Phryne was very torn, she could send Dot to pick up Jane from the train station or she could go. She missed her so much in the time she had been away but she truly wanted to be there when they interrogated Peter Lepus. Jack let her struggle with it for the ride back to St. Kilda and then said, "Darling, you know you really want to pick up our Jane, more then you want to be in on the take down of a ruthless killer."
There was a slight grimace on her face and then she nodded, "Yes, I can't wait to see her...what if he runs for it though? You can't go alone."
Jack looked at her with an amused look. "You think City South can handle it?"
"Barely," said Phryne laughing. "Alright, but you promise to tell me everything?"
"Did I ever wrap up a case and not tell you everything?"
"Yes, when we first met."
"Only the first case."
They arrived home and she realized she had to go or she would miss Jane's train. She leaned over kissed Jack tenderly and said, "Don't forget you have to tell me everything." And she ran toward her car in the garage.
"Drive safely!" He called after her shaking his head. Then he saw her squeal out of the driveway and he closed his eyes. He turned his car toward the station to pick up Hugh before heading to Gerry's office.
Jack, Hugh and several men arrived at his Gerry's office to arrest Peter Lepus. He was in the law library researching a case for Gerry, when he saw Jack and Hugh enter he tried to run out the back door. Jack knew the lay out and had two men waiting for him.
Jack leaned against the wall of the interrogation room as Hugh and James escorted Peter Lepus into the room.
"Well Mr. Lepus, what have you got to say for yourself?"
"I don't know what you mean Inspector..."
"I think you do, Mr. Lepus." Said Phryne from the door that went to Jack's office and the front of the station. Jack's eyebrow raised, and Phryne shrugged slightly.
"I didn't want to hurt anyone..."
"You killed two people, Mr. Lepus," said Jack. "So it doesn't matter what your intent was, your charged with two counts of first degree murder..."
"Hilly had been an unfortunate accident, I was using the copying facilities at the office to copy materials for a big case and passing it on to their lawyers. She walked in and saw what it was, she didn't say anything but I knew she was going to report it after she was done with her filing. She didn't say it but I could read it in her eyes. I begged her not to say anything to Gerald or your father. She said she couldn't do that. She said she was sorry and went back to her filing. I ran to my desk got my ancient crossbow that sat on my shelf in my cubicle. I came in through the law library and as soon as she came out from behind the file shelf...I shot...I didn't want to kill her." He finished his voice choked up, but Jack didn't believe it.
"However you felt at the time, you did kill her, coldblooded and with intent. For whom did you collect the information?"
Peter Lepus looked down and then his eyes came up and met Jack's, "Sidney Fletcher's Solicitor."
Phryne and Jack's eyes were both full of fury but Phryne calmly asked, "And how much did they pay you?"
"More then two years salary and all I was suppose to do was copy the information and send it on to the new lawyers in Sydney."
Jack's lips were thin and his eyes were very cold as he asked, "And the murder of Charles Edgar?"
"He asked me some questions that made me feel he knew. I couldn't take the risk, so I found his address from Hilly's desk and took care of him. How did you know?"
Jack was bristling with anger but he simply said, "I'm afraid you will have to find that out in court. Collins take him down to cells."
Hugh nodded once and pulled the man out of the room, he could see the pure anger radiating off his boss and he knew he wanted the man out of there before he expressed it.
Once the prisoner was taken out Phryne closed the door, "Those Bastards!"
"Those two are haunting me, Phryne. It keeps popping up. Will I ever be free of them?"
"Yes Darling, we will.get through it. Soon."
Jack didn't look like he believed her but he loved her, so he walked over to her, and Phryne gathered him into her arms and pulled him close and Jack kissed her passionately. Then he said, "I have to do the paperwork and make sure the little bastard signs the statement. Why don't you go home to Jane and I will be there as soon as I can?"
"Ok Darling, come home soon. Don't stay here any longer then you have to. He is not important, Hilly and Charles were important but that little nothing is not important. Do you have to do all the paperwork tonight?"
"No, just the initial arrest information so the processing can begin. I will do the rest tomorrow. I'll see you at home, tell Jane I can't wait to see her."
"I will.." She kissed him passionately again and left.
Jack went to his office to prepare the paperwork. "James?"
