Welcome back to the world of the Beginnings series. If you haven't read Beach Undercover I suggest that you do because this is a continuation of the story. For those of you who are returning, thank you for coming back! You guys are awesome! I am actually starting this a little earlier than I expected. I was thinking of publishing Monday but since I actually have this sucker written, I thought it would be a nice little treat for you all. As evident in the synopsis of the story, we are entering the world of the Renaissance faire. To be honest, I have never been to one but I have always wanted to go. Here in Pennsylvania, we have a large Renaissance Faire that lasts for two months (I do believe) beginning in August. It's one of the largest in the country and it is supposed to be a lot of fun. Just haven't had the chance to visit it even though it's within an hour's drive from where I live. That being said, I do not know the ins and outs of the faires so bear with me on this. If you have any suggestions though, I would greatly appreciate them if you would like to send them my way! Anyway, as the story goes, the prologue takes place only weeks after the epilogue from Beach Undercover while the rest of the story is set in early October, six months after the events in Florida. I hope that this gives you some insight into the timeline (any problems, let me know!). There will be some new faces appearing in this one along with some long awaited arrivals (a particular blonde haired beauty finally makes her appearance and no it's not Callie). As for this prologue, this is probably the longest one I've ever written but it does set up the story for you. I also will be trying to keep to my writing schedule as best I can so expect updates every two to three days but I will let you know if there is to be a delay (or at least try to). So, without any further ado, I give you All's Faire in Love and War. Have fun and enjoy and don't forget to leave a review (if you want to of course!). Until next time, have a good rest of the weekend and may God's blessings shine down upon you and your family. Be well!
"What's wrong, Frank?" Fenton asked. He eyed his oldest son who was picking at his food as the family sat around the table for a rare dinner together.
Frank looked up. "Huh?" Everyone was staring at him with the exception of Joe who was still shoveling food in his mouth. "What did you say, Dad?"
"I said 'What's wrong?'" his father repeated slowly. "You're not eating and you're really quiet. That's unusual, even for you."
"Oh, I, uh…" Frank nervously looked at the others at the table. He cleared his throat then spoke. "There's something I wanted to tell you about."
"That you're finally going to ask Nancy out on a date even though she's been dating Parker for the past few weeks?" Joe piped in with a devilish grin. He let out a howl in pain as his brother kicked him under the table. "Geez. Touchy."
"No," Frank said emphatically and rolled his eyes. "I was going to say that I didn't want to go back to school in the fall."
"What?" Laura and Gertrude, Fenton's older sister cried out together. His mother put her fork down on her plate and glared at him.
"You have a scholarship, Frank," she stated. "You're just going to throw a year of schooling all away?"
"Laura, let him explain," Fenton said calmly. "What is it that you want to do, Frank? You're not just dumping school then coming home and doing nothing. You have to have a plan of some sort."
"Actually, I do," his son answered, his confidence rising. "I was hoping to work for you. Not just with you. For you."
"Absolutely not!" Gertrude cried sternly. "After I heard about that whole thing in Florida, neither one you boys should be anywhere near a case like that again!"
"Trudy, please," Fenton interrupted the rant, raising his voice only slightly. "I'd like to hear his thoughts before we all jump down his throat. Go on, Frank. I want to know why."
The family looked expectantly at him making him nervous once more. Even Joe stopped eating though he had a look of anticipation on his face. "Well, I…I wasn't really enjoying going to college and what I was studying wasn't what I would like to do. Our case in Florida made me see what I was really missing."
"I knew it!" his brother exclaimed excitedly. "You did miss it!"
Frank laughed softly then nodded. "Yeah, I guess I did. I just didn't want to admit it." He looked over at his mother. Gertrude huffed heatedly. "I'm sorry, Mom but I need to follow what I feel is where I need to be and going to a large university isn't that. I can go to the community college with Joe if you want. I may be able to transfer my scholarship there but if not, it will go to a better candidate than me."
"How long have you been feeling this way?" Fenton asked.
His son sighed deeply. "Since before Florida. I was starting to feel a little out of touch around mid-terms."
"So, let me get this straight," Gertrude piped up angrily.
"Oh, Lord," Joe muttered. "Here we go."
"Oh, hush," she scolded. "You want to forgo your studies, possibly lose your scholarship, and come work for your father in a thankless job that has danger around every corner and the possibility of getting yourself killed in the process? What the hell are you thinking?"
"I have been thinking about it for a while, like I said," Frank defended. "I was actually hoping that Dad would hire both Joe and I. We're a team and I don't want to break it up again."
