Here is this week’s episode of Renee & Frei co-starring some fond familiar faces. Hope you enjoy!
Please excuse any typos and bloopers!(and there are a few special neurological-style ones!)
Frei wasn’t the kind of person who gave away her emotions but she was relieved to be in Bess Lorelei’s little house because it felt comforting to hear her “Nan-isms.” It felt reassuring that Bess was calm and had listened to her and Renee quietly but in the way Aeron always did with those warm, kind smiles.
“I’ll need to create a mutually beneficial scenario if I’m going to keep Cookie focused,” Renee fired off, gaze stern, hands on the desk, shirt sleeves rolled halfway up her biceps as she held Bess Lorelei’s gaze.
“Sure, Blondie, just ask Twig for some baking tips,” Bess said with a chuckle. “She been bakin’ more than is good for her.”
Renee’s mouth crinkled into a line and her gray eyes twinkled. “You’re not helping me concentrate.”
Bess waved it off with her large hand. “You focus more than is good for you.” She tapped her pen to the table and leaned back into her seat. “Shorty would appreciate you calling your POIs after food.” She drummed her fingers to the table top. “I say you need to focus on her love for doing up her house all fancy.” She squinted at a surveillance picture Frei had spread out in front of her. “And maybe get her talking about that wedding ring she got on.”
Frei cocked her head. “This is usual for free-people who marry.”
Bess raised her white eyebrow. “I been married to three fellas, Icy, I get that.” She tapped the picture and held it up. “The ring on her finger ain’t even gold. She’s got green on her skin.”
Frei tried to understand why that was an issue.
“Wedding rings are traditionally gold,” Renee said in a gentle tone. “They’re not always expensive but—”
“I understand that it isn’t gold,” Frei said. She was locksmith, she could tell real gold with her eyes closed. “I did not know of the tradition.”
“I once got the inner barrel cut down as an engagement ring,” Bess said with a chuckle then stared out of the window into some thought. “Guy was so hammered spittin’ out his proposal that he kept passing out.”
Renee pursed her lips. “I hope you told him where to place his barrel impolitely.”
“Nope. I married the guy.” Bess nodded like she was pleased with herself. “He was all kinds of chump but then I loved that ‘bout him.”
Renee crinkled up her face. “Why?”
Frei studied the picture of “Cookie” or Alanna Lavelle, the wife of the head of an FBI task force. She compared it against the pictures she had of Lilia and her wedding ring. It was gold unlike Alanna’s but, to Frei, gold was something a slave owner adorned themselves with. She flicked to a picture of Sven, the slave owner Aeron, Renee and Bess had been a part of freeing her family from. His now ex-wife had a pure diamond wedding ring which was placed in metal but not gold. Sven however always had plenty of gold on his fingers.
“He kissed real good,” Bess said with a cheeky smirk then wagged her finger when Renee frowned. “Now, Blondie, don’t go telling me that you wouldn’t love Shorty even if she was a chump.”
“But she isn’t a chump.” Renee said it like that settled the matter.
“He didn’t ever throw me in a river.” Bess winked at Frei.
“Then he clearly didn’t know how to romance you properly then,” Renee fired back like she was now getting used to being teased.
“He weren’t a Lorelei, that’s as sure-as-shoots.” Bess smiled like she could tell some thought was whirring in Frei’s mind. “You planning on marrying that hunky fella or the lady who talks to the furniture?”
Frei cleared her throat. “I know of many slave owners. They don’t spare gold for their wives. If the wives have their gold… or their husbands… they have bought it for themselves.”
“Now they are chumps,” Renee said then studied the picture. “But, they don’t normally buy rings that make their fingers go green… even Hartman managed to give me a ring that didn’t make my skin grubby.”
“You got hitched to her?” Bess tutted. “I ain’t sure Shorty would be pleased.”
“No, I had a ring on as a way to tell other people that I was property… I guess?” Renee glanced at Frei who nodded. “Only I thought she was doing it to sway me with her money.”
“But you did not know she was an owner,” Frei said then rolled her eyes. “You were more concerned with following me.”
“You were acting suspicious and you stole her property. I was following a Lorelei.” Renee folded her arms. “And I still haven’t learned that, however fun, when you follow Loreleis around you find yourself hanging off cliffs, being fired at or half-drowned.”
“Sure-as-shoots you do,” Bess said and clapped her hands, laughter in her eyes. “It wouldn’t be half as much fun if you didn’t.”
“What makes you think she is concerned with her décor?” Frei studied the picture. Alanna “Cookie” Lavelle didn’t seem overly fixated, merely tidy.
“She looks at it a lot like you, Icy,” Bess said with a gentle tone. “Like you ain’t sure if it’s really yours and somebody might sneak in and snatch it.”
Frei stared at her. “That’s more true than I’d like it to be.”
“Imposter syndrome,” Renee said then tapped her epaulettes. “It’s more common than you think.”
Bess ah-hummm’d. “You’re working the same dough, Blondie.”
“Yes, but you went through military training and accreditation, I began my military career as a general.” Frei couldn’t imagine Renee or Bess feeling such insecurities.
