Guest Post by Minnie Lahongrais
March 21, 2002, Tommy Ortiz is accused of murdering the love of his life, Adina Cruz. As an NYPD Detective and best friend of the accused, it is Mason Jones’ job to figure out what happened.
When he arrived home that evening, Mason found his wife, Claudia sound asleep. Silently, he stripped off his clothing and slid into bed beside her. She sighed contently as he drew her into his arms and held her close. He inhaled deeply and took in the comforting essence of the lavender oil she poured into her bath as part of her nightly ritual. Then, he exhaled softly as he closed his eyes in recognition of how lost he knew he would be if anything ever happened to her.
Flashes of the scene of the crime – of Adina’s naked and battered body assaulted his senses. His eyes flew open. He stared into the darkness and contemplated getting out of bed. When Claudia stirred he thought better of it and held her even tighter for a short while before gently rolling her over on to her side. He turned his back to her and curled into a fetal position. He pushed up against her so that his back was touching hers. Soon he was sleeping; twitching and dreaming.
* * *
The wind howled menacingly. Confused, Mason found himself in an unfamiliar space. His blurred vision slowly cleared and he focused on an old fashioned, wooden desk positioned smack in the middle of the room. Atop the desk he could see what appeared to be a prescription pad, along with a notebook and a set of pens. He noticed the nameplate, but couldn’t make out the lettering, so he inched closer to read it.
Roger Cohen, M.D. The name meant nothing to him.
There were two doors on opposite sides of the room. A small coffee table holding just a box of tissues was set between a couch and a high backed wooden chair. The walls were covered with diplomas and certificates. The shutters on the windows were loose; its slabs shaking in time with the thunder that clapped intermittently.
Suddenly the door opened. Two men walked in; one of whom he recognized as Rhys, owner of Rhys’ Pieces. The other man was wearing a white lab coat. He had to be Dr. Cohen.
“Rhys?” questioned Mason in confusion.
Rhys didn’t respond. The doctor spoke first.
“Det. Jones,” the doctor offered his hand in greeting. Mason ignored it.
“Well, understandable. Have a seat. We have lots to discuss.”
The doctor took his position to the left of the chair opposite the sofa. Rhys followed him and stood to the right of the chair.
Mason didn’t move a muscle.
“Who are you? What am I doing here and what are YOU doing here, Rhys?”
“This is Dr. Cohen,” Rhys offered. “He brought us safely into this world.”
Mason frowned and backed away from the two men standing in front of him. Sinister grins snaked on the two men’s faces. Rhys stepped forward and sat at the far end of the couch. He extended his arm in mute invitation toward Mason to do the same. Mason slowly moved forward and gingerly sat at the far side on the couch’s edge.
“Us? Who’s ‘us’?” asked Mason as he looked from the face of one man to another. Doctor Cohen spoke first.
“Did you know, Mason, that the Marquis de Sade believed that if a crime, even murder, took place during one's desire for pleasure then it could not be punished by law? He also believed that sex is as important as eating or drinking and we ought to allow the one appetite to be satisfied with as little restraint or false modesty as the other.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
Rhys moved forward on the couch to its edge before speaking so that he could be eye to eye with Mason.
“Adina. He’s talking about Adina and I. We are cut from the same cloth, Mason. In life, we both had demons we couldn’t control. But, we both tried in different ways to do just that. I killed in my search for pleasure. She tried to wrestle control from her demons through the men she sexually manipulated and dominated even though Tommy showered her with unconditional love. How necessary was it was for her to do that? It was necessary because she sought pleasure.
“However, Adina angered me when she betrayed Tommy with all those men. It angered me that he forgave her. But most of all, it angered me that he loved her the way he did and I didn’t have someone who loved me the same way.”
Mason listened, his mouth agape. The doctor spoke again.
“Adina and Rhys did not come into this world the way normal people do, Mason. Were it not for Rhys’ physicality, they would not have been separated and they might not have turned out the way they did.
“For what is the reason they are more alike than different? Nature? Nurture? Neither? Both? Who knows? They lived parallel lives that diverged then converged in mayhem – with you in the midst of it. Now it is up to you to put the pieces together and lay the matter to rest.”
Doctor Cohen paused to allow Mason to digest what was being said before speaking again.
“As I aged, it became difficult for me to live with what I had done. I am truly sorry. It was an act I committed in my search for the all-consuming pleasure I continuously derived as the superior being I knew I was over my patients.”
Mason put his face in his hands and thought of the pain Tommy must be in. He sobbed softly. Rhys rose to his feet and stood beside the doctor.
“Adina thought she had everything under control. I loved no other woman but my mother as I loved Adina. Until we – Adina, the doctor here and myself – are gone from your world, you won’t know the truth and Tommy will have to pay the price. He will be collateral damage.”
* * *
DIVERGENT LIVES is a fictional tale, yet it titillates the imagination far more than truth.
What a ride...
You have got to read this one!...
Many thrills and unanticipated twists...
Psych Thriller Adds Deviant Twists to Sociopath Theme
RJ and Adina enter the world as fraternal twins, one raised by old-world, controlling immigrants in El Barrio, the other sold into a religious home filled with lies and scorn. Both are sociopaths.
Turns out, RJ’s got a secret that enrages him with the flip of a switch. Adina uses her sexual power to dominate every man in her life. They are on a mysterious trajectory to cross paths in New York City, where the end of their lives culminates in an apex of horror and carnage.
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About the author:
Native New Yorker, Minnie Lahongrais unwittingly kick-started her second career when she began writing an urban fantasy tale intended to help her cope with the death of her father. November of that year, she set that story aside to immerse herself in the annual madness of NaNoWriMo, meeting the challenge head on. Her first novel, “Sinner’s Ride” was published Spring of 2011. That summer, she found herself obsessed with the story idea for “Divergent Lives.”
Next on her agenda is the urban fantasy she began at the outset of her journey. She now plans to write that story as a trilogy.
Ms. Lahongrais currently lives in New York City. She finds time to write every day and spends her free time with her family.