For a sweet house, right on Santa Monica Beach, it was unbelievably easy to break into. Mickey found a window he could open with a putty knife, so the double-locked doors were a joke. And Lana disabled the alarm within the forty-five-second grace period before it would have triggered. They were in and no one knew. What a great way to kick off the honeymoon.
Mickey couldn’t imagine anything else they could have hijacked to bring them any closer to heaven: salt air, pounding surf, white sand, five-million dollar love nest whose owner was en route to Europe. Lana had told him she’d always dreamed of a house on the beach and he’d delivered.
She strolled out of the alarm closet, clapping her hands to beat off the dust. Mickey’s heart soared at his good fortune to have married her. He loved the sway of her hips, the trill of her laugh, the smell of her skin, how her jet black bangs set off her turquoise eyes, the way she knew how to do things: clean a squid or repair a zipper or break down a Beretta. He’d known he wanted to marry her by their second date though he’d needed two months to muster the courage to ask.
He wrapped his arms around her and ran his tongue between her lips. She toyed with it for a moment, then yanked off his shirt. He pulled her sweater over her head. She slid her hand over his fly. He was already hard.
She stroked him through his pants as she backed him across the great room toward the wall of windows overlooking the moonlit Pacific. They knocked over a glass-shaded lamp but neither reacted when it shattered on the floor. She slammed him down on the couch and went straight for his belt buckle. He wrestled with her jeans. The heat was intense.
Their clothes were barely off but he could already feel her tremble. This was record time for her, which only excited him more. Her tremors were intensifying and he was along for the wild ride.
Then she froze.
Had he done something wrong? “What?” he said.
She put her finger to his lips, then whispered, “Didn’t you hear that?”
He had not.
But then he did. Almost lost in the ocean’s roar: scritch scratch. Like a mouse clawing at the inside of a wall. Someone was having trouble getting a key into one of the front-door locks.
They scrambled to pull on their clothes.
“I thought you said this place was going to be empty,” said Lana.
“That’s what Wally told me.”
“Wally One-nut? You trusted that inbred idiot?”
Mickey knew he should have double-checked Wally’s information. The guy was famous for blunders. But the deserted beach house had seemed so perfect that Mickey let romance cloud his judgment. Now, because of Wally’s bad data, Mickey felt like a nitwit, a feeling he was getting to know all too well. That’s what happens when you fall for a chick who’s smarter than you. But did it have to happen on the first night of their honeymoon?
Mickey crossed to the wall by the door, to be behind it when it opened. Lana rushed into the kitchen area, grabbed a chef’s knife from the block and dropped out of sight behind the island.
The scritch scratch finally clacked as the key turned and shot the deadbolt.
As Mickey listened to the sound of the key moving to the second lock, the one in the door-handle that probably cost as much as his car, he felt the familiar rush of danger. That exhilaration was one of the main attractions of his line of work. He glanced toward the kitchen end of the great room and wished he could see Lana to share the anticipation. At least he knew she was there for him, knife in hand, ready to spring. My wife has my back. It had a nice ring to it.
The oversized door swung open, ramping up the sound of the crashing waves. A man stood framed in the doorway, stock still, as if sensing something wrong.
Behind the door, Mickey held his breath and peered through the spyhole. The fisheye gave him a funhouse-mirror view of the profile of the man. He was wearing a tuxedo and seemed off-balance as he turned to grab the huge stainless door handle. He now faced the spyhole and Mickey could see that he wore no tie or cummerbund. The waistband of his pants hung open, apparently to relieve the pressure of his slight pot belly.
The man headed back outside. He knows we’re here, thought Mickey, he’s going for help. Mickey was about to run after him when he heard the man throw up on the pavement in front. Mickey relaxed, flexing his hands to relieve his tension without making any noise.
The man stumbled back into the house and did a face-plant on the seagrass carpet. He lay on the floor like a sandbag, bathed in the blue moonlight reflecting off the ocean.
