Double Seduction (14)

Fictional Kevin and I have collaborated on Double Seduction: a novella of suspense. We both hope you have enjoyed this story.  Because this is the last chapter!  Find the previous chapters here.

Chapter 14 – The Solution

“The rope, Melody. Get it, now!” Anton commanded.

Mel, still in shock and reeling from what had just happened —from what she had done— shook herself into action. “The rope, the rope, the rope,” she repeated, willing herself to move. She stumbled toward the SUV while Anton lifted David from the ground and hoisted him over his shoulder.

Anton thanked the weather gods for the cold and drizzle that had kept the joggers and dog walkers at home. Hopefully the gods would continue to smile upon them today. The nearby woods, fifty feet away would provide ideal cover and a solution to the problem at hand. The problem. The solution. Anton was an expert at dealing with problems. It was what he did, it was who he was. This was just another mission for him, albeit with more personal consequences if he failed. He could not fail. Not for Melody. Not if he was to have her for his own.

A few dozen paces into the grove of dense trees, Anton found his solution— a stately old sycamore tree with a thick branch about twelve feet from the ground. Anton laid David’s limp form at the base of the tree and searched him. His cell phone was in the right rear pocket of his khakis. Anton swiped it open and scrolled through the few pathetic contacts David had stored, till he found one he could use. “Mom.”

He quickly scanned some their recent exchanges to assess the tone of David’s interactions with his mother. This had to be perfect or it would all fall to pieces. He typed, “Mom, I’m sorry. Life’s a bitch and then you die. I’m just speeding up the process.” Good. That had just the kind of snarky tone that David had used with his mother. Why would his last words be any different?

Anton wiped the phone clean with the hem of his t-shirt and placed the phone in David’s hand to get fresh prints on it before tucking it back in his rear pocket. Where the hell was Melody? Leaving David where he lay, Anton returned to the edge of the woods to watch for her.

Mel’s hand slipped on the wet door handle. She was shaking so hard, she could barely keep a grip on it. She squeezed her eyes shut, pressed a fist to her sternum and took deep calming breaths. Just like Anton had taught her. There. Better. Focus. Behind the driver’s seat on the floor was the coil of nylon rope. Mel grabbed it and ran back to the spot where she’d left Anton with David. Anton called to her from the woods. “Melody, this way.”

Following the sound of his voice, she found him several paces in, out of sight of the fountain and walking path. He took the rope and grabbed her hand, pulling her further into the woods.

“Anton, wait,” she gasped. “We can’t do this. We can’t.”

“Melody, trust me, this is the best way…” He spun her around to face him. “It is the only way,” he stated, gripping her arms. Giving her a little shake, he growled, “I will deal with this. You will remain calm. Just do as I say.”

He released her with a final shake that had her stumbling back and falling to the ground. Anton returned to his mission, dropping to his knees beside the still form of David. Uncoiling the rope, he continued, “Who do you think will have to answer for this, eh? Do you realize what could happen if you call the police? They will investigate. They will read everything that you have written to one another. They will conclude that it was a lover’s spat, Melody. They will think that you killed him in anger.”

“But… but… Anton, it was self defense,” she said, her voice shaking. “I didn’t mean to kill him. He… he was going to hit me. I… I just did what you trained me to do…”

“I know that. You know that. Will the police believe you?” He shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. You run the risk of arrest, possibly prison depending on what they conclude.”

“Anton, you saw the whole thing,” she added quickly. “You can tell them what happened. You saw him attack me.” Her voice rose in desperation. “You can tell them…”

Anton ignored her. No he would not ‘tell them.’ He hadn’t counted on such a perfect solution to this dilemma. But here it was. The rival eliminated, the white knight could come to her rescue. And Melody would be forever bound to him over their shared secret.

Concentrate on the mission, he thought. He tossed the rope over the tree limb and wound it around the trunk. He had hoped Melody would help. She was too rattled to be of any use. He would do it alone.

Anton had tied a slipknot in the rope. He looped the rope around David’s neck and lifted him up to a sitting position. David Twitchell’s eyes flickered and he took a ragged sucking breath.

“Oh my god, he’s alive!” Mel gasped. She covered her mouth, the taste of rising bile at the back of her throat.