"Hell, yeah!" his brother whooped loudly, standing up quickly and nearly knocking over the table. Laura and Gertrude yelled at him for a few moments as they cleaned up some of the drinks that spilled onto the table.
Fenton sat quietly, mulling over the news. Once the women were seated once again, he looked at his wife who shook her head slowly. He knew the look she gave him. She didn't approve of the job for her sons but if it was what they wanted to do, then he wanted to oblige their ideas. Besides, Fenton was actually thinking about the two joining his company eventually anyway. After what he saw in them in Florida and the fact that Carson trusted Nancy to take of herself in times of trouble then Fenton needed to put his own trust in his sons. He sighed then glanced at each of the boys. Laura and Gertrude waited with abated breath.
"I'm sorry," Fenton stated, his lips pursed. Frank and Joe looked downcast thinking the worst as their father continued. "But I agree with the boys."
"Yes!" Joe hollered.
"No!" Laura and Gertrude cried.
"Why?" his wife asked incredulously. "I thought we agreed!"
"Yes, I know but they showed that they can handle any situation a few weeks ago. I trust that they will be a good addition to Sam and I."
"But what about what happened down there?" Laura cried. "We all almost died during that case! Frank was kidnapped by a psycho child and poor Nancy was injured badly."
"In which she survived and is doing much better now," Fenton pointed out. "Carson trusts her and I need to trust the boys. You need to trust them too. They're old enough to be able to take care of themselves without us holding their hands in the process."
"But what if it happens again, Fenton?" she asked pointedly. "Or if an even more dangerous situation arises? What then?"
"Then we will deal with it when the time comes, Laura," he replied. Fenton shook his head. "It could be years down the road for all we know. I am willing to take that chance but there is one thing that I am wondering and I need to know before we make a deal here. What did happen to your grades at the end of the year, Frank?"
Frank was quiet and bit his lower lip.
"You can tell us anything, sweetheart," Laura said soothingly. "I've been wondering that myself."
"I..I got a few emails right before finals," he finally admitted. "The IP address where they came from was blocked and they weren't signed so I have no idea where they came from."
"What kind of emails?"
"Um," his face went red with embarrassment. "Stalker type emails saying 'I love you,' 'You and me were meant to be,' stuff like that. After the first one I could barely concentrate on my finals, which is why I got the grades I did."
"Are you sure they were sent to you?" Joe asked trying to kid around. "Maybe they were supposed to…ow!"
It was Laura this time that kicked him under the table, her face fuming. "Joseph Hardy! Your brother is being serious and you're being callous! If you can't contribute, don't open your mouth!"
"Okay! I'm sorry! I was just trying to get a laugh out of Frank! Geez! I'm going to have bruises on my legs because of you people!"
"And they're well deserved!" Gertrude shrieked. She turned to Frank who shrunk back in his chair at her look. "And you! You should have told your parents the moment you received such a horrid email! What were you thinking?"
"Trudy, that's enough," Fenton replied firmly and the woman sat back, her chest heaving. "How many did you receive?"
"About two or three," Frank mumbled. Joe's eyes narrowed. His brother was lying and he was going to find out why later. "They stopped right before we found out Melody was transferred to that facility."
"That was right after the Hawkleys' party," Laura said in alarm. "That was over a month ago!"
"And you suspect it's her?"Joe asked.
"Who else could it be?" he shrugged. "I can't think of anyone else."
"Shut up, Joe."
"Okay," their father interrupted their banter. "I'll call Carson and see what he can find out as to if Melody had access to a computer before she was sent to the institution. He's been keeping me updated on her and her father since they were arrested and we should be thankful for him still being able to keep tabs on them for us. Melody isn't set to get out for several years so we do have time to prepare for when she's released."
"And that's why you shouldn't let the boys become private detectives," Gertrude sniffed. "That girl is going to cause a lot of trouble when she gets out. You know that."
"Yes, I do," he nodded. "But I intend on making sure they can defend themselves a little better than before. At least we were smart in allowing you two to be active in martial arts but it's been years. I want both of you boys back in a dojo by the end of next week. And starting Monday, you'll be on a probationary period with Sam and I plus you'll be going to the range on weekends to learn to shoot and get your conceal carry permits."
Frank and Joe both nodded but didn't say anything. Gertrude looked like she wanted to say something but she kept her mouth closed tight. Laura glared at Fenton but he felt that she would eventually be okay with the transition albeit, reluctantly.
"And no more keeping things from me," Fenton ordered, looking directly at Frank. "Understand?"
"Understood," his son nodded grimly. Frank looked back at his food, realizing that the conversation made him hungry. With a newfound confidence, he ate everything on his plate, listening to the conversations going on around him. Even with the emails he had been receiving, Frank wasn't going to let a stalker get the better of him anymore.
