Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 18)

The day of the reading of the will arrived and there had been no new information about the investigation surrounding Jaime’s death.

Tara dressed in a black-and-white striped skirt with a simple black blouse.  She wore a delicate silver chain around her neck and spent some extra time on her hair.  She pinned it in a French twist and left a stray tendril curl along each side of her face.

“You look beautiful, Tara,” Allen said when she came down the stairs.  “Dressed to impress anyone special?” He winked.

“Of course not.  It wouldn’t be appropriate to be inviting anyone’s attention so soon after Jaime’s passing,” she answered, but she could feel the heat of the blush in her cheeks.

“Tara, dear, don’t worry so much about what other people think.  You have been without a man’s affections for most of the past two years.  If you find a suitable gentleman offering his attention, don’t be too quick to brush him off.”

“Really?”

“Really,” both Allen and Eva answered.

Tara felt better having their approval, but still didn’t really know what she thought.  She decided to simply take one step at a time.

——————————————————————————————————————-

When they arrived at Trenton Davis’s office, Melody and Hunter were already there.  Melody’s father was also there.  Sergeant Olsen was present as well, hoping to find a possible motive for murder in the reading of the will.  Trenton greeted Tara, and Jaime’s parents, and escorted Tara to a chair.

Trenton read the will in a very professional manner.  Jaime had left the house and everything in it to Tara, and with the event of his death, the mortgage would be paid in full so Tara would not be responsible for monthly payments.  He also left two-thirds of everything he had to Tara.

He left the remaining one-third to Hunter, in addition to a trust fund he had set up for Hunter, but there was a stipulation that Hunter would receive the money in increments, none of which would be given to him before the age of eighteen, and the size and timing of the payments would be determined by Trenton Davis based on guidelines that Jaime had provided for this purpose.

Trenton put down the papers he was holding and looked at the group before him, “That’s it.  It’s a pretty simple will.”  “Ms. Fleming,” he addressed Melody, “you will need to keep me informed of any address changes you and Hunter make until the time of his eighteenth birthday, at which time, I will want to have a private meeting with Hunter.”

“What?  Why can’t I be a part of that meeting?  I am his mother.”

“Yes, you are, but the age of eighteen is recognized as the legal age of adulthood.  Therefore, Hunter can have meetings without your presence, and that is part of the guidelines set in the will.”

“Fine.”  And Melody, Hunter and Mr. Fleming left Mr. Davis’s office.

Sergeant Olsen took his leave as well, slightly disappointed that there were no motives to be found here.

“Mrs. Richardson, I do have one more thing to give to you.”

“We’ll be in the hall, dear,” Eva said, and she and Allen left.

Tara stood and so did Trenton.  He handed Tara a sealed envelope.  “He had given me this not long after we wrote his will.  He told me to give it to you, if something were to happen to him before his old age.”

Tara took the envelope and recognized her name, written in Jaime’s handwriting.

“Mrs. Richardson, would you please let me know when you feel ready to spend some time with a gentleman again?  I would be pleased to just have an occasional dinner and talk, just to get to know one another and become friends.”

“Mr. Davis, you are very kind.  I appreciate your seeking permission and not being too forward.  Right now I just cannot think about even just being friends with a gentleman, and I suspect, that with you, it wouldn’t remain a simple friendship for long.  Why don’t you start by simply calling me in three months and see how I’m doing.  You see, it is tempting to take you up on an offer of dinner and conversation, but I do not want to jump into something as though on the rebound.  I need to see what happens with Jaime’s murder investigation, and I hope that it will be solved quickly as that will give me the closure I feel I need to properly grieve and come to grips with losing him, which is quite necessary in order to be ready to move into any kind of relationship with any other man.”

“I understand.  You are quite gracious, and I will be happy to call you in three months.  In the meantime, I will pray for you.”

“Thank you.  Do you mind if I ask you something?”

“No, please, ask what you will.”

“Well, it’s actually a two-fold question.  How is it that in four years, you haven’t found a woman to have a relationship with, and whatever made you think you would have a chance with a married woman?”

