THE DAILY POST
- REGINALD'S OFFICE
"Well, June is out of the
question," Jillian Stokes sighed as she sat on the edge of her fiancÚ
Reginald Callison's desk and flipped through the pages of the
"That's when the trial starts. Although it would be wonderful to be a June
"I know that you're eager for
us to reschedule the wedding," Reginald spoke up as he gently put his hand
on her shoulder, "but maybe we should wait until after the trial. We
don't know how long it's going to last or what's going to happen."
"Maybe you're right," she
nodded, clearly crestfallen that she would have to wait even longer for them to
get married. "But I...just can't help wanting something set in stone.
June would have been perfect. School will be over and I'll have gotten my
associate's degree in art history and..."
degree?" He furrowed his brow as he thought about what she'd
said. "I thought that you were going for your bachelor's degree."
"Well, I was," she
replied, "but I realized that I'm not really going to need it to be a wife
and a mother. I already have enough credits and have taken all of the
required classes. An associate's degree is fine."
"A wife and...mother?" A look of panic quickly covered Reginald's face as her
words began to sink in. "Jillian, you're not trying to tell me that
you're...but it's too soon!"
"No, silly," she laughed
warmly and then lightly stroked his cheek. "I'm talking about when we
do have a baby. We are going to have one eventually, dear."
He paused and let out a sigh of relief much to Jillian's amusement.
"And that reminds me," she
spoke up and quickly reached for the package that was on
the edge of the desk. "I really need to stop by Lorraine's and drop
off this baby gift. I feel horrible that I haven't been able to organize a proper baby shower. I
mean, what with everything that's been going on with your mother and then my father's..." Her voice caught in her throat; the word nearly too much
"I know, honey, I know,"
Reginald said soothingly as he came up behind her are tenderly rubbed her
back. "This is all going to be over eventually and then there's going
to be nothing but clear skies ahead for all of us."
"Darling, I want to believe
that. Really I do." She turned around and gazed lovingly into his
eyes. "But, I just can't get this feeling out of my head
Suddenly, the office door swung open
and Patterson Monroe hurried into the room.
"I hope I'm not interrupting
anything," he spoke up. "Your secretary told me to just come on
"You're not interrupting
anything, Paddy," Reginald smiled as he quickly went to greet his
friend. "How have you been? Considering everything that's been
going on, I haven't had a chance to catch up with you, lately."
stammered awkwardly. "There's even more going on than you
realize. In fact, that's...why I'm here. Reginald, this isn't
exactly a social visit."
"Paddy, are you all
right?" Jillian asked with concern. "You look like something's
troubling you. What's the matter?"
Patterson confessed as he hung his head. Jillian immediately winced at the
mention of the name. "She's...in trouble and I...need your help,
"Paddy, you're my best friend
and all, but I really don't think that I have any interest in anything that
involves Stephanie Lake." Reginald folded his arms tightly across his
chest and quickly glanced in Jillian's direction, noticing her discomfort.
"You know better than anyone else what she's done to us and
"I know, I know,"
Patterson responded with a shake of his head. "I really don't have
any business coming to you with this, but you're the only person I know that I
think can help me and...well...you are my friend and..."
"I...I think I need to go run
that errand I was talking about," Jillian spoke up as she quickly slipped
on her jacket and tucked the package underneath her arm before giving Reginald a
quick peck on the cheek and heading for the door. "Sweetheart, I'll talk to you later."
"I didn't mean to run her
off," Patterson sighed after Jillian had hurried out of the office.
"I know that Stephanie did some pretty terrible things to both of you, but
this is very important."
"Okay, Paddy, what is it,"
Reginald sighed reluctantly. "What's Stephanie done, now, that's
gotten you all upset?"
disappeared," Patterson confessed.
"Or, probably more accurately,
she's been kidnapped."
Reginald's eyes grew wide from shock. "By whom?"
"Her father," Patterson
Reginald's voice trailed off as his mind tried to process what he was
hearing. "But, I thought that Stephanie's father was dead."
