|In the Heat of the
Title: Light of Love
Summary: One of Sparta's popular citizens is killed which brings his
daughter to town. Lonnie meets the girl of his dreams.
The night air was cool and crisp. Robert
Palmer had rolled down his window to take advantage of the night air.
He was nervous, and the air helped to cool the sweat on his
brow. He began to feel warm again. He thought that it was just
the fact that he was scared that caused this reaction. His head
began to swim and he saw lights in his eyes. He continued to breathe
deeply of the night air to clear his head. No matter how he tried to
clear his head, he felt himself slipping into darkness.
the ringing of the telephone pulled Lonnie Jamison
back from his dreaming. He couldn't recall what he was dreaming,
but it had been a rather comforting sleep. He reached for the
telephone almost knocking over the lamp in the process.
"Yeah, what is it?" He was on call
"What do you have, Dee?" He
listened intently and then massaged his forehead as he heard the news.
"Is there any sign of foul play?"
His voice was barely coherent at this time
in the morning.
"Do the preliminary investigation and
I'll be in around seven."
Lonnie hung up the phone turned off the
light and snuggled down for a few more hours sleep. When his alarm
went off at six-fifteen, Lonnie tumbled out of bed an headed for the
shower. He dried off and dressed in his uniform. He headed
downstairs where the timer on the coffeepot had the liquid steaming hot
and ready. He popped a couple pieces of bread in the toaster and got
the paper off of the front porch. He glanced over the headlines as
he sipped his coffee. There wasn't anything in the paper, yet,
about the accident. It would probably be in the evening paper.
There weren't any more phone calls so everything must have gone
smoothly. he glanced at the kitchen clock and gobbled down the last
piece of toast and took a last sip of coffee before grabbing his jacket
and keys and headed out of the door. He started up his car, a
bright red corvette, and headed out to Randell Road.
Randell Road was full of twists and turns and
drop-offs. People that weren't from around Sparta were always
speeding through the hills and wrecking their cars. It was rare that
someone like John Palmer, who had lived in Sparta for fifteen years,
would wreck his car in these hills. Also, John Palmer
lived on Randell Road. It didn't make sense.
As Lonnie approached, there was still a
flurry of activity. Much of the work didn't begin until the sun came
When Lonnie arrived at the scene, he checked
"We've done the prelim, looks pretty
Lonnie grabbed the rapeling equipment. he
hated this part of the job; he hated heights and falling from them.
Down on the ground, his stomach did flips -
not enough to eat. He'd have to pick up something on the way back
"Looks pretty routine. From the skid
marks up top, it looks like he lost control and went over. Lonnie
listened intently. Palmer had been a friend and it was hard to
listen to someone talk about him in this way.
"Did you call Detective Tibbs?" The
"He's on his way."
"Tell him that I want to see a copy of
the autopsy report when it comes in. I'm going in."
Jamison headed for the ropes and rook a deep
breath before he scrambled up.
As he headed back to the car, he thought
about what he knew about Robert Palmer.
He first met John fifteen years ago when he bought
Wilson's Grocery Store. All of the kids liked him, because he
gave them free candy. There was a rumor that he had left a kid
somewhere and felt guilty about it. Whatever the reason, the
kids loved him.
Robert was a regular guy. He had started
seeing Brenda Watson who didn't have the best reputation. Everyone
thought that it was strange that those two got together. Well,
he'd have to go and tell Brenda if she didn't know already. Because
she was not a relative, they didn't have to notify her before
releasing Robert's name.
He headed back toward town to the Tudor Motel,
Brenda's place when she wasn't with Robert. as far as Lonnie
knew, John had made an honest woman out of h her. As far as
everyone else knew, they had been exclusive. It was a small
town and small towns could be cruel with gossip. He hadn't heard
anything about Brenda seeing anyone but Robert.
As Lonnie knocked on the door, he got
together what he would say. But, as she opened the door,
he saw that he wouldn't need the well-practiced speech.
