Things change exceedingly slow in their world. The days that past were the same old same old: Enjoying the scenery, cocktail receptions, endless rounds of outdoor activities, and no one, absolutely no one leaving the estate. It was as if he’d stepped back in time and after the second day, Winston was crawling out of his skin. Luckily the west wing was reopened and he was in a proper room. It paled in comparisons to the one he’d given to Andrea, but it was a soothing palette of warm chocolate brown and blue-grays, accented with suspended lights and living room style credenzas—far from the closet he’d come from.

Hunter and Isaac saw to the guests’ very whim and want—paying close attention to Andrea. She was the consummate prima donna—her insatiable demands drove her maid to tears. Bart met an old acquaintance from college and spent a great deal of time with her while Dean and Rebecca became inseparable, spending much of their day locked away in his room. Vivian prayed he wasn’t making any babies. Sadie and her friends roamed the grounds, doing as they pleased while their parents were distracted. Stocked full of caves, alcoves, secret paths, and thickets of dense forest leading to a river, Lion’s Heads was meant for getting lost.

However, Susan, terrible shy, preferred getting lost in her bedroom, which left Vivian and Maureen holding court in her absence. Vivian was exhausted from ‘the swirl’—what she called the battery of events she shouldered including the mounting tension between Winston and Andrea. Never before had she seen two hot-headed, ill-tempered people who were so much alike that they were utterly different. Andrea was vocal and expressive while the shutters to Winston’s thoughts were sealed tight behind his starched personality. But below the surface, Vivian knew they had more in common than not. If only they’d stop fighting long enough to see it for themselves.

The Bellamys were already seated in a private alcove just off of the busy dining room when Andrea arrived for breakfast. “I’ll be sitting with my parents.” She told the maitre d’.

The maitre d’ threw her a worried smile. “Right this way.”

To Andrea’s horror, he led her to the Bellamy table where her parents seemed to be having a bang up good time. She stopped close to where Winston impatiently flipped through the business pages. He tossed a careless glance in her direction before glancing down at his watch, and then turning his attention back to his paper. Andrea felt her cheeks begin to flare red hot.

“Please join us.” Mrs. Bellamy offered. “I’ve saved a place for you.”

“Thank you.” She said, and slipped into the chair across from Winston. She nodded good morning to everyone except Winston. He couldn’t have cared less. She unfolded her napkin and placed it in her lap, casting a look that said ‘traitor’ to Rhonda who was chatting it up with Mrs. Bellamy at the head of the rectangle table. Her father, engrossed in deep conversation with Dean, hardly noticed she’d entered the room.

“I’ll call the waiter if you’re ready to order…” Sadie said politely. “…or you can eat from the buffet like we’ve done. It’s…um…just…” she ground to a stop when Winston gave her the evil eye from behind his paper. Sadie folded her hands and said nothing else.

Winston returned to his reading.

Andrea wanted to pull the paper from his hands and beat his smug little face until her arms were tired. Instead, she said to Sadie. “No, please finish what you were saying.”

Sadie’s eyes shift from Andrea to Winston—Winston to Dean—Dean to her mother—then back to Winston and froze there.

“Do you always regulate what your sister says?” Andrea asked in a hushed tone.

“Yes,” Winston folded his paper. “When she has something worth saying, I’ll tell her what it is.”

“Excuse me.” Sadie stood to leave.

“Sit. Down.” Winston said firmly his eyes schooled on Andrea. Sadie sat quietly. There was a pause between the three of them; no one else at the table was the wiser but Sadie looked as if she wanted to die. Truly he hadn’t meant to embarrass her. “I’m sorry. Finish what you were saying.”

“No need.” Andrea rose to her foot. “Sadie, can you show me to the buffet? I hope they have something stronger than apple juice.”

Winston gave his nod of approval.

For Sadie’s sake breakfast continued with less tension between Andrea and Winston. There was a truce of sorts…or at least a ceasefire where both parties ignored the other existence. A twinge of premature panic emerged when their parents excused themselves but their exit didn’t break the spell and cloud of civility cast its welcome shadow over their table and everyone was soon on first name basis. To Winston’s surprise, Andrea listened and rather enjoyed Sadie’s accounts of her Yorkie showing at Westminster’s junior division. In fact, it was one of a number of hobbies they had in common. Sadie had a life beyond her family and especially her brother. Maybe Sadie wasn’t the underdeveloped, useless prop Andrea judged her to be. But her esteem for her brothers was undeniable. Why she did so was utterly lost on Andrea.