Then she watched in horror as Anton hauled him up by the rope, cutting off the already badly restricted airway until David, clawing at the rope, his eyes bulging and wild, his face turning a ghastly shade of purple, finally breathed his last. He swung back and forth on the improvised gallows like the pendulum of a clock. Only it felt as time were standing still. Mel didn’t move. Couldn’t move. Anton glanced at her and said, “Wait here. There is one more thing I need.”

Moments later —it felt like hours— Anton returned with a thick tree stump and placed it near enough to the swinging body to make it appear like David had stood on it before kicking it out of the way. Anton stepped back for a moment, his eyes darting over the entire scene. Yes, he thought. It all fit. An obvious suicide. No need to look further.

“Come on Melody,” he said, reaching for her hand. “We will go back to my house. I will take care of you.”

Tears rolled down Mel’s cheeks. “You could’ve saved him. Why? Why, Anton? Why didn’t you save him?”

Anton pulled her to her feet, gathered her into his arms. “I saved you, Melody. I did all of it for you. And now you belong to me.”

Double Seduction (12)

Here’s the latest installment of Double Seduction, the collaboration of suspense written with Fictional Kevin.  Find previous chapters here.   It’s my turn this week, enjoy!

Chapter 12 – Admission

Mel finally turned the phone off completely. David had called back repeatedly and when she hadn’t answered, he switched to barraging her with text messages.

“Melody, please, can we talk?”

“Honey, I can explain everything.”

“How can we fix this if you won’t talk to me?’

“Please, Mel you are important to me. I cherish you…”

If that wasn’t bad enough, Anton had called, too. He’d left two purposefully cryptic voice-mails, probably figuring her curiosity would get the better of her.

“Melody, there is more we must talk about. Please call me.”

“Melody, don’t be angry with me. Everything I do, I do because I care. If you are too upset to talk, then it will have to wait until tomorrow. You are still coming for our session, I hope. At least I know I’ve been training you well. That is some small comfort to me. Please let me know you are all right.”

She rolled her eyes. “Drama queen,” she muttered. “Better give him something or he’ll be over here breaking my door down to make sure I’m ok.” She texted, “We’ll talk tomorrow, Anton. Just give me some space tonight.”

Now, with the phone powered down, Mel retreated to the living room with a tumbler of whiskey and flopped into the armchair. What did it all mean? The photo was a few years old, so what? Maybe he’d gained a little weight since then, or something. That was no crime, was it? She sipped from her glass, closed her eyes. And he’d admitted it when she’d confronted him…. But what else could he be lying about? Mel cursed under her breath. Anton was making her paranoid.

She had to think this through. Just how important was this relationship to her? Even though it was limited to texts and phone calls, it felt as real and meaningful as if they were dating in person. They had talked about meeting in real life eventually, after both of them were more healed from their broken hearts. She tossed back the rest of her drink and went to the study. Might as well put the evening and all this emotional chaos to good use. She would try to write.

After powering up her laptop, she went to her blog home page. There were multiple notifications waiting for her. She scrolled through them, responded to the comments on her latest post. As she finished with the last one, the star lit up again, then the comment balloon. She clicked on it. David. He’d commented on an older post.

“I don’t know how else to get your attention, Mel. I’ve sent you an e-mail. I’ve tried to explain everything. If you won’t talk to me, at least please read it. If after that I don’t hear from you… Well, then… message received.”

Mel sighed heavily and ran her hands through her hair. Ok, this was good. She could at least see what he had to say. Maybe all of it would make sense. She closed the browser and opened her e-mail.

Dear Melody,

I am so sorry about all of this. I have so much to tell you I almost don’t know where to begin. The most important thing I want you to know is that I really, truly care for you. I am feeling things I never expected to feel for anyone. So I suppose I should just start at the beginning and tell you everything.

I write. Not just ad copy. I began writing fiction years ago, kept it to myself. It’s only recently that I’ve considered putting my ideas together into a novel. I was confident that with the right type of research and enough time, I would have a best seller to publish. That’s when I began my blog.

This is the hard part… Please don’t freak out. The idea for the novel was to see how easy it would be for a killer to find a woman -a victim- online. To seduce her and make her fall in love with him. The trouble is… I didn’t expect to be the one seduced.

I admit, when I first met you and followed your blog, I thought you were perfect for the role I needed you to play. A smart, successful woman wouldn’t be easy prey. If I could make this happen with you, then a killer could make it happen in my novel, too.

