DEPARTMENT - MAIN SQUAD ROOM
don't worry," Douglas
consoled. "I'm sure that we can get Francis
out on bail in no time. I'm going to make sure that she doesn't spend one
night in jail."
"You better make sure she doesn't!" Charles
snapped. "She's gone through enough because of Annabelle---now
this! My lord! When is it going to end? When is this nightmare
going to be over?"
"You and I both know that there's no way that she could
have killed Annabelle." Douglas began to slowly pace around the room
as they both waited for news about Francis. "I don't care how upset
she was after learning about what Annabelle did at the engagement party, there's
no way she could have killed her."
know that and you know that," Charles let out a worried sigh,
"but can the police be convinced of that? I know that the district
attorney has been breathing down their necks to solve this murder. I'm
just afraid that they're going to try and pin this all on the first likely
"Well, if that were the case, they would have
formally charged Reginald."
Douglas glanced up and saw Jim motioning for him. "Charles, I need to
be in the room with Francis while they question her."
"O-okay," Charles stammered and then shook his head as
he watched Douglas disappear into another room. "I just wish I could
make sense of all of this. And I wish I knew what the hell was going to
happen inside that interrogation room."
A short while later, Jim
was doing a very thorough interview with a frightened and nervous Francis under
Douglas' watchful eye.
Mrs. Callison, you admit to being in the lounge with Mrs. Lake?" he asked
with much interested as he held his pen poised to write down every word.
Francis stammered, utterly terrified of saying the wrong thing. "I
was in there with her...twice."
"Yes." She took a deep breath and swallowed
hard. "The first time was early in the evening and..."
"Let's talk about the second time, shall we?" He
paused and looked at her closely. "When was that?"
"It was...after I'd found out about how she'd drugged my
husband," she confessed and hung her head, the entire story more than a
little embarrassing for her. "I was...angry with her. I wanted
to...to confront her with what I'd found out."
"How did you know she was in the lounge?"
"Well, I...um...just assumed that she was since that was
the last place where I'd seen her."
"I see." Jim paused and tapped his chin with his
pen as he thought deeply. "So, did you argue?"
"Oh, yes! I confronted her. I told her that I
knew everything about what she'd done to keep me and my husband apart. I
told her that I wouldn't stand for her conniving and interfering in my
"You must have been very, very angry, Mrs. Callison."
He hesitated and then leaned across the table to look directly into her eyes.
"During the course of this argument, did you at any time become physical
with Mrs. Lake?"
"Physical?" Francis furrowed her brow and shook
her head in confusion. "I...I don't think I understand what you're
trying to ask."
do you really think this is necessary?" Douglas spoke up as he put
his hand on Francis' shoulder to comfort her. "This has just been
horrible for her as it is and I..."
"I'm sorry. Maybe I didn't phrase my question
clearly." He ignored Douglas and leaned back into his chair so that
he could take in the full scope of her expressions and gestures.
"During your argument with Mrs. Lake, did the argument ever become
"I...I..." She bit her lip and nervously looked
"Francis, it's okay," Douglas whispered to her.
"We talked about this earlier."
"Mrs. Callison," Jim spoke up again. "Did
you ever have the occasion to strike Mrs. Lake?"
"Y-yes," she muttered softly and hung her head.
"And what was the reason for this attack?"
"Detective, do we have to do this now?" Douglas
interrupted. "Can't you see that she's under a great deal of stress
and nearly in shock? Can't we postpone this questioning until a later
date? This woman needs to be at home with her husband and children
"They haven't even set bail, yet, Mr. Davis," Jim
reminded as his jaw tightened. "And, besides, I think we've put off
solving this murder long enough. Apparently you don't see the seriousness
of this matter. This town hasn't seen a murder in over 30 years. I
refuse to let this crime go unsolved on my watch."
"Hmmm...30 years?" Douglas smirked slightly.
"What do you call Arlene
"Missing!" Jim replied flatly. "No body was
ever found. For all we know that woman just left town. There's not
one shred of proof that she's dead or that a crime was committed."
"And you'll quickly see that there's not one shred of proof
that my client is guilty of this crime." Douglas folded his arms
across his chest and glared at the detective.
