Back Stabber

by J. H. Wear

Bloody Murder.

The pain in his back was excruciating from multiple stab wounds. He recovered enough strength to crawl over his smashed cellphone, trying to reach his desk where there was a landline phone. He heard footsteps, and a familiar voice. His cries for help resulted in another attack, this time fatal.

Detectives Moss Stone and Anya Roberts come across the body showing multiple stabbing in his back and his throat slit. The autopsy showed two different knives were used, making the detectives believe there were two suspects involved in the killing.

The attack indicated the murder was personal, which presented several viable suspects. The victim was cheating on his wife, blackmailing a woman and swindling a former convict.

The victim’s wife, the blackmailed woman, the former convict and the husband of one of the women the victim had an affair with, all knew each other. A few weeks earlier they were at the same party hosted by the victim.

The suspects all had great alibis. But one, or more, of the suspects were lying. When the detectives discovered nude photos on the victim’s computer, clues of who really wanted him dead began to be revealed.


Chapter One

Friday, August 3, 2018


Brooke Morgan stood, watching the party through the open patio doors as she wiped the marble counter around the sink. She dropped the cloth into one of the double sinks. One knee was bent, tilting her hips. She checked again if anyone was watching through the patio doors.

“It looks like the party is going well.” Michael Sutton spoke from her side.

“Yes, and drinks do help make a party.” She placed her hand on his resting on her hip, and slowly pushed it off. “Someone may see.”

“Not from there.”

“Everyone can figure out we’re the only ones in the kitchen. Come on, let's join the others.” She shook her long blonde hair and walked to the patio, her heels making a clicking noise on the ceramic tan and grey kitchen tiles. It did not surprise her Michael Sutton had followed her to the kitchen, especially since she wore stressed blue jean shorts and a cropped red top. His hand on her hip was pleasant, but it was also dangerous if anyone saw them. As she stepped through the open French doors, she saw her husband close the white steel lid of the barbeque as smoke filtered out. Ryan Morgan wiped a hand on the blue apron that covered a checkered green and white short-sleeve shirt and tan shorts.

“How are those steaks looking?” Brooke noticed a beer sitting at a side table that held cooking utensils and sauce. She passed him the beer and placed a hand on the back of the medium-built man. Ryan was average height with dark hair, with his Italian heritage coming through on a handsome face.

“Looking good. Five minutes for medium-rare.” He took a drink from his can of beer.

“Okay, I’ll bring out the rest of the food.” She turned back toward the house, giving a wave to Paige Butler for her to follow her.

“What’s up?”

“Help me carry out stuff.”

“Sure.” She joined her at the kitchen table, picking up a bowl of potato salad. She gave Brooke a small hip check. “We should have a girls’ night out next weekend.”

Brooke laughed. “Too soon. Even Ryan would start wondering about our friendship.” Ryan knew Paige was a lesbian, and he had pressured Brooke for a three-some when they were first married. Brooke convinced him she was only interested in men, and Paige was only a friend. After a period, he gave up on the idea of the three sharing a bed. She glanced at the raven-haired, athletic woman, admiring her abs. Paige liked to wear strong colours that complimented her copper-coloured skin. Today she wore black shorts and a green bikini top.

“I thought he was just worried about men after you.”

“Yes, well, and I want to keep that speculation to a minimum.” She carried the Caesar salad in one arm, and the plastic plates in another.

Paige followed Brooke to the outside table, placing the bowls at the centre. She whispered, “Is there a particular guy I can speculate on who has a lusty attitude for you?”

Brooke raised an eyebrow at her and went back to the house as Paige giggled.

* * *

Ryan took a drink and commented to Michael Sutton and Rover Driscoll as they stood by a glass topped patio table. “One thing you can say about summer. It sure makes fashion more interesting.” He glanced over at the women setting out food. Most wore shorts and summer tops, although Rachel McCarthy wore a back-less yellow bathing suit and dark blue shorts. Lydia Driscoll was conservatively dressed in longer shorts and a short-sleeved top.

Rover frowned. The bearded man was heavyset and peered down at Ryan. “One shouldn’t lust after other women. Remember, you’re married to Brooke.”

“Cut the crap. I’m just looking. If women want to show some skin, who am I to keep my eyes away?”

“One of those ladies is my wife.” He squared his shoulders, straining his grey golf shirt.

Michael was almost Rover’s height, but slimmer. He kept his brown hair short, that revealed a small scar on his forehead. His striped shirt showed off a muscular chest. He placed a hand on Rover’s chest. “Hey, let it go. Ryan is just spouting off.” He looked across the patio with three identical tables on the wood deck. The cedar deck covered only a portion of the treed backyard. He watched Brooke take a platter of steaks from the barbeque area to a table covered with a tablecloth.

Ryan and Rover glared at each other as Brooke called out, “The food is all set on the table. Time to eat.”

Rover stepped in front of Ryan and headed toward the food.

Ryan shook his head and smirked. “I guess he didn’t get that big by being last at the food line.”

Michael replied, “Keep it down. This is supposed to be a fun get together.”

“Jesus, you nag me like my wife.”

* * *

Paige sat across from Michael at one of the patio tables. “I guess we’re the odd couple here. Both unmarried and living the free life.”

He laughed. “Yeah, and we’re both chasing women.”

Paige grinned. “But I’ll bet I’m more successful at it.”

