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Road Rage

Chapter 7



"Really?" Erin said, taking in the new twist of knowledge. "Well, let me know when you app, I'd love to download it."

She got up rather quickly and started speed walking toward Jeremy. He was kneeling down, in front of two young girls ready to snap their picture. Erin hurried and joined in the pose. Jeremy looked up over his camera for a second, slightly annoyed.

"You're awesome." The little girl volunteered. Jeremy smiled and accepted the compliment.

"Thank you."

"Yes, he is." Erin replied through a smile, "You know I'd love to see some of your previous work." She gave him a

meaningful look.

"Sure but," Jeremy answered, without skipping a beat, "I don't know if I have any extra copies." He hinted.

"Really that's such a shame," Erin replied gritting her teeth harder, "Be sure to double check." And then she walked

off.


Cary had a less dramatic unveiling of information. Sitting at the library computer plugging away and scanning every

newspaper and gossip column the had on the Hillary's and Willoughby’s.

"So what did you come up with?" Erin asked as she and Cary waited to Jeremy to retrieve the photos.

"Well, one things is for sure," Cary answered, "As completely overdone this wedding is it's certainly this families

most triumphant moment. Barely any information or hype has surrounded this family ever." Erin soaked all the info in. She

remember saying something about the wedding being a cover-up. For ht embarrassment of the family. Erin wondered if it was

covering anything else up.

"But I do know that this relationship between Peter and Renee has definitely given this family some much needed

publicity. It's like the fell off the globe after they left Manhattan." Cary added, "what about you? Did you find anything

out?"

"Okay here you go." Jeremy said reluctantly. He even blushed when Cary took them from them. Leaving Cary to wonder

what these photos really contained. He opened the file and scanned.

"Oh boy." He sighed.

"what do you see?" Erin urged.

"They were definitely kissing." He said. He looked a little closer and read their body language, "Wow, this is

crazy."

"what?!"

"They are not ashamed, this isn't a first kiss." Cary summarized, "This is not a one time occurrence, look this -

there is comfort and love in that embrace." He handed. Erin tried to see what Cary was talking about but she was true

distracted by the fact that she had been played.

"I'll be right back." She handed the folder back to Cary and headed back to the bench. Ashton looked and smiled.

"Hey you're back. You wanna try again?" He held out his pad of paper, with a fresh sketch.

"Yeah, but I think I missed something the last time." She said and flipped back a page, "Oh, I see it now. The people.

They're missing." She glared at him. He blushed looked down. She heard footsteps behind her.

"Erin what is going on?" Cary asked, 'Why did you run off?"

"Because of this." Erin held of the sketch while taking the photo from Jeremy. Cary and Jeremy gaped.

"There identical." Jeremy spat. "You set me up?!!"

"Okay!" Ashton jumped up, pleading, "I admit that I did use the photo as the basis for the sketch. But I didn't take

it. Besides everyone's seen that photo."

"What do you mean?" Cary asked.

"Renee and her mom has everyone connected to this mass twitter/email/text account. Whenever she sends a group

message everyone, gets it." Ashton explained.

"Okay so?" Erin asked.

"That photo was sent to everyone." Ashton shrugged. "Everybody got it."



"What does this saboteur want?" Cary asked after they moved a few paces away.

'What do you mean?" Erin asked.

"Well, the chandelier and dress incident just creates problems, but they can easily be fixed especially with time.

The worse that can happen is the wedding gets delayed. But this is more direct like they want the wedding stopped. It doesn't

make any sense, like they have two motives."

"Well, I did find out that the relationship has been on the rocks since the start. It seems that Peter has been in

love with Renee for a while."

"This is sounding more and more like a soap-opera." Jeremy declared irritably.

"Maybe that's the point," Erin replied, "You said this family was starving for publicity. But I just can't seem to

believe Peter, Shelby, or Renee is involved. They just seem too...obsessed with themselves to be planning all this."

"I still want to talk to Shelby about that photo," Cary interrupted, "I think there's something she wasn't telling me

before."

