Chapter 20 of
Trent Valens started off having a field day and carried it for three more. Thanks to the evidence found by the State Police, Nably and his legal team had no hope in Hell of even thinking of winning. They did try though. Every dirty and bigoted ploy was thrown at Trent Valens and Tessa's case. Each one was turned around and shown for what it was. Crude and lowball tactics to try excusing behaviour that had no excuse. Finally the last word was given by Tessa herself.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury and court. You've heard many things here in this room. Many were malicious and without substance. Since I moved to Bayleston and set up my works, I've done many things. I've given support to educational programs in all the schools, from elementary up to the Technical colleges. Worked in conjunction with the local department of Veterans' Affairs and Military Recruitment offices to provide mentors for young people wishing to volunteer for our country's military services. Donated funds and other needed things to programs for improving the conditions of the streets of the city and its denizens. Even with accredited Humane Animal services to help with the problem of unwanted and abused animals." Tessa said as she wandered the court room.
"I never hid the fact that I, myself, am a transgender person. That, however, is nobody's business; but mine. Even in my past, I never endangered, nor mistreated any child, though I had been repeatedly. I took all that and made it a fuel. I'm not out to change the world, just my little place in it. I've done well and will continue to do so, with or without anyone's permission or approval. I do it for myself, because I want to. Mister Nably cares only for the accumulating of personal wealth and influence without a second thought of any harm his actions bring. No, I correct that, he has already said that if people are harmed, and in some cases killed, it was all the better as far as he was concerned. Every cent I seek in this legal action will not be for myself. I intend it to go to even more of those programs I support. I'll do all I can to make children's dreams real and clean up the streets of our cities." Tessa said then stared at Joe Nably. "I'll do it to the very last PENNY."
All could see the look of absolute furious conviction on her face when she said that. Her crisp white dress and white high-heel sandals gave her the look of Winter's Queen. Right down to the platinum snowflake jewelry and three tiny clear crystals at the outer corners of her eyes and silvery eyeliner. All had drawn every eye to her and served its purpose exactly how she had wanted to appear; clean and untouchably radiant as a Queen. With those final words, the jury went into deliberation.
Four hours later Court reconvened and the Foreman stood.
"Has the jury reached a verdict?" The Judge asked.
The Foreman, actually a woman, nodded and stated clearly. "We have, Your Honor. In a vote of Eleven to One; we find in favor of the Plaintiff, Tessa Frost."
Trent leaned close to Tessa and whispered. "They managed to sneak in one definite anti-trans hard-liner."
Tessa nodded, but said nothing. She knew it would have been impossible to keep them all out to get an unbiased jury.
"Very well." The Judge acknowledged. "Defense rise. Joe Nably, You have faced a jury of peers and they have found against you. A settlement of sixteen million dollars is to be paid to Tessa Frost in a timely manner. Counselor Valens."
Trent nodded. "Seven to ten working days will be sufficient, Your Honor."
"So noted. Seven to ten working days. Case closed, Court adjourned." The Judge stated for the record, while making the proper notes as well.
A moment later he stood up and the Bailiff called out. "All Rise."
After the Judge left, everyone began to filter out. Many congratulating Trent and Tessa. Nably was taken out and returned to custody as his legal team left. As the last few to congratulate Tessa made their way out the Attorney General came up and shook hands with Trent.
"Valens, that was some damn fine casework!" Jeremiah Hessfield smiled.
Trent chuckled. "Well you did so much hard work for us, I couldn't let it go to waste now, could I?"
"I still can't believe he was so stupid to set his computer up to record every dirty deed." Tessa remarked.
Jeremiah smirked. "Actually, he didn't."
"Say again?" Tessa asked, now confused.
The State Attorney General laughed. "He didn't. His former secretary did it. When she found out he was real piece of work, she knew she had to protect herself. She set up his computer to record and transfer the files to a cloud. She could remotely access it, anytime she needed, if she got made the fall-girl. We just happened across it and I brought her in for questioning. She admitted that she did and why. Pretty smart. She turned State's Evidence in exchange for a reference. To sweeten it, she told us about four properties that Nably had filed falsely under her name and signed them over to the state to use as we see fit. I have a friend in a federal agency looking for a property manager and passed her resume along. She moved out of state a week ago, no longer of interest to us. All's well that ends well."
Tessa rolled her eyes. "Really counselor? How long have you sat on that cliche?"
Jeremiah laughed again. "Since I first got Nably in my sights. You all have a great day. Hail to the Queen and all that."
Tessa shook her head smiling as he left waving over his shoulder, whistling a happy tune.
Trent took up his briefcase and offered his arm. "Shall we, My Queen."