“You earned it by being all kinds of sneaky and getting Blondie out of pickles.” Bess nodded then tapped her ear. “Mousey, you got the background for Blondie?”
“Yup,” Jessie said, chomping away on something crunchy. “Only, I think we might need Susan.”
Renee shook her head. “We don’t. I need to focus not try and rescue her when she wanders off.”
“Why do you think Susan is necessary?” Frei asked trying not to show that she hoped Susan would be necessary because she was helpful. Yes, it was purely down to that.
“Hi, Mom,” Jessie said with a chuckle. “Thought that might get your attention.”
“I was merely asking for explanation,” Frei grunted but Renee wasn’t tutting but cocking her head as if she knew better. “And hello, wie gehts?”
“Awesome, thanks,” Jessie said then let out a long sigh. “I really love being shoved in a bridesmaid dress and made to stick heels on.” She gave a grunt that sounded very much like Frei’s. “Like I’m not tall enough.”
Frei glanced at Renee.
“Your mom and dad are getting married. They’ll want you in a bridesmaid dress too.” Renee batted her eyelids. “We both know you and Jessie will work them.”
Frei shrugged. It was true. “Yet, we still need explanation on Susan.”
“I was experimented on… I think… I forget sometimes… I think,” Susan’s vague tone filtered out of the speaker.
“You do… but you were fine a while ago,” Jessie said, crunching away. “Maybe you’re hungry. Have some more chips.”
“While Susan is munching, we need a briefing, Mousey,” Bess said then tapped her finger to her lip then leaned over her shoulder. “Grimes, we got any chips?”
“Yeah,” Grimes yelled back then poked his head into the room with an apron on. “They had a whole load on offer at the store.”
“Be good with a beer,” Bess said and nodded to him.
“Sure.” He scurried out.
Renee rolled her eyes. “Loreleis and their stomachs.”
“Hey, chips are good for you,” Jessie piped up with a chomp. “Kinda.” She chomped some more. “So, you need Susan ‘cause I showed her a picture of Alanna Lavelle and she thinks that there’s something kinda not right about her but then she got less lucid.”
“We cannot send Susan into that situation,” Frei said and studied the picture of “Cookies” in her hand. “But perhaps it would useful to have her in the backup team to assist Renee.”
“How, by giving me a headache?” Renee mumbled then let out a long sigh. “I could do with you being on the backup team too,” she said to Bess with a chew on her lip.
“Blondie, it could help Shorty in some way, and even if it didn’t, I think Cookie needs more flour in her dough ‘cause she ain’t the full batch.”
Jessie snorted. “Grandma Paws and Grandpa Paws are going to help but Gammy is busy trying to rework the first floor.”
Bess nodded to Frei. “Kinda proves my point about Cookie and her changing up her houses.”
Frei flexed her brow. “Your assessment is too accurate for comfort.”
Renee tapped the desk. “Good. So, here is the procedure. Insertion will be through Urs and I arranging to view one of the houses that Cookie is selling. When we are there, Hewitt shouldn’t know about Locks or Worthington and if he does, he won’t let on to someone minor like Lavelle.” She strode over to the window as Grimes brought in bowls of chips. “I will make contact and use the correct procedure to establish a friendly relationship.”
“Which I and my mother will advise on,” Frei said with a nod.
“Yes, then I will use that bond to establish her inner parameters and if they are insertion points.” Renee folded her arms. “I’ll need to use something to reset her should I pry too far and cause her to reject the friendship.”
“I can modify vials,” Susan said like she was lucid again. “I think I do that… do I?”
“Eat some more,” Jessie mumbled.
“We will ask my mother to assist,” Frei said not sure it was wise to let Susan modify any vials without supervision if she wasn’t lucid.
“Agreed,” Renee fired in full Commander Black mode. “We need a house nearby to establish close contact. We need a way to keep Derek Lavelle out of the way and we need an advanced recon to understand the loyalties of the staff.”
“My mother has sent in some of her team,” Frei said with a smile. “They will report in when they have established themselves.”
“Hopefully they are old enough to work,” Renee muttered then nodded to Bess. “You have any additions?”
“I always got additions, Blondie.” Bess chomped on her chips as Jessie and Susan chomped on theirs in surround sound. “You need a replacement ring, so when Icy sneaks it off so you can have Mousey and Grandma Paws run it, Cookie won’t get mad.”
“Are there really people called Cookie, Icy, Blondie, Mousey, and Grandma Paws?” Susan asked in a vague tone.
“You’re forgetting Shorty and Twig to name but a few. Keep up, Doc Gossett,” Bess said with a chuckle. “I’ll leave Mousey to come up with one for you.”
“On it!” Jessie cut the line.
Renee stole a few chips from Bess then nodded to them. “I need to kit up then we’ll move out.”
“I know, you’re the generals.” She motioned to the doorway. “Well… move… ladies, Lorelei’s butt ain’t going to shoot itself.”
Bess raised an eyebrow. “You know… a ring is traditional, Blondie.” She rolled her eyes. “You young folks always gotta be so intense.”
Frei laughed then got to her feet. “But Lorelei nuts sprout strong or so Aeron says, yes?”
Bess chuckled then winked. “Sure-as-shoots they do.”