SPRINGHILL MANOR -
don't know why you had to call them here," Dane whispered in annoyance as
he watched the police who were carefully searching the room for any indication
as to where Stephanie might have gone. "You're over reacting.
She just ran off. It's no big deal!"
"Dane, this just isn't like
her," Sara muttered sternly. "I'm worried!"
"Me, too," Patterson
sighed as he nervously raked his fingers through his hair.
"So, Mrs. Manchester, when was
the last time you saw your cousin?" Detective Jim Fitzpatrick asked as he
and Officer Russ Leeds searched the room.
"Um...a few days ago," she
explained. "I was about to go out to dinner with my mother. In
fact, that's the last time any of us saw her."
see," he nodded as he rubbed his chin. "Did you all have any
kind of discussion or argument that might give any indication, in retrospect, as
to where she might have gone or why?"
"No, nothing," Sara shook
"Honey, she did tell us how
unhappy she was here," Dane pointed out. "She was determined to
move out of this house as soon as possible."
she wouldn't have run off without saying anything to anybody!" Patterson
spoke up. "At the very least she would have said something to
"And what is your relationship
to Miss Lake, Mr. Monroe?" Jim asked curiously as he walked over to
him. "Are you two romantically involved?"
Patterson stammered awkwardly.
"Not exactly?" Jim
furrowed his brow as he tried to understand the answer. "Either you
are or you aren't, Mr. Monroe. Which is it?"
friends. But...but...we're very close and she wouldn't have just left
without saying anything to me!"
"Has she ever kept anything
from you before?"
Patterson's shoulders slumped as he realized what the police detective was
trying to say. "But this is different!"
"That remains to be seen,"
Jim muttered before turning his attention to Sara. "So, Mrs.
Manchester, if you've been so worried about your cousin, why did you wait so
long to notify the police?"
"I...well...I thought that
maybe she had just taken off," Sara confessed as she hung her
head. "I mean, my husband is right about her not being the most
rational of people, sometimes. She does...sometimes do things without
thinking, but...well...for her not to say anything to anyone? The more
that I thought about it, the more worried I got."
"Detective, she just started a
new job that she was really excited about," Patterson explained.
"I can't believe that she would just leave that behind. It doesn't
make any sense."
"Miss Lake is the daughter of
Annabelle Lake, the murder victim, right?"
replied. "What does that...have to do with anything?"
"Just making sure I've got
everyone straight." Jim slowly began to pace around the room.
"So, her mother was tragically murdered and she moved in here. From
the way your husband sounds, they didn't exactly get along."
would be an understatement!" Dane laughed.
"Mrs. Manchester, it looks like
it's very likely that your cousin did, in fact, just take off. She is
an adult and come and go as she pleases."
stammered, still not convinced that something horrible hadn't happened.
"But when I got home from dinner with my mother, the house was empty, but
the lights were all on like someone was home. I found...this table turned
over. Doesn't that sound suspicious to you?"
"Yes, it does," Jim
muttered. "But if it sounds so suspicious to you, why didn't
it alert you that something had happened?"
"Well, I...I just didn't think
about it at the time," she sighed. "I had no reason to
think that maybe something horrible had happened. I'd planned to ask her
about it when she came home but...well...she never did. My husband just
convinced me that she'd run off and that...she'd come home eventually."
come here for a second," Officer Russ Leeds spoke up as he knelt down on
the floor beside the sofa.
"What it is, Leeds?" Jim
asked as he walked over to him. The officer picked up a small object,
nearly entirely hidden under the sofa, and handed it to Jim. "Very
interesting. Mrs. Manchester, do you recognize this?" He held
it out for Sara to see.
"I...I'm not sure," she
muttered as she looked at it closely. "It looks like a
"That's exactly what it
is," Jim confirmed. "Have you ever seen it before?"
"That's not one of mine,"
Dane explained as he, too, examined it before turning to look at Sara.
"Do you know where it came from?"
not sure." She kept her eyes focused on the cufflink as she began to
search her memory for some hint of recollection. "It...looks familiar
but...it can't be what I..."
"What?" Patterson asked
nervously. "What is it?"
"I think I know exactly whose
cufflink that looks like, but..."
be." Sara paused and took a deep breath, more confused and worried
than ever. "Because he's dead!"