Tangled Web (The Cortell Brothers #6) - Giulia Lagomarsino
There was something freeing at a cemetery, the knowledge that the dead would never rise again. I found peace here, and as I stared up at the sky and watched the crows circle above, I couldn’t help but wish they would circle down and peck out the eyes of my late husband.
Given my appearance, wearing a modest, black dress with the appropriate matching hat and veil, I was everything a mourning woman should be. My shoulders were slightly slumped, as though the weight of the world was pushing me down. I shed a tear or two, but that was in happiness, not that anyone needed to know that. Those thoughts were mine and mine alone.
What happened between my husband and I was our business, and now that he was about to be lowered into the ground, I was the only person that knew what truly happened behind closed doors. I had erased the security tapes and destroyed them for good measure. All the listening devices had been confiscated from around the house and smashed. I had even visited dear Arlen’s security team and paid them handsomely to forget anything they might have witnessed at the house. By all accounts and purposes, the rest was smooth sailing from here.
The minister said a few final words and then motioned for me to step forward. I had nothing good to say about the man I was married to, but given the nature of his demise, it would not be wise for me to divulge my hatred to the audience of grievers. If they knew him, they came to spit on his grave. If they didn’t, they were hoping to benefit from his death. But the one thing I had ensured going into this marriage was that all of his money would be transferred to me at the time of his death. I knew going in that I might have to wait for a very long time. It turned out, a year was all it took.
I slowly made my way to his casket, touching it lightly as I peered out of the corner of my eye at the onlookers. Heartbreak filled their faces at the gesture and I internally grinned, then swiped at a fake tear. I heard a few sad sighs and cleared my throat for added measure. This earned me a few more tears from the audience— I mean, the mourners.
“Thank you all for coming today.” I looked down at my paper and squeezed my eyes shut, pressing a hand to my chest. Suckers. They were all falling for my act. “For anyone that knew Arlen, you probably remember a tough businessman, a hard headed man that demanded the very best from everyone around him. And you would be right,” I smiled. “Arlen was a tough man to work for, but he was also very generous. Arlen pushed those around him to succeed so that others could benefit as well.”
That was all bullshit. Arlen only cared about the size of his own wallet. We had once passed a little boy on the street that obviously needed some food. Arlen sneered at him and pushed him to the ground, demanding the kid move out of his way. No, Arlen was not a good man at all. Which was why this was all so satisfying.
“When I met Arlen just over two years ago, I immediately ran the other way,” I laughed, earning a few chuckles from the crowd. “He was this big man that always had a scowl on his face and was quick to anger. But when he chased after me and took me out to dinner, I soon realized that he was so much more than he appeared to be. Under that tough exterior was a man that cared deeply about those around him.”
I droned on and on about the man for the next fifteen minutes, listing all his qualities, which were all bullshit, and talked about his generosity. And the whole time I did it, his funds were being transferred into my name. Mrs. Arlen Henning. I now had all the money I would ever need. It was all there waiting in my bank account, and I couldn’t wait to go spend it.
When I was done, I quietly took my place beside his oldest son. Yes, Arlen was older than me by a good twenty years. His oldest son, Bartholomew, absolutely hated me. Well, I hated him too. The kid was a spoiled, entitled brat that needed to be smacked down in