This will be the last part that I will be publishing on WordPress, as I am entering a crime novel contest with this manuscript. I am so appreciative of the inspiration with the word prompts and challenges. Thank you to everyone who has helped me develop this story, and I hope to be publishing this book soon through the contest or otherwise. Much love to all of my fellow creators and followers for the feedback and support as I got this story to a little under 15,000 words that may change my life forever. I appreciate you all.
Fiona began collecting the empty dishes from the oak dining table as they finished eating their dinner. Their tummies were full, and Sebastian had gotten sleepy due to such a great dinner. Even Klaus had curled up under Sebastian’s chair from the overload of table scraps that his bestie had dropped for him. He was very loyal to the blonde-hair, blue-eyed boy.
“C’mon sweetie, let’s get you to bed. You’ve had quite a long day, my love.” Gammy gathered Sebastian from the table and wiped his face with a wet cloth. “Wave goodnight to Mr. Finn and thank him for playing, and I will tuck you in really tight.”
Sebastian smiled and waved to the detective, and Finn returned a goodnight wave with a wink. “Goodnight, Sebastian! I had fun playing cars and Scrabble with you. We’ll play again soon, okay?”
“Yes, be sure to keep Momma’s secrets though. Secrets save lives. Thank you, Mr. Finn.” Sebastian looked back at Finn over his grandma’s shoulder winking back at the man sitting at the kitchen table that he felt was his friend.
When Fiona got Sebastian to his room, he started his routine of pulling back the covers and putting his favorite fluffy next to his pillow.
“Mommy say that my elephant is special. I has to keeps him safe.” Sebastian tucked his stuffed animal into the covers.
“Well, your mommy was pretty smart, so she probably knew that your stuffy would keep you safe too.” Fiona’s eyes welled with tears as she spoke about Davina. “Let’s hop in bed and close those beautiful blue eyes. Tomorrow is another day.”
With the direction from Fiona, he climbed up into his bed and waited for Fiona to pull the covers up to his chin. He wore a tumultuous grin as he hugged his elephant and as Gammy tucked him in. She patted the sides around him and did a few tickles to make it fun. “Goodnight, sweet boy. Gammy loves you.”
“I loves you more Gammy. Goodnight.” Sebastian laid there with his eyes pressed shut and as tight as he could.
Fiona looked back at him as she shut out the light and headed out the door labeled with his name. “Sweet dreams, Sebastian.” She left a crack in the door as she walked out.
She thought about how sweet he looked laying there and how much he looked like Cole. Davina had always said that Sebastian looked like a twin of his father. Cole was quite attractive, and Sebastian’s looks never allowed Davina to be forgetful of that fact. Sometimes it hurt after leaving Arkansas to see Cole looking back at her through her little boy’s eyes. Cole was not always bad to her, especially in the early years of their relationship.
When she got back downstairs, Finn was examining the Scrabble board and the letters that Sebastian had used to spell the words of the secrets. He thought there could be more clues on the little letter pieces.
Fiona questioned the detective, “So, how did that go? Playing with Sebastian?”
Finn looked up from the game pieces and scratched his forehead, “I hated to infringe on the playtime he had with Davina, but it went really well. He’s a smart boy. A really smart boy…He spelled out two different phrases, and one phrase was old, and one could be new.”
He filled Fiona in on the arrangement of the letters in their game by putting them back on the board. He did it exactly as Sebastian had done it earlier. As Fiona watched, she noticed where they were being put onto the scoring markers on the board.
“Hey, Finn! Look.” Fiona pointed at the center of the board. “The center is supposed to be a pink star, not a purple circle.”
Marlow carefully examined the circle that Fiona had pointed out. It was glued onto the board.
“I see. We can use steam to get it off of there. Do you have a tea kettle?” Finn thought out loud to Fiona.
“Sure do! Let’s go to the kitchen. Bring the board.”
They both rushed off into the kitchen with the gas stove that housed the flowered kettle. The bottom was copper like a penny. Fiona leaned back against the counter and huffed out a breath. There was stormy weather growling in the kitchen window behind her, and the sound of leaves beginning to rustle in the wind could be heard through the poor weatherstripping on the window. Fiona filled the pot with water and turned the fire on.
“Now we wait…” Finn said while watching the heat flow up the sides of the kettle.
Finn reached out to her arm and patted it softly. “Mom adored you, and I hate that we both have lost the people that mean the most to us because of that damn family…I’m just furious with them!”
“I loved your mom too. She was a great friend. I miss that friendship very much.” Fiona thought about the time she and Georgia went out on a girl’s night at that moment. Georgia had to talk her into it because Fiona did not socialize a great deal. She was much happier with a book and a cup of cocoa at the end of her day rather than a night on the town kind of girl. In that split second, it was like she was standing in the doorway of past regrets that was so long ago, but it was still very fresh in her mind. I miss my old life and my friends, she thought in this short reflection back to that time.
