It’s not my fault. I know, I know, of course you’d expect me to say that, but it really isn’t. The prosecuting attorney is making it out to look like I was in on it all from the beginning. I wasn’t. So don’t judge me until you’ve heard my side.
Josh and I had been having our problems for a long time. I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m not. But seriously, Josh had become impossible to live with anymore. He did almost nothing around the house, and when he did do something, he’d act like he deserved some sort of Nobel Prize. And that was only after I reminded him. He made fun of my friends, too, sometimes when they were right there. And let’s not even talk about the way he would flirt with other women. He couldn’t handle money, either. And the list goes on and on.
So, anyway, one morning we had a huge fight, and Josh ended up calling me all kinds of names and storming out to work. That’s when I decided I’d had enough. I mean, wouldn’t you feel the same way? I figured I’d call a lawyer and find out what I’d need to do to get a divorce. I’m not rich, but I’d saved up some money in my own account, so I figured I could afford it.
After a bit of a search, I found an online listing for a guy named Mark Prescott. His tag line was: You deserve to be happy again. I can help. I mean, I did deserve to be happy, didn’t I? So, I gave Mark a call. All I got at first was a voice mail message, but he called back, and we agreed to meet the next day. Josh was leaving for a business trip in the morning (good riddance!), so the timing was right.
I got to Casa de Mi Tía (they have really good Mexican food) a few minutes early and claimed a seat. Mark got there just after the waitress brought warm tortilla chips and salsa to the table.
‘That’s me,’ I said as we shook hands.
We sat down and made the usual small talk about the weather until the waitress came to take our order.
After she left, he began. ‘So,’ he said in a getting-down-to-business sort of way, ‘you want to end your marriage, is that right?’
‘Yes.’ I didn’t hesitate.
‘And does your husband know you and I are working together?’
‘Not yet. He’s away on business. I plan to serve him with papers after he gets back.’
‘And when will that be?
‘That gives me a couple of days to get everything started, then.’
The waitress brought our food, and we started to talk about the details. Then, something occurred to me (I guess I should have thought of it sooner). ‘We haven’t talked about your fee yet,’ I said.
‘Fees really depend a lot on how long the process takes and the services provided.’
‘Well, can you at least give me an estimate? I have to make some financial plans.’
‘Well, my VIP service is ten thousand.’ When Mark saw my face, he added, ‘And that gets you everything. I take care of every detail. All you need to do is relax and let me do my job.’
That sounded good to me, even if it was expensive. After a moment of thought, I said, ‘OK.’
‘So you want me to do this, right? Full speed ahead?’
‘Full speed ahead.’
We finished our lunch, and Mark said he had a meeting with another client, but he’d be in touch by email.
And he was. Two days later, he sent me an email to say that the papers would be drawn up and ready within a week. I couldn’t believe how quickly everything was coming together, but I was happy about it. I wanted to get started on the rest of my life. That night, Josh came home. He’d been away for a few days, but we hardly said a word to each other. That’s how bad things had gotten. Finally, I couldn’t take the heavy layer of silence any longer. I told him I’d seen a lawyer and wanted a divorce. I can’t say he was shocked; even he knew I wasn’t happy. I told him I’d move out and stay somewhere else while everything was settled.
So, the next morning, I packed some things and went to my friend Patrice’s place. You can ask her. She and her wife have a big house with a granny flat, and that’s where I stayed. For almost a week, nothing happened. I got an invoice from Mark, and arranged to pay it, but that was all. I didn’t see him or meet with him or anything.
Then, a few nights ago, there was a knock at the door while we were finishing dinner. I got up to see who it was, and I was shocked to see two police officers. I backed up two steps. ‘Can I help you?’ I asked.
‘Are you Nicole Bridger?’ I nodded mutely.
‘We need to ask you some questions. It’s about your husband, Joshua.’
‘What about him?’
That’s when they told me he was dead – murdered. And they took me to the station to be questioned about it. I didn’t do anything. But they said they had evidence that I did. I told them it wasn’t me. It was Mark. Mark knew where Josh’s office is, and our house. He knew the kind of car Josh drives, the whole thing. I tried to tell the cops about it, but they didn’t listen to me. It turns out Mark Prescott is a hit man for hire, not a lawyer; he’s done this sort of thing before, apparently. And the cops think I hired him. I didn’t. I had no idea he was a hit man; I thought he was a lawyer. But nobody believes me. You do, don’t you?