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Stacy was like alcohol—tempting, intoxicating, addictive, and, occasionally, fatal. You could never have just one taste of her. You have to have more.
The first time Jordan ever laid on her was when he and his wife, Scarlett, went to Florida on vacation back in late June. He’d been outside a beachside restaurant, sitting at a table chewing on a burger. Scarlett had gone to the long lunch line to pick up her order. Casually, Jordan looked up from his cheeseburger…and looked directly into the brightest pair of blue eyes he’d ever seen.
Jordan had literally stopped chewing—his mouth still around the burger—and stared. Just stared. He wasn’t quite sure why at that time. Of course, the woman was gorgeous—no way of denying that—but he felt like he was a horny, lovesick fifteen-year-old instead of a twenty-three-year-old married man.
He wasn’t the only guy whose breath was taken away by this beautiful woman. The trio of college boys sitting two tables over had stopped their childish theatrics and were all staring at the woman, their mouths slightly ajar. Even the middle-aged man sitting at the table next to Jordan’s with his wife and two preteen daughters was sneaking a peek.
But she was only looking at Jordan.
He’d scolded himself, but there was a tiny part of him that was flattered to have such an attractive woman’s attention. But that was egotistical. She might not even be looking at him at all, maybe even something behind him. Judging by her position, the way she sat on a bench with her ankles crossed, hands on her lap, and leaning on the back of the seat, she was waiting for someone. A woman like that is bound to have an adoring husband or boyfriend. Besides, Jordan had his own woman, and she was good enough for him.
But still…it was hard not to stare at her. Really hard.
Jordan pretended to be eating his burger, all the while studying the woman out of the corner of his eye. She had to be a few years older than him, late twenties or so. She had slim, smooth legs, a creamy complexion, narrow waist, and C-cup breasts, all showed off by her pretty baby-pink sundress. Her honey-blond hair framed her heart-shaped face in loose, soft waves. Her features were delicate and feminine, and her eyes were the color of the Atlantic Ocean, with lush, full eyelashes. This woman was Aphrodite in the flesh.
Suddenly, the woman rose and began to walk towards Jordan. A seductive smile played on her cherry-pink lips and her white sandals clicked like a cat’s claws on the cement of the sidewalk. Jordan mouth was full of his latest sip of Pepsi; he’d forgotten to swallow.
Jordan felt the heat rise to his face as he watched her hips twitch, her eyes never breaking their gaze from his. Aphrodite was coming closer and closer and closer….
Jordan’s goddess stopped walking and turned, literally seven feet away from the table. He couldn’t see her face, but he could tell it wasn’t particularly happy.
The man who had referred to the goddess as “Stacy” was a good-looking guy, older and taller than Jordan, but much leaner. With his dark, wavy blond hair and dark blue eyes, the man’s attractiveness complemented the goddess’s beauty very nicely. Jordan could easily take him out if he had to.
The man was holding two small baskets of French fries in his hands and a glowing smile on his face. The goddess—Stacy—returned the smile half-heartedly. Then, with one last look at Jordan, she walked back over to the man. Jordan watched as they left.
“Hey,” Scarlett’s voice snapped him out of his trance. “What are you looking at? And why do you have soda all over your shirt?”
Jordan was a senior in high school when he met Scarlett. She was friends with Jordan’s best friend Ryan’s girlfriend at the time and they were introduced at a school pep rally. He had thought he’d met the most perfect girl in the world and pursued her more than he had any other girl he was ever interested in, even when she said no the first time he’d asked her out a week later.
The second time he asked her out on a date, his luck was better, and Scarlett was officially his girlfriend a month later. Five months after that, Jordan had somehow gotten the balls to pop the question…and she had said yes.
Naturally, not everyone was pleased. It took some time for them to get use to the idea, but Scarlett’s parents were eventually easygoing and supportive. However, Jordan’s mother was adamant that they were making a huge mistake. Jordan and Scarlett believed they would beat the odds, and they had. They were engaged for three years when they finally bought a condo together and they had their wedding a year ahead of schedule.
Now, Jordan was beginning to wonder if his mother had been right all along.
Scarlett was ten months older than Jordan. While ten months was not that big of an age difference, he felt the emotional barrier between them. Scarlett was a straight A and B student and she was in college working her way towards becoming a speech pathologist. Jordan was a C student at best, and had never set foot on a college campus, not even a community college. He’d worked a variety of odd jobs, from working at the docks in Port Angeles to being an underwriter at a car dealership downtown, while Scarlett was the caretaker of a girl suffering from cerebral palsy.