Mickey closed the door. Lana slowly approached the man and knelt to feel for a pulse.
“He’s still breathing,” she said.
“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” said Mickey.
“Give me a second.”
She searched the man’s pockets. He had a wallet, some keys, some breath mints and something that stopped her cold.
“Hello,” she said and held up a glassine envelope filled with white powder.
“What is it?” he said.
Lana squeezed the sides of the envelope to pop it open. Dipping her little finger inside, she scooped a bit of the powder under her nail and touched it to her tongue. Her face scrunched up from the taste.
“Bitter,” she said. “Not numbing like coke. I’m guessing smack.”
She closed the packet, then grabbed a Kleenex from a nearby dispenser and wiped the glassine clean.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Hedging our bets.”
Mickey had no idea what she was planning, but this honeymoon was clearly taking a sharp turn in a new direction.
Holding the envelope by its edges, she pressed the unconscious man’s fingers onto the glassine. Then she wrapped the packet in the tissue and set it aside. Mickey was pleased that she hadn’t pocketed the dope. He didn’t think she did hard drugs but this was the first time he’d seen her face the temptation.
She returned to her search. Mickey felt his anxiety building.
“It’s time to go,” he said. “If he comes around while we’re here, we’re talking felonies.”
“Hang tight. This guy could be our ticket.”
“You don’t want to do hard time. Look what State prison did to your mother. You want to end up like her?”
Lana looked up empathetically. Mickey had met her mother soon after they’d gotten engaged. They’d picked the woman up at her halfway house and taken her to Denny’s. When Lana went to the ladies’ room, her mother offered to sell Mickey a happy ending after lunch. It had been an unpleasant afternoon for all.
“Babe,” said Lana, “I promise you I’ll never be like my mother.”
She shuffled through the man’s credit cards.
“Just take his wallet and let’s blow.”
She found a business card. “Avery Blain,” she read. “Esquire. Beverly Hills law firm with six names and he’s one of ’em.” She held up another card. “Member of the Jonathan Club. This is looking more and more like a cash cow. And we, my blushing husband, are going to suckle the teats.”
“Are you talking about selling that dope on the street?” he said.
“Please,” she said contemptuously. He knew it was a put-down, but he didn’t get it.
She fanned the contents of Avery’s wallet like a poker hand, enticing him to pick a card. He reached out and plucked a photograph from the array.
It was a snapshot of a red-haired woman with an infectious smile posing beside a carousel horse. She was tall and well-padded but shapely, about Lana’s age, maybe ten years younger than Avery Blain.
“You think this is his wife?” He flipped the photo for Lana to see.
They were startled by a loud belch and looked down at Avery, still lying with his face on the floor, his visible eye an amalgam of sky blue and rummy red. He stared at Lana’s feet but his expression implied no comprehension of what, much less whose, they were.
“You in or out?” asked Lana.
Mickey felt a fresh flush of excitement. He answered her question by stripping off his belt and binding Avery’s hands behind his back. Their flirtation with felony had become a full-blown orgy. Life with this woman was going to be a kick.
Lana grabbed a dishtowel and tied it around Avery’s eyes.
“Talk to him,” said Mickey.
That was her job. Whenever they ran a scam, Lana did the talking. She was the one with the people skills. She bent down and spoke softly in Avery’s ear. “Can you hear me?”
He struggled against the restraint on his wrists.
“Relax, Avery,” she said. “We’re not going to hurt you. We just want to make sure you’re calm before we talk. Okay?” She patted his knee encouragingly.
“I just need to drop something off. I can’t miss my flight.” She shot Mickey a glance then turned back to Avery.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“My hands are stuck.” He was still too groggy to grasp his situation.
“Doctor’s orders. You’ve had too much to drink.”
Mickey turned a chair around to watch Lana work. He straddled and crossed his arms over the back for a chin rest.
“I can’t see,” said Avery.
