After apologizing, Paul said good-bye and left the mansion in haste. Mason was distraught over the bad news that his movie had been cancelled. He cried for half an hour.

Cheyenne came around to Mason’s mansion that afternoon when he had pulled himself together. She said, “I need $20,000 for tuition for private acting lessons at the film academy. Can you give me the money?”

“No way. I’m going broke and I need my American Express card back,” Mason told Cheyenne. It was totally uncharacteristic of Mason to turn her down.

She hesitated and then reluctantly pulled the credit card out of her purse. She handed it to Mason with a frown.

“I’m breaking off our relationship right now. Good-bye, Mason,” Cheyenne told him.

Cheyenne is a filthy whore, Mason thought to himself before he could say good-bye. All she wanted was my money and now that I don’t have any more cash, she dropped me like a rock. I can’t believe she could be so cruel to me.

Cheyenne peeled out of the mansion’s driveway in her BMW, never to return. Mason actually thought she’d loved him. Feeling disappointed that she only wanted him for his money and was a gold-digger, Mason snorted some more cocaine to get over her rebuff.

The next day things got worse. Mason found out Charlotte’s family had left a message on his answering machine saying that they didn’t want him to attend her funeral. They had filed a $50,000,000 wrongful death lawsuit and put a financial court attachment on Mason’s mansion and Porsche 911. The lawsuit even declared his art collection to be an asset. The owner of the other yacht that had broadsided him also filed a suit, blaming Mason for the accident because no lights were on The Love Affair. Also, his blood tests had determined he’d had cocaine in his system, which added to his legal problems. He didn’t have any insurance on his sunken yacht.

Mason’s world had come crashing down on him. Needing money desperately he decided to go back to Traverse City and beg Samantha for some financial assistance. He knew Samantha had over $150,000,000, and perhaps she could help him out of the deep mess he’d gotten himself into. Somehow, if at all possible, he wanted to finish his movie and remain in Hollywood after getting more funds from his wife.

Then, just when things were looking the worst they could be, People magazine ran a story about the actress, Charlotte Martin, who had drowned and the playboy Mason Rossman. Charlotte’s movie star photograph was on the cover of the magazine. Roxanna Clark did a paid, shocking interview for the National Enquirer about his sex life with several escorts, cocaine addiction, and hedonistic lifestyle. She even provided some nude photographs of Mason in sexually compromising acts. The editors of the National Enquirer lightly censored the pictures of the naked bodies of Mason and the two escorts.

The photographs showed a clear view of their faces, leaving little to the imagination. The explicit photographs taken by Roxanna added to the scandal. She was paid $25,000 for her interviews and pictures in People magazine and the National Enquirer tabloid.

 Samantha saw the articles and photographs in the Koger Grocery Store and bought both publications. When she went home Samantha studied the bad news and viewed the photographs. She became irate with Mason, so much so that she threw the tabloids into the garbage.

How could he have done this to me? My parents were correct, he is a loser. Now I’m going to divorce the bastard, thought Samantha as she cried with wet tears running down her cheeks. She felt betrayed and hated Mason intensely from that day forward.

    Everything was looking bad for Mason when he stepped aboard a jet bound to Traverse City. He hadn’t been back to Traverse City for several months, while Samantha had become pregnant without telling him. He was in for a rude awaking.

Chapter Five

            On the flight from Hollywood to Chicago and onto Traverse City, Mason got sick to his stomach and had a bad fever. He thought he was experiencing a bout of the flu or a reaction to the recent pressures in his life, including the near-drowning after the yachting accident. Once he got to Traverse City, he rented a car on an overdrawn credit card and checked in at the local Munson Hospital to see why he was sick.

            The doctor noticed Mason had swollen lymph glands and ordered a blood test. After a routine physical, the doctor asked Mason, “Do you use cocaine frequently? 

            Mason lied and said, “No.”

            “I don’t believe you. You have a perforation of your nasal septum and that’s usually caused by snorting cocaine,” said the doctor.

“I guess I do coke every now and then,” Mason admitted.

            “Well, stop doing it. Snorting cocaine can ruin your nose and cause serious health problems. You have to quit snorting the drug or you’ll have problems with your nasal passages for the rest of your life,” the doctor warned Mason.

Munson’s lab did the routine blood tests right on the spot and Mason waited for the results. The lab technician reported back to the doctor within an hour. The doctor gave him the results of the test, which Mason thought to be the flu. Instead, the doctor told him he had AIDS.

Mason was stunned by the bad news. He felt his body shake.

Oh my God, how did that happen? One of the escorts or Charlotte infected me the with AIDs virus. Am I going to die? Mason asked himself, scared of his own death.

