back in the luxurious leather seat of the limo that had been waiting for
them at the pier. After the long flight, he was happy to be back on terra
firma again. He noted that the bar was fully stocked, but there didn’t
seem to be a phone here in the back.
After a short
ride from the airport to the dock and the
invigorating trip over the water in the Foundation’s launch, they had
landed on the main island and were met by this top of the line limo. The
driver had explained that the smaller island they were going to was far
too rocky and the ocean too wild for any boat to get near enough to dock.
There was only one way to get to Druidean, and that was via a
causeway from the larger island, Iona, that could only be traversed during
taken the seat up in front next to the driver without a word. Robert was
always surprised by how well Mickey could slip into an undercover role. He supposed that he, as Mickey’s teacher, should take some
credit for his pupil’s aptitude, but Robert was well aware that he had
found a bright talent in the young man who had prowled the jail
cell in Leavenworth so wildly.
wondered which way their plans for finding Walter Kohler would go. They
were going to run two separate investigations and compare notes not more
than once a day. They knew that there was a chance that their rooms would
be bugged so Rupert would insist on a daily brisk walk with his bodyguard
going to be, in every way, the downstairs servant and Robert was going to
play the multimillionaire, spoiled older man to the hilt. He would be
rubbing elbows with the fabulously wealthy, and Robert knew that he was up
for a moment about how easily Mickey had slid into Mick, the role of
insolent servant to his Rupert persona. Mickey had become resentful, with
a thin amenable cover, as they had taken their seats on board the
launch. Robert had been a bit
surprised at how well his friend had embraced the part until he had
recognized that Mickey might have a streak of that personality within
wondered if Mickey felt that way, at all, about their relationship, but he
rejected that idea almost immediately. Though, it was very possible that
Mickey might have the basis for that type of personality within himself.
Indeed, if Mickey had been made to stay in Leavenworth and serve his full
sentence, he very well might have turned out to be that sort of man,
resentful and angry at the society that had imprisoned him, innocent of
the crime as he was. Mickey might have used his instinctual intelligence
to bend and manipulate people around him.
that thought into the back of his mind, and forced it to stay there, until
he needed to examine it again. He had saved Mickey from ten years hard
labor and now, he reminded himself, he was proud to call him a friend.
himself to two fingers of the fine whisky in the bar and looked at the
passing scenery on the island.
his surroundings, Robert watched as the driver, with the skill and
assurance of much practice, eased the large car down onto the shore of the
island and up onto the causeway that connected Druidean, the home of the
Cymric Foundation, with Iona, the larger island.
vantage point in the back of the limo, Robert couldn’t see the land bridge.
All he could see was the dark water on either side of the vehicle
and the long poles that were stuck into the seabed to mark the path of the
road. It was almost as though they were driving on top of the water’s surface, and it gave him an eerie but gratifying feeling of
been to Scotland before but, oddly, the small island was a still a vibrant
green, even though it was at the end of October. A feeling of unease
entered his bones as they traveled closer to their destination. As he
looked at the passing landscape, the unease began to metamorphose into
pleasure. It started to thrill through him like a thin wash of adrenaline
combined with a hint of sexual desire. It was a satisfying emotion really,
Robert admitted, rather stimulating, actually. He felt younger and quite
full of himself.
limousine finally pulled up to the incredible looking castle Robert almost
flung the car door open himself to spring out into the brisk air. But he
remembered that he was supposed to be used to being waited upon and so, he
opened his door and Robert emerged onto an astonishing sight. There were
groups of young, beautiful men and women moving around the grounds. Some
were escorting a few older men and others were moving throughout the green
and manicured lawns tending to the flowers and shrubbery.
About a mile
away, Robert could just make out a group of figures around a small fire.
It was difficult to be sure, his eyesight couldn’t quite make it
out, but he thought they were dancing naked in the chill autumnal air.
He glanced at
Mickey who was unloading their luggage from the trunk of the car and saw a
look of interest on the younger man’s face as he stared in the direction
of the dancers. Robert knew
then, that they were indeed dressed as they had been when born into the
He started to walk toward the main entrance where he saw Beltane Cymri waiting. Robert recognized him from the pictures, taken a few years ago, when Beltane was still known as Kevin McQueen, that Control had given him to study on the plane.
been a nice enough looking young man with reddish blond good looks, a bit
on the lanky side, with an over eager smile. The man standing with his
hand extended to Robert, was a shimmering example of energy and personal
charisma. His face had filled out into a true strong-jawed handsomeness.
His body also had filled out robustly and now McQueen exuded health and
strength. A palpable aura of
animal magnetism surrounded him.
Robert’s eyes and held them squarely in his gaze. When he took
Robert’s hand in his to shake, there was a rush of energy that shot from
the man’s hand straight into Robert’s chest and groin. Unbidden,
Robert found himself charmed.
Cymri’s voice was bell clear and masculine, his grip was firm and dry.
“Welcome to Druidean and may the joy of the land bring you health and
determined that Rupert Morant would have made a point to lose as much of
his Australian accent as he could. “Hello Mr. Cymri,” he said smiling
reservedly, barely a hint of the Down-under evident to the ear. “I hope
that this place lives up to everything I’ve heard about it.”
Beltane please, sir, and come, look around. Doesn’t Druidean revive you?
Make you seem more alive?” He made an open handed gesture towards the
exceptionally attractive young people that surrounded them. ”Make your
blood circulate?” He smiled even more deeply, his strong white teeth
bright against his healthy tanned face.
