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Light of Love Pt. 1

In the Heat of the Night
Title: Light of Love
Author:  Nubiangeek
Summary:  One of Sparta's popular citizens is killed which brings his daughter to town.  Lonnie meets the girl of his dreams.
Rating: PG

    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 that night.
    "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 up.
    When Lonnie arrived at the scene,  he checked with Dee.
    "We've done the prelim,  looks pretty routine."
    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 in.
    "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 officer nodded.
     "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 the will."
    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 instructions.
    "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 story.
    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 think.
    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 morning.
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 smiled.
    "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 to her.
    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 from Lonnie.
    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 called.
     "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 looking for.
     "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 true happiness.
    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 kissing him.
    "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 swallowed hard.
    "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 daughter?"
   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 just blushed.
    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 getting.
    "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?" he asked.
    "No,  I'm fine.  Are you?"  Lonnie nodded.
     "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 charm."
    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 bedroom.
    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 in.
    "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 album.
    "Oh,  I forgot,  look what Dad got in the mail."  She showed him the brown envelope containing a photo album.
    "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 years.
    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 in particular.
    "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 was Parker.
    "Uh,  Chief.  . ."  

Light of Love Pt. 2