Violet pulled open the door for her friend and then followed her into the makeshift store. Her green eyes blinked to adjust to the dark lighting as a cacophony of screams, moans, and cries for help assaulted Violet’s ears and caused her friend to beam with glee. A zombie greeted them just inside the doorway with gibberish, while a mummy’s eyes glowed red, as they set off the pair’s motion sensors by entering the store.
“Let’s make this quick. I’m hungry.” Violet nudged Chrissy along and quickly scanned the retail floor for adult costumes. Three kids ran by chasing each other through the floor fog with scary masks and a red plastic pitchfork. Chrissy laughed and set out into the store.
“Okay,” Chrissy agreed. “Have you thought about what you want to be?”
For two weeks Chrissy had been talking about a big Halloween party being held in a beautiful Gothic brownstone in Beacon Hill. Violet was a little dubious about dressing up and going to a strangers party but Chrissy insisted a friend of a friend was hosting it and it was okay to bring someone as long as they were female. Chrissy had a crush on this friend and was convinced this reference to only bring a female friend was the offer she had been waiting for with her soon-to-be-ex-friend-turned-boyfriend, Andrew. Violet was not convinced Andrew meant anything by the invitation, but Chrissy was so enthralled with the long-haired musician she was grasping for any indication he was interested in her.
Violet went to the closest rack and flipped through some hanging costumes, quickly finding they were mostly for couples. Bonnie and Clyde, George and Martha, Fred and Wilma, Luke and Princess Leia. As a single woman, she realized she was in the wrong aisle. Violet looked over to where Chrissy was at the back wall, excitedly picking up plastic packages with pictures of sexy police officers and nurses on the front.
“You’re really not going to show up in one of these?” Violet smirked as she teased her friend, picking up one of the packages with a picture of Lil Bo Peep. Violet was sure lil’ Bo Peep never looked like this in one of the nursery rhyme books she had as a child.
“You better believe it, Violet! Halloween is the one time all year you can dress a little slutty and get away with it.” She smiled devilishly and gave Violet a wink.
“You’re a nut. What do you think Andrew will say when he sees the girl who dresses properly for work every day with cleavage and showing off her thighs?”
“Oh, that reminds me I need to pick up a good padded push-up bra.”
Violet laughed and turned her attention back to the wall. This is so not me, she thought.
As if on queue, Chrissy answered her silent question. “You are getting one of these sexy little costumes. You, my dear friend, will be on a manhunt that night and this is your weapon.” Chrissy held a short black witches costume in front of her, pushing the hanger across Violet’s collarbone. Violet looked down the front of her body, noting that the black dress ended a good four inches above her camel colored wool pencil skirt. Her long chestnut brown hair cascaded over her shoulders and Violet automatically pulled it all to one side and twisted it to keep the chocolate waves from blocking her sight.
“I won’t be able to sit down in this!”
Chrissy raised one eyebrow in a silent response and shook the hanger, making the small piece of ragged black material dance.
“What about a period costume? Like a Renaissance dress?”
“Violet, seriously, look at you!” Chrissy pushed her friend a few feet to the right to a mirrored column and pointed at their reflection. “You are a beautiful and smart twenty-nine-year-old woman. You have a great figure that you keep under suits all week, a porcelain complexion I would kill for, and sexy green cat eyes that guys love. Why you don’t take advantage of all this I don’t know. I know I would.”
“You’re crazy. You always look fantastic.” Violet looked at her friend Chrissy’s short blond bob cut and perfectly made up face.”
Violet regarded herself critically in the mirror and realized she was could probably try to dress a little trendier. She had tried to get people to take her serious when she started at the law firm so had avoided men, anything too fitted, and she did not wear makeup. Most of the time her hair was twisted back into a knot with a pencil holding it precariously in place.
Chrissy stood by quietly. When Violet turned to her friend, Chrissy shook the dress again. “Just try it on.”
Ten minutes later Violet opened the flimsy stall curtain enough to look for her friend. She loudly whispered, “psst. Chrissy.” Chrissy appeared with a smile and a hat.
“Well, come on out,” Chrissy encouraged. “What’s wrong?”
“I need a bigger size. Maybe up two sizes.”
“You are a size 4. You are small. Now come out here. We only have our lunch hour!”
Stepping out of the small closet the store was using as a changing room, wearing the black dress and her high heels, Violet blushed. Chrissy pulled a pointed witches hat down over her head and squealed, “You look fantastic!”
Violet wasn’t feeling so sure as she stood in front of the mirror. She tugged down at her hemline while pulling up on her neckline.
“I have not dressed up for Halloween since sixth grade when I went as a clown.”
“Now that’s just downright terrifying. Promise me you won’t be a clown.”
Violet laughed at Chrissy’s fear of clowns, “I promise.”
Twenty minutes later they stepped out on the street. The cool autumn air felt good against her face after being in the stuffy store and Violet squinted up at the bright blue sky, taking a deep breath. “It’s beautiful out.”
