Chapter 15. Kaylee Simone Grant
She sat quietly in the big plane with “Pacific Wizard” painted on the outside in big letters in thought. The flying yacht that was Tom’s home, she looked at the ring on her hand for a moment, feeling torn.
Normally she would at the academy of martial arts at this hour. Her next level required her full focus. If the Guru knew what had happened, the rapist, the professor, getting married, he would surely tell the Grand Master. A tiny Filipino man, who had been born before god invented hair.
He liked Kaylee , saying she had speed and skill to wear a black shirt (with an orange stripe on one sleeve now.) and in the years that followed she had gotten that coveted black shirt. Even her orange show uniform she folded with great care, was a gift from the man, whom she counted as among her most cherished of friends as well as a mentor.
She knew he liked the girls and kids. Having little use for the brawny male adults that thought all they needed to do was muscle their way through a fight, the Grand Master who stood only an inch above five feet tall, would throw the hulking soon-to-be-ex students around the academy’s floor, much to the pleasure of the students that watched this event time and again.
Children were a favorite of the Grand Master. (Occasionally, she felt it was because they were the only people who were shorter than him.) Taking a great deal of patience and time to teach the children the angles of attack and defense.
She pulled pants and shoes, it was time to head over to her apartment and pay the rent.
*I hate this first-of-the-month chore. The power and water are all due in the mail today. Ugh. And I need to beg for her job back.*
She did not want to have the thought that she was sponging off of Tom, even though he had given her a card. A bank signature card with no limits, is what he said, and it made her feel special. When she looked it up on her smart phone, he was telling the truth!
*I could pay my entire tuition at once, all four years. Including post-grad classes, new tires— even a new car!* That made her hands sweat. That one moment of clarity, of what could be. *But, if I do that, then I am just a user.*
It was an embarrassed her to even accept the card from him to carry around. She pulled it out and looked at it, holding it by the edges. It had her name on it – her married name – it took him no time at all to order it.
He was taking care of her and the life he was imagining he might have married into.
What kind of life was Tom thinking?
She was angry again.
*He would take care of me alright, he would make me into his version of a kept woman! A mistress with a ring!* She growled in her heart at the thought that grew in the deepest recesses of her mind. Like a whisper that would not fade.
*I need to change this accident. I want Glenn as a husband!*
*A gentle and kind soul, Grandma would say.* Except Kaylee still didn’t know much about him. Sitting alone with her thoughts, she watched the workers climbed up and down ladders at with indistinct conversations spoke of subjects that didn’t interest her.
Then her eyes focused the computer on Tom’s desk.
*Oh my god!* It struck her, *I know enough to search him!* She nearly face palmed herself in frustration. *How could I be so dense!*
With everything going on, she was just going for the ride. She only looked for information on the man as she might with another date – not that she ever married anyone else while baked and drunk. She had not looked in-depth on Tom, what his notes might be like.
The weed she smoked made her open to a life with Tom that was fantastic, the drinks with the guardian angel of a man, made it more exciting.
Now, she sat at his computer and turned it on. The jet, plugged into giant power cables the thickness of a man’s arm to the hangar, and the Pacific Wizard was fully operational with all the amenities, including the computer.
The built-in desktop booted into an unfamiliar operating system, she bit her lip as she moved the cursor around the touchscreen, she had no idea what Ubuntu Linux was, but forged ahead anyway. Tapping her finger on “Guest” she opened a screen with an empty desktop. It was like the one that she knew, so she tried to navigate around with her fingertip.
A fascinating system with a virtual keyboard that Tom used.
She smiled. Never would there be a popped-off key or polished with repeated keystrokes until the letters were obliterated, it all impressed her with the system that was unlike the more mainstream and bug-ridden offering.
She continued exploring around the system programs finally finding an icon for the web browser. Using the virtual keyboard, she entered Tom’s name and read the listing.
*Oh, crap on a cracker!*
Not only had Tom been writing, he had started a company that had imported the kind of plane she was sitting in for firefighting and modified them for use in the United States.
Bigger engines, more capacity. The government contracted to use the modified planes all over the country and Canada, a young and growing air transport company. The second listing had a page that offered his name in a link, she clicked on it and uncovered his two dozen children’s books… and his unauthorized biography.
Tom never spoke of his past family. Never hinting at the past catastrophe that drove him. The biography showed a red-headed girl with curls and a blond boy with brilliant blue eyes. The children had their arms around Tom and a woman she assumed was his wife in child-sized bear-hugs.
Reading further, he was a small-business owner and was active in various activities with students and children. He trained with FEMA and belonged to a volunteer fire department.
She continued and an entry covered one early evening when Tom responded to a call, police evidence showed his pregnant wife took the children in the family car and were driving towards where Tom was working at a fire in a barn.