“If you want to make your flight you’ll have to trust me,” said Lana. “Where are you flying?”
“Aix en Province” said Avery, pronouncing it “aches.”
Mickey didn’t know what the correct pronunciation was but he was pretty sure this wasn’t it. He asked, “Are you going alone?”
“Huh?” Avery turned toward the voice as if aware, for the first time, that a third person was in the room.
“He wants to know if you’re meeting up with anyone in Aix en Province?” said Lana, pronouncing it “ex.” Mickey suspected she knew. He felt a small burst of pride.
“What?” said Avery, struggling to shake off the booze.
“Maybe the woman whose picture you’ve got in your wallet?” she asked.
“She’s divorcing me.” He let out a sob.
“Great,” said Mickey. “A fucking basket case.”
The disapproval in her glance irritated him.
“Why don’t you do something helpful?” she said to Mickey. “Maybe find something we can use to get him upright.”
She turned back to Avery and tenderly wiped his brow, chanting “It’s okay” in a soothing voice, as if calming a child. A tear escaped the blindfold and dripped into Avery’s ear.
As Lana tried to soothe Avery, she watched Mickey look through drawers and cabinets in the kitchen area. She felt bad about dismissing him like an underling, but he seemed unusually slow on the uptake and it annoyed her. Could it be that she’d never noticed how dense he was? Or was he folding under pressure? Apparently, she didn’t know him as well as she’d thought.
They’d been together only six months, so his marriage proposal had come as a surprise. She’d been ambivalent. She couldn’t decide if he was hopelessly romantic or deluded by lust. Joyfully spontaneous or dangerously impetuous. To his credit, the man’s tongue was like a witching stick for her erogenous zones, discovering nerves she never knew existed, triggering feelings that turned her to jelly. And she was a sucker for the way his dark five-o’clock shadow set off his sweet baby face. Granted, he was no Rhodes scholar, but he made her laugh and he seemed sharp enough to avoid jobs that were likely to land him in jail.
Mickey pulled a roll of duct tape out of a catchall drawer and gave her a victory grin.
“Let’s get old Avery off the floor,” he said.
Mickey made Avery close his eyes, then swapped the dishtowel for duct tape wrapped around his head.
“Hey!” said Avery. “Watch the hair.”
“I avoided your ears, didn’t I?” said Mickey.
Typical male response, thought Lana. But Mickey was still better than most. For one thing, she felt certain he would never hit her. That just wasn’t his style. And taking the fear out of love was nine tenths of the battle.
Mickey dragged an armchair over from the dining room table and helped Avery up and in. Then Mickey started taping.
“What the hell is going on here?” said Avery. He tried to kick but found his ankles strapped to the chair legs. He finally fathomed his predicament as Mickey wrapped the last strip around his calf.
“Who are you?” said Avery. “What do you want?”
“We want money, asshole,” said Mickey. People skills be damned.
“Just take what you want and get out.” said Avery. “All my cash is in my wallet.”
“We don’t want your petty cash,” said Lana. “We want a payday.”
“A big one,” said Mickey.
“I don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
Avery sounded confident, as if he was used to dealing with thugs. Lana suspected he might practice criminal law.
“Well we don’t take crap from junkies,” said Mickey and slapped Avery’s head hard enough to send him tumbling over in his chair. His head hit the mat carpeting with a sickening thud. It happened so fast it was over before Lana could react. Mickey shifted his weight to deliver a follow-up kick.
“That’s enough!” she said, stepping between the two men. When she put her hand on Mickey’s chest to hold him back, her fingers were trembling.
Mickey gave Avery a last look of contempt, then walked across the room to stare out the window. Lana watched him brood at the roiling black Pacific. She and Mickey had run plenty of cons together, and a few had gotten physical. The worst was the time they’d been caught by a rent-a-cop in a Brentwood mansion and Mickey had been forced to knock the guy down to get away. But that had been self-defense. This was the first time she’d seen him get aggressive. She felt something like indigestion in the pit of her stomach.
