A Pawn for Malice(12)

By: Cynthia Roberts


“He what?” Her Aunt bellowed. “How dare he imply that you … that a Rochelle take to his bed like a paid whore! Did he touch you … force you? You must tell me, Jessica.”

Jessica shook her head in the negative, and her Aunt continued her rave.

“His day will come, dear. That, I promise you. He will sorely pay. But, we will have that conversation some other time. I’m sure you must be famished and can’t wait to soak in a nice hot bath.”

“Yes, I am and would love nothing more,” she replied.

The twenty-minute drive was relaxing, as her Aunt told her of the changes made around the estate, what had been going on in Albany’s social arena, and her latest conversations with Sen. Gallagher about Jessica coming on board. She listened intently and began to relax. A sense of peace washed over her, and for the first time, she felt safe.

“As soon as Clora is done fussing over you, I’ll send her out with Martin to pick up some necessary items you’ll need. Tomorrow we’ll make a day of it and do some shopping, if you’d like. I can’t remember when the last time was I had the pleasure of going on a spree. It’ll be fun. What do you think dear?” She patted her thigh lightly.

Jessica gave her Aunt an affectionate hug and kiss. “Oh, Aunt Florence. I’ve missed you so, so much. I’d be happy in rags, as long as, we were together, forever.”

“Well, that’s sweet, Jessica. But, a woman like you, deserves happiness and the love of a good man. It would be delightful introducing you to those young men I, in fact, know are worthy of your attention, and your heart.”

Jessica leaned her head against her Aunt’s shoulder and sighed disparagingly.

“Oh, Aunt Florence. I am so done with men. I thought I had married the greatest catch in all of Maine. It just isn’t right how a man of such fine breeding can turn out to be so deranged. Let’s hold off on that for a while, o.k.?” She gazed up at her Aunt lovingly. “I do love you though for the thought.”

Florence caressed her cheek with her palm and smiled before replying.

“I’ll not let you wallow for too long. That beast of a husband of yours does not deserve your sorrow. The holidays will be soon upon us and; I’m a festive woman. You’ve got until then.”

Jessica couldn’t help, but chuckle. Her Aunt was right and there was no sense arguing with her, because she knew in her heart, Florence was just the person she needed to help her get on with her life.

The wide waterway they began to cross was the Hudson River, separating the Counties of Albany and Rensselaer. There were so many changes, since the last time she was home. Two more lanes in both directions had been added to the interstate to accommodate the ever-growing traffic. They drove past new community developments with homes priced in the mid-two-hundred thousand range, a brand new elementary school, multiple strip malls, mega movie theatre, and a new Christian church, that looked more like an arena.

A massive Nano Technology Complex had been constructed in her absence, that stood impressive beside the Albany skyline, spanning acres with buildings five levels high encased in steel and impenetrable dark green glass.

It was a new Albany, and she rather liked it that way. As she was beginning a new chapter in her life, it made it seem all rather adventurous rediscovering her old stomping grounds all over again. Jessica realized this was the beginning of many new and wondrous changes in her life. For a long time, decisions weren’t her own. Every day she was told what to do, how to dress, who she could talk to, and what was expected of her. Freedom was going to take some time getting used to, and she welcomed it greedily.

The town car made a right onto a private road and Jessica’s breath caught in her throat, as she gazed in wonderment at the beautiful landscape before her. The modest estate was every bit elegant, and as they approached the circular driveway, the stately English brick colonial came into view, set off by three majestic, white pillars.

The grounds encompassing her Aunt’s estate, were an array of manicured lawns, shrubs, varied pines of blue spruce, Douglas fir and hemlock; and, an abundance of flower gardens of every color, style, and fragrance.

All Jessica could do was gasp.

“It is beautiful, isn’t it, dear?” Florence asked. “I feel the same way every time Martin pulls into the driveway. I sooo love this house.”

Jessica didn’t have a chance to answer as Florence’s housekeeper, Clora, exited the front door, squealing with delight.

“Miss Jessie, you is home, child. Praise the Lord,” she clapped her hands joyously and opened her arms wide to receive her. She embraced Jessica to her robust bosom and crooned.