First published at Thrillers, Killers 'N' Chillers (2011) - read editor interview
Edward eyed Lily from the bailiff’s desk as her long fingers captured the District Attorney's closing statement. Edward had nicknamed her Little Miss Echo, because, as the court reporter, the only time Lily spoke was to repeat witness testimony. She’d first appeared in Judge Franklin’s courtroom on Monday, wearing a pale green pantsuit -- one similar to what she had on now -- that complemented her short, red hair. For Edward, it was love at first sight. Seeing no ring on her finger, he’d asked her out the second day of the trial. She'd declined. Undaunted, Edward continued his pursuit and finally succeeded. He and Lily had a date for lunch as soon as the judge adjourned the morning session.
Edward placed a hand on Lily's back as they entered Le Petite Cafe, a broad smile on his face. The word little described her perfectly, Edward thought. She was no bigger than a sapling; and except for the scar bisecting her right eyebrow, her face was flawless.
“I'm so glad you decided to have lunch with me,” Edward said.
“I'm so glad you decided to have lunch with me,” Lily replied.
Edward smiled and placed the maroon napkin in his lap.
The waiter asked them what they'd like to drink.
“I'll have an iced tea, please,” Edward said.
“And you, ma'am?” the waiter asked.
“I'll have an iced tea, please.”
At first, Edward thought her funny; but when she ordered exactly the same lunch, he began to wonder if she knew about his nickname for her and was teasing him.
“Do you ever say anything original?” Edward continued to smile.
Lily unwrapped her napkin and spread it in her lap. She kept her eyes down and didn't respond.
“Come on. I know there's an original thought in that pretty little noggin.” He tapped his forehead.
The waiter delivered their drinks and a basket of breads.
Edward bounced his heels on the carpet and waited for a reply.
Lily bit into a slice of cornbread and sipped her tea. She patted her lips with the napkin and returned it to her lap.
Edward placed his hands on his thighs and squeezed. The smile vacated his face. Enough is enough. He leaned forward and spoke so the nearby diners wouldn't hear him.
"What's wrong? Don't bailiffs make enough money? Am I not handsome enough?"
Lily raised her eyes and hesitated before leaning closer. "Not handsome enough," she whispered.
Edward's face turned red. He threw his napkin on the table. Still leaning forward he said, "Why you little." He looked around and then back at Lily.
“You should be careful what you say.” He inched closer until their noses almost touched. “You're not the first one who's insulted me, and the others never did it again. I saw to that.”
“Really?” Lily stared back. "What'd you do, take them to a hotel room and strangle them?"
Edward's body tensed, more blood rushed to his head. He reached for Lily's arm. She jerked it away.
"Isn't that what you did to the others, Edward?"
"How...?" He sat up and snatched the napkin off the table. "I'm afraid the stress from the trial has gotten to you, my dear. Let's just finish lunch."
"I believe you're the one stressed out by all that rejection." Lily kept her eyes on Edward and reached into her jacket pocket. "You've been a person of interest ever since a maid found number three." She showed Edward a detective's shield and nodded toward the small counter. Edward looked up. A man wearing a gray suit and blue striped tie nonchalantly saluted. In her other hand, Lily held a recording device between her thumb and finger. "And unlike the first two, you left DNA samples. She must have really made you mad for you to get so careless."
"I know all the cops in this district," Edward said.
"I'm on loan from the 38th."
"What about the trial? Won't your little deception set the perp free?"
"I served as a court reporter for five years. The judge and both attorneys knew what was going on."
Edward grabbed Lily by the wrist with one hand and reached for the recorder with the other.
The detective rushed from the counter to the table and pulled Edward away.
“You bitch,” Edward said. “I'll get you for this.”
“I doubt it,” the partner said, “but she will see you in court.”
“Yea, see you in court,” Lily said, as the detective pushed Edward out of the restaurant.