The reception was going well enough. The wedding party arrived about an hour after the reception began, having stayed at the church to take photographs. A little while later, a mysterious lady dressed in a green satin ensemble with matching hat and shoes slipped in at the Hawthorne Beach Country Club and made herself quite at home. No sooner had she walked in than a waiter appeared, carrying a tray of hors d’ouvres. Another one quickly followed, carrying glasses of French champagne. She took a glass and sipped on it while she surveyed the scene.
It was quite a party, with a band playing at the far end of the huge dance floor area, three buffet tables were laid out with an assortment of meats, side dishes and desserts. The three-tiered wedding cake sat in the middle of the dessert table, trimmed out with peach roses and the traditional bride and groom sitting on top. Anyone who was anyone in Hawthorne Beach was there on hand for the celebration. In one corner, Jacques was visiting a table occupied by a pudgy fellow in full police dress uniform and a half-deaf guy with thick glasses and a hearing aid in one ear. "How's it going over here?" he asked, slapping the police chief on the shoulder. "Ya'll having a good time?"
"As usual, it's a blast," the cop said, laughing. "What are you doing after the party's over?" He studied Jacques from head to toe. "And what's with that outfit?"
"Somebody had to be Mother of the bride," Jacques replied, winking as he took a seat. "I don't know, Martin. I'll probably be at home, pacing the floor."
The other guy asked "Pacemaker? Who got one?"
"Nobody, Phil," Martin replied. "Who wants to visit Miss Cha-Cha tonight?"
"I'm game," Phil answered.
Jacques looked around and caught the eye of the mysterious lady in green, muttering "Boink, boink." He turned his attention back to the guys immediately. "Let me think on that," he said, getting up. "Right now, I think I'm going to rescue a damsel in distress." He walked through the room to her and asked, "Have we met before?" Leaning closer, he whispered in her ear "Did I mention I have a terrific set of 'legal briefs'?"
She smiled. "Mrs. DeBeauharnais?" she asked, pretending to sound uncertain as well as letting the obvious come-on slide. She was also a bit taken aback by his attire, however she kept that to herself. "I'm Serena," she replied. “I’m an old friend of the groom’s.” She couldn’t keep it inside anymore, as she broke into laughter. “Do you usually dress like this for family occasions?” she asked.
"It's actually Mr. DeBeauharnais, but you can call me Jacques," he laughed right along with her. "Or, you can call me 'Lover'."
She regained her composure and looked over to see Napoleon and Lynda on the floor, engaging in a slow dance. "I thought I'd offer my best wishes to your daughter and her husband." She flashed an artificial smile.
"Feel free to enjoy yourself," he offered. "Would you excuse me, I have to check on some of my other guests." He kissed her hand softly. "Maybe we can talk later."
"I'll keep that in mind," she smiled as she walked over to a line at the buffet tables.
Meanwhile, Travers and Illya were at a table, eating and chatting with Brenda, Larry, Jason and Morgan. "Chicken wings at a reception?" Illya inquisitively inquired. "How would one eat those?"
Everyone giggled. "You're definitely not from around here," Jason answered, stuffing a forkful of duck L’Orange in his mouth.
"With your fingers, of course," Brenda answered, picking up one and taking a chunk out. "They're designed to be messy," she said with her mouth full. A second later, she suddenly spit it out and started gasping for air. "Goddamn!" she barely squeaked, reaching for a water glass. She gulped down half of it and letting out a sigh. "Ahhh."
"You shoulda known those were hot," Morgan chided, taking a sip of ginger ale.
"I think I need to go out for some air." She set her fork down and got up to leave.
"I don't think it's a good idea for you to go outside by yourself," Travers said. "Why don't I come with you?" he offered as he started to rise from his chair.
But Illya had already gotten up. "You stay here, Travers," he said. "I'll escort the young lady outside." And they had left before Travers could open his mouth to reply.
Outside, Brenda took a seat on the patio overlooking the beach and opened her small white evening bag. She pulled out a Louis Vuitton cigarette pouch and pulled out a cigarette. "I needed some fresh air," she explained as she stuck the long, slender stick between her beige frosted lips and flicked a chrome Zippo lighter. She took a puff and placed the lighter back in its holder on the back of the case.
Illya took a seat at the table across from her and reached inside his coat to check his gun. It was still there. "It's probably not my business, but I don't think you should smoke."
She shot a hard look at him. "I don't recall anyone giving you the right to dictate to me what I can and cannot do, Illya," she politely fired back, not raising her voice. "If you don't like the smoke, you can go elsewhere."
