Tag Archives: secrets

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter ten, part three

The private envelope that Lydia hadn’t wanted Brian to see loomed large in my mind.  Though what we had already gone through was interesting and cause for speculation to say the least, I had a hunch that what Lydia had kept from Brian was even juicier.  It was logical to assume that the reason she hadn’t wanted him to see what was in that envelope was because what she had found had something to do with him.  Suddenly, I had to get out of there and go through the private envelope.  I made my excuses, gathered up the papers, placed them in the manila envelope before returning it to my purse and headed for the door.  Rafe followed willingly, but Brian was complaining.  He wanted more time to look over the information, and while I couldn’t blame him, I wasn’t leaving the papers with him, either.  I didn’t trust him further than I could throw him.  I promised him that I would let him know if we came up with anything else of importance, but my reassurances didn’t seem to ease his mind.

“What’s your hurry?”  Rafe asked as he walked me to my mom’s car.  I could tell he wasn’t mad at me any more, but I knew we’d still have to discuss my withholding information.  I, for one, was glad to put it on hold for as long as possible.

“I want to see what’s in the ‘not for Brian’s eyes’ envelope,” I explained, clutching my purse.  “The other stuff is interesting, but I have a feeling that we’ll find pay dirt with the private papers.”

“You just want to dish the dirt,” Rafe said knowingly, giving me a peck on the cheek.  He knew that I liked to dig deep—the dirtier the better.  It wasn’t the most attractive part of my personality, but I wasn’t ashamed of it, either.

“Meet you back at the parents’?”  I asked, lifting an eyebrow.  He nodded and veered off towards his car.  Driving at a slower speed than usual, I was outpaced back to my parents’ house.  They were nowhere to be seen, which was unusual for this time of day on a weekday.  Rafe waited for me to open the door before he started pestering me to bring out the private stash.  We went into the living room and snuggled on the couch.  I pulled out the private envelope and opened it.  There was a few pieces of paper plus a bunch of pictures.  The first piece of paper was again addressed to me.

Bea, this is something that I don’t want Brian to see.  I’m hoping that it’s you reading this and not Brian.  You see, for the last month or so, I had a hunch that he was seeing someone else.  You know how it is.  First, the attention starts wandering, then the sex isn’t as frequent.  I tried to tell myself that it was because of his work, but since I don’t know what the hell he does, it was hard to convince myself that was true.  So I did what other suspicious women have done.  I followed him.

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter six, part one

“Beezus, you have got to listen to me.”  My mother was on me the minute I walked in the door.  She was on her second martini which meant it was a rough day for her.  “Frieda told Zelda that that boy you got fired, what was his name?  Your boss’s nephew—he’s pretty angry at you.  When they talked to him about it, he couldn’t stop cussing you out.  Called you the ‘b’ word and the ‘c’ word.”  It took me a minute to translate.  I knew what the ‘b’ word was—what woman didn’t?—but the ‘c’ word?  When I figured it out, I cringed.  That was one of my least favorite words.

“He wouldn’t be so openly hostile if he tried to kill me,” I said hopefully, slipping out of my shoes.  My mother ushered me into the kitchen so she can stuff me with tea and goodies.  If I stayed at my parents’ house for much longer, I was going to gain ten pounds.  I picked up the conversation where it’d left off.  “Carlos was probably just trying to scare me.”

“Frieda said he admitted to going to the park sometimes just to keep track of you.  That doesn’t sound like just venting to me.”  I went cold at the thought of Carlos watching me.  My mother must have read something in my face because she added, “Don’t worry.  Frieda read him the riot act and threatened to throw his ass—her words, not mine—in jail if he ever went near you again.  He seemed to take her warning to heart.”  I had to smile.  Cousin Frieda was over six feet tall and built like a linebacker.  When we were kids, I used to tease her that she must surely have Caucasian genes because no purebred Taiwanese girl could be that big.  It always made her cry.

“Maybe we should have this discussion after Rafe gets here,” I said, heaving a sigh.  I didn’t want to talk about it twice, and I knew that Rafe would want to hear all the details.

“Have you ever thought about moving in with him?”  My mother asked, her smile impish.  “You guys get along so well.  It’s as if you were made for each other.”

