Author's Note: This story is a result of Stanley's desire for
kids. Any guy who wants kids can't be all bad, so I decided to give
him one. : ) Enjoy!
Flesh and Blood
Detective Stanley Kowalski ran a hand through his spiky blond hair as he sat at his desk. He was reading the file on a suspect in his latest case and not coming up with the right material. After what seemed like an eternity he sighed, closed the file, leaned back in his chair, and shut his eyes, trying to drown out the noise that surrounded him at the precinct.
Stanley, or Ray as he was now called, had been getting stressed out the past week. He had been running around Chicago chasing a bomber, but having no luck catching him. He had thought that his anonymous source would provide the information needed to nab the slime bucket, but it didn't. Now, he didn't know what to do.
"Ray!" a distinct voice called out above the hubbub.
Stanley opened his eyes and looked toward the direction where the voice had come from. He gave a half-smile when he saw a tall man dressed in blue plaid and jeans coming to his desk. Walking alongside him was his deaf wolf, Diefenbaker. The man was Constable Benton Fraser, Ray's semi- partner.
Stanley remembered the first time that he had met the Mountie. He was called in five months ago to fill in for Raymond Vecchio, another Detective who had gone undercover in the mob. Stanley wanted to put his past behind him, so 'becoming' Ray Vecchio was the perfect opportunity. He also knew he'd be working with a partner, but the last person he was expecting was Fraser.
Fraser was the spitting image of the classic Mountie: tall, jet-black hair, polite, courteous, and very thorough in investigating. Fraser had come to Chicago three years ago on the trail of his father's killer and ended up staying in the city as a liaison officer for the Canadian Consulate. He had also brought along Diefenbaker, his deaf, lip-reading wolf who, over time, had developed a nasty craving for junk-food. Fraser usually wore his red serge outfit and Stetson, but he had managed to get the day off and planned on spending it helping Ray, so he was dressed in the jeans, plaid, and a leather jacket, but still carried his Stetson.
"Hey, Fraser," Stanley answered as the Mountie sat in a chair next to Ray's desk.
"So, how's the case coming along?" Fraser asked, eyeing the closed file folder.
"Great," Stanley remarked sarcastically. "Turns out my informant was a world-class liar and made me look like a fool."
"Well, cheer up," Fraser replied. "I'm sure something good's going to happen."
"Vecchio!" Lt. Welsh shouted from his office. "Get in here!"
Stanley rolled his eyes and sighed. He knew what Welsh was going to say to him. Slowly he stood up and walked over to Welsh's office, marching like he was making his way to his execution.
Fraser sat and watched the other officers bustle about their business. Over in one corner, Detectives Jack Huey and Thomas Dewy, a.k.a. 'The Duck Boys', were discussing some important matter. Francesca Vecchio, the *real* Ray Vecchio's sister, was trying to sort case files. A quick glance at Dief showed the wolf about to snatch Stanley's jelly donut from his desk. A stern glance form the Mountie saved the donut from being eaten up. Dief gave a pitiful whine.
"Now see here, Dief," Fraser lectured, "you're on a diet. Besides, I'm still having to pay Ray back from all the donuts you ate last week." Dief, totally ignoring his owner, yawned and lay on the floor. Fraser sighed and shook his head. "You never listen."
"Excuse me?" a voice spoke up.
Fraser looked up to see a young girl standing next to him. She was about 5'5", with dark blond hair that was pulled into a tight braid and deep blue eyes framed by a pair of tan glasses. She appeared to Fraser to be in her late teens, about eighteen or nineteen. She was wearing a pair of jeans and purple turtleneck and running sneakers. She smiled sweetly at Fraser.
"Can I help you?" he asked as he stood up.
"Maybe you can," she answered, unsure as what to say. "Everyone seems to be busy except for you. I'm looking for someone whom I found out works here."
"Who would that be?"
"A Detective Stanley Kowalski," the girl answered.
Fraser stared at the girl for several moments, unsure as how to answer her. "Excuse me?" he finally asked.
"It's important that I talk to him," she said. "Do you know who he is?"
"Please hold on for a moment," Fraser answered as he made his way over to Lt. Welsh's office. This was the only time that he disregarded proper manners as he opened Welsh's door. Welsh was in the middle of chewing out Stanley when Fraser burst in, so, needless to say, he was not happy.
"Constable, what is the meaning of this?!" Welsh bellowed.
"Sorry to intrude, sir," Fraser apologized, as he closed the door behind him, "but there is a young girl outside who is looking for Ray."
"So?" Welsh glared at the Mountie.
"She asked for him by Stanley Kowalski," Fraser said.
"What?" Stanley and Welsh unanimously said.
"It's true," Fraser replied.
"Did she say what for?" Welsh asked, concerned. Stanley's other case had been forgotten.
"I'm afraid not," Fraser answered.
"So, what do we do?" Stanley asked. "How on earth does she know who I am?"
"Why don't we let her explain," Welsh suggested calmly. "Constable, please bring her here." Fraser nodded his head and left Welsh's office. He returned a few moments later with the young visitor.
She looked around at the three men who were staring at her. "Would someone please tell me what's going on?" she finally asked.
"How about explaining to us who you are, first?" Stanley said, arms crossed. "And what you want with Detective Kowalski."
"My name is Lynda Peterson," the girl answered. "My mom and I are in need of protection, and I figured that Detective Kowalski could provide it."
"What do you mean?" Stanley asked.
"Well," Lynda started, "my mom and I are being targeted by a hit man. Someone doesn't seem to like us very much and is trying to kill us. And I have proof."
"Please continue," Welsh replied.
Lynda sighed. "Well, just last week, I met my mom so we could have lunch. As we were walking from her office, a car came out of nowhere and tried to run us down."
"Are you positive?" Fraser asked. "I mean, it is possible that the car just didn't see either of you?"
"Well, I thought that, since this is Chicago, but when the driver tried to back the car into us, then I got suspicious," Lynda answered.
"Well, before you explain further, I would like to know exactly how you found out Kowalski was working here," Welsh said.
"Well, when I was seven, Mom sat me down and told me something that she had kept from me my entire life: my dad, James Charleston, was not my biological dad," Lynda explained. "She said that seven years ago-nineteen years now- she married her high school sweetheart after their high school prom. Her date was Kowalski. A month after that she found out she was pregnant with me."
"But if that's true," Stanley said, "then that would make you -"
"Kowalski's daughter?" Lynda suggested. She smiled at Stanley. "Your daughter."
All three men stared at Lynda. Finally, Fraser cleared his throat. "That would account for the physical similarities," he remarked. "How did you figure he was Detective Kowalski, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Because he's the same guy that was in the picture I accessed," Lynda answered.
"Accessed?" Welsh asked. "But the only to get that picture would be to get the file on him from our database, which is legally off-limits, I might add."
Lynda blushed. "Yeah, well, I guess that I should mention that I'm a hacker. When Mom told me everything she knew about Kowalski, including that he had been a Chicago Detective, I thought of trying to find him, but decided against it. Now, with someone trying to kill us, I used the information to track him down. The only thing that was confusing was finding his file had been misplaced . . . or the database system was all screwed up . . . I can't decide."
"Beg you pardon?" Fraser asked.
"Well, his picture was in another file," Lynda raised her eyebrows. "A one Detective Raymond Vecchio's file."
Stanley was at a loss for words as he stared at Lynda, his daughter. His daughter. Even thinking it sounded weird. On one hand, he had always wanted kids, but on the other he had been hoping to have a hand in raising them.
Welsh looked from Stanley to Lynda. He wasn't sure of what to make of any of this. "Miss Peterson, can I ask you to leave my office for a few minutes? I need to have a word with your . . . with Detective Vecchio."
"Sure," Lynda politely excused herself, shutting the door closed behind her.
Welsh sat down in his chair and sighed. "Is there anything you'd like to tell me, Detective?"
"Where would you like me to start, sir?"
"Maybe with the fact that you were married to someone else while you were married to your ex-wife."
"Sir, I wasn't married to both of them at the same time," Stanley answered. "A month after Diane and I got married, she came to me one day and said that her parents found out we had gotten married, and basically forced us to get it annulled. She moved, and I never saw or heard from her again." He sighed, putting his hands in the pockets of his sports jacket. "I just never thought . . . I mean . . . I didn't know the real reason why she left. She said she didn't love me anymore before we said goodbye, but I didn't believe that. I could see it in her eyes."
Welsh drummed a pencil lightly on his desk. "I take it Stella doesn't know?"
"No. She and Diane didn't exactly get along . . . so, what are we going to do about Lynda?"
"Constable, please show Miss Peterson back in here."
Fraser nodded, then returned a few moments later with the young woman.
"Is everything okay?" she asked cautiously, eyeing her father.
"Yeah," Stanley said.
Lynda looked at her father and half-smiled. "I know this is really hard to take it all in -"
"Try impossible," Stanley looked at the young girl.