Morant,” Mickey interrupted, his voice now thick with the combined Texas
twang of his childhood, and the New York blue collar accent that had
surrounded him during his teen years. “Whatcha want
me to do with the suitcases?”
at Mickey for a bit too long, and without moving his gaze, he
addressed Beltane, “Will someone be showing me to my rooms?” Robert
heard his voice dripping with disdain – and he wasn’t sure why. He
forced himself to look away from Mickey.
looked back and forth between Mickey and Robert. A clearly knowing smile
crept on his face as he moved to stand in-between them. He lifted his hand
and waved at some young men who then gathered all the luggage together and
disappeared up the front steps with it.
will take your belongings up. Now
please follow me Mr. Morant and I’ll show you personally to your
rooms.” The three started to walk up the steps and into the large
mansion. Cymri’s thick, red-gold hair shone in the fading afternoon
light as he aimed a look of delight at Robert.
“I have to tell you I am quite honored that a man of your
intellect and knowledge has deigned to take the time to visit with us
well,” Robert made a show of being pleased at the compliments, “if
this place is as good as I have heard rumors about…” Three very well
endowed women passed by and looked, with studied and pleased interest, at
Robert. He found himself genuinely smiling back at them, and he followed
their progress as they walked slowly by.
noticed that Mickey had also turned to stare and grin at the women, and a
flare of anger pierced his chest. He lifted an eyebrow in rebuke at his
assistant. “Take these!” he barked at Mickey, getting his attention,
as he stripped his gloves off and threw the pair at him.
one, but the other glove fell at Robert’s feet and Mickey had to bend
down to retrieve it. Robert became aware of a strange feeling of pleasure
at seeing Mickey bow at his feet like an inferior, but he recognized it and
was immediately ashamed of himself.
straightened up, Robert caught the hooded eyes and a look of sullen anger
on his friend’s face.
is imbued with something unusual, Robert thought, and he wasn’t at all
happy that he and Mickey were both being affected by it. Whatever
it was. He would have to watch himself closely. Things were
definitely strange here.
initial greeting, Beltane led them through the castle, pointing to various
rooms as they passed. Mickey paid careful attention but he figured that it would be
the rooms that Beltane didn’t talk about that would be the most
interesting to them. In a
building of this size he was sure there would be hidden rooms and secret passages.
them about the re-building of the castle at length as they walked up the
wide stone staircase that led to the rooms occupied by the special guests of the
retreat. He boasted proudly
that the castle had been built to his own vision.
friendly and personable enough, but Mickey had caught a hint of something
off behind the man’s beaming smile and too bright eyes.
at the top of the stairs, he led them down a luxuriously carpeted hallway
and stopped at the last door on the left.
He threw open the solid oak door with a flourish and stood back to
allow McCall and then Mickey into the room.
the look of undisguised astonishment on McCall’s face and knew that his
own expression was identical. He couldn’t recall ever seeing such unabashed luxury before.
The room was
huge and the walls were covered with finely carved paneling and
tapestries similar to the ones he remembered seeing only a few days
before in the Bronx. A fire burned merrily in a large stone fireplace.
four-poster bed dominated the room. Mickey
looked around, all the furniture looked like genuine antiques to him. But
then what did he know? McCall
was the expert on fine furnishings.
The view from
the windows overlooked the open sea and when Mickey looked closely, he
could see a sheer drop from the window into the wild rolling water.
In the depths of winter, he was sure that the sea would look
from an open doorway and Mickey saw it was a bathroom.
Through another open door he could see a smaller room, which he
knew had to be his.
room was only a quarter the size of McCall’s suite, with none of the fancy
furniture. And, although it was true that he had his own bathroom, there was
only a simple shower, nothing like the white tiles and gleaming gold
faucets in the huge Jacuzzi in McCall’s bathroom.
bags on the floor in his room, Mickey got back into McCall’s suite just in
time to hear him say, “My employee and I always take a brisk walk every
afternoon after lunch. I
trust this will not inconvenience you at all?”
“No, not at
all. Lunch is usually served
between midday and two o’clock. I am sure you will have time for your
When a knock
came at the door, Robert waved Mickey over to answer it while he continued
to talk to Beltane.
three attractive women standing there and Mickey found himself studying
them with lecherous thoughts in mind. He leered at them as he let
come to unpack for the Lord guest.”
smiled at Robert, “Ah, I will leave you to get settled then.
Ask any of our staff,” he
patted one of the women on the shoulder, “for whatever you might
watched Beltane leave and went into his own room. Typical, he cursed to
himself, McCall even had servants to unpack his bags.
He had a very good idea what he would like to ask one of those
females from the staff to do for him, or, he sniggered, for his staff.
Picking up his own bag he threw it on the bed. He bet the welcoming
committee didn’t unpack for the hired help.
He snorted in disgust and wondered if McCall’s head would be
swelled even bigger than usual by all this luxury.
himself feeling more and more resentful at his treatment as a second-class
citizen. He was as good as
McCall or Morant or whatever the hell he called himself. Rich guys like
Morant always needed working class Joes like Mick to get their kicks.
It isn’t everyone that could get their hands on the kinds of
entertainment that Morant demanded.
He had barely
got his clothes away when Morant appeared in the doorway, “Mick, I’m
hungry. Get yourself
downstairs and see about getting me a snack.”
flared again and more strongly. Mickey turned and walked out the door
without a word. What the hell did Morant think he was? His slave? Mickey
made sure that the spoiled bastard didn’t see that he was angry, but he promised himself that Mr. High and Mighty Morant was going to
come down to earth with a bump if he had anything to do with it.
abruptly, Mickey felt disoriented. He realized that he was
slipping deeper into his cover story.
Kostmayer! Mickey berated himself. Why the hell was he thinking
that way? He knew that the orders McCall gave him were a diversion, a
chance for him to look around the mansion freely.
his time getting to the cafeteria. He used his errand as the cover story
as he peeked into every room he passed.
delivered the sandwich, Morant made a big show about generously letting
him have the rest of the evening off. Big deal, Mickey thought as he spent the rest of the time before dinner wandering around.
