Previously on Montecito: Beth and Stu begin the party planning process and decide whether they should work at the party or keep a close eye from above; Beth sends Jess a picture of a suspicious bottle of antifreeze inside Robert's garage; Jess's case against Robert gets stronger as she gains more information from Parker.
Do they decide to just watch from the security cameras or do they decide to work the party?Click To Reveal Results
Police Station, Montecito
Jess held the crisp white envelope in her hand as a surge of joy rose in her chest.
“The warrant,” said the sergeant, his face unreadable. “Are you sure you have enough back up with you?”
“Yes, it’s all covered. I’ve already met with the team and everyone knows their positions and roles. I have confirmation that Robert is at home, as is his wife and stepdaughter.” Jess smiled as she recalled her explicit instructions to her team, “I’m handcuffing this bastard. No one else.” She didn’t expect any arguments, since she was the one to give up her identity for the case. Jess could almost hear the voices of Brenda Scott-Williams and Sandra Bennedict whispering a thank you in her ear while she said it.
“You ready, Garcia?” called Jeremy from the doorway. The sound of her real name was refreshing and she smiled. She was back to being Garcia and back to wearing the uniform she had worked so hard to get. With her free hand she searched for car keys under the mound of paperwork on her desk.
“Been ready awhile,” replied Jess, keys in hand and walked past the sergeant towards the front doors. Jeremy followed, trying to keep up with her quick pace. “See you soon, Sarg!” she called over her shoulder.
Williams Mansion, Montecito
Robert took another sip of his highball. Following her regular ‘wifely’ routine, Claire had prepared it, but this time she had Beth bring it up to him while she went to lie down on the chaise. He looked into the glass before bringing it up to his lips again, letting the scotch linger on his palate a little longer before swallowing. It simply didn’t taste the same. A little sweeter. Unlike his stepdaughter, who glared at him the entire time she was in his office. What does she have to be upset about? She’s lucky I even let her live here! Robert put down the glass and turned back to his computer screen. Twenty-two unread messages awaiting his attention.
Phone in hand, Beth sat at the bay window in her bedroom, where she could see out to the front side of the house. She never realized how important this window was until today. From this spot she could see the driveway and anyone approaching the front door, giving her as close to a bird’s eye view as she could get. Once settled, she typed a message into her phone and then sent it with the satisfying swooshing tone.
The reply from Jess came quick.
Five min? Would that give her enough time to run down and make popcorn? No, better not. Beth had been waiting for this moment for far too long. She didn’t want to find herself in the pantry when it all went down. Nope. She would stay put.
The five minutes felt more like an hour. A beeping sound startled Beth and she tensed as she realized it was coming from the front door, indicating it was opening. Someone was leaving the house, but who?
Could it be Robert?
Was it her mother?
Beth moved herself closer to the window, trying to get a better angle of the entrance. Mrs. Healey emerged, shears in hand, and walk over to the chrysanthemum bushes. Beth let out a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding as Mrs. Healey clipped long beautiful rose coloured flowers. She must be making an arrangement. Beth could see cars speed by the house, but none that she recognized.
Look at this, she thought, the whole world is going on about its business, not realizing that the most amazing thing will be happening at this address in a few short minutes. Beth leaned back into the arch of the window seat, but wasn’t able to get too comfortable for long. A row of black SUVs and police cars streamed up the driveway and pulled up in front of the house. Doors swung open and people in black uniforms spilled out and scattered like displaced ants. Only these ants appeared to have a clear target, every passable window and door.
Oh my God, it’s happening.
Poor Mrs. Healey didn’t know where to go or what to do. Beth could see someone had approached her and they were talking. But even after opening the top windows, Beth couldn’t make out what was being said. No matter. She didn’t have to hear the words to see that Mrs. Healey was clearly flustered and wanting to return to the house, only the officer wouldn’t let her. Jess approached the two, said a few words and then beelined for the front door, followed by two other cops. Mrs. Healey stared at Jess in confusion. Beth knew the moment that the pieces finally came together for Mrs. Healey because she dropped the chrysanthemums at her feet and stepped on a few as she walked away, finding a seat on the edged of the garden retaining wall. Beth wondered what Jess had said to the woman as she got herself up from the bay window seat and sprinted to her bedroom door.