Somehow they had gotten off the road on a train track in the dark and was hit by a freight-train at more than seventy-miles-per-hour. In the accompanying photo with the article, the family car was unrecognizable.
*It’s inverted!* She gasped. The car’s engine was missing and the seats were on the ground outside of the car.
A second image of the scene had two sheets covering the tiny bodies, a larger sheet hung on the remains of the car covered what was left of the mother. The archived words on the news page said there were no survivors, the children died at the scene.
More chapters of the unauthorized biography revealed that Tom closed his business, filed for bankruptcy and locked himself in his house. His name showed up on the internet a year or so later with the first of the Leafy Sea Dragon children’s book that sold in local stores along Australia’s southern coast. The books became an instant hit locally and motivated Tom to come out of his seclusion.
The light illuminated Kaylee’s eyes and her heart.
Paparazzi followed him often to the family house, which he sold shortly after that. Rumors that he had murdered his family the internet tabloids wrote, but the internet and local news services showed he went to the accident as a first-responder only to discover that it was his car and family destroyed by the train.
*He was the first one there! He found them like that.*
It was after his first made-for-tv movie in Australia had gotten him enough funds to first live on a boat. Then, when that did not deter the constant hounding with the photographers on motorbike and speeding cars or hiding in bushes using long lenses with expensive cameras, he bought at first a float plane and a high mountain lake. But the predatory creatures with cameras continued to stalk him.
Rumors began that Tom was hiding something– and again with innuendo and hints that he was running from the law. Hounded by the conspiracy press, he ran as far as his budget could take him.
Great efforts in print by the tabloids showed Tom in the company of known gay men and women that were strong-willed.
“None of your business, next question.” Would be his response at any press conferences, comicon’s or interviews that questioned the events surrounding the death of his family.
Men and women that had little to no contact with Tom would claim his involvement in drugs and sex. They told stories of his involvement with Satan churches, drugs, slavery. Nothing that was close to the truth.
In the end, the tabloids did damage enough to effect some of the sales of his books in religious dominated communities that burned anything with his name, prompting Tom into action, and he retaliated with fury and lawyers.
After a series of lawsuits, he had driven one tabloid into oblivion and severely reduced the size and operations of three others, then used the proceeds of the billion-dollar awards in purchasing of larger fire-fighting planes that could scoop up water and drop on wildfires.
Tom, now capitalized, in turn published more novels which earned him more income.
*He said he had made inroads in the United States.*
In the United States? Kaylee laughed. He had kept three books on the best seller list for children’s books six out of the last eight years. *Every year a new one on the list before the others dropped off.*
His books that followed, he published while writing the children’s books were adventures for the young adult reader. Pirates, vampires, even mainstream zombie apocalypse type stories.
One mention about his changes to a scoop-plane used for water drops on wild land fires. In one website dedicated to such planes, it was the first one that they had just nearly wrecked in the wine country of northern California.
Then a second article about the this jet she was in, he was still being reclusive as he kept offshore and away from stalking paparazzi. Whenever they came close with their boats, he left or, in one case, turned the plane and used the engines to swamp the boat as he left the area.
It had become a game of tag when a few speedboats moved directly in front of him on purpose to stop his leaving, but the boats were no match for the twin-engine jet and the FAA with the United States Coast Guard issuing citations to all involved.
The Coast Guard cleared Tom of any wrongdoing as the speedboats cut in front of the flying-boat to prevent takeoff and get chances shoot pictures of the reclusive author.
Tapping on the screen, she opened another listing with Tom’s name and it was much of the same. Nice-guy this, great philanthropist that. It showed him with families and children.
But it became obvious – never did he have a date. No girlfriend, no scandal. A boy scout?
Hardly, Tom was toe-curling funny and lovable when they were together. He was just private, no telling the number of women he had dates with.
In fact, she was not even mentioned in any of the web pages. Suggesting that his private lifestyle kept her out of the public eye.
Nodding while she read the web page and noted the lack of information that the world did not know she was his wife. Glenn would not find out that this mistake of a marriage ever happened.
It… She did not know what “it” was.
Shaking her head.
Kaylee knew what it was.
It was a mistake.
Growling inwardly, which part of this was a mistake? She was starting to second guess herself. She had read enough and sat back.
*Perhaps I’ve read too much?* She blinked her eyes. *I have to digest all this. It is one thing on my phone, but wow. This is so much more.*
Shaking her head, Kaylee stood up with a sigh and walked out the door of the plane. Her feet leading her to her apartment.
*I have to remember, I am mad at him.* She had a soft smile while she walked out of the hangar.
And he made her smile in countless ways.
*I still want the annulment. I love Glenn more than anyone.*
*Pretty sure I do.*
*Maybe.* Then Kaylee cussed for no reason in particular.