Authors: Brynne Asher
by Brynne Asher
Copyright © 2014 Brynne Asher
my husband –
you for giving me my happily ever after twenty-two years ago in a parking lot
at two o’clock in the morning. The rest has been icing on the cake. I love
you for supporting me, encouraging me and reading this book nine million, four
hundred, thirty-three thousand and two times. And thank you for teaching me to
speak badass when nary a curse word ever passes your lips!
“All rise,” the bailiff announces as the judge enters the
courtroom. The defendant lazily pulls himself to his feet, throws his public
defender a menacing glare then turns his deep set brownish-yellow eyes to the
floor in front of his table. He’s of medium stature, not big, not small, but
hate and venom have set in his face. His mousy light brown hair is slightly
dirty and slicked back on his head with a few strands falling forward. The
darkness around his sunken eyes are evidence of the life he’s chosen to lead,
those choices leading to him standing where he is today.
The courtroom, now standing is silent and stagnant, the only
thing to be heard are papers rustling as the judge settles to read the verdict
handed over by the bailiff. The breath released audibly by the judge cuts
through the courtroom like a knife, as he tosses his reading glasses to the
desk. He hands the papers containing the judgment of the jury back to the
“Foreman of the jury,” the bailiff starts. “On the count of
First Degree Murder, do you the jury find the defendant guilty or not guilty?”
The Foreman clears his throat and answers, “Not guilty.”
Immediately a mummer hovers over the room forcing the judge
to slam his gavel and demand, “Quiet! There will be no speaking while court is
in session.” The media have assembled, crammed into the standing room only
courtroom and are scratching notes, preparing for breaking news of the verdict
for this high profile crime.
The bailiff continues, “On the count of Second Degree
Murder, do you the jury find the defendant guilty or not guilty?”
“Not guilty,” the foreman repeats.
“On the count of Second Degree Murder with Aggravating
Circumstance, do you the jury find the defendant guilty or not guilty?”
The foreman takes a beat to pull in a breath, then answers,
Disregarding the judge’s demand for quiet, the courtroom
becomes a mass of energy as those from the media hastily exit the room, doors
banging behind them, in hopes to be the first to report the verdict for the
heinous crime that has shaken their community. The victims’ family can be
heard shedding tears. Finally, the defendant’s brothers become wired and
irate. These aren’t the kind of brothers one is born to. These are the kind
of brothers one acquires through a life of crime and malevolence, requiring
each other to survive.
As the judge and the bailiff go through the intricacies of
the court proceedings, polling the jury, setting a date for sentencing and
other such details, the defendant doesn’t hear a word. Instead, in his
ill-fitting cheap suit the public defender provided for him, he glares across
the aisle through evil eyes and immediately starts planning vengeance.
twenty five years later……..
I cannot believe my eyes when I see a big bulky body in
black carrying a shield looking through a little window at the top with a gun
trained on us. Yep. That’s right! A gun trained on us! The shield reads
POLICE in white letters across the front and the big person yells, “Stop! Get
your hands up where we can see them!”
Megan stops immediately letting out a high scream and I walk
right into the back of her, bumping her forward. We teeter on our heels,
finally find our feet, but strangely enough we don’t put our hands up.
Rounding the corner charge more big bodies in black wearing helmets, vests
scribed with POLICE, donning black and grey camo pants with big black boots.
But most importantly, I should note once again, they all have guns! Pointed!
“Put your hands up!” the guy in front screams again, even
more impatiently. Seemingly our hands finally listen to our brains because we
both put our hands up, me still somewhat in back of Megan. “Move, hands to the
wall, now!” he bellows. Our bodies finally wake up and we both shuffle to the
“What is going on?” Megan screams, at the same time I ask no
one in particular, “What the hell?”
“FBI and ATF,” a loud voice says, coming from behind us.
“We have a warrant to search the premises.”
Megan, finally finding her bitch from within and I’m thinking
she didn’t have to dig deep, replies, “You can’t just barge into my house!”
“Ma’am, we have a Federal Warrant to search your home so
settle down, we’re gonna be here a while,” he replies with an irritating tone.
“How did you get in?” Megan demands.
“Lady with the vacuum,” was the big guy’s only answer.
“I can’t believe it! I’m firing them all!” Megan says,
turning her face to the wall.
My heart is beating through my chest. I mean, I’m an
interior decorator for heaven’s sake! How does this happen, standing in the
hallway of my high school friend’s house with my hands against the wall? The
past few years I’ve gone out of my way to make sure my life is mundane, if not
seriously boring. I’ve lived through some not fun times and believe you me,
I’ll take mundane any day of week.
“We’ve gotta secure the area,” the voice informs us. “But
first I’ve gotta ask, do either of you have any weapons?”
“Of course not!” Megan threw her answer over her shoulder
with a dirty look. “I have three small children, do I look like I would carry
“Oh shit,” I mutter under my breath and squeeze my eyes shut
as I drop my head between my arms.
“What??? You have a weapon?” Megan screeches at the same
time the air in the room goes tense.
