Happily Ever After Take Two Suspense Short Fiction By Deb Merino

“Happily Ever After: Take Two”: Suspense Short Fiction By Deb Merino

Deb Merino, author of Happily Ever After: Take Two, has previously published short fiction in Rock and a Hard Place Magazine. Her work has been recognized as an Ink & Insights Top 10 Master Finalist and a Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association Finalist.


As Jason stepped out of the shower that morning, thoughts of his ex-wife haunted him. She hadn’t crossed his mind for a while. Perhaps it bubbled up due to his upcoming first anniversary with his new bride, Leanne. His current marriage was different, better, solid. With the help of a therapist, he was a new, confident man with a new life and a new wife.

He dried off, wrapped the towel around his waist, and stood next to Leanne. Her smile warmed his heart like sunshine.

She leaned toward the mirror, dressed in her black pants and shirt, and inserted the faux diamond earrings he had given her as a wedding gift. Her delicate fingers pushed her long blonde hair behind her ears. “It’s like I have a little part of you with me all day.” She blew him a kiss.

If only he could’ve bought real diamonds. But on his salary as a staff accountant it was all he could afford. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pressed his hips against her.

She leaned toward the mirror, dressed in her black pants and shirt, and inserted the faux diamond earrings he had given her as a wedding gift.

She melted into him. “Have I told you I love you?”

“Only twice this morning.” He nestled his lips into the nape of her neck. A hint of cucumber melon soap tickled his nose. “I have to work late again.”

She turned around and rubbed his chest. “That’s okay. I’m picking up extra hours too.”

It had been her dream to visit Hollywood for their honeymoon, but at the time they didn’t have enough money. He had been working overtime to surprise her with the trip for their anniversary.

If you asked about her career, she’d tell you she was an actor. Hence, the desire to see the legendary Hollywood. She worked the occasional voice-over, commercial, or movie extra gig. But mostly, she was a barista at a café near his office in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. His ex had worked there too until the divorce. The one good thing she did was bring Leanne into his life.

He had spent many early morning hours there studying for the CPA exam, hoping to get hired with one of the big public accounting firms. Maybe then Leanne could pursue her acting dream full time. But he still had to retake two sections. Rachel, his coworker, was helping him study and got to know Leanne too. Although, they seemed to butt heads. He didn’t pretend to understand women. With his long hours, his studying had been put on hiatus.

He followed Leanne to the living room. “I don’t like you working late, walking to your car in the dark.”

She hitched her purse over her shoulder and pulled out her 9mm pistol. “That’s why I carry my little friend.” She winked.

He laughed. “Your Al Pacino needs work.”

She stuck out her tongue.

He loved her playfulness.

“Did you submit those benefit forms that were due?”

“Yup, got the best plan like Rachel suggested.”

She smiled. “Super.” She headed for the door.

“See you this afternoon.” Every afternoon he stopped by her cafe for a coffee and a quick kiss.

“Today’s not good.” She hesitated and shook her head. “We’re running a special and it’s been crazy busy.” She pecked his cheek. “Love you.” And walked out the door.


Jason slammed his laptop closed. For hours he’d struggled to concentrate as he sat alone in his cubicle that, except for their wedding picture and a wilted philodendron, was identical to the other nineteen cubicles in the bullpen. The geometric block of grey upholstered walls where he spent more than half his waking hours imprisoned him.

The managing supervisor kept an eye on the inmates from his luxury glass-walled office. Rachel was in there talking. She gestured like she was shooting a free throw. Probably trying to snag the Cavaliers tickets he gave out on a regular basis. She’d received them several times.

Someday he’d get those tickets and take Leanne.

His Leanne, the beacon to which he steered. He clenched the knot on his tie and loosened it. He drew in a deep breath, held it for a few moments, and let it out slowly. It had nagged him all day, her slight hesitation that morning, the shake of her head.

Today’s not good.

What the hell? When he walked in the door of the café her face always lit up. She would call out above the line of customers, in presence of her coworkers, “There’s my amazing husband.”

But the look on her face this morning. The tiny crease between her eyes. Like she was hiding something.

His stomach knotted. He groaned. Why did people say trust your gut? Stupid saying. The paranoid thoughts took him back to his first marriage.

He kicked the waste can under his desk.

Rachel appeared in his cube. She had been promoted twice in the benefits department. A real ‘go-getter’ the boss called her. “Problem, sweetie?” Her lips puckered into a pout.