"Sorry," he apologized.
She took another puff and exhaled. "I have had an awful day." She shook her head. "I had to deal with my father running around with a phone growing from his ear, wearing a pink negligee, then I found a bug in my brassiere that was obviously put there by that pervert Travers. And if that weren't bad enough-"
Illya cringed in utter horror. "I've talked to your grandfather and he's agreed to let us use his plane to go out of town for awhile until this mayhem ends."
She didn't flinch. "How long will I have to be in exile?" she asked.
"I don't know," he answered, shaking his head. "But things have a way of working themselves out." He decided to change the subject. "What's the story with Malcolm Travers?"
"Uh,-" she started. "Story? Travers? I dunno." She shrugged. "What do you want it to be?"
Illya looked out toward the ocean and, as he was watching the waves, asked, "Are you involved with him?"
"Well, it’s like this: he wants to be. However, I don’t share that idea.” She leaned over and almost whispered, “Personally, I can’t stand him. “
He was silent for a few minutes, looking out over the balcony at the ocean. He wasn’t wild about this Travers guy either. Frankly, he thought Travers wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. But for the moment, he’d hold off on any definite conclusion until he knew more.
He looked back through the glass and asked, "Would you like to go back inside and dance?"
"With whom?" she asked dryly.
"I wasn't suggesting Travers," he answered, getting up and walking over to offer his hand.
Brenda had a thought as she got up and they walked back inside together. "Do you suppose it could be possible that Harry might try to abduct Larry as well? Especially if Sepheran still believes Larry is his son?"
He was amazed at her sudden burst of intellect and was thunderstruck. He regained his composure and replied, "Did anyone tell you a little knowledge can be dangerous?"
"Yeah, I know." She swallowed hard. "But my point is: if Sepheran tried once to take Larry, now that he's out, he might try again." She extinguished her cigarette into an ashtray. "I’m well aware of the family history. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but Mama Jackie isn’t mine and Lynda’s biological father.”
“I’m aware of it,” he answered, recalling the conversation with Napoleon back in December about the girls. “It’s not your fault.”
“Just one quick question,” Brenda started, “Where are we going to hide out at?”
Before Illya could answer, Jean-Claude walked over, looking rather smug. "Did I miss anything?" he asked teasingly.
"Define anything," Illya dryly answered.
Jean-Claude looked at Brenda and asked, "Would you mind if I spoke to Illya here alone?"
Brenda shrugged her shoulders and went back to the party. When she disappeared, Jean-Claude motioned for Illya to follow and they walked into one of the rooms, closing the door behind them.
Back inside, Napoleon and Lynda were still on the dance floor when Jacques interrupted. "Would you mind terribly if I cut in?" Jacques asked, motioning with his head toward Serena, who was at the bar.
Napoleon glanced over and saw her, then he looked at Lynda and asked "Is it safe to leave the two of you alone for a couple of minutes?"
"A couple of minutes or a week?" she asked, not wanting to let him out of her sight.
"I promise I won't be gone that long," he whispered, kissing her lips gently. He leaned over Jacques' shoulder and whispered, "You look absolutely incredible."
"Yes, I know," he laughed in reply. "I was going to go with the tux, but someone had to do it."
"Remind me never to call you when we need a babysitter."
"If you're not back in five minutes, I'm coming to look for you," Lynda warned.
He held up two fingers. “Scout’s honor.” He walked over to the bar. "Serena," he asked cautiously. "Is it really you?"
She smiled and extended her hand. "It's been a long time, Napoleon Solo," she answered as he pecked her on the cheek. "This is rather unexpected."
"Unexpected?" he asked, stepping back. "In what way?"
"Well, I never expected you to say 'I do' to anyone, let alone Miss DeBeauharnais. I'm curious to know what the going rate for robbing a cradle is these days," she slyly added.
"I see." He nodded, intentionally ignoring the barb. "How long have you been in town?"
"Not long,” she mused, not wanting to give away too much. “I’m just visiting some friends.." She looked around. "My daughter is here also. I'd introduce you to her but I can't seem to find her." She set her glass down. "What have you been doing with yourself since we last met?"
"I had my own business, but I'm more involved now with other projects," he coolly replied. "And you?"
"I own a boutique," she said simply. "I see your former partner came in for this wondrous occasion."
Solo looked around and saw him out on the dance floor with Brenda. "Yes, he's right over there," he remarked, pointing. "Getting down to cases, have you heard from Sepheran?"
"No," she said with a straight face. "I don't know where he is."
"But you know he escaped," he prodded.
