Chapter 9:- The Calm Before The Storm.
Back to: Chapter 8:- Oaths Broken, Revenge Promised. Next: Chapter 10:- Broken Hearts Part 1
For a long time now, Sunset Valley was calm and quiet, as the writ of Victor and Queenie’s rule ran through the entire community, with no problems or any opposition to face. Life was simple, and though unease still permeated the air because of the murder, as each day passed, it slowly seemed more and more like a distant, murky memory; washed and cleaned away by the presence of the happy people that lived in the town.

There was a lull in the air and young couples in the park, the soothing voices and the familiar scents of another summer coming around filled everything and everyone, encompassing them all in it’s happy embrace.

But what Sunset had forgotten and would soon be reminded about was one of the most common things about the summer: Flash storms. Dangerous, powerful and deadly, these storms swept through the coast every year, causing widespread harm and disruption. However, this year, Sunset was to receive a different sort of storm; something previously unseen or unheard of in these parts. A storm that would shake the very foundations that the town was built on, tearing lives apart, throwing all plans asunder. And it had already set it’s eyes on Sunset Valley….

However, before all of this, there was The Calm. It is the same calm that grips the prosecuted minutes before the death sentence is delivered after many sleepless nights, the same calm that grips the fatally wounded before final closure, the same calm that grips those who suffer loss and who have much to do in the face of it. It was The Calm Before The Storm….But how long does it last before it all falls apart?

Queenie was, to put it mildly, furious. Not for the first time did she find that her daughter, wanting to stay in her room, apparently unwell, had used the window to leave the house secretly to meet the Altos. Her People had recently told her that they had seen Nancy with the entire family (and not just that hook nosed boy of theirs), more and more frequently. It was obvious to her that he had introduced Nancy to her parents too, and that didn’t make Queenie happy.

“It’s time I take matters into my own hands,”she muttered to herself under her breath. “These Altos were tolerable as a business threat, a flourishing one even, but now, they’ve crossed the line. I won’t have my family fortune bestowed upon a lucky boy just because of his sweet tongue and dark eyes. "There must be a way to get rid of them. Think, Queenie, think. You’ve never been beaten so far.”

She had already done as much research as possible on them, but they seemed to be saints of a new order; they didn’t even have a parking ticket or against their names in their past history. She realized that she had to capitalize on some occurrence within Sunset, something that they had done that wasn’t well known… Some act with even the slightest whiff of scandal behind it.

She pieced together every single little detail, everything they had ever done, from her own experience and from what she had heard around town. Suddenly, a large grin broke out across her face as she struck gold. “The Altos should begin packing their bags. No one stands in my way and gets away with it.” And with that, Queenie Landgraab walked out of her daughter’s deserted bedroom, under the impression that she would, in time, win another victory over one of her biggest competitors till date. Little did she know that soon, she would be knocked down so hard and in such a way that it would take a miracle to ever rise up from it again.

Prudence got down at the sprawling Goth estate in the early hours of the morning for what seemed like the hundredth time this month. Since the moment she had extended the hand of friendship to Gretle, she was always there; laughing at her pathetic jokes, complimenting her poisonous cooking and gossiping with her about events that had happened months ago. She tolerated all this because she was biding her time, waiting for her chance to strike, grasping and holding onto as much information on The Goths as possible till one day, she could bring them down.

Today, after all these days of quiet constancy was the day she had been waiting for. Today, she would play her part in tearing down the best reputed and wealthy family in Sunset, the very family on whose roots the town was built on. The Goths had finally met their match. They had grown soft and easy-going with their success. And now, they would crumble. And when they did, she would make sure she was the first person standing at the door in sympathy and affection, and when it was that they had lost all, she would suggest that they sell their ancestral home to provide for themselves… And then it would be she herself who would snap it up when no one else would take the house in which an entire generation met their ruin.

She walked quickly to the gate, its carefully greased hinges making no sound in the still morning air. She hurried past the extravagant courtyard and outdoor decorations, not noticing them and envying all within sight for once; mind focused intently on the task at hand. Upon reaching the door, she knocked and then stood, carefully composing her features before the door opened.

