Chapter 31 in We’ll Meet Again Someday

  • Jan. 21, 2022, 11:25 p.m.
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It was hard for Stacey to wait, but she knew that in the end, her patience would pay off immensely. Therefore, as much as she wanted to ask Riana to move into the house, she knew she couldn’t do anything too soon that might look suspicious. Most importantly, Riana didn’t seem to be suspicious of James’ death, judging by the things she wrote in her journal and based on the comments left by other users that followed her journal, and she wanted to keep it that way.

There was also Emma to think about, too. How would she explain the fact that she and Riana were sharing a bedroom when they had a guestroom?

Wait, why am I worrying about this? she asked herself. I don’t owe Emma any explanations for anything I do. She’s the daughter, I’m the parent.

She continued to be the grievous widow in the eyes of the many guests that she wished would simply get the hell out of her hair and out of her house. She was sick of having to put on an act for them.

The week after James died, she tried to focus on what Judith was saying, but all she could do instead was wish she’d just go away. She was getting awfully sick of friends and family constantly coming and going. But it wasn’t like she could blurt out, “Hey, I’m not that full of sadness, so will you just get the hell out and leave me alone?”

The thought of it amused her, nonetheless, and she sometimes wished she had her own journal to confide in but knew that wouldn’t be wise. Not even with a private journal that no one else ever saw. One just never knew. They could never guarantee their secrets were safe forever unless they were only in their minds and thoughts.

“…So that’s basically it as far as what’s going on with Conrad and me.”

Stacey stared right through her friend.

“Hey, Stace, you okay?”

Stacey focused on Judith’s puffy round face. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m just a little tired is all.”

“Where’s Emma? I haven’t seen her the whole time I’ve been here.”

“Up in her room. She’s probably doing her social media thing if not talking on the phone. Or maybe she’s napping.”

“That’s probably what you should do now. I should leave and let you get some rest.” Judith rose to her feet and brought her teacup into the kitchen, rinsed it and placed it in the dishwasher.

“I could definitely use a nap myself. Thanks for understanding,” Stacey said, then added to herself…even if it took you two hours to get the message.

Stacey saw Judith out after a few more minutes of mindless small talk, then she headed upstairs. She softly rapped on Emma’s door.

“Yeah?”

Stacey opened the door and found Emma lying on her stomach in bed. She was propped up on her elbows as she watched a video that was playing on her tablet. “Just checking to see how you’re doing.”

“I’m okay,” Emma mumbled, then refocused on the movie.

“I’ll be right next door lying down for an hour or so.”

Emma mumbled something else Stacey couldn’t make out before she closed her door.

She kicked off her shoes and stretched out in bed. She rubbed her temples and closed her weary eyes. Then she allowed Sunday’s scene to replay itself in her mind, always questioning whether or not she might have left any loose ends untied. Autopsies were required when one died suddenly and not apparently by natural causes or a known illness. Because of that, she knew she couldn’t drug James up before getting rid of him. Instead, she had to use his horse to her benefit.

After finishing lunch with Emma, Stacey had told Emma that she could stay behind and enjoy hanging out at a nearby arcade she sometimes liked to visit, and fortunately for her, the girl liked the idea.

She and James set off on their horses with her hoping that the trails were sparse of other riders. Because the trail they usually took was more popular, Stacey suggested exploring a new trail.

“Are you sure you want to do that?” asked James.

“Sure, why not? The same old, same old gets boring after a while. Let’s try exploring something new.”

“Okay. Which one?”

“Whichever you think would be the least popular. I kind of like the thought of having the trail to ourselves.”

They decided on a trail higher up the mountain. Stacey was glad to see that they hadn’t encountered anyone for several minutes. Her heartbeat sped up with anticipation of what she was about to do.

“Let’s rest here,” she eventually said.

James, who pretty much always did as Stacey told him to, dismounted his horse and tied it next to Stacey’s. “Wow, look at this view!” he exclaimed. “Maybe this was a pretty good idea after all.”

“I think so,” Stacey said. “Oh! Hang on. I need some lip balm.”

Taking advantage of James enjoying the view before him, Stacey slipped the small piece of pinecone underneath Desert Wind’s saddle. After applying her lip balm, she returned to stand by James. “Pretty, ain’t it?”

“Sure is,” he agreed with a nod. “And peaceful. I can see why some people like Riana would want to escape the city for fresh open space that isn’t so built up and crowded.”

They sat on a boulder and talked for a while. For a minute Stacey wondered if she were seriously deranged because she didn’t feel the least bit remorseful for what she was about to do. No guilt, no sadness. Just Stacey doing for Stacey as usual.

She was quick to mount her horse first. “Ready,” she said, phony smile in place.

“Yep,” said James as he hoisted himself up onto Desert Wind. He’d barely had a chance to swing his leg over his back when the horse whinnied, reared up on his hind legs, then shot straight down the trail. “Whoa!” James shouted.

Stacey pushed Cactus Queen to keep up. They ran a few hundred feet or so before Desert Wind threw James into some nearby brush and went to stand by a tree several yards away.

“Whoa!” Stacey cried, bringing Cactus Queen to a halt. She quickly dismounted and peered into the brush in the direction James had landed, but she couldn’t see him.

Oh, please be dead, she thought to herself. I’m so sick of you!

She quickly scrambled over to Desert Wind and lifted the side of his saddle. The horse began to back up nervously and she was worried it would take off. If she was unable to remove the pinecone, it could cause a lot of problems for her. She grabbed the pinecone as fast as she could, ran a few yards off the trail, and dropped the pinecone under a clump of sage.

She ran to find James next, calling out his name. A few seconds later she heard a moan.

Shit!

“James, where are you?”

Another moan.

Stacey followed the sound and found her husband sprawled out on his back. He didn’t appear to have any injuries at first. “My God, James! Are you okay?”

James’ partially open eyes fluttered shut and he appeared to lose consciousness. Stacey hoped he was gone, but she didn’t think so. As she went to feel for a pulse, it was then that she saw how swollen one of his legs was. She took hold of his wrist and found a faint pulse.

She looked in the area immediately around James’ head and found a large rock protruding from the ground.

Perfect, she thought to herself. I’ll only have to move him a tiny bit. Not nearly enough to stir up any unwanted questions.

Placing her hands on the outsides of his upper arms, Stacey shifted James so that the rock was under his head. Feeling with her fingers, she found the exact spot on his head where the rock met it. She knew picking his head up and slamming it into the rock wouldn’t be enough to kill him. He was too close to the rock for there to be any real force. She glanced over to the trail, hoping no one would be passing by anytime soon. She quickly searched the area for a heavy enough rock. Once she found one, she picked it up in her right hand. Using her other hand, she grabbed a fistful of James’ hair and pulled his head forward. Then, she slammed the rock into the base of his skull as hard as she possibly could and let his head fall against the rock below. James twitched a moment, then went still.

He no longer had a pulse.


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