Later, as he
sat in the cafeteria eating dinner, his anger began to gnaw at him again.
Morant was eating in the classy dining room while he had to eat
with the other commoners. He shoved another mound of steak and potatoes
into his mouth and chewed. The chow was okay – better than prison –
but still it wasn’t fair. His resentment started growing again.
moment he regained control. What was he thinking? He hated all those fancy
dishes and since when did he ever think about prison food? Why was he
acting so screwy?
he let his eyes wander over the people in the room.
There might be some consolation to eating here
after all. A little blonde a few seats away was looking very interested in
him and he was sure that he could have a good time questioning her at
length, later, in his room. Just as he was about to make his move, a busty
redhead came over and dragged her away.
He overheard her say that they had some important duties for Beltane – yeah
right, he could just
guess what those duties were.
decided to take another cup of coffee and a big slab of the pie. He might
as well be well fed if he was going to spend the rest of the night
mingling with the other commoners.
set his after dinner glass of single malt whiskey down.
It was a Glenmorangie malt with a sherry wood finish and, served with
just a little spring water, it was exactly how he liked it.
Its rosy essence spread its warmth throughout his body. Beginning to suffer from jet lag and the late
hour he was
ill disposed to move away from the company and retire to his room.
The dining room was large and opulently furnished like all the other rooms he had seen. The room had started out fully lit, with the thick drapes not yet pulled over the windows. Even though they were a mile or so away, they were still able to hear the roar of the wild ocean that threw itself upon the rocks surrounding the island.
As the evening progressed, the drapes had
been pulled closed and hundreds of candles had been lit around the group
of people dining with the lord of the manor.
requested that the rest of the world be left away from the island, so no
one around the table shared their real identities. The people on the
island addressed all the special male guests as Lord, but Robert knew who
they were all right. He had made it his business to study the file Control had given him on Walter Kohler.
It had also included profiles of all of the
men most like him in the world - there had only been a dozen in all.
There was Ernst Dieter, sitting on Robert’s right. He had been made infamous over twenty years ago by his support of a neo Nazi organization based in Hamburg. He had kept himself out of the newspapers ever since, covering all his tracks with phony corporate names. According to Company information, he had been living life as if the Nazis had never lost the war.
a South American drug overlord, was at the end of the table. He looked
thin and weak, as if he were on his last legs. Robert supposed that years
of sampling his own product, combined with the violence and bloodshed
common to the drug business, tended to suck the life out of the men who lived
off other people’s misery.
guest sharing the table was Peter Oosthuizen of South Africa, a man known
for his support of the old regime of white rule there. He had made
millions available to the forces working toward a permanent apartheid. He
was also whispered to have the ownership of a private torture chamber,
where he brought women and girls to be used after a generous price had
been paid to their impoverished families.
sighed, a nastier group of thugs he never hoped to meet.
He glanced at
the five young women that Beltane had invited to dine with them. They were all
in their twenties and Robert had to admit, amazingly healthy looking and
robust. As far as he could make out, the women wore no makeup at all and
they wore their thick, shinning tresses in the simplest ways.
All of them looked well scrubbed and glowing with happiness.
They all swore allegiance to The Path, the religion Beltane had
created to rule the island. Robert’s own designated companion was a
charming soft-spoken girl. And much too terribly young for him.
remembering to answer only to Rupert in the rare times that first names
were used, accepted one of the Cuban cigars that were being passed around.
The woman who had been playing a lute as they were eating had been
dismissed and the group of ten people had left the table and were now comfortably seated in the
large cushions of the sitting area next to the dining room.
still trying to explain his religion to his visitors.
each other here in Druidean as our family.” Beltane had changed into
verdant green robes with trousers of royal purple. As he took short puffs
from his large cigar, he looked like a royal head of state his ease and
self-assurance were so complete.
“We are as
dear to each other as any blood or love relationship.” Beltane flashed
his perfectly white teeth in a broad smile, “This emotion, and fidelity
to it, is our true bond. We have no need of empty oaths or threats of
punishment here in this life or the next. We know that loving each other
must always be our own choice. This gives our love for one another true
value.” He sat back and beamed at his male guests as the young women
held on to his every word.
woman, known by the name of Kerri, had been at Beltane’s side for the
evening. She was only about only five feet two inches tall and she had a
long mass of silken, curly red hair. Her skin was the kind that only true
redheads have, pale and creamy, almost luminescent. Her green eyes and
overall coloring hinted of Irish extraction. And, even though Robert tried
to conduct himself with the utmost decorum, he couldn’t help but be
awestruck by her curvaceous body.
How in heaven’s name did Beltane attract such women to his island and into his religion? Robert wondered, as his own companion sat down close by him on the couch.
us,” Kerri said in a studied manner, her face shining with an inner
light of its own, “the Being of which we are all a part, transcends
any one ritual. Enjoying the love of nature, and all its bounty and gifts
brings us closer to our true relationship with the Universe.”
graced every man in the room, but set upon Beltane for the longest time.
“We know that we are neither more nor less important than anyone – or
anything – else. That’s why we all get the chance to be the high
Priestess at our important feast days. I have the honor for our
upcoming festival of Samhain.”
smiled and held the young woman’s chin in the palm of his hand as he
placed a chaste kiss upon her forehead.
Beltane then held her hand and spoke to them all, “Knowing that
nature cannot lie to us allows us clarity in our affairs and in the
choices we make.”
Herr Cymri,” Ernst Dieter started to say.
friend, please. Call me by my taken name, Beltane.”
blustered, “I am a man of business. I do not believe the sales pitch
you are giving to us.”
the women laughed, the sound was free of all guile and lies, Robert
thought. Their laughter sounded warm and welcoming.
