Festive in Death - J. D. Robb
Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.
—OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.
Men, Sima thought, can’t live with them, can’t beat them to death with a nine iron.
But a girl could exact some revenge, and she was a girl bent on just that.
Nobody deserved a good dose of revenge—or a beating with a nine iron—as much as Trey Ziegler. The fuckball had booted her out of the apartment they’d shared, even though she had the same territorial rights to the place as he did.
In the seven and a half weeks of their unofficial cohabitation, she’d paid half the rent, half the expenses, including food and beverage. She’d done all the cleaning (lazy bastard), all the marketing. And in that seven and a half weeks had given him the best years of her life.
After considerable thought, in-depth conversations with close friends and confidants, two ten-minute sessions of meditation and six tequila shots, she’d outlined precisely how, where, and when to exact her revenge.
The how involved that nine iron, an extensive collection of cashmere socks, and itching powder. The where was that one-bedroom apartment over Little Mike’s Tattoo and Piercing Parlor in the West Village.
The when was right fucking now.
He wouldn’t have changed the locks—cheap bastard—and didn’t know she’d given a copy of her swipe to one of those friends and confidants, who also happened to be her boss, right after they’d moved in together.
And if he had changed the lock, her friend said she knew people who knew people, would tag one up, and it would be done.
Sima wasn’t sure she wanted to know the people who knew people or how they would gain access to the apartment. But she knew she wanted in.
So with her friend beside her for moral support, she pulled out her swipe key to open the main door to the apartments over the tat parlor.
Her tequila-fueled grin spread wider when the locks clicked open.
“I knew it! He’d never bother springing for the money to have me deactivated.”
“Maybe not on this door. We still have to see about the apartment.” Her friend gave her a long, hard look. “You’re abso-poso he’s not in there?”
“Totally. His supervisor sprang for the weekend seminar, been in the works for weeks. No way he’d blow it off. Free hotel room, free food, and a chance to show off for two days.”
Sima turned toward the skinny elevator, started to take off her gloves.
“We’ll walk up. Leave your gloves on, remember? No fingerprints.”
“Right, right. It’s my first break-in.” With a nervous giggle Sima started up the stairs.
“It’s not a break-in. You have a key, and you paid the rent.”
“He said it was half. Did you ever check for sure how much the rent was?”
“Well, no, but—”
“Sima, you’ve got to stop letting yourself get pushed around. What you were paying for the squeeze box up here probably covered the whole cha-cha.”
“I know. I know.”
“You’re going to feel a lot better after you cut out the toes in his socks. Remember the plan—one sock from each pair, a little nip so it starts to unravel. You start on that while I put the itching powder in his moisturizer. Then we replace the golf club with the toy one, and we book. We don’t touch anything else. In and out.”
“And he won’t know what the hell. He’s not going to golf until he gets somebody to pay the indoor fee, so that can’t come back on me. The socks will make him crazy.”
“He’ll figure it happened at the dry cleaners. He deserves it. A guy who has his socks dry-cleaned deserves it.”
“Yeah. And the itching powder? He’ll go screaming to the doctor, figuring he’s got a new allergy. Fuckball.”
“Fuckball,” her friend agreed, righteously, as they finally reached the fourth floor. “Moment of truth, Sima.”
On a long breath, Sima steadied herself. Climbing three flights, dressed in her winter coat, scarf, boots, hat—December 2060 was as bitter as her heart—she had worked up a little sweat.
She pulled out the key again, crossed the fingers of her free hand, swiped.
Locks thumped open.
Sima gave a triumphant hoot, and was immediately shushed.
“You want the neighbors poking out?”
“No, but—” Before she could finish, Sima found herself pushed inside with the door quietly, firmly closed behind her.
“Turn on the lights, Sim.”
“Right.” She hit the switch, then hissed, “Look at this mess! I haven’t been gone a week, and he’s already got crap tossed everywhere. Look in there!”