Excerpt from Chapter One
A MURDEROUS GAME
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Abby Carpenter was positive not one of her six coworkers, gathered around the conference room table for their weekly staff meeting, would believe she’d just committed the perfect murder.
The corners of her mouth lifted in wicked satisfaction. How many times had she done it? Too many to count, and really, did she even want to know?
Her initial weapon of choice had been poison. She read somewhere women preferred it, less messy she supposed. Dick just fell asleep and never woke up. One could argue it lacked creativity, but in all fairness she had been a novice.
This morning’s kill had been her best. The stunned surprise in Dick’s eyes when he woke up to find his hands tied to the bed posts with the black silk stockings she’d found under the back seat of his precious Mercedes had been priceless.
Oh, he had tried to bully her into releasing him. Dick was a master among bullies. But she shut him up quite nicely with the leopard bikini panties the clerk at the dry cleaner had found in Dick’s suit coat pocket and mistakenly thought belonged to Abby.
Yesterday she murdered the cheat in the Super G while she waited in line for the checker to get a price on an organic eggplant. She dispatched him one day last week when she had been stuck in a three mile backup on the Schuylkill Expressway. Of course driving the Schuylkill, or Sure-kill as some locals un-lovingly referred to it, could spur anyone to acts of violence. At least she never flipped anyone the bird like so many other rude drivers. She had her limits.
No doubt some therapist would tell her dreaming up ways to knock off her soon-to-be ex was the result of an entangled neurosis involving latent antagonism over Dick’s inability to keep his pants zipped. Whatever!
She didn’t need a therapist’s spin. Some people worked their frustration off with exercise. She imagined killing Dick. She got the idea from her best friend, Rachael Gooding, who had majored in psychology until halfway through sophomore year at Temple, before she found her true calling and switched to Communications and Media.
When Dick makes you so angry you feel like you could kill him, Rachael had said, just imagine doing it and get it out of your system. Exorcising your demons she’d called it, insisting it was actually healthy. Abby wasn’t sure about that, and her little game did make her feel juvenile sometimes…but it beat marking him as an adulterer by spray painting the hood of his car with a fluorescent green A…or tie-dying the pristine white Egyptian cotton shirts he paid a small fortune for.
Imaginary killings aside, she didn’t really wish Dick ill will. She just wanted him to stop delaying their divorce so she could get on with her life. She wouldn’t hold her breath, but after nearly a year of drawn out proceedings, it appeared till death do us part would soon be replaced with a property settlement.
The speaker phone next to her boss, Roger Norwell, buzzed loudly. Abby jumped. Norwell scowled and jabbed the intercom button.
“What?” he barked with blatant annoyance. Bully Bulldog, she thought. She’d given him the nickname shortly after being hired four years ago. With his flaccid jowls and stocky physique the moniker fit.
She’d accepted the job with no misconceptions. No, she’d done her homework. She’d known the guy was a bastard, but he was a brilliant bastard, and while time served with The Norwell Group was difficult at times, she considered it time well spent. She planned to stick it out a couple of more years, learn everything she could, and then go out on her own and start her own marketing firm.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Norwell.” Madeline didn’t sound sorry, not to Abby, but Madeline was one who seemed immune to his brusque manner. “Mrs. Carpenter has a visitor.”
Norwell turned the full force of his squinty gaze on Abby.
She gave a negative shake of her head. “I don’t have anything scheduled until this afternoon.”
Norwell pressed the speak button, his accusing glare still on her face. “Carpenter isn’t expecting anyone. Tell whoever it is they need to call later and schedule an appointment.”
“They’re insistent,” Madeline came back.
“I don’t care. Carpenter’s tied up. She’ll need to get back to them.”
“I only need ten minutes of my wife’s time, Roger.” The voice Abby had silenced during her morning shower snaked over the intercom. “I promise not to keep her long.”
“Dick,” Norwell’s tone took a 360. “Madeline should have said it was you. Abigail will be right out.”
Abby frowned. Her boss was no different from anyone else. Dick had powerful connections, garnered during his father’s two terms in the senate, and most people were afraid to cross him.
The moment she entered the lobby, she saw Dick laughing with Tammy, the new receptionist, an oversexed flirt all the men in the office drooled over and the women wanted to throw up on.
Tammy bent forward, showing off more cleavage than a billboard for Hooters. Dick leered as if he’d never seen breasts before. Bastard. Abby crossed her arms over her chest and shifted her gaze to Tammy. Skank.
Damn. Why did she let it bother her? She glanced at Madeline. The sympathy in the other woman’s eyes only pricked Abby’s anger. Dick could do whatever he wanted elsewhere, but he had no right to humiliate her in front of the people she worked with.
Squaring her shoulders, she made her way across the lobby. She kept her gaze steady and her head high. She was going to kill him…again.