Chad stopped by his secretary’s desk. “I’m going to lunch. Be back in an hour or so.”
“Sir, you have an appointment with your CFO at one o’clock.”
“I need you to push that back an hour. And I don’t want to be bothered. Understand?”
She smiled. “Yes, sir. And the roses have been delivered.”
“Great. Thanks, Katie.” He walked away from her desk.
“Happy Anniversary,” she said as he went out the door.
Chad stepped onto the elevator, nodding smugly to the riffraff. The young tech genius had been making arrangements to privatize one of the four elevators for himself. Having to ride up and down fifty-three floors with the commoners was an affront to his dignity.
He hopped into his red Lexus, let the top down, and drove out of the parking garage. It was a beautiful summer day. Driving down the freeway, he thought about how much better his life was about to be. Chad’s philosophy: if you’re not happy with your life—change it. And that’s exactly what he was doing.
When he arrived at the house, he pulled into the driveway and parked in the back. Chad grinned as he unlocked the kitchen door and went inside. The anticipation was half the fun.
His cell phone rang. It was Bartholomew.
He hurried back out to the porch and closed the door. “Why are you calling me?”
“I just wanted you to know: it’s done.”
“You heard me.”
“Dammit! Tomorrow was the day. Not today.”
“My contract is now fulfilled.”
“You fool! Do you realize what you’ve done?”
“I told you I would give you justice.”
“But you didn’t follow the plan. Why?”
“You said your wife was cheating on you. That was a lie.”
“I hired you to do a job, and I gave you specific instructions. But you botched it. I’m not paying you the rest of the money.”
“I don’t want any more of your money.”
“I’ve got to go.” Chad walked across the porch to the stairs.
“Don’t you want to inspect my work while you’re there?”
Chad shook his head. “You don’t even know where I am. You claimed you could track anybody anywhere anytime.”
“I know exactly where you are.”
A chill ran down Chad’s back. He hurried back into the house. “Lacy?” He ran into the living room. “Lacy?” Then he ran upstairs and went into the master bedroom.
Lacy lay on the carpet, as though she were sleeping—her head resting in a pool of blood. He dropped his phone, knelt down and checked for a pulse, but couldn’t find one.
He picked up his phone. “You bastard! This isn’t my wife! You killed the wrong woman!”
“I did exactly what I was hired to do. You said you wanted justice, and that’s what you got.”
“Justice? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Your wife is a faithful, loving woman. You, on the other hand, are a lying, cheating fornicator.”
“You murdered my girlfriend. I didn’t hire you to do this. I’m calling the police. You’re gonna fry, you son of a bitch!”
“And what are you going to tell them? That you hired a hit man and he killed the wrong woman? Is that what you’ll say?”
“I…don’t know exactly what I’ll say, but—”
“Don’t waste your time. The police will never find me. I live in another country. And I didn’t kill anyone. Never do. I hire cheap, third-party contractors to do my dirty work. See the murder weapon? That’s your gun—the one you keep in your glove box.”
Chad leaned down and studied the pistol. “How did they get it out of my car?”
“I don’t worry myself with the details. But I’m sure your fingerprints are all over it, so it’ll be an open and shut case. It’s a common scenario: the husband’s girlfriend wants more, but he refuses to leave his wife, so the girlfriend threatens to tell the wife, and then the husband kills the girlfriend.”
“You think you’re so smart. Don’t you understand that no jury will ever convict me? It won’t even go to court. My lawyers will make sure of that.”
“If you didn’t want to be married anymore, you could have divorced your wife. But, of course, then she might have taken half your wealth, and you couldn’t have that, could you? So, you hired an online hit man to take care of it. But not so you could be with your girlfriend. You were never going to marry her anyway.”
“Lacy knew it was just for fun.”
“I doubt that.”
“Your lawyers can’t save you this time, Chad.”
“You’d be surprised what they can do. And if the police can’t find you, I’ll hire another hit man to track you down. I don’t care what country you’re in—you’ll never be safe.”
“You hired me online because you were impressed with my tech skills—the way I was able to communicate with you online anonymously. You’re a network expert, yet you couldn’t track me down or even learn my identity.”
“So, what are you saying—that you’re gonna send a drone to take me out?”
“Justice is what you paid for, Chad, and justice is what you’ll get.”
“You talk big, but I see the fear in your eyes, Chad.”
“You see?” He scanned the room and spotted Lacy’s laptop sitting on top of her dresser. The webcam. Bartholomew was watching him.
“Is your phone getting hot?”
Chad suddenly understood. Bartholomew had hacked into Chad’s cell phone and was causing the battery to—
The phone exploded in Chad’s face.
He collapsed to the floor.
When Lacy woke up, the room was completely dark. She was groggy. Why was she on the floor? When she began to get up, she realized that her hair was wet. What had happened to her?
Then she remember the doorbell…the salesman…then what? Had he done this to her? Oh God, had he drugged her and beat her up? Had he raped her?
Lacy got up and felt her way around the bed and into the bathroom. She turned on the light. Her hair was soaked in blood. Or, at least it looked like blood. She couldn’t find any cuts on her head or any bruises. But maybe it was still numb from whatever drug he gave her.
She washed her hair in the sink and dried it with a towel, and wrapped the towel around her head. Lacy was beginning to feel more alert, almost normal. She checked the rest of her body, looking for evidence of sexual assault, but found nothing.
It didn’t make sense.
She went back into the bedroom, turned on the light, and saw a man’s body on the floor. His face was burned beyond recognition, but his suit and shoes were all too familiar. She began to cry.
“Chad? Oh, Chad, baby, what happened to you?”
A webcam on her laptop captured everything.
At the other end of the connection, thousands of miles away, Bartholomew nodded. “Justice.”