"Is Collins getting the statement from the prisoner?"
"Good tell him to come here as soon as its completed."
"I will, Sir."
"And James, please don't call me Sir in every sentence you utter. It's not necessary."
"Uh...yes Sir...I mean Inspector... I mean...yes..."
"Thank you James, go tell Collins."
The young man nodded and left. Jack smiled and shook his head as he filled out the paperwork. As soon as he was finished with his paper work he would stop by his parents and then home to his family.
Jack came home and was greeted by an excited Jane. They hugged and she took his hand and pulled him into the parlor. She had a present for him. "Come on Jack, I can't wait for you to see it."
Jack smiled and said sweetly, "I can't wait to see it too." Phryne was lying on the chaise and smiled at her partner as their daughter pulled him into the room.
Jane picked up the wrapped gift that was on the side table by the chaise and handed it to him. Jack took the gift and unwrapped it. It was a beautiful hand carved pipe. Jack admired it greatly, "Its gorgeous Jane, thank you." He pulled her into a hug and pecked her on the cheek, then he kissed and hugged Phryne. He sat down next to his partner and shared the gift with her. "Isn't this beautiful, Darling?"
"Yes, its delectable. You have wonderful taste, Sweetheart." Phryne said hugging and kissing Jane. Then she shared her gift with Jack. She held out her arm so he could see the wonderful shell bracelet, it was beautifully done. "Isn't this delicate and pretty, Darling?"
Jack smiled up at Jane and said, "Yes, it is so very beautiful, where did you find it?."
Jane beamed, " At the beach they had a few shops that I looked through. I bought gifts for Dot and Hugh too. Do you know when they will be home?"
"After the movie, Darling," said Phryne, "have you given Mr. Butler his gift yet?"
Jane covered her mouth, "No, I haven't. Thank you for reminding me," she ran out of the room.
Jack and Phryne smiled, then Jack said, "That was so sweet of her. I missed her."
"Yes, I did too. You are so good with her, so patient."
"Of course, I adore her and she is wonderful."
Phryne pulled him into a warm hug and then kissed him passionately, "I have a couple of gifts too, Darling."
"This must be gift day, I have one for you too."
Phryne clapped, "Really! What is it?"
Jack laughed at her reaction, it is so sweet and full of childlike curiosity, "Shall we flip a coin to see who is first?"
"No, I will go first because we have to leave the parlor. Then, when I am done showing off, its your turn."
"Wonderful, should I close my eyes?"
"No, just take my hand." She said holding out her hand.
Jack took it and kissed the palm and then said, "Always."
Phryne's face reflected her joy, she then led him to the small parlor, she opened the door and said, " Please go in, Darling."
As he walked into the room his eyes widened, the room had been transformed. Phryne's desk and amour had moved to one side of the room, and a beautiful Japanese screen separated the room into two. On the wall across from the door, all of his books from his house had been moved to a floor to ceiling book case. Under the window was the desk from his office. The chair was from his parent's house, he recognized it. Above the desk, in a place of honor was his charcoal of Phryne from his bedroom.
Jack was speechless, he turned to Phryne pulled her into his arms and kissed her passionately. Phryne melted into his arms and returned his passion with her own. When they pulled back Jack tenderly cradled her face in his warm hands and said softly in a voice that was truly overwhelmed, "Thank you, Darling. It's beautiful. I am so touched."
"Wait, there is more," She smiled brightly took his hand and led him upstairs into her boudoir. When he entered the room he noticed two more dividers by the closet. She led him to his side and he was stunned to see more of his clothes then had been there before and a dresser. As he approached it, he stopped dead, he recognized it. "Darling, this is from my bedroom at my parent's home."
"Yes, your Mother was so sweet, and Dot and Jane as well as Ces and Burt all helped me get it here and set it up. Do you like it?"
"Like it, I love it! You are so thoughtful, thank you so much. I can't believe my Mum didn't say..."
"Didn't say what, when?" She asked eagerly.
Jack smiled, he loved to see that happy curious looks in her eyes, "It can wait, show me your surprises and then it's my turn."
She laughed and said, "Of course my darling," she took his hand and led him to the bed and pointed to his bedside table. She sat down on the bed and said, "This is a copy of the picture from your bedside table from your flat." She pulled him down next to her, put her arms around his neck and bounced on the bed saying, "My turn!"
