Authors: Kyra Davis
AND KILLER HIGHLIGHTS
For my mother, Gail Davis, who always offers me an ear when I need to vent, a shoulder when I need to cry and a hug when I crave the comfort of her unconditional love.
This book wouldn’t be in print if it weren’t for the hard work and enthusiasm of my agent, Ashley Kraas.
I also want to thank my editor, Margaret O’Neill Marbury, for all of her guidance and support.
Kathy Vizas allowed me to pick her brain and benefit from her years of experience as a lawyer. Her insights proved to be indispensable for the plotting of this novel. The same could be said of the help I received from Lieutenant John Weiss, who patiently answered my countless questions and actively assisted me with my research. Detective Sergeant Donna Lind was a fountain of information, as well. I hope they will all forgive me for occasionally taking a bit of poetic license with the facts they so generously supplied me with.
Last but absolutely not least I need to thank my stepbrother Chris Sullivan for watching my son while I struggled to meet my deadlines, and my mother for all the free child care she provided and for her willingness to be my brutally honest and marvelously detail-oriented volunteer proofreader.
arranged some Pacificos in an ice bucket and slipped Sarah McLachlan into the CD player in anticipation of Leah’s visit. My sister and I love Sarah. She may be the
thing we agree on. At first glance people always assume our differences fall into the good girl–black sheep categories, with me playing the role of the rebellious farm animal, but in reality it’s much more complicated than that.
First off, although in humid weather my shoulder-length hair can resemble a ball of fluffy fleece, thanks to the genes of our now deceased African-American father and our very much alive Latvian-Jewish mother, my skin tone is much more bronze than black and Leah’s is a bit on the olive side. Second, I’m not
rebellious and Leah’s not
The difference between us lies in our approach to life. My motto is: Always be true to yourself. It’s why I became a writer. Writing’s one of the few careers in which I can be paid for being a nonconformist.
Leah, on the other hand, has made it her life’s ambition to be someone else, specifically Martha Stewart (without all that messy felonious stuff). She’s not very good at being Martha; her ethnicity makes that whole WASPy look hard to pull off (despite all the relaxers), she’s not all that creative and she’d rather die than see her name stamped across any item that would ever be carried at Kmart. Yet she keeps trying, and she’s certain that once she achieves her metamorphosis she’ll have found true inner peace. So it wasn’t a big surprise when she announced her engagement to Bob Miller. Bob’s as average as his name. He’s Caucasian of the mutt variety, of medium build, moderately intelligent and, when in social settings, reasonably polite if not out-and-out friendly…or personable…or enjoyable to be with in any way. But as far as Leah’s concerned Bob is
Town and Country
’s version of Prince Charming.
So unless Martha had written a book about the heightened social status of imported beer, it was probably a safe bet that Leah would not be drinking a Pacifico. But Anatoly Darinsky might be.
Lately Anatoly had been starring in a lot of my more memorable dreams. He’s tall, has dark brown hair that matches his penetrating eyes, a tight physique—you know, all the good stuff. But there’s more to it than that—something I can’t put my finger on but that makes me want to put my fingers on all sorts of other things. Not that Anatoly’s perfect. At times he can be cocky, egotistical, argumentative—and don’t even get me started about the defamatory statements he’s made regarding Frappuccinos. He also hates me.
I suppose he has his reasons. I did frame him for assault and battery, and I kind of inadvertently got him shot in the process, but that was all due to a big misunderstanding. I thought he was a psychotic serial killer who wanted to murder me in some violent and horrifying way, and he thought
was the psychotic killer. Or maybe he just thought I was psychotic. That’s the problem with our relationship—not enough open communication. If we just talked more, we would spend a lot less time trying to send each other to death row.
But now I had another chance with my non-murderous love interest, for Bob had given Leah reason to believe that he had been cheating on her, and as luck would have it Anatoly is a private investigator who has loads of experience proving and disproving those kinds of suspicions. I had to offer Anatoly an obscene amount of money, but I did get him to accept the case.
I kneeled down to stroke my cat underneath his chin. “Okay, Mr. Katz, our guests should be arriving—”
The buzzer echoed through my apartment.
“My divorce attorney gave me a list of everything we can take from Dan,” she said mildly. “I’m beginning to think it would be more humane to just kill him.”
Words To Die By
natoly pushed past me into my apartment without bothering to so much as grunt in greeting. “Where’s your sister?”
“Hello to you, too. Want a beer?” I popped the lid off one of the Pacificos.
He stuck his thumbs through his belt loops. “Where’s your sister?”
“You see, it’s like this—nobody ever told Leah about setting the clocks forward during daylight savings time, so she spends half the year running an hour behind.”
He took the beer and threw his jacket over the armrest of the love seat before lowering himself onto the leather cushions. “I’m not waiting an hour.”
“Oh, please, I was kidding.” I took a beer for myself and leaned against the counter that separated the living room from the kitchen. “I’m sure she’ll be here in forty-five minutes, max.”
“She has twenty.”
