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Synopsis

“The Jake Roberts Novels are a gratifyingly graphic murder mystery series with real depth that judiciously avoids the many trite stereotypes that dominate popular crime thrillers. Cary Allen Stone created Jake Roberts, a detective to rival Alex Cross, and Inspectors Banks, Morse, Rebus and Frost.


Chapter 1

Chapter 1

1

After she placed the duct tape over his mouth, it became very difficult to make out some of his words. “No” was muffled, but reasonably understandable. “Don’t” didn’t sound quite right, but she got the idea. She mimicked his muted pleas pretending to feel his fear and pain. It was the end of Father Anthony Moralli.
He began his last day on earth on an airliner. His destination was a resort-gambling oasis, which coincidently included a well-stocked pond of young females. He was on what he liked to call a “personal pilgrimage.” The expedition had nothing to do with religion. Anthony simply wanted to, no needed to, get laid. To accomplish the task, it required leaving the confines of his parish to maintain the façade of his vocation.
Father Anthony loved the whole religion thing—the ceremonies, hearing confessions, and especially saving lost souls. He planned to start saving his soul right after saving all of the others. After years of religious studies and training, he concluded it was beyond his comprehension to truly understand God, so he simply preached the commandments, and left the rest to God. What Anthony really understood were the basic physical needs of a man. He struggled with his vow of celibacy, finding it to be in direct conflict with his deep and firm conviction, that sex was a gift from God. To abstain, he believed, was a slap to the Creator’s face. The “Love thy neighbor” commandment was his favorite, and he took every opportunity to apply it to his life. Of course, that did not include molesting boys like some of his classmates in the seminary. He boarded the flight sans white collar, and slumped into his assigned seat by the window, in the emergency exit aisle.
A good-looking man with dark, wavy hair and olive complexion, Anthony gave his best Elvis smile whenever women smiled at him. His deep-set, dark eyes suggested compassion, mixed with forgiveness. They also hinted at a touch of mischievous intent. In airline terminology, it was easy for the good father to make his connection. Certain a nap during the flight would pay benefits later that evening, Anthony closed his eyes, and quickly drifted off to sleep. While he napped, the handsome, incognito stranger tempted female “parishioners” inside the Church of the Holy Aircraft Cabin. The older women sighed and relinquished the temptation then placed a gentle hand over their husbands’. A few of the younger, adventurous women on board, felt up to the challenge, each waited for his nap to end.
Lori first noticed Anthony, as he searched for a place for his Reebok carry-on bag in the overhead bin. She made her way around the other passengers, and offered to help him. It was one of her duties as a flight attendant. Safety was her first concern. Passenger comfort was another. She carefully choreographed every move. As her uniform dress rose up along with his bag to be stowed, Anthony smiled. Lori’s compelling cyan-hued eyes, Angelina lips, and cascading California blond hair, held Anthony’s attention. Everything about her confirmed the Creator was truly a master artisan. Drawing stares was commonplace for Lori. The women envied her stunning looks, while the men behaved like schoolboys. Manifested passenger, Anthony Moralli, held Lori’s attention. He seemed different than the others, she thought.
* * *
She playfully protested while he fondled her, as if they were in the back seat of a ’56 Chevy, at a drive-in movie. Passengers in various stages of maturity, who stood near them, stared with disgust. Any children present were oblivious to their sordid adult behavior. They were distracted by all of the other things associated with flying and airport security.
“I don’t care. I want some Susan Johnson right now,” Nick said.
With feigned indignation, she corrected him.
“I believe, as recently as two days ago, it changed to Mrs. Nicholas Parker.”
He covered by teasing.
“I forgot.”
Susan’s arms dropped to her sides, and she frowned. She wasn’t finding his brand of humor very funny. Cognizant of her distress, he pressed two fingers to her lips as he pulled her close. They ended with an embrace, and a passionate kiss. When their lips separated, Nick obsessed.
“Susan, I need you. I can’t live without you, you know that.”
The embrace, the kiss, and the sentimental words, accomplished what he wanted She melted in his arms.
“Nick, I love you so much, you’re everything to me––you’re my life.”
