Chapter 5

Summer ended and the kids went back to school. A few weeks later, Angennet took another one of her personal days from work and once the kids were gone for the day, she opened the cellar door.

"Yoo-Who," she called. "Can I come down?"

"Sure," Melquisedec answered from below.

He was standing in the living room in a pair of jogging shorts and a blue Navy tee-shirt watching her descend the stairs. She was wearing her pajamas and holding a mug of coffee in her hand.

"Aren't you going to be late for work?" Mel asked.

"I'm playing hookie today," she replied, as she glanced around. "I figured if you can do it, why can't I?"

Melquisedec laughed. "True enough," he agreed.

"What is it you do all day when the rest of us are gone anyway?" Angennet asked.

He shrugged. "Take a long run," he answered. "Stop by the library and read three or four newspapers. Come back here and read a book or take a ride or another run."

"You're able to live off your Navy retirement?" She asked, taking a sip from the coffee mug.

"I didn't join the Navy for the money, Ang," Melquisedec let her know.

"Another part of the mystique," she realized.

"I joined to be my own person, live my own life, be independent, travel, write my own story," he explained.

"Well, what exactly is your story?" Angennet wanted to know, giving him a hard stare.

"You know most of it," he muttered, glancing away.

"Do I?" She asked with interest. "What about before the Navy? Before you met Al?"

"I'm late for my run," Melquisedec said uncomfortably.

"Tell me," she insisted, stepping in front of him to block him from heading for the stairs.

"I come from a family of influence and power and money and scandal," he said with embarrassment. "I didn't want to be part of it."

She studied his face for a long moment and then a funny look embalmed her. "Oh my God," she realized. "You're MLD, LLC."

"What?" Melquisedec said, trying to play dumb as Angennet went to the couch and took a seat, looking dazed.

"Al was in charge of the money, the payments, the loans, all of it," she said. "Whenever an unexpected expense came up he always had a knack for covering it. Annie's braces. A unanticipated car or house repair. The year we went to Disney. Flying out to see you. I assumed he was getting money from his parents but I didn't ask questions."

"I'm sure it was all on the up and up," Melquisedec replied.

"I had a hell of a time trying to rectify the books after he died," She revealed. "I had to hire a forensic accountant to piece it all together."

Melquisedec didn't say anything.

"There were thousands of dollars credited to an account he had at the bank I never knew about," Angennet continued. "Usually wired in from MLD, LLC."

"Maybe he had an investment somewhere," Melquisedec suggested.

"Yeah, an investment in a life-long friendship," Angennet said, staring him down. "It's true, isn't it?"

"It doesn't matter," Melquisedec said nervously.

"It matters to me," she said, standing from the couch and stepping toward him. "The mystery of the Mystique of Melquisedec is finally solved." She was practically in his face now. "Why'd you do it?" She asked. "Blackmail? Did he have something on you?"

"Of course not," Melquisedec said, sounding offended. "I was in a position to help out, that's all."

"Why would you want to do that?" She frowned.

"Because he was my friend," came the answer. "Because he brought me to Hillsboro and introduced me to a normal place and a normal way of life with good, decent and kind people. This became my home."

Angennet stepped back and looked at him with uncertainty. "You're either completely nuts or a guardian angel," she said.

"I'm going to go for that run now," Melquisedec said, heading for the stairs.

Angennet watched him leave, unsure if she should be pissed off, offended, insulted, humiliated, or grateful.

Running his usual route, Melquisedec second guessed Al's decision not to tell his wife about his friend's financial assistance over the years. That was between those two but now that Al was gone and Mel was living in the cellar, he didn't blame Angennet for being upset about the discovery. Secrets usually become betrayals sooner or later. He ran off his guilt hoping that Angennet wouldn't hold his assistance against him when he returned to the house.

He came down the stairs to the cellar and was caught off guard by the unexpected sight of Angennet running on the treadmill – naked, her pajamas lying on the floor in a heap.

"What does the L stand for?" She asked, glancing at him as she ran. "In MLD."

"Lincoln," he replied. "Melquisedec Lincoln Danvers."

She nodded with understanding and smiled when she saw the look on his face. "I didn't want to get my jammies all sweaty," she explained as she correctly powered down the treadmill and stepped off the mat, floating to him like a dream.

Melquisedec didn't move as she lifted her hand up to his cheek. He didn't remember getting naked. He found himself lying on the carpeted floor atop of Angennet making love with shortened breaths naked in the dim daylight shining through the cellar windows.

"The mystique of Melquisedec is finally realized," Angennet said when they were done with their long awaited and forever anticipated lovemaking, lying on the carpet naked together and staring at the sun coming through the cellar window. "My second Navy Man is home."