Fiance by Friday(114)

By: Catherine Bybee


Her brother didn’t seem convinced. “I need to get you home. Everyone is worried about you.”

“Tell them I’m fine. We’re both fine.” Rain started to fall and Gwen pushed a strand of hair from her eyes.

Blake caught site of her ring and grasped her hand.

“What’s this?”

“It’s called a wedding ring, Blake. Neil and I are married.”

Her brother narrowed his eyes and stared beyond her at the house.

“Listen,” she said as she placed her hand on her brother’s shoulder. “Let one of these men know where you’re staying and we’ll be along as soon as we can.” She ran her hands along her shoulders, warding off the chill. “I would rather not stand in the rain. I’ve been cold enough for one lifetime.”

Blake shrugged out of his coat and laid it over her shoulders.

“Mrs. MacBain. We have more questions for you.”

Gwen turned toward the sergeant and offered a wan smile. “I’ll be right there.”

She kissed her brother’s cheek. “Go tell Samantha that we’re OK. She doesn’t need to worry.”

It was nearly dawn when Sergeant Piper told her she could leave. “That’s all we need from you for now, Mrs. MacBain.”

Gwen rubbed her tired eyes and watched dawn break through the bay window of the Blayney home.

“Where’s Neil?” She’d not seen him in hours. The coroner had arrived only a few minutes ago and she wanted nothing to do with witnessing Charles’s body come up those stairs.

“He’s in a debriefing.”

“He’s not here?”

The sergeant shook her head. “Left a while ago with an MP escort.”

“Is he under arrest?” She couldn’t imagine he left on his own without saying good-bye. Not after all they’d been through.

The woman in front of her wouldn’t meet her eyes. Gwen stood up and shoved her hands on her hips. “What is he charged with?”

“I didn’t say he was under arrest.”

“You didn’t say he wasn’t. Who is your commanding officer?” Gwen believed that was what they called the boss around here.

The sergeant nodded to the kitchen. “One of them is currently laying in a pool of his own blood, and the second-in-command is Major Gilmor who isn’t available to you right now. Until we can determine exactly what transpired, Mr. MacBain will need to stay with us.”

“This is preposterous. Neil did nothing wrong. I told you what Charles Blayney did to me. What he said to me. You can’t believe that Neil and I are lying.”

“No one is accusing you of lying, Mrs. MacBain. We just need to keep Lieutenant MacBain a while longer.”

“He’s retired,” Gwen corrected her.

“He’ll contact you when he’s released.”

“That’s not good enough. I demand to see my husband before I leave here.” She crossed her arms over her chest to emphasize her point. Did the woman in front of her not understand how little control she’d had in her life over the past several weeks? Gwen was tired of being told what she could and could not do. Perhaps it was time to remind these people who they were dealing with.

“That isn’t going to happen.”

“Is that so?”

The sergeant smiled. Her hair was tied back so severely in her bun it had to create pain deep in her scalp. Funny, under the army colors and minimal amount of makeup, Sergeant Piper was probably a beautiful woman. She severely underestimated Gwen…and that would be a mistake.

“Can I use the phone to call my brother?”

Sergeant Piper gave a tired smile as if saying finally.

Gwen dialed her brother’s cell phone number and waited for him to pick up.

“Blake?”

“Gwen? Are you here at the hotel?”

“Not yet.” She turned so Sergeant Piper heard every word. “Listen I need you to call a press conference. I’ll be talking about Operation Raven and the series of murders that were—”

Sergeant Piper grabbed for the phone in Gwen’s hand and gave her a deadly stare.

“That’s confidential information. You can’t—”

Gwen held the phone in front of her so Blake could hear what she said. “I’m a British national, Sergeant Piper. My husband may think I’m an automatic citizen of the United States because of our marriage, but I’m quite aware I need to go through the process and apply like anyone else.” Actually, the facts hadn’t come to her until after several hours alone in the Blayney basement. She remembered a conversation with Blake years before about becoming a US citizen. Marriage to an American might speed the process up, but it didn’t give instant approval from the government. “All I’m asking for is a few minutes with my husband and I’ll keep my tongue in my mouth. If not…my brother, the Duke of Albany, and our many friends…governors, senators.” She thought of her list of clients. “High powered attorneys, diplomats, law enforcement of all kinds, even actors who know how to play the media like a piano will spin this story so far and wide your precious marines will have to declare a state of emergency just to avoid the scandal. If you’d like to circumvent an international incident, I suggest you let me talk to Neil. In private.”

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