African Firestorm is back on the front burner, and I'm going to dive into the Battletech Universe and see if I can finish off some of these stories I have half-written. In the meanwhile, the next Part of Merlin's Legacy
Donella returned in a couple of minutes later, carrying a couple of packs of hooks. “Put them in with the rest of the stuff,” I said, motioning to the cart. “On me.”
She shook her head. “I’ll buy these,” she said.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“If it’s about Margaret, no.”
“All right, I won’t.”
She looked a little relieved. “It’s just that Margaret sometimes acts more like my mother than my friend,” she said.
“You don’t want to go to college?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I’m not sure that—”
I knew the voice even before I turned to face the person who’d interrupted our conversation. “Hello, Damien,” I said.
Damien scowled. He was real good at it, but compared to my mom’s, he was an amateur. “Merlin,” he said. “Moving in on my girl?”
“I am not your girl,” Donella growled. “I’m nobody’s girl.”
“You will be,” Damien said with a cool smile. He was dressed in what I’d call preppy understated — polo shirt, designer jacket, slacks, and multi-hundred dollar athletic shoes. “How about a date tonight?”
“No,” Donella said firmly.
“Come on babe, I can show you a whole new life.”
I pulled a claw hammer from the shelf next to me and examined it.. I looked at Donella and held the hammer up. “What do you think?”
She looked at me in puzzlement. “About what?”
I stepped in front of Damien. “Do you think this is a good hammer?”
“Hey!” Damien snarled. “We we’re talking!”
I looked back at him. “No, that conversation’s over.”
“Listen you mother— “
Hello Mister Wihite,” I said, staring past Damien. He stopped and looked back. I dropped the hammer into the cart and pushed the cart as fast as I could, Donella went with me. By the time Damien realized that there was no one behind him, we were six feet away and turning into another aisle.
Once out of his sight, I put Donella’s hand in the cart and motioned her to go on. As she did so, I dropped to one knee near the turn, as if I was looking at something on a bottom shelf. I was there only a couple of seconds, before Damien came charging around the corner and fell over me.
As he sprawled on the ground, I rose to my feet. “Watch it!’ I said loudly in an annoyed tone.
He glared up at me. “Real funny,” he snarled.
“Is there a problem?” Mister Wihite called out.
“Is there a problem, Damien?” I asked.
He got onto his feet and glared at me. “You win this one, asshole, but I will make you pay for it, and soon!”
“I’ve been threaten by experts,” I said. “you’re not even close.”
“You will pay!”
“I know a man whose killed more people with his bare hands then the combined number of murders by the people on Florida’s death row. He did it in service to his country as a soldier. He runs a martial arts school, and guess what? He’s my teacher. You want my head? Bring friends, and enough body bags for them.” He glared at me for a few more seconds, then turned and walked away, giving Donella a venomous glance as he brushed past her.
Dionella looked at me as I walked up to her. “Did you tell him the truth?”
“About Master Cho?” I replied. “Yes. Master Cho was a ROK solider for twenty-five years before he came to the US. I learned under him for the last five years. The man’s pushing seventy, but he’s still faster than an enraged cobra.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” she said in an annoyed tone.
“I have a low threshold for bullies,” I replied. “Plus I have a mom and an older sister who would have slipped Damien there so hard, he’d be spitting out his teeth.”
“A knight in shining armor,” she said in the same tone as before.
Mister Wihite came into view. “Is there a problem?”
“No, someone fell over me while I was looking at the plumbing supplies. He apologized and walked off.”
“I believe that was his name.”
Mister Wihite looked at Donella, who nodded to confirm my story. After seeing there was nothing out of place, he nodded and left the aisle.
“I think I’ve found everything I needed from here,” I said. “Let’s check out.”
We started up toward the front, when A woman’s voice bellowed, “You’re wrong!”
“The total is wrong!”
We came in sight of the front counter. A woman was glaring down at a girl who was behind the counter. The female customer could have been an NFL defensive linesman, with a face that looked like she’d played the game without a helmet. She towered over the clerk, who was maybe in senior high school, a foot shorter, and maybe a third of the customer’s weight. She was holding her ground, but only just. “But the computer—”
“The computer is wrong!”
Wihite appeared, trying to look calm, but I could see the tightness around his eyes. “Myra,” he said, walking around the counter and placing himself between his clerk and the mad maid mountain. “What is the problem?”
“This air head rang up my order wrong!” the woman snarled
“All right,” Wihite said. He turned to the register and touched a few buttons. “Why don’t we ring this up again and see?”
The items, a couple of jars of spackling, some lumber, a box of nails, and some chicken wire, were rung up again. “Same total,” Wihite said, after comparing the receipts.
“You’re trying to cheat me!” the woman roared.
“Fine,” Wihite said, turning the register’s screen toward the woman. “Tell me what rung up wrong.”
The woman scanned the items with hard eyes, then with a sound somewhere between a grunt and a growl, she pulled out a bunch of bills. “Fine,” she growled. She threw several of the bills on the counter, then turned to look at me. “What are you looking at?”
I didn’t flinch. “A bully,” I replied cooly.
That didn’t make her happy. She turned to face me. “Who the hell are you?”
“I could ask you the same question,” I said. “To answer your question first, I’m Roger Merlin. And you are?”
The woman’s expression changed from anger to shock. “M-Merlin?” she stammered.
The woman turned back to the counter grabbed her bagged items and left in a hurry. Both Mister Wihite and his clerk looked at me. I returned their look. “Who was she?”
“Myra Goldleaf,” Wihite replied. “She and her husband own Goldleaf’s Bookstore, across the square.”
“Is she always that obnoxious?”
“She is a hard person to satisfy,” Wihite said.
I pushed my cart up to the counter. “Let’s see if I can improve on her performance.”
In addition to the hardware store, we stopped by a supermarket on the way back, and I picked up a twelve-pack of sodas and a few snacks. Donella watched me, frowning, but not saying anything. As we got back in the car, I noticed a black car idling in the far corner of the parking lot. As Donella started the car and headed for the exit, I watched the car to see what it would do.
Donella pulled out of the parking lot and headed for Camelot. I glanced back and saw the black car had also pulled out and was following us. ‘Something wrong?’ Donella asked.
“I think I’m being paranoid,” I replied.
I told her about the car. She snorted and said, “You’re right, you’re being paranoid.”
It took us seven minutes to go from the supermarket to the front entrance of Camelot, and the black car stayed behind us the entire time, never closing the distance, but never allowing the distance to increase. As we turned into the estate, I said, “Do those gates close and lock?”
“Yes, from about nine at night to six in the morning,” Donella replied, driving through the said gates. “During those times, access is only by access code or you have to be let in by someone in one of the three houses, and I can’t recall that ever happening.”
I glanced back as the black car slowed as if it was going to follow us, then accelerated and drive past the driveway. I turned around and slumped in my seat. Something was going on here in Pilgrim’s Cove, and it had to do with Lucian’s death. I had the feeling I was walking into something I wasn’t going to like, and I hate those feelings.
Back to Work!