Previously on Montecito: Jess finally gets the arrest warrant and takes Robert in for questioning; Stu learns about the arrest from Beth and tries to convince his mother, Andrea, to reveal the affair between Robert and Nicole; Lux, armed with the juicy gossip about Robert, finally gets Nicole on the phone. She digs for information about the pregnancy.
Does Nicole tell Lux that Robert is the father of her baby, or does she say it’s no one Lux knows?Click To Reveal Results
Montecito Police Station
“What do you mean I won’t get bail?” growled Robert. He had been pacing the small interrogation room back and forth like a bear in captivity, but now stopped to face his lawyer head on, ready to fight. “What am I paying for, if not to get out of here!”
“I didn’t say you wouldn’t get bail,” said David, scanning the pages in a thin file he obtained from the arresting officer, Jessica Garcia. “I said it’s unlikely you’ll get bail,” David corrected. “The amount of liquid cash at your disposal is the cornerstone of their argument.” He continued to flip through the papers, either too engrossed with what was written on the sheets or too unwilling to meet his client’s rage.
“What argument? What can they argue? I have done nothing, they have nothing on me, and I don’t need to be a lawyer to know that they can’t keep me here!” Robert’s yelling could be heard outside the closed door, David was sure of it.
“They’ll argue that the state should consider you to be a flight risk. It’s common practice, so I’m just preparing you for it. As your lawyer, I’ll argue that with your assets frozen and passport confiscated, you won’t be a risk at all - but there’s no guarantee.”
David put down the file and turned to Claire who was sitting, ever so quietly, in the chair to his left. She hadn’t moved or uttered a word since David arrived. “Claire, have you spoken to anyone? Anyone at all?” asked David.
Claire raised her eyes to meet David’s for the first time. David couldn’t help but notice how brittle and childlike Claire looked at this moment. It was clear she had been told what her husband was being charged with. What wasn’t clear was if she believed it or not.
“No. No one,” she exhaled.
“Good. Don’t. Not unless I’m present.” David cleared his throat and added, “The concerning element in this whole situation is that there seems to be an inside source who has provided some evidence. I haven’t been given a name and it’s not in the file.” David looked from David to Claire, unsure who to ask, “Have you fired any staff lately? Or do you know of anyone who might want to see you publicly embarrassed?”
“What? No,” replied Robert as though the question was preposterous. Claire simply shook her head, eyes fixed to the floor.
David stood up, straightened out his suit jacket and extended his arm out to shake Robert’s hand. “I’m going to head back to the office and find out if they have a prosecuting attorney yet, or if there is a name for this mole. We’ll need to start looking for ways to discredit this person immediately. Sit tight and I’ll get back to you on the bail situation.” He turned to leave, giving Claire a shoulder squeeze on his way out.
Dean’s office, Montecito College
Jace sat in the oversized chair across from Dean Clark’s equally oversized mahogany desk. Everything in the room seemed oversized, except for the occupant, Dean Clark. He shifted uncomfortably, as he looked at his watch once more, wondering what was taking the Dean so long. Dean Clark had invited him here and then left the office to take a personal phone call on his cell phone. Who does that?
Jace took out his phone and sent Josh a quick message.
Dean Clark emerged at that moment, slightly flushed and looking disoriented as he patted his desk, looking for something. Jace put away his phone, feeling guilty about this meeting and the fact that he lied to Josh.
“Sorry about that,” Clark explained. “One of those calls that just can’t wait.”
“No worries, I’m in no hurry,” lied Josh.
“Yes, well, let’s get to it,” replied the Dean, finding his little black book under a pile of reference letters and invoices. He took his seat in the leather chair behind the desk. “I’m very pleased with the work you did last week. Very good. Splendid.” He nodded approvingly.
Surprising himself, Jace beamed. A few weeks ago, the Dean approached him with this job and Jace found himself morally conflicted and debated whether or not to take it. The job required him to break into the Montecito student email system and forward the last four months of emails to the Dean’s account. There was only one student on the list: Beth McKellar. Jace didn’t know Beth well, but knew she was the stepsister of Ava, who was often hanging around Josh. Jace wondered why the Dean was so interested in Professor Williams’s step daughter and wondered if the professor would be looking at the emails too. Either way, Jace felt trapped. To refuse the job would probably get him in trouble with Professor Williams, but it would also mean that the dean would likely make it difficult for him to apply for any other jobs, or even transfer into other departments. In the end, the money was too good to say no and Jace pushed his moral conscience aside.