“It’s Leanne.” The instant those words slipped out of his mouth, he cringed. He didn’t want to get into it at work. And maybe there wasn’t even a problem. Maybe he was being overly sensitive.

“Sorry, honey. Wanna talk about it?” She looked around and then whispered, “A drink after work?”

Despite his repeated declarations of his dedication to his wife, Rachel continued to flirt with him. A wink or a brush of her arm. A seemingly innocent invite for a drink.

He had to admit he enjoyed the flirting. Who wouldn’t want to feel desired? A man has needs. Leanne was affectionate, but often stopped short of actual intercourse. Regardless, she was the love of his life. No way would he ever hurt her like that. Like his ex hurt him. That backstabber. That’s literally what it felt like—a long, jagged blade jammed into his back between his ribs, piercing his heart.

Rachel gave his shirtsleeve a gentle tug. “Come on. You know I’m a great listener.”

He swiveled back to his computer. “It’s nothing.”

“Maybe you should talk to her. Leanne always seems happy to see you.”

“She’s probably too busy.”

Rachel shrugged and disappeared to her office.

He thought about texting Leanne a sweet love message. But she only had access to her phone during breaks. If she didn’t respond swiftly, he would only wind himself up tighter.

Had he done something wrong? Had he said something to offend her, hurt her feelings? There hadn’t been any sign of that. Last night she had fallen asleep in his arms. Her brushing him off like that, it made no sense.

His knees bobbed up and down frantically. The shortness of breath, the fidgeting, and the inability to concentrate—the symptoms were back. After being betrayed in his first marriage, he had sunk into a depression accompanied by panic attacks.

When Leanne had come into his life, everything changed. She gave him hope that his version of the American dream was still possible. He closed his eyes to envision their future. In the backyard of their four-bedroom suburban home he would grill hamburgers and the children and family dog would play. He and Leanne would lie in bed when the house was quiet, holding each other after they had made love.

But all he could see was that damn scrunch between her eyes.

He stormed off to the restroom and splashed cold water on his face. Working himself into a lather was his greatest talent. “Calm down you idiot. Stop you’re paranoia.”


Jason mindlessly scrolled through a spreadsheet.

“Hey, champ,” said his supervisor.

He startled. “Mr. Clayton.” His boss didn’t come out of his glass castle very often. “Can I help you with something?”

“You’re a hard worker, Jason, especially the last few months. But a young man like you…” he pointed to the wedding picture “with a hot little wife…you need to have some fun.”

Being recognized for his hard work was much appreciated. But he found it disrespectful for his boss to call Leanne “hot,” even though she was. He offered a weak smile. “Thank you, sir. That’s why I’ve been working so hard, to surprise her with an overdue honeymoon.”

Mr. Clayton nodded. “Good man.” He held two slim pieces of cardboard paper in his right hand.

His heart beat faster. Could it be?

“I’ve got two tickets to the Cavs game Saturday night. You like basketball don’t you?”

If Jason had been standing, he would’ve fainted and fell straight to the floor. The day had taken a turn for the better. Cavs tickets, finally. “I’m honored. Thank you so much, sir.” He stood and shook his hand.

“Why don’t you run down the street and let your lovely wife know about the surprise.”

The tickets almost glowed as he held them up to the light. Cavaliers versus the Lakers. The Lakers! His heart jumped out of his throat. He could barely speak. “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

A rush of crisp autumn air washed over his face as he exited the building. There was such a spring in his step that his shoes barely touched the sidewalk. Leanne’s café was in sight.

He couldn’t contain his enthusiasm. “Great weather,” he said to a passerby. “Afternoon,” he said to another.

They merely returned a standoffish look.

He chuckled at the sad negativism of their mundane lives. They didn’t have floor seats at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ game. He and Leanne were going to feel so cool, so important, sitting in those expensive seats. Finally, his hard work was paying off.

He held the door to the café open as two older women walked through.

“Thank you, dear,” said the one nearest him. “Nice to see there are still gentlemen around. Your wife is a lucky woman.”

It was impossible to contain a grin. Yes, she was. He was. He walked inside, his head held high.

Leanne wasn’t behind the counter.

He shouted to Katrina, her co-worker.  “Leanne in the back?”

Katrina smacked her gum. “Left like three hours ago.” She waved up the next customer.

