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Chapter 28

Ginny chose Wayside Inn for her dinner engagement with Nick because of his interest in restoration. The inn was one of Archdale’s historical landmarks. The rustic interior of the building was quaint. It didn’t take a lot of imagination to envision stagecoach passengers weary from their tedious and dusty journey. The menu items had been taken from a menu of the original inn and updated them. Chef Darren created entrees that were visually appealing and delicious.

Wayside Inn was built in the mid-eighteen hundreds as a stagecoach inn. In 1900 it was converted into a center for trade. Then, in 1929, William Jarrett bought the building and converted it into a drugstore. His son, Scott Jarrett, restored the building and reopened Wayside as a restaurant in 1943. The inn was still owned by a descendant of William.

As Ginny hoped, Nick was fascinated by the Inn’s illustrious history. When he began to question the server about the buildings history, she seemed pleased that he’d showed an interest. “Check with the hostess. We have flyers that contain a short history of the building and bios of the owners. We don’t hand them out because most of our guests live locally.”

She rattled off the specials like the pro that she was, then jotted down their orders. Ginny eyes drifted to the front door and her eyes locked with Ron Erikkson’s. He waved and headed their way. She stood and gave him a hug when he reached their table.

“Ron it’s good to see you. Are you eating alone?”

“No, I have an out-of-town client meeting me.”

“I’d like for you meet a friend of mine, Nick McLeod. Nick, Ron Erikkson, a partner at Erikkson & Masters and a friend of my late husband’s.”

Ron’s expression was puzzled. “Are you by chance a lawyer? From New Holland?”

“I am.”

“It’s a small world. My college roommate, Amos Ellison, swears by you. In fact, he says that you’re the most brilliant lawyer in the state.”

Nick chuckled. “I wish all my clients felt that way. Amos is a friend as well as a client. He frequently mentions the name Ron, usually in connection with golf. He’s invited me to play a round with you guys, but I haven’t been on a golf course since college.”

“Believe me, we’re anything but pros. Next time he asks say yes.” He turned his attention to Ginny. “We’ve missed seeing you, Ginny. When school is out for the summer, stop by and bring Molly. All of us are eager to meet her.” He glanced at the door. “Sorry to cut this short, but my party just arrived. Nick, a pleasure to meet you.”

“You too.” Nick grinned. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

“Don’t you dare tease me.”

“Relax, Ginny. After what you’ve been through, speculation should be old hat.”

“You would think. Wouldn’t you know that it would be Sam’s partner that we’d see! It's a darn good thing that the two of you have a friend in common. Speaking of speculation, Molly’s friend Lilith asked her if it was true that her grandma pushed her great-grandma down the stairs.”

“Damn, I noticed that she wasn’t her same bubbly self. Kids can be so cruel. What did you tell her?”

“Since there’s no way to prove or disprove what caused Ruth to fall, I told her that the fall was an accident. I don’t want Molly to dwell on Christine’s faults, or to assume that because her grandma had mental issues that she does.

“After she met Christine, she told me that she hoped that she’d grow up to be like Julie, not Christine. I assured her that one’s gene pool was only one of the factors that determined a person’s destiny. I’m not sure she was convinced.

“Unfortunately, sooner or later, she’ll need to be told that her grandfather murdered Christine. How on earth am I going to explain Levinson’s criminal behavior without shaking her self confidence?”

“I’m glad you brought up Kevin Levinson. He is one of the reasons I wanted to see you tonight. I could have delivered the news via a text message, but I wanted to tell you in person.

“After Christine’s murder, I was curious about why Kevin turned on her when she’d stuck by him while he was in prison. It occurred to me that it could have something to do with Molly. What, I asked myself, would cause him to completely lose control and murder her with such violence?

“In his letters to Christine, he wrote that it was knowing that he had a daughter and granddaughter that kept him same. I checked with the police and learned that Kevin’s mom and dad are both deceased. How do you suppose he reacted to the news that Julie was also deceased? My guess is that he was distraught. If he believed that his lifeline was Molly, wouldn’t he go after her? But, what if Julie wasn’t his child? From the beginning of this family drama, I’ve wondered why a DNA test wasn’t done. Maybe because DNA tests was not as reliable twenty-five years ago. All of this to say, I decided to have one done.”

“If that’s true, why didn’t Christine deny that he was Julie’s father?”

“That I don’t know. Perhaps it was because she didn’t want her parents to know that she was sleeping around. I can’t tell you who Julie’s biological father was, but he wasn’t Kevin Levinson.”

Julie’s hopes soared. “Are you sure?”

“Positive. I had them run the test twice. You can truthfully tell Molly that a one-time rapist murdered Christine. When she’s an adult, she can see the test results for herself.”

“Nick, you’ve made my day. I love that child. Every child deserves the opportunity to shine without worrying about their gene pool.”

“Amen! We can both stop worrying about the past and concentrate on the future. There’s a bonus for me. I can stamp Julie’s file closed.”

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