The alarm went off and I reached over and hit the snooze button to buy another ten minutes. The alarm also woke up my wife of two years, but she apparently wasn’t interested in another ten minutes of snoozing.
I felt her hand trace down my body in the direction of my lower middle appendage which almost instantly started to grow in anticipation of what was coming. She pushed the covers off of us and then swung over me and using her left hand to guide things she impaled herself on me. She rode me while I reached up with my hands and tugged and tweaked her nipples.
Her nipples are super sensitive when she is aroused and as I twisted them and pulled on them she moaned and stated riding me harder. She had an orgasm and I gave her a minute or so to savor it and then because I could never get off in cowgirl I rolled her over on to her back and then drove hard to get my release. Just before I reached mine she had another one. When I came I held myself in her until it was soft and then I pulled out and fell to the bed next to her and said:
“You know I don’t want to go to get up and go to work now. I just want to lay here and hold you.”
“I would like that too, but you know we can’t. My flight to Salt Lake leaves at ten and I have to be on it.”
“I think you need to tell your dad he needs a new personal assistant. Tell him you need to stay home with your hubby so you can work on giving him some grandbabies.”
“Can’t do that and you well know it. You knew what you were signing up for before we even said I do.”
“Yes, but at the time I had no way of knowing how addictive snuggling and cuddling with you in the mornings was going to be.
“Daddy is going to retire in six months and I won’t need to be going with him everywhere he goes”
“Bullshit. That just means that you will be in charge and will still traveling on business.”
“True, but then you can give up your job as head of security, become my PA and fly with me.”
“Why in the world would I want to do that?”
“So you can learn the business the same way I did by being daddy’s PA.”
“Again, why would I want to do that?”
“Because it is a family owned and operated business and someone needs to run it while I’m busy having your babies and raising them.”
She slapped my butt and told me to get up and get a move on. She showered while I put the coffee on and then I showered while she whipped up some breakfast. I had wanted to shower together, but she shot that down.
“You know damned well where we would end up if we did that.”
She was right so I hid my disappointment and got on with the day. At eight-thirty she came into my office, kissed me and told me to think about how to best welcome her home the next day.
“Rose petals strewn around the bedroom and a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket next to the bed would be nice.”
As I watched her leave I thought back on how I had come to be married to the boss’s daughter.
It was obvious that she didn’t recognize me, but then why should she? We didn’t move in the same circles when we were in school. I doubt that she even noticed me from the ninth grade to graduation and I was even more lost in the crowd at college, but I recognized her. Prom queen, head cheerleader, Girl Most Likely to Succeed. She had fed many of my teenaged fantasies and had caused me to exercise my right hand quite often. It had been fifteen years since I’d last seen her and those years had been good to her.
“May I ask who recommended me to you?”
“No one. I was in the building to see my attorney and I noticed Stiles Investigations on the building directory.”
That was me. Hector Stiles, private investigator.
“Might I enquire as to whom your attorney is?”
“Charles Wellington of Farmer, Burns and Wellington.”
“I know Chuck well. He sends a lot of business my way. So what can I do for you Miss Parkington?”
She gave me a weird look and said “It’s Mrs. Mrs. Elizabeth Markham. How did you know my name used to be Parkington?”
I smiled and said “Trade secret. So what can I do for you Mrs. Markham?”
She hesitated as if she intended to follow up on how I’d known her maiden name, but then she said:
“I want you to find my husband.”
That was interesting. I’d been asked many, many times to find out if a husband (or wife) was cheating, but I’d never been asked to actually find the husband.
“Is he hiding from you? Not wanting to see you for some reason or other? Most people don’t just disappear unless they think they have a good reason for doing it.”
“I have no idea. One day he just disappeared. He left for work in the morning and I never saw or heard from him again. He had shown up for work, left at quitting time and disappeared.”
“I’m sorry if this upsets you, but it is something I need to know if I am going to take you on as a client. Was there any infidelity in your marriage?”
She hesitated a bit and then said “On his part? I don’t think so.”
“And on your part? I ask because if you were I need to know if he found out and then left leaving you to handle all the divorce stuff.”
“I haven’t been unfaithful, but I do have to admit I was slipping close to it.”
“An old flame from college recently returned to town and we’ve been talking. I’ll be totally honest with you Mr. Stiles. My husband’s parents don’t believe that Reggie just ran away. They say that is something no son of theirs would ever do. They seemed to think I’ve killed Reggie and somehow gotten rid of the body. They took their belief to the police and I am currently under an ongoing investigation.”
“Why do you need me if the police are already looking for him?”
“I don’t believe they are looking for him. I think they believe he is dead and all they are trying to do is pin his death on someone. I’m his spouse so to them I am their most likely suspect. I need to find Reggie and get out from under the cloud of suspicion.”