An hour later, Frank was in his room, lying on his bed and staring at the ceiling thinking. He was kicking himself for not opening up earlier to his family about the emails but there was more to it than what he told them. That part he wanted to keep to himself for a little while. Plus the fact that he wished he hadn't put his heart aside and ruined any chance he had of ever having a relationship with the person he wanted to be with the most.
"So, when are you going to tell Mom and Dad the truth?"
Frank looked over to see Joe leaning on the door frame, his arms folded in front of him and his eyebrow arced. The older Hardy rolled his eyes then continued to stare at the ceiling. "I was telling the truth, Joe."
"Better not let Mom or Aunt Trudy hear you say that."
"I don't care if they do," Joe spat stepping into the room and closing the door. "You weren't telling the whole truth down there and I want to know why."
"You wouldn't understand," he mumbled.
"Try me, Frank. I'm not that dense."
Frank sighed then sat up on his bed to look at his younger brother. Joe had taken the desk chair across from the bed and had his feet propped up on Frank's desk. He waited patiently for his older brother to speak though his patience was wearing thin.
"There was more to those emails," Frank finally said. "A lot of threats…and…some words that I don't really care to repeat. But there were also more emails then I said."
"Like how many?"
"At least a dozen," he mumbled shaking his head. "I know it's Melody. It has to be. There's no one else that would send these…nasty emails to me."
"Did you respond to any of them?" Joe asked.
"Only one and that was right after finals. I asked for whoever was sending them to stop and they did for a little while. That I was being truthful about." He sighed deeply. "The emails stopped for about a month then started back up again last week or so. I've gotten about six in the past two weeks alone. And they're worse than before. I'm hoping Mr. Drew can put a stop to it if it really is her."
"Oh, it has to be." Joe thought about it for a moment, studying his brother. Frank looked disheartened and it burned him. "Is this why you're taking a step back from pursuing Nancy?"
"You know that's not why."
"Is it? I mean, you seemed like you really wanted to get to know her better but then you just stopped. I'm assuming this is why."
"Well, what about you and Bess?" Frank retorted. "You two seemed to hit it off right away. What happened?"
"Nothing happened between us," Joe replied smartly. "We are good friends, that's all. We just seemed to realize that we were not really…compatible. I think I need someone to reign me in when I go off on something and Bess was definitely not that girl. She's sweet and she's gorgeous but too flirty and flakey at times. Damn it! Now you changed the subject! This conversation wasn't about me! It was about you! Nancy is perfect for you and that's my personal opinion. From what we heard from Bess and George, there's no way you wouldn't be able to be with her. What the hell happened?"
"She seems perfectly fine with Parker, Joe," he said looking away. "I said I would let her decide and she did. It's better if I just let those two stay together and be done with it."
"You didn't really give her the chance to decide, Frank," his brother pointed out. "I saw the way you looked at her at that party…who wouldn't? She was beautiful and yes, she did dance a lot with Parker but you dance with her too. Give yourself some credit where it's due. Nancy has to make up her mind sooner or later and you should be there just in case it's you. I myself am still looking for Miss Right but you know what? I'm not even 20 and neither are you. You have time to either go after Nancy or to find someone else. You never know what is going to happen in the future. You just got to have faith that life will move in the right direction for you."
"Since when did you become the Love Guru?"
"Meh, I meddle in it but it's not for me," Joe shrugged. "I say go for it even though we already know that Nancy has been seeing Parker more often. Just don't give up yet. That's my advice."
Frank watched as his brother left the room. He thought about what Joe said and took it to heart. The only thing was that he had a feeling he was already too late. He just didn't know how right he was.
Parker stepped into the parlor, seeing his mother sitting in a wing-backed chair reading. He was silent, not wanting to disturb her but she had summoned him for a reason though he knew not what. Clearing his throat to get her attention, he waited as she put down her book.
"Ah, Parker!" Patricia smiled rising from her chair. Sweeping over the room, Parker took his mother's hands and planted a gentle kiss on her cheek. "How are you doing?"
"Uh, I'm fine," he said cautiously.
"You shouldn't really keep things from me because I will eventually find out in the end." she said sweetly.
"What are you talking about?" His mother gave him a knowing look and Parker sighed. "We're not dating, dating, Mother. Just…"
"Going out as friends? I highly doubt that, Parker."
"What is it that you needed to talk to me about?" he replied changing the subject. He moved away toward the dry bar and poured himself a drink.
"Ah, to the point," she beamed. "Good. I guess some things didn't go in one ear and out the other. I just wanted to talk to you about your plans."
