Authors: Rick Murcer
DROP DEAD PERFECT
Murcer Press, LLC
Interior book design by
Bob Houston eBook Formatting
Drop Dead Perfect
© 2013 Rick Murcer
All rights reserved
Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. The ebook contained herein constitutes a copyrighted work and may not be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, or stored in or introduced into an information storage and retrieval system in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the copyright owner, except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical articles and reviews. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This ebook is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
To all of the hard-working law enforcement folks that risk everything every day.
To the troops that protect this still great Nation at great personal risk.
To JC Who keeps me where I need to be and is my eternal hope.
“Have I told you how beautiful you are? How you make my insides jump just at the thought of your name or the sound of your voice?” he asked.
Sliding his hand over her bare shoulder, he leaned near Clara’s ear, gathering the scent of her long, auburn hair, and then kissed her softly. She immediately flinched and wrenched away from him. That wasn’t the extent of her apparent displeasure. Her sobbing began again, louder than the last time, more pointed.
Standing erect, he pulled away from the love of his life, puzzled. He grappled to understand her actions, her distance. Dare he think of it . . . her rejection? Weren’t they lovers? Hadn’t they talked for hours on end? They’d laughed and confessed those deep, dark, overwhelming secrets that lovers share.
His frown deepened. Hadn’t he been everything to her? He’d fed her. Kept her warm. Lavished her with beautiful clothes, some of them as exquisite as anything Paris witnessed. Yet, she was doing it again. Pulling away from him at their most intimate of moments. He thought himself a patient man, but he didn’t appreciate this from her. Not at all. Added to that, she knew how much he hated the incessant sobbing that accompanied his advances lately. Really hated it. They’d discussed that very subject at length, and she had assured him it was just a phase and that she’d do better. Only, here they were again.
He bit the inside of his lip, fighting to
manage the wrath that so desperately wanted to supplant his puzzlement. Exhaling, the way he’d been taught, he gave tremendous effort to focus only on patience, love, understanding, and not reacting to her denunciation. Everyone had bad days and melancholy moments, yes? Would he not be better served by exhibiting patience?
Gripping both of her shoulders tenderly, he closed his eyes. He dwelled only on her face, her laugh, her sparkling, dark eyes, the curve of her lips, and the way she appreciated him. Good God, he was a lucky man. The luckiest—and he knew it. She was worth the effort required to control himself.
Slowly his anger subsided and then eventually left him. At least as much as it was prone to do. He exhaled. Good. He loved her and wanted her to know that. Venting his ire in the way he was sometimes helplessly compelled to do was not showing his best face. Literally. He’d learned, the hard way, that actions derived from anger didn’t accomplish anything. It was difficult to speak to others, especially to her, when his rage ruled his emotions. His therapist had been right about that, if not about everything else.
Gazing down at her, he watched carefully as her hands opened and closed against the padded arms of the dilapidated chair. The blue
velour cover showed the deep tracks of her fingernails, and despite his effort, his scowl returned, then deepened. She was past anxious. She seemed angry, inconsolable, or worse, terrified.
Moving slowly to the front of the chair, he kneeled and gently placed his hand on her leg. She jumped, and her head jerked away from him. He sought her face, and their eyes met. His Clara looked at him through tear-stained eyes, unable to hide her true thoughts. She
afraid, no debating that. But why? Why be afraid of her most intimate of friends and cherished lover? Her protector. Her viewpoint made no sense, held no truth.
“Please. I just want to go . . .” she began, her voice unsteady and lacking the character of strength that had been her trademark.
“Shhh. Don’t speak. You’re upset, and you might say something that you’d ultimately regret. We’ve had this conversation previously. You can’t go out in public until you get a grip on yourself. I only want what’s best for you, Clara. You know that, correct?”
She stared at him, a new rush of tears cascading down her flushed cheeks. Her gaze fixed on his, and he felt his heart jump. She was incredibly special . . . and all his.
“I’m trying to hold it together, for you, but it’s so difficult when I’m like—this,” she said.
He looked down as she wiggled her fingers and then her toes. Reaching, he felt the smoothness of her left foot, and then slowly advanced to her ankle. Her skin was like nothing he’d felt before. How could anything match her,
Moving his hand farther, he nodded as he reached the black leather straps that held her leg in place. The restraint matched the one on her right leg and the two others on her wrists. Not his first choice for his beloved Clara, but he had always possessed the strength to do what was necessary, to do the right thing, even if it hurt. Even that.
“Darling Clara. I have to keep you like this until you can learn to act like the woman I fell in love with. You were so carefree, so full of life. You drove me wild with . . .”
“You’re crazy. You know that, right?” she said in a voice filled with pointed venom he hadn’t heard from her.
“You’re not thinking straight, Clara, my love. You need rest.”
