I bet Michael is biting his nails as he awaits my arrival.
On my way to him, I call 911 to report the shooting. I ask them, while trying to overcome the slight tremble in my voice, to send paramedics. I hope the victim can still be revived. I wonder about her, wonder if she has any rivals, any enemies, anyone with ill wishes, because to me she seemed like a meek, ordinary woman, with little drama in her life—but then again, who knows?
I feel dizzy. My head is spinning because of what has just happened—but despite the late hour and the chill in my bones, I get out of the Uber car at the corner of Cliff Drive and walk home the rest of the way. Why? Because I don’t want my boyfriend to spot the spill of blood outside the passenger window, or the glass fractures in the rear one, all around that bullet hole.
You may tell me to get my head examined—which I already did—but the last thing I need is his alarm over a missed hit. The important word here is missed, right? So, no need to lose sleep over it. After all, I’m safe and sound.
Well, safe. Not quite sure about the sound part.
As I approach my door, there is Michael, pacing back and forth, in and out with my golden retriever at his heels, following his every move.
Sniffing, Browny catches my scent. He gives me his welcome woof and wags his bushy tail all about with great gusto. But then, his brown eyes turn serious, soulful even, and his tail droops down, way down between his hind legs. He must be sensing the tension between Michael and me even before the first word is uttered.
Perhaps it’s the silence that gives it away.
Having cast a brief glance at the pale pink cellphone in my hand, Michael asks, “Where were you, Ash?”
By the agonized tone in his voice, he must already know not only where I’ve been but also what I’ve done. There’s little chance of hiding the truth from a smart man, and even less than that if he’s a hacker.
I brush past him and without taking off my coat, plop wearily down on the sofa, the one I got last year at a garage sale for next to nothing. It was too much to pay because to this day, I detest the flowery pattern and the smell—faint as it may be—of someone else’s stale perfume.
What I need is a hug, or at least a brief touch to stop me from shivering. Browny seems to sense it. He leaps onto my lap. I nuzzle his shiny nose and say to him what is intended for Michael. “I can’t hide anything from you, you know that, right?”
“But lately, you do try,” says Michael. He sets a cup of hot chocolate before me. “What did you do?”
“Don’t be angry with me.” I try to overcome the choked feeling in my throat. “I can explain.”
Months after recovering from coma, Ash discovers that the man who performed her brain surgery has a questionable medical experience and a dark past. Should she expose him, at the risk of becoming vulnerable to his revenge?