"You think it's any easier on me?" Lynda frowned as she crossed her arms. "I'm still confused, even though it's been twelve years."
"That's not it," Stanley retorted. "It's just that I can't be a father now."
"Well, then I guess you can't help me," Lynda answered as she narrowed her eyes. "Have a good life." She turned around and started to walk out the door, but Stanley grabbed her shoulder.
"Whoa, hold on a second," he said. "That came out the wrong way."
"You have a better way of telling me you want nothing to do with me?" Lynda turned around. "Oh, I can't wait to hear this one."
Stanley turned to Welsh. "Sir, I think she can be trusted. After all, she is my, um . . . daughter." Welsh nodded. Stanley cleared his throat. "Lynda, the reason I can't have kids now is because I'm covering for someone else."
"Who?" Lynda asked. Suddenly, she smiled. "Oh, wait a minute. I saw this in a movie once. Are you covering for Raymond Vecchio?"
"Yes," Stanley answered, surprised. "He's undercover in the mob, so I'm filling in for him until he comes back."
"That's why your picture was in his file," Lynda nodded. She looked at Fraser. "And I guess he knows, too, huh?"
"Yeah, that's my, uh, partner," Stanley replied.
"I don't think I caught your name," Lynda smiled, extending her hand.
"Constable Benton Fraser," the Mountie answered shaking her hand. "R.C.M.P."
"As in 'Mountie'?" Lynda asked.
"Yes, I first came to Chicago on the trail of my father's killer," Fraser explained, "and for reasons that don't need explaining at this juncture, I've remained, attached as liaison for the Canadian Consulate."
Lynda stared at Fraser, eyebrows raised. "Okay," she said slowly. "Well, any friend of my father's, I guess, is a friend of mine."
"Miss Peterson," Welsh spoke up, "you have to remember that Detective Kowalski is acting as Detective Vecchio, therefore you will have to address him as Detective Vecchio. Otherwise, the real Ray Vecchio could be killed."
"Understood," Lynda replied. "Only on one condition, though."
"And that being what?" Welsh asked.
"That 'Ray' will be the officer who will find out who's trying to kill me and my mother," Lynda answered.
"Okay. Vecchio?" Welsh turned to Stanley. "I'm giving you this case."
"Sir, I do have that other case I'm working on, and if I leave now, well it could create a bit of a problem -"
"That's now fixed," Welsh interrupted. "Detectives Huey and Dewy will take your place. You will find out who's trying to kill Miss Peterson and her mother. Understood?"
Stanley sighed and nodded. "Yes, sir."
"Good," Welsh smiled. "You may leave."
Stanley grumbled and walked out of the office. Lynda followed close behind, with Fraser picking up the tail end. As they walked, Lynda turned to Fraser. "Did I say something wrong?" she asked.
"No," Fraser answered. "Ray just doesn't like to be taken off a case suddenly."
"You're damn right I don't," Stanley answered as he sat in his chair. "Especially when I've almost got the guy who's responsible for all those recent bombings."
"Ray," Fraser spoke up, "earlier you said you didn't know what you were going to do since your informant -"
"Fraser, shut up," Stanley held up a hand.
"Understood," Fraser nodded.
Lynda cleared her throat. "Listen, Ray," she spoke slowly, "the real reason I asked for you was because I was hoping to I could see both of my parents together. Besides, my mom has missed you over the past nineteen years ."
"Really?" Stanley asked. "How is Diane?"
Lynda leaned on the edge of Stanley's desk. "When she began to talk about you, she couldn't stop. She still loves you, you know." She looked embarrassed. "I know this may not be exactly appropriate, but I need to ask; do you still love her?"
Stanley raised his eyebrows and looked embarrassed himself. "Whoa. I was not expecting that question."
"Sorry," Lynda apologized.
"It's okay," Stanley smiled. "I haven't really thought about it. I mean, it has been nineteen years."
"Well, it was worth a shot," Lynda replied. "Listen, could I borrow your phone?"
"Who you are going to call?" Stanley asked.
"Mom," Lynda answered. "She's probably really worried about me."
"She doesn't know you're here?" Fraser asked.
"No," Lynda replied as she picked up Stanley's receiver and dialed her number. "She doesn't even know I searched to find out who my real father was. But I had to; it likes a vendetta with me. I see something I want, boom! I go after it full throttle."
Fraser shuddered inwardly as he glanced at Stanley. They are definitely related, he thought.
"Hi, Mom," Lynda spoke into the phone. "Sorry I left like that - yes, I'm fine. In fact, I have some really good news, but I'll explain when I get home . . . I love you, too. Bye." She hung up and smiled a the two men. "Well, I guess we'd better get going. Mom was pretty hysterical."
"Well, Miss Peterson, she didn't know where you were," Fraser lectured gently. "With someone trying to kill you, and you leave without telling her, she has every right to be upset."
"Okay, okay, I didn't mean to freak her out," Lynda replied, "but she didn't want to get the police involved. She wanted to handle the matter herself. I, on the other hand, disagreed."
"Well, we better go before anything else happens," Stanley said as he stood up. A growl and whimper made him pause. Everyone looked down to see Diefenbaker munching on the last of Stanley's doughnut. Stanley quickly looked on his desk to see on crumbs on an empty napkin. "Fraser, this is the tenth time your wolf has stolen my doughnut!"
"Sorry, Ray," Fraser said. He looked sternly at the wolf. "Dief. Diefenbaker." The wolf ignored him.
"Oh, yeah, he really listens," Stanley shook his head. "Look, forget it. You just owe me, okay?"
"That's a wolf?" Lynda asked as she looked down at Dief as he licked his lips.
"Part wolf," Fraser answered.
"He's cute," Lynda answered as he knelt beside Dief and began to pet him. "And his name's Diefenbaker?"
"Yeah," Stanley answered, his hands on his hips, "although Glutton would be more appropriate."
"He does seem to like doughnuts," Lynda remarked. "Hey, Diefenbaker. Are you being bad?"
"He's also deaf, Miss Peterson," Fraser said. He turned to Stanley. "And Ray he's not a glutton. He may have a tendency to eat a lot, but I would say to the point of being a glutton."
"Well, what about last week, then?" Stanley retorted. "Besides the five doughnuts he scarfed, he had two slices of pepperoni pizza, a bag of mini marshmallows, some milk duds, and a snickers bar."
"Yes, well, okay, maybe he *is* a glutton," Fraser answered.
Lynda laughed suddenly. Fraser and Stanley looked down to seen Dief sniffing Lynda and licking her face. Lynda was laughing uncontrollably and trying to keep the wolf off of her.
"Diefenbaker," Fraser said, "leave her alone." He managed to get Dief away as Stanley helped her up. "Sorry about that." He offered her a tissue from Stanley's desk.
"It's okay," Lynda answered as she wiped the drool from her face. "He was probably after this," Lynda replied as she reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out a chocolate bar.
"Have you no shame?" Fraser asked as he looked sternly at the wolf. Dief just sat there, ignoring him. "I am truly sorry, Miss Peterson."
"Don't worry about it," Lynda smiled. "No harm done. Oh, and please call me Lynda."
"Well, listen, can we get going?" Stanley asked. "I personally want to get started on this case now." He walked from his desk toward the exit. Fraser followed.
Lynda grinned as she replaced the chocolate bar in her pocket and knelt beside Dief. "I'll make you a deal: If you behave, I'll give you half of the candy bar, okay?"
Dief wagged his tail and barked. He had a new friend. Lynda scratched
him behind the ears, then both of them ran to catch up with the others.
* * * *
"Are you sure we're at the right place?" Stanley asked as he, Fraser, and Dief followed Lynda up the walk to a huge mansion. They stopped at the front door.
Lynda smiled. "Yeah, this is it," she said as she rang the doorbell. "I know it's a little on the big side, but -"
"Big nothing," Stanley interrupted. "This place is huge."
"It is quite extravagant," Fraser observed.
"How many rooms?" Stanley asked.
Before Lynda could answered the front door was opened by a plump, African-American woman. When she recognized Lynda she broke into a huge grin and hugged Lynda. "Miss Peterson!" she exclaimed with a Jamaican accent. "You've returned!"
"It's good to see you, Uma," Lynda returned the hug.
"Mrs. Peterson!" Uma shouted as she ran back into the house. "Mrs. Peterson, she home! Lynda's home!"
"Nice homecoming," Stanley smiled.
Lynda chuckled. "Come on, guys." She stepped into the entry way, with the others behind her. While she closed the door behind them, Stanley let out a low whistle as he looked around. Above them was a chandelier made of diamonds and gold. Lynda noticed his expression. "You like?"
"How did you pay for all of this stuff?" Stanley asked.
"Ray!" Fraser exclaimed. "That's a little rude, don't you think?"