"So Lonnie, you're here to
deliver the bad news. Well, I already got it from Ernie the mechanic
down at Schultz'. Come on in, Lonnie."
She had been drinking. He could smell it on
her breath. She was dressed in a ratty, dressing gown with
big, fluffy slippers missing some fluff.
"Well, if you already know,
then you know I have to ask you some routine questions." She
shrugged as Lonnie continued.
"When was the last time you saw Robert?"
Brenda thought for a moment. It was the day before yesterday.
I wanted to get together with him last night, but he said that
there was something he had to do." Jamison was monitoring her
facial expression more closely than the words to see if she were lying .
She wasn't lying.
"Do you know what it was he had to do?"
She shook her head. "Robert was real quiet about certain
things. I didn't push him. There are things about my past that
I don't talk about either. I figure if it were important enough he
could tell." There was a very clear shift in her expression.
She was lying. Lonnie didn't think that she had anything to do
with his death, but there was something that Brenda Watson was
hiding. He wouldn't press her anymore today - give her a chance to
get through her grief.
As Brenda let Lonnie out of the door, her
mind drifted back to the night before. She had been at Robert's
house waiting up for him. He had told her that he had something to
do last night, so she decided that she would go to his house on
Randell Road. She looked out of the window watching for him. She
saw a car swerving around the curves and finally, it went over the
cliff. Of course, she couldn't tell from the house if it were
Robert's car, but she had a bad feeling about it. She grabbed
her coat and ran out to her car. She drove out to where Robert lost
control and went over. Upon looking down at the car, there was
no doubt that it was Robert's car. There was also no doubt that he
was dead because at just that moment, the car burst into flames.
Chief Gillespie, Detective Tibbs, Bubba
Skinner and Lonnie Jamison were sitting in Chief Gillespie's office
discussing the case.
"The autopsy report showed evidence of carbon
monoxide poisoning. We've gone over his car and someone has tampered
with the car." This was now, officially a murder case.
Who would want to kill a grocery store owner.
"We need to get a court order to get his
personal papers from his safe deposit box and see if we can find something
that'll tell us why he was killed. Jamison, I think you need
to pay Brenda Watson another visit."
A couple of hours later, the four men
regrouped to share what they learned.
"Yes sir. We have information that his
wife and daughter live in Virginia. He left his daughter, Lindsay
Stevenson, some property here. He left her the store as well
as his house out on Randell Road.
"Has anyone contacted the wife and daughter
in Virginia?" Gillespie asked.
"Parker's calling them right now. Also,
Ben Walters was his lawyer and he will be contacting them concerning
In the meantime, someone else had accessed
the papers in the safe deposit box.
"Yes, sir. we have
information that his wife and daughter live in Virginia. He left her
the property. How do we proceed?"
The unknown caller listened eagerly to his
"Yes, sir. Don't worry, we'll
take care of everything."
Lindsay Stevenson, age twenty-five had just
received a Master's Degree in Psychology from William and Mary. She
knew that she wanted to set up an office working directly with children.
She just didn't want to start right away.
"I'm going to take some time off before I set
up my practice.' She told her mother.
When she received the phone call from Mr. Dryer,
lawyer from Sparta, Mississippi, she wasn't quite ready for
what he had to tell him.
"Your father was in the Witness Protection
Program. He was murdered here in Sparta and has left you something
in his will. Can you come here to hear the reading of the
will?" It was a lot to take in. First, of all,
she had to break the news to her mother, who had spent all of
this time hating Lindsay's dad. Now she would just hate him for
different reasons. She would never know why he did what he did,
but it did help to know that he had a reason for doing it.
"Mom, there's something that I have to
tell you. I just received a phone call from a lawyer in Sparta,
Mississippi. Dad's dead. He didn't just leave us, he was
in the Witness Protection Program." Margaret Stevenson lowered
herself, slowly into the chair. She couldn't say anything yet,
so Lindsay kept going.