Holding his face with both hands, she kissed him again. He stroked her shoulders, and let his hands slip down to fondle her spandex-smooth behind. A worried look appeared in her brown eyes.
“Be safe my love, and come back to me,” Susan said.
He reassured her with a promise. Nick was the consummate sincerity machine, and had the uncanny ability to charm his female victims, better than any of his contemporaries. The other travelers, observing the two lovers, rolled their eyes and groaned. Finally, the captain released his grasp on her, and turned to reach into the back seat of his oversized Lincoln Navigator SUV. He gathered his flight and overnight bags, and placed them curbside.
After a final caress, Susan stepped back to take one last adoring look at him. She blew him a tender kiss goodbye. Although she would have liked to stay longer, she was already late picking up her daughter from school. Nick pantomimed catching the flying kiss with his hand, and pressed it to his lips. She pivoted, and after an awkward climb into the driver’s seat, cranked over the engine. The Bose CD player blasted out her favorite rap song. He hated rap music, but tolerated it enough to appease her. She gave him a doting smile and a brisk wave goodbye. Knowing how much he cherished his toys, Susan concentrated on her driving, and was extra careful with the SUV.
With a pathetic pout on his face, he stood at the curb, like a little boy being dropped off at camp. His fingers slowly, and sequentially fluttered in the air, to emphasize his displeasure at having to fly off without her. Nick watched her drive away.
As she made the turn at the end of the terminal to exit the airport grounds, he quickly turned to look in the opposite direction. It wasn’t too long before a Yellow Cab pulled up alongside him and parked. The back door sprang open. A pair of firm, long and proportioned legs extended from out of the back seat of the taxi. Although she was petite, the heels made her at least four inches taller. Her tight blouse accentuated her artificially inflated breasts. The plaid skirt was snug, and scarcely enough cloth to cover her dignity. Nick had met the barely above-legal-age woman at a club, when Susan was out of town visiting relatives.
“Hey, babe,” Nick said.
The other travelers, who had witnessed his earlier carrying-on, rolled their eyes knowing his new wife had just driven off moments ago. They became furious when he scrutinized the young woman from head to toe, as if evaluating the purchase of a slave. It was understood she would play that role later in the evening, to satisfy just one more of his sexual perversions.
“Oh Nick, you look so hot in your uniform. I’m getting wet just looking at you,” Tricia said.
She squealed delightfully. Tricia knew how the game was played, and was adept at using suggestive sexual innuendos, having lost her innocence when she was an even younger girl. Nick was a successful airline pilot wanting to play. Tricia wanted out of her boring town. She also desired to have his upper-level income spent lavishly on her. She knew that meant he would tug hard on her leash, before she reaped the reward. Putting out, to get out was fine with her, even if it meant humping a man twice her age. Besides, age didn’t matter to a generation who believed sex was solely for pleasure, and a lifetime of commitment wasn’t as important, as financial security. As Nick snuggled with Tricia, he sensed the men standing nearby were enjoying their own filthy fantasies. Nick devilishly grinned, knowing their women were growing more nervous by the second. The performance reached a climax, when the captain gathered his baggage on wheels, and Trisha held out her small overnight bag for him to take.
“I packed all of your favorite things,” Tricia said.
With a broad smile, Nick added the undersized bag to his. He reached out to take her hand, and they walked into the terminal together. Nick wasn’t sure he could hold off until their destination. The fierce animal desires he had for her, pulled at him. He thought they might find a quiet place to use. Then again, he cherished sexual tension as an integral part of the chase, so he decided to simmer, rather than boil over. The men standing curbside watched her provocative gait, and sighed right up until the automatic doors closed behind the old guy and his juvenile date.
* * *
Soft fingertips lightly stroked his forehead. He blinked trying to clear his vision. His head was throbbing. He could barely make out the shape of a face. He thought the facial features resembled a woman smiling at him with one of those after-great-sex smiles. He struggled to remember who she might be. He couldn’t focus. The room appeared to be underwater, as if the ship had overturned at sea. Nothing made sense. The last thing he remembered was becoming extremely drained and drifting off.
Where…how…who was…
There was something restricting the movement of his arms and legs.