“Okay, I know you’re pissed at me, Anatoly, but I’m paying you a lot of money to sit on your
and drink my beer, so the least you can do is give her thirty.”
“Twenty-five. Why don’t you give me the details of the case while we wait? Why does Leah suspect her husband of sleeping around?”
“You know, the usual. After years of inattention he suddenly began to shower her with gifts while at the same time scheduling a lot of late-night meetings, and if that isn’t code for ‘I’m screwing my secretary’ I don’t know what is.”
Anatoly waited for me to continue and when I didn’t do so immediately his countenance assumed a more pleading expression. “There’s more than that, right? Tell me your sister isn’t as paranoid and insane as you are.”
“Oh, excuse me!” I slammed my beer on the counter. “I am nowhere near as crazy or paranoid as my sister!” Anatoly took a long swig of his beer in lieu of responding. I sighed and looked up at the ceiling. “A couple of weeks ago, the night before I accidentally got you shot…”
“We’re not getting into that now. Anyway, Bob told her he had a dinner meeting with his employer so he wouldn’t be at Chalet.”
“His place of work, Chalet.com. They sell home furnishings via catalogs and the Internet. Think Pottery Barn but twice as expensive. Bob’s the comptroller. Anyhoo, that night James Sawyer, Bob’s employer, called looking for him. When Leah told him she thought Bob was with him, this Sawyer guy claimed that they had no plans to meet. When Bob came home, she asked him how the meeting went and he said it was great. Gave her all these details that she didn’t even ask for. Just totally lying. The next day he got her a pair of 1.5-carat studs. God, he’s such a pig.”
Anatoly jotted something down in a pocket notebook. “She have any idea who he’s cheating on her with?”
The buzzer went off before I had a chance to respond. “Well I guess you’ll just have to ask her yourself.” I pressed the intercom button. “Leah, is that you?”
I hesitated. Leah is one of those people who uses five words in place of the one that was necessary. When she did opt for brevity it was never a good sign. I buzzed her in and stood by the door in wait.
When she reached the top of the stairs my level of alarm rose a notch. Her perpetually saturated hair seemed unusually devoid of products. As she moved closer I could see that the tip of her nose was a little too rosy and her waterproof mascara was barely hanging on. She nodded at me in acknowledgement before wordlessly passing into the apartment. She dropped her Louis Vuitton on the floor and paused while she impassively studied Anatoly.
He rose and offered his hand. “Hi, I’m…”
Leah walked past him to the window and stared blankly out at the street.
“Great. Just what I need, one more mentally imbalanced client.”
I gave Anatoly a warning look before crossing to my sister. “Leah?” I put a cautious hand on her shoulder. “Leah, Anatoly’s the PI I’ve told you about. He’s going to…”
“I don’t need him.”
I glanced at Anatoly, who looked incredibly relieved. I held my hand up to indicate that he was not yet free to bolt for the door. “Leah, I know you think that Bob’s cheating, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to get some proof before you—”
“He already confessed…this morning before he went to work. I was standing there holding my son,
son, and he confessed to screwing some pathetic little home-wrecker. He says he’s leaving me for her. Just throwing it all away for some twenty-one-year-old whore.”
I removed my hand from her shoulder and clenched it into a fist. I was going to kill the SOB. I was going to reach down his throat, grab his tonsils and—
“All right, then—”
I started at Anatoly’s chipper tone.
“Sophie, thanks for the beer. Leah, it was nice meeting you. All the luck with the divorce…”
“There’s not going to be a divorce.”
My head snapped from Anatoly back to Leah. Either I had just misheard her or she had lost her mind. “What do you mean there won’t be a divorce? You just said…”
“I’m going to fight—for him and for my family. I can win him back, Sophie. I know I can.”
She made eye contact with me for the first time, and I saw the desperation tempered with what I assumed was some kind of psychotic determination. I opened my mouth to speak before I had formulated what the next words should be.
“Even better, then,” Anatoly boomed. “I hope you two have a wonderful life together. See you around.”
“Anatoly!” But he was already out the door.
Pig. Men were all pigs. I turned back to Leah. “Honey, you know you can’t win this one. Even if he did come back to you, why would you want him?”
“I knew you’d say something like that. I’m sorry if I actually take my vows seriously—unlike some people around here. I took a vow—”
“Yeah, you did. So did Bob. But he broke the deal, Leah. You can’t honestly think of being loyal to someone who has no interest in being loyal to you.”
“Lots of marriages survive adulterous affairs. Just because yours didn’t…”
“And thank God it didn’t! Don’t you get it? Finding Scott with that Vegas showgirl was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Otherwise, I might have actually done something stupid like try to stick it out in a doomed relationship. Hell, I still send that woman holiday cards.”
“Sophie, I’m not you and I don’t want to be you. I want to be Mrs. Bob Miller. That’s my life. Everything I have, everything I do…it’s all about being Mrs. Bob Miller. I’m good at it. My life with Bob…well, it’s what it’s supposed to be. He’s just forgotten that. He’s confused. But I’m going to make him see.”