He checked his watch. It was five-thirty, meaning she had left earlier than her regular shift ended. He fiddled with the tiny hole in his pant pocket, making it even larger. Why hadn’t she dropped him a text? Several tables were empty. Maybe the special wasn’t so special anymore. He brushed off the thought and got in line to order.

“The usual?” asked Katrina. She held a large paper coffee cup with a black marker at the ready.

“Sure. Maybe I’ll add a meal. What’s your special today?” He pulled out his credit card.

She looked at him sideways. “Special?”

“Leanne said you have a big special offer going on this week? She was supposed to work late.”

“Uh…” Her mouth hung open, exposing her pink wad of gum. “There’s no special. I think she had to meet somebody, or an appointment? Sorry, I can’t remember.”

No special? Meeting someone? She lied to him. Heat rushed to his face.

“You want the ham sandwich?” Katrina popped her gum.

The deceit sucker punched him right in the gut. “Just coffee.”

He walked back to the office, making his way upstream through the workers going home to spouses, glasses of wine, and home-cooked meatloaf. He clutched the coffee cup with both hands as if it were Leanne herself. He wanted to grab her arms and demand answers. His palms sucked the heat, the life from the coffee. For an instant, he imagined the cup were her neck.

He gasped at his thoughts and threw the full cup into a nearby trashcan. The dark brown liquid splashed out the opposite side of the bin almost hitting a passerby. He stepped into an alcove of a jewelry store and dialed Leanne. One, two, three, four rings.

“Hey, honey.” She sounded out of breath. “You still at the office?”

Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t be accusatory. Remember what your therapist said. “No, I stopped by to see you at work. Where are you?”


Was she coming up with a story?

“I’m so sorry. I wasn’t needed so I’m running errands.”

Three hours worth of errands? “What errands?”

“You know, this and that.” She mumbled something in the background.

“Is someone with you?” His pulse raced.

“What? Can’t hear you.”

Is she stalling? “Are you with someone?”

“No, just crowded. Traffic’s getting bad, gotta run. See you tonight, love.”

He tried to rein in his concerns. It was like post traumatic stress disorder, his therapist had told him, from being betrayed by wife one. Don’t read into anything. Look at the facts, the therapist would say.

But the fact was—she lied.


When he finally walked into their apartment that evening, the smell of garlic, oregano, and basil embraced him like a cozy blanket. He took a deep breath, exhaled, and let his backpack slide off his shoulder onto the second hand sofa. The worry, the questions, and the anger that had swirled in his head for hours, had exhausted him. Not to mention the twelve hours at work. Thank God it was the weekend.

Leanne stood at the stove stirring a stockpot. A bright smile spread across her face, like an upside down rainbow. She lifted the wooden spoon to him. “Bolognese. Your favorite.”

Pasta was his comfort food. He smiled. All he wanted from her was love, pure and honest.

She offered him the spoon. “It’s hot. Be careful.”

He blew on it twice and sipped. The rich, meaty sauce warmed his throat and his soul. “Mm. That’s just what I needed. It’s been a long day.”

Her lips pressed against his and lingered. “You’ve been working so hard. I wanted to do something nice for you.”

A bottle of Chianti sat on the counter behind her. The table was set fancy with flowers and candlesticks. His shoulders fell. The knot in his stomach loosened. The worry that had haunted him all day seemed silly now.

She spent her afternoon putting his favorite dinner together. Of course she loved him.


He held up his wine glass. “To my beautiful wife.”

Her cheeks blushed. “To my wonderful husband.”

He clinked her glass with his. “I have another surprise. Close your eyes.”

She took a sip of wine. “I hope you didn’t buy me anything. We’re supposed to be saving money. Besides, I don’t need gifts. You’re all I want.”

He stood and kissed her. “I didn’t spend any money. Now, close your eyes.”

She complied. “Hurry, I’m starving.”

He ran to his backpack and shuffled through the compartments. Where did he put the darn tickets? He slipped his fingers into a small pocket and found them. “Still have your eyes shut?”

“Yes. You’re killing me. What is it?”

He sat down. “Keep them closed.” He placed them in her hand face up. “These are from my boss, my first perk. Look.”

She held up the tickets. “Oh my gosh. You got the floor seats.” Her eyes widened. “These cost a fortune.”

He nodded. “Mr. Clayton doesn’t give those to just anybody.” He sat up straight and pushed his shoulders back. “It’s going to be an experience of a lifetime. I’ve dreamed about sitting in the first row of an NBA game all my life. Like all the celebrities do.”

