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Chapter 14

A Stranger with Questions

A young man that appeared to be in his late twenties or early thirties took a room at Emerson's B & B for a month. He said he was looking for people reported to have been seen in this area including Lord and Lady Helmsley's son who had been in seminary studying to be a priest, and a Count Pierre Rosenberg who had visited this area several years ago.

Needless to say the mention of Pierre Rosenberg set off alarms and Emerson immediately checked to see that he had signed in as Richard Grenly. Mr. Grenly asked Emerson to put his passport in the safe while he was staying at the B & B. Emerson noticed Richard Grenly was carrying a French passport which was odd considering Emerson doubted Richard spoke a word of French let alone should be traveling with a French passport.

Emerson smiled at Mr. Grenly and said he was aware of Lord Helmsley visiting a few years ago and remembered reading in the paper that a Count Pierre Rosenberg had been in Sydney, but that was all he knew about them. He called Adam, who helped with guests when he wasn't giving horseback tours and asked him to show Mr. Grenly to his room.

Emerson stood for a minute thinking that either he was becoming overly suspicious or there was possible trouble on the horizon. Emerson placed a call to the British Ambassador knowing Frederic seemed to always be on top of anything that might be suspect. After conveying his suspicions about Mr. Grenly, the ambassador said, "You have a good eye and a right to question who this man really is, Emerson. When he came through customs at the Sydney airport the Australian security also thought it strange that the name on a French Passport wasn't French. They seemed to think he was an American considering his Accent."

Emerson said, "Good grief Ambassador, I should have caught that American accent, I must be losing it in my old age."

"Emerson, please call me Frederic, and you are not getting old, you're just used to hearing many different accents from your guests so you probably don't pay that much attention anymore. We're running Mr. Grenly's name and passport through Interpol and British Intelligence to see what we come up with. From what you just told me, I want to know why he's asking about Michael Helmsley as well as Pierre Rosenberg. That in itself is suspicious."

Emerson asked the ambassador if he thought the other family members should be told of this, "I hate to upset everyone if there's no reason to."

"Emerson, I should hear something back from our inquiries within hours, I wouldn't upset anyone until after you hear from me."

Emerson thanked Frederic and hung up the phone. He was so lost in thought he didn't notice Adam walk up to the registration desk. Adam cleared his throat to let him know he was there.

"Adam, I'm sorry I didn't notice you walk up to the desk, I had something on my mind. Did you get Mr. Grenly settled in his room?"

Adam said, "That's okay Mr. Thompson, I was just wondering what you thought of Mr. Grenly's American accent."

Emerson thought, am I the only one who didn't notice it. He said it's kind of odd that he's carrying a French passport."

"Yes and he mentioned his plane stopped in Hawaii to refuel before flying on to Sydney. He was really excited; he said it was his first time in Hawaii and said how beautiful it was."

"Adam, that means he came from the United States, not France, why would he be traveling on a French passport?"

Adam replied, "That is strange isn't it. Oh, and he asked if I knew a Lord Helmsley."

Emerson felt himself go pale. Adam asked if he was okay, Emerson pulled his thoughts together and said yes, and asked Adam what he said to Mr. Grenly.

"I told him I didn't know anyone by that name." Emerson thought, of course he wouldn't know, Adam has no idea Michael is Lord Helmsley's son. At least I don't think he does.

Adam said, "One other thing Mr. Thompson, look at the size of the tip Mr. Grenly gave me."

Emerson said, "Good night, it's an American five dollar bill, now I really wonder why he's traveling on a French Passport. Adam will you do me a favor and stay in the house while Mr. Grenly is here and try to discreetly keep your eye on him. I'm beginning to wonder why he's here and why he's asking so many questions."

About an hour later Emerson received a call from the ambassador explaining that Mr. Grenly is an American Secret Service agent. "We don't know why he's here, but we'll be sending an MI6 agent up to your B &B to keep an eye on him if you don't mind Emerson."

Frederic, I appreciate that, if he's trying to keep his identity secret he isn't doing a very good job of it, he told one of the people who works here that he stopped in Hawaii on his way to Australia, and then tipped him with an American five dollar bill."

"Trust me Emerson, President Eisenhower wouldn't be sending an agent here appearing like he's incompetent unless he was supposed to make us think he's incompetent. We'll have to watch him closely to find out what he's really up to. The French passport he's carrying still doesn't make any sense. Let's keep this to ourselves for now Emerson."