"I heard it from somewhere but I can't recall the source," she said, reluctantly but not wanting to give too much away.
"Try again." He crossed his arms. "You still have dirt in your feathers."
"I think you're assuming a bit much."
Meanwhile, Lynda was still on the floor with Mama Jackie and spotted someone out of the corner of her eye. It was a young girl, with long frizzled red hair and large round eyes. She was maybe five foot six, with a rather slender, yet voluptuous figure and was decked out in black. She was decked out in a simple black dress with a matching bolero jacket, black hosiery, black satin pumps with six- inch high spiked heels and a black veil over her face.
“I see the fun is just starting,” she dryly commented, craning her neck for a better view.
Mama Jackie turned around to see what she was commenting on. “How tacky,” he commented. “She must’ve gotten lost on the way back from the cemetery.”
“I don’t recall sending out any invitations to anyone from Lafayette,” she simply said. “That’s Becky Jameson, drug dealer extrordinaire.”
“Oh boy,” he sighed, dreading the worst. “I know it’s tempting, however this is a wedding reception, remember?”
“I think I need to find Brenda,” she smiled, that devilish grin coming across her face. “We could have some fun with this.”
A couple of miles down the road, a black BMW pulled into a service station and stopped. A tall, lanky fellow around six foot four with long legs and a dark suit and Stetson hat got out of the car. He walked to a payphone and, after putting a quarter in the slot, picked up the receiver and dialed a number. "Yes, I need to speak with Serena Jameson, please," he said when he got an answer.
Back at the Country Club, Serena was still chatting with Napoleon and Illya when a waiter came over and asked "Miss Jameson?"
"Yes," she asked, turning to face him.
"You have a telephone call," he announced. "You can take it at the bar."
"Thank you," she replied, somewhat puzzled. "Would you excuse me?" she asked politely.
"I need to go myself," Napoleon replied, looking around. "I need to find my wife. It was lovely seeing you again." He hugged her perfunctorily. As he did, he slipped a transmitter into the back of her belt without her knowing it. He let go and smiled. "We should get together again and relive old times," he replied as he turned around to leave her. His mouth fell open when he saw Lynda standing there, with a rather thunderous look on her face. "It's not what you think, my love," he started.
She crossed her arms and peered over the top of her glasses. "Where are the French fries?" she asked, her voice icy cold.
"French fries?" he asked, not catching on for a brief second before it hit him like a ton of bricks. "Oh, the French fries. I thought they had been added onto the menu."
"I can't find them," she answered, getting louder. "I want my French fries and I want them now!"
"We'll find them," he assured her, gently stroking her shoulders.
Jacques overheard the commotion, as did everyone else, and ran over to see what was going on. "What's wrong, Princess?"
"I was promised French fries with extra mayo and I haven't seen them yet," she fussed. "I'm starving and I'm supposed to be eating for two now and I WANT MY FRIES!!!" she bellowed.
Jacques shook his head. "That's what I forgot to include on the menu," he groaned miserably. Looking at Napoleon, he asked tiredly "Would you please get your wife some French fries for God's sake so she won't create a scene?"
"Wouldn't you prefer something else right now?" Illya butted in "I highly recommend the pasta primavera with grilled shrimp."
She shook her head. "Nope. I want French fries."
"But that's your favorite, Sweetheart," Napoleon persisted.
"Not today," she replied. "I want fries."
Jacques butted in again. "Let me give you a crash course, Napoleon," he started. "The first rule of dealing with a pregnant woman is: whatever she wants, she gets. Now, even though this brat has been your responsibility since she was twelve, I still expect you to take proper care of her and my soon-to-be grandchild." He shuddered at the thought. Regaining his senses, he pointed at the door. "GO GET MY BABY SOME FRENCH FRIES!!!" he screamed.
"All right, enough already," Napoleon nodded. He looked at his wife and asked, "Will you calm down long enough for me to go and get your fries?"
She cocked her head to one side and thought about it. "Maybe," she evasively answered. "Just don't be gone too long."
"I won't." He held up two fingers. "Scout's honor."
"Yeah, right," she laughed as she kissed him. "Hurry back."
"Yeah," he muttered, turning around and going out the door, shaking his head in dismay the entire way.
Illya shook his head and excused himself as well. "I think I'll go with him to make sure he doesn't get lost on the way back." He took off for the doors as if he were running for his life.
Meanwhile, Larry went into the men's room and was washing his hands when he heard footsteps. "That you, Jason?" he asked, not looking around. No response. "Who's there?"
