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Submitted by Steven ODell on 9 July 2007 - 12:54am.

Chapter 5

George Brennan was startled by the knock on his door, but arose promptly to answer it. “Ron! Come on in, neighbor! Lydia, Ron and Denise are here.” George showed them to seats in a room that was virtually the same as theirs, except in mirror image.

“What a pleasant surprise,” Lydia bubbled.

“Yes, a wonderful surprise,” George added cheerfully. “How is the honeymoon couple doing? Having fun?”

“Well, yes, we are-thank you. This is more of a business call than a pleasure visit, if you don’t mind.”

“No, no…of course not. What can I do to help you?” George’s expression took on the same somber tones as that of Ron and Denise. Lydia, too, grew serious.

“The other night at dinner, you mentioned that you come from a long line of lawyers. I may need your expertise in that respect.”

“Well, Ron, I don’t practice law here in Hawaii and as you know, we don’t even live in the same city.”

“I know, George, but this transcends state limitations. I may get extradited soon.”

George and Lydia both looked seriously surprised. “I’m afraid I don’t understand, Ron, but fill me in and I’ll see what I can do for you. No promises, mind you.”

“Fair enough.” Ron began to relate the whole sordid story from the beginning, just as he’d promised at dinner a few days before, with Denise adding appropriate details as required. When he had finished, the Brennans looked at each other with stunned faces.

“Oh, my” was all Lydia could say. She sat as though frozen to her chair.

“What is it that I can do for you, Ron?” George was sincerely concerned and willing to give aid where he could.

“Well, I need advice on how to handle this mess. Do I return to the mainland early and of my own accord or do I wait for extradition orders to force my hand? I think the tone of our honeymoon has been fairly well shot at this point.” Denise nodded resignedly and squeezed his arm as she sat next to him.

George took a deep breath and blew it out strongly through pursed lips as he stared at the floor, hands placed firmly on his knees. He hesitated before answering. “Here’s the deal-they have to prove reason enough to extradite you in the first place. They might be able to convince a judge of that. Enough circumstantial evidence could be argued. Next, they have to convince someone in the proper position of authority in Hawaii that there is reason to warrant your extradition. I would guess it could be done, but I also guess it is not very likely. Then again, you probably don’t want to stay here forever, do you?”

“So, you’re giving me a fifty-fifty chance, then?”

George shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not sure it is that bad, but let’s act as if it is.”

“And if I just go back to the mainland?”

“They’ll take you in for questioning and maybe hold you for up to 48 hours. Maybe more, if they are convinced enough to charge you with something serious and can convince the proper people that you fled…or would flee…to avoid prosecution.”

“This is getting to be a real nightmare. I really thought it was all over.” Ron ran his hand down his face in evident exasperation and impatience.

Denise, too, could not hide her concern. “What do you suggest we do, George?” Her hands were worrying with some imaginary thing that she kept unconsciously moving.

“I can’t make that kind of decision for you, Denise. The two of you will have to decide this together and live with the consequences of it. I believe you are both innocent, but frankly, a good prosecuting attorney could make you both look guilty as sin.”

“Both?” Ron started at the disclosure.

“I’m afraid so. It wouldn’t take much effort to make it look like she hired you or seduced you into getting rid of a big problem for her. It happens all the time. You stayed at her place alone….”

“Nothing of the sort happened!” Denise protested loudly.

“I know that, but a jury won’t--unless you can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Then, too, you have to admit you were also alone together in the woods for several days. It could be argued that Ted was concerned for your safety and was attempting to rescue you from kidnapping. There are unfortunately some practical limitations to the old adage ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Those limitations are often in the minds of jury members, even though they are supposed to be fair and have no biases or reasonable doubts before they make a decision affecting a life. I’ve seen some incredibly unbelievable and downright stupid findings from juries.”

Both of their mouths dropped open in disbelief. Denise was first to recover. “He kidnapped me, for Pete’s sake! He held me prisoner in the basement! And do you honestly think that I would have married the man who was kidnapping me?” Denise was nearly yelling and Lydia was close to tears at this point.

“George, dear, you are upsetting them.”

“All I can do is tell them the truth, Lydia. They need to know that. It won’t be easy, even if they are prepared properly.” He turned again to Ron and continued, “Listen, it doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is what a jury would think if this goes to court-and it appears that someone is pursuing that course right now.”

The rest of the day was spent in a state of stunned seclusion on the north side of the island. Several times it was difficult for Ron, as the nightmare he had experienced on the plane kept coming back to haunt his mind. But where else was he to go and be able to sort out his thoughts? They walked the beach together and stood still for long periods of time staring at the ocean in silence, until Denise broke the spell.

“Ron, do you think life will ever smooth again? Will it ever treat us fairly?”

Babe, I wish I knew the answer to that. I just have no idea what will happen next…or why any of this is happening in the first place.” They both knew without words when it was time to return to the hotel and walked the beach to the highway and caught the bus back to Honolulu. The ride, too, was very sullen for them both.

“Denise, I told you that as a child I was very sickly and fought my way back to health when many thought it could never be done. As an adult I’ve had to fight to overcome many trials, too. The bottom line seems to be that if you want to get to the top of the mountain, you have to climb. You can’t simply fall there.” He waited for her response.

She thought this over for a moment and then brightened a bit. “You’re right. If we have to go down, let’s go down fighting.”

“That’s my girl. Let’s do it. ”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“George, we’ve decided what we’re going to do.”

The look on his face was stony, but interested and concerned for them. “Okay, Ron, what have you two decided?”

“We’re going on the defensive. We’re going to go back home and fight the accusations. We have friends who will back us up and it will look better all around if we return of our own volition.”

“I have to admire your determination and I want to help you in any way I can. I believe in you. Here’s my card and I’ll put my cell number on the back. You call me day or night, you hear? Also, I did some asking around among friends and I’ve written the name of a very highly recommended attorney on the back of the card. He’s in your area. You give him a call. I’ve been told that if anyone can help you, he can.” He handed the card to Ron and placed a firm hand on his shoulder. “I admire and respect your attitude in this matter-both of you. Best of luck to you.”

“I think it will be more than luck, George. From the very start there seemed to be some guiding force that brought Denise and me together. I think it was no accident meeting you, either.”

“Well…I hope you’re right, Ron. I hope you are completely right.”

Ron closed the door and hugged Denise. “Thanks for being so strong.”

“I’m not so sure I’m very strong, but I am certainly angry enough to fight, if that’s enough.”

“Well, if you stay this wound up, there will be no sleep for you tonight.”

“Good point. Then we’ll sleep after we wear each other out.” With that, she grabbed him and began to pull him toward the bed.

“My, goodness, you are insatiable, aren’t you?”

“Are you complaining?”

“Not a chance.” His kiss was fired by love and fanned by an appreciation for her inner strength. She would stand by him to the end, he was certain. No man in the world was more blessed than he and he knew it without the tiniest fiber of doubt.

The light switch was flipped off and the bed covers pulled aside. Ron knew that George and Lydia were about to get another inspiring performance, for he was far too excited to show even the slightest restraint tonight.

Denise looked up at him and asked quietly, “Shall we give them something to talk about tomorrow?”

Ron’s mouth dropped open and he half-smiled before asking, “What do you mean?”

“George and Lydia, of course. I’m not deaf, you know.” She smiled deliciously as he crawled into bed beside her.

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