The door was ajar and Beth pulled it open far enough to see Jess and the two men walking down the hall, guns drawn. Jess caught Beth’s eye and waved her hand at her, indicating she should retreat inside and close the door. Beth complied silently, and settled for pressing her ear against the crack between the door and frame. If she couldn’t watch the movie unfold, she could at least get the radio version.
It didn’t take long for voices to reach her ears.
“What is going on here?” came a panicked and uncertain voice from somewhere downstairs. Beth had completely forgotten about her mother in all the commotion. Next was the clear booming voice from Robert.
“You have no right! That warrant isn’t valid! You came into my house under false pretenses and that compromises your warrant!”
Beth wondered if that were true. She could hear footsteps now and they were getting closer to Beth’s door. It sounded as though they were going to come into her bedroom, but they stopped just outside. Beth didn’t need to press her ear against the door jam, she could hear everything clearly now.
“I believe you may have entered your marriages under false pretenses, and yet that didn’t stop you from collecting on the insurance policies as the husband, did it?” said Jess, just before reading him his rights.
Beth wondered if Jess had stopped outside her door for Beth’s benefit.
“Do you understand these rights, as I’ve stated them to you?” asked Jess.
“I want my lawyer. You’ll be fired for this, I guarantee you,” threatened Robert, no longer yelling. His voice sounded robotic and as if it had switched to power save mode. “You and anyone who helped you will be held accountable.”
Beth couldn’t be sure, but she felt that this last statement was meant for her. She dismissed the feeling, telling herself it was impossible for him to know she was involved - at least not yet.
Claire stood at the front door, two police officers on either side of her. They pulled her back as she lunged forward towards Robert, who now emerged before her, handcuffed.
“Robert!” she yelled. “What is happening?”
Robert ignored her question and pleading eyes. He was focused now and he needed her to focus too. “Call David Moore!” he barked. “Tell him to meet me at the station!”
“David Moore? Lux’s father? Why?” The questions spilled out of Claire as she watched Jess pull on her husband’s arms, directing him out the front door.
“David Moore is our lawyer!” snapped Robert as Jess placed one hand on the top of his head and guided him into the back seat of a patrol car.
Claire stood, her feet cemented to the front step. She could see Mrs. Healey staring from across the lawn. Was that pity on her face? What was happening? Claire’s thoughts were broken by the muffled sounds coming from her husband in the police car.
“Call David Moore, Claire. Call him NOW!” Claire snapped out of her trance and moved quickly, back into the house, only to be stopped by another police officer.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Williams, but I can’t let you go back into the house. We have a search warrant and you need to remain outside while we go through everything.” He held out his hand towards the door, ushering her back outside. She could see now that all the household staff had been herded outside and were now all standing around Mrs. Healey whispering.
The car holding Robert was gone now and Claire began to feel dizzy.
“But I need to call our lawyer, David Moore. I don’t have his number. It’s in the house. Please let me go back inside so I can call our lawyer. We have a right to have representation, do we not?”
“Yes, you can do that. But I’ll have to go with you.”
She reentered the house, with her six foot shadow following her. She kept all the numbers of the girls’ friends in an address book kept in the kitchen - she may not know David Moore’s number, but she definitely had his daughter Lux’s home number listed. Claire was astonished by the number of police that had emerged from all the various entry points. They were everywhere. Opening drawers, looking in cupboards, flipping through pads of note papers and taking pictures of the most insignificant items.
Claire could feel her hands shaking as she dialed the number.
“Excuse me, Miss, but I’m going to ask you to also step outside while we go through the rest of the house,” said an officer to Beth as she stood in the hall, watching.
“It’s okay Steven,” said Jess, after leaving Robert stewing in the backseat of her squad car. “I’ve got her.” Jess pulled Beth aside. “I’m going to take Robert to the station now, but I was just checking on you first. You holding up okay?”