The doctor went on, saying, “I need to know the names and telephone numbers of your sex partners. I will have to inform them you have AIDs.”

Mason told the doctor of Charlotte’s demise. He gave him the telephone numbers of Cheyenne and the Hollywood escort agency. He said, “I haven’t been sexually active with my wife for over a year.”

“I’m still going to contact your wife by telephone at the number listed on your emergency information card. I’ll write you up a prescription for Genvoya. It’s an HIV-1 treatment that combines four different medicines into one small pill,” explained the doctor. “I’m also going to give you some reading material about HIV-1. You are not legally going to have sexual relations with anyone this day forward unless you tell them you have HIV-1. If you do have sex with someone without notifying them that you’re infected with the disease you’ll be arrested and will face a prison sentence. Understand?”

“Yes,” said Mason, meekly, gravely upset and disappointed by the disheartening turn of events.

After the doctor’s appointment, Mason left for the Lake Michigan mansion owned by his wife. Once Mason had arrived, he rang the doorbell and Samantha answered looking despondent. He was surprised to see her swollen tummy from the pregnancy that had occurred while he was in Hollywood.

“Hi, Samantha, are you pregnant?” Mason asked, astonished.

“Yes, I am, by a man who loves me for me, not for my money,” answered Samantha rudely; she was hot with raging anger.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been around much,” he said to his wife. “Can you forgive me and let me come in?”

“No! Don’t come in, Mason. I’m going to file for divorce and you should get the paperwork soon. I hate you!” she told him, becoming emotional.

“I went bankrupt in Hollywood. They canceled my movie. I need money, lots of it, to try and get the film project up and running again,” he said rather sheepishly, standing on the front porch shuffling both feet.

“Go to hell, Mason. I’ve been informed by a local doctor that you contracted AIDs in Hollywood. You’re a rotten bastard just like my father and mother pointed out to me a long time ago before we were married. I’m not your damn doormat anymore. You won’t abuse me again. I’ve had it with you. I would never give you any money after what you did to me in Hollywood. Now get off my property, you worthless son of a bitch,” demanded Samantha slapping Mason on his cheek.

She was totally shook-up when she had struck Mason’s face. It was an act she didn’t think she could do but somehow did and felt good about it.

Samantha slammed the front door and locked herself inside the mansion. I’m glad I didn’t let him inside my home. I sure told that loser off. What a scene I made today with my husband. He used me terribly and I’ll never forgive him. I don’t love Mason anymore at all, she thought to herself. She felt surprised that she wasn’t crying and that she was felt better about ending her marriage than she’d expected.

Samantha telephoned her clinical psychologist, Dr. Goldsmith, and informed her that Mason had come to her mansion asking for forgiveness and more money. She told Dr. Goldsmith she had turned Mason down and let him know she would soon file for a divorce. Feeling good about her decision, Samantha thought telling Mason that their marriage had ended was easier than she thought it would be. Dr. Goldsmith was supportive of Samantha’s desire to get a divorce. Samantha felt like Dr. Goldsmith was her emotional anchor. They agreed to discuss Samantha’s future as a single woman, and her fears that eligible men would only want money from her, at the next therapy session on Thursday.

Then Samantha contacted Pamela and told her friend she was getting a divorce. Pamela had known it was coming based on all the news reports about Mason. She listened to her hyper friend on the other end of the phone, reluctant to say good-bye. Samantha finally calmed down and they agreed to go out to lunch again soon. Their brief conversation was over.

Mason was still standing on the front stoop and he rang the bell and pounded on the door. There was no answer. He now realized he wasn’t going to get any money out of Samantha willingly. Standing on the sidewalk leading to the front door for a half an hour, Mason thought things over. He had a brazen idea about how to get money from Samantha, since the divorce wouldn’t be final for a few months. He would gain a $150,000,000 inheritance if she died unexpectedly.

Turning toward his rental car in the driveway, he saw Jose Sanchez mowing the grass in the extensive yard. Mason walked over to the gardener and got Jose’s attention. Jose turned off the engine of the riding mower and greeted his boss, whom he seldom saw at the mansion. Mason saw the buck knife Jose had in a sheath on his leather belt.

“Jose,” he said, “how would you like to make a million dollars and have a Cadillac to ride in?”

“What do I have to do?” he asked, eagerly.

“My wife has a lot of money, millions of dollars. If you kill her, I will give you $1,000,000 and her Cadillac,” offered Mason.

Jose was shocked by the offer and said, “I could use the money but I’m an illegal alien and if I committed a crime I would be deported back to El Salvador. So would my family. Let me think about it.”

