The Quickie

The Quickie

BY James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

When she sees her husband with another woman, Lauren Stillwell's heart nearly stops beating. Her marriage was perfect, she has a great job, she loves her life. But his betrayal turns her into someone she never imagined she could be–a woman lusting for revenge.

Determined to even the score, Lauren seeks to have her own affair. It was supposed to be a quickie, but Lauren's night of passion takes a shocking turn when she witnesses an unexpected, unbelievable, and deadly crime. Now her horrifying secret threatens to tear her life apart, pitting her need to uncover the truth against her fear that the truth may be too horrible to bear. And whichever choice she makes may cost her dearly-her job, her marriage.or even her life.

From James Patterson, the man USA Today has called the "master of the genre," comes his scariest novel since the #1 New York Times bestseller Honeymoon. This twisting story of desires, secrets, and consequences will have your heart pounding till the very last page.

Chapter 1

THERE WAS HEAVY TRAFFIC on the Major Deegan south and more on the approach to the Triborough that night, that crazy, crazy night.

I couldn’t decide which was making my eye twitch more as we crawled across the span — the horns from the cars logjammed in both directions around us, or the ones honking from our driver’s Spanish music station.

I was heading to Virginia for a job-sponsored seminar.

Paul was going to apply some face time to one of his firm’s biggest clients in Boston.

The only trip we modern, professional, go-getting Stillwells were going to share this week was the ride to LaGuardia Airport.

At least I had one of the great views of Manhattan outside my window. The Big Apple seemed even more majestic than usual with its glass-and-steel towers glowing against the approaching black thunderheads of a storm.

Gazing out, I remembered the cute apartment Paul and I once had on the Upper West Side. Saturdays at the Guggenheim or MOMA; the cheap hole-in-the-wall French bistro in NoHo; cold chardonnay in the “backyard,” our fourth-floor studio’s fire escape. All the romantic things we did before we got married, when our lives had been unpredictable and fun.

“Paul,” I said urgently, almost mournfully. “Paul?

If Paul had been a “guy guy,” I might have been tempted to chalk up what was happening between us to the inevitable. You grow a little bit older, maybe more cynical, and the honeymoon finally ends. But Paul and me? We’d been different.

We’d been one of those sickening, best-friend married couples. The let’s-die-at-the-exact-same-moment Romeo-and-Juliet soul mates. Paul and I had been so much in love — and that’s not just selective memory talking. That was us.

We’d met in freshman year at Fordham Law. We were in the same study and social group but hadn’t really talked. I’d noticed Paul because he was very handsome. He was a few years older than most of us, a little more studious, more serious. I actually couldn’t believe it when he agreed to head down to Cancún for spring break with the gang.

On the night before our flight home, I got into a fight with my boyfriend at the time and accidentally fell through one of the hotel’s glass doors, cutting my arm. While my supposed boyfriend announced he “just couldn’t deal with it,” Paul arrived out of nowhere and took over.

He took me to the hospital and stayed at my bedside. This, while everyone else promptly hopped on the flight home to avoid missing any classes.

As Paul walked through the doorway of my Mexican hospital room with our breakfast of milkshakes and magazines, I was reminded of how cute he was, how deep blue his eyes were, and that he had fantastic dimples and a killer smile.

Dimples and milkshakes, and my heart.

What had happened since then? I wasn’t entirely sure. I guess we’d fallen into the rut of a lot of modern marriages. Neck-deep into our two demanding, separate careers, we’d become so adept at meeting our individual needs and wants that we’d forgotten the point: that we were supposed to be putting each other first.

I still hadn’t confronted Paul about the blonde woman I’d seen him with in Manhattan. Maybe that was because I wasn’t ready to have it out with Paul once and for all. And, of course, I didn’t know for sure if he was having an affair. Maybe I was afraid about the end of us. Paul had loved me; I know he had. And I had loved Paul with everything I had in me.

Maybe I still did. Maybe.

“Paul,” I called again.

Across the seat of the taxi, he turned at the sound of my voice. I felt like he was noticing me for the first time in weeks. An apologetic, almost sad expression formed on his face. His mouth started to open.

Then his blasted cell phone trilled. I remembered setting his ring tone to “Tainted Love” as a prank. Ironically, a silly song we’d once danced to drunk and happy had turned out to aptly describe our marriage.

Glaring at the phone, I seriously considered snatching it from his hand and flinging it out the window through the bridge cables into the East River.

A familiar glaze came across Paul’s eyes after he glanced down at the number.

“I have to take this,” he said, thumbing open the phone.

I don’t, Paul, I thought as Manhattan slid away from us through the coiled steel.

This was it, I thought. The final straw. He’d wrecked everything between us, hadn’t he?

And sitting there in that cab, I figured out the exact point when you call it quits.

When you can’t even share a sunset together.

Copyright © 2007 by James Patterson

Read by Mary Stuart Masterson

Mary Stuart Masterson was raised in New York City and made her film debut at the age of seven in The Stepford Wives. Since then, she has worked with countless great directors and actors on both the stage an screen. She has starred in over 25 films including, At Close Range, Some Kind of Wonderful, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Benny and Joon, as well as numerous plays and musicals. She wrote and directed The Other Side for Showtime and along with her brother, Peter, is in the process of launching a film production company.

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The Quickie
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