"I have to get back to work." Jeremy said almost self-importantly.

"Okay fine," Erin sighed, "I'm late for isle rehearsal as it is." She turned and trudged for the mansion.

"Isle rehearsal?" Cary muttered to himself.







Chapter 8


There were six bridesmaids in all. As far as Erin could tell, she was the only one who had been forcefully recruited.

The girls mainly stayed to themselves, they were pleasant with Erin but remained glued to their phones. From the awkward

silence, Erin could bet she was probably the subject of their text/email/tweets. When they did talk it revolved around the

wedding and the crazy 'accidents.'

"Renee that dress is 1000 times better than the first." One girl named Amy squealed.

"Thank you," Renee beamed, "I wanted this one originally but mother refused. Saying it was much to bland."

"Oh no," Another girl piped up, "You can always wear big jewelry with it."

"Does Peter like it?" Erin heard the question hang in the room a second, before realizing she herself ad asked it.

They all turned to her, as if remembering she was sitting there.

"Oh yes," Renee replied, giving Erin a warning look, "He does."

"Poor Renee," Amy sighed, as if referring to a little child. Though Erin was certain Amy barely has two years on her.

"You're handling this beautifully." Another woman added, she nodded rather self-assuredly almost like a old woman

would.

"Yes, you are." The other girls agreed. Erin nodded silently. A little too well, she thought.









***


"Oh you're back." Shelby said a little tiredly. "You know I don't like stalkers." She pouted.

"And I don't like liars," Cary replied simply, "So maybe we can work with each other. Reach an agreement."


"What do you mean?" Shelby asked, rolling her eyes.

"What you told me on the sidewalk was the truth," Cary began. He had caught on the way inside of the Hillary's guest

mansion. She was trapped on the steps. He climbed one step higher.

"But only half of it." Another step. "You do care for Peter, but this is more than friendly affection. You didn't

kiss Peter because you felt bad for him." Another step.

"Oh really?" Shelby crossed her arms defensively. "Then why did I kiss him?" Another step.

"You kissed him, because you did before." Cary said simply, "This whole love triangle seems to be running a little

too smoothly." Cary surmised, "There's not enough tension. Otherwise, you wouldn't feel comfortable sneaking into the

Hillary's guest house. why are you visiting the family that publicly hates you?" Cary paused, "Oh that's right, Peter's

staying here." Shelby was silent as the servants passed wordlessly. Then she grabbed his arm and yanked him inside.

"Look, you're right about everything." Shelby whispered hoarsely, "My relationship with Peter has been going on for

a while now. But Renee knows, in fact she encouraged us to go out."

"But everyone thinks Renee and Peter were going out."

"That was just a cover, I don't come from a super rich family, and didn't want all that unwanted publicity. Besides,"

Shelby pleaded, "We never hurt anybody, it was none of their business to begin with."

"Then how did Peter and Renee get engaged if they weren't even dating."

"Somebody saw Peter buy an engagement ring. Since we were using the cover of their relationship everyone assumed

Peter asked Renee to marry him. Okay, but you can't tell anybody." She urged, Cary nodded numbly still trying to sort out the

facts in his head. Jeremy was right this was sounding more and more like a soap-opera.

"The fact that you told, makes me want to believe you." Cary said as his peeled Shelby's fingers off his arm,

"However if I find out that you are lying, I'll be telling the story and you won't like me version." He looked at her

pointedly.

"But until we exactly what's going on, I think it's best you keep that to yourself for right now alright?" He didn't

wait for an answer. Since they had already gone to such lengths to keep it a secret, he doubted they’d change their course

now. He stepped back outside and down the steps.



"what?!!" Jeremy exclaimed for the second time after Cary had explained the entire story, twice. "That's is the most

ridiculous thing I've have heard." Erin stayed quiet.

"Well, in a way it all makes sense, but everything is based in deception so I'm not sure what to believe."

"None of it!" Jeremy burst out again. Cary sighed slightly irritated.