“Um,” I opened my eyes to look up at her shocked face and
then over my shoulder, “I have a permit?” I say, but my answer comes out as a
question to the big group of men dressed in black. “It’s in my purse, here
I’ll get it for you,” I take my hand away from the wall to go to my silver and
cream purse still hanging from my shoulder. When all of a sudden, my wrist is
in a vice grip pulled tight behind my back and I can’t help but let out a
“Don’t move,” a new, deep and raspy voice comes from in back
of me. I find myself pressed flat with my chest against the wall, my other
wrist joining the vice grip of the first, forcing my head to the side with my
cheek to the wall. “Why are you carryin’?”
“Ah…well,” at a loss for words, trying to take in my new
precarious position, “I always have my gun with me, I have a Conceal and Carry
Permit, it’s in my purse with my gun. Look for yourself.”
My purse is roughly yanked down my shoulder, the vice grip
barely loosing hold to get it off my arm. I can see him toss it to someone in
back of us before I hear the clanking of metal when suddenly I sense them, cold
and hard on my wrists. I suck in a breath and feel the metal biting into my
skin, only to realize I’ve been handcuffed!
“What?” my panicked voice whispers in a high pitch.
“I cannot believe you have a gun!” Megan annunciates every
syllable using all the drama she can muster, I’m sure. “You brought a gun into
my house! You are crazy Gabrielle Carpino! Cra-zee!”
I can’t concentrate on Megan’s drama. This is because all
of the sudden I feel big, warm hands on my shoulders, sliding slowly down the
sides of my cream silk tank, dipping under my breasts pressing just hard enough
to make me shiver. The big hands hesitate slightly before pressing down my
torso, rounding my waist, over my hips and down the front of my thighs covering
my silver pencil skirt with the cute little kick pleats along the back. I pull
in a lung full of air when those hands glide over my ass and I feel warm hands
come up my bare legs, one at a time, under my skirt on the inside of my thighs,
causing an even deeper, very audible gasp!
“She’s clear,” the deep voice drawls. I was yanked around,
the big hand now tight but not quite painful, on my bicep and starts
pulling-pushing me down the hall. I looked up and to my right to the profile
of the man dragging me through Megan’s house. He’s tall, he has a good five
inches on me in my heels. He’s taken off his helmet so I can appreciate his
very dark hair, almost black, cut short but left a little longish on the top
with a wave making it messy, I’m guessing from his helmet.
I can’t help but think he looks good with helmet hair.
My eyes move down to his jaw, strong and square, even from
the side. His complexion is dark, but not like he’s spent time in the sun.
No, it was more like he has a hint of Latin or Hispanic in him, but like me,
not fully ethnic. All of this, coupled with a day or two of stubble is such an
appealing concoction that I can’t pull my eyes from him. Since I am gawking at
the man dragging me through Megan’s house, I’m not paying attention to where
he’s steering me so when my heel catches on an area rug, I stumble forward. I
feel myself yanked back up and righted on my feet by the big guy as he mutters,
I look back up and he is glaring down at me now, with eyes
so brown they look like melted dark chocolate. His dark heavy brows are
frowning, but I can’t take my eyes off the ultra-dark lashes framing those
melty eyes, thinking most women would kill for those lashes. Still not fully
paying attention, I find myself yanked around,
pushed slash tossed with my ass landing on a sofa in Megan’s formal living
room. As he stalks away, I try to pull myself up straight with my hands still
cuffed behind my back and find myself breathing hard.
Only Megan Harper would get me into such a ridiculous state
of affairs. I mean, just fifteen minutes ago I was standing in her new laundry
room (which I designed by the way), watching a whole different version of
ridiculousness play out in front of me. Thinking back over my morning as I sit
here in cuffs for the first time in my life, I cannot believe I am where I am
My morning started with Megan squealing, “It’s amazing!
Perfect! I cannot believe how much I love it!”
My eyes move to the right to see my outrageous high school
friend squealing, bouncing on her Manolo Blahnik hot pink, sling back strappy
heels relishing the finishing touches of her new and absolutely ostentatious
laundry room. I exhale, praying for patience as my head turns to follow the
path of my eyes to fully take in Megan Harper, still bouncing on the newly
installed tumbled marble travertine floors. Standing in a laundry room that
would rival some of the most amazing kitchens, I scrutinize my handy work,
of handy work, look back over to my friend and with a small smile reply, “I’m
so glad you’re happy, Megs.”
“Happy? Happy?!?” she bursts. “I don’t know how we ever
made due with the old one!”
It was all I could do not to roll my eyes. You see, Megan
Harper and I went to high school together back in the day. She was from a fun,
happy, middle class family and we always ran in the same circles though we were
never BFFs. Now she exaggerates our friendship, stating I was the BFF she
couldn’t have managed her high school years without, but whatever. That’s
Megan. Dramatic. She always has been and it escalated to epic proportions
when she married into money. We went our separate ways for college, her going
to the University of Kansas, me staying close to home. At KU, she caught the
eye of her husband, Trevor Harper, who to this day creeps me way the hell out.