What always intimidated Jordan most about his wife was her experience with her sexuality. Scarlett had four other boyfriends before him and had lost her virginity at sixteen. Jordan didn’t have a terrible amount of experience in the romance department. Scarlett was his one and only partner.
Plus, their backgrounds were exceptionally different. Scarlett came from a middle-class family in the suburbs of Vancouver, Washington with a legal secretary for a mother and a landscaper for a father. She also has an older sister named Sabrina, who, by the way, hates Jordan’s guts. Sabrina believed that he somehow took advantage of her sensitive, idealistic little sister, but that’s far from the truth.
Jordan was also from Vancouver, but his parents were never married and his mother raised Jordan and his brother by herself while working nights waiting tables. He didn’t see his father very often and he had four half-siblings that he barely knew. Plus, Scarlett was friendlier and more extroverted than him, as well as more creative and always optimistic about the future, no matter what obstacles she encountered along the way.
One thing Jordan and Scarlett really had going for them was the fact that they wanted a big family, with three or four kids. But now that’s looking a little dim. How could he support a family on the kind of salary he makes? Sure, he could be a stay-at-home dad, he actually really liked that idea, but God forbid, what if something should happen to Scarlett?
Presently, Jordan was watching Scarlett as she stood in front of the mirror above the dresser in their hotel room, running a brush through her long, straight brown hair. Her green eyes were slightly distant, her thoughts in another place. She was probably thinking about what they were going to do tomorrow, Jordan figured. She was always thinking more about tomorrow, instead of today.
“You want to go down to the bar for a drink?” he asked her.
“Sure,” she agreed. “But you go down first. I need a shower.”
Jordan nodded, rose from the bed, and left the room for the hotel bar.
It can’t be.
Jordan was sitting at the bar of the hotel’s restaurant, drinking a Sam Adams and waiting for Scarlett. From his seat, he had a full view of the front entrance—which is how he saw her come in. The goddess.
She had changed out of her pink sundress and into a sexy little black dress with a short skirt and a low cleavage. Her hair was still down and wavy, but shinier than it had been that afternoon, more golden than honey. She had on little or no makeup, save for bright, Angelina Jolie plumped red lips. On her feet were black ankle boots that made her look like a cat burglar.
Like before, it was hard not to look at her. At least, he wasn’t the only one; he counted at least four other guys had turned their heads when she walked in, even the ones who already had a pretty date with them.
She gracefully took a seat at the bar, at a stool three down from Jordan. The bartender immediately approached her, a huge, boyish grin on his face. When she returned his smile with a dazzling one of her own, he looked like an excited puppy about to wet himself.
“An apple martini please,” she said in a cooing voice. The bartender hopped right to it.
This woman is amazing, Jordan thought as he watched the woman in the little black dress. It was an hour later, and she was still alone at the bar. Every five minutes—Jordan kept count on his watch—a guy was coming up and hitting on her, some with more confidence than others. Her rejections went from polite to giving a guy the bird, depending on how pushy the dude was being. To his surprise, she never once flashed her wedding ring at them. Perhaps she knows that a marriage license wouldn’t mean a thing to some of these a-holes.
Jordan found himself studying that ring and comparing it to the one Scarlett was wearing on her left ring finger. That ring had cost him a three-month’s salary with his job as a pizza delivery guy, and it wasn’t even a real diamond. Scarlett loved the ring just because it was from him out of love, but he’d die of embarrassment if anyone ever found out the diamond on the engagement ring were a fake.
The other woman’s diamond ring sparkled when it caught the light and, from a distance, Jordan could see the three-carat jewel was encrusted with small blue sapphires. The image of the man from that afternoon popped into Jordan’s head. He remembered the clothes he was wearing were very neat and put together and expensive-looking. Jordan assumed he could be some kind of lawyer or doctor.
“So, I was thinking,” Scarlett said. “Tomorrow, we could take that boat ride? What do you think?”
“Sure, babe,” Jordan replied absently, making eye contact with his wife. “Whatever you want to do, I’ll go along with it.”
“OK,” Scarlett grinned. Scarlett was a very intuitive person, with Jordan at least, so he had to wonder if she was somehow picking up on his distracted behavior or was just brushing it off as jet lag.
They spent the next hour and half talking about their upcoming plans for the rest of the week—boat ride tomorrow, Disney World Wednesday to Friday, and then some activities on Saturday before they left Sunday morning—going over every little detail of what they wanted to do. A typical vacation for them. Sometimes, Jordan wondered if it would be healthier for them to just lay around on the beach instead of moving around, which is usually what they do during a regular workweek anyway.
