This is the second installment of a short story which began HERE.
A torrid sun; a tropical paradise; a frustrated writer; a cheating wife; a mysterious sultry woman... the ingredients for a forbidden affair? Or the recipe for murder and the perfect crime?
I stopped before the table and was rewarded as she leaned back in her chair arching her back in a graceful cat-like display. Though it had achieved the desired effect, her breasts needed no introduction. For one awkward moment, rising and falling with each breath, they appeared to be straining, protesting the restraints of the dress. In that moment I envisioned that I was a knight in shining armor there to set them free.
Not wanting to break the spell of that moment, my labored voice finally acted, "May I join you?" Damn, I thought. Could I not have thought of something more original, less sophomoric?
She leaned forward placing her elbows onto the table, "I didn't buy you a drink so that you could continue drowning in your sorrows alone." The words stung, was my demeanor so transparent? Sensing my discomfort at her observations she smiled and added, "Why shouldn't we drown together?"
Once I was seated she raised her glass to me and purred, "...And just why is J. Duke Earle drinking alone anyway?"
I touched my glass to hers and stared at her for a moment. So, she knew who I was. It appeared that my attempts at anonymity while at this resort had been for naught. I cleared my throat and replied, " Research, of course. I draw a lot material from dins of iniquity such as this." I made a sweeping motion with my arm to indicate the lounge around us. I took a long sip of my drink allowing my eyes to follow a path from her lips, down her long neck, before finally coming to rest upon the cleft of her bosom. I quickly diverted my eyes back to her face and added, "Where else can a writer stay abreast of the seedy underbelly of the world?"
She laughed heartily, "Ah, and when you write about this seedy underbelly," she mimicked my arm sweep of moments before, "you will be staying ... abreast ... of me?"
I swallowed hard and looked down at my drink. What made me use that word, abreast, in the first place? It certainly was a painfully obvious innuendo, wasn't it? Note to self: this goddess of a woman was no bimbo. No, she was a high-classed dame. She was laughing again, at my unfortunate choice of a colorful adverb?
It was time to change the tone of our conversation. "You seem to have me at a disadvantage. You know who I am, but I don't even know your name," I said.
A demure smile came to her lips, "My friends call me Nova. We are going to be friends, are we not?"
I grinned and nodded, "But of course, Nova. I always strive to be friends with those whom I stay ... abreast."
By the time we polished off a couple of more drinks she suggested that I join her for some fresh air and a leisurely stroll on the beach. I nodded and quickly rose to pull her chair back as she stood. It was a breathtaking vantage point that afforded a birds eye view into the bronzed valley between majestic twin peaks.
Beyond her name I still knew very little about her. All the while we had been in the lounge she'd managed to deflect virtually all of the conversation from herself to me. Yet, the more mysterious she remained, the more I found myself drawn to her, almost obsessed with her.
"Nova," I said as we stopped and looked upon the reflection of the moon which was dispersed and fractured upon the sea's gentle waves, "Why is it that you are here, and alone? Surely there are many men who would beat a path to your door." The bright moonlight bathed her exposed skin creating contrasting tones no artist could ever hope to reproduce.
She slipped her hand into mine and turned her head to me. She tiptoed slightly and and whispered into my ear, "I'm not alone now. I like to live for the moment." Her breath was as warm as her next words, "Won't you live this moment with me, John?"
When I moved my head to look at her face, our lips brushed for a moment. We stood motionless peering into the other's eyes. Was she also trying to look into my soul? What was her story? Why me? She moved her hands behind my head and pulled me closer. We kissed long and hard with urgent abandon.
I don't know how she singled me out as the J. Duke Earle. How was it that she not only knew me by the nom de plume I had used for my previous novels, but also knew that the "J" was for John? No one, except for my wife - not even my publisher was privvy to that fact. Of course, it would have been an easy enough guess. She could've guessed Joseph or James just as easily.
I have read enough mystery stories to know that a secretive element is to be expected. In time, it is revealed. At that very moment there was only one mystery to be solved. Would we retire to her place or to mine?
To avoid suspicious knowing glances at the front desk, she entered the hotel lobby alone and proceeded to the elevators. When I saw that the elevator doors had closed on her, I doused the cigarette I hadn't wanted in the bucket by the main entrance.
I stopped at the desk to retrieve any mail or messages that may have been left for me. There was one message. It was from my wife. It read: "I'll be staying over at a friend's place. I'll see you about noonish. Love, Eve." Any other time I would've been both outraged and hurt. I wadded the message into a ball and stuck it in my pocket. She was predictable and I had gambled that night would be no different.
With baited anticipation I paced the inside of the elevator car silently willing the floor numbers above the door to double their rate of ascent. I had given Nova the keys to my suite. She would be inside waiting for me. I was becoming aroused wondering whether she would still be dressed or standing there naked when I entered the room.
When the elevator door finally opened at my floor I froze in mid step as I strode into the hallway. There she stood, a dreamlike vision both angelic and forbidden by the room's door. With the simple motion of raising her arms, the red dress slid into a heap atop her matching high heels. Like the day she had been born, she wore nothing underneath.
Once inside no words were spoken as we undertook the clumsy exercise of removing my clothes. The deed was interrupted by lusty lips planted upon exposed skin and was complicated further with the eager exploration of our hands upon one another. I swept her into my arms and carried to her to the waiting bed. Our desire was too great to bother pulling the bedspread back.
For our erotic trip sleep had not been on our itinerary. Our passionate love making had lasted well into the morning. I remembered dozing once or twice, no, we were cat napping as we lie with our bodies entwined as one.
I heard a familiar rapping sound. My pelvis thrust to its beat. Several times during the night our energy had been so intense that it had caused the bedposts to bang against the wall. I bolted upright. The bed next to me was empty. Nova was gone!
I stumbled about even as the rapping continued. Her dress and her shoes were nowhere to be seen. Then I realized that the persistent rapping was coming from the door. I called out, "Yes? What do you want? Who is it?"
I gained my senses when I heard the response to my queries, "Police, Mr. Earle. Would you care to open the door, please?"
What in the world did the police want and at that hour of the morning? I gazed at my watch to see that it was ... one o'clock in the afternoon? Still the rapping continued. "Just a minute. I'm coming!"
A large burly policeman barged past me into the room followed by a tall lanky man, probably a deputy. "Won't you come in?" I said with a sarcastic tone not missed by the officers.
"Mr. Earle, I have to ask you some questions about your wife?"
"My .. my wife? What about my wife? Oh, God! Is she okay? Has something happened to her?" I was shaking like a wind-blown leaf, its tenuous grasp onto a branch in peril. Pangs of guilt were riddling ever fiber of me as I recalled those morbid thoughts and wishes I'd felt on many an occasion.
"I'm afraid that she is dead, Mr. Earle." He studied me, watching my reactions. "We need you to accompany us downtown." My legs gave out and I fell to my knees. Burying my head in my hands I couldn't stop the tears that were welling in my eyes. How did that old cliche' go? Be careful what you wish for ....? Now that it had happened I found myself willing those thoughts from my subconscious mind.
I was suddenly terrified. Could I be held responsible for having death wish thoughts? "You mean, I .. I am a suspect?"
"Until we complete our investigation, sir, we have to check out every connection to the deceased. In the meantime we need you downtown," the officer was still studying me intently. "You have to I.D. the body."
(To be continued.... HERE! .)