He tenderly kissed her putting his arms around her waist and pulling her close, he looked deeply into her eyes and said softly, "I wanted to give you something special. Something that would show you my love, my friendship, my gratitude and how I feel your not just my partner but your my whole life." He pulled back a bit, put his hand in his pocket and placed the pretty blue box in her palm. The Tiffany box was obviously from the Art Nouveau period which she loved and she was very excited but then the small box made her a bit nervous too.
She opened the box and let out a breath that she didn't even know she was holding. It was a beautiful delicate broach of a fish with pearls and emeralds. Jack softly said, "I know you love broaches, you wear them all the time. It's my Grandmother's, a gift from my Grandfather. They were on trip to New York and my Grandmother fell in love with it in the window. So of course, Grandfather bought it for her." Jack was nervous, he looked into her eyes, "Do you like it?"
"Oh my Darling, I love it!" She kissed him deeply and passionately, He felt like he was floating away on a cloud as he kissed her back. When they pulled back breathless, she tenderly kissed him on his nose and smiled, wrinkling her nose, "How appropriate a fish for Miss Fisher."
"That's exactly what I thought. If you look at my Mum's photos my Grandmother always had it fastened somewhere on her blouse or dress."
"And so shall I and I will wear it every day. Thank you so much, I love it and I love you."
"I love you too, with all my heart." He looked at her shyly and asked, "But Darling, is it too old fashioned?"
"Not at all, Tiffany was always ahead of its time. Look at how delicate it is. And it is such a pretty little fish. I adore it. I see why your Grandmother fell in love with it. Your Grandfather must of have been a dear, just like you."
"He was a very nice and funny man. I remember him playing with my brother and I when we were little. Sadly, he died before my sister was born. And my Grandmother died long before we were born. They were a wonderful couple though, my Mum told us lovely stories and I'm sure she will tell you all about them too."
"I look forward to it, your Mum is something else. She kept both our secrets."
"Yes, she is like that. So you really like it, it is not going to ruin the look of your outfits?"
She smiled at Jack, he was so considerate. It wasn't just all the thought he put into the gift but that it truly came from his heart. "It will look wonderful with my clothes. It is so very beautiful. I love it and I am in love with you. Perfect."
Jack caressed her cheek, "So are you."
Phryne and Jack both rode through the streets of Richmond with Jane, Celly, Jackie and Robbie. Phryne hadn't ridden a bike since she was a girl with her sister in Collingwood. Phryne had forgotten how much fun it was to ride downhill, it was like flying. She put her hands over head and cried out in joy.
Jack rode behind Phryne with the kids and smiled as he watched Phryne fly by and scream out in joy. He rode every weekend with the kids. He invited Phryne and Jane because he felt it would bring them closer together as a family and he felt so happy that both Jane and Phryne were really enjoying it.
Jane was riding next to Jack and Celly. The boys were peddling as fast as they could, they wanted to catch up with Phryne. When Jackie lifted his hands off the handle bars, Jack called out, "No Jackie, that is only something for adults!"
"Awww, Uncle Jack," cried Jackie but he put his hands back on the handlebars.
Jane smiled and said, "I never heard that before, Jack."
"Yes, well it is a Richmond rule," he replied with a wink.
"Uncle Jack what is a Richmond rule?"
"They are special rules for special children like you."
Jane covered her mouth as she giggled. Jack looked at her, rolled his eyes and then winked at her.
Phryne slowed as she reached her destination, it was a pretty parkland that Jack had found and showed her a few weeks before. He had said he usually stopped here to rest and eat when he rode his bike either alone or with the kids. She could see why, it was open with a lot of flowers and a lake. Plenty of room for the kids to play and fly their kites and people watch. She parked her bike, pulled out the blankets from her basket as the kids pulled up beside her. They parked and pulled out the ball and ran to start their game.
Jack pulled up next to Phryne with the girls. He had the picnic basket, he had insisted saying, "I'd like the food to still be in the basket when we get there." She gave him a playful slap but now that she had the joy of riding again she saw what he meant. He came over to help her with the blanket.
Celly ran up to them and helped too, Jack smiled at her and asked, "Was that fun?"