Lord,” said the young woman who had been sitting with the German all
through dinner and who had taken a place on the couch next to him. She
smiled at him as an indulgent teacher might to an adored child. “We do not
recruit or attempt to convert people to our religion. With all of our
hearts, we believe that an individual must choose their religion on their
own. No one can make the choice for them.” She had raised a hand and
pressed her fingers to her bosom while gently touching his knee with her
responded more to the placement of her hands than to her words.
Robert had to
remind himself that he was hearing a pre-rehearsed pack of lies. In his lifetime he had known people who practiced
the Pagan and Wicca religions and he recognized that Beltane was parroting
some of the tenets of those and bending it for his own use.
the other wealthy men were really invited to Druidean because Beltane let
it be known that his island community was a place where there were no
boundaries as to pleasures for men of wealth and power. It was also
whispered to be a place of sanctuary from the world and, if necessary,
from the legal authorities, for a rather steep price. That was one of the
reasons that it took Control so long – six months – after Walter
Kohler had disappeared, before he had even begun to wonder what had
happened to him.
The woman who
had been Robert’s own dinner companion, was now sitting next to him. Her
name was Applewood, which she had explained was used in love spells and charms.
She turned to Robert and asked quietly, “You look tired Lord, may I
accompany you to your room?”
into her deep brown eyes and almost nodded his agreement, but he stopped
himself in time. He was here on business, he reminded himself, not to take
advantage of young, impressionable women.
Robert put an
embarrassed smile on his face. “Not tonight I’m afraid, my dear,” he
said, “The plane ride over and the jet lag have both chipped away at my
iron will.” He winked broadly. “I’m afraid my back is bothering me
also, but…” He looked at the others quickly, “I expect that to be
ancient history after a good night’s rest.” He climbed up off the
cushions of the couch, took Applewood’s hand and kissed it, “As for
tonight, my dear, I’m not going to be of much use to myself at all, much
less to someone such as yourself, with your youth and beauty.”
pronouncement he nodded goodbye at the men in the room and at Applewood
who smiled sweetly. Robert bid the room of people good night loudly and
walked out the door to the staircase that led to his room.
As he walked
up the steps, still puffing on his cigar, Robert thought that he had not
spent as pleasant a night under any a roof in an extremely long time. He
chuckled; there is something to be said for wealth and for being admired
for possessing it.
He found his
door and opened it onto a lit and welcoming room. The fire was still
burning brightly, his night clothing had been laid out for him, and a
bottle of Black Bush Irish whisky sat next to a crystal tumbler at his
nightstand, just ready for him to indulge
himself. He decided to hold off imbibing until after his shower.
was tired, and yearned for the comfortable bed, he thought that he would
first check with Mickey and see if he had unearthed anything of
He went to
the door that opened on Mickey’s room and was going to let himself in,
but Robert stopped himself short, surprised that he would even think of
violating his friend’s privacy.
He frowned at
himself. The idea of barging in on Mickey should have been unthinkable.
Why was it in his head that Mickey had no right to privacy? Where did he
come up with the idea that he had every right to expect that Mickey be
waiting for him?
frowning, he rapped lightly on the door. No answer and no sound. Robert
knocked harder and listened. Still no reply. He tried the knob and the
door opened onto a dark room. Robert found the light switch, flicked it on
and saw that
Mickey was nowhere inside.
A hot burst
of anger flared inside his chest. Where the hell is that young ruffian? Is
it too much to ask that, when on a mission, he be available to Robert in
order to exchange information? Is it too much to hope that Mick might, for
once, not have his mind in his pants, sniffing around at all the young
willing women in this place? He couldn’t remember how many times in the
Mick had been unavailable to him because he was swaggering around strutting his
dubious prowess, trying to impress lowlife slatterns.
Robert slammed the door shut and locked it. “Let the
blue-collar street trash sit in that small drab room until I call for him
tomorrow morning!” Robert cursed out loud, letting the broad vowel
sounds of an Australian accent elongate his words.
help that grease monkey if he isn’t here in the morning waiting for my
instructions! He’s supposed to be here to do my bidding, not get
himself some,” Robert then grabbed his night
clothing from the bed and started to walk into the bathroom, but was
surprised to hear a firm knock at the door to his suite.
around and threw his now wadded night clothing back onto the bed. What
kind of getaway is this? Now he had to answer his own doors, he seethed.
He stepped to the entry and flung it open.
hallway, two young women stood shyly with a folded up long table standing
between them. Unable to calm
himself down totally, Robert barked a harsh “Yes, what is it?”
Beltane sent us to help relieve your aches,” one of the women said
softly with a thick Scottish accent.
woman spoke up. “We’re both registered masseuses, with ten years
experience between us. We can bring relief of back pain and restore
reduced circulation that’s a byproduct of extended sitting, as you did
on the airplane today sir.” This one had a broad London accent, one that
fell like homecoming upon Robert’s ears. Scooping up the tall table, she
brushed past him and in one quick movement had set it up next to his bed.
request a massage!” he bridled, a little overwhelmed as he watched the
two women hustling around the room, darting into the bathroom, opening
bottles of sweet smelling oils and setting up towels around the table.
“If you had
asked for one, Lord, just as you arrived, suffering from the stress of the
flight, you would be feeling quite a lot better by now. I can assure
you!” The Londoner said, as she looked straight into his eyes, almost
challenging him to refuse the massage. “Lord Beltane, in his wisdom and
sweet nature asked us to come here and help you after he heard that your
poor back was giving you discomfort.”
her attention to the massage table and smoothed out the white sheet that
covered it. “Take off your clothing and get yourself onto the table.
Fianna and I are here to help you to feel right as rain. After we’re
through with you, I guarantee you’ll feel one hundred percent better.”
