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FICTION


TITLE: From the Ashes chpt 1
By Christine Long
05/15/11
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This is the first chapter to a story I just started. I believe it would be categorized as romantic suspense. I appreciate any comments to help me improve my work.
Chapter 1

Cassidy Overton’s Louis Vuitton heels clicked an irritated rhythm across the travertine tiles of the penthouse entryway. Tossing the matching clutch bag onto the maple credenza, she continued her quest for her husband. It didn’t take long to search the 3,500 square foot floor. Nothing. Standing in the middle the open floor plan, she glared at the awe inspiring view of the New York City skyline. Today it might as well be a cinder block wall rather than huge panes of ceiling to floor glass. The tempest in her soul stole the view from her eyes.

The phone’s soft buzzing swept her away from the late autumn sunset panorama. Swift steps carried her to the phone before it buzzed again. Please let it be William.

“Hello?”

“Cass. There you are. I’ve been trying to reach you all day. Where have you been?” Irritation flecked his words. She bit her lip, her own turmoil dissipating under the desire to help solve his problem.

“I’m so sorry, honey. My cell phone died and I’ve had the most irritating afternoon -”

“Sorry to hear that, Cass. I need you to do me a favor.” His words bit off her apology. “You know that wall safe I had put in behind the portrait in the guest room? I need you to get something from it for me.”

Before he’d finished speaking, she’d turned her pointed shoes in the direction of the guest room on the north end of the apartment.

“I’m putting you on speaker, William. Give me a second.” She pressed the button and placed the phone on the bookcase beside the portrait. Lifting it with both hands, she placed it on the floor against the wall. The steel door of the new safe featured a keypad and digital screen.

“Okay. Go ahead with the combination.” No answer. “William?”

Cassidy picked up the phone. Holding it to her ear, muffled voices floated in the background not far beyond William’s phone. She called his name again, but no reply. Should she hang up? Call him back? She glanced at the caller ID. The office number. Should she call his cell? Anxiety over the decision curdled her stomach. The shrill sound of a shredder muted the other distant sounds. What was going on? She jumped as a loud voice came clearly through the phone.

“Mr. Overton. Stop what you’re doing. Drop those papers.” A commanding voice, ripe with authority. The voice approached the phone. “Mr. Overton, we have a warrant for your arrest on charges of -” Silence. Two clicks then a dial tone.

Cassidy held the phone away from her ear and stared at it as if it held answers. Icy fear shivered through her shaking fingers as she pressed the speed dial to William’s cell phone. Straight to voicemail. She disconnected and dialed the office. For the first time in the three years she’d known her husband, his assistant didn’t pick up.

Cassidy’s knees failed her and she collapsed onto the bed. What was going on? She needed answers. She stood and flew to her purse for her cell phone. Scrambling through the desk drawers, she discovered the charger. Her fingers betrayed her as she tried three times to open the tiny clip for the cord. The fourth attempt pried it open. Attaching it, she plugged the other end into the wall socket and stared at the screen as it scrolled through the power up cycle. Each beat of her heart pulsated in her ears. Patience. Patience. Finally.

She punched her mother-in-law’s home number. Not the person she wanted to turn to for help right now, not after the lunch disaster of an hour ago. But she could always count on Patricia to know everything about everything going on. A voice answered before the first tone faded.

“They’ve arrested William.” From Patricia’s tone, Cassidy could imagine the tongue lashing someone just received. She was just thankful it wasn’t her this time.

“I know. I was on the phone with him when someone entered his office and -”

“MY William, Cassidy. My husband. The lawyers are with him right now to put an end to this nonsense.”

William and Mr. Overton were arrested? What was going on? “Patricia, I was on the phone with my husband when someone entered his office and announced his arrest.”

“What?” Whenever Patricia’s voice squealed into the higher register like that, Cassidy inadvertently pictured Maleficent from the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. “My son and my husband? What am I going to tell our friends? How will I ever show my face in our social circle? I’ll be the laughing stock of our set.”

Cassidy counted to ten, waiting for the tirade to end. When Patricia’s wailing left her breathless, she paused. Cassidy jumped in. “What are the charges, Patricia? William didn’t have a chance to tell me anything. He was directing me to get something from the safe for him, but he was cut off before I could get it.”

Patricia’s sigh could have blown the remaining dead leaves off the trees in Central Park. “It has something to do with misused funds. I don’t get involved in the business, child. I leave that to my husband and sons.” She paused. “I haven’t heard from Percy or Philippa. I wonder why they haven’t called me? I can’t imagine Percy not calling his own mother knowing what horror I’m facing right now.”

Cassidy couldn’t help rolling her eyes. “Perhaps they don’t know what has happened. Is the charge serious? Are they in danger of going to jail?”

“Not with the amount of money we pay our lawyers. I should think not. No, I’m sure it’s just someone acting on misinformation. We’ll probably hear from them soon enough. Heavens! Look at the time. I have to meet the Sutherfords for dinner and I don’t have anything to wear. I was supposed to go shopping after our lunch but I was so flustered with the news about William, I came straight home.”

Of course she wasn’t flustered over the events at lunch time. That would be expecting too much.

“Are you sure this isn’t anything to be concerned about?”

“Child, if it were, would I be going shopping then to a social event this evening?” Cassidy bit her tongue. “The lawyers will have it all straightened out by this evening. Now I just have to find a way to smooth this over with the vipers we call friends.”

A click ended the conversation. Cassidy closed her cell phone, accustomed to Patricia’s abrupt endings. Kicking her heels into a corner, she moved on bare feet to the sofa facing the panoramic view. Flopping onto one end, she curled her legs beneath her and lounged against the velor arm. Resting her head on her out-flung arm, she worked to quiet the turmoil within. Her other hand rested on her abdomen. The day started well, then the scene with Patricia, now this. Cold seeped through her. She curled tighter into herself. What can I do? What does a person do when everything falls apart?

“I don’t have anyone to turn to.” Her whispered pain wafted into the emptiness. A tiny tear trickled its way over her check. “Please, William. Please don’t be guilty.”
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