"It's me, little brother," a female voice answered.
He turned around to see a redheaded girl, about seventeen years old, with long frizzled hair and dressed in a black dress and veil. “Bloody Hell,” he exclaimed. “What are you doing here, Becky? And what’s with the outfit?”
"You look surprised," she said, noticing his shocked expression. "It's okay. Nobody knows we're related but us birds."
"To what do I owe the displeasure?" he asked, sticking his hands under the dryer. "You had better hope and pray Lynda doesn’t see you. She’s going to stomp your ass.”
"I thought I'd invite you on a trip." She smirked. “As for your disgraced cousin, I’m not too concerned. I’m sure she’d rather be interested in keeping face.” She laughed. “Somebody forgot to tell her she has no reputation left.”
"A trip?" he asked, laughing. "You've got to be joking."
""No," she answered. Leaning against the wall, she continued. "You make it sound like I have cooties. What's wrong with a family reunion?"
"Depends on who we're reunioning with." He shook his head. "By the way, I’m not your little brother. It's Sir Larry to you."
"Aren't you even just the least bit curious?" she continued, ignoring the last remark.
"Go away," he grunted as he walked toward her. "Now."
"You wouldn't hit me," she dared.
He raised his hand back and warned, "In your case, it would be a public service. Move!"
She stepped aside and sighed heavily. "Don't say I didn't warn you," she sang.
From the window behind, a big, beefy guy in chauffeur's dress climbed in through the window unnoticed and walked up behind Larry with a gun drawn and ready if needed. He quietly stepped behind the boy and cocked the hammer.
Larry turned around, very slowly as if in a dream, to see the man and the gun. He gulped nervously. "I take it that's my invitation," he dryly remarked.
"You could say that," the guy smiled. He motioned with the gun toward the window. "Not a sound."
"Talk about R. S. V. P.," he agreed as he turned back around to discover Becky had already left. He turned back around and walked over to the window and climbed out, the other guy right on his heels.
Outside in the parking lot, Lynda and Brenda were both checking on Jean-Claude, who was sitting on top of the hood of the limousine with a Mason jar. “Would you believe I left my makeup bag in the trunk?” Lynda asked him as she held out her hand. “I need the keys.”
“You look fine,” he answered, trying to dig into his pant pocket for the spare. He was wobbling back and forth and Brenda had to catch him to keep from falling over the hood. He finally found the spare key and handed it over.
“Thanks,” she replied, taking the key and walking over to the trunk. She quickly unlocked it and Brenda walked over, commenting “When I get my hands on that bitch, she’s dead.”
“Ah, you’re still miffed over Becky telling Elvis that you were the one who drilled the peep holes in the girls’ shower room, aren’t you?”
“She was the one who did that, remember? It wasn’t my week for girls,” she sarcastically added. “This week doesn’t look too good, either.” She started rummaging in the trunk and pulled out a couple of drop cloths. “You know you just don’t want to get anything on that dress,” she grinned.
“I’ll be needing both of them by the end of the summer,” Lynda returned. “That’s probably all I’ll be able to wear.”
“Oh stop it,” Brenda laughed. She pulled out a pair of chainsaws. “Ya know, Becky was talking about wanting a Porsche convertible for Grad next year.” She looked over to the far side of the lot, where a silver Porsche 944 hardtop was sitting. “Why don’t we give her one a year early?”
“Hmmm,” Lynda mused, taking a pair of safety goggles out of the trunk. “One good turn deserves another.”
Outside in the parking lot a little bit later, a black four-door Ford sedan pulled into a parking space and Kowalski got out and locked the door. He went quickly inside to the party, where he saw everyone had gathered around the middle of the room. He took a glass of champagne from a waiter and scanned the crowd for anyone familiar. He saw Illya coming from across the room in his direction. "How's it going?" he asked.
Illya looked surprised but not displeased at Kowalski's appearance. "Mr. Kowalski," he greeted, shaking his hand. "I believe you remember Brenda DeBeauharnais, don't you?" he asked, motioning to her.
Kowalski shook her hand. "Not again," he groaned. "What have you got brewing this time?"
"Let's just say that's my secret," she returned. "Don't you have anything else better to do than to be obnoxious and rude?"
"I was expecting you earlier," Illya interrupted. "What happened?"
"I would've been here sooner but I got lost twice on the interstate," he explained. He watched the newlyweds together for a minute and his face wrinkled up with displeasure at the sight of the newlyweds. "I cannot see those two together," he remarked. "Especially behind closed doors."