“Are you kidding? Yes! I’m ecstatic! I can finally breathe now that the bastard is away from my mother. It’s her I’m worried about. Go book him,” smiled Beth, “or whatever it is you do. I’m fine.”
“Okay, I’m heading out, and you should really go outside and wait for the search to be complete. Better to keep this as clean as possible, I want everything to be done by the book.” Jess patted Beth affectionately on the shoulder before returning her car.
Beth followed, and watch the taillights as Jess drove away. The back of Robert’s head was visible and Beth thought it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen in her life.
Beth gasped. I can finally tell Stu!
Beth pulled her cell from the back pocket of her jeans and called up her best friend. She walked towards the edge of the house, away from all the staff, and waited impatiently for Stu to answer.
“You’re never going to believe what just happened,” began Beth. She quickly filled Stu in all that went down, not even pausing to hear his reaction. It just felt so good to finally be able to tell him.
“Oh my God! Seriously? I . . . I have no words. Jesus Beth! Are you okay?” Stu asked, raking his fingers through his hair.
“I’m amazing! I’m coming over!” Beth replied, not even waiting for his response before hanging up the phone.
Montecito Dorm Rooms
Stu, still flabbergasted at the news of Robert’s arrest, slowly pulled up his mother’s contact information on his phone. He hit the call button and waited.
“Pick up, pick up,” Stu mumbled impatiently into the phone.
“Hello?” answered Andrea, walking away from the other staff members, who were still huddled by the garden retaining wall, comparing bits of information they overheard and things they noticed before being kicked out of the house. She didn’t want them to now overhear her sharing her employer’s gossip – even if it was just to her own son. “Stu, you are not going to believe what just happened!”
“Robert was just arrested,” Stu flatly responded, almost monotone. The lack of emotion in his tone was in complete contradiction with what he was actually feeling.
“Robert was – wait a minute, how did you know?” asked Andrea, feeling a little deflated that she couldn’t drop this bombshell. “Oh, of course. Beth.”
“Yeah, Beth just called me. That’s the reason I’m calling Mom. You have to talk to the police about the affair he was having with Nicole.” His tone did not leave an opening for negotiation. Now that the police were digging up dirt about Robert and uncovering his true nature, Stu figured it was best if his mom came forward with what she knew.
He thought back to their conversation in his mother’s kitchen a while back, when she talked about walking in on Robert and Nicole. Fortunately, the illicit couple were too preoccupied at the time to notice the maid opening the door, and Andrea was able to slip back out of the room unnoticed. She made her son promise that he wouldn’t breathe a word of this to anyone, especially not to Beth. So, Stu – being Stu – filed the information in the back of his brain and tried to forget he knew. He had hoped he wouldn’t ever have to admit he had knowledge about the affair. That way Beth couldn’t get mad at him for not telling her. So, it was up to his mother to let this little cat out of the bag.
“No way Stu! All the maids, and the staff for that matter – even the gardener knew – and we’ve agreed that we are going to keep our mouths shut! We were just talking about it actually,” Andrea insisted, glancing back towards the huddled group. She could still hear all the whispering as they watched police enter and exit the house.
“What? No! You have to say something! This could be important for the case!” insisted Stu.
“Why? He’s not on trial for adultery, is he?”
“No, but this affair could be a motive? Maybe he wants Beth’s mother out of the way so he can freely be with Nicole? The police need to know about this Mom! Plus, it speaks to his character. If he is a proven adulterer, maybe it’s easier to believe that he’s a murderer as well!”
“Murder? What are you talking about?” Andrea couldn’t believe her ears. What had Beth told him? “Where did you hear that?” she asked.
“Where do you think I heard it? Beth! He’s lost two previous wives to heart attacks and now he may be on his way to a third.”
“That’s why the police are here? Murder? Oh please, there’s no proof of that,” replied Andrea. “This is probably just the Montecito Police department trying to drum up some business.”
“Mom, think about it. If he’s capable of cheating with his daughter’s friend, who knows what else he’s capable of,” reasoned Stu.
