Author's note: This is set after The Final Problem, shortly after Mary Watson's death. It is also a prequel, of sorts, to my story, Police Surgeon? Hope you like it.
The young lady who stood before me looked familiar, somehow, but I simply could not place her. She fidgeted nervously, and I reluctantly set my papers down, indicating that she had my complete attention.
"May I help you, Miss?" I asked, standing. I offered her the other chair, and regained my seat as she perched warily on the edge of the other.
"I don't know sir, that is, I mean-" the young lady faltered, and I found myself wishing she had chosen someone more suited to calming down distressed women. My own Elisabeth rarely found herself distressed or emotionally unstable, and as a result, I was often at a loss when dealing with the more irrational members of the opposite sex.
"Take a deep breath, and tell me why you have come." I said. She nodded, and breathed.
"My employer is missing." She said at last. "He wasn't at work today. I went to his home, but the door was unlocked, the house quiet. I think something horrible has happened, sir!"
I frowned. "You went to his home yourself." I said, and she flushed.
"Well, sir, since his wife died, he would throw himself into his work, but he didn't always take good care of himself. It was like he didn't care or didn't notice anymore. He nearly collapsed on me one day, and I learned he hadn't eaten since sometime the day before, maybe in even longer, he wasn't sure. His house wasn't far, and so I closed for the day and took him home to get some food and rest.
The young lady tilted her head back defiantly. "I know it's not proper, and I don't care. You don't know the man, so you wouldn't understand. He's good, and kind, and selfless, and a gentleman, and would never dream of doing anything improper."
I nodded, mainly so she would not think I did not believe her, and she calmed. "In that way I learned that his wife had been doing all the housework, and that he did not have a maid." Her eyes softened. "Poor man, for all his goodness, doesn't have any close family or friends, no one to watch out for him, and he had been trying to keep the place up on his own.
"So I started stopping by after work, and would make sure he had eaten something that day. And then he was going out so often that when I stopped by and he was gone, I just took the opportunity to help out a bit with some of the work, and of course he insisted on paying me for it, and it got to be a regular thing.
"But then he wasn't at work today, and he never misses work, not since his wife died, and like I said, nobody was at his house. I don't know what's happened to him, Inspector, but I fear it's something horrible."
"And your employer, he held what occupation?" I asked quickly, hoping to distract the woman from her impending hysterics.
"He was a doctor." That hit close to home. I had been meaning to visit Doctor Watson after his loss, but had never gotten around to it.
"Name?" I asked.
My heart stopped when she answered me. "Doctor John Watson."
Disclaimer: Sherlock Holmes not does not belong to me.