"Of course, we shouldn't keep everyone waiting." Tessa chuckled and took his arm.
Trent asked. "So what are you going to do now?"
"Same thing I do every day Trent; try to take over the world." Tessa giggled as her Security team formed around her.
"ZORT!" Trent replied as they all laughed with her.
Three weeks later Elaine Oberline stood on a dais. Tessa and her Princesses were in full regalia, along with their escorts in ceremonial uniforms.
"Queen Tessa. In respect to all your works here in Bayleston, improving the community in so many ways we'd be here for a week and half to list them, I present you the Key to the City."
"Thank you Mayor Oberline. And definitely thank you for not going to detail." Tessa said, taking the key. "Since you were so kind to be brief, so will I. There are so many good people here in Bayleston, I'm very glad to have met some of them and hope one day to be able to say that I've met them all. Sad as I am to say that there are some that don't think too highly of me, but that's them and there's nothing I'll ever do that will change that. I'll just keep doing what I do and hold my head high. I've heard many good things about you Elaine, I do hope you run for another term. You've done alot, but I know you can and will find more ways to better the city."
"If that's a Royal command, in your confidence, I'll be happy to oblige." Elaine interrupted with a smile.
Tessa smiled back. "Then I charge you; make it happen, Madam Mayor. Now, let's return to my realm for a wonderful day!"
Even the Mayor curtsied to her as Tessa and all three Princesses took the steps down to four horse drawn carriages. Elaine Oberline joined her in the white lead carriage. Each princess got into her own, painted in their color. Blue for Danica, green for Michelle and purple for Nicole. Their escorts mounted horses and rode along the sides as the procession left to go to the park.
Away from the crowd, Elaine asked. "These carriages and horses are so beautiful! Where on earth did you get them?"
"The carriages and tack were built by my people at the park and the horses came from rescue shelters. All they needed was love and good home. We'll use them for special events, like parades and rent them out for weddings for a low price. Rental money will be donated to shelters around the state for medical care and feed for horses not placed yet." Tessa told her.
In the lead, Dave Wells rode on an actual Clydesdale of spotted grey color that had been rescued. He wore what looked like traditional cavalry ceremonial Armour and helmet holding a drawn saber. He raised his saber and called out attention to any flag they passed along the way. A line off cars followed behind them with their hazard lights flashing. Two Deputy patrol cycles led them and took turns to control traffic. When carriages and riders came into sight of the park gates, a cheer went up. A crowd had formed and waited for the park to open, at its regular time. One by one the carriages pulled up and the ladies were let out and walked to the gates.
Tessa was let in, along with her group and she turned to look at the clock. Two minutes later she called out. "I, Queen Tessa, command; OPEN THE GATES! WELCOME TO VENTUREREALM!"
Green lights came on over each gates and the Hospitality workers smiled as people came forward to pay admission. Children flocked to their favorite royal and soon large groups began to make their way into the park.
Even Elaine Oberline got into the spirit as several girls looked up at her. "Well now, where should we start? How about WildForest today and see the animals?"
"YAY!" The kids cheered and followed her.
Elaine's husband and kids met up with her there then they all separated to go to their favorite area.
Eight days later, Trent entered Tessa's office. As usual, she was in her gown and tiara, but tackling paperwork.
"Ah, Royal duties." Trent chuckled.
Tessa continued to sign papers. "Everyday Trent, everyday. What's up?"
Trent laid a check in front of her. "Every cent the asshole had left."
"Sixteen and some change." Tessa read the amount. "I know just what to do with it."
A three minutes after being called, the head of the Financial department came in. "Yes Ma'am?"
Tessa signed the back of the check and handed it to her. "Deposit that in the charity account immediately. Send a fifty-thousand dollar check to the girl Sylvia up at AmHurst college. Then cut a check for another five million going to the Finn Foundation I told you about. Put a million in Idle Hands and Street Table each. Another million to Little Ones Found. That's all the ones for today. I'll get with you tomorrow about how the rest should go."
"Easy come, easy go." Trent remarked at how fast she started going through the money.
Tessa went back to signing more papers. "Lots of people in shit Trent, just like paperwork, it's every day. Was that all of it?"
"Nope. Turned out, he owned the three properties across from the park already. Here's the deeds to those." Trent said and laid the papers in front of her. "You have to sign those, by the way."
"I'M GETTING A RUBBER STAMP THING!" Tessa hollered.
Trent burst out laughing. Tessa muttered various things she wanted to do to people that indulged in the bizarre fetish for signed papers then handed the packet back to him.
"Uh, what am I supposed to do with them now?" Trent asked.