Both of them just looked at him. Finally, Brenda remarked, “Well, in case you have any doubts, it is on videotape.”
“Well, don’t tell your brother-in-law, but that tape’s made the rounds at the office,” he returned.
Travers walked over and introduced himself. "I'm Malcolm Travers from Houston," he said, extending his hand. "And you?"
"Benjamin Kowalski, Section Two, New York," Kowalski said, shaking his hand. "How's things in the Lone Star State?"
"Rather interesting," he replied. "What about the Big Apple?"
"Busy as of recent."
Meanwhile, back out on the floor, Napoleon finally managed to remove the garter from Lynda's leg and started herding the single guys in front. "All you single men out there gather 'round," he called out.
A few came up, ready for the challenge. Napoleon looked in the back and hollered "Illya!" He motioned for him. "You too, get on out here."
Illya shook his head, steadfastly refusing to go out there with the younger guys, and tried to shrink into the background. Before he knew what hit him, Napoleon came over and grabbed his arm. "No," he protested, trying to jerk free. "I have no business being out there."
"Come on," he urged. Noticing Kowalski, he asked, "When did you get here, Kowalski?"
"Just now. I got lost twice or I'd been here earlier," he explained. "We really need to talk.”"
"All right," he nodded. "Let me get back with you in a few minutes." He tugged on his best man's arm again. "Come on."
Brenda got behind him and quipped, "Don't be such a party pooper, Illya."
"This is absurd," he continued. "I'd only look ridiculous."
"No, it's not absurd. It's tradition at American weddings. Don't be such a baby." She got behind him and pushed him. "You're holding up progress."
He soon found himself in a line with several other guys, including Jason. "Where's Larry?" he asked.
Jason shrugged. "I dunno," he answered simply. He leaned over and whispered in his ear "I think Travers is the one you need to keep an eye on."
"Perish the thought," Illya whispered back, not wanting to let on anything. "Any particular reason?" he asked before he could stop himself.
"Besides the fact that I watched him pat my sister on the ass when she was coming back inside while ya'll were gone?" he asked, winking. He laughed to himself as he watched the look on Illya's face change to stone cold.
Jacques staggered over from the bar, tie undone, champagne glass in his hand. "Wait for me," he half-slurred.
"You can't even walk straight, Daddy," Jason complained as he quickly walked over and helped him sit down in a nearby chair. "Forget it. We're not calling for a crane to pick you up out of the floor."
Lynda waked over. "It's bad enough Uncle Frank's passed out on the hood of the limousine," she bitched. "You're going to Cha-Cha's later, aren't you?" she asked, sitting down beside him.
"What was your first clue?" he asked as he fell over and his head hit the table with a loud thud, effectively knocking him down for the count.
The other guys paid no attention and quickly got back in line. Napoleon looked for Travers and asked "Travers, you're welcome to join us."
Travers set his glass down and quickly joined, leaving Kowalski and Brenda to themselves. Brenda looked at Kowalski and asked, "Are you also here for protective surveillance?"
"I'm escorting you to New York," he answered as he sipped on his glass. "Your uncle is expecting you and your sister in his office."
She was instantly curious. "Hmmm," she pondered. "Stay here. Go to New York. Chaos." She grinned. "I'm all for chaos."
He shook his head in disbelief. "You're nothing but a sadistic little bitch from Hell," he sneered, still irate over the "Underwear Unaffair."
She eyed him disgustingly. "I think I'll mosey on over yonder and talk to the turd in the punch bowl," she snidely answered. "I find its conversation more enlightening." She stormed off over to where her father and her sister were.
They looked over to see Napoleon turn his back to the guys and toss the blue garter over his shoulder. Everyone scrambled over to catch it and ended up falling into a big pile onto the floor. He looked around to see the commotion and broke out laughing as everyone struggled to their feet and walked over to help. "Need a hand?" he asked Illya.
He managed to get up on his own, the garter in his hand. "I'm fine," he said, trying to regain his breath. "I'm getting too old for this."
Travers walked over, still catching his breath. "Nice job," he offered. "I see the better man won."
In one fell swoop, Illya's right fist caught Travers in the chin and almost knocked the young fellow down. Travers struggled to keep his feet on the floor, but as he was caught rather off his guard, tripped over his own feet and landed with a plop in the floor on his rear. "What the hell was that for?" he yelled, shocked at the greeting.
Napoleon tried to grab Illya's arm. "What in hell is going on here, Illya?”