Lana tried to pull Avery upright but the combined weight of the man and the chair were too much for her.
“A little help?”
Mickey came back and righted the chair. “Sorry,” he said. To her, not to Avery. But she could tell Mickey’s fury wasn’t spent. His jaw was ticcing all over the place.
“Why don’t you go downstairs,” she said. “Find his investment records or bank statements. They’ll either be in files or on his computer. Let me work my magic alone.”
His fist clenched as he glared at Avery and she thought Mickey might try for one last shot. She was afraid she wouldn’t be able to stop him. But then he turned and stomped down the stairs. Mickey was accustomed to two-bit swindles and low-risk burglaries. Kidnapping and extortion were much more serious crimes. She suspected the stakes were chafing his nerves.
Lana pulled a chair up close to Avery for an intimate conversation. She usually entered negotiations by trying to build a relationship with her mark. The blindfold made that problematic.
“How’s your head?” she asked.
“Sobering fast,” he said.
“Look. You’re a named partner in a Beverly Hills law firm. I’m sure you’ve got a lot of high-powered friends and clients. You have a beautiful home on the beach in Santa Monica. You have a lot to lose. My husband and I understand it’s in our interest to make this relatively painless for you. We’re reasonable people. We don’t want to take so much that you think it’s worth a risk to try to get it back. We want your upside to be greater than your downside so you’re motivated to cooperate. We need your payout to be small enough that your lifestyle doesn’t change because if anyone else finds out about your heroin hobby or our little agreement, who knows where that might lead? So the idea is to make everybody happy, including you.”
“I don’t negotiate with terrorists,” he repeated, but this time his voice lacked conviction. It was encouraging that the threat of exposure seemed to be weighing on him.
“We’re not terrorists, Avery. Terrorists destroy things. We don’t want to destroy you. We just want enough money to make us feel like our risk has been rewarded. If we go away happy, we’ll go away forever. That’s not terrorism. We don’t want to destabilize anything. We’re not anarchists, we’re business people. You give us what we want and you’ll never see us again. Wouldn’t that be the best solution all around?”
“The best solution would be for you to cut me loose and leave,” he said.
She smiled. “If our relationship is going to work out, you need to face the truth about the situation you’re in and be smart about getting out of it. Doesn’t that make sense? Be honest with me.”
“Honesty is a two-way street,” he said. “You expect me to believe that lowlife husband of yours will just leave and not come back?”
Avery fidgeted against his bindings.
“Let me lay it out for you,” she said. “You’re a junkie. Which, I might add, is much more pathetic than being a lowlife.”
“I’m no junkie. I’m an occasional recreational user.”
“Spare me. What I have that you want is the incriminating evidence with your fingerprints all over it. What you have that I want is money–a fair price to make this all go away. Once I sell you the evidence, we’ll have no leverage to come back at you with. You can shoot up your occasional recreation to your heart’s content.”
Lana was uneasy with the thought of abetting Avery’s drug use, but if withdrawal was an unspoken bargaining chip, she wanted to make sure he understood that his dope was in the pot.
“That heroin isn’t evidence of anything,” said Avery. “If you call the cops I’ll just claim you brought it with you and forced me to put my prints on it. The D.A. won’t even open a case.”
“I’m not going to call the cops; I’ll let some reporter do that. I’ll send the dope to the L.A. Times as an unnamed addict who wants to come clean. I’ll tell them my dealer is prominent Beverly Hills lawyer Avery Blain whose prints are all over the dope. They may be skeptical, but you can bet they’ll follow up with the cops, the D.A., the State Bar, your partners, your friends and your neighbors. The publicity alone will kill your reputation. You can kiss your career goodbye, along with this house and your friends at the Jonathan Club. And if the cops find your dealer, you know he’ll roll over and you’ll go to prison.”