"He was working for some mob guy and wanted
to turn state's evidence. He knew that you probably wouldn't want to
go into the Witness Protection Program. The lawyer gave me the name
of the agent who was working with Dad and he told me the rest of the
Margaret was still not talking. Lindsay knew
that she needed to give her mother a while to take this in, so she
went to her room to pack for her trip.
Lindsay had decided to live in her mother's house
after college and during graduate school, mainly for her mother's
sake. She didn't know if her mother could handle being alone. Lindsay
thought about this as she packed. after hearing the bad news, she
knew it would be hard to leave, but she had no choice. She
went back into the living room to see if her mom was ready to talk. She
found Margaret Stevenson sitting in the same chair, but with the
family album in her lap. She was turning the pages and weeping.
"Come with me, mom - to the
funeral." Margaret shook her head.
"I can't. Your father was right. I
probably wouldn't have followed him. I can't face him, even
though he's dead." Margaret would be okay. Lindsay left
to finish her packing. She wasn't sure how long she would be there.
She planned on a week. She wanted to know who her father was
during those fifteen years.
Benjamin Stallman, a man in his early
fifties was used to making high-powered deals. He was also used to
eating a half bottle of anti-acid tablets a day.
"We've got to get the townspeople on our side
to push this deal through. Who do we have on the inside?"
He nodded even though the person on the other end couldn't hear it.
"Well, he could talk it up without
drawing too much attention. What about the other matter? Uh-
huh. Let me know as soon as anything else develops." He
hung up and went over to look at the plans for the Whispering Hills Casino
and Resort. Most of the businesses had given in and sold out. There
were a few that they still needed to work on. Now that John Palmer
was dead, they would be getting his property. maybe with this
turn of events, the others would give in, too. He popped
an anti-acid. the only problem left would be an unconfirmed report
about their Mr. Palmer.
Lonnie Jamison was a quiet-spoken man. He
was considered Sparta's second most eligible bachelor - next to Bubba
Skinner. He had dated several women in the Sparta area, but
none seriously. As he went home that evening to an empty house, he
began thinking about what it would be like to be married. He had
been to dinner at the Tibbs'. It would be nice to have someone
waiting at home for him at the end of the day.
He looked in the refrigerator to see if there was
something left over in there. there wasn't. Lonnie picked up
the phone and punched the button for Hop Lee's which was on speed dial.
"Yes, Lt. Jamison. The usual? Right
away, sir." It occurred to Lonnie that he ordered from Hop
Lee's two or three time a week.
Lindsay had decided to drive not only because she
had an aversion to flying, but because she wanted some time to
Her mother had broken down and told her that
Robert had been sending cards and presents for years, but Lindsay
was never given any of them. Lindsay didn't have time to be mad at
her mother and also she understood her mother's reasons. But, for
some reason, she had kept these things. Maybe she to had held
out some hope for Robert Palmer.
Lindsay arrived in Sparta at ten o'clock in the
She had been told that she should pick up the key at the police station.
So, she headed to downtown Sparta.
Lindsay walked into the Sparta police station.
All eyes were on her when she walked in Lindsay was a very striking
beauty. She was tall and had a nice figure. He long blond hair
contrasted with her olive complexion. It was very unusual. She
was used to people staring at her.
Lonnie Jamison just happened to be behind the
front desk when she walked in.
"Excuse me, my name is Lindsay
Stevenson. I'm here to pick up the key to my father's store."
When Lonnie first saw her, his heart jumped into his throat.
She was beautiful.
"Uh, yes, we have that here, don't
we Parker?" Parker was staring at Lindsay, too, and
barely heard the question.
"Parker." Parker jumped. Lindsay
"The keys to Robert Palmer's store."
Parker reached into his desk drawer and took out the keys and handed
them to Jamison. Jamison handed them to Lindsay.
"Uh, ma'am, if you'd like, I
can show you where the store is?" Lindsay smiled again. She
read his nameplate, 'Jamison'.
