Read Consequence Online

Authors: Madeline Sloane

Tags: #fiction, #romance, #thriller, #suspense, #murder, #mystery, #love story, #womens fiction, #chick lit, #contemporary, #romance novel, #romance ebook, #romance adult fiction, #contemporary adult romance

Consequence (22 page)

Her own cell phone rang. She pulled it from
her coat pocket and looked at the caller I.D. “Hi Boone,” she said.
“I thought you were in court today.”

“It’s over,” he said.

“What?” Bridget stopped in her tracks and the
shopper behind her stumbled to avoid her. “What do you mean, ‘it’s
over?’ What happened?”

“Judge Johnson dismissed the case. He said
there wasn’t sufficient evidence to warrant a trial that, in his
opinion, didn’t support the criminal charge. He ruled it self
defense after he received a sworn statement from the only eye
witness.”

“Who was that?”

“Cerise Larouche’s attorney sent the
affidavit by overnight delivery. She must have dictated it from her
hospital bed. Her story matched the defendant’s.”

“Ethel Jefferson is free to go?”

“Ethel Jefferson Fontenelle pled guilty to
and was found guilty of fabricating physical evidence by hiding the
body, and of fleeing a crime scene. She has been sentenced to house
arrest for five years and is required to wear an ankle bracelet.
Rumor is, the judge will probably suspend even that after a month
or two.”

“Where is she now?”

“Robert Hall and her granddaughter are taking
Mrs. Fontenelle to his house for now. I believe he is escorting the
ladies home to Massachusetts tomorrow.” He lifted his hat to Ethel,
who waved at him from across the parking lot. “It’s starting to
snow. I’m heading back to Chance to check on Neil and make sure the
guys at the garage have the snowplows ready.”

“Okay sweetie, I’ll see you at the house
later,” Bridget said, shifting her cell phone beneath her chin and
digging her car keys from her handbag.

 

Robert and Diara sat at the kitchen island
sipping a glass of celebratory champagne. Ethel sat in a chair at
the table, sipping a cup of lemongrass tea. Their eyes met when the
doorbell rang. Robert slid off the stool and squeezed Diara’s hand.
“I’ll be right back.”

Bridget stood on the brick stoop. The falling
snow dusted her head and shoulders. “May I come in? I have
something for Ethel,” she said, gesturing with the sloppily wrapped
package.

Robert stood aside. “Sure; she’s in the
kitchen.”

Bridget stepped into the foyer and studied
her surroundings, eyes widening at the expensive décor. She peered
with regret at her snowy boots. Using the toe of one, she pushed on
the heel of the other and without Robert even noticing, padded
barefoot behind him. She slipped her coat off as she walked,
juggling the package from one hand to the other. When she entered
the bright kitchen, she blinked at the whiteness of the cabinets.
Snowflakes glittered through the multi-paned bay window, adding to
the glory of the room. The Hall residence was immaculate, tasteful
and expensive.

Bridget’s eyes rested on the small,
dark-skinned woman sitting alone at the kitchen table. “Hello Mrs.
Fontenelle. How are you?”

Ethel’s eyes lit up and she leaned forward,
taking Bridget’s free hand in her own. She patted it softly. “Hello
Bridget, I am so happy to see you again. Please, visit for
awhile.”

Bridget cast a glance at Robert, then at
Diara still sitting at the counter. Diara nodded once, indicating
she was welcome.

Bridget took a deep, trembling breath, then
did as requested. She placed the gift-wrapped box on the table. “I
hear the charges have been dropped,” she said.

Ethel chuckled then pointed to her leg.
“Well, for the most part. I have a new accessory,” she said,
pointing to the ankle bracelet. “I’ll have to keep this on.”

Bridget frowned. “I hope it’s not too
uncomfortable.”

“It’s a small burden compared with the one I
carried these past fifty years,” Ethel replied. When Bridget’s
cheeks flushed with embarrassment, she patted her hand again. “You
look for lost things. You’re very good at what you do.”

Bridget studied the floor and squirmed in the
chair. Then she raised her eyes. “I have a gift for you,” she said.
“I hope you’ll accept it.”

Ethel lifted the package and shook it,
delight in her eyes. “Is it a box of chocolates? I have to warn
you, I don’t have enough teeth left to eat toffee.”

Bridget shook her head and smiled at the
jest.

Ethel unwrapped the package then looked at
the white box’s logo curiously. “Are there apples inside?” She
shook it. Then she set it on the table and removed the lid. “Well,
what in the world is this? Some kind of telephone? Look,
Diara.”

Ethel lifted the slim tablet from the box and
turned it over. “Or is it a little television?”

Bridget held out her hands. “May I show
you?”

Ethel offered the tablet and scooted her
chair closer to Bridget. “What does it do?”

Bridget pressed a depression on the end of
the tablet and the screen lit up. She turned it so Ethel could see
it. “This is a small computer tablet,” Bridget said, swiping the
screen with a finger. She tapped an icon and a program opened. “And
this is the ancestry software I use when doing family
research.”

Ethel leaned closer, squinting through her
eyeglasses. “What does that say?”

Bridget touched the screen again and spread
her fingers. “If you want to zoom in, you can enlarge the screen
like this.” She pinched her fingers together. “And you can zoom out
also.”

Ethel sat back in her chair and looked at
Bridget with doubt. “You think I can learn how to use that?”

“Yes, you can. Toddlers even use these. It’s
intuitive and the more you play with it, explore it, the more
you’ll learn what it can do.”

“I can do other things with it besides my
family tree?”

