Here is this week’s episode of Renee and Frei. I hope my attempt at accents is amusing. It’s definitely not how I hear Aeron and co. in my head when I’m writing but, they’re the closest accents I can do… So, Renee either sounds like she’s joined the aristocracy or comes from further south than she really should; Frei sounds an odd cross between someone from North Wales and a German person with a cold; Lavelle sounds like a text-to-speech program; I’ve no idea where Nan comes from but she seems half-Cornish, part Irish crossed with someone from the south; Aunt Bess seems to have taken after her with a twang; Gould sounds like she’s in Disneyland, Derek Lavelle sounds like he’s joined her and… well… that’s Renee as herself, Renee as Worthington, Frei, Lavelle as herself and as Alanna Owens, Derek Lavelle, Gould, Aeron, Nan and Aunt Bess along with my own voice which vies from posh to Welshy to Irish/Cornish mix on a good day. That’s ten different accents and my own… all while trying to follow my idea because I’m significantly sight impaired… so please excuse the crackles from my heavy breathing, my mic can’t cope!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy and, as always, please excuse the bloopers and typos.
Renee And Frei
‘A New Assignment’ Scene 5
Renee took in Alanna Lavelle as she showed them around the stately house as if she’d sold countless houses. The décor was colonial, grandiose, and garish… And too familiar to ignore. She half-expected Jäger to prowl in and ask where Samson was.
Alanna on the other hand was presented as the perfect, mouse-like beauty who was well mannered, softly spoken, without developed ideas of her own. She fit the detail of a slave, if Caprock, the Eis Estate, and Renee’s other experiences of slaves had anything to go by… but she didn’t quite match it either. No, her eyes showed the wariness Frei carried but her movements showed defiance the same as Frei’s. Maybe Lavelle was right about her ex-slave now free-person status… maybe.
“Must have held some interesting parties,” Renee said nodding to a statue of an older man with very little on.
“Oh, Derek’s father was an eccentric,’ Lavelle said as if having a nude statue of yourself in a hallway was anything but.
“Who are the other… specimens?” Renee asked as Frei soaked in every detail without so much as glancing around. Must be in Locksmith mode then. “Or is it just a family tradition to have… these?”
“They were his friends,” Lavelle said then touched her wedding ring. “The floors are all marble and the grand staircase alone is worth the amount of most houses.”
And Frei was surveying her. “We’re you in Silver?”
Lavelle jumped as if the question shocked her. “I have had a lot of therapy to forget… I’d like to leave my childhood behind.”
Renee knocked a vase off the nearby table. “Oops.”
Lavelle didn’t so much as notice but then her focus was on the gardens. “We have a large swimming pool.”
Renee met Frei’s gaze and she nodded.
“Locks was in Silver, she’s fantastic at acquiring objects.” Renee raised her voice to make sure Lavelle couldn’t ignore it.
Lavelle jumped again. “I’ve had a lot of therapy. I don’t want to discuss my childhood.” She turned to the door. “They’re handcrafted by the most amazing artist.”
“But your skills are far more interesting than the surroundings,” Renee said changing her voice to match the tone Harrison or Jäger would use.
Lavelle jumped again. “I’ve had a lot of therapy. I don’t want to discuss my childhood.” She turned to the painting. “This has been in the family for generations.”
Frei nodded again.
Renee picked up another vase and threw it at Lavelle.
She caught it without so much as blinking. “This is one of Derek’s favorites,” she said as if Renee had merely handed it to her. “He won’t part with this but I can ask about the others.”
“Any gold he doesn’t mind parting with?” Renee asked and leaned onto her right leg. Her feet hurt in heels. Her legs looked good, sure, but her toes ached like crazy and she didn’t have her girl around to soothe them. “Any safes we can access?”
Lavelle jumped again. “I have a headache. I must lie down.” She walked to a nearby room then over to the window. “The grass is always so pristine. Derek is good at gardening. It’s amazing how he gets the lawn looking so wonderful.”
Frei folded her arms as she stood in the doorway. “When did you have therapy and with who?”
“And what did they feed you?” Renee added then sighed and shifted on her feet again. Her big toe felt like she’d dropped one of the crazy statues on it.
Lavelle looked at them blankly. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.”
Frei strode over, pulled the ring off Lavelle’s finger and slipped on the fake one. “Were you in Silver?”
Lavelle didn’t notice Frei touching her then blinked a few times. “Locks?”
Frei bowed. “And you are?”
“Confused,” Lavelle said in lower tone. “Why are you in Caprock… you left?”
Frei held up the wedding ring. “This is not Caprock.”