"It's okay," Lynda assured the Mountie. "Mom and I designed a new type of computer software. You may have heard of it: Peterson Technical Personal Computer Software, or P.T.P.C.S. for short. It's like the latest thing in computer software, combining word processing abilities, telecommunication abilities, multimedia capacity, 2.3 gigabytes of RAM, 2.0 gigabytes of floppy drive space, and a virus detection program into one package. With the money we made after our first year of selling P.T.P.C.S. we became two of the richest people in America, second only to Bill Gates."
"Lynda!" a new voice shouted. Lynda turned around and smiled as a woman came into the entry way. She was like an older version of Lynda, with her blonde hair down, wearing a pair of tan slacks, a white blouse, and brown loafers. She crossed the room and hugged Lynda tightly. "Oh, I was so worried."
"Mom, I'm fine," Lynda answered. "There are some people I want you to meet." She turned to the two men standing nearby. "I'm sure you remember -"
"Stanley," Lynda's mom interrupted, finally noticing the newcomers.
"Diane," Stanley nodded and smiled warmly. "It's been a while."
"Yes, it has," Diane smiled back. She and Stanley gave each other a brief, but tight hug. "It's good to see you."
"What are you doing here?"
"Lynda said you two were having some trouble," Stanley said.
"Lynda," Diane answered sternly. "I told you I didn't want to bother the police. We can handle this ourselves."
"Mom," Lynda replied. "We're being targeted by a hired killer. It's going to take a little more than the two of us to handle it."
"Lynda is quite correct," Fraser spoke up. "Trying to take on something as big as this by yourselves is not wise."
"Who are you?" Diane asked.
"Constable Benton Fraser," the Mountie replied warmly.
"Constable?" Diane asked.
"Don't ask," Lynda said quickly. "He's from Canada, but he's living here, now, all right?"
"Well, it's almost dinnertime," Diane smiled. "Why don't you both join us? We're having pot roast." A low whimper caught her attention. Diane looked down to see Dief at her feet, looking pitifully up at her. "Who's dog?"
"He's Fraser's," Lynda answered. "And he's half-wolf."
"Wolf?!" Diane looked frightened.
"He's quite harmless," Fraser assured her.
"Well . . . uh, I guess he can join us as well. Uma?" She turned
to face the woman standing in the doorway. "Could you please set out
three extra plates for our guests?" Uma smiled, nodded, then left to
attend to her duties. "Shall we adjourn to the dining room?" She and
Stanley walked side by side, talking about old times. Lynda, Dief, and
Fraser followed behind.
* * * *
"That was good," Stanley said as he wiped his mouth with his napkin.
"Has your insufficiency been sufficiently serensified?" Lynda asked with a grin.
"Huh?" Stanley looked at his daughter oddly.
"She's asking 'are you full', Ray," Fraser spoke up.
"Ah, so the Mountie understood me," Lynda replied amusingly.
"Oh, yeah. Thanks for asking," Stanley replied slowly. "You talk just like Fraser, you know that?"
"Ray, I do not talk like that," the Mountie said.
"Yes, you do, Fraser," Stanley retorted. "You always talk like that."
"Stanley, I have a question," Diane spoke up quickly as she put her silverware on her empty plate. "Why is everyone calling you Ray?"
"Because I'm covering for another officer," Stanley answered. "He's undercover for the mob, and they wouldn't be too happy if they knew a cop was among them. That's how I met Fraser. He was Ray Vecchio's partner before he left." Dief, who was licking his plate from the ground near Fraser's feet, whined. Stanley smiled wryly. "As was Diefenbaker."
"What that means, Mom, is that we're going to have to keep it a secret," Lynda added. "We can't tell anyone else what Stanley- uh, Ray, just told us."
Diane understood and smiled. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. "I'll get it," Uma called out from the kitchen. Silence followed. Then a few seconds later-
"What are you doing here?!" Uma cried out. "You're not allowed here!"
"I'm allowed anywhere I damn well please!" a deep, male voice answered.
Stanley, Lynda, Diane, and Fraser looked up to see a tall man enter the dining room. He was dressed in a three-piece, black suit and a trench coat. He had black hair and green eyes that burned into Lynda and Diane.
"James, I though I told you to leave us alone!" Diane glared at the man as she quickly stood up.
"Well, I'm not through with you or Lynda," James answered.
"Who the hell are you?" Stanley rose from his chair, watching the intruder like a hawk.
"Who wants to know?" James growled at Stanley.
"Detective Vecchio, Chicago PD," the officer answered, whipping his shield from his pocket and showing it to James. "Now, answer the question."
"James Charleston, Diane's husband," James answered, eyeing Stanley with extreme suspicion.
"Try ex-husband," Diane corrected through clenched teeth. "We divorced over a year ago, James."
"Yeah, why don't you just leave us alone?" Lynda said.
"Because half of the company is mine," James answered.
"Not anymore," Diane said calmly. "You violated the terms of our agreement. Now for the last time, leave me and my daughter alone."
"Or else what?" James slowly advanced toward the two women.
"Or else I'll haul your butt off to jail for harassment," Stanley answered as he stepped in front of Diane and Lynda, blocking them from James. Stanley stood tall with a cold expression on his face, an expression that plainly stated he was not going to let anyone harm Diane or his daughter. James glared at the detective, then raised his fist, intending to hit him.
Fraser, who had gotten out of his seat when James entered the room, grabbed James' fist. "Sir, I would strongly advise against such actions," the Mountie said calmly.
James looked at Fraser, who stared right back at him. He tried to pull away, but Diefenbaker emerged from under the table and stood in front of Lynda. He growled as his ears went flat and his fur bristled. James backed away slightly and finally jerked his hand out of Fraser's grip and turned to walk out of the room.
Before he was out of sight, he abruptly stopped and turned around. "We're not through, yet," he said to Diane and Lynda. "I will be back." Then he left. Moments later, the front door opened and slammed shut.
Stanley inwardly breathed a sigh of relief as he put his shield back in his pocket and turned to Fraser. "Thanks." Dief whined. "You too, Dief."
"Any time, Ray," the Mountie answered. Diefenbaker barked.
Stanley went over to Diane, who was comforting Lynda. "You both okay?" he asked.
"We're fine," Diane answered.
"You sure?" Stanley glanced at Lynda, who was pale and shaking slightly.
"I'm fine," Lynda answered softly.
"You going to let me in on what that was all about?" the detective asked.
"James is my ex-husband," Diane explained. "He's upset that he didn't get half of the company when we divorced, so he's been hassling me and Lynda about it."
"Did it have anything to do with the agreement you mentioned earlier?" Fraser asked.
Diane nodded. "Before we started working as co-owners of the company, we both signed an agreement stating that if one party violated any of the rules in the agreement, the other party had the right to terminate all of the first party's finance holdings with the company."
"And James violated the agreement?" Stanley asked.
"Big time," Diane answered. "Lynda helps with computer records for the company. One day she noticed that things were missing from different areas of the company. She discovered that James had been stealing research product information and money. When I terminated his finances he took me to court, but the judge sided with me, and James received nothing. He wasn't too thrilled about it."
"Was this the first time he came over here and acted the way he did?" Stanley asked.
"No," Diane answered. "He's confronted and threatened Lynda and myself so many times that we had to get a restraining order on him."
"Do you think it's possible that he could be the one trying to kill you?" Fraser asked.
"I wouldn't be at all surprised," Lynda replied bitterly.
"Well, I can call the Lieutenant and see if someone can keep an eye on him," Stanley said as he left the dining room. Moments later to he returned carrying his cell phone. He dialed some numbers. "Lieutenant? Vecchio here. Looks like we have a suspect: a James Charles, Lynda
Peterson's mom's ex-husband . . . address?" He looked at Diane. "Diane, do you know where he lives?" Diane shook her head. Stanley talked back into the phone. "No, Lieutenant, no address . . . okay. No problem. Call me as soon as you get anything." He hung up and looked at Fraser. "Welsh said once they find out where James lives, then he's going to send Huey and Dewy over to keep an eye on him."
"What about us?" Lynda asked.
Stanley cleared his throat. "Well, someone needs to stay here and keep an eye on you and your mother, Lynda," he answered. "Welsh wants it to be Fraser and myself. That okay?"
"Fine by me," Lynda half-smiled. "Listen, I'm going to go to my room and rest." She walked out of the room, with Diefenbaker following close behind her.
"Is she going to be okay?" Fraser asked.
"She'll be fine," Diane answered. "She just had a rough time with the divorce and the trial. She trusted James, and when she found out what he had done, she felt betrayed. But she'll be okay; she just wants to be by herself."
Uma, who had remained in the kitchen during the entire ordeal, emerged cautiously. "Mrs. Peterson, may I clear the dishes now?" she asked.
"Go right ahead," Diane answered gently. "Oh, Uma, considering what's been going on lately I would feel better if, after finishing your chores, you go to a friend or relative's house until this thing blows over."
"But Mrs. Peterson-"
"No buts, Uma. You're a good friend and I don't want anything to happen to you, okay?" Uma nodded, then cleared the plates from the table. Diane turned back to the two gentlemen. "Well, it's getting late. I guess I'd better show you to your rooms."