He comes from money, apparently lots of it. He majored in partying and loose girls,
but Megan was “in love” the minute she met him and caught his eye. He’s not
bad looking, taller than average but not tall, ashy blonde hair that is
borderline over styled and his body is nothing to sneeze at, either. He and
Megan work out with a trainer three times a week, so he stays fit and she stays
boney thin which she says he
and she tells me how much he
it way more than I
it! He never graduated from KU, or anywhere
else for the matter, but apparently does well enough at whatever he does to set
his wife and three little kids up in what you can only call for the size of my
hometown of Omaha, a “McMansion”. They reside in a 7,300 square foot home
(Megan told me) just outside of town, sitting on 15 acres with a tennis court
and pool. Although it is almost thirty years old, it was mostly renovated when
they purchased it 3 years ago. The Tudor style home, faced with light stone
and dark heavy trim is sprawling and inset in a mass of trees so far off the
road, you would never know it’s there. It’s late August, so the English Ivy is
still in full bloom creeping up one side of the house where the long winding
lane leads you to a side load four car garage, with an additional two detached
from the house. I have no idea what Trevor does to support such a lifestyle.
All Megan ever says is, “…investments, side businesses, ya know, stuff like
Like I said, what-e-ver!
Megan is a couple inches shorter than me, I’m five-seven but
my four inch silver snake skin print strappy sandals boost me close to five
eleven (they’re no Manolo’s, but I still think they kick sandal ass!). She’s
also way skinnier than me. I’m not blind to the fact I have lots of great
curves, but with those curves comes a body that doesn’t like carbs and needs exercised
routinely to keep my curves in the right places, if you know what I mean.
Megan has very blonde hair with roots that always look perfect. I, on the
other hand, have embraced my dark blonde thick locks for what they are and seem
to make it work in a Jennifer Aniston kind of way. Well, when she has dark
blonde hair, that is. It seems to work with my olive skin tone that I get from
the Italian side of my family, so I go with it.
Megan looks up at me with a face full of mock-shock! “You
rock Gabrielle Carpino! You’re going to be listed in the ‘Laundry Rooms Hall
of Fame,’ known as the ‘The Laundry Room Goddess,’ and when people Google
laundry rooms, nothing will come up besides ‘Gabrielle Carpino, Laundry Room
Legend!!’” At this point, her hands were on her hips with full on Laundry Room
Attitude and her very bleached blonde hair was seriously being tossed around.
Trying not to be snarky while laughing at the absurdity of
it all, I try to throw a genuine smile her way and elect to go with, “Meg, girlie,
it means a lot to me you’re this happy!” I mean, the room does rock, if I do
say so myself. The lightly distressed cream cabinets that cover the perimeter
of two walls are custom made, with the above counter cabinets going to clear to
the twelve foot ceiling, all dressed with heavy iron knobs and pulls. The top
rows of square cabinets have inlayed iron and seeded glass for display. I
know, I know, display in a laundry room is a little OTT, but these cabinets are
sweet and deserve to be shown off! Currently, they are displaying silver
service trays, muted crockery in sages, yellows, reds, blues, plums with bits
of brown and black showcasing designs of everything from sunflowers, fruits and
even a rooster.
Because the space is so large, I added a four foot by eight
foot island in the middle of the room made with matching cabinetry, but instead
of cream they are stained a brown so dark they appear to be streaked with
ebony. Over the island hangs a huge, oblong chandelier. It. Is. Awesome!
It’s crafted of dark heavy iron with scrolls and swirls, tons of little lights
woven in with just enough crystals hanging to soften the edges to balance out
the heaviness of the iron for an almost feminine feel. The chandelier, which
is just for show is an amazing center piece, but the halogens inset in the
ceiling give off the real light of room.
The third wall houses a bank of six locker style cubbies
crafted out of the dark stained wood, one for each member of the family with
one extra just in case Megan decides she “needs another baby”. At six feet
tall, each locker is wide enough for three hooks, a bench to sit on to slip
shoes on and off with a cubby underneath for storage. Above the hooks is
another shallow cubby, each with electrical outlet for charging devices or
other small incidentals. Next to the bank of lockers are two dark stained
cabinets built to look like armoires with doors that open to the floor. One
houses sweepers, vacuums, ironing essentials, rods for hanging damp clothes and
other such household items that I am sure Megan has never used herself! She
has her house professionally cleaned once a week with a girl coming an
additional time for “touch ups,” Megan’s description. The second armoire is
stocked to the gills with decadent gift wrap, ribbon, bows and boxes of crafts
for the kids.
The counter tops are polished travertine as Megan simply
couldn’t find a granite that she could live with. They are light with gorgeous
veining of browns, greys and blacks that run along the two walls of base
cabinets, housing a deep farm house porcelain sink on the long wall. It might
be weird, but I have a thing about sinks and this one is seriously the bomb!
Single basin, so deep and wide you could bathe a medium size dog in there
easily (not that Megan is going to do this, of course). It’s finished off with
a tall, arched faucet with a pull down spray nozzle. The counter tops turn the
corner to the short wall of the room and continue over the front load,
stainless steel washer and dryer. The heavily tumbled marble travertine tiles
on the floors are laid in a Venetian pattern and are three shades darker than
the counter tops.