“So as you can see Mr Bell, I’ve been able to get several more shots of the subject since we spoke last.”
“He really does know how to dig his own hole now doesn’t he. Such an ass! I can’t believe women like this kind of thing. What does that say about women who fall for this bad boy type. Abuse me, mistreat me. Treat me like shit and I will love you all the more?”
“I don’t know Mr. Bell. I’m as baffled as you to be honest. My mother raised me better than this.”
“Maybe that is part of the point then. Eddy didn’t have a mother, or atleast one that cared even a little bit for him. If she did she wouldn’t have abandoned him the way she did.”
“My mother has a term for men like him. Man whore to be exact. My sources tell me he has been visiting a certain spa. Sometimes as much as twice a day. This is on top of his relationship with Ms. Belle, his little tryst with the Montegrande daughter and all his late night visits to the bar. Explains his previous employment though.”
Ian snapped his head up from looking at the pics and stared at the man. “What previous employment?”
“That’s the best part. I’ve recently found out that Eddy used to be a male prostitute for the Kama Simptra spa in Sunset Valley. Guess he stumbled into it at the age of 16 during one of his visits to his aunt and uncle. He managed to work there most of the summer before they found out and kicked him out of their house. By that time he had become a level eight prostitute, so the spa set him up with a place of his own to do his secret rendezvous work out of. Apparently he is quite well known in the upper class in that town. Quite the embarrassment for his aunt and uncle who are the leaders of the town.
“So when did it stop?” Ian asked.
“Well that is a good question now isn’t it. Maybe he hasn’t. Eddy was doing quite well for himself until he lost most of it in Monte Vista at the card tables. I’ve had a look at his financial papers and he is in debt up to his eyeballs.”
“But I don’t understand. The band has been doing so well, partially because of my silent support.”
“Ah yes. But with Eddy’s unpaid debt, the band expenses and just general life expenses, they are barely just making it. The band manager has been making sure that the band mates are paid very well to keep them from getting suspicious. But here is the rub for Eddy. The guy that Eddy owes all this money to-is the band manager Jerry!”
“You’re kidding me!”
Luke laughed. “I kid you not.”
“So the evil mastermind has been found. One would have to wonder then…is Eddy still hooking?”
“That I am still trying to find out. This franchise of Kama Simptra spas is very difficult to get any information on. My guess would be yes. Hopping from one spa to the next, depending on which town he is in. But I can’t quite confirm that.”
“Hmmm. And would he be still sniffing around after my wife, if he didn’t have such a debt hanging over his head. He obviously hasn’t convinced her or even asked for any money yet. Any idea what the interest rate on the debt is?”
Luke told him and Ian whistled. “That’s is a big chunk of change. He is dug in real deep at that rate.”
“So what do you want to do with this information then?”
Ian considered that for a moment. “I think we will sit on it for now. We may need it in the future when it might better help us.”
“You’re the boss, ” Luke replied.
Luke left the house and Ian took a few more moments to look through the photos again. This guy was just such a jerk. He tried to find some empathy for him but he just couldn’t. There was just no excuse for his attitude, his treatment of women and this kind of life for oneself. He just could not understand what his wife was thinking. He wondered if her traditional Chinese upbringing had anything to do with it. Or perhaps those few years with her first husband had been more traumatic on her than even she knew. He put the pictures back in the envelope and threw it in his briefcase, so that Jin wouldn’t see them.
His plan was unfolding quite well. So far he had managed to stay in town and accomplish everything without being seen by Maya. But that was going to change very shortly. Tonight was Maya’s unveiling of her mural at the hospital. He was going to try and be there if possible. He had heard it was going to be quite the turn out. If that was the case, he could definitely blend in. After that, everything was going to change. He was going to start, by fixing a mistake he made at the beginning of his relationship with Maya.
“Hey Jin!” he called to his son. “Want to look at the photo album of mommy?”
“Yeah. Mommy!” Jin replied.
Maya was a big bundle of nerves. This afternoon was her mural unveiling and if these butterflies didn’t go away, she wasn’t going to make it to her own party. It was one thing to paint it and leave it for all to see everyday. It was another to have it be a part of a large grand opening party where it could be critiqued by all. She had never really shown her talent like this before and she wondered if all artists felt this way before being featured in some way. Or was this just a sign of her own insecurity? She knew she had talent! Butterflies please go away!
She had been pacing the formal living room for the past hour and she still had another hour to go. The house was empty; Malcolm at school, Nancy and Geoffrey were at work. The silence was deafening and had her mind wandering to all kinds of negative thoughts. What if they removed the sheet and everyone laughed? Or said “That’s what we paid for?” Perhaps she could hide somewhere in the back of the room. That way if people really hated it, she could duck out of the hospital quickly without being seen.
She really must stop this line of thoughts before she made herself throw up. She was just going to pop into the washroom to check her appearance again for the umpteenth time, when she heard the doorbell ring. Maya took a deep breath, tried to calm her nerves and went to answer the door.
“Happy unveiling day!” the Meir sisters all shouted in unison.
“I’m so happy to see you. Come in!”
“Oh my.” said Lady Michele. “You look positively pale. What’s the matter? Nerves getting the best of you?”
“Oh, maybe a little” Maya replied. Charlotte gave her a hug.
“That’s silly!” Lady Maria snatched up her hands to comfort her. “You are going to do great.”
“Lady Maria! You cut your hair!” said Maya
“Do you like it?”
“Yes! I think it looks very flattering.”
“Why thank you. Now what can we do about those nerves?” asked Maria.
