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Saturday, June 4, 2011

("Why walk alone? Why worry it's warm over here. You got so much to say, say what you mean. Mean what you're thinking, think anything")…Cat Stevens

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Twenty-five

Gateway Building, San Francisco…Thursday, June 23rd, 2005…6am

Grover Gateway removed the half empty bottle of Redbreast from the bottom right drawer of the credenza behind his desk. He tended to toggle back and forth between whiskies and scotch a couple of times each year, but only with two very specific brands. When it was a whisky he wanted it was always Redbreast from County Cork, Ireland, the Irish iced tea as it were. Single malted and triple distilled in fine oak casks for never less than twelve years, it never failed to be anything but smooth, mellow and full flavored. But, if was scotch that he craved then it must be Macallan Scotch Whisky. Distilled since 1824 at Craigellachie, Scotland near Easter Elchies House in Sherry oak casks, the single malt elixir was a favorite, especially when paired with a nice Havana cigar. Sure, Cuban cigars were illegal, but just like in the military where rank has its privileges, so it was in the private sector with the rich and powerful. It was a socioeconomic perk that Grover rarely exercised. Let's face it, at the tender age 0f ninety-something who gave a rat's behind how he spent his money as long as he wasn't hurting anyone? Besides, at his age the old ticker needed a little kick start from time to time. A healthy shot of whisky or scotch added to his morning coffee was more medicinal than social.

This morning the elder statesman of print journalism had a personal matter to ponder, wondering how to balance his new friendship with Luc Rojier and his lifelong friendship with Alma Donnelly. He and Jean-Luc had bonded quickly and that made him uncomfortable. He never made friends quickly, but this man was hard to push into the background. Luc's charming manner and his genuine passion for his cause had uncharacteristically captivated Grover. Even more amazing was how easily Alma had accepted him into her circle of influential land barons and old money socialites. She was far more cautious and guarded than he, so the ease in which Luc blended in had him questioning instincts he had honed over a lifetime of right moves? Grover was no fool. He understood that everyone had their secrets, which with certain reservations was normal and acceptable as he also knew that the truth always percolated. Still, he had vetted the man to the nth degree. If Jean-Luc were any kind of threat Grover's people would have discovered it by now.

So why was he sitting in his office wrestling with his overly analytical, hyper sensitive intuition? Because it had never been wrong before, that's why! Grover sipped his Irish coffee and stared out into the empty newsroom. The masses would be arriving soon, they would start trickling in around 7am, kids are so lazy these days. Everyone was a kid to him. He smiled and closed his eyes for a moment. Maybe a ten minute catnap would subdue his suspicious nature? Not likely, but being a kid again, even for ten minutes would be nice. If you can't beat em, join em, right? He made a mental note to have dinner with Alma later. They could chat more about Jean-Luc Rojier over some pasta carbonara and Chianti at the Stinking Rose in North Beach. A moment later Grover Gateway was sound asleep. It was 7:15 in the morning. At precisely 8am Jerome Longfellow entered his boss's office to deliver the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, as was his duty each and every work day. Mr. Gateway read the news from coast to coast every morning before he took any calls, he was religious about that.

"You can't speak intelligently about anything if you're uninformed," he would always say. Jerome stopped abruptly when he saw the boss man asleep in his chair. That wasn't normal he thought? He started to apologize and then held his tongue.

"Oh my goodness," Jerome said nonplussed to the room.

Grover Gateway's personal private secretary walked over to the desk and set the newspapers down. He went around and stood beside Mr. Gateway. Leaning over he calmly touched two fingers to the old man's neck, feeling for his jugular vein. There was no pulse. Grover Gateway was cold and quite dead. An era had come to an end and Patrick Bouchard would continue to be Jean-Luc Rojier.

Hudson Towers, Los Angeles, Thursday, June 23rd, 2005…9am

The alarm went off for the fourth annoying time! Lizzie calmly rolled over, picked up her cell phone and deactivated it. The previous three times she must have been sound asleep because she didn't remember hitting the snooze function at all. The darn thing was programmed to pester her every quarter hour. No worries she thought, nothing was going to ruin her long awaited day off. Her cousins Noah and Jace were in town and the Kelly brothers were treating her to a spa day with the works. That meant a full body massage, a mani-peddie, a full facial treatment, plus a total exfoliation treatment, and capping it off with a nice relaxing steam, heaven! Then it was supper at Patina's in North Hollywood followed by a night of comedy at the Laugh Factory in Hermosa Beach. One of her favorite comics was there tonight, John Pinette, she loved that guy, he was hysterical!

