The bar did well. Still, a few times a year, Rinker'd go out of town with a gun and come back with a bundle of money. Some she spent, but most she hid, under a variety of names, in a variety of places. One thing her step-dad had taught her well: sooner or later, however comfortable you might be at the moment, you were gonna have to run.
Carmel was long, sleek and expensive, like a new Jaguar.
She had a small head, with a tidy nose, thin pale lips, a square chin and a small pointed tongue. She was a Swede, way back, and blond---one of the whippet Swedes with small breasts, narrow hips, and a long waist in between. She had the eyes of a bird of prey, a raptor. Carmel was a defense attorney in Minneapolis, one of the top two or three. Most years, she made comfortably more than a million dollars.
Carmel lived in a fabulously cool high-rise apartment in downtown Minneapolis, all blond-wood floors and white walls with black-and-white photos by Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus and Minor White, but nobody as gauche and come-lately as Robert Mapplethorpe. Amid all the black-and-white, there were perfect touches of bloody-murder-red in the furniture and carpets. Even her car, a Jaguar XK8, had a custom bloody-murder-red paint job.
On the second of the three unluckiest days in Barbara Allen's life, Carmel Loan decided that she was truly, genuinely and forever in love with Hale Allen, Barbara Allen's husband.
Hale Allen, a property and real estate attorney, was the definitive heartthrob. He had near-black hair that fell naturally over his forehead in little ringlets, warm brown eyes, a square chin with a dimple, wide shoulders, big hands and narrow hips. He was a perfect size forty-two, a little over six feet tall, with one slightly chipped front tooth. The knot of his tie was always askew, and women were always fixing it. Putting their hands on him. He had an easy jock-way with the women, chatting them up, playing with them.
Hale Allen liked women; and not just for sex. He liked to talk with them, shop with them, drink with them, jog with them---all without losing some essential lupine manliness. He had given Carmel reason to believe that he found her not unattractive. Whenever Carmel saw him, something deep inside her got plucked.
Despite his looks and easy manner with women, Hale Allen was not the sharpest knife in the dishwasher. He was content with boiler-plate law, the arranging of routine contracts, and made nowhere near as much money as Carmel. That made little difference to a woman who'd found true love. Stupidity could be overlooked, Carmel thought, if a woman felt a genuine physical passion for a man. Besides, Hale would look very good standing next to the stone fireplace at her annual Christmas party, a scotch in hand, and perhaps a cheerful bloody-murder-red bow tie; she'd do the talking.
Unfortunately, Hale appeared to be permanently tied to his wife, Barbara.
By her money, Carmel thought. Barbara had a lot of it, through her family. And though Hale's cerebral filament might not burn as brightly as others, he knew fifty million bucks when he saw them. He knew where that sixteen-hundred-dollar black cashmere Giorgio Armani sport coat came from.
Allen's tie to his wife---or to her money, anyway---left few acceptable options for a woman of Carmel's qualities.
She wouldn't hang around and yearn, or get weepy and depressed, or drunk enough to throw herself at him. She'd do something.
Like kill the wife.
Reprinted from Certain Prey by John Sandford by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright 1999 by John Sandford.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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