She led them out of the dining room and up a flight of stairs to the second floor. The three walked down a long hallway before Diane stopped in front of a set of brass doors. "Constable, you will staying in this room," she said as she opened the doors.
In the spacious room there was a huge king-sized bed, with antique furniture, and painting on the walls. Fraser cringed inwardly. All this space was not exactly his taste. He cleared his throat.
"Mrs. Peterson -"
"Diane, please," she interrupted.
"Diane," Fraser corrected himself as he spoke gently, "do you have anything a little smaller?"
"Too big?" she asked.
"Well, I'm not used to such a big bedroom," Fraser explained. "You see, I'm more accustomed to living -"
"- in his office," Stanley finished.
"Excuse me?" Diane raised her eyebrows.
"Don't ask," Stanley replied quickly.
"Ray is correct," Fraser explained. "I am used to smaller quarters."
"I'd let you have a smaller room, but this is the smallest room," Diane said, slightly embarrassed. "I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about," Fraser reassured her. "If this is the smallest room, then I will accommodate myself. I have lived in more unusual places. In fact, there was this one time that I was pursuing a criminal outside of -"
"- Fraser, shut up," Stanley interrupted.
"Understood." Fraser started into the room, but Diane stopped him.
"Listen, I never mentioned this earlier," she said, "but I want to thank you for helping us. I don't know what would have happened if you and Ray hadn't been here."
"Our pleasure," Fraser smiled warmly.
"What about your wolf?" Diane asked.
"Dief seems to be protective of Lynda," Fraser stopped and turned around. "He's more than welcome to stay with her if he pleases. Unless it bothers you."
Diane shook her head. "He can stay with her. I was just curious."
"Well, good night, Diane," Fraser said. "Ray." He walked into his room and shut the doors.
"'Night, Fraser," Ray said.
"He's really a nice person," Diane remarked as she led Stanley further down the hall.
"Yeah, but he has a tendency to get on your nerves most of the time."
"Yeah, I noticed." They stopped in front of another set of doors. "Well, here's your room."
"Thanks," Stanley answered, looking deep into Diane's eyes. "You know, you haven't changed much since high school."
"Neither have you," she replied softly. She and Stanley brought their
lips close to each other. Right before they touched, Diane pulled away.
"I, uh, I have some things I need to take care of downstairs." She hurried
down the hall, leaving Stanley alone.
* * * *
"Here you go, Dief, just like I promised earlier," Lynda said as she removed the chocolate bar from her pocket. Diefenbaker, who was sitting next to her on her bed, wagged his tail and began to sniff the bar. But Lynda pulled it away. "Just a minute, now." She took off the wrapper, split the bar in half, then began to feed Diefenbaker, one little piece at a time.
When he had finished his half, Lynda covered the remaining half, got up, and stashed it behind some books on a nearby shelf. Diefenbaker whined as he tried to get to the bar. "Now, look here, I already gave you half," Lynda reprimanded. "You'll get the other half tomorrow."
She looked at the clock on her night stand. It read ten thirty-five. "Look, you want to go outside with me and get some fresh air?"
Diefenbaker forgot about the bar and totted over to Lynda as she quietly opened the door. She stuck her head out and peered down the hall. Nothing. She and Diefenbaker quietly made their way down the hall, crept down the stairs, and exited through the front door. They walked quickly down the front walk and ran through the trees that dotted the property.
After Diefenbaker marked a tree he ran wild through the dead leaves, yipping and barking. Lynda smiled as she ran after him and then threw herself on the ground and tumbled. She and Diefenbaker rolled and wrestled together. Lynda stood up, gasping and laughing as Diefenbaker chased some birds.
Suddenly, Lynda's a soft crunching noise. She held her breath and grew quiet as the noise grew closer. Her eyes darted left and right, trying to search for the wolf, but she couldn't see him. Moments later she felt a hand on her shoulder. Quick as a striking snake, Lynda grabbed the hand
and flipped its owner over her shoulder. The person landed hard on the ground.
"You make one move," she growled as she assumed a fighting stance, "and I'll rip your lungs out."
"Lynda, it's me," a familiar voice answered.
"Fraser?" Lynda peered closely as the Mountie slowly sat up. "What are you doing out here?"
"I should be asking you that question," Fraser replied calmly as he stood up and brushed dead leaves from his clothes. "You're supposed to be sleeping."
"I came out to cool off. How did you know I came out here?"
"I heard you and Dief sneaking down the hallway."
"Well, you have very acute hearing, then. I'm usually pretty quiet." Lynda blushed slightly. "Sorry about flipping you."
"Don't worry about it," Fraser answered. "So, you study self-defense?"
"Yeah, ever since I was seven," Lynda nodded. "I'm working on my second-degree black belt."
"Well, do you think it would be a good idea to go back to the house?"
"I want to stay out here a few more minutes, but you're welcome to join me."
Lynda sat back down in the grass and leaves. Fraser sat down next to her. Both just sat in the cool night, listening to the wind gently blow through the trees. Lynda looked up at the clear sky, with the stars shining like diamonds. Diefenbaker gave up his pursuit of the birds, ran back to Lynda, and lay down next to her. She smiled as he lay his head in her lap.
"He seems to like me," she remarked.
"Yes he does," Fraser answered. "And I don't know if it's because you're in trouble, you're blonde, or the chocolate you gave him earlier. Maybe it's all three."
"How did you know about the chocolate?" Lynda asked. Fraser tapped his nose a couple of time, causing the teenager to blush. "Oh."
"All of my senses are better than most people's," Fraser explained. "It's something that I've developed over the years."
"Now, what were you saying about him liking me because I'm a blonde?"
"Well, Lynda, the village that Dief grew up in, there were very few people with blonde hair" Fraser explained. "As a result, ever since we came to Chicago, he's been . . . how shall I put this - transfixed." Diefenbaker whined and gave a short woof. "That depends on Lynda, and what she wants."
"What depends on me?"
"Dief wanted to know if he could sleep in your room tonight."
"Yeah, he can, but if he's deaf, then how could he understand you?"
"Did you teach him?"
"No, he's self-taught."
"Okay, I'll accept that."
"Now, it's my turn to ask a question."
"Okay, Fraser, shoot."
"Ray told me a few weeks after we teamed up that he had married his high school sweetheart, Stella. How can that be if you said he and your mother were dating in high school?"
"I knew sooner or later that question would be asked." Lynda took a deep breath. "What had happened, according to my mother, was that at the beginning of their senior year, Ray and Stella had a big fight and broke up. A few weeks later he asked my mom out, who was his lab partner in Physics at the time. They went steady ever since then, going to every school dance, including the senior prom. We know what happened there.
"A month after mom found out she was pregnant, my grandparents forced her to annul her marriage to Ray, and moved her to Kenosha, Wisconsin. She never even got the chance to tell Ray that he was going to be a father. She intended to write him and tell him, but my grandparents refused to let her. When she was finally able to make it on her own and move back here, five years after I was born, she found out that Ray had gotten married to Stella, and she didn't want to interfere with his life, so she never told him . . . Is he still married to her?"
"No, they've been divorced for quiet some time now." Lynda exhaled loudly. "Why? Do you have any plans on trying to get them back together?"
"Would you be mad if I said yes?"
"No, but the timing may not be exactly right, considering what Ray is doing now."
"I know, but you have to understand that I've only grown up with one of my real parents. Now that they're here together . . . I don't want Ray to leave."
"Oh, I understand perfectly, Lynda."
". . . they both still care for each other, you know that."
"How can you tell?"
"Well, just by the way they acted around each other." She smiled brightly at the Mountie. "But enough about them, I want to know more about you."
"What would you like to know?"
"Well, how about where you grew up to start with. I kind of find it interesting my father's partner is a Mountie. What was it like in Canada?"
Amazing, Fraser thought to himself. Someone who is actually interested
in my life. Not that Ray or Stanley weren't interested, but they never
asked about him when it concerned his past. He smiled warmly. "Well,
to begin with I was born in . . ."
* * * *
Diane sat cross-legged on the living room couch. She had turned on the stereo to 104.3 WJMK and was flipping through old high school pictures as the songs of her youth played softly.
She looked at one picture tucked in a corner and smiled. It was her copy of the prom picture she had taken with Stanley.
"That was the worst outfit I have ever worn," a new voice said softly.
Diane turned around to see Stanley leaning against the back of the sofa. "What are you doing here?" she asked, not bothering to hide her astonishment.
"Couldn't sleep," he answered as he walked around and sat next to her. He eyed the opened photo album. "Going through old memories, huh?"
"Yeah," Diane answered. She closed the album and reached for another one that was on the coffee table. "But since you're here, I want to show you some other pictures, pictures I thought you would never see."
"What pictures are they?"
"Lynda's pictures. I figure you'd want to see them, since you are her father." She opened the book to the first page, which had a picture of Lynda right after she was born.
