“Angel, take a look at this.” My husband, Dr. Chandler Montgomery, was just getting home from a busy night at the hospital. Watching the news and reading the paper before hitting our state of the art gym had been his post-call routine for nearly ten years. Today was no differ- ent. Monotony was on my growing list of things that had to be addressed if our marriage was going to survive.

“What did the reporter just say?”, I asked in astonishment. The reporter’s words stopped me in my tracks.

“…The victim was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head in the early hours of the morning. Police officials suspect foul play…”

On the Other Side of Town

“Good morning Ma’am, I’m Detective Rawlings. I’m trying to locate the next of kin for Kasey…”

The knock at the door startled Ms. Pedigo because she rarely received any visitors. She’d moved from Alabama to Texas five years ago at Kasey’s request. Aside from a few of the ladies from the church that she attended, she had very few acquaintances in her cozy little neighborhood in North Dallas.

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“…oh my goodness,” she responded before the officer could finish his statement. She grabbed the photo that the officer held and clutched it to her chest. “Something’s happened to Kasey” she stated matter of factly.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. The body was recovered from the victim’s vehicle early this morning. We have reason to suspect foul play…”

The detective’s words were cut off by the lady’s uncontrollable sobs.

“Ma’am, are you the…. mother of the victim?”

The officer sort of stumbled on his words, which was understandable. The frail looking elderly White lady was accustomed to the look of confusion that she got whenever her relationship with Kasey came into question.

“No, I’m not. I haven’t seen that…that…thing in over twenty years,” she said referring to Kasey’s mother.

“Would you mind coming down to the station?” The officer asked hesitantly.

“No, I don’t mind,” she said, as she slowly entered the house to retrieve her coat. “The poor child doesn’t really have anyone except me. Not sure if I can offer much help, but I’m willing to try”.

Ms. Pedigo was visibly shaken as she entered the office of the Medical Examiner for Dallas County. She was immediately whisked down the long hallway where Kasey’s remains were supposedly held. Praying every step of the way, Mrs. Pedigo remained hopeful that the entire ordeal was simply a case of mistaken identity. But when the coroner’s assistant removed the white sheet that covered Kasey’s body, her worst fear was confirmed.

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“Who would do such a horrible thing…?”she asked in between sobs.
“We don’t know, ma’am but we’re going to do our best to find out”.

A Year Ago
“Kasey close your eyes and tell me the first name that comes to your mind”.

This was my doctor’s trademark technique for getting her patients to open up. It worked every time. Dr. Tolbert had been my shrink for the past six years. The ones before her couldn’t accept the fact that they weren’t hired to fix my problems; they were hired to listen.

“Chandler,” I said slowly, responding to her command.

“Describe him”.

The command was simple, yet her words were more powerful than she could ever imagine.

“He’s absolutely gorgeous,” I said with a sigh. “He had a smile that would light up a room and a face that was the closest thing to perfection that I had ever seen. And his body was as hard as steel”.

“Aside from the superficial things that attracted you to Chandler, what was the one thing you liked most about him?”

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“He was all man–but at the same time he was gentle.”

“Go on”.

“Chandler was the self-appointed protector of everyone and everything around him including strangers and stray animals. That was the thing that attracted me the most”.

“If you had an opportunity to talk to him, what would you say?”

“I would tell him I love him”.

Enough for today, I thought as I looked at my watch. “Seems, I’ve run out of time Dr. Tolbert. It’s been real. See you next week”.

Dr. Tolbert looked at her watch and conceded once again. This particular topic in our ongoing conversation was probably the most vital, but it was one that never seemed to get much attention. Most likely, it never would. The wounds were too deep. I headed over to my favorite post-therapy hangout to unwind. A few rounds of vodka was exactly what I needed to get Chandler out of my head. He was the source of my pain, so how could I still love him? Those were my thoughts as I showered and got ready for bed that night.

