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Lean Emerald Cut

Nadia took a quick peek and then snapped her head back as if she was looking for her favorite flavor of tomato sauce. It had to be the ring. The ring was a dead giveaway. It was all over the coverage in the papers, the news and pictures were floating around the internet of her wearing it. She couldn’t bring herself to get rid of it. She waited for it. She deserved it. She earned it.

But it was the reason she was going to be caught. She was sure of that. Two people in the supermarket made a comment about it, though it was the butcher staring at her, then the ring, that made her feel as the walls were closing in on her.

It was nearly two months since she escaped. Or fled. It all depended on who was telling the story. She was six states and three hair colors from the hell that was her life with Phillip, but each day she was one mistake from it all crumbling down.

Phillip was dead, she was sure of that. Who did it was the question that rattled in her mind as she studied the label on the bottle in front of her? Roasted red peppers and garlic. She thought the combination would be great, then saw the sale was 3 for $5 and decided to place three bottles in her shopping cart.

She had a choice to make, play it cool or beeline to the car, head back to her hotel to clear out and drive straight to Minnesota. Michigan was always the next destination, but she wondered if there was a pattern to possible sightings of her. She knew she couldn’t run forever, but she couldn’t stand still either. The questions she left in Boston couldn’t be answered without pointing to her guilt.

She stared at the ring again. It was an emerald-cut sapphire and pear-shaped diamond halo. It cost Phillip nearly $60,000, but he said Nadia was worth every penny of it. She felt she was too. Her integrity. Her body. Her soul had paid for it time and time again.

To the public, Senator Phillip Walston was the ideal man. A visionary, philanthropist, man-of-the-people and surely future president of the United States. Behind closed doors, he was angry, jealous, violent and incredibly controlling. Nadia felt captive being with him. She was only allowed out of the house for public appearances. Her family had not heard from her since the wedding, she resigned from her law firm shortly after the engagement party.

Her fairy tale became a living hell. He no longer laughed when he told her that she could never leave him. The tight hold of her wrist became slaps to the face and punches in her side. The hushed phone calls from other women became weekends in the Caribbean with Morgan. The whispered voice now had a name. And her pain had no voice. She felt Dennis, Phillip’s assistant, would be the perfect person to cry out to. However, he told her that Mr. Walston’s personal affairs were not in his job description. She knew that to be a lie. Dennis cleaned up all of Phillip’s dirty dealings. Back door deals with Chinese businessmen, payments to local politicians, hush money to his mistresses. Yet, he looked through her as if she was the patio door.

The night it all changed she heard yelling. Three voices. No, four. Phillip, Dennis, a woman and a voice she’d heard before but couldn’t place. She cracked the bedroom door but didn’t come out to inspect out of fear of the consequences. She couldn’t make out the conversation, only a word or two here and there. The woman repeatedly yelled for the men to stop, to think it over. Dennis asked to look at it from both sides. Phillip screamed that he wouldn’t stand for it. The other voice remained calm amid the otherwise chaos and she could only hear him mentioning something was worth millions of dollars.

It was hours before they stopped. She closed the door and pretended to be sleep, hearing two cars drive the path back towards the road. She was sure Phillip would walk into the room, wake her and demand sex, but he never appeared. Five minutes. Fifteen. Thirty. Nothing. Nadia worked up the nerve to play the concerned wife and check on Phillip.

The woman was first. The lieutenant governor. Her mouth was open, but there was no sound. Only blood. Phillip was laying on his back with his eyes open. The trickle of blood made it seem like he was only slightly cut but the hole it came from told a different story.

Panic set in. She should’ve dialed 9-1-1, instead, she ran upstairs, packed three bags, unlocked Phillip’s safe (09-16-73, his birthday) emptied it and took off. Her escape was not planned but well-executed. She disappeared into the Massachusetts night, stayed near Albany a few days, tumbled into Pennsylvania and Ohio for a few weeks. She’d been laying low in Illinois until she decided to wear that damn ring.

All she wanted was leaner cuts than the display, but the butcher chatted her up, asked her questions she hadn’t answered in a long time. Where was she from? What did she do for a living? What dish was she cooking with the lean cuts he was cutting? She couldn’t find her words; she panicked and took off. Now, she hid amongst thousands of bottles that felt like millions of eyes watching her. Trapped. Yet free. Scared and brave.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” the voice was familiar.

She snapped back into reality and noticed the butcher holding a carefully wrapped package. He handed her the meat and backed away slowly. Nadia smiled, thanked him, placed the meat in the cart, the ring in her purse and walked out to a car she’d purchased near Harrisburg.

She laughed, pulled out her map and charted a route to New Mexico.


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