I never thought sex would kill me, but it nearly did.
Oh, not at that moment. Bathed as I was in the afterglow of coital bliss, death was the last thing on my mind. And it’s not often a mystery author admits that.
Snuggling under the down comforter, I ran my fingers over my husband’s chest. With his wavy light brown hair sleep-tousled and his dimples flashing, Drew was extra easy on the eyes this morning. But it takes more than looks to make a marriage. As different as we were, people often found us an unlikely pair. I never thought it should be that hard to grasp what kept us together. Quite simply, Drew was my rock, and I was his fun, his spirit of adventure.
Sure, I kept things from him at times, for his own good. And mine. And, yeah, rocks do crush adventures, when they fear they’ll go too far afield. As if such a thing were possible. Mostly, it worked because we both knew Rock Guy needed a dash of enjoyment in his life, and though I hated to admit it, Fun Girl needed some stability.
Besides, we’d always been dynamite between the sheets.
If it ain’t broke, don’t be a jackass and break it — that’s my motto.
Elsewhere in our rambling wreck of a house, I heard the faint sound of footsteps. Our houseguests were stirring. I braced for the inevitable frown that should cross Drew’s face. He didn’t understand why we needed to house a steady stream of visitors. While I hadn’t exactly chosen our current companions, I’d been raised to welcome the chaos guests bring with them. It was the circus come to town. What’s not to like?
To cover the sounds he obviously hadn’t heard, I produced a contented sigh and looked past him to the time flashing on the nightstand digital clock. “This is sure a red-letter day.”
“We were great, weren’t we, Trace?”
Sure, but that wasn’t what I meant. “It’s not like you to lollygag around here at the lazy hour of six-twenty in the A-M when your case has gone to the jury.” He generally paced the halls of the courthouse hours before the jury reported, getting in the way of the cleaning crew.
His naked shoulder peeked out the top of the comforter in a shrug. “Let’s be honest, babe. The Sullivan case hasn’t exactly been mine.”
Too true. Drew worked as a junior partner at the prominent Los Angeles law firm of Slaughter, Cohen, Rather, Word & Dragger. He, like most people, shortened its name to “Slaughter, Cohen,” while Mother referred to it as SCREWED. Hers was clearly the more accurate version. Not just who they are, but — after you see the bill — what you’ll be.
Some months before, we accidentally exposed the involvement of one of Slaughter, Cohen’s bigger clients in a crime. That’s not how they spell teamwork at SCREWED, and it put Drew in deep shit with the bigwigs. I’d encouraged him to join another firm, where maybe they weren’t so picky about their associates’ extracurricular activities. But until his career took a detour through the sewer, Drew had been the office rising star, on the fast track for senior partnership. Since he’s nothing if not hopelessly misguided, he vowed to stay the course.
They made it rough on him at first. They pulled him away from his beloved estate practice and made him work on a criminal case, the last thing he knew anything about, despite my efforts to educate him. They gave him the scut work to do. Eventually, Drew seemed to be winning everyone over again, until a few weeks ago, when Ian Dragger, a senior partner and first chair on the case, started tormenting him again. Since they didn’t have a prayer of winning the case that had just fallen into the jury’s hands, things didn’t look promising for Drew.
“I guess Ian didn’t let you do the good stuff,” I said.
“Maybe not, but I took some independent action on my own during the trial. Radical, even. You’d have been impressed, babe. Why should Ian get all the glory?”
What? Words like "independent" and "radical" weren’t in Drew’s life description. They needed to come with the warning: "Stodgy guys, don’t try this alone." Did he need me to perform damage control?
I blamed sex for derailing my focus. Unless that was his knee rising up to meet me under the covers, I had a feeling we were headed for round two. I’d intended to ask him what he did, I swear. But then he nibbled on my ear, and we were at it again.
Who knew an ear nibble could turn into such a nasty bite on the butt? If I’d questioned him, rather than letting the idea float straight out of my mind, I might have gotten to the ugly truth much sooner.
Instead, that quickie claimed two lives, and cost others loads of heartache, not to mention nearly condemning both my love monkey and me to an absolute eternity of canoodling. And eternity threatened to begin way too soon.