-1Max stared at the window on the second floor of their affluent Greenwich home, and she watched the rain drip down the pane. Gazing out at the gray landscape she felt trapped, and didn't know how to escape this nightmare she was stuck in. The landscape spread out in front of her, darkened by the storms of the late afternoon. Catching sight of her reflection in the dim window, Max realized that she hardly knew herself anymore. Despite the misery surrounding her she was still the vision of perfection for him, and he wouldn't allow it to be any other way. They had an image to uphold after all, she thought. Looking impeccable in well cut Prada pants and sky-blue cashmere sweater that matched her eyes, she longed for the simpler days of jeans and sweatshirts. Her hair had grown longer, which Max actually didn't mind, but at his urging she had dyed it lighter and lighter, until it was at its present golden blonde hue. Sighing, she turned away from the image because she didn't want to see who she had become.
How did I get here, Max wondered silently, well I know how I got here because I was stupid. I don't know how to leave though, but what happened to the woman I was three years ago? She was fearless, and tackled any challenge that was in front of her. She wasn't this polished designer mannequin I see now, and I don't think anyone who know me back then would recognize me.
"Maxine?" he called from downstairs. "Where are you?"
Cringing at the tone of his voice, the last thing she wanted to do was to go downstairs and talk to him. Her husband, the provider, supposed soul mate, more like my jailer, Max thought. I wonder what I forgot to do today? Do we have some function to go to that I forgot about?
"Maxine, I know you're here. I've been trying to call you, haven't you heard the telephone ringing? We have some topics to discuss. I worried about you honey because you seem so unhappy lately, let me help you," he pleaded, as she heard his footsteps coming up the stairs. "The Petersons are expecting us for dinner, and I want you to be on your best behavior."
Letting out a breath she hadn't known she had been holding, and Max felt somewhat relieved that it wouldn't be one of those nights after all. Rising shakily from the window seat, she made her way toward the staircase. Smoothing any possible wrinkles from her clothing, Max made her way to the stop of the staircase to greet him.
He gazed at her from halfway up, and she didn't like the way his lips curled when he did. What did I do, she wondered silently?
"How was your meeting today?" he asked slowly. "At the club?"
Oh shit, she thought, oh shit, before replying weakly. "The club? Oh, it went fine."
"Really?" he drawled. "I got a call from Susan Baker, the chairwoman, asking where you were. She had tried the house, but got no answer. So where were you, my wife? Who were you with?"
"No one," Max insisted, cursing herself. "I went for a walk on the grounds, and I just forgot. I'm sorry."
"You're lying," he hissed, moving up towards her. "Who were you with, you whore? Don't try to make a fool of me!"
"I was alone," Max stammered. "Please, Jose saw me down by the lake! He'll tell you I was alone!
"Jose? That's whom you met," he growled. "How many times do I have to tell you that you're my wife. MINE! I won't have you embarrassing me like this!"
Max took an involuntary step backward as he climbed the rest of the stairs, and moved in front of her. Slowly he cupped her head in his hands, and she trembled from the venom in his eyes. He ran one hand through her hair, and despite her terror she couldn't move. It would only make it worse.
"Get dressed," he hissed. "You look awful. I don't know who would want you, but you have to keep throwing yourself at people. We're meeting the Petersons in an hour."
Max nodded weakly, as he stormed back down the stairs. Wrapping her arms around herself, she didn't want to make him anymore angry then he was.
Kenny Lacos was having a really crappy day back in Rome Wisconsin, and as he eyed the body in the morgue he had a feeling it was going to get a whole lot worse. Carter was buzzing around the teenagers body nervously before turning to speak with him and Jimmy.
"He's been dead for a while, a couple of months at least," Carter explained. "Cause of death was a major drug overdose, looks like some new hallucinogenic. Here's the kicker though, the needle marks are all in his posterior, and there is no way he could have injected them himself at that angle."
"And?" Kenny prompted impatiently.
"I think he was used as a guinea pig," Carter continued. "There is no way he could have had this much in his system, and still manage a syringe."
"Murder?" Jimmy asked.
"That's my official ruling," Carter affirmed, nodding.