"Yes Uncle Jack, I loved riding with you and Jane. I hope I can ride as fast as Frynee one day." She said with a smile as she took out her doll and plopped on the blanket.
"You will, Sweetheart, with practice." He smiled at Jane who came up, parked her bike to help Jack and Phryne take the food out of the big hamper. "Did you have fun, Jane?"
"Yes, I did. It was great fun. I always wanted to ride a bike, I didn't know it was so easy."
"It's not always, you have great coordination, Jane." Jack replied, he was very impressed with her ease when he gave her instructions before they started off.
"Really?" Jane asked, as she sat down with a bottle of lemonade, "I never knew that. I am good at gymnastics, so I guess it makes sense, doesn't it?"
Phryne smiled and nodded, "Yes, it does Darling. You looked like you enjoyed it and you were out with an expert. After all Jack used to win races."
Jack blushed. Jane and Celly looked awe struck, "Really Uncle Jack?" Asked Celly fascinated.
Jack took out a sandwich and some lemonade, sat down and took a big bite. He nodded to Celly.
Phryne was amused, the man always ate when he was trying to avoid something.
"You won races, Jack?" Asked Jane clearly impressed.
Jack nodded, then called, "Boys don't you want to eat?"
"Naw, we want to play a bit, Uncle Jack!"
"Uncle Jack, May I play too?" Asked, Celly politely.
Jack looked concerned she was so little, Jane smiled and said, "I'll go with her Jack. She will be fine." Jack trusted Jane and said, "Alright, you two go on have fun...but be careful." Jane and Celly nodded and ran off.
Phryne laughed, "How do you have fun and be careful?"
Jack chuckled, "Celly is so little, I worry that she might get hurt. I trust Jane, so I know she will make sure she is, but the boys are bit too rambunctious to let her play with them on her own. I sprained my finger when they knocked me down and piled on top of me last week."
"I remember that, but they won't do that with their little sister, now their brave Uncle is a whole other thing." She said with a wink. She sat down next to him put her head on his shoulder, "Hello."
"Hello, you looked beautiful flying by like the wind."
"Thank you, you looked lovely surrounded by the kids like a pied piper. You always look so very relaxed with them. And Jane fits in perfectly."
"I had to yell to Jackie not to copy you, he wanted throw his hands up in the air and Celly wants to ride just like you when she grows up. They think your magic."
"Not me, I am not magic, but being with you and the kids that is pretty magical. I never thought I wanted this but here I am having the time of my life. Who would have thought it?"
"Your something else, Phryne, like a beautiful genie, every dream, I have ever had has come true, thanks to you. It's quite remarkable."
"My dreams too, I have never been so happy." She pulled Jack to her and kissed him passionately. Jack returned the kiss pulling her close and lying back on the blanket, they were totally focused on each other until a familiar voice said, "Yeesh, Uncle Jack, you two kiss all the time. Yuck!"
Jack looked up at the kids and chuckled bringing them both up to a sitting position, "When you get older, Robbie, you will understand," He pulled Phryne close to him, kissing her again.
Three days the family lunch took place on a sunny afternoon. Very reluctantly Jack and Hugh entered the house to join the lunch party. Jack was reluctant because he really didn't want to see the disdain in Prudence Stanley's eyes when Phryne made her announcement, but of course he came, he loved Phryne and he wanted to support her. Hugh was there simply to be supportive to his mentor and boss, Phryne who he cared for deeply and of course his love, Dotty.
Phryne looked resplendent in a bright pink beaded dress with a silk Asian jacket with pink, black and white beads. Her beautiful little fish broach sparkled on her jacket, which made Jack's smile brighten. Phryne went right to Jack, kissed and hugged him. When he saw the pin, his face lit up like a Christmas Tree, she kissed his nose and caressed his cheek. Then she smiled at Hugh and kissed his cheek.
Jack looked around the party and asked, "Is she here?"
"Oh yes, she is pretty impressed by your family, Darling. We may be surprised."
"I hope so." Said Jack quietly.
They entered the parlor where Jack and Hugh are lovingly greeted by Jack's family and of course their own unconventional family. Mac smiled at him, "Drink Jack?"
"Better not, Mac. Need to keep my head."
Mac winked at him and went to offer a drink to another guest.
