The Case of the Singular Suitor

Part 7

by Mary Christmas (unicorn_76010 at lycos.com)

Holmes took this in with a measure of grim satisfaction. He didn't know what it meant, yet, but it was another clue towards solving this case.

Inside were men and women of varying degrees of wealth. Most of them were dressed in the same style as Holmes, but many also wore more expensive outfits.

"May I help you, sir?" a man who Holmes took to be the maitre'd asked, in a snooty voice.

"Yes," Holmes replied, "My name is Jeffrey Baker and I'd like a table toward the back, please."

"Will you be dining alone?"

"I sure will."

The maitre'd nodded and led him to a table with two chairs at the back of the restaurant. Holmes grinned his thanks as the man handed him a menu. From this position he could see everyone in the room and whoever walked in the door.

At that moment, Thomas Lestrade came in. He spoke with the maitre'd who nodded in Holmes' direction.

They argued for a few moments, then the elder Lestrade came over to the table.

"Hi," he said, "This is my usual table; mind if I join you?"

"Not at all," Holmes responded. "I'm Jeff Baker, by the way."

"Tom Lestrade."

The two men shook hands. "So, you're new to New London?"

Holmes shook his head. "No, I've been here several times before. Although this is the first time I've ever been to The Restaurant."

Tom Lestrade nodded and grinned. "It's a pretty great place, huh?"

"I don't know, I just got here."

"Well, I recommend the clam chowder."

Holmes inclined his head, then straightened up when he saw a beautiful woman walk through the door. She had long blonde hair and was rather petite. She was wearing a light blue business suit. T. Lestrade looked over to where Holmes was looking and stiffened.

"You know her?" Holmes questioned.

Tom Lestrade said nothing, just continued staring, his body set in stiff lines. The woman looked over at them after conferring with the maitre'd. She smiled and walked over to them.

"Tom!" she exclaimed, "I didn't expect to see you back so soon, darling."

Tom nodded stiffly, then forced a smile to his lips. "Alicia, let me introduce to my new friend, Jeff Baker. Jeff, this is my..." He stopped and swallowed. "...fiancee, Alicia Kinnard. She's also the proprietor and founder of The Restaurant." The smile faded from his face.

Holmes watched this with interest. Alicia smiled at him. "So nice to meet you, Mr. Baker," she said sweetly, giving him an appraising look. "I hope you enjoy your meal. Terrance," she signaled the waitor passing by, "would you be so kind as to fetch me a chair? Thank you, dear."

After she was seated she laughed, though it was one of those contrived flirty laughs. Holmes, of course, was immune, but Jeff Baker was not, so he put an infatuated smile on his face. Tom, he noticed, seemed to be immune as well, which wasn't surprising, considering the way he acted when introducing her as his fiancee.

"Tom," Holmes said, "you have got to be the luckiest man in the world, to have this gorgeous creature as yours."

Tom Lestrade just grunted noncommittally. Alicia Kinnard seemed to be oblivious to her fiance's obvious distance.

"Tommy, dear," she purred, "I need to speak with you about... that business matter we were talking of earlier. You will excuse us, won't you, Mr. Baker." Holmes nodded, and the two stood up and walked towards a back room.

Holmes wanted to follow them, but knew that that would jeopardize his mission. Instead, he ordered the clam chowder, ate a few bites, then left the restaurant quickly.

Once he was back at Baker Street, he told Watson everything he had learned.

"How odd," Watson said, when Holmes was finished, "that Mr. Lestrade did not seem too happy to be with his fiancee."

"Yes, Watson, I noticed that too," Holmes replied, "What I wouldn't give to know just what that business matter they were discussing was." He began to pace the room.

"Watson," he said suddenly, "give me all the information you can on Alicia Kinnard."

Watson complied. "She is thirty-four years of age -- is extremely wealthy. She was married six times." He stopped and looked at Holmes. "Each of her husbands have left her a large inheritance, and each have died under mysterious circumstances."

On to Part 8!

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