Name is…name is…is…
The face with the smile that floated past him reappeared, he couldn’t remember. Blaring in the background, he heard lyrics and hammering of heavy metal music. He recognized The Cult.

It’s the way that you feel
It’s the truth in your eye
Cause you’re up against the world
And still you rise

Holly? Jean? No, Lori, The flight…
What was holding him? He passed out again, until he heard the words that shocked him back into reality.
“Poor Father Anthony. That is it, isn’t it––Father Anthony?”
The effects of the drug had given Lori more than enough time to secure him, and search through his wallet.
“Lori, what’s going on?”
He slurred the words. As he tugged against the ropes, it hit him.
“You know?” he said.
She bowed her head.
“I want to confess my sins, Father. Will you hear my confession? I want you to absolve my sins, and forgive me,” Lori said.
“What is wrong with you?”
His head fell back onto the pillow. He tried to compose himself, but he jerked back up again with anger and revulsion.
“Are you insane?”
Her jagged reaction, to his interrogatory outburst, caused a quick reevaluation of his options. His head fell back again as his mind raced. There wasn’t any way out of the tight spot he was in. He had to be repentant, and negotiate.
“Lori, what do you want from me? You want the truth? Okay, it’s true––I’m a priest. I don’t have any excuse for my actions, except to say, I’m just a frail human like all men, and I sin, too.”
He studied her face to see if he was getting through. She bit at her lower lip, while contemplating his answer then she smiled, and slid her index finger from his forehead down to his lips, where they rested for a moment.
I really enjoyed kissing you.
Her finger continued down, and stopped at his genitals. She massaged him softly. He glanced down at what she was doing, and squirmed.
Its just some weird sexual game she plays.
He tried an end run.
“Did you like it? We could do it again, make love again. Just untie me.”
Lori smiled deprecatingly.
“Now Father, we never did make love. And as far as untying you, you know I can’t do that.”
“Untie me, goddammit,” Anthony said.
“Oh my, thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. You’re just like that little pope of yours, and the archbishops, and bishops––the pious hierarchy, so holy when you want to be, and so arrogant with authority. Priests think they have all the answers and can tell the rest of us how to live.”
Anthony turned away, ashamed. He shifted, trying his best to distance himself from her.
This can’t be happening.
“This is some kind of a joke, right?”
He couldn’t conceal his fear.
“Father, I can assure you this is no joke.”
Lori looked off into the distance.
“Do you believe in life after death?”
Her eyebrows rose. Lori focused on him waiting for his answer.
You are a handsome man.
“Of course, I do.”
Her gaze left his as she looked down, and watched her fingertips dance around his manhood. She posed another theological question.
“If heaven is such a heavenly place, why does everyone want to take an eternity to get there?”
He had to think about that one. He often thought that heaven must be a small place out of necessity, and hell enormous. After all, there were far more of the damned, than there were saved in the world.
“Is evil the same in every religion Father, or is evil different from one religion to the next?”
She stared at him.
“Father Anthony, you aren’t a very good person.”
His answer was sarcastic.
“Even Jesus wasn’t loved by everyone.”
“You are not Jesus, Father Anthony.”
Bowing her head, she made a request.
“I want you to hear my confession.”
Reaching over to the nightstand, she grasped the roll of duct tape. Tearing off a small piece, she ceremoniously placed it over his mouth, while his head thrashed violently from side to side. As hard as he possibly could, he struggled to free himself.
Lori started confessing.
“Father, like yourself, I have taken the Lord thy God’s name in vain. I have not honored my mother or my father. And I am about to break the commandment—Thou shall not kill.”
She looked deeply into his wide, terrified eyes.
“Bless me Father, for I must sin again.”
Anthony perspired profusely. His pounding chest heaved. Tears fell down the sacrificial lamb’s face. With his eyes closed tight, he hastily prayed for God’s forgiveness of his sins. When he opened them again, he saw the raised, shimmering blade of the knife. He tensed and shook violently. He screamed from behind the tape sealing his lips. The good father felt the first, but because of the shock infiltrating his body, not the rest of the repeated punctures to his torso. If Anthony’s God were truly merciful, He, or She, would gift Anthony, on his deathbed with the painless “golden hour.” Another heartbeat passed.