She exploded. “I’m not your love, you delusional monster. We’ve never met until you−”
“That’s enough,” he said quietly. “You aren’t allowed to talk to me like that. No one is. Do you understand me?”
He wanted to convey patience
and trust, but his anger belied his demeanor. His rage was abruptly welling deep from inside where it knew no master, demanding only sweet release.
Why is this so hard? Love should be joyful, happy, and easy.
“Perhaps you need another lesson in manners,” he suggested.
Clara’s eyes narrowed. She leaned forward and hammered his face with her look. “You’re pretty brave when you have me tied up. You won’t even remove that hideous mask. Coward. Let me loose, you son of a bitch, and then we’ll see who gets the lesson. You can’t do this to me. You need help, you sick prick.”
After her tirade, she spit directly into his face.
Before Clara could lean away from him, he was behind her. He caught her head in his hands, one on each side of her chin. He saw nothing but red. She’d crossed the line and gone much too far.
“Wait! Wait! I’m sorry, I didn’t
“Shut up, Clara, my dear. Do you understand?”
She nodded slightly. He felt her sobbing begin again.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with the women in my life. I give them everything, and they treat me like rotten meat,” he whispered through his teeth. His grip tightened, and she yelped.
More sobbing. The sound of it made his angst rise. But he had a solution for both of them. He’d thought long and hard on the best resolution in the event they’d not be able to work out her mental deficiencies to his personal satisfaction. As sad as that reality was, it was obviously the truth and just as obvious that she no longer wanted him. He was lovesick, but no fool. Who wants someone who doesn’t want you?
“All right, my love. I’ll release you to whatever life you desire, but I want you to answer a question for me first. Does that meet with your approval, darling Clara?”
Her nod again was subtle against his grip.
“Splendid. Here is your question: who loves you more than I?”
Relaxing his hands, he awaited her answer.
There was a minute of prolonged silence. He felt her body shift in her chair. Truth could be an elusive riddle. He wondered if she’d recognize it.
She inhaled. “No one, my love. No one loves me more than you.”
Stepping back from her, he stared at the woman who could have made the rest his journey on this planet a magnificent one.
“Good answer. Fantastic answer. I love how that makes me feel. You’ve done well.”
He quickly moved back to her, and then snapped her neck with a powerful flick of his hands.
Kissing her on the cheek, he stroked her hair.
“But it was the wrong one, my love.”
Ellen Harper looked at her French manicure, removed a dirt speck, and sighed. She hated these meetings. And God knew she’d had her fair share of them. People were just too damn sensitive these days. Her best friend, survivalist, preacher, gun-shop owner, and right-wing zealot, Kate Mortimore always said that individuals in this country should learn to toughen their skins and not take things so personally, especially if someone asks them to be honest. Although she and Kate had their differences, her friend was basically correct on that thought. People didn’t care so much for the “truth will set you free” line of thinking. That’s why Ellen was here, getting another dose of butt chewing. One question, one honest answer, and two punches equaled another meeting with the boss. Hell, she hadn’t even swung first this time.
Ellen reached up and gingerly touched the light bruise on her jaw. Apparently some of those questions translated into “don’t be honest, make me feel good” expectations. How in hell was she supposed to know the difference? People, particularly women, beg for honesty from everyone, then get their panties in a knot when others do just that. No wonder men are clueless when it comes to saying the right things, mostly. If she were a man, she’d need a manual too.
“Be real, my ass,” she whispered.
That ugly, sequined
-covered, red dress not only showed too much boob but really
make Detective Bella Sanchez look fat. Really fat. No self-respecting woman of that size would be caught dead in such a monstrosity, designed by some skinny-assed designer for size-two women—sickly women, in Ellen’s mind. She didn’t think Sanchez’s left leg would fit into a size two. Maybe not even in a six. Never mind the whole titanic breast thing. Sanchez hardly needed to have half her cleavage showing to make that point.
She glanced at her own chest. She wasn’t small, but not an XXL like Sanchez.
The two of them hadn’t been the best of friends, but they’d gotten along. Forensic techs, especially supervisors like herself, worked with all of the detectives, so the two of them had spoken a few times and had no personal issues, until Sanchez had walked into that ballroom—more like waddled—and then asked Ellen the question of the ages. Ellen thought she was doing Sanchez a service by not letting her embarrass herself. It was the least she could do.
A roundhouse punch to Ellen’s chin and a responding right cross to Sanchez’s eye later, she was in deep trouble and the detective wasn’t. How in hell does that work? Just because Ellen had been involved in one or two of those so-called conflicts before didn’t mean she was a troublemaker, did it? The guy in the bar had it coming. Maybe it wasn’t his fault he looked like her ex, but he’d crossed the line, and she’d had every right to deck him. So she did. And the snippy parking ticket heifer wasn’t going to talk to her like that. Ellen had only wanted the woman to show some respect for one of Chicago’s finest. Damn. People.