“What on earth did you do to your hand? It looks like a bite.”
“It is a bite, the bite of a German shepherd to be precise. Our neighbor’s dog got out of their yard and attacked me on the way to the mailbox. If you think that’s bad, take a look at this,” she said lifting her pant leg to show the angry gash on her calf.
“My God! Did they put the dog down?”
“Nope. They didn’t because I didn’t report it. I have to continue to live next door to these people, so I decided to let it go.”
“Well, I hope he doesn’t get out again. You should report it.”
“Settle down, Sister. I’m a big girl now, so you can stop looking after me.”
“Sometimes I wonder!” she laughed. “Come on in and see the baby.”
“She’s precious,” she whispered. “As soon as she wakes, she’s mine for the day.”
“Dan’s out back turning hamburgers and hot dogs to cinders on the grill.”
“Be nice, now. Dan just likes meat to be really, really cooked,” her sister said as she made her way through the kitchen and out to the patio.
“Hey, Lisa. Glad you could make it.”
“Seeing the baby is my first priority, but I’m banished from the house until she wakes from her nap. She’s beautiful, Dan.”
“Yeah, I’m going to be such a push-over when she gets a bit older. Kelly will have to be the bad guy in the family.”
“She can handle it. She had plenty of practice keeping me in line after Mom died and Dad took up drinking for a profession. We were pretty much on our own even after he took up with our “wicked” step-mother.”
“Don’t be so hard on Karen,” Dan told her. “She tried to step in and be a mother to you girls. You just wouldn’t have it.”
“Yeah, I know. We didn’t give her a chance. She calls me occasionally.”
“Even after their divorce?”
“Un huh. I think she feels guilty for not being able to reform the alcoholic before he totaled himself and his car. I wasn’t unhappy to see him go. Truth be told, he thought I was his own personal plaything when I got to be 14. But, now’s not the time to bring that up. Sorry.”
“No problem. I’m aware. How are you and Tripp doing?”
“No better. I’m afraid to divorce the SOB because of the income I’d lose.”
“Listen, you might not be that bad off, Lisa. Why don’t you drop by the office, and we’ll run some numbers. You’d stand to gain a share of the auto shop and half of whatever you two have acquired over the course of your marriage. You might be surprised.”
“I’ll think about it,” she said as she turned to go back in the house at the sound of the baby crying.
She wandered into the nursery where Kelly was changing the baby’s diaper.
“Is it time for her to eat?”
“Yes, and she’s letting me know about it, too,” Kelly chuckled. “You want to give her a bottle?”
The women sat quietly as Lisa rocked the baby and Kelly could sense her sister’s longing as she fed and cuddled the baby.
“I wish things could have been different for you and Tripp, Lisa.”
“Me too. It wasn’t my plan to marry a bully. Losing the baby nearly killed me. Dan says he might be able to help me get a divorce that could leave me with a nice income from Tripp’s business. I’m afraid that might give Tripp one more reason to harass me even if we were divorced. I know that guy, and he won’t agree to a healthy settlement for me.”
“Well, it won’t hurt to get the facts together anyway. Stop by and see Dan. He’s a good divorce lawyer, and he’ll most probably represent you for free.”
“You know I wouldn’t let him do that. You’re right, though. It wouldn’t hurt to at least know my options.”
Internally, Lisa’s mind churned with the desire to tell her sister all about her plan to erase Sheila Barns from Tripp’s life and their marriage. If only she could tell her sister all about her first kill and how close she came to hitting the golden triangle.
“I’ve got to go start setting food out on the table. Dan is probably close to finishing with the grill.”
Lisa felt calm with the baby in her arms and let her mind wander to her plans for Sheila. She thought about including Tripp in her scheme. Two birds with one stone, so to speak. She’d be the prime suspect though if both of them ended up dead. Maybe, maybe the right move would be to make Tripp just disappear after she killed Sheila. How hard could it be to hide a body where it would never be found?
She noticed the baby had drifted off to sleep, and she sat staring at her peaceful round face before laying her down in the crib. She felt bereft and cold without the warmth of the baby in her arms and silent tears began to flow. She willed them to stop with thoughts of her gun out in the driveway in the trunk of the Lexus. As soon as she finished dinner, she’d make excuses and head downtown to watch Sheila as she left work.
Later, as she drove downtown, she considered the possibility that Tripp would meet Sheila and walk her to her apartment building over by the Arizona Center. Lisa kept trying to imagine when and where she could find Sheila alone. More surveillance seemed to be the answer. This woman certainly must have a life besides her time with Tripp and working at the Matador. If Tripp really had a boxing thing going on then maybe Sheila might be walking home all by herself. That thought excited her, and once again she got that orgasmic feeling in her body.
“What if she’s alone tonight?” she thought. “Am I ready to do this thing? Is more practice in order? More planning? If Tripp disappeared at the same time Sheila turned up dead, then he’d be the most likely suspect, wouldn’t he?
The Lexus hummed through the quiet streets of her sister’s neighborhood and turned in the direction of downtown Phoenix. She’d take Central all the way downtown and enjoy watching rich people jogging along the bridle path under the big trees that shaded it. She saw a lean woman pushing a baby stroller rolling along on huge wheels.
“What must it be like to be rich, beautiful and have a baby to keep you company while you jogged?” she thought. She knew she would never have the chance to find out, and it made her uncommonly angry at the young mother running along the path.
“That woman doesn’t deserve to have everything I want,” she thought as she slowed the car and parked on a side street just as the street lights began to flicker to life along Central Avenue’s bridle path.