"I'd like that." She again flashed
her smile and again Jamison's heart quivered.
He opened the door for her and they stepped
outside. It was a beautiful spring morning - not too hot.
Lindsay stole side glances at Lonnie. He was
tall and slim, he had beautiful eyes and great hair and a nice butt.
She blushed when he looked at her. Oh, man I hope he
didn't know that I was looking at his butt, she thought.
"Here's Palmer's Grocery." They
were the first words that he had spoken since leaving the station.
Lonnie opened the door with the key and then
handed it to Lindsay.
"There's an apartment upstairs that John used
when he stayed in town. 'Course, there's also the house out on
Randell Road." He handed her a second set of keys.
"Uh, I was wondering if you might like
to see the town. Not as famous as your neck of the woods, but
we have some historic spots here." Lindsay smiled. She
liked the quiet way he had about him.
"I'd like that very much - uh?"
"Lonnie, Ma'am, Lonnie Jamison."
She blushed again.
"I'm Lindsay and I'm not a ma'am. I'm
to young to be a ma'am." He smiled this time. the first
smile that she had seen from him.
Lonnie had a date. They had agreed that he
would pick her up at seven-thirty. He had to admit, he was
happy. this woman was different from the women in Sparta. This
women was quietly sophisticated. Something that really attracted him
Lindsay, on the other hand, felt kind of
guilty. she had come here because of her father's death, and
now she was going out on a date with a very handsome man. She smiled
as she thought of Lonnie Jamison.
She was very careful in choosing what to wear.
She had brought a business suit to go to the reading of the will and
a black dress for the funeral, but she had some other casual clothes
as well. She chose a colorful sundress with somewhat of a plunging
neckline. she giggled as she thought of the reaction she would get
Promptly at seven-thirty, Lonnie arrived at
the store. There was a separate entrance to the stairway that led
upstairs. There was a buzzer that released the lock. Lonnie
pushed the buzzer and waited.
"Is that you Lonnie Jamison?" She
"Yes m - Lindsay, it's me."
The door clicked as she released the lock. He
walked up the staircase to the door at the top. He knocked and
almost immediately Lindsay opened the door.
She was beautiful.
"Wow!" He hadn't realized that he had
said it out loud. She smiled as she got the reaction that she was
"You look nice, too." She
said shyly. Lonnie took her hand as they walked together down the stairs.
He took her to the Botanical Gardens. There,
with the fragrance of the flowers and Lindsay's beauty, Lonnie felt
After viewing the shops and galleries, they
went to the diner to have dinner.
Because Sparta was such a small town, half of the
people wondered who the woman was that Lonnie was with. Because of
Parker, who had let it spread about who she was, the other half of the
people could tell them. All of the women looked at her enviously.
They were oblivious to the stares. They
hadn't stopped talking since he picked her up. She had a feeling
that Lonnie hadn't talked so much in his life. He talked about his
childhood an his Aunt Cordelia. She laughed as he told stories of
himself as a child.
"I was always getting into one scrape or
another. Wasn't too good at school. My mind was always off in
the clouds somewhere." Lindsay could picture him as a boy
sitting in the principals office waiting for his Aunt Cordelia to come and
fetch him. She giggled.
She went through the painful story of her
childhood without her father. At one point she started to tear up
and Lonnie took her hand and squeezed it. They were both shocked by
his touch and the reaction to it.
At her door, Lonnie looked for some sign of her
wanting him to kiss her goodnight. She, too, was thinking about
"I had a nice time tonight."
"I did, too." The way she looked
at him made his blood boil. He leaned forward and kissed her lightly
on the cheek, but that kiss contained so much passion. Lindsay
turned her head so that her lips just barely brushed his. Their eyes
met and went wide with the shock. The next thing that Lonnie knew,
he was kissing her passionately. Lindsay could feel the hard
wood surface of the door pressing into her back. She liked it.
She reached up and raked her fingers through his hair.