A whistle followed by fragrant steam came flowing out of the tea kettle spout. “I think we’re good to go, Finn.” She called to him towards the back door. He had stepped outside for a cigarette in the middle of her ponder.
Finn came in smelling of cigarette smoke like he had taken some big drags on the filter with all his stress. He thought about how Sebastian had put such emphasis on that the secrets he kept could save lives. Finn, during his smoke, had wondered if that was because of Flannery and if Sebastian’s secret was told to him by Davina to save his life. Jericho Flannery was a malevolent and seedy character who did contracts with the Deville family members, and Finn could do nothing but shudder seeing his name on the game board. At one point, he and Flannery were friends because of Cole. Davina had worked with him a few times before getting away as well. She was always scared of him and his connection to Cole.
“Great…Let’s see what we have. It can’t get too damp from the vapor. I don’t know what is in there, and any writing would be destroyed if it got too wet.” Finn got to work on the Scrabble board.
Finn’s steaming skills did not fail to impress Fiona. She watched carefully as he used the steam to peel back the corner of the new piece of paper that covered the Scrabble center. Finn carefully took tweezers and eased it from the board. The back was empty, but there was a piece of black tape holding something under the piece of paper. It looked like another tiny piece of paper wrapped in a piece of plastic.
“There’s something here. It’s super small, but I think that’s the point. We need a magnifying glass. Do you have one laying around anywhere?” Finn asked as he tweezed the plastic-coated paper from the inside of the board.
“I think I have one in my sewing kit. Let me check real quick.” Fiona exited the room to the den where her sewing basket was located.
As she scavenged through her kit, she ran into the sweater she was mending for Davina. A few weeks back, Davina had come home with the arm nearly torn out of her favorite black and tan sweater. She never would admit what had happened for such a large rip, and Fiona thought now that she should have asked more questions.
“Any luck in there?” Finn hollers aloud from the kitchen.
Fiona brought herself back to the present, and she answered back as she found it in the basket with all of her sewing tools, “Yep! We got one! Here I come.”
She handed Marlow the magnifying glass and waited. He peeled off the plastic and unfolded the tiny white piece of paper. When he examined it with the magnifying glass, it read, “Safe Deposit Box #217, Davina Ridings, First National Bank, Danville, Illinois”.
The message was spectral… like it was coming from the grave that had not even been lain yet. As he read the inscription on the paper, Fiona wondered why Davina would have a safety deposit box in Illinois, and she did not understand why it would be in her maiden name. That was dangerous. Could that be how he found her again? This is why my baby is gone, Fiona thought about the perpetuity of Davina’s death. She could not erase the sadness she felt at that moment. She felt the pain obtrude into her soul from the feeling this little piece of paper put inside of her heart. In the hindsight, she remembered hoping that Davina had found some peace that she did not have when she was alive after meeting Cole, but on the other hand, she was not used to the solitude of having a dead child. She had Sebastian to take care of and that would take up some of the desolations she was feeling after seeing Davina on the stainless-steel table. She shuddered at the thought and saw it again in her mind.
“Does this make any sense to you?” Finn Marlow questioned Fiona, and Fiona returned a shrug of uncertainty.
She had no idea why Davina would need or want a safety deposit box in Illinois, and she never even knew that she had gone out of state before without her. They had never gone to Danville together, and she did not comprehend anything about this box.
“It sounds like we need to make a trip after the funeral. Do you think Sharon would be able to watch Sebastian again? We should take care of it promptly.”
“I will get in touch with her in the morning and see what she is doing Saturday. It shouldn’t be a problem. She’s been such a good friend to Davina, and she’s great with Sebastian. Sometimes I don’t know what we would have done without her.” Fiona paced the floors a little bit thinking about all of these secrets coming out. “Why didn’t she talk to me about all of this, Finn? She shouldn’t have had to face things alone and in secret.”
“Maybe she thought that telling you would put you in more danger. In the end, she was deeply intertwined in the business. She probably did not want you to worry any more than you had to.” Finn tried to reassure her, but Fiona was beside herself. He could see her pain.
“Poor Sebastian. He should not have had to carry that burden. What was she thinking?” Fiona was a bit angry and confused, and she felt like she had been betrayed.
“It was genius how she got the messages to me though. He did very well, and he’s a strong boy…he’s just like her. He knew what to say, how to place the letters, and get the help that you guys will need to survive this.” Finn walked over to Fiona and put his hands on his shoulders. “Now, let’s just see what this box holds, but first we will need to find the key.”
Sebastian walks into the kitchen holding a gold key and hands it to Finn. It read “217”.
For my new readers, this is an ongoing story. Here are the previous posts:
The bolded and hyperlinked words in the story were using word challenges from the Daily Spur, Fandango’s One-Word Challenge, Ragtag Daily Prompt, Word of the Day Challenge, My Vivid Blog, and Your Daily Word Prompt. This story started from a flash fiction prompt from Fandango.
© E.M. Kingston