Friday, April 15, 2016

Back List Blast: Exposure (#erotic #suspense #pittsburgh)



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We're shy afterwards. We hardly talk on the way back to my house, but his kiss when we arrive is heated and fervent. "Do you want to come in for a while?" I ask, wondering how it will feel to have a man in my bed after such a long time.

He shakes his head. "I'm done in," he says with a mischievous grin. "Somebody really put me through the blender." He kisses me again, more gently. "And maybe now you'll get a good night's sleep. I'll call tomorrow."

"Thanks, Jimmy. For everything."

"Anytime," he laughs, then turns toward his car.

I'm careful to lock the door behind me, but I'm still high from the evening's events. Only when I come out of the shower do I notice anything strange. I open my lingerie drawer to get out my silk kimono, and find that all my lovely things are jumbled together, without any order. I was nervous and fussy while dressing, I remember, but I can't imagine that I would have left my underwear in this state.

I check the other drawers. They are equally muddled. Most of the sweaters and jerseys are folded, but clumsily, and my usual organization by color and season is totally upset. Whoever rummaged through my clothing tried, without success, to disguise that fact.

Someone was in my house, while I was out with Jimmy. An intruder into my personal space. My haven! I sink down on the bed, shaking with mingled anger and fear at this violation. After a moment, I regain control of myself.

Someone had been here. Someone might be here still. I fish around in my purse for my Mace. I retrieve my haircutting scissors from the bathroom. Donning my terry robe, I creep into the hallway, a weapon in each hand.

Across the upstairs hall is my den and office, formerly my father's bedroom. I stop and listen outside the door. All is silent. Reaching inside, I flick on the light. The room is empty. There's no closet, nowhere to hide. But there are signs of disturbance. My desk drawer is open. My checkbook is on the writing surface as if someone had been reviewing the register. And my yellow pad, with my attempts at analyzing the events around Tony's murder. I know that I left it on the desk. Now it's gone. I search the rest of the desk, the cubbies and the file drawer. It's simply not here.

Somehow I'm not surprised. I feel cold, cold and clear as arctic ice. Someone was here, someone who knows something about Tony's death. Someone who thinks I know something, or have something that will lead me to the truth.

Shivering, I inch my way downstairs and check the front parlor. All is quiet and empty, though the burglar left his mark here, too. Knickknacks misplaced on the mantel. My father's humidor left half-open.

Finally, I make my way to the kitchen. Here, there's the clearest evidence: a tumbler with remnants of scotch, and a cigarette butt snuffed out in a saucer. By this point, it seems, my unwelcome guest didn't care if he left traces.

The back door, I discover, is unlocked. I'm one hundred percent certain I didn't leave it that way. Carefully, keeping my body behind the door, I scan the yard. The light filtering from the kitchen windows is bright enough for me to see that there is no one in my little square of turf. It also shows me crushed tomato plants and bean vines torn from their trellises, clearly marking the intruder's escape route.

At that point, my rage finally overwhelms my fear. I pour myself a finger of scotch and sit at the kitchen table, simmering in helpless anger and vowing some kind of revenge.

Then a horrible thought crosses my mind. Jimmy knew I would be out tonight. He was the only one who knew. Was it possible that he was involved in all this, somehow? Is it possible that smiling Jimmy might have betrayed me?

The balance shifts again. Shudders shake my body. Sitting alone under the fluorescent lights, gripping my drink, I am paralyzed by the realization that I don't know who I can trust. If anyone.

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