There was a moment of silence as everyone's mouths dropped and they stared at Josefina Flores in shock. Roy jumped up and walked towards the door.
"But how come I couldn't find you through the genealogy reports?"
"Because Maria Rodriguez was not my grandmother's real name. Her real name was Rosa Orellana. Look it up."
Roy quickly pulled out his laptop and did the search. His eyes widened. "Yeah, there you are!"
Josefina smiled. "You see?"
Mr. Hughes glanced at Josefina. "But then why would your grandmother change her name?"
Josefina shook her head. "I can only give that story to the descendants of Giovanni Russo and Miguel Jiminez. Once they have been told, then we will decide if the story will be made public." Red noticed the crestfallen face of Vincent Steele. He had apprently pleaded with her to tell him, but since these were her conditions, must have figured it best to get her to tell the relatives quickly so he could get this information for his book.
"I think that can be arranged." Mr. Hughes turned to Red, Sunny, and Lloyd. "Looks like you three are going to need to get back to Mr. Jiminez's."
"Uh, but Mr. Hughes, Mr. Jiminez is the nephew, not descendant, of the original Miguel Jiminez," said Red.
"Are there no descendants?" asked Josefina.
The group shook their heads. "No," said Roy, "Miguel Jiminez, the nephew, is the only close relative."
Josefina let out a huff. "I guess that will do. But my grandmother told my mother, and she told me, that the truth behind the whole thing could be only told to the relatives of Miguel Jiminez and Giovanni Russo."
"Why didn't your mother seek them out earlier?" asked Sunny. "As a matter of fact, why didn't you?"
"Well my mother felt awkward talking to the families of the men who could be her father . . ."
"Wait, Maria, I mean, Rosa, didn't know who the father was?" asked Roy.
Josefina shook her head. "No, that was one thing none of us knew. And that's why I was waiting." She let out a breath. "I wanted to find out which man was my grandfather before I spoke to the descendants."
Roy smiled. "I think I can help you with that. But I will need samples from both of the relatives as well."
Josefina sighed. "Guess we're getting together after all." She looked at Roy. "Will the process be quick?"
Roy winced. "Well, since you're Maria's granddaughter, it's going to take a while. A couple of weeks at most. I mean, having Ettore Russo's DNA and Miguel Jiminez's DNA might make it go by faster, but since you're all relatives and not the actual people, it could take a little longer as they have to find the DNA in you that matches or is similar to DNA that's relative to their's."
Josefina huffed. "Very well, it will have to do. When shall we get started?"
"Well," said Mr. Hughes, "Ettore Russo is staying at my cabin and Miguel Jiminez would need to be told in person or by letter, though I'm sure you can figure in person will be much faster." He turned to Roy. "Would you go with Miss Flores and Mr. Jiminez to my cabin? You can bring Ettore up to date as well."
Roy nodded. "Sure."
Mr. Hughes turned to Red, Sunny, and Lloyd. "And we'll just have to wait for you three to get back with Mr. Jiminez's answer tomorrow." He turned to Josefina. "Will that work for you? I can have Mr. Jiminez and Roy ready to go as soon as posible."
Josefina smiled. "I would like that very much." She turned to Vincent. "And I appreciate you bringing me here to meet these fine men." She chuckled. "Even if it is in the hopes of getting my side of the story in this legend of the wild west."
Vincent smiled. "You are very welcome." He chuckled softly. "Even if it is to get your story for my book."
Mr. Hughes clapped his hands. "Wonderful! If we may have your number, Miss Flores, we will contact you and let you know right away when we have set up your departure."
Josefina smiled. "Of course!" They swapped numbers and chatted for a bit longer before Vincent and Josefina left.
Mr. Hughes turned to the group. "Well, looks like we have our day set up for tomorrow. I'll call that boat rental place and get you a boat again. Do all three of you want to go again?"
Roy raised a hand. "I think one of them should come with us to the movie set. I'll need to concentrate on getting the genealogy reports set up."
Mr. Hughes nodded. "You're right on that." He glanced over the three before pointing at Lloyd. "Lloyd, you'll be keeping an eye out for the gang."
"And on Scarlet, Plum, and White," added Roy.
Mr. Hughes then pointed at Red and Sunny. "That leaves you two for taking the message to Mr. Jiminez. Do you remember where his house is?"
The two nodded. "Yes sir," they chorused.
"Good, I hope Mr. Jiminez will agree. I don't see why not, but should he have any concerns about the cost, let him know I will cover it."