"Jeremy what is wrong?" He asked. "You have been on hyper-tension mode all day?"

"Look, we can clear you name of this scandal if you cooperate with us." Erin added. But Jeremy was shaking his head.

"No, no, no it's nothing like that." He fidgeted nervously and kept digging his hand into his pocket. Cary stared at

him for moment. Suddenly it struck him.

"Oh, I know." Cary triumphantly announced, "Somebody, took his driver's test." Erin face lit up, while the color

drained from Jeremy's.

"Congrats Jeremy that's wonderful." Erin piped up.

"I don't want to talk about it." Jeremy snapped. They both quickly shut up.

"Well, Jeremy I'm sure you aced it, but why don't you take the rest of the day off, and just focus on your pictures."

Jeremy seemed to relax a little.

"Thank you, I think I will." Jeremy patted his friend on the shoulder and strolled off.

"He gets more stressed out over a driver's test then the fact that his reputation might be in jeopardy." Erin

declared and shook her head.



"Erin we're running out of time, we have to figure out what's going. Rehearsal dinner is Friday night, wedding's on

Saturday." Cary fretted.

"Relax, it's only Tuesday." Erin replied. "But we need to figure out what to do next."

"What happened?!" Mrs. Hillary screeched from inside of the house. Erin and Cary took in the direction of the

screaming. It was coming from the Hillary's enormous kitchen. Several people were gathered around the island countertop. Over

a two hundred and fifty wine glasses were sitting on the counter. All of them were broken.

"How did this happen?" Mrs. Hillary gasped. A very frazzled looking chef was trying desperately to explain.

"Ma'am I do not know." He said in a thick Italian accent. "We unloaded the boxes of brand new glasses and all were

chipped, cracked, broken!" He stammered. "Please, you must understand we did not know!" But Mrs. Hillary wasn't really

listening. She caught sight of Cary and Erin in the doorway.


"You!" She snarled, she pointed accusingly. She marched over to them and walked them into the dining room. "I

specifically asked you both to make sure things like this don't happen." She snapped, "Now, I didn't make myself clear. So

until you figure a way to stop this from happening you will be fixing every accident that occurs." Her eyes were glaring so

hard, they seemed to radiant heat. She stalked out the dining and called to the chef that he had new 'help.'

"You're right," Erin whispered, "We're running out of time."



Erin and Cary spent the rest of the day cleaning, sweeping and removing 250 wine glasses to the recycler. The chef,

whose name was Harold, was rather picky. Especially since he seemed to be pleading for his job a mere five minutes earlier.

He made sure ever piece of glass was removed.

"I want to be able walk barefoot." He instructed repeatedly. Cary secretly wanted to dare him too.

"Hey did you see anything?" Cary asked as Erin dumped the last of the glass.

"No, it looks like somebody took the boxes and threw against a wall. Every glass was damaged."

"I just can't believe someone would buy new crystal wine glasses for one occasion." Cary grumbled, I doubt they'll

ever use them again."

"You know what's really weird," Erin answered, "For somebody whose co-coordinating a wedding, especially for a possible

relative, you'd think Mr. Lawrence would be more concerned. I haven't seen he once at any of the accident sites. Hey

Jeremy!!" Erin called. Jeremy was walking determinedly to his car when Erin called. He halted and turned quickly.

"Guys are you okay, I heard there was another accident. Something about shards of glass."

"Crystal, actually." Erin corrected, "But you mentioned something about your dad coordinating this entire event." She

gestured around, "I'd love to have his job, he doesn't seem to be doing anything."

"Erin!" Cary chided.


"Jeremy there have four accidents and as you said people could have been harmed and dad hasn't shown just to

supervise the clean up. What's going on? Where is he?" Jeremy sighed and rolled his eyes.

"For your information," Jeremy defended, "He is handling the matter, he's a close friend of the groom's family, and

has been helping and organizing the negotiations with television station."

"what's his score?" Cary interrupted.

"Excuse me?" Jeremy asked.