The Following day a Frenchman named Henri requested a room for a month claiming he was an archeologist taking a vacation from his dig in Egypt. He was carrying an Algerian passport. He over tipped Adam using Francs, it would be nice if they exchanged their currency for Australian dollars like most tourist do.

It appears there is an international game of cat and mouse taking place and Emerson wished they would take it somewhere else. Finally the man Frederic sent from MI6 arrived, he actually spoke with an English accent and carried an English passport, what a novelty, he also over tipped Adam with pound notes. Before this was over Adam could be rich.

Now the trick was how to keep Eve and Guy from the B & B, Emerson didn't know if they would be in any danger but he didn't want to take any chances either.

Meanwhile back at the ranch Michael received a phone call from his Parents wondering why he hadn't picked them up at the airport.

Michael said, "What do you mean pick you up at the airport? Do you mean the Sydney airport?"

Lord Helmsley said, "Well it is the nearest airport to you isn't it?"

"Yes, but had no idea you and mother were coming."

"You didn't get our Telegram?"

Michael said, "No father I'm sorry, I'll get Ian and we'll be on our way as soon as we can, Dad, I'm so sorry."

"Michael, it's obviously not your fault, don't worry about it, your mother and I will take a limo up to your place. I hope you have room for us."

There's plenty of room dad I just feel bad that we didn't know you were coming. Everyone is going to be excited to see you."

Michael hung up the phone and called Ian. Ian came and asked, "What's up Michael?"

"Mother and father are on their way here, they're at the airport." Ian said, "Oh right Michael, I suppose you think that trick was so good you're going to play it again."

"No Ian, father just called they wondered why we weren't at the airport, they said they sent us a telegram. They're taking a limo up here so we don't have to make a trip to Sydney."

Ian said, "Give it up Michael I'm not falling for this story twice."

"Ian, I'm telling you the truth." Michael went out on the veranda and asked if anyone had seen a telegram. They all shook their heads no. Guy said, "I found this on the floor when mom came in with the groceries yesterday, is this a telegram?" Guy pulled a wrinkled envelope out of his pocket and handed it to Michael who opened it and handed it to Ian.

Ian read it and went pale, "Michael I'm sorry I didn't believe you. Everyone, Lord and Lady Helmsley are on the way here from the airport." Eve asked Guy why he didn't say anything about finding an envelope. "I'm sorry mom, I was excited about meeting James and I forgot about it."

Eve hugged Michael and told him how sorry she was. Michael said, "Its okay Eve, I just feel bad about not greeting them at the airport. I can't imagine the telegraph office sending a telegraph all the way out here and not making sure to hand it to an adult. I guess it's just one of those things that happens. Peter, do you mind if they stay with us for a while?"

Peter said, "Do I mind, are you kidding, this is so exciting everyone will get a chance to meet your parents, they can stay as long as they want Michael, and you should know you don't have to ask, this is your home too."

Michael sat with his face in his hands. Ian said, "Babe, its okay you're parents know we would have been at the airport if we'd known they were coming." Quinn tapped Michael on his head. Michael looked up at a smiling Quinn. "What Quinn?"

"Michael, if I'm going to be cooking for royalty I'm going to need your help, I don't know what type of food they eat."

"Quinn, they're not royalty, they're my parents and they eat the same things we eat."

Quinn replied, "Well they may not be royalty, but Lord and Lady Helmsley hobnob with royalty and I'm still going to need your help in what I should prepare."

Eve said, "Quinn, leave Michael alone he has enough on his mind, I'll help and you'll discover that Lord and Lady Helmsley are the nicest people you'll ever meet."

Peter said, "I'll second that, so everyone calm down, and let's just make this the most pleasant visit we can."

Jon and James weren't sure what do say or think, finally Jon said, "James and I aren't sure what you want us to do." Michael said, "I don't know what you mean Jon."

"Well should we stay here, we don't know what you want us to do; we've never met royalty before."

Michael started to laugh as he put his arms around Jon and James, "Guys, they're my mom and dad, they're not royalty, of course you'll stay here this is your home, you come first, my parents are just visitors, everyone here is my family, I don't know what I'd do without all of you. Apparently you have no idea how much I love you guys."

Ian put his arm around his lover's shoulders as he said, "Jon and James you are just like our sons, everyone in this house is family, you are part of this family and our family comes first, do you understand? "

Jon stood smiling with his arm around James; he didn't realize James' eyes had filled with tears. Michael pulled James to him for a prolonged hug. Finally Michael said, "I'm sorry James, I forgot you've never had a family, this must be hard for you. James, it's going to take time for you to understand how much all of us love you."

