Chapter Nine

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Alice skipped over her criminal past and the scar tissue on her uterus. She told Andrew everything else, just as she promised: the miscarriage, the depression, the pain, how she wound up in Jackie’s arms. Every feeling and thought she’d had over the past 11 months, she laid bear for her husband. An hour had gone by when she finally stopped talking. Andrew struggled to maintain his composure but he could not hold back the tears. He was genuinely heart broken, the first time since Monique LaSalle, whom dumped him 3rd French in high school.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I couldn’t. Your mom was sick and you were so worried about her. I couldn’t pile it on.”
“You are my wife. I would’ve been there for you!”
“I’m sorry,” Alice said. She knew Andrew would’ve done anything for her and she betrayed him in the worst way a wife could betray her husband. “I want to make this…I want to fix this, Andrew. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
“Did you love her?”
“No. But she loved me,” Alice said. Andrew stood from the couch and exhaled, wiping the remnants of tears from his face.
“I don’t know how we come back from this, Al.”
“We buckle in. I’m not letting you go without a fight. I fucked up…but I’m here, trying to make it work. I just need to know you’re here with me.”
Andrew looked at his wife. He was still in love with her, just as much as he was when he proposed to her, but he had no idea which way was up in their marriage. This was one of those challenges the minister preached about at the alter. He sat down next to her and looped her fingers through his, her diamond ring pressing into his skin. “I know I don’t have the right to ask but…is there anything you want to tell me?” Alice had bared her heart and soul to him; now it was time he came clean as well. They deserved a fresh start. Andrew didn’t speak immediately, unsure if he should bother her with “almosts” and “Maybes”. “I found you…this morning.With that girl…if something happened, I wanna know. We can talk about it.”
“And if nothing happened?”
“Did it?”
“No. I thought about it. Repeatedly. I let the lonely thoughts get to me, but I could never do that.”
Alice sighed incredulously, the lump in her throat subsiding. “She hit me with her car,” Andrew  said, chuckling. His hand went up to the new scar on his forehead. Alice burst out in laughter, a sound he hadn’t heard in a long time. Before either of them knew it, they were wiping away tears of laughter. For a moment, it seemed as if all their problems had gone away.

He was having the nightmare again. Alice was covered in blood and it oozed from her mouth. She grinned wildly, blood oozing between her teeth. Panic raced through Roman as he looked down and saw his arm sliced open. “I love you baby,” Alice said, the blood pouring from her mouth. “I did it for you! I did it for us!” her voice echoed around the room even though her lips weren’t moving. He looked down at his hands and feet. He was back in the dusty orange uniform, back in the handcuffs. He looked up to see Alice, climbing into bed between her husband and her lover, planting deep kisses between them.

He opened his eyes and, momentarily, he forgot where he was. Desiree’s body was warm and naked next to him. The first time inside a woman since he got out and it wasn’t the one he was thinking of. Desiree got the job done; she was virile and flexible. There was no love between them, so their passion was purely animalistic. He grinned in the dark if she knew who he really was and why he was really there, especially since she wanted to know little about him before ripping his clothes off. The thought of their escapade engorged him and he moved closer to her, planting gentle kisses on her spine. Might as well have a little more fun with her.

Alice found herself weeping in the shower. It was a gloomy Wednesday and Jackie was being laid to rest. Out of respect for her husband, she skipped the funeral. She wanted to show Andrew she was committed to their fresh start and to avoid the stares and silent judgment of the few people who knew. Word had spread around Webster, Jameson and Taylor and Alice found herself temporarily excused from her duties. She drew her knees up to her chest and mourned her lover.
Andrew clicked through photo after photo, taking drags from his beer. The John Doe photos, in varying stages of death, were his next step at finding his partner. Martin Velez had been missing for a week now. The whole depatment had been on the hunt, but after the initial 48 hours, it had been dwindled down to 2 other detectives and Andrew’s outside effort. There were no clues, no evidence of foul play, except for Martin’s unscathed home and his disconnected cell phone. Andrew refused to give up hope and pressed on. The floorboards creaked behind him and he collapsed the photo gallery. He didn’t want to upset her with the gore on the screen. She came into the den, wrapped in a purple robe. “Take a break,” she said, wrapping her arms around his neck.
“I gotta find him, Al.”
“And you will. But you don’t need to run yourself into the ground doing it,” she said, walking around the seat and sitting on his lap. Her skin was still warm and damp from the shower. He kissed her, gently at first, then with growing fervor. He ran his hands down her back and up her thighs, pulling her robe open and down around her hips. She repositioned herself to straddle him, grinding her pelvis into his and pressing her breasts into his face.

The doorbell rang.
She groaned out loud when he paused. “Hold that thought,” she said, grabbing his face and kissing him. She rewrapped herself in her robe and went to the door. She had to stand on her tip toes slightly to see through the peephole and saw no one. She unlocked the door and cracked it slightly. No vehicle out front and no person hiding in the bushes. She began to shut it back when she spotted the vase and her stomach dropped to the floor.  She grabbed the vase and brought them back inside. She knew exactly who had sent them. Had he been hanging around since his last visit? She pulled the card out from the arrangement roughly, snapping the plastic stem in half.

My condolences on the loss of your “friend”.

 

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