A Pawn for Malice(6)

By: Cynthia Roberts

She rubbed the palm of her hand over her cheek. It was still sore and tender from the vicious beating her husband administered before he died. She did not care anymore, who saw the bruises. She had nothing to be ashamed of. It was over now and time for her to move on and create a new life for herself.

Each step brought her closer to home and she began to feel a sense of renewed hope. There was no way she wanted to stay in Wilton. The small Maine town reeked of the corruption and intimidation of the family, who laid claim to it. She quickened her pace and her steps were as light as her heart. As soon as she could, she would call her Aunt and make plans to leave. If anyone could help her make a fresh start, Florence could. Jessica smiled, when she thought of Albany, where she had the fondest of memories, growing up as a child.

Her Aunt’s face came to mind once again. Even after losing her Uncle Ian, Florence had carried on his name and became a paramount force in Albany’s financial arena. The Newcombe Dynasty was primary to revolutionizing Albany as a competitive port of commerce and strengthening its prominent stance as a leading capitol city on the East coast.

As she turned onto Sherman Lane, her level of anxiety to see and work with the handsome senator from New York increased. The Cape Cod home she once shared with Richard came into view. Jessica could not believe what a picture-perfect home it portrayed despite what happened behind its closed doors.

The yellow police taping protecting the crime scene had been removed and the diamond-glass window panes gleaned from the streaks of sun beginning to break through the dissipating grey clouds.

She entered and walked straight to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of Pinot. The sooner she talked to her Aunt, the quicker she could leave this life behind her. She settled upon the settee in front of the parlor window with her hand-crocheted afghan spread upon her lap and picked up her iPhone. She needed to see her Aunt’s face, as well as hear her voice, and dialed her cell to ‘FaceTime’.

In three rings, the line was answered and her Aunt’s face was visible.

“I hate that I wasn’t there for you,” her Aunt remarked immediately. “You look haggard, dear. My god is that bruising on your cheek? Jessica, what haven’t you told me?”

Jessica took a long sip, placed her glass upon the coffee table in front of her, and sighed deeply, shaking her head.

“It’s a long story, Aunt Florence. It’s over. He can’t hurt me anymore.”

Her Aunt’s look was not one of satisfaction, and when she opened her month to demand more than what Jessica wanted to offer, Jessica waved her hand to forestall her as a rush of emotion overwhelmed her.

Jessica did not know what came over her, as her reaction was immediate and all-consuming. It generated from the very depths of her soul and made her stomach lurch. She could not catch her breath, or stop the faucet of tears that spilled over. Absently, she wiped them away, as she chewed her lower lip, trying to maintain some semblance of control. It did not work.

The stress, and agony, and fear, and abuse, and inability to fight back for more than a year had taken its toll. As hard as she tried to stall sobs, she simply could not and cried a river of tears.

Her Aunt did not interrupt and let her be. Jessica noted the silent tears streaming down her Aunt’s face along with her. God! How she wished she were there right now just to be held in the comfort of her arms.

It had been so very long before anyone held her, caressed her, comforted and loved her. She hated showing weakness. She had always been a strong woman, but there was only so much she could take day-after-day without any show of support. If it hadn’t been for Father Mulcahy, she would have caved in a long time ago.

She tried to control her sobs and sucked two, long cleansing breaths in and slowly released them. She hadn’t cried, since the accident and found she still couldn’t still the emotion that she held in for months. Her shoulders shook, as the agony of the last three days seeped from her pores. She craved the physical presence of her Aunt, needed the comfort of her embrace and her strong countenance to help her prevail.

The only solace her Aunt could offer was her silence, to let her cry, let the torment escape, that she had kept locked inside for so long.

“It’s been utter hell,” she managed to share and hiccupped.

“I expected as much, dear,” her Aunt interrupted. “But, enough now. Spilling tears over that despicable young man and that family … well, they don’t deserve it! Do you hear me?” Her voice demanded.

Jessica sniffled and replied ever-so-softly, “Aha.”

“Good,” Florence replied. “Now … I want you to pack just a few of your things. Leave everything else. There is nothing else you need from there. It’s over. I’ll send the jet. Martin and I will meet you at the airport,” she called out for her butler and chauffeur. “Martin … Martin! Hold on for a moment, dear, while I get Martin to help me with this.”