Excerpts from a letter Susan Smith wrote to Tom Findlay on Oct. 17, and his reply, written the same day and given to her Oct. 18.

Ms. Smith's letter (handwritten, not dated):

``Dear Tom,

``Just a note to say thank you for everything. I could never express in words how much you mean to me. I will always treasure our friendship and all of the many wonderful memories we have made.

``I want you to know that I have never felt with anyone, the way I feel when I'm with you. I have never felt so needed. You are a very special person and that is part of why making love to you is so wonderful.

``I know how you feel about our relationship and I respect that. I'm appreciative of your honesty with me. I do want us to be friends forever and I'll never let anything happen that would change that.

``I do hope that we will be able to date some and be together again someday, but if we never made love again, my feelings for you would not change because having you as my friend is worth more than sex could ever be worth.

``Once again, I'm sorry for Sat. night and would take it back in a (heart-shaped design) beat if I could. I really wanted to be with you and hated that I wasn't.

``Thank you for being there for me through all the rough times. You are a true friend. I want you to know that I will always love and care for you for the rest of my life. You are the best friend anyone could ever have.

``Well, I hope I said everything right. The bottom line is: I'm glad we are friends and if that is all we can be, then we will just have to do a hell of a job of being that. Who knows what the future holds for our relationship. I'm just going to live one day at a time.

``One more thing before I go, please don't ever hesitate to call me if you ever need anything! I will always be here for you!

``Friends Forever, (two heart-shaped designs)

``Susan.''

Findlay letter (typed):

``Dear Susan,

``This is a difficult letter for me to write because I know how much you think of me. And I want you to know that I am flattered that you have such a high opinion of me. Susan, I value our friendship very much. You are one of the few people on this earth that I feel I can tell anything. You are intelligent, beautiful, sensitive, understanding, and possess many other wonderful qualities that I and many other men appreciate. You will, without a doubt, make some lucky man a great wife. But unfortunately, it won't be me.

``Even though you think we have much in common, we are vastly different. We have been raised in two totally different environments, and therefore, think totally different. ...

``For my first two years in Union, I dated very little. ... But then Laura came along. We met at Conso (the company Findlay's father operates, where Ms. Smith also worked), and I fell for her like `a ton of bricks.' ... Well, even though I fell enlove (sic) with Laura, I had my doubts about a long and lasting commitment, but I never said anything, and I eventually hurt her very, very deeply. I won't do that again.

``Susan, I could really fall for you. ... But like I have told you before, there are some things about you that aren't suited for me, and yes, I am speaking about your children. I'm sure that your kids are good kids, but it really wouldn't matter how good they may be ... the fact is, I just don't want children. These feelings may change one day, but I doubt it. With all of the crazy, mixed-up things that take place in this world today, I just don't have the desire to bring another life into it. And I don't want to be responsible for anyone elses (sic) children, either. But I am very thankful that there are people like you who are not so selfish as I am, and don't mind bearing the responsibility of children. ...

``But our differences go far beyond the children issue. We are just two totally different people, and eventually, those differences would cause us to break up. ...

``But don't be discouraged. There is someone out there for you. In fact, it's probably someone that you may not know at this time or that you may know, but would never expect. Either way, before you settle down with anyone again, there is something you need to do. Susan, because you got pregnant and married at such an early age, you missed out on much of your youth. I mean, one minute you were a kid, and the next minute you were having kids. Because I come from a place where everyone had the desire and the money to go to college, having the responsibility of children at such a young age is beyond my comprehension. Anyhow, my advice to you is to wait and be very choosy about your next relationship. I can see this may be a bit difficult for you because you are a bit boy crazy, but as the proverb states `good things come to those who wait.' I am not saying you shouldn't go out and have a good time. In fact, I think you should do just that. ... But just don't get seriously involved with anyone until you have done the things in life that you want to do, first. ...

``Susan, I am not mad at you about what happened this weekend. Actually, I am very thankful. As I told you, I was starting to let my heart warm up to the idea of us going out as more than just friends. But seeing you kiss another man put things back into perspective. I remembered how I hurt Laura, and I won't let that happen again; and therefore, I can't let myself get close to you. ... And as for your relationship with B. Brown (reportedly friend Benjy Brown), of course you have to make your own decisions in life, but remember ... you have to live with the consequences also. Everyone is held accountable for their actions, and I would hate for people to perceive you as an unreputable person. If you want to catch a nice guy like me one day, you have to act like a nice girl. And you know, nice girls don't sleep with married men. Besides, I want you to feel good about yourself, and I am afraid that if you sleep with B. Brown or any other married man for that matter, you will lose your self-respect. I know I did when we were messing around earlier this year. ... I care for you, but also care for Susan Brown and I would hate to see anyone get hurt. Susan may say that she wouldn't care (copy unintelligible) husband had an affair, but you and I know, that is not true.

``Anyhow, as I have already told you, you are a very special person. ... Don't settle for mediocre in life, go for it all and only settle for the best ... I do. ...

``It is 11:50 p.m. and I am getting very sleepy. But I wanted to write you this letter because you are the one who is always making the effort for me, and I wanted to return the friendship. ...

``Again, you will always have my friendship. And your friendship is one that I will always look upon with sincere affection.

``Tom''