"That's what everyone
thought!" Patterson shook his head, still in disbelief over
what was happening, and sunk down into a chair. "Until the
police discovered evidence proving that he might really be alive."
eyed him curiously as his keen reporter's instincts took over. "What
"A cufflink at
that she swears belongs to Stephen Lake." Patterson paused briefly
and bit his lip as he looked up at Reginald. Should he tell him the
rest? Should he voice his own suspicions and risk raising Reginald's
"Go on, Paddy," Reginald
urged as he moved closer, not wanting to miss a word. "You act like
there's something else---something you're not saying."
confessed. "There's even more convincing proof that her father is
alive." He hesitated again, but forced himself to continue.
"Sara saw him."
"Sara saw Stephen Lake with her
own eyes. It was..." Patterson stopped, unsure about
whether he should continue, but quickly realized that if he had any hope of
convincing Reginald to help him, he had to explain his suspicions.
"Sara saw him at The Grand Sunset Room---the night that Annabelle was
"Oh, my god," Reginald
gasped as he slowly leaned back against his desk. His keen reporter's mind
immediately began to kick into gear and the connection between the two events
became clear. "You're not saying that the police think that
Stephanie's father had anything to do with Annabelle's murder, are you?"
"Well, officially, the police
aren't saying anything," Patterson confessed, "but the impression that
I got from them is that they were considering the possibility. I
mean, don't you find it odd that Stephanie's father---a man that everyone
thought was dead---miraculously returned to life and was spotted the exact same
night that his wife was mysteriously murdered? And now his daughter has
suddenly disappeared? This is too unbelievable to just be some giant
"I agree," Reginald nodded
and then carefully rubbed his chin as he considered the possibilities.
"But, really, even if Stephen Lake were there the night that
Annabelle died, there's no way he could have done it. Granted, he might
very well be responsible for Stephanie's disappearance, but I don't see how he
could have had anything to do with Annabelle's murder."
obvious!" Patterson eyed him with astonishment. Surely
Reginald, of all people, could see the connection. "Stephen Lake
killed his wife and then kidnapped his own daughter. Think about it.
Everyone thought he was dead. Nobody would ever have suspected him."
"Paddy, I understand that
you're worried about Stephanie, but maybe that's clouding your judgment just a
little. Remember, I was there. I saw my mother coming out of the
lounge. She says that she left Annabelle very much alive, but when I went
into the lounge, Annabelle was dead. That waitress that was there didn't
see anybody else go in between the time that my mother left and I went in.
There's no way that he could have killed her."
"You...almost sound like you
think that your mother actually did it." Patterson eyed him with a
mixture of suspicion and worry. "Certainly, you don't..."
don't know," Reginald confessed as he hung his head in embarrassment.
"Honestly, I don't know what to believe. In my heart, I know that my
mother couldn't have done such a horrible thing, but...well...I am a
newspaper man. I deal with facts and evidence and...well...I just can't
get past the evidence that I've seen. There is just no way that anyone
else could have gotten into that lounge."
"And as far as Stephanie goes,
for all we know---and if her father really is alive---she just packed up
and ran off with him. Paddy, you know how she is. She only thinks
about herself. The fact that you and Sara would be worried to death about
her wouldn't even have entered her mind."
"But, what if?" Patterson
questioned urgently as he tried to force Reginald to understand what he was
saying. "What if I'm right? What if Stephen Lake really did
kill his wife and kidnapped Stephanie?"
"Then that...would be a
horrible, horrible thing," Reginald agreed as he tried to consider the
possibilities. "I mean, the fact that he faked his own death and then
came back only to kill his wife is frightening enough to consider,
but...well...that he kidnapped his own daughter?"
"If it is true, then Stephanie
could be in serious danger," Patterson continued. "If her father
really did kill Annabelle, then that proves that he's capable of
murder. I honestly don't think that Stephanie would willingly run away
with him if she knew that. That means that he took her by force.
That means that she could be in real danger."
"That's a lot of assuming,
Paddy." Reginald slowly shook his head, still overwhelmed by
Patterson's reasoning. "Besides, I don't know what you expect me to
do. Unless I have some good, solid proof that Stephen Lake could have
killed his wife, I can't even take that theory seriously. There's no way
he could have gotten into that room."
Patterson paused and furrowed his
brow as he thought deeply. Suddenly, his eyes grew wide with realization.
"No way he could have gotten
into that room, huh?" Patterson smiled confidently. "Come on,
Reginald, I've got an idea. And if it turns out that I'm right, you're
going to thank me."