As those who have written me recently know, I have been working on longer projects. But since so many asked for something in the interim, I went through my incomplete folder and pulled out an unfinished story. I hope you like the ending. I think it fits.
My daughter Annabelle has reached what are sometimes referred to as the terrible twos. If you are a parent or have been a parent, you know how demanding if wonderful a time this is. Annabelle had discovered speech and was walking. You find yourself chasing after a wobbling little person who seems able to traverse ground at the speed of light. A person who has an amazing vocabulary, but uses the word "NO" to the exclusion of all the rest.
It was Saturday evening, and I was bathing my daughter with the help of Mr. Bubbles. It had been a long day. Weekends were very much Dad's time in our house. As the Dad, I had risen early with Annabelle.
"Swings," she had said to begin the day.
It had been a day that included the park with its swings, the little merry-go-round, and the assorted trips through the slides. By bath time, I was near exhausted. Kate, my wife of five years, had used the day to clean the house. It seemed a fair trade. Kate is an attorney in a big firm. She practices criminal law. She makes a six figure income, and we have a cleaning service, but she is a fastidious person who needs everything just so and in its proper place.
Two-year-olds are messy individuals. The division of labor in our house has definitely changed to reflect that fact. Kate was a mother with her infant constantly on her hip, but when the child began to pull away, the chasing was done by the Dad. This evening, Kate was having a girl's night out. There had been more than a few of these lately. I put it down to the need to catch up with friends after being tied down with an infant.
"I'm going out front to wait for the car service," Kate said bending to kiss my cheek as I bathed Annabelle.
Kate then stretched forward to kiss our daughter. As she did, she pressed close to me. I caught the scent of her perfume. It was such a little thing. She had a dozen perfumes. I never take notice, but this was different. She had never worn this scent before. I knew because I instantly recognized it. My mother had died when I was five. A car accident took her life on a cold winter's night. As she'd kissed me goodbye that night, she had been wearing Chanel No .5.
It was a scent memory. A powerful and unmistakable recognition. I did not know Kate owned that perfume, and I knew she had never worn it before. I froze and at the same instant took a good look at her. She was in what I believe women refer to as a car coat. It's a light coat rather like a trench coat. It came to her knees, but it opened above her waist, showing the black dress beneath. The coat hid what she was wearing, but not quite. I thought I recognized the dress, and certainly the four-inch stiletto pumps she also wore.
"Where are you going tonight?" I asked, keeping my voice very casual.
"Mario's," she said.
I knew Mario's had Ben Walker playing there. Ben was a bit of a local celebrity. He had concert piano ambitions but played any gig he could get. I knew Ben. He would be playing sad love songs by the time the evening was over. The women who crowded Mario's loved Ben and his playing. A good friend never missed a night that Ben played at Mario's.
Mario's was a mid-priced restaurant and bar with a little dance floor. Ben knew how to play a dreamy dance ballad, but he always ended with those slow love songs women like to dance to. I like them myself, with my lady in my arms.
Mario's was the kind of place you would expect to find a group of women spending a night out. I trusted Kate. The explanation was reasonable. She was a handsome woman, more woman than you would expect an average looking man like me to attract. But she was no movie star, and we had been happy together for five years. Opposites maybe, in many ways, but we fit together.
"I'll be home around 11:00 O'clock," she said.
I had my hands full with Annabelle and pushed any bad thoughts to the back of my mind.
A half hour later, Annabelle and I were seated in front of the TV in the family room, watching Cinderella. I don't know how much of the story she was getting, but she was all attention. We watched it over and over, until she fell fast asleep. I shut the TV off and just sit there with my sleeping princess wrapped in my arms. I know, I am a lucky man. I have more happiness than I deserve. Guys like me don't end up with a nice home, a pretty wife, and a daughter like Annabelle.
I was seventeen when I joined the Army to be: "All you can be."
However, I was not what the Army wanted. I had done well in their tests. I had a high school diploma, and acceptable if not impressive grades. It was just that something did not fit. I had no discipline problems. Physically, I was well above average. Yet, the Army had no place for me. After basic, they found me one pointless position after another.