“Think of your family, Jose, and all the money you would have at your disposal to spend on them. I’ll give you my business card with my cell phone number on it. Take a day or two to consider my offer. One million dollars is a lot of money and you would be riding in a Cadillac. You should really consider killing Samantha. Kill her tomorrow when the maid has the day off and won’t be at the mansion. Make it look like a burglary. I want her dead. Call me soon with your decision one way or the other,” said Mason.

They said good-bye to each other. Jose took the card and put it into his shirt pocket. He began mowing the grass again, thinking about Mason’s offer. Being borderline mentally impaired he was confused and didn’t know what to do. Then Jose thought $1,000,000 would be a miracle for his poor family and he wanted the money. After deciding he would commit Samantha’s murder there was no turning back.

Mason drove the rental car back to the Cherry Capital Airport and booked the next flight back to Hollywood. He thought his murder plot with Jose was desperate and might not work if Jose declined his offer. He couldn’t think what else to do. Mason also thought that if Jose did kill Samantha, he had the perfect alibi by not being in Traverse City. The murder plot to get Samantha’s money had been hatched.

            Once in Hollywood, Mason went to his mansion and slept several hours. Then he took the Genvoya prescription to a pharmacy and started his medicine regimen. The only side effect of the Genvoya was that he felt drowsy. He snorted some of the last cocaine he possessed, which cut the edge off his poor mental state.

The next morning, Mason received a telephone call from the gardener in Traverse City. Jose said, “Mr. Rossman, I want to earn the $1,000,000 and get a Cadillac today.”

“Good. Strangle the bitch. After you kill Samantha, go through the mansion and steal her jewelry. Make it look like a burglary. Then put her dead body in the back of her car and drop it off at an isolated spot nearby the mansion,” Mason told the gardener. His thoughts hardened and he did not feel guilty about causing Samantha’s death. Being borderline mentally retarded and incapable of grasping the situation, Jose didn’t realize the gravity of his possible action.

 They hung up, canceling the cell phone connection, and Mason went out to the pool and took a swim. He was not worried about being implicated in the murder. Staying in Hollywood he felt was the perfect alibi. No one would trace Samantha’s untimely death to Mason.

            Jose drove over to the mansion and waited to see who was home. Once he was satisfied Samantha was home he hid in the garage for his victim to come out of her mansion. After an hour, she finally emerged from inside the home, entered the garage, and walked over to her Cadillac. Jose didn’t hesitate. He came up to her from behind tried to strangle his boss’s neck. She attempted to scream but his grip was too tight around her throat. While Jose proceeded to strangle Samantha’s neck she fought like a hellcat, scratching his face with her fingernails and drawing blood. She made a mess of his face.

Jose is trying to kill me. I know I’m going to die this afternoon. I can’t breathe. It’s the last day of my life,thought Samantha, determined to fight him with all her might.

Her feet kicked at Jose until she went limp. After over a minute in his death grip she died. Jose released his hands from around her neck. He put Samantha’s lifeless body in the backseat of her Cadillac. Then he went into the mansion and stole all her jewelry out of the master bedroom to make the crime look like a robbery gone bad.

Jose came back out to the garage and faced Pamela Spencer who was looking inside the Cadillac at the dead body in the backseat. Pamela had stopped by the mansion unannounced, for an update on Samantha’s divorce. She was worried about her close friend being alone.

“Jose, what happened to Samantha?” she asked the gardener.

Jose didn’t answer Pamela. He took his buck knife out of the sheath while she screamed loudly, but no one heard her cries for help. He stabbed Pamela twice in the chest, piercing her heart both times. Blood flowed down to the garage floor as she fell down. She died instantly. Once he felt assured that she was dead he placed Pamela’s body in the backseat of the Cadillac with Samantha’s corpse. After completing the two murders he drove the car to an abandoned parking lot nearby and walked back to the mansion, shaking.

Jose immediately felt guilty for his hideous crimes. The gardener drove his old Volkswagen van across town to the St. Francis Catholic Church. He got out and went inside the church. Jose found the well-known Father Fred in the church office. The father was the founder of the Father Fred Foundation that served Traverse City’s needy people with financial help. Father Fred recognized Jose as a regular worshiper at the Catholic Church.

“Hello, Jose,” greeted Father Fred, seeing the gardener’s bloody face. “Sit down and join me. You look troubled and you’re bleeding. Let me bandage your cheeks.”

Father Fred left the office for a moment, returning with a hot wet towel and a first aid kit. He carefully wiped the blood off Jose’s face and put large bandages on both of his cheeks.

“How did you get a bloody face and hands, Jose?” asked Father Fred, feeling concerned.

