Disclaimer: All characters and such belong to CBS. I own the new characters and the new plot.

Author's Note: My first Mentalist fanfic! Yay! (Although I know some of you are going to hate me for posting yet another new story while some of the others haven't been updated. In my defense, I just updated my CSI: Miami story "Considerations"!)

Great new show, so of course I've been badgered with fanfic ideas. Here's the first! Hope you enjoy!! Reviews are always greatly appreciated.

Red Letter

Patrick Jane poked his head in the door of the insanely affluent home after Teresa Lisbon and a group of local cops.

"Bodies were found this morning by the husband's coworker. He was supposed to head up a finance meeting and when he didn't show his buddy came looking for him," the head detective was saying. "Found the wife lying in the living room here and ran off to call 911. Swears he didn't touch anything but the door handle."

A coroner was kneeling next to the woman's body. "Single gunshot wound to the temple. No defensive wounds."

"Pretty small wound."

"I'm thinking .22 caliber, but I'll have to wait for ballistics to confirm it."

"Do you have an approximate time of death?" Lisbon asked.

"Lack of rigor and liver temp indicate approximately five hours ago."

She did a quick mental calculation. "Eight o'clock this morning, right before the husband would have been leaving for work."

Another detective chimed in, "The place has been ransacked. There are several expensive paintings missing, along with a shelf's worth of gold statues."

"How did the husband die?" Patrick asked as he looked around.

"Bullet to the back of the head. He was getting his briefcase ready for work."

Lisbon frowned at the lead detective, a short, slightly balding man in his forties named Chris Mullens. "Why is CBI involved?"

A young crime tech with short curly brown hair and wearing square glasses answered, "Husband's name is Edward Randall."

Patrick whistled.

Teresa looked a little shocked. "Edward Randall? The sports car millionaire?"

"Yep, that's the guy. Got his start up money from his oil-rich father and started designing cars right out of high school. They say he was working on something that was gonna blow the Porsche right outta the water. The guy had enemies."

"So you're saying this could be a lot more than a simple robbery." Teresa had turned back to the lead detective.

"Exactly. This has to be handled very carefully. That's why we called you guys."

"How much have you processed so far?"

"Not much. We've only been here for an hour."

Patrick had barely left the doorway but had carefully scanned the room. "Odd not to take out your target first."

"The wife might have been in his way. She could identify him. He had to take her out."

"That's true, but the sound of a gunshot would have brought the husband running, ruining any chance of surprising him. Why make your job any harder? If you surprise him, odds are he won't fight back. Plus, you leave the wife alive and you have leverage."

Lisbon mulled over Patrick's words. "Ok…" She looked over her shoulder at Mullens. "How about the wife? Did she have any enemies?"

"No. Lidya Randall was the exception among rich young wives. She did a lot of volunteer work in the inner city, soup kitchens mostly. She also had a pet project in the area, a shelter she founded for abused women."

"Let's check out college and high school connections to make sure."

"Got it."

"Do we have a time of death for the husband?"

"Not yet."

"Let's make that a priority. It could give us the definite target if this actually was more than just a robbery."

"Consider it done."

"Were there any witnesses? Housekeeper, neighbor…?"

"Neighbors are too far to have heard or seen anything and Lidya always insisted on doing her own housekeeping."

"Ok. Let me see where the husband was killed."

"This way." Mullens gestured up the small set of stairs into the dining room and to the left.

"Jane, are you coming?"

Patrick glanced up from squinting at the woman's body. "No, I think I'll keep looking around out here."

"Try to stay out of trouble."

He responded with a patented Patrick Jane smile, to which she rolled her eyes.

He laughed silently to himself. Taking another quick look around the room, he decided there wasn't anything more he could gather and took the small set of stairs up the next level, but to the right instead. He passed through a small doorway and found himself in a large, very clean kitchen with gleaming cherry cupboards, forest green marble countertops, a black marble tile floor, and an enormous silver sink. There was a fairly tall stepstool next to the sink.

Patrick moved in closer for a better look and saw that one of the sink's divided sections was half-filled with sudsy water and several place settings worth of dishes. A white porcelain plate trimmed with gold sat on the counter nearby with a fluffy beige towel still partially wrapped around it. Directly above it, a cupboard door was opened to reveal a stack of identical plates on the middle shelf. He took everything in, and then stepped back to judge the stepstool's height. He looked at it, and then the open cupboard, and then back again. After three more times, he stepped out of the kitchen and craned his neck around the shelves full of knickknacks that stood guard at each side of the steps.