I suppose I expected to be a soldier and carry a gun. The Army instead thought 'clerk.' But I was hopeless in an office. I could not file anything to save my life. They tried me in the mess, but I could not cook — I lasted a day and a half. They sat me down and explained that I had no aptitude, I wasn't actually good for anything. So it was obvious that I would make an excellent military policeman.
They were right. I excelled in that job. It was, in fact, an impossible task to perform by the book. The Army had determined correctly that I was one of those unique individuals who could handle the position. You needed a total lack of scruples and very high moral standards. You needed to focus on always achieving the right result without worrying how you got there.
I received my first promotion in Iraq for killing a woman and her children. The car had tried to crash a road block. It was driven by a woman, and I could see there were children in the vehicle. The fact that a woman was driving was just the last clue — I knew it was wrong the moment I first saw it. I watched her get in line, and waited. When the driver made her move, I made mine. Sixty armor piercing rounds do a number, but nowhere near what her ten pounds of TATP might have achieved.
My career took off, but I do not believe those in command approved of me. I know that the general in command did not. He let me know it when he called me one day with a problem.
"Listen you motherless SOB. I know all about the shit you pull. But I got a problem here so fix it," he said.
He sure did have a problem. A young enlisted woman had been raped. The three rapists were officers, all graduates of West Point. The good General had himself a right big scandal — people can lose their commands over such situations. Not actually the commander's fault, but that doesn't seem to matter. A good commander knows you use the resources you have at your disposal.
Three crippled West Point assholes later, along with a well-satisfied enlisted person, I had reached the peak of my Army career. I phoned the general to report.
"What are we calling this?" he asked.
"We were debating whether it was friendly fire or accidental discharge."
"You don't know?"
"Well, my clerk is leaning towards accidental discharge caused by combat stress."
"The woman is satisfied?" he asked.
"Exceptionally so," I said.
"So what do I owe you?" the General inquired.
"Well, I need an honorable discharge for my man."
"Are you fucking me? You want an HD for a pothead who shot three officers?"
"Combat stress. I have the medical certification in front of me," I said.
I didn't say that I had quashed this particular doctor's personal DUI charge, the week before. Nor that it was heroin my man was using, not MJ.
"Ok, send it over, but you are sure about the girl?" he asked.
"The young lady can finish her tour. She is getting help. Army strong as they say."
That seemed to piss the General off. "You may be useful, but you're still a son of a bitch," he said.
"I never said otherwise, but by all means feel free to call again. My door is always open," I said as he hung-up.
I spent ten years doing security details before I called it a day. I then took my veteran's benefits and got a two-year public safety certification. I went to work for the railroad as a security officer supervisor. One night we detained some fellows trying to boost Plasma TVs from container cars in the rail yard. I was called to testify at their trial. That is how I met Kate. Back then, she was an assistant DA. Two years later we were married. A few years after that we were parents.
I put Annabelle to bed, and then went to our bedroom. Ours was a modest three-bedroom house we had bought when we first married. Money had been a problem for us in those early years — Kate had a ton of student loans to pay back.
I began looking for the perfume and there it was, front and center on her dresser. There were a dozen perfume bottles, but this one was new. The closet in the master bedroom is large, but even so it can barely contain all Kate's wardrobe. It was well-organized, and I began looking through it. I knew the black dress I was looking for. She never threw anything still wearable away. She hadn't worn a certain black dress since we'd dated. It was very chic, expensive, and short. It was her come fuck me black dress, that went with the heels she had on tonight. The dress wasn't in her closet.
She had no earrings on when she was in the bathroom earlier, but she always wore her diamond studs with that dress. I checked her jewelry box. The studs were gone. My wife had gone out allegedly with the girls, but dressed for seduction.
It took me less than twenty minutes to find her. I never left the house. I carry just your basic cell phone provided by my employer, but she had an iPhone. I didn't want to spring for a replacement plan in case the iPhone was lost, so instead I'd installed 'find my iPhone' on her phone.