Robert was put off. He wasn’t the type of man to be comfortable having
two women work their hands over him. Humph, not like that mongrel Mick
that works for me; the thought came to mind unbidden, a threesome would be
his idea of fun.
moment, he remembered that it wouldn’t be the first time that he had
experienced a double massage. He had felt pure bliss at the hands of two
professional therapists in the hospital after he had been badly wounded
about ten years ago. Yet somehow Robert didn’t think these women were
actual massage professionals, and he didn’t want Beltane to get him
under his thumb so quickly.
your clothing off man, we don’t do it for you!” the more boisterous
woman smiled cheerily. She must have noticed Robert’s doubtful look.
More gently she continued, “Fianna and I am well acquainted with
Aromatherapy, Swedish Neuromuscular Therapy, Sports Massage, and Trigger
Point Therapy. But for you tonight, I think we will use our knowledge of
traditional Thai massage. You look like you need it. It is performed with
a series of gentle rocking motions, which imitate the cranial rhythm.
Fianna and I are also experts in Reiki massage where we use our hands to
channel the natural healing power that surrounds all of life.”
broadly, her voice sinking into a lower, velvety register. “With our
hands working over you, we will bring about the maximum healing within
your body. Do not worry Lord, by the time this night is over, you’ll
never imagine doing without the healing power of our talented hands.”
She was still
grinning in an open and honest way, but something in her tone brought a
wash of heat to Robert’s loins.
So she was
promising more than a straight massage? He sighed and then started to
open his tie and undo the cuffs of his shirt.
So she was
promising more than a straight massage? He sighed and then started to
open his tie and undo the cuffs of his shirt.
After all he
thought, who more than Rupert Morant deserved a relaxing and satisfying
in the cafeteria, drinking coffee and listening to all the conversations
around him for most of the night, he made his way back to his small room.
Maybe a shower and good night’s sleep would stop him acting so
weird and feeling so damned horny.
damp towel on the floor beside the bed, after a fast shower, Mickey climbed
between the rough cotton sheets.
Turning off the light he stretched out against the soft pillows of
the comfortable double bed.
visions of all the women he had seen that day, he let his hand slip down
over his chest and lower still over his stomach.
it took some
time for Mickey to realize that there were unusual noises coming from
McCall’s quarters. Getting
out of bed, he crept over to the connecting door between their rooms.
He put his
ear to the polished wood and he heard the sounds of voices, one higher and
definitely female and the other, deeper –
most likely McCall’s. Mickey
couldn’t make out the words and he found he desperately wanted to know
what was going on in there.
Getting back into his jeans, he carefully he tried the handle of the
connecting door. Nothing. The
handle turned but the door wouldn’t open.
Putting his eye to the keyhole, Mickey could see that McCall’s room
was dimly lit. The voices
were clearer now and Mickey could pick out two different feminine voices.
As hard as he tried squinting or listening through the crack in the
door, he couldn’t make out what was going on in there.
size of McCall’s room under his breath, Mickey backed away from the locked
door and searched the closet until he found a wire coat hanger.
Bending it over and over he managed to break off a piece of wire
about six inches long and from this he created a pick that he worked into
In no time he
had it opened. Turning the handle slowly, he eased the door open a fraction.
His bare feet made no sound on the thick carpet as he crept into
He had only
gone a few feet when he understood what was going on.
On the other
side of the huge bed, Mickey saw a professional massage table.
He could just make out McCall lying on his stomach
with two very attractive looking women, one either side of the table,
rhythmically working him into ecstasy – or so it looked by the
expression on Rupert Morant’s face.
low for a minute or two, taking in everything that was going on in the room.
He knew that Morant would be angry if he caught him spying on him
so he slipped back to his own room. Furious,
he tried to re-lock the door only to find his hands were clenched in rage.
Why did the old man get to have all the fun?
He tossed the
broken hanger out of the window and stuck the lock pick into the toilet
tank before, almost wild with frustration, he threw himself back onto bed.
It only took
a minute before he got himself under control and started thinking
straight. What was going on here? The anger and rages were becoming more
frequent. It was almost as though the character of the immoral go-fer was
taking him over. He knew he had to tell Robert that something was very
finally came Mickey was exhausted, his night had been anything but restful.
The clock on his nightstand only read six-fifteen so he lay there for a
few minutes hoping to be able to go back to sleep, but it eluded him. Jet lag wasn’t something that usually caused him a problem;
his normal travel schedule, for the Company, would be enough to make the
people running any frequent flyer program throw up their hands in horror.
Add to that the military flights he took and he probably put in
more airtime than most commercial pilots.
about his sneaking into McCall’s room last night. Mickey wasn’t sure why
he had felt so angry with the older man.
Both the women were young and attractive and if Mickey had been in
McCall’s position, hell, he would have had a great time. So why
The more he
thought about last night, the more Mickey realized that he was angry that
the women had chosen McCall rather than him. He knew that McCall was
supposed to have lots of money and was the honored guest, but it still
stuck in his throat that he was considered to be nothing more than a
servant, that his only reason for existence was serving McCall.
second, he thought to himself. He was confused. What the hell is wrong
with you? McCall wasn’t like that; they were both playing a part,
the same as on any undercover job. His mind in turmoil he gave in to the urgings of his
stomach and headed for the shower.
under the warm water for a long time, easing the kinks from yesterday’s
travel out of his shoulders. Then he turned the water to cold and stood under the freezing
stream for as long as he could bear it.
He told himself that the cold shower wasn't a punishment it was to wake him up and get him
back on track. Mickey knew
that an undercover agent had to be able to live and think as a different
person but the trick was not to let yourself be swallowed up by that other
persona. He had failed to do this so far, and it worried him a lot.
control of his feelings now, it still bothered him that he was losing
sight of the mission’s objective so easily. He dressed, deciding to
combine the search for food with a brief unsupervised exploration of the
castle. Without conscious
thought he slipped his homemade lock pick in his pocket as he left the
passageway outside was only dimly lit and Mickey wasted no time heading
down to the first floor. He didn’t expect to see McCall anytime soon. It
wouldn’t surprise him if he opted for breakfast in bed this morning so
that he could recover from his exertions of last night.
