PUBLICATIONS - DOUGLAS'S OFFICE
Davis," came the voice of his secretary over the intercom, "Detective
Fitzpatrick is here to see you."
"Great," Douglas Davis
grumbled to himself as he leaned forward onto his desk and buried his face into
his hands. Whatever could the annoying detective want now?
"Thank you, Myrtle," he said into the intercom in a less than
enthusiastic voice. "Send him in."
"Mr. Davis, I'm sorry to just
barge in on you like this," Jim Fitzpatrick said as he came through the
office door a few moments later, "but I just wanted to stop by and
congratulate you on a job well done. You did some great work on Francis
"Detective, I would have
assumed that you would have been less than thrilled with the outcome of that
hearing," Douglas responded as he looked up at him, suddenly quite
interested in what he had to say. "After all, you're the one
primarily responsible for getting my client charged with murder in the first
"Yes, I was," Jim conceded.
"And, to be honest, I had doubts in my mind almost from the moment I had to
interrupt that wedding and arrest her. However, I couldn't ignore the
evidence. Everything that we had point to Mrs. Callison as being the
"But that was all
"Yes, I agree," Jim
nodded, "but, truthfully, I'm not really here to rehash the investigation
or your brilliant defense of your client."
Douglas kept his eyes trained on the
police detective and cocked an eyebrow in interest. "So...?"
"Actually, I'm here to talk to
you about Mrs.
Lake's daughter, Stephanie," Jim explained and shoved his
hands deep into his pockets as he moved closer to the desk.
"Well, I don't see..."
"Mr. Davis, let me cut straight
to the chase."
"I wish you would."
"I want to talk to you about
that letter," Jim paused, giving enough time for Douglas to comprehend what
he was referring to, "the one that Mrs. Lake left for her daughter."
know what letter you're talking about!" Douglas leaned back into his
chair and folded his arms across his chest as he tried to figure out exactly
what interest the detective had in the letter. "So, why are you
interested in it? You know as well as I do that my client has been cleared
of murder and that the district attorney has declared this case closed. Stephen Lake killed his wife. I don't see any need to...."
"Mr. Davis, if you'd let me
finish." He paused and took a deep breath. "What I'm try
to ask you is if...well...you were going to follow through on Mrs. Lake's wishes
and give that letter to her daughter. As you said yourself, this case is
closed and I...don't know exactly what good could come out of...."
"Well, Detective, if I didn't
know better, I'd say you really had a heart underneath that gruff
exterior," Douglas laughed at the irony. "You sound almost like
you don't want me to give Stephanie that letter."
"Look, to be honest, I don't
see what it would accomplish. As you said yourself, this case is closed
"Detective, as I'm sure you
well know, I'm legally bound as Mrs. Lake's attorney to follow through with her
wishes," Douglas explained calmly, "including delivering that
"Mr. Davis, let me absolutely
frank." Jim moved closer and looked Douglas right in the eyes.
"Now, if you ever breathe a word of this to anyone else, I'll flat out deny
it, but...well...I think that my department completely bungled this
it's true," Jim muttered and hung his head. "I think that with
the pressure from the D.A., we were a little over zealous in our case against
Mrs. Callison and...well...a little short sighted when it came to the
investigation into what turned out to be Miss Lake's abduction." He
paused as he tried to collect his thoughts. "Personally, I would just
like to forget that this entire mess happened. I want everyone involved to
be able to get their lives back to something that resembles normal. Miss
Lake has been through a horrible ordeal these past few months---her mother's
murder, her father's unexpected return, her abduction---and I'm not sure what,
if anything, showing her that letter would accomplish. She knows that
her father murdered her mother. Does she really need to know that her
mother tried to murder her father?"
"You do have a
heart!" Douglas couldn't fight the surprised and amused grin that
spread across his face.
"Let's keep that between
us," Jim laughed weakly. "I know that the decision about what to
do with the letter is ultimately up to you, but---as the only other person
alive who knows about its existence---I thought that I needed to add my 2 cents,
whatever it's worth."
"You're right, Detective,"
Douglas nodded. "That decision is ultimately up to me. In fact,
I've known what I was going to do with it long before today." He rose
from his seat, signaling that the meeting was over. "Now, if you'll
excuse me, I have quite a bit of work to finish."
Jim nodded and turned to head towards
"And don't worry,
Detective," Douglas smiled slyly, "I'm keep this little display of
compassion between us. I wouldn't want to ruin your reputation."
Jim turned around to face Douglas
again and nodded with a grin before closing the door behind him.
As Douglas returned to his seat, he
let out a weary sigh and pulled open the top drawer of his desk before reaching
in to pull out the letter in question. Eyeing it intently, he shook his
head as a look of determination washed over his face. Yes, he had known
for some time exactly what he would do with the letter and there was no time
like the present to carry out those plans. Why put it off?
Reaching back into the drawer, he
pulled out a lighter and then determinedly held the letter over the open flame
until it ignited. No, there was no reason for Stephanie to ever see
it---no reason for her to ever learn of her mother's true deviousness. No
matter what horrible things that Stephanie might have done in the past, she'd
been through too much as it was. Maybe it was finally time to put
everything in the past and move on.
As the flames traveled up the
letter, fully engulfing it, Douglas dropped it into the metal waste
basket beside his desk and patiently watched as it turned into a pile of
unrecognizable ashes. With a smile of satisfaction, he knew that it was
finally time to put the nightmare of Stephen and Annabelle Lake in the past.