So here he was, being thanked and congratulated on a skill he seldom got to use. Admittedly, while he had initially felt uncomfortable, those feelings now dissipated and he suddenly wished for more time to spend on his true passion, computer programing and coding. Dealing with college students and marking papers was not his calling, it was simply a means to pay his bills.
“I know you had some reservations, but I hope you can understand where I’m coming from,” confirmed the Dean, as though reading Jace’s mind.
“Yes, absolutely,” replied Jace, not understanding at all. “Did you find what you needed?”
“No. Not really,” answered the dean as he opened up his cheque book. He paused, reconsidering his answer, “Actually I did. I found out that there is nothing to worry about. Do you know this, Beth McKellar?” he asked.
“Not well. She’s been in one of my classes, but we haven’t talked much.”
“Well, we’ve been concerned about her wellbeing and some odd choices she’s been making. I thought it best to check on some things before launching a full-scale investigation, especially since her father is faculty.”
Jace had no idea who the dean meant when he used the term ‘we’, unless he meant Professor Williams. In a conspiratorial tone, the dean had made it very clear that Jace was never to speak about this job to anyone. No one. In fact, to ensure Jace would be discreet, Jace would only receive one thousand dollars when the job was complete and the other thousand would come six months later, when the dean could be sure Jace didn’t break his end of the deal. This led Jace to believe that Professor Williams was in on it, and perhaps they thought, or hoped rather, that Jace would ask the professor about the emails, thus breaking his end of the contract and losing a thousand dollars.
Not going to happen, my friend. Not going to happen. I can be a vault like no other! Jace completed the job as asked and planned on collecting every last cent owed to him. Although, there was one part of the deal he was unable to honor. Dean Clark had been very explicit that the emails were to be forwarded and never opened. He was adamant on this issue and made Jace repeat the instructions back like a parrot. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem. Jace was not the guy you’d find gossiping at parties or asking nosy questions. But once he got in the account, Jace’s curiosity got the best of him. He found himself wondering what was going on that warranted Dean Clark’s need to break into student’s emails.
Initially Jace decided he would only open one email and quickly scan it for any incriminating evidence….but then something caught his eye. Suddenly one email turned into to two and two emails turned into fourteen. Now Jace wished he hadn’t opened that first email. Keeping his side job for Dean Clark a secret would not be a problem. Not letting it slip that Beth and Stu were the masterminds behind Network would prove to be a bit more challenging. Jace wondered what Dean Clark was looking for. What could Beth possibly be into that would warrant a ‘full-scale’ investigation. There was no crime in running a business, at least Jace didn’t think so. Although, he couldn’t exactly ask since part of the deal was that Jace won’t open and read the emails himself. So now he had another secret he was withholding from Josh. There had been many rumours about who created and controlled Network, but none that even got close to the actual truth. Beth and Stu deserved Oscar awards for their unassuming performances.
“As it turns out, there was nothing to worry about,” continued the dean ripping the cheque out of the black casing. It made that satisfying rip, as the perforated edge tore away. Dean Clark sighed, knowing that one day cheques would be obsolete, like so many other things these days. It made him feel suddenly old.
Well, that’s good,” replied Jace. “So, do you have any other jobs for me?”
“No. I think that’ll be all for a while,” replied the Dean, a disingenuous smile spreading across his face. He held out the cheque for Jace and Jace stood, reaching over the desk to take hold of his payment. Only Dean Clark did not let go of his half. Rather, he pinched the thin paper tighter and tugged it back, almost playfully.
“And just to be clear, you didn’t open any emails yourself?” asked Clark.
“No, of course not,” replied Jace. He kept expression carefully neutral.
“And you haven’t spoken of this to anyone?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Okay. Then here is your first payment,” said Clark as he released his end of the cheque. “You’ll get the rest in six months time...possibly.”
Jace mirrored the Dean Clark’s smile and replied, “I look forward to cashing them both.” He tucked his cheque in the back pocket of his jeans and turned to leave. “It was a pleasure working with you and let me know if anything else comes up. I’m happy to be of service,” he added.
The Dean sat back in his chair and watched as the young man closed the office door on his way out. With two thousand dollars coming your way, I’m sure you are.
“Okay, I think we are ready for this thing,” announced Stu, walking out of a uniform store. The catering company had sent them to get ‘fitted’ for the appropriate attire so that they would match the other servers working the party. Stu chuckled as he recalled the meeting with the caterers. “I’m still picturing that lady’s face when we said we wanted to not only hire her, but work the night incognito as servers.”
“I know!” Beth laughed. “She’s probably still scratching her head at the whole thing. Why would the people putting on the party want to work it?” Beth paused a moment and then hesitantly added, “I’m wondering now if this is the right decision?”