"She was so tiny," Stanley said as he studied the picture.
"No she wasn't," Diane said firmly. "I mean, giving birth to a child is not easy."
"I wish I could have been there."
"I wish you could have, too." Diane flipped through the rest of the album, showing Stanley Lynda as she grew from a baby to a young woman, the last picture showing her before she started her first year at Chicago University.
"Man, I missed a lot," Stanley said as Diane closed the album and placed it on the coffee table. "I feel like a bad father. Why didn't you ever call me? It's not like I would have rejected you or Lynda."
"Because my parents wouldn't let me," Diane answered. "They said while I was living with them I could not call or write you. You have to understand, I needed their help in raising Lynda while I went to school. Five years later, I met James, we married, and I learned that you married Stella, so I decided it would be better if you never knew the truth."
Stanley sighed and leaned back against the couch. "She really turned out to be a nice, person," he said. "I saw so much of you in her down at the precinct today."
"And I see so much of you in her," Diane replied. "Everyday, she does or say something that you would have said or done."
"And that was the 'Heartbreak Hotel' by Elvis Presley," the dj said after the song finished. "This next song is for all of those lovers out there. This is "Unchained Melody' by the Righteous Brothers."
The room began to fill with the soft music as the Righteous Brothers sang their most romantic song over the radio.
Oh my love, my darling, I've hungered for your touch, a long lonely time.
Without saying a word, Stanley got to his feet and pulled Diane to hers. Gently they began to sway to the music, not missing a beat as they circled the room.
As time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much, are you still mine?
"You remembered," Diane smiled sweetly as she let Stanley wrap his hands over hers.
"How could I forget our wedding song?" Stanley twirled her.
I need your love, I need your love, God speed your love, to me
Lonely rivers flow, to the sea, to the sea, to the open arms of the sea
Lonely rivers sigh, "Wait for me, wait for me", I'll be coming home, wait for me.
Stanley stared deeply into Diane's eyes and realized for the first time in nineteen years how much he had missed her. Slowly, he pressed his lips to hers. Diane made know move to escape this time as the rest of the song finished playing.
Oh my love, my darling, I've hungered for your touch, a long lonely time
And I know that time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much, are you still mine?
I need your love, I need your love, God speed your love, to me
To . . .. Ooooooooooh.
The two lovers slowly pulled away from each other as the music finished, but they still held each other's hands and gaze. It was as if they didn't need to talk, that they could read what the other one was thinking.
"Oh, Stanley, I've missed you so much," Diane said tearfully.
"So have I," he answered.
They kissed again, more passionately.
"Excuse me?" a new voice called out. Diane and Stanley looked to see Lynda leaning against the entrance to the room, a smug grin that her father was famous for on her face. Dief was sitting next to her. "I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" she asked.
Both adults pulled away, slightly embarrassed. "What are you doing here, honey?" Diane asked. "You're supposed to be sleeping."
"Well, I heard 'Unchained Melody' playing, and figure at least one of you would you be down here."
"How could you hear it from upstairs?" Stanley asked. He frowned. "You don't have that good of hearing."
"I wasn't upstairs. I just came in from the outside."
"Lynda, it's after midnight," Diane admonished her daughter. "You shouldn't be outside, especially when someone is after us."
"I wasn't by myself, okay? I needed some fresh air, so Dief and I went out and played. I didn't know Fraser was following me, so when he touched my shoulder I, uh, I flipped him."
"You flipped Fraser?" Stanley asked, smiling. "Man, I wish I could have been there to see that."
"I'm glad you care so much for your partner," Diane answered sarcastically, smiling.
"I do, but ever since I've know that guy," Stanley explained, "he's never gotten injured or hurt. Now, he knows what it's like. And my own daughter was the one who did it." He sounded proud.
"Well, Fraser is a very interesting person," Lynda said, trying not to laugh. She knew that Fraser was never going to hear then end of it when he and Ray talked. Poor guy, she thought, I feel bad for him already. "He told me a lot about himself."
Stanley groaned. "He didn't tell you any Inuit stories, did he?"
"As a matter of fact, he did."
"And you listened to him?" Stanley couldn't believe it.
"I learned a lot from him," Lynda said as Stanley shook his head in disbelief. "Look, I'll leave you two alone. I'm going to bed. Goodnight." She walked away with Diefenbaker at her side. She abruptly stopped and turned around, a mischievous smile on her face. "Oh, don't
stay up too late. And don't do anything I wouldn't do."
Stanley and Diane smiled as Lynda and Diefenbaker left the room. "She is such a hopeless romantic," Diane replied softly.
"She's turned out really great," Stanley said. He turned to Diane. "She had a great mother."
Diane planted a kiss on his cheek. "Thanks." She sighed. "So, what now?"
It was Stanley's turn to smile mischievously. "Well, the night is young and I know this little chapel just north of here."
Diane chuckled. "Do you remember what happened the last time you said that to me?"
"Yeah, I ended up marrying the best girl ever, even if was only for a month," Stanley sighed.
"Well, we're both grown up now," Diane sad seriously, "so I think we need to take things a little slower this time. Not that I regret getting married to you."
"We can do some more dancing."
Stanley smiled as he pulled Diane closer. Together, they moved slowly
around the room as the music softly began to play again.
* * * *
Lynda woke up around eight the next morning to the sound of a person shuffling in her room. She opened her eyes and saw her mother rummaging through her purse. "Mom?" she asked groggily as she sat up. "What are you doing?"
Diane turned around quickly, her face beet red. "I, uh, I thought I left something in your purse," she answered nervously.
"Well, did you find it?" Lynda yawned and stretched.
"No." Diane started to leave, but Lynda stopped her.
"Wait a second, now," she smiled. "What happened after I left you with Ray last night?"
"Not much," Diane answered. "We just danced until two, then went to bed. Separately." She came over and sat next to her daughter. "So, you like him?"
Lynda nodded. "He's a really nice person. I'm glad he's my father, and not James."
"Me too." A small knock interrupted the two women. "Come in."
The door opened and Fraser stuck his head in. "I'm not interrupting anything, am I?"
"No, come on in," Lynda smiled.
Fraser walked into the room and closed the door. Since he hadn't brought any other clothes with him, he was dressed in the same outfit he had worn yesterday. He looked around Lynda's room. "Where's Diefenbaker?" As if in response, the wolf stood up on the other side of Lynda's bed. He yawned and stretched, then jumped on the bed and nuzzled Lynda. "He didn't bother you last night, did he?"
"He was a perfect guest," Lynda answered as she scratched Diefenbaker behind his ears.
"Where's Ray?" Diane asked. "Is he up yet?"
"Yes, he's downstairs in the kitchen, cooking breakfast," Fraser answered.
"He can cook?" Diane asked incredulously.
"Apparently," Fraser answered. "Well, shall we?"
"You don't have to ask me twice." Lynda quickly got out of bed and wrapped her terry bathrobe over her white pajamas. She and the others made their way down to the kitchen, where Stanley was hovered over the oven, flipping pancakes. When he saw everyone he smiled.
"Good morning, everyone," he greeted.
"'Morning, Ray," Diane answered as she went over and lightly kissed him on
the cheek. "Mmm, where did you learn how to cook so good?"
"When you live by yourself for a while, then you need to know how to cook more than maccaroni and cheese," Stanley answered as he added some fresh pancakes to a pile that was nearby. "Okay, who's ready for pancakes with all the fixings?" He turned off the stove, then brought the plate of pancakes over to the table. He set it next to a tub of butter, a syrup bottle, and a tall pitcher of orange juice.
"Ray, I must say that this is one of the best meals I have seen you cook," Fraser said as he served some pancakes to Lynda, then himself. "In fact, I think it's the only meal I have seen you cook." He handed the plate to Stanley.
"Thank you, Fraser," Stanley replied as he served three pancakes to Diane, then himself. He put the plate back on the table and reached for the syrup. "So, I heard that Lynda literally swept you off your feet last night."
Fraser turned bright red. "Well, uh, you see, in a matter of speaking - I let her, Ray."
"Sure," Stanley smiled slyly, not believing any of it.
"So, what are we going to do today?" Lynda asked before taking a bite of her pancakes.
"I think the best thing to do is to have both of you inside as much as possible," Fraser answered. "That way there would be less of a chance of anyone harming you or Diane."
"I agree," Stanley said. His cell phone rang softly. He reached into his pocket and pulled it out. "Vecchio? Okay. Sure. Thanks." He hung up and put the phone back in his pocket. "That was Detective Huey. He and Dewy have been monitoring James all night."
"And?" Diane asked.
"Well, it appears that he is now a suspect," the detective replied. "Last night, they saw him buy a hunting rifle."
"Well, that doesn't prove anything," Diane explained. "James has always been a hunter."
"But considering he's bought a gun after having an argument with you and Lynda," Stanley said, "we have to think that the gun is going to be used to try to kill either of you."