“Well then, I guess that means your lying, cheating bastard of a father is also a murderer, by that logic!” exclaimed Andrea. As much as she tried to hide it, the resentment and hurt she felt from her ex-husband’s betrayal still bubbled to the surface at times.
“Mom, be reasonable,” groaned Stu. However, he immediately regretted his choice of words as he could literally hear his mother winding up through the phone. He pulled the phone an arm’s length away from his ear in anticipation.
“BE REASONABLE? HOW DARE YOU SAY BE REASONABLE TO ME, STUART JAMES HARRIS!”
“Ma’am, is everything alright?” asked an officer, who was drawn to Andrea’s yelling.
“Yes, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. Everything’s fine, I’m just talking to my son. Sorry,” she replied, walking away from the officer, further down the driveway. She stopped, just outside of earshot, to finish her conversation with Stu. “Listen Stu, we didn’t really know what was going down here, but we have all agreed not to say anything at all about the affair. We all need our jobs here. And if Beth’s mother decides to divorce Robert, then we are all out of a job!”
“And you don’t think that Robert trying to poison Claire is enough of a reason for divorce?” asked Stu incredulously.
“Don’t be silly Stuart. Of course it is. But, we don’t know that Robert is actually guilty, do we? More importantly, Claire doesn’t know that either. You wait and see, I’ve seen a lot of wives stand by their man before!”
“No way! You don’t think Claire’s actually going to support him, do you?” Stu shook his head and was already picturing Beth going ballistic.
“Maybe. Listen Stu, I gotta go. It’s my turn to give a statement,” she said, hanging up before he could even say goodbye.
“Oh boy,” said Stu, to no one in particular. “This is going to get messy.”
Moore Mansion, Montecito Hills
Lux waited until she heard her father’s car door slam and his engine fire to life before she figured it was safe to make this call. She only hoped that Nicole would answer her phone this time, as lately she’d been avoiding her calls. But, finally, she had some news that she thought Nicole would want to hear. Nicole was certainly predictable in her hatred of Beth, so this news about Beth’s stepfather – and the shame he was currently causing his family – was sure to entice Nicole into a conversation.
Lux waited until Nicole’s voicemail kicked in before hanging up. Should’ve known she wouldn’t answer. Lux opened up her messages and texted Nicole instead.
Lux waited a few moments, figuring that short text was enough to capture Nicole’s interest. She waited a few more moments, and nothing. No response. She tried again.
Lux looked at her phone and smiled when she could see Nicole was typing a response. Finally. She waited, phone in hand as Nicole typed away. Suddenly, the bubble disappeared and there was still no reply from Nicole. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Lux said aloud. She was sure that would have been enough to get some kind of reaction from Nicole. Lux was just about to move on to Savannah – she was bursting to tell someone – when her phone rang.
“Robert was arrested? For what? How do you know? Are you sure?” Nicole fired the flurry of questions at Lux.
“Yes! I’m sure! My dad was just called to go meet Robert down at the station. Apparently my dad is his lawyer. I didn’t even know that. He literally just left!” exclaimed Lux, holding the phone tighter to her ear.
“Oh my God! For what? Why was he arrested?” asked Nicole. Sheer panic was threatening to take over her, and she could feel both her blood pressure increasing and her ability to breathe decreasing.
“I don’t know exactly. All I know is that a hysterical Claire called my mother, literally screaming into the phone, asking for my dad. She passed off the call to my dad, who just told her not to say anything to the police and he would meet them at the station.”
“Oh my God! That’s insane!” breathed Nicole. She tried to calm her racing heart. Thankfully, the nausea that seemed omnipresent, wasn’t currently an issue. “Why the hell would they be arresting him, I wonder?”
“I’m guessing it has something to do with money – maybe fraud – as that’s usually what my dad deals with. He handles all the financial documents – usually for people’s businesses, but sometimes for people’s personal stuff. Maybe Robert hasn’t been paying his taxes? Or,” laughed Lux, “maybe it’s for unpaid parking tickets or something stupid like that.”
“It’s not funny Lux!” snapped Nicole, now more irritated than scared.
