Thursday, July 29, 2010

THE TRIAL

I'm Willow Vanderling, borrowing Janet Bolin's computer again while she sorts through her stash of fabric.

When I wrote a month ago, my ex-boss's trial was about to begin. Yesterday, after nearly four days of deliberating, the jury finally filed back into the courtroom. None of the jurors angled the slightest glance toward Jasper Quinlan. Had they found him guilty?

My best friend, Haylee, sat with me near the back of the courtroom. Whatever the verdict, she would leave the minute she could book a flight out of Manhattan and back to Elderberry Bay, Pennsylvania, and her new fabric store, The Stash.

I had to admit I was a tiny bit jealous. In my spare time, I'd been creating and selling designs for use with embroidery machines. I'd sold a lot of designs, but not enough to support me, especially in Manhattan. I needed the commissions I earned at Quinlan Financial Management, where I still worked. They'd hired a new CEO.

The judge leaned forward and addressed the jury.

Suddenly, I was certain that Jasper would be acquitted, and would come looking for Haylee and me. I should have imitated her, fled Quinlan Financial, found a new life somewhere else, and returned only for the trial.

Haylee had gone out with Jasper, several times. She was the one who figured out he was diverting client funds to his own accounts, but I'd supported her, snooping with her in our office late at night, piling up evidence against him, and standing next to her when she phoned the police. The charges against Jasper grew beyond anything we imagined.

During the trial, the prosecution had been thorough and competent, if a little dry. Haylee had been confident on the witness stand, and although I'd trembled when it was my turn to testify, I thought our honesty was transparent. Jasper lied. Haylee and I and the other witnesses told the truth.

Justice would prevail.

What I hadn't expected was the defense attorney's dramatic accusations. According to him, poor Jasper was an innocent victim of a pair of harpies -- Haylee and me -- desperate for fifteen minutes of fame. Jasper's attorney had turned his oily smiles on jurors.

They'd smiled back.

I'd wanted to hide.

Now, the clerk stood and asked for the verdict...

Guilty. On all charges.

My anxiety began to peel away. Sentencing would come later, but it was clear that Jasper was going to prison for a long time. Haylee would fly to Elderberry Bay, and I would return to work and to my sewing and embroidering.

Behind us, one of Jasper's friends snarled, "He's going to appeal. He'll be out tomorrow." The man's words were like hand-sharpened darts, aimed at our backs.

Suddenly, I was more scared than I'd been on the witness stand.

Maybe I should leave New York.

What would you do?

22 comments:

  1. Willow is talking about what's happening to her right now. The first of the Threadville Mysteries telling about her future adventures comes out from Berkley Prime Crime in about ten months.

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  2. Willow, that's a scary situation! I'm glad the jury was able to see through the defense attorney's claims.

    I'd probably leave NY, but I have a feeling you're going to face this guy down!

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  3. Willow, Olivia Limoges here. Don't you worry, Haviland and I have your back. Don't let anyone intimidate you!

    Of course, if you'd like to leave NY, I'd be lad to put you up in the lighthouse keeper's cottage until this situation blows over...

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  4. If I'm into sewing and embroidery, I would start carrying my largest scissors wherever I go. But I wouldn't leave. Jasper has done enough damage. He's not going to run me out of town as well! Hmmm...maybe I'll start wearing vintage hats so i can secure them with really long hat pins...

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  5. Face this guy down, Elizabeth/Riley? I've done all the facing I can stand with this guy.

    Oooh, Olivia, I would love to stay in the lighthouse keeper's cottage and hide out with Haviland. Trouble is, I might want to take him back with me to NY.

    Zita, you have the perfect solution. I'm going to hunt down some of those long hat pins.

