tagNovels and NovellasBen & Nancy Ch. 20

Ben & Nancy Ch. 20

byD.C. Roi©

Passion in James County XV: Ben and Nancy

Chapter twenty

"Ben wants to see me?" Nancy said. She was standing in the hospital corridor outside the Intensive Care Unit, talking to Will on her cellular phone. Dawn was in Trish's room. Trish's parents told them the doctor said every day the girl hung on, her chances of recovery improved.

"Your young friend tells me he didn't do it," Will told her. "And I believe him. Unfortunately, the way he's acting, he could wind up sending an innocent man - himself - to prison."

"Will, what are you talking about?" Nancy asked.

"I believe that, at the time this crime was taking place, your friend was entertaining a woman in his apartment," Will explained. "Unfortunately, he has a misplaced sense of honor and isn't willing to tell either me, or the police, who that woman is. I have to assume that means the woman in question is married. Or, perhaps, he's gay and was..."

"Will, he isn't gay," Nancy said, interrupting her friend. "Do...do you...you really think he was with a married woman?" she asked. She felt a twinge of jealousy, then brushed it off. She, of all people had no reason or right to be jealous of Ben. And besides, Will's suspicions fit right into her plan.

"It's a logical assumption, don't you think?" Will said.

"Perhaps it's a woman whose position in the community is such that Ben thinks divulging his affair with her might cause her harm," Nancy said.

"I suppose you might be right," Will said. "But even if that is true, I would still bet on her being married." He paused. "Nancy, wait a minute, are you suggesting...?"

"I'll be at the sheriff's office in ten minutes," Nancy said, interrupting him. "If Ben wants to talk with me, I better do it." She went into the hospital room, told Dawn where she was going, then headed for the elevator.

Ben sat there in the holding room, staring at the pale green walls. He'd been there almost ten hours, and was starting to feel as if the world outside that room wasn't real any more. He heard the key in the door, then it opened and Will and Nancy walked in.

Ben looked at the woman who had once been his lover, his heart began to race, and he smiled. Nancy was every bit as lovely as she'd been the last time he saw her. Her hair, showing traces of gray, was close-cropped instead of long, the way she'd worn it the last time he'd seen her, but that was about all he could see about her that looked different. He liked the new haircut. He thought it made her look younger. And she was still as slim as she'd been then. She had on a long blue turtleneck and blue plaid leggings in a matching color.

Nancy stood nervously inside the door and smiled at him. "How are you, Ben?" she asked, feeling her heart begin to race. She couldn't believe the power of the feelings that seeing him again evoked.

Ben smiled weakly and shrugged. His movement made the handcuff attached to his wrist clink. "I've had better days," he said. He turned to the lawyer. "Can...can I talk to Nancy in private?" he asked.

"I suppose there's no harm in letting you do that," Will said. He banged on the door and was let out by a deputy.

Nancy crossed the room and sat down on the bench next to Ben. He looked so forlorn she felt a powerful impulse to do was take him in her arms, but she fought that impulse down. It wouldn't do for her to be hugging him. "Will says he believes there is a woman who can confirm that you were home when Trish was attacked last night, but that you're not telling the police who she is to protect her," she said.

"Ah...yeah, that's true," Ben said softly.

"He hasn't changed," Nancy thought, "he's being as much of a friend to this woman - whoever she is - as he was to me. It's too bad the woman he's protecting doesn't care enough about him to come forward and get him out of jail." "Ben, it isn't worth it," she said. "I want you to tell Will who it was when he comes back in here. Will you do that for me? And for Dawn? You have no idea how important you've become in my daughter's life." She paused thoughtfully. "It's odd, isn't it? It's as if it's destiny for our lives to be connected in some way, isn't it?" She paused again. "Will you tell Will what he needs to know so we can get you out of here? I can't stand the thought of your being in jail any longer."

Ben nodded slowly. "All...all right," he said.

"Thank you, Ben," Nancy said. She rose, walked to the door, and knocked on it. When Will walked in, she said, "Will, Ben's decided that it isn't worth protecting the woman he was with any more, haven't you, Ben?"

"Is that true, my boy?" Will asked and looked over at Ben, who nodded.

"Yes," Ben said, "The woman I was with last night, it was..."

Before he could finish, Nancy interrupted him. "Will," she said, "I...I explained to Ben that it wasn't worth it for him to go to jail to protect me, that I didn't want that. I'm not ashamed to admit that Ben's my lover."

Will spun around so fast he almost fell, a shocked look on his face. "What?" he asked. "You...Nancy...it...it was you? You were with him last night?"

It was lucky Will had turned away from Ben, because the young man was just as shocked by Nancy's revelations as the lawyer was, and that shock showed on his face. He realized quickly that it wouldn't do to let his lawyer find out Nancy was lying, so he composed himself.

Will turned back to Ben. "Is...is what she says true?" he asked. "Is she the woman you were with last night?"

Ben nodded. Since Nancy had started this, he had no choice but to continue. If he tried to tell the truth now, it might make things worse. "Yes...it...it is," he replied. "I...I was afraid that, you know, because of the difference in our ages and...well, with Nancy having such an important job and all, it might not look good if people found out about us."

Will looked from Ben to Nancy and back several times, studying them carefully. "I...I see," he muttered, "Or at least I think I see. Well, if you're willing to give a statement to the prosecuting attorney, Nancy, we may be able to get your, ah, friend out of here before sundown."

"I would certainly hope so," Nancy said. "He should never have been here in the first place." She looked at Ben. "I'm so sorry about this, Ben," she said. "I should have come forward sooner."

"That's all right," Ben replied.

"The other thing we must do," Will said, "is give the police blood and hair samples. They're going to want to do blood and DNA tests and won't have any problem getting a court order. I recommend giving the samples voluntarily."

"OK," Ben said.

Two hours later, Ben, Nancy, and Will walked out of the sheriff's office.

"Sheriff Martin is not a happy man," Will said when they reached his car. "I'm positive he'll check out your story, Nancy. I hope the next time I see you, you aren't in that holding room, fastened to the wall next to Ben, here."

"I won't be," Nancy told him. After Will got in his car and drove off, she turned to Ben. "I suppose you need a ride home," she said.

"Yes," Ben said. "You and I need to talk."

"Get in my car," Nancy said.

Alex Martin stood at the window of his office, watching the lawyer, Nancy Dillon, and Ben Morris walk out of his office. "Dammit, she's lying about this, I know she is," he thought. "I don't know why she's lying, but she is. And the real irony here is that she's probably lying to protect a man who isn't guilty in the first place." He turned around, walked to his desk, and pushed the intercom button. "Lise," he told his secretary, "ask Mike Burwell to come in."

Mike Burwell, a reed-thin balding man who wore thick glasses and looked like an accountant, but was an excellent detective, walked into Alex's office a few minutes later. "What can I do for you, sheriff?" he asked.

"Mike I want you to check out a Mrs. Nancy Dillon," Alex said. He handed the detective a piece of paper with Nancy's address and place of employment on it. "I want to know what she did from the time she got up yesterday morning until she went to bed last night." He knew the man would get the information, too.

"You got it, boss," the detective said. He turned to leave.

"Mike," Alex said.

"What, boss?" the skinny detective asked.

"I'd rather Mrs. Dillon didn't know you were checking up on her," Alex said.

The bespectacled man looked a little hurt. "Come on, boss, she'll never know I was looking," he said.

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