Lux was momentarily shocked at Nicole’s reaction, but shrugged it off as pregnancy hormones. Although Nicole was avoiding Lux’s calls, she couldn’t avoid seeing Lux when she popped by for an impromptu visit. Even Nicole wasn’t that rude. The results of the pregnancy test was becoming more obvious each day. While Nicole hadn’t come out and actually said anything, the weight gain spoke volumes. Nicole was definitely pregnant. Of course, Nicole was so slim to begin with, most people probably wouldn’t even notice, unless they were actually looking for it. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I just figured, seeing as it was Beth’s stepfather, you’d be happy about this.”
“Well, Robert is Ava’s father as well! And I know we’re not speaking right now, but Ava and I are still friends, and I just can’t imagine what she’s going through right now! Did you hear if she’s back from Europe?”
“No, I don’t think so. I think she’s still there. But I’m guessing she’ll hop on the first plane back to Montecito, once she hears,” replied Lux. She paused, searching for the right words. Lux hadn’t been brave enough to broach the topic when they were face to face, but now that she had Nicole on the phone, she figured she would give it a try. “So, do you want to talk about it?”
“Talk about what?” snapped Nicole, though she knew very well what Lux was implying. “The weather? Cause, yeah, it’s been a warm spring so far, don’t you think?”
Lux sighed. “I think you know what I’m talking about it Nicole. And it’s fine, if you don’t want to talk about it, but I’m your best friend, and I’m here to support you, if you want to talk or whatever. That’s what friends are for! I’d want someone to talk to, if I was in your position.”
“My position? Who do you think you are?” screamed Nicole.
“That came out wrong. Listen, if you want to talk about it, just let me know.”
There was a very long pause. The phone went so quiet, Lux thought that Nicole might have hung up. “Hello? Nicole?”
“Yeah, I’m here. I don’t know what to do! I’m getting fat, and nothing fits and everyone’s gonna know!” sobbed Nicole, reaching for a tissue. She blew her nose loudly as Lux waited for her to continue. “It’s a big fat mess. I’m a big fat mess!”
“Oh Nicole! You’re not! You’re beautiful! You’re not fat at all, are you kidding? No one can even tell at all! And when you do start to really show, you’re going to be like all those celebrities, with their cute little baby bumps. I can just picture you in one of your cute summer dresses, all legs, in some awesome Louboutins, accessorized with a baby bump! You’re going to be fabulous!” reassured Lux.
“Really? You think so?” asked Nicole, sniffing.
“Yes! You’re going to be so fantastic, photographers from the society page will be fighting over who gets to do your pregnancy photoshoot!” announced Lux resolutely.
Nicole laughed. “Now you’re just being stupid! But thanks. Makes me feel a bit better about this whole thing.”
“Have you decided what you are going to do, about the . . . situation?” Lux wasn’t brave enough to even say the word.
“I’ve been really busy trying to pretend that this whole thing is not happening, that I haven’t even thought about what I’m going to do. But lately, that’s getting harder and harder.”
“What does the father say?” asked Lux.
“The father?” Nicole blinked, unable to say anything else.
“Yes, the father. What does he say about your . . . situation?”
“Oh for God’s sake, you can say ‘baby’, I’m not going to fall apart,” retorted Nicole, attempting to avoid the real question. Who was the father? She knew that was going to be the next words out of Lux’s mouth.
“Okay, what does the father say about the baby?” Lux persisted.
“Nothing? What an asshole! He doesn’t say anything? Who is this guy anyways? You never say much about your mystery man. Oh my God! Is it Noah? Are you two back together?” gasped Lux, trying to recall the few details Nicole had let slip about her secret beau. Could it be Noah? Lux couldn’t remember Nicole saying much at all, other than he was rich and bought her presents.
“No! It’s not Noah! It’s - ” Nicole paused, debating whether she could trust Lux with the truth. Now that Robert was arrested, she really wouldn’t have anyone to talk to, so perhaps she should tell Lux the truth?
Does Nicole tell Lux that Robert is the father of her baby, or does she say it’s no one Lux knows?
If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.