Cassie sat at the breakfast table like she had her whole childhood. She sipped on the coffee that Marie had brought her. That had been another shock for her family to get used to. Both her mother and Marie had stood with mouths hanging open when she asked Marie for a cup of coffee as she sat down at the table.
Marie was peeping at her from the edge of the doorway into the kitchen. Her mother sat across the kitchen table from her, slowly drinking her own coffee but taking as many stealthy peeks at her as Marie. Cassie noted that her Mother was now looking her over more fully, less at her face and body more at how she sat and acted and how she was dressed.
“Cassie, you are no longer my little baby. It will take me some time to adjust, but you are bigger than me now! You are all grown up and I was not there when it happened. Look at you! I feel like I went to sleep for ten years and just woke up and now those ten years are gone.
“Just look at you! You are no little girl, you are a grown woman. Just the way you wear that suit; a suit! You are a young business woman.”
“Mom, I have not thought about that. Everybody around me just took it for granted. Nobody saw it happening to me. I think it’s over now though. I have not seen any more weight or size change in two weeks. I think I am over my growth spurt.”
“And who were those two women with you? I’m sorry if you told me, I was out of it and don’t remember.”
“I’m sorry Mom; they are Betty O’Keefe, and June Smyth. They are chauffeurs, bodyguards and companions. Betty was trained in the Army and June in the Air Force. I need them as, legally, I am still underage. No matter how old I look, all my identification tells the truth. I am thirteen years old. It does not matter that I am a duly sworn Special Deputy United State Marshal, I am thirteen. “
“But mentioning my suit, I need another wardrobe. I have three suits like this, seven sets of what I called work clothes, battledress with heavy duty work boots. I just have a couple of pieces of what I call casual clothes for just hanging around and visiting folks.”
“I am going to need a complete school wardrobe, everything!”
“Cassie, about school, you will stand out like some kind of freak. You look older than any senior in school. But you are only a freshman, I know you said sophomore but that doesn’t make a difference. You look too old to be in High School.”
The silence was deafening.
The next day Cassie’s father, George, flew home from Odessa. Cassie was standing by her Tahoe that she and her companions had just finished polishing. A Super Cab 4×4 drove up the driveway and pulled up near the back door. Cassie walked around the house and met her Dad on the sidewalk to the back door.
“Cassie baby!” A big grin lit up his face as he took her into his arms and squeezed.
“Wow girl you have really grown! And you’re almost as tall as me now.”
“Dad, that’s a problem and Mom, mentioned it too. I am going to stand out like an elephant in the living room if I go to school here. I don’t think I can blend in. What can I do?”
“I think we should do some talking about it and then we will think and see what we come up with.”
“Cassie, before you left for the summer I would have never imagined that you would leave home rich and come back obnoxiously richer.”
With that he gathered her into his arms once more. They turned and walked, with his arm about her, into the house.
The next morning Cassie went to her dojo to exercise. She was stretching when she saw her Sensei slip into the Dojo quietly and move up behind her. With a loud “Hiji” he attacked. Cassie reacted without thought, and he was flying through the air. When he landed on his back, she was standing over him with her right foot resting gently on his throat. He slapped the mat three times. Cassie stepped back and waited.
Rolling over Sensei Inoue Shina stood then bowed to Cassie,”Sampai.”
Cassie returned the bow and replied, “Sensei Inoue.”
“You have kept in practice, have you noticed any changes with your new height and weight?”
“Not as much as I would expect, but most of my practice has been Kata and solo.”
He stood watching her, “You are saying that you have had no sparring partner since you have been gone?”
“That is correct Sensei.”
“What about your two companions?”
“Companions? Oh you mean Betty and June, I’ve just recently met them and I don’t know if they have martial arts skills.”
“Shame on you Sampai Cassie; I saw them yesterday evening as they found the dojo, the pool, and all the other equipment. They looked like they had found heaven. They returned thirty minutes later in gi’s and spent a good hour working out.”
“Really? How good are they?”
“They will be able to give you a serious workout, but still have much to learn.”
“That is good; I think I will be leaving again and very soon.”
“This time you will not be returning so soon.” Sensei Inoue said. “There is no reason for me to stay. I will start looking for a place to go.”
“Sensei! That is utterly unnecessary. Both my Mother and Dad enjoy having you here. My Dad said that you have a way of bringing civilization just by your presence.”
“Your honorable father is very gracious. I will take my time then, and look for a place of contemplation.”
“Please take your time in doing so.”
Cassie and Sensei Inoue practiced together for a couple of hours. When they finished, Cassie’s body ached with pains that she had not felt in months. After a good soak in the Jacuzzi, though, she felt like a million dollars.
Cassie joined her Dad in his office and they talked for hours. Cassie learned, for the first time, the full details of her inheritance. “My God Dad, you are saying that when I was born I was already as rich as you were?”
