Crossbreeds 3: Chapter 55 Out for Dinner by RedPhantom ()
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Steve was amused by the fact that his son had been friends with the daughter of one of his friends for years without anyone realizing it. He was not, however, amused by the fact that his friend had practically no contact with Jo for most of that time.
Nim had been disturbed to learn it had been Drepal, not Ann, that served them coffee. He spent the afternoon drawing a picture for Jo’s parents while Jo had gone to the library after lunch to help Andy find out more about his dad. She’d done what research she could on Steve and Carla’s computer, but it was an old enough story that there wasn’t much available online.
She bought a new dress knowing what her mother expected of her. It was a little black velvet dress with glitter. She wore her favorite heels which she had brought from Torthoc.
Nim growled when he saw the dress. “You’re wearing that?”
“Yeah. You like it?” Jo asked, ignoring the growl.
“Not for in public.”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“It’s too short.”
“It’s not too short. It comes to mid-thigh.”
“You look lovely,” Carla assured her.
“It’s not too fancy for where we’re going?” Jo asked.
Carla shook her head. “It’s perfect.”
“I think you look pretty,” Jaidu said.
“Thank you.” Jo smiled.
“I had a dress like that back home,” Jaidu told her.
Now, Thailyn was growling.
“Her father is insane, I swear, dressing a fourteen-year-old like that,” Remtani muttered.
“Do you think father would send my clothes if we asked?” Jaidu asked.
“If that’s how he dressed you, we are not asking. If he sends them anyhow, we are burning them,” Mishtali said.
Everyone jumped and looked around. They found him, Shay, and Pt’this looking through a silver platter Carla had on display.
“Mishtali, Mother, hi. How are you doing?” Jaidu greeted them. “Hi, Pt’this.”
“Good evening Jaidu. Joanne, Nim, you’re looking dressed up. What’s the occasion?” Pt’this asked.
“My parents are taking us out to dinner,” Jo told him.
“You’re going out in public dressed like that?” Mishtali growled.
“That’s what I said,” Nim agreed.
“She looks fine,” Shay said.
“She’s setting a bad example for our daughter,” Mishtali insisted.
“Jaidu wasn’t kidding when she said she had a similar dress. The example has already been set.”
“Did Master Elos give me more classwork?” Jaidu asked, changing the subject.
“He did. Although, he says you better be doing a good job.”
“She is,” Nim assured him.
Then, the doorbell rang. Jaidu and Ti took the tray into a bedroom to get the classwork while Carla answered the door. It was the limo driver. They joined Amelia and Curt in the back of the limo. Nim was a little perplexed by the seat that faced backward, but he didn’t say anything.
Jo introduced him to her father. Nim shook his hand.
“You look very nice,” Amelia told Jo.
“Are fashions much different on Torthoc?”
“Very different. Ann has been helping me learn when I should wear what. I’m starting to get the idea.”
“You’ve always had good fashion sense.” Amelia nodded.
“Thank you. I had a good teacher.”
“Thank you.” Amelia smiled.
“Nim, what do you have there?” Curt asked, indicating the parchment Nim held.
“Since you couldn’t make it for the wedding, I thought maybe you’d like a picture,” Nim said handing over the parchment.
Curt unrolled it and looked at it. “Very nice,” he said and then showed Amelia.
“Oh, that dress is stunning. You two make a beautiful couple. Very nice drawing too,” she said. To Joanne, she sounded sincere.
“Thank you,” Nim said.
“Thanks.” Jo echoed.
Dinner went well. Jo could feel Nim’s nerves and his desire to draw. He surprised her by getting the chicken, probably his least favorite food.
The conversation ranged from questions about their jobs to the wedding to children.
“I’d like to have seven or eight,” Nim said. “But Jo isn’t so sure about that so we’ll see.”
“Is it common for people on Torthoc to have a lot of children?” Curt asked.
“The Erulian often have five or six. But most people, not so much. Three or four is common. I was an only child. Ann that you met earlier? She has five brothers and sisters. But, her father was widowed and remarried and there is also a pair of twins.”
“We do have a friend who’s hoping to have a dozen,” Jo said.
“A dozen? How many do they have so far?” Amelia asked.
“One, but they’ve only been married two years and she’s still young,” Jo said.
“He was also a twin. I think he’s hoping they’ll have some twins too,” Nim said.
“Nim, if it’s not too personal, can I ask why you left Chicago?” Curt asked.
“I got sick and couldn’t get better. I know some very good doctors back home. It turns out I was having a reaction to something in the air in Chicago.”
“You mean like pollutants?”
