Sweet Liar (Montgomery/Taggert 18) - Page 101

What Mike had come up with was a way to solve the riddle: He and his family and Sam were going to recreate the night of May the twelfth, 1928. They were going to rebuild and redecorate Jubilee’s Place as it had been on the night of the massacre, then reenact the entire evening, machine guns and all.

After his initial explanation, Kane sat back and listened to his brother further rationalize his idea to Samantha. The brothers had talked well into last night, with Mike explaining about Samantha’s life, how Samantha had been such a good little girl since her mother died, a dear child who never caused anyone any bother, never asked anyone for help, and, as a consequence, had never been helped. She had done everything she could to gratify her father, even marrying a man she now knew she had never really liked, and she’d gone on to try to satisfy her husband—and become angry at herself, not him—when she couldn’t please him.

Now Mike was telling Samantha that he wanted to recreate what happened on that night so long ago so he could complete his book, but the truth was, Mike was hoping to shock Samantha into facing what had been done to her. He wanted to shock her into expressing her sorrow, her grief, and, most of all, her rage.

After Kane was told what had happened to Samantha’s mother, Mike said that after each of these horrifying revelations, Samantha would retreat into herself for a while, then after a few days, she’d act as though nothing had changed. For years the events of Samantha’s life had been an endless list of disasters—a list that was now so long that most people could not have survived it. Yet Samantha not only survived, she went about her daily life as though nothing had happened to her. Mike had said he felt sure that if his only goal was to find out what transpired that night, Maxie could tell them everything, but Mike had a vision of Sam sitting primly in one of the little suits she was so proud of and silently listening to yet another story of unspeakable tragedy, then getting up and saying, “Where shall we go for dinner tonight?” No matter what Maxie told Sam, no matter the depth of the evil described, Mike was sure Sam would internalize the information, suppress what she felt about it, and continue with her life, apparently unaffected.

Mike’s fear was that someday, maybe twenty years from now, she was going to be like those women in the papers who at fifty, after a seemingly normal life, suddenly became suicidal. If they endured, they had to at last confront abominations that had been inflicted upon them during their childhoods, incidents they had forbidden themselves to see when they were happening.

Mike was afraid for Samantha, afraid of what would happen to her if she didn’t release the rage that had to be seething within her. Mike feared that, like a volcano, if Sam didn’t explode now, she would later. The only fact for certain was that eventually Samantha had to release what she had repressed for so many years.

So Mike had planned this reenactment, telling Samantha that the reason for it was that he wanted to know what had transpired that night, but Kane well knew that if it were up to Mike, he’d walk away from all of this, content to never again hear the name of Doc or even of Maxie. Long ago Mike had lost the desire to know what had occurred so many years ago; now his only concern was Samantha and her future well-being. Mike’s feeling was that if there were any way in the world to help Samantha and to give her what she needed, then he was going to do it, no matter what the expense, the time involved, or the people he had to recruit to help him.

It wasn’t easy for Mike to put her through this theatrical production. He suspected that, at best, it was going to be an ordeal for her, but he also knew by something he called gut instinct, but Kane very well knew was nothing more than deep, unselfish love, that this was the only way that Samantha could ever possibly attain the peace she so desperately needed.

Because Mike saw it as the only way—abhorrent to him as it might be—he was going to say whatever he had to, to get Samantha to participate. He couldn’t very well tell her that he thought the sight of blood and having to hear all the gory truth of what some gangster had done to decimate her family would be good for her, so in essence, Mike was telling her that the night was to be an amusing little diversion that would give his relatives something to do and would entertain everyone.

Mike was lying, as Kane knew that Sam often accused him of, but Mike knew that Samantha would never take part in this drama if she thought it was just for her. She would do it for Mike, but she’d never do this for herself.

Silently, Kane listened as his brother threw out a long line of bull about Jubilee having secrets and H.H. knowing more than what he was telling, and how, if Mike could find out answers to his questions, he would fulfill a lifelong goal of writing this book. But Kane knew exactly what his brother was doing, and he’d never been so proud of him in his life as he was at this moment. With identical eyes that reflected the pride and love he felt, he looked at Mike; Mike saw and, as always, he understood exactly what his twin was thinking. Turning a bit red, Mike looked away, but he smiled, pleased with his brother’s unspoken praise.

After Samantha heard what Mike had to say, she knew that if she hadn’t already been sitting she would have had to. “Who are we going to use for an audience?” she asked, eyes wide in astonishment. “How can we get enough actors to participate? And even if we found them it would take months to rehearse them.” The unspoken words that Maxie doesn’t have months filled the room.

“We’ll use relatives,” Mike and Kane said in unison—something that she was beginning to learn that they often did—and they said the words as one would say, We’ll use mannequins.

“Mike,” Samantha said, trying to sound reasonable. “We would need over a hundred people and they need 1920s clothes. It’s going to cost—”

“Hell, we’ll let the Montgomerys pay, or Frank can pay. Frank can buy some costume studio in L.A. and make a fortune off of it—as he always does. Don’t worry about the money.”

Looking down at her hands, then back up at them, she grimaced. The mention of Ornette made her feel a little queasy. “What about the band?”

“We’ll ask Jubilee for the music.”

She gave them a look of disbelief. “Jubilee is a hundred and one years old!”

“And bored out of his mind,” Mike answered. “If we can get him away from his termagant daughter, I bet he’d love to help us.”

Samantha wanted to say that the whole idea terrified her. It wasn’t just the idea of singing in front of a lot of people that bothered her, although it did, nor was it the idea of trying to act in front of more than a hundred people. What bothered her was the outrage of that night. People had been killed that night; her mother had been murdered since then; her grandmother had spent a lifetime in hiding because of whatever happened on that night. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to look into the face of that evil.

Mike saw her hesitation. Reaching across the table, he took her hand. “I think the idea of a show will appeal to Jubilee, and H.H. with that tattoo of his has got to be the biggest ham alive and maybe, if Maxie sees what everyone else is doing, she’ll open up.”

She looked at him. “And what about Doc?”

Mike took a while before he answered. “Doc is going to watch all of it.”

At that Samantha laughed. “I can see the invitation now: Miss Samantha Elliot and Troupe request the pleasure of your company at Jubilee’s Place to recreate the worst night of your life.”

Neither Mike nor Kane looked at each other, but Sam could feel them exchanging looks. “Mike,” she said softly, “ho

w are you going to get him there?”

“Let me worry about that,” Mike said patronizingly.

But Kane didn’t lie to her. Of course, he didn’t have the motivation for lying that Mike did, for Mike was sure his life would be over if anything happened to Sam. Then, too, Mike knew Samantha’s propensity for sticking her nose into places where it didn’t belong.

“We’re going to kidnap him,” Kane said.

Samantha nodded, for it’s what she’d thought when Mike had first said Doc was going to watch. “What has been done so far?” she asked, for she could tell that during the last days, while she had been grieving all over again for her mother, Michael had been very, very busy.

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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