"Just what the doctor," ordered she muttered, as she yawned, stretched and climbed out of bed.

The boys would be here in a couple of hours so she didn't have to rush but it was time to scoot. Why the royal treatment you ask? Two words, BIRTH - DAY baby! Yeppers, today was Elizabeth Andrews' 30th birthday, a major milestone in her young life. She hadn't yet listened to the messages stacked up on her cell yet, but she knew Mom and Dad were the first to call, they always were. Her Dad would have called at 12:01 on the nose to toast her with his usual nightcap before turning in. Her Mom would be call number two, around 12:30, right after she finished placing a New York Yankees blanket on Dad who probably had made it as far as the divan in their bedroom before passing out. Sean Andrews didn't have a drinking problem; he was just a problem when he drank. Curse of the Irish he'd say to anyone who asked.

Lizzie undressed on the way to the bathroom, leaving a trail of nightclothes from her comfy bed to the shower. She pushed her hair back and fashioned a ponytail high on her scalp, securing it with a hair tie from the dish on the countertop. Pushing the shower curtain aside she turned on the water and held her hand under the stream until it was hot enough to step in. She stepped in under the large rain style faucet and soaked her hair, reaching for the shampoo with her eyes squeezed shut. As soon as she started to lather up the buzzer went off in the living room.

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME!" she hollered at the ceramic tiles lining the tub and shower. She quickly rinsed the shampoo from her hair, grabbed a towel for her head and one to wrap around herself to go answer the door. It was probably her cousins but if it was TURDMAN from next door there was going to be a murder in the city today! The buzzer went off one more time.

"I'm coming, I'm coming!" she yelled at the closed door.

"Open up Elizabeth, we got a fire hazard going out here," shouted one of the twins, either Noah or Jace. She couldn't tell them apart by the sound of their voice, they were identical in every way.

"Alright, I'm here, what's the problem?" she asked opening the door.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY SMALLS!" the brothers shouted as they held onto a four layer German Chocolate cake laden with 30 flaming candles. It really was a fire hazard.

"Oh man, you guys are crazy!" chuckled Lizzie, holding the door for them as they rushed by her to set the cake on her kitchen table.

"Come on Lizzie, blow these things out before they set off your smoke alarm," said Noah Kelly as he licked icing from his fingers. She went over to the table to blow out the small inferno. "You guys aren't going to sing are you?" she teased, huffing and puffing and extinguishing the fire in the small wax forest.

"Thanks guys, that was sweet. Why don't you cut us a slice while I finish my shower and throw on my sweats for spa day…woo hoo, Happy Birthday to me!" Lizzie said as she jogged back down the hall to the bathroom.

"You got any coffee?" Jace hollered as he searched through her cupboards.

"Only instant, top shelf on the right. You need to boil water, think you two lawyers can handle that?" Lizzie teased, closing the bathroom door and not waiting for a reply. Her cell phone was blinking on the linen shelf where she had left it. She picked it up and saw that she had a text to read. It was from Linda Bradley at LA General.

"Wonder what she wants," Lizzie muttered as she maneuvered the device to bring up the text.

"Sorry to bother you on your birthday Dr. Andrews. It's Katie Tate. Please call ASAP…Linda Bradley"

Elizabeth set the phone down and returned to the shower. She twisted the knobs and climbed back in as soon as the water heated back up. Standing under the pulsating stream of hot water she let it massage the tension out of her, the steam rising to fog up the mirror. Something told her that there'd be no comedy for her to enjoy today. Such was the life she chose. You took the good with the bad and hoped the former outweighed the latter. Still, was it too much to ask for one day a year all to herself? Of course it was…again, this was the life she chose. Noah and Jace would understand; they were family, they were the brothers she never had.

What was up with Katie Tate anyways she wondered? Whatever it was, it must not be good if it couldn't wait a day. What a way to start this new chapter in her young life. She wished her mom were here, she needed one of her famous mother hugs to keep her mood from souring, and to remind her that God has a plan for everyone. So far she didn't like the plan he had for Katie Tate. It reminded her of Gabriel Bouchard. She gasped as soon as she remembered the little boy with the big smile and dropped the soap.

"Oh my God Gabriel, it's your dad, he's the face in the paper! I knew I'd seen that face before. But why's he pretending to be that French guy, and what's he got to do with someone like Grover-freaking-Gateway?" she asked herself, turning off the water. Why indeed? She was going to find out though, that much she knew for sure. Solving this little mystery would be her birthday present to herself.

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