"My plans for what?" Parker turned around to face her, his expression confused.
"Why, your future, Parker," she said matter-of-factly. "I want to know what you're planning for the near future."
"Mother, I literally just turned 23. I think I have time before I need to make a decision."
"Well, I just heard that Daniel Reeves is retiring from the city council next year," Patricia said excitedly coming up to him. "It's a perfect time for you to start your political career. Put that college degree to better use than working in an office."
"Please consider it."
"And I'm sure Mr. Reeves will be endorsing me as well for a small favor to you, huh?" Parker sighed. "Mother, what if don't want to go into politics anymore? I like what I'm doing."
"Oh, nonsense," Patricia waved her hand dismissively. "Working for a brokerage firm is long and tedious work, sweetheart. Not something a man will want to continue doing once he has a family."
"Mother, I'm not ready for a family. I've barely begun dating normally after Whitney."
"Don't mention that harlot's name again!" she snapped. "Whitney was a power hungry little wench who has her eyes set on bigger things for the power that it carried. Not a good match in my book and her parents are awful. No, Parker, I want you to be happy and love what you're doing and who you're with. To be a staple in the community until you're ready to move on to bigger things. It's what your father and I have wanted for you since you were born. All you need is a pick-me-up with your image."
"And that would be?"
"Settling down, having a family," she purred. "You know I've been waiting for grandchildren for a while now."
"But, Mother," he protested. "I told you, I'm not ready. I only just met Nancy a few months ago and neither one of us are ready for that kind of commitment."
"But she's perfect for you!" Patricia simpered. "She's nothing like Whitney and she's beautiful and smart. Imagine the children you'll have!"
"Mother!" Parker cried annoyed. "I haven't even thought about a family with her! I'm still trying to get to know her!"
"You can continue to get to know her even after you're married," she shrugged. "It's what your father and I did and look at us!"
"You aren't really together anymore, Mother," he rolled his eyes. "You might as well be living on different continents."
"But I still love your father very much and support him, dear," his mother said softly. "The earlier you start with a family the more appealing you will be to the voters."
"And what about Nancy? Doesn't she have a say in this too?"
"Yes, of course she does. But have you even asked her about it?"
"No, why would I? Do you want me to scare her off?"
"Okay, you're right," Patricia stated. She looked into her son's eyes. "Think about it though: her father has connections and we could do so much for his career as well."
"Something he's not even remotely interested in, Mother," he snapped. "You know that."
"Yes, dear, I know. I'm just saying, that's all." She sighed and cupped his face with a well manicured hand. "I want you to be happy, sweetheart. You're just going to have to come to terms with your future. I hate to put pressure on you…"
"Then why do it?" Parker interrupted. "This is my life. What I do with it is no longer your concern."
"Yes, it is! You are your father's son and it is expected of you to be responsible," Patricia scolded. "The deadline to apply for candidacy is in March of next year. You need to be either engaged or married by then. I don't care who it is either. Your father and I have helped you out and will continue to do so as long as you're willing to do the same for us."
"Mother, please, don't do this. I can't put that kind of pressure on anyone and I won't. I'll run but more than likely it will be on my own."
"Fine, as long as you run." She pointed a finger in his face. "But I want you to settle down by the end of next year. No more running around to parties. You got yourself into trouble down in Florida because you insisted on going to these parties. The press had a field day about it once the story came out."
"Agreed but I'm not promising the marriage part," he replied. "I'm taking it slow with Nancy. I don't want her to be put on the spot either. Let me get to know her at least."
"You do that, dear. Bring her around more often so she gets used to being in our world. That will make it easier to transition."
"You make it sound like she's giving up her whole life, Mother," Parker shook his head. "Whatever she wants to do, I'll support it."
"She will have to give up something, Parker," his mother pointed out. "You know that. The career path she has chosen isn't going to sit well with people. Just so you know that." Patricia clapped her hands excitedly. "I have an idea. The faire is in early October and I know its months away but invite her to be a part of it. You know how much fun it is every year. Consider it a way of introducing her to the people of Milford Point. They'll be your constituents and if they see that she's with you, it may appeal to them better."
"Just make sure she's there, Parker. I mean it."
"Fine." He huffed. "Anything else?"
"Yes, come and give your mother another kiss."
Parker kissed her on the cheek then took his leave of her. He didn't like the fact that his mother was trying to dictate his life yet again but there was really nothing he could do other than defy her. Parker just wasn't sure he had the guts to do it. One thing did make him happy and that was the knowledge that she approved of Nancy, which was a rarity in a sense. It meant that he was allowed to get even closer to her which was definitely something he was looking forward to.