"I think that whoever is trying to kill us," Lynda said, "is going to have a tough time, considering we have a Chicago Detective, a Canadian Mountie, and a deaf wolf as our bodyguards."
Everyone smiled, in spite of the situation. For the rest of breakfast, they ate in silence. After they were through Lynda and Fraser offered to clear the dishes and clean up while Diane and Stanley went into the living room. Lynda washed the dishes and Fraser put them in the dishwasher. Together, they cleaned up the table. Fraser went into the living room while Lynda went upstairs and changed into a casual pair of jeans and T-shirt. Then she joined the others.
Diefenbaker, who had eaten three pancakes himself, was lounging on the floor next to a grand piano. While Diane and Stanley talked, Lynda made her way over to the piano and seated herself. Fraser sat in a small chair next to the sofa She lifted the cover and stretched her fingers.
Stanley watched with curiosity. "You play?" he asked Lynda.
"Uh, huh," she answered as her finger glided over the ivory key, playing her favorite song, 'Fur Elise'. The adults sat back and listened as the beautiful melody echoed through the room. Right in the middle of the song, a cracking sound jarred their attention.
Everyone looked up to see a small hole in the window above the piano. Lynda stopped playing just as another hole appeared. She cried out and grabbed her left arm. The adults rushed over in time to see blood soaking through Lynda's shirt sleeve.
"I've been shot!" she cried.
Not two seconds later, a barrage of bullets came through the windows. Stanley and Fraser pushed Diane and Lynda to the floor. Quickly, they led them to behind the couch where Diefenbaker was already hiding.
As Fraser applied pressure to Lynda's arm, Stanley reached into his pocket for his cell phone and dialed the dispatcher. "This is Detective Vecchio," he shouted above the sounds of glass breaking. "I need police help at 2321 Crimson Ct. Gunshots, one civilian has been hit. Need an ambulance." He hung up and pulled his gun and glasses out. After putting his glasses on, he cocked his gun, but made no move to fire.
"How is she?" he asked as he glanced at Lynda.
"Well, it appears to be just a flesh wound," Fraser replied.
"Yeah, but it's my flesh," Lynda retorted.
"Calm down, Lynda," Stanley said. "An ambulance is on the way."
The firing suddenly stopped as if a switch had been thrown. Everyone looked around, but didn't move. Suddenly, Fraser jerked his head to one side.
"What is it?" Stanley asked.
"Someone's coming," the Mountie answered.
Stanley held his breath and gripped his gun tighter. A movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. He looked over just in time to see a tall, burly man aim a gun at him and fire. Stanley ducked as a bullet whizzed by his head. Quickly, before the man could fire again, Stanley took his shot.
His aim was true, striking the man once in the chest. He fell backwards and didn't move after that. Stanley let out a quick breath and looked toward Lynda and Fraser. "You two okay?" he asked. They nodded. He turned to Diane. "Hey, Diane, you-?" He stopped cold when he saw Diane lying on the floor. She didn't move.
"No!" Stanley cried as he rushed to her side. He looked down at her expressionless face. "Diane? Come on, Diane, wake up!" She never moved.
Stanley closed his eyes and swore to himself. Then he turned to face
Lynda, just as she came over. "Mom?" Tears ran down her cheeks. "Mom!"
She tried to run to Diane, but Stanley held her tightly. Lynda fought
hysterically, then collapsed sobbing into Stanley's arms. Stanley held
her and comforted her as Fraser and Diefenbaker just stood aside, making
no move. All was silent, save for Lynda's crying and the sound of distant
sirens growing louder.
* * * *
"So, how is she?" Welsh asked about Lynda. She was getting her arm fixed up by an EMS technician in the ambulance that had arrived ten minutes ago, along with other officers, and investigators. The entire Peterson mansion looked like a three-ring circus, with officers running back and forth gathering evidence, putting up police tape, and communicating with other officers.
Stanley took a long breath before answering. "Well, the bullet just grazed her arm," he answered, "so she doesn't have to worry about that. As for seeing Diane get killed right in front of her . . . I don't know."
Welsh shook his head. "Poor kid." He looked up as Detectives Huey and Dewy came up, each carrying a small plastic bag with a bunch of bullets in each one. "Well? Anything?"
"We're going to take these downtown," Huey answered. "Nothing definite yet, but it looks like the type of bullets that are used in the gun James bought this morning. We'll also get an autopsy on Diane Peterson going." Welsh nodded, then the two detectives left.
"Lieutenant, let me get James and haul his butt to the precinct," Stanley asked forcefully.
"Vecchio, you're in no condition to be working right now," Welsh answered. "Besides, there's something you need to handle, first."
Welsh pointed to Lynda, who was almost completely bandaged. "She's your daughter. Right now, more than ever, she is going to need to be around people she trusts. You especially."
"What should I do?" Stanley asked. "I've never had to deal with anything like this."
"Well, she obviously can't stay here, Ray," Fraser spoke up, walking toward the two officers. "Where have you been?" Stanley asked.
"Just doing some investigating," Fraser answered.
"Find anything?" Welsh asked.
"Yes, actually," the Mountie nodded. "It would appear that there were three people who shot at us today. One was the man Ray killed, and I don't know who the other two were. But the strangest thing was that they wore the same cologne that James had on last night."
"How did you know that, Constable?" Welsh asked as he folded his arms over his chest.
"Well, last night, I detected a slight hint of an extremely rare men's cologne when James entered the room last night," Fraser explained. "I noticed the scent on the man who fired at us was the same. The cologne was an expensive brand, and considering how our assailant doesn't appear to have had much money, I'm guessing he was in close proximity with James, either last night or this morning."
"Are you saying he was some kind of hit man?" Stanley asked.
"Yes, Ray," Fraser answered.
"So, now can we haul him in?" Stanley asked.
"Vecchio, I'll see what I can do, but I have no guarantees. All we have is circumstantial evidence, which may get us into a lot of trouble with the State's Attorney."
Stanley started to open his mouth, but Lynda chose that moment to walk up behind him. "What about me?" she asked softly. Diefenbaker was beside her, as usual.
"How your arm?" Welsh asked gently.
Stanley glanced at Welsh before facing his daughter. "Listen, Lynda, we're doing everything we can to find out who did this, okay? Until this thing blows over, it won't be safe for you to stay here."
"So, where will I stay?"
"At my place," Stanley said. "Is that okay with you?" Lynda reflexively nodded. "Why don't we go to your room and pack some things?"
Quietly the two, with the wolf, made their way back toward the house. Fraser and Welsh looked on.
"He's a good father," Welsh said.
"That he is," Fraser agreed.
"Constable, does Inspector Thatcher know you're here?"
"No, sir, but if you think she should, then I'll call her."
Welsh handed his phone to the Mountie. Fraser dialed the Consulate's number. "Good morning, sir. Yes, I know I'm late, but - well, sir, things are a bit - I understand that I was only supposed to have one day off - Lieutenant Welsh would best be able to explain my absence, sir." He handed the phone to Welsh. "She wants to know 'why the hell I'm working on another case with the Chicago Police when I have plenty of work around the Consulate,' as she bluntly put it."
Welsh took the phone from Fraser and calmly explained to Thatcher about what was happening. After about ten minutes, he hung up the phone. "Well, Fraser, she sounded quite surprised when she found out what was going on, but she agreed to let you work with the case." "Thank you, Leftenant."
Welsh nodded. "Listen, uh, Detective Vecchio is taking this personally," the lieutenant explained. "I mean, with his daughter's mother being killed, he has every right. But, I don't want him to get in trouble."
"And you want me to tag along to make sure he doesn't?" Fraser asked.
"Yes. I already cleared it with Inspector Thatcher."
"I take it you told her that Lynda is Ray's daughter?"
"That's why she seemed surprised, Fraser."
"Well, I'll do my best to make sure Ray doesn't do anything he'll regret later." He tipped his hat, then returned to the house to be with his friend.
Welsh watched the Mountie before he sighed and turned away to attend
to his other officers.
* * * *
"Okay, here we are," Stanley announced as he opened the door to his apartment. Lynda walked in, with Dief and Fraser behind her. Stanley was the last one in, carrying Lynda's suitcase. He closed the door and locked it securely, then looked at his daughter.
She stood in a daze, staring numbly at everything. Stanley stole a quick glance around his apartment and cringed. It was not exactly in the cleanest condition, and his turtle's tank needed cleaning. He grabbed a wrinkled T-shirt that was hanging over the couch.
"Sorry about the mess," he apologized, "but things have been kinda hectic at Division."
"'S okay," Lynda mumbled.
There was a moment of awkward silence. Stanley cleared his throat. "Uh, Lynda, you're going to be staying in my room." He led his daughter to his bedroom, far enough in front to quickly glance in to make sure it was presentable. Whew, it was clean. No clothes anywhere, and even his bed was made for a change. He put Lynda's suitcase near his dresser as she sat on the edge of his bed, then went to join her.
"Is there anything I can get for you?" he asked.
