I didn’t expect a phone call to crack the bedrock of my life.
How easy it is to forget we are all floating on molten lava...and tectonic shifts happen all the time...
Carlos was the one who felt my phone vibrating; it was under one of the napkins we'd used for our picnic lunch. I found it, and glancing quickly at the "UNKNOWN" on the caller ID, picked it up. While used to calls from unknown places, I was not used to calls from this guy.
"Sydney, how are you?"
I didn't recognize his voice right away. Rolling away from Carlos, I sat up. "I'm sorry, but I don't know who this is." It was when he laughed that I recognized him. “Robert Maxim?"
He laughed again. "I'm glad you remember me. My heart would be broken if I could be so easily forgotten."
I stood up, Carlos looked up at me, a question in his eyes. I shook my head and stepped away from our blanket. My dog, Blue, a huge wolf-like creature with one blue eye and one brown followed me, keeping at a heel. "Forget you, Bobby Maxim? In order to do that I'd need a lobotomy."
"With your penchant for revenge, I half expect to see you bursting through my closet doors some day, guns blazing."
I laughed. "Who says I'm not in there right now?"
"I know exactly where you are. I've been keeping very good track of you."
I looked around the park. Gentle green hills spotted with couples and groups of friends lounging on blankets dominated the landscape. On a field below me a soccer match was beginning to form. A woman ran by in a skin-tight suit, nothing on her jiggled.
"Are you here now?"
"No, no. I'm calling to ask a favor." Carlos waved, letting me know he was going to join the soccer game. I nodded back, forcing a smile onto my lips.
"I'm not doing you any favors,” I said to Robert. “It seems you're not totally clear on the fact that you took something from me."
"Sydney, I don't understand this animosity. I was just doing you a favor."
"A favor!" My raised voice attracted the attention of several groups of Londoners trying to enjoy their first day of sun. "You bastard," I hissed quietly. "I hope you rot in hell."
"I'm sorry I didn't do it sooner, darling."
"You're insane!" I was yelling again. I took a deep breath. In through my nose, out through my mouth. Blue tapped his muzzle against my hip to let me know he was still there.
"Sydney, I didn't know what you two had planned. I would have killed Kurt long before you showed up. Remember, I'm not the one who left my fingerprints behind; whose blood was spilled all over the floor. You took yourself down, it had nothing to do with me." He said it in an off-hand way. Like I was being petty and missing the big picture.
"You killed him," I whispered, trying to control my anger, but I was shaking. "That was my right. Kurt Jessup murdered my brother and I should have been the one to end him."
"At the time I had no idea about that. Mulberry didn't tell me what you were planning, just that we had a problem. I had no intention of stifling your little revenge act. If anyone should be pissed it's me. At least you got the treasure."
I stood on the green feeling lightheaded. It was like Bobby Maxim was taking the world and flipping it upside down. "What are you talking about? Mulberry told you that?"
"Oh Cher, you didn't know?" Maxim's voice rose an octave, teasing and dripping with syrup.
A cold knowledge traveled from my toes right up to my brain.
My best friend betrayed me, our relationship was built on a lie.
P.S. The dog does not die.
**Beware: If you can’t handle a few f-bombs, you can’t handle this series.**