Now I opened my laptop and quickly located her phone. She was not at Mario's, but a different restaurant entirely. Vincentie's is exceedingly high end, far too rich for our budget. Maybe my wife could afford it, but not me. A little searching on Streetviews and I had the front door of Vincentie's on my computer.
It wasn't yet 8:00 p.m., but I am a patient man. Just after 9 p.m. my wife emerged. I recognized the man at once. Judge Leonard Simpel, a recent appointment to the federal bench. I'd met him several years before at a County Republican Party, Fourth of July picnic, when he was still a DA. A good dozen years older than me, he had fifteen on Kate. But, there she was, big as life, and kissing him as they walked out of the restaurant.
On my first meeting, I had instantly disliked Simpel. He was nothing more than a sleazy politician. He was perhaps what women see as good looking, even handsome, but he had shifty eyes and an overbearing manner. Moreover, he had an aura about him that to another male said 'arrogant and weak.' I didn't like the way he had looked at my wife, and I told her so. Kate had laughed it off.
Kate did not make it home by 11:00 p.m. It was 12:30 a.m. when I watched her exit his Mercedes from the window of the third bedroom. We live in an old 1970's development where the houses are smaller, built around a cul-de-sac. They parked so she could come in the back way. I expected this. My wife is a cautious and meticulous woman. She expected me to be asleep, but she prepared for the other eventuality. What she did not expect was that her clueless husband was on to her.
I was lying in bed feigning sleep as she entered our bedroom. She headed straight for her jewelry box. The diamond studs were her first concern, and then she walked into her closet — enlarging her closet had been the only alteration we'd made to the house. She must have changed in the closet because she emerged in an old terry cloth bathrobe. Then left the bedroom to go down the hall to the bathroom. I heard the shower come on.
Exiting the bedroom, I went to the door of the bathroom and turned the handle, but my ever-cautious wife had locked the door. I would not catch her washing off the evidence this night, so I returned to bed. When she eventually came in, she gingerly lifted the covers and crawled into bed, snuggled close, and I heard her say in a low voice, "I love you."
There would be a reckoning, but it would not be tonight.
Special Agent Thomas MacPierce of the FBI was a seasoned veteran. Divorced from his wife of eighteen years with two children, he was approaching retirement. His seniority had earned him a quiet post but burdened him with a junior agent for a partner, Sheila Marks. Together they crossed the police line with a show of their credentials.
Sheila smiled, relishing the look of respect the FBI creds brought. "Drop the smile, agent. A man is dead after all," MacPierce said.
Sheila put on her game face. She was a tall, athletically built woman. She was not a lot to look at, but smart and had military experience. She had breezed through Quantico garnering accolades. But as a field agent? MacPierce thought she would be better utilized by a swat team with her size and her military bearing. She looked the part with her very short haircut.
Determining who was in charge, the agents headed for a tall fortyish woman. Connie Baker was a Lieutenant of Detectives. Her crew was spread through the area, but she was supervising the coroner's staff removal of the body.
"Been expecting you," she said seeing the agents approach.
"How you doing, Connie?" Tom said.
"Good, and you?"
"Been better. This is my new partner, Sheila Marks," Tom said, and then with a wave of his hand, "Lt. Connie Baker."
"Nice to meet you," Sheila said.
"And you," Connie said to Sheila before turning to MacPierce, "Sorry to hear about your marriage." She was not sorry, but it's the kind of thing you're expected to say. Personally, Connie thought the ex-Mrs. MacPierce a horse's ass. Leaving a man like Tom was the last thing Connie would ever do!
"So what we got here?" Tom asked.
"One dead Federal Judge," Connie said, "looks like a robbery ... BUT."
Two hours later the BUT was still very much there. The killing of a sitting judge was no standard matter, so Tom thoroughly inspected the scene with Connie. She was also a good, dependable investigator. There was no reason for the FBI to intervene in any way with her investigation, so Tom would take his inquiry in a different direction.
Judge Simpel had been a DA, and as a jurist had the reputation of being a harsh law and order man. Someone may have been looking for payback, or the crime could relate to a pending matter. Tom agreed to a division of effort with Connie. He and Sheila would check out possibilities that did not involve robbery. The FBI labs would process the evidence, and Connie and the local authorities would check the robbery angle.
Ten days passed with no substantial progress. The forensics were good on the basics of the crime. Leonard Simpel had been shot from about five feet. He had literally been shot right between the eyes. There was just the one bullet, and it was from a Walter PK .038. That gun was quiet, easily concealed, and very powerful, a professional's weapon. But a professional hit would have come from the back or the side. The Judge was killed exiting his front door about 8:00 p.m., and the porch lights would have exposed the killer to Simpel's view. Whoever had shot Simpel wanted to be seen by the victim.
"He wanted the man to know who was shooting," Tom thought.
So it had to be some kind of revenge thing, "But who and why?" None of the obvious suspects fit the crime. There were some hardened criminals in the mix, but their motives and availability didn't fit. His phone rang, the call was from Connie.
"We recovered some stolen items through a fence," she said.
They had a suspect in custody, a methamphetamine dealer by the name of Alex Slomes.
"I don't say nothing without my lawyer," Slomes began.
"That's fine," Connie replied, "But this here is Special Agent MacPierce of the FBI, and he has a one-time get out of jail card for you."
Slomes stiffened at the mention of the FBI, then as Connie's words sunk in he relaxed.
"Doesn't hurt to listen," Slomes said.
Tom MacPierce went through the explanation of what they were looking for and willing to give for it.
"So you got something to tell me?" MacPierce concluded.
"Yea. I got no name, but I can describe the guy who passed me the goods."
Several hours later the DA and a Legal Aid attorney inked the deal, and Alex Slomes was working with a sketch artist. The picture had good detail and was entirely useless. Both Connie and Tom knew it the minute they saw it. Another hour of questioning Slomes and they were convinced.
"This is something different," Tom said.
"You can say that," Connie replied staring at the picture of an obvious long-term drug addict. It was what you would expect and, therefore, clearly a false lead.
"Doesn't add up. The Walter 38 has a street value of what, a thousand bucks?" Tom said.
"More. The gun is clearly worth more than the items taken from the victim. No addict would travel to the suburbs to commit this crime when he had the means of his fix already in his hand," Connie said.
"No, this was done by someone with a motive who wanted to throw us off and knew how to do it," Tom speculated.
In the end, they agreed to show the picture around, but look more closely at the victim and at who might want him dead.
"I think this was personal," Tom MacPierce said.
Kate was worried. It wasn't just that the FBI had asked for an interview. Kate had more or less expected that sooner or later. Unless they found the perpetrator very quickly, the authorities would seek to question her because she was Len Simpel's mistress. The affair had been long standing, and following the birth of her daughter it had become rather intense.
Kate loved her husband, Bill. He was a fine man and a great father, but not all that exciting. He was a good steady, dependable type. Len was handsome, rich, and powerful. But Len was not the marrying type, and he was certainly no one you wanted to spend your life with or parent children with. Len was also conceited and self-centered — Kate could take him a few days at a time, but not all the time and certainly not as a spouse. This was fine with Len. All he needed from a woman was sex and a few hours of company once or twice a week.
Len was no Don Juan. He enjoyed women but preferred a steady girlfriend that he was comfortable with. He and Kate had been a close friends-with-benefits couple. They felt quite a bit of passion, but not what it takes to make a marriage. Len's death hit Kate hard. It was difficult to conceal her grief from her husband.
The funeral had been brutal. Everyone kept offering her their condolences. Len's older sister Sharlot was the only family he had left. Officially, Sharlot was the chief mourner, but she and everyone who worked with Len and Kate knew of the relationship between the prominent defense attorney and the Judge.
Kate had debated leaving her husband home, but could come up with no respectable reason why he should not attend the funeral with her. Most people believed that Bill had at least acquiesced in her relationship with Len.