Beside his arresting good looks and impeccable manners, nothing about Winston struck her as pleasing. Not that he gave her anything to like: he rarely spoke of himself and seemed perfectly willingly to participate in their conversation as a spectator. In truth, up until this point, Andrea knew as much about Winston as she had before—hence her opinion of him as an idle, self-centered, snob stood.

“Good morning, everyone. Winston, you’re in the paper.” Bart announced, joining them at the table. “Well, you’re not in the paper but your building is. Take a look.” He handed the paper to Andrea.

She scanned over the article from the Chicago Times. “LaCrosse Property Developers forces elderly South Side couple out of their ‘mom and pop’, opened in 1952. This corner market is the neighborhoods only food source within miles and employs many otherwise unemployable residents of this predominately black community.” Andrea looked up across the table at Winston. “You own LaCrosse Developers?”

“Yes, he does,” Bart chirped gleefully, totally missing the daggers Andrea was throwing at Winston. “He also owns…what is it now?...four other property development companies? No! Five, right?”

“It’s five.” Winston answered without taking his eyes from Andrea. “LaCross is my latest venture.”

“You can’t do that. You’re not a resident of Illinois.” She wagered. “Not even you can sidestep the law.”

“You’re wrong,” Winston sipped his apple juice, attempting to conceal his devilish grin.

“Yeah!” Bart spoke up. The growing tension was lost on him. “He paid 9.2 million dollars for a three bedroom condo with custom everything on the 11th floor of 209 East Lake Shore Drive years ago. Then there’s Highland Park, Dallas and his place in Beacon Hill, Boston.”

“Thank you for the commentary, Bart.” Dean shot off.

“I don’t understand why you bought it,” Bart continued, blindly. “It’s in a shit neighborhood and there’s no way you’ll ever turn a profit. Do yourself a favor and tear it down.”

“That’s exactly what I have in mind. I’m ripping it done next week.”

Andrea closed her eyes, frustrated with Winston callousness. “You’re unbelievable.”

“Is there any particular reason I should keep it?”

Andrea blinked repeatedly at his question. “Yeah! How about it’s the only local market? How about it belongs to an elderly couple who probably live in the neighborhood? How about it’s their only source of income? And what about the others they employ? You’ve taken their livelihood.”

“Oh, yes, them!” Winston said brightly. “I’d almost forgotten about them.” He turned to Bart. “Make sure they remove their shit before I demolish the place.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever disliked someone such much.” Andrea laughed.

“Good. That makes the two of us.” He said derisively. “Now that’s settled, can we please move on?”

Engrossed in the show, everyone’s eyes bounced back and forth between Winston and Andrea.

“Your father was a decent man. What would he think of your conduct?” Andrea needled further, hell bent on getting under his skin.

“He would say ‘well done’” Winston smirked.

She glared at him and for a moment their eyes held. He was the one who looked away first. “Are you ever serious?”

“Are you ever anything other than a raging bitch?”

Andrea’s jaw went slack. No one had ever called her a bitch to her face.

“Oh crap!” Sadie mumbled.

Andrea started slowly, “You have a lot of nerve…”

“Shut the hell up, and stop pretending you give a damn about others. Your self righteous preaching bores me.” Winston cut her off. “You’re a one-dimensional snob who laments about the struggles of the less fortunate—but up there in your ivory tower you do nothing to rectify their situation.” He caught the attention of the couple at the adjoining table, and lowered his voice. “My business affairs are no concern of yours. But if you must know, I gave those people the most money they’ve ever seen. I did them a favor.”

“You did them a favor!?” Andrea pointed at the newspaper. “You bought their property for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. What’s that?....the interest on your North Side condo?”

“Yes it is, actually. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars nothing to me. I could’ve given them ten times that amount without batting an eye.

Andrea was about to explode. “You’ve stolen an elderly couples business, and you’ve crippled an already weak community. That little market was probably the only thing keeping them alive—it gave them a purpose, a reason to wake up every morning. And you…you took it away. For what? What possible reason could there be?”

Everyone waited on pins and needles for Winston’s reply. No one knew why he’d purchased the property.

Winston drank the rest of his apple juice. His dead eyes finally fell on hers. “I did it because I could.” Winston wiped his lips, gathered his paper, and left them silent in his wake. He would never have believed it was possible to hate someone so much on such short acquaintance.