“It is,” Chrissy agreed while juggling her two heavy bags to get reach into her purse for her phone. “Shoot, it’s one o’clock already. We didn’t even get lunch.”
“Well, you are heading back to Starbucks, at least there’s food there!”
“True.” Chrissy smiled. “Hey, remember, I have the job interview later. Do you want to get a drink after?”
Violet shook her head, “Sorry, no can do. I need to do a few things at home.” Chrissy had been a barista for six months but had decided coffee jockey was not for her. She liked the stuff too much and couldn’t seem to unwind after work. Or at night. She had been job hunting for the last few weeks, to no avail. “Good luck with the interview.”
Chrissy brightened, her blue eyes matching the cornflower blue skies. “Thanks. I’m glad you got the witch costume. I know you are not crazy about it but it’s a good look for you.”
Violet shook her bag and smiled wanly. She should be more excited about this but for some reason, she was not. After saying her goodbyes she headed up to the T station to hop a train back down to Arlington Street where the offices of Willoughby, Foster and Wade awaited.
The elevator doors slid open and she faced the impressive frosted glass doors across the hall. A large WFW, the firm’s logo, was etched in the glass panels. She pulled a door open and smiled a hello to Katie at the front desk. Katie smiled back but was on the phone. Violet stopped for a moment and set her bag down to take off her coat. As she shrugged it off her shoulders she felt, rather than heard, a presence behind her and turned to see a rather tall gentleman standing quietly behind her. Since she had not heard the door or seen anyone else get off the elevator Violet quickly assumed he must have been sitting on the couch and she just missed him. He did not seem like the type of man that gets missed. Or waited. He looked sternly down at her.
Violet froze in mid-shrug, her coat hanging off one shoulder, and took in the man’s face. Even though he did not look very happy, elegant was the first thought that came to mind with his high cheekbones and square jaw. His eyes caught most of her attention – they were remarkably blue. Almost navy. Yet they seemed to have golden flecks that kept the blue from blending into his pupils. Dark eyelashes fringed his intensely dark eyes. He had a cool demeanor, yet, for the briefest second she thought she observed surprise register deep in his eyes.
“Allow me.” The voice was deep, hitting on a lower register that caught her attention and tickled her ears. His voice was soft, smooth, almost soothing, and had an accent that was unclear. The thought of the renaissance dresses and ladies in waiting came to mind and she felt woozy like she was about to sway and faint. The room closed in.
He quickly had her coat off and draped over his left arm. She pulled her gaze away from his face and noticed he had on a very nice suit that was an athletic cut to grace his well-built body. The fog seemed to lift.
Violet’s eyebrows knotted together and her head tilted to the side. “Do I know you?” Again, just the faintest current ran behind those dark blue eyes.
“Markus? So nice to see you.” Ken Foster, senior partner and the F in the firms’ monogram, was charging forward, hand extended. “We’ve been expecting you.”
Markus handed Violet her coat and the corner of his mouth turned up in the smallest of smiles but enough to set off a dimple in his otherwise perfectly chiseled face. After the slightest bow of his head toward her, he turned and led Mr. Foster up the hall to the largest of the firm’s conference rooms overlooking Arlington Street far below – Foster desperately trying to keep up with the tall man’s graceful strides.
Violet looked back at Katie whose mouth was slightly open in a look of bewilderment. “Did that guy really just lead Mr. Foster up the hall like a lackey?” Katie asked still looking up the long hallway at the frosted glass door of the conference room, which was now closed. Ken Foster may be nearing retirement but was still a force to be reckoned with around the office – he always did the leading. It was clear that the firm’s top partner was bowing to this younger man.
“Forget that. That guy looked like he stepped out of a fashion magazine. He looked like a model.”
“That man is Mr. Marcus Willoughby. He’s the grandson of the original Willoughby which makes him one-third owner and he’s an attorney himself.” Katie leaned forward across her desk, tucking an errant piece of red hair behind her ear. She lowered her voice, “They say every major case this firm has ever had has quietly been reviewed by a Willoughby. This must be something big.” Katie looked sideways up the hall at the closed door again meaningfully.
Violet got excited. There was one big high profile case right now in the city but she could not believe WFW would get involved, or even have a chance at it if they wanted it. After a series of senseless killings over the last few years, the Boston Police Department in connection with the FBI had just arrested a young man and charged him with the crimes. The legal community had spoken about nothing but this for weeks because although they seemed confident to have caught their man and make the Boston streets safe again, the alleged killer could not have been more than fourteen when the first murder occurred. Many were having their doubts and the trial was expected to be a media circus. Their firm usually stayed away from such a case but what would bring the elusive Mr. Willoughby to Boston from his world travels?
Violet returned to her desk and set to work; pushing the interesting W of their masthead from her mind.
Just found this first chapter in my WIP files and wondering if I should continue – I vaguely remember where I was going with this! I’d love to hear your comments . . .