Authors: Lala Corriere
“I mean I screwed an impotent man for nothing and he screwed me to the tune of a huge settlement.”
Controlled by Dr. Opitz’s intended lack of a follow-up question, Sandra filled in more blanks.
“I finally got marriage right. Gave up the bad boys.”
“But you have divorced this man. That’s when you first came to me.”
Sandra sat up straight on the sofa. “That’s just it. He’s the right one. He said he didn’t want my money and he didn’t take one dime from me during the marriage or divorce. Don’t you get it? He wants me!
“Dr. Opitz, I know you can help us,” Sandra said.
“You have suggested that your husband, ex-husband, will be active in this therapy. Is this true?”
“Of course. We’re both very eager. I’ll make an appointment as soon as I have him check his calendar.”
Believing what she’d told the doctor, Sandra went shopping. At the bridal stores. Since she’d already purchased her new engagement ring, she was looking for the perfect wedding gown.
“Let’s play. I didn’t get enough of you.”
“Jess, you know I’m working on a big deal. A very big deal.”
“I can be quick. And I know you can.”
The enticement of holding the beautiful raven-haired beauty in his arms became too much. “I’ll be there in two hours.”
Jessica had the strawberries. Jaxon, with ideas other than berries, brought the whipped cream, chocolate, and champagne.
It was always that way with them. Where one left off, the other began.
He touched her. Caressed her. He touched her in places that only a familiar lover would know would make her squeal with sexual delight. Her stomach. The delicate spots between her fingers. The inside of her wrists.
Almost childlike, Jessica would play with the hair on Jaxon’s chest, slowly drawing her fingers down his muscular body.
Jaxon reacted with a deep kiss before reaching inside of her totality.
She braided her long wet hair and looked down. “I believe I have another enemy besides your ex.”
“Who?” Jaxon gently lifted her chin so their eyes met.
“Your half-brother and my co-anchor. Michael Scores.”
“Come on. We’ve been over this.” Jaxon rubbed her back with body lotion. “My brother can be a jerk but he’s harmless.”
“You just called him your brother. You never do that. He’s always your half-brother.”
“I’m not taking sides. Whatever he is, he’s no demon.”
“No. Really. First he came down on me at the station, right before airtime, accusing me of stealing all the good stories and the limelight from him. Today he snickered at me. Reached for my thigh. Snickered again.”
“Forgive me, love, but you steal the limelight from me when we walk into a crowded room. Everyone’s eyes are on you.”
“He was angry.”
“He’s feeling jealous.”
“How much do you really know about him? Until he introduced us, I never even knew he had any family.”
“He’s two years older than I am. His father was rich. Mine was blue collar. His daddy sent him off to prep school, and then on to the University of Denver for their school of journalism. Our mother and my father couldn’t afford me the same privileges. And I’m okay with that. I did all right. I went to good schools and worked my way through university.”
Jaxon grabbed the towel sheets, they dried off, and dived into soft Egyptian cotton robes.
“You didn’t see him much? Maybe holidays and summers?” Jessica pushed.
“Something like that. We didn’t have much in common but when he was around we hung out.
“Look, I agree. With a twist of fate and some luck on my part, in the end he’s the one envious of me. I’m the younger brother with a presumed lesser quality education and I started pulling in some serious money. You know that Michael worked his way up and paid his dues. He is envious, but not resentful. I never took it personally and I don’t now.”
“Envy. One of the seven deadly sins,” Jessica retorted.
“Good God, Cassie, what the hell are you doing in here? Get out,” Manning yelled.
I heard a toilet flush but more flushed was the officer’s face that came out of the stall. One look at me and he bowed his head and backed out of the door.
“It’s not like I’ve never seen one before. I was married, remember?” I said.
“You sure as hell haven’t seen mine, and I’m shy. Get out.”
“You’re not feeding me any new information. It’s like you’ve dropped me,” I bleated.
Manning glared at me. Not the first time. “I’m paying you, aren’t I? And I do have something new for you, as of about ten minutes ago. Now, go to my office and wait for me like a good little girl.”
I don’t know what pissed me off more. Him calling me a little girl or good. I went outside to the back of the station and had a smoke. Because I felt like it. When I found Manning, he was seated behind his desk, ending a phone call.
“What do you have?” I said. “What about those graves?”
“Hello, Cassie. Nice to see you, too. Here. In my
. Have a seat.”
I took the chair nearest his desk and squirmed. Partly because I was filled with anticipation and partly because Manning had caught me. Sometimes social manners eluded me. Like busting into the men’s room would not be at the top of the long list of my improprieties.
Manning cut to the chase, sparing me further humiliation.
“Forensics can only determine the women in the graves are most likely of Mexican descent. We’re going with drug running or gangs. Women have a huge gang presence here, all on their own. These women are not connected to our cases.”
“Shit. No joke.”
Smirking at me, Manning continued, “I have something viable for you, Potty Mouth. Uniforms are picking up a suspect as we speak.”
“Stick around. You can watch the interview.”
“How did you find him. Why? What? Where?”
“We do work around here, Cassidy. The lead came from county.”
“Pima County Mental Health Court. They think they have a guy we should look at.”
Instead of feeling thrilled, I felt flat. Manning didn’t have to say another word. I wasn’t buying it and I didn’t know why.
“He’s been diagnosed with Erotomania Delusional Disorder.”