It had just
been a passing thought, but once again, Mickey was aware of feelings of
growing anger towards his mentor. He stopped himself with some effort.
There was something
on this island that was really messing with his head.
around the rooms on the first floor. Some were simple with chairs and
pillows scattered around and some were fixed up to cater to the special
guests. They were all unlocked and empty with nothing to be learned from
them, except, he grinned, that the fancy rooms’ decor was too much for his
When he found the special dining room and recognized the scents of whisky
and Cuban cigars that lingered along with the scent of candle wax, he
sourly remembered the long crowded table where he ate his meal the night
before, surrounded by the other common folk of the island.
the room quickly and casually but there was nothing to interest him there.
In case the surveillance cameras were activated, he slipped two crystal
ashtrays into his pocket. After all, if he was supposed to be a small time
thief, he had to act like one.
wasn’t any evidence of any offices in the public part of the mansion so
Mickey decided to try to get into the basement and see if there were any
business rooms or storage spaces
underground. The first
problem was actually finding a way to get to the lower level. He was sure that there must be cellars, at least. Where else
would they keep all the fine wine they used to entertain the wealthy
frustrating fifteen minutes spent searching, Mickey gave up. If he tried
anymore doors people would start noticing him. He’d have to look again
decided to leave a trip outside the castle walls until later. It was still
dark and the last thing he needed was to fall into a bog. He would mingle
with the crowd and take a good look after breakfast.
He headed to
the cafeteria. He got there
before the place got too busy and he helped himself from the heaped dishes
to a huge breakfast: sausages,
bacon, eggs, mushrooms and toast, as well as fresh orange juice and strong
black coffee. He looked at the plate of sliced haggis, the infamous
Scottish delicacy, and shook his head. If he had been very hungry, and if it
was the only food served he would have eaten it but, given a choice, he
decided to pass. Christ, the US had made it illegal to bring it into the
country for a damn good reason. He figured that anything made with
sheep’s liver, heart, lungs and stomach wasn’t the thing to eat for
filled with people slowly, and he recognized a couple of the faces, but he
was left alone as he ate. As he pushed his empty plate away Mickey noticed
the gorgeous redhead that he had seen briefly the night before. He had
barely set eyes on her then, but he remembered that her hourglass figure
had been a big feature in his fantasies the previous night. Yeah, she had
been on his mind right up until the strange noises from McCall’s room had
disturbed him, he remembered with a new wave of disgust.
watched her carefully. She was treated with a lot of respect and seemed to
hold an important place in the life of the sect. She passed the food line
and walked over to the table with the tea and coffeepots.
Realizing that getting more coffee would be a good opportunity to
talk to her, he swallowed most of the boiling hot brew and headed in the
for the coffee at the same time and with a flourish Mickey took the pot
and lifted it towards her in a silent offer to pour it. When she nodded,
he filled her cup and then his own.
said, smiling his most charming smile, “I’m Mick, we met last night
briefly, but you had to go.”
She stared at
him for a moment appraising him, and then she smiled, “I’m Kerri
and that’s right. I remember. Lord Beltane expected me at dinner last
night.” Her smile was
apologetic now, her large eyes shining with good will,
“I’m sorry but I still have masses to do to get ready for our
special day tomorrow so I have to go.
It was nice to meet you, Mick, and I am sure I will see you again
during your stay with us.”
With a last
smile she took her cup and headed out of the cafeteria.
Back at his
table, Mickey re-ran her abrupt departure in his mind. Her red velvet
dress clung in all the right places.
Yep, she was definitely someone he would like to get to know
looked around the cafeteria once more, a couple of the male members of the
sect walked in to get their food. He
recognized the type at once; they were muscle, pure and simple. Even though they smiled at everyone, the smiles never reached
their eyes. Put together with
the surveillance that Mickey had seen, it meant that all was not on the
level here in Beltane’s Garden of Eden.
It wasn’t much to tell McCall. But it was a start.
now wouldn’t be the time to ask about the mysterious disappearance of
Walter Kohler, Mickey finished his coffee. He was conscious of the stares
from the two enforcers as he got up and left the room.
later, Mickey was standing on the raised walkway that ran around the
inside of the castle walls looking out at the gray waters of the Atlantic
Ocean. Something had made
Mickey seek out this vantage point; something that made him look for a
possible escape route if the tide was high and the causeway was
across the mile of sea that separated the small island from the larger one
and at the way the waves broke against the cliffs with bone crushing
force, he concluded that swimming would be something he would only attempt
as a last resort.
He walked a
little further and looked out over the island.
He could see the entire landmass from here. To his right, he could
just pick out the markers for the causeway, which was underwater now.
A large mound of earth that reared up about half a mile away from
the castle interested Mickey. It stood out like a sore thumb on the island
because the rest of the ground was gentle, undulating and very sensual.
Kerri, the thought stuck him suddenly.
where the thought had come from he looked at
his watch and saw that it was lunchtime. With a flash of annoyance, he
remembered that he had a meeting planned with McCall.
the stairs, Mickey found he couldn’t shake a feeling of foreboding.
himself swim up, rising to consciousness from a deep, peaceful dream . He
was so comfortable that he tried to remain in that lovely place between
dreaming and wakefulness but he awoke anyway. The light of the room was
bright against his closed lids, and when he finally opened his eyes he saw
the sun streaming in from behind the light shades like corn silk, covering
the whole room in a jovial cheer.
He felt so
comfortable he didn’t want to budge, so he only moved his eyes to look
at his bedside clock. To his amazement it was almost noon. He
normally never slept this late – even considering jet lag – and
furthermore, he never usually felt so good when he got up in the mornings.