Nim nodded. “Something like that.”
“Won’t you get sick being back again?”
“I had some special treatments to help avoid that. I won’t be able to stay more than a few days though.”
“So why did you come? Amelia asked. “I’m sorry. That sounded a bit rude.”
“I understand what you mean. It’s not always possible for Jo to get to Chicago. She wanted to try to get a hold of you again since you were unavailable before she left. We had a chance to come, so we took it.”
“That explains her, not you coming.” Amelia pointed out.
“I came to support Jo. My people are a bit protective of family.”
As they left the restaurant, Curt turned to Nim. “I have to ask. Are you Baj-tisk or Tricot?”
Jo could feel Nim’s shock at the question, but he didn’t react as if he were surprised, only confused.
“Excuse me? Baj - what?” He asked.
“Curtis!” Amelia said sharply.
“He said he was one of those. I want to know,” Curt told his wife.
“But he said…”
“I don’t care what he said. This man is married to our daughter.”
Amelia frowned. “But…”
“And I’ve put up with your little temper tantrum long enough,” he told her. “Jo didn’t play your game and she isn’t going to. She’s her own woman and she’s done very well for herself. Nim seems to be a fine man and she’s doing something she’s good at and helping people. Accept it or leave.”
Amelia turned. She looked as if she’d been slapped.
“Mr. Thompson, there’s no need…” Nim started.
“Stay out of this,” Curt said.
“No.” Nim stood as straight as possible towering over Joanne’s father. “This is something Jo and Amelia need to work out, but I’m not going to stand here and watch you bully your wife.”
“Nim…” Curt started.
“Jo is my wife and Amelia’s her mother. That makes her family. As I said, my people are protective of family. I don’t like how Amelia’s treated Jo but it’s not something that’s going to be fixed standing here tonight. You threatening her isn’t going to help. Give them time. Let them work it out.”
Curt nodded, shocked. Few people stood up to him. The car pulled up at that time. They got in without waiting for the driver. Nim glanced at the man behind the wheel. He didn’t like being at the mercy of someone he didn’t know.
“You never answered my question,” Curt prompted.
“Who told you I was one of those?” Nim countered.
“He said his name was Kar something,” Amelia said. “He’s the one who first called me claiming Nim was a killer.”
“I thought that was Nathan North,” Jo protested.
“Why would we listen to anything he’d say about you?” Amelia looked at her like she was crazy.
“He said he was Kar?” Nim asked glancing at Jo.
“Is there a problem?” Curt was starting to look worried.
“Was his name Kartonesh?”
“Yes, you know him?” Curt nodded.
“Nim, Kar knows you. He knows your clan,” Jo told him.
He nodded. “I know, but why did he suddenly come back?”
“Have you seen this man?” Jo asked.
“Several times.” Curt nodded.
“Nim, you have a drawing of Kar in your case. We can show them.”
“Do you know this man?” Curt pressed.
“I know Kartonesh. We used to be close friends. The man you talk about doesn’t seem to be the same person,” Nim explained. “What else did he tell you?”
“He said you were trouble, that we needed to get Jo away from you. He said that if we did, he’d make sure the deal I’ve been working on goes through. He let me think he had some influence over Steve.”
“I’ve known Steve for years,” Jo said. “I don’t believe he’d be involved with this man.”
“You also didn’t realize he was a friend of mine,” Curt pointed out.
“Why don’t you two come in and we can talk more?” Nim suggested.
“Did Kar want you to find out if I was Baj-tisk or Tricot?” Nim asked.
“No. He said it was best not to get into that. He also said it didn’t matter. He’s interested in two people, Nim here and someone by the name of Dentrias. He said one of them was Baj-tisk and the other was Tricot. He never said which was which.”
“That makes no sense,” Nim said.
“We figured you were Baj-tisk since it's closer to the gate in Chicago,” Curt said.
“Curt, we weren’t supposed to say anything about that,” Amelia protested.
“Perhaps we should talk more back at the Mathis’ place,” Nim suggested.
The driver dropped them off at the guesthouse. They told him they’d call when they were ready.
“Now, what were you saying about a gate?” Nim asked.
“The one in the country club. The one you’ve been using to go back and forth from Chicago to Torthoc,” Curt said.
“My niece’s in-laws own the country club. Do you think they didn’t know about some strange gate in its basement?”
“Does Melissa know about it?” Jo asked.
“No, neither does her husband, just his parents.”
“Have they gone through it?” Nim asked.
“No. A business partner they had said it was likely dangerous and they should stay away from it.”
“A business partner?”
