Authors: Keith Thomas Walker
How to Kill Your Husband
Keith Thomas Walker
Genesis Press, Inc.
Indigo Love Stories
An imprint of Genesis Press, Inc.
Genesis Press, Inc.
P.O. Box 101
Columbus, MS 39703
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, not known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying, and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without written permission of the publisher, Genesis Press, Inc. For information write Genesis Press, Inc., P.O. Box 101, Columbus, MS 39703.
All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author and all incidents are pure invention.
CopyrightÂ© 2010 Keith Thomas Walker
Manufactured in the United States of America
Visit us at www.genesis-press.com or call at 1-888-Indigo-1-4-0
This book is for my mama and all the folks at the hospital who read my rough drafts, one chapter at a time. Thank you for driving me to meet my goals and fulfill your expectations.
I would like to acknowledge Rachel Walker, Jackie Hafford, Janae Hampton, Jody Thomas, Anthony Douglas, Greg Johnson, Janean Livingston, Susan Vogel-Taylor and Mike Guinn. I would also like to give special thanks to Brandy, Shonya, Erika, Vicki, Alesia, Regina, Theda, Maricela, Letty, Lynda, Crystal, Amy, Charlene, Ben, Judd, Uncle Steve, Kierra, Vollie and Jason Owens. Thanks to everyone at the hospital who read my rough drafts and encouraged me to keep at it. And my most special thanks go to everyone who bought my book. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.
Much love and God Bless!
A SPECIAL DAY
Claire hung up the phone with a loud sigh. She kneaded her forehead with the heels of her hands and eyed the clock mounted at the front of the office. It wasn't even noon yet, and already they were trying to take her there. They wouldn't like it if Claire went
âthey complained to her supervisor the last time, as a matter of factâbut still they liked to push her buttons.
Hospitals had to be the most conniving corporations ever. There were so many charges and
. The average medical billing professional might get befuddled and approve everything in her in-box. But after six years in the business, Claire knew how to spot bogus expenditures: Maybe Mr. Murphy did have
a chest X-ray done on the same night, but Provincial Insurance wasn't paying for itânot if Claire Hudgens had anything to do with it.
She took out her ink pad and stamped the file on her desk with big red letters.
That felt good, so she hit it again.
She was about to get jiggy with it, like the post office does when you send a registered letter, but a co-worker came and stood behind her computer.
“I swear, sometimes you act like that's
money.” Rebecca was tall and thin, a couple years away from the big 4-0. She had long, blonde hair; it was beautiful, but she hid it away in a bun on most days. She usually wore wire-rimmed glasses, no makeup, and loose-fitting dresses to work. But Becky wasn't the
her appearance suggested.
“They can't give me an explanation for these charges,” Claire informed her. “Who the hell gets two MRI's in one dayâ
a chest X-ray?”
Becky shrugged. “You never know what could be happening.” Today she had on a simple blue dress; it was a one-piece with a sash around the waist and buttons down the middle. She was attractive, but there was so much more she could do to spice up her appearance. Claire thought she would change up her style a little after her divorce, but that was over a year ago, and Becky was still
Claire frowned at her. “Girl, don't tell me you're over there approving mess like this.”
Becky poked out her lips. “We can't
be employee of the month.”
Claire grinned. “That only happened to me twice.”
,” Becky said and rolled her eyes.
“You going to lunch?” Claire asked, noticing the purse crooked under her friend's arm.
going out to lunch,” Becky said with a smile. “I'm taking you out for your anniversary.”
“Aww. That's sweet. I wish George's memory was as good as yours.”
“You always remembered my anniversaries,” Becky said, and then a pained look took over her face. Claire was lost for words for a second, but Becky started to smile. “Gotcha.”
Claire put a hand to her chest. “Girl, I thought we were going to have to break out the Kleenex again!”
Becky chuckled. “You ready?”
Claire looked around her desk. “I guess. Where we going?”
“Where do you want to go?” Becky smiled down at her pleasantly. She had cute dimples and nice teeth. Only the crow's feet in the corners of her eyes gave up her age.
“I don't know,” Claire said.
“Where are you going with George?”
“I'm making him
,” Claire said, “on a bed of wild rice with skewered jumbo shrimp on the side.”
. I like lobster.”
“Sorry. I already sent out my invites,” Claire teased. “You should have RSVP'd.”
“Let's get Chinese,” Becky said.
“That sounds great.” Claire stood and retrieved her purse from the lowest drawer on her desk.
“You're not going to wear
to your dinner tonight, are you?” Becky asked.
Today Claire had on gray slacks with a white blouse. She was tall for a woman, teetering over five feet, ten inches. She was also slightly overweight. Like her friend, Claire's fashion sense settled into a mediocre groove after sixteen years of marriage. She had long, beautiful legs, but rarely did her co-workers see them. Claire wore her shoulder-length hair down, but she never curled it, braided it, teased it, or colored it.
Claire was a beautiful woman, with brown skin like molasses. She had large eyes, a thin nose, and full lips. Her dark eyes were deep and alluring, but she didn't use mascara or fake lashes to draw attention to them. But then again, she was thirty-six years old with three kids and a great husband. Who was there to impress?
“I got some new outfits,” she told her nosey friend. “I'll tell you about them at lunch.”
The ladies left the office in good spirits. Becky was parked closest, so they climbed into her ex-husband's four-by-four rather than take Claire's Lexus. Inwardly, Claire hated riding in her friend's bigfoot Ford; the wheels were almost waist-tall, there seemed to be a lot of open space between the axles and the frame, and you had to stretch like a gymnast just to get in the damned thing.