"Stay out of this, Napoleon!" he ordered, pulling out of his grip. "This has nothing to do with you." He kicked Travers in the groin just as he tried to stand up and sent the boy back down. Then, Illya reached down and grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket. "If I ever hear you putting your hands on Brenda again, so help me I'll kill you with my bare hands.”
"I didn't- I swear I didn't-" Travers started.
"Keep your hands to yourself!" Illya bellowed and flung him down into the floor. He turned to walk away and saw Brenda shaking her head reprovingly. "He's going to be dead if he ever touches you again," he warned, looking every bit as serious as he sounded.
"You and what army?" Morgan butted in, laughing.
"Don't you think you've had a bit too much celebrating?" Brenda asked, leaving her sister and walking over to him, with Morgan trailing behind. "Why don't you go outside and chill out?"
"I'm fine," he protested. He looked around to see everyone's mouths standing open, some oohing and ahhing, others dumbfounded. "I think I'll take your advice and go outside for a few minutes." He turned and quickly escaped the scene.
Brenda got so tickled, her head fell over onto Morgan's shoulder. "I don't believe this," she croaked. "He's jealous!"
"I thought you had better taste than that," Morgan replied. She looked over at Kowalski. "That's what you want," she egged on, pointing.
Brenda looked over and gagged. "Morgan Waverly DeBeauharnais, do you want to live to see sixteen?"
"Not especially," she replied. "I find life to be an endless vacuum, devoid of anything remotely resembling gratification."
Brenda looked dumbfounded at the statement. "You're too deep for my shallow mind," she simply replied and walked back over to Lynda, asking, "When's the explosion? We've already had a fight, we've had an invasion by a terrorist in training, not to mention Mama Jackie passed out right before things got good," she pointed.
"What was that fistfight all about?" she asked, red with embarrassment.
"I don't know," she shrugged. "I can't help it if I've got men falling over their feet for me. Besides, we've just cut up a car in the parking lot and you have the nerve to be embarrassed over a fistfight?"
"I guess I need to throw the bouquet soon, don't I?" Lynda checked her watch and noticed Napoleon coming over to her. "How much longer do you want to say, Darling?" she asked.
"We're leaving in a few minutes," he answered, leaning down to kiss her on the lips. He looked up and saw Brenda. "I think three's going to be a crowd," he started. "At least for the time being, anyway."
"Cute," she grinned. "Where's the explosions and gunfire?"
"Oh, that's what I forgot," Napoleon replied. "I tell you what, Brenda. When you get married, I'll be sure to show up with a few friends to oblige you."
“I think it’s already been decided that it would be a cold day in Hell when that happened," she laughed.
"I'll find out when you do," he warned, winking. "Has anyone seen Larry?" He looked around to see if he could spot him in the crowd. "I'm surprised he didn't appropriate the piano to do his Elton John impersonation."
"No," she answered. "And that's strange. He'd never miss a good brawl." She kissed him in return.
He noticed Jacques. "We'll find him before we leave. He's going to Cha-Cha's later, isn't he?"
"How did you guess?" she asked. "You haven't told me yet where we're going."
"I think I'll surprise you," he smiled. "But first, there's someone I think we need to say hello to."
She accepted it and got up. "Who might that be?"
"If you'll come this way," he told her as he took her arm and they strolled across the room. They found Kowalski walking with a full plate from the buffet and taking a seat. "I think now would be a good a time as any to talk," Napoleon told him, noticing Illya walking back in out of the corner of his eye.
"Fine," he answered. He noticed Lynda and immediately looked sick. "Nah," he groaned. "You again? What kind of trouble are you gonna start now?"
"I see your attitude still sucks rocks," she returned.
"You're a fine one to talk, you conniving little brat," he sneered. "Isn't it past your naptime?"
"Kowalski!" Napoleon butted in, trying to keep his voice down. "You owe my wife an apology."
"Never mind that," Lynda butted in. "He probably can't define the word, much less spell it."
Needless to say, the words started flying between them. Napoleon and Illya quickly tried to separate them and, while Lynda snickered and scooted out of the way, Kowalski continued grumbling and sneering and in general making a jackass out of himself.
"Have you seen Larry?" Lynda asked Brenda as she reached the punch bowl.
"No," she answered, beginning to be concerned. "I'm worried about that boy."
"You ain't the only one."
In the back of a limousine pulling onto a two-lane road leading to the Hawthorne County Airport, Larry was obviously confused and cramped like a sardine. Also in the back seat were Serena, Becky and Harry. "What if I don't want to go?"
Harry poured a drink and handed it to him. "This will help you put things in perspective," he offered. "You see, Larry, we need your help."