Lonnie didn't know what went wrong with him.
This was not his usual style. He pulled back and looked into
her eyes. He needed her with a need that he hadn't felt before.
But, it was too soon. He couldn't let go - not yet.
"Can I see you tomorrow?" His
voice was dark and husky. She brushed a stray hair out of his eyes.
Even a movement as simple as that seemed erotic to him. He
"Well, I don't have anything planned
other than visiting daddy's lawyer." He took her mouth again as
if he couldn't help himself.
"I'm sorry. Look, why don't I
drop by about seven?" She had barely recovered from the kiss,
so she simply nodded as Lonnie turned to leave.
Lindsay awoke the next morning and prepared
herself for the reading of the will. she hung up the business suit
that she had brought to release the wrinkles. As she finished
getting ready, she thought about Lonnie's kiss. She began to
get warmer just thinking about it.
When she arrived at Mr. Dryer's office the next
morning at ten o'clock, she discovered that besides Mr. Dryer
there was also one other person in the office.
"This is Brenda Watson. She was
Robert's - uh - friend." Lindsay understood what Mr.Dryer was
saying. The woman looked like she resented Lindsay being there even
after Mr. Dryer introduced her.
"Mr. Palmer left his house on Randell Road to
you, Ms. Watson while he left the store to Ms. Stevenson. He
divided his assets equally among both of you." Lindsay thought
that this was fair, but Brenda did not.
"You mean, this brat shows up after
fifteen years and she gets half. How do we even know she's his
Lindsay sighed as she put her head into her hands.
"Look, this is ridiculous. they
came looking for me."
Dryer was having fun watching the ladies go at it.
finally he said, "Ladies, ladies. There's nothing I
can do about the will. I'm just the solicitor." Lindsay
didn't feel like arguing.
"So, what do we know about Mr.
Palmer?" They were all gathered in Chief Gillespie's office.
"Well, we got the report from the FBI.
Palmer was in the Witness Protection Program for the last fifteen.
It seems that Palmer worked for a man named Giannelli. He was
an accountant for him; he decided to turn state's evidence, so the
FBI put him in the Witness Protection Program. then, he turned
up dead. We've established that someone tampered with the car.
So, he was murdered. The question is by whom?"
Tibbs was through.
"Well, it's probably this Giannelli
fella." Bubba offered.
"Yeah, but you can bet he didn't get
his hands dirty. He's probably got someone working for him."
They all agreed with this.
"Does Palmers daughter know anything?"
They all turned to look at Lonnie. News sure does travel fast
in a small town. Lonnie didn't like being the center of attention.
"I don't think she knows anything. She
didn't even know he was in the Witness Protection Program until his lawyer
called." They accepted this.
"Well, I think that Jamison here
should stick close to the young lady in case she has something to tell
us." The rest of them tried to hide their smirks. Lonnie
Lindsay decided to go through some of her father's
things while she waited on her date with Lonnie.
One of the things that she did first was to go
through the mail. Most of it was bills and advertisement. But,
Lindsay did spot a plain, brown envelope.
"Huh, I wonder what this is?"
Lindsay opened the package. It was a photo album.
"Oh!" Lindsay flipped through the book.
Most of the pictures, she had already seen, but there
were a few new ones. Lindsay was so engrossed in the photographs,
that she didn't even wonder why the photo album was in the mail.
"Hi." They both felt a little
awkward. They were each remembering their last meeting. They
were planning on going to a movie tonight. Just the thought sitting
with Lindsay in the dark made him shiver.
After the movie was over, Lonnie asked,
"You wanna get some ice cream?"
"Sure, I'd love some." They
stopped by the ice cream parlor which was a hang out for the local high
school kids. Lindsay smirked at the stares and giggles they were
"I coach the track team at the high
school." That explained the stares and giggles. Lindsay
was amused at the look on Lonnie's face.
"We can go somewhere else if you want?"
"No, I'm fine. Are you?"
"That's the problem with a small town.
