Revenge of a little RISK
Honey tucked the file in the drawer. With a swish of her hips, the drawer closed with a thud.
“I’m so glad we were able to wrap up that case. I never imagined that it would end that way. Good riddance!” she said vehemently as she brushed her hands together.
Trixie sat on the edge of her desk, her feet dangling over the edge. “That certainly was a weird ending. Thank goodness our client didn’t haggle over paying us.” She picked up the check, studying it through the light, as if to check its authenticity.
“It makes all those nights following the husband almost worth it. It’s a good thing we were able to add mileage and fuel to our bill. It was as if he knew he was being followed,” Honey mused.
Trixie made a face. “We know now that he wasn’t on to us. But he did have a reason to be worried. After all, he was cheating on his wife. It was with whom he was cheating with that would have made him so paranoid.”
“I think I would want to be careful too if I were being unfaithful to my spouse and especially if it were with persons of the same sex.”
“I was never so happy to hand over those video disks. I was NOT ready to tell her what was on them,” Trixie said with a wave of her hands. She continued with a blush. “I can’t believe that we didn’t catch on to what type of club it was until the dancers came out.”
Honey nodded emphatically. “When we first walked in, I was worried that we would be conspicuous. Later, it was as if we weren’t even there. I was so relieved.”
“It did help to feel invisible,” Trixie agree. “But then, you weren’t the one with the camera.” Trixie held up an imaginary mini disk camera to her face as she demonstrated how she took the images. “Remember that one stripper that I swear was on American Idol? I almost dropped the recorder when he started his routine.”
Honey laughed at her friend’s animated comments and checked her watch. The digital timepiece was one of the new, atomic watches. Both detectives had one. The girls had speculated that they might come in handy if there ever was the need to synchronize time during one of their cases. “It’s almost 5:00. Do you want to call it a day?”
She didn’t have to ask twice.
Trixie shut down her computer as Honey gathered their coats.
“Do you and Jim have big plans for tonight?” Honey asked as she handed Trixie her wrap.
With a shrug Trixie replied, “No. Jim is meeting Dan at a cabin up north. It’s a guy’s weekend. Since Dan has been back, he’s not had a lot of time to relax. With his new job, and getting settled at his place, Jim thought it would be a good idea if they both took off. I believe they are taking advantage of a late hunting season. They said something about black powder rifles.”
“It’s nice to see that Dan is getting back to some sense of normalcy. I know from experience that separation is not a good thing. Going through a divorce has to be stressful, especially considering the circumstances.” Honey’s hazel eyes were troubled.
Trixie nodded grimly. “It’s going to take a while for him to recover.”
“So, what’s on your agenda this weekend?” Trixie asked tentatively, feeling like she was dancing on eggshells as she tried not to appear nosey.
Honey sighed. “I’m going home, putting on my sweats and enjoying the solitude.” As if it were an afterthought she added, “You’re welcome to join me. We can have our own gals’ weekend.”
Trixie paused for a moment to contemplate Honey’s offer. Her intuition told her that Honey might use this weekend to talk. Finally. At the same time, she didn't want to intrude or give up her own “alone time.”
“Or, we could grab something to eat before we call it a day,” Honey added, sensing Trixie’s indecision.
“Thanks, but no. When I get home, there is a Jacuzzi with my name on it. I plan on soaking until I become punier than Mr. Lytell’s expression when he sees me walking into his store. Besides, I couldn’t eat another thing after our celebratory lunch.”
Honey decided to not press the issue. There is something going on that I can’t quite put my finger on, something different. Honey made a mental note to ask Jim if he, too, had noticed any changes. It all seems to have started escalated after the ---.
“I’ve set the alarm. We have forty seconds to leave the room before the motion detector turns on,” Trixie reminded as they exited their office.
Wishing the other a good weekend before getting behind the wheel their cars, they headed their separate ways.
The drive home had been uneventful, monotonous. Trixie parked in darkness. She ascended the porch steps, cursing herself for not repairing the porch light. Blasted thing was working when I first moved here. Fumbling with her keys, she finally found the right one. As door swung inward, she thought it strange that Grace wasn’t greeting her at the door. The familiar clicking of nails on the hardwood from her four-legged roommate was noticeably absent.
“Gracie?” she called out. “Where are you?” She whistled and turned on the foyer light.
Trixie hung her coat and purse on the hall tree. She unclipped the holster from her belt as she walked into the living room, continuing to call for her roommate. “Stupid mutt,” she said under her breath.
Opening a compartment on the end of the sofa table she placed her sidearm inside. The concealed case had been a suggestion from Jim. It was a suggestion that he repeated until she had finally obliged and taken his advice.
She walked into the kitchen and noticed that the pet door had been left unlatched. “I did it again,” Trixie chastised herself out loud. “I wonder what that crazy dog is going to bring home this time,” she added as she put her keys on their hook.
The last time Trixie had failed to secure the door, Grace had brought home an Uninvited Guest. For several minutes Trixie chased a very young and extremely scared rabbit. Finally, she had it cornered and was able to throw a blanket over the frightened creature, depositing it outside, not without some very vocal protest from Gracie. The Border Collie had been quite proud of her treasure. Trixie was thankful that the dog was gentle and had not tried to eat her visitor.
Trixie let out an exasperated huff. She turned on the back yard light, opened the door and peered beyond the bulb’s reach and towards the dividing line between light and darkness. There was no sign of the dog. At least if she sees the light, she should know I am home, she wished silently to herself. She spoke, loudly, “I am NOT going wander around in the dark, looking for you all night. You better… come… home….. NOW.” She slammed the door for emphasis. Before turning away, she said a silent prayer for her much loved pet. Please come home.
