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‘Mom is going to kill her!’
‘I cannot get through to her.’
‘Mom is going to kill her!’
Sloane has her two sisters on the phone, you know the ones who did not elope with some stranger. Those ones, some would call them the good ones, the well behaved ones. Even she, much trouble as she gave her mother, and she was the problem child of the family, would be considered a good daughter compared to Bella, the one who used to be the best behaved. Gah! She got married? To whom?
‘Was she dating someone and didn’t tell us?’
‘Mom is going-’
‘Alright Beatrix! We get it mom is going to kill her. There’s no point telling us what we already know. ’ Serena would love nothing more than to get off this phone and get on with her day, but Bella obviously had other plans for them.
‘Sorry but mom is-’
‘I swear to God if you say that one more time I’m going to kill you.’
Sloane burst into fits of laughter, it is all she can do considering the situation. Bea is right though, their mother will have Bella’s guts for garters when this news breaks and it is only a matter of time.
‘She is still not answering my calls.’ Serena resets the conversation
‘Nor mine. Sloane?’
‘Nope.’ Sloane rests her head in her hands, she is coming down with a headache, a blinding one. This is turning into a hell of a day for her. She would just like to know what is going on with her sister and that she is okay. Nothing else matters. ‘When was the last time either of you saw her?’
‘Last week.’ Bea answers, ‘we met for lunch and she came down for the weekend and we took the kids to the village play.’
‘And she was fine?’
‘Nothing out of the ordinary. She looked a little stressed but I put it down to the paper, you know how she is.’
‘Any boyfriend? Anyone? I know she broke up with what’s his name six months ago.’
‘No one. At least not that I noticed anyway.’
‘Serena what are you thinking?’ Sloane knows her oldest sister’s silence is often an indicator of something more.
‘I was meant to meet with her two weeks ago, to go over some stuff for the paper but she cancelled three times.’
‘Do you think she’s in trouble?’ It is not like Bella to blow off a meeting with her lawyer. Ever. She takes these things way too seriously.
‘I need to speak with her assistant-’
‘Hang on, before you do that, let’s take a step back. Let’s not jump to any conclusions until we have spoken to her.’
‘She’s not taking our calls! How can anyone talk to her?’ There goes Bea again with the dramatics.
‘Bea, she could be many things right now, part of which is afraid, ashamed and goodness knows what else. We don’t know. The only thing we know is that she got married last night and now blew off a meeting with her lawyer three times. We cannot go looking into her life without her consent or at least hearing her side of the story.’
Bea sucked her teeth at that, this needed more than taking a step back, their sister did something out of character and as far as she is concerned they needed to get to the bottom of things to find out just what the hell is going on. But Sloane and Bella have always been closer in the foursome, and it makes sense that Sloane would want to protect her.
‘I know what you mean and I know what you want to do, believe me I do, but let’s give her some time, some breathing room. Let’s hear her out.’
‘She’s obviously not in London, her assistant just emailed. Ari’s wedding was this weekend gone, and she should be back by now.’
‘She’s obviously on her honeymoon.’
It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic, still Serena stifled a snort. Beatrix is like their paternal grandmother, Madam Gertrude, a feisty little woman who could take on anyone.
‘I’ll talk to Fitz. See if he can help.’
‘How? How does he find someone who does not want to be found?’
‘I don’t know Bea, but if anyone can help Fitz can, except you have any other ideas.’ Sloane is irritated and hungry. That throbbing in her head is getting worse and all she wants to do is put this day behind her, get in bed with her husband and forget everything.
‘Fine. But if you speak to her-’
‘I know. Mom is going to kill her. I get it.’
‘Smart ass I was going to say give her our love.’
‘Uh huh. Right after I give her two licks no?’
‘She deserves more than two licks.’
Nothing is resolved when they get off the phone, but Bea managed to be even more dramatic than normal. The scale for the dramatics in the Rhodes household is often measured by Bea’s temperament and right now she is Bea on steroids whilst Sloane and Serena are just Bea 2.0.