But then I got to know you. I found out just how special you are. I love your sense of humor. You gave as good as you got. I found myself wanting to blog just so we could have our back and forth banter. And conversation. I love talking to you. You’re insightful and empathetic. You have all the qualities I love in a woman. And so… Everything that’s happened between us? I swear it’s real, Mel. I can’t lose you now. I know how bad this must all seem but truly, once we’d gone so far down this road, I couldn’t figure out how to tell you the truth. Please find it in your heart to forgive me. I’d like to say all the things I want to say to you in person, Mel. If I could just look you in the eyes, maybe then you could believe me. If you want to talk… If you still feel about me the way that I feel about you, then let’s meet. Let’s work this out. You know how to reach me. I leave it in your hands.

Love, David

Mel pushed a fist to her chest to calm her racing heart. This was too much to process. How did she feel? It had felt like she was falling in love. She was pretty sure that’s what David meant, too. She couldn’t be sure of anything, now. Could she trust herself to see him face-to-face? Would she be able to tell if he was lying?

She took a deep breath and turned the phone back on. Before she could talk herself back out of it, she scrolled through the numbers and hit dial.

“David,” she said when he answered. “I think it’s time we met.”

Double Seduction (10)

My turn this week!  Here is the latest installment of Double Seduction, a novella of suspense written with Fictional Kevin.  For previous chapters check here.   And now…

Chapter 10 – The Appointment

David parked in one of the spaces of the small parking lot outside Rivers Chiropractic. It was show time. He entered into the reception area, taking in all the details as his eyes swept the room. They settled on the hot young thing behind the desk. The name plate read Andrea.

He pasted on his most charming smile and approached her. “Hey there, Andrea. I’m David Twitchell and I have a 2:30 appointment with Dr. Rivers.”

She smiled back. “Well, hey. Nice to meet you, David. I have some paperwork for you to fill out before the doctor sees you.” She handed him a clip board with some forms. “And if you could let me make a copy of your insurance card?” He handed it over. “Great!” she chirped. He was already annoyed. “Go ahead and have a seat and you can bring everything back when you’re done.”

He sat in one of the chairs facing the receptionist so he could continue to leer at her. She looked barely old enough to be out of high school. He quickly ran through the personal information. It pained him to have to give away his real self but it couldn’t be helped. The next section was about his general health and then finally he came to the section on the complaint that brought him to the office. He’d done his homework. Figured out the easiest injury to fake. Knew exactly how to react to any tests the good doctor might perform. “Low back pain,” he wrote in the blank space. Then he checked all the appropriate boxes and took the forms back to the jail bait behind the desk.

“Here you go, Andrea,” he said, slightly leaning over the counter so he could peek down the deep v of her tight sweater. He waited while she scanned the pages.

“Um, you forgot to check the marital status box. I mean you don’t have to if you don’t want to… um,” she stammered. His proximity was making her nervous.

“Oh, no problem, I’m not married,” he said, smiling. “How about you, Andrea?”

She blushed. “Me? Ha! Oh no, not yet!”

“How about a boyfriend? I bet you have lots of boyfriends,” he said, grinning.

She turned an even deeper shade of red. “Aw, thank you. Um, no… not really.”

David let his smile fade into a look of concern. “Forgive me, Andrea. I didn’t mean to pry…” He waited. She would talk. They always did.

“Well, I was seeing this guy…” she began. She took a deep breath and continued, “But we broke up.”

“I’m sorry, Andrea,” he said gently. “What happened?”

The whole story came pouring out. Whine, whine, whine. The boyfriend didn’t treat her right. He was selfish. He liked being with his friends better than being with her. Typical silly girl bullshit. He nodded as she spoke, tried to look concerned, make the appropriate sympathetic noises. When she finished, he said, “I’m so sorry that happened to you, Andrea. But you can do better. Just you wait, the right man is out there. And don’t settle the next time. A woman like you deserves to be cherished…”

As he said those words, the door to the inner office opened and there she was —Dr. Melody Rivers. His eyes swept her top to bottom. Damn. Her slacks were tight enough to flatter her long sexy legs and the fare of her hips that narrowed to a tiny waist. The snug cashmere sweater pulled just a little giving him a hint of the curve of her breasts.

Melody stopped dead. Blinked. Had she heard his voice? He planned on trying to disguise it a little better. Forgot himself. Shit, he was already slipping.