Jose told the priest, “I got into a fight. I’ve done something terribly wrong and need to make a confession.”

“Tell me what’s on your mind, Jose,” said Father Fred, listening closely to the church member.

“I just murdered two women,” Jose confessed. “I feel so ashamed.”

Father Fred tried not to look shocked. He asked, “Who did you murder?”

“Samantha Rossman, the multimillionaire lady I work for, and one of her friends who caught me with Mrs. Rossman’s dead body in the backseat of her car,” answered Jose. “I feel horrible about my sins and fear I’m going to hell.”

“Why did you murder the ladies?” Father Fred wanted to know.

“Her husband, Mason Rossman, promised me $1,000,000 and a Cadillac if I killed his wife. I needed the money for my family. The other lady was an innocent bystander who got in the way of my escape,” Jose explained.

“Jose, you have gravely sinned. For your own good you need to confess what happened, and why, to the police,” said Father Fred in a compassionate tone of voice. “If you testify against Mr. Rossman you could get a reduced prison sentence.”

“I’m scared of going to prison,” said Jose.

“That’s a normal feeling. Trust in the Lord that everything will work out for you,” coaxed Father Fred. “Let’s go down to the police station now before something else happens.”

Thinking it over, Jose agreed to confess to the police about the two murders. They drove to the Law Enforcement Center and Jose made a tearful statement about the murders. He told the police about his motive for the crimes. The cops were told that Mason was going to pay him a large sum of money, plus a Cadillac, to kill Samantha. Then he told the police where to find the dead bodies in the parked car near the mansion. He gave the police a large handful of jewelry that he had stolen from Samantha’s bedroom. 

When the police news conference was held announcing the murders, the press jumped right on the story. The bad news of a local double homicide involving a millionaire traveled around the city and state fast. At first there wasn’t much forthcoming from the police. Later the rumor developed into speculation by newspapers and the TV reports that Mason had had his wife murdered for her money. Even CNN, NBC, and Fox News reported about the murders with daily updated reports.

The police put Jose into the county jail and called California’s State Police in Hollywood to arrest Mason on murder conspiracy charges. That afternoon, the police detained Mason at his mansion and took him into custody. He did not resist arrest.  When questioned about the murders, Mason denied having prior knowledge, and claimed to be innocent of all crimes. The police found a plastic bag nearly empty of cocaine in his Hollywood home. Mason telephoned his lawyer, Mark Evans, from the police station. This time his lawyer couldn’t arrange for his release from jail. A judge ordered Mason be kept in custody without a chance for bail. He couldn’t believe Jose had confessed to the murders and implicated him in the conspiracy. It was awful state of affairs and Mason became angry with Jose.

The next day, after waiving an extradition hearing with his stone-faced lawyer, Mason was escorted by a California state police officer and flown back to Traverse City in handcuffs. People stared at him with his hands behind his back in the airport lobby and on the jet. Once he was in Traverse City, Mason was placed in the same county jail as Jose but in a different cell.

Mason tried to think a way out of his bad situation. Finally, he came up with an idea. He discussed with another prisoner named Rick Armstrong that he would give him $1,000,000 to murder Jose to silence him. Armstrong didn’t agree to the plan and promptly told the jail guard about Mason’s offer. The next day, based on Armstrong’s information, Mason was arraigned on another count of conspiracy to commit murder.

Betsy Spencer was devastated by the news that her loving daughter Pamela had been murdered. Distraught, she blamed Mason for Pamela and Samantha’s deaths, knowing he had something to do with them. She cursed him and tore up a photograph of the three friends together and threw the destroyed picture into the garbage.

There was a small funeral observance for Samantha and Pamela at Olsen’s Funeral Home on Hammond Road West in Traverse City a few days later. Only Samantha’s sick mother, Pamela’s parents, relatives, Dr. Goldsmith, Albert, people who worked at the Walmart Hair Salon, and some friends from high school attended the ceremony. News reporters wanted in but were barred from the funeral service.

Pastor Joel led the heartfelt observance. Samantha’s mother became distraught and cried loudly near the open coffins. Albert managed to control his emotions during the service at the funeral home, but wept openly at their internment. The two friends were buried side-by-side in the Grand Traverse Memorial Garden on Veterans Drive. Six white doves were released into the air at their internment site to honor the deceased women.

 Mason pleaded not guilty to all charges during his arraignment. He languished in the county jail for three months before his trial, sick and near death from the AIDS virus. A doctor later took off the cast on his arm. Mason had run out of funds to buy his expensive medications and suffered terribly from the disease that ravished his body. He was in a bad way.