“The Siege” in Ellery Queen


It’s always an honor to appear in the pages of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine — and I’m over the moon about having my name on the cover of the December 2015 issue. My story “The Siege” is about a woman who seems to have everything. But her relationship with her husband began as an adulterous affair, and when she finds evidence that he’s up to his old tricks, her world starts to fall apart. Here’s how the story begins:

The red thong in my bed wasn’t mine. It was curled up like a newborn rodent at the foot of the mattress, a lump with a tawdry tale to tell waiting for me when I came home from the Canyon Ranch spa in Arizona. When I found it, my six-month-old daughter, Sammie, was wailing from her crib. A cry threatened to burst out of my chest. I’d been away from home for a week, battling baby weight that wouldn’t budge, and my husband was already having an affair.

I picked up the thong, holding it at arm’s length for examination. The label was Victoria’s Secret, and the size was extra-small. My husband always liked his girls petite. I knew that before I met him, back when I’d targeted him and plotted to meet him. Tony Salazar had that reputation. Everyone knew it.

Without thinking, I reached for a pair of scissors in my dresser and snipped the cheap lace into tiny bits. That little creature who’d crawled into my bed when I was away wasn’t coming back, not if she wanted to live.

“Genie!” I shouted.

My maid appeared in the doorway a minute later. “Yes, Mrs. Salazar?” She gasped and her hand went to her chest. “Did you cut yourself?”

I looked down. The crimson dots of fabric looked like blood splatter on my white carpet. “No!” I dropped the scissors on the bed. “Who’s been in the house while I was away?”

Genie paled a little. “I don’t think…”

“Who’s been in here?”

Genie gulped. “No one I know of, Mrs. Salazar.”

“I know someone else has been here!”

Her eyes were wide and fearful. “Not while I’ve been here, Mrs. Salazar.”

That was the maid’s way around it, of course. She was in the house from early in the morning until late at night, and she had a room in the house because she sometimes stayed overnight, but she didn’t actually live with us. She shared an apartment with her elderly mother miles away in downtown Los Angeles. I knew from Genie’s reaction that something was wrong, but I wouldn’t be able to get it out of her at that moment. She’d worked for my husband for years, and her loyalty was to Tony.

“Clean up this mess,” I said.

I brushed past her and walked down the hall. There was no point questioning Genie about the thong. It wasn’t likely that Tony brought a girl over during the day. Whatever assignation he’d had had been at night, after the maid was gone. But there was someone else in the house who’d know if there’d been a secret guest.

If you want to read more, the December issue of Ellery Queen is on newsstands now!



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