“Oh. My. God.” Sadie palmed her face.

Andrea looked at Dean. “I don’t understand how that man sleeps at night.”

“It’s one of his many talents.”


“You can tell a lot about someone by the last words their ex said to them.” Rebecca asserted as she and Dean strolled in the lush gardens on the estate with other patrons at a respectable distance. “What were the last words your ex said to you?”

Ex? Ex what?
His look said what his mouth didn’t. “Please rephrase your question.”

“What were the last words of your last…” She searched for a less brazen replacement for ‘whore’. “…your last overnight visitor?”

“Come again?”

“The last person you screwed.” Beating around the bush was getting her nowhere.

Dean thought back. “I hope you rot in hell.” He looked down at Rebecca smiling warmly up at him. “What does that say about me?”

“It means she misunderstood you.”

Dean wanted to fuck that innocent smile off her face. For someone so tiny and agreeable, she irritated the hell out of him. He needed a replacement, stat! “I doubt she misunderstood me. She was married and I told her to ‘get out’. There’s no room for misinterpretation. There’s the door—get out. Simple as that.” Dean shrugged.

“Please. You didn’t know she was married?” Rebecca rolled her eyes, sarcastically.


Rebecca looked up at Dean. He was serious. “Under your tough shell, you’re a nice guy.”

Nice guy? What planet was she living on?
“Look, let’s get something straight,” Dean dragged Rebecca off the walking path, angling her in front of him. “I’m not a nice guy. If nice were the sun, I’d be Pluto…far, far away.” He waved for effect. “I like the attention women give me, and I have a staunch commitment to screwing as many as humanly possible.” His words ricocheted off of her. Blunt was the best course of action. “You wanna know what I like most about you? It’s not your conversation. I like your pussy lips. They’re freakin’ awesome. I could literally spend all day watching my cock pound the hell out of your smooth twat. And that little snuggly, sucky thing your pussy does right before you cum drives me insane. Oh my God!” he pointed to his crotch. “I’m getting hard thinking about it.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m an egotistic! The fact that I took your virginity makes my balls swell. I love knowing no other man will make you scream and climb the wall. Yeah, he’ll be inside of you, but you’ll be thinking about how I beat your pussy until you squirt. By the way, that was sexy as hell—we’ll revisit that tonight. My point is: I want your body. I know you’re dripping wet right now and if I wanted to pull your pants down and fuck you within an inch of your life, you’d be game. That alone makes me wanna blow my load! Now do you think I’m a nice guy?”

Rebecca scanned Dean’s face as she closed the distance between them. Though they’d lied together there was still a twinkle of innocence in her eyes, just enough to drive him mad. She took his hand and interlaced their fingers, and then stood on her toes, tilting her lips up while Dean dipped his down. She brushed his lips with her tongue, tasting, gently nibbling his lower lip as she’d done after he’d gone down on her. “I like the way you pronounce ‘pussy’, especially when you’re about to cum.” She purred and nudged until he surrendered his tongue. Seconds passed, perhaps minutes, as they kissed. Rebecca leaned away from him, pecking his lips once then twice and asked, “When we were a part this morning, did you think of me?”

“I did, actually,” Dean said without missing a beat. Fighting was futile. Rebecca never ‘see’ him as utterly unsuitable for her. “I thought about my tongue between your legs, lapping your juices,” He kissed the tip of her nose. “I thought about the way you screamed when I buried my cock deep inside your sweet, sweet pussy.”

“Would you like to put it in me now?” Rebecca gave a sexy grin and asked quietly. “Le fermer à clé?”

“Hell yeah,” Dean drew air through his teeth. “I would love to put it in you.” He nibbled her ear.

“Do you want to come in my mouth?” her left hand brushed up and down the front of his pants.

Dean went lightheaded. “It would be my pleasure to cum in your mouth.”

“What you like to cum in my pussy?”

“In your pussy,” He eyed the other guests meandering through the gardens as he murmured against her mouth. “I wouldn’t cum in your pussy if your life hung in the balance.” He kissed her softly before putting her at arms length. “Don’t ever ask me again…not even in jest. Understood?”

Bashfully Rebecca nodded.

“Good! Let’s not have this discussion again.” Dean headed back to the walking path. Rebecca came to his side. “We’re out of condoms again, and it’s going to be a very, very long night, my dear.” Slapping her ass.