They heard the crackling pop of splintering wood downstairs as if Mickey had crowbarred a locked drawer.
“He’s looking for your financial records, Avery. That’s step one in the simple resolution of this thing. I need you to show me how much you’ve got so we can settle on a figure and wrap this up quietly.”
“My accountant has all my financials,” he said.
Again, she felt hamstrung by the blindfold. Men lied easily with their words, but their eyes always gave them away.
“You’re a lawyer, Avery. You’re going through a divorce. That means you’ve been hiding assets. You’re too smart to trust that to some accountant who might be called to testify under oath.”
“There’s nothing to hide. It’s all tied up in the divorce.”
Could he be telling the truth? Her bullshit meter was useless without seeing his eyes.
“Should I be worried about your wife walking in unannounced, Avery? It’s better that I know. I’d hate for her to surprise us and wind up getting beaten up. You’ve seen how impetuous my husband can be.”
“You don’t have to worry about her,” said Avery. “She wouldn’t set foot in this house without a hazmat suit.”
His lips quivered and she sensed his pain. Did they really need to blindfold him? She was certain she’d convinced Avery that they had him over a barrel.
Lana made a unilateral decision. She grabbed a pair of scissors from a pencil cup on the kitchen counter.
“Don’t move,” she said, and slipped a blade under the duct tape to cut through the band around his head. When she peeled it off his skin he winced.
She’d had a glimpse of his eyes before, but this was the first time she got a good look. The peek of blue she’d seen before was now revealed to be a dazzling multitude of shades, shimmering with the allure of a tropical lagoon. He returned her gaze and she felt him assessing her, like a jeweler examining a diamond through a loupe.
She tried to yank the tape off his hair and he cried out in pain.
“My husband didn’t give your blindfold a lot of forethought,” she said.
“Forethought doesn’t seem to be his long suit.”
She had to cut through his hair to free it from the tape.
“I’m afraid you’re going to need a buzz cut to fix this. Maybe shave your head.”
The rhythmic white noise of the surf was suddenly pierced by the sound of a siren in the distance. Mickey came bounding up the stairs, looking frightened.
“Nobody knows we’re here,” she said. “Relax.”
But he didn’t. The siren grew louder.
And then it passed.
But relief was fleeting. “What the hell are you doing?” asked Mickey as he registered Avery’s unmasking.
Lana’s scissors were back under the duct tape, snipping at Avery’s hair.
“What difference does it make?” she said. “He’s not going to call the cops.”
“He’s a fucking witness!”
She didn’t like being criticized, especially not by him. “He’s got way more to lose from the cops than we do,” she said. “Use your head.”
“You use your head. What if his dealer finds out we hassled his customer? Avery can describe us. People can find us.”
“You think I want anyone to find out about this?” said Avery. “You should listen to her.” Mickey’s neck flushed crimson and he brandished his fist. “Listen to this, you lawyer fuck!”
Lana grabbed Mickey’s arm to prevent him from swinging. He turned on her and she saw a feral rage in his eyes that chilled her. He was losing control under pressure. She’d had bad luck with men like this in the past. The kind of luck that required hospitalization. She felt something snap deep down inside and knew her trust in him had died. Her love for Mickey vaporized like a drop of water on a hot skillet.
Mickey went back downstairs to pick up where he’d left off–sweeping books off the wall-to-ceiling shelves in Avery’s office, looking for a hidden safe.
Use your head. Was that supposed to be some sort of putdown? Because this whole snakepit was her idea. Mickey tried to brush a set of law books off a shelf, but they were too heavy so he had to toss them on the floor one by one. One more pain in the ass to add to the list.
Use your head. This marriage thing was beginning to feel like a mistake. Maybe he’d been too hasty. He’d been so intoxicated by Lana that he’d wanted to strike while the iron was hot, before some other guy got his hooks into her. And then the honeymoon had started off with a bang. Even when Avery came along, they still seemed like they were riding high.
