“You’ll be arrested. The police will figure it out.”
“Don’t worry.” Delaney’s voice was carefree. “No one saw me.”
Mallory fumbled for the gold chain around her neck, twisting it around her finger. “You can’t be too sure these days.”
Delaney was confident. Too confident, Mallory fretted, her hands dampening with sweat. She wiped them on her designer jeans. Ever since they found Clare Kinney’s body, she’d agonized that Delaney was involved. Then Delaney appeared and confirmed her worst fears.
“Her hubby, Bill, was at a friend’s house, watching football,” Delaney said. “Clare was taking a long bubble bath in her fancy Jacuzzi tub…playing soft music…enjoying a glass of wine. It was too easy.”
Everyone who knew Clare knew her Thursday night “me time” routine. It would be too easy.
Delaney’s eyes were cold and remorseless. “Clare never knew I was there. Eyes closed, humming along to the music playing in her earbuds. I yanked her under the water by her ankles, as I once saw on TV. She didn’t put up a fight.”
The iciness in Delaney’s voice froze Mallory’s insides, and she shuddered.
“I emptied the wine bottle to make it appear she got drunk and fell asleep. Accident, suicide, whatever. No one will even suspect murder. It was a foolproof plan.” The gleam in Delaney’s eyes was both manic and triumphant.
“Shh!” Mallory’s gaze bounced to the closed bedroom door. “Todd will hear you.”
“That putz? Phfft. Does he ever hear anything but the sports scores?”
Now was not the time to debate her husband’s listening skills, or lack thereof. Unable to sit still, Mallory paced the plush carpet, rubbing her arms with her hands, trying to bring some warmth back into her body.
“You could have left evidence. Fingerprints.”
“Gloves.” Delaney waggled her hands.
“A strand of hair.”
“Footprints in the snow.” Mallory’s voice rose in desperation.
“Snow fell for hours, covered them up.”
“Evidence of a break-in.”
“House key hidden in the ridiculous ceramic frog in the flowerbed.”
Delaney had planned the murder to the last detail, but Mallory was sure she missed something.
“They’ll do an autopsy. Figure out it wasn’t an accident. Maybe you left bruises. What will you do then?”
“Nothing,” Delaney spat. “I won’t get caught if you keep your mouth shut. You’re the only one who knows.”
The sudden shift in Delaney’s mood caused Mallory’s heart to stop, then bolt as if it wanted to escape her chest. She stared wide-eyed at Delaney. “I won’t say anything. I promise!”
“You worry too much. Get a grip.” Delaney’s face twisted into an ugly mask. “Clare deserved it. You said so.”
“Never!” Mallory’s head swam. Delaney wasn’t going to try to pin the murder on her, was she? Her eyes darted around the bedroom in search of an escape.
“Don’t deny it. You’re in this up to your ears. You wanted me to do it. If I go down, you’re going too.”
Mallory’s stomach clenched with horror at Delaney’s harsh words. She covered her ears with her hands, but the words still echoed in her head.
Mallory had never liked Clare, who took what she wanted even if it hurt someone. Had she suggested to Delaney that Clare had to go? Was this her fault?
“No! Never murder!” Mallory’s voice quavered.
A knock sounded, and the bedroom door opened, causing Mallory to jump and stumble into the vanity as she turned around.
Her husband, Todd, poked his head in. “Honey, are you ok?”
“Yes, yes, of course,” she said in an unnaturally high voice. “What’s up?”
“Bill Kinney called. Police determined Clare was murdered.”
No, no, no. Mallory shook her head and buried her face in her hands. She wanted to flee, yet felt rooted to the spot. “What do you mean?” she croaked.
“They questioned her husband. Apparently, she was having an affair.”
“Yeah, with you!” Delaney said.
“Hush!” Mallory tried to silence her.
“He left the football game early in the evening, thinking he’d catch them in the act,” Todd was saying. “I guess he saw someone running from the house.”
“I told you,” Mallory hissed over her shoulder. “They’ll figure it out now.”
Todd frowned. “Honey, who are you talking to?”
Mallory felt tightly wound and ready to explode in a million pieces, but she forced herself to speak calmly. “What do you mean? I’m talking to Delaney.”
“Who?” Todd glanced around the room, brow furrowed. “Honey, there’s no one else here.”
After a decade investigating financial crimes, Heidi Hunter is embarking on a career writing mysteries and short stories. She’s a member of Sisters In Crime and their Guppies Chapter.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Hunter. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.