"What's his score?" Cary repeated, "On the golf course. You have a callus in between your thumb and pointer finger.

Which tells me that you have practicing your swing."

"It turns out the Christian Banner is an avid golfer and won't discuss business matters endless over a golf game."

Jeremy added.

"What negotiations were you taking about?" Erin added.

"I don't know," Jeremy shrugged, "But it takes a lot to get a TV station to commit to this family. For all the hype

and drama created by the scandal and sabotage; the truth is nobody really cares about this family."

"Jeremy how's the weather going to be tomorrow?" Erin asked a plan formulating in her mind.

"About the same as today," Jeremy shrugged, "Why?"

"You are going to be playing some golf."



"It's 4:30 in the morning." Cary called from the doorway of Ashley's living room. Erin turned in her seat to glance

at Cary.

"I couldn’t sleep." She said turning back to the TV. "Just can't seem to turn my brain off."

"Any interesting info-mericals on?" Cary asked, plopping down next to on the sofa.

"No, just one about 'We Buy Crystals.'" Cary snickered. They sat in silence for a few moments.

"So it this what you wanna be? A detective?" Cary asked.

"Not without you." She replied. "I couldn't do any of this without you."


"Thanks."

"You've always had more focus than me, long-term I mean. You know what you want and you'll find a way to get it. I,"

Erin continued, "always did was I was good at, what came naturally. Because it was easiest. So to answer you're question, I

don't know."

"We all do things out of habit." Cary offered.” Besides you've never done anything you didn't like for long - I know

you better than that."

"I remember Dad once said, 'Habits keep us alive, but our life should never be a habit.'" She shrugged as

punctuation. "Sounds pretty."

"Erin if you become a detective it's going to take a lot more than a habit to keep you alive." Erin nodded, with a

devilish smile on her face.

"You’re right," She confessed, "And that's why I love it."









Chapter 9


"Jeremy what are you wearing?" Cary asked, as they met up on the front lawn. Instead of standing in front of the

mansion today, they met at Ashley's house.

"You said we were going golfing to I dressed for golf." Jeremy replied, pointing to Erin.

"I think I saw that exact outfit on the mannequin in Sports Authority." Erin replied, "Anyway I appreciate your

willing spirit. But during this golf game, I need you to be my eyes and ears so you can tell me if Christian Banner has any

motive for sabotaging this wedding."


"Whoa, whoa wait a minute. You're coming to right?" Jeremy asked.

"Actually, no." Erin replied, "I'm sure Cary would be more than happy to join, but I'll pass."

"Why you afraid you might throw the golf club like last time?" Cary teased.

"First of all it was raining, I was cold exhausted to get you to take me home." Erin defended, "Jeremy I'd love to

the drive the golf cart but I'm following a lead that will confirm the information you will give me when you get back. I'm

97% sure I know who the guy is. So you go and get me the other 1.42% and I'll go and get the 1.58%. Meet back here a 12:10."

"Got it."


"Renee may I speak with for a few moments?" Erin poked her head in the doorway. Renee was holding a dress up in the

mirror. She sighed but nodded. Erin stepped into the room.

"I was wondering if you could give me any suggestions on my hair." Erin asked timidly. Renee's face brightened

immediately.

"Oh of course, sit down." She pulled a chair from her desk and put it in front of the mirror. Erin sat down and took

a deep breath.

"I have no idea what to do with it for the rehearsal dinner." Erin stated. "Or the wedding."

"Well, you have really pretty hair which is a great start. But it seems really dry, what conditioner do you use?"

Erin paused for a moment.

"Suave's 3-in-1 body wash-shampoo-conditioner."

"Oh." Renee practically shrieked. "Erin you murder!"

"Excuse me?"

"That's terrible, curly hair and you're using that?"

"Well, I don't know what to do with it." Erin shrugged, "Sometimes I wonder if I should just shave my head and be

done with it." They both laughed. They sat in silence as Renee worked through Erin's hair.

"So are you nervous at all for the big day?" Erin asked innocently. Renee paused midair with a foamy substance in her

hair.