"Not unless you can change the past," she whispered.
The detective sighed and looked at his daughter. "Lynda, I know that nothing I say can bring your mother back," he said softly, "but I will be here for you, okay? You're my daughter, and I won't let anything happen to you."
Lynda looked up at her father before bursting into tears. Sobbing loudly, she lay her head on his shoulder. Stanley wrapped his gentle arms around her and held her tight. For ten minutes she just let the stinging tears run down her hot cheeks. Then, slowly, her crying turned to sobs, then to nothing. Stanley glanced down to see Lynda's head resting on her shoulder. Her breathing was deep, her eyes closed. She had cried herself to sleep.
Gently, the detective lay his daughter's head on one of the pillows. He removed her glasses and put tem on his night stand. Then he retrieved a blanket from the foot of his bed, he covered her with it before quietly making his way out of the room. As he opened the door, Dief quickly made his way in, jumped on the bed, and lay his head on Lynda's stomach. Stanley started to protest, but decided against it. He shut the bedroom door.
"How is she?" Fraser asked as Stanley made his way over to a chair and sat down. Fraser was already sitting on the couch.
"She's resting," Stanley answered.
"How about you, Ray?"
"What do you mean?"
"How are you, emotionally?"
"I mad. I mad that Diane died while I was protecting her. I'm mad that James killed his ex-wife and now he's trying to kill his step-daughter. I'm mad because Lynda's hurting and there's nothing I can do to make her feel better." Despite his anger, he had managed to keep his voice down.
Before Fraser could respond to his partner's remark, there was a knock on the front door. Stanley jumped from his chair and reached for his gun. Carefully, with Fraser behind him, he made his way to the door. "Who is it?" he asked.
"It's Jack," Detective Huey answered.
"And his partner," Detective Dewy put his two cents' in.
Stanley put his gun away, then unlocked the door. "What's up?" he asked as he let the two officers in.
"Welsh was able to get an arrest warrant for James," Huey announced. "He wanted to see if you and Fraser were interested."
"Do you have to ask twice?" Stanley replied.
"Nice place, Ray," Dewy remarked sarcastically. "Have you been talking with Roto Rooter lately?"
"Look, I've been busy, okay?" Stanley answered angrily. "Can we get going?"
"Ray, what about Lynda?" Fraser asked.
"I forgot," Stanley mentally kicked himself.
"She's here?" Huey raised his eyebrows.
"Yeah, she's sleeping in my bedroom with Dief."
"I'll stay with her," Dewy spoke up. "I mean, if that's okay with you, Ray."
"You sure?" Dew nodded. "Well . . . thanks." He gave a small smile to the Detective before he left with Fraser and Huey. Suddenly, he stopped and whirled around. "Listen, uh, if she wakes up before we get back, let her know what's going on, but watch how you say it. She's not really emotionally stable right now."
Dewy nodded, understanding. Satisfied his daughter was in good hands,
Stanley left, closing the door behind him. Dewy locked the door behind
him, then eyed the apartment with extreme caution. Carefully, he made
his way over to the couch and waited for Lynda to wake up.
* * * *
Lynda awoke almost three hours later, and was, needless to say, startled by Dewy's appearance and Stanley and Fraser's disappearance. But after he explained what was going on, and seeing how Dief treated him, Lynda slowly became comfortable around the Detective.
Three o'clock rolled around, and there was still no sigh of Stanley, Ray, or Huey. Hungry, Lynda went to the kitchen to get herself something when there was a knock on the door. Dewy went to answer it.
"Who is it?"he asked.
Instead of a voice answering, the front door swung off its hinges, striking Dewy and knocking him down. Lynda came into the living room as three men burst into the apartment. Horrified, Lynda ran toward the bedroom, but two of the assailants quickly grabbed her. She struggled and tried to scream out, but one of the men placed a chloroform-soaked cloth over her mouth. Within seconds, she was unconscious.
Dief struggled with the third intruder, grabbing his arm in his jaws and crushing his bones. But the man was able to overpower the wolf, sending him flying into a nearby wall. Dief fell to the floor, yelping.
The three men made their way out of the apartment - Lynda in tow- just as Dewy groggily reached for his gun. Before he could fire, thought, one of the men whipped out a gun of his own and fire. Dewy was stuck in the shoulder. He fell to the floor in pain. The men ran down the hall and were soon out of sight.
Groggily, Dief got to his feet, shook his head, then went to check
on Dewy. He licked his wound, then ran out of the apartment barking.
Soon, his bark blended into the city noise and was heard no more. Slowly,
Dewy made his way to Stanley's phone and dialed for help.
* * * *
Lynda came to and discovered her hands had been bound, and that she was sitting in a chair in a room that looked like it was part of an old warehouse. Broken windows, cracked wall, dim lights, rats. Lynda shuddered as she saw one rodent scurry across the floor. She looked away and found herself staring into the pair of burning green eyes that belonged to her stepfather. Around him were the three men who had kidnaped her and shot Dewy.
"It's about time you awoke," he said smugly. "Now we can get down to business."
"We have no business," Lynda answered coldly.
"Oh, but we do. You see, there's the matter of you getting me evicted from the company and my share of the profits, which I will personally enjoy repaying." He slowly removed a small pistol from his jacket and held it in his hands. "But first, there's the matter of a certain secret that I'm sure your mother has given you."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Don't think I'm stupid, Lynda. I know your mother gave you a small disk with some top-secret on it. Now where is it?"
Lynda remembered earlier that morning when she caught her mother going through her purse. She must have been putting the disk in there. "I have no idea what you're talking about," she lied. James' face turned red, then he put the barrel of the gun to her forehead, but still Lynda never flinched. "Shooting me will get you nowhere, if what you say is true."
Slowly, James lowered the gun. He smiled. "You know, you're right, Lynda. "I guess, then I'm going to have to BEAT IT OUT OF YOU!" He swung the barrel of the gun into Lynda's face, striking her hard in the cheek, and knocking her out again.
"Tsk, tsk," James slowly whispered as he removed Lynda's glasses from her face. "I guess I'm going to have to wait until she wakes up before I can torture her." He crushed the glasses in his hand, dropped them, and laughed. Then he made his way out of the room, his henchmen behind him.
The room grew silent, but then Dief scurried through a broken window and made his way over to Lynda. He began licking her cheek, causing her to wake up.
"Dief," she whispered as she saw the wolf. "You followed me." Dief gave a quiet whine. "Good boy. Listen, go get Dad and Fraser, okay? Bring them here." She carefully enunciated her words.
Dief, understanding, stopped licking her and retrieved her glasses
from the floor. Silently he made his way out of the room. Lynda watched,
then sighed and closed her eyes in prayer. Please bring my father,
she whispered silently.
* * * *
"Where could he have taken her?!" Stanley shouted as he paced the floor of his apartment. The three had found Dewy on the floor and Lynda and Dief missing over an hour ago. An ambulance was called, Huey went with his partner to the hospital, and Stanley called Welsh to tell him of the situation. Welsh immediately dispatched officers to begin looking for her.
"Ray, please calm down," Fraser said gently.
Stanley glared at the Mountie. "Fraser, do you have kids?"
"Then shut up. I'm a father, and if you were one, then you'd be acting the same way, not telling me to calm down."
"Diefenbaker is with her. She's safe."
"Oh, excuse me," the detective said sarcastically. "I forgot that Lynda's safer with that flea-bitten, deaf wold of yours than she is with her own father."
Fraser let that remark slide, knowing his partner was saying out of frustration. A small scratch from the front door caught his attention. He went to the front door and opened it. Dief came in, carrying Lynda's glasses in his jaws.
"They're Lynda's," Fraser replied somberly as he took them from his wolf and examined them. Stanley's face drained of all color as he noticed the cracked frame. "Where is she?" the Mountie looked at Dief.
The wolf gave three short barks, then a whine. Fraser smiled at Stanley. "She's not far from here, Ray. And she's still alive." He put Lynda's glassed in his trouser pocket.
"Thank God," the detective sighed.
"Let's go," Fraser told the wolf. Dief ran out of the apartment with
the two partner in hot pursuit.
* * * *
Lynda struggled against her binds, but to no avail. Even without her glasses, she was able to see clearly as she glanced around the dark room. She eyed a large piece of broken glass near a window. Quietly she got up from her chair, made her way over to the glass shard, and with great difficulty, grabbed it between her fingers. Slowly, back and forth, she sawed at the ropes.
Suddenly, a noise caught her attention. Quickly, she made her way back to her chair and sat down as the door to the room opened and one of James' henchmen walked in. Lynda still sawed at the ropes as he made his way over to her.
"It's a shame," he said in a gruff voice.
"James ordered me to kill you. He doesn't want to worry about the disk right now." He removed a small pistol from his pocket.
Lynda finally cut completely through the ropes. "Well, before you kill me, I have to know if James told you I study martial arts."
"No," the man answered distracted.
