Chapter 23

The next few days were a whirlwind. The cousins were at Beatrice’s apartment 24/7, planning, plotting, and generally making Beatrice’s life miserable. Constantly surrounded by her cousins, Beatrice hadn’t had a chance to talk to Arthur about the note Gerald Jr. had handed to her mother, but she had a sneaking suspicion he knew. There’d been an odd number of salespersons and missionaries showing up at her door, and they looked strikingly similar to members of Arthur’s team.

In addition to their 24/7 presence in Beatrice’s apartment, the cousins were also increasingly nosey as to Beatrice’s whereabouts. They wanted to know where she was every moment of every day. If she left the apartment, Janelle was bound to tag along. On more than one occasion, Beatrice found Isaac going through her phone, checking her messages and recent calls.

The cousins were no kinder to her mother, keeping track of her every move and even placing a GPS tracker in Pepe’s collar. Not that it would make any difference, though, Beatrice’s mother had hardly moved since Gerald Jr. had passed her the threatening note a few days prior. She sat around the apartment all day, rarely speaking. Beatrice caught her heating up a microwave meal one day, and she’d completely given up all yoga, naked and otherwise.

While Beatrice was preoccupied trying to maintain her sanity, Arthur was busy trying to keep up with the cousins. He gained all the information he could by sending undercover agents to Beatrice’s apartment, but there is only so much reconnaissance one can do while pretending to be a devotee of The Great First Church of Holy Sacredness. He and his team were frustrated beyond relief, unable to crack the cousins’ code and struggling to keep track of their scheming.

“Hey Bobby, why don’t you head home, get some rest,” Arthur said to the remaining member of his team. The rest of the team had already left for the evening. They’d spent the past few days working nonstop; everyone was burnt out and needed to clear their heads if they were ever going to take down the cousins.

After Bobby left, Arthur sat down for what felt like the first time in days. He was exhausted, but couldn’t help thinking of Beatrice. He imagined how she must be feeling, and recalled the intimate goodbye they’d shared the other night. He wondered what would happen after the mission was over, if he would ever see her again.  Arthur felt himself falling asleep, and he didn’t fight it. He welcomed an escape from his thoughts and from the problems surrounding him and the case.

No sooner had Arthur closed his eyes, then he heard a knock at the door. He quickly forgot about sleep, and strode giddily towards the door, hoping Beatrice was on the other side of it.

“Beatri…” Arthur began, stopping himself when he realized who was standing in his doorway.

“Sorry to disappoint,” replied Gerald Sr.

-M.A. Gavin


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