Only her closest girlfriends knew the truth. She had entirely concealed her long-standing romantic involvement with the powerful DA and then Judge from her caring and loving spouse, but she saw her deception as more a protection for Bill. She was shielding him from the harsh fact that he could never compete with a powerful man like Leonard Simpel, a man who took whatever he wanted.
If it had been up to Len, poor Bill would have been confronted with the triangular situation, but that was the one condition that Kate had insisted on. Bill was not to know anything.
The funeral strained this subterfuge, the way people kept offering their sympathy to her. Even someone as trusting as Bill could be alerted that something more had existed than a professional relationship. For a week after the funeral, there had been no sex between the spouses, though otherwise, Bill had been as warm and loving as always. Just three days before, Her husband had dragged her to bed and taken her with a casual ferocity. The sex had been near constant since. This was rather odd behavior for her spouse.
Kate hoped that even if Bill was suspicious, he had decided to put whatever existed with Len behind them as a couple. Would what he didn't know actually matter? The FBI interview was troubling, and she felt she needed to contain what they did.
Keeping any investigation away from Bill was important. She needed to maintain Bill's ignorance, or at least his ability to live in denial. She needed to give him the peace of mind he deserved and had earned as her good and faithful husband.
Special agent MacPierce was impressed. The law offices of Standford, Price, Clark, and Morgan were big, plush, and decidedly expensive. A request to speak to Mrs. Ford had drawn a blank.
"How about Kathrine Morgan?" Sheila, agent Marks, said.
"Oh, Mrs. Morgan. I will tell her you are here," the receptionist said.
Tom MacPierce could tell that his inexperienced partner had done her homework and was already jumping to conclusions. The information they had indicated a long-standing sexual relationship between the high-end lawyer and the victim, but they were only here to conduct a preliminary interview.
"Button up the moral outrage and keep it off your face," Tom whispered to Sheila.
"Sorry, but 'MRS. Morgan'? Really? Her husband doesn't even rate the use of his name?" she whispered back.
Kate Morgan came out to greet them. She was a tall woman with shoulder-length black hair, dressed in a high-end charcoal-gray-pinstripe, business suit cut to enhance her slim but curved figure. It would not be remiss to describe this woman as beautiful. She led them to an office which was large, bright, and elegantly furnished. When they were seated in plush chairs around a coffee table, Kate offered refreshment and began speaking as they declined both coffee and tea.
"I assume you are here about Len's murder," Kate said.
"Yes we had heard that you were a close friend of Judge Simpel," Tom replied.
Kate's quiet smile lit her face as she said, "Let's be honest—I was his mistress, and that for quite some time, just over eight years."
Tom was surprised by the blatant candor of this woman and her clear lack of embarrassment, but it certainly made things easier.
"Well thank you for your candor," Tom said.
"I'm anxious to help in any way that I can, and honesty seems the least I can do to help. I hope you realize that I would appreciate your discretion," she said.
"Of course, but was your relationship, not public knowledge?"
"Oh, I don't believe so. With a long-standing relationship, many coworkers and friends come to know or suspect, but actual knowledge? I don't believe anyone could say for sure."
"Even your husband?" Sheila asked, the sarcasm just below the surface of her words.
Kate's smile only deepened, and she let her condescension toward the big unattractive agent show.
"My husband is a wonderful family man, but not very sophisticated. He would not have understood my relationship with Len. He was, I am sure, until quite recently unaware that Len was anything to me other than a former colleague," Kate said as she turned to MacPierce and continued,"I would request that he be kept out of this. He knows nothing useful, and I wish to preserve his piece of mind."
"What might have happened recently to disturb him?" Tom asked.
"Well the funeral, I suspect. Many offered me condolences, recognizing how close Len and I were. My husband is trusting, not stupid."
"An odd way to describe a man who rose to a commission from the ranks of the military police and now is chief of security at a rail yard protecting tens of millions in equipment and merchandise," Sheila commented, taking the bit between her teeth.
As Tom feared, the inexperienced Sheila was leaping to conclusions without evidence. He put out a restraining hand and took a light grip on her forearm.
"Forgive my colleague," Tom said, "But her question is a valid one in the circumstances."
Kate seemed to reflect, "Well my husband is a most capable man, and yes, his is a responsible job. But you misjudge his character. He is a family man, a devoted father and a loving husband. I will admit that I deeply regret taking such advantage of his trust in me.
"But you must understand. My relationship with Len Simpel long preceded my marriage. He was a powerful man. One hard to resist, and not inclined to let go of what he believed rightfully his. Yet, ours was not a relationship deeper than sincere friendship. He began as my mentor. To a great extent, I owe my current success to his help and guidance," Kate said.
"But you didn't tell your husband, and you believe he did not know?" Tom asked.
"Yes, I kept the knowledge of my relationship with Len from my husband. Bill is the man I love. He is my partner in an exceptional marriage. His knowing about Len and that relationship would not have benefited anyone. It would have hurt Bill for no reason. Since my relationship with Len was ongoing and would continue so long as Len wanted, telling Bill about Len and me would have served no purpose."
"I see. Could you tell us where you were—"
"On the night Len died, and probably at the exact moment of his death, I was in Valentine's restaurant waiting for Len. I'm sure the staff there can verify that for you. We were regulars there," As she said this Kate's eyes began to tear at the memory. "Sorry, I..."
"That's all right, we understand. These circumstances are never easy. But do you know where your husband was?" Tom asked.
Kate began wiping her eyes with her handkerchief, "Yes, he was at work. He had the four to midnight shift, but he rarely quits until after 2 a.m. The rail yard is busy at night. But please when you check be discrete. It would not be fair to involve my husband."
"I understand and once again thank you for your candor," Tom said.
As the agents began to rise, Kate suddenly remembered something. "Would you happen to know what happened to Len's watch?" Kate asked.
Tom turned back, "Watch?"
"Yes, it was a special present that I gave him about two weeks before he died. It was an anniversary of sorts. We had been together eight years. It was rose gold and very expensive. It was not among the things his sister found after his funeral. I kind of assumed he was wearing it that night."
"No, we had no idea. The police recovered his ring and a gold cross, but I don't believe they knew of a watch," Tom said.
"Len's sister said it wasn't in his personal things, and he had begun wearing it to my knowledge," she said.
"Can you describe it?"
"Well, it's a Rolex, rose gold and inscribed 'Love Kathrine and Annabelle.'"
"I'll inform the homicide detectives that it might have been stolen," Tom said.
Tom had agreed to meet Connie at Valentine's. He had put on his best suit, suspecting that the meeting set for 8:00 p.m. was not strictly business.
"Glad you could make it," Connie said.
She was seated at a discretely placed table. This was definitely a couples' restaurant. It was clear why Judge Simpel had chosen it for his liaisons with Kate Morgan, aka Mrs. William Ford.
Connie was dressed for the upscale restaurant and then some. She wore a black dress with a deep Vee neckline that displayed her ample cleavage. The dress was also shorter than a woman approaching forty would normally wear, but not embarrassingly so. She'd had her hair and nails done. She was a good looking woman. Too damn good looking — Tom reminded himself that she was, at least, a dozen years his junior and a colleague.
"Stop over-thinking, and sit down!" Connie said.
Tom smiled. "You read minds now."
"Men are so obvious about some things, and so obtuse overall," she said.
"Sorry, it's just—"
"Just nothing, we're adults, single, and it's the best restaurant in town," she said.
"Ok," he said as the waitress approached.
"This is Tara," Connie said, "Tell agent MacPierce what you told me."
The waitress Tara was clearly a bit nervous, "Well, it's just that they were an odd sort of couple. You didn't realize it at first. He was a big good looking man and had the appearance of being well-off. I wasn't surprised when I heard people call him Judge. She was classy, very attractive, and way younger. The kind of woman you expect a man like that to have.
"Except they didn't seem like any couple that had any affection for each other. You would almost have thought she was a paid escort, but she was clearly not that type, and in fact she was some kind of professional, probably a lawyer," Tara said, finishing her estimate of Judge Simpel and Mrs. Morgan.
"When you say they weren't affectionate, what do you mean?" Tom asked.
"Just everything. They never came in together. She would wait for him, never the other way around. She never touched him first, and when he touched her, it was possessive like. When they left, he always had his arm around her like he owned her. It seemed to make her nervous. She wore a wedding ring with a small diamond engagement ring. He wore a ring but it wasn't a wedding ring. She was clearly married but not to him."
Tom had a thought, "Did you notice if he wore a watch?"
Tara smiled, warming to her subject, "Yes, after she gave it to him. Right at this table, she handed him the box. It was the only time I saw them really kiss. He was very pleased with her present, and with its inscription."
"Inscription?" Connie asked.
"Yea, I remember because it was kind of odd. Something like, 'From Kathrine and Annabelle your loving ladies.' I remember wondering who Annabelle was. I knew he called her Kate or sometimes Kitten."
"When did she give him the watch?" Tom asked.
Tara paused to think, "Had to be over three weeks ago. I recall it was a Friday. She was dressed to the nines, but way sluttier than usual. That dress looked painted on and was as short and low cut as you would dare to wear and not be a street walker. She came in to wait for him all covered up by a coat, but when he arrived the coat came off. After desert, the watch box came out, and they opened a bottle of the best Champagne.
"It was two weeks later that she waited, and he did not show up. It wasn't the first time she'd had to wait for him, but it was the only time she waited all night, and he never arrived. I saw on the news the next day that he had been killed. I felt a bit guilty about my having told the busboy that the 'Bastard stood her up.'"
"Thank you," Connie said.
Tara looked down at them, "Sure anytime ... you want to order something?"
"Yes, we're staying for dinner," Tom said giving Connie a look that said you are not refusing me.
The meeting with the FBI had upset Kate more than she let show. The way that female agent had looked at her as if she was some kind of insect. Kate was not without a considerable amount of guilt and shame, yet she saw herself as a good person trapped by unfortunate circumstances. She'd been a young attorney barely out of law school when she'd come to the notice of the powerful and charismatic District Attorney, Leonard Simpel.
Women didn't refuse men like Len. Kate was in an inferior position. Len was the big boss. He was a highly respected attorney, and she was at the bottom of the ladder. She was flattered by his attentions, and physically attracted to his male persona. She was no virgin but no slut either. Although she tried to stay out of his bed, once Len Simpel had chosen her, she had little choice but to submit. At least, that was the way she saw it.
Kate had not expected the relationship to last, but for three years they had a steady thing going. It was never actually public, but most people in the office knew. She was given the choice assignments, and she was treated well, but her relationship with the boss hemmed her in.
Bill Ford had come along two years into the affair with Simpel. He filled her need for a steady boyfriend. He was part cover and part companion. Sleeping with the boss two or three times a week still left a lot of lonely nights. Hiding the affair in plain sight meant she needed an occasional official date. She and Len both had what appeared to be other romantic interests. Theirs was a closet romance, neither saw it as a permanent relationship. Len did not do permanent, and Kate had no desire to be his wife — mistress was fine with her. She needed more from a husband than a man like Len can give.
"We have had an accident," she had said. They were in bed together between bouts of coitus.
"What are you talking about?" Len asked.
"I'm pregnant," she said.
Len was silent. His eyes said it was her problem to fix, not his.
"I'm going to marry Bill. We haven't slept together yet, but we will. He won't know it isn't his."
"Is that how you want to handle it?" He asked.
"Yes, I won't kill our baby. I'm Catholic. A sinner yes, but a murderer no."
Len shrugged and took her sexually. They never spoke of it again.
Bill was a push over. She seduced him and made sure the condom slipped. After that, she simply showed him the pregnancy test stick. He was more than happy to marry quickly. He had no family. Her parents were disappointed that there was no fancy wedding,
Kate was married three months when the most awful day of her life began. She was at work when she felt the dampness between her legs. An hour later at the hospital, the doctor was talking about spontaneous something. All Kate knew was her baby was dead.
Bill was wonderful. He held her and told her how much he loved her. Planned a funeral for the child who would never be. He was strong for her and insisted they would have a large family. Somehow his faith sustained her. It was the worst time of her life, and that was when she fell in love with her wonderful husband.
Kate's affair with Len slowed but never stopped. It seemed as if what happened with Len had nothing to do with her marriage to Bill. She realized she loved Bill in ways she could never love Len, and for the right reasons. Bill was a good man and a loving husband. Len was rich and powerful but a completely worthless human being.
Len slipped her into a position at the best criminal defense firm in the State. There she had excelled, and two years later Annabelle came along. She was Bill's daughter in every respect but possibly one. Kate refused to check the paternity. She had no need to know, and it would be disloyal to Bill. He would always be the father of her children no matter what.
Len saw things differently. He never saw more than a picture of Annabelle but insisted she was his child. He intensified the relationship and wanted Bill told of it. Kate refused that demand. Bill the sweet man she was married to must never know. He was the man who cared for their child. The best father Annabell could have.
The idea that Bill could be accused so casually by that agent Marks was extremely upsetting. Kate knew in a practical sense that if her lover was killed that suspicion would fall on her husband. But no one who knew her Bill could believe he would do such a thing.
Kate's duty now was to Bill. At all costs, she must protect him from the ugly truth. Why should he the innocent be hurt by her sins? Kate picked up the phone and made the phone call that she hoped would protect her secret.
Special Agent Tom MacPiece had spent four nights of the preceding week in the bed of Lieutenant Connie Baker. On several occasions, they had actually discussed the case that they were working on together. But mostly they fucked. It was great. Tom realized since his divorce he had been mooning around. What he had needed was a new woman. Connie was just the woman he needed, uninhibited and making no demands. He knew she hoped their affair was headed somewhere, but hell — so did he.
"I'm just a bit more cautious," he thought, "but once burned twice shy."
Bill Ford's first marriage had ended when his wife of eighteen years had left him for a younger man. He had come home one day to find her seated at the kitchen table with a glass of red wine and a serious look on her face. Her "We need to talk!" was followed by a bare bones explanation that she was unhappy and then her handing him a set of divorce papers.
After eighteen years she wanted all their assets, half his pension, and most of his paycheck for child support. They had a boy and girl both still in high school. He was a man who was usually very much in control of himself. But right there, he lost it.
They had a bitter divorce. Much to his ex-wife's surprise, their kids choose their father over the new boyfriend. Bill was now receiving child support, and her share of the assets was, in the end, less than 30%. Bill had a stroke of luck when his case was assigned to a very sympathetic female judge.
Coming into the office Tuesday, he was thinking of Connie but needed to deal with agent Marks. For once Sheila had done as she was told. Looking into the alibi of Bill Ford she had been apparently discrete. Tom had been warned to finish up quick and keep the Judge's indiscretions quiet. Upstairs would be happy with a death resulting from a mugging. Obviously, some strings had been pulled. No one wanted a scandal with the exception of Sheila.
"My gut tells me this guy did it, Sir," she said.
"It's not SIR. Tom, Mac, or agent MacPierce, but not sir. You are no longer in the army, agent Marks," he said a little more harshly than he intended.
"Sorry, Si—MAC. It's just he fits so well. Former military police rose from buck private to Captain. Had a good rating on the range. He is certainly capable, and he has the best motive."
"And it wouldn't hurt that the ensuing scandal would ruin Kathrine Ford Morgan," Tom thought. Sheila had taken an instant dislike to the Morgan woman. Tom could not altogether disapprove. MacPierce should have been critical of Kate Morgan, but he had learned long ago to divorce personal feelings from the job. Moreover, he understood the situation she found herself in. A powerful man had stepped into her life. Sure she had made some bad decisions, but let those without sin criticize.