“Ouch. I suspect you are. At least I’m not having much luck.”

“What happened to Lisa? You were going with her last time I saw you.”

“Ah, she wasn’t my type.”

Paige tilted her head. “Not your type? She was a blonde, if I recall. Like all your previous girlfriends.”

Michael took a drink of his beer. “What about you? What’s your latest pursuit?”

Paige shrugged and took a bite of her steak. “A lady doesn’t tell. Besides, I’ve an advantage. If I get lonely, I can always revert to men.”

“I remember.” He chuckled.

“Those times are hard to forget.” She laughed. “Our triangle, as we used to call it.”

“How are the steaks?” Ryan walked up to their table and stood with a cooler and a can of beer, placing them on the table.

“Wonderful. Everything is great,” Paige answered first.

“You have a talent with the barbeque,” Michael agreed.

After Ryan walked away, he lowered his voice. “Have you heard any rumours about Ryan?”

“No, why?”

“Just stuff I heard, and he was bragging about the money he was making.”

“Come on, spill, what do you know?” She leaned forward.

“It seems our friend is making a nice side income from a bar he owns. Unreported income.”

“How do you know this?”

“Later. Let’s join the party.” He gave a nod toward the kitchen, where a few guests had gathered. He stood and waited for her to stand. Michael put an arm around her waist, giving her a brief hug. “Let’s talk later, maybe where we can’t be overheard.” He went to the kitchen, giving a grin at Brooke. “Splendid party, but where are you hiding the booze?”

Brooke laughed and pointed at a portable bar across the kitchen. “You don’t normally have any trouble figuring out where the liquor is.”

“True, but you’re a distraction.” He made his way to the bar.

Paige looked at his departing back and returned her attention to Brooke, who raised her eyebrows. Paige smiled and gave her a short wave with her fingers. She proceeded to where Rover was holding a can of ginger ale. Next to him, his wife Lydia was surveying the living room.

“How are you and Lydia doing? I heard you were doing a lot of work at the church.”

“It’s rewarding work.” Lydia gave her a squeeze on her hand. “We’re fixing up the church yard so we can have more outdoor services and add a play area for the children. How have you been keeping?”

“Good, busy with my training classes.” She was pleased. Even as Lydia became more involved with the church, she stayed in contact with her. It was harder to read what Rover thought of her. He had a hard look to him, which she considered wasn’t surprising since he had spent time in prison for assault with a weapon.

“That’s good. It certainly keeps you in shape. Rover and I must have you over for dinner soon.”

“That would be nice.”

“Let’s try to set up something before summer disappears.” Rover added one of his infrequent comments. A smile almost appeared before it evaporated to his normal reserved look.

“Sure.” Paige knew he was reserved to most people. Lydia told Paige once he believed people still judged him for his time in prison. “Talk later. I think I’ll get a refill.” Paige went toward the bar, noticing Ryan chatting with Joseph and Rachel, pointing his finger at them as if he was giving a lecture.

* * *

Michael touched his can of beer against the wine glass Brooke was holding. “Delightful party. You did a great job preparing the food.” He looked around the living room where music played. The guests had retreated inside after dark clouds rolled above.

“Don’t forget Ryan cooked the steaks.”

“Yeah, he reminded us of that earlier.” He glanced at the dining room where Ryan was conversing with Rachel and Joseph McCarthy. “But you’re the reason I love coming over here.”

She sighed. “I know. But I don’t need complications in my life. I’m married to Ryan, and that’s how it is.”

He saw the flash of lightning through the windows. Seconds later, the rumble of thunder caused everyone to pause. “Fuck, he doesn’t deserve you.”

“Thanks, but being married to him will not change anytime soon.” She placed a hand on his arm. “Find a girl that you like who isn’t committed to someone else. I better mingle.”

Paige moved to join Brooke as she made her way across the living room. “He has that lusty attitude. No surprise there.”


“I know you. It’s not having an affair with him that scares you. You don’t want to hurt him. Again.”

“Stop analysing me and my situation.” She smiled. “Even if you are right.”

Brooke looked into the living room, watching Joseph walk over to the table with snacks. He attacked the nibbles on the dining room table as if he had missed dinner, while Rachel continued a quiet conversation with Ryan. She saw Rachel nod as he spoke, her eyes paying full attention to him.

“Excuse me, I need to talk to Ryan. She crossed the dining area, where the large black oak table held drinks and food, and proceeded along the hardwood floor to where Ryan was standing.

“Hi, everything okay?” She glanced at Rachel, who retreated a half-step.

“Of course. I was just telling Rachel about our trip to New York last month and how vibrant the city is.” Ryan touched Brooke’s arm.

“You can reminiscence about New York later. We need more beer and wine for our guests.”

Brooke watched Ryan walk away and turned her attention to Rachel. “So, Joseph and you are planning a trip to New York?”

She shook her head. “No, I wish.” She stared at Joseph, still working on potato chips. “Joe can’t take time off work right now.”

“I should help Ryan with the refreshments.” She returned to the kitchen, opening the pantry door to retrieve another bag of potato chips.

“What’s up?” Paige approached her.

“Nothing, other than my husband flirting with another woman.” She sighed. “What does Rachel see in Joe? She’s standing by herself, and all he does is eat chips. He’s got to be the dullest man in the country.”

“Different strokes for different folks.”

“And you certainly know about different strokes.”

"Back Stabber" by J. H. Wear



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