Trenton blushed a bit and said, “After speaking with you at that dinner party, I was just so impressed with you, and you would constantly invade my thoughts, and sometimes my dreams.  I had noticed that Jaime was quite preoccupied and didn’t pay much attention to you, so I thought there may be trouble in your relationship.  I did try to date other women, but none of them made an impression on me like you did.  I actually had resigned myself to the fact that I would simply remain single forever because I had no intention of trying to interfere in a marriage.  I certainly would never have wished any ill upon Jaime and am so sorry for what has happened to him.  He was, quite obviously, a man of integrity.”

“Thank you, Mr. Davis.”  And with that, Tara turned to leave his office.

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 17)

Tara began to wonder what life would be like when Allen and Eva went back to their own home.  The will would be read in just two days and she didn’t think they’d stay too many days after that.  She knew they’d like to be with her when the person responsible for Jaime’s death was found, but no one knew how long that could take.

Tara had begun to give some serious thought to what she should do with her life.  As much as she loved this big house with its courtyard and the strip of woods out back, it felt really empty without Jaime.  She thought about selling it and moving into something smaller.  She thought about moving to a new town and starting fresh, or moving to the town Allen and Eva live in, but she was afraid that if she were close to them she would never allow herself to fall in love again because she wouldn’t want to hurt them.  She wondered if she should get some kind of job.  She had never really thought her art would earn her a living.  She didn’t know what else she would do, though.

As the time for the reading of the will drew closer, she also thought more about Trenton Davis.  She wondered if she should spend time getting to know him.  She worried that if she did give him a chance, he would try to move too quickly because he’d already been waiting for her for four years.  She couldn’t imagine that he hadn’t met other, more beautiful, fascinating women during those years.  She wondered what made him think he’d have an opportunity to be with her when he knew she was married to Jaime.  She also thought he must be someone that could be counted on and he was obviously patient.  She imagined him cherishing her and treating her special after waiting so long, and he certainly was handsome and charming.

She just didn’t know what the right thing to do was.

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 16)

Allen left just after lunch and Tara and Eva had tea together in the courtyard.  “Are you okay, Eva?  I’m sure this is quite hard on you since Jaime was your only child.”

“Yes, children shouldn’t die before their parents.  And, it’s like losing him for a second time. I keep wondering if we could have done something to spend more time with the two of you these past two years.  I feel like we just allowed him to slip away and now he’s gone from this life.  I hope to see him again in heaven.”

“Do you doubt that?”

“A little.  I know he loved the Lord and I’m sure he made things right with God over the indiscretion with Melody.  I know he was a man of integrity and that he took his responsibilities seriously.  But what about what he did to you, neglecting you and your marriage, keeping secrets, and lying to you about why he wouldn’t have children with you?  I remember how happy he was when you married him, and I just can’t believe that he would let some woman bully him into neglecting you.”

“I think he loved and cared for Hunter so much that he did his best to make Hunter’s life happier.  Hunter really doesn’t have a happy life just because his mom can buy him anything he wants.  Hunter told me that Jaime wanted Hunter to live with us but knew he could never win a legal battle against Melody and her father.  I’m not sure Jaime realized how much he was hurting me or how lonely I was.  He knew that I knew he loved me.”

“Oh, Tara, this must be like losing him for a second time for you too.”

“Yes, it is.”

——————————————————————————————————————-

Allen returned around dinner time carrying two large pizzas.  They sat down to dinner and Allen said, “Carl Jacobson finally admitted there are two clients who were really angry with Jaime during the past six to eight months.  They both ended up losing control of their companies and large sums of money due to mergers.  Carl said that Jaime had tried his best to get the best possible deals for them, but it just isn’t always possible.  He told me he didn’t think that either of those men would’ve tracked Jaime to his residence to continue any kind of debate, but he called Sergeant Olsen and gave him their names before I left his office.”

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 15)

Things were pretty quiet the rest of the week and through the weekend.  Tara spent a lot of time in her studio, painting flowers, the woods, the ocean and a cottage.  She spent the early evenings sitting in the courtyard, thinking.  She wondered what life would be like for her now that Jaime was gone.  She supposed it wouldn’t be much different than the past two years since Jaime hadn’t been home much during those years anyway.  She knew one thing, though, she wouldn’t be as stressed out, and she wouldn’t have anyone to argue with.

