A Pawn for Malice(5)

By: Cynthia Roberts

She grunted and sent him a disgusted look.

“Really? I don’t think so. What about my Aunt?” She jibed smugly. “You know the lady … Florence Rochelle Newcombe. I believe she’s bested you more times than you care to admit. Touch me and she’ll destroy you.”

If looks could kill, Jessica would have turned to dust from the maniacal glare he sent her way. His nostrils flared and a red flush slowly colored his neck and cheeks. He looked like a pressure cooker ready to blow its top.

But oh, how she relished the moment! Her eyes sparkled with admiration as her Aunt’s face came to view in her mind’s eye. What a woman Florence was … all five foot six of her. She was full of vim and vigor with a regal grace and beauty that still left men breathless, when she entered a room. And how her amber eyes would sparkle like flames when her dander was up!

Yep! She thought. Aunt Florence was one hell of a woman, who brought worse than him to their knees. She smiled.

Hal could not hold a candle to her Aunt. Foreign heads of State, titled dignitaries and leading philanthropists held her in the highest regard. Furthermore, Hal knew Florence had the power and means to crush him like an ant.

Jessica could literally see the wheels churning in his over-inflated brain. She could not help, but laugh out loud. Truth very seldom disarmed a man, but in this instance, it cut clear to the bone. She enjoyed her moment. Maybe she was wrong not confiding in her Aunt about Richard’s abuse and his father’s attempts to bed her. But once she did tell Florence, God hath no fury like her Aunt and God help Hal Wilton.

Florence had quite a dynasty to attend, especially since her husband passed away after Jessica was married. Jessica just did not have the heart to burden Florence with her own problems. But, it was different now.

Hal’s eyes closed to reptilian slits. He seethed, as his chest rose and fell rapidly.

Despite her newfound courage, Jessica knew she let loose the devil. He was no longer family, but a predator out to devour her.

“You think you know me well enough to mock me?” He barked as he slowly circled his left shoulder a few times to test its flexibility.

Jessica retreated a few more steps, keeping her eyes locked on her adversary.

“I know vermin when I see it.” She answered softly, standing her ground. “I am not your property. Threaten all you like. I’m leaving.”

His eyes never wavered, never left hers, as he contemplated a moment longer.

Seconds passed. She was certain he wouldn’t pounce, for it would show weakness on his part, and that wasn’t Hal. He had thugs to do his dirty work for him. Still, her nerves felt as tight as the strings on a violin.

Hal stroked his chin, as he continued to stare her down. He took a quick step forward and halted.

Jessica could not help, but gasp slightly and; she hated the look of confidence it gave him.

“Don’t ever drop your guard, little lady,” he sneered, circling around her and licking his lower lip in a disgusting manner.

Jessica made a face and he snapped his teeth loudly at her and then roared with laughter.

“You’ll never know when daddy will strike again.”

Jessica felt repulsed by his lewd gesture and cringed. The urge to strike out and leave her hand print on his tanned cheek was overwhelming, but she controlled the impulse.

“Your day will come, mark my words. And I pray to God, it’s before your son’s body rots in his grave!”

Her tongue lashing did not faze him. Instead, he roared with laughter, as he turned and headed towards his awaiting limo.


She watched as the stretch limo turned the corner, before she began her three-block walk home. She needed to walk, to clear her head and think out a plan of action. She turned one last time to gaze over her shoulder at Richard’s grave. The caretakers had already begun to remove the rich, colorful floral arrangements. She watched as one of them kicked a button with the toe of his boot and the casket slowly began to drop below ground level.

“Goodbye, Richard,” she whispered softly, “if only you …”

A sob caught in her throat. “If only” meant nothing at this point, she thought. She had closure, and it was time to move on and leave her past behind. She stepped forward, not looking back and walked past the stones and soft hills of the small parish cemetery. Rows upon rows of stately elms, with crowns adorned in vivid golds, reds, and browns painted a beautiful autumn picture. A feeling of serene calmness came over her and she raised her face to let the light, misty rain wet her face.

Jessica took her time walking the tree-lined avenues of Wilton, trying to make sense of what had transpired over the past three days. In one horrific moment, she had been granted a reprieve, and set free from a domestically violent marriage.