"What kind of help?" he asked, refusing the drink.
"You know how to operate Leprechaun, correct?"
Larry's face went pale. "No. I-I-I’ve never seen it."
Harry nodded. "I see."
"Can I go home now?"
"You must be kidding," he groaned. "You are going home, at long last."
Larry started becoming agitated. "Couldn't we postpone this family reunion for a more convenient date?" he asked. "How about if I just send Justin a letter?"
"No. He wants to see you so just stay calm and enjoy the ride. He wants to discuss your future."
"My future? I thought I'd just go to work for Grandaddy."
"Your father has other plans, much more appealing than working for my father." Harry lit a cigar and the smoke went everywhere. "Your father wants to make you an offer. I'm not at liberty as of yet to tell you but let's just say it's an offer you can't refuse."
"If it has anything to do with working for THRUSH, forget it." He displayed sudden bravado and thought about jumping out the door, but he was in the middle between Becky and Serena and couldn't move. "Stop touching me!" He popped Becky on the arm.
"Excuse me," she replied, "but it's somewhat crowded in here."
"I'll crowd you in a minute," he threatened.
"That's enough!" Harry barked. "Sit still, both of you." The car stopped and he looked out to see a waiting Learjet. "You make one wrong move and I will shoot you," he warned, picking up his gun.
"What if, after I hear Justin's proposal, I decide not to take him up on his offer?"
Serena looked at Harry and he smirked uncomfortably. "I guess we'll have to send you on vacation. Permanently."
Serena butted in. "It's nothing personal, Larry," she explained. "It's in the by-laws." She bristled uncomfortably and tried to raise up. She removed her belt and examined it closely for a moment before discovering the bug. Without a word, she gingerly removed it and tossed it out the partly open window before putting the belt back on her still svelte waist.
Larry thought about his predicament. "Nice to know there's an escape clause."
The chauffeur opened the back door and Harry motioned for the girls to get out. "Ladies first."
The girls got out, followed by Serena, then Harry looked at Larry and motioned with his gun. "Let's go."
Larry begrudgingly got out and looked around. There was a fence just within eyesight to either sight of him and he thought of escape, but after feeling the barrel of the slick Magnum in his back ribs, he quickly reconsidered and reluctantly shuffled himself up the stairs and into the cabin. After Harry and the chauffeur boarded, the steps retracted and the door closed. A few moments later, the bird scooted down the runway and arched itself up toward the sky to the east.
Back at the Country Club, Travers was running around in a tizzy, checking every room for Larry but to no avail. He quickly headed outside and to the limousine. Uncle Frank had been removed and was on his way back to Jacques' in another car. A crowd had gathered as Mr. and Mrs. Solo attempted to make a quick getaway. They dashed down the walkway through the raining birdseed toward the safe refuge of the limousine, which had by this time been decorated with white wedding bells and baby booties attached to the antenna. Just as they reached the door, they heard Morgan shouting through the crowd "Lynda! You forgot to throw the bouquet!"
"Oops," she replied, looking at her husband. "I guess I thought I could take it with us."
"I don't think that's such a good idea," he replied.
"Oh well," and, with that, she turned around and ordered "All you single girls front and center. Now."
Morgan and six others came forward. From the side, Brenda came over and plucked the bouquet out of Lynda's hands before she could toss it. "Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah," she teased.
"I guess that takes care of that, doesn't it?" she shrugged.
"Oh, all right," Brenda grumbled as she handed the bouquet back. "I think I'll stay out of this." She quickly climbed into the back of the car. "Where's Mama Jackie?" she called from the back seat.
"Still passed out inside," Lynda replied. "It's just as well." She turned her back to the girls and quickly tossed it. Everyone jumped toward it, but Morgan caught it. She walked over to the car and stuck her head in. "Here," she told Brenda as she tossed it in her lap. "I don't need this curse."
"You caught it, you keep it." She tried to hand it back.
Morgan refused. "Nope, you keep it. You'll probably need it before I ever do."
"Are you going with us, too?" Napoleon asked Morgan. "If you are, hop in."
She turned around. "I think I'll ride with Grandaddy. Didn't anyone tell you three's a crowd?" She pecked him on the cheek and made a beeline for the Country Club entrance. "See ya'."
Napoleon looked at Lynda and asked, "Shall we?" He looked over and out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the desecrated Porsche. "I take it that's what they call object d'art?"
She looked at the Porsche. "No, that was the final exam for a new course they were offering at Lafayette last semester," she answered, smiled mischievously as he helped her into the car. "Are we missing anyone?"
