A Pawn for Malice(3)

By: Cynthia Roberts

Jessica’s marriage never had a chance from the on-start. Richard did a magnificent job disguising himself as an abuser, drunkard, and womanizer.

He had cast a spell over her with his magnetic charm and striking good looks! Every debutante in New England wanted to be Richard Wilton’s girl. Instead of chasing after the stable of females at his fingertips, he had zoned in on her … a petite, green-eyed innocent with long, wavy, brown hair. What a fool she had been to have played right into his hands! She was the total opposite of the bevy of blonde amazons with lustful eyes, who did everything to catch his affection.

Why didn’t I realize … see him for what he truly was back then? It was all just a lie… a terrible, deceiving, and hurtful set up.

The minute the ink dried on their marriage certificate, Richard’s true persona reared its ugly head.

It won’t happen again! She silently vowed. I will NEVER be duped like that again!

Jessica was snapped back to reality, when Father Mulcahy shook holy water out over the casket and a splash of it soaked through her veil and onto her right cheek. She shifted and forced herself to focus on the priest’s final words, as he continued to sprinkle the length of Richard’s mahogany casket.

“Father, we ask ya ta bless Richard’s final resting place, as well as his soul, and ta watch ov’r his family, especially, his beautiful widow, Jessica. May the peace and glory of God’s luv be with all of ye, now and forev’r, Amen.”

The rain finally began to dissipate to a light mist, as the congregation began to disperse. Every one except for Father Mulcahy departed without sharing a single word of sympathy. She watched the priest hesitate only briefly, before approaching her in-laws and finishing with his pastoral duties.

After extending his farewells to her in-laws, he turned and briskly closed the short distance between them.

Jessica’s heart warmed, when he sent her a vibrant smile and opened his arms wide, as he drew near. A sob caught in her throat, when he tenderly embraced her and rocked her like a young babe.

“Ah, Lassie,” he cooed. “I be fearin’ you’ll be tormented if’n you don’t get away and soon.” He patted her head tenderly.

She stepped back slightly and tilted her head, so she could look up into his soft hazel eyes. He was a gentle giant of a man with handsome features. She smiled, when the wind tufted his thick pumpkin-colored locks into the air.

“Father,” she sighed heavily, “I’m working on that. I’m vying for a position in Albany, but I’m afraid Hal will do everything to make my departure a difficult one.”

“I may be straight off the boat, Lassie,” the priest replied with a wave of his point finger, “but, we had our share of bullies like yer father-in-law too! You must promise ta call me, if’n ya need some help getting away.”

Jessica looked about nervously.

The priest noted her reaction, pointed ahead and protectively drew his arm about her waist, and escorted her a few steps away from the dismissing attendees.

“Do ya have something in mind already? I’m serious now. If’n you need my help, you just say the word,” he offered, patting her shoulder affectionately.

She smiled warmly and nodded.

“I do as a matter of fact.” She turned slightly to look over her shoulder and make sure that Hal wasn’t sneaking up behind them. “You know my Aunt Florence.”

He nodded knowingly.

“Well,” Jessica continued, “She just returned from a long business venture and; I’m to move in with her, until I can find a place of my own.”

Father Mulcahy’s smile was one of content.

“Good. I suggest ya do that quickly. We both know Hal is an awful man.” He stepped closely and reached out to tenderly place her face between his brawny palms. “If’n you need ta escape in the dark of night, call. Me life is a bor’n one and could use a lit’l spice now and then.”

Jessica giggled.

“I just love you, Father Mulcahy, and going to miss you so much.” She drew his hands from her face and held them in front of her. “Thank you. Thank you so much for all your support.”

She rose up on her toes and hugged his neck tightly, whispering softly into his ear, “I’ll never forget all that you have done for me. Never … ever.”

He patted the back of her head and replied with a voice filled with emotion, “I will miss you, child.”

“Me too,” she squeezed him fiercely and stepped back. “I promise to call you, when I’m safe in Albany, but you mustn’t breathe a word to anybody. Hal’s got ears everywhere.”

He kissed her forehead tenderly and tapped her nose with the tip of his finger.