“It’s not?” Lavelle looked around then frowned. “But where’s Nikki?”
“Professor Owens?” Renee rubbed at her forehead. Owens had been an ex-FBI agent who’d somehow wound up involved in the slave trade… then had somehow shown up on Black Ridge Mountain from the report Fleming had sent over but her bullet had taken down Williams who’d been trying to shoot them.
“Professor?” Lavelle laughed then stared at her. “What would Nikki teach anybody other than how to find a hangover?”
Frei and Renee exchanged a glance.
“Explain.” Frei positioned herself away from the window and moved Lavelle away from it too.
Lavelle glanced at the window as if wondering what she was doing. “Lead Agent Alanna Owens… Nikki’s wife. Well, we were separated… we were partners.”
“Because of Leyton Williams.” Renee felt uneasy… vulnerable suddenly. Her father had been killed on the same mountain being chased by hostiles… her brother had been killed and it was only Aeron throwing her down the river that had kept her from being lost too. Williams couldn’t have been part of her father and brother being killed… but it felt connected and she didn’t have Aeron to talk it through with.
“You heard of him?” Lavelle eyed her.
“Nikki told me about him,” Renee lied and moved her hand to the St. Christopher’s around her neck which seemed to warm as if comforting her. “Well, she said he’d taken everything from her and she was in Caprock to try and help… but I don’t really understand why.”
And she didn’t understand why she’d said that about Owens because Owens hadn’t told her anything about Williams.
“Must have trusted you some, huh?” Lavelle eyed her with the suspicion of a wife. “Williams took our daughter… well… she wasn’t ours, not really, we sort of adopted her after we picked her up on the side of a road as a kid.”
Renee turned from Lavelle and headed out into the hallway to think. Aeron had said something about this in Caprock… what was it?
“She’s been working here for five years. She got a letter from one of the parents, Miranda’s mother. She is trying to get her out.” Renee said to Aeron and Frei. It was hard to tell them even that. They’d been barely able to look at each other… but then Renee hadn’t figured out that she’d been given some of Aeron’s “burdens” back then.
“Unless Owens has my kind of communication skills, I doubt that,” Aeron muttered like she was happy to score one over on Renee.
Renee scowled. “What are you talking about?”
“She died,” Aeron said in a soft voice like it hurt to say. ”Miranda has been at this school since she was small. She was one of five children. I don’t know what happened to the others but she was the youngest.” Aeron stared at her hands. “The violin is the only thing she has.”
OUT OF FLASHBACK
Yet, Owens had been trying to abduct Miranda and another boy at the academy. She’d deliberately tried to stop them rescuing the children completely. So, if Owens was so bad, why had she been there on Black Ridge Mountain shooting Williams?
“I’ve never heard of her, sorry,” Frei said from inside the side room. “So what were you doing in Caprock?”
“I was going there to find Nikki,” Lavelle said as if she’d had to rescue Owens a lot. “I accepted that we were wrong to just take in a kid without knowing who their parents were and that, even when we’d searched everywhere to find them… that we shouldn’t have just taken her in.” Lavelle sighed. “There’s official channels.”
“Why was Owens there?” Frei said as if wary that some FBI agent was involved. “Why were two policewomen in Caprock?”
“We aren’t policewomen. We’re federal agents… well… I am… Nikki had to leave medically.” Lavelle sounded annoyed about it other than concerned. “She thought she’d found Miranda and that Williams had sent her to some slavery school… she was right.” She shifted around, her heels clicking. “She called me asking for help because she thought she’d located her and that you were going to steal her… she needed Miranda to prove that Williams had framed her or something… I didn’t understand that part.”
Renee headed into the room. “I’m bored, Locks. Are we buying the house or not?”
Lavelle frowned at her. “Buying what house?”
“Stick her wedding ring back on, Locks,” Renee said then looked Lavelle up and down. “She makes boring company.”
Frei switched the wedding rings over before Lavelle could flinch then moved over to the far wall as Lavelle blinked a few times.
“We should hire your husband as our landscaper,” Renee said with a false laugh.
Lavelle laughed as if she’d been following the conversation. “I’m sure he’d prefer it.”
Renee turned as two men walked in through the door in golfing gear. One was Derek Lavelle with a cigar in his mouth and a smile that cost more than the crazy statues.
“You must be our horticulture expert,” Renee said in a slimy voice, mentally kicking herself for it, and hoped her disguise held up. “Alanna has been very glowing about you.”
Derek Lavelle grinned around his cigar and took her hand in his puffy one. “Did she…?” He pecked Renee’s hand and lingered. “Nice to hear she’s filling you ladies full of good stories on me.”
