Blood Ties

Part 13: Final Chapter

Part 13:

Six Months later…

Correen sat down to another night of paperwork at Vicki's office. The woman in charge was out in the field doing a case on a cheating husband. No telling when she would be back.

There was mail from the last few days still waiting to be sorted. It was better then paper work. Correen picked up the huge stack and started going through it. She paused at an enveloped marked to her and frowned at the return address. It wasn't one she recognized. Turning it over she opened it; several photos fell out as she took out the letter. For a moment she was confused at the elegant, graceful written script on the expensive paper and the wax seal at the bottom.

She read the letter.

And that's when she realized who it was from. She couldn't help it; she sprang from her chair and hopped up and down waving her arms over her head.

"Correen? Is that a new dance move?" Mike asked.

She came around the desk and hugged him tightly; he grunted. She paused just shy of hugging Vicki. "It's from them!" waving the letter around like a maniac.

"What is?" Vicki snatched the letter and read it over; she had to struggle a few times. "It's from Henry." Vicki whispered

"And Jean-Rene…or should I say Mrs. Fitzroy!" Correen went back to her desk, grabbing the photos. "They sent pictures."

Mike came over and they went through them together. "Wow, that's Hawaii." He studied the image.

Henry and Jean-Rene were seated at a table on the beach; the dark night sky behind them. Henry wore a loud and brightly colored Aloha shirt with a lei around his neck. He was grinning with his hair loose around him; his arm right was across the back of Jean-Rene's chair. She was in a printed sundress; hair tied back from her face. She wore a crown of flowers. Her left hand was resting on his chest as they smiled at the camera.

"Henry in an Aloha shirt wearing a lei…that's horrifying."

"He looks cute and happy. I've never seen him smile like that." Correen moved it and they studied the next one.

"This must be Greece; look at the temple." Correen studied it closely.

This one featured Henry and Jean-Rene standing in front of the Acropolis. His arm around her shoulders; they were dressed in matching khaki pants and hiking boots. Henry wore a red polo shirt; Jean-Rene wore a green one. The full moon was visible from behind a column as they grinned at the camera.

The next photo, "Paris."

Jean-Rene was dressed in a fine evening gown of deep purple silk. Henry stood with her dressed in a fancy tuxedo. Jean-Rene had her hand through his arm; and they looked surprised but pleasant. The gold band on Henry's ring finger seemed to sparkle in the lights around them. She wore a beautiful ruby pendant and earrings; all of which were surrounded by fine diamonds.

They were standing on a balcony. Behind them; in the background one could see the Eiffel tower; lit up with white lights.

"I didn't even know Fitzroy owned a suit." Mike muttered.

Correen shuffled a few more of them and paused.

"Wedding photos!" Correen sat down at her desk. "Oh, I love her dress!"

Mike shrugged, "It's white."

"Yeah, but the detail is really simple, yet chic. You know understated elegance."

The couple sat a table; covered in a red cloth; a bottle of champagne and four glasses sat in the middle; there was a bouquet of red roses in a vase off to one side. Behind the people in the photo there was a backdrop of hanging lights. Jean-Rene and Henry were sitting at a table with two other people; one on either side. The older woman was grinning as she sat beside Jean-Rene and a handsome bald man sat next to Henry.

Jean-Rene wore a white silk dress; more of a cocktail style. Her hair up in a chignon; white diamonds sparkled against her dark hair. Her make up was light but attractive. Her left hand was resting on the table; her right hand was entwined with Henry's.

Henry was dressed in a dark suit with a dark tie and white shirt. He had his hair loose as he held her hand.

"I wonder who the two other people are." Mike muttered.

"Look at the ring;" Correen studied Jean-Rene's left ring finger. "The ring is from the Emperor's Heart collection; the one she mentioned."

Correen eyed the one carat ruby; it was incredible. Even in the photo one could see the rich color in the stone. Henry had added diamonds around it; the setting was more modern. They had paired it with a plain and simple gold band. Oddly enough it suited the ring.

Mike studied the photo closer, "Ah, Correen, she's got the whole set."

Correen looked again. Jean-Rene was wearing the necklace and earrings; Henry wore the broach at the throat of his white shirt.

Mike took the photo and turned it over. "Here it is; the woman with them is Jean-Rene's grandmother; the man is her father."

"Hey Vicki…don't you want to-" Correen was stopped by the slamming of a door. She looked up as Mike sighed. The door to Vicki's office was closed and she was staring out her window. The letter was on the edge of Correen's desk.

Mike read it over. "He talks about visiting in a few months. Once they're done their honeymoon." He shook his head, "Most people are lucky if they get away for two weeks; not six months."

"Most people don't wait five hundred years to get married." Correen grabbed the letter back, "That was addressed to me."

Mike went to the door but it was locked. He stood staring in at Vicki's back. "You know, if Jean-Rene't hadn't been shot, he would have killed us both."

"Yep, she was afraid of that." Correen looked over the photos again. She paused and picked up the envelope. Tipping it over; something slid into her palm. "What…"

Mike turned and came over, "What is that?"

Correen held the gold chain between two fingers as she studied the pendant. The heart-shaped red stone was a deep, strong color of red.

"There's a note." Mike was shaking the envelope. He held out the thin, small note. "For you."

Correen took the note. "In thanks; from both of us. A little piece of our hearts. J-R F."

Mike eyed the pendant, "They sent you a piece of the Emperor's Heart? Where'd they find it? That's got to be worth a fortune!"

Correen sat down and busied herself with putting the necklace on. She touched it gently and smiled.

Mike sat down on the battered couch; "I didn't get anything."

Correen shook the envelope, nothing came out. "Sorry Mike. Doesn't…" She paused and picked up another piece of mail. "This one's for you. Same return address as mine was."

Mike stood up; accepted the envelope and sat down again on the couch. He opened it; there was a folded sheet of heavy paper and a small gold lapel pin. He studied it before reading the letter.

"It's engraved." He read it over and smiled.

"What's it say?" Correen asked.

"In thanks- J & H."

Correen perched on the arm of the couch; he let her hold his pin as he read the letter.

Mike sighed and folded the letter, "She is a poet as well."

The woman beside him chuckled, "You sound surprised."

He shrugged, "I never really thought about it."

Correen handed back the pin and on a random impulse went back to the desk. "I wonder if they sent one for Vicki."

After a few minutes of sorting; Correen paused and held up an envelope. "Do you suppose she'll read it?"

Mike shrugged, "I don't know."

Correen went to the locked door and slid the envelope under it. Returning to her desk she picked up the photos again.

"Well," Mike came to his feet, "I am going home to bed." He left the office and closed the door behind him.

Correen busied herself with finding tape and using it to stick a few of the photos to her computer monitor. Those she couldn't fit; she put in the envelope and tucked them in her purse. She read the letter once more before putting in her purse too. It was late by the time she left the office. Vicki still hadn't moved from the window or touched the letter Correen had left for her.