I decided to take the case and I gave her my rates and she wrote me a check. I gave her a list of things I needed to know about her husband and she told me she would get back to me the next day with what I wanted. She looked at the list and then back up at me.
“I should know you shouldn’t I?”
“Not necessarily. I was just one of many.”
She gave me a long look and then got up and left.
I picked up the phone and called a familiar number.
“Tenth precinct; Sgt. Franklin speaking.”
“Afternoon Tony. Is Phil in?”
“He is. Probably in his office sleeping on the taxpayers dollar. I’ll put you through.”
Two rings and then “Detective Bureau; Lt. Farmer.”
“Afternoon Phil; got a minute?”
“Don’t know Heck. What kind of trouble do you want me to get in the middle of now?”
“Just took on a client who says she is under investigation for her husband’s death, but she doesn’t think he is dead.”
“Only got one of those right now. We are talking about Elizabeth Markham right?”
“That’s the one. What can you tell me about it?”
“Not much. The husband, Reginald Markham, left his place of employment at five on May the third and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. No cash removed from the bank, no credit card trail and his car was found in the Landing Strip’s parking lot. He was a regular, but no one inside could recall seeing him that day. His prints were the only ones found on the car. Wife never reported him missing. Six days after he was last seen his parents came in, told us he was missing and they suspected foul play.
“We looked into it. Mrs. Markham said she never reported him missing because he had a habit of disappearing for days after they’d had an argument. She said that once he was gone for eleven days. According to her they had argued the day before he disappeared so she thought nothing of it. She didn’t get concerned until we came knocking on her door.”
“You turn up anything?”
“We pressed and she finally told us that the argument was over his displeasure at the time she was spending with an old boyfriend. We talked to the boyfriend and he told us all that was going on was they were renewing acquaintances, talking about old times and old friends. Other than Mr. Markham’s continued absence we’ve found no evidence of foul play. However it is still an open case. Without betraying any client confidentiality can you tell me what she wants with you?”
“Wants me to find her husband.”
“Good luck with that. All we found was a cold trail.”
“If I stop by the precinct any chance I could look at the file?”
“As long as you get here while I’m still here.”
As I hung up I thought on how nice it was to have good friends. Phil had been my partner when I was on the force. If I hadn’t taken a bullet in my right knee I would probably still be on the force. I had just taken the exam for detective and had scored high enough that I would have gotten the next opening, but Jimmy Ratz (aka Jimmy the Rat) had ruined that for me. He put the bullet in my knee and Phil had put him in the ground.
I drove over to the precinct and Phil let me sit at his desk and read the case file. I finished the file, handed it back to him and he asked:
“Anything in there jump out at you?”
“Care to share?”
“Not just yet. I need to make sure a personal dislike isn’t clouding my thinking first.”
“That sounds cryptic.”
I hesitated and then said “I guess it is something you should know. I need to give you some history here. I went through high school and college with Mrs. Markham. In fact I had one hell of a crush on her at the time, but I doubt that she even knew I was alive. We didn’t run in the same circles. Her maiden name by the way is Parkington as in Parkington Industries. In short daddy is loaded and Liz is an only child.
“As I remember it she had a rather substantial trust fund that she came into the day she graduated from college and then of course when daddy passes she will inherit the whole shebang. Did you ever notice how it always seemed the best looking girls were attracted to the bad boy asshole types?”
Phil smiled and shook his head yes.
“Well Liz was one of those girls. In our junior year she hooked up with a stone asshole. He was one of those find them, fuck them, forget them guys. We were both on the football team and in the locker room he used to brag that he would be rolling in dough when he married the stupid cunt. That’s just the way he put it. “When I marry the stupid cunt.” You could tell she didn’t mean shit to him except as an easy life. Liz on the other hand seemed to be head over heels for the asshole and thought he was the love of her life. What happened between them I’ve no idea, but one day they were no longer a couple.”
“What’s that got to do with this file?”
“Dave Bart, the boyfriend she was getting reacquainted with? The same asshole who was going to marry the stupid cunt. Was I you I would be looking into his background. What has the slime ball been up to since college?”
“What are you thinking Heck?”
“Can’t marry into money if someone else is already married to it.”
“You thinking he may have something to do with the disappearance of Markham?”
“I don’t honestly know Phil. He was an asshole back in school, but whether or not he is a bad enough asshole to do in someone for money I don’t know.”
“Could wife and possible lover be in it together?”
“I don’t know, but I doubt it. She is paying me an awful lot to find him and I just can’t see her setting herself up for the digging I’m going to be doing if she has anything to hide.”
