SYNOPSIS: Jason Franco is an aspiring novelist stuck in a dead-end job working for a newspaper in a small town where nothing exciting happens until someone rapes and murders a young woman only eighteen years old. All evidence points to the woman's boyfriend who confesses to the crime. Jason is assigned to write a follow-up story for the paper and soon suspects that the local police are covering up for one of their own. Jason enlists the help from a high school classmate who works at the state crime and the two soon fall in love. Jason and his girlfriend, Tina, follow the leads, and Jason finds himself a target for the rapist turned murderer. An attempt on Jason's life puts him in the hospital as the alleged rapist commits suicide. An unexpected turn of events put Jason back in the cross hairs of a different killer.
The Big Commitment
Two Weeks Later
On Friday, Jason called Tina just before she left for work. “Hey. Can I take you to dinner tonight? My treat this time.”
“Yeah, sure. You staying the weekend?”
“Of course. I'll be there around six. Is that okay?”
“Sure. See you then. Bye, cowboy.”
When Tina got back to her apartment, Jason was in the kitchen talking to Dyanna. Jason started to stand up but Tina motioned for him to stay seated. He had his walking cast on his leg but still needed crutches. “I have reservations for seven,” said Jason. “Wear something nice.”
“Where are we going?”
“It's a surprise. So much has happened these last two weeks. I can't wait to tell you.”
“How did you get here? You can't drive like this can you?”
“No. Sy drove me. He has business in Cheyenne, but he'll be here later to see Dyanna. We're spending the night.”
Jason and Tina drove up to the Morris House Bistro and Tina gave the car keys to the valet. Jason struggled with his crutches but managed to get inside without help from Tina.
“Wow,” said Tina. “This place is expensive. Are we ready for this?”
“Yeah. I owe you so much for all the meals you treated me. This is partial payback.”
“Jason, you're scaring me. You're not proposing are you? You're making me nervous?”
Jason laughed. “It takes a lot to scare you.”
The host took Jason and Tina to a nice table with a reserved sign on it. The walls were painted red. A waiter rushed over to take their drink order. The interior was much more luxurious compared to the exterior.
Once they were settled, Tina said, “Okay, start talking, buster.”
“Well, as you know, I received reward money. I couldn't accept it. So many people, like yourself, helped catch the Register Cliff Rapist. Most wouldn't or couldn't accept any reward. So I decided to start a fund and put all the money into it. I convinced Mrs. Littlefield and Mrs. McAdams to co-chair the fund. It's called the Littlefield/McAdams Foundation.”
“And what is the purpose of this fund? I thought Paulo already started a memorial fund for Angie.”
“Yes, yes, but Mrs. Littlefield agreed to add that money to this fund. The Littlefield/Angelina Foundation's mission is to raise money to allow all crime labs to complete testing all backlogged rape kits.”
“That's a bunch of rape kits – maybe thousands.”
“I know. We'll start with Wyoming and proceed from there. If we get enough money, we'll help all the crime labs in the country.”
Tina sat back wide eyed. “I am impressed. That would be great. How much do you have now?”
Jason laughed. “Truthfully, I don't know. The money keeps rolling in daily.”
“That explains the new fund. Now tell me how you can afford this restaurant or is the fund paying for my high maintenance?”
The waiter arrived with their drinks. Jason ordered fried oysters for an appetizer.
Tina leaned forward and whispered, “Are you hoping to get lucky, cowboy?”
Jason laughed as he picked up his menu.
Tina picked up her menu as well. “Explain how you can affords this so I know what to order. Do I go whole hog or just a chicken leg?”
Jason laughed. “Go whole hog if you can finish it. Tonight is special.”
“What happened? Did you win the lottery?”
“Sort of. Last week I signed up with a literary agent. We have two offers for a non-fiction book about the Register Cliff Rapist. My agent is working on a two book deal, the second being my novel.”
“Oh, Jason. I'm so happy for you. A journalist and a novelist.”
“Soon, soon. No money from that deal yet, but when we final decide on a publisher, there will be an advance.”
Tina could tell that Jason had more to share. “And?”
“And, I have been doing interviews for national TV news and getting paid nicely for them.”
“Wow. A celebrity too.”
“Yeah, I guess. My agent said he can book talks for me that will bring in money until my book is published.”
The waiter returned to take their order. Tina ordered the Creole grilled Redfish and Jason ordered the Morris House Bistro Prime Beef.
When the waiter left, Tina picked up her wine glass. “Here's a toast to America's latest celebrity.” They clinked glasses. After the toast, Jason was grinning.
Tina put down her glass. “What else? I know you're dying to tell me more.”
Jason nodded his head from side to side. “I've decided to finish my degree.”
“What? Where? That's great.”
“What would you say if I attended school in Cheyenne? We could live together. Maybe look for an apartment tomorrow.”
“Oh, cowboy. You sure know how to make a cowgirl happy. When do you start?”
“I've already enrolled at the U of Wyoming. I start next semester.”
“You could live at my place.”
“I was hoping for an apartment closer to the campus and without a Dyanna attached.”
Tina laugh. “I heard that.” Tina lifted her glass again and saluted Jason.
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