“I’m going to the ladies room,” Scarlett told Jordan, finishing off her drink and then standing up from the stool. “I’ll be back.”
“’Kay,” Jordan said.
Jordan watched her leave, going in the direction of the bathrooms. Again, he asked himself, What the hell is a girl like that doing with a guy like me?
“Hello,” a silvery voice said.
Jordan almost jumped out of his skin. He turned his head and found himself staring into the face of an angel—the woman in the little black dress.
With his broad shoulders and bulky figure, Jordan always felt like a brute next to petite Scarlett. This woman made him feel like even more of a beast. She was maybe three inches shorter than Scarlett without her heels on and Scarlett was roughly five feet three inches tall.
“Hi,” Jordan heard himself say. Why was this woman talking to him? Didn’t she see he wasn’t alone?
“I’m Stacy,” the real-life angel said, smiling sweetly. “What’s your name?”
“Jordan,” he replied automatically. “My name is Jordan.” Silently, Jordan cursed his mother for giving him a proper, respectable upbringing. The little voice in the back of his head told him the woman—Stacy—was playing him. She saw him as a potential challenge, as he was the only male in the bar that hadn’t hit on her. Common sense told him she was looking for trouble, but something else made him stay where he was instead of running like hell.
Stacy reached over and stroked Jordan’s hand, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. He jerked his hand away and gave her his best “get away from me you whore” look. She smiled and titled her head ever so slightly, completely unfazed.
“I saw you this afternoon,” she said. “On the beach.”
“Oh, really?” Jordan said casually, avoiding eye contact. Was Scarlett taking a number two or something? What the hell was taking her so long?
“I just saw you, and I thought,” she said breathlessly, her lips wandering towards his ear. “Who is he? And where has he been all my life?”
“Far away,” he said, finally meeting her eyes. “With my wife.” He lifted his left hand and flashed his gold wedding band under her pretty little nose.
This woman really was a moron. That was the dumbest pick up line he’d ever heard in his entire life. He could laugh out loud. Who would fall for something like that?
“Clearly,” Jordan said. “I’m already taken and I’m not as desperate as some people.” He looked her squarely in the eye. “Does your husband know what you’re doing?”
Anger flashed in Stacy’s eyes. “I own my husband,” she growled. “I can do whatever I want, with whoever I want.”
“How nice for you,” Jordan snorted.
Stacy gritted her teeth, stomped her foot, and walked off in a huff.
What a little brat, Jordan thought. I feel sorry for the guy who has the misfortune of being Mr. Stacy.
It had to be a coincidence.
Jordan saw the guy who was supposedly Stacy’s husband the following day outside a café while waiting in line to board the ferry. He was dressed casually, in khaki pants, loafers, and a white Ralph Lauren polo. Clearly, the guy made a pretty decent salary if he was buying Ralph Lauren. And, judging by the way he stopped to open the doors for women and laughed off when a somebody bumped into him, spilling drops of an ice cream cone on his pants, he was a schmuk. A really nice schmuk with a flirtatious wife.
After waiting twenty minutes, Jordan and Scarlett finally got on the ferry. They had to walk up a set of stairs that looked more like a ladder. Scarlett was wearing her favorite red flip-flops and she tripped on the way up. Jordan couldn’t catch her fast enough, but the guy in front of her did.
“Oh,” Scarlett said, her cheeks flushing slightly with sun and embarrassment. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” replied the gentleman.
Jordan looked up—it was Stacy’s husband.
Even with the sun glaring down, Jordan could tell the man was definitely attractive. He had a light tan that showed off his dark blue eyes and straight, white teeth. His body was that of a dedicated jogger, lean and fit. As he walked up onto the deck, Jordan caught two slightly older women admiring the gentleman as he helped Scarlett get back on her feet.
“Thank you,” Scarlett giggled awkwardly.
“You’re welcome, dear,” the gentleman smiled.
The guy—Laurent—looked up and into the direction of the snappy female voice. Jordan followed his gaze.
Stacy was standing about ten feet away, tapping her foot impatiently…and giving Scarlett a look that made Jordan’s blood run cold.
By Thursday, Jordan didn’t know if he should feel scared or enthralled.
On Wednesday, he and Scarlett went to Disney World, just as they planned…and bumped into Stacy and Laurent again. When Jordan saw Stacy, his body felt both hot and cold; one part wanting to grab Scarlett and run out of Disney World and back to Seattle, the other part wanting to run to Stacy and out of the country. He couldn’t explain how he felt, or why he was dreaming about a woman whose last name he didn’t even know.