She looked at the tickets again. “Tomorrow night.” She set the tickets aside. Her smile faded.

“Aren’t you excited?”

“I was going to tell you after dinner. It’s a last minute thing.” Tears welled in her eyes.

He was afraid to breathe.

“I have a commitment I can’t change.”

“What’s more important than floor seats?”

“I…need to stay with my mom this weekend. She’s got the flu. Dad’s leaving town in the morning. At her age I hate to leave her alone. She’s got it pretty bad.”

Why couldn’t he catch a break? He couldn’t argue with her taking care of her own mother. Her mom lived an hour away in a rural area with no neighbors close by. That’s what he loved about Leanne. She was kind and loving.

“I’m so sorry.” She put her hand on his. “Why don’t you take one of your work buddies? They’re probably more of a basketball fan than me anyway.”

That would be a great idea…if he had any buddies. He had embellished stories of his relationships at work. Truth was, the other guys at his level didn’t ask him to lunch or to go for a beer after work. It was high school all over again.

The only friend he had at work was Rachel. The only friend he had outside work was Leanne.

He gave her a weak smile. “But you’re my best friend. Maybe I’ll give them back. I could go help you with your mom.”

“No, absolutely not.” Her head did a tiny shake—like it had that morning.

“You don’t want me to help you?” His shoulders tensed. That damn headshake ignited the flames of his paranoia all over again.

Her eyes shifted away from him. “It’s not that.” She poured more wine. “I feel horrible enough. Please go to that game and enjoy yourself. If one of the guys can’t go, what about Rachel? I’m okay with that.”


They ate in silence.


Leanne went to take a shower.

His phone buzzed.

It was a text from Rachel. Feeling better?

He texted her back. Have an extra ticket to the Cavs game, want it?

She replied. Trouble in paradise?

Maybe asking her was a mistake. His fist stopped short of driving into the drywall. He pounded the sofa instead. Perhaps his paradise was crumbling. He clarified his offer. She’s taking care of her sick mom. This is not a date. You’ll have to meet me there. Want it or not?

Way to sweet-talk a lady, lol. See ya there!

At least he wouldn’t be alone. He went to the kitchen and put his phone on the counter. It buzzed.

Rachel again. If you’re worried about where Leanne is, just track her location using her phone, silly.

Track her? No, he trusted her. He turned away to get a beer from the fridge. The phone buzzed again. He popped the beer open and chugged half of it. Go away, Rachel. He grabbed for his phone…but it was Leanne’s phone vibrating. A message notification illuminated on the screen.

The sender ID was only a phone number. Had an amazing time yesterday. Wink emoji. Can’t wait to see you again tomorrow…Greg.

Greg? Who the hell was Greg? He chugged the last of his beer and crushed the can with his hand. His heart raced. Panic squeezed his lungs. It couldn’t be happening. Not again. Not his sweet Leanne. Cold sweat dampened his shirt.

Maybe he misread it. He poked her phone to see the message light up again, taunting him. He leaned his elbows on the counter and dropped his head into his hands. He grabbed his hair and pulled till it hurt.

Betrayed again. He slammed his hand on the counter. He stood up and took a deep breath.

The shower shut off. He didn’t have much time. Trust—but verify.

He grabbed her phone and unlocked it with a code, his birthday. He found himself in her contacts and shared her location with him.


He pretended to be asleep while she got dressed the next morning. But he couldn’t hold his bladder any longer. After relieving himself, he stumbled into the kitchen for coffee.

She stood behind him and caressed his arm. “I know you’re disappointed. I’ll make it up to you. I promise.” Her lips pressed behind his ear and sent shivers through his shoulders.

He fought the urge to scream at her. Demand she tell him about Greg. Instead, he smiled. “It’s okay. I found a work friend to go with me.” He kissed her cheek, knowing he’d find a way to get his revenge.

“That’s fantastic. I feel so much better.” She grabbed her phone from the counter. “Shoot. I must have forgotten to plug it in last night. It’s dead.” She checked her watch. “I need to run. I’ll do it later.” She gave him a quick kiss on the lips. “Have fun tonight.” She took her duffle and purse and headed out the door.

“Hey.” He looked her straight in the eye. “Give your mom my love.”

She flinched and let out a nervous giggle. “Of course.”