Terrific, Kenny thought, just what I need know as Carter prattled on about his theory.
"That's a gorgeous dress," Michelle Peterson said softly to Max that night, "I adore the color."
"Thank you. It's one of my favorites," Max said with a smile, as she felt his eyes upon her. "Your house looks incredible Michelle, is that a new painting?"
Max continued to smile as Michelle began telling her about her and Georges recent art shopping expedition. Letting her lead her in for a closer look, Max longed to remove her heels. After her walk that afternoon, her entire body ached, and she wanted to crawl up in front of the fire with a good book. Tuning Michelle back in, she tried to forget about what would happen when they went back home.
"Ahh, two beautiful ladies," another guest Michael Bernard said with a wide smile. "How did your husbands let you wander away?"
"Oh you charmer," Michelle said with a wave.
"I try," Michael agreed, his gaze sliding to Max. "Maxine, you look lovely. I had lunch with your husband the other day, and all he could talk about was you."
"Really?" Max said surprised. "Last I heard you were abroad. London, if I remember correctly."
"Excuse me, I have to go check on something in the kitchen," Michelle said as one of the maids waved her over. "I'll catch up with you both later."
"I got back a few weeks ago," Michael said, as they watched her depart. "Just in time for the parties. When are the two of you having yours?"
"Three weeks," Max replied, relaxing for the first time in hours. "I hope you got your invitation."
"Oh, I'll be there," Michael promised. "I never pass up an invitation from such a fetching female."
"Now you're just teasing me," Max said, with a small smile, enjoying the compliments that she heard so few of. "Where is your date Michael?"
"I'm solo," he said distantly, as Max saw him watching her again and she knew the fury in his eyes.
"I hate to cut this short," she said apologetically. "But I really have to run to the little girl's room."
"Understandable, but it's always a pleasure to talk to you," he replied with a warm smile before lowering his voice. "You know why? You're real, Maxine, and if you ever want to talk about what is troubling you . . . you can call me."
Max just looked at him for an instant before fleeing towards the restroom. No one can know, she thought. I can't tell anyone. Leaning up against the door, she closed her eyes and let the memories drift over her.
"How could you do this," Kenny exclaimed. "Max, the guy is nut! Look what he does to you!"
"What does he do to me Kenny? Tell me," she demanded. "He loves me!"
"Bullshit! You're different with him. He makes you jump through hoops to please him! Look at what you did!"
"Of course I'm different with him! I love him!"
"That's not it! He's hurting you Max. I can see it! You're not the same woman that I've worked with all these years! I don't even know you anymore! The Max I know and love wouldn't have done this!"
"The Max you know and love?" she repeated thrown for a second. "Kenny?"
He looked as taken back as she did, as he stammered. "As a friend, Max I care what happens to you. You're my best friend damn it."
"Then be happy for me Kenny. I just got married after all."
"He was right," Max said softly. "Why didn't I listen? It's too late now."
Kenny opened his apartment door wearily, and was happy to not find Rachel there. After sleeping with her for almost three years, Kenny was growing tired of it. It had become habit after all that time, and the sex was good. Tossing his bag on the couch, he paused at the fridge for a beer as his eyes fell on a picture on the door. Pulling it free of the magnet, he studied the picture of him and Max taken five years ago. Both clad in jeans and sweatshirts, beers in hand, he had one arm wrapped around her shoulders and they were both smiling. I miss her, he thought, and she hasn't returned my calls in weeks. Things were shaky after she left two years ago, but I always thought that we would stay friends. They had drifted apart, and he supposed she was happy with her new life in Greenwich. Kenny had to admit he was shocked when she gave up her job to follow him there. Leaning up against he counter, he sighed. He missed his friend.
"You were flirting with him," he growled the minute they went inside. "Why won't you learn? What is wrong with you?"
"I wasn't," Max insisted uselessly as he steam rolled right over her.
"You sneak around this afternoon, then you flirt with another man right in front of me! You'll not humiliate me like this Maxine! I'll have to teach you!"
"Please," she whimpered stumbling away from him. "Please don't hurt me."
