“Linus, is it spring back and fall forward, or the other way around?”
“It doesn’t make sense to spring back, does it, Evelyn?”
“But you could fall forward.”
“Please stop talking.”
Evelyn looked over at her husband and pouted.
“I’m sorry, honey.” He reached over and touched her face. She loved when he did that.
“I forgive you, silly. I just wanted to know which way to set our clocks tomorrow. Spring is here and you know how much I love the world waking up from a cold boring winter.” She smiled. He loved her smile.
“I know sweetie, but we must stay focused on what we have to do right now, okay?”
“Of course,” Evelyn said.
“He’ll be here soon. Do you remember what we’re supposed to do?”
“Of course, dear; we rehearsed it all last week.” Evelyn slipped an arm through her husband’s as they walked the final few feet to the lovely house on Balboa Way. “Promise me we’ll get to spend spring in Paris this year. Wouldn’t that be wonderful, Linus?”
Linus was powerless to refuse his wife, always had been. “Sure honey, that sounds wonderful. Oh, here he comes.”
A tall amiable fellow walked up to Evelyn and Linus. “Hello, are you the Grumwells? I’m Philip Atkins. I hear you want to take a look at the house.”
“We’d love to,” Evelyn said.
“It’s a great house, only been on the market for a few days. So you folks are lucky, because this is a beauty and will sell fast,” Philip said proudly. “If you’re looking for a good home, no one finds them quicker or gets you a better deal than I do.” He nodded, as if agreeing with his very own statement, and handed Linus his card.
“Well, looks like we couldn’t be in better hands,” Linus said, and Evelyn nodded in agreement.
Just then, a tall beautiful woman, with her dark brown hair pulled up into a stylish bun, joined Philip. And she was holding the hands of two equally beautiful children.
“Oh, here she is,” Philip said with an adoring smile, “This is my wife Alyssa, and our kids Philip Jr. and Christina.”
“Oh, we didn’t know you were bringing the family,” Evelyn said.
“Well, we’re going away for the weekend, so thought I’d show the house on our way out of town.”
Linus and Evelyn exchanged glances.
“Is that alright?” Philip asked.
“Of course it is,” Linus said.
Evelyn giggled. Philip thought it odd, but brushed it aside if it meant these two would buy the house.
The place was gorgeous; Linus and Evelyn loved it. Philip ended the tour in the room that was the previous owner’s pride and joy—the basement.
“They had it renovated only a year ago,” Philip beamed. “If you wanted, you could rent it out as its own studio apartment. It’s a self-contained living space down here.”
Evelyn squealed with delight. “Let’s buy it, Linus, pleeeease! It’s stunning!”
Philip grinned, confident he would close the sale.
“Ev, you know that’s not why we’re here.”
“Oh yes, dear, I forgot. It is a beautiful house, though, isn’t it Linus?”
“It is, dear.”
“What’s going on?” Philip asked. “Why’d you waste my time if you don’t plan on buying the house?
“Tell him Linus, tell him!” Evelyn said excitedly.
“Evy honey, focus.” Linus gave her a cautionary look, which immediately softened when she began to pout.
Linus walked toward Philip. He was a few inches shorter than the realtor, but Atkins backed away nonetheless. “Well, Philip, I have a confession to make. This whole house thing was a ruse.”
“What are you—”
“McManus sent us,” Linus said. Then he tilted his head and watched that bit of information sink in.
Then Alyssa Atkins came downstairs carrying a tray of refreshments and saw that the color had drained from her husband’s face. “Is everything alright Philip?”
“I’m afraid it isn’t, Mrs. Atkins. Please sit down.” She set the tray on the coffee table and sat next to the kids. Linus pushed Philip, and he plopped down with a thud on the couch next to his wife.
Linus continued, “Your husband owes money to a very formidable man. Now that man has sent us to rectify things.”
Alyssa glared at Philip, and Linus knew this wasn’t a total surprise to her.
“You gambled away the money you borrowed from McManus, Phil. And it isn’t going to end well for you.”
“But if you kill me McManus won’t ever get his money back.” Philip looked as if he’d found a loophole.
“He’s aware of that. But a man like McManus can afford to send a message or two.”
“Please … don’t. I promise I’ll have his money by the end of the month,” Phil said desperately.
Linus shook his head, “I’m here to do one job, and negotiating with you isn’t it.”
“At least let my family go. They’re innocent in all this.”
“That’s the real sad part of it all, Phil. It was just supposed to be you. Then your beautiful wife Alyssa here would simply be a grieving widow.”
“She’s not that beautiful,” Evelyn pouted.
“No one’s more gorgeous than you, love,” Linus said.
“Please, please, they won’t say a word. Promise him, Alyssa, promise that—”
The gunshot surprised everyone. Alyssa Atkins sat in shock, with her husband’s blood splattered all over her beautiful Alexander McQueen spring dress.
“I didn’t think it would be so loud,” Evelyn said, genuinely shocked.
Then the children screamed, and Alyssa started yelling, “Bitch! Bitch!” at Evelyn, who giggled at the chaos she caused.
“Ev, you were supposed to wait for my signal.”
“I know, dear. I just couldn’t stand him begging any longer.”
“He was becoming quite annoying, wasn’t he?” Linus said, smiling proudly at his wife. “But we have to stick to the plan.”
“You’re right, sweetie. I’ll do better next time, I promise.” Evelyn gave Linus a kiss on the cheek as he lifted his pistol to Alyssa Atkins’ head and pulled the trigger.
Philip Jr and Christina tried to run, but Evelyn and Linus stopped them before they reached the stairs. “Time for you to go be with mama and daddy now, okay?” Evelyn’s voice was strangely soothing.
Philip Jr. shook his head and tried to beg for his and his sister’s lives—but no words would come.
“Shh … it won’t hurt, I promise,” Evelyn said. And it was quick—and she was right, neither one felt a thing.
Suddenly Evelyn began screaming, “No, no, no!”
Linus rushed over. “Honey, are you alright?”
“No, Linus! I got blood on my new Christian Louboutin shoes. Now I’ll have to throw them away.”
Linus smiled and hugged his wife. “Don’t worry honey, I’ll buy you some more—on our spring trip to Paris.”
Evelyn beamed. “That would be wonderful, sweetie. My favorite time of year, in my favorite place on earth. Do they spring back and fall forward there too?”
“Honey, it’s spring forward and fall back—and yes they do.”