The coroner was just zipping a body bag over Lydia.

"Excuse me," Patrick interrupted. "How tall is Mrs. Randall?"

The man looked up at him, somewhat puzzled. "About five foot seven. Why—"

"And Mr. Randall?"

"Six foot one. Why—"

"Thank you." He ducked back into the kitchen and shook his head at the stool in disbelief and selected Lisbon's name from the contacts list on his phone.

"Lisbon," she answered after one ring.

"Could you please ask Detective Mullens if his team has processed the kitchen yet?"

He heard some background conversation and then she came back on the line. "He says they've only done once-overs of the rooms that didn't have a body in them. Did you find something?"

"Maybe. I'll let you know in a few." He closed the phone and moved to the center of the kitchen and began to revolve very slowly, looking for anything out of the ordinary. It still bothered him how very clean the house was.

After his second revolution, he noticed something small on the floor by a leg of the heavy wooden table pushed against the wall near the doorway. He crouched down and squinted at it. At first it appeared to be a nick from moving the table, but he realized the angle of strike made it impossible. It had to be ricochet from a bullet.

He stood back up very quickly and studied the wall behind him. The path of the bullet would put it right into that wall, but there was nothing. No hole, no dent, the wallpaper wasn't even torn. Meaning the bullet had been absorbed by something.

That's when he noticed a tiny smear of scarlet near the doorway that led out of the kitchen and into the next room.

He hurried into the next room, an entertainment room with a giant TV and huge leather recliners that he wouldn't have noticed if it wasn't for the infinitesimal smears of blood on the lower side of one of the backrests. The recliners were near the back wall of the room, where he found a semi-hidden sliding door with blood under the handle. He nudged the door open with his elbow and found himself in a small hallway. A doorway to the right revealed a bathroom, and a doorway to the left revealed a laundry room. The blood trail continued on the handle of the door at the far end of the hallway, which opened into the four-car garage. He found more blood on the top of the front license plate of the couple's silver Mercedes. He kept going, headed towards the far wall of the garage.

There he found something very strange. The far left corner was walled off into a windowless room made of white plywood with a cheap white man door like one would find in a commercial garage. He stood before it and made note of the blood smears on the back part of the handle. He wrapped the end of his jacket sleeve around the handle and tried to open the door.

It was locked. He debated the wisdom of calling Lisbon or the local detectives for about thirty seconds before he stepped back, took aim, and delivered a powerful kick to the door in the area of the handle.

The door burst open and banged hard against the back wall, sending a few splinters of the doorway flying. Patrick Jane peered inside and found a shocking sight.

A young girl, probably eight or nine years old, lay on a filthy mattress on the cement floor. She had dark brown hair and lightly tanned skin and was clothed in a ratty blue T-shirt that was too small, a worn brown skirt that had been rolled at the waist several times, and an old pair of dirty red flip-flops. She was curled tightly into the fetal position, hands clasped over her abdomen. Her big brown eyes were half closed as she moaned softly.

In a split second he was kneeling by her side, adrenaline running high. "Sweetie, my name is Patrick Jane and I'm here to help you, ok?"

If she understood, she didn't say. Her soft moan was fading away and her eyes continued to drift closed.

"No, no you need to stay with me." Blood oozed from under her hands and onto her shirt. He ripped off his jacket and gently moved her hands to cover the wound and apply pressure. "I need paramedics in here now!!" he yelled as loud as was humanly possible before he realized they were too far away to be heard. Fumbling with his phone, he managed to operate it with one hand.

As soon as he heard it click through, he yelled, "Lisbon!"

"Jane, I can hear—"

"Lisbon, I have a child here! She's been shot! We're in the garage! I need paramedics out here now!"

"Oh my god—we're on our way!"

He snapped the phone closed and tossed it aside. With his free hand, he gently tapped the girl's grimy, tear-stained cheek. "Come on sweetie, stay with me. You have to stay awake for now, ok? They're coming, don't worry…"

Unbidden, a tear slipped down his own cheek.

Author's Note: I hope you've enjoyed it so far. I'll attempt to get another chapter out next week, but it all depends on my schedule. Reviews are a good way to let me know what you liked/didn't like and what you'd like to see in the future. Thanks everyone!!