Kenny was still lost in his own thoughts as Rachel kissed him that night. Kissing her back he wondered how Max would react if he showed up on her doorstep, not that he cared what he husband thought. God, he couldn't stand that guy. He couldn't talk to anyone like he could talk to her, even if they had all this distance between them now. Last time they had spoke, she had sounded kind of distracted and he hadn't liked the tone of her voice then. He had feeling she was ducking his calls now, and Kenny wasn't sure he should feel slighted by that. They did live half a country apart after all, and as long as she was happy, he knew he should be happy for her.
I should have told her sooner, he thought, as he whispered. "Max."
"There," he hissed. "I hope you learned."
Max wrapped the blanket around her nude and shivering form. Her once perfect hair and make up were is wild disarray, and her body throbbed in pain. He hadn't struck anywhere that wouldn't be covered in clothing, and she wanted to crawl in the shower and rinse the pain away. Her ribs felt like a football team had trampled on them, and she hoped that none were broken. Max feared that she might have to get a new doctor because of all her injuries. She didn't want him to report it, and she was a cop for too long not to know that he might. Is that what I want, she asked herself as he continued to glower at her?
"Clean yourself up before bed, I want you to pleasure me tonight," he said lowly, "Not that you do that particularly well. I don't know what all of them see in you. GET UP!"
Max struggled to her feet, leaning heavily on the chair. Tightening the blanket around her, her legs trembled. Hating herself in that moment, she watched the mad light dance in his eyes. Ignoring the burning in her stomach, she stumbled towards the bathroom.
"What did you just call me?" Rachel asked, shocked at the same time. "Kenny?"
"Huh?" Kenny replied numbly, trying to clear his thoughts.
"You called me Max," she said pulling back, "Max."
Oh shit, Kenny thought. "Um. I didn't mean too. I was thinking about her earlier, I was looking at that picture on the fridge... Rachel... I just was wondering what was going on in her life."
"No," she said softly. "It's more then that, it's always been."
"Don't be ridiculous," Kenny replied, his words sounding false to even his ears. "She's married for gods sake."
"To a man who is a jerk, even I have to agree with that," Rachel replied. "I knew how close you two were... I thought that you might move past that, and I thought you did..."
"She's my friend," Kenny insisted. "If we're even that any more."
Rachel nodded sadly. "Why are we still together, Kenny? I'm 25 years older then you are, why haven't you moved on?"
"No, I want to know. I have my reasons, and I want to hear yours. Or should I tell you what I think? I think you're so hung up on Max, and you don't want to get involved with anyone. That way you don't have to move past her. You even said it. She's married. You have to make a choice, move on or go after her. I can't keep doing this with you."
"I should be happy for her," he said hoarsely. "She sounds happy enough."
"I don't know."
Max toweled of her bruised body, and she could already see some of the welts forming across her abdomen. Cringing a bit from her reflection, she lowered herself to the edge of the tub. Wrapping the thick white towel around herself, she trembled. I can't do this anymore, she thought desperately. I'm not this woman. I never wanted to be her, how can I let him keep doing this to me? I have to leave. I have to run. Burying her head in her hands, it seemed impossible to her. He controlled all the finances, and she had a weekly allowance. I could sell my clothes Max thought wildly or the jewels he gives to me after a night like this. I haven't got any place to go, and none of our friends, his friends actually would believe me. Michael? Maybe, but I can't take that chance. I need to get out of here.
Fingering her blonde hair, Max felt something warm trickling down her leg. Glancing down, she screamed at the sight of the blood dripping down her leg.
"I'm sorry," the doctor informed them. "She lost the baby."
"The baby? I didn't even know she was pregnant," he exclaimed, turning to look at his exhausted wife in the hospital bed. "Maxine, why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't know," she said in a voice barely above a whisper, even though I suspected she thought.
"I'll leave you two alone," the doctor said observing the young woman's bruises and obvious fear of her husband, and he wanted to call the police to get them involved in this.
"Whose is it?" he asked, his voice dropping an octave. "Tell me!"
"It was yours," Max whispered.
"Then you should have told me!"
"I didn't know!"
"Liar! You're nothing but a whore, Maxine! You wanted to deprive me of my own child to raise your bastard! I'm going home. And when you get out of here tomorrow, we'll finish this."
