Rubicon Ranch: Secrets ~ Chapter 34: Zazzi Monet — by Mickey Hoffman

Sunday, December 24, 2:25pm

Zazzi shuffled the deck and carefully set the top card face down on the coffee table in front of her. Maybe her psychic neighbor was on the right track, trusting something beyond pure logic, although  Celeste probably used some crazy looking cards. Ha hah, Celeste sure did play from a whole different deck. Whatever.

There were times when decisions had to be made by instinct, by finding the path of least resistance. Why shouldn’t she decide this way? After all, her careful planning had resulted in chaos. She’d lay out all 52, give them a good once over and pick one card. If it was red, she’d pack up and go. Black, she’d stay and see what happened. She hated to leave. Business had been booming here from all the unhappily married, wealthy middle-aged men.

Zazzi placed the last card in the first row of 6. Perhaps she should pluck spines off a cactus instead—Rubicon Ranch’s fitting twin for a daisy. Her hands continued their task as her mind replayed the afternoon’s events. First the sirens with residents following the squad cars past her house, running, gesturing, until she decided she had to know the latest and joined them. She wished she hadn’t. Poor Lydia. Why hadn’t she left town? She understood why Nic had stuck around, though. Some women just couldn’t let go. Like Nancy. But Lydia didn’t deserve to die, especially like that.

Zazzi poured another shot of tequila, hoping to wash away the sour taste of guilt from her mouth. She’d lied to Lydia about Seth and the escort. But, if anything, the lie should have given Lydia more of a reason to leave town, rather than stick around and get herself popped. If she’d told Lydia the truth, that Seth had gone outside with the escort and another of her employees had captured it all on video, she’d have insisted on seeing it. That would have been awkward since Zazzi had gone beyond merely choosing the type of woman Seth liked. She’d found one who could have been Lydia’s double and costumed her accordingly. Then the encounter in a dimly lit parking lot had been taped. Even an expert wouldn’t be able to rule out the likelihood they were watching a video of Seth and Lydia having a confrontation the night before her murder.

The video was supposed to frame Lydia, but she hadn’t intended for Lydia to be the corpse. She’d fully expected Lydia to do one last kindness to the world before she took off for parts unknown and rid them all of the preening, self-aggrandizing lawman. Zazzi wanted the video for insurance, to make sure Lydia didn’t talk about her new friend Zazzi when she got busted for it. But no, Lydia went after Nic. What happened to the “sisterhood”? These women were pathetic, going after each other instead.

Or maybe not. Maybe Seth had killed Nic and Lydia. He must have wanted to. But the early reporting seemed to indicate a shootout between the two women with Seth disgraced but not under arrest. Maybe he’d suffer enough this way. If the gossip was correct, he was finished in law enforcement, a huge takedown to his ego. And she wouldn’t have to neutralize him. Zazzi let out a sigh and dealt her last.

Her hand hovered and she chose her card.

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