But Becky's divorce was as bitter as they come. She got the house, the kids, and her husband's new toyâand damned if she wasn't going to enjoy all of it to the fullest. Becky didn't even have to back out of her parking spot anymore: She simply threw that bad boy in DRIVE and climbed over the parking block like she was at the motocross. Claire latched her seatbelt and said a quick prayer like she always did when Becky was behind the wheel.
* * *
They chose to dine at the Lotus restaurant because the self-serve buffet there worked best with their brief lunch hour. Midway through their meal, Claire pushed her crab Rangoon to the side and pulled a magazine clipping from her purse. She unfolded it and laid it out in front of her friend. Becky peered down her nose, and her eyes grew wide.
“Wow. Where is that from?”
“Victoria's Secret,” Claire said. “I ordered it online. It just came in yesterday.”
Becky sucked a broiled shrimp from its shell and chewed it eagerly. “Have you tried it on yet?”
“Yeah. Last night.”
Becky looked from the curvaceous model on the ad to her average-sized friend across the table. “Does it still look like, like
?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” Claire said. “I'm just as fine as that lady.”
Becky choked a little on her shrimp. She put a hand to her mouth and coughed, then took a few swallows of her tea. “Excuse me,” she said, dabbing the corner of her eyes with a napkin.
“I might have a little cellulite on my thighs,” Claire admitted.
“And your arms,” Becky offered.
“What's wrong with my arms?”
“You know how old ladies get that flab under their triceps?” Becky asked. “When they wave at someone, that meat swings back and forthâ¦”
“My arms do not look like that!”
“Noâthey don't,” Becky said with a grin. “I'm just kidding. But you never know what could happen in twenty years, if you let it go.”
Claire bent her arm and felt the skin under there. It still felt tight to her, mostly. “
can happen in twenty years,” she muttered.
“And your stomach,” Becky said.
“All right. I do need to do a few crunches.”
“And your buttâ¦”
Claire threw a hand up. “Hold upâGeorge likes
of my ass. And what are you attacking me for? This is supposed to be a
Becky chuckled. “I'm just fooling with you, Claire. You know you look good. I wish I had your legs.”
“I wish I had your stomach,” Claire said.
“I wish I was black so people would think my butt looks good,” Becky said.
“Come to my next family reunion,” Claire offered. “You'll have plenty of fans.” She folded her picture and put it back in her purse. “I got a new dress to wear to dinner, too,” she said.
“What does it look like?”
“It's red and strapless, tight around the waist, shows off my perky bosoms.”
“Oh, I bet that looks nice.”
“It does, girl. I modeled it for myself last night. I was standing in front of the mirror thinking:
Damn, that chick's hot
Becky giggled. “So, what'd you get the colonel this year?”
Claire smiled. It was always hard to shop for her husband. What do you give a man who'd lived in more countries than he had fingers?
Since retiring from the Air Force, George has wanted for nothing that Claire was aware of. His salary at Boeing, coupled with his military pension, left their bank accounts quite full most of the time. George had every trinket imaginable from the golden iPod to multiple DVD screens in his Navigator, but Claire always found something special on gift-giving occasions.
“I had our wedding pictures restored,” she said.
Becky's eyes lit up. “Oh, that's nice.”
,” Claire said with a finger in the air, “I got our wedding video re-mastered.”
“Not just re-mastered,” Claire went on. “I also went back and got everyone who was there to give a quick little blessing at the end. They say how proud they are that we made it sixteen years, and, you know, a bunch of corny stuff like that.”
“Well, there were some folks I
didn't want to find
,” Claire said. “Like my cousin Ray; he damned near ruined the original wedding with his drunk ass. I didn't put him in the new video. But I got our parents, our brothers and sisters. I got them all with the same backdrop, too, so it looks like they all came at the same time.”
Becky's mouth was open. “How the hell did you do all of that?”
Claire shook her head. “It took months. It was hard, but it was fun, too. We don't talk to our families as much as we should. It was good to see everyone again and hear what they all had to say about me and George. You know some of them acted a fool! You put a camera in their face and they think they're on Oprah.”
Becky laughed. “And you kept all of that a secret?”
“That was the hardest part,” Claire confided. “All of these people started returning my callsâ
at all hours of the night
âand I had to keep making excuses about who it was. You know I'm not the sneaky type, girl. I can't hardly keep a straight face if I'm lying to someone.”
“He never got suspicious?”
“No. He trusts me. He didn't even ask who was calling most of the time.”
“You have a great marriage,” Becky said. She reached across the table and held her friend's hand. “I hope you guys get old and die together.”
“We will,” Claire said without hesitation. She never imagined it any other way.
* * *
The average pencil-pusher at Provincial
Insurance worked a regular nine to five, but Claire never stayed later than two-thirty. She didn't have
to work at all. It was actually George's preference that she didn't, but being a stay-at-home-mom got a little boring once the last kiddo started school.
When Claire got into medical billing, it was merely an interesting pastime at first, but her drive and diligence separated her from the rat pack right away. Each month she saved the company more money in her five hours than her co-workers did in eight. She could be manager, or at least supervisor by now, but that would mean working more hours. That would mean Nicole, Stacy, and George Jr. would have to ride the bus home from school.
And that was unacceptable.
* * *
Claire pulled to a stop in front of Wedgwood Elementary with ten minutes to spare. She got out and stood under the large awning that shaded the school's front doors. There were already a dozen parents milling around this area. A woman Claire recognized from the PTA meetings came over and made light conversation. After a few minutes, the bell rang.
Rather than let the kids explode from the building like a kicked ant pile, the students at Wedgewood Elementary had to follow their teachers out in neat, quiet lines. Once outside, they couldn't leave until their teacher saw a parent.
George's class was always among the last out of the building. Claire went to speak with his instructor as she always did, and her son rushed from the crowd and grabbed hold of her hand.