Chandler and I met during the freshman orientation seminar that took place a few weeks before the start of the fall semester. The lingering look that he gave me during the meet and greet was unmistakable and the attraction was instant. I spent the entire weekend trying to keep my feelings in check. As the weekend came to a close, I dreaded the trip back home. The two weeks that followed were tortuous. I couldn’t think about anyone or anything other than Chandler. Unfortunately, it’s been that way for me ever since.

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Love is a strange thing. It’ll make you laugh and it’ll make you cry. It also has the power to make you wish you were never born. That was my vibe the next morning. As I looked around my plush downtown Dallas office and marveled at the steadily growing stack of files on my desk, I should have been the happiest person in the world. I was the principal owner of the most sought after sports agency in the country with a client list that had my competitors scratching their heads. Kasey James Enterprise was positioned to join the billionaire club for active player contracts by the end of the year and our yearly commissions were well over fifty-million dollars and counting. Although I’d managed to put together a team of individuals who were just as hungry and driven as me, sheer luck was the only explanation for our good fortune. It was the only thing that made any sense considering the circumstances. My partners and I were former entry-level Wall Street investment associates, but that was probably the only thing we had in common. Connor and Trent both had nepotistic pathways to Wall Street through their parents. The only thing I had going for me was an MBA and a glowing reference letter from the dean of the School of Business at my alma mater. Without a doubt, the fact that I was a product of TCU had a lot to do with me landing my dream job so quickly. The school carried a lot of weight in the name dropping circles on Wall Street. At the end of the day, it didn’t really matter how the stars lined up for me to land the job–I was just glad to get my foot in the door. With my $75,000 dollar per year salary, I had a comfortable life, but like most new Wall Street associates, my mind was set on bigger things. Mergers, acquisitions and corporate lending was where the seasoned investment bankers and high-rollers hung their hats. On average, it takes four or five years for a new associate to rise through the ranks and enter the six figure salary. It took me exactly fifteen months to make the transition.

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Through some type of divine intervention or the fervent prayers of my adoptive mother Ms. Pedigo, I was given a small, but key role in a relocation and expansion deal involving two professional football franchises of all things. In the process, I found myself assisting some of the players with contract negotiations. When all was said and done, I walked away with a cool 1.2 million dollars in commissions, which became the start up money for Kasey James Enterprise. When the time was right, I left New York and headed south to Dallas. After the business took off, I contacted Conner and Trent and suggested they get to Dallas on the next thing smoking. The rest was history. I could have started my business anywhere in the world; but on a whim, I chose Dallas just to be close to Chandler; what a huge mistake. By the time I realized my error, the business was booming and I had to stay put. In just six years, I had more money than I could ever spend, homes on both coasts and a fleet of luxury cars. I was living the American dream and I went through great lengths to act accordingly. It was mandatory. So, I pretended to be “normal” and “happy” for fear that someone would discover my truth.

Deep down, I knew the source of my pain; but for years, I chose to overlook it. I was still in love with my college sweetheart, Chandler Montgomery. After three years of what I considered the best years of my life, he left me for the captain of the cheerleading squad. When he broke the news to me about his engagement, I nearly lost it. Eventually, I found a way to move on but I prayed that he would come to his senses. However, that was ten years ago and from what I could tell, the marriage was still blissfuly intact. I wouldn’t call myself a stalker, but I knew things about Chandler that I probably shouldn’t have known—like his home address, his work schedule, etc. But then again, in this day and age, that type of information was easy to obtain. And besides, information is harmless until you use it. Initially, I had no desire to use the information in a malicious manner; however,

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 things changed. Now, more than ever, I found myself day-dreaming about things…dangerous things. Like, how would his wife feel if she came home one day to find me and her husband together? But that would be too easy. After what Chandler did to me, the revenge had to be earth shattering. Anything less would defeat the entire purpose. Angel, or Mrs. Chandler Montgomery as she often referred to herself on the Dallas social scene, was going to have her little playhouse torn down. That was a promise.