Amelia nodded. “Nathan North of all people. He died a few years back. One of his office buildings collapsed on him. He was mutilated. They never did find his head”
Nim growled. “Nor’than.”
“You know of him?”
“Our paths have crossed,” Nim said.
“This gate isn’t dangerous? You’ve been using it,” Curt surmised.
“Maybe that’s what made him sick,” Amelia suggested.
“It wasn’t the gate. The gate isn’t dangerous, but don’t use it. The other end comes out in a place that isn’t the safest.”
“But Jo went through alone,” Amelia said.
“Have you spying on me?” Jo asked.
“No, Kar told us.”
“I was waiting for Jo on the other side. We’d go to one of the local towns.”
“Not to Baj-tisk?”
“No, nor to Tricon. We’ve been to the Baj-tisk mountains a couple of times not to the city of Baj-tisk.”
They went into the house. The main room was lit by candles and the fire was in the fireplace. Jo went and stood by it.
“Why don’t you go to change into something warmer,” Amelia suggested.
Jo nodded. “Excuse me a moment.” She went to change. She returned turned a few moments later in jeans and a sweatshirt. She brought Nim’s drawing set out with her. “There better not be any of me in there,” she whispered.
“Nothing they can’t see.” Nim smiled.
He pulled out a picture of Kar. “Is this the man?”
“No. That is.” Amelia pointed to the next picture in the stack. It was Mr. Creepy.
Nim growled. Amelia gasped.
“Nim, settle down,” Jo warned.
“Ann, Andy, and Steve are coming out,” Nim said after a moment. “I’d like to know what dealings Steve has with this man. That is not Kartonesh. Kar and I were friends long ago. He knows what clan I am. He was the same.”
“Who is this man then?” Curt asked.
“We don’t know,” Nim said.
They explained the situation to Steve and the others. Steve hadn’t seen the man, nor had he any idea how Mr. Creepy had planned to stop the deal Curt and Steve had been working on.
“The deal’s done, save your signature,” Steve assured Curt. “The other party has already signed it. It’s on my desk in the house. If you want, I can get it and you can sign it now.”
“You wouldn’t mind?” Curt asked.
“Curt, I know how important this is for you. Let me get it.”
“I’ll come with,” Ann offered.
Steve raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
“She acts like she’s going to protect him,” Curt said once they left.
“If there’s a problem, she will,” Andy said.
“That tiny thing?”
“That tiny thing is a brown belt in karate. She also has other skills she can use if needed.” Andy assured him.
“I wouldn’t want to mess with her,” Jo said.
Ann and Steve returned a short time later, contract in hand. Curt signed it and Steve signed as a witness.
Ann waved a hand over it.
“What did you do?” Curt asked.
“Protected it,” Ann said simply.
“Perhaps it would be better if they stayed here,” Andy said.
“You think he’d hurt them?” Jo asked. “He hasn’t hurt anyone else.”
“Except Ti,” Ann pointed out.
“He’s had time to hurt them if he wanted to,” Jo said.
“They were cooperating,” Ann said.
“Do you really think they’d been in danger?” Jo was starting to look worried.
“I don’t know. Thailyn’s daughter seems to think so.”
“Thailyn’s daughter?” Jo looked confused.
“You know, you met her at the meeting. She’s the one that got upset with Shay,” Nim said.
“Oh, her. She does?”
“She does.” Ann nodded.
“How well do you know your driver?” Nim asked.
“I don’t know him. He works for the service we use,” Curt said.
“You’re staying,” Nim said.
“We don’t want to impose.” Curt shook his head.
“What did I say about family?” Nim asked. “You take our bed. Jo can have the couch and I’ll sleep on the floor.”
“The floor? There’s a recliner in the main house,” Steve told him.
“I prefer the floor. I only use a bed because the floor makes Jo’s back hurt.”
“It settled. You’re staying,” Steve said.
Image Comments (4)
zaqxsw () 8:39AM | Sat, 03 July 2021
Great installment! What a twist! It seems there's a lot more going on than we knew... and a lot more people know the truth than I expected. Can't wait to see what happens next.
ikke.evc () 3:56PM | Wed, 07 July 2021
She looks great! Well, i'll quickly look at the next chapter. Well done, RP!
LevKornowska () Online Now! 5:18AM | Sat, 10 July 2021
It is definitely super interesting but I admit that I really owe to go to the very beginning to understand the twists and turns better. What I can say is that your writing is excellent and that you know how to engage your readers!! I do like her dress as well...I used to go dressed like that too...a long time ago though, lol...Beautiful render too!