Killer in Paradise by Paul J. Mila



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Killer in Paradise  by Paul J. Mila
KILLER IN PARADISE: A killer is loose in paradise! Who will be the next victim?  

New York City
present day

Artist Matthew Jaslow and his fiancée, Elaine Weatherly, left Christie’s Auction House at 20 Rockefeller Plaza arm in arm. Only several hours earlier, all the art world knew about Matthew was what The New York Times had written about him in the advance reviews. Tomorrow’s auction at Christie’s will include work by Matthew Jaslow, a promising young artist, whose paintings have garnered serious acclaim and have already proven a sound investment for collectors searching for upside potential. Matthew and Elaine were thrilled that Christie’s had invited him to submit six paintings as part of a wider auction. Neither expected all six would have sold, and they never dreamed anyone would have kept bidding until the paintings eventually sold for more than twice their estimated value. They stopped at the crosswalk waiting for the light to turn.

Matthew brushed Elaine’s windswept, blond hair from her face. He looked into her blue eyes, pulled her close, and kissed her lightly on her lips. She leaned forward and kissed him back. He was about to kiss her again but the light turned green, and a typically impatient New York crowd swept them along. “Let’s go, buddy,” he heard a pedestrian comment, bumping his shoulder as he brushed past. “I’m going to stop at the liquor store on our corner and pick up a bottle of Champagne to celebrate!” Matt said. The enthusiasm in his voice was contagious, and Elaine nodded, flashing a smile. “I know where the candles are. I always wanted a famous artist to seduce me.” “And tonight one shall,” Matthew replied, with a devilish grin. “Hey, if your New York Times advance review was so complimentary, I can’t wait to read tomorrow’s story about tonight’s auction.” Their pace quickened, as they both anticipated a night of torrid lovemaking, heightened by the aphrodisiac of success. When they arrived at their West Side apartment building, Matthew ran into the lobby and pushed the elevator button. The light above the door indicated the elevator was still on the way up, at the seventh floor. Matthew grabbed Elaine’s hand and winked. “Let’s take the stairs. I’m a man on a mission!” Elaine laughed and followed him. Three floors later, Matthew fumbled with his key, repeatedly missing the lock. “Sorry, babe. I think my blood’s already going to the wrong place,” he said, glancing down at the bulge in his pants. Elaine followed his eyes and smiled, anticipating an exciting night ahead. “Let me, Mister Mission Man,” she said, easily inserting the key and pushing the door open. Matthew stepped inside and Elaine looked at him as she closed the door. “What’s wrong? You don’t look good. You sound out of breath, and we haven’t even started having fun.” “Yeah, I feel weird. Only three floors and I’m winded. I do more climbing on the stairmaster at our gym without skipping a beat.” “You look a little pale. Sit down and let me do the honors,” Elaine said, taking the bottle of Champagne from Matthew. She twisted the metal retainer holding the cork. “What’s wrong with your hand?” she asked, watching him flex his fingers and rubbing a strange bruise on the back of his right hand. “Maybe it’s just worn out from all that handshaking after the auction. That one guy who did most of the bidding and bought most of my paintings was really enthusiastic, pumping me with two hands.” “Stick to painting, dear. If you can’t shake a lot of hands without complaining, you’ll never make it in politics,” Elaine said, smiling. She popped the cork and ducked when it rebounded off the ceiling and flew past her head. Then she filled two Champagne flutes with expensive Piper-Heidsieck Brut, their favorite. They intertwined arms and sipped, their eyes inches apart, drinking in each other’s essence. They kissed, and just as Matthew’s tongue darted toward Elaine’s lips she pulled back. “Hey, that’s not—” “I’ll be right back. I want to slip into something more appropriate.” She winked. “Something you can properly seduce me out of.” “Let’s drink to that,” Matthew said.

Elaine was trying to decide which of several sheer and revealing outfits she would wear. “Hmm, Matt enjoys stripping me out of this one,” she said, softly to herself. She heard a thump in the kitchen. “Matt? Did you drop something?” She ignored the silence and continued dressing. She anticipated Matt embracing her as he pulled down her back zipper. She closed her eyes, knowing he would slip the top of the suit off her shoulders, run his lips down her throat, and kiss her nipples. The thought sent a tingle through her, and she sighed. Wearing a skintight, low-cut leopard jumpsuit, she slinked out of the bedroom like a cat, holding her empty glass. “I’ll have another . . .” Elaine’s mind could not comprehend the tableau in front of her. Matthew was on his back, his face ashen. Half-open eyes stared up, focusing on nothing. His mouth was open as if about to speak, his lips a pale shade of blue. Elaine dropped her Champagne glass, which shattered on the tile floor. She ran through the shards and knelt next to his body. “Matt! Matt! Are you okay?” she shouted, shaking him, even though her heart knew the answer.