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.
“I drink red,” Donna said.
Merington was already pouring the wine. A moment later, she returned with two glasses and sat on the sofa cross-legged, a breath closer than necessary. Beyond the plate glass window the city lights glittered from a thousand vantage points, some near enough to reveal their occupants, some just distant stars on the east bank of the river.
“I wasn’t kidding about the Eastbank Killer being connected to our firm,” Merington said. “I mean…I was at first. Do you remember the first victim? She was a homeless teenager. Everyone thought it was gang related.”
“Do you remember the Perry case? Perry Albon was trying to get an electric drill off a high shelf at Home Depot; a couple of boxes fell on him. He broke his hand and couldn’t work.”
“It settled,” Donna said.
“It settled because the defense couldn’t find Albon’s niece. She was their witness. She saw him using his hand after he was injured.”
They looked at each other.
“Malia Albon. The first victim,” Merington said.
She didn’t have to. Donna knew.
Merington went on. “Portland is a small city. I didn’t think much about it until the fourth murder. She was one of the court stenographers. Then I went back and did some more research. The second woman was subpoenaed but never called in a case Jerry settled two years ago. The third woman was Margo Tilson’s sister.”
Tilson was often on the defense. All Portland’s personal injury lawyers knew her. They called her The Avenger. Most firms settled when they learned she was on a case.
“I didn’t know Tilson lost her sister,” Donna said.
“And the last victim, Wendy Price, the woman abducted from Mount Tabour Park. She brought us water.”
Merington must have read a question in Donna’s face, because she added, “The jugs for the water cooler? She comes in…came in every few weeks with a delivery.”
“You’ve looked all this up?”
“I have.” Merington shrugged. “There’s something wrong about Jerry Pesher.”
“Sure. There’s a lot wrong about Jerry Pesher,” Donna said. “He’s a conceited, lazy…”
Merington had placed a hand on her knee. “Do you want to talk about what happened tonight, why you ran?”
It didn’t seem so foolish any more.
“He scared me,” Donna confessed.
They both looked toward the window. Even without the binoculars, they could see Pesher moving around the office.
“Do you think he can see us?” Merington asked.
“You can’t see anything in here when the lights are off.”
As soon as she spoke, Donna realized what she had confessed.
Merington set down her wine and moved closer.
“Promise you won’t go back to the office tonight,” she said. “The way Jerry asked about your car. It was scary. And if you just want to stay, the couch pulls out. It’s no problem. I don’t mind. I’ll loan you some real clothes and you can go back home before work.”
Her hand glided from Donna’s knee to her thigh, sending an electric shiver up her leg.
“But if you’re not absolutely clear with me right now…If you don’t tell me point blank that you’re not interested, I am going to seduce you.” Merington spoke the last words slowly, each one a sentence in its own right.
I will seduce you.
A bank of lights in a neighboring high rise blinked off. Merington’s voice was low and confident, but her eyes were cast down shyly.
She trailed one finger along Donna’s thigh. Donna could not remember the last time she felt so exposed. Her body woke to the touch, faster and with more feeling than she could have anticipated. The folds of her sex felt suddenly damp and intensely present, as though part of her body that had been lost had suddenly caught fire.
“I can’t work with you in the office every day and not say anything,” Merington said.
Donna opened her mouth but no words emerged. Merington was running her hand lightly down Donna’s thigh, and the greater part of Donna’s mind had become suddenly, irretrievably focused on the thought that Merington might let the tips of her fingers glide across the silk seam that covered her clitoris. How long had it been since she had been with a woman? A woman she wanted? She wanted to fall back on the couch, spread her legs like a wanton beast exhibiting for its mate, and say, “yes, yes!”
She sipped her wine too quickly and coughed.
“If you’re going to say ‘no’ please say it now,” Merington said without looking at her.
Donna froze. The ‘yes’ within her body was too fierce to speak out loud. Merington was too beautiful. If she said let her composure drop now, she would simply devour Merington. And then the inevitable morning would come: Merington’s wry smile, another case, another brief. What if Merington was simply bored and tomorrow night it would be another woman? Terrifying Margo Tilson or one of the twenty-two year old interns?
“Did you…really go snow camping?” Donna fumbled.
Merington withdrew her hand. Donna’s body ached more than she thought possible. She wanted to grab Merington’s hand and thrust it between her legs, lean into Merington’s touch and kiss her. Instead she sat frozen, her mind spinning.
Merington said, “Yes.” She sounded sad. “When I was in college, I worked for this group that took kids up to the mountains to quit drugs, get out of gangs. It didn’t work. I thought I could save the world.” Her smile had a sharp edge, but it was pointed inward. “That wasn’t the last time I was wrong. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
Merington moved to rise, but Donna could not let her go now. She caught her hand.
“You didn’t embarrass me.”
Then her hands were in Merington’s short hair and her lips were on Merington’s, and their kiss was as fierce and open as the city skyline shot through with unreachable lights.
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