Smiling, Lynda kneed the man in the groin, causing him to drop his gun. Then she swung her fist into his face, and delivered a spinning back kick to his stomach. The man went sailing into a nearby wall and was knocked out.
"Remind me to tell you about it someday," she smirked as she shrugged the binds loose from her wrists. Lynda cautiously made her way to the entrance and peered out. Nothing. She slowly crept out when she felt a sharp jab on her left temple.
"Okay, Lynda, no more Mister Nice Guy," James growled.
* * * *
Fraser and Stanley followed Dief around an alley corner before they saw the old warehouse. Dief ran up, but the two humans carefully approached. The three gathered beside some boxes near an open window. Stanley pulled out his cell phone and dialed the dispatcher. "This is Detective Vecchio, requesting backup." He gave his location, then hung up, and pulled out his glasses and gun. He put his glasses on before cocking his gun "Let's go, Fraser," he whispered as he cautiously approached a door nearby.
"But Ray," Fraser said, "shouldn't we wait -" Too late. Stanley had jiggled the door open and went inside.
Fraser shook his head, sighed, then reluctantly followed the detective.
* * * *
James pressed the gun hard against Lynda's head. "I'm going to enjoy this," he sneered at her. "After everything you and your mother did to me, it's time for payback."
"No it isn't," a new voice echoed against the walls. James grabbed Lynda in a choke hold and turned around. Stanley had his gun poised and ready to fire. Fraser and Dief were beside him, but they didn't move. "Let her go."
"Never," James replied.
"I will shoot you."
"And risk hitting your daughter?" James smiled smugly. "You're not that good of a shot, Stanley." The detective looked quizzically at James for a second, but kept his gun aimed. "I'm sure you're wondering how I know who you really are. Well, after Diane and I got married, she told me who the real father was and showed me his picture. You hadn't changed much in the past nineteen years, so I immediately recognized you last night at the house."
"Then it would be a good idea if you let my daughter go," Stanley growled. "If you shoot her, then you'll be sorry."
"Oh, I'm scared," James replied before squeezing the trigger. Fortunately, Stanley saw it and fired before James even applied pressure. His aim was true, striking James in the shoulder. He fell backwards, the gun knocked from his hand. He lay on the floor groaning.
Stanley quickly put his gun away, then ran over to Lynda. He put her arms around her and held her tight. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," she answered as she put her arms around him and held on for dear life.
"When Dief came to us carrying your glasses, I felt so helpless."
Dief looked up at Fraser and whined. Fraser hushed him, then smiled at the father-daughter reunion. Stanley did make a good father, even if he was new at it.
"How's Detective Dewy?" Lynda asked.
"He's fine," Stanley answered as he looked down at his daughter. He noticed her bruised cheek. "What happened?"
"James hit me with his gun earlier."
"Well, he can't bother you anymore," Stanley smiled. "Let's get out
of here and let the other officers handle that scum bag." He shot one
last glance before putting his arm around Lynda's shoulder. Together,
they walked out of the building with Fraser and Dief behind, as the sound
of distant sirens grew louder.
* * * *
The justice system hurried James' case along. He was found guilty of charges of murder one, assault and kidnaping, and attempted murder. As a result he was sentenced to sixty years in prison. Diane's funeral was small. Th only people who came were from the office headquarters in Chicago and some of the officers from the 27th precinct, along with Fraser and Stanley. It was a somber occasion.
Now, almost a month later, Lynda was again in Welsh's office. This time, however, it was to say goodbye.
"So, it's settled then?" Stanley asked.
"Yeah," Lynda nodded her head. A very nice couple bought the house and moved in last week, despite what happened there. I sold all the furniture, and had Mom's will taken care of. Uma took her share of Mom's inheritance and moved to New York to be with her family."
"What will you do?' Welsh asked.
I'm going to L.A.," Lynda answered. I figured it would be a good place to start over."
"You sure you can't stay?" Stanley asked. He looked heartbroken.
"Ray - Dad, there's nothing I wouldn't do to stay here, but there are too many painful memories here. I can't live with them."
"Will you at least visit?" the detective asked.
"Definitely," she replied as she hugged her father. "You can count on it." Dief, who was laying at Fraser's feet, whined. Lynda smiled, despite tears in her eyes. "I'll visit you, too, Dief."
She glanced at her watch. "Well, my plane leaves in a couple of hours. I'd better go." She smiled at Welsh. "Lieutenant, thanks for helping me."
"My pleasure, Miss Peterson," Welsh smiled.
"Fraser, thanks for everything you did," Lynda shook his hand. "You, too, Dief."
"My pleasure," Fraser replied. Dief barked. "Our pleasure," he corrected himself.
"Lynda turned to her father. He smiled. There was no need to talk as they hugged one last time. "I love you," she whispered.
"Same here," Stanley replied. He squeezed her tighter, then let her go.
Lynda sighed, then smiled, but it was hard. "Listen, I'll call when I get to L.A. Bye." She made her way out of Welsh's office.
"She's a great kid," Welsh said as he sat in his chair.
"Yeah," Stanley replied sadly. "Uh, Lieutenant, can I have the day off?"
Welsh nodded, understanding. Stanley made his way out of the office with Fraser and Dief close behind. They had gotten no more than out the door when a commotion erupted from Dewy's desk.
"Stupid computer!" Dewy yelled.
"What's up?" Stanley asked as the trio made their way over to him.
Dewy opened his mouth, but was interrupted by Francesca. "Hey, what happened?" she yelled as she banged her computer.
Like the domino effect, soon all the computers in the division started crashing. The shouting was so loud that Welsh cam out of his office.
"What's going on?" he shouted above the commotion. Everyone started yelling at once. Welsh held up his hands. "One at a time!"
"My computer crashed," Huey yelled. "I lost my report."
"So did I," everyone else shouted.
"Great," Welsh muttered under his breath. "Now what?"
"Leftenant," Fraser spoke up, "I believe Lynda might be able to help us. She knows about computers."
"Good thinking, Constable," Welsh nodded. "See if you can catch her before she leaves."
Fraser ran toward the exit with Dief at his side. He had gotten to the door when it opened suddenly, knocking him down.
"Sorry, Fraser," Lynda apologized as she held the door.
Fraser jumped up. "No harm, Lynda. I was just on my way to come and get you. It seems the division has a slight problem."
"I heard." Fraser led her to Dewy's desk. "What happened?"
"The computers crashed," Welsh explained. "Think you can help?"
I'll see what I can do," Lynda said as she sat in a chair Dewy offered her. She began tapping at the keys. After a few minutes, she frowned and smiled wryly. "Well, I have good news and have bad news. The bad news is, you have a Trojan Horse virus."
"And the good news?" Stanley asked.
"I think I can get rid of it, but it may take while."
"What about your flight?" Fraser asked.
"I'll get another one," Lynda said.
"Well, Lynda, then we'll leave you to your work," Welsh replied. He ushered everyone away and left Lynda alone. Dief curled up at her feet, refusing to move.
All day, Lynda worked on the computer, going through every single file to find the virus. It was a tedious process, but at eight o'clock, almost twelve hours later, she found it. She gathered everyone around her.
"Well, it appears you have a practical joker," Lynda explained. "Does the name Peter Smith ring a bell?"
"He was arrested by Detective Dewy two months ago," Fraser answered. "Didn't like it too much, as I recall."
"Well, apparently, he decided revenge was a dish best served over the computer," Lynda said. She turned to Dewy. "Did you receive any packages recently?"
"A week ago," Dewy nodded. "It was a disk for a new type of spreadsheet. It looked legit."
"I'm betting that's how Smith put the virus in the computer." Lynda smiled.
"How do you know it was him?" Huey asked.
"I just traced the virus back to his computer," Lynda answered. It's not important how I did it. The important thing is, I removed the virus. But I would suggest getting new computers, just in case, and reloading all the information."
"Know of any good dealers?" Welsh smiled.
Lynda grinned, knowing what he was getting at. "I can get you a great deal on a new computer system," she answered. "I'll even stay and make sure it gets running."
"Only on one condition," Welsh said.
"What's that?" Stanley asked.
"That Lynda comes and works for us as a Civilian Aid." He turned to the young woman. "You have great computer and investigating skills that would really benefit the precinct."
Lynda looked at everyone. It was clear that they all wanted her there. She smiled. "Of course," she replied.
"Whoohoo!" Stanley whooped as he hugged his daughter. Everyone smiled and watched. Dief started barking and jumping.
"Well, I guess I'm going to have to find an apartment," Lynda said after everyone calmed down.
"You can stay with me until you do," Stanley offered.
"Wouldn't have it any other way," Lynda smiled.
"Well, I'll get some officers to go and bring Mr. Smith in," Welsh spoke up. "Then, I'll take everyone out to dinner. My treat."
For the first time since her mother died, Lynda felt complete and
at ease. She had her real father, and terrific new friends. No, she
corrected herself, my family. Not all flesh and blood, but family just
the same. She smiled as she and her family walked out of the precinct