But now he wasn’t so sure. He couldn’t believe she’d cut off the blindfold.
Could she have a soft spot for Avery? The thought had been gnawing at Mickey since he’d seen her touch the guy. The only reason to touch someone you’ve got hogtied is to make them talk. And that entails pain. Yet she’d stroked his brow like a fucking nursemaid. She’d patted his knee. Did she think Mickey was blind?
He gritted his teeth and used all his strength to send thirty pounds of law books flying off the shelf.
Lana’s mouth was dry from the adrenaline rush of Mickey’s assault on Avery. She went into the kitchen to find something to drink. She was surprised when she opened the fridge. She’d expected a guy’s fridge: beer, leftover pizza, bologna, ketchup, maybe something moldy and unidentifiable. But Avery’s fridge was stocked with vegetables, fresh herbs, fancy stuff in jars. A guy who liked to cook. She’d never met one of those before. Mickey couldn’t even open a can.
She walked back into the living room area with a Perrier, imagining Avery tipping a steak pan, letting the flames lick cognac fumes to light up a flambé. He wasn’t a classically handsome man but there was something about him she found attractive. Fortyish, full head of silky black hair framed by graying temples, Grecian nose, and those eyes–kaleidoscopic blue and radiating intelligence, now that he’d sobered up a bit. She cracked open the Perrier and took a sip.
She wondered what he’d be like in bed. She’d never been with a man who made his money legally. And never with one who made the kind of money you’d need to live right on the beach. She’d never known a life without the constant worry of being caught for one thing or another. Life with Avery would be a whole other ballgame.
“You must be thirsty,” she said.
She held the bottle to his lips. He parted them and she poured slowly enough for him to drink. When he’d finished, she wiped an errant drop off his lip with her fingertip, then absently licked it off her finger. She watched his eyes follow her tongue.
“You really know how to pick ’em,” he said. “What do you see in that jackass anyway?”
“He’s just being cautious,” said Lana. “Maybe too cautious. But we’re newlyweds. He thinks he’s supposed to protect me.”
She could feel Avery’s keen gaze boring into her innermost thoughts.
“You seem like the kind of woman who can take care of herself. Why would a woman like you want to haul around baggage like him?”
“You don’t know anything about me,” she said.
“Oh, but I do,” said Avery. “I know you’re already disillusioned with this marriage. I know your husband is already starting to irritate you. I know you think you could have done a lot better. And I know you still can.”
She wondered how he could be so perceptive. He was a man, after all. Weren’t all men emotional dolts?
She snipped the last of the tape away from his head. His hair looked like it had been vandalized.
“What about you?” she asked. “You say your wife hates you but you cried when I asked about her.”
“Booze tears don’t count. I’m ready for a new beginning.”
“You should take her out of your wallet,” she said. “She’s wasting space.”
Mickey had looked everywhere downstairs for a safe. He’d checked for places where the carpet wasn’t tacked down. He’d rapped his knuckles between the studs of every wall to make sure they were hollow. He’d scanned the ceiling for attic hatches. He’d pulled down every book and some pretty heavy art. He was frustrated and he was tired. Where the hell else would someone keep financial records?
As far as Mickey could see, Avery didn’t have a computer and he didn’t have a safe and he didn’t have any files for investments or bank accounts. Could he be totally dependent on his smart phone? Mickey didn’t think the financial dealings of a rich guy like Avery could be managed on a three-inch screen, but what did he know?
He stepped into Avery’s office and flopped into the fancy mesh desk chair to regroup. He ran his finger across the hand-crafted bird’s-eye maple trim that edged Avery’s desk and felt something above the top of the right wall of the kneehole. It was a barely-visible slit that he hadn’t noticed when he’d first searched the room. He saw a matching slit on the left side. He reached between them and pulled on the trim. A hidden drawer slid out on glides, less than an inch deep, just big enough for Avery’s MacBook.
