By Debra H. Goldstein
He glanced across the bed at Lacey wondering where he’d gone wrong. Pretty, no make that beautiful, he’d been intrigued by her from the moment someone jostled him at the bar and his drink splashed the back of her blouse. She spun around, violet eyes flashing. “What the…,” she said, but he failed to hear the rest.
Instead of asking her to repeat her tirade, he apologized, assured her he would pay to clean her blouse, and waved over a waitress to buy her another drink. Lacey accepted the scotch and water and somehow managed to lead him into a quieter corner of the bar. There, whispering and laughing together, he fell in love.
People talked about falling in love at first sight, but the accountant in him knew that was a myth. Ever pragmatic, Roger understood love required attention and nurtured interaction. It was much like the wrinkle free shirts he wore to the office. Each needed to be removed from the dryer and hung immediately to avoid wrinkles.
That night, he noted her alabaster skin and sculptured neck, but her eyes made him throw his lifetime practice of careful analysis out the window. Highlighted by the bar’s strobe light flashes, they fluctuated from lilac to royal blue-purple. Over the next few months, Lacey willingly accepted a new blouse and the other drinks and gifts Roger showered on her. She didn’t have the money to reciprocate, but it didn’t matter. He was over the moon when she said “Yes” to his proposal.
Lacey was quiet at their wedding and subdued as they toured Paris during their honeymoon. Still, he could tell from the way her eyes lit up that she was taking in all the beautiful sights they were experiencing. The satisfaction of sharing those moments with her justified every dollar the trip cost him.
Back in the states, he became busy with tax season, but their monthly credit card bills let him know she was entertaining herself, too. Tax season can be hard on a marriage, let alone a new one, so he was glad she filled her days even if her shopping, lunches, massages, and other activities were a bit extravagant. Each night, when he finally got home, he crawled into bed and whispered to her back, “Only a few more weeks of this insanity. Then, we’ll have all the time in the world together.”
Some nights she didn’t answer him, but most times she would turn in his direction and use her fingertips to softly trace the outline of his face. “Don’t worry about our future,” she’d say.
But, he had. Carefully, he prepared each client’s return with a little bit extra added onto the amount of taxes owed. He sent them their proposed returns, the release for him to file their returns electronically, and a wire address for their payments. Getting everything accurately submitted on time was a nightmare, especially with the extra steps he created using flash accounting software.
Not only did he have to make sure his clients received the proposed returns that included their overages, but he had to transmit their properly calculated returns to the IRS with matching wired payments from his offshore account. In the end, the net amount in the offshore account he’d given clients as the address to wire their payments into was quite hefty.
Tonight, he’d brought Lacey her after tax season gift – the offshore account’s balance and two airline tickets to Rio. Roger expected shock or amazement, but instead her eyes softened with tears as she gazed at the account details he’d pulled up on his phone. Glancing from the screen to him, she muttered. “What have I done? You shouldn’t have done this for me.”
She threw his phone back to his side of the bed. It missed and fell to the floor with a sharp bang.
While he retrieved it, Lacey sat up. She angled her face away from his and through sobs said, “I was waiting for after tax season to tell you I tried, but we weren’t meant to be. You’re the sweetest guy, but you don’t excite me.”
She leaned over and took the phone from his hand. Opening her eyes wide, she gazed into his. “I was so wrong.”“And so was I.” He leaned over to kiss her and tightly caressed her neck. When she stopped struggling, he lay her back down on the bed and used his thumbs to close her violet eyes now dulled by dots of red. The question of whom his clients would use as an accountant next year flashed through his mind.
Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Should Have Played Poker: a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery (Five Star Publishing – March 2016) and the 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus. Her short stories and essays have been published in anthologies including Mardi Gras Murder and The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fourth Meal of Mayhem as well as in The Birmingham Arts Journal, More Magazine Online, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Alalit.com, Kings River Life Magazine and Mysterical-E. Debra serves on the national Sisters in Crime, Guppy Chapter and Alabama Writers Conclave boards and is a MWA member. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, Joel, whose blood runs crimson.
Copyright © 2015 Debra H. Goldstein. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!
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