As Terry Martin dropped to his knees, his face registering an expression of shock and disbelief, his bride of fifteen months drew a sharp breath. Then she slowly stood from the couch and moved a few steps away. Her heart racing, she watched as her husband struggled, scarcely daring to believe that her long-term, carefully calculated plan might finally have achieved critical mass.

On that July evening, Terry was four days shy of his sixty-third birthday. His wife, Cyndi, was thirty-five, a statuesque blonde with bright green eyes and an impressive chest that had cost her the better part of two months’ income working as a convention model. They’d met eighteen months earlier at the Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Terry had been eying a beautifully restored ’68 Dodge Charger and where Cyndi had been shopping for the kind of guy who could easily afford one.

Three months prior to the auction, Terry had been widowed when his wife of thirty-nine years was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver who was speeding north in the south-bound lanes of the 101 Expressway in Phoenix. Bereft, and totally at sea when it came to dating women in a new day and age, Terry was the easiest of targets. He’d been blindsided by Cyndi’s unexpected interest and overwhelmed by the intense and uninhibited sex that had commenced almost as soon


as they started dating.

They’d been seeing each other for a little over three months when Terry took her to Vegas for a long weekend. He booked a large suite in the Bellagio and after a particularly inventive and draining session that left the king-sized bed almost totally trashed, Cyndi leaned over, began stroking him lightly again, and suggested that, as long as they were in town anyway, maybe they should take advantage of the opportunity to get married.

The poor guy never stood a chance.

A year after the happy nuptials, it was also Cyndi’s idea that they should book a vacation in Montana to get out of the stifling summer heat in Phoenix. After carefully scouting a number of properties on the Web, she reserved a two-week rental in a luxurious home on the northwest shore of Flathead Lake, an hour south of Glacier National Park. The house was on a large, heavily wooded lot at the end of Angel Point, a promontory that jutted out into the lake a few miles south of Lakeside, the nearest small town.

She carefully planned her attack for late on a Sunday night when she figured that help would be hardest to come by, and as her husband sank to the floor, Cyndi watched dispassionately for three or four minutes.


The right side of Terry’s face was drooping badly, and he seemed incapable of moving his right arm or leg. He was struggling to speak, and though his words were slurred, Cyndi realized that he was pleading with her to call 911. She dropped to one knee and touched her fingers to his cheek. “I will, Baby, I will. But let’s wait another few minutes, okay?”

Leaving Terry on the floor of the living room, Cyndi walked through the sliding glass door out to the deck. She decided against turning on the outdoor lights and instead carefully picked her way through the Lodgepole and Ponderosa Pines, down the narrow path to the lake, using only the light of the nearly full moon to guide her.

The air was heavy with the scent of the pines, mixed with the faint smell of woodsmoke from someone’s campfire or fireplace. After reaching nearly eighty degrees in the late afternoon, the temperature had cooled down to the high fifties, and Cyndi shivered slightly, perhaps from a combination of nerves in addition to the cool breeze. The lake lapped gently at the shore, and the night was almost completely quiet, save for the faint noise from the engine of a small boat moving south somewhere down the lake. Six miles across the water, the lights of Bigfork sparkled in the dark, and in the sky above, millions of stars spread across the galaxy as far as the eye could see.


At the firepit on the beach, Cyndi crumpled up a couple sheets of newspaper, struck a match, and touched the match to the paper. Once the newspaper was burning well, she dropped into the flames an empty physician’s sample box of Lomastizone, along with the medication guide that had accompanied the tablets.

Terry was afflicted with a very minor case of atrial fibrillation, and more as a precaution than anything else, his cardiologist had prescribed five milligrams of Lomastizone twice a day to thin his blood and reduce his risk of having a stroke. Terry had faithfully taken the medication for three years, one tablet with breakfast in the morning and another with dinner in the evening. He’d suffered no adverse reaction to the drug, which seemed to be performing just as it should. But when Cyndi crushed fourteen of the tablets with a mortar and pestle and mixed the powder into Terry’s iced tea, the extra 90 mg of the drug took only three hours to work its way through his bloodstream before exploding into his brain, causing the blood vessels to begin bleeding spontaneously and leaving him dying of a hemorrhagic stroke on the floor of the rental house above the lake.

Using a long stick, Cyndi poked at the ashes of the burned-up cardboard and paper, then she stood and threw the stick off into the woods above the beach. She waited for another couple of minutes or so, hugging herself against the chill, soaking up the moment,


and letting nature take its course. Then she retraced her steps back up to the house, picked up the phone in the kitchen, and called 911, screaming that her husband had just collapsed.