I walked out of the police station slightly dazed. James was waiting for me in his car. He looked up from his phone and reached across the car to open my door. I flopped myself into the passenger seat and laid my seat back.
“How’d it go? Do they have a lead?” he asked, reaching for my hand.
“I honestly don’t know. She couldn’t tell me.” I sighed, not really wanting to discuss it any further.
“But – did it seem like they had a person of interest?”
“I DON’T KNOW, OK?” I snapped at James, yanking my hand from his.
He looked at me in shock, and started the car. We drove back towards the hotel in silence. I needed this time to think. I needed to decide what to make of Agnes’ questions.
She was concerned for my safety. But I couldn’t tell who she was worried about – James or Matt? She already knows Matt’s history with me. She knows I’m not safe with him. What could she have been so concerned about? Is James a suspect in Stacy’s murder? I can’t say anything. I can’t tell him, if he is. He might hurt me too.
Why would James kill Stacy? He didn’t even know her – did he? He’s the one who suggested we go to her house, I remember. “What about that one friend?” he’d asked me, casually.
Agnes seemed particularly interested in Matt’s affair. But what would that have to do with James? My head hurt just thinking about it. I fell asleep in the car. James carried me inside our hotel room and laid me on the freshly changed sheets. I started to dream.
I was back at Stacy’s house, drinking a martini. She’s lying out by the pool in a hot pink bikini. I’m sitting in the shade reading a book. I stand up to go to the bathroom and ask if she wants another martini.
“Sure!” She looks at me with a rebellious grin.
I find myself rummaging through Stacy’s medicine cabinets, hoping to find the pills Joe mentioned. Maybe I can prevent her murder this time. Minutes go by; I head back into the kitchen to make two more martinis. I make hers a little weaker than mine. Her phone is on the counter and it makes a little “ding!” sound. I casually glance at the screen.
Matt: Is she still there?
My skin starts to tingle and it all falls together. She’s with him. She’s with him too. It all makes sense to me. She wanted to mess with Camille just as bad as I did. She sits up and turns towards the back door.
“Linds? Where’s my martini?” She calls out. I pick up both glasses and walk, cautiously outside. I hand her the weaker one and my hand starts to shake, just barely. I’m trying to keep my composure.
“Geez, what the fuck took so long?”
I saw red.
Suddenly, I woke up. James was in bed next to me, the sun was shining in through the curtains. It’s noon. I tried falling back to sleep but I couldn’t. I wanted to finish the dream so badly.
My stomach growled. I nudged James awake. He sat up, half asleep.
“I’m hungry,” I mumbled.
We pulled into a little mom and pop called The Village Café. I ordered soup and salad, James had a sandwich. We still hadn’t had a full conversation since we left the station.
“Hey…” James whispered, across the table, “Please don’t shut me out. Not now.”
I blew on a spoonful of steaming baked potato soup and stared at him.
“The detective thinks I’m not safe,” I said, keeping my face still.
“What?” He set down his sandwich, “What do you mean?”
“I dunno,” I shrugged my shoulders, “She’s worried about me.”
I picked up a grape tomato from my salad and tossed it into my mouth.
“Linds…” James was becoming irritated, “Safe from who? Who is she worried about?”
“I couldn’t tell. She asked if I was going to try to make amends with Matt,” I muttered, wondering if I was saying too much.
“So she’s worried about Matt? Or what will happen if you don’t make amends?”
“Both. I don’t know. You tell me,” I sat back in my chair with my arms crossed.
“Tell you what? What the hell am I supposed to know?” He slammed his hands down on the table. His eyes looked confused… Sad, even. He really didn’t have a clue.
A leaned forward and grabbed his hands.
“Nothing, I’m sorry,” I looked down at the table, “I’m just confused, ok?” I twirled my spoon around in my now cold potato soup. I could feel my eyes filling with tears. I was scared.
His face softened and he squeezed my hands.
“Hey, it’s ok…I get it, you’re going through a lot.”
I still wasn’t sure if I should trust him, I felt uneasy. We walked out to the car and drove back to the hotel.
James swung his arms around me as we walked to our room. He unlocked the door and gestured for me to go in first. He twisted both locks behind him.
I stood in front of the bed with my arms crossed chewing on my lip. James walked towards me and took my face into his hands.
“Stop…” he kissed me, “I love you,” another kiss, “I want you to trust me.” He leaned into me and I gave in, falling into bed. He ran his hand underneath my shirt to unhook my bra and tugged at the button on my jeans. I kissed his neck and pulled my jeans off; He pulled his t shirt off over his head.
I arched my back as he pulled my panties off of me. He pressed his lips between my legs. I had goose bumps on my skin. My heart was racing. He lifted me up and unbuckled his jeans. I helped pull them off. He crawled up and kissed my face and neck. Grabbed a fistful of my hair and I felt him inside of me. I forgot about everything else that was happening. I let go.
I had the dream again. Only this time I saw Matt leaving Stacy’s house. I was on my way over after work. We were supposed to go spy on Matt and Camille. And there he was, pulling out of her drive. My heart sank. She was standing in the yard in a big t shirt and bikini bottoms. She waved goodbye and blew him a kiss. I drove past him as he left and he smiled. She looked at me, apologetically.
I woke up. I couldn’t help but feel betrayed, even if it was just a dream… I found myself trying to prove that they weren’t having an affair, in my mind. There’s no way, he didn’t have time for me, Camille, Stacy and a full-time job. And then I’d remember that he lied about working. Then I’d try to convince myself that Stacy was entirely too committed to her husband to do that. But then I’d remember that she was having an affair – one that I didn’t know about.
It’d been almost a full week since I’d been to work. Stacy’s funeral was in just two days. I needed to get back to a stable routine. I needed to figure out just how bad my financial situation was, and what James’ plans were with me.
We talked over dinner that evening. We wondered how long it would take for them to solve Stacy’s case. Should we leave town? Does that look awful? Should we move in together? Doesn’t that look worse? Should I file for bankruptcy? How does that work when I’m still married to Matt? We pondered unanswered question after unanswered question, and toasted to the fact that we were probably going to have to give up fancy dinners and fine wines very soon.
James made the executive decision to – indefinitely – move me into his place. He’d had a neighbor watching his house for the past few days and apparently there’d been no suspicious activity or cars driving by, so we felt that we’d be safe. We decided to check out of the hotel the next morning. James mentioned having a few jobs to take care of for some extra cash, and reminded me of my own job. I decided I’d call my boss in the morning.
James’ phone rang. It was Joe calling to let me know the location and time of Stacy’s viewing and funeral.
“You were her best friend, you know,” Joe sighed into the phone, “You’re the only friend she ever talked about.”
“I know,” my voice cracked, “I still can’t believe it…”
“I hope to see you there, Lindsay,” James hesitated, “I, uh – I heard what’s been going on with you and Matt. And you shouldn’t let that stop you from coming to the service.”
“Huh? Who told you about Matt and I?” I asked, suddenly concerned about what exactly he knew.
“Matt did, when he came by to offer his condolences.”
“He went to your house? What did he tell you?” I could feel myself becoming angry. How dare he return to that house, after what he did to her? My hands were shaking.
“Lindsay, it’s ok. Stacy and I went through a rough patch too. Don’t let this break your marriage. You’ll work through it. I hope you’re a little more forgiving when you see him. You need someone right now.”
“I have someone, Joe,” I huffed, “And what do you mean, ‘when you see him?’”
Joe cleared his throat.
“At the funeral, of course. He said he’d see you there.”