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Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter twelve, part three

I go to the kitchen to make myself a rum and coke before returning to the living room.  I slump in the couch, ready to think some more.  I can’t get Harry out of my mind, despite any solid evidence pointing at him.  However, any theory involving Harry doesn’t take into account the note, the rose, the S&M motif, nor the sex play. In other words, it sucks.  I lean back on the couch and close my eyes.  The characters are dancing behind my eyelids, taunting me to find the guilty one.  Everything is a mess and a jumble.  There are so many possibilities, it’s depressing.  For such a beautiful, charming woman, Moira certainly squandered her birthright.  With her talent and her personal life, she should have been the happiest woman on earth.  Instead, she cut a swath through the female population of the Bay Area, leaving carnage and destruction wherever she went.  There’s something infinitely sad about someone who’s greatest success in life is messing up other people’s lives.  She would be proud of her accomplishments, of course, but it would be a hollow victory.  None of her affairs satisfied her.  None of her shenanigans masked the fact that she was empty inside.  Sex can be an addiction like anything else—I think she was addicted to the drama of star-crossed lovers and obsessive stalkers.

Once again, I find myself wondering what kind of childhood she must have had to turn out the way she did.  She was a sociopath—or a psychopath, I always get those mixed up—with little remorse or regret.  A part of me envies that about her.  She moved decisively once she made a decision—so unlike me.  I tend to stew and worry when I have to make a decision and the anxiety doesn’t let up once the decision is made.  That’s actually when the fun begins because I get to second-guess myself until I am no longer sure what I should have done.  So to me, the appeal of someone like Moira is enormous.  The other part of me, however, wouldn’t want to lose my humanity to gain confidence, and I feel that Moira had made that trade-off.

“Hi, honey!  I’m home!”  There is a slam of the door, and Paris bounces into the living room.  He has that disgusting smirk of someone who has just gotten laid.  Fortunately, I have the matching look on my own face.  We eye each other silently for a second before we both simultaneously burst out talking.  After we tell each other to go first and several false starts, I tell him about my evening with Vashti.  I glide over a few of the details, but remain true to the spirit of the events.  His face loses some of its animation as I talk.  There is no love lost between the two, and I sometimes feel as if I’m in the middle of a very personal cold war.  Since I want to be fair, I tell him the rest.

“She’s hiding something from me,” I say bluntly.  “I have a feeling it has something to do with the killer, but I’m not exactly sure what.”

“Let me get this straight,” Paris says carefully, spacing his words evenly.  “You just spent the evening with someone who knows who the killer is, but won’t tell you?  What are you, crazy?”

“I guess so,” I say, narrowing my eyes.  “But then again, I never dated a woman who systematically stole my money, or someone who threatened to kill herself after I left her.  You certainly can’t say the same.”

“That’s not the point,” Paris huffs.  “You could be killed if you’re not careful.  I think as long as Vashti doesn’t come clean, you shouldn’t talk to her.”  He sits on the couch and folds his arms.  I can tell he’s angry, but I think he’s out of line.

“Paris, whatever you have against Vashti is between you and her.  I’m not getting in the middle of that one.  That said, Vashti is my girl.  That means treat her with some respect.  If you do that, I’m sure she’ll do the same for you.”  Paris’s face is closed as if he’s never heard such a thing.  I rush on, uncomfortable with the friction between us.  “It’s not that I think she’s lying to me; she’s just not telling all she knows.  But she said she will in a day or two.”  Paris is still not receptive.  “Let’s talk about something else.  Tell me more about Lyle.  I like him.”

“I know you think I’m being unreasonable.”  Paris finally sits down next to me on the couch.  “I just worry about you, Rayne.  We’re not talking about hiding a past lover or other trivial information.  She knows something about a killer, and she’s not telling you.  She’s putting you in danger.  Doesn’t that worry you in the least?”  I bite down a defensive retort and really think about his question.

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Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter eleven, part two

I shut my eyes and try to think about what I know so far.  However, my mind keeps returning to this information about Paris.  Adopted.  I try to put myself in my shoes and imagine how I’d feel if I realized that the people I thought were my parents weren’t, and that they’d been lying to me all my life.  That would mean Libby isn’t my sister—a thought guaranteed to bring a smile to my face.  It probably also would mean that Rayne isn’t my real name—another cheerful thought.  Maybe this adoption thing wouldn’t be as bad as I imagined.  Then I think about my father and something hits me in the gut.  Not being his real daughter?  Hell, no.  That would kill me to find out.  Even though Paris is not close to his mother and fairly hated his father before his father died, he must still be shocked by the news—especially finding out in this manner.