Michael wiped a few tears away from James face, before looking James straight in the eye and said, "I love you James, I love you with all my heart, I honestly don't know how I could love you anymore than I do right now." James put his arms around Michael's neck and whispered, "I love you too Michael, sometimes I'm afraid of waking up and finding this is all just a dream."

"I understand James, but you have a guy standing right beside you who's never going to let you wake up without him."

Jon did that wiggly thing he does with his eyebrows as he said, "And you better believe that handsome." James turned and hugged his mate.

Michael said, "We might just as well relax it'll be a couple of hours or more before mother and dad arrive." Eve said, "I'd like to put a bouquet of flowers in the suite your parents will be staying in Michael."

"I'm sure mother would appreciate that Eve, thanks for thinking of it."

Quinn said, "I think I'll whip up some light snacks that they might enjoy while their relaxing from that long drive from Sydney, do you think they would prefer tea of coffee Michael."

"That's nice Quinn, mother would more than likely enjoy some tea, and father would prefer bourbon."

Quinn smiled, "I like him already."

Peter, Martin, James and Jon were out on the veranda. James, Jon, and Martin were asking Peter about Michael's parents. Peter was telling them that Lord and Lady Helmsley were two of the most charming people he had ever met. Michael and Ian walked in just as Peter finished his sentence.

Michael squeezed Peter's shoulder as he thanked him for is kindness. Peter said, "There is no need to say thanks Michael, I'm just telling it like it is your parents are very special people. Quinn had walked over to the door and added, "With a very special son." Quinn leaned over and kissed Michael on the cheek.

Martin said, "You know dad, I'm excited to have them come and visit, but for some reason I'm also apprehensive. "I believe there is a very special reason they've come to visit, but I'm not sure their visit has anything to do with the worry I've been sensing from Emerson for the last couple of days.

Eve overheard Martin's comments and said, "I'm concerned about that too Martin, I've wondered why dad has insisted I take a few days off. He said, I've been spending too much time away from Quinn, but I'm home early every afternoon so that excuse didn't make much sense to me."

Ian said, "I can't imagine dad not saying something to me if there was a problem, are you sure about this Martin?"

Peter interrupted at this point saying, "I'm afraid there's more to Martin's precognitive feeling than he's told you, and that is because I asked him not to until I did some investigating on my own. I made a call to a friend who works security at the airport to see if he had noticed anything strange."

"He said there was an American who flew in three days ago using a French passport, and two days ago a Frenchman flew in using an Algerian passport, both men are now staying at your dad's B & B. And stranger still, Brian the security guard at the airport called an hour ago and said there was a member of MI6 who arrived today under a British diplomat's passport and he was heading to Emerson's B & B."

Ian said, "And you were going to tell us about this when?"

"Calm down Ian, Martin and I were going to tell you as soon as everyone was gathered together here on the veranda. I just heard from Brian an hour ago."

Michael said, "And you don't think my parents visit has anything to do with what's going on at the B & B?"

Martin said, "No Michael, I believe they've just missed you and Ian and wanted to pay a visit."

"Well dad will be here shortly and he can find out why an agent from MI6 is here with just a couple of phone calls so that should give us a clue as to what's going on up at Emerson's."

Quinn looked around and noticed Eve wasn't on the veranda, he stepped inside and saw she was on the phone with Emerson. He leaned against the wall by the door going out to the veranda until she was finished.

Eve turned and saw Quinn, she gave him a hug and said, "Dad sounded just fine and he said the guests were all having a good time and perhaps we'd see some of them going by on their tour of the ranch tomorrow. I'll go out and let Ian know I just talked to dad and everything was good at the B & B."

Ian kissed his sister on the cheek and thanked her for checking on their dad, but added, "Having agents from three different nations all holed up at the B & B isn't by coincidence, something is going on and I want to get to the bottom of it."

Everyone had moved out onto the long front porch waiting for Michaels parents to arrive. Just as the sun was beginning to set in the western sky a limousine with British and Australia fender flags was being led and followed by a military escort rounded the curve leading to their drive.

Quinn said, "Good grief Michael, are we supposed to stand or what?"

Michael said, "Yes, I want you all to line up starting with the tallest and ending with the shortest." The guys immediately started to form a line, Michael slapped his forehead as he yelled, "Will you stop that I was joking for crying out loud." Peter and Eve couldn't stop laughing. By the time the car stopped everyone was in total disarray.