Jack took a deep breath and approached the matriarch of Phryne's family. "Good Afternoon, Mrs. Stanley."
"Detective Inspector, you look very well, indeed."
"I am, thank you. You look exceptionally well yourself."
"Such racy talk," said Phryne with a smirk.
"Some of us are not racy, Phryne," said Aunt P. with great conviction.
"Speak for yourself, Aunt Prudence. Jack can be quite racy, believe me." She replied with a glittering laugh, Jack rolled his eyes at his partner and blushed. Phryne winked at him, took his hand and led him away from her Aunt to his own family.
Here Jack was petted and kissed, he and Phryne received a lot genuine love from them all. Gerald pulled Jack and Phryne asside and said, "Thank you both so much for solving that horrible murder. I still can't believe the killer was a member of my firm. I am so careful when I hire people. It makes me question my judgement."
"It's not your fault, Gerry." Said Jack gently, putting a warm hand on his brother in law's arm, "you can't always tell what a person is really like. He was a presentable young man, inside he was very corrupted. You can't see it, I wish you could, it would save us a lot of time, believe me."
"And he was working for that Bastard that used to be a member of polite society," said Robert Robinson who had come over while his son was talking to Gerry.
"I know, Son you simply don't want to hear it right now. I can't seem to help myself. Those two monsters created such pain..."
"Dad, can we please keep this as a happy occasion? Phryne worked so hard on it."
"And you did a wonderful job, Phryne." Said the older man with a gentle kiss to her cheek. Phryne actually blushed which pleased Jack since that was a rare thing. "It is a very happy event and you two look so very happy, thank goodness." And they did , he had never seen his son glow with such joy. Jack looked happy, healthy and in love. And Robert Robinson was so happy for both of them. "You have never looked so happy, Jack. You both look wonderful and I am so very pleased."
Both Jack's and Phryne's faces glowed, Jack said, "Thank you so much Dad. Yes, I have never been so happy. It is a miracle."
Jack's arm went around Phryne's waist pulling her close, Phryne's head went against his shoulder and she looked at Jack as she replied, "Neither have I. In fact, I never thought it possible. I have never felt for anyone what I feel for your son."
Gladys Robinson came up next to her husband, she put her arm through her husbands arm and smiled at Phryne. "The broach looks so beautiful on you, Phryne. My mother would have been so pleased."
"Thank you Gladys, you certainly can keep a secret. You didn't give away either of our missions."
Gladys laughed and shook her head, "Of course not Phryne. I was touched by both your secret missions so of course I told no one. Though I ached to tell your father, Jack."
Jack laughed, "So when did you tell Dad?"
"That night, she told me after she was sure that you both revealed all your secrets. I must say I was touched by them."
Jack had never felt so proud of his folks, Phryne had been right he had underestimated both of them. "Your both wonderful role models, thank you."
Both his parents looked very pleased as Mr. Butler announced, "Luncheon is served."
Phryne led everyone into her dining room, after everyone was comfortably settled and Mr. Butler poured champagne for everyone, Phryne stood up and raised her glass.
"First, I would like to thank each and everyone of you for being so very important to my life for different reasons. So love and cheers to each of you." She blew kisses and then after clinking her glass with as many people as she could she deeply drank from her glass.
"Now this is for Jack, but I have decided that I would like each of you to know how I feel. " She looked only at Jack now, their eyes met in what could only be called a loving embrace, she continued, "Jack my love, you are my best friend, my soul mate and my life partner. You are both my partner in crime solving and life itself. I love you so much for your sweetness, honesty, kindness, strength and sense of humor but most of all for your fierce loyalty which is almost as powerful as my own. You are the love of my life."
Phryne and Jack felt like they were all alone. The world had collapsed around them, the only thing they could see was each other, feel each others breath, and the warmth of their skin. She looked deeply into his eyes, Jack didn't reply, he really couldn't he was so choked up with emotion. They slowly clinked glasses and then Phryne sat down and kissed Jack with all the love that was storming in her heart.
They were really lost in each other till they heard the applause from around the room. They looked around a bit startled but then they smiled and held up their glasses to their friends and family, then they drank to them. Then the two sets of eyes turned to Aunt P.