I stare at the blank television for some time.  My mind is racing with no real thoughts, just more glimmers of this and that.  I am tempted to call Paris’s mother back and cuss her out for not telling him the truth sooner.  I don’t know what she was thinking, despite my attempt at defending her.  She must have known that she couldn’t keep it from him forever, and yet, she never told him.  I wonder what her motivation was for keeping it a secret.  I pick up the phone, ready to hit the redial button.  I hang up without doing so.  Another call by me to her will be counterproductive.  There is nothing more that she’ll be willing to tell me at this point.  Better to wait and let it stew in her mind for a bit.

The phone rings, but I’m in no mood to answer it.  If I try to make chitchat right now, I’ll go out of my mind.  I can only focus on the stunning revelation that Paris just laid on me.  I don’t know how to react.  No matter how supportive I am of Paris and what he’s going through, a part of me is repulsed by the idea of Max being his mother.  Not just because I don’t like the woman and think she’s a blight to humankind.  If it’s true, she knowingly had sex with Paris—no, she seduced him!—knowing that he’s her son.  What kind of fucked-up, twisted mind would think of doing such a thing?  Then throwing it in his face.  It’s almost as if she is punishing him for something that only she understands.  If it’s true, I will never forgive her for pulling that kind of cruel trick on Paris.  If it’s not true, then I curse her for making him sweat and for forcing him to discover his adoptive roots in such a manner.  I don’t know what her game was, but I don’t like it any more than I like her.

I wait.  I don’t bother turning on the television as there isn’t anything I want to watch.  I glance at my watch periodically to make sure that I don’t fall asleep.  I want to check in on Paris exactly an hour after he went into his room.  I don’t think he’ll do anything stupid, but I’m not positive.  I slump down on the couch, unable to sit still.  I want to be a good friend to Paris, but I don’t know what he needs at this time.  I mean, what would I want if I just found out I was adopted?  It’s so far out of my realm of possibilities that I can’t even think what would be my reaction.  My mind races to the emails that Libby sent me earlier.  I have to make a decision by tomorrow what I’m going to tell her.  Truthfully, I’d like to skip the whole sordid event, but I’m afraid that we will never talk to each other again if I don’t agree to go.  There is no way I’m giving in on every point, however.  If I don’t make a stand now, she’ll just keep chipping away until I’m a carbon copy of her.  I resolve to email her stating my case gently, but firmly.

The next time I check my watch, I notice that over an hour has gone by.  I stand up and stretch, feeling as if I’ve aged ten years in the last hour.  I walk to Paris’s room, curiously reluctant to interfere with his emotions.  There are some things that even a best friend shouldn’t be privy to, and this is one of them.  This kind of news is best left revealed by the one to whom the news most affects, in this case, Paris.  Unfortunately, given the circumstances, we don’t have time to play by the conventional rules.  We need the information fast, and we need it unvarnished.  That means that Paris doesn’t have the luxury of sulking over it or hoarding it to himself.  Like it or not, he has to share what he knows with the good inspector as soon as possible.  It falls upon my shoulders to convince him of this.  Squaring my shoulders, I knock on Paris’s door.  Without waiting for a reply, I go on in.  Paris is curled up on his bed, staring at the wall.  I know he’s not looking at his drawings or anything else.  He is simply staring blankly at the wall.

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Parental Deception; chapter eleven, part two

“Hey, babe.” Rembrandt materializes out of the blue, a huge yawn splitting his face. He’s wearing a robe, and he ties the belt before slipping an arm around me.

“Hey, boo.” I kiss him on the cheek and am surprised to find my cigarette has burned out. I light another one so I can have a few more puffs.

“You had a pensive look on your face when I came out. What’re you thinking about?” It’s a simple question, but I’m not sure how to answer. Do I give the safe answer of that I was thinking of that man? Or do I tell him about my feelings about us? I decide to start with the former and work my way to the latter; it feels safer that way.

“That man. The imposter. I can’t stop trying to figure out why he did what he did.” I take a draw on my cigarette so he won’t see my face. I’m not lying to him, exactly, but this isn’t the more pressing issue, if I’m to be honest. Rembrandt looks at me for several seconds before answering.

“You may never know,” he finally says. “He’s dead, and his wife seems pretty clueless.” He hesitates and adds, “What is really on your mind?” I don’t respond. Do I want to get into it with him or do I just want to shine him on? My impulse is to equivocate, but he deserves better than that.

“I want to go on a date,” I blurt out, blushing as soon as the words leave my mouth. It’s not how I wanted to phrase it, but it’s what I’m thinking, really. “Don’t get me wrong. I love that you cook for me, and I feel so spoiled by it. It’s just, we kind of went from dating to limited cohabitation very quickly. I know it’s been stressful and weird because of that psycho woman, but I want to date.”

