A Pawn for Malice(10)

By: Cynthia Roberts


She was about to scream and flail her arms wildly to draw his attention until she noticed, Mr. Peterson, the elderly store manager exiting the store, and locking it up for the night. His eyes twinkled happily, as he peered over the rim of his wire spectacles, when she approached.

“How are you, young lady,” he asked kindly, reaching out to tenderly pat the side of her arm. “I was so sorry to hear what happened to you dear and apologize for not attending the services,” he admitted embarrassingly. “Mr. Wilton wouldn’t let me close the store, you see and …”

Jessica shook her head in reply. “No. No. Please. I truly understand,” she leaned in and placed a soft kiss upon his wrinkled cheek.

Someone touched her shoulder from behind making her jump and said, “Going somewhere Mrs. Wilton?”

She could feel the color drain from her face and her heart skip a beat or two in fear of being found out.

“Land sakes, child! What’s wrong? You’re plum white!” Mr. Peterson asked, as he wrapped a protective arm about her shoulder with fatherly concern.

She slowly turned to face the person behind her and nearly fainted, when she realized it was not who she expected it might be, but rather, Mr. Hingle, the mailman.

The postman exclaimed with the deepest concern, “I truly am sorry, Mrs. Wilton! I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Jessica emitted a nervous laugh. “I guess I’m a little jittery. It’s been a long, tiring day.”

The gentleman nodded in agreement. “Well, no wonder, after what you’ve been through these past few days. May I walk you home? You sure are trembling a might.”

Jessica raised her hands in protest and smiled. “No, no I’m fine. As a matter of fact, this is my taxi. Thank you though. I’m fine, really.” She reached out and rubbed Mr. Peterson’s arm lightly and smiled. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m running late already and must be going.”

Once she relaxed in the comfort of the taxi, she reflected on the numerous times the endearing manager had shown her kindness, when no one else would. Most of the inhabitants of Wilton lived in fear of her father-in-law. Their smiles never reached their eyes, accept for the dear elderly manager. She used to love listening to his stories about Maine, especially since he was the state’s historian for nearly four decades.

She always loved Maine. It was a popular vacation spot when she was a child. That was then. The memories that haunted her dreams now left an entirely different lasting impression.





***





Jessica was greeted by Captain McKenzie the moment she boarded her Aunt’s private Gulfstream. It was a magnificent performance machine that exuded both excellence and grace.

He stood proudly before the cockpit and she quickly glimpsed inside and felt wowed by the complex and cutting-edge controls and side-mounted displays that would be at the Captain’s and co-pilot’s fingertips. His warm welcoming smile made her feel instantly safe and she was more anxious than ever to get into the air.

He tipped his cap and bowed slightly and welcomed her. “Good morning to you, Mrs. Wilton …”

“Jessica, please,” she interrupted, as she accepted the hand he extended.

He nodded and continued as he released his grasp, “Jessica … welcome aboard. We’re ready for takeoff, so please, make yourself comfortable. As soon as we level off, our hostess Allison,” he pointed to a sweet, petite female entering from the aft section of the cabin, “will make sure your trip is a pleasurable one as well.”

Allison extended her hand in welcome and smiled warmly. “It’ll be my pleasure to serve you, Jessica.” She turned and extended her arm, “please sit wherever you’d like, and as soon as we reach the proper altitude, I’ll be serving a light breakfast.”

Jessica moved forward and could not help, but be both impressed and awed by the opulence of the cabin. It was approximately eight feet long and could comfortably sit about eighteen passengers. Allison let her know the cabin offered high-speed connectivity with a broadband multilink data system, wireless networking, onboard printing, and phone service should she need it.

The interior was decorated in soft earth tones with double-wide beige seats and couches made from the finest Italian leather and slick mahogany tables and sideboards. The technology provided touch-screen capability to control the cabin’s temperature, lighting, window shades and varied entertainment options.

Huge oval-shaped windows were positioned higher on the fuselage to offer a panoramic view of the outside. Allison pushed a button embedded in the top right side of a long cabinet, that separated the cabin from the galley.

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