Tara had been lonely a lot during those two years, and she began to wonder what it might be like to have the attention and affection of a man again.  As soon as her thoughts turned in that direction, Trenton Davis came to mind, and she quickly tried to push those thoughts away, feeling guilty, like she was betraying Jaime.  She didn’t want people talking about her and thinking badly of her because she went running to another man without properly grieving first.  But hadn’t she been grieving the loss of Jaime for two years already?

She had been neglected and deserted for those two years, and Jaime had kept secrets from her.  He had sacrificed having a family with her for a child he had to a woman out of wedlock; a woman who hadn’t even told Jaime about the boy until the boy was six years old.  Sure, Hunter seemed like a great kid, and he was as much an innocent victim in all of this as she was, but she still longed for a family of her own.

——————————————————————————————————————-

Monday morning began with a visit from Sergeant Olsen.  Once again, they sat at the kitchen table, coffee cups in hand.

“I have done some checking.  As you know, Allen, I spoke with the gentleman you pointed out to me at the funeral service.  His name is Derek Rendquist.  He has been seeing Melody for about six months and arranged his business schedule so that he could be here on business while she is here for Jaime’s funeral.  Says he wanted to be near to help her through this difficult time.  He normally works in the city.  He actually works for Fleming Pharmaceuticals and has been working his way toward the top and into Mr. Fleming’s good graces.  Guess he figures winning Mr. Fleming’s daughter would be icing on the cake.  He doesn’t have a strong alibi for the evening of the murder.  He claims he was alone in his hotel room.  No one at the hotel can say they saw him in the hotel around the estimated time of the murder.  He did order room service that evening, but it was later.  He could easily have come here, committed the crime, returned and ordered his dinner.  He doesn’t seem to have much interest in Melody’s son, though.  Sounds like he thinks the best thing would be to send the kid to boarding school, so I’m not sure he has much of a motive for the crime either, but I haven’t completely ruled him out.”

“I’ve also been doing some checking on Mr. Fleming, especially how he’s been spending money lately.  Thought he could have hired a hit, but I’m not seeing any evidence for that, so he’s not much of a suspect.  This case is quite a challenge, but I will keep digging.”

“Thank you, Sergeant Olsen.  We appreciate all you are doing to try and solve this case.  It causes quite a bit of stress to know that someone has ended a life and is still walking around out there.”

“Yes, it does, Allen, but I don’t think the person is dangerous to anyone else.  I really believe this was a crime of passion.  I just wish I had some idea as to what it was about.”

Sergeant Olsen left and Allen, Eva and Tara sat quietly for a while.

Finally, Allen spoke, “There had to be someone who came here that night and got into a heated argument with Jaime and took it too far.”

“It probably didn’t take much to get into a heated argument with Jaime, since he and I had argued just before that, but he left in the car and I went for a walk in the woods.  I’m sure it would have been easy to stir up something with Jaime since I wasn’t able to make amends with him before the confrontation with the killer.”

“Oh, Allen what will we do if they never find Jaime’s killer?” Eva was distraught.

“Don’t give up hope yet, Eva.  The police haven’t given up yet and neither should we.  I think I’ll pay another visit to Carl Jacobson.  There had to be unhappy clients that Jaime worked with.  In a business like Jacobson Mergers, it has to be impossible to keep all the clients happy because when two companies merge, someone always loses.”

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 14

That evening the telephone rang.  Tara answered to hear Natalie on the other end.

“Hello, Tara.  How are you doing?”

“I’m doing okay.  Thank you.”

“Do you have a date and time for the funeral service yet?”

“Yes, it will be on Wednesday at 2 p.m.”

“Good.  Carl and I will be there.  Also, have you given any more thought to holding an art exhibition?”

“I really can’t think about doing something like that until everything surrounding Jaime’s death is resolved.”

“Of course, I understand.  Has there been any progress in finding the , uh, murderer?”

“Not really.  They had one lead that didn’t pan out and are still investigating.”

“They don’t have any current leads?”

Tara didn’t think she should tell people all of the details of what Sergeant Olsen shared, so she simply said, “Nothing to speak of.”

“Jaime was a good guy, Tara.  I miss him already.”

“Thank you.”

