Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 12)

The next morning Tara decided she would spend the day at home.  She needed some quiet time.  She made pancakes for breakfast, and Allen left after breakfast, so Tara invited Eva to walk in the courtyard with her.

“Oh, Eva, I don’t know what I’ll do without him, and I really wish our last two years would have been happier.”  A tear slipped down her cheek.

“I’m sorry, dear.  I miss him too.  Allen and I have missed him these past two years.  It’s almost like losing him again.”  A couple of tears slipped from her eyes as well.

“We’ll just have to cling to the good memories and happy times, Tara.  We’ll have to take one day at a time.  You’re young, you’ll find love again.”

“I’m not sure that I want to.  Marriage is hard work and I don’t know if I’ll be able to trust another man.”

“That is what hurts me the most, I think.  I’m sure Jaime did what he thought was best for you, but it certainly made him appear to be untrustworthy.”

They sat, in silence for a few minutes, on a bench under a red maple tree, then Tara said, “I just want it all to be over.  This is all so stressful and wearisome.”

“I know.  I want whoever killed Jaime to be brought to justice.”

“Me too.”

They sat, each lost in her own thoughts and memories of Jaime.  After a while, Eva stood up, “I’m going to go back into the house.  You take as much time as you need out here.”  She squeezed Tara’s hand.

Tara said, “Thank you.”

Tara sat in thought in the courtyard for another half-an-hour, before her thoughts were interrupted.  “Tara, there is someone here to see you,” Eva announced.

Tara looked up and, to her surprise, saw Hunter standing next to Eva.  Eva left the two of them in the courtyard.

“Hunter, what are you doing here?”

“I, uh, I wanted to say I’m sorry.”  Hunter burst into tears.

Tara rushed to him, put her arm around him and led him to the bench to sit beside her.  She sat with her arm around him and just let him cry.  She shed some tears with him as well.  When it seemed as though the tears were done, she said, “What are you sorry for?”

“For ruining your life!”

“Oh, Hunter, you didn’t ruin my life.”

“Yes, I did.  If I had never been born, my mom wouldn’t have tried to take your husband away from you and you would have children and be happy, and my dad wouldn’t be dead right now!”

“Hunter, none of this is your fault.  Your mother was trying to do what was best for you by contacting Jaime.  She wanted you to know your father, and I’m glad he had time with you and was able to know you.”

“You are?”

“Yes, Hunter, I am.”  She paused for a few minutes, then added, “Hunter, what makes you think any of this has anything to do with your father’s death?”

“She told me she was coming here that evening.  She said she was going to force Dad to tell you about us, and . . .”

“And, you think she killed him?”

Hunter nodded.

“Well, I don’t think you have to worry about that.  The police are pretty certain that a man is responsible for your dad’s death.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

Hunter didn’t look convinced or relieved.

“She isn’t really married to Dad, you know.”

“No?”

“No.  She paid someone to make that phony marriage certificate.  She said you didn’t deserve to plan Dad’s funeral because you should never have been part of his life.”

“You disagree?”

“You seem like a really nice lady, and Dad loved you a lot.  He talked about you a lot when we did stuff together without Mom.  He really wanted to have you meet me, and he wanted the three of us to do stuff together, but he knew Mom would never allow it.  He was sad about things between him and you.  He felt like a cornered animal.  He told me he couldn’t be truly happy and couldn’t make the people he loved most happy either.”

Tara listened as tears streamed down her face.

“He wanted to take me away from Mom and have me live with the two of you.  He knew I wasn’t really happy living with Mom and Grandpa, but with Grandpa’s money, power and connections, he knew he couldn’t win.”

“Why aren’t you happy living with your Mom and your Grandpa?”

“To her I’m just a possession.  She doesn’t spend any time with me or do fun stuff with me.  She doesn’t talk to me, except to tell me how to behave so that I don’t embarrass her or put a smudge on the family name.  And now, Grandpa says I am the future of Fleming Pharmaceuticals.  He doesn’t care that I don’t want to be.  I don’t have Dad’s last name.  My name is Hunter William Fleming.”

“She gave you Jaime’s middle name.”

“Yeah.  She doesn’t listen to me.  She just buys me stuff and expects me to be happy and to entertain myself.  Lately, she’s been talking about sending me to some boarding school.  She probably will now that Dad’s not here to protest against it.”

“Oh, Hunter, I’m so sorry.  I wish I could help you.  Won’t you get into trouble for coming here?”

“She won’t know.  She doesn’t pay much attention to me, and I used to sneak out and meet Dad when I really needed to talk to someone who would listen.  The limo driver likes me and takes me wherever I want to go, and he won’t tell Mom.  I’d like to visit you sometimes, if you don’t mind.  I’d like to get to know you and hear your stories about you and Dad.”

“That would be fine, as long as you won’t get punished for visiting me.”

“Don’t worry about that.  Like I said, the limo driver and me have an understanding.  You see, I know on his nights off, he sometimes takes girls out in the limo and I don’t tell, and he takes me wherever I want to go and he don’t tell,” Hunter smiled for the first time, and Tara saw Jaime in that smile.  Hunter mostly resembled Melody in his physical appearance with his dark brown eyes and jet black hair, but that smile was definitely Jaime, and it seemed that Hunter had Jaime’s personality as well.  Tara loved him already.

“Hunter, come with me.  I want to show you something.”

Tara took Hunter to her art studio.  She showed him the picture she had painted of him.

“Wow, that’s me!  That was the first time I had ever seen you.  You came home and painted that just from seeing me one time?”

Tara smiled and nodded.  Then she showed him the picture she had painted of Jaime the night before.  He stood for a long time, just looking at the picture, studying it, taking it all in.  Then he burst into tears again, threw his arms around her waist and said, “I miss him so much!”

Tara and Hunter stood crying together for quite some time.  When the tears subsided and Hunter stepped back, Tara looked into his eyes and said, “I really like you, Hunter.”

“I really like you to.  I wish I could stay here forever, but I better be getting back.  It wouldn’t do for me to miss lunch.”

Tara and Hunter walked to the door of the house hand-in-hand.  He turned toward her, gave her a hug, and she kissed the top of his head, before he walked down the front steps to the limo waiting in front of the house.

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