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Authors: Rosemary I Patterson PhD

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BOOK: The Wager
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All four went outside and Turk told the others that they had reached an agreement. Everyone sighed with relief. Shortly afterward the convoy moved back onto the highway with Norm Dixon riding with Malcolm and Linda in the motor

home. Trump was in the back with Cleo for a change. Malcolm decided to sweeten the deal with Norm Dixon in case he had second thoughts.

"You know, Norm, I like the way you acted on your hunch and tracked us down."

"Happens all the time. I seem to know somehow what people are up to."

"I'm looking for a Chief of Security for my race horse installations. I suspect one of my employees doped my race horse, Starwalker, before the Kentucky Derby. Think you might be interested?"

"Where would the job be located?"

"Kentucky mainly. But I have facilities in three states. You'd have to travel every so often."

"I've been wanting to move into something else."

"Great. Have you got a business card?"

Norm Dixon pulled out a card from his wallet. Malcolm told him he would get a call from his personnel office. A short time later the convoy stopped in Hemosillo and Tyler negotiated a rental car for the detective. He spoke perfect Spanish. Malcolm got Tyler to get through to his office on the phone, told them that Bea was now in Mexico and gave instructions to his lawyers to proceed with the plan for revoking Bea Broughton's Power of Attorney. He also phoned and instructed his Personnel Chief to get in touch with Norm Dixon about making him the Head of Security for his racing stables.

"Create the position and make it for one hundred forty thousand a year."

Linda smiled as she heard Malcolm's order.

"You handed that masterfully," she congratulated Malcolm as he hung up the phone. Malcolm beamed.

"It shouldn't be long," Malcolm put his arm around Bea Broughton. "My lawyers say three weeks at the most and it should be possible for you to return."

"I'll call John and try and get him to see reason."

Malcolm shook his head.

"Let my lawyers handle the matter for now. As soon as they give the go ahead, you can contact your son."

Bea's eyes filled with tears but she nodded.

"Just long enough for a Mexican vacation," Gus stated. "How about we all go to Puerto Vallarta after we drop off Tyler's coffins?"

"Why not?" Tyler seconded the motion. Honey Pratt laughed.

"Another three weeks. Charlotte is going to have a nervous breakdown."

"Why don't we take advantage and conduct a couple of Mexican weddings while we're at it?" He looked Honey Pratt straight in the eye. She felt massive warm vibrations around her heart as she realised he was asking her to marry him. Honey never hesitated.

"Think y'all is the love of my life, Sugar."

Tyler kissed her passionately. She responded in kind.

"Uh, Linda, I know I don't deserve you but would you consider marrying me?" Malcolm Brooks eyed Linda with pleading in his eyes.

"You want a permanent caretaker for your animals?"

"I deserve that! No, I want a permanent playmate."

"What about your baby, Malcolm, when it's born?"

"You'll make a good stepmother."

Linda broke into a beaming smile and tears ran down her eyes. Malcolm seized her and they embraced for a long time.

"Turk and I would like to get married too!" Bea informed the others.

Turk smiled and nodded. He pulled Bea against him.

"Maybe we should renew our vows," Gus suggested to Gloria.

"Of course, Darling! What a good idea."

"We'll stop in Mazatland and pick up some rings," Tyler decided.

"I'll phone Art, Esther, Virgie and Frank. Maybe they'll come down and join us too," Gloria volunteered.

"And our dogs," Turk ordered. "They can have them flown down."

"Better let me phone Charlotte and I'll ask her to come down," Honey Pratt sighed. "That girl is going to think I had a personality fracture for sure. Marrying at such a late date in life. She and Tyler need to get to know each other."

CHAPTER 29.
Guadalajara.

T
urk O'Brien wandered the streets of Guadalajara with his arm wound around Bea Broughton. Great joy was in his heart. He could not believe that they had made it safely to their destination. Turk was letting the atmosphere of Guadalajara soak into his being. Mexican music was everywhere. Senoritas dressed in colourful costumes reaching down to the ground strolled the streets. Musicians wearing tall sombreros and fancy Mexican dress outfits played guitars, trumpets and mariachi's almost on every street corner. Pillars from Colonial architecture dating as far back as the seventeenth century reached up to touch the sky everywhere.