Mickey smiled. Maybe he wasn’t so stupid after all. He opened the notebook and watched it wake up. Avery’s desktop resolved; no password required. The shmuck had assumed he was safe in his own home. Mickey felt a thrill of accomplishment in having shattered that complacency.
He clicked on a Wells Fargo icon and found himself staring at a login screen.
Lana watched Mickey top the stairs with a MacBook Air, grinning at her like a gladiator presenting his opponent’s severed head to the Queen.
“Lookee what I found,” he said. “Just need a few passwords from my buddy Avery.”
“Change of plans,” she said. Mickey’s face morphed from confusion to suspicion and back as she raised her arm. She was holding a gun–Avery’s Glock–aiming at Mickey’s heart.
“What the hell?” said Mickey.
“Surprise,” said Avery. He lifted his hands. They were no longer taped to the chair. He swung his legs forward. She had cut him free.
“You conned me into marrying you, Mickey,” she said. “You pretended to be someone you’re not.”
“Baby, I love you.”
“Honeymoon’s over,” she said. “I’m moving on.”
“With him?” He shot Avery a sneer.
“Only losers slap people around for no reason,” said Avery. “Smart women don’t find that attractive.”
Mickey’s jaw was working overtime again. He looked at Lana. “You’re dumping me for a fucking lawyer?”
She was enjoying Mickey’s humiliation more than she’d thought she would. She gave Avery a lusty grin.
“I like a man who thinks things through,” she said. “It makes me want to do dirty things.”
Mickey erupted. “”You fucking bitch!” He launched himself at her.
Lana fired a shot into his chest.
Mickey went down. He took a labored breath and sucked air through his wound. She’d hit a lung. Mickey stared at her disbelievingly. His lips moved but he couldn’t muster the strength to speak.
She felt unsettled. She’d never shot anyone before. She looked at Avery to make sure he’d caught it all on video. He gave her an assuring nod, then held the iPhone up for Mickey to see.
“You shouldn’t have gotten violent,” said Avery. “Now it’s self-defense.”
“See, Mickey?” She kissed her fingertips and touched them to Avery’s lips. “He thinks things through.”
“Go ahead,” said Avery. “Finish the thought.”
Lana pointed the Glock at Mickey’s forehead and fired again.
She stared at Mickey’s corpse as the relentless pounding of the ocean slowly washed the gunshot’s echo from her ears.
“Till death do us part,” she said.
Avery wiped his own prints off the packet of heroin, knelt beside Mickey and pressed the dead man’s fingerprints onto the glassine. Then he slipped the envelope into Mickey’s pocket.
“Here’s what we tell the police,” said Avery. “You were unhappy in your new marriage so you went for a walk on the beach to think about it. I saw you and struck up a conversation. When you found out I was a lawyer you asked if I knew anything about annulments. I invited you up to discuss it. Your husband must have been following you. He barged in, raving like a lunatic. I tried to get the gun I keep in the sideboard, but he jumped me and it fell. He knocked me down and dove for the gun but you grabbed it first. He threatened to kill you and I started a phone video in case you wanted to press charges. That’s when he attacked you. You were afraid for your life. You had to shoot him.”
“So much to remember.”
“I’ll do the talking. As your attorney, I’ll advise you not to speak.”
They heard the wail of an approaching siren. Someone must have heard the shots.
Lana stared out at the crashing waves reflecting the moonlight like small explosions of neon white. A tear rolled down her cheek. She’d always dreamed of a life on the beach.
“Honeymoon Sweet” won the Macavity Award in 2015. Author/screenwriter Craig Faustus Buck’s “Dead End,” which appeared in issue #9 of Trigger Warning, was a finalist for the Anthony Award and other short stories have won a Macavity Award and been nominees for the Anthony and the Derringer. His debut novel (Brash Books), a noir romp, was First Runner Up for the Claymore award and nominated for the Silver Falchion. Many of his stories are available for free at CraigFaustusBuck.com.
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