Peter stood there, smiling as Munante crumpled to the floor. Forgetting the pain, Gypsy launched himself at Peter and bowled him over, both of them crashing to the carpet in a tangle. He heard Peter give a grunt of pain but Gypsy was in trouble himself. A weird sensation ran up and down his legs; he tried to move them and couldn't. Peter rolled away clutching the knife, which seemed to be sticking out of his left shoulder. Then Peter whipped out the knife and rolled towards him, a snarl turning his face into an angry mask. Then Peter was above him and Gypsy watched the knife come down. He waited for the knife to reach him and closed his eyes. He didn't care about himself any more. Erica was safe and she had Lorna to love and care for her. The Foundation would carry on looking for children who had suffered at the hands of the MacCaffreys. Jo and Ed would be starting a family soon, and would look after Lorna and his father. Different Hats would go on and make the grade as an independent group, and Erskine would be able to retire. So, "Go ahead Peter, you can't do any more damage than my back is doing. I'll never dance or skate again so go for it."
Peter reared back. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"I have a growth on my spine; that's a death warrant to a dancer. Right now, I can't move my legs so, go ahead and kill me. You've always wanted to, but I promise you, Peter Grafton, I'll come back and haunt you for taking Tony away from me."
Anger blazed in Peter's eyes as he raised the knife again. There was a flash of light as the blade swept down, then Peter fell back with a scream. Munante had him by the throat. Munante twisted with both hands and Gypsy heard something snap. Munante let the lifeless body fall away and knelt down beside Gypsy. There was a large patch of blood across his chest but he ignored it as he leaned over him. "Gypsy, what can I do?"
"Just don't move me."
"Is it true? About your back."
Munante shook his head and grasped Gypsy's hand. "Gypsy, I'm so sorry. I'm....I...." His eyes glazed and he fell over with a groan
Gypsy watched red bubbles drip down his chin and realized he was still holding Munante's hand. "Marcus, do you believe in Jesus?"
"I....think....I do. But...it's too....late....for me."
"No, it isn't. It's never too late for anyone. Are you sorry for all the pain you've caused? Are you sorry for taking boys away from their parents so men like James MacCaffrey can have their fun?"
"Then it isn't too late."
"Forget that for a moment and listen to me. I…had made a will and…named…Peter…as my heir. I changed it when…I realized he…was going to …kill me once…we got back to…Tamarigo. Can you…imagine what…kind of world…it would be if…someone like…Peter Grafton…got hold of…seventy eight billion dollars?"
"That is a hell of a lot of money!"
"That's just…my liquid…assets. I…have no family…so I have made you my…heir."
Gypsy managed to roll onto his right side and stared down at Munante's pain wracked face. "Marcus, I don't need your money. Give it to a worthwhile cause."
Munante's mouth pulled into a smile. "That is…exactly what…I am doing. You will know…what to do…with it. I know about the…Chilvers…Project. But listen…Marcus Munante does not…exist. My real name…is Sirus Lamonte."
"Lamonte? You mean the shipping family?"
"The last…of the line; find my will, Gypsy. Look behind…the picture…of this ship…on the wall…behind my desk. Behind …it is my safe, and…the combination is …my favourite name…for you." Sirus Lamonte suddenly gripped Gypsy's hand so hard, Gypsy winced. When he spoke, his voice was so weak, Gypsy had to strain to hear it. "Gypsy, beware of innocence….this is…not…fin………"
It seemed like he had only passed out for a moment when voices made him open his eyes. He stared up at two familiar faces and tears sprang to his eyes. "Lorna, Erica, they're okay?"
"Too right they are." Sandy's grin was wide. "They're okay, mate."
Sean blinked down at him. "We've got Toddy and a few bent coppers in handcuffs, and Lorna and your daughter are on their way home with your Dad."
Gypsy closed his eyes as his tears changed to those of relief. "Thank you, Sergeant. What time is it?"
"Time you stopped tryin' to get back to that island of yours, isn'it?" Sandy replied.
"And acting like some jumped up hero." Sean grinned down at him. "That's my job. It looks like someone's been having fun in here though."
"Huh?" Gypsy tried to turn his head to find out where he was, and realized that something held his head fast. Then he remembered hearing Munante's confession and telling the man he still loved him. Munante's private servant had entered the room and had carried out Munante's instructions; He had called the ship's medic who had placed Gypsy in a neck brace and placed him on a backboard. Munante had been too far gone for the medic to do anything, and had told the Captain that he was to turn the yacht around and head back to London with strict instructions that Gypsy was to be given all assistance. After that, Munante had died a happy man; and of course, Peter's neck had been neatly broken. "What's happening?"