The weeks following Stanley’s death were a miserable blur for Vivian. His absence enveloped her. At home on their Hyde Park estate, daily life continued, but everything seemed muted, muffled somehow. It was as if the fine tuning of her life had been tampered with and the pictures had gone from color to black and white, while the soundtrack had turned to white noise, a meaningless, lifeless, babble all around her. Still she held fast for her family’s sake. Of all her children, Sadie, having found her father’s body, felt his death most cruelly.

It was unusually warm for November, so Sadie bounced downstairs to tell Stanley she and a few friends were heading into Manhattan to join Vivian and wouldn’t be home for dinner. She stopped dead in her tracks just on the opposite side of his office. The world ground to a halt as she stared ahead at Stanley lying slumped at his desk where she’d left him the night before. The room seemed as still, as lifeless as her father. What urged her closer to him, she couldn’t say.

“Daddy,” Her voice was almost a whisper. She’d never seen a corpse, but she knew immediately he was dead. “Oh, Daddy,” She traced the crow’s feet at the corner of his eyes. His ashen skin felt familiar, yet changed. Sadie gritted her teeth. It took all the willpower and strength she possessed to stop herself from screaming out in grief. Her fingertips archived every inch of his face and she closed his eyes, the light having been snuffed. “Help me,” The sudden rush of emptiness forced the words from her lips. Save a few servants, she was alone. “Help.”

Blinded by tears, she ran frantically screaming down the halls, turning lost and confused, but no one came. How could they not know he was dead?

“Sadie, what’s the matter?” Ruth, Stanley’s equerry raced from her office. The halls filled with staff members. Sadie waved her hands in front of her face as if swatting away flies, her face contorted with grief. “Oh God no.” Ruth stopped Sadie’s hands and held her close. “Go ahead of us.” She ordered Joseph, the third floor steward.

Joseph was gone for only a moment when he came back and confirmed Stanley was dead. The office flooded with servants and staff. Most weeping, some wailing, all moved by his loss. Breaking free of Ruth’s hold, Sadie ran and flung herself on her father’s body, sobbing and gasping uncontrollably.

“Come on, baby,” Joseph put his arms around her waist and lifted her dead weight. “Let’s go.” He tossed Sadie over his shoulder and said to Ruth as he left. “Call Dean. Winston’s out of the country. It’s best one of them tell Mrs. Bellamy what’s happened.”

Within hours of the family being notified, the Hyde Park estate was besieged by reporters and camera crews. Sadie stood watching them from the kitchen window in disbelief. Her aunt Maureen leaked the news of Stanley’s death to the press leaving Sadie trapped and overwhelmed. Dean, Winston and her mother were en route…no doubt they’d have to fight their way through the madness.

Hearing of his mothers’ indiscretion, Bart was the first relative to arrive. By the time he’d calmed Sadie and saw to the staff and medical personnel, the sheriff department arrived and cordoned off the road leading up to the estate. That settled, Bart turned his attention to his mother; he cussed her up one side and down the other.

If there any good could be extracted from Stanley’s death, its strengthening of their familial bond. He couldn’t have left his legacy in better or more capable hands then Vivian. And with the support his sons, their family wouldn’t fail.

“We’ll be stuck inside today. It’s going to rain.” Maureen said to Vivian, looking across the lush grounds from her window. She was thinking of Stanley. She always nibbled the knuckle of her index finger when doing so. “Vivian?”

“Were you speaking to me?” She studied Dean and Rebecca below. Maureen pushed the heavy drapes aside and joined her.

“We’re expecting rain. Dean should come inside.”

“He’s an adult. He can do as he pleases.”

Vivian was in no mood for meaningless banter. Maureen smiled and turned her attention back to Dean and Rebecca below. Of the twins, Dean was her favorite. Winston was far too cynical for her taste and she was far too ridiculous for his. At least Dean was civil and his flirtatious ways with women tickled her to no end, while Bart’s success with women paled in comparison. “One day, one of your boys will own this entire estate.”

“If Lion’s Head is entailed to Dean, he’ll sell it to Susan,” Vivian gazed nostalgically. She never appreciated what Henry and Stanley had accomplished with Lion’s Head. It was as if they’d transplanted pieces of their travels in the surrounding parks. “Winston, however, will never sell. Susan won’t be turned out…she’ll go on living here, but Winston will hold the cards. It’s for the best, really. I’d hate to see Susan surrounded by conmen and silver gilts. Remember what happened with Belcourt? Susan could very well fall into the wrong hands; she has no idea how to run this place.” Vivian stated correctly.