MANOR - LIBRARY
you have seen this before?" Jim asked as he carefully watched Sara's
stammered. "It looks like one that I've seen, but...well...it
can't be the same one."
"You mentioned something about
the owner being dead?" Russ furrowed his brow in confusion as he
carefully held his pen in preparation to write down anything that she might say.
"Yes, Sara, what do you
mean?" Dane looked at his wife curiously.
"Here, look at this," she
said with a sigh as she walked over to the end table and picked up a photograph
and handed it to the detective. "What do you see?"
see a man holding two little girls," Jim replied as he stared at the
picture. "I would assume that the girls in the picture are you and
Miss Lake. Truthfully, Mrs. Manchester, you haven't changed much."
"Thank you," she
blushed. "That is me and Stephanie."
"Who's the man?" Patterson
asked as he peered over Jim's shoulder to get his own look at the picture.
Lake---Stephanie's father." She paused and took a deep breath as she
waited for them to see what she was talking about.
"I...don't think I understand
what you're getting at," Jim muttered with a shake of his head as he
continued to eye the picture closely. "What does this have to do with
Sara ordered firmly and then snatched the picture out of his hands before
holding it up in front of his face. "Look at his arm! It's
around us! Look very closely."
"Oh, my god," Jim gasped
as he suddenly saw what she was talking about. "He's wearing
cufflinks that..." He held the mystery cufflink close to the picture
as he tried to make a comparison. "They looks exactly like this
"That's what I'm trying to
say!" She took another deep breath and slowly began to pace around
the room. "Stephanie and I gave those cufflinks to Uncle Stephen for
Christmas that year. That's one of them! I'm certain of it,
Manchester, I was under the impression that Miss Lake's father died several
years ago." Russ took the picture and the cufflink from Jim and
continued to examine them.
"He did," Sara
sighed. "Well, at least we think he did. He just
vanished without a trace. Daddy and I were living in Ohio at the time and
he wouldn't tell me the whole story and Stephanie has never really wanted to
talk about it much, but...well...for all we've known, he died." She
paused and looked directly at the detective. "That's why that
cufflink can't be his!"
Stephanie had it as a keepsake of her father," Patterson
rationalized. "Annabelle's death brought back the
pain she felt over losing her father and she was looking at the cufflink because
it reminded her of him. Maybe she just dropped it."
"That's impossible," Sara
replied flatly. "Those were the only cufflinks that Uncle Stephen
ever wore. When we gave them to him, I remember him telling us that he
would always wear them because they would remind him of his little girl.
He was wearing those cufflinks when he disappeared!"
I thought you said that your father didn't tell you a lot about what happened to
Stephanie's father?" Dane spoke up, not sure he was completely following
his wife's story.
"He didn't," she
explained. "I didn't find that out from my father. Annabelle
told me. Right after I came here to live with her and Stephanie, we were
looking through old pictures and talking one day and I asked her whatever
happened to the cufflinks. She told me that they went to the grave with
Stephen. At the time, I'd assumed that she meant he was buried with them,
but Stephanie told me later---in one of the few conversations where I could get
her to open up about her father's death---she told me that he had been wearing
them when he disappeared. That's one of the things they told the police
when they were looking for him. Of course, they never found him."
"Leeds, call the station and
have them get in touch with the Chicago police department," Jim
ordered. "Have them send us everything that they have about Stephen
As Sara sunk down onto the sofa, she
took the picture back from Officer Leeds and stared at it. The
more she thought about it, the more confusing everything seemed to be.
Stephanie was truly missing and it had something to do with Stephen Lake.
Sara just wasn't sure what it could all mean.