“Well, see you Wednesday.”

“Okay.”

Tara hung up the phone thinking that Natalie’s phone call seemed a bit strange, but she couldn’t quite figure out why.

———————————————————————————————–

Wednesday there were quite a few people at Jaime’s funeral service.  Sergeant Olsen was there, out of uniform.  Melody and Hunter were there, and Melody’s father was with them.  Melody sniffled and dabbed at her eyes with a white, lace handkerchief.  Carl and Natalie were there, and there was a handsome gentleman, with them, that Tara didn’t recognize.  Marvin and Katie were both there as well as other people from their neighborhood and the church that Tara and Jaime had attended.  Allen and Eva stayed close to Tara, and just before the service began, Tara felt Allen’s hand tighten on her shoulder.  She looked up and noticed that the gentleman, they had seen with Melody the week before, had snuck into the back row of neighbors and church people.

After the service, Allen approached Sergeant Olsen quickly, to point out the gentleman that he and Tara had seen with Melody, though today, the gentleman made no effort to approach Melody.

Most of the people offered condolences to Tara before leaving.  Katie came and gave her a hug.  “How are you doing, Tara?”

“I’m okay.  I’m glad that Jaime has finally been laid to rest.  Now if we could just find out who was responsible for his death, I could find some closure.  How are you?  I haven’t spoken with you since Marvin returned home from China.  What was his surprise?”

“We are going to adopt two little girls from China.  They are twin sisters and are three years old.”

“Oh, Katie, that’s wonderful.  When will you get to meet them?”

“I will go to China with Marvin on his next trip to take other parents for their adoptive children, in about two weeks.”

“I am so happy for you, Katie.”

“Thank you.  I am happy that your in-laws are staying with you right now.  They seem like such nice people.”

“They are.  I am glad to have them here through all of this as well.”

Katie hugged Tara once more, and she and Marvin left.

Then the gentleman who had been with Carl and Natalie came up to Tara.  “Ms. Richardson, I am so sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you, but I don’t believe I know you.”

“Oh, I am Trenton Davis, and I am also truly sorry for overstepping my bounds just days after your loss.  I have just been unable to get you out of my thoughts since speaking with you at that dinner party four years ago, and I have never been so affected by a woman before.  Please forgive my insensitivity.”

“You are forgiven, and I am sorry that thoughts of me have been plaguing you for so long.”

“I wouldn’t say they were ‘plaguing’ me,” he smiled.  “Please, let me know if I can help you in any way.  I have the reading of the will scheduled for next Thursday at 1 p.m. in one of the conference rooms at Jacobson Mergers.  I hope that will be satisfactory to you.”

“That will be fine.”

Trenton Davis reached, as if to shake her hand, but instead, brought her hand to his lips, and he kissed the back of her hand lightly.  “Until next Thursday.”

Tara was a bit shaken by the electrical current that seemed to shoot through her when Mr. Davis kissed her hand.  She also felt guilty at thinking he was quite handsome and charming.

Carl and Natalie both hugged Tara and told her to feel free to call them if she needed anything.

Allen returned to Tara and Eva and informed them that he had pointed out Melody’s gentleman to Sergeant Olsen, and Sergeant Olsen had gone to speak with the gentleman.  He said that he was sure that Sergeant Olsen would inform them of any pertinent information, and the three of them went home to Tara’s house.

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 13)

About an hour after Hunter had gone, Allen returned.  He had done some digging and checking at the House of Public Records and said there is no application for, or proof of, a marriage certificate between Jaime William Richardson and Melody Fleming.  Then Tara told him that Hunter had stopped by to see her and had mentioned that Melody had paid someone to forge a marriage certificate for her because she wanted to take over the details of Jaime’s funeral.

“Well, I could have saved myself a trip if I knew Hunter was going to stop by and tell you that.  Although I am glad I checked it out and that we can rest assured that Hunter told you the truth.”

“Why would you think he wouldn’t, Allen?”

“You never know with the influence of his mother and grandfather.”

“Well, he doesn’t seem to be happy with them.  He is very much like Jaime.”

A knock at the door interrupted their conversation.  It was Sergeant Olsen.  Tara invited him in and they all sat down at the kitchen table.  Eva started a pot of coffee.

“I have some news for you,”  Sergeant Olsen began.  “Melody Fleming is NOT married to Jaime Richardson.”

Tara, Eva, and Allen all smiled and said, “We know.”

Sergeant Olsen looked confused.

“I paid a visit to the House of Records today,”  Allen said.

“And I had a visit from Melody’s son, who informed me that she had paid someone to create that phony certificate for her,” said Tara.

“I see.  Hunter visited you alone?”

“Yes.  He wanted to apologize to me and let me know how much he misses Jaime.”

“Apologize for what?”

“He thought he had ruined my life, that if he had never been born, Jaime and I would have had a happy marriage uninterrupted by Melody’s interference and demands.  I assured him that none of that was his fault.”

“Good.  Well, you will also be relieved to know that Trenton Davis is extremely embarrassed and remorseful for sending you the flowers and letter.  Apparently, he is just extremely smitten with you and acted over-zealously.  He promised not to contact you again, but asked me to let you know that if there is anything he can do to be of help, he would like to.  He also told me that Mr. Richardson did speak with him about a will, so he will make the arrangements for having a reading of the will a week after Mr. Richardson’s burial.”

“Also,” Sergeant Olsen continued, “I received the report on the statue of the fisherman.  They were able to pull some prints off it.  Unfortunately, there are no matches in the data base, so we’re probably looking at a first-time murderer here, and I would speculate that it was a crime of passion.”

Tara remembered suggesting that to Katie the very night it had happened.  Now she wondered if it could have been Melody.

“Are you still sure it was a man that committed the crime?” She asked.

“Yes.  From the location of the puncture wound on Mr. Richardson’s head, the perpetrator had to have been a few inches taller than him and would have raised the statue over his head and brought it down with great force.”

“That would clear Melody,” thought Tara, as Melody was about two inches shorter than Tara and Tara had been an inch shorter than Jaime.

“How about the gentleman Tara and I saw with Melody?  Have you found anything out about him?” asked Allen.

“No, I’m sorry.  That is the next thing on my agenda.”

“Well, he appeared to be quite tall.  I would guess that he is taller than Jaime.”

“I’ll check into it.”

Sergeant Olsen left and Tara hoped that everything would be over soon.

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.

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery – Day 11)

Tara hadn’t gotten far with her painting when Eva called her for dinner.  Tara was very quiet during dinner.  Finally, Allen asked, “Tara, is everything all right?”

“I was wondering.  How long have you known about Jaime’s son?”

“Jaime came and told me about it after the results of the paternity test came back four years ago.  You see, Jaime had dated Melody for about two years and she wanted him to marry her and work for her daddy in the pharmaceutical company.  Her daddy wanted to groom him to take over the company some day.  He figured since he didn’t have a male heir, he’d be happy to groom his son-in-law, and, of course there would be a prenuptial agreement so that in the event of a divorce, the son-in-law would have no claim to the pharmaceutical company.                                                                                                                 When  Jaime decided he didn’t want to work for daddy or the pharmaceutical company, Daddy decided Jaime wasn’t good enough for his little girl.  Jaime was okay with that because he had already figured out that Melody was demanding, and he didn’t want to marry someone like that.  So he broke things off with Melody.                                                                                                              A year later, Jaime met you.  He was absolutely crazy about you.  You made him so happy.  Then he got the job at Jacobson’s Mergers and he thought he had everything he wanted.  He married you, and three years later Melody contacted him about Hunter.  Apparently, Jaime gave in to temptation one night after a fancy party at the Fleming Mansion, and Hunter was conceived.  Jaime hadn’t known that Melody was pregnant when he broke things off with her.                                                                                                                                                       I don’t know why she waited until Hunter was six to decide to contact Jaime, but Jaime said that Melody wanted Hunter’s father to be a part of his life.  She wanted Jaime to marry her so they could be a family, but Jaime told her he was already married and had no intention of divorcing his wife.                                                                                                                       I know that Jaime took his responsibility for Hunter seriously, and I have no doubt that Melody took advantage of that.  I do suspect, however, that her marriage certificate is a fake.  I am quite certain that Jaime was not polygamist, and I am absolutely certain that Jaime loved you.”

“So, why didn’t Jaime ever tell me about Hunter?”

“I have no doubt there were two reasons for that:  1) he was afraid of losing you, and  2) he was trying to protect you.  He didn’t want you to have to be hounded and abused by Melody.  I had encouraged him, on more than one occasion to tell you about Hunter.                                                                                        I also believe that, though Melody didn’t want him to have children with you to take away from Hunter’s inheritance, the main reason Jaime didn’t have children with you was, again, to protect you from the abuse Melody would have tried to inflict upon you and your child.”

“So you really don’t think he was really married to Melody?”

“No, I really don’t think he was, and I intend to look into it.”

“Thank you, Allen.  I really don’t know what I’d do without you and Eva right now.”

“We’re happy we can be here for you, dear.”  Eva patted Tara’s hand.

Tara returned to her studio, hoping that Allen was right.  She returned to her painting.

When she finally finished, she had painted a picture of Jaime; Jaime smiling with love in his eyes the way she remembered him in their happy times.  She looked at the painting, longing for him to hold her in his arms again.  She smiled wanly at the painting and then went to her room, prepared for bed, and holding Jaime’s shirt close, cried herself to sleep.

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery – Day 10)

When they arrived back at Tara’s home, Sergeant Ken Olsen was already there.

“He arrived about fifteen minutes ago,” said Eva.  “I made coffee and gave him a cup.  I just poured his second cup right before you two walked in the door.”

“Thank you, Eva,” said Tara.

“Sergeant Olsen, how good to see you again.”

“Mrs. Richardson, I hope you are well.  I wanted to stop by because I have some information to share with you.”

Tara and Allen sat down at the kitchen table with Sergeant Olsen and Eva.

“You were, indeed, correct.  Mr. Richardson has another wife.  Her name is Melody Richardson.  She is the only child of Cooper Fleming of Fleming Pharmaceuticals.  She comes from a family of wealth, so why she thinks she has to have everything Mr. Richardson left is beyond me.  She does have one son, whose father is, I’m sorry to say, Mr. Jaime Richardson.  There was a paternity test done four years ago to prove that fact.  She may have been trying to get money from Mr. Richardson back then because of their son.  I still have some questions and will be speaking with Melody Richardson soon.”

“Well, Sergeant Olsen, you may want to do a bit of investigating of her and a gentleman before you actually question her,” said Allen.

“Why should I investigate her, and what gentleman?”

“I don’t know the gentleman, but she, apparently has another gentleman in her life, in an intimate way.”

“How do you know this?”

“Tara and I had a bit of a run-in with Melody at Murphy’s Funeral Home this morning, and I quickly sized her up, and I was sure I had her figured out.  You see, she was quite cold toward Tara and me.  She told Tara she had known about Jaime’s marriage to Tara all along and that she was the reason that Jaime wouldn’t have children with Tara.  It seems she didn’t want her son to have to share an inheritance.  She seemed too interested in the money and in being in charge and not interested enough in the death of my son, so when Tara went to find Mr. Murphy, I remained with Melody and I asked her if she loved my son.  She didn’t answer the question, but when I told her that I suspected that she didn’t, she didn’t protest.  I told her that I know that my son didn’t love her, but that he did love Tara, and he loved his son, and I know this because he talked to me about his son and about Tara.  He never talked about Melody.  Of course, during the past two years, he didn’t talk to me much about anything, but I suspect he was miserable.  He was being pressured by Melody and fighting with Tara and keeping secrets from Tara.  Now he’s gone, and I suspect that Melody or her new gentleman friend may have something to do with that.  Tara and I saw Melody meet with a man to go on a dinner date this evening.  I believe he is also staying in the Wisteria Hotel.  I do not know his name, but I’m sure you could easily find out.”

“Well, that is all very interesting.  It appears that I have quite a bit more investigating to do.  I should also be receiving the lab results from that statue I took from Mr. Richardson’s desk soon. Thank you for this information.  I’ll be in touch.”

Sergeant Olsen left and Tara went to her art studio.  Eva said she would fix dinner.

