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Too Perfect

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Too Perfect
by Princessilsa

     

CHAPTER FOUR

Early August

Alistair strode calmly into his father's study, grinning widely. "You wanted to see me, father?"

"Yes Alistair," Timothy Crane responded at once. "Are you loyal to this family?"

Alistair was taken aback by the exceedingly blunt question. "Yes, of course," he replied.

"Then I need you're help getting rid of someone-"

Alistair's brow furrowed. "RID of someone?"

"Don't look at me like that," Timothy snapped. "I don't mean murder. I just want to send you to offer someone a large amount of money to get out of town."

"Isn't that bribery?" Alistair asked slowly.

"What of it?" Timothy asked.

"Well - forgive me father but isn't that - illegal?" Alistair questioned.

"What of it?" Timothy asked again. Alistair gulped. While he knew that his family did whatever was necessary to get what they wanted, he, himself, had never committed a crime in his 23 years. And although he was fairly certain his father had, and the fact didn't bother him, somehow he didn't want to break the law.

"Well?" Timothy was asking.

"Nothing father," Alistair mumbled after a moment.

"So you WILL do it?"

"I'd only need to offer him money?" Alistair said slowly,

"Yes," Timothy confirmed strongly.

"All right." Alistair sighed. "Tell me who and when."

"That's my boy," Timothy grinned.



Ironically Rachel showed up the next morning, unannounced. She never showed up without any notice. Since she lived in Boston plans were always carefully made.

However, that morning she burst into the stuffy Crane mansion like a breath of fresh air. Alistair, upon being told she was there, walked rapidly to meet her - and get rid of her. Although he wanted to see her, his father had warned him to lay low for 48 hours after extracting the bribe. To Alistair this only served to confirm his theory that Timothy had done this sort of thing before.

The bribe it's self had gone quite smoothly. The man, a Mr. Dirk, had promised to catch the first flight out of Harmony. His father had thanked him. When Alistair had confided that he felt somewhat guilty, Timothy had reassured him that feeling would go with time, and later, though Alistair didn't know it grumbled that it was Rachel's fault.

The foyer was well lit as Alistair reached it, and Rachel's smile was equally bright. Her hands were behind her back, which confused him slightly. However, when he drew what she deemed close enough she pulled them out from behind her back to reveal a fantastic bouquet.

It was huge, and though most of the flowers were white, there were red roses and pink lilies thrown in, as well as a few Birds of Paradise flowers. There were an abundance of white lilies, roses and lilies of the valley, which flowed down with green vines of some kind.

"Do you like it?" she questioned just a bit breathlessly. "It's a copy of what the bouquet will be like on our wedding day - they made it exclusively with me in mind-" she stopped suddenly. "What's wrong?" she questioned gently, smiling. "Don't you like it?"

"No, it's not that - the bouquet is lovely of course dear it's just - I'm very tired."

Her eyes narrowed slightly. "Alistair? Are you sure that's all?"

At that exact moment three police officers burst in with the youngest, Ben Bennett, insisting they had a warrant. Alistair quickly sized them up. It was the Bennett boy that worried him the most. He was clearly very bright, very ambitious. Clearly a threat.

"Alistair?" Rachel asked in a small voice, grabbing his arm.

"We'd like to question you and you're father about the disappearance of Michael Dirk," the oldest officer announced.

"Alistair?" Rachel asked again.

"It's obviously a mistake," he reassured her. "I don't even KNOW anyone by that name." Which, he reasoned was technically true.

Timothy entered the foyer then. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded.

"We have a warrant to search you're home and question you and you're son about Michael Dirk's disappearance," Ben Bennett answered.

"Feel free," Timothy said confidently. "We have nothing to hide.

"Perhaps I should go?" Rachel said, more of a statement than a question. Alistair began to tell her to do so, but Timothy Crane cut him off.

"Don't be ridiculous dear. You're practically a part of the family, and I assure you, we have done nothing wrong."

He well remembered his late wife's presence the only other time authorities had actually questioned him. She'd begun to cry and the officers hadn't had the heart to question him any further. They made their way into the living room. The men continued to stand while Rachel sat reluctantly on the couch, placing the bouquet in her lap.

The officers looked at the flowers oddly. She smiled weakly. "They're like the ones I'll carry at our- my and Alistair's- wedding in a month."

Timothy fought against smiling in triumph. It was clear that the Bennett boy already felt guilty about being there and the other two policemen were not far behind.

After flinging a slew of questions at Timothy the officers finally, reluctantly, turned to Alistair.

"Do you know Michael Dirk?"

"I do not," Alistair replied firmly.

"Did you ever meet him?"

"No."

"Did you try to bribe him in order to get him to leave town?"

"No, I did not," Alistair replied with just the BAREST trace of hesitation.

Suddenly Rachel let out a choked gasp and the flowers fell onto the floor.

"Miss Barrett! Are you all right?" Ben questioned at once.

However, for a long, long moment Rachel just met Alistair's eyes, staring at him. And that look said it all. She knew he was lying. And he knew she knew.

"I'm - I'm perfectly fine, thank you," Rachel answered. "It's just - this is all very upsetting to me, you understand."

All three officers looked at her sympathetically. "We're almost done, miss," one offered. She nodded.

"Do you have any idea where he could have gotten all the money his wife claims she saw him with?" Ben asked Alistair.

"None at all," he resolutely insisted. "I'm dreadfully sorry, but I can really be of no help."

The police nodded. "I'm sorry to have had to bother you," one said awkwardly. "I really see no need to search the house."

"It's quite all right," Timothy said, steering them tactfully toward the front door. As their footsteps faded Rachel turned to Alistair, standing up.

"Did you threaten him?" she asked softly.

"Whom?" Alistair questioned.

"Michael Dirk," she said in a slightly stronger voice. "Did you threaten him?"

"No," Alistair answered biting his lip.

"Hurt him?" she demanded.

"No."

She looked at him HARD. "You only bribed him?"

"Yes," he said softly.

She shook her head, seeming to contemplate. "Than never tell me about it," she told him finally.

"Are you angry?" he asked, biting his lip again. It was silent for a long moment.

"No." She whispered finally. "No I understand how it is with you're family. I always have."

"Are you disappointed?" he whispered.

There was another long pause. "Well yes," she answered finally. "I am."

"I'm sorry," he said sincerely, "Truly I am."

"I wish you wouldn't break the law again Alistair," she said slowly. "Please. I don't think you'd like jail," she said, ½ teasing, ½ dead serious. He gave her a semi- smile.

"All right Rache. I won't break the law again."

"Really?" she asked doubtfully.

He nodded. "I didn't want to in the first place - I never have before, and frankly I never want to again."

"I believe you," she answered. "About everything you just said."

"Well, I'm not lying," he answered just a bit indignantly.

She looked RIGHT at him. "I know."

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