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PUTTING THE FUTURE TOGETHER, Part Three
The Cost of Power, Chapter Six, Part Three
The Cost of Power is set in an alternative universe from the main Martiniere Legacy series. In this book, I take a closer look at the mind control technology and…the relationship between Gabe and his father Philip ends up being different.
Additionally, Gabe tells Ruby who he really is much, much earlier than in the main Martiniere Legacy series.
Most of all, I’m freeforming this story. I somewhat know where it’s going to go, but how it unfolds depend on what happens with Gabe, Philip, Ruby, and Justine once they get on a roll in this particular setting.
UPDATE, April 21, 2023 : Given where I am in this story drafting-wise (approximately 60,000 words), THERE WILL BE A SECOND BOOK. No way can I wrap up what I’m doing here in 40,000 more words. Things are gonna happen with Philip, Gabe, Ruby, and the Martiniere Multiverse, and I don’t want to cut the Multiverse elements that start coming into the story. This may be the series that resolves the entire Multiverse element of the Martiniere stories.
Now whether that book gets serialized here or not…we shall see.
Enjoy! This is part three of Chapter Six. There will be six parts to this chapter.
Ruby hung up and called Craig Yellowhawk, then her cousin Andy. Neither answered—not surprising, both were probably out in the fields. She left messages, then went into the kitchen. Justine, Kendra, and Scott still sat around the green chrome and Formica table. Ruby dropped into the remaining chair.
“You doing all right?” Justine eyed Ruby. “This has to be a lot all at once.”
Ruby drew a deep breath. “It’s one hell of a lot better than Gabe disappearing, getting dragged off by bounty hunters, or killed in front of me. All three possibilities have been my deepest fears, ever since we got together.”
Justine and Kendra winced.
“Well, I want to welcome you to the Family, Ruby, especially since it’s clear after this morning’s meeting that you’re a big reason why Gabe has come back exactly when we need him the most,” Kendra said. “It’s my deepest hope that Gabe’s return brings some stability to the Family and the Group that’s been lacking, as Philip’s health swings back and forth.” She wrinkled her nose. “No one wants Joey in charge of either the Family or the Group. That has made everything chaotic because we hadn’t known who we could put in as the Martiniere instead of Joey.”
“Why couldn’t you or Justine do it? Or Gerard?”
Justine laughed bitterly. “Uncle Gerry wouldn’t take the position other than very informally. As for me—the Family structures are hidebound as hell, and dependent upon French Salic law traditions as a hangover from the days when we were royalty. Eldest male child from the current Family branch in charge. Which—” she drew a deep breath. ”Is Gabriel, no matter if you reckon his descent from Saul or Daddy-damned-dearest. He’s three months older than Joey.”
“And my family branch is not in direct line to become the Martiniere,” Kendra said quietly. “If that were the case, then our Head of Family—my brother Christopher—would be next in line. Instead, Philip’s potential replacements been Gerard and his eldest son David, both of whom have been quite clear that they don’t want the title.”
“I—see,” Ruby said. “Gabe told me this last night but—this is the twenty-first century.”
Both Justine and Kendra snorted at that.
“Some Family members have barely made it out of the Napoleonic Era,” Kendra said. “Fortunately, most of those are minor connections.”
Justine frowned thoughtfully. “Meanwhile. I’ve contacted Eliot McNaughton. He’s pulling things together in LA and spreading the word informally that Gabie and I are now formally the Martinieres-in-waiting. Daddy-poo had already told Eliot, which is good. But we also need to concoct a social media strategy.”
Ruby exhaled. “I’ve been thinking about that. I have social media connections and experience from being Miss Rodeo Oregon and running for Miss Rodeo America. One of my sash sisters—that’s what we rodeo queens call ourselves—has started a social media promotion business. I’ll talk to Laurie and get a program outlined and implemented.”
“Good.” Justine wrinkled her nose. “I’m glad that someone else in the Family knows about social media because that’s yet another way that the Family is so damn hidebound.”
“You think there would be a problem?” Oh, she was getting the picture about the situation with the Martinieres, at least the Family. Old. Traditional. Set in certain patterns of behavior.
Is that any different from dealing with the Thunder County establishment?
“Not amongst the youngers,” Kendra said, tapping her fingers on the table. “This isn’t a new subject—some of us have been trying to promote more social media usage for the Group and for individual Family members. But this whole situation—Gabe returning to visibility after a high-profile exile, his reunion with the Family, your marriage—that will gain us a lot of positive media attention, if we play it right.”
“We’ll need it. There’s other issues as well. Eliot’s concerned about Joey and his allies in the LA headquarters. Once we’re done here, I need to go to Los Angeles and kick some butt.” Justine eyed Ruby. “On top of that, it’s a damn good thing it's nighttime in Paris, because the aunts would be ringing our phones often enough to drive us crazy, wanting to know what your wedding plans are. This gives us time to get something in place before they decide they need to organize it for you.”
“Oh God.” Ruby buried her head in her hands. “Planning a wedding that needs to be fancy. On such short notice. Thunder County Days happens in two weeks, and that’s going to be chaotic enough. I have several rodeo queen friends who intend to stay here. I need to bring in the rest of the saddle herd and start riding them so they’ll be ready to use for queen run-ins. Gabe wants the wedding to happen after that, and I haven’t the faintest idea where we can do it. August is still gonna be tourist-heavy. How big will this ceremony end up being?” She cringed at the thought. Maybe they could do it at the Double R, but if the wedding was too big—it was going to be a challenge.
“Mm. I eloped with Donald, had a quick civil and then religious ceremony,” Justine said. “In France. I don’t know how Donald and Gabie managed to pull strings with the civil authorities there to make it happen, given the usual restrictions. I suppose Uncle Gerry had a hand in it as well. It’s surprising just how much quiet influence he has. But you two aren’t gonna be able to elope, especially since Gabie’s now the Martiniere-in-waiting. A small ceremony, yes, elopement, no.” She glanced at Kendra. “How tightly can we limit this? Because even as isolated as Thunder County is, you know half the Family is gonna want to show up. And we’ll need to make arrangements for children not old enough to attend the ceremony and formal meals.”
That surprised Ruby. Wouldn’t the kids stay behind? Surely the Martinieres would have enough money to hire reliable people to watch their children.
“The aunts, of course. Gerry, David and Therese, Vincent and Paulette.” Kendra tapped her fingers thoughtfully on the table. “Chris. Fiona. Ruby, what about your family?”
“Not a lot. I won’t invite most of my Barkley kin, and if I included all of my Ryder cousins—” Ruby sighed. “Plus we have a bunch of rodeo friends who might want to show up as well.”
“Let’s start with that list and go from there, because we can rank Family attendees easily. Scott, can you take notes?” Kendra turned to her husband.
“Of course.” Scott snapped up a computer projection.