It was halftime. The big screen showed the Cavs up by two points. It didn’t matter. The only thing on his mind was Leanne. And Greg. His dream experience had been a bust.

Rachel patted his leg and gave it a squeeze.

Her touch made him smile. For a moment he forgot he was married.

“These seats are so amazing. Let me buy you a drink.”

He was already buzzed. There was no one at home to care. “Sure.” They headed to the lounge.

Rachel grabbed his hand and pulled him through the crowd. She insisted on squeezing up to the bar herself. With her long auburn hair, emerald green eyes, and voluptuous breasts, she had a way with men.

The bartender served her right away.

She handed Jason a beer.

He curled his hand against his chest so she couldn’t see his chewed up nails. Leanne’s phone had yet to be turned on so he hadn’t been able to see her location. Had she planned that all along? Was she trying to drive him insane?

The bar was crowded and loud. Rachel huddled next to him. She talked close to his ear. “Thank you again for tonight. Leanne is lucky to have you.”

The same words echoed by the older woman at the café that morning. “That’s what people say.”

“I’d love to find a guy like you.” Her face was only inches from his.

His face warmed. “There are plenty of guys at the office.”

She rolled her eyes. “Jerks, every one of them.”

He nodded. Smart woman.

She rubbed his arm. “Thank you for being my friend.”

He clinked his bottle to hers. “To friends.”

She smiled and leaned toward him, plump lips forward.

Maybe it was the alcohol or Leanne’s evasiveness, but he didn’t back away. He closed his eyes. His heart pounded.

Her lips softly caressed his. Her hand reached around his back.

His phone buzzed and he jumped. “Sorry.” He looked at the screen. “Leanne.”

Hope you’re enjoying the game. Mom sends hugs. Love you!

What if she really was with her mom? And here he was kissing another woman. He sighed.

“I’m sorry, Jason. I shouldn’t have crossed that line.”

He shook his head. “Don’t be sorry.”

She smiled and pulled him over to a quiet corner. “Tell me what’s going on. Maybe I can help.”

He chugged the last of his beer. The alcohol made it hard to think straight. “I think Leanne is cheating on me.”

She cupped her hand to her mouth, perhaps to hide her joy.

He wasn’t stupid. She wanted him. A guy could tell. The next thing he knew, she had her arms wrapped around him, swaying. He had too much to drink and got dizzy. He pushed back. “I need to check her location to be sure.” Now that her phone was on, he could put an end to the mystery.

He and Rachel squeezed together to see the screen.

The map appeared with a little blue dot indicating Leanne’s position. He blinked several times, trying to focus. His fingers spread across the screen to enlarge it.

“Well? Is that where her mom lives?”

He shook his head. “She’s nowhere near her mother’s house. She must be with Greg.”

The beer in his stomach almost erupted. He swallowed hard. “How could she do this?” He loved her with every ounce of his being.

Rachel wiped his cheek. “You’re a wonderful guy. You deserve better.” She cupped his face. “In my experience, the best way to get over a cheater is not to get mad…but to get even. How dare she disrespect you.”

A group of guys nearby laughed over the crowd. Were they laughing at him? It felt like the whole world was laughing at him. Jason, you stupid schmuck, no surprise your wife cheated on you—again.

“You’re right. How dare she.”

“That’s my man. Tell that to her face.” She pulled him out the door. “Give me your keys. I’ll drive.” They made a quick stop at her car to grab her purse.


Jason rode with his window down. The fresh air sobered him up enough so he could focus on finding Leanne’s car. They drove toward the blue dot’s general location, a high-end townhouse complex. One of those new live-work-play developments that was too pricey for his meager salary.

He spotted Leanne’s Honda Civic parked in one of the short driveways. “Pull over.”

Rachel found a space on the street two houses down. She shut off the engine and shifted in her seat to face him. “March up there and say your peace.” She held his hand. “I’m going to help you get through this.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek, sweeping back his hair with her pink leather gloves.

Lights were on in the house. They, Leanne and Greg, were there, behind that door.

Rachel reached into her purse and pulled out a pistol.

He recoiled. “What’s that for?”

“To put the fear of God in this Greg guy. It’s not loaded.”

He had held Leanne’s gun once, but never fired it. The cold, hard steel in his hand made him feel powerful.

“Stand up for yourself,” Rachel said.

He got out of the car and stuck the gun in his waistband.

Rachel yelled from the car. “Teach that bitch a lesson.”