As he pulled
back the warm and heavy comforter he tried to put his finger on why he
felt so wonderful. Pulling on his robe, he automatically steeled himself
for the pain that always shot from his shoulder every morning, when it
suddenly dawned on him – there was no pain! Not from his shoulder, not
from his left leg, which had taken many a bullet itself, nor from any of
the usual aches and discomforts that had begun to crop up as his birthdays
went to the wrong side of fifty. Amazed, he realized that he was without
pain for the first time in years. The double massage must have had actual
Suddenly an avalanche of memories of what he did with the women and what he had permitted them to do to him the night before, came back to him and he was left almost breathless as the shame of it crashed down on him.
shower’s water temperature to the hottest that he could stand it. He
scoured his body, hoping to cleanse his conscience at the same time.
To no avail, he still felt unclean when he exited the spray of
becoming more and more angry with himself. Why was he acting in such a
way? Why did he welcome the ministrations of the two young women last
night? He dressed and was just about to walk into Mickey’s room when
another shame filled memory of the night before hit him.
He had been
lying on the massage table for a time, enjoying as professional and
competent a therapeutic massage as he had ever received from any masseuse.
The two women had, on occasion, moved their hands too far afield, but all
he had needed to do was quietly object and they then continued to work on
a more proper part of his anatomy.
remembered that at one point during the massage, he had sensed another
presence in the room. He had opened his eyelids a fraction and had seen
Mick, shrouded in the shadows. Watching.
The young man
was bare-chested and Robert could see that he was breathing shallowly. He
had looked feral, animal like. A hot rush of pride and power had flooded
through his body. The women were serving him and that proved that he was
the alpha male and that Mick was the inferior.
shame Robert remembered that he had closed his eyes again, showing his
complete lack of concern about the other male in the room. A minute or two
later, when asked to turn over onto his back, he did so without any
hesitation, even though it clearly revealed his state of excitement to the
The next time
that their hands wandered under the towel he had accepted their caresses and the
unbridled use of their luxuriant bodies as his due.
remember ever having his own identity submerged beneath that of his cover
persona so completely before. He had been under deeper cover than most
people could imagine since the beginning of his career in the Company. He
knew what it was like, how there was always a danger of losing sight of
the agenda when it became too easy to enjoy the things that the fast life
had to offer. Money and women and privilege were difficult to refuse, but
he always had before. He had learned long ago to look inside himself and
find the strength not to give into temptation.
With a heavy
sense of remorse, he knocked on Mickey’s door. He knew that an apology
was due to his friend for his lack of professionalism.
There was no
answer. He waited patiently at first, but when he knocked once more, he
realized that he was pounding on the door with a closed fist. He stopped
himself. He was angry again. Very angry, and there was no reason on earth
that he should be so.
Mickey was a
damn competent agent, a good man who had saved his life many times. He
knew that he couldn’t expect Mickey to wait around all hours until he
woke up. They were there to do a job. In fact, he realized that he was the
slacker that morning, and not Mickey.
out of the room vowing to watch himself for these strange outbursts and to
guard against acting upon them.
He decided to
stop off at the communal dining room to get a cup of coffee. He might be
able to find Mickey there.
As he passed
by a wall of French doors, Robert flung them open. Never had he remembered
such a marvelous day. The breeze was cool and brisk; the colors of nature
seemed to spring out at him and the sound and smell of the tempestuous
ocean filled his head with a kind of mad joy.
deeply of the salt scented air, he filled his chest to bursting and was
pleasantly surprised that he didn’t start coughing, as he was apt to do
lately, whenever he pushed his lungs beyond their capacity. He thought that
his eyesight even seemed improved.
to admit it but at that moment he felt that, if given half a chance, he
would be able to better his fine performance with the two women last
night. Of course he was shamed by his base behavior
– certainly he was – but nevertheless he found he was proud
that a man of his age was capable of the showing he had made with the two
quietly, he found himself jogging down the steps and he was not at all
surprised to note that the leg that had been nicked by a passing bullet
recently, gave him not one moment of discomfort.
of the young men that worked in the mansion, he asked the way to the
cafeteria. The smiling lad led him to the private sunroom that was
reserved for the special guests of the island, and Robert found himself
once again in the company of Ernst Dieter.
morning!” the German shouted as Robert took a seat in one of the
comfortable chairs in the warm glass walled room. Dieter smirked at him,
“I see my friend, from your healthy and rested look, you have
experienced some very good restorative hours here on our wonderful
back at him, trying not to remember how brutishly he had spent most of the
night. “Yes, I do feel rather good today,” he admitted to the other
man, “the air here must agree with me.”
see? Everything that Beltane says about this island is true!” Dieter
looked around as if to see that they were alone. “I myself have been
here two other times and each time – I begin to feel…” he winked,
“...and act like a young man again.” He chuckled, sat back in his chair
and nodded broadly, “This place is worth every mark that I donate.”
been here before?” Robert asked, trying to be as casual as possible.
Perhaps Dieter had met Wally.
every visit has been a pleasure. Two weeks of heaven each time!
Along with the wonderful freethinking members of the sect to play
with, this place offers the absolute best of food and drink and
relaxation! I have even learned to play tennis here, something that I
never wanted to do before! It
is that way with all the guests. We
all regain our interest in living. That
may be the island’s best attraction.”
this in and ventured a question. “So you have met others that are as
lucky as we are,” he interrupted his own sentence with a forced laugh,
“to have been invited to stay here?”
nodded. “A few others, but never the same men twice. Beltane respects
the privacy that we all need. I myself would have it no other way.”
Dieter sneered, a look of profound disgust on his face.