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  6. Well, by nature I think our first instinct is to get out of town...and I would go with it. Instincts are rarely wrong and you have already mentioned you wish you had fled when your friend, Haylee left for rural PA. So, my advice? Lay low in another town until you KNOW for a fact this guy is doing time. If he were to go to prison straight from court you could stay and live safely (well, except for the fact it looks like his friends have his back), but since it looks like he is not going right away, leave the area for a while and see what happens. Better to be safe.

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  7. Hi Willow,

    I have my attack cat and trusty baseball bat. Come hide out in Scumble River. No one will find you here.
    Skye

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  8. Good advice, Kelley. I'm actually at work today, at Jasper's former company. My fellow employees seem to be in a mood of restrained optimism. By stealing from our clients, Jasper cheated us, and none of us wanted him to go free - or worse, come back here to work. Ever since his arrest, I've been signing a lot of new clients who feel they can trust my financial advice. So I feel more or less safe staying in NY and working in Jaspers's old company.

    But when I go home tonight, no one, and I mean no one, will be able to follow me! After I do all that zig-zagging, though, I'll hardly have any time to relax with my computer and embroidery software.

    Skye, watch for someone in a vintage hat held in place with a verrrrrry long hat pin. That'll be me, coming to stay with you, your attack cat, and your trusty baseball bat!

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  9. Stay in NY. Don't let him run you out of town, because then he wins.

    But I got your back! I'll meet you at your office and we'll run him out of town, oh right, he'll be stuck in jail.

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  10. Dru, better not meet me at the office, for fear someone may follow you home, too. Let's meet at a coffee shop. We can sip coffee while we plan evasion tactics and watch for anyone who is a little too interested in us.

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  11. Stay strong, Willow! Don't let the bad guys win.

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  12. Willow, maybe you should take a breather with your pal, Haley. It's okay to move to a smaller town, drink in a gentler atmosphere. You aren't giving up if you do.

    ~Avery

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  13. The stubborn gal in me says don't give up because then Jasper wins. I vote for hanging tough and getting a BIG dog with very pointy teeth. And maybe scent training him to Jasper so that he'll recognize him at first whiff. Heh heh heh...

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  14. Stay strong, Willow! I still believe justice will prevail. Though it might not hurt to keep that hat pin handy.

    Paige

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  15. A little vacation might not hurt -- I hear Vancouver is nice this time of year :)

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  16. Willow, that's terrifying! Come on out to Marshfield Manor. We can put you up in the hotel on site as long as you need. My boss, Bennett Marshfield, will completely back me up on this. Just say the word!

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  17. Hang in there Willow. I'll be rooting for you.

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  18. I spent a long lunch hour looking for hatpins (found one!), and then came back to lots of great advice and invitations! Thanks, everyone!

    Wendy and Misa, I'll stay strong, and won't let the bad guys win. But Avery's advice is very tempting, too... Just don't tell Haylee I said so!

    Jen, I would love a big dog with pointy teeth, but I have no space for one. Haviland can come visit for a short time, but I think he'd rather be at home where he can enjoy more exciting walks than the streets of the lower East Side.

    Paige, I'm being very careful and keeping that hat pin with me at all times.

    Yes, Laura, a little vacation would be great. I'm thinking of taking up Grace's offer, too. I can't wait to get my hands on more of those vintage linens in Marshfield Manor's attics. I'll bet we'll find some exciting vintage clothing, too. I'm on my way. And if you have any hatpins I could borrow for awhile...???

    Annette, I really appreciate your support, and I'll be thinking of you as Dru and I zip back and forth between northbound and soutbound subways this evening.

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  19. Willow, I'd watch your back. Jasper sounds like lots of trouble. I think you need more than a hat pin to protect yourself. Whoeve mentioned the baseball bat was more on the money.

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  20. I made it home safely last night and back into work this morning, and you know what? I think I overreacted. Jasper's only an embezzler, and not a very good one. A lot of the rest of you have to deal with murderers! Uh-oh. Should I be hanging out with you this much?

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  21. Willow---you need to carry a can of mace when you're walking alone at night.

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