“Oh, I don’t know. I mean, how bad could it really be?” said Maya.
“Exactly. Of course they could do the reveal, everyone could hate it and you will be known across the world as the worst artist in history. But hey, no biggy!”
“Brenda Lee!” remarked Lady Michele. “That is not helpful!”
“Hey, I’m just saying,” replied Brenda
Maya burst into laughter. “No. Actually it is helpful. Thank you Lady Brenda.”
Lady Brenda gave Lady Michele a smirk that said See!
‘Laughter is the best medicine. Or so Collette told me before the fashion show. She was right. Kept me from throwing up on her beautiful gowns.”
“I’m sure the mural is beautiful. How could it not be? You painted it!” remarked Lady Charlotte.
“How do I look?” asked Maya. “It’s not supposed to be formal. Especially since quite a few people coming will just be getting off work at the hospital. But I didn’t want to look too dressed down either.”
“You look fine dear. Very appropriate I think. A suit wouldn’t do because it is too businesslike and a dress would be too formal. So I think this is just right” replied Lady Michele, with a nod of her head.
“One more thing,” said Lady Charlotte. “I think it would be most appropriate if, when we are alone, you drop the ‘Lady’ in front of our names. Much too formal for friends when speaking to one another.”
“Sisters” piped up Maria
“I, I would like that. Thank you,” replied Maya feeling very honored.
“I think it might soon be time to go. We are under strict instructions from Nancy to pick you up and take you with us,”said Maria.
“And to stay with you through the event since Nancy herself will be busy making sure everything goes as planned,” said Brenda. “But I think she just wants us to make sure you don’t faint or dash out unseen in fear.”
“Brenda!” the sisters all said in unison.
Maya looked astonished, then laughed. Which then lead all four sisters to laughing with her, as they left the house and climbed into the limousine. She would be fine now. Especially since she had the support of the sisters by her side.
The event turned out to be larger than she thought, which did nothing for the butterflies in her stomach, that were multiplying by the minute. The actual party was being held in the cafeteria, on the floor below where the new children’s wing had been added. The ribbon cutting ceremony to the wing was going to be happening right after the speeches were made, giving thanks to all that had been involved in the planning and construction of the wing. Maya had already had her unveiling of the mural for the press, who had been brought up before the ceremony to take pictures with her and the mural. After the ribbon cutting, the guests would be free to wander the wing, look in all the rooms and see her painting. Even though she had already had a private unveiling for the press, who were full of praise, she was still a nervous wreck. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched and kept casually looking around to see if she could see anyone looking her way. No matter how many times she looked, she didn’t see anyone paying her any attention. It was then, Nancy called her to the front to make a short speech.
“I am pleased to present the artist of the beautiful mural in the children’s wing. Miss Maya Wang.”
“Thank you Nancy. I would like to take a moment to thank the board of directors and the hospital staff for this amazing opportunity. I feel truly blessed to have been a part of this new expansion project to the hospital. I hope that my mural will give hope and comfort to all the children for years to come. Special, special thanks to Geoffrey and Nancy Landgraab, for giving me a place to stay while here in Sunset Valley and a home for Christmas. I have made many new friends here that I will cherish for years to come. Thank you.”
Then that was it. Nancy cut the ribbon being held by the mayor of the city, and people began to file into the wing. Maya tried to hang back and let everyone through first but the sisters wouldn’t hear of it. Grabbing her by each arm, they gently guided her into the wing.
“Oh I love it!” cried Maria. “How magical!”
“It is very beautiful! I so wish I could paint like that!” said Michele.
“Hmmmm.” Brenda leaned in and peered closely at the mural. “I think you missed a spot.”
“Oh my gosh! Where?” Maya said in a panic.
“I’m just kidding Maya! Relax.”
“I love the colors dear!” said Charlotte. “Well done!”
“Yes! Well done too,” said Maria
“Thank you Ladies. That means a great deal to me! Lady Brenda, what do you think?” Maya asked anxiously.
“I think it needs a couple fire breathing dragons and maybe a troll – Ouch!!” Lady Michele had pinched her arm and gave her a look.
“Ok, Ok,” said Brenda. “I think it will be loved by all!”
Maya breathed a sigh of relief. At that moment, she didn’t really care if the rest of the world liked it. She had already gotten praise from the four best people she could have asked for.
“Group hug,” said Lady Maria.
Across the room, Ian smiled at the group as they laughed and joked in friendship. This was good for Maya. The love and praise she was receiving would do wonders for her self esteem. The mural was certainly beautiful. She had done a wonderful job, and he was really proud of her! He was happy, he had the foresight to pass the job off to her and bring her to Sunset Valley. Maya did seem different. The same loving, kind woman she always had been, but stronger, more confident.
Tomorrow night was the art gallery exhibit where she would be debuting a painting at the gallery, along with several other artists. He had already seen it and couldn’t believe how far her painting skills had come from her classes at university. Tomorrow night, was going to be a big night for Maya. She just didn’t know it yet…and he couldn’t wait. Ian left the hospital wing laughing and whistling. Tomorrow night, he said to the stars when he had reached the sidewalk outside. It was as if he was telling his father, who after all his tutelage on women, would be proud of everything he had done.
There it was again. That feeling! Maya turned around and searched the faces in the crowd, determined to find out who it was. But she couldn’t see anyone looking her way, and as quick as the feeling came, it went. Leaving her with a sense of loss, she just couldn’t explain.
CC Used In This Chapter
Lots-Ian’s House -Created by me