TPCR: Chapter 14 and Chapter 15, Part 1

The next day at work, Erin is still on Cloud Nine after making out with Lucas.  But all that is shattered when the next step of the Bad Side of the Family’s notorious scheme takes shape…

Framing Erin’s cafe for widespread food poisoning!

Mustache Twirler’s brother-in-law (and damn, everybody in this town really is related to everyone else!) barges in during the very beginning of the lunch rush, to loudly proclaim that Erin’s food made him sick.  Then he vaguely threatens her that she might have to “shut down“…and leaves.

Well.  Mission accomplished.

Now, you would think in a town as tight-knit gossipy as this one, a lot of people (on The Side of the Good Side of the Family) would get that this is a ruse.  Especially  after months of pranks like this, including a different food poisoning scare.

But no, a number of people just so happen to walk out at the same time as Mustache Twirler’s cousin, and the two cooks confide to Erin that two other customers complained of not feeling well yesterday.

So there is no lunch rush…basically no lunch patrons at all.  And despite her protestations, Erin actually thinks the food poisoning must be real, because “it was beyond her comprehension that Billy Dean had made up a story in the hope that her business would suffer.”

Um, Erin, you do remember that hundreds of thousands of dollars and many acres of land are at stake here, right?  Why do you think this is all so impossible?

But surely, no person would ever, ever LIE!!!  That makes Baby Jesus cry!  Sure, Erin lied to everyone she knew back when she was dating the town Bad Boy, but that was totally different!

Erin also seems to be a bit closed-minded about the cause of the food poisoning, even as she assumes it’s real.  Yes, we’re all supposed to assume it’s sabotage, given the feud and all, but is it really so impossible to believe that this is a coincidence?  Hell, anything can cause food poisoning.  I mean, it might be an undigested bit of beef, or a blob of mustard or a crumb of cheese…

Just sayin’, I don’t care if the two cooks are the Adorable Old Farts of the town…sometimes, the unexpected happens when it comes to food.

Anyway, Lucas shows up and Erin tells him what happened.  Lucas, naturally, also suspects the Bad Side, though he oddly adds that “my family has been leaving a lot of blanks about what’s been going on lately.”

Oh, yeah, Good Side of the Family, that’s a wonderful idea.  Keep people directly affected by all this in the dark.  I’m sure that won’t make the problem worse.

Erin and Lucas set off together to track down Mustache Twirler, who of course must be the mastermind behind all of this.  They track him down quite quickly (super-small town, remember), but Lucas sees a plot twist in Mustache Twirler’s truck…

…one of the men who kidnapped Max!

Now, you’d think those guys would be sitting in jail awaiting trial, or pled out and spending the holidays in prison, but apparently this Maurice “must have posted bond,” because he “claimed he didn’t know anything about Scott’s murder or a kidnapping,” even though Lucas implies here that he witnessed otherwise.

Which brings up another good question about Grandpa Asshat’s will: at some point, I can only assume that Lucas will have to leave the town and testify against these guys, possibly in multiple trials.  You okay with that, Grandpa Asshat?  Or is being a witness in a kidnapping insufficiently urgent?

Oh well.  Relatively hidden and apparently not having been spotted, Lucas calls Sheriff Cousin and Erin calls Cousin Teen Bride, who is watching Max for the day.  Lucas is successful, Erin is not.  So Lucas takes Erin to Arabella’s house to find Max and warn everyone, while Lucas will go meet with Sheriff Cousin.

And…on that exciting pseudo-cliffhanger…till tomorrow!

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Posted on December 18, 2016, in The Prodigal's Christmas Reunion. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I still don’t why Mustache Twirler and the Bad Side (an awesome band name by the way) are trying to ruin Erin’s cafe. She’s not even part of the family, and hurting her business isn’t going to drive Lucas to leave town. If anything, since Lucas clearly still has feelings for Erin, their attempts to hurt her cafe will probably make him more determined to stay and help her.

    • “My beloved’s cafe is in trouble. Oh, if only there was some way I could obtain a sudden influx of hundreds of thousands of dollars… Oh hey, I just have to stick around here for a year.”

  2. So now one side is bringing in murderous criminals? Any chance the whole Christmas Romance angle was a diversion, and this story turns out to be a violent thriller that ends with a Quentin Tarantino-esque shootout between the two sides of the family and their friends, which basically means everyone in town.

    • Tha brings up another question, actually: are we sure that everyone in this book isn’t talking about a different kind of ‘family’? You know, less ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and more ‘The Sopranos’?

    • I have the feeling this is going to be more like one of those movies that spends the first 2/3 to 3/4s being a lighthearted comedy thing with maybe some romance, and then suddenly tries to have a Really Serious plot for the last half hour that is really poorly set-up.

      I’m not sure how common they actually are, but some from the late 80s and early 90s stuck in my mind. Like Three Men and a Baby. I came to greatly dislike those movies, because as a rule the Really Serious plot always sucked. And I’m getting the same vibe off of this book, really.

  3. I see Erin’s Pollyanna-ishness as the Small Town Fetishisation again: sure, you might get the occasional bad apple, but People Are Basically Good. Even the author realises it’s not true, but…

    Every time you write about Sheriff Cousin, Ruby, I flash onto Uncle Daddy. I probably shouldn’t.

    There’s a private eye story that has the guy being repeatedly roughed up by heavies, who keep warning him to “stay clear of the Jones case”. He investigates, of course, and eventually discovers… a bunch of heavies who tell him to “stay clear of the Smith case”. That’s the feeling I get here: I really can’t see any way that having Erin’s business messed up will cause Lucas to leave town. If he doesn’t care, he doesn’t care; if he hates her, he might stay to gloat; if he loves her, he’ll try to help, either as Ivan points out by waiting for the cash, or by taking direct action… or indeed both.

  4. You know, the basic concept of this series (going home to ranch to fulfill terms of a will) seems like a Christian knockoff of Nora Roberts’ Montana Sky, one of her older books where three half-sisters have to live on their late father’s cattle ranch for a year in order to inherit. Of course, since Roberts is actually a good writer, the concept is handled much better – the dead father is a total douchebag, which is why he made this rule, the oldest and youngest sisters are both seriously pissed about it (older sister because she has a career in LA, though handily it’s one she can do remotely – she’s either a scriptwriter or a writer’s agent or something like that, I haven’t read the book in a few years, while youngest sister is the only one who was actually raised on the ranch and has been handling a lot of the day-to-day operations for years, so naturally everyone thought she’d inherit the ranch itself), and there are clear rules laid down about not being able to be gone from the ranch for longer than a set amount of time. (The rules are covered in the book, I just don’t remember them – like I said, been a while since I last read it and I don’t have my copy nearby at the moment.)

    I’m sure the concept wasn’t actually unique to Roberts, but the similarities are pretty striking.

    (Also, hi! Longtime reader, first time commenter, love your posts!)

  5. People really do try to do things like this in real life (there is, however, a rule that says it can only be short-term — you can’t dictate where your heirs will live or what they will do permanently). Grandpa Asshat’s will isn’t even the weirdest. There was a guy who said he would leave the bulk of his estate to the woman in his hometown who birthed the most legitimate children during the next ten years…

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for December 23rd, 2016 | The Slacktiverse

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