Her Brother's Keeper
This is the opening of the story, a short prologues that introduces Heather. It is contracted at Whiskey Creek Press, but there's no release date as yet.
Heather left the restaurant with a spring in her step. Oliver Symonds was a valuable addition to her client list at the law practice of Stuart & Rendell. Not quite the Big Money end of town, but someone to boast about in her weekly email to Richard in Kuala Lumpur.
She’d love to share her news in person and regretted not visiting Malaysia on her last trip overseas, but lovers take precedence over brothers, even peerless ones like Richard, and Tony had insisted on Bali. With the increasing demands of her career making inroads on their social life, he’d needed placating.
“Damn!” Symonds’ insistence on a Monday morning response meant another late night in the office and she’d promised Tony a special meal.
She took her cell phone from her bag and speed dialed Tony’s number, frowning when the call defaulted immediately to his voice mail. He had the phone turned off again. It was getting to be a habit.
Still, their city apartment was less than a block away. She’d buy two jars of local mussels and lay out the ingredients for his favorite marinara with a note explaining the circumstances. It might soften the shouting match when she came home.
Their lift was out of order again, forcing her to climb six flights of stairs carrying the two shopping bags, one heavy with the jars of mussels and the other with a bottle of Tony’s favorite Shiraz, added as a sweetener. She paused outside their door, fumbling for her keys, both shopping bags in her left hand, and noted the surreptitious closing of their neighbor’s door. Mrs. Bennett was a nosey old biddy…
Once inside, she dumped her bag and the keys on the hall stand and headed for the kitchenette with the shopping bags, only to be waylaid by a sound from their bedroom. Tony must be home after all. She turned aside and opened the door to the classic farce of infidelity discovered…and Tony’s partner was Jessica, supposedly Heather’s best friend.
Shock held all three motionless for a long moment, and then Tony rolled off the bed, coming to his feet on the opposite side to the door, while Jessica gave an inane giggle, snatched up her clothes and slipped past him, disappearing into the ensuite bathroom.
“You’re home early.” Tony smiled, as if amused or embarrassed, she couldn’t tell which. “It’s a bit unusual these days.”
“I tried to phone you, but you’d switched it off.”
“I forgot to charge the battery this morning.”
It was a ridiculous conversation, but Heather’s mind wouldn’t engage beyond the fact that Tony had betrayed her in the bed they’d bought as their first piece of jointly owned furniture.
It was all incredibly civilized until Jessica’s head appeared around the door.
“Pass me my shoes, lover.”
She pointedly ignored Heather, but the sly triumph in her smile shattered the calm.
“Bitch!” The shopping bag in Heather’s right hand swung back.
“Shit.” Tony knew the caliber of Heather’s temper too well to hesitate. One hand thrust Jessica back into the bathroom and he followed her through the door, slamming it closed behind him.
“Bastard.” Heather’s aim was perfect and the two jars of mussels smashed against the door and each other, filling the bedroom with the briny smell of their contents, sowing the floor with a minefield of broken glass.
Jessica screamed abuse and Tony swore behind the door as the bottle of wine followed, but neither of them emerged until Heather stormed down the hall to the front door, muttering imprecations about lovers and false friends. A pause to gather her bag and keys and she left the apartment, slamming the door behind her.
She was never coming back.
A passing cab responded to her hail and she slid into the back seat. “Do you know the catholic church in Widford Street, Glenroy?” she asked.
She nodded. “Take me there. I’ll give you directions when we arrive.”
She’d never found a cabbie who knew the small cul-de-sac where her stepmother lived and this was the easiest way to reach home.