"Um, no." She admitted, "I guess with everything going on, I haven't had time to think about it."

"Oh I'm sure. Which again I wanted to assure, my brother and I are almost finished wrapping this case up." Erin

replied. Renee smiled at her in the mirror.

"I'm just nervous that it'll be on the television." Erin chatted away.

"Oh well, don't worry, the cameras are set up to be out of the way to make it feel very natural." Renee replied.

"I know, but the whole nation watching your wedding." Erin added, sliding forward in her seat.

"Oh it wasn't easy though." Renee mused, rubbing Erin's scalp with some kind of oil, "After we moved from Manhattan

we've fallen out of touch with the media so trying to get back into the swing of things has been tough. Especially on mom."

"Yeah, I bet." Erin said sympathetically, "She seems to be very graceful and command the room, you must of gotten that

from her." Renee smiled at the flattery.

"I see you notice more than fingerprints."

"Oh yeah, I notice a lot of things." Erin half-joked.











"Renee!" One of the bridesmaids burst in, "Look downstairs, that landscaper made a horrible mistake. He put the

tulips on the stage." Renee dropped her brush and went over to the balcony.

"He planted the tulips on the side of the isle in front of the stage, not on the sides of the stage." The girl

whined. "It's ruined and he's complaining because he has to redo it." Erin joined them at the window.

"I've already been down there." Mrs. Hillary breezed into the room. Though she seemed a little surprised to see Erin

already there.

"There's was a slight miscommunication but the redo seems to be moving as snails pace. Marcus and rambling on about

some stolen equipment. The idiot who would want to sell garden tools." Mrs. Hillary rolled her eyes. Erin shook her head

knowing the gas alone the equipment was worth some hefty change. But she focused on the scene below. The landscaper Marcus

was right beneath her. One of the workers came up and put his hand on the his shoulder.

"Sorry boss." He muttered, he started to walk off and then stopped as if he remember something, "By the way Happy

Anniversary." But Marcus was to deep in thought to notice. Erin noticed the women the room were starting to quarrel about how

to get the tulips replanted.

"Perhaps, Marcus would be more cooperative if he knew who stole his equipment." Erin blurted out. The other women

stopped and stared at her.

"But we don't know who or even if anything was stolen." The bridesmaid replied.

"Yes but I do," Erin replied, "You see today's is Marcus 15th wedding anniversary." She started.

"How do you know that?" Mrs. Hillary interrupted.

"First of there's a Happy Anniversary card and a pen in Marcus's back pocket. He's been waiting for a quiet moment to

write something nice for his wife. In fact he was going to plant her 15 tulips of her favorite color. Wait wait!" Erin

stopped Renee as she started to interrupt.

"Yesterday, 165 tulips were delivered. Here by Marcus."

"165?" Mrs. Hillary asked, "But I ordered 150."

"Exactly, 10 rows of 15 white, red tipped tulips. But yesterday there were 11 rows, one row was yellow. Mrs. Marcus

favorite color, I'm assuming. The tulips are now in the back of Marcus's pick-up truck. Everything was going to just fine

except there was a small mistake. And now Marcus is having to work on his day-off. And then he suspects that somebody may

have stolen his equipment."

"It's ridiculous that man is paranoid, he even changes locks at night." Mrs. Hillary interrupted, shaking her head as

if it all were silly nonsense.

"Of course, during the day all his workers need access to the equipment. But this robbery happened at night." Erin

replied,” This morning Marcus realizes some of his equipment is missing and is rightfully upset, but as if that isn't enough -

only one worker remembered it was Marcus's anniversary." Erin paused to see if they were following her, "After all it is a

very important combination, I mean date." Mrs. Hillary's face changed from that of doubt and borderline boredom to that of

recognition.

"People sometimes use dates for lock combinations." The bridesmaid spoke up. Erin nodded almost surprised she got it

first.

"Yes, well." Mrs. Hillary spoke up, almost flustered, "Somebody had better go and tell Marcus and have that worker

questioned. James!" She called as she strode over to the door. She whispered something to him and then looked back at Erin

with a mixture of surprise and respect.