They nodded. "Right."
"Well then, good night, gentlemen." The five said their good nights and went to sleep.
They were up bright and early the next morning, Lloyd in particular eager to get his job underway. After dropping off Mr. Hughes, Roy, and Lloyd at the movie set, Red and Sunny went on their merry way back to Stockton and the river. Finding the boat rental, and later, Mr. Jiminez's boathouse, was a piece of cake now. And no one tried to waylay them, though they did ponder visiting the camp where the girls were staying to sau hello. They ended up deciding against it, thinking their errand far more important and time-sensitive.
When they pulled into the swamp where Mr. Jiminez lived, they saw the elderly man out on the land, planting some kind of fruit. Don Quixote was preening himself as he perched on the lowest beanch of the nearest tree. He was the one who saw them first.
"Ahoy mates! Welcome back!"
Mr. Jiminez straightened up from his task and waved to them, a merry smile on his face. "Welcome back indeed! But I must wonder, why are you back so soon?"
The two leaped off the boat and quickly explained. Mr. Jiminez's mouth dropped further with every passing word.
"You're kidding?" he exclaimed at the end of it.
The two shook their heads. "We're telling you the truth, every word," said Red.
Mr. Jiminez leaned back against his house. "Well that explains a lot! No wonder why no one could ginf her after she left town, she went back to using her real name! ANd now I'm really curious to learn why."
"You mean you'll go?" asked Red.
Mr. Jiminez shrugged. "Why not? I'm as curious to find out more as your friend. Besides, it will put this young lady's mind at ease to know who her grandfather really was, especially if Maria herself didn't even know who the father was."
Red nodded. "I think it will."
Sunny jumped. "Yes! When can you be ready to go?"
"I can go now. Let me pack my things and get Don Quixote. I'll join you in a minute."
"Would you like some help?" asked Sunny.
Mr. Jiminez rubbed his chin. "Maybe you two can handle Don Quixote. I'll get my things. Won't be long."
Sunny saluted him. "Yes sir!" Mr. Jiminez grinned before walking into the house. Sunny whistled. Don Quixote! Come on! You're going on a trip!"
"Yay! Yay! Trip! Trip!" squawked the bird. The guys laughed. He followed the two into the house. They quickly got his cage set up and got him to the boat. Sunny quickly got on his phone and sent a text to Roy, Lloyd, and Mr. Hughes, telling them the good news. The next minute, Mr. Jiminez came out with a suitcase and climbed on board. He nodded with pleasure at how the boys got Don Quixote set up.
"We're all set to go," said Mr. Jiminez with a grin.
"Ready! Ready!" squawked Don Quixote with a flap of his wings. Both seemed excited to go.
Sunny grinned. "Then hold on tight!" He pulled out of the lagoon and the four sped back to the boat rental. They checked the boat back in and leaped into the car, eager to get the hour-long drive back to the hotel over.
"Why don't you boys tell me about yourselves? How did you come to work for Reginald Hughes?"
"Well," began Sunny, "I went to college to become a mechanic. I've always had a fascination with cars and how they worked. I went from job to job while I worked my way through college. But when I graduated, it seemed like the job I wanted wasn't available. I became a taxi driver for a little while. It was alright, but not quite what I had wanted. Well, my grandfather used to work for Mr. Hughes's family, and called him up to help me out. I in fact just so happened to be the one to pick him up from the airport. We chatted on the way to the coffee shop where he was meeting my grandfather. I had no idea who he was nor what my grandfather was doing for me until I saw him sitting at one of the tables outside the shop. My grandfather called me to his table and introduced me to Mr. Hughes. Mr. Hughes had already made his decision by the time we arrived at the shop and hired me on the spot. I wasn't sure at first, but he had not only given me the job to drive him around, but also the job of mechanic on his cars. I've never been happier." Sunny smiled. "He's been absolutely wonderful and not just to me, but to my family as well. He's helping put my sisters through college."
Mr. Jiminez nodded. "He sounds like a wonderful man." He turned to Red. "And what about you, young man?"
Red shrugged. "Well, I had always wanted to be a pilot, I just wasn't sure what kind of a pilot just yet. Well, I mean, I did know I had wanted to travel to see the world, but I wasn't quite sure about being a pilot for those big passenger planes. My dad suggested that I put my name out for hire. I guess that's how Mr. Hughes came across my name. He went out to Hawaii to see me in action, and apparently he liked what he saw and hired me. I've only flown him once though."