As she made her way to her suite, she switched on the living room lights, pausing long enough to stoke the fire in the fireplace. Stopping in the office bedroom, she turned on the computer. It would take a few minutes for it to finish booting and going through the various scans for updates of the multiple spyware programs. She was not taking any chances on a hacker or other unwelcome intrusion into her Internet activity.
Once in her spacious master bedroom, she relaxed for a few moments on the glider-rocker before undressing. The feeling of self accomplishment swelled within as she scanned the suite. Across from her was the queen size bed decorated with the quilt from Aunt Alicia. To her left were a small entertainment system and a bookcase loaded with Lucy Radcliffe books and treasured mementos to remind her of her Bob-White friends and Crabapple Farm. Double doors revealed a walk-in closet at the end of the wall. In the opposite corner of the room was the opening leading to her opulent bath. An armoire and dresser rested against the far wall.
Her perusal complete, Trixie shed her clothes. Glancing toward the kitchen, she wrapped her fluffy, white robe around herself and slipped on house shoes for added warmth and modesty. There were just a couple of things left to do, and she would soon be allowing Calgon to “take her away.”
Back in the kitchen, she checked for any sign of her canine friend. Still no sign of Grace.
Taking a large plastic travel mug out of the dish drainer, she filled it with ice. From the refrigerator she took a container of juice and poured until the mug was three quarters full. Then, after replacing the juice she turned her attention to the storage hutch.
She removed a bottle from one of the bottom compartments. After twisting the lid off, she began slowly pouring. She halted in mid stream. Looking to the motionless pet door, she added a little less than normal. I better stop there. She spoke to the bottle of clear liquid, as if it were a living object, capable of actually hearing her. “Knowing my luck, I’ll be spending half the night waiting for the crazy girl to come home. I swear she is worse than Reddy ever was,” Trixie groused.
Opening an upper drawer, she picked up one of the prescription bottles and checked the dosing instructions. She contemplated. It’s not a good time for this one. I’ll try to remember tomorrow. Instead, she popped the top on a bottle of naproxen sodium and swallowed two of the caplets. This, I will take. I do not want to wake up with another headache.
As she exited the kitchen she left the pet door unlatched, just in case, still hoping the wayward Grace would soon her way home.
Finally, she could relax in the luxury of her private bath. She had been looking forward to this moment all afternoon. Trixie closed the door behind. Normally she would leave the door open, grateful for Grace’s company, but not this time. The dog would have to be locked out for now. I don’t need her welcoming me while I am in the tub, Trixie’s past experiences with Grace had taught her a lesson. The dog had no quarrels with water and seemed to actually like the Jacuzzi. She also had no compunction in joining Trixie in mid bubble bath.
She sank into the tub until everything except her head was submerged. As the hot water swirled around her, Trixie let the past days’ tensions melt away. She smiled when she thought of Jim. I need to call him. Later. She reached for the mug, drinking the last. Once Grace is home, I’ll refill she promised herself.
While the water drained she tied her robe securely. In the event that she would have to search for the AWOL Grace, she had the forethought to protect her hair. She knew that it would be quite irresponsible to go out of doors in the frigid night with a wet head. That was something Moms had ingrained. Leaning over, she ran a comb through her curls. As she straightened, she thought she heard a noise in her bedroom.
“Gracie?” she asked out loud. She tilted her head to listen for any additional sounds. Then her tone changed. “If you are on my bed, getting it filthy, I am so not going to be happy with you,” she sternly warned.
She flung open the bathroom door, expecting her lost furry child to come bounding up, happy to see her Mommy, giving doggie kisses and apologizing for her absence.
Instead, nothing. Was that my imagination? She glanced back at the empty mug. Nope, I didn’t have that much. Not tonight anyway.
“Grace? Gracie?” Trixie called as she crossed the threshold.
It took a moment for it to register. Finally, it clicked. Her room was different. The bed was turned back and there was a bouquet of roses lying across the pillows.
“How the…?” she wondered under her breath as she turned to scan the rest of her room.
Recognition gave way to shock, shock to fear, fear to panic. Years of repressed anxiety, worry and fear came flooding back in one huge wave.
She began backpedaling. She slammed into the dresser, knocking over the pictures and other small objects, sending some them tumbling to the floor.
Sitting in the glider was the man she had seen at the hearing, just weeks before. The man she had not been alone with in seven years. The scream stuck in her throat. She was unable to make a sound. After what seemed like an eternity, she finally managed a very weak, “Robert---”
“Happy Anniversary, Trixie,” he responded, a malevolent sneer twitching at his lips.
End of part two.
Acknowledgements, thanks and other important stuff to mention
The biggest “thank you” goes to ryl/Cheryl. She edited, and edited, and edited, and edited. There were a hunk of versions being emailed back and forth.
I am so glad that she is patient and was able to see where I was going with much of this.
She is a terrific encourager!
Any mistakes are my own.
Amber, Apriliz and Leslie: Your suggestions were super helpful. Mucho thanks for last minute perusals.
This story has been bouncing around in my brain for well over a year, just after part one was posted. My apologies for being lazy and not getting around to putting it down on keyboard.
I don’t own the rights to Trixie or any of her friends. Please don’t sue me if you do. I am not making a cent off of this.
If you are still reading this, I’ve told Cheryl and others that it took so long to get “just right” due to the amount of foreshadowing, clues and (maybe) red herrings that were included. There is also some symbolism. Have you caught on?