Captain Lee's awesome but wicked maternal grandmother goes to work after realizing that this time around, although the hatred between her and grandson is still raw and real, she and her grandson now have the same enemies ...
To get totally caught up on The Posture of Innocence, here are the prologue, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3.5, day 4, day 4.5, day 5, day 5.5, day 6, day 7, day 7.5, day 8, day 9, day 9.5, day 10, day 10.5, day 11, day 11.5, day 12, day 12.5, day 13, day 13.5, day 14, day 15, day 16, day 16.5, day 17, day 18, day 19, day 19.5, day 20, day 20.5, day 21, day 22, day 22.5, day 23, day 23.5, day 24, day 24.5, day 25, day 25.5, day 26, day 26.5, day 27, day 27.5, day 28, day 28.5, day 29, day 29.5, day 30, day 30.5, day 31, day 31.5, day 32, day 32.5, day 33, day 33.5, day 34, day 34.5, day 35, day 35.5, day 36, day 36.5, day 37, day 37.5, day 38, day 38.5, day 39, day 39.5, day 40, day 40.5, day 41, day 41.5, and day 42!
Mrs. Slocum-Lofton was well connected to everything of importance in Lofton County, and, like her son-in-law and grandson, she had made some striking investments to increase her family's wealth. Since Pendleton Prison had not been officially available to invest in on the individual level, she had invested in the bond offering, but had not gotten entangled in the criminal side of the matter although she knew the twisted tree of connections her grandson had discovered like she knew the wrinkles on the back of her hand. Yet at any time, that wrinkled hand could tear down that twisted tree and many others … those who knew Selene Slocum-Lofton well, and who wanted to maintain their place in Lofton County's society, did not mess with her or any favored member of her family.
Yet the key was favored member – she had scarcely tolerated Hiram Lee, but had been moved by his enterprising ways and warm love for her only child, her daughter Sarah, and had forgiven him his mountain background when daughter Sarah had delivered granddaughter Sarah. Grandmother Selene made no secret of the fact that she cared nothing for having son or grandson. She had respected her husband, Aaron Slocum-Lofton, but beyond that, her position being secure, she was happy to nurture her female descendants to conquer as she had.
Grandmother Selene had been surprised by her grandson Henry, coming so late as he did, and tolerated him as she tolerated his father – she had not lifted a finger when Grandfather Horace and Grandmother Linda had come to get the two-year-old and take their little Lee home to the mountains from which they came. All's well that ends well... except for that matter of shrewd Hiram Lee having left everything he had inherited from his father-in-law through his wife Sarah in a trust for Henry. 80 percent of everything Aaron Slocum-Lofton had inherited and acquired, locked down to that little Lee boy, being raised to not have a proper appreciation for it … when Grandmother Selene had found out what Hiram Lee had pulled off, she had cursed his memory, and transferred her hatred to his son.
Still further: young Henry had fallen in love with that n****r girl, and was about to pass on all that Slocum-Lofton wealth to their half-breed child – and Horace Fitzhugh Lee had sided with his grandson and defended his rights to his trust ably. All hope of cordial relations was thus destroyed between the two families, and, Grandmother Selene had been dreadfully surprised a year later to find out that her grandson had indeed inherited a lot of her temperament, and hated her as fiercely – and as potentially lethally – as she hated him. That 18-year-old offspring of hers had nearly burned her and everyone she knew out, with old mountain man Lee arriving just in the nick of time to prevent the crime.
Yet the grandmother had never forgotten her grandson's mad raving – accounting for age and slightly less mental stability, the world had at last seen her equal. Henry Fitzhugh Lee, the grandson of an a evil queen of a woman, was equally lethal – the Lee blood had given him the tactical knack and mindset necessary to create mass death in an orderly way, but the viciousness had come from his Slocum-Lofton grandmother. She knew it – and thus, Henry Fitzhugh Lee became the only other man beside Horace Fitzhugh Lee and Aaron Slocum-Lofton that she respected – and the only man of the three that she feared.
Fortunately, the army had found a use for Mrs. Slocum-Lofton's grandson and his deadly gifts, but Grandmother Selene had been disappointed that 27 years of enemies to the nation had not been able to lay so much as an injury involving major surgery on her hated grandson, much less kill him. She had paid attention to his career, his being decorated over and over again in Special Forces and then in JAG, and then at how certain generals had fallen absolutely to ruin … those generals who had been crowing about the success of a certain mission her grandson had commanded, those generals whose botching of the matter was widely rumored. That efficient viciousness toward those who had hurt his own was still very much alive inside her grandson. She knew it. She also knew that eventually, unfinished business would bring him home.