Alanna hurried to him and threw her arms around his neck as if she was delighted to see him or hadn’t seen him in months. Renee begrudgingly knew the feeling. She wanted to find Aeron and do the same… when she’d removed the bullets from her butt.
“Hi, Sugar,” he said and draped an arm around her. “You tell them that we’re moving the antiques out of their way so they can be all moved in when they’re ready?”
Alanna studied him.
“Mrs. Lavelle felt slightly unwell and needed to sit on the sofa,” Frei said in a patient tone as if she’d thought it was odd. “I guess, my comment about saying the house was positively a steal shocked her.”
Derek Lavelle flexed his brow then smiled as if reassured about something. “Alanna has some funny turns now and again, must need to rest.”
Alanna nodded. “I get overexcited.”
Derek Lavelle laughed. “She does. Must be the décor.” He winked at Renee and motioned to the door. “You need to look around some more?”
“No, we need to view some other properties.” Frei nodded to Renee who moved to her like a mistress should and escorted her out to the car.
They sat in silence as Stosur’s guy drove them out to a small house twenty miles away and it was only when they stepped from the car that Renee let out a grunt.
“How did they think they could bug the car without us realizing?” She muttered, yanked off her heels, and marched on the lawn next to the path barefoot.
“Because they don’t know we’re us,” Frei stated then turned and eyed her. “Why?”
“Need to, no idea why but I blame Lorelei.” Renee groaned as relief gushed out through her toes. “Call Abby.”
Frei continued studying her but pulled out her cellphone.
“Hi, Agent Gould speaking,” Gould said in her official tone. “How can help you?”
“Gould, it’s Frei,” Frei flexed her eyebrow as Renee gave up on the grass and stood in the water feature. “We need to speak to Fleming.”
“She’s with Deputy Director Hewitt, Ma’am,” Gould said in a veiled tone. “May I assist you or take a message?”
“Yes, ask Fleming if there’s any more details on the location of our POI,” Frei shot then hung up.
Renee turned. “You know, it’s polite to say ‘thank you’ or ‘please’ or even ‘how are you?’ when you talk to people.”
Frei pocketed her cellphone. “Says the woman paddling in the fish pond.”
“It’s a faux fish pond,” Renee said then studied the water below her. “Who has plastic fish in a pond?”
“I’m still more concerned about why you’re standing in the pond.” Frei, nevertheless, stood and watched, stoic as always.
“Lorelei,” Renee mumbled then sighed then fought the urge to burst into tears. “I don’t need her freaky feelings.”
“Freaky feelings?” Frei stood as if to attention.
“I was recalling what we’d discussed about Owens in Caprock and trying to match that with Lavelle’s change of tact… and I felt way too freaky in Caprock and I miss Aeron and I miss Nan and…” She sighed. “It makes me feel confused why Owens was on that mountain, how stuff came out of my mouth I didn’t know and if Lorelei has given me her burdens again I’m going to do way more than shoot her.”
“And that makes you wish to be one with the plastic fish?” Frei cocked her head.
“Aeron gets rid of issues in water, okay, bite me.” Renee peered down at the fish. “But not you; Plastic fish are not permitted to bite.”
“She sure does, Blondie,” Nan said, tickled Renee with an icy breeze to the tummy and swooshed to beside her. “An’ you ain’t gonna grow any taller no matter how much you soak those roots.”
Renee frowned. “I’m five seven, that’s not short.”
“Which is what I told Shorty’s grandpa. I said that I weren’t nothin’ but a shortstop and neither was he so I weren’t gonna have no big peanuts to squeeze out.” She chuckled then tickled Renee again making her jump. “They might start off kinda small but my girls know how to do their growin’.”
Frei and Renee nodded. Even Lilia wasn’t short just not over six foot.
“So why you dunking them toes?” Nan swooshed around them both, white hair bobbling, smile full of shiny glitter.
“You know we’re on a detour looking for Aeron by helping Alanna Lavelle,” Frei said as if she had many conversations with Nan… or maybe reported in… or both. “We removed her wedding ring for her to tell us that she was once married to Nikki Owens, who shot Williams.”
Nan nodded, her white hair replaced with a C.I.G helmet and, for some unknown reason, black stripes under her eyes like a football player. “An’ what did Shorty say?”
“Shorty is MIA,” Renee muttered but Nan knew that already too. “So she hasn’t said a lot.”
Nan swooshed over to her now in a football helmet. Renee grinned. It was a Broncos helmet too. “Blondie, you know better than to think that. She’s been saying a whole lot to your over the time you known her.”