Sunny scoffed. "And now here we are, using a car and a boat far more often than your plane."
Red chuckled. "I know, but it's for a good cause. I want to help Signor Russo get his inheritance."
Mr. Jiminez nodded, smiling. "I knew I would like talking to you. And I can see why Mr. Hughes hired you two. You're a couple of fine chaps."
Red and Sunny grinned at him. "Thank you sir!"
Sunny furrowed his brow as he turned his attention back to the road. "But, how can you tell based on our backstories?"
Mr. Jiminez chuckled and patted his nose with his finger. "When you're as old as me, you pay attention to certain things. But I'll give you a clue. The way you talked about your families. I know Red didn't talk much about his, but I could tell from the sound of his voice that he admired and respected his father. And thus, you're a couple of fine chaps." He grinned.
Sunny blinked. "That, that makes sense actually." He winced. "And probably why we don't like the usual suspects."
Mr. Jiminez blinked. "Huh?"
Sunny waved his hand. "Some people you don't have to worry about, Mr. Jiminez. You just worry about talking to Miss Josefina Flores and Signor Russo." He then grinned. "Mr. Steele is itching to have that story for his book."
"He wants it that badly, huh?" He chuckled. "I'll be sure to put in a good word for him. He's a fine fellow too."
Red smiled. "We think so too. And thank you. I'm sure he'll appreciate it."
When they pulled into the hotel parking lot, they saw Roy and Josefina waiting for them. Roy got into the car and told them to take them to the airport immediately. They were soon back on the road again, this time to the airport. Josefina and Mr. Jiminez chatted gaily the whole way. By listening in, Roy, Red, and Sunny found out that Josefina's father wrote the book about Giovanni Russo because he was genuinely interested in the history of the man, and was hoping it would get the attention of the family to connect them to his family so Josefina and her mother could talk to them. But since the book stayed under the radar of most book clubs, that didn't go too far.
They pulled up to the airport and the three quickly filed out of the car and got into the airport.
Roy paused at the window. "I'll try to make this go as quickly as possible, so you three are going to have to be on high alert. We still have the rest of the gang at large and know nothing else about their plans. They seem to have gone quiet for now. Who knows what they'll do if they found out I was gone. If you do go to Carson's Lodge, let me know. I'll see if I can meet you out there once I've got their genealogy tests sent out." He let out a huff. "Just, please make sure Reginald doesn't do anything before then. I have notified the local police of what's going, so you can call them should you need any back-up. Just tell them my name, and they should send in some help." He reached into the window and shook hands with both. "Good luck to both of you. With how fast you've worked on this, something tells me I had better hurry it up and get back here before you get this all solved before I'm done."
Sunny grinned. "Want to bet?"
Roy rolled his eyes. "Let's not. I don't like gambling with people's lives." He paused and glanced at his watch. "I need to get in there. Be careful, and be alert. I think the worst part of it is coming. Bye!"
Red and Sunny waved. "Bye!"
"Well, that wasn't ominous at all," muttered Sunny as they pulled away from the airport.
Red pursed his lips. "He is right, you know. That gang is still out there, and we still don't know how many people are part of it. And we don't know their plans, if we didn, we would have been able to take care of them pretty quickly."
"Yeah, but that would have been too easy," said Sunny with a scoff. "Nothing's ever that easy."
"Except that your grandfather knew Mr. Hughes," said Red with a knowing smirk.
"Hey, I still worked hard to learn everything I would need to know to work for Mr. Hughes, which is why he hired me," returned Sunny with a smirk.
Red chuckled. "This is true." Then the two became serious. There was still the question of what lay ahead of them on this treasure hunt. So far Red had caught one of the gang. Would they be able to catch the rest? And they now knew for sure that the illegitimate heir wasn't behind it at all. They had just sent her off to meet Signor Russo for the first time. And if they used the same technique that Mr. Jiminez used, she spoke quite respectfully and warmly of her family, meaning she was a fine lady. That then left Fabrizio Dente behind all this. Did Signor Russo actually know his cousin, or had he just hired the only men he could find to take on this job? They were certainly well on their way to finding the answer to that, as they were soon to find out.
(Author's Note: Yup, Josefina Flores is the illegitimate heir, if Giovanni Russo is in fact her grandfather. If not, then she obviously isn't, but that remains to be seen. And they are getting closing to finding out all the answers and the sword. But as mentioned before in other chapters already posted, you're just going to have to wait and find out. So, until next time, have a wonderful week! God bless!)