Tessa looked at him blankly. "DUH! File them at the courthouse. Then you list two of them for sale. Get me a good deal for them. The one right across the drive from us, I want to keep. Call Bill Roanoke and Dominic Hadley, tell them I have a NEW job for them. I want a hotel built."
"Hotel?" Trent asked.
Tessa turned around and pointed to an eight inch stack of papers. "Resumes, each one a transgender person in deep shit and needing a new life. Oh yeah."
Tessa pulled twelve files from the stack and handed them to him. "Four lawyers and eight paralegals. Call them up and get them here. They need a job. Lots of good people need somebody to stand up for them against assholes. We nailed one, let's see what else we can do."
Ol' Mac sat at the desk in the shade. Children walked by and waved to him, so he waved back. Suddenly four little girls stopped and were looking past him. Quickly they curtsied then smiled and scampered off. He turned around and saw why. Tessa was walking up.
"Queen Tessa." Mac greeted and began to stand up.
Tessa waved him to sit. "No need to get up Mister McDennett. I'm just wandering by and wanted to look in on you."
"Doing fine here. It's shady and usually a little breeze. That young 'un, Mark, comes by often enough and tells me to drink my water." Mac told her.
Tessa smiles. "Mark is happiest when people know he's doing his best to look after them."
"He's a worry-wart alright. Still getting used to that." Mac said.
"To what Mister McDennett?" Tessa asked.
Mac looked around. "Everything. People smiling and waving to me. Having a place to live. A job to come to. Real money. Not drinking. Folks calling me 'Sir' and 'Mister'. Even you calling me 'Mister'. Queen Tessa, you ain't got no cause, calling me a 'mister'."
Tessa gave him a firm look. "That's where you're wrong, Mister McDennett. I have every reason and right to call you Mister McDennett. Because of you, I am still here. You kept me safe. Now I keep you safe. I do have to admit, I did tell a small lie."
Mac was puzzled. "Lie?"
Tessa nodded then held up an envelope and pulled out a sheet of notebook paper. "I did come to see you for a reason. I got this letter today. Dear Queen Tessa. My name is Richie. I'm eight years old and saw you on tv. I watch alot of tv here in the hospital. People talk about you all the time. They say you make dreams come true. I never knew my grandpa. He died before I was born. I'm going to meet him soon. I heard the doctor tell my mom and dad. My dream is to know what to do when I meet him. Can you make that one come true? Love, Richie."
Mac saw the tear roll down her cheek and felt his own doing the same.
Tessa took a moment to gather herself then looked to Mac. "Mister McDennett, I want to make this dream come true. Will you help me tomorrow? It'll be an all day thing."
"That little boy is dyin'? Can't they save him?" Mac asked.
Tessa looked down. "Not even if I spent every cent I have. Captain Dave looked into the boy's condition, along with our nurses. There is nothing that can done now, except this last wish. I'm told he wants to go fishing. I'll provide you anything needed. Will you do this?"
Mac was in tears in now and nodded. "How could anybody say no? I'll take that young 'un fishing. I'll be his grandpa tomorrow; and every day he's got left."
"Thank you, Mister McDennett. I'll see you and Mister Malone at nine tomorrow morning." Tessa said then turned and left.
The next day, Zeke and Mac met with Tessa and her small contingent. They rode to the hospital. Two hours later the men left to take Richie fishing. Every evening after, Mac went to the hospital and read to him. Six days later Mac was called to Tessa's office. Richie's parents and night nurse were there. Little Richie went during the night.
"He smiled and told me it was time to go meet his real grandpa. He knew what to do now, thanks to you teaching him." The Nurse cried.
Mac wept and blamed himself. "It's my fault. If I hadn't done all that, maybe he'd still be here. Maybe he'd have held on?"
"NO SIR!" Danielle Willows exclaimed through her own tears. "You gave him something we couldn't! We'd have laid down and died for our boy to live. But that wasn't going to happen. We accepted that. We hate it with all we are, but we accepted it. You did the only thing that could be done. You made him happy and we thank you! The funeral is Sunday. Will you come and stand with us? He'd want you to be there."
Tessa knew this was going downhill fast and took command. "He'll be there! He won't be alone. Let me and my people make the arrangements. Prince Richie will be laid to rest with all the honors of a Royal. I swear it."
True to her word, as always, Tessa made good on her promise. The park closed early for it. A pavilion was set up in SnowyHill and Richie Willows' funeral was held there. One by one, the park cast and staff came up to the small ornate casket whispered quiet words of goodbye then shook hand with Darrel Willows and hugged Danielle. Finally the princesses came up.
"May your days be only fun and love, My Prince." Princess Michelle said then kissed her fingertips and touched his lips gently.