Turk stopped at one of the portable stands selling Tamales and bought two. He handed Bea one of them and they sat on one of the many benches in front of one of the old churches to watch the busy street life go by.

"I'm going to phone John," Turk shook his head in shock as Bea's voice was filled with determination.

"Malcolm said to wait until his lawyers give the go-ahead."

"By that time we could already be married, Dear. I want to give John, Orphelia and the children time to get down here to join us."

Turk's euphoric mood vanished. He was afraid that Bea was setting herself up for another bitter disappointment.

"Well, I guess that detective fellow's been in contact by this time. Watch out for Orphelia if she answers the phone, though."

"I'll hang up if that's the case."

Turk handed Bea his cell phone.

"Melissa, it's Granny, how are you."

Turk realised that Bea's oldest granddaughter had answered the phone. He noted that Bea had tears in her eyes. He noticed her expression change to apprehension and figured that he son or daughter-in-law had picked up the phone.

"No, I'm certainly not coming back any time soon," Bea yelled in anger. "Let me speak to my son!"

Turk listened as Bea had a highly charged emotion session with her son on the phone. After several minutes Bea broke into tears again. He handed her a handkerchief as he could see she was desperately trying to withhold her tears. He felt proud as she managed to issue an ultimatum to John Broughton.

"I want you to come to the wedding, John. It's going to be in Puerto Vallarta. I'll mail the tickets. Come to the wedding and I'll make some financial arrangements in favour of you and Orphelia. But I'll not make a move to stop the termination of that Power of Attorney."

Turk sighed as Bea abruptly closed the cell phone.

"I'll give them the house," she told Turk with tears in her eyes. "But I'll not give up you for anything."

Turk drew her close to him and they embraced.

"I have a feeling that at least your son and granddaughters will come down, Bea."

"I hope so."

In another corner of Guadalajara Tyler Thompson laughed at the expression on his face as one of his Mexican partners questioned the condition of the coffin that the detective had been resting in.

"Don't worry my friend, that coffn's a write off. We'll deduct it from the invoice."

Honey Pratt groaned as she put down the telephone after having one of her perplexing conversations with her daughter Charlotte and admired her fancee's capacity for unconditional love and compassion. He had lost money on the latest shipment of coffins, not to mention the extra expense of hauling his friends down to Mexico but only cared about helping his fellow member of the Dog Walking Club.

"Such a difference from my usual suitors," Honey thought with a smile. "They're usually hitting on me for money to buy the latest flashy sports car or technological toy."

"Is Charlotte coming to the wedding?" Tyler asked as they went out of the Mexican funeral home hand-in-hand.

Honey groaned as she thought about her upsetting conversation with her youngest offspring.

"She's in hysterics, Sugar. She's convinced I'm doing something I will regret for the rest of my life."

"And are you?" Honey could feel Tyler's intense look probing right into her sixth centre.

"Y'all are the best thing that ever happened to me, Sugar." Honey promised.

Tyler kissed her passionately in front of all the passerbys on the busy street.

"We'll send her tickets anyway."

"Three sets, Sugar. She's bringing my two grown-up sons and their wives down too. To convince me I'm ruining my life."

They laughed and embraced again.

"Crazy tourists!" could be heard from observers. Tyler and Honey were blissfully unaware of their stares and giggles.

On another phone in one of the charming Period hotels of Guadalajara Gloria was on the phone with Art and Esther.

"We're coming," Gloria smiled as Esther advised her that she and Art would send the dogs down right away and come themselves.

"Virgie and Frank are coming as well as their dogs. Make sure you make the marriage arrangements for all four of us, too."

Gloria made sure she was getting the message straight.

"Virgie and Frank and their dogs. You're sure?"

Gloria went into peals of laughter as Esther told her that they had no choice. She told Gloria about Tyler's housekeeper coming into their bedroom in the midst of one of their heavy sex sessions. Esther added that the housekeeper belonged to the same church and had gone straight to their minister. The minister had told them to marry immediately or face the eternal fires of Hell. Esther said that they were only too happy to oblige.

CHAPTER 30.
Puerto Vallarta Area.