Mel walked her patient to the front desk while she observed the man talking to her secretary. Average height, dressed casually in khakis and a button down shirt. A pleasant face, not handsome. And yet, and yet… The most vivid blue eyes. They drew her in, held her gaze. She looked away, a little taken off guard. Something had raised the hairs on the back of her neck. What was it he said to Andi?

“Dr. Rivers,” Andi said, handing her the folder she’d prepared for David. “Your new patient.”

Shaking off the nerves, Mel held out her hand. “I’m Dr. Rivers.”

David took her hand. It was warm, the skin soft and smooth. She had long fingers, with short nails —nicely manicured and finished with clear polish. Elegant. He held on a moment too long. “Uh, nice to meet you,” he managed.

“If you could follow me?” she said, leading him to the inner office. The space was large and open, with Melody’s desk and bookcases on one side and a chiropractic adjusting table on the other. Mel took a seat behind her desk and directed him to one of the chairs opposite. She scanned his paperwork and began asking him questions about his responses.

He gave her the answers he had rehearsed ahead of time.

“You say this is a recurring problem and it started years ago? Tell me about it. Can you remember when exactly it started and what first triggered it?” she asked.

“I used to run cross country in high school and college,” he lied. “Late in the season, during a race we had an early snowfall, the roads were getting slippery. I lost my footing and fell. Landed pretty hard. I managed to finish the race but the next day I could barely move. You know how it goes when you’re young, you bounce back pretty quick. I laid low for a couple of days, seemed to get over it. But then it came back a few times over the years. Seems like more and more frequently. I figured it was time I did something about it.” He smiled sheepishly.

She returned the smile. “Well then, let’s get started.” She rose and directed him to the other side of the room. “Can I have you slip out of your shoes, please?” She waited. “And I’ll have you remove your belt, too. You can leave them on the chair. Thanks.”

She stood behind him and checked his posture, had him bend, rotate and walk on his toes and heels. His movements were restricted and mildly painful when he bent and rotated to the left. She had him stand on one foot, then the other. He wobbled when he stood on the right foot and she reached out to steady him. Mm, he smelled nice, she thought.

“Ok, that does it for that part of the exam,” she said when she had finished. “Let’s have you lie face down on the table.” She instructed him on how to get on and where to place his hands before lowering the table into position. “Tell me if any of this hurts. I’m going to check each vertebral level.”

Those long elegant fingers probed the muscle tissue of his back gently yet firmly. David fantasized about having those fingers elsewhere on his body. She asked, “Anything? How about here? Is that tender?” She pushed a little harder.

“Yes, yes. That’s it. Right there.”

“L5 is the most common area to have problems. It bears the weight of the rest of the spine. Is it worse on the right or the left?” She pushed each side.

“The left. Definitely.” Her touch was driving him insane. He tried thinking about something, anything beside those lovely hands working on his back. Finally, it was over. He let out the breath he’d been holding. She helped him sit up on the table. Let her hand rest on his shoulder for a moment before letting go.

“Ok, here’s what you have going on.” She explained her findings and the treatment he would need. “I’ll have you come in twice a week for a couple weeks until the pain levels decrease, then we’ll reevaluate. Sound good?”

“Sure,” he agreed. A couple weeks from now, none of this would even matter. He looked directly in her eyes. God she was stunning. Maybe…

She looked at him curiously. “Everything ok, David?” David. She thought of “her” David.

“Uh, yeah. Fine. Fine. So what happens next?”

“Let’s give you your first adjustment,” she replied. “Go ahead and lie back down.”

When she had finished, she raised the table to the upright position and held out her hand to him. “That’s it for today. I’ll meet you at the front desk after you get your shoes and belt back on. We’ll set up your next appointment, then. Ok?”

“Absolutely.”

She closed the door behind her on her way out. David sat heavily in the chair and stared into the middle distance. This was not how he had seen this going at all. Heat flooded his body as he realized… He actually liked her.

Mel handed Andi the folder. Her next two patients were waiting in the reception area. “When David comes out, go ahead and schedule him for two appointments next week, Andi.”

Then turning to greet Mrs. Jenkins, her phone buzzed in her pocket, signaling a text. She pulled it out and read the words from Anton, “Mel, we have to talk. I found something.”

Keep reading chapter 11