Look The Part(2)

By: Jewel E. Ann



“There will be a special place in Hell for you, Flint Hopkins, if you kill us or anyone else with your drunk driving.”

I put the car in drive and cupped the back of her head, pulling her forehead to mine before letting up on the brake. “You’re my world. I would never hurt you. I love you beyond words.”

“Jesus, Flint …” she whispered. “Your breath reeks of whisky. I’m begging you. Let me drive.”

I released her and let up on the brake. As much as I loved my wife, I also loved being a man. And a strong man knew his limits and didn’t have to be told when he was or wasn’t capable of doing something.

*

Three days later I buried my wife in a cemetery two blocks from our house.





CHAPTER ONE





A Special Place in Hell—10 years later

Happy people should come with a warning.

“Hello, Attorney Flint Hopkin’s office. Amanda speaking … Yes … Okay … I’ll let him know. Thank you for calling. Have a fantastic day.”

Who says fantastic? The word comes from fantasy which means not real. My secretary, who did not come with a proper warning, tells everyone who calls here to have a “not real” day. She should work at Disney World.

The intercom on my office phone buzzes. I sigh. “Amanda, my door is open and no one else is here. You don’t have to use the intercom. I can hear you just fine.”

“How am I supposed to know if you’re on the phone?”

“Turn around.”

She rotates in her chair. I glance up from my computer, meeting her gaze.

“I don’t like to spy on you. When I do, the look you give me creeps me out.”

I scratch my chin. “I give you a look?”

She curls her blond hair behind her ears and gives me a sour face. “Yes. You never smile. It’s creepy.”

“Never?” I cock my head to the side.

“Well, except when Harrison shows up after school. The corners of your mouth turn up like…” her lips twist “…an eighth of an inch. And most people would miss it if they weren’t actively watching for it.”

Smiling is overrated. And she’s right; my son gets the best parts of me. What little remains.

“Who was on the phone?”

“What?”

“Before you informed me of my creepiness, you paged me.”

“Oh, yes, Ellen Rodgers will be fifteen minutes late. She got held up at work.”

“Running late. Not a good sign. Probably means she’ll be late with rent each month.”

“Yes, Flint. You’re probably right. She got held up at work, a place she goes to make money. That’s definitely a sign that she’ll be late with rent.” Amanda swings back around to her desk.

“You’re rolling your eyes at me.” I return my attention to my computer screen.

“I would never do that, Boss.”

Twenty-five minutes later, there’s chatter in the waiting room. My focus stays on my computer. There’s no reason to give Ms. Rodgers the impression I have nothing better to do than wait for her.

My phone vibrates on my desk.

AMANDA: Ellen Rodgers is here. I imagine you know this. She’s not a client, so I wasn’t sure if her arrival warranted an intercom announcement or a verbal announcement since your door is open. How do you want me to proceed with this delicate situation?

ME: You’re fired.

AMANDA: For real!!!! Gosh, I have so much laundry to catch up on at home. Thank you!

Note to self: Never hire a female secretary again.

ME: Not for real. Send her back and get me that research I requested three days ago.

AMANDA: I’ll send her back. And I put that research on the bookshelf behind your desk 2 days ago. : )

“Women,” I mumble.

“Hello.” The woman applying to rent the space above my office charges toward me with her hand held out. “I’m Ellen Rodgers. I apologize for my tardiness.”

I stand and shake her hand. She’s unexpected. Cheerful—in need of a warning label. I let her enthusiasm for life slide this time because she’s easy on the eyes.

“Flint Hopkins. And it’s fine.” I glance over her shoulder to our audience of one. Amanda shoots me a sly grin. I narrow my eyes until she turns back around.

“Please, have a seat,” I point to the chair by my desk.

Ellen drops her handbag on the floor with an ungraceful thump. She must live out of her purse.

I home in on her shaky hands unbuttoning her gray wool coat that’s overkill for the sixty-degree day. “Forgive my appearance. I had lunch with a four-year-old girl who has a few coordination issues.”

Ironic. She appears to have a few of her own.

Long auburn hair stops short of covering the blotchy red stain on her fitted white sweater.

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