The only reason Jordan could come up with that came close to logic was he was truly flattered by Stacy’s attention. For the past several months, he had been lonely. Forced to find work in a city outside of Seattle, away from Scarlett, he was lonely. He had hoped this vacation would close the emotional distance between them…it hadn’t.
On Friday, Jordan and Scarlett bumped into Laurent and Stacy again, this time outside a souvenir shop. Scarlett and Laurent casually chatted for about a minute or so, while Jordan and Stacy stood quietly, watching their respective spouses and each other.
“What happened to your eye?” Jordan asked Stacy. He noticed her left eye was slightly pink, and yellowish.
“I was at the gym the other day,” she said. “I was opening my locker and the door hit me in the face by accident.” She looked to her husband, as if expecting him to contradict her. Instead, Laurent was still looking at Scarlett as she spoke.
“Stacy and I were about to have lunch,” Laurent said. “Would you folks like to join us?”
“We’d love you,” Scarlett replied, before her husband could decline the invitation.
The meal turned out to be quite nice. Laurent paid for the whole thing, despite Jordan’s protests.
Laurent himself was from Seattle. He was the son of two lawyers but had chosen to become a psychologist. He had three younger sisters—Delphine, Mirabelle, and Clara—whom he talked about a great deal. Scarlett found this amusing. She was also happy that there was someone who showed a genuine interest in her studies of speech pathology, judging by the amount of questions Laurent asked. Stacy and Jordan piped in commentary, but for the majority of the time they were silent.
During the meal, Jordan studied Stacy out of the corner of his eye. He saw a thumb-sized bluish black bruise on her upper left arm and her knees looked scraped. Jordan’s gut was telling him something was going on with her, but he couldn’t pinpoint what.
He looked at Laurent. The guy was too nice, way too nice….
She called him the following night on the cellphone number he’d slipped her the previous afternoon. He snuck down the hall to another room, while his wife was sound asleep in bed.
She was sitting on the queen-sized bed, wearing nothing but a baby doll nightgown. When he opened the door, she greeted him with a demure smile. Her hair seemed to come to life in the faint candlelight of the room.
Come to me, her voice sang in his head. Come to me…come to me…please be mine.
“I’m yours,” he whispered, gently shutting the door behind him and locking it. “All yours.”
“I’ll be back in a little while, OK Jordan?” Scarlett called out to him from the front hall. “Do you need anything before I go?”
“I’m good babe,” he called back from his study room.
Jordan waited for the sound of the front door closing and the sound of the lock clicking before he accepted the Skype.
The goddess’s face materialized on the screen. “Hey you,” Stacy said. “What took you so long?”
“My wife was in the room,” he replied. “I had to wait for her to leave.”
“She hasn’t picked up on it yet?” she asked.
“No,” he assured her. “She has no idea we’ve been talking for almost two months now.” And not just talking either…Jordan felt his body heat rise when he remembered last night, what he and Stacy did together while Scarlett had gone out for a drink with some of her grad school friends.
“What about Laurent?” Jordan asked Stacy. “Does he suspect anything?”
“He’s barely home these days,” she replied. “Work has been keeping him busy, thank God. He would kill me if he knew I was even talking to another man.”
“Did you guys get into another fight?”
“No.” She replied too quickly. She’s bluffing.
“C’mon, what happened?”
Stacy hesitated for a second. Then, she lifted her hand to the right side of her neck and wiped it. Jordan gasped softly when he saw the purple bruises on Stacy’s delicate skin. Anger boiled inside him and exploded like a volcano.
“He got mad,” Stacy whimpered. “Because I challenged him in front of his research assistant yesterday.”
“You have to get away from him, Stacy,” Jordan urged passionately.
“He’ll kill me,” she sobbed.
“Not if I have anything to say about it.” He paused. “I’m coming to Florida.”
“What? When?” she asked.
“As soon as I can gather up some money,” Jordan promised. “But it might take a while. Plus, I will have to think of something to tell Scarlett.”
“Take as much time as you need, sweetheart. I’m not going anywhere.”
Stacy logged off of Skype, a smirk on her face. She took a tissue out of a tissue box on the nearby dresser and began to wipe the makeup off her neck.
I think some red wine is in order, she thought. After all, my prince is coming to rescue me from the big, bad husband.
