Sense of Rumor (Mount Faith Series: Book 6) (16 page)

BOOK: Sense of Rumor (Mount Faith Series: Book 6)
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Natasha shrugged. "Short of putting them in a torture chamber and wringing a confession out of them, I don't know how you can tell if their story is straight. Obviously, they all came together and rehearsed their side of the story."

"What about the part where somebody spooked them? Didn't they say they thought they were going to be caught or something? Who is that person? Maybe they are the ones with the video?"

Natasha nodded. "That's a possibility. We'll find out when that email address is traced."

"The really bad part about all of this is that some date rape drugs are legally dispensed at pharmacies," Jackie said, sighing. "We can't get them on illegally possessing drugs either."

"So that's it?" Bancroft said "That's all there is to this sordid mess?"

"I hope not," Natasha said feelingly. "I really hate the injustice of this whole matter."

Arnella cleared her throat. She more than hated it. She couldn't recall feeling so many negative emotions in the space of one month.

The meeting continued a little longer, then her uncle asked her to stay back. She watched as the others walked through the door then looked at her uncle, wide-eyed.

"Please don't yell at me for not telling you. I just didn't know how to handle the whole thing."

Bancroft sighed heavily, "I can't imagine how this is affecting you. I heard that you are getting some help though."

Arnella nodded. "I am."

"That's good." Bancroft cleared his throat. "Things like this can have a long running effect on a woman's life and future relationships."

"I am coping." Arnella twisted her fingers, her voice breaking. "I am actually talking to a guy."

She wasn't used to having heart-to-heart talks with her uncle, but being honest with her feelings was really turning her into a wuss. She was tearing up over the least little thing.

"Oh dear." Bancroft came around to her side of the desk and patted her shoulders.

"I am sure this whole thing will look better some day. Maybe far in the future, hang tight kid. Hang tight."

Arnella sniffed. "Thanks Uncle Ryan. I have class now."

He nodded and watched her go, though his brow was furrowed and he had a worried look on his face.

Chapter Thirteen

 

Arnella woke up on the first day of October unexpectedly happy. Maybe it was the fact that she had finally gotten a full night’s sleep. She even dressed in a bright yellow top and a pair of paint-splatter-free jeans. She wanted to match the day, which was sunshiney with the hint of a fresh breeze. The rural town of Mount Faith suddenly felt like home to her. Going to school was not all bad after all.

She drove down toward Mount Faith and was fortunate to hear the song "I Can See Clearly Now That The Rain Is Gone." She was even humming to the refrain "it's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day." She was still humming when she entered her computer class and gave Saidie a breezy good morning. They had gotten to know each other over the course of the semester.

Saidie found computers to be a troubling necessity and needed help with everything. Arnella was quite happy to help her. Saidie was a primary school teacher and a motherly figure type who was nearing retirement age but was determined to get her first degree in education. "Maybe I can use it with my grandkids," she joked to Arnella.

This morning, Saidie was looking downcast when Arnella sat beside her.

"Arnella," Saidie whispered as soon as she sat down, "don't take this the wrong way but have you seen the Mount Faith Gossip."

She drew it out of her bag cautiously, looking at Arnella sympathetically. "Some kids are handing them out in the Business Center courtyard. I usually don't read these kind of things but..."

Arnella laughed. "Why are you so solemn?"

Saidie pointed to the headlines: "The President's Niece Is A Slut, by Anonymous."

Arnella gasped. "What?"

"Read it," Saidie said, still in that solemn tone of hers.

Arnella inhaled several times before her breathing could get back to normal.

The president of Mount Faith can't seem to keep his family in check. His niece, Arnella Bancroft, is the star in what appears to be an erotic video. There is no mistaking that it's her in the very juicy video that we have gotten our hands on. We rate it five stars for being hot. Why is she attending Mount Faith again? Surely, she does not need higher education when she has such a banging body, which she can use ably. Seeing is believing. Take our word for it.

"No, no, no," Arnella said shaking her head frantically. "No!"

Saidie nodded. "I know it's not true. I grabbed some of them from the guy who was handing them out and beat him with it."

Arnella groaned and banged her head on the computer screen. "I was having a good day. I mean, I woke up this morning, it was all bright and sunshiny…"

"Forget about it." Saidie patted her back. "It will blow over. I don't know why people like this kind of fabricated gossip."

Arnella looked around the lab. There were usually thirty of them in the class. She suddenly realized that most eyes were on her. Some people were being subtle about it but others were staring at her and whispering.

"I have to go," she said to Saidie, mournfully.

"Don't you dare move," Saidie said sternly. "You will act as if this does not bother you. Okay?"

"But," Arnella said lowly, "there is a video. The guys who did it drugged me. I can't handle this Saidie."

"Yes, you can," Saidie said. "So why aren't they in prison rotting now?"

"It's a long story," Arnella whispered back. "I'll tell you at another time."

Saidie nodded, her neatly combed partly gray hair bobbing up and down. "I will curse anyone who dares to mention it in my presence."

"Oh thank you, Saidie," Arnella said, feeling a tingling of warmth toward her friend.

The teacher stepped into the class and she looked around. Spotting Arnella, her eyes widened.

Arnella groaned; obviously she had heard the rumor as well. She turned on her computer and gritted her teeth. She had been weathering rumors for years but that was when she knew they were untrue. Now she was in uncharted waters.

She went into her email and saw another mail from [email protected] She clicked on it, there was no video attached. She exhaled deeply, her fingers trembling. There was a message though; it was all in caps. "EXPOSE THE BAD GIRL."

Arnella shuddered. She could barely go through class. Like the first time she had gotten one of the vidoes, she was feeling unaccountably jittery and on edge. When she exited class with Saidie beside her like a sentinel, she found Kylie and Gareth at the door.

