, Lee admired his sister's body. "I'm glad I'm a guy, but I have to admit, women's bodies are a lot nicer than men's."

"Oh, I don't know ab..."

"Sure they are. You've got three nice toys to play with, while we only got the one."

Max laughed loudly. "Does that mean I'm a toy box?"

"Mmhm," he said pulling her close, in the spooning position, sliding his hands between her thighs, cupping her mons, "This is my very own personal toy box." He bent to kiss her on the side of the neck. "Have I told you today how much I love you?"

"Mmm; once or twice, but you can show me again."

"Something you want?" he asked, with a grin, thinking he knew.

"Mmhmm," she purred. "I want to go to sleep with you in me." She reached between them and stroked his burgeoning member. When it had reached its limit, she rolled back on to her side and pulled her upper knee to her chest, opening her quim to her brother.

He maneuvered himself into position and slipped his staff between her waiting lips. When he was fully seated in her, she brought her leg back down and trapped him in her quim. He squirmed around on the bed, positioning them for the maximum contact. Finally convinced he wasn't going to be able to get any closer, he reached up to gently clasp her breast and asked, "You okay?"

"Mmhm," came the sleepy reply. An instant later, it seemed, the alarm went off. Lee was happily surprised to find himself still caught in Max's web.

In his struggles to get up on his knees, he freed himself, but then re-entered her and began to slowly move in and out. When she stirred, he looked up at her face, to discover a loving smile. "Mmm, what a lovely way to wake up and begin the day," she purred.

After showering and dressing, the twins drove to Don's house, where Max left Lee, reminding him of the spare key in the flower box. He needed it when there was no answer to the doorbell or the phone. Don was still asleep on the couch, where he had collapsed when he arrived home.

A cold washcloth was all it took. Hungover and groggy, Don didn't remember the day before with anything approaching clarity. It wasn't until Lee began recounting the events involving him that Don was able to recollect any of it.

"Oh, shit! Why didn't you just let me drive home and go off the bridge. Marco's gonna kill me."

"Maybe; probably, if you don't help us."

"Help you? Why the fuck should I do that? If it wasn't for you and that c..." He saw Lee's face begin to cloud up; "wife of mine, I wouldn't be in this fuckin' mess.

"Where the fuck is she anyway. I'm surprised she didn't answer the door...oh, yeah; she moved out. She with you? Good luck; I thought she was as naive and pure as the driven snow. Turned out, she was a slut of the first water."

He hung his head, staring at the floor for a long moment, then raised it to look at his visitor. "Shit! What kind of help do you need from me?"

"Until he learns about the raid on your slush fund, we need someone to manage the money laundering at Carruthers. In exchange, we'll try to help you find some legitimate money to cover the loss you'll probably be faced with when the current load is returned."

Don squinted up at him. "Why're you trying to help me?"

"First, I think you really care about Max and wouldn't want her to get hurt. Second, Max filed for divorce this week. We'd like it to be easy. Third, Ian thinks he saw something in you before you got so heavily into the gangs. He said before you became a VP, you were a good boss."

Don turned to look down at the floor, then raised his head. "What's your plan?" Lee shrugged his shoulders. Don laughed. "Go make some coffee while I get dressed. Christ! I smell like a brewery. Where the fuck did I go?"

"Can't say. You got back to the plant about four, too drunk to be let out by yourself, so we sent you home in a cab. Wherever it was, it was between the plant and wherever you went after you got that phone call."

"The...oh; yeah. I remember having a couple there, and leavin', then..." He shook his head. "Nothing until I got back to the plant." He turned to look at Lee. "Didn't I quit? I seem to remember..." Lee nodded. "'N' you still want me to help. You're either a pollyanna or the world's biggest sucker." He turned to get his shower. "Coffee; lots of it."

Max, Lee, Pete, Don, Rosa and Ashley sat around the conference table in the meeting room at Carruthers Machine Tool. Pete had reviewed what the team had learned, and Ashley had just revealed they had discovered four accounts in addition to the slush fund Max had raided. Don sat there, dumbstruck, feeling like he was naked on stage, in front of a hostile audience.

With a nervous grin, he asked, "You guys didn't discover my mother's favorite color underpants, by any chance, did you?"

Without batting an eyelash, Max replied, "Pink."

At the same time, Rosa piped up, "Green."

Ashley, "Blue."

The three men sat there, looking puzzled and shocked. An instant later, the six of them were laughing. "Shit, and I thought I had been so smart and careful, it would have taken you years to find all this, and you did it in under three months. Either you're very good, or I'm just a dumb fuck," Don said, complimenting them in his own way.

He looked at Max. "The boss here said you filed for divorce..."

She nodded and slid a large manilla envelope across the table to him. She had had it ready since the first time she talked to the lawyer. "Here are the papers for you to sign, if you will. You get the house and the furnishings, except for some personal things; I get the Mercedes and the Carruthers stock..."

"The stock? What's it worth now? You'd be cheatin' yourself."

"There was an independent offer this morning for three dollars a share."

"So my stock is worth, maybe, seven-fifty or a grand, if I'm lucky."

"If you agree to sign right now, before you sign, I'll give you five thousand for your stock, and the rest of the agreement stands as is," Lee interjected. Max looked at him, puzzled.

"I promised to help him raise enough money to cover his stock losses if he'd help us. This gets him some legitimate money, and gets us back the stock, in a legal transaction."

She nodded. "Well, Don?"

"Write your check, and give me a pen." He looked at Max and sighed, wanting to say something, and not knowing what. Lee took out his checkbook and wrote out the check, then passed it, and a transfer for the stock to Don, who immediately signed the transfer and the divorce papers. "Now what do we do?"

"We find someone to loan you enough to cover the rest of the loss, and we wait for Marco to react."

- - - to be continued

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