R. Barri Flowers is an award winning criminologist and bestselling author of nearly seventy books, including gripping thriller fiction, young adult mysteries, romances, true crime, and criminology titles.
SEDUCED TO KILL IN KAUAI: A Novel of Psychological Suspense
R. Barri Flowers
Pushing forty, Jack Burke was living the good life as an advertising executive in Kauai, Hawaii. He had a beautiful, sexy wife named Victoria, a beachfront home, and a future that seemed bright as ever.
Then, practically in the blink of an eye, his life began spiraling out of control. When his wife suddenly turned cold as ice, his darkest dreams floated to the surface. Combine that with the temptations of a gorgeous and cunning exotic seductress, betrayal, deceit, and murder, and Jack was left wondering if there was any way out.
Or would he lose everything, including possibly his life?
It was a nice day in Kauai, as was usually the case, with the temperature in the upper seventies and only a few puffy clouds in the sky. It was a far cry from my upbringing in the Midwest, where it was often either too hot or too cold for my liking.
My trip down memory lane was interrupted when I heard the throaty voice say almost inaudibly: "Can you spare a little something...?"
I looked slightly to my right and saw a tall Hawaiian woman standing there in tattered clothing that looked at least a size or two too big for her body. At first glance, I guessed her to be well into her thirties, if not forties. But upon closer inspection, something told me that beneath the street person façade she was more likely in her mid to late twenties.
Her thick, long hair was jet black and unkempt, suggesting it had not been washed for some time. The same could be said for her face. Her cheeks were smudged as if she had been rolling around in soot. She had heavy bags under her exotic brown eyes, which seemed to reveal everything she had been through. None of it good. She had a dainty nose and a half moon cleft in her chin. I could almost imagine her full mouth being covered with rich red lipstick in another lifetime.
But that was then and this was now.
My guess was that she was homeless—or damn near it. There was a homeless shelter not far from there and I wondered if she had drifted from it to the shopping center.
On almost any other day, I would have rejected the slightest temptation to help out this woman who was invading my space. Never mind the fact that I had donated plenty of money in the past few years to help keep the shelter afloat.
But there was something different about this woman that got to me. Maybe it was the pain in her sad eyes that told me she had had a rough turn in life above and beyond all others.
Or maybe it was because I had nothing better to do at the moment than take pity on someone of lesser means than myself.
Or maybe it was because she reminded me of someone I'd tried hard to remember and forget—my sister Caroline. She had taken to the streets when I was still in grade school. It was her way of liberating herself from a bad, abusive marriage, overbearing parents, and an addiction to cocaine.
The price she paid was heavy. At one point, Caroline was found living in a dumpster, strung out on drugs, and half frozen to death. The lifestyle caught up to her soon enough. She never even made it to see her twenty-third birthday, much less mine.
I blamed her for what she did to herself, simply because it was easier than blaming everyone else.
I met the homeless woman's unflinching eyes and removed my billfold from my back pocket. After leafing through some fifty dollar bills and several twenties, I backtracked and pulled out a fifty dollar bill and placed it on her hand, which had opened wide like a flower.
She flashed me a hint of a smile and said in a stronger voice: "Mahalo."
Almost simultaneously, I heard the bell from the fragrance shop, indicating someone had come out. I turned to look at Victoria's face. She was not smiling.
I glanced toward the woman who was already in full stride, as if to escape having to deal with my less than sympathetic wife. She was probably in search of her next handout. She turned her head in my direction as though for the last time, before disappearing into a shop.
Don't ask me why, but I had a sinking feeling that my generosity would come back to haunt me.
At least it seemed that way as I met the chilling gaze Victoria leveled at me.
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