"What course would that be?" he asked, ignoring her attempt at changing the subject.
"Power Tools 101," she simply answered.
“Well, I’d say someone deserves an ‘A’ in Chainsaws,” he returned, not really wanting to know what that was about. He looked in the back of the limousine straight at Brenda. “Or was that by a couple of anonymous Chainsaw Fairies?”
Brenda looked at Lynda from the jump seat and inquired, "Where's Larry?"
"I haven't seen him for about the last thirty minutes,” she returned, snickering her head off. “Who else is going?"
"Grandaddy, Travers, I think Illya's going, too." She kept thinking about the “Chainsaw Fairies” comment and broke out laughing.
Outside, Illya came over and climbed in to take a spot next to Brenda, asking, "Have you seen Larry or Travers?"
Napoleon shook his head. "No, which has me concerned. I've got a bad feeling about this."
Kowalski came over. "No sign of Larry whatsoever," he told them. "You don’t suppose he’s been kidnapped, do you?"
"Let's hope not," Napoleon answered. "Where's Travers?"
"He and Jean-Claude are on their way." He looked around to see the pair coming out the door. "Got room for three more?"
"Not really. We'll have to take two cars." He looked for Illya, but he had already disappeared into the back seat. "Kowalski, you go with them in the other limo and we'll meet at the County Airport." He climbed into the back seat without another word.
Kowalski went over to Jean-Claude and Travers. "We're taking another car." He pointed to another black limousine waiting and ready.
"Where's Larry?" Jean-Claude asked.
"I don't know," he answered glumly. He looked at Travers. "Has Larry got a locator on him?"
"No," he answered. "We only have them on the girls. We didn't think to put one on him."
"What do you mean you didn't think to put one on him? We're talking about Sir John Raleigh's son here." His voice was rising and he turned red. "If that boy has been taken by THRUSH, I will personally have your file closed."
"My orders were strictly to keep an eye on the girls," he defended. "Nothing was said about Larry Raleigh being involved."
"We'll discuss this further when we get to HQ." He stormed off into the direction of the second car. The first one had already pulled out of the parking lot and was headed toward town, the tin cans on the back bumper making a clanking sound as they dragged the asphalt. He pulled out his communicator and clicked once. "Open Channel D."
Back in UNCLE HQ, Sir John Raleigh was sipping on a cup of jasmine tea and looking over a dossier on Harry DeBeauharnais when the signal from Kowalski came in. He pushed a button on his microphone. "This is Raleigh," he announced, setting his cup on the desktop.
"Kowalski here," he said as he climbed into the back of the car and waited for the happy boys to follow. "I'm in Hawthorne Beach but we've got a major problem."
"I see," he said, bracing for potentially disturbing news. "What seems to be the problem?"
"Larry disappeared from the Country Club," he started explaining. "I'm afraid he's been nabbed but we're not certain as of yet."
Sir John sighed heavily. "I see. Does he have a tracker on him?"
"No, Sir John, he doesn't."
"Bloody Hell!" he exclaimed. "Do you have any leads?"
"No, not right now. We're on our way to the airport now."
"Where's Mr. Travers right now? He was supposed to have been watching him."
"He's trying to get Jean-Claude DeBeauharnais out to the car," he answered. "I wouldn't recommend lighting a match anywhere near the bride's family right now."
"I'm activating Mr. Travers’ locator from our end in the event he disappears. It's better to err on the side of caution," Sir John decided, not caring about the remark made about the DeBeauharnais family. He was concerned about his only son. He had never thought much of Malcolm Travers and this just was making him think this guy needed to be weeded out, preferably before something disastrous occurred, if it hadn’t already. He was also thinking maybe he was partially responsible, by not having flown down for the wedding and sending Larry on down alone. The ifs weren’t going to help the state of affairs and he knew it. He had to do something.
Kowalski was already thinking the same thing to himself. "Yes, Sir John." He closed his communicator and got out to see Travers and Jean-Claude almost at the door. "Travers, do you need a hand?" He got out and tried to steady Travers, who looked like he would fall over. "Heavy fellow, isn't he?" he remarked as they tried to help him, but Jean-Claude refused. They let him go and he managed to half-drag himself into the back and collapsed on the other side by the window. Morgan and Jason quickly followed. Kowalski reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a tiny tracker device and slipped it into Travers’ pant pocket before anyone noticed. He helped Travers stand up. "Sir John just called," he said, fibbing slightly. "He wants you to stay here and try to locate Larry."
“Okay,” he replied as he went back inside to look once more.
Click here for Part 4