Max raised her head of her pillow, and felt such a loss for the child she would never know. It filled her with an anger she didn't know she was capable of, and she wanted to kill him for the this. It was one thing to hurt her, but he had killed their child. Resolve boiled up inside her, and she vowed to leave him after she got out of the hospital.
"Good bye," she said evenly, as he stormed out.
"Mam. Mrs. Shreve?" the cap lamented. "If your husband has hurt you, you have to let us know."
How odd, Max mused, to be on this side of it. I think I've said that before, with a different name of course. I don't care what happens to him because I just want to get away. I can't do this anymore.
"This is serious," the older, wizened cop said, trying to capture her attention. "You have a choice, if you go back to him he'll keep doing this to you. He will kill you if you stay with him."
He reminds me of Jimmy, Max thought as she looked at him. He really cares about the people he is trying to help, even if it is some pathetic, beaten woman.
"I don't want to press charges," Max said softly, but firmly. "I can't"
"You hit me," Max astounded, staring at him after three months of marriage, two of which they had lived in Greenwich. Taking a stumbling step backward from him, "You hit me."
"You're not going to leave me Max," he said, grabbing her forearms. "Not for him, not for anyone! Understand? If you try, I'll have you committed first."
"Go to hell," Max spat. "Let go of me!"
"Understand me Maxine. You tell anybody, I'll have you locked up and no one will ever set you free," he said coldly. "Don't test me."
"Take your hands off of me," Max cried, not able to break free of his grip.
"No one will believe you. Who are you anyway? No one. Just some dumb woman, and not the big shot deputy anymore!"
"Please! You're hurting me!"
"Don't ever disobey me again Maxine! I'll kill you before I'll let you go!"
He grabbed her by her wrists and dragged her upstairs.
"We can look into this without your help," he said again, breaking into her thoughts.
"Don't, it'll just make everything worse," Max begged. "I know how this works, believe me. I used to be . . . "
"Used to be what?" the cop asked intrigued by her.
"Yes Maxine. Tell us," he said from the doorway, as he glared at the two of them.
Fear and revulsion boiled inside of her, but she didn't want him to think anything had changed. As terrorized as she was by him, the last thing Max wanted him to consider was that she was leaving him as soon as she could. He had killed their child, and that was it. Maybe she deserved the beatings for being such a terrible wife, but their child hadn't even had a chance yet. Yes, Max thought, I'm leaving him, he'll never commit me anywhere. I'm not crazy.
"I used to be," she repeated. "On a planning committee, and as soon as I get out of the hospital I'm going to recommit to it. I want to refocus my energy on getting the new garden put in at the club.
"That is my wife, the do gooder," he said with a smile, as Max's words rang false in her ears. "Are we done hear Officer? I must be getting my wife home."
The cop glared at him before turning back to Max, "Mam, if you change your mind my name is Officer Sean McDonough, at the 64th precinct. You know where to reach me."
Oh, I hate that look of pity, Max thought as she fought to keep her voice even. "I won't. Good-bye Officer."
He looked at her thoughtfully before leaving, before shooting him a dark look. He glared back as he departed, and he pulled Max to her feet. "We're leaving now. I never want to see you talking to a police officer again, that part of your life is over. Your only duty is to me.
"I didn't tell him anything," Max said softly, feeling full of self loathing.
"Maybe I should tell him what a miserable wife you are. How you sleep around and embarrass me," he sneered. "I should tell everyone how pathetic you are."
Max shrank from him and didn't respond to him. Despite her resolve to leave him, she was still terrified of him and his anger chilled her. She knew he would kill if she stayed, and she had no doubt that it would happen sooner rather then later.
"You're all checked out. Let's go," he snapped. "No wheelchair. Walk."
"You look deep in thought," Jimmy observed, as he watched Kenny study the same page of the autopsy for several minutes, and he knew his Deputy's mind wasn't on the information in front of him. Jill had talked to Rachel, and found out that their three year affair had ended a few days ago. "Anything going on?"
Kenny sighed before turning to face Jimmy. "Just thinking about some things. I've been trying to get in touch with Max, but they're probably traveling or something."