His eyes rolled back and disappeared. Had a heart monitor been attached to him it would have revealed a complete cessation of all cardiac function, with flat brain wave tracing. It would have confirmed that Father Anthony Moralli had left for the next life. Then with the artistry of a gourmet chef, she dragged the blade down his chest, and severed his genitals. A massive river of blood spilled from the wound between his legs. She held the organ up, while more blood drained down from her hand to her bent elbow. It made a muted thud when she dropped it onto him.
To complete the act, Lori stabbed him one last time, directly into his heart, and withdrew her hand. The knife stood erect, like a tombstone protruding from his unmoving chest. Father Anthony mouthed his last words behind the duct tape during the brief seconds he had left, but she never heard them. She had no idea he had forgiven her. She walked to the foot of the bed where she sat down on a chair facing him. While staring at the corpse, she became lost in an out-of-body experience that took her mind along for the ride. Her fingers roamed until she found the special place between her legs. The face of her dead husband appeared over Anthony’s, and spoke to her.
That’s right baby. Daddy loves you.
“Did I do it right, daddy? Like you taught me, daddy?”
You’re daddy’s little girl.
She recited while matching the rhythm of her hand.
“Daddy loves me, daddy loves me, daddy…loves…me… Why daddy, daddy it hurts. Please stop, daddy, no more, daddy. Mommy, make him stop!”
Like every time before, she could not reach a climax, and the rapid motion of her hand ceased. Lori awoke from the dream and became mechanical. From the bathroom, she retrieved a white washcloth. Returning to the bed, she soaked a corner of the cloth into the puddle of blood between Anthony’s thighs. She climbed over him to the headboard, and wrote crimson letters on the wall––Anthony.
She retrieved her things, including the CD from the stereo. She was careful to leave the room clean, with no way to connect her to the murder. Nobody knew she was with him. She took one more look before leaving quietly. It was just before midnight when Lori returned to her layover hotel. She showered then climbed into bed and fell asleep. Her alarm clock woke her, and within an hour, she met with her crew in the hotel lobby. Like an apparition, she would completely disappear without a trace. The early flight departure gave her the distance that would prevent her capture. Like all of the other murders she had committed, this one would confound and mystify investigators.
As her flight departed into the early-morning haze, she contemplated what she needed to do when she got back home. She would stop by the food store for groceries. Renting a movie was an option. She had to water the plants, and there were bills to pay. She also thought about the man who had beaten her and who sexually abused their young daughter on the pretext of love.
* * *
The odor drew the first witness to the gruesome crime scene. She reported the repugnant smell to the front desk. When the manager arrived, he knocked heavily on the cottage door. Not receiving a response, he announced “Manager” and went inside. After a few short steps, he saw all he needed to see, and radioed the front office to call the police. The girl with the halter-top, and tight denim shorts, looking on from the doorway, let out a terrifying, chilling scream. Her boyfriend ran to join her. Both stood frozen and gawked at the twisted carcass with the severely contorted expression.
While the three of them waited for the police, they debated going back inside to see if the victim was still alive. Finally, the brave manager told the two lovers to stand back while he checked for a pulse. Forcing himself to go back in, he made his way to the bed. Just as he was about to touch the discolored wrist, the feel of a hand on his arm nearly sent him into cardiac arrest. A Kevlar-vested female officer, behaving in typical maximum-threat fashion, quickly herded him and the other two witnesses away to safety. With her laser-sight illuminated, she tightened her grip on her weapon, and held it in front of her as she searched the premises.
Blues and reds flashed in rapid succession against the drizzle and overcast. The entire cottage was illuminated in white light as more emergency personnel arrived. The first responders were soaked in adrenaline as they performed their duties. The discovery of the dead man was contagious. News trucks with painted station logos arrived, and extended their antennas high into the night sky for satellite feeds. Reporters descended on the scene like vultures with their outstretched, hideous wings. They went to work on the carcass using blood to sell valuable advertising space. The first reporter on the scene, desperately seeking network recognition, spewed directly into the camera lens the earliest details as investigators relayed them.