“We do not want this wonderful place filled with the wrong kind
of people! We both know that some of these low types would do anything,
pay any kind of money, to get their grasping hands on what is truly
rightfully ours to enjoy.” He shook his head angrily. “Yes secrecy and
discretion is important to us all.”
indeed,” Robert agreed out loud, but thought to himself that Beltane was
the one who made privacy a big factor. Now he couldn’t ask the German
about Wally, it would be looked on as bad form. By finding out and feeding
on each of their fears Beltane found a way to stop any guest from asking
deeply, Dieter pounded his fists on the arms of his chair.
“I feel strong this day. I am getting stronger more fast than the
last time I was here!” The big man shook a finger at Robert. “My idiot
doctor says that I am to stop how I eat and drink and enjoy my life. I say
to him I will live forever as happily as I do. I have worked hard to get
the means to enjoy my life, why now, just when I am getting ready to spend
more time living life, should I not enjoy all that life has to offer? No!
I come here to this island and become younger and stronger every year and
I enjoy all pleasures. That is the way I want to live. And you too? Nicht
to process the information quickly. Revitalization must the hook that
brought rich men here. But how was the illusion of health brought about?
Was it something in the food, or was it something else, something more elusive?
Robert said, as a handsome young man served coffee while smiling at them.
“This is my first time here and it is quite delightful.” He
looked at the young man who was smiling very warmly back at him.
you,” Robert said to the waiter, dismissing him as he lifted his cup to
you Lords,” the young man said, “It is my pleasure to serve you
both.” He grinned at them for a beat too long, and then left the room
leered, staring after the retreating form of the waiter, “All the staff
here are so cooperative and congenial, as if it really is their pleasure to
serve.” He sighed, “It is so difficult to find good help, no one knows
their place anymore. All the animals of the earth act as if they are too
good to do a decent days work. But not here! And these are fine Aryan
people, all willing to work and work hard.”
out of a large window at the scenery and the people walking around the
grounds of the mansion and spoke lightly, almost as if he was talking to
himself. “Before I come here I never look at young men with desire, but
in this place all the people are so, so …”
frowned in concentration, “So appealing?” he said.
the German said as if he had just awakened from a dream. He then agreed
wholeheartedly with Robert’s choice of word, “Yes, appealing!” he
said loudly. “The waves of attraction from all pull you in toward
them.” He shook his head, “Only on this island do I think this way and
only here do I do anything with such desires.” He looked at his cup of
coffee as if surprised to see it. He picked it up and sipped. “And I
know that I can tell this to you because I have seen that your aide is
more than just a valet to you.”
Robert tried not to choke on the coffee he had taken into his mouth. He was going to protest that he and Mick were indeed just employer and employee, but he decided that the idea that Mick knowing that the others thought of him as Robert’s plaything would be a nightmare of tremendous proportion to his young friend and cause him waves of humiliation. Robert suddenly thought that Mick needed a bit of humbling to make him more compliant and behave better.
looked out toward the green lawn, a man walking by caught his eye. He
looked just like Chuse Dodorol that Robert had met last night, but this
man was energetic and spry and Chuse last night, looked a short sprint
from the final finish line. He caught German’s attention and pointed to
the man walking by. “Is that..?”
German laughed, “it looks like he is gaining the most strength from this
place. He looks like a new man. Yes, every mark is this place worth. I
myself feel good for months before the health I get wears
realization that more than a simple massage might be responsible for his
own feelings of health this morning dawned on Robert. He felt, at the same
time delight at his re-found vim and vigor, and uneasy about its source
every intention of using this place as my retirement home when I am
finished fighting with the world.” Dieter nodded smugly, “I have
already signed the papers that give this island most of my assets in my
Swiss accounts after I am ready to retire.”
So, the rich
were encouraged to sign over assets, Robert mused, perhaps that’s why
Wally dropped out of sight, he signed over assets and now he was… what?
Robert thought with a start, dead? His monies stolen and his corpse
hidden? Or could Wally be sitting in another part of the castle at this
very moment, admiring the view and drinking his own coffee?
continued to look out the window. “Tell me. Are there any private homes
on the island that I might look at with an idea towards purchase?”
his head. “I believe Beltane makes a point that all the people of his
religion live here together in this large castle. It is supposed to be
very important that they all share together.” Dieter smiled to himself.
“But not like Communists! No! Like a loving family where,” he
sniggered, “the brothers and sisters share their beds with each other
remained quiet, studying the look of lust that covered Dieter’s face.
“But if you’re not of the religion, can one still live on the
island?” he finally asked.
shrugged. “There are no private homes here. I have been all over the
island, except for one place, the sacred grove they call it. There are
some small huts where the faithful meditate and do their religious
teaching. But they are not more than sheds. No, there is no place to live
on the island except the mansion.”
that in. “Does anyone live here year round already? I think this might
be just the place for me to retire. But I am looking for a place right
away. Things in the world are bearing hard on me now, and I wouldn’t
want to decide live here permanently until I’ve spoken to others to see
if the service is good if one takes residence here.”
thought for a moment. “I don’t think any outsider has set up residence
yet.” He shook his head. “No, none of the sweet young people have
mentioned that to me, and I’m sure that anyone who lived here would be
known to the staff.”
the voice calling them was that of a young women who had tiptoed into the
room. “Luncheon is being served in the dining room to any who might like
to eat now. “
smiled and blushed deeply, showing sweet and charming dimples. She looked
down at the floor and blushed a deeper hue of red. “Lord Beltane told me
to give you gentlemen anything you might desire.” She giggled, “He is
so funny sometimes, as if I wouldn’t do anything for you, our honored
guests!” She then scampered out of the room, giggling even harder.
attractive,” Dieter sighed and got out of his chair.
“And all so young,” Robert thought as he walked with the German to the dining room. He tried to remember the saying about joining a movement that has only young members in it.
Ah, yes, that was it. “Eschew groups whose followers are all young; such groups usually employ a thoroughly unpleasant retirement procedure.”