“Let’s go on a date then,” Rembrandt says. “Saturday night? You pick the restaurant. I’ll come and pick you up and everything.” Irrationally, the fact that he’s being so sweet about it makes me feel even worse. Am I spoiling for a fight? Is that what’s going on here? I should be thrilled that I have a sweet, sensitive, talented, hot man who wants to be with me. Instead, I’m moping over stupid girly shit like going on a date. I am my own worst enemy, and I need to grow the fuck up.

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Marital Duplicity; chapter thirteen, part three

I go into the living room, Onyx and Jet hot on my tail. I pull up my website, and I’ve gotten a lively set of responses to my post about secrets and lies in relationships. MNborn writes, “My marriage was a hot mess of secrets, mostly on my husband’s part. He was fucking anything in a skirt that moved—but he vehemently denied it if I ever brought it up. It was crazy-making for me—I knew he was cheating on me, but he would never admit it. Talk about gaslighting! He also gambled away his earnings and mine. When I divorced him a year later, I was poorer in the wallet and in friends—because he fucked them—but richer in mental health.” NYOnMyMind muses, “My mother raised me to believe that my first and only goal was to be a wife and mother. That’s all she was, and she was miserable, though she would never say that out loud. My father was a good man, but ineffectual against her rages. He would disappear in a book when she went off on a rant, and I learned to follow suit.” CallMeJoe adds his two cents. “My father was having an affair with my mother’s younger sister. My aunt was barely eighteen at the time. None of us knew for five years, including my mother. We only found out when he left my mom for my aunt, whom he then left a year later for their oldest sister. This was twenty years ago, and me and my five siblings haven’t talked to our father ever since.” InSaneIty shares, “It was an open secret that my mother was in and out of mental institutions for most of her adult life. My father would say she was away at a cousin’s, resting or some shit, but my three sisters and I knew the truth. We could see it in her behavior leading up to the lock-up. She’d swing from mania to depression in the blink of an eye, and she tried to kill herself on more than one occasion. She died five years ago while on one of her ‘rests’. I was sad about it, but also relieved. She was hard to live with when she wasn’t locked up.”

There’s a small group of commenters who insist that their relationships are completely honest, transparent, and free of lies. The other commenters take them to task, but I don’t bother. If someone is deep in denial, it’s dangerous to take that away from them. One thing I learned in Psych 101 was that you don’t remove someone’s coping mechanism if you don’t have anything to replace it with. Even bad coping mechanisms are better than nothing. In addition, who am I to say that they’re lying? I’m sure there are relationships that are mostly honest and healthy, but I haven’t seen many of them. My friend Liz and her husband, Frankie, are as close as it gets to a great relationship. Before the last few weeks, I would have said Jasmine and Bob also had a solid relationship. Now, I know better. It’s not to say they can’t recoup what they once had, but it’s going to take work.

Speaking of Bob, I need to read his emails. The last time I asked Jasmine for his password, however, she got mad  and refused to give it to me. She might feel differently this time because she’s more desperate now, but I wouldn’t count on it. I decide to be sneakier about it, even though it makes me feel slimy. I know his Gmail account is bobcheng224@gmail.com. My bet is that he’s not very creative with his passwords. I try Jasmine, and I’m in. I make a mental note to tell him to change it later, but for now, I shake off my feeling of discomfort and read his emails. Most of them are mundane and about church or business. He doesn’t have them in folders, so it’s a slog to scroll through them. I see a thread from Hayley, and I open it up. I start from the beginning, which was three weeks ago. In her email to him, she’s whining about her husband and having to stay home with her baby. His response is compassionate and thoughtful, but with a tinge of impatience. I have the feeling that he’s heard it a million times before, and he’s getting tired of it. I would be, too, if I were him. I have little patience for people who want to wallow in their own misery.

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Marital Duplicity; chapter eleven, part two

“She took the money after much discussion. She didn’t want it, but I insisted.” Reverend Yang’s eyes tear up, and I can tell he’s not over Katie yet. He takes a deep breath and blurts out, “Can I trust you, Megan?” It’s clear there’s something burdening him, and I’ll say whatever he wants to hear in order to get him to reveal the information.

“Yes, Marcus. I’m a very good listener, and I know how to be discreet.” I squeeze Reverend Yang’s hand, and he squeezes it in return.

“She’s here. In St. Cloud. With our daughter.”

“What?!” I shriek, snatching my hand away. I stare at Reverend Yang as if he’s spoken Greek, though I’m fairly sure he hasn’t.

