Authors: Maddie Cochere
by Maddie Cochere
Copyright © 2012 by Maddie Cochere.
All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this book or portions therof in any form whatsoever except as provided by US copyright Law.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used factiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or the publisher.
design by Gillian Soltis of Columbus, Ohio
Dedicated to my mother.
Her encouragement gave me the push to write more than one book.
A special thank you to my sister who asked for more Susan Hunter.
My perfectly restored ‘67 Chevy Chevelle careened around the corner at Walsh and Park, the tires squealing in an effort to get my attention. I was angry
. My mind was reeling. I was thinking of all the ways I wanted to kill him. People on the sidewalk were staring as I flew by, and I knew I had to get a grip on more than the steering wheel. Carbide City was known for speed traps, and I didn’t need another ticket. Why are restored muscle cars magnets for cops and tickets anyway?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was a beautiful, early summer day. The windows of my third-floor apartment were open allowing a fresh breeze to rustle the curtains while bringing in the light scent of the last few lilac blossoms on the bush below.
I was content and happy after our
leisurely lunch at Carey’s Place, a new seafood restaurant in town. We were deciding what to do with the rest of our day when my phone rang. My best friend, Samantha, came to mind, and I knew it would be her wanting to schedule a round of racquetball for later in the afternoon. I answered on the second ring with a cheerful, "Hello!"
It wasn’t Samantha, but it was a woman’s voice.
“Is Mick there?” she asked.
My heart started
to beat faster, and I felt a chill even with the warm breeze. Without hesitation, I said, “I’m sorry, you have a wrong number.”
don’t think so,” she said sarcastically. “I want to talk to Mick. This is his wife."
His wife? Now my heart was racing. I felt the blood drain from my face.
I turned to Mick and handed my phone to him. “It’s your wife,” I said with disbelief in my voice. He didn’t deny the charge and took the phone from my hand. I didn’t wait to hear him say “
.” I grabbed my purse, bolted out the door, ran down the three flights of stairs, jumped into my car, and peeled out of the apartment complex. I didn’t know what to think about what just happened. Mick was married? Why didn’t he tell me? Did he think I wouldn’t find out? How did she know who I was? How did she get my number? I couldn’t stop the questions from pouring into my mind.
minutes later, I realized I wasn’t going anywhere in particular, and I absolutely had to stop speeding. I swerved into the lot at Martin’s Deli and screeched to a stop in front of the plate glass window emblazoned with weekly specials. I sat for a few minutes trying to calm myself. I took deep breaths, exhaling slowly, hoping to stop my heart from beating as if it was going to come screaming out of my chest and run off before it was broken for good.
I was still shaking, but decided to run into the deli to pick up corned beef and rye bread. I wanted to delay going back to the
apartment, and I needed meat and cheese to make Reuben sandwiches - my favorite sandwich.
Martin was behind the meat counter slicing a ham. “Hi, Susan
,” he greeted me. “You runnin’ from the police again? That was quite an entrance.” He gave me a look of disapproval. It wouldn’t be the first time I had whipped into his parking lot in the hopes of not being pulled over for speeding.
“I’m sorry, Martin. I didn’t mean to startle you,” I said sheepishly
but with a smile. “I’m not running from the police, and I promise not to test my brakes in front of your window again.”
rowned turned to a little smile. “Alright,” he said accepting my apology. “I don’t know why your dad gave that car to you in the first place. You’re going to lose your license if you get any more tickets, you know.”
I did know. I’d been driving for 12 years without a single ticket, but had been issued four in just the last year. It had to be the car.
“I’ll be more careful, I promise,” I said as I gave him a bigger smile and proceeded to look over the meats and cheeses in the case.
“The usual?” he asked. “
A pound of corned beef sliced thin and a half pound of Swiss cheese?”
“You know me so well, Martin,” I laughed. I was grateful for the banter and the momentary diversion of my spinning thoughts.
I turned from the counter to look amongst the shelves for rye bread and pickles. While I shopped, I couldn’t stop the thoughts from flooding back in. Mick was married, and I didn’t have a clue. I felt so stupid and gullible. He surely had some reason for not telling me. Maybe his wife was an invalid and encouraged him to go out and have a good time. Maybe they had an open marriage, and he was waiting to tell me about it. Oh my gosh! Who was I kidding? These weren’t acceptable reasons - ever. He was probably a typical, cheating, snake in the grass, and I knew the type all too well. For a split second, I almost felt sorry for his wife. Knowing I would probably need it later to soothe my rattled nerves, I added a quart of java chip ice cream to my basket.