“Keep me in the loop okay?”
Elizabeth Markham showed up at my office at nine the next day with the things I asked her to bring me. She sat down across from me and said:
“I can’t believe I didn’t know who you were yesterday.”
“No reason you should have.”
“I got out my year books when I got home yesterday. Eight years; four in high school and four in college and I didn’t know you? How could that have been?”
“Our high school class had 247 kids in it and there were different groups and cliques. We just hung with different people. In college there were ten times as many people. We only had two shared classes in our freshman year and only one in our junior year. Not surprising that you didn’t remember me.”
“But you can remember me so I should be able to remember you.”
I smiled as I thought “I doubt you ever masturbated to thoughts of me so why would you remember me? You on the other hand fed many of my masturbatory fantasies” and then I said:
“A subject for another time, but right now we need to get on the problem of your missing husband. I’m going to ask you some very personal questions and while you may be reluctant to give them I need completely honest answers. I’m no different than your doctor or lawyer; anything you tell me will be given complete confidentiality.”
“No problem. I’ve nothing to hide.”
“First thing I need to know is the relationship you had with your husband just prior to his disappearance.”
“We were having a bit of a problem. He didn’t like the fact that I was meeting with my old boyfriend for lunch and then drinks after work. He wanted me to stop and I told him I wouldn’t.”
“At our initial meeting you mentioned that you were sliding towards being unfaithful. Was this the man causing you to slide closer?”
“Was and not is?”
She was silent for a bit and the said “Was. I can be a bitch at times and I can also be a bit bull-headed. When Dave, that’s the old boyfriend, came back to town he looked me up and asked me to meet him for lunch. I saw no harm in it so we met. At first it was just getting in touch with old friends and talking about people we knew and where they were and what they were doing now. It was a short lunch because I had to get back to work.
“Dave asked if we could do lunch again and again I saw no harm in it so I said yes. When I got home that night I told Reg about it and he got all bent out of shape over it. Told me he was unhappy that I met with Dave and he didn’t want me doing it again. That brought out the bitch in me and I told him I wasn’t going to allow him to dictate to me and I would see whoever I wanted to see and then things between us went to hell.
“I saw Dave two more times for lunch and being the bitch I can be at times I made sure that Reg knew about them. That just made things worse between us. I kept meeting Dave for lunch, not because I was interested in getting something going between us, but because I could throw it in Reg’s face. Then one day Dave asked me to meet him after work for a drink. Dave made a move on me that night and I didn’t shut him down. Of course I let Reg know when I got home that I’d stopped for drinks with Dave. Reg threw a fit. He accused me of cheating on him and then said he’d better never catch us screwing in our house or he would kill us both. That of course set me off. “Accuse me of cheating? Well fuck you! Maybe I will just to spite your ass” and things between us went farther downhill.
“The next time I met with Dave my mindset was Reg thinks I’m a cheater? Well if I’m going to wear the name I might as well play the game. And I almost did it. But at the last minute I remembered why I’d broken up with Dave in the first place. He was an asshole. I was going to risk my marriage over an asshole? But even then I unintentionally left the door open. I told Dave I couldn’t cheat on Reg, but the way things were going between Reg and me I might be single again soon and then we could pick up where we left off in college. It was all bullshit of course, but Dave didn’t know it.
“Before I could mend fences with Reg he was gone and now I have to find him. Find him and convince him he is the only man I want.”
I took the list she gave me and then said “I have to be up front with you Mrs. Markham; I may not be able to do what you want. I have an in at the police department and he told me what they have found. Your husband didn’t take any cash out of the bank and he hasn’t left a credit card trail. I have a few sources they don’t have access to, but if I can’t find a starting point on your husband’s trail in a couple of days I’m not likely going to find him. I’m telling you this now so you can get your money back if you would like.”
“Please do what you can and don’t worry about the money. If you need more I’ll get it for you. Just do your absolute best to find Reggie.”
The list she had given me had the names of friends her husband was closest to and a list of people he worked with. I spent three days talking with the people on the list and came up with zip. The people I talked to were unanimous in saying that Reginald Markham was not the kind of guy who would make himself disappear just to piss off his wife. Several of his friends did tell me that he was upset with his wife, but hadn’t shared the why of it with them. His coworkers said he was his usual normal self on the day he disappeared and his secretary said that he had given her a cheerful “See you in the morning when he left the office that day.
At the end of three days I’d pretty much made up my mind that Reginald Markham had not disappeared himself. I had to accept the thought that someone or someone’s had disappeared him. I could be wrong, but I seriously doubted that his wife had anything to do with it. The question became who and why.