“She didn’t like Owens,” Renee said then rubbed at her neck then frowned. It was a gesture Aeron used when she was feeling coy.
“Sure-as-shoots she didn’t; a Lorelei woman don’t like nobody trying to muscle in on her love.” Nan blew out a breath then appeared with a football. “But, other than her protestin,’ what else she say?”
“That Miranda didn’t have any parents and that Owen’s reason for being in Caprock was false.” Renee rubbed at her face. “Miranda only had a violin.”
“So?” Nan pulled them both into a football huddle.
“She’s lying,” Frei said as if used to being pulled about by Nan.
“Uh huh… an’ why would somebody lie?” Nan said then held up a finger. “If you’re going out, leave the yarn on the table. You got tangled enough before.”
“Hi, Tiddles,” Renee mumbled and waved vaguely hoping it was in the right direction. “I don’t know why she’d lie. One minute she’s acting as if she’s an ex-slave and Lavelle is her rescuer, then she acted as if she was a Lead Agent.”
“I didn’t see any mention of her in Owens’ file,” Frei said still in the football huddle.
Nan peered at them both, glasses on the tip of her nose. “Ladies?”
“Someone wants us to implicate Abby,” Renee said then shrugged. “I think… I’m not an investigator… I just shoot people and lose POIs.”
Frei rolled her eyes. “I agree with you but not shooting or losing people. You dart people and Aeron lost herself.”
Nan chuckled. “Icy got a point.”
“But whether she lost herself or not, I need to find her… I need to know she’s okay.” Renee swished around in the water. The plastic fish bounced about and hit her in the toes.
Nan whistled and shook her head.
Renee frowned. “It was worth trying.” She put her hands on her hips. “So, we got bugged, Lavelle was trying to get us to implicate Abby… but was she in on it because she was a fantastic actress if she was.”
“I can ask Jessie.” Frei glanced at Nan who whistled again. “I shouldn’t ask Jessie?”
Nan chuckled. “Maybe it helps to do things the old fashioned way sometimes.”
Renee glanced at the house where Aunt Bess and Stosur were setting up base. “Old fashioned or wise?”
Nan winked. “Keep talkin’ that way, Blondie, an’ Bess will wanna cwtch you.”
Renee rubbed the back of her neck again, like Aeron always did, then smiled to herself. “As long as she doesn’t shoot static at me, I’m good with cwtches.”
Frei stood up as if she never cwtched.
“Pretend all you like, Icy, I seen you snoozing with the girls,” Nan said then kissed them both on the cheek and faded.
“You’ve been cwtched before, Urs,” Renee said then lowered ready to tackle. “I need a cwtch.”
“Black, I do not cwtch,” Frei said then narrowed her eyes. “You are slow and you are shoeless.”
Renee grinned. “I really need a big cwtch… like Aeron gives me.” She placed her foot forward and Frei backed up. “You let Aeron cwtch you.”
“That’s different, she doesn’t have a gun.” Frei smirked then glanced at the house as if planning her escape. “And she catches me when I’m sleeping.”
Renee darted forward and Frei sprinted off at Frei-speed.
“Baby,” Renee yelled then glanced down at the fish in the pond and winced as her toe hurt again then leaned down and pulled some kind of metal splinter that was sticking through her tights. She looked at her shoes and surveyed the hole where it must have gone through. It was a GPS locator, FBI-modified spec and the kind someone like Derek Lavelle would use. Renee stared at the pond then at the now fried locator then she smiled feeling her St. Christopher’s bounce against her chest.
“Freaky, that’s what you are,” she whispered and clutched her necklace as she trudged to the front door. “The whole lot of you.” She felt an icy breeze then smiled. “And I love you for it.”
“Back at you,” Aunt Bess said as she pulled open the door with some delicious scented food on a tray. “Now come and eat your greens. It ain’t gonna make you grow none, but Shorty won’t like it if ain’t keeping your strength up.”
“Five seven isn’t short,” Renee mumbled then sighed then threw herself at Bess and launch hugged her.
Bess caught her without so much as the tray wobbling. “An’ that’s without me telling you I made cookies.”
Renee cuddled in. “The cwtch is bit I need.”
“You sound like Grimes,” Bess said then ushered her over to the table where Frei was waiting next to Stosur as if to attention. “If he ain’t eating, he wants cwtching.” She sighed as if that was taxing then wagged her finger at Frei. “Don’t act like you ain’t had cwtches neither.”
Frei looked away and Renee chuckled then headed to wash up. Yes, Loreleis sure did have a way about them.