Jimmy caught the hitch in Kenny's voice when he mentioned Max, and he knew that he missed her more then he let on. "When was the last time you talked to her?"
"A few months ago, and she sounded odd," Kenny replied. "I was worried then, but I think she has been ducking my calls since then. Or not getting the messages."
"He wouldn't do that," Jimmy insisted, but he had his doubts about that.
"I should be happy for her," Kenny replied. "But I just have my doubts about the whole thing, something doesn't feel right with it."
"Call her," Jimmy suggested. "Hell, go see her for a few days."
"I might just do that," Kenny said distantly.
Max just stared at the ceiling in their bedroom a few days later, and contemplated her future. It didn't seem to bright to her, and he seemed to have taken all sorts of measures to keep her from leaving him. Eyeing the small safe in the closet where she kept her jewels, she knew she could pawn some for cash. He gave her enough money to throw around when she had lunch with the ladies, or when she had to buy new clothes for one of their functions. Sitting up slightly Max visualized his office downstairs, and she knew he kept money in the safe down there. Not knowing the combination was a problem, but as a cop she learned how to crack into safes. During her time at the police academy her roommate taught her and Max often wondered how Lindsay was doing.
"I'm going out," he said from the doorway. "I'll tell the Thompsons that you are ill, Maxine, even though your friend Michael might miss you."
"Have fun," she said softly.
"I won't put up with you lying around like this for much longer," he continued.
"I just had a miscarriage last week," Max replied. "The doctors said that I had to rest."
"Saturday is the black and white ball at the club, we will both be attending," he said, turning to go. "The servants are gone, go to sleep, I want to talk to you when I get home."
Max nodded meekly, as he departed. I won't be here when you get home. I was wrong before, I don't deserve this. Hearing the door slam behind her, Max swung her legs over the side of the bed and quickly shed her pajamas. Rummaging through the dresser, she found a pair of old jeans and long sleeved t-shirt. Sliding her feet into sneakers, she grabbed a suitcase from the closet and quickly loaded the essentials into it, pants, sweaters, underwear, socks, no frills. None of the designer suits she wore to the club, the gowns, four inch heels, none of it. Tossing in some sneakers and loafers, Max moved to the safe. Staring at the rows of necklaces and bracelets she was shrewd enough to know which ones would pawn easiest and raise the least amount of suspicion. Tucking her handful of baubles into her purse, Max paused at the stack of photos in there. Pulling them out, she had to smile. Life in Rome, she thought studying a picture of her and Kenny taken at the Sheriff Department picnic so long ago. Sliding them into her bag, Max made her way to his study.
"C'mon Max, pick up," Kenny said frustrated as the phone rang. Glaring at it he wondered if she really could be on vacation, but remembered that she said that this was prime party season in Greenwich. He tried to ignore the terror building in his gut, but it had never steered him wrong before. Deep down, he knew that Max was in trouble, and there was nothing he could do about it.
"Yes," Max said to herself as the safe in his office popped open, "Yes."
Gazing at the contents, she was taken back. Besides piles of money, there were stacks of photographs, finical reports, and videotapes. Picking up the pictures Max was utterly shocked to see that they were of herself, times when she was at the club, shopping or even alone in the house. Glancing towards the tapes, she feared that she would be on them too. Grabbing a stack of cash, she saw her passport tucked into the corner too. Sliding it into her back pocket, she slammed the safe shut, and hauled her duffle bag over her shoulder. Glancing at his desk, she eyed his stationary before grabbing a pen. Sliding her wedding band and engagement ring off of her finger she began to write.
I hope you enjoyed you party tonight. I'm sorry I've been such a horrid wife to you, and maybe you'll do better with the next one. By the time you read this I will be far away from here. I don't want anything from you, and I'll file the divorce papers soon. I'm sure we'll both be happier this way. Good luck.
Folding it in half she laid it on his desk and dropped her rings next to it. Snatching her keys out of the bowl, Max silently made her way out into the night. Distantly she heard the phone ring, and she ran faster. If Danny was calling and she didn't answer, Max was terrified that he might come home early and look for her. Tossing her bag in the front seat of her silver Mercedes convertible, she floored it towards a new life.