“Sounds fun,” I said. Now I was amused. I think I did the turtle thing, shrugged my shoulders, dropped down my neck, along with a poorly concealed giggle.
“Not what you think in that peculiar mind of yours. It’s when a person becomes fixated on another, fantasizing about a love relationship that isn’t there.”
End of my amusement. Back to the reality that we were on the wrong track. Still, my instincts have been wrong before. “I’ve heard of that. But isn’t it mostly women, fixated on men with money and some celebrity status? Athletes. Move stars. Politicians.”
“Your operative word is
. There are well-documented cases of men diagnosed with Erotomania. And they don’t always fixate on the rich and famous.”
I sat back against the clammy hard-surface chair his office afforded me. “Maybe,” I said.
“I want your take on him. And meanwhile, Cassie, there’s something else.”
“I’m ready for it!”
“When was the last time you saw a man’s penis?”
Indignant, I sat up and straightened my shoulders.
“Just like I thought. How about you try a little makeup? Maybe wear a dress for a change? Go out and have some fun. Get a life. Get laid.”
“You want my take on the dude. I’m staying for the interview,” I said.
Winds whipped around her, but in no particular direction. They swirled around enough to rustle the pines and Palo Verde trees. Maybe a few souls.
“For the first time in my life, Daddy, your old teachings and lectures are going to help me. I know, in spite of everything, you only want me to be happy.
“And you should be happy for me. I’m learning a trade. Or an art. Maybe a science. I’m doing it exactly like you built up your company. Lesson by lesson. Slow progress toward perfection.”
The headstone, the giant amongst its dead neighbors, didn’t answer Sandra.
“Do not mess with me, Dad. You gave me the tools. I am the student you always wanted me to be. Now lead me. You know what I want. You always got what you wanted. Help me now or rot in hell.”
“It’s early, Jax. You know I rarely drink coffee, so what’s up?” Jessica said. She ordered an iced tea.
“Our security guy is resigning the case.”
“The guy with the fake name of Marcus? Surveillance on Sandra?”
“He has nothing. He’s a good surveillance guy but he hasn’t come up with anything. He’s bored and has better jobs on the line. The worst thing he saw her do, repeatedly, is drop in to department stores to spray herself with expensive perfume samples before going to any lunch, soiree, or fundraiser. Which she’s been doing a lot of lately.”
“Nothing else?” Jessica grabbed her iced tea with one hand and touched Jaxon on his upper thigh with her other. “I know I came down on you about Michael, but we both agree she’s a threat to both of us.”
“I have it under control.
“Marcus warned me that on Sandra’s back acreage she put a new razor wire around an out-building. As far as I know, except for the wire, it’s been there since I moved out. I think she stores expensive pool equipment in there. When her rents go up at the stores around town she expands that out-building on her property to warehouse inventory. It’s nothing to be concerned about.”
Jessica retracted her hand from Jaxon’s thigh with a light stroke, sighing deeply, “The rich cheapskate.”
“We have to remain calm. She hasn’t been in my face. Nor yours. That’s why the guy resigned the case.”
“She certainly is dichotomous. She’ll pungle up for the best vodka money can buy and then cheats the stores out of perfume samples. She presents herself in Chanel’s tailored clean lines and Mikimoto pearls and figures out how to not pay a nickel more in rent,” Jessica said.
“By God, I think you have her figured out.”
“Maybe she’s finally ready to let go of you,” Jessica said, hopefully.
“Maybe. But for now, sans any security, we can’t let our defenses down. We still have the restraining orders but we need to be vigilant, eyes open, to ensure they aren’t violated. I’m retaining Cassidy Clark. Her team is our team.”
“I don’t know the name,” Jessica said.
“Because she doesn’t want you to,” Jaxon replied.
“Wait. The author! You’ve hired an author?”
“Like I said. She doesn’t want you to know her day job and obviously she’s doing a good job at it.”
I was most curious about his facial expressions. Any signs of the jitters. Looking around. Looking down. A lying O.J. with a wince at his throat and twitching temples. What was he thinking?
The suspect, at least sixty pounds overweight, wore a too-tight plaid shirt, a too-short tie, and baggy cargo pants. He could have passed for a used car salesman, although I knew he hadn’t held a steady job in years. When he did work, it was as a purveyor of reptiles.
Wondering if the man had ever been behind a two-way, I knew the most frequent behavior was for the detainee to try and shadow their eyes so that they could see us behind the mirror.
Not this guy. He didn’t bother sitting down until he fussed with his comb over, then picked something out between two lower teeth. Smiling back at his weak reflection in the two-way, he settled into a chair where he could still see the good looking man in the mirror.
“Can anyone say ego?” I said.
Schlep was quick to reply. “Erotomania was originally identified by de
so it’s often referred to as
Syndrome. At first glance, this man fits the profile. While more common in women, cases involving males are not rare.”
Schlep sucked in some air before continuing his lesson in delusional disorders.
“The subjects often seek out persons of higher social status. Celebrities are big targets, but so are doctors and priests. It may include persons regarded to be of high beauty, I would imagine.
“As a profile, they are largely single with few friends, and they’re usually unemployed.”
A sergeant interrupted my thoughts by joining us behind the window. Manning entered the interrogation room. Nodding in understanding, I shushed Schlep as a detective also entered the interrogation room. I wanted to hear and see everything.
Karl Marks took the opportunity to shield his face with his hands.
“I done nothing. You got the wrong man. You trying to pin a murder on me?”