Eyes blazing, we stared one another down, each waiting for the other to falter. All the yelling, accusations and disappointment from our actions against each other heaped into a stinking pile between us. We gasped for breath between allegations shouted at the top of our lungs. Chests heaving, a myriad of emotions, hatred among them, burned in our eyes. It was obvious the love we shared might be at risk.

I decided on my course of action, how best to deal with the situation. The resolution permeated my mind for weeks. I loved him, but this needed to end. This downward spiral our life embarked upon needed to be stopped. I was the only one who could do it.

“No. We are not doing this today.” Hand held up like a stop sign, I shook my head and forced myself to think about all the reasons I had to keep loving him. “I have work to do. Go see your brother. Play a game of golf. Drink yourself into a stupor. Do what you need to do. Stay safe. Have fun. Be home for dinner by seven. I’ll order your favourite Chinese food. We’ll feast.”

I put my hand to his face and stroked his cheek with my thumb. Love twinkled in my eyes as I watched the hostility leave his face. He kissed the palm of my hand, nodding as he pulled out his cell phone. He was already making plans with his brother as he got into his truck.

A fresh mug of coffee in one hand, a plate with fresh blueberries and a chocolate chip muffin in the other, I settled on the couch. I pulled my laptop onto my knees with a sigh.

Mischievous sparkle in my eye, I reclined my seat and wrote a scene filled with hatred, loathing and murder. It was an excellent scene. My eyes lit up with every word, descriptions flowing like water.

Hours later, Chinese food on the kitchen counter, I served up plates for each of us as my darling husband poured us each a glass of red wine. We retired to the living room and our favourite British soap opera, sharing a kiss before settling on the love-seat together.

Legs curled up under me, I reclined my seat and opened my laptop on the side table. I groaned with delight as I sipped my wine, the blood-red liquid going down my throat, smooth as silk. I pulled up the scene I’d finished that afternoon and grinned at him.

“Wanna hear how we killed each other this time?” I read the scene to him, hoping to put our earlier altercation in the past where it belonged.

Rain pelted down hard enough to sting. Wind whipped my denim shirt around my waist, baring the thin, rain-soaked tank beneath it. One hand held a Luger while shielding my eyes from the water. The other clutched a small hatchet.

Face twisted maniacally, footsteps squelching through the mud, I eased the barn door open, closing it behind me as I slid into the darkness. Animals scuffled in their stalls. Horses huffed. Cows let out low moos and pigs grunted.

Wet running shoes led a trail of puddled footprints across the dusty, straw-covered wood planks. My dark, fresh footprints mingled amongst their drying, faded ones.

Floorboards squeaked. A mouse scurried along the wall. Rain bounced off the roof. Wind howled around the building, whistling in through the cracks.

There was no more perfect setting for the task ahead of me.

I stopped in the middle of the barn, listening. They were here, I could feel their energy. Hear their bated breaths. Sense their excitement.

Oblivious, they didn’t know I’d followed them. She believed she was safe. She thought I was at the conference over in Fayetteville. I would head back once I finished my business on the ranch.

It was time for me to get my affairs in order. Time to fix what was wrong in my house so it could stand tall and strong.

I made my way past the ten horse stalls, the animals within restless in the storm. A nuzzle on the velvety nose of my favourite stallion put me in the ideal spot to peek over into the one empty stall in the barn.

The one where my wife and her lover giggled together. Hands traipsing over exposed curves, hers and his. Kisses exchanged. Tongues dancing, slurping and frenzied.

Eyes narrowed, I backed up a few steps before calling out to her. Innocent and brazen, my tone belied the turmoil within me.

“Darling, you out here? I missed you. There’ll be other conferences for me to attend.”

Their movements stilled, fear and apprehension palpable in the air. I grinned. Worried and on edge was how I wanted them. They needed to know I was aware of what she’d been up to. And with whom she’d been running around.

Ranch workers loyal to me, not her, reported every move she made. She was the interloper, a manipulative gold digger who wanted what she could squeeze from me. Only thing she could squeeze out of me now was a nice lead slug.

Loud rustling from the large, empty stall betrayed their scramble to get dressed. Didn’t matter to me if they got dressed or not.

