THE GRAND SUNSET ROOM - MAIN DANCE
was simply beautiful," Leticia
Rutherford said as she broke away from her husband
Fred, with whom she'd been dancing, and applauded the
orchestra's performance. "I really have to
hand it to Francis
and her Ladies Auxiliary. They've really managed
to pull together an amazing benefit."
Fred Rutherford nodded. "They've raised
quite a bit of money tonight for that new children's
ward at the hospital."
do you think you'll be all right for a few minutes
while I go talk to Francis? I want to tell her
what a good job she's done."
"I can take
care of myself," he laughed and then finished his
drink. "I'll just go over to the bar and
get another cocktail." He leaned in and
kissed her on the cheek. "I'll see you in a
As Leticia left
and disappeared out of sight into the crowd, Fred
inhaled deeply. All the cooing and fawning he
was having to do over his wife was beginning to wear
him down. Sure, Leticia was genial and loving
enough, but even a blind person could see how stuffy
and prim she could be. In a word, Fred found her
quite dull and he loved excitement. However, the
immense size of his wife's bank account went a long
way in making her more attractive to him.
the bar and lifted his hand to catch the attention of
the bartender, but was startled to find another hand
land gently on his shoulder. The touch was
familiar and he spun around in shock to face the
what the devil do you think you're doing?" he
asked in a severe whisper. "We shouldn't be
seen together here."
be silly," Donna
Allison laughed. "You're a doctor.
I'm a nurse. This is a hospital
fundraiser, after all. There's nothing unseemly
about two professional colleagues talking socially
about the successes of the night concerning the
Fred paused to
consider what she'd said and realized that she did
have a point. However, he also knew that their
relationship was far more than professional. He
had a lot a stake and didn't need any sort of public
slip-ups to threaten everything that he'd worked so
hard to achieve.
-- that's all we can talk about. Hospital
business." His eyes darted around the room
checking to see if anyone were watching them, paying
attention too closely.
sure are jumpy tonight." Donna lifted her
hand to carefully caress his cheek.
"Perhaps we should get together later. I
bet I know a few ways to relax you."
Donna," he snapped, grabbing hold of her hand and
forcing it away. "Someone could see you.
I told you that what goes on between us is private.
It stays behind closed doors and we don't need to make
a public spectacle out of it. If my wife were to
I know," she muttered and hung her head.
She'd made so much progress with him and now was
afraid that she'd pushed things too far.
"I...can see you again, can't I?"
you can," he smiled, both his tone and manner
loosening up slightly. "But only when we
can be alone. What we have is just between us.
You know that I have...um...special circumstances
Fred was cut off
mid-sentence by a very loud clearing of the throat
definitely meant to politely, yet definitely,
interrupt their conversation.
St. John, the manager of the ballroom, spoke up.
John, yes?" Fred asked as he turned away from
Donna to face him. Jasper's carefully raised
eyebrow and knowing smirk belayed the suspicions that
were swirling inside the man's head. "Nurse
Allison and I were just discussing the fundraiser and
the children's ward."
"Yes, I can
see that," Jasper responded dryly.
"Perhaps you should be discussing
the...um...fundraiser with your wife?"
discussing it with Mrs. Callison." Fred's
jaw tightened. The last thing he was in the mood
for was the snooty manager's insinuations.
"You wanted something?"
"Oh, yes, I
almost forgot." Jasper reached into his
jacket pocket and pulled out an envelope.
"One of our waiters found this at the front door
and it was addressed to you. I'd assumed you'd
dropped it on your way in and I thought I'd return
it." Jasper handed the envelope over to
Fred, making sure to keep his hand extended for the
customary tip. When, after several long moments,
his hand remained empty, Jasper pulled it away and
scowled at the good doctor. "If I see your
wife, I'll be sure to tell her where you are."
um, yes," Fred muttered, immediately realized
what Jasper was getting at and then dug deeply into
his pocked for some change and handed it over to him.
you, sir!" Jasper exclaimed with false gratitude
as he examined his handful of coins. "Now I
can continue to pay for my dear gray-haired old
mother's medical bills." With a roll of his
eyes, he deposited the coins in his own pocket and
then turned to walk away.
is it?" Donna asked as she watched Fred as he
held the envelope out in front of himself.
"Who's it from?"
I don't want to know," he muttered, half to
himself. Unable to contain his nervous suspense
any longer, he ripped it open and pulled out a
carefully typed letter -- it was from his blackmailer!
And whoever it
was was there at the fundraiser and watching his every