Chapter 1 - Johnny

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In May of 1932, the toddler son of the famous pilot, Charles Lindbergh was found dead not far from his home. He'd been kidnapped two months before, and a ransom had been demanded and paid, but the child had never been returned to his parents. From the badly decomposed state of his little body, it was clear he'd been killed almost immediately after being taken from his crib.

Hearing the news of the murder, Margaret Blackwell was even more terrified than she'd already been since the kidnapping. Her two young boys were heirs to a sizeable fortune, as well as Blackwell Iron and Mining, the largest company in the area. Like the Lindbergh's, the Blackwell's lived in a house far from town in a wooded area. Margaret feared her sons, Jonathon, only eleven years old, and William, just seven, were easy prey for criminals looking to make a quick fortune.

When Joseph Blackwell came home from work that night, Margaret presented him with a sketch for an iron fence she demanded be built surrounding the family estate. Ten foot high with spikes at the top, it was the only way she could be sure their precious sons were protected. The fence was commissioned from the local iron works, and within days, construction began.

Margaret checked on the progress as the fence slowly wound its way around the property, but when the gate for the single entrance arrived, she halted the workmen. Her husband had ordered a copy of the gate used at the mining company, but that would not do for the entrance to the Blackwell estate. She insisted another one be commissioned, one that was more fitting with the status of the family.

Unlike the first one, the new gate was decorated with elaborate scrolling and brass details. As the workmen installed it, they grumbled - well out of Margaret's earshot - that for a family concerned about being targets of kidnapping, having such an ornate gate would only draw the attention of the sort of people who might be tempted to try.

However, on this midsummer day, all the effort Margaret had made to ensure the gate to her property would be held in awe didn't work. The young woman who drove past it and continued down the winding drive didn't even notice it. Instead, she was thinking of more important things, like the new baby that was coming. After parking her Chevrolet alongside the garage, she honked twice.

"Oh, my goodness!" Annie said as she came around the back of the house. "Look at your new car!"

"Do you like it?" Jess asked, going to give Annie a hug.

When she let go, Annie admired it. "It's so little! Cars seem to be getting smaller and smaller these days."

"Well, it didn't cost a lot, and that was the important thing. After two years of spending money on bus fare going back and forth from the university, it made more sense if Marty and I had a car."

"Come inside! Are you hungry? I made us some sandwiches."

"Starving!" Jess said. She wrapped her arm around Annie's waist while they walked to the kitchen. "How is Donna doing?"

"She's tired most of the time, but she's doing well. She's shopping with her mother. I let her mother and Doug know what we were up to, so after they shop, she's going to have dinner with Doug in town. We don't need to worry about being disturbed."

"Good!" Jess had taken the day off from the drugstore to work on her baby gift with Annie, and she didn't want the surprise ruined by Donna coming home early.

In the kitchen, Annie's sewing machine was on the little table next to the window. On the larger table she used to prepare meals, brightly colored fabric was laid out.

"I thought we could eat in the dining room," Annie said.

"That sounds nice."

Annie had set out plates holding egg salad sandwiches, jellied salad, and cookies. They took seats opposite each other. "Are you still happy with your apartment?" Annie said. She was concentrating on serving the salad without letting any of it jiggle off onto the tablecloth, but Jess had caught the tone in her voice.

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