After checking out
and gathering up my purchases, Martin gave me another warning, “You be careful in that car, Susan. You know I talk to your dad a couple of times each month, and I don’t want to have to tell him he has to come back here and replace the engine with something a little more tame.” He winked at me, but I knew he was serious.
“I promise, Martin,” I told him solemnly as I crossed my heart with my index finger.
Martin was at least 90 years old and still had his wits about him. He had owned and run the deli for all of my life. My dad had even worked for him as a teenager. I didn’t know his last name; everyone always simply called him by his first. He kept tabs on all of the happenings in Carbide City, and he wasn’t shy about sharing gossip with anyone who would listen. I didn’t need him unnecessarily worrying my dad about my driving habits.
in my car again, I decided it was best to go back to the apartment and deal with the situation head on. I hadn’t wanted to hear the conversation between Mick and
, so it felt right to flee at the time, but now I wanted to know what Mick had to say. I felt as though the rose-colored glasses I had been wearing had fallen off, been stomped on, and broken. I was living the old saying of,
if it’s too good to be true, it probably is
And Mick was too good to be true. He wa
s the type of guy I always dreamed about. He was 5’ 10” with a firm athletic build, thick dark hair with a hint of a curl, and gorgeous hazel-green eyes that were always smiling. Not only was he scrumptious to look at, but he had an old-fashioned gentlemanly charm. He planned our dates, opened doors for me, placed his coat jacket across mud puddles. Well, not really with the mud puddles, but he was definitely the type to do so if we were in the right century. Showing up at my door with an armful of flowers was simply his style, and I was charmed by him quickly. He was the co-owner of a small construction company. He had gone to work for his uncle right out of college and became a co-owner five years ago at the young age of 27. Although not wealthy, he made a good living and was not averse to spending his money for a nice evening out or entertainment.
three months ago at the local racquetball club, Carbide Racquet & Fitness, where I work part-time. My day job is managing a Slimmers Weight Loss center. After a long day of weighing members, selling supplements, and trying to help overweight women change their eating habits, a couple of challenging rounds of racquetball before taking over at the front desk was the perfect way to decompress and stay in shape. At 5’ 7”, I wasn’t always this trim, but racquetball burned a lot of calories, and it hadn’t taken long to get into wicked shape. It felt good to have an athlete’s body, and I enjoyed the attention from the other players. Racquetball was still predominantly a man’s sport with 80% of our club’s members being men. It was never difficult to find a match, and playing with the men in the club helped to make me faster and stronger for the ladies’ league matches and tournaments.
The day I first saw Mick, my shoulder-length blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail
. I was wearing a colorful, striped, shorts and top set. My socks had bows on the back and my court shoes were laced with pink laces. It always amazed me that women would dress in unflattering baggy sweats, headbands, and t-shirts to play racquetball. I loved being as feminine and attractive as one could be while working up a sweat running full-tilt after balls on the court.
I was in quite a battle with my coach, Husky,
and he had me running more than usual while frustrating me at the same time by sending ceiling shots into the back corners. I kept trying to position myself to return backhand shots off the back wall in an attempt to make a kill shot. I had done just that and was moving to the service box to serve the next ball.
We were playing on a court with a glass back wall for spectator viewing. It’s actually Plexiglas, but everyone simply refers to the court as a glass court. A
small group of people had gathered outside the glass to watch. Husky had worked up quite a sweat himself as he always had to play hard to win games from me. I moved into the service box and waited a moment while he grabbed a towel to wipe his face and neck. He was a rugged, muscular man about 15 years my senior. I always admired how patient he was with me, how encouraging he was, and how he truly wanted me to be a better player. He was a real pro. His real name was Elton, but his voice was rough and gravelly; hence, the nickname Husky. “Ok, I’m ready,” he said. “Give me the best you’ve got.”
Before serving, I glanced into the group of on-lookers and saw mostly club regulars, but not
iced an attractive guy watching with a look that showed amusement. Was he amused a woman was giving a man a run for his money? Was he amused I was dressed more fashionably than most women in the club? Was he amused at how much I struggled with the ceiling shots into the corners? I decided to turn the heat up a bit, bounced the ball a couple of times, and sent the next serve low into the back left corner for ace.
“Ok, smarty pants,” Husky rasped at me. “Let’s see you do that again.”
I laughed and set up to serve again. The next serve went low into the opposite corner for another ace. End game. Match point. I was thrilled! It wasn’t very often I was able to best Husky.