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?