Episode 1November 25
It was strange how much had changed since Charlie Weiss turned thirty, and not for the best, but for the absolute worst. At eight o'clock, Friday morning, the end of the workweek, or perhaps the end of the saga, Charlie sat on the crowded 135 Bus as she headed to work. She reminisced about how her good intentions had brought her to this place, this place of melancholy, embarrassment and shame. So much she would have liked to turn back the hands of time, but how could she? What was done, was simply just that. Done.
Charlie peered through the fogged window and could barely tell how much longer before she reached the office building where she worked. She quickly returned her attention to the paperback she was reading, which seemed to speak to her as she flipped to the chapter, Surrender to the Fact That Life Isn't Fair.
Truer words were never more poignant in black and white.
Life was not fair.
In just a three-week period, so much had happened, and so many people were involved, and Charlie was the sole cause of it all.
As the bus traveled across the LaSalle Street Bridge, an eerie police siren rang in her ears, which always sent a frost through her. Even as a little girl, loud noises, such as sirens, horns and whistles, startled her. In preparing to exit the bus, she finished reading the last sentence of the chapter, closed the book and returned it to her worn out cotton bag, inscribed with her firm's initials, W&A, which stood for Whitley & Austin.
Her exit was approaching, but the bus stopped moving in the midst of a monstrous traffic jam, bringing morning drivers to a halt. On the corner of LaSalle and Lake Street, a clump of people surrounded the office building where she worked. She studied the female traffic cop as she rerouted and directed vehicles onto Wacker Drive. Charlie had not seen this many police cars since the last action movie she viewed on cable. The bright blue and white flashing lights seemed almost hypnotic.
In awe, Charlie absorbed the chaos on LaSalle Street, as two police officers carried a body bag from the office building. She could only imagine the identity of the unfortunate soul. She dreaded the possibility that it could be someone from her office, or worse yet, someone she knew personally.
Finally, in motion again, the bus made it to the corner and made an abrupt stop. She squeezed past the two overweight women who stood near the rear door and exited along with four other passengers. Upon reaching the street, a disturbing sensation came over her as the autumn air brushed against her face.
Could this turmoil have anything to do with her?
Paranoia set in.
Although many companies, corporations, and firms occupied her office building of more than sixty floors, she couldn't help but worry that her firm was the target of this disorder. Charlie raised the collar of her unbuttoned wool coat and stuffed her hands into her pockets as she waited at the corner for the light to turn green. Normally, autumn was her favorite season. It was one of the things she loved about Chicago, its changing seasons. But today was frigid and dismal, more like a reflection of what she felt inside.
With her hair pulled back into a ponytail away from her pale skin, Charlie stood just under six-feet tall, and her long slender legs made her appear much taller and much thinner. She had been a redhead for all of three weeks and enjoyed every minute of its glory until last night.
As she reached the other side of the street, she glimpsed inside the paramedic vehicle, but there was nothing to see. Her imagination was in disarray as she whisked past the curious spectators. All she could think about was the night before, how she had made a fool of herself. She had left things in an uproar, and that same uproar seemed to have come to haunt her this morning. She tried to pause the disturbing thoughts, at least until she gathered more information. This, after all, could have nothing to do with her. She inhaled a deep breath and hurried inside. Just as she came through the revolving doors, a police officer stopped her. "Excuse me, ma'am," he said.
Charlie felt her dimpled cheeks bruising fast.
"Do you work in this building?"
Her heart raced as she wondered why he singled her out. Then it dawned on her that he was probably questioning everyone who entered the building.
"Yes," she said softly.
"And your name?"
Her eyes followed his pen as he jotted down her name on his tiny note pad. "What company are you with?" he asked her.
This abrupt manner of questioning evoked mild sensations of guilt, which shifted through her at an increasing pace. She swallowed hard, shifted her eyes left, then right, to see who was watching, then returned her attention to the police officer and answered his question. "Whitley & Austin."
As Charlie observed him writing down the information, her coworkers, Bruce Colby and Camina Givens, came to mind. They were the last two people she saw before she left the night before.
Something had happened to one of them. She knew it, just as surely as the breath exhaled from her mouth.
Charlie gazed at the police officer, expecting him to ask her another question, then. "You can go," he said.
"It's okay?" Charlie asked with a sense of relief.
"You can go on up."
Tempted to ask about the commotion, her fear of looking suspicious prevented her from doing so. As she headed towards the bank of elevators that serviced the forty-fourth floor, she glanced back and saw the police officer studying her. It was as if he suspected her of something. Their eyes met and her bag slipped from her shoulder, but quickly, she caught it in time.
Charlie began working with Whitley & Austin, one of Chicago's most prestigious law firms, two years ago. For the most part, she enjoyed her legal secretary position, being part of a team. But as she stood on the elevator, she sensed that her days with the firm were numbered. This morning's disturbance seemed to symbolize the end of something, and the beginning of something as well.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Romantic Suspense
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Parker Paige on Twitter