In her arms was where he was meant to be.

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A VG Serial: ToxiCity

Episode 69

Matt pulled up to the Feldman’s Lake Forest estate. He hadn’t been able to stay long at Stone’s. It was too warm. Too friendly. He felt like a dog, grateful to have a few minutes of warmth by the fire before being shooed out.

Lights twinkled through the Feldman’s gate, and he spotted her Mercedes in the driveway. Set back from the road, the French country home had a cobblestone driveway and a mansard roof. He gazed at the landscaped grounds, all of it surrounded by a wrought iron fence.

He told himself he’d driven up to talk to Ricki about Dorman. Make sure he was doing his job. But as he studied the house from his car, his mother’s words came back to him. Georgia thought she knew all about Jews. She ate bagels, watched Seinfeld, called people shmucks. No, that wasn’t fair. She’d done more than that. But she wasn’t Jewish. Ricki was.

He checked his watch. After eleven. If Dorman checked the security camera the way he should, he ought to be getting suspicious of a strange car parked outside. Did Matt want to be here when that happened?

He rolled down the window. A faint vibration eddied through the air, followed by the quiet rumble of a distant train. The night air was cold and still. Ricki had been raised in one of the most affluent areas of Chicago. She had never washed windows or scrubbed floors like his mother. She would expect things he could never give her. Not on a cop’s salary. She could have any man she wanted. They were probably lined up already. So why him?

He recalled what she had said about him one night. He was a protector. Of things both physical and spiritual. She said she could feel safe with him. He’d thought that was just flattery. Her way of coming-on to him. But was it? Was the concept of security, and the desire for it, that powerful an aphrodisiac?

The lights from the house winked at him like a beacon. He climbed out of the car and walked up to the gate. He hesitated before ringing the buzzer, knowing the simple action of depressing his finger would change everything.

 ***

Dorman raised his eyebrows when he saw Matt, but opened the door wide, revealing a grand foyer with a black marble floor, curving staircase, and crystal chandelier.

“Who is it, Rufus?” Ricki’s voice floated down the stairs. Matt looked up. She was at the top of the landing, wearing a light green robe. Her dark hair, loosely falling around her shoulders, shimmered in the light from the chandelier. Her hands rested on the banister.

Matt’s throat caught. “How—how’s your father?”

She didn’t answer but descended the stairs slowly. She led Dorman into the kitchen. Matt heard her murmuring. Then a door slammed. A minute later an engine turned over. She came back into the hall stood before him. No questions about why he was here or what he wanted.

Matt ran his tongue around his lips “So, how is he?”

“He can’t speak. He can’t move. He can barely breathe. They gave him that medicine they give stroke victims. You know the stuff that’s supposed to help rewire his brain. But it hasn’t done anything.” She stepped closer, halving the distance between them. “I’m scared.” She ran a hand through her hair. “I’d like to believe— that there is hope. But it’s hard. Please—tell me there’s a reason why God is doing this to me.”

He didn’t answer her, but her expression said he was the only person she’d let try. He brushed away the lock of hair that fell across her forehead. She moved into his arms. When he kissed her, a powerful sense of familiarity came over him. He was where he was supposed to be.

Episodes in the novel will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Please click the following title,ToxiCity, to read more about Libby Fischer Hellman’s books on Amazon.

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