“Are you getting cold feet?”
“Yeah, it’s not so much that I’m worried about doing the job, it’s more that I don’t feel like seeing Nicole’s smug face all night as I get her drinks or whatever,” admitted Beth as they got into her car.
“We could always change our minds, do the whole Big Brother thing?” Stu said, looking over at Beth’s profile in the driver seat.
She sighed. “No, it will be a good distraction. With everything going on with Robert and my mother, Nicole is actually the perfect distraction.” She turned on the ignition. “We’re really close to the mall. How about we hit the food court up for some good comforting fast food options, topped off with some ice cream for dessert?
“You don’t have to ask me twice!” Stu smirked.
They drove in silence for a while which allowed Beth to re-play comments she exchanged with her mother earlier. It was clear that Claire was standing by Robert. She had made excuses for his actions and regurgitated his weak explanations with such conviction that it left Beth unnerved.
“So, what else do we have to do today? Everything else ready?” asked Stu, interrupting her thoughts as they pulled into a parking stall near the mall entrance.
“Yeah, I think we have everything ready to go. The party planner is handling pretty much everything – the decorations, the food, the staff, it’s pretty awesome! She was able to get that company to put in a temporary dance floor – complete with lights, just beside the outdoor patio, so we have lots of seating both inside and out. I think it’s going to be amazing!” exclaimed Beth.
“Yeah, but I was thinking, we should probably hire some security. If we have so much of the party outside, it’ll be difficult to keep out non-Network people. We don’t want it to get out of hand,” reminded Stu as they walked through the automatic doors. They could feel their skin tighten in shock as it adjusted to the cool air conditioned atmosphere of the mall.
“Good point. I know we talked about some temporary partitions to create privacy from the rest of the campus for the outdoor dance floor, but it’s not really meant for security. I’ll text the party planner right now before I forget.” Beth pulled out her phone and quickly located the planner’s texts. They had been texting back and forth all week, so she was near the top.
“Okay, while you do that, I’ll get in line. I’m getting a big order of New York Fries for us to share. Want anything else?” asked Stu.
“Um-” Beth glanced toward the food court, scanning the kiosk names for inspiration. As she surveyed the various wares, her eyes landed on the back of a blonde head, a very distinguishable blonde head. But it was a very curious sight, for that blonde head was standing in line at the counter that sold ice cream. Not dairy-free soy based ice cream. Not fresh fruit sorbet. Not even fat free frozen yogurt. But ice cream. Nicole Cameron was standing in line for full fat, full dairy, full calorie ice cream? Had hell frozen over?
“Don’t look now, but Nicole Cameron is currently in line, at a food court mall no less, for ice cream?” whispered Beth.
“What?” asked Stu, ignoring her and turning in the direction of Nicole, who was now ordering said ice cream as they spoke. Stu’s first panicked thought was that Nicole might be with Robert, but then he of course remembered that Robert was sitting in a jail cell at the very moment. Perhaps Nicole was a stress-eater? At least there was no need to worry about Beth running into the two of them together. “Huh.”
“Huh? That’s all you have to say? This is Nicole we are talking about.”
“Yeah, so, she’s getting ice cream. I don’t get it.
“Oh, you’re such a guy!” Beth said, still staring dumbfounded at the sight before her. Unfortunately, at that moment Nicole turned and caught Beth’s eye. She froze, like a deer in a headlight. Nicole had turned, taken a huge spoonful from a massive hot fudge sundae, and was literally mid-bite as she turned. If Beth hadn’t been so surprised, she would have found it funny.
Nicole, however, was mortified. She had stopped, with that humongous mouthful and just stood there, like an idiot. There was even a large drip of hot fudge that managed to land squarely on her shirt. Nicole looked down at her shirt in disgust. It was like a large banner that said, ‘Look, I’m a pig stuffing my face so fast with ice cream that it doesn’t make it all the way to my mouth!’ Beth McKellar. Of course it would be Beth witnessing this!
Nicole groaned at the circumstance. But after hearing about Robert and knowing she’d have to tell him she decided to keep their child, she was only left with thoughts of needing some comfort ice cream. She had driven quickly to the mall, wanting to enjoy the indulgence in solitude before meeting with Lux. In her haste, Nicole hadn’t contemplated that other people might be in the food court to witness her binge.