To me the obvious answer was Dave Bart and the why was so he could have a clear field to Elizabeth Markham. I picked up the phone and called the number that Elizabeth had given me. When she answered I made arrangements to meet her for lunch.
She was already there and sitting in a booth when I got to Tricocci’s. After Jared had taken our order I said:
“I have some questions Mrs. Markham.”
“Please call me Liz. I’m still feeling guilty over going to school with you for eight years and still not knowing you.”
“All right then; you can call me Heck. I’m not overly fond of Hector, but my parent’s didn’t ask for my input when they named me. The questions I have concern your relationship with Dave Bart. When you initially broke up with him was the breakup acrimonious?”
“No. I found out a few things that upset me, but decided that he was going to be around until we graduated it would be easier if I ended things a bit cordially. I told him I thought we were getting too serious too soon and that we needed a break from each other. We needed to see and date others to make sure that we were really meant for each other.”
“And how did he take it?”
“He wasn’t happy. Said he already knew that I was the one for him and he was a little pissed that I wouldn’t accept it when he told me that he was sure that I was the one for him. Then we graduated and without letting him know I took off to tour Europe for a year before coming back and going to work for my father. I heard that after graduation he took a job in Atlanta and I never heard from him until he moved back here a little over a month ago.”
“What exactly did you find out that turned you away from him?”
“He was telling people that he was going to marry me and then be rolling in money for the rest of his life. Why are you smiling?”
“Dave and I were on the football team and he was always bragging to everyone that he was going to marry you and be set for life.”
“You knew who I was. Why didn’t you warn me?”
“And get slapped upside my head and be told to mind my own business? You seem to forget that at the time you appeared to be head over heels into Dave. You probably wouldn’t have believed me anyway.”
“Has he tried to contact you since your husband disappeared?”
“Every day. He wants to meet for lunch or for a drink after work. Why?”
“Curiosity. You did tell me you told him you might be single again and you might be able to pick up where you left off in college.”
“I didn’t mean it. It just seemed to be a better way to end things than to say “You are an asshole and I want nothing to do with you.”
“I can see that. Do you have any idea of what he did between the time you broke up with him in college and when he came back here and called you?”
He says he went to work for Chapin and Associates in Atlanta and they transferred him here. Why?”
“No. You didn’t know me back then, but I had a crush on you from the first day I saw you in the ninth grade and it carried all the way to college so I’m just naturally curious.”
“You had a crush on me?”
“What can I say? As far as I was concerned you were the best looking girl in our class. The reason I wanted to meet you today was so I could give you this” and I passed a check to her. “It is a refund of part of your fee. I can’t find a thing that gives me a starting point. It is as if your husband was snatched by an alien probe or something. One minute he was here and the next minute he was gone.
“I mentioned earlier that I had an in at the police department and from him I found out that your fears are groundless.”
“When you first came to me you felt the police weren’t even looking for your husband and all they were doing was trying to find a way to pin things on you. Not so. They hit the same dead end that I have. It is still an open case, but they are not looking at you as the cause of your husband’s disappearance.”
That wasn’t necessarily true. At the time Phil let me read the file it was more or less true, but that might have changed some since I’d let Phil know about Dave Bart. I still didn’t believe she had anything to do with hubby’s disappearance, but I couldn’t speak for Phil.
Liz took the check, looked at it and said “You can’t do anything?”
“I can find absolutely no one who saw your husband after he walked out of work on the day he disappeared. I’m at a dead end. I can find absolutely nothing to work with. I’m sorry.”
She put the check in her purse, thanked me for my time and then got up and left.
I have a problem. When something grabs ahold of me I stay after it until I’m satisfied. That is where I was at that point. I lied to Elizabeth Markham. I did have a starting point. Dave Bart.
As I mentioned earlier I had sources the local police didn’t have access to. I flipped through my Rolodex until I found the number I was looking for and then I placed the call.
“Good morning, Atlanta Police Department. How may I help you?”
“Detective Parsons please.”
A bit of background here. I attended college on an ROTC scholarship and on graduation I went into the U.S.Army. The Army decided that I should be assigned to the Military Police. Eventually I ended up in the Criminal Investigation Division. I made a lot of friends there and a lot of them, like me, ended up going into law enforcement when we left the Army and we have stayed in touch.
Two rings and then “Robbery Homicide. Detective Parsons. What can I do for you?”
“I have a terrible itch on my left shoulder blade. Could you scratch it for me?”
“One and the same.”
“How the hell have you been? What’s it been; a year since we last talked?”
After ten minutes of catching up small talk I told him what I was looking for, gave him all the info that I had and he said he would do what he could. I might have been wasting my time, but I just couldn’t get past the way Dave Bart insisted he was going to marry Liz Markham and be on easy street for the rest of his life.