…The victim, a Caucasian male, was stabbed repeatedly, and castrated. Although unconfirmed, this reporter has been told by sources close to the investigation, that the victim is a Catholic priest. Just moments ago, Bishop Archibald, from the Mother of Soul’s parish here in Gulfport, has administered last rites…

It was riveting television. “Reality” death always held a captive audience. The news stations played the gruesome scene repeatedly, albeit with parental warnings. Jurisdiction of the crime scene, a treasured pearl of law enforcement, passed from the Gulfport locals to Special Agent Mika Scott, when she and her Evidence Response Team arrived from Quantico a few hours later.
* * *
After waiting for over an hour, I recline on the couch, but shift into several uncomfortable positions. I can’t sit still. I hate having to surrender my thoughts and my emotions to him. God forbid I say something that causes him to take me off the streets. I would leave, except the department’s policy requires all cops involved in a shooting, have to see the shrink.
“I watched as the Molotov cocktail flew in an arc and crashed through the stained glass window. Jesus the Shepherd was at the center of the window only moments before.”
I feel like I’m suffocating, cornered. The place and surroundings couldn’t help, but make you feel flawed as a human being.
“The Molotov cocktail rolled across the sacristy floor spitting yellow and orange flames. Heavy, coal-colored, swirling smoke billowed out. Nothing could be done, while the blaze burned the house of God to the ground. Then the dark angel responsible, as if receiving an order directly from Satan, began the last barrage. The weapon discharged, and my windshield exploded. Shards of glass and debris flew all around me. I dropped to the pavement.”
After a long swallow from the glass of water on the end table, the rest of my nightmare slips out.
Easy Jake, don’t talk about anger in front of the man.
“One of the ‘cop killer’ round struck Sergeant Peterson a few yards away from me. I couldn’t get to him. I was pinned down then I took a hit. I didn’t feel it at first, the burn. I returned fire. My first round shattered the larynx, and the perp’s arms extended as if begging to be crucified. My second round tore open the chest. The black, fatigue-clad body danced beneath the yellowish glow of the fluorescent streetlights. It stood like a statue, before finally collapsing to the pavement. My bullet-riddled radiator hissed. Stepping through the blood, I cautiously approached and kicked away the weapon. I took out my ‘cuffs, but the body appeared lifeless. My still hot Glock dropped to my side. It was over.”
Trying to alleviate the pains and stress in my body, I shift again. He sits quietly, hands clasped together, and gives me time to get it all out.
“The paramedic removed the ski mask, and her auburn hair limply cascaded down. Her face had a horrified look that said an angry God was already passing sentence. Her lips quivered, and I thought she was trying to speak. I dropped down to hear, but I only felt her last breath touch my face.”
I blink as the corners of my eyes begin to tear.
“Rapid cerebral replays of the shooting and heavy doses of guilt have dogged me since. She was just a kid.”
Abrams allows my words to hang in the air. His unnerving silence makes me squirm and twitch. Is he waiting for me to collapse? He asks a simple question with a calm voice.
“Can you go on, or would you like to stop here?”
That really cranks me off, so I blast back.
“Hey, tell me what I’m supposed to do here, what I’m supposed to say, tell me how I’m supposed to heal.”
Abrams answers with a calm, compassionate tone.
“Jake, it doesn’t work that way. You had physical trauma from the gunshot, and the doctor prescribed a pill for the pain, but what’s in your head cannot be cured with a pill.”
Dr. Thaddeus Abrams, mid-forties, is wearing his trademark heavy-rimmed, black eyeglasses. He is soft-spoken and polite. In addition to his own practice, he is included in the department’s payroll. A shooter like me is supposed to attend therapy once a week. Those who work through their pain can regain their life and career. If the scars are too deep sometimes, recovery is impossible then it will be just a matter of time before their prolonged misery ends in suicide. I’m not going to be counted among the lost.
“I can’t erase what happened to you Jake. It will always be in your memory. All I can do is to try and help you find some closure and that’s going to take time.”