"Then what do you call this?" Jim asked as he fought
to suppress a slight grin before slipping the telltale scarf out of an envelope.
"Do you recognize this scarf Mrs. Callison?"
"Y-yes," Francis nodded. "It's...it's
Douglas eyed Jim suspiciously. What in the world was the
detective up to?
Meanwhile, outside the interrogation room...
are you all right?" Jillian
asked as she walked over to Reginald
who was pouring himself a cup of coffee. "I...came just as soon as I
could change clothes and take care of our guests."
"Thank you, dear," he smiled and then kissed her
tenderly on the cheek. "I'm sorry that today had to turn out like
this---of all days!"
"It's not your fault," she sighed and then wrapped her
arms tightly around him. "This is why you refused to say anything to
the police, isn't it?"
He nodded silently and then looked away to hide the worry on his
face. "She's gone through so much because of that woman.
Annabelle always knew the exact things to say to upset Mother. I...I don't
blame her for what happened, but I...I couldn't just let Annabelle's curse
continue to haunt her."
"What happened?" she asked calmly. "What really
happened that night?"
"Well..." His voice trailed off as he thought
back to the night of the party when Annabelle had been murdered. "I'd
just found out what she'd done to Father at our engagement party. I'd
found out exactly why my parents weren't together anymore. I went looking
for her. I wanted to confront her and warn her to stay away from our
family." He paused and winced slightly as if the memory were too
painful for him. "I...saw Mother running across the room from the
direction of the lounge. She was so upset. I knew...I knew
then that I couldn't let Annabelle continue to torture our family."
"What...did you do?"
"I was going to confront her," he muttered as his eyes
grew coldly vacant. "I was going to threaten her."
"Not...with violence," he muttered and he shook his
head. "I was going to threaten her with humiliation. Remember,
I'm a journalist. I was going to threaten to dig so far into her past and
dredge up every nasty thing about her I could find." He paused as a
wicked smirk covered his face. "And then I was going to anonymously
mail that information to The State Examiner. The Post is too
honorable a paper to print such filth."
"But you never had a chance to do that, did you?"
"N-no. When I went into the lounge I saw Annabelle
laying there, she was already dead." He paused and inhaled deeply,
the disturbing memory still fresh in his mind. "Mom's scarf was right
by her body. I knew it was hers because...I gave it to her for Christmas.
I just knew...knew that, considering everything that had happened, if the police
ever saw that scarf there, they'd immediately suspect her. That's
why I hid the scarf."
"I understand that, Reginald, but why did you pick
up the knife?" Jillian's eyes filled with worry and concern.
"I...I don't know," he sighed and hung his head.
"I had just hidden the scarf and was about to wipe the finger prints off of
the knife when I heard Stephanie
coming in. I just froze."
"And that's when she found you," Jillian nodded as the
entire story became clear inside her head. "Oh, darling, you did all
of this for your mother. You kept quiet about what really happened because
if you tried to defend yourself---tried to prove your innocence---then
the police would start to look for other suspects and you were afraid that the
trail would lead to her."
"Yes," he confessed and then lifted his head to look
at her. "I...didn't do a very good job protecting her, did I?
The police still managed to figure everything out."
"Darling, you did the best that you could." She
took him into her arms and held him tightly. "I...I'm just so touched
by how far you'd go to protect your family, but...but..."
"Why the devil didn't you tell me?" she
continued angrily. "I've been worrying myself sick! I haven't
known what to think. I knew...that you couldn't be guilty of murder
but...but...you just wouldn't say anything. Why couldn't you trust
me enough to tell me the truth? Why did you have to put me, of all people,
"I just didn't want to put you in a position where you'd be
forced to keep my secret. I didn't want to get you involved."
"I'm already involved!" she reminded as she gently
touched him on the cheek. "Being in love with you makes me involved
in everything that you do. We're going to be married. Everything
that you go through, I go through."
"I know," he sighed again and hung his head.
"I just...wanted to protect you. I'm sorry. Now it looks like
it's all going to be for nothing. Mom's under arrest for murder. I
didn't do a very good job."