Lord and Lady Helmsley stepped out of the car laughing so hard they could hardly catch their breath. Eve and Elizabeth hugged as Michael, Ian, and Peter shook hands with Robert. Michael turned to Quinn and introduced him to his Dad, Quinn started to say sir, and Robert said, "Quinn, please I'm Michael's dad Robert, I have heard so much about you, according to my son you're the best chef in all of Australia." Quinn said, "It's good to finally meet you Robert, but I'm afraid Michael has exaggerated a bit." Michael quickly stepped back when he saw Quinn's hand reaching for the back of his head.

Michael yelled "Ow!" Who did that?" Michael turned and saw his mother with a big smile on her face as she said, "I was just giving Quinn a helping hand."

"Trust me mother Quinn doesn't need a helping hand."

Elizabeth hugged Quinn as she whispered, "Good for you, someone has to keep him in line." Quinn stuck his tongue out at Michael as he gave him a loving wink.

Guy ran up and hugged Elizabeth and he said, "Hi grandmother." Elizabeth was immediately teary eyed as she knelt down and hugged Guy. "What a handsome man you are Guy." Guy replied, "I know grandmother, that's what everyone says."

Eve laughed as she said, "Modesty isn't one of Guy's strong points."

"Nor should he be, Guy is one good looking man." Robert knelt and shook hands with guy. Guy said, "Thank you grandfather you're a nice looking man too."

Elizabeth had her arms around Jon and James, "And what little I've heard about you two has made you very special to me. Jon started to say thank you Lady Helmsley when Elizabeth said, "Please call me Elizabeth, you're family." She kissed James on the cheek, "I hope you don't mind if I think of you both as my grandsons." James, still feeling emotional was fighting back tears so Jon said thank you for both of them."

Elizabeth turned to Martin and said, "And this handsome man must be Martin, I can't tell you how happy I am to meet you. Peter, you Martin and Quinn have adopted quite a sizable family here. Are you sure you have room for two more?"

Peter kissed Elizabeth and said, "With room to spare, please come in, Quinn has made some tea and special snacks, and Michael has suggested some bourbon for Robert."

Robert put his arm around Michael's shoulder, "Michael it's good to see you again, we're too long apart these days."

After enjoying Quinn's treats and a lot of small talk, Robert asked if any of them have met any of the agents staying at the B & B. Michael looked at Martin I thought you said there wasn't a connection with the agents. Robert said, well we haven't any connection, Frederic told us about them when he met us at the airport, he also provided the Limousine and escort.

Martin thumbed his nose at Michael as he flashed him a big smile to go with it.

Ian said, "The American agent was asking about both Michael and Pierre Rosenberg so we were a bit unnerved and more so when we found that MI6 and a French agent showed up at Emerson's.

Robert said, "Yes I can see where you might have been, it's all a bit silly actually. The American is a secret service agent for Eisenhower; he's a son of a friend of the President's which explains how he got the job. It turns out he drives the other agents crazy and the head of the CIA gave him a bogus assignment just to get him out of everyone's hair. He was told to see if he could find the Rosenberg missing yacht."

Peter said, "But everyone knows that yacht was destroyed and sank."

Robert replied, "Exactly, that's why he was given the job, everyone knows he can't find anything."

Michael asked, "But why did he mention my name then?"

Robert said, "I haven't any idea Michael but your mother has had an impish glint in her eyes for days now."

Michael just rolled his eyes as the others laughed. Quinn said it serves you right for telling us to line up by height. Elizabeth and Robert both started laughing all over again, Michael's mother said, "That had to be the funniest thing I ever saw."

Elizabeth walked over and hugged her son, she stepped back and said, "Michael do you have any idea how much your dad and I love you, you really are the love that fills our hearts."

Ian said, "Elizabeth I know everyone here feels the same way about Michael, I've never known anyone who has so much love to share with everyone."

James who hadn't said more than three or four words all evening boldly walked over and hugged Michael and said, "Michael, thank you for sharing your love, I didn't know anyone could love like you do, I didn't know that kind of love even existed before I met you. When you walk into a room love walks in with you and everyone feels it."

Quinn put his arm around James, "Well said James, you put into words what's in my heart but I didn't know how to express it properly, and you just expressed it perfectly."

Michael wiped a tear away and said, "Enough already, let's change the topic if you don't mind. And by the way father you may have explained why the American is here, but what about the Frenchman with the Algerian passport, and why is MI6 here?"

Well no one knows why the Frenchman is here that's why the British agent was sent. My guess is that the Frenchman is probably the only one who's actually here on vacation.

Chapter 15 to follow: