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.

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery – Day 8)

That night Tara had a lot of trouble sleeping.  She kept thinking about the things that had happened that day.  Could Jaime really have another wife?  Was her whole life based on lies?  Is that why Jaime didn’t want any children with her — because he had some with his other wife?  Was Trenton Davis Jaime’s killer or just some crazy man obsessing about her?  What would she do if Jaime had another wife and children?  Would she be safe if Trenton Davis wasn’t arrested for Jaime’s death?  She tossed and turned for hours, and finally slept fitfully for a couple of hours before awakening to sun streaming through the window.

She arose, showered and dressed and went to the kitchen.  Allen and Eva were already in the kitchen having coffee.  “Would you like me to make you something to eat,” asked Eva.

“I think I’ll just scramble an egg.  I want to get going.”

“Where are you going?”

“Well, I am quite angry right now.  Everything that happened yesterday has ruffled my feathers and I am certain that Carl Jacobson knows something about all of this, so I am going to Jacobson Mergers, and this time I’m not leaving without some answers.”

“Do you want someone to go with you,” asked Allen.

“That might be a good idea, if you’re up to it.  He may be less likely to try to brush me off if Jaime’s own father is with me.  Will you be okay here if Allen goes with me, Eva?”

“I’ll be fine.  I’d like to spend a bit of time sitting in the courtyard anyway.”

Tara ate quickly and she and Allen drove to Jacobson Mergers.  When they arrived at the reception area to Carl’s office, Mrs. Witters looked up from her desk.  “Mrs. Richardson, I didn’t expect to see you again.”

“I’m sure you didn’t, but I want to see Carl, and this is Allen Richardson, Jaime’s father.”

“I’ll tell Mr. Jacobson you’re here.”

This time Carl told Mrs. Witters to show Tara and her father-in-law into his office.

Tara didn’t waste time on pleasantries.  “Good morning, Carl.  This is Allen Richardson, Jaime’s father, and we want some answers.  I know you know something about what is going on and I’m not leaving here until you fill me in.”

“Tara, I’m sure I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Well, let’s start with the woman I saw in here two days ago.  Who was she?  Was she Jaime’s wife?”

“Jaime’s wife?  Tara, whatever are you talking about?  You are Jaime’s wife.”

“Well, it seems that there is another Mrs. Richardson.  She beat me to the coroner’s office to claim his body.”

Carl looked uncomfortable and shifted in his chair.  After a moment he said, “Okay, Tara, sit down.”

Tara and Allen both sat down and Carl began, “I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but, yes, that woman was Melody Richardson, and she, too, was married to Jaime.  Apparently Jaime was leading a double life.  He was married to both of you at the same time and the times you thought he was away on business, he was with her.”

“How long have you known about this?”

“I didn’t know anything about it until she showed up two days ago and showed me a copy of their marriage certificate and her I.D.  She’s very different from you.  She is cold and calculating and is trying to get all of Jaime’s money, so you need to be careful.  I will do everything I can to help you.”

“Do you know what attorney Jaime spoke with to set up his will?”

“Well, we have an attorney in this building who handles different things for us and for our employees.  You may want to speak with him.  His name is Trenton Davis.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“What?”

“I received a bouquet of yellow roses yesterday with no card.  Then a note came in the mail from Trenton Davis claiming he sent the roses and has been dreaming of being with me for the past four years.  He said that now that Jaime is gone, he hopes that I will be willing to get to know him and give him a chance.”

“Are you serious?  I will have a talk with him.”

“No, don’t do that.  The police are looking into him.  Because of his interest in me so soon after Jaime’s tragic death, he is a suspect.  Don’t say a word to him.”

“Okay.  I understand.”

Tara suddenly remembered something, “What about the boy that was with Melody Richardson? Is he Jaime’s son?”

Carl looked grim and answered, “Yes, I’m afraid he is.”

Tara was silent for a few minutes before she continued, “What am I supposed to do about Jaime’s funeral?  Am I supposed to just sit back and let her take over?”

“I can tell you she was planning on going to Murphy’s Funeral Home.  You could go there and speak with someone from Murphy’s.  And, I will talk to Trenton Davis to find out if Jaime spoke with him about a will.”

“Thank you, Carl.”

“You’re welcome, Tara, and I really am sorry about all of this.  I really didn’t know how Jaime was living.”

Tara and Allen went directly to Murphy’s Funeral Home and when they walked in, there was Melody Richardson and her son.

“Hello, Melody.  I know that you were married to Jaime too, but I am not going to simply stand aside and let you run the show here.  I was also married to Jaime and loved him.  I know that neither of us knew about each other, but . . .”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Tara.  I knew all about you.  I am the reason that you didn’t have any children with Jaime.  You see, I wasn’t about to let him have more heirs with you and take away from the son I had with him.  And, you don’t have a choice over who is running the show here.  I have already made all of the arrangements.”

“We’ll see about that.”

Tara walked past Melody to find an office and someone from Murphy’s Funeral Home.

Allen remained in the room with Melody and he said, “You didn’t really love Jaime, did you?  You just wanted the things he could give you.”

“Who are you and what gives you any right to say anything to me?”

“I am Allen Richardson, Jaime’s father, and I know that Jaime didn’t love you because he never talked to me about you.  He did tell me about his son, but I didn’t know that he spent time with you.  He loved Tara and he loved his son.  Those were the people he talked to me about.  I think he knew you didn’t love him.”

“You’re crazy.”

Tara and Mr. Ronald Murphy returned and Mr. Murphy expressed his apologies to Melody.  “I’m sorry, but I was unaware of the unusual circumstances in this matter, and I will be incorporating some of Tara’s wishes into the funeral service.”

Melody glared at both Ronald Murphy and Tara, but she didn’t say a word.  She turned on her heel and left, calling over her shoulder, “Come along, Hunter,”  and her son slowly followed, looking at the floor.

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery – Day 7)

Allen drove home because Tara was still shaking.  “Do you know anything about this,” she asked.

“No.”

“Do you believe there is another Mrs. Richardson, another wife to Jaime?”

“I really don’t know.  I would never have thought that my son would do something like that, but then I never thought he’d put his career above the important things in life either.”

They arrived at the house and found a large bouquet of beautiful yellow roses on the dining room table.  “Eva, where did these come from?”

“A flower delivery truck brought them not long after you two left.  There’s no card. How did things go at the coroner’s office?”

“Eva, you’d better sit down,”  Allen instructed.

Eva took a seat in the sitting room, an anxious look on her face.  “What’s happened?” she asked.

“It seems that our son may have been leading a double life or something.”

“What?  What do you mean?”

“When we went to make the arrangements at the coroner’s office, we were told that a woman claiming to be Mrs. Richardson had already claimed the body.”

“Well, there must be some mistake.  Tara is Jaime’s wife.”

“Yes, well, it seems we have some investigating to do.  I’m certainly not going to rest until we get to the bottom of this.”

Tara noticed the mail on the table just inside the sitting room.  She picked it up and glanced through it.  An envelope addressed to her caught her eye and she opened it.  As she read, she felt herself grow cold.  This had to be some kind of a joke.  What else could possibly happen?  The past two days had been nothing but nightmares.  When would the nightmares end?

Allen noticed Tara’s concerned expression.  He also noticed that she had grown quite pale.  “Tara, are you all right?  What have you got there?”

Tara couldn’t answer.  She simply handed the letter to Allen and wrapped her arms around herself, trying to find some warmth.

Allen read the letter and said, “I think we need to call the police.”

Twenty minutes later, Sergeant Ken Olsen was, once again, seated at the little kitchen table with Tara, but this time, Allen and Eva were also present.  Allen handed the letter to Sergeant Olsen, who wore a glove on the hand that held the letter.  He didn’t want to add anymore fingerprints to the paper, if there was any chance that whoever had sent it, had left any prints to find.  He read:

Dear Tara,

I have dreamed of you for years, but I would not interfere with a marriage.  I watched as Jaime Richardson neglected you.  He didn’t appreciate what a special woman you are.  I, however, am fully aware of how special you are and how you deserve to be treated.  Now that Jaime is gone, I hope that you will agree to get to know me and to allow me to show you how much I will cherish you.

I hope you have received the yellow roses before receiving this note.  Just a small token of my appreciation for you and your beauty.  Your smile lights up a room and that is why I chose yellow; yellow like light.  I hope you will enjoy their beauty and their delicate fragrance.

You may not remember me, but we met at a dinner party four years ago.  I spoke with you and you told me about your painting.  You were delightful and I have relished that memory.

Hopefully Yours,

Trenton Davis

“Mrs. Richardson, do you know this Trenton Davis?”

“No, Sergeant Olsen, I do not.  I don’t even remember him from the dinner party, but I vaguely remember attending the dinner party and speaking with a gentleman about my painting, but I cannot recall what he looks like.”

“Sergeant Olsen, do you think he could be Jaime’s killer,” Allen asked, and he heard Tara’s sharp intake of breath.

“Well, he certainly offers us a suspect.  I will be looking into it immediately after leaving here.”

“Will you bring him in for questioning?”

“Not right away.  There are steps that need to be taken to attempt to discover evidence before bringing him in for questioning because we don’t want him to know that we suspect him and cause him to destroy evidence or do something that would prevent us from proving his guilt, if he is, indeed, guilty.”

“We also have another issue to ask you about, Sergeant Olsen,” said Allen.

“What is it?”

“Do you know anything about another Mrs. Richardson?”

“What?”

“Another woman claiming to be Jaime’s wife?  When Tara and I went to the coroner’s office this morning, Jaime’s body had already been claimed by a woman who claimed to be Mrs. Richardson.”

“I wasn’t certain, but I did have a suspicion.”

“Why?  What do you know?”

Sergeant Olsen looked at Tara, “Are you sure you want to hear this?”

“Yes, I need some answers.  My life has completely unraveled during the past two days and I feel so lost.  Some answers would be helpful in clearing up some of these issues.”

“Okay.  Well, when I went to Jacobson Mergers first thing the morning after Mr. Richardson died, I was surprised to see another woman there already questioning Carl Jacobson about Mr. Richardson.  Mr. Jacobson tried to tell me that she was a sister to Mr. Richardson, but something just didn’t seem to connect.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, she seemed extremely distraught and concerned about money from what I overheard before Mr. Jacobson realized I was standing there.  Does Mr. Richardson have any siblings?”

“No, he was an only child.”

“Well, it seems we have a lot of questions we need answers to.  I will get right on these issues.  In the meantime, Mrs. Richardson, I suggest that you be careful whenever you go out, and I am glad to know that you have your in-laws staying with you.  I really don’t like the fact that Trenton Davis seems to be pursuing you.  And, if he is only guilty of being completely smitten with you, his timing couldn’t be worse.”

Dangerous Secrets (Mystery — Day 6)

The next morning, Tara managed to eat a scrambled egg with a slice of toast and drink a glass of orange juice.  She was preparing to go for a walk in the woods, when the doorbell rang.  She opened the door to Sergeant Ken Olsen.

“Good morning, Mrs. Richardson.  I hope I’m not disturbing you, but I need to talk with you.”

“Please, come in.  Have you found the person responsible for Jaime’s death?”

“No, ma’am, I’m sorry, we haven’t.  We are fairly certain that it is a man we are looking for.  It appears that Mr. Richardson was hit very hard with a blunt object on the back of the head.  The object must have a sharp, pointy piece as well, as there was a puncture wound in his head as well.  I am here to see if I can find something that may fit the description of the murder weapon.”

“Oh, please, feel free to look around.”

“I also need to ask you some questions, if you have some time.”

“Of course.  I was just going to take a walk, but that can wait.”

Tara waited in the sitting room, while Sergeant Olsen looked around the desk in the den area.

“Mrs. Richardson, could I bother you for a large plastic bag?”

Tara went to the kitchen and retrieved a wastebasket bag from the cupboard.

“Will this do?”

“Yes, thank you.  You don’t mind if I take this statue to the lab for analysis, do you?”

Tara noticed that he was interested in the statue that Jaime’s father had given him years ago, a statue of a man with a rifle and a hunting dog by his side.  Jaime’s father had taken Jaime hunting when he was younger, and they had both cherished those hunting trips.  Jaime hadn’t been hunting since he had begun working at Jacobson Mergers.  He said he didn’t have the time.  His father had been disappointed the first several years that Jaime turned him down when asked about the hunting trips, but then he just stopped asking and he and Jaime had drifted apart, just like she and Jaime had drifted apart.  She had never really thought about that before.

“Mrs. Richardson, I said, do you mind if I take this statue to the lab for analysis?”

“What?  Oh, no, of course not.  I’m sorry.”

“What were you just thinking about?”

“Jaime’s father gave him that statue about seven years ago.  They used to go hunting together, but they haven’t gone in years.”

“Do Mr. Richardson’s parents live around here?  Have they been notified of his passing?”

“Oh, my, I never thought to give them a call!  They live about an hour away.  If you don’t mind, I’ll take a minute and call them now.”

“Of course.  I’ll take this statue and lock it in my police car and return to ask you some questions.”

Tara called Jaime’s parents and told them as gently as she could of the events of the past twenty-four hours.  She thought it felt more like years.  Of course, Jaime’s mother cried and his father asked if there was anything they could do for her.  She had never been very close to them, but suddenly wanted them nearby.  She asked if they could come and stay with her for a while, and Allen, Jaime’s father, promised they would be there in time for dinner.

Sergeant Olsen came back inside, and he and Tara sat at the small table in the kitchen.

“Mrs. Richardson, do you have any family living nearby?”

“No, my parents both passed away years ago.  I have one brother, but he lives halfway across the country, and I haven’t heard from him in years.  He’s ten years older than me.”

“I see.  Do you know if there is a life insurance policy on Mr. Richardson?”

“Yes.  We both have life insurance.”

“Do you know how much his policy is worth?”

“I think it’s worth $250,000.  He always said if anything happened to him, he wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t be left with any debt.”

“Do you know if Mr. Richardson had a will?”

“I know that he had a will, but I don’t know anything about it.  He insisted in meeting with an attorney and taking care of that in private.  He said that I should do the same, but I never have, because I wouldn’t have anyone to leave anything to except Jaime anyway, and now, he’s gone.  I always thought I’d get a will set up once we had a child.”

“Do you know what attorney Mr. Richardson met with to draw up his will?”

“I really don’t remember.  It was a long time ago.”

“Well, the coroner’s office is ready to release Mr. Richardson’s body for burial or cremation.  You’ll have to go to the coroner’s office to make the arrangements.”

“Would it be okay to do that tomorrow?  Jaime’s parents are driving down and will be arriving this evening.  I would really like his dad to help me with all of that.”

“Of course.  I’ll tell them to expect you tomorrow.”

“Thank you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Richardson.  I’m really sorry you have to go through all of this.”

Allen and Eva Richardson arrived at Tara’s house at 6 p.m., and Tara had dinner ready for them.  She had prepared a beef roast with glazed carrots, mashed potatoes and a tossed salad.  They ate in the dining room but not much food was consumed.  Eva asked a lot of questions and sniffled in between.  Allen just listened.  It was a very somber meal, and they all retired to their bedrooms after dinner.  Allen and Eva were tired from the drive and Tara was tired from the fresh emotions of the evening.

The next morning Allen and Tara went to the coroner’s office, while Eva remained at Tara’s house.  They walked into the coroner’s office and Tara told the girl at the desk who she was and that she was there to make arrangements for her husband’s body.  The receptionist looked at her oddly and said, “Who did you say you were?”

“I’m Tara Richardson and I’m here to make arrangements for my husband’s body.  He was murdered two days ago, and I was told the coroner was ready to release his body for burial.”

“Please excuse me a moment.  I’ll be right back.”

“She seems a bit strange,” said Tara, and Allen agreed.

A few minutes later, the receptionist returned with a white-haired gentleman.

“Hello, I’m Seth Calloway, the coroner.  How can I help you?”

“Well, as I told your receptionist, I am Tara Richardson and I am here to make arrangements for my husband’s body — Jaime Richardson.”

“Do you have some kind of I.D.?”

“What?  Oh, yes, I have my driver’s license.”  Tara began searching through her bag for her wallet.  “Here.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Richardson, but there must be some mistake.  There was another woman in her earlier who said she was Mrs. Richardson, and she’s already claimed the body of Jaime Richardson.”

“What?!  What do you mean another Mrs. Richardson?”

“I’m sure I don’t know, ma’am, but there was a woman here earlier, said she was Mrs. Richardson, and Jaime Richardson’s body is no longer here.”

Tara felt her knees go weak, and then she felt an arm around her to offer support.  Allen helped her to a nearby chair and the receptionist quickly got a glass of water.  Tara took a few sips of water and felt her head clearing a little, but she was very confused and she couldn’t stop shaking.  How could there be another Mrs. Richardson?