"Well, the ship is now in the hands of the police," Sean replied. "It's a pity Peter Grafton is dead - I would have loved to have a few words with that horrible man - and Todd is answering some very interesting questions back at Scotland Yard."
"And my girls, are they really all right?"
"So, what's happening now?"
"Nothing much as far as you are concerned; while you've been snoozing, Rudkin's men have been busy rounding up more of Toddy's men and a few other no goods. All you have to do is to stay quiet and wait for the Air Ambulance to arrive. You'll be shipped direct to The Rosscroft and a date with Sudermann."
Gypsy frowned up at him. "Sudermann? Why would he be there?"
"Oh, you don't know, do you?" Gypsy watched Sean and Sandy exchange conspirital sniggers. Sandy said, "Sudermann's found a few new tricks to try on you."
Gypsy thought about the possibility of dancing again, and grinned. "Okay, I'm good for that." He latched his eyes onto Sean. "But what about you?"
"What about me?"
"Your second name, Cunliffe."
"Ah, that; well, it's rather embarrassing really. I've been doing some Family History research and I'm connected to the MacCaffrey Cunliffes by a distant relative from the nineteenth century when there was a split in the Cunliffe family. My side behaved themselves and went into law as a profession, and Gillian's lot went the opposite way and got up to all sorts of dirty dealings from selling dodgy cars to money laundering. Her brother Jeremy tried to bury his Cunliffe side when he changed his name to Hine, but he didn't reckon with his sister pulling him into the MacCaffrey spider's web and forcing him to marry Beverly. Gillian's been caught, by the way, and is keeping Toddy company at Scotland Yard."
"If you knew all this, why didn't you tell Rudkin?"
"I didn't start my research till a couple of days ago when Rudkin told me of the possible Cunliffe link with the MacCaffreys. Thank God I'm only a distant cousin and on the right side of the family." Sean lifted his head and listened to a faint rumble above. "Hello? I think your taxi has arrived." He rose to his feet, pushed his glasses up his nose, and blinked a few times. "Well that's me done, lads. Take good care of yourselves, you two. I'll see you some time." He walked away with a cheery wave and at last Gypsy and Sandy were alone.
Gypsy smiled and said, "I love you, you big brute. I always knew you would come and save your damsel in distress."
Sandy laughed. "Some bloody damsel!"
One week later at The London Rosscroft, Ed Thompson glared down at Gypsy lying on his bed in his Rosscroft suite, wearing nothing but a short draw sheet to hide his blushes from the small gathering of family and friends. "Come on, you can do better than that."
Gypsy glared back at him. "Torturer! How about you lying here and trying it." Lorna stood on the left side of the bed, holding his hand. Manuel stood on the other side smiling his delight at Gypsy's progress, the twinkle in his eyes reflecting that of Monclare's as Ed continued to criticize Gypsy's efforts to show a bit of life in his legs.
"It isn't me who needs to walk down the aisle on his wedding day, "Ed growled. "You've got two weeks to get your ass off this bed, so you'd better get those toes moving."
Monclare came to Gypsy's rescue. "Leave him alone you bully; he's doing all right. I wish all my patients were as determined to recover."
Ed snorted. "Don't make him too big-headed. The doors at Chilvers are wide enough as it is."
Monclare suppressed a chuckle. "I know that, but I'm only giving him credit where it's due. In fact, he's been such a marvellous patient, and came through this last operation so well, I think he deserves the surprise you've been scheming about."
"Surprise? What surprise?" Gypsy glanced round at his visitors. "Now what have you been up to?"
Manuel walked to the door leading to the lounge. "We've brought you a special visitor, and you had better make sure you're decent; the visitor is a lady."
"What?" Gypsy clutched the sheet closer to his chest; his eyes riveted on the door as Manuel opened, then he laughed as Erica marched in ahead of Erskine. "Hi, Poppet; who let you in here?"
"I did." Monclare helped Erica climb onto the bed. "Having your daughter in to see you is the best tonic I can prescribe; and I am allowed to bend hospital rules under the circumstances."
