The weather in Hawthorne Beach was cooperating. It was sunny and, while still cool for mid-April, it was warming up. But there was a dark cloud looming over what was supposed to be a perfect day. The disk still had not been located and neither had Harry, which was enough to drive the entire DeBeauharnais family to distraction.
The day started crazily enough, with the entire household in turmoil. The phone was ringing off the hook by seven. Jacques, still hung over from a late-night packing frenzy (which included a couple of fifths of Jack Daniels) and wearing a pink crotch-less teddy with a matching robe thrown over it and left open to expose everything, grabbed the cordless phone from the base on the kitchen wall and growled angrily "You don't want me coming through this line right now!"
"Jacques?" Napoleon asked, “Have you sobered up yet from last night?”
“I’m on my second cup of coffee right now,” he admitted. “The last thing I recall from last night was you and Illya having to leave rather suddenly.” He instantly went into griping mode and started "I can't believe you bailed out on your own batchelor party. And right before the cake came out at that."
“Sorry about that. We thought we had a lead to follow up on, however it turned into a dead end,” he explained. “I’ve got something to take care of this morning, which hopefully won’t take long and then we’re on our way.”
"Well, I’m not the one you need to tell that to." He walked out of the kitchen and down the front foyer to the bottom of the steps. Seeing Jason and Larry dawdling on the second floor landing, he hollered up "Ya'll better be gettin' your butts in gear before I speed 'em up for ya'll!"
Jason let out a long yawn. "Wake me in another hour," he grumbled, walking down the hall toward his room.
Larry started down the steps, looking sluggish and groggy. "Whoa, Nellie!" he gasped, covering his eyes when he saw Jacques' attire. "You look incredible, Grandma Jackie, and I mean that duly," he gushed.
As Larry got within reach, Jacques slid his arm around Larry's shoulders and whispered, "How about running upstairs and telling Lynda to pick up the phone, would you Sugar Pie?"
"Ooh, I love it when you talk dirty to me" he cooed before running up the steps as if he were running for his life. He hit the second floor landing and almost ran to a bedroom door and started beating on it with his fists. "HELP!!" he screamed in dramatic fashion, almost falling into the room as the door flew open. He caught himself by catching hold of the doorframe and looked up to see Lynda looking rather frantic. "Pick up the phone," he told her. "And don't go downstairs. I've already been hit on this morning!" he shrieked as he ran down the hall as Jacques stood at the bottom, laughing his socks off.
"Larry," she grumbled, looking rather worn-out. Her hair hadn't been brushed, her robe was just thrown on over her gown, and she looked like she had enough of the chaos. "Would you not scream like a banshee? Especially this early in the fucking morning." She turned on her heels and drug herself to the bed and picked up the phone. "Yeah?" she asked, stretching out on the bed and almost falling back asleep.
"When was the last time I told you how much I love you?" Napoleon cooed over the phone.
Lynda yawned. "God I wish you were here already," she sleepily replied. "But it'd be my luck you're having to go out of town again."
"Well, now that you mention it," he laughed. "I do. That is, if you haven't changed your mind again."
"Hmm," she started, lazily looking over at the alarm clock and seeing a large white cockatiel sitting on top of it. "Norman, get off the clock!" she demanded.
"Screw you," the bird returned, flapping his wings. "And the horse you rode in on. Awach."
"I take it you've already had a wake-up call," Napoleon remarked. "Should we change the menu for the reception slightly to include grilled cockatiel?"
"Great idea," she agreed. "However I don’t think the caterer will go for it seeing as it’s at the very last second."
He heard her let out another yawn and asked, "Are you okay? Do you need to go back to bed for a little bit?"
"I can't," she grumbled. "There’s too much to do today." She shooed the bird out the door and shut the door. She sighed heavily, feeling drained before she had even gotten started. "Did you hear anything about that house we looked at a couple of weekends ago?"
"Well, I thought out of the ones we looked at, that one in Scarsdale with the pond and eight bedrooms would be perfect.”
“Oh God,” she giglged. “Eight bedrooms sounds like too many, wouldn’t you think?” she mused.
"I think we can find a way to fill up eight bedrooms," he hinted. "In fact, I think we've already got a good head start on it."
"Don't say that too loud, Nappy," she laughed. "Someone could be listening."
"Speaking of listening, have you heard anything from Harry?"
