The Eastbank Killer – A Serial Novella
Attorney Donna Bosque finds her life turned upside down when an attractive associate at her firm becomes convinced the Eastbank Killer, who has been terrifying Portland, is directly linked to their law firm.
The reality of her situation struck Donna Bosque the way epiphanies strike in dreams. She had had panic attacks before – on airplanes and in tight elevators – but they had always been identifiable. She would feel her mind skitter to the edge of terror. Then she would take a deep breath and put up a firewall between her pounding heart and the woman she really was: cool, analytical, and like any good courtroom attorney, supremely in control of every gesture. But this time she had not recognized the attack.
Now Astrid Merington was kneeling before her, a look of concern on her face.
“Are you all right, Donna?”
Merington wore black silk pajamas, her breasts perfectly outlined in the fabric that moved over her body like water.
“You’re soaked. You’re shaking. What happened?” Merington pressed.
A ridiculous school girl crush: that’s what happened. Donna could see that now. Merington had told the interns that the Eastbank Killer was mysteriously tied to the law firm where they worked. Donna had hung on her words because…because the days were simply brighter when Merington was in the office. She listened for Merington’s footsteps in the hall. She loved the way Merington breezed past their boss, her body both lush and lanky, her lips cocked in an expression that said, “don’t even try.” Their smallest interaction – Merington’s eyebrow raised across the conference table, a little banter exchanged over the copier – made the hours in the office feel worthwhile.
And Donna had allowed that school girl crush to send her racing into the night like a madwoman.
Downstairs Jerry Pesher buzzed the intercom again.
Donna struggled to her feet. She pressed the reply button reluctantly.
“Yes, I’m here.”
There was no way to salvage the situation now except to walk downstairs, tell Pesher she was drunk, and get her keys.
“Come down, Bosque.”
Donna reached for the intercom again, but Merington stopped her hand.
“Jerry, it’s Astrid. I need Donna for an hour or so. I’m working on the Pinker file.”
Merington held Donna’s gaze, as if trying to convey a message.
There was a long pause on the intercom, then Pesher barked,
“You going home afterwards, Bosque?”
“I…I have to get my keys out of the office,” Donna told Merington. “Then, yes.”
Merington relayed the message. There was another pause. Finally Pesher grumbled something about not losing files and the intercom went dead.
Merington crossed to the window and pressed her face to the glass. While her back was turned, Donna struggled back into her shoes.
“He’s gone,” Merington said a moment later, turning and striding back to Donna’s side.
“I’m really sorry. I…” Donna shook her head. “I…can I borrow your key? I left mine in the office. I got locked out.”
“Of course. I’m sorry. I just lost my head for a second.” Donna turned to the door.
Merington touched her arm. A moment later, her other hand cupped the back of Donna’s head with a firm, warm grasp.
“What happened, Donna?”
“Donna, I need you to look at me.” Merington stroked Donna’s cheek with her thumb, brushing a strand of hair behind Donna’s ear. “Donna?”
But Donna could not look up because Astrid Merington was the most beautiful woman she had ever met, and she could not allow herself to form the thought that Merington’s touch was anything more than the concern of a friendly coworker, because the disappointment she would feel upon reaching that inevitable conclusion would encapsulate everything her life had turned out not to be.
“I have to go,” she whispered.
Next installment: December 26, 2013.
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