She debated whether to walk right over to Beth, with some kind of witty, biting comment that would put her in her place, but unfortunately, nothing came to mind. So, she headed for the nearest exit to the parking lot, with her head held high and her hands full of hot fudge sundae. Nicole walked briskly to her car, which was thankfully parked not too far from the door, and hopped inside. She was careful not to spill any more of her now melting sundae as sat in the driver’s seat. She scooped up the heavenly treat, and savored the mouthful. Nicole almost forgot about the horrible Beth sighting as she finished her ice cream. It wasn’t until she scraped the bottom of the plastic container for the last remnants of hot fudge did she allow herself to replay the embarrassing scene. Who cares what Beth McKellar thinks anyways? So what if she saw me eating a sundae? Nicole closed her eyes and leaned back into the seat, waiting out the fifteen minutes before Lux was to meet her at the mall.
Beth, who had watched incredulously as Nicole hightailed it out the door said aloud, “Where the hell is she going? Did she just buy a sundae at the food court and take it to the parking lot? Why didn’t she just go through a drive through at McDonalds or something?” Beth looked up to Stu for an answer, and then realized he wasn’t there. He was already in line for their fries. Beth finished texting the party planner and decided to do a little digging on Nicole’s Network activity. Something was definitely up with that girl. She even looked like she was gaining weight!
Beth signed on to Network’s admin through her phone. While she couldn’t access everything through the mobile app, she still had a lot of information at her fingertips. She could still see all of Nicole’s Network activity, any posts, pictures or messages. Unfortunately, as Beth searched through the limited activity, the only thing she learned was that Nicole had definitely dropped out of the social circle. She hadn’t posted much of anything and didn’t appear to be going to any parties at all. Was she depressed because of her break up with Noah? That would explain the withdrawal from the world, the change in eating habits and maybe even the weight gain? She knew herself that when she was anxious or stressed, or even sad, she went on a junk food binge. All further thoughts on the Nicole situation were interrupted by a distinct, Katie Perry tune, Roar, which let her know Ava was calling.
Beth looked down at the phone and contemplated not answering. She hadn’t talked to Ava since Robert was arrested, and she wasn’t looking forward to this conversation. She knew Ava would be freaking out, and have a million questions she wasn’t sure she could answer. It wouldn’t be any easier to talk to Ava later, Beth decided. Bite the bullet.
“Hello.” The word had barely parted with Beth’s lips before Ava’s clearly distraught voice bulldozed its way through the receiver.
“Oh my God! What is going on over there? I just opened up my inbox and it was flooded with sentiments and people asking if there was anything they could do to help me through this difficult time! I thought someone had died! And the more I read the worse it got! Murder? Prison? My dad’s in prison and no one calls to tell me? What were you guys waiting for?”
“I know, I’m sorry. I thought my mother had already called you,” lied Beth. She had no idea if Claire had called Ava.
“Well, she didn’t!”
“Sorry, Ava. I should have called you. You shouldn’t have heard through other people. It’s just been crazy at the house. Cops have taken over. My mom’s feeling like she’s under investigation, too,” replied Beth, hoping that could explain for this oversight.
“How is he? Have you seen him?” Ava’s voice had returned to its normal pitch again, but was clearly anxious.
“I haven’t seen him, since they took him away. I assume he’s doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. My mom mentioned that his lawyer was working on getting him bail.” Beth, trying to avoid talking about the charges, was giving Ava just enough to appease her. “If there’s nothing to worry about, he’ll be home in no time,” added Beth in a fake cheerful tone that felt rank in her mouth.
“If there’s nothing to worry about?” repeated Ava, not convinced. “What do you mean by if? You don’t actually think he’s capable of killing my mother and trying to kill yours?” Ava gasped. “You think he did it, don’t you?”
Beth swallowed the little saliva left in her mouth. “I don’t know if he did or not. I’m leaving that up to the police to figure out,” her voice came out flat, deadpan.
“He could never do the things he’s being accused of. How could you think that?” Her voice was desperate and pleading.
“I don’t know, Ava. I’m just waiting like everyone else to see what happens,” Beth sighed. “When are you coming home?”
“I’m getting on a plane tomorrow night. It was the first available flight and there are two connections with a layover. I won’t get home for a couple of days.” Beth could hear in Ava’s voice she was crying now. “Tell him I’ll be home soon. Tell him I’m getting there as fast as I can.”
“Ok,” agreed Beth, although she had no intentions of passing on the message directly. “We’ll see you soon.”
Beth hit the end button and took a deep breath. She looked around for Stu, who was already sitting at a table and looking at her with a questioning look on his face. He had clearly been watching her and was wondering what was wrong.
Nicole, sighed, and rummaged through her purse for her phone and texted Lux.
Before Nicole could even put down her phone, she could see Lux typing a quick response.