"We were waiting for your class to be over," Kylie said hugging her. "Do you have any idea who could be doing this?" She clutched a sheet of the Gossip Newsletter in her hand.

"I asked Jackie to look into it," Gareth said reassuringly. "Something similar happened to me, but that was the school's official newspaper. I don't know who does this paper."

Arnella inhaled. "I am fine. I have Bio Lab now. I am just going to go and then head home."

Kylie stomped her foot, "I feel so angry about this."

"I know, me too." Arnella said feeling deflated. "I have to go."

They watched her as she slumped her shoulders and walked through the building. She wasn't going to go to Bio Lab though she had told them that. That was Alric's class. She couldn't bear to see the look on his face when he heard this latest rumor. She headed to her car. She was going to go home, to the basement. With her art, she could forget about school, and rumors.

 

*****

 

Alric had done one of those all nighters in the medical library for a group assignment. He had just gotten home and showered. He had Biology lab class now and the only reason he was looking forward to it was because he would see Arnella. He yawned and turned on his computer screen. He usually checked his mail on a Wednesday to see what was new. He clicked on one that read, "Arnella as you've never seen her."

He did all of this absently while he sipped on some herbal tea. It was a video of Tracy's party. His spine stiffened as he watched the video play out. He hit pause before it got raunchier. He sat down abruptly on the chair around his desk, splashing some of the tea on the floor. He put it down gingerly on his desk and rubbed his hand over his face.

A sex tape? He felt a ringing in his ears. He had seen her that day with those guys but didn't suspect that she had been doing a sex tape. He felt the tea roiling in his stomach and he felt like throwing up. He clenched and unclenched his fist in anger. Didn't he know that getting involved with Arnella would involve this kind of thing?

He looked at his screen again and deleted the mail in disgust. His curiosity though had him searching back in his trash to see who had sent it. [email protected]

He shook his head. He was going to have a hard time staring at Arnella today. He didn't even know if he could talk to her again. He felt the same kind of anger and jealousy that he had felt at the same party when he saw her go off with those guys, except now he had gotten to know her and he felt like strangling her in rage.

He inhaled and exhaled, grabbed his knapsack and headed for his car. When he reached the class Arnella wasn't there. The class was feverishly excited though.

"Have you heard about the president’s niece, Arnella?" One guy asked him waving a newsletter. "She's a porn star. How cool is that? I am going to school with a porn star."

Alric felt a buzzing in his ear when the pimply-faced guy guffawed and hit the desk. "Stop it," he growled. "No mention of pornography now, please. It's class time."

He had just stopped himself from defending Arnella, how stupid was he? He had partially seen that video. He handed out the papers, a heavy weight settling on his heart. He felt heart broken in a way that was puzzling. He was not only feeling like a jackass for believing that Arnella was a good person who was heavily misunderstood, but he was feeling an ounce of sympathy for her; unless, of course, she was really a porn star.

He slapped the pile of activities that he had on his desk with unnecessary force. "Work time. Today we are looking at bones."

 

*****

 

Bancroft was trodding around his office. He loosened his tie and growled to Security Chief Green and Jackie Beecher, who he had called as soon as he got wind of the latest gossip. "Get the slimeballs who wrote The Gossip."

Jackie tapped her pen on the table. "Now, Dr. Bancroft. There is a video; Arnella stars in it."

"Stars?" Ryan bellowed. "She was exploited! Here is what is going to happen:" the veins at the side of his head were throbbing. "I am going to expel those guys who were in the video, all three of them! Then, I am going to expel everyone who writes for The Gossip. How is that for justice? Then I am going to sue all of them for spreading these vicious lies!"

His phone rang and he picked it up. It was Kylie. He had sent her to follow Arnella. "Taj is here with her," Kylie said. "She's threatening to never leave the basement."

Bancroft grunted. "Make sure she is not alone. I don't want her to hurt herself."

He hung up the phone with Kylie and tapped his fingers on the desk.

Chief Green cleared his throat, "Dr. Bancroft, there is a little thing called freedom of speech."

"Not on this campus." Bancroft growled. "Not when this freedom is causing undue pain."

Jackie sighed, "Once Chief Green finds out who the persons are who wrote the paper, I can impress upon them the fact that there was a crime committed, and that it's under investigation… have them do a retraction. Threaten them with legal action that sort of thing. Scare them to thy kingdom come. The problem with this sort of thing though, is that the rumor is already rife. It is the hottest topic on campus. Pretty soon it will be the hottest topic in the community, then the rest of Jamaica, and with the Internet, the world."

Bancroft's phone rang again. It was Natasha. "Dr. Bancroft, I found out who the guys are who are behind the paper, they are Delano Davis and Kingsley Huffman. Both of them were sent the video by EasterBunny and were told to spread the word. They are sophomores in the English Department. They do this paper every Wednesday."

"Thanks," Bancroft said gruffly. "How is the tracking of the video coming on?"

"My contact at the Cybercrimes Unit is on top of it," Natasha said.

Bancroft hung up the phone and looked at Jackie. "I want them scared. Real scared. Natasha said they do the paper every Wednesday. They had better write a retraction this Thursday."

Jackie nodded and got up. "I am on it right now. Is there anything else?"

"Yes, prepare for a law suit from the families of those three boys." Bancroft growled, "because they are out of here, lawsuit or not."

He nodded to Chief Green. "Get those criminals to my office as soon as possible."

Chief Green stood up as well "Okay, Sir. Are you going to do what we discussed?"

"Yes," Bancroft said, "as soon as they get here."

BOOK: Sense of Rumor (Mount Faith Series: Book 6)
6.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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