Selene Slocum-Lofton had known there would be trouble when her grandson had taken on cold cases in Big Loft's police force … sooner or later, he would put together the pieces of why so many of those cases were cold, and that when he did, the line of inquiry would run right by the door of her summer residence in the Blue Ridge neighborhood of Big Loft. So: when nephew Alexis walked around the cul-de-sac to her home, and came in ranting and raving about “that n****r-loving grandson of yours called me,” she knew the time had come.
“Language, Alexis, language.”
Nephew Alexis calmed right down as the woman his family worshiped appeared and came slowly down the stairs, aged and awesome in her green velvet dress, the voice still resonating calm power. There was great motherliness about the voice, backed with something much more dangerous … Alexis had grown up around his aunt, so he knew … he didn't want her to reveal what was behind the silken calm …
“Into the parlor, nephew – what was the call in reference to?”
“He demanded a copy the private placement documents for Pendleton Prison – described them to me like he was here the day Francis described them.”
“The what, Alexis?”
“The private placement documents – it just so happened that I had just looked at them, because they have been paying so much better than we even expected.”
“Sit down, Alexis.”
They went to the parlor, and Mrs. Slocum-Lofton sat down in her high-backed chair, looking every inch the ruthless queen she was in the context of that family.
“Did you give him what he wanted?”
“Yes … I'm kicking myself for doing it, but, I did.”
“Don't bother to kick yourself. You couldn't help yourself.”
Mrs. Slocum-Lofton sighed, heavily.
“Henry was always a strange child,” she said. “I have had 27 years to think about it, and you really couldn't help yourself. Not only was he raised by those terrible old mountain Lees, but in dealing with him, you also are dealing with me. I looked out of his eyes even as a little child … a two-year-old who would ask you why not because he cared about the answer, but only to see if you would obey him in answering it, and if not, would unleash all his wrath on you.”
Nephew Alexis realized the connection and trembled … they had all learned, growing up, that Aunt Selene had never asked a question she didn't know the answer for, and was only asking to see if they would tell the truth. If they did, the consequences would be light. If they didn't … and Alexis shivered again.
“Now, Henry knows the answers he is asking you for, and probably knows more about it than you know. It is a good thing that you responded as you have been trained to do. Henry is superior to all of you but me.”
Alexis had been trained very, very well … at 60 years old, he had been so completely emasculated by his aunt that her blunt statement of the matter barely registered.
“Bring me that document,” she ordered, and her 60-year-old nephew went running as if he were six years old again, knowing what would happen if he didn't obey.
To the document; Mrs. Slocum-Lofton reviewed it in silence while her nephew scarcely so much as breathed for fear of disturbing her until she took off her silver-rimmed reading glasses.
“A forgery,” she said. “There was no such private placement offering done for Pendleton Prison. Francis Lofton is repaying you from new monies brought into the scheme.”
“What? Francis? That is impossible? There cannot be a more trustworthy man on the hill!”
“All victims of con men think that – that is how they con you, Alexis. How many of your brothers and cousins have purchased this offering?”
“All of them – with our in-laws!”
Mrs. Slocum-Lofton restrained a sigh. The only problem with weak men was that they were not weak enough. They occasionally had spurts of tortured manhood and were then taken advantage of by stronger men in ways the women who ran them could have not anticipated. They were down a combined $4,250,000. Either the Slocum-Lofton branches higher on the chain and the pure Slocums and Loftons were running a game on families of her slightly lower rank, or, Francis Lofton was running his own game and cutting them out – either way, her branch of Slocum-Loftons were not only cut off from the major revenues of the Pendleton Prison scheme, but being bled by other actors in it.
Selene Slocum-Lofton was not having that, although first, the men of the branch would have to be brought in line …
“I keep telling y'all to invest in municipal and local bonds instead of trying to do these things individually,” she said.
Alexis hung his head.
“This can't be right,” he said. “Not Francis – my friend!”
“The next time you feel the need to make a friend with whom you do finance,” Mrs. Slocum-Lofton said, “bring him by here first.”
“Tell Francis nothing. Tell your brothers, cousins, and in-laws to send their documents over here to me. I will deal with the matter from here.”
“Go at once, Francis.”
He went, just as meekly as a lamb. His aunt watched him go, and then pressed a little button on the table beside her. An immense Black man appeared in a butler's suit.
“Bring me the cordless phone and my Rolodex, Charles.”
The butler went, and Mrs. Selene Slocum-Lofton replaced her glasses and began noting certain features of the forged private placement document. The butler came with the phone and the great index of business cards that she kept, and after she dismissed him, she began making calls and wrapping her still-strong hands around that twisted tree her grandson also was seeking to pull down, knowing that together, they could easily tear it to shreds.