Second Chances: No Safe Place Like Home
Temple and Downtown Brown come home for good, but who is stalking the former reporter? Rick, A.J. and Towne work to locate the attacker, while protecting Temple and Laurie Simon. Now who will protect whom?
(This is a work of fiction. No money is being made on it, and the characters are owned by Universal Studios and are only being borrowed for a little while. .)
A/N: For any new readers, "Second Chances" is my "what if?" for Rick and A.J. Simon...What if they didn't end the partnership or A.J. didn't marry Janet or Liz... What if Rick had a long-lost sweetheart who needed protection from a crazed stalker? And...what if Rick and his girl fell in love, adopted her niece and nephew, and made a home first in San Diego, then in Arizona? These "what if''s" are the basis for my continuing "Simon & Simon" as if they never went off the air. This series also includes crossovers from Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman and Dark Shadows...so feel free to read my other stories for the whys and wherefores of these three worlds meeting!
"You do not know how good it is to be home." Temple Brown collapsed onto the Simons' couch, then glared at her husband as "Downtown" folded his arms and looked smug.
"What, what is that superior man look for?" She asked, then laughed as Laurie Simon replied, "He's doing the "I told you so" look…I've seen that before."
"Well….he's right, but that's the first and last time you'll hear that from me!" Temple sighed. Surprised at her admission, Towne reached down and scooped his wife up, then sat down with her in his lap.
"There's a first time for everything, babe…." He smirked, then kissed away her frown as Rick came up behind Laurie and chuckled.
"Man after my own heart." He said, wrapping his arms around Laurie. Snuggling against him, Laurie added, "This is why I'm a homebody."
"Oh, don't make me sick, honey….you're spoiling him." Temple teased her. Laurie nodded.
"Turnabout's fair play…." She grinned, then giggled as Rick blew a raspberry on her neck. "That tickles!"
As the older Simon simply snickered and did it again, Temple rolled her eyes. "Okay, buddy, I think Towne and I had better go home and let you lovebirds have your fun. See you for dinner?"
"Well, if Mrs. Brown is making her famous fried chicken…." Rick hinted broadly, and Towne laughed.
"She is, as long as Mrs. Simon brings her Diane salad and somebody his Fry bread…."
"Have that chicken ready at 5, and we'll be there!" Rick promised.
As their two friends got up to go, Rick felt a wave of nostalgia as the two women discussed going shopping together. Despite previous decisions to stay put at their home next to the ranch, Temple had taken several television projects on in California during the last year. Laurie had missed her, and with Jaime and Steve busy with a charitable project in Phoenix, Rick had been reluctant to leave his wife alone at the ranch for any length of time.
Suddenly it occurred to him that Towne seemed extra wary as they stepped outside the ranch house.
"Pal, you seem a little jumpy…mind telling me what's going on?" Rick asked, hanging back to talk to the former detective.
"Uh, that obvious, huh?" Towne said wryly.
"Only to your old friend." Rick replied, matching his tone.
Towne shook his head. "It's probably nothing, but Temple has been getting some weird mail recently…. Of course she's gotten come-on letters before, but it's been awhile… "
"And you got spooked by something, right?" Rick saw relief in the other man's eyes.
"You got it… I'm just glad we're here where I can keep an eye on her…."
"With a little help from your friends, I might add." Rick told him, slinging an arm around his shoulders.
"Thanks, man…you don't know how I missed having someone to talk to about this." Towne started, only for Temple's voice to interrupt.
"Oh I don't think so…..Towne, I've got another one!"
Instantly Towne raced to his wife's side, then almost snatched the stack of mail from her hand.
"Temple, what did I say about touching this stuff….after last week too!
Apologetic, Temple put her hand on his arm. "I'm sorry, honey, I forgot….Rick, I've apparently got a stalker. This guy started out sending gifts and flowers, then when I brushed him off, he got angry …last week it was a box with dead mice, then a dead bird. When we moved back here, I thought I would have seen the last of this weirdo…but that gold envelope." Temple explained, then Towne's angry expression turned to one of regret.
"I'm sorry, too, Babe. It's just what he said in the last one… what a nut case!"
As he opened the envelope, using his handkerchief, he peered inside, then swore loudly.
"Who is this guy? Let me see that." Rick asked, carefully taking the card-sized envelope from Towne As he pulled out the single piece of paper, he saw what had infuriated his friend.
A recent picture of Temple had been cut and pasted to make it look like she was lying on a bed, next to a silver-haired older man. In her hands was a bouquet of roses, and her eyes had been x'ed out. There was a caption printed in red below the picture.
"I'D RATHER SEE YOU LIKE THIS, THEN WITH SOMEONE ELSE!"
"Let me see it, Rick." Temple asked, only for Towne to step in front of her, wrapping his arms around his wife.
"Babe, please….. it's bad enough for me to see what that creep is threatening…"
Moved, Laurie clutched at Rick's arm as Temple cupped Towne's face in her hands.
"I love you, but it's me who's being stalked here…I need to know what I'm up against."
Without a word Rick showed Temple the picture, and she turned pale.
"That's sick. Oh, Towne…" she murmured, putting her head against him. At once Towne looked over at Rick, his jaw clenched.
"This stops right now, Rick…I need your help."
"You've got it, pal…Let me call A.J….and Ron….We'll nail this monster." Rick vowed.
The next day found Temple and Towne staying at the ranch, having moved into the guest room. While Laurie made breakfast, Rick checked in with his brother and the Chief of Detectives, then sat in his office with Towne. He had him lay out all he knew about the man obsessed with Temple.
"Name is Stephan St. Clair, he's some old money guy from Sierra Alta, some town in the San Gabriel foothills. Apparently he saw Temple on that "Influential Women In Media" forum last year, and started sending her letters." Towne began, then took a sip from the mug of coffee Rick handed him.
"At first we would laugh about it, until he sent a letter asking Temple how much he should offer me to bow out of our marriage."
"That's stupid-did you have her attorney send him a letter or a cease and desist?" Rick asked.
"Yeah, George did, only to have this guy start calling then showing up places Temple was, saying he wanted to apologize. The last time he did, I had him served with a restraining order. That's when he demanded to hear it from Temple, and she did..in spades, in front of a studio audience." Towne had a faint smile on his face as he spoke, and Rick could just imagine how she blistered St. Clair.
"So is that when he started the dead birds and stuff?"
Towne nodded. "Yeah, he got all red and left, then the next day a gold box with dead mice was delivered to the production office in Burbank. It was traced to St. Clair all right, and I had a warrant sworn out…but he was nowhere to be found. Last week, we were packing to come here, and another gold envelope was delivered. That one had the dead bird, and a note that "like this, you will die unless you come to me."
"What a sicko…what did the police say? Any sign of where St. Clair was last spotted?" Rick added.
"Yeah, in Las Vegas…There's a warrant out for him in California, but by the time it was sent on to Nevada, he disappeared again. Now we know he's in the area…but how did he find out when we were going to be here?" Towne wondered.
"Does Temple have an assistant in California, or in Phoenix at her production office?" Rick started to ask, then a beep at the gate let him know A.J. had arrived.
"Boy, somebody made good time." Towne breathed a sigh of relief, and Rick got up to let him in. As he got to the doorway, an exasperated "That's it!" made him turn around.
"What…." Rick began. Suddenly a yell from the front room caused both men to rush out of the room.
"Get back, Temple!"