It took him three months, but Jordan managed to make enough money to buy a ticket for Miami. Now, all he needed to do was come up with an explanation to give to Scarlett.
Turns out, he didn’t even need to come up with a story. One of Scarlett’s best friends from her childhood, Whitney, recently had a baby. Whitney and her family now live near the Canadian border. Scarlett announced to Jordan she was going to pay Whitney a visit and planned on staying there for at least a week. Jordan smiled, wishing her to have a good time and say hi to Whitney for him.
That same night, an hour after she was gone, Jordan was boarding a flight to Miami, Florida.
Stacy was there to meet him at the airport, like she promised. Laurent, too, would be away, attending some kind of conference or whatever in Orlando. Jordan could finally be with Stacy and have no interruptions or regrets or second thoughts.
They spent the first night at a hotel. Stacy said it was because her neighbors were a bunch of busybodies who adored her husband and would instantly start gossiping if they saw Stacy bring a man into the house while Laurent was gone.
The next day was spent driving around Miami. At around five in the afternoon, Jordan parked his rental car in a random restaurant parking lot and started making out with Stacy.
“Jordan?” Stacy murmured against his neck. “Do you think I’m pretty?”
“I think you’re gorgeous,” he said, grinning goofily.
“You’d make Megan Fox melt into a puddle, you’re so hot.”
“Do you even know how old I am?”
“I dunno. Twenty?”
She laughed half-heartedly. “I’m thirty-five.”
“Yeah? So? I like older women.”
“Do you like me so much that you would do anything I ask?”
How could she ask him that? “Of course,” he said. “Anything you want.”
Jordan and Stacy were standing outside of Laurent’s office on the campus of Saint Leo University. The building was empty, save for them, and Caitlin, Laurent’s research assistant. Stacy had said Caitlin had called earlier that evening, asking Stacy if she knew where Laurent kept some file she needed for a paper. Stacy told her it would most likely be at his on-campus office.
Jordan heard the girl rummaging around inside, opening filing cabinets and drawers as she muttered irritably to herself. There wasn’t any trace of fear in her voice. She felt safe being in this empty building late at night. The security guards standing at the front desk made her feel reassured of her safety.
The adrenaline began to pump through his veins and his chest began to heave. Stacy’s hand on his arm felt like ice against his hot skin. His hand squeezed involuntarily around the knife’s bejeweled handle.
I’ve never felt so alive.
Jordan walked into the office, one hand behind his back. She didn’t hear him come in.
Be quick about it, Stacy had urged him. If she screams, the guards will hear her and they’ll investigate.
As he walked towards the girl, his feet gliding on the floor, he felt…powerful. This girl belonged to him. She was his property, his prey. Her life rested in his hands. Suddenly, Caitlin turned around and startled. Her lips parted…and Jordan rammed the knife into her chest, bursting open her heart.
Caitlin’s eyes shot open wide in shock and her mouth formed a silent scream. She was dead before she hit the floor.
Stacy walked in. She smiled joyfully as she watched Caitlin’s blood spill all over the floor. She bent down, swiped her index finger through the red puddle, put it in her mouth, and smiled, like a little girl tasting the frosting on a birthday cake. Then, she stuck both of her hands into Caitlin’s chest, pulled out her bloodied hands, and then proceeded to rub the blood over her face, arms, legs, even her hair.
Jordan sat down on the floor and gazed at his goddess.
Rain patted down on the roof quietly as Jordan sat on the sofa in the living room of Stacy’s former home. All the lights were off and it was pitch black, save for the lights of the cars that flashed through the uncovered front windows.
Slowly, Jordan’s body began to tense when he heard a car pull into the driveway. He licked his lips when he heard the engine turn off and the car door slam shut. Sweat ran down his forehead as he heard shoes run through puddles to the front door. His heart raced when he heard the key in the lock and the doorknob turn….
Jordan leapt up from the sofa, charging at Laurent, the monster that tortured his precious Stacy and trapped her in his dungeon for three years.
An ear splitting, bloodcurdling scream pierced through the muggy air as Jordan dug the knife into Laurent’s rib cage. Jordan pulled out the knife painfully slow, and then dug it back into the same wound. Laurent screams became louder, if that was even possible.
Jordan let Laurent’s body fall to the floor. The other man’s blood spilled all over as he lay there in the foyer, gasping for air and doubled over in indescribable agony.
“Now you know what it feels like,” Jordan hissed.
The bloody knife still in his hand, Jordan ran out of the house and into the rain, eyes wild and heart pounding, as he left an innocent man alone to die.