There is a short knock on her door, and her assistant, June, walks in armed with a bag of takeaway.
‘Special delivery from your husband.’
‘Thank you. Have you eaten?’
‘Yes he sent something for us too.’
Oh Harp. ‘Can you push my meeting out by fifteen minutes and send my apologies. Thanks.’
Sloane wolfs down her lunch in minutes, and places that call to Fitz, here’s hoping he can work his magic and help them make some sense of this mess or at least locate her sister so she can give her those licks and possibly knock some common sense into her.
He answers on the first ring.
‘Hey you. How are you?’
‘Could be better. Thank you for lunch.’
‘Is that your first meal of the day Sloane?’
‘I had a muffin this morning so I’m good.’
Fitz doesn’t say what he wants to say, his wife has a bad habit with food, she often forgets to eat sometimes and would go balls to the wall working the day through instead of stopping for air in between. He likes that he can give her that pause in the day sometimes.
‘So something happened.’
Sloane can tell from his tone that he is in his home office, working. So much for taking the day off, Fitzgerald the workaholic.
‘Bella got married.’
‘No idea. She dropped the bomb on us this morning when I told them we were thinking about coming home for the holidays, which they love very much by the way, but I still haven’t told mom and dad and I might not because when mom finds out what Bella has done, it’s all going downhill from there. I don’t want to ruin the holidays, I’d rather we went somewhere else.’
‘Hold on. Skip back to the part where Bella got married. Are you serious?’
‘As today is Monday.’
‘Have you spoken to her?’
‘She won’t answer any of our phone calls which is understandable.’ Sloane doesn’t know what to think or believe, but one thing is for certain, she needs to talk to her sister. ‘You know what I’m going to ask you. I wouldn’t normally but-’
‘Darling she’s your sister and I get it but-’
‘Fitz there are no buts here, she is my sister and I need your help to find her. I need to talk to her before my mother finds out, heck before Bea gets on her. She did a stupid thing and I need to know what the fuck she is thinking.’ If she is thinking at all.
‘Ok. I’ll call you as soon as I have something.’ Fitz knows there is no point in arguing with Sloane about this. The sisters are close, closer than most so whatever this is, they need to get to the bottom of it.
Fitz didn’t call her back, but when Sloane came out of her last meeting of the day, he was waiting for her.
She expected him. ‘Don’t try to talk me out of anything.’
‘I won’t, but hear me out.’
‘I found her. She’s okay.’
‘She’s married to a stranger-’
‘I know. But think about it for a minute, if this were us, and knowing me like you do, would you want someone looking into our lives.’
‘If I married you in the same manner she did? Yes I would and I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if I was mad about it.’
Fair enough. ‘She’s in Provence, Roussillon specifically.’
‘Did you look up the idiot she married?’
‘I did. And all I’m going to say is let her be the one to tell you about him, herself. You owe her that.’
‘You need to stop being so wise.’
‘Once a while I’m allowed.’ He gives her a kiss on the head. ‘I’m sure she has a good explanation.’
‘Her mother is going to kill her so she better have one.’
‘I have the jet on standby when you’re ready.’
‘Fitz you don’t have to do that, I can just fly commercial be there-’
‘No, you can’t it’ll be quicker this way but do me one favour, sleep on it at least for the night, before you tell anyone, before you hop on a plane and go bursting down doors, sleep on it please.’
‘I’d rather not. I want to leave tonight and be at her door first thing in the morning.’
Fitz expected this from his wife which was why he already packed a bag. ‘I’ll wait until you’re done and then I can take you to the airfield. Your bag is in the car.’
Sloane wanted to call her sisters to tell them what little news Fitz gave her, but thinks better of it, best to tell them once she knows what the hell is going on. Bella has a lot of explaining to do and one way or another, she is going to talk even if it means giving her those two licks she clearly needed.