Princess Danica was next and gave her kiss the same way. "Enjoy sitting before clear blue water under a sky of billowing clouds that never rain, My Prince."
"Au revoir, cha. Sing, dance every angel you see; Mon Prince." Princess Nicole kissed her fingertips and touched his forehead, lips then beside each eye.
Tessa leaned down, whispered and kissed his forehead then turned. "Captain. Prince Richie is ready now."
Dave turned and ordered. "BEARERS, ATTEN-TION! MAKE READY THE PRINCE!"
Six men in full Armour came along the sides and stood waiting as the lid was closed securely. On his order they lifted and then marched out, carrying the casket and slid it into a black enclosed carriage. The hearse had been made at Dave's suggestion for use at veterans' funerals. It was pulled by a team of six black horses. An open black carriage was in line behind it, for the family to ride in. Behind them were all four royal carriages with mounted escorts.
People came out and lined the streets to see the procession pass. Quickly they realized it was the funeral they had read about in that morning's paper and reacted. Those wearing hat's took them off, girls and women of all ages curtsied. Many of the younger boys figured they should follow the girls' example and bowed. VentureRealm's first Prince was laid to rest an hour later. Two days later, Tessa introduced Mac to the local children's home.
"These children have no grandfather. Some have never known one. You are still needed, Mister McDennett. Will you help?" Tessa asked.
Ol' Mac nodded and walked forward. Within seconds he was surrounded by kids trying to hug him. Once more, Tessa had saved him.
Soon, summer ended and children returned to school. However, locals still came every day and some from not far away drove in for the weekends. For Halloween, many of the children came that weekend in costume. For Thanksgiving Day, the park was actually closed. The chefs and their staff cooked in the main kitchens and had the food trucked out for Street Table and the shelters. The children's home brought over the kids for the day along with the staff's children to play and eat. The same with Christmas Day. On New Year's Eve at nine o'clock that night, the park officially closed for the season. However, a party was held for the staff and cast at the Ice Castle in SnowyHill.
The Princesses were excited, due to the fact that they were all leaving on January third to go have their final surgery. When they returned, they would be in charge while Tessa went for her own. During the party, at midnight, there was even fireworks to signify the start of the New Year. At one a.m. the party was winding down and people were preparing to leave for the dorm or home by a pair of rented buses driven by Zeke and Mark.
The Princesses had come up to stand with Tessa and hug her. They were about to go back down when soft piano music began then turned around in shock to hear her voice singing in a haunting tone.
"Love. Love, is a verb. Love is a DOING word. Fearless, on my breath." Tessa sang gently.
Everyone began to stare in wonder. Most that worked in the offices, especially close to hers, had been hearing the song off and on for sometime now. No one had guessed that it was actually her singing it, because she adamantly denied being any type of performer. Now she was standing front and center of the platform and singing for all to see and hear.
Tessa continued. "Gentle impulsion. shakes me; makes me lighter. Fearless on my, breath. Teardrop on the fire. Fearless on my, breath."
Nicole was amazed at the long gentle notes off the end that swept up to ring clear in the room and smiled as she whispered. "Oui, Mon Reine. This true you."
"Night, night of matter. Black flowers blossom. Fearless on my, breath. Black flowers, BLOSSOM. FEARless, on my brEATH! TEARdrop on the FIRE. FEARLESS on my BREATH!" Tessa sang strongly and added very powerful notes after the lyrics again.
None outside the office staff had heard the song sung this way before and were stunned. It was haunting and powerful.
Tessa started softly. "Water, is my eye. MOST faithful mirror! Fearless, on my breath. Teardrop on the fire, of a confession."
All three princesses had come to stand behind her with arms linked.
"FEARLESS on my, BREATH! MOST FAITHFUL MIRROR! Fearless on my, BREATH! TEARDROP ON THE FIRE! FEARLESS! ON MY! BREATH!" Tessa ended with all she had, drawing out the last note.
The entire park crew erupted into applause and Tessa curtsied to them. "Thank you. Enjoy the easy next months, they'll pass faster than we want. Goodnight."
With that, Tessa went back to her house. She would sleep like never before, the one true day she would be taking off. Her own work would never be done. Such was the life of VentureRealm's Queen, who's true kingdom didn't actually stop at the property line. It lay within the hearts and dreams of people, especially children, even if they would never meet or know Tessa Frost.
Teardrop by Aurora(Massive Attack cover)
I hope you liked VentureRealm Park, please do Kudo. No membership needed. VentureRealm will remain a Free Story to be found only here at BCTS, free to read and enjoy. Other writers may reference visiting the park, but are not allowed to change the park or its characters in any way. The only exception to this is Efingdumb who I am pleased to have already made a previous agreement with.
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