Chapter 15: Only the Best
At seven o’clock Teague teleported from Chair– his office to the beach on the west side of the island. He almost hadn’t, though. Despite a full week of rest after being revived, Teague wasn’t yet back to 100%, and it wasn’t just his Coke-bottle glasses and unflattering buzz cut. Shane, Jake, and Dr. Frasier had worked hard to repair the damage that the late Chairman Butler had done to his brain. As much as Teague hated the thick glasses, he was grateful to be alive and reasonably whole, if wrung out from doing nothing more than paperwork. Going home and snuggling on the sofa with Uberto* was tempting.
Teague turned toward the voice to find a Jake-shaped silhouette waving from the far side of a campfire. Behind the boy and his family, the sunset painted the sky and sea russet. The breeze carried the scents of salt and roasting meat.
“Jacob,” Addison sighed. More loudly she called, “Glad you could join us, Teague.”
Teague chuckled as he strode across the sand toward them. The family took up much of a large blanket on the sand. Addison and Shane sat on one side with their legs touching. The kids sat nearby, with Jake close enough to the fire to poke at it with a piece of driftwood. A wire rack held what looked like shish kabobs over the flames.
“Hello, Addison,” Teague replied, “and it’s all right. Your young healer assures me that the glasses are temporary.”
“Yeah, ’cause his occipital lobe looked like a bomb went off in it. Before, anyway.”
Ashlynn swatted at her brother. “Stop being gross, brat.” Jake ducked away and stuck his tongue out.
Shane frowned at the pair. “Enough, you two.” Then he turned to Teague with a grin. “How was your first day at work?”
“Exhausting, but good.” He spotted a bottle sticking out of an ice bucket on the far side of the blanket. A picnic basket sat beside it. “Please tell me that’s wine.”
Ashlynn grinned up at him. “Even better: champagne!”
“And Mom and Dad said I can have some!” Jake chirped.
Teague kicked off his shoes and pulled his socks off before settling on an open space on the blanket. He grinned at Addison. “Are you that glad to hand the reins over to me?”
“Yes,” Addison chuckled, “but that’s not the cause for celebration.”
While Addison pulled champagne flutes from the picnic basket, Shane tore the foil off of the champagne and worked the cork out of the bottle. It popped off, arcing across the darkening sky to plunk into the surf.
Once everyone had a glass of the bubbling liquid, Shane held his flute up. “To Almeida and Ri. May they rest in torment.”
Teague lifted his glass. “I’ll drink to that.” The others agreed, and everyone drank.
“Yuck!” Jake sputtered. “It’s not sweet.”
Ashlynn rolled her eyes at him. “It’s not supposed to be, dummy.”
Before the kids could continue Teague said, “This is very good, but it’s even better with strawberries. The sweet compliments the champagne’s dry.”
“Oh!” Addison twisted around to face the treeline. Moments later a figure trotted up: Gibson, in a waiter’s outfit. Teague smirked. He’d known that Addison was playing with their former superior, but not exactly how.
Gibson bent at the waist to present a basket full of ripe strawberries. “Here you are, Dr. Harris.” His voice and demeanor were appropriately deferential.
Addison didn’t bother making eye contact. She waved at the empty space in front of Teague. “Set them there and go.”
“Yes, madam.” Gibson did so, giving Teague a simpering smile. “Good evening, Captain MacKenzie.” Teague nodded in reply, and the once-powerful man hurried away.
Shane scowled at Gibson’s retreating back. “I still think we should kill him.”
A strawberry floated to Jake’s waiting hand. Teague watched the boy devour the strawberry, then gulp some champagne. He grinned at Teague, giving him a thumbs up.
“Shane,” Addison said as she helped herself to a strawberry, “we need him. At least for a little while. He knows more about how this place works than all of us combined.” After nibbling on the fruit she added, “Although we’d need him less if you’d help more.”
Shane frowned at his wife. Teague suspected they’d had this conversation before. “My lab is more than enough to keep me busy. I don’t want to run Triptych.”
“We’ll get the hang of it, Mum.” Lynn laid her hand over her mother’s. “Don’t worry.” Addison smiled her gratitude at her daughter.
Jake’s frown matched his father’s. “It wouldn’t be as hard if you’d let me help.”
“We’ve discussed this, Jake,” Shane said with forced patience. “In a few years. You need to concentrate on school–”
“School is easy!”
“–and your own experiments, as well as mature.”
“Ashlynn’s only four years older than me,” Jake grumbled.
Teague gave the boy a sympathetic look. “It may not seem like it now, but those four years will make a big difference.”
“It’s not fair.”
Addison nodded agreement. “Life’s not fair.”
Jake crossed his arms and scowled into the sunset.
Despite Jake’s grumpiness, a comfortable silence settled over the group. They listened to the Caribbean lap on to the shore as the sun sank below the horizon.
A growl from Teague’s stomach interrupted the quiet. “What’s for dinner?”
“Lamb and vegetable shish kabobs,” Ashlynn replied. “Tiramisu gelato for dessert.”
Shane slipped his arm around Addison’s waist. “Only the best for Triptych’s ruling elite.”
She smiled up at him with her heart in her eyes. “Indeed.”
* Uberto is the Mediterranean-looking young man who was Teague’s date in chapter 10, part 4.