Here's the very final installment to this story. I would like to thank everybody who helped me getting this done! A special thank you goes to Molly, my wonderful beta and to someone who doesn't want to be mentioned ;-) You're great, Ladies!
Thanks to everyone who commented and took his/her time to review my story.
TCOT Seductive Defendant
It was a warm spring day when Della entered the cemetery. It was still quite early in the morning, the air was clear and only a few people were around, bringing flowers or watering them. Della herself carried a small bouquet of pinks in her uninjured arm, the other one she held still in a sling. She had been recovering well, but her physicians had told her she still had some months to go before she could use her arm fully again.
It took her some time before she found the grave she was searching for and looking at the marbled, grand-sized stone made her feel a bit uneasy, but not as bad as she had imagined it would be. Thomas Grant had been buried next to his late wife Edna, while his second wife had been cremated and buried in Chicago, where they had lived together. She wondered how he would feel about lying next to Edna after they had lived emotionally apart while they had been married. Maybe now, with the gap of 40 years, he would take it as irony and laugh about it. Who knew? She certainly didn't.
Being too ill to do much or to go out much, she had had a lot of time to think about Thomas Grant, Perry and herself and had come to the conclusion that she had never really known Thomas. Not as she knew Perry and he knew her. Thomas couldn't grasp her relationship with Perry, because he had seen something in her she had never been. He had never been able to really touch her inner core or her most inner thoughts, though at times he had come close. She had feared going to his grave, because she didn't know what it would feel like to read his name carved in stone and now that she knew it, she felt relieved.
There were no hard feelings left inside her. She was free and so she hoped was Thomas.
Perry had told her about the lengths Taylor Kimball and Eileen Turner had gone to ensure Thomas Grant's life would be miserable and in the end she had been the lucky one in this game, because she had left him, before they found out about her relationship with him. His second wife hadn't been so lucky and Thomas hadn't even loved her.
Della had been used to crime for over 40 years now and had seen the revealing of the darkest souls in the courtroom and outside, but being in the center of evilness herself like this had shaken her to core. She had seen madness before, but now she knew it and for several weeks after she had been released from the hospital it had scared her and had given her nightmares she had only recovered from because she hadn't been alone. The line between life and death was a thin one and how thin it could be, she had experienced herself. She didn't necessarily believe in guardian angels, but maybe she had one and it hadn't been just luck that had saved her.
40 years ago something deep down within had told her to dump Thomas because she wanted to wait for Perry, no matter if he would want her or not, and it had saved her. HE had saved her life and was the very center of it ever since. He was the one angle her world turned around and she could only hope he knew the real extent of her love for him and had overcome the doubts Thomas' appearance had awoken in him.
She placed the flowers on the grave and spoke a small, inaudible prayer, as she heard heavy and well-known steps behind her. She smiled. He stopped, but didn't say a thing until she turned to him.
"Are you ready?"
"I think so," she answered.
"Weird place to bury him," he said, pointing at Edna's name.
"Maybe that's the only place left for him," Della sighed heavily. "Time to go."
"You can stay if you wish to," he said quickly, but she shook her head. "No. There's no reason to stay. It's all said and done."
"And you're all right with it?" he asked, doubt audibly darkening his voice. She gave him a soft smile, took his hand, and squeezed it tenderly.
"I'm just fine. And if my shoulder will be healed sooner or later, I'll be the luckiest woman on earth. That means..." her voice trailed off and she bit her lips. "Have you thought about my suggestion?"
He blinked, but she was uncertain if he tried to fool her or if the sun that rose over the trees was the reason for it.
"You mean about leaving L.A. and moving to Denver?"
"I remember a time when you refused to move around California and now you want to move to another state..." he sounded doubtful.
"The thinking female human being changes her mind, once in a while... We have a lot of friends in Colorado and there's a young lawyer who deserves the chance to learn from the best."
"And the best is... are us?" Now she saw the twinkle in his eye was real and returned the smile.
"Do you know one couple that compares?"
"Maybe that actress and her..." he started, but she slapped his arm. "Silly old man! Let's go home... I need to make some calls."
"Yes, we'll need an office and I heard Jim Peterson is moving his company, so..."
"I haven't agreed to anything yet," Perry remarked, knowing the deal was already done.
"But you will."
"You always do."
"I guess that's what I do."
Together they strolled back to the exit of the cemetery.
"You mentioned Ken," Perry said after a short moment of silence. "He called. The file on Edna Grant and her deceased family is finally closed."
"So it's over for real?" Della asked.
"Seems so," was his answer.
"Why did the police – or we – never suspect Eileen in the first place?" she asked. "Because she had this weak alibi?"
"Yes... and she was 16... too young to kill, so we thought. She was quite sneaky... apparently she hid the bill of the taxi among her father's possession so that we thought he was the most likely suspect after he died."
"Do you think she killed him so that we found the evidence among his possessions?"
"I don't know... the doctors said it was a cardiac attack, but..." he shrugged. "We'll never know." he gave her a side glance. "And we shouldn't think about it much longer. I thought we're moving to Denver."
"We definitely are," she agreed. He stopped as they reached the car and looked lovingly at her.
"Time to leave the past behind." She gave him a smile and nodded.
"Indeed. Time to start over again."
She leaned forward and kissed him.
"Let's go home and organize our new life. I can't wait to start."
"Me neither, Miss Street, me neither."