I know what I have to, but I don’t want to talk to him anymore. As I make my way toward the office door, I turn to face the eminent psychiatrist. The words I thought would come out don’t, so I close the door behind me.
“Jake?”
The receptionist behind the glass window in the waiting room makes a gallant effort to corner me for another appointment. Faces look up from their magazines, as I hurry my escape. I feel exposed. I can’t reach for the doorknob fast enough, but instead the door opens in my face.
An extraordinarily attractive woman enters. She holds everyone’s attention. We stare at her as if she were a model strutting down the runway at a fashion show. She seems unaffected by the gawking. We make eye contact and she smiles, but in my jammed up state of mind I can’t smile back. Along my journey down the long, empty corridor I think about her. Walking out of the building into the stabbing sunlight that temporarily blinds me, I think about her. As the freezer chill of the air-conditioned offices dissipates rapidly in the heat, I think about her. When I open the door to my apartment I realize she is the only other thing I have thought about, in my bruised and crippled psyche, since killing that girl.
* * *
There was no resemblance to the other hard-core patients in the office. After checking in with the receptionist, she found an empty seat, and sat straight up with her purse neatly placed on her lap. Her breathtaking eyes stared straight ahead, and didn’t acknowledge anyone in the waiting room. She didn’t read any of the old and torn magazines. Instead Lori replayed in her mind, the entire visit she made to the cemetery before her appointment to see Dr. Abrams. Whenever she returned from a flight, she made sure she went to see her daughter Emily. In her daydream, she saw herself walking past the many headstones along the manicured lawn. She arrived at the one that rested above her daughter’s grave. Her fingers lightly stroked the name on the marble then cleared the grave of fallen leaves and debris. She replaced the bouquet in the holder with freshly cut wildflowers.
“Hi baby, mommy’s here.”
I missed you mommy.
“I missed you too, honey.”
Lori’s head tilted to one side and was followed by a sigh. Soft tears trickled down her cheeks as the anguish of Emily’s passing returned. After years, it still hurt. As all parents do when preceded in death by their children, she mourned the loss with heartbreak, sadness, and overwhelming guilt.
Where did you go mommy?
Wiping away tears, Lori tried to sound upbeat.
“I had a flight to Gulfport baby, just an overnight. We got back early this morning. I unpacked and came right over to see you.”
Did you have fun mommy?
“It was okay, it wasn’t fun, just okay.”
Lori changed the subject.
“Did you remember yesterday was my birthday?”
Oh yes mommy, Happy Birthday to you!
The child’s voice sang the birthday song. Lori’s dire expression turned to a half-hearted smile, as she touched her daughter’s headstone. It had changed from a piece of granite, to her young daughter’s face.
I wish I could have celebrated it with you,
“I know baby, I know. You look so beautiful Emily, so beautiful.”
I love you mommy.
“I love you too, baby.”
Mourners at a nearby gravesite looked in her direction, but she quickly turned away from their curious stares. Without looking up again, she spread a small blanket on the lawn next to the grave. The recently mowed grass had a sweet scent. She sat down and brought her legs up beneath her chin. She wrapped her arms around them to hold them in. With her chin resting on her knees, she stared at a small beetle making its way through the grass then she heard the other voice.
Don’t be fooled into believing that luck got you this far and will take you the rest of the way. Many have stood before a magistrate because of such flawed thought.
“I know, I know,” Lori said.
Don’t take that attitude with me.
The voice was demeaning and punishing. She hated the voice, and would have done anything to make it stop. She whispered like a scolded child.
You listen to me. No one cares about you, but me.
“I won’t disappoint you.”
Lori was apologetic having heard the lectures before.
You have to follow the rules.
“Yes I know, no records. Don’t leave anything behind. Don’t attract attention. Know the geography. And alcohol is a truth serum––I got it.”
Well if it’s all so clear then what did you think you were doing in Gulfport.
“He was an authority figure just like the rest––”
Lori wanted to argue, but she knew it was useless.
Murder is as empowering as it is compelling.
After that, Lori didn’t hear the voices. The other mourners had all gone, and she was sitting alone in the cemetery shading her eyes from the bright, unrelenting sun. Before she left, she took one more look at her daughter’s name on the headstone. Then another voice, an unfamiliar voice, interrupted her daydream.