When the preliminary kisses and cuddles were over, Gypsy asked Erica what she had been up to while he was in the Rosscroft being made better. "I've been looking after the puppies and I've been to the zoo and I've been with Uncle Erskine today to see Uncle Sandy and Auntie Trish off on a big plane. Are they coming back for your wedding, Daddy?" All this had been said in one breath, and everyone took a deep breath with her before bursting into laughter.
Gypsy hugged her. "They better had come back; Uncle Sandy is my best man."
Erica frowned at him. "What's a best man, Daddy?"
"He's the one who's going to stop your daddy from misbehaving on his big day," Erskine explained to her.
"You wanna bet?" Ed retorted. "With those two together, anything can happen."
Gypsy looked up at Erskine. "How were they?"
"Fine. They caught their flight by the skin of their teeth. Let's hope everything goes okay for them. They deserve the best. They gave Erica that doll they bought her. Nice little thing too. Erica's taken a shine to it, haven't you, love?"
"Yes. "Erica snuggled into Gypsy's side. "It's got a nappy on, just like the other one did, and Auntie Jo can show me how to change it when she has her baby, can't she Daddy?"
A stunned silence filled the room as all eyes swung round to look at Jo, who in turn rewarded Ed with a withering stare. Ed stared back at her, his eyes like saucers. "I ain't said nutt'n!"
"Well if you didn't who did?"
Gypsy began to laugh. "Oh, yes? What does Big Ears know that I've suspected for ages?"
"I've told her nothing," Jo said in a bewildered voice, and Erica raised her head as she became the centre of attention.
"Who told you, Poppet?" Gyps asked her.
Ed laughed softly. "Well darn me! She's her daddy's daughter all right." He slipped an arm round Jo's waist. "You might as well know; we're expecting a baby around next April."
As congratulations rained down on the happy couple, the door opened and Edward and Thomas walked in. Thomas brought a large brown envelope to the bed and dropped it in Gypsy's hands. "This came from Sirus Lamonte's lawyers, confirming the legality of his will and you as sole beneficiary. No doubt you will have your own ideas about what to do with Lamonte Transcontinental Shipping, but I would advise selling it in blocks that would be more marketable."
Gypsy smiled at Thomas. "You know, Thomas, I was thinking of the very same thing. That way we can keep a few of the yachts for use with the Chilvers Project, now we have the capital to expand the project to other countries. I would also like to see Don and Cissie Clooney head an international investigation team, and they'll need a boat or two. As we find the parents, we can fly them out to meet the kids on board; there's nothing like a nice long boat ride to calm kids down and get to know their families again. We can have social workers, psychiatrists and other medical experts as part of the crew. Did they say how much the company is worth?"
Thomas cleared his throat before replying. "Only twenty five billion."
Gypsy mouth dropped open as everybody else gasped. "Wow! Oh man; that's gonna make a lot of kids happy."
Edward also dropped an envelope on the bed. "This will seem like crumbs compared to that little windfall but it's something you started a few weeks ago and needs to be resolved."
While Erica started roaming on the bed, Gypsy tore open the envelope and scanned the letter and its accompanying document. Tillet had agreed to sell TAB records at last. Edward offered Gypsy his pen which he used to sign the document. Looking up at Thomas, he said, "I don't think we need a tiny little pinprick like this to mess up the filing. As soon as the deal is done, close it down and get the equipment moved to Chilvers."
"I presume you have a use for it?"
"Oh, yes; I'm gonna build a small theatre complex in the grounds with a recording studio attached so that any kids we rescue, who want to go into theatre and music, can have something to play with and have hands on tuition. Now everyone, as much as I'd like you to hang around, I think I would like to have a few private words of a delicate nature with my future bride." With a happy grin, he watched Monclare marshal everyone out of the room. Once he had closed the door, Gypsy pulled Lorna down to sit on the bed. She leaned over to kiss him. "Do you really think you'll be able to walk down the aisle in two weeks time? We can always push the date back a bit."
"No need, babe, look." He lifted his left foot a few inches off the bed.
Lorna laughed. "You fraud! Why did you make them think you couldn't move your legs?"
"It's just a wind up. I'll keep everyone guessing and thinking I'll still be in a wheelchair. Monclare promised not to say anything."
"What about your other leg?" Gypsy moved his right leg a little higher, forgetting Erica was now examining his feet. "Okay, so what is this delicate matter you want to talk about?"
"Oh, this and that." Gypsy reached up and brought here closer in a warm hug.
"Now I know you're getting better. Now stop messing about and tell me."