"Not a peep. Any word on where my disk is?"
"Not a peep," he answered. "I take it Travers is still alive?”
“Unfortunately,” she groaned. “I don’t know why Brenda hasn’t come up with a plan to kill him yet. Personally, I think she needs tranquilizers.” She saw Brenda open the bathroom door and point at her watch. “Speak of the Devil.”
Brenda stalked over, looking irate as she heard that remark, and took the phone from Lynda. "What do I need tranquilizers for?" she asked. She put the phone to her ear and asked, "Is this who I think it is this early?"
"That depends," Napoleon answered. "Who would like for it to be?"
"You're cute, Napoleon," she laughed. "But I already have a lapdog and you're spoken for after five. Are you on your way just yet?"
"I'm leaving from here around twelve," he answered. "But I am bringing you something."
"Something?" She pondered for a second and asked "Something or someone?"
"I'll leave you in suspense for the time being," he evasively answered. "Could you put me back with your sister?"
"Only for a second," she nodded. "Her bathwater's getting cold." She handed the phone back and told her "I'm warning you now: don't go downstairs before I can get Mama Jackie dressed."
"Oh, shit," she moaned. "Not the-"
"Yeah. He's letting it all hang out this morning," Brenda answered, gesturing with her hand. "It's a sad day when a girl gets flashed by her own father."
Brenda, meanwhile, went downstairs and into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Seeing Jacques’ attire, she just shook her head and asked, “How about putting on some clothes? There’s some things that just need to be kept under wraps.”
Jacques laughed. “I guess you’re right. I’ll just go upstairs and see which dress I’m wearing today.” He quickly wrapped the robe around him and tied it. “Why are you being so modest all of a sudden?”
“Why do I have to act like the den mother around here?” she wanted to know. “Just go upstairs.” She went through the large living area and outside onto the large patio, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. No sooner had she sat down at the large glass-topped iron table and lit a cigarette, Grandaddy came outside and joined her. He settled his tall, lanky frame into a chair across from her and asked, “Is there anything you feel the need to tell me, Brenda Marie Antoinette?”
“We aren’t still on that discussion, are we?” she laughed as she sipped on her coffee. “I took the Lamborghini out for a test drive the other night back in New York,” she answered with a wink. “How many more times do we need to go over that?”
Grandaddy sat and thought on that. Night before last, Brenda was out on the loose in Manhattan. From Lynda he had gathered that she was up to no good, but Lynda didn’t know just what. All she could recall (as she had told him) was that she called Brenda, but that Brenda was being evasive. That wasn’t new information – Brenda could keep quiet on something. Those two had always covered each other, he knew that probably as well as anyone in the family. He thought about something else: last fall, both the twins had received letters from Harvard, but they chose instead to return to Lafayette to graduate first. No sooner had they decided to do that, everything within the family started to shift. First, there was Harry making a rather substantial withdrawal from his trust; Sepheran escaped from jail soon afterwards. Then Lynda came up with her bright idea to write Leprechaun. From that point, everything just went haywire and now he was concerned with terrorists possibly crashing his grandbaby’s wedding.
Finally, he got up and started to go back inside. Brenda watched him and asked, “Where are you going?”
“I’m going in to run an idea by Jacques,” he returned with a wink.
That afternoon in New York, Napoleon and Illya were in a taxi, trying their best to get to the airport. "Could you step on it?" Napoleon asked, slipping a hundred-dollar bill to the driver. "We've got an emergency."
Up ahead, a tractor-trailer had overturned, scattering live chickens all over the road. One flew up onto the windshield of the car. "Good luck on that," the guy answered, his thick Iranian accent gleaming through.
Illya pulled out his communicator and grumbled, "I'll just call Jacques and inform him of our situation. Hopefully he'll understand and be able to reschedule this event."
“I don’t think that’s going to be necessary,” Napoleon replied, taking the communicator away.
“We’re cutting it close as it is,” he contended. “You should have just eloped. It would have been simpler.”
“Yeah,” he sighed, checking his watch again. “I’m beginning to think that probably would have been the smart way to handle this. As it is, I’ve got a church full of people waiting down South.”
“Does that include the relatives from Arkansas?”
“I don’t think they were invited,” Napoleon commented, looking outside the window again. He was starting to grow concerned, however his mind was trying to come up with a way out.