Gretle Goth opening the front door, wondering if Victor who had left just moments ago had, as usual, left something behind and had come to get it, was instead surprised to find Prudence standing at her front door at 6:30 in the morning with unshed tears in her eyes. “Prudence! What on earth’s the matter? What’s wrong? When Prudence said nothing, mutely shaking her head in reply, she ushered her inside, closing the door quickly behind her.

“What’s happened? Are your girls alright? Speak to me, Prudence!,” shouted Gretle, shaking her in frustration. “No,” she gasped with apparent difficulty, “No, all of them are fine. It’s… I saw something terrible…. And I didn’t know if I should tell you or not…” “It’s alright. Calm down, darling. Tell me what’s wrong.” Prudence looked at her; a quick calculating glance. She wondered if she was playing her role just as she had to; a lot depended on her skills now, as it almost always did. She gathered her resolve. She knew that this, this moment, this defining moment and the way she performed it would make or break lives.

“I think I saw…. I don’t know. I’m not sure. I don’t know anything for sure, Gretle, I don’t know what happened….” Gretle inhaled sharply, her heart racing with every word. “Prudence. Just let it out. Finish it.” “Well…. I thought I saw… your husband. It was late at night, Gretle, I couldn’t be sure of anything, but that jet black tweed jacket was so familiar… I thought I saw him kissing… Kissing Monica Wendyll.”

For a minute, Gretle’s body stiffened as her heart plummeted. She felt her world swim before her as she struggled against the sudden dizziness. She could hear Prudence calling her name from some faraway place, but nothing seemed to make sense any more. Slowly, the world slid back into focus and she could once again see Prudence’s face before her. “Gretle? Are you alright? Speak to me!” “I’m…fine. I thought I heard you say…” Prudence gulped, and cast her head down; as if she couldn’t bear to carry the news she had brought to the Goths’ doorstep. “You didn’t hear me wrong, my dear. I am so, so sorry for you.”

Gretle couldn’t believe her ears. After all these years of love and close friendship that they had shared, she couldn’t understand what was happening. Could it be true? Was it possible that Victor would do this to her, to their two children? And for what? What wasn’t she giving him? What wasn’t she doing right? Slowly, she walked over to the expensive couch in their living room and collapsed into it in a heap. “I need to find out if this is true,” she whispered, more to herself than to Prudence. “I need to know…. I can’t believe he would do it.”

Her head slowly sunk into her lap as Prudence sat beside her, patting her head, shushing and petting her. “There, there, dear. There now. Shhh.” Slowly, a crooked smile played on her lips as she commended herself for a job well done. The tears might have been a bit extreme, but then again, she thought to herself, ‘There indeed. Now let’s wait and watch and see them tear themselves and this town apart.’

The mild afternoon found Monica taking a little time off for herself, weeding her garden with quiet exuberance. The sound that her plants made against each other when a quiet wind whispered through her little herb garden always soothed her easily frayed nerves.

Today, she was tensed and tired, but satisfied with her work so far. Almost all that she had come here to do was completed; just the final push was required to finish the last of it, and then she could leave Sunset for good. So far, all she had asked of Victor was to fill up her bank accounts with generous sums of money that would probably provide her with a moderate enough lifestyle for two lifetimes, but now, she kenw that it was time to finish off what she truly came here to begin. But suddenly, she felt the need for something more…

There was something she knew she could never have… Something she was never destined to have of her own and she knew this… But she had never accepted it. Monica knew that if she truly wanted something, she would always get it; such was her very nature. And now, if she couldn’t create what she desired herself, she knew that she would have to take it from someone else. ‘It doesn’t really matter, does it?,’ she muttered to herself. ‘Especially if they don’t deserve what they have and I….. I really do.’ Somewhere deep down, she knew that she could never judge who deserved what; it was not her right, but then she put that logical part of her aside.

She stood up, dusting her pants as she did. She knew that she would not be at peace till she got what she wanted. Now, it was time to make plans to achieve it… No matter the cost. Monica smiled to herself. It was time to make one last stop before everything fell into place and she skipped Sunset for good.