"Why don't you ask Erica; I'll bet she knows. Erica why don't you tell your new mummy what you and I know?"
Erica looked up from playing with Gypsy's toes. "I'm going to have a baby brother and a baby sister."
The happiness died from Lorna's face. "I don't think that's a very good joke.
Gypsy kissed her quickly. "It wasn't meant as a joke. That doctor who told your mother you couldn't have babies was talking rot. What's the betting you're pregnant already?"
Lorna laughed and shook her head. "That's impossible. We only made love the day of the competition and the day after."
"Don't forget who you're talking to here. You go and see the doctor tomorrow and have some tests done, and see if I'm wrong."
"Okay, I'll bet you five thousand quid I'm right, how's that?"
"Oh, no, Gypsy Diaz; I know all about your kind of bets, French knickers indeed!"
"See a doctor; he'll tell you, and according to motor mouth over there, you're having twins."
"Gypsy will you stop talking like that."
"Alright then, I'll go just to shut you up. It would be wonderful though, wouldn't it, but I still can't believe it could have happened."
Erica's little fingers tickled Gypsy's feet and he jerked his foot out of her reach. "Hey, cut that out you little imp. It's bad manners to tickle people when they can't tickle you back."
Lorna shook her head. "It's such a crazy idea; I'll take your bet."
"Why is it crazy? You're pregnant and there's going to be a boy with red hair like his mum and a girl the spitting image of me, so there."
Lorna straightened up, laughing at him. "Will you stop teasing me!"
"Daddy, why have you only got two toes on your left foot? I've got lots of toes on both my feet."
"Erica!" Gypsy and Erica glared at each other, then Gypsy said, "I'm not teasing, Lorna, honestly. "Erica, I will not tell you again, and leave the sheet alone."
Lorna sighed. "Alright, I'll believe you till I prove you wrong. By the way, the police came to pick up the film that you told David to hide and return David's to him; which is a good thing because Carol has started complaining she can't find it."
"The film? Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that." The sheet began to move again and Gypsy grabbed it. "Erica, do as you're told and leave it alone. Did David say where he'd hidden it?"
"Yes, in the dog pen."
Gypsy's eyes grew wide. "You're joking! ERICA! Put the sheet down, now!"
The movement of Gypsy's leg caused Erica to see a lot more. Giggling and wide eyed, she sat back on her heels with her hands over her mouth "Daddy! You've got no clothes on!"
Paul and Margaret MacCaffrey got out of their Mercedes and stared up at the front of Northwood Hall. Paul looked round at the immediate grounds. "At least the police left the grounds untouched. I wonder what kind of mess they left inside."
Margaret sighed and squeezed his hand. "Don't worry, darling; it won't take long to put it right, once the cleaning firm arrive. They're due here at two o'clock."
Paul glanced at his watch. "I suppose you're right, my pet. No use trying to assess the place till they finish. It's nice to be home though, no matter what it's like." He unlocked the massive front door, and stepped aside to let Margaret precede him into the massive hall, their haven of peace. "It seems strange walking in here like this; I almost expected Wilberforce to meet us."
Margaret shook her head. "I doubt we'll see that old codger again."
"Dammed good butler, though" They wandered around their old home, commenting on the tidy state the police had left it in, then they went down to the kitchen and utility rooms to switch all the facilities on. Ten minutes later, they sat down with welcome mugs of coffee and thought about their future. Paul said at last, "What do you want to do about the place? I'd like to keep it on if it's alright with you."
"Business as usual, I suppose." Margaret smiled at him over her coffee mug. "We still have the Scottish retreat if we find this too much."
Her features puckered with sadness. "Poor Brian, we could have done with him here."
"More like poor fool."
"Yes I know but -." Footsteps halted further conversation. They listened to someone walking heavily across the hall above, then the back stairs creaked as the person came down to the kitchen. A tall bulky figure appeared at the door and a familiar face framed by a shock of black hair peeped in. He smiled and stepped into the kitchen.
"Good afternoon, Jose." Paul said with a sigh of relief.
"Good afternoon, M'Lord, M'Lady."
(Or is it?)
At this point in my story I would like to bring in some new characters, so the next books to read will be The Only Way To Fly and The Bull Singer followed by D'Marco which I am in the process of writing.
Thanks to all my readers for sticking with me to this point, I hope you have enjoyed the saga of Gypsy Diaz and his family so far.
Emails and comments welcome
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]