Everybody knows your business."
"You're a very private person, aren't
you?" Lonnie just hung his head.
"I guess that's just part of the
They were both anticipating being alone together.
The electricity flowing between them was hard to miss.
"Would you like to come in for coffee?"
They both knew that it wasn't for coffee. As soon as they got
inside, Lonnie started kissing Lindsay. He couldn't help
himself. She was everything that he had ever wanted.
They made it over to the couch. She didn't
know how. Lonnie had dragged, half-carried Lindsay.
He covered her mouth with passionate kisses.
Lonnie's hands were all over her.
She wanted him. She couldn't help it. She
wanted to touch his chest, but his sweater was in the way.
He could tell that she wanted to touch him, so
he pulled off his sweater. When her hands started moving over his
chest and back, Lonnie moaned. His hands started pulling up
her dress. She instinctively arched her back which added to his
already heightened arousal.
"Are you sure. . . ?" Lonnie knew
that if he went any further, he wouldn't be able to stop.
"I want you." That was all that
Lonnie needed to hear. He picked her up and carried her into the
The next morning, Lonnie came into the
kitchen where Lindsay was fixing breakfast. She had gone downstairs
to the grocery to get what she needed. She didn't see any harm in it
since it all belonged to her.
"Mornin'." Lonnie said as he came
"Good morning. I didn't know what you
liked for breakfast, so I made a little of everything." He
could tell that she was nervous.
"I'm sorry. I'm just not used to
this." She accidently dropped the toast that she was trying to
butter. Lonnie came to her side and took her into his arms.
"I don't do one night stands." It
was as if Lonnie could read her mind.
Lonnie conveniently changed the subject.
"So, what do you have planned for
today?" He was so sweet to try to spare her feelings.
"Well, I'm going to finish going
through Dad's stuff. Tomorrow's the funeral. They had both
forgotten that it was a sad occasion that had brought Lindsay to town.
"You know, we're still investigating what
happened to your father." She had forgotten all about the photo
"Oh, I forgot, look what Dad got
in the mail." She showed him the brown envelope containing a
"That's strange. Who would send this?
Do you think your mom did?" Lindsay shook her head.
"I got the impression that she didn't know
where he was." Lindsay looked off into space deep in thought.
"Do you mind if I take it down to the
station?" Lindsay shook her head.
"Most of those pictures are copies of
one's my mom has."
"I need to head in to work. I'll
see you tonight?" She smiled and shyly kissed him on the cheek.
Lonnie took her into his arms and kissed her deeply.
She spent the rest of the afternoon going through
boxes getting to know the man she had only dreamt about the last fifteen
She saw picture's of her father's life here in
Sparta. She saw pictures of her father and Brenda. He looked
happy. She thought about the funeral tomorrow, and got sad
again. she wished that she had known him.
What Lindsay didn't know, was that someone
was watching her. Was she snooping around trying to find out who
killed her father? Had she found anything? What had Palmer
done with the papers? They had already searched the house
thoroughly. No papers. They were watching Palmer's kid to see
if Palmer found some way to get those papers to her. So far, he
had seen nothing but some good moments between the girl and that cop.
When Lonnie arrived at work that morning, he
received looks and smirks like the one's in the ice cream store. God,
he hated small towns.
"Chief in?" he asked to know one
"Yeah, he's in." Lou Ann
answered. She thought that all of the teasing was juvenile. It
was about time that the Lt. got himself a steady girlfriend.
"Chief, Lindsay Stevenson this in her
father's mail." Lonnie handed Chief Gillespie the brown
envelope containing the photo album.
"Who would send a photo album of the man's
family to him. the wife didn't know he was in the Witness Protection
Program, did she?"
"No, Chief. Uh, Chief,
what if it was somebody letting him know that they knew who he
was?" The Chief nodded.
"Yeah, but who?"
Then, there was a knock on the door. It
"Uh, Chief. . ."
Light of Love Pt. 2