Night was falling across Sunset Valley, and with the Sun’s slow descent, people and families headed home after a long, rough day. However, two people of the quaint little town knew that as the town slept, they could do things they normally would not dare to do in public, out in the open….

“I can’t stay for long,” Chester whispered to Bessie as they stood close, constantly looking around for fear that someone was watching them. “I just couldn’t get by without seeing you… It’s been so long, Bess, I’ve been so busy…” “Chester, please…,” said the young woman, embarrassed. “Let’s not complicate this….” He smiled his usual sarcastic smile in response. “If you didn’t want to, why did you agree to meet me here?” He looked around sarcastically to prove his point. “I don’t see any beds around. You knew I wasn’t calling you here for sex, honey. So, why did you turn up?”
Bessie looked away and didn’t reply. In truth, she knew he had a point. Somehow though, she felt safe and protected whenever she was around him, and when he was away, she longed for it. It wasn’t love; it was the sense of safety, an aura that Buster, with his extremes and temperament always failed to exude.

“You came here,” he said huskily, pressing her closer to him, “For me. Because you feel the same way. Don’t deny it, baby, who are you kidding? This means as much to you as it does to me. We’re in this together now, there’s no turning back.” She sighed in reply. “Chester, I have to go, I-,” “Shhhh,” he whispered, putting his finger on her lips, and then, putting his own lips in their place.

“Finally,” said Eustace, a fiendish grin twisted the corners of his mouth as he stood watching the couple embracing, hidden by the shadows of the night. “Revenge is ours.”

Victor Goth was in his office, working in late as usual, checking on Sunset’s government audit for the month. The reason he held personal interest in the funds of the government was that he was attempting to ensure that the other officials did not channel the city’s funds into their own personal bank accounts. However, the purpose was twofold; he truly did not want any corruption in Sunset- apart from what he practiced himself. Therefore, to ensure that no one noticed the occasional sums of money that were diverted to him alone, he had to…. ‘Re-audit’ the audit before it was submitted.

No one would ever doubt Lord Mayor, Victor Goth; after all, he came from a very good background; the best, in fact, that Sunset had to offer. His grandparents founded the town; he owned almost half of it by name, if he couldn’t be trusted, said the people to themselves as they sat comfy in their armchairs, who could?

As he sat editing the written amount of a large sum of money that Sunset had earned through a recent bake-a-thon to ensure that part of the proceeds were never traced back to him, his cell phone rang. Annoyed at being interrupted, he flipped it open to see his wife’s name on the caller ID. His frown deepened. She knew he was busy, working late tonight, why would she call to interrupt him now, of all times?

“Yes, darling, what is it? I told you I was busy working on the audit tonight,: he said, his voice strained and tired. “Victor! Oh Victor. I don’t know what happened, I went out for just a minute to throw out the trash and I met Mr. Darling and I swear I didn’t mean to leave her alone, I didn’t, I didn’t, the backdoor was locked, there was no way…” His wife’s voice broke off into hysterical sobs while he tried to understand the meaning behind her quick, garbled speech.

“Gretle! Gretle, what the hell happened?!?! Calm down and tell me right now!” He heard her gasping, struggling to contain her emotions and to be coherent. “Victor… It’s Frida… Our daughter’s been kidnapped.”

Note to my readers: Guys, I'm really sorry this update took so long to post up. I fell sick in the middle, plus I've been really caught up with some R.L issues. Writer's block just added to the entire problem. I personally feel like this chapter wasn't as good as the others; rate and comment to let me know your thoughts! Oh, and there's been a messup on my part; some places it's Eustace Kennedy, others it's Earnest. Sorry guys, my bad. I meant 'Eustace,' and I'l lstick to that from now on Sorry for the confusion again!

Click Next: Chapter 10:- Broken Hearts Part 1 to continue...

Back to: Chapter 8:- Oaths Broken, Revenge Promised. Next: Chapter 10:- Broken Hearts Part 1
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