Lunch with Peyton is always a treat. She's got nothing to do all day but Pilates and trying new recipes, and she's making some delectable farro salad with arugula, roasted beets, and warm goat cheese that sent Brie into an elevated state of bliss last week just hearing about it over the phone.
Ah, to be well married, Brie thinks as she pulls into the driveway. Peyton's husband is in commercial real estate—Bruce made six million dollars last year—and their house is a modernist spectacle of the highest order. Glass, gleaming metal, polished cement with large vivid canvases and furniture so pricey it boggles the working class mind. Their landscape designer created a succulent garden so remarkable that it's been featured in Sunset Magazine twice.
Brie rings the bell and listens to its lovely chime call out into the space. Joujou, Peyton's overly sexual Chinese Crested Hairless—a dog she paid five thousand dollars for and waited over three years for its conception—is barking his head off through the window beside the front door. Brie looks at him, her nostrils flared. This dog is a symbol of the depravity of society. Joujou is hairless, every contour of his small, rigid body visible except for the platinum white shags of hair that drape from his shins like après ski boots, a tail that a French maid would use for dusting, and a wig of oddly envious likewise colored hair that makes him look like a pop star who just stepped out of the salon. What's more, this dog always has a red-hot lipstick boner that he'll rub on anything and everything, especially you. Brie has no idea how Peyton allows this dog in the same room as the children.
She bangs the doorknocker—nothing—and the dog starts barking his head off all over again.
"Quiet, Pervert," Brie mutters as she dials Peyton's cell. One ring, two rings, three rings, voicemail. Her stomach growls.
Brie walks along the slate garden path, exotic fern fronds tickling her ankles, feeling sorry for herself. She heads up the drive into the backyard, where the swimming pool promotes a sense of serenity with its dark stones and hush of waterfalls.
From somewhere inside, a woman screams.
Brie goes to the patio and peers through the window into the great-for-entertaining open floor plan. "Peyton?" No one in the kitchen, no one in the sunken living room.
"No. No! Nooo!" the woman bawls.
Brie turns from the house and looks beyond the pool to the quaint little guest cottage, the lone remainder of the 1920's Tudor they bought for too much and then demolished. The cottage always reminds Brie of Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother's house. The sound seems to be coming from there.
"Oh God, no. Please!"
Brie's heart is thumping. The whole scene flashes in her mind. An intruder, maybe that weirdo gardener Peyton mentioned, dragging Peyton to Grandmother's house to violate and murder her. Or that asshole ex-partner of her husband's, the one who's hooked on Oxycontin and is suing the shit out of them. How sweet to exact his revenge on Peyton instead of Bruce. Isn't that how they do it in the movies? I could kill you, Bruce, but then I would be sparing you the misery. No, instead I think I'll take the thing that you love most away from you, just like you did to me.
"No. Please. Untie me!" Peyton screams, and Brie knows she is not too late. She picks up the lawn spike that's meant to keep the hose out of the cactus garden. She's going to kick this wackjob in the gut, knee him in the face to break his nose until the cops come, and if that doesn't subdue him, she's going to smash his cranium with this spike, which is actually really heavy. Ow.
Brie creeps to the window and pokes her head up just enough to see inside. Peyton lies face down and naked, spread eagle on the bed, her wrists tied to the bedpost, her ankles bound to the footboard. He sits astride her, his lean naked back to the windows, stuffing pillows underneath her hips. Brie can't tell if she's unconscious. "Sick fuck," she whispers as she watches him spread Peyton's ass cheeks, stroking himself before pointing at his target and pushing into it, her whole body going rigid.
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Brie Baggio thinks she's ready... for marriage, kids, the whole shebang. She's pushing forty, and even though she's the Senior Anti-Aging Ambassador at Los Angeles's hottest med spa, Botox can't paralyze that nagging feeling that it's now or never...