T
he rays of the sunset lit up the terrace of the ancient temple as Linda Daniels, sitting next to Malcolm Brooks on the terraced stairs of the Aztec temple, stared at the twelve dogs sitting shoulder to shoulder on one of the wide stairs.

"Look at the dogs, Darling. They look like they're watching the ceremony."

Malcolm Brooks stared at the dogs. Trump, Cleo, Inuvik, Gigi, Bourbon, Dante, Dogzilla, Lazarus, Angus, Mozart, Bookkeeper and Pegasus sat perfectly still on the terraced stairs in front of them. It looked like they were staring at the Mexican Judge who was marrying Honey Pratt and Tyler Thompson.

"They likely are watching, my dear. They understand more than we think. I'll try and get a shot of them before it's our turn."

Linda watched the man she was about to marry scamper up the terraced stairs high enough to get all the dogs in a panoramic shot. She stared at the myriads of faming torches down below that lit up the wedding reception area on the white, sand beach that could only be accessed by water and listened to the Mexican mariachi, trumpet and guitar music drifting up to the marriage participants and their guests under the old temple site.

Linda recalled her deep emotions that morning as all of the participants in Gloria's bet had indulged in a purification ceremony in the hot tub at the luxurious spa overlooking the ocean.

"Ten years I've loved Malcolm from afar and now we'll spend whatever time we have left together." Her emotions had deepened as she thought of Monica's child. "And I'm to be a stepmother." All reports had Monica proceeding well with the pregnancy. "This must be Heaven and I've reached it somehow."

Linda felt tears run down her face as Honey and Tyler were pronounced "Man and Wife." They stood up from their kneeling position near the cliff's edge under a white canopy, before a white altar, and embraced passionately. Linda noticed Malcolm snap a shot of Honey's daughter Charlotte as she wiped a tear from her eye. Honey's two sons and their wives were standing next to Charlotte. They had smiles on their faces.

"Charlotte and Tyler must have finally hit it off," Linda laughed as she remembered how Tyler had turned his considerable charm on for Honey's three offspring when they had arrived from the mainland. "And they came to try and stop the wedding." Charlotte had convinced the others that her mother had suffered a personality fracture.

Linda glanced around her at her other friends sitting around her waiting for their ceremonies. Honey and Tyler moved into the seated area and Virginia Kelly and Frank Simpson kneeled before the Judge.

Linda watched as Malcolm snapped a shot of Virgie and Frank, their grown up children and then finally sat down on the stairs far enough behind the dogs to get another panorama camera shot of their backs.

"He's got the picture," she thought. "What an incredible shot! Looks like someone spend hours positioning the dogs." Malcolm's fash lit up the area as he took several pictures of the animals. Then Linda reeled as she spotted the parrots flying toward the palm tree only ten feet from the dogs.

"Oh no," Linda watched in horror as Trump broke formation first and leaped off the terrace steps to create havoc. The local, wild, red and green parrots were flying in and reaching their nesting spot for the night. Raucous screams echoed throughout the air and drowned out Virginia and Frank saying their vows. Squaring parrots berated the large Sheep Dog and then four of his friends as they joined him to interfere with their night rituals. Linda broke into laughter as Dogzilla particularly seemed to be trying to knock the solid palm tree down. The dog hurled his bulk against the tree's trunk again and again. As Malcolm watched and captured the scene with photos, Linda could see that coconuts were being shaken out of the tree and were hurtling down on top of Pegasus, Inferno, and Inuvik. Little Lazarus was barking furiously from his perch on the terrace stairs at the antics of his large friends. Cleo sat obediently as she had been told to do. Mozart and Angus seemed confused by all the noise, and Bookkeeper and Bourbon faithfully stared down at the wedding ceremony.

The command "Freeze," reached Linda as Turk O'Brien's powerful voice ordered his errant dog to cease his wedding disturbance antics. The large Rottweiler immediately sank to the ground. Linda groaned as Malcolm yelled "Down" at Trump and the stubborn Sheep Dog ignored him completely as usual.

"That dog!" Linda sighed. "He continues to be a crime wave on four legs. I'm going to have to get Malcolm to be more authoritarian with him."