Nicole read the text quickly and looked up in surprise. Parked directly in front of her, across the lot was Lux, sitting in her car. She waved at Nicole before jumping quickly out of her car. Nicole didn’t even have time to sigh and Lux was already almost at her car’s door. Nicole turned the ignition so she could open her car window.
“Listen Lux, I’m sorry, but I don’t feel like shopping anymore,” said Nicole.
“Since when do you not feel like shopping?” asked Lux, looking down at Nicole.
“Since I became a huge fat whale! That’s when!” snapped Nicole, gesturing toward herself.
“Oh my God, Nicole. That’s crazy! You are not a big fat whale! You’re just-” She looked around the parking lot before whispering, “pregnant!”
“Same thing!” pouted Nicole. “Besides, nothing is going to fit!”
“Of course something will fit! Trust me! I have a food baby that’s bigger than your real baby, so believe me, we will find you something cute and awesome! The styles right now are all these cute flowing dresses anyways, so we can find something perfect for the big Network party, I’m sure! Then you’ll feel better after you heat up that credit card of yours.” Nicole didn’t look convinced, so Lux continued. “Then, we can buy some cute handbag to go with it. A purse will always fit!”
Nicole relented. “I guess. We’re here already, so might as well.” She slowly exited the car, as if just that little exertion was too much. Lux tried not to roll her eyes.
“Okay, so, I figured we’d start with that first maternity shop right outside of Macy’s-” Lux began.
“Are you a complete idiot?” screamed Nicole, stopping mid-stride in the parking lot. “I don’t shop at those stores! You actually think I am going to even step foot in one of those shops, with their ugly potato sack looking dresses?”
“Nicole, I just thought-”
“You didn’t think, that’s your problem!”
Lux took in a deep breath, trying to be patient. Nicole was hormonal after all. She decided to be mature about it and ignore the insults. “I’m sorry. Okay, let’s start again. Where do you want to go first? Bloomingdales?”
Nicole began to walk again. “Fine. Let’s just get this over with.”
Several hours and outfits later, Lux had finally given up. She sat on the bench in the large dressing room of the eighth store they had been to that day. As she watched Nicole stare at herself in the mirror, Lux thought back to her surprising conversation with Nicole. Professor Williams is the father? She couldn’t believe that Nicole actually had an affair with a professor, Ava’s dad for God’s sake, and then became pregnant? Lux still couldn’t wrap her head around the whole thing.
“Okay, Nicole, all of these dresses do the same thing. Either they are too tight and form fitting, so you can definitely tell that you are pregnant, or they are loose and flowing, and hide your belly – but make you look like you’ve gained ten pounds. So. . . if you don’t want to look like you’ve gained weight, have you thought about embracing the pregnancy?” She looked up to Nicole, who was examining the latest dress in the mirror. It was very form fitting, but her legs and boobs looked fabulous.
“Embrace my pregnancy?”
“Yeah, you could announce the pregnancy at the party, and then you could wear this amazing dress! You’re going to have to tell people sometime that you’re pregnant! Why not at the party? You’d definitely make a splash! And you’re baby bump looks so cute in this dress!”
“Well, I do look pretty awesome in this dress actually. But, I had figured I would hide it a bit longer, and that I would announce the pregnancy through an invitation to my baby shower!” Nicole laughed. “I can just picture everyone getting their invite to my awesome baby shower – put on by you of course – and learning that I’m pregnant that way!”
“That would be surprising! I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone announcing their pregnancy in a shower invitation. So, no to this dress and coming out at the party?” asked Lux, gathering up some of the other discarded dresses, looking for an alternate. “Probably a good idea,” she added as she scooped up a multi-colored strapless number that lay crumpled on the floor. “You’d have everyone buzzing around speculating who the daddy is. You don’t need that.”
“No. No, I don’t,” agreed Nicole. “But they’re going to anyway. It’ll be at the party, the shower, during classes. Everyone will want to know.”
“Are you going to tell them who it is?” asked Lux, her voice carried over the pile of discarded clothes in her arms.
“Are you on medication?” snapped Nicole. “Of course not! And you better not saying anything either!!”
“Ok,” replied Lux, hurt. “I would never say anything, you know that.”
“I know.” Nicole sighed. “I don’t know what to do. I might be rethinking your party idea, and then I could wear this dress. And, I could see the actual reactions of the people as I walk in the room. Might be kinda funny to see their jaws drop. You know how I like to shock people? But I don’t know.” Nicole turned back to the mirror to study her reflection again as she contemplated her decision.
Does Nicole introduce her baby bump at the Network party, or stick with her original idea, to drop the bombshell through the baby shower invitation?
If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.