The alcohol heightened his anger. He took a step. And another. Each step he took toward that door was a walk through time. The first time he saw Leanne behind the counter, how her whole face smiled. Their first kiss, her lips tasted like grapefruit from her lip balm. The first time they held hands, she hadn’t wanted to let go.

Was she in Greg’s arms right now? Bile pushed up his esophagus. He leaned into the flowerbed and wretched.

He wouldn’t let another woman turn him into a sad lump of a human being again. He spit and drew his sleeve across his mouth. He stood tall and pounded his fist on the wooden door.

The door opened a few inches, yet Leanne’s eyes flew wide open.

He pushed his way inside.

She stood in front of him, dressed in pajama pants and a t-shirt, his favorite Cavs t-shirt of all things.

The condo was modern and sleek, straight from the pages of an Architectural Digest magazine. Greg must be one of those haughty private school types, like the jocks that harassed him back in high school. “Where is he?”

“I can explain.” She grabbed his arm tight.

He shoved her away, feeling the sting of her long nails scratching his skin. “How could you lie to me?” He slapped her hard.

“I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad.” She approached him.

“Stay away from me.” He held up his hands. “Where is he?”

“He who?”

“Greg. The man you’re having an affair with.”

Her hands cupped her mouth.

Was she laughing? “You think this is funny?” He took a book off the coffee table and threw it at her.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that…” She hobbled to the sofa, clutching her side. “It’s not an affair. Greg is my client. I have several clients. We need the money.”

How could she be so glib? He couldn’t believe it. The acid in his stomach bubbled into his throat once more. He swallowed it back down. “You’re prostituting yourself?”

“Oh my god. Don’t be such an idiot.” She laughed even harder.

“Stop laughing.” Each giggle out of her mouth fanned the flames of his insecurity. The disrespect summoned a lifetime of pain and anger that resided deep within him. Laughter echoed in his head. The lunch table of bullies in high school. His ex-wife and her new lover.

He pulled the gun out and pointed it at her, wishing it were loaded. She would know he meant business.

Her jaw hung open. “Look at you, tough guy.”

He stared at her in disgust. Where had his sweet Leanne gone? “What the hell is going on here?”

“You want to meet Greg?” She remained sitting on the couch and whistled back to the hallway.

A pitter-patter of feet approached.

He pointed the gun in that direction, forgetting it wasn’t loaded anyway.

It was a dog, a beautiful brindle-coated pit bull, panting with its tongue hanging out. There it was, written in white block letters on the royal blue collar. GREG.

She was right. He was an idiot. His shoulders dropped and he lowered his gun.

She smiled, reached into her purse, and pulled out her own gun.

“What are you doing?” He froze.

“Finishing the job.” She fired.

The impact jolted him back a few feet. His ears rang. He braced himself against the wall. It was difficult to breathe. His shoulder burned.

Rachel ran in the front door.

“Help me.” His strength faded and he slid down the wall.

Instead of coming to his aid, she stood next to Leanne.

Leanne laughed. “Clearly self-defense. Just defending myself from a crazy jealous husband, wielding a gun. Even his ex-wife will attest to his jealousy. At least he has great life insurance.” She pulled Rachel’s face to hers and kissed it, as a lover would. “Thank god that charade is over. The sex was so lame. Great acting though, right?”

Rachel clapped. “Marvelous, my darling. An Oscar winning performance.”

Jason’s arm grew numb. He couldn’t believe what was happening. The gun, the urging to get even, the feeding of his jealousy. Rachel imploring he sign up for the highest level of benefits. He’d been played. “Why?” he managed to utter.

“Excuse me, I need to make a call.” Rachel cocked her head. “Maggie? It’s done.”

Jason’s head spun. “Maggie? Maggie my ex-wife?”

“One and the same. She was the brain of this operation. And FYI, she never cheated on you—you abusive paranoid psycho.” She shook her head. “Our cut of that life insurance is going to come in real handy. You were the perfect mark. Like putty.”

Leanne shot him once more, this time in the gut. “Nothing personal, hubby.” She turned to Rachel, “You better get out of here before the paramedics and police come.”

Rachel blew her a kiss. “See you in Hollywood, love.”


If you’ve enjoyed “Happily Ever After: Take Two”, you can visit our free digital archive of flash fiction here. Additionally, premium short fiction published by Mystery Tribune on a quarterly basis is available digitally here.

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