Chapter 2

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"What are you getting me involved in, a murder?" I said, shoving my feet into my jeans. "We gotta get rid of the body or call the..."

"I ain't going to jail!" Francis said. "And do you think the cops are going to help me? His cop buddies hate me. They say that I'm white trash."

They got a point, I thought. 

"Why did you kill him?" I slapped my thighs and raked my fingers through my hair. "No. No. This can't be happening." I'd gone from being a good samaritan to a murderer. "I had nothing to do with this."

"It was self-defense. You've got to believe me. I told you he beat me. I know you peeked through the blinds because I could feel it. I could feel you watching me."

I crinkled one eye. "But you said it was a sex-act-gone wrong," I said. "Which one is it? I mean, you're in big trouble."

"It's...it's a little of both," Francis said, raising a sly brow. "Let's not get caught up in the details."

I paced the room, scratching the back of my neck. "What about..."

"Would you calm down," Francis said.

"Calm down?" I said. "How can you be calm?" I'd begun to wonder if she's done this before. She might be a woman who kills every man she meets. She pulls them in with sex and murders them. 

Francis shields a cigarette hanging from her mouth with one hand and lights it with the other, taking several drags. "Walter...his name was Walter."

"The less I know about the dude, the better," I said, waving my hands. I'd watched plenty of movies where the good guy gets killed because he knew too much. I had no interest in dying yet. I wanted to get married, and raise kids, not be in the slammer for murder. Mom already thinks I'm a loser. This would only prove her right. 

"He got fired from his last job because of his arrest for beating the fuck outta me. It's nothing new."

I fold my arms across my chest, staring at her. "Continue," I said. I was glad to know Francis had receipts of his abuse. So it's not he said, she said kind of deal. But she actually had documents through the court: a restraining order, that kind of thing. "If you have receipts that's going to help your case."

"He'd slam my head into the wall then tell me he loved me. It'd be okay for a while and start right back up again. He was so unpredictable. I kept hope he'd change for good. He got me involved in BDSM. I hated it, but I did it to please him. He'd want me to whip him and stand on his chest with my stilettos."

I closed my mouth. "None of this makes any sense. I can't believe this. I mean, I grew up getting beat, too. But beating a woman like my mother was beat hadn't occurred to me. I want to change the dynamics of a future relationship through communication."

Francis clapped her hands. "Well fantastic," she said with a hint of sarcasm. "You don't understand," she said, teary-eyed. "He'd find me. You saw the chains for yourself."

"I did," I said, nodding my head as if to find anything to justify her actions. "But the chains..."

"It's like this: Walter was beat as a child, and he didn't know how to interact with woman, at least not behind closed doors. I keep thinking I can change people. You know--make them a better person. But I can't. Hell. I can't even change myself."

"Which is why you should have..."

"I'd left five times. He'd make it hell for the people who helped hide me," Francis said. "He had plenty of private investigator connections and...well, he'd find me."

I couldn't decide whether to believe this absurd story. It seemed credible and not at the same time. Had I been blessed with a cabin only to be cursed by an angel? Besides this woman broke into my house and started...well, having sex with me. How could I believe an angel with a nymph personality?

"Look," Francis said. "Either you believe me, or you don't."

I held opened and closed my hands. "I guess"—I raised a brow—"I believe you?"

"Is that a question?"

"Let's get rid of the body and never talk of it again," I said.

Francis finished clothing, and I placed my pistol in the small of my back--not knowing whether I could fully trust her. Tension built in my chest, flooding panic to my head and back again.

"You first." I motioned.

We both made our way down the stairs to the appearance of a dreary dungeon. I folded my hands to fists, wondering if it were really safe.

"There," Francis said, pointing. "He's right there."

"How long has he been dead?" I said, pinching my nose. This didn't seem like an overnight killing. His body had been here for a couple of days. The smell was too strong. 

"A day...maybe more."

"Come on, Francis. Be honest. He had to have been here for more than one day." I pulled my shirt above my nose. "Grab Walter's legs," I said.

"He's fucking heavy."

"Stop complaining," I said, heaving the son-of-a-gun out of the cage.

"Now what?" Francis asked, slapping her thighs.

I blew out my lips. "Either we cut him up, or we bury him in the backyard."

"By your—"

"No," I said. "The sex was good, but not that good. We're not burying him on my property."

"Fine...there's a cliff about a mile away."

"Do you want to get away with the murder..."

"Self-defense!" Francis butted in.

"Fine... 'self-defense.'"

"I have a freezer."

"Oh... hell no," I said, more anxious than I wanted to.

"You can't be..."

"I'm serious," Francis said.

"So am I!" I said. "And we're not doing that."

"Fine...bury the bastard."

We dragged his body to her car and past street lights and stop signs for thirty minutes. I backed into Blue Lake. Trees for miles every way. No one is going to look for a dead body here. For all I know, there are countless bodies buried on the ground beneath our feet. It took hours to slam our shovels into the frozen earth.

"Push," she said as we rolled his body into the shallow grave.

"Now what?" Francis asked.

"Now we never talk about this again, that's what."

I had this impending premonition that she'd frame me for Walter's death. The Jaded lover  murders woman's husband. Then she'd be the victim, and I'd get life in prison. How much more perfect would life be for her then?


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