“Yes Cassie, and not only was she very rich she was also very secretive. Only last month a new trust came to my attention. After investigating it, I found another estate in Virginia worth about Five million dollars and fully covered with maintenance trusts to keep it up and pay any and all taxes due for the estate. The only reason I found it was that it had been accumulating excess funds and when they reached a certain level they were deposited into one of the other trusts I have been managing for you.”
“Wow, she must have been a really mysterious woman. Even her own family thought she was living on charity and all the time she was as rich as Midas.”
“Yes she was and, the more I have investigated the more mysterious she becomes. She did not trust anyone in her family. I still have not found out where her fortune came from. At the age of 18 she packed her bag and left home. From then on she was rarely heard from. She would just suddenly appear for certain events such as the birth of a baby, a marriage, or a birthday, and then she was gone. She never asked for anything so how her family could ever believe she was living on charity baffles me.”
“Cassie, this is for your ears only. The more I looked into your aunt’s life the more I also looked into your Mother’s life. Her family was strange, almost inbred. Her mother, from a distance, seems almost to hate her for some reason. There are indications that the family split up some years ago and the two sides are barely on speaking terms. Every other generation there is an influx of money into the family. But not your mother’s generation which in her branch, was due. Too bad they did not wait for you.”
“All that is very interesting Dad, but does not answer the question of what do I do now?”
“Oh that easy, why don’t you move into this new estate? My fingerprints are not all over it like some of the other properties that will be yours when you turn eighteen. Your Aunt did not see any reason to wait longer, which makes sense as she left home at eighteen.”
“That sounds good but who will be my guardian there?”
“Do you think you need a guardian, Cassie?”
“No Dad, but the law basically requires that I have one. You will need protection also. You could be charged with all kinds of stupid crap if I am off by myself without one.”
“Well I spoke to Judge Daniel Winston this afternoon about it. He asked for time to think, and then just two hours later he called back with an idea. He will issue an order of emancipation and place you in Witsec. Turns out that when USMS has to do Witness Protection they have to issue all new identification and it must be legal. So they use a court order to get birth certificates filed with the new data. He is going to do the same, but leave your name the same, but with a new birth date. They will make you eighteen. It’s going to be layered; first an order of emancipation and then an order of identification change for Witsec. When it is complete, you will still be Cassandra Howly Howard but eighteen instead of thirteen.”
“Any background check will support that new birth date. Your will have a complete new identification of a very young but extremely well off lady. The new birth certificate will be filed with Social Security so that all IRS records will reflect the new birthday. Daniel told me it would take about five days to get everything setup.”
“That should take care of most of the problems I have seen.”
“There are others that you have most likely not seen; one in particular is you mother.”
“Mom? What do you mean Dad?”
“She is going to be very upset that you will be leaving us again so soon. Then there is the knowledge that you will not be back for a while. She has not adapted to the fact that her little girl left home for a couple of months and her grown daughter returned. Now you are leaving again with no clear time to ever return. She was never really close to her own mother and she had seen you as her redemption for her poor family life. Please be easy on her Cassie.”
Cassie sat there thinking of her mother, how many times she had held her and how caring she had been when she had gone blind. Cassie knew that on many a night she herself had awakened wanted her mother to come hug her but she had been away in Idaho. She had never thought how her mother might feel. She stood up.
Her Dad watched as she left his office and headed to where her mother was talking to Marie. Cassie walked into the kitchen and never slowed down she threw herself at her mother. She hugged her Mother tightly in her arms as tears streamed from her unseeing eyes.
“Mommy I love you.”
Into The Shadows
Virgil L. Fuqua
Cassie was getting tired of driving across country. Not that she was actually driving, for one of her chauffer-bodyguards had been driving steadily for the last five hours. She shifted in her seat, easing the pressure from her hideaway gun in the small of her back.
Betty had only been with her for about six weeks. She had joined Cassie at the mining site in Idaho before Cassie had returned home to Sonora, Texas. Betty and June had been hired because Cassie knew she was going to have to do a lot of driving to get home. After her last attempt to fly on a commercial airline Cassie figured that it would be easier for all involved if she just found a way not to fly for a while.
Betty O’Keefe had retired from the Army. She had been a Master Sergeant in Army Security and Protection. June Smyth had been Betty’s counterpart in the Air Force. While both were more than double Cassie’s age, their years of travel all over the world acting as babysitters and guards for generals’ families had made them very adaptable. They treated Cassie like she was one of those Generals’ older daughters.
Cassie had watched them closely at first and she had found that the two guards loved Big Bertha. They only relaxed while inside of her and parked. Then they felt safe.
This trip to Cassie’s new home to be was nerve racking. If they had not been able to find a place to relax, the job would have been almost impossible.
My thanks to Grumpybear for his editing and proofing help. But the final results are mine and all criticism should be loaded onto my shoulders.
© Virgil Lee Fuqua III and ‘vlfouquet.wordpress’, 2008-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vlfouquet and Virgil Lee Fuqua III with appropriate and specific direction to the original contents