"There is nothing worse than old news," her grandfather had told her when she'd dropped by his office at the large newspaper where he was publisher. Wendell St. James had been sitting behind his huge desk, his head of thick gray hair as wild as his eyebrows, his wire-rimmed glasses perched precariously on his patrician nose. "You're wasting your time with this one."
Actually he thought she was wasting her time writing true crime books. He'd hoped that she would follow him into the newspaper business instead. It didn't matter that out of the nine books she'd written, she'd solved seven of the crimes.
"Someone knows what happened that night," she'd argued.
"Well, if they do, it's a pretty safe bet they aren't going to suddenly talk after twenty-five years."
"Maybe they're getting old and they can't live with what they've done," she'd said. "It wouldn't be the first time."
He'd snorted and settled his steely gaze on her. "I wasn't for the other stories you chased, but this one..." He shook his head. "Don't you think I know what you're up to? I suspect this is your mother's fault. She just couldn't keep her mouth shut, could she?"
"She didn't tell me about my father," she'd corrected her grandfather. "I discovered it on my own." For years, she'd believed she was the daughter of a stranger her mother had fallen for one night. A mistake. "All these years, the two of you have lied to me, letting me believe I was an accident, a one-night stand and that explained why I had my mother's maiden name."
"We protected you, you mean. And now you've got some lamebrained idea of clearing your father's name." Wendell swore under his breath. "My daughter has proven that she is the worst possible judge of men, given her track record. But I thought you were smarter than this."
"There was no real proof my father was involved," Nikki had argued stubbornly. Her biological father had been working at the Sundown Stallion Station the summer of the kidnapping. His name had been linked with Marianne McGraw's, the mother of the twins. "Mother doesn't believe he had an affair with Marianne, nor does she believe he had any part in the kidnapping."
"What do you expect your mother to say?" he'd demanded.
"She knew him better than you."
Her grandfather mugged a disbelieving face. "What else did she tell you about the kidnapping?"
Her mother had actually known little. While Nikki would have demanded answers, her mother said she was just happy to visit with her husband, since he was locked up until his trial.
"She didn't ask him anything about the kidnapping because your mother wouldn't have wanted to hear the truth."
She'd realized then that her grandfather's journalistic instincts had clearly skipped a generation. Nikki would have had to know everything about that night, even if it meant finding out that her husband was involved.
"A jury of twelve found him guilty of not only the affair—but the kidnapping," her grandfather had said.
"On circumstantial evidence."
"On the testimony of the nanny who said that Marianne McGraw wasn't just unstable, she feared she might hurt the twins. The nanny also testified that she saw Marianne with your father numerous times in the barn and they seemed...close."
She'd realized that her grandfather knew more about this case than he'd originally let on. "Yes, the nanny, the woman who is now the new wife of Travers McGraw. That alone is suspicious. I would think you'd encourage me to get the real story of what happened that night. And what does...close mean anyway?"
Her grandfather had put down his pen with an impatient sigh. "The case is dead cold after twenty-five years. Dozens of very good reporters, not to mention FBI agents and local law enforcement, did their best to solve it, so what in hell's name makes you think that you can find something that they missed?"
She'd shrugged. "I have my grandfather's stubborn arrogance and the genes of one of the suspects. Why not me?"