"Hey Erin guess what?" Cary asked, "Hey what happened to your hair?" He pointed, "It looks...good."

"Thanks, I had Renee do it while subtly struck a conversation about the wedding and I'm positive her mom is behind

the entire thing. she orchestrated to generate publicity. She already had access to everything that's going on. Plus she knew

about the publicity a scandalous love/forbidden love/ jaded bride would bring. Besides Renee told me that it was difficult to

get anyone interested at first. And not the sabotage and 'lock-down' on security is just to create hype."


"But she hired us some nobody would get suspicious if she didn't seem to worried." Cary added.

"Right, and I think Renee's one to her a little bit. But I'm still confused over Peter and Shelby. But doubt any of

this will last for much longer, I have a feeling this whole wedding is just a publicity stunt. None of them intend to commit

to anything except a inerview after this is all over." Erin breathed. "So what about you guys how did you fair?"

"Jeremy got great shot on one hole and got a birdie on another." Cary added, patting his friend on the back.

"That's great, what about Christian?" Erin asked.

"Oh he wasn't there. Didn't show up today, Mr. Lawrence tried calling him but he wouldn't answer."

"We ran into his daughter, though she isn't to worried. Said he'll turn up somewhere."

"Maybe he actally decided to do some actual work." Erin added. "So anybody else hungry?"

"Yeah dad texted said he wants to have lunch with us a Baja Fresh."

"Oh sounds great." Erin added, "I kind of feel a little bad about abandoning him all this week, especially since he's

still working."

"Yeah how's that working out?" Jeremy asked, "You're dad playing mediator and all."

"Pretty well if you don't count last night." Cary declared.

"What happened?"

"Ashley and Michelle were yelling so loud I thought the neighbors might actually me able to hear us, considering they

live 62 sidewalk squares away."

"What were they yelling about?"

"I'm not sure, I came in halfway though, but I think it had something to do with the fact that dad finds Ashley

attractive."

"You're kidding?" Jeremy said, "Well, that's great. Do think he'll ask her out?"

"Not sure, probably not until after Michelle's check clears." Cary joked.


"Hey Layla." Cary called from the table outside where they were waiting for their dad. The restaurant sat on the

corner of a busy intersection. She waved and made their way over.

"Hey y'all." She said in a sweet southern accent, "Cary I'm so glad you're here. I had a question to ask you." Erin

cleared her throat.

"Oh, Layla this is my sister Erin."

"Oh, please to meet you, you can help too." She replied, turning her attention back to Cary, "I bought my dad these

cuff links, and I was wondering if you think there nice enough for dad. They weren't that expensive. But I got them from a

shop that recycles old jewelry, they buy their jewelry from all over the country. See." She opened the box and pair of smart

looking cuff links lay in champagne colored satin. They were gold with white crystals with a red stripe running through them.

"There very handsome looking." Erin answered and Layla brightened.

"Very wise choice." Cary said and she beamed.

"Thanks so much, I cant' wait to show them to him. Bye now!" She got up and rushed off.

"Where's dad?" Erin said impatiently.

"He'll be around." Cary said, with a starry eye in his look.

"Yeah, I can't wait to tell him about you're new girlfriend." She couldn't resist teasing, and he blushed.

"Oh look." Erin said, when her phone started ringing, "Hey dad, where are you?" She asked. "Oh wait I see the truck."

She pointed because the truck had just appeared in the intersection.

"You do?" Her dad asked.

"Yeah you're right there." Erin laughed.

"What's he doing?" Cary asked. Erin and Cary watched as the truck cut across the intersection ran a red light and

barreled right toward them.

"Dad?" Erin asked but not really talking into the phone. People started screaming around her.

"Move." Cary shouted as the jumped up and shoved his sister out of the way. The truck swung around barreling missing

them and floored it down the road.

"Hello? Erin? Cary? Are you alright? What just happened?" The phone said.



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