“Ms. Powers, the doctor will see you now.”
* * *
Terrorism had hit home, and was on everyone’s mind. Outside the terminal, airport traffic officers ordered the towing of unattended cars no longer permitted to park curbside. As Captain Parker walked briskly out of the terminal, and into the noonday sun, the last thing on his mind was terrorism. Nick was much more concerned about unintentionally revealing any evidence the sweet, young Tricia had left behind. She had kissed him goodbye only minutes before with a heavy smear of lipstick then headed out the opposite side of the terminal. He wasn’t sure he had gotten it all off. He rapidly surveyed the roadway to his left and right searching for the new Mrs. Parker, but she wasn’t in sight.
Trisha had a wonderful two days in Los Angeles. Nick bought her expensive gifts, and took her to dinner at an exclusive restaurant. She screwed his brains out in return, which made them even she figured. The next time he called though, she planned to tell him to drop dead, unless there was nothing else to do in town.
Seeing his new bride, Nick waved as if she was the only woman on earth. She pulled up in the macho SUV and stopped at his feet. He liked it when women deferred to him. He expected them to treat him like God. After all, pilots thought they were. Mrs. Parker leapt out of the car, and rushed toward him, throwing her entire perfect body into him causing the air to burst out of his lungs.
“Oh baby, I’ve missed you so much,” Susan said.
“It feels like a millennium since I’ve been able to hold you,” Nick said.
He knew what to say, to get what he wanted.
“I’ve got to have you right now, Susan.”
It fascinated Nick how easily women fell for his smooth talk and lies. They were willing to do just about anything to have someone to call their own. They would clean, cook, iron and even squeeze out babies, for love. What was even more amazing, he thought, was they couldn’t see it, didn’t get it. To him, love was a fabricated concept created simply for a man to justify the fulfillment of a biological need to release millions of microscopic, aggressive sperm. A woman was nothing more than a late-night depository.
“Where’s Wendy?”
Parker asked knowing that Susan’s young daughter was an object of his degenerate affection. Susan made up a story because she knew Wendy detested him, but she could never figure out why. He would constantly spoil Wendy with lavish gifts that often made Susan jealous. She found his constant concern about Wendy’s well being reassuring, and believed that Nick was the perfect father figure for her.
“Home, she had homework to finish. You know how kids are.”
Nick’s face exhibited contrived concern
“Is everything all right with her?”
“Yeah, she’s fine, just a young girl trying to figure out the big world. It’s not easy you know.”
Seeing Parker in uniform, a traffic officer approached and reprimanded him.
“Captain you need to move it along, sir. The rules apply to everyone.”
“Sorry officer, you’re absolutely right, and we’re moving it.”
Nick’s apologetic tone saved him. He detested it when those he considered his inferiors, the lower rung, told him what to do. He didn’t take direction. He gave it. Nick opened the passenger door for Susan, and she slid her long legs inside so he got a good look. He grinned, and closed her door. Tossing his flight and overnight bags in the back, he gave a small wave to the impertinent officer. He thought about berating the man, but decided he was too exhausted after the weekend with Tricia.
I owe you one officer.
The Navigator cranked over, and Captain Nick Parker drove home with the woman he presumably loved, to the stepdaughter he wanted to make love to, later.
* * *
The magnificent mansion he shared with Mrs. Abrams made up for having to tolerate her incessant whining. An expansive estate, it was too much for two people. A brand new Bentley was parked in the curved driveway. The thought of having children was not even a consideration, because of the great imposition it would place on their own spoiled lives. Thaddeus Abrams loved his career, and all of the benefits that came with it. He especially loved when clients, such as the troubled, but stunning, Lori Powers stared helplessly into his eyes seeking compassion, comfort, and understanding. Life was good for the good doctor, and nothing was going to interfere with his happiness.
“So how are you, Lori?”
Abrams had a knack for sounding concerned, which was why he was so successful in his line of work. He was a master at giving the impression he cared about your miserable life. With Lori, he found his career to be particularly rewarding.
“It hasn’t been a very good week,” Lori said.