As Linda watched, Trump was still leaping up at the remaining parrots in the trees. Then Linda nodded in approval as Malcolm suddenly seemed to realise he had the remote to Trump's radio collar in the pocket of his formal, white suit and pressed the warning buzzer. As Linda took in the scene Trump turned to stare at Malcolm as if to ask if he really meant it. Malcolm pointed back onto the steps and the dog returned to his position next to Cleo with his tail dragging between his legs. Pegasus and Inferno were now alone at the Palm tree and they stared longingly at their friends lined up again on the terrace steps. Without their leader, Trump, they seemed dispirited. Both dogs slowly moved to the other side of Cleo. Lazarus finally stopped his frantic barking and the Mexican judge's voice could be heard again up in the stands.

"Until death do you part."

"Well that's very final." Linda vagariously enjoyed Virginia's and Frank's spirited embrace as the second ceremony ended.

"Imagine what they are going to do on their honeymoon," Linda sighed. Virgie had been confiding their interest in far out sex practices to her friends in the spa that morning.

Linda watched as Bea Broughton and Turk O'Brien moved into kneeling positions in front of the judge and Malcolm focused his camera on John Broughton and Bea's two grandchildren. The fash exploded as he snapped a quick shot of the trio.

"Nice that John and the children few down after that call from Bea even if he was the cause of all that trouble. Too bad that Orphelia refused to join them, though."

When Malcolm rejoined Linda they both now focused on Art Maloney and Esther Goodenough saying their wedding vows. The older couple embraced joyfully as their ceremony

ended and Linda felt warmth surge through her heart as Malcolm seized her hand tenderly and he led her down to the altar. It was their turn to marry.

"Thank God it's you I've married," Linda's heart throbbed as Malcolm whispered to her following the end of the ceremony. It seemed forever as he kissed her sensuously. She could feel his affection strongly as he held her against him. Malcolm led her back to the stairs and they watched Gloria and Gus Gustafson take their places for the Vow Renewal.

"I can't believe Virginia and Frank!" Malcolm whispered. "Who would have thought people their age were going to spend their honeymoon learning Scuba Diving and then diving with the sharks off Mazatland?"

"I'm worried about them. Do you suppose they're developing an obsession for Adrenaline?"

"Could be. But what about Honey and Tyler going off communing in the open ocean with the dolphins from a catamaran?"

Linda laughed. "Fits Honey to a 'T'."

"Hope Trump sits still in that Cessna as we head out to stay in the authentic Aztec village in the mountains."

"Make sure you bring along that radio collar and the remote."

"Good idea."

"Art and Esther are the only sensible ones amongst us," Linda sighed. "They're heading back to Guadalajara for a tour of the Tequila factory and the shopping centres."

"What about Turk and Bea?"

"He's taking her to the Bull fights."

"Yuk!"

She noticed Malcolm relax as she told him that the bulls were never killed in Mexico.

"He's so attuned to animals, just like me."

"What about Gloria and Gus?" Linda asked as they knelt in their places before the Mexican judge. Malcolm put a finger to his lips as the judge began the vow renewal ceremony. Linda had to wait until after Gus's fervent embrace of his wife at the end of the ceremony to find out where they were going. As the crowd moved down the trail to the torches and the gayly decorated tables for the reception, Malcolm told her that Gus and Gloria would be joining an adventurous group taking on the rigours of a hiking and cliff climbing experience near the wedding site.

"These cliffs?"

"Yes, after they take part in a forest canopy excursion in the rain forest further down the coast."

"Forest canopies excursion?"

"You know, using platforms and ropes to surge through the tops of the trees."

"Like Tarzan?"

"Of course!" Linda cringed as Malcolm let out a Tarzan imitation yell as startled friends congratulated them on their wedding.

"What about Gigi and Inuvik?"

"They're going along. Gus paid for them, too. I wish I could see the dogs thrashing through the jungle trying to keep up with Gus and Gloria in the trees. Maybe we should join them with Trump and Cleo?"

"With Trump? He'd take off chasing feral pigs or some other exotic animal for sure."

Linda laughed as she could see the sudden gleam in Malcolm's eyes.

"Let's do it. There's still space on the estate near Gus and Gloria's house for more animals. We can do the Cessna trip after."

"You're incorrigible. Monica might want to visit her child, you know. You'll freak her out again."

"I've always wanted a wild pig for my collection."

BOOK: The Wager
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