Prudence found herself the focus of the room, she took a sip of her drink and then asked quietly, "Do I take it that this means you two will be getting married?"
"No, Aunt P." Said Phryne quietly.
"You mean your just going to..."
"Love each other, work with each other and take care of our family."
"What family, Phryne, neither of you have any children."
"But we do," answered Jack, "Jane is our ward, she is our daughter and we love her so much..."
"But she is not blood, not to either of you, Inspector, she..."
"We love her and she loves us, That makes her our family." Said Phryne, "we are an unconventional family its true, but we are one big happy family." Said Phryne not unkindly but she truly wanted her Aunt to understand.
"Blood does not make one family, Prudence, " said Robert Robinson, "love, care, taking care of each other, being there when your needed. Jack and Phryne have that in spades. Look around you Prudence, they are just up to their hairline in love."
Jack's eyes teared up and Phryne was openly crying, Jack got up and went to his father, he hugged him tight and said, "Thank you Dad. Thank you so much."
"Your welcome son, but I must say it is how both your Mum and I feel. We have two beautiful children, with beautiful, happy and healthy families. We are so proud of you all."
Phryne had come up to Jack's parents too, and she hugged and kissed both of them saying, "We love both of you too. Thank you for being such wonderful role models for us."
Aunt Prudence took a deep breath, she looked around the room and sighed. She then said, "Alright, I give you my blessings too."
Phryne and Jack looked amused, "Why thank you Aunt P. I told Jack you would."
"Of course, you couldn't help but love him, could you?"
"I have always liked him. He is a very, very good man, it is hard not like someone like that."
"You did?" Asked Jack his eyes were wide with shock.
"Of course, Inspector." Prudence smiled and her cheeks dimpled.
"You were right Phryne."
"Of course, Darling, I'm always right.
After the luncheon Jack and Hugh returned to work. At the end of the day he left a bit early to return home and change so he could take Phryne to a new restaurant on the Fore Shore, a French restaurant it was the first of its kind in the area. After they finished their meal Jack suggested a walk along the beach. Phryne was delighted and they walked down to the beach hand in hand.
As they walked along the beach, Jack took both her hands to his mouth and kissed them tenderly, "Thank you Darling."
"What for, Sweetheart?" Asked Phryne, a little confused.
"Well...for...staying with me through all this. I know how difficult it was to see... well to see me..."
"To see you vulnerable? It was, I am so used to seeing you as brave and strong, Jack. I would never leave you though, just because you were vulnerable and ill..."
Phryne stopped him, she pulled him to her, putting her arms around him holding him very close. He happily snuggled close, putting his arms around her and tenderly rubbing her back. "Not all woman are alike you know. In fact it is my believe I am not like any other woman in the whole world. I, my Darling, I am one of a kind. I love to be different...."
Jack kissed her nose, then nodded, "Yes, it is one of the many things I love and adore about you."
Phryne smiled and rubbed her nose against his then kissed him tenderly. "So, I make my own choices, and here is a bit of hint, my Darling, you will always be my first choice, and my second, third, forth, fifth, sixth...."
Jack laughed and kissed her passionately. "I know all that, Darling. I guess it is just my blindside. We all have them and that is mine. But, I know your different, and you love me, and you won't leave me."
"Good, because I would have to torture you if you didn't know it."
Jack laughed, he caressed her cheek and looked tenderly into her beautiful blue eyes, "I think, I will just take your word, Two and half years of not kissing was torture enough."
"Good choice." She said sweetly, Jack laughed again. He took her hand, and led her back to his car. "Jack, it was very scary to see you so lost. All it did was make want to take care of you, love you and help you. I never for a minute wanted to escape, I wanted to scream in terror but I never for one second wanted to leave you."
Jack nodded, "Understandable. I wanted to scream too. I hope to God I never get it again but it is good to know that you will be there for me."
"I am, Darling, forever."
Jack opened the door for her, and helped her step into the car. Then he went to his side of the car, slid in, pulled Phryne to him and kissed her passionately, she returned the kiss and deepened it.
When they pulled back he had a twinkle in his blue eyes and asked, "Will Lulu visit tonight?"
"Maybe Darling, if your a very good boy." She said with a laugh and kissed his nose.
He winked at her and started the car to drive back to St. Kilda.