“Let me see, according to my notes, we were discussing your family history during your last visit. Why don’t you pick it up from there?”
He looked over the tops of his reading glasses at her. She closed her eyes and thought. The moment she felt prepared, and comfortable, organized, she began. Abrams gave a slight nod.
“I remember the very first time he slithered into my bed. He wanted me. I was too young, too trusting to protest, to say no.”
Her mood turned sullen. Abrams missed most everything she said after that. He just wanted to get her talking, so he could look into her captivating eyes, and listen to her smoky voice. Whenever she turned away, he would sneak a peek at her breasts and legs. Her first statement sent him drifting off into another fantasy daydream about her.
She stood in the garden below in the black French-cut bikini that was his favorite.
“Daddy was like a…”
He drifted into Fantasyland.
She lit candles inside the darkened room, and extinguished the match with a soft, sensual whisper. Romantic melodies filled the background as she nudged him onto his back on the bed. With a naughty, teasing expression, she took her hair up, and let it fall wildly over her soft shoulders. Her bikini fell to the floor.
“Mother didn’t have the courage to say no to him. When I turned to her, she turned away from me.”
He caught just a piece of that statement.
She straddled him provocatively and playfully, traced his naked body with her fingertips. Kissing his face and neck, she reached down between his legs.
“Dr. Abrams?” Lori said.
She had the impression Abrams missed the last few pages of her life story. He jerked back into reality, and recovered smoothly by asking a question.
“Who was he?”
“Who was who?”
“Go back to the part about ‘I was too trusting.’ Were you referring to your father?”
“I was referring to my ex-husband, doctor.”
Abrams took a moment to think, while he wrote notes on his legal pad. She appeared to be confused about episodes between her father, and her ex-husband. The husband was missing, wasn’t he? Perhaps the trauma of her daughter’s suicide was affecting her memory. He couldn’t quite put a finger in it.
“I’m sorry Lori, please continue.”
Although relieved he had escaped detection, Abrams knew that he had missed something important. He had to listen closer, and find the underlying cause of it. As she pulled a tissue from the box on the table next to her chair, the doctor leaned forward in his chair. Certain he was listening this time. Lori continued with the rest of her story.
“I remember a night. It was raining very hard, thunder, and lightning. We were parked on a hilltop surrounded by dense woods. The leaves on the trees partially obscured the moon and stars. I had an overbearing feeling something evil was present. Lying back on the upholstery, sweating, frightened, with my legs spread, he entered me. I wanted to scream, but he wouldn’t let me. Finally, he finished.”
She dabbed the tissue in the corner of each eye then she squeezed the tissue tight in her clenched fist.
“Then his hand raised, and came down as if it were a knife.”
Lori shook. Abrams flinched, and was surprised by his own reaction.
“Too young to comprehend the purpose of being struck, my baby cried as she sucked in her first seconds of life. She was so beautiful, my Emily. I was just fourteen.”
Abrams still couldn’t put it all together, and it bothered him. Before he could ask another question, Lori spoke.
“I have a recurring dream. I’m alone, no one else is left in the world, except me.”
Abrams made the elusive connection between the father and the missing ex-husband, the daughter’s suicide, the beatings, and the sexual abuse. He heard similar references from other clients he had treated over the years. He scribbled on his notepad and tore off the page then reached forward, holding the page between the two of them. Lori took it and read what he had written. It was an address.
“Unfortunately Lori, our time is up and as you know I have a few more patients waiting outside. I think we have made some real progress here today, in fact, so much so I need for you to continue this session later this evening at my home.”
He pointed at the page.
“That’s the address.”
“I don’t understand, Dr. Abrams.”
He moved closer to her and exuded compassion.
“I believe we’ve made a major breakthrough today, and it is imperative that we discuss this further, before you leave on another flight.”
Lori considered the option Abrams presented, but wasn’t quite sure how that meshed with her revelations. As patients do, she trusted her medical practitioner. Taking the address he gave her, she stored it in her purse, and nodded. He desperately tried to appear reserved and controlled, while she stood and walked out of the office.
She was perfect.

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CARY ALLEN STONE

Phoenix, USA

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