I haven’t had champagne since that night. Seems like yesterday. I was at Eli’s New Year’s Eve bash, and just before midnight he pulled out an $11,000 dollar bottle of Veuve Clicquot. I nearly orgasmed when I took that first sip. I shouldn’t say this, but the rest of the night was an orgiastic blur.
What? Oh, that was at least fifteen years ago. It was also the night he gave me a ring — it was beautiful. “Keep it,” he said. “One day I’m going to ask you to marry me.”
To think I was dumb enough to believe him.
I don’t know if I want to talk about this anymore. I’ve spent a lot of years trying to forget Eli.
Of course I loved him; what kind of question is that? I fell for him hard, too. In fact, I never really got over the relationship, and that infatuation cost me my marriage. I can’t blame my husband for leaving. He simply grew tired of living with the ghost of Eli.
I know I built him up in my head — made him more than he actually was. But I think we all do that with our first love, don’t you?
Well, I met Eli just after I got out of college. I was the secretary for an attorney who represented his business interests. Eli came in one afternoon for an appointment, smiled at me and said, “It’s about time he hired a beautiful woman to be the first face clients see.”
I was hooked. The other secretaries in the office told me it was a pipe dream, that a man like Eli would never be interested in me.
And when he asked me out — at lunch, in the cafeteria, with all of the other secretaries watching, I was on top of the world. And for six months, my life was a blur of parties, dinners, and Eli. It all culminated on New Year’s Eve, with that beautiful ring, and a promise of marriage.
— Excuse me … I just need a moment.
Eli knew how to pick ‘em, though. He preyed on the desperate; those of us who didn’t believe we deserved him, so of course we’d do anything to keep him. I can’t believe the things I did for him … with him. Still I hoped against hope that I would be the one he chose.
Here’s the ring he gave me. It’s not even as special as I thought. I found out later it was a fake, and he gave dozens of them to the many women in his life — all with the same promise of marriage.
Why do I keep it? Because Eli gave it to me.
All of it came to an end, though, when his wife Laura paid me a visit. She was his female equivalent in every way — rich, tall, and gorgeous. “You’re just another one of Eli’s whores,” she told me. “Don’t think you’re anything special. He’ll always come back to me.”
Later that night, I told Eli about her visit, thinking she was just some jilted ex-girlfriend. I thought we’d laugh it off and continue as usual. But Eli gave me this sheepish grin, and said, “At least we had a good run, didn’t we?”
And that was it. We were over. It was all a game for him, and I simply became a footnote in his life. From then on when Eli came into the office, he ignored me, as if what we had never happened. I almost felt like I didn’t exist anymore.
But I couldn’t shake him, and believe me, I tried.
Now, fifteen years and one marriage later, I thought I had finally moved past it. Then I see the article in the Times: “Elias Kincaid — The 15 year old mystery surrounding his disappearance.”
Why did they have to dredge it all up again?
Hmm? Oh, I saw him one last time before he went missing — right here in this room, in fact. I truly thought I would be able to convince him to give me another chance.
He was agitated when he arrived. “Alright, Michelle, what’s so important that I had to come all the way over here?”
The way he spoke to me hurt more than I was willing to admit. “I thought maybe we could remain friends, see each other on occasion,” I said
He just stared at me. Those grey eyes that at one time made me feel so important now cut through me. “Michelle, it’s over.” Then he shrugged as if I was nothing.
Thinking back, it was the shrug that did it; it was just so callous. Before I knew it, Eli was lying on the ground with blood oozing out of a gash in his head. I don’t even remember what I hit him with, but he fell right there where you’re standing now.
I kept waiting to be found out. I was certain that one day I would come home and the police would be waiting to arrest me. But it never happened. No one thought that a mousey little nothing like me could bring down the mighty Eli Kincaid. Everyone always underestimated me.
After the article, I thought it was time people knew what happened to him. They needed to know who the real Eli was. The papers had him all wrong, and the phony tears of his horrible wife, she’s as bad as he was. Eli was a monster. He used me and lots of women like me.
And I wanted the world to know who Eli really was. That’s why I dug up the body — that’s why I called you.
Where is he?
Michelle stood up. The officers watched as she opened the sliding door that led to a back patio.
My garden has always been the place I loved most, where I feel the most comfortable. It only made sense to put Eli here. I know he would’ve appreciated it.
It’s too bad you couldn’t see him with his dark, wavy hair, and beautiful grey eyes — he was so handsome. Unfortunately you had to meet him like this, all skin and bones.
But I can still see him the way he was back then: my Eli, the only man I ever truly loved.