“You know, really you should have put off the closing on the house until after the honeymoon. We could have left first thing this morning and already be at Jacques’.”
“I thought about that,” Napoleon conceded. “But I wanted to surprise Lynda tonight after the reception.”
At a local airport, the UNCLE jet was waiting on the runway and the pilot was communicating with Headquarters "They haven't arrived yet," he said over his communicator "and it's already two-thirty. I'm afraid they're going to be late."
"I'll try to reach them and see where they are," Sir John Raleigh answered. "Stay on standby."
From his office inside UNCLE Headquarters in New York, Sir John immediately beeped them. "Mr. Solo," he called. "Are you available?"
"We're still stuck in traffic," Napoleon replied, sounding quite concerned.
"Where are you?" he asked, sounding equally concerned.
"We're at," he started, straining to look out the window to pinpoint their locale. "The eleven hundred block of West 59th."
"The two of you were supposed to leave an hour and a half ago," he chided.
"That's what we were planning on," Illya butted in. "However, it seems as if fate has pulled a nasty trick."
"Maybe not," Sir John attempted to reassure them. "How about a lift to the airport?"
"That would be a Godsend," Napoleon breathed, becoming a little less unnerved. "We'll see you in a little bit, then."
"I'm afraid not," he answered ruefully. "Somebody has to mind the store. I've already got a dozen agents who will be providing security for the wedding as well as the reception." He bristled uncomfortably, recalling that horrible incident in New York a few weeks earlier. "Besides, I don't feel like being humiliated a second time by those two," he groaned.
Napoleon was thinking about that as well. "Have you received any more mail concerning those photos?"
"I've heard from the CIA, the FBI, the DEA, the Pentagon, Interpol, Scotland Yard, the Secret Service, not to mention countless others," he groaned. "They seem to still be enjoying this incident, at our expense, of course." He sighed. "On the downside, we've become the laughingstock of the entire intelligence community. I thought you might want to know there's been a couple more inquiries about Lynda and Brenda as well involving possible future employment opportunities"
"That'll be over my dead body," he remarked, cringing as he recalled what had occurred the previous month, which by this time had become known around UNCLE as "The Underwear Unaffair". "I'll be sure to check under Lynda's skirt before she leaves the house."
"That's what got you into this," Illya remarked, snickering to himself.
"Did you say something?" Napoleon asked him.
"Has anyone found out who might have the disk yet?"
"We're not sure," Sir John replied. "A couple of agents from our Paris office checked Harry’s villa near Cannes, but to no avail. Either the disk is with Harry himself or he's passed it on to someone else."
"If you want to make a friendly wager, I'll bet he has it himself."
"I'm not a betting man, Mr. Solo," Sir John managed a laugh. "Besides, even if I were, I wouldn't bet against the latter, either. Call me when you arrive in Hawthorne Beach." He ended his transmission.
Napoleon closed up his pen and returned it to his inside pocket. He wanted to ask, but was trying to figure out how to best approach it. After a minute, he simply asked, "Has Jean-Claude made any further inquiries about the other evening?”
“What other evening?” Illya asked, not quite understanding the question.
“Night before last,” he answered. “Brenda supposedly wasn’t at the hotel that evening.”
“Not that again,” Illya sighed. He was tired of even thinking about it, yet he hadn’t been able to stop. He was remembering more about what transpired earlier that day, which was a lot more than the day before.
A few minutes later, the sounds of rotor blades were being heard and both Napoleon and Illya were sticking their heads out the open windows to see what was going on. Hovering over the cab almost a hundred feet in the air was a helicopter and they both smiled. "I see we're going first class," Napoleon remarked, his spirits brightened quite a bit by the sight.
"Let's go," Illya ordered, seeing a ladder being thrown down and the copter lowering itself down cautiously. “I’ll never live it down if I don’t get you to your wedding in one piece.”
In an instant, they flew out the doors and ran out toward the middle of the road, to the complete and utter amazement of everyone suffering through the standstill. People were leaning out of cars, trucks, cabs, vans, etc., all open mouthed, some pointing. Even people on the sidewalks on either side of the street came to a halt and people gawked and oohed as they saw the guys take hold of the ladder and climb up, first Napoleon, then Illya. They scurried up the ladder like a pair of mice and climbed into the craft before the chopper lifted them up into the sky and buzzed off like a bumblebee.