“I pay for her apartment, discreetly, and I go up once a month or so to see our daughter.” Reverend Yang continues. “She’s so smart and pretty and just the best thing I’ve ever done.” Reverend Yang’s eyes are shining, and it makes me sad that he’s living a double life because he doesn’t have the courage to be his own man.

“I take it Sharon doesn’t  know,” I say, though I don’t need confirmation.

“No! She would kill me if she knew.”

“Do Katie’s sisters know?”

“No. They all think she’s living in Orange County.”

“Marcus. How have you been able to keep it a secret for so long?” I am flabbergasted. Whatever I was expecting, it wasn’t this.

“Sharon and I don’t really talk, and, well, none of my family are here, so it’s easy to keep them in the dark.” Reverend Yang runs his hand through his hair and slumps against the couch. Suddenly, he bursts into tears, and I pull him to my chest.

“There, there, Marcus,” I say, stroking his hair. “Let it all out.” That only encourages him to cry even harder, which he does for several minutes.

“I really can’t do this any longer,” Reverend Yang says. “It’s such a charade.”

“Marcus, I’m sorry about your situation. I know it’s rough on you, but we really need to talk about why I’m here.” I pull back and straighten my shirt. There’s snot on it, and I’m not sure it’ll come out.

“Sure. What do you want to know?” Marcus is a broken man, and I don’t feel comfortable grilling him, but I soldier on.

“I need to know what happened with you and Hayley Wu. The truth.” I squelch my misgivings, trying not to see his hangdog look.

“Lee,” Reverend Yang says, his voice coming alive. “She was the first woman to make me feel alive in a long time, but….”

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Trip on This: Chapter Thirteen (Part Two)

Chapter Thirteen (Part Two)

“You got it?”  I ask the minute we reach the hotel and are safely in our room.

“I got it,” Vandalia grins, pulling a packet out of her bag.  “The manager was more than delighted to help me and completely understood how a touch of arthritis made signing my name so difficult.  He did so admire my ID, though.”  She and Mowgli laugh in triumph, but I’m too focused on the manila envelope sitting on the bed in front of me.  I pick it up and heft it in my hand.  It seems too slim to have caused so much trouble.

“This is all there was?”  I ask, toying with the clasp.  Now that I have it, I’m suddenly nervous.  What if it doesn’t have what we need?  What if it’s all been nothing?  All the scheming, the planning, the conniving.  I dismiss these unworthy nervous thoughts and pull the envelope to me.

“That’s it, buckeroo.”  Vandalia drawls.  “Sean, the manager, assures me that nobody has been in the box except for moi.”  The self-satisfied smirk on her face grows as she leans back on the bed.

“Open it, Del,” Mowgli says impatiently, itching to rip it from my hands and open it himself.  “Let’s see what we got here.”

I slowly open the packet, my fingers suddenly cold.  I pull back the flap and plunge my hand inside, pulling out first a sheaf of papers, then another key.  The three of us stare in bewilderment at the key for a minute, not sure that we are seeing what we see.  I turn the envelope upside down and shake it—empty.  The silence is unnerving as none of us can think of what to say.  I pick up the sheaf of papers and leaf through them, handing each page to Mowgli when I’m through.  He, in turn, hands it to Vandalia.  The three of us read, frowning as we do so.  There is a bunch of legalese which makes no sense, but what it boils down to is that O’Reilly, Peters and a ‘silent partner’ own a nascent company called BLots which in a year or so will be ‘challenging the stranglehold that Nike has on the sneaker world’.  The company is based in Juarez, Mexico, and a Senor Ramon Lopez-Garcia is the nominal president.

“This is it?”  Vandalia asks, setting down the last page of the document.  “This is the reason those girls were killed?”

“Not the whole reason, I don’t think,” I say, shooting a glance at Mowgli.

“I agree,” Mowgli nods his head.  “I mean, it’s sleazy, but it’s not exactly illegal.”  He leans back on the bed and closes his eyes to think.  The three of us are huddled on my bed, all frowning.

“I think it’s a blind,” I finally say.  “This stuff is crap, and I think Blanche understood that in her dim way.  That’s why she put the second key in the box; it opens the box that holds the real stuff.”

“Question is, where is the second box?”  Vandalia asks, her face serious for once.  No one ask the question they are all thinking—how many boxes are there?

“Another bank?”  Mowgli asks, his voice unsure.

“No,” I say, examining the key.  “This isn’t a bank key.”  I show it to them, displaying the number on it—A341.  “Some kind of locker or perhaps storage room,” I muse, turning the key over in my hand.  On the other side of the key is a tiny inscription that says, “R. Bros.” on it.

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