Tara sat and thought about Jaime.  What Allen had said had hit her hard.  She had thought that Jaime was simply working too hard; that he had become a workaholic, when in reality, he probably was being pressured and hounded by Melody about something.  Melody probably wanted him to leave Tara.  Then she had been pressuring him too, wanting to start a family and wanting him to spend more time with her.  She missed him so much and it hurt her to know that he had been under so much pressure and couldn’t talk about it with her.  She felt the tears streaming down her face.

Then she picked up a fresh canvas and began to paint.

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery – Day 9)

When they were in the car, Allen asked, “Tara, can you call Carl Jacobson and find out where Melody and her son are staying?”

“Sure, but why do you want to know?”

“I have a hunch about something.  I don’t like or or trust her, and I know she doesn’t love Jaime.  She may have, when they had Hunter together, but she hasn’t for quite some time.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because she’s not even upset that Jaime is dead.  You are the one who is upset and missing him, and all she cares about is money.”

Tara made the call to Carl Jacobson.  “Carl said that Melody and Hunter are staying at the Wisteria Hotel.”

“Want to do a little snooping with me?”

“Absolutely,” Tara smiled.  She really liked her father-in-law and was glad for this time she could spend with him and Eva.

They arrived at the Wisteria fifteen minutes later.  They stopped at the front desk and Allen spoke with the concierge.  “Could you please tell me if there is a Melody Richardson staying here?”

The concierge looked at Allen suspiciously.  “We do not give out personal information about our guests.”

“Look, I am her father-in-law and her husband, my son, has recently been murdered.  I was told she and my grandson are staying here and I want to know if they are, and if they are staying alone.”

“Oh, I am so sorry for your loss, Mr., uh, what did you say the name was again?”

“Richardson.  My name is Allen Richardson.”

Taking notice of Tara, for the first time, the concierge asked, “And, who is she, sir?”

“My daughter.”

“One moment, please.”  The concierge typed something into the computer and looked at the screen.

“Yes, there is a room being occupied by Melody Richardson and a child.”

“Is there a third person staying in the room or maybe in an adjoining room?”

The concierge looked back at the computer screen, clicked the mouse once or twice and said, “No, there is no room adjoining to that room and no one else listed as an occupant in the room Mrs. Richardson is occupying.”

“I see.”  Allen looked around the large foyer of the hotel.  He noted that they had some large, green, leafy plants placed around the foyer, some conveniently blocking the view of some of the furniture, from the entrance and pathway to the elevators and stairs.

“Would it be all right if my daughter and I sat in your foyer for a while and waited for Mrs. Richardson’s return?”

“As long as you do not cause a disturbance, that would be fine.”

“Thank you.  Come on, Tara.”

“What are we doing?”

“We are going to sit over here and watch.”

“What are we going to do when she comes back?”

“We are just going to see if she has anyone, besides Hunter, with her, or if she meets someone here.”

“Do you mind telling me what you are thinking?”

“In due time.  In due time.”

Allen and Tara sat in the foyer for about two hours before they began to feel hungry.  There was a little cafe type restaurant in the front corner of the hotel, just past the entryway.  They decided to sit at a table that still provided a good view of the entrance and ordered some lunch.

After lunch, Allen went back to where they had been sitting in the foyer and Tara went into the little bookstore in the back corner of the foyer.  She purchased a magazine for herself and a newspaper for Allen, and then went back to settle down for more waiting and watching.

Around 3 p.m., they observed Melody Richardson and Hunter return to the hotel.  No one else was with them, but Allen insisted they wait a while longer.  He said he had a strong feeling about his hunch.

They waited another hour and then saw Melody exit the elevator alone and dressed in a beautiful dinner gown.  They watched as she waited a few minutes by the elevators and observed a well-dressed gentleman exit the elevator a few minutes later, and he smiled when he saw Melody.  He approached her, took her hands and kissed her gently on the lips.  Then they turned to exit the restaurant, Melody’s arm in his.

“Well, what do you know?  You suspected there was someone else she is romantically involved with,” Tara was impressed at her father-in-law’s hunch.

“Yes, and that’s not all, but we need to leave now.  When we get home, I need to place a call to that Sergeant Olsen.”

“You’re not going to tell me anything, are you?”

“In due time.  In due time,”  Allen smiled and he and Tara drove to Tara’s home.