“Oh yes,” Bridget explained, her face
lighting up. “You can read books, store photo albums, listen to
music, watch television and even movies. Do crossword puzzles.
Search the Internet. Send email. All kinds of things. This is a
complete library and entertainment center.”

Ethel pursed her lips. “Well, I’ll be.”

Diara spoke up. “I’ll help you, Granny,” she
said. “I know how to use it.”

“Well, alright then. Thank you, Bridget,”
Ethel said. “I don’t use the Interwebs but I’ll give it my
best.”

A lump formed in her throat as Ethel played
with the tablet, curiosity lighting her face. Bridget rose from her
chair. “I’ll be saying goodbye now. I wanted to wish you well
before you leave.”

“Oh, do you have to go?” Ethel asked, then
added, “Thank you, Bridget, for your gift and your help. This has
been quite an adventure, but I’m ready to go home.”

Robert and Diara exchanged glances, a secret
smile tugging at their lips. Robert stood and moved toward the
kitchen doorway. “I’ll walk you out, Bridget.”

She slipped her arms into her coat, then
slung her handbag over her shoulder. “Goodbye, Diara,” she said.
“And goodbye, Ethel. You are a remarkable and brave woman.”

Ethel pooh-poohed, waving a hand
dismissively. “I’m a tired old woman who’s lucky to have the family
and the friends I do. And Bridget, you are my friend. Don’t ever
forget that.”

Tears filled Bridget’s eyes. She ducked her
head and followed Robert to the front door to retrieve her
boots.

Robert leaned against the foyer wall as she
pulled laces from their knots. “I also want to thank you,” he
said.

Bending to slip on a boot, Bridget paused.
“For what?”

“I’m moving to Manhattan.”

She tilted her head, looking at him
curiously.

“To be with Diara,” he explained. “I haven’t
told anyone yet, but I think you should know. If you hadn’t helped
Boone, nobody would know about Ethel. She wouldn’t have been
arrested and I would never have met Diara. It’s a strange co….” he
said.

Bridget interrupted him, “Consequence?”

“Well, I was going to say coincidence, but
yeah, consequence works. Goodbye Bridget.”

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Bridget blinked against the bright, Italian
sunshine. She stretched, enjoying the feel of luxurious sheets soft
against her skin. The aroma of espresso and fresh baked rolls
filled her senses. She turned and saw Boone’s side of the bed was
empty.

Sitting up, she spied him next to the window,
opening the curtains and letting in the light. Over his shoulder,
Bridget saw the green hillside, dotted with umbrella pine trees. A
golden villa with a red-tiled roof clung to the side of the hill,
silhouetted against the brilliant blue sky.

Boone looked over his shoulder. “Good, you’re
awake.”

Bridget pulled a pillow over her head,
inhaling the clean, fresh scent. “How could I not be?” she
mumbled.

Boone poured coffee and stirred in sugar, the
silver spoon clinking against the porcelain cup. “It’s time to wake
up, sleepy head. We can catch the noon train to Rome if you get
started now.”

Bridget tossed the pillow aside and glared at
her husband of one week. “What’s the rush? I like Frascati just
fine.”

Five-hundred year old angels cavorting in
frescoes looked down on the bed. The 15-century villa, converted to
an upscale bed and breakfast, was just too comfortable to
leave.

He studied at his watch. “You wanted a
honeymoon in Italy,” he said. “We’re meeting Cousin Antonio at one
o’clock at St. Peter’s Square. He’s giving us a guided tour of the
Vatican today. Then we’re having dinner with Zia Maria and the
family at seven.”

She stood and stretched. “How many people are
there in your family?”

Boone gathered her in his arms and rested his
chin on her shoulder. He slid a warm hand over her nightgown,
stroking her rounded belly. Bridget placed her hand over his.

“Don’t know,” he said, kissing her neck. “It
keeps growing every day.”

 

The End

 

 

 

DEAR READER
: Thank you for downloading
this eBook, "Consequence." I hope you enjoy the story and, if you
do, keep reading the series, "Secrets of Eaton." At the end of this
novel, I've added excerpts from three other books in the Women of
Eaton series. If you would like to buy the others, "Distracted,"
"East of Eaton", "West Wind" (FREE!), or all three in the "Women of
Eaton Trilogy" use this link and start reading
immediately>>
Buy the books

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Madeline Sloane is a writer with more than 25
years experience in communications. With ten published history
books under her belt, she is new to the world of romantic fiction
but finding it just as fun to research. In addition to writing, she
is a college instructor whose interests include traveling, history
and boating. Rounding out her list of Top Five interests are
reading and cooking. On the web at
http://www.MadelineSloane.com

 

ABOUT THE SERIES

WOMEN OF EATON and SECRETS OF EATON

The first novel in the “Women of Eaton”
romance series, “Distracted” introduces readers to Eaton, a
fictional, idyllic town tucked away in the mountains of
Pennsylvania. Next up are “East of Eaton” and “West Wind.” The
“Secrets of Eaton” romance series contains the novels
“Consequence,” “Incandescent” and “Dead Line.” After that, look for
"
Mysteries of Eaton
" and the titles "
Charnel House
,"
"
Well of the Dead
" and "
Skinterns
." Anticipate Eaton
residents and visitors to return in even more books that explore
and celebrate romance.

 

CONNECT WITH MADELINE SLOANE ONLINE

Madeline's website:
http://www.MadelineSloane.com

Twitter:
http://twitter.com/MadelineSloane

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/BooksbyMadelineSloane

Smashwords:
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MadelineSloane

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