Pistol trained down the barn’s corridor, the stall door eased open. Two faces, one lean and chiselled, the other soft and feminine, appeared before me. Stricken and pale, my wife swallowed thickly as she placed her palms out in a placating movement.

“Hank, what are you doing back here tonight?” Her frail, hesitant smile aimed for loving wife, but reached deceitful cow instead. “Thought you had a workshop tonight, love.”

“Oh, I know you did, darling. I wanted you to,” I waved my hand, the pistol motioning them towards the middle of the corridor, “after what Buck told me the other day, I needed you to. He’s kept me up to date with all your coming and going…mostly your coming. With that one, there.” Chin motioned towards my identical twin brother cowering behind her.

My two-timing wife and traitorous twin blinked. Wheels turned behind their eyes. Their thoughts screaming as they tried to come up with a plausible reason for their presence in the barn together. Naked. Voices low and seductive. Hands and fingers roaming sensually over one another’s bodies.

“Don’t worry, lover. It won’t hurt too much. Promise.”

Pistol cocked, I grinned at my brother and pulled the trigger. It thrilled me to be released me from the hold of life as a twin. Recoil barely registered. Blood soaked his t-shirt.

My wife screamed. Begged me for mercy. Told me how she’d always loved me and was playing my brother for his inheritance. Words I’m sure she’d told him, too.

As I turned the gun towards her, I wondered if she knew our parents split the inheritance equally between us and we were one another’s beneficiary. A fact I’d checked just that morning.

I smiled, not as sad as I should have been, and told her, “I loved you. Truly loved you. Would have done anything for. Now I’m doing what I need, for me. Goodbye.”

She screamed. Cried. Pleaded for another chance. Implored me, telling me how much she needed me. Loved me. Out of spite and desperation, my cheating wife told me the one thing I wanted. The one thing I knew was an outright lie before she finished speaking.

“Hank. Hank. Don’t do this. I love you. I’m pregnant. Think of our baby.”

Maniacal, my grin widened. Eyes wild with anger, hurt and insanity gleamed in the dim light.

“Oh sweetheart, what a heartfelt confession. Too bad Doc is in my corner. He told me the results of your blood work yesterday. You’re not pregnant.” Gun at the ready, I winked and asked, “Surprised?”

One last gunshot and I watched, emotionless and stoic, as blood drained from her face. Eyes wide with disbelief, blood spurted from her femoral artery.

I wanted her to bleed out, slow and steady. She needed to realize who was at fault here. And it wasn’t me. Not this time.

“I don’t understand, Hank. Why the hatchet?”

I laughed at her confusion.

“What else? So I can chop y’all up and feed you to the hogs. They’re gonna eat well. What a treat you’ll both be for them. Thank you, honey.”

Horrified, she watched as I pulled the sharpening stone and prepared the hatchet for the job ahead. I bent my head and gave her one last, loving kiss before I took the first stroke against my twin.

Body parts stacked like cordwood, I wiped the hatchet off. Clothes wet and dripping with blood, I touched up the blade of the hatchet and turned back to my wife.

I grinned when I saw what a good girl she’d been. She’d given up the fight and accepted her fate. Lifeless eyes stared up at me as I pulled my arm back and prepared the hogs’ feast.

I finished the scene with a laugh and a raised eyebrow to ask if he liked it. Blame for our earlier argument laid at my feet. Stubborn and opinionated, I wanted him to bend to my will, arguing to the death when he didn’t.

“I figured I owed it to you to kill myself off this time. What do you think, darling?”

He leaned over and kissed me as a chuckle bubbled up between us.

This latest book of mine was a psychological thriller revolving around the actions of a police detective hunting a ranch owner turned serial killer.

“Yeah, I’m your victim of choice. Nice to share the limelight a little.” We ate in silence for a moment, then he smirked, “Wonder how you’ll kill me off next time.”

“I don’t know, darling.” Fork to his mouth, I fed him a piece of my General Tsao chicken, both our favourites. “I just started this book, so anything can happen.”

The possibilities were endless. I loved the way we worked through things. No matter how much we argued, our marriage was stronger than ever.

Killing us off helped.