"You look very beautiful today, Kamela."
Kamela Beaumont smiled at the woman seated across from her, studying the time-worn face, thick makeup that to all except the most perceptive eye disguised the green discoloration, subtle swelling. The son-of-a-bitch had beaten her again.
Kamela continued her assessment, the long sleeves of the Versace silk, even though the weather was blistering outside. The delicate scarf tied around her neck. Olivia Elkins was a beautiful woman, but the luster was gone from her eyes. The spark of life slowly fading.
Placing her napkin on the table, Kamela took the hands fluttering helplessly, and held them tight, her own hands trembling. Olivia had expected an answer, but perhaps not the one she was about to reveal.
"Women often look their most beautiful, Olivia, when they’re pregnant."
Kamela watched the color fade from the already pale face, the hazel eyes start, blink, and settle on her face questioning, seeking.
"Jordan and I are expecting a child."
Olivia pulled her hands away, shaking her head. “But that’s impossible. Jordan is in prison."
Kamela laughed, a soft tinkle, like delicate crystal. "Money buys many things, Olivia. It can buy private time. Even in prison."
Olivia continued to shake her head as realization slowly dawned on her. The hands stopped fluttering, but her mouth twitched, words forming slowly.
"Does he know?"
Olivia continued to nod slowly, her hands settling around the crystal water goblet, gently wiping away the condensation, like the tears on a child’s face. There had been so many tears. So much heartache.
Kamela waited until the hazel eyes met hers, clear, determined.
"What do you want me to do?"
Still she hesitated. There was just no other way. "We have to get him out, Olivia. I want my child to have a father."
"William will never allow it."
Kamela felt her anger rise, color flooding her face. "William would have no choice if you told the truth, Olivia."
Kamela immediately regretted her words as the hazel eyes misted, tears threatening to overflow.
"I tried to tell the truth."
"I know, you did, Olivia. We have to try again. Jordan only stole that gun to protect you. You know he would never hurt anyone." No one except his father, Kamela thought.
"Olivia, talk to Michael. Tell him the truth. Show him."
Olivia slowly shook her head. She had fought so hard to hide the truth from her beautiful boys. They were all that had sustained her. The only spark of joy in her world of hell. If only Jordan had not come home early that day. If only . . .
Rising slowly, Olivia wiped her hands on the napkin, folded it and placed it carefully on the table. Her lips trembled slightly as she smiled, but her hands were steady.
"I’ll talk to William."
"Olivia, no. You can’t. He’ll. . ." Kamela’s voice faltered as she watched in horrified silence as Olivia walked away from her, back straight, head held regally. ". . .kill you." She finished the sentence, her voice barely a whisper, as a cold chill enveloped her.
Michael Elkins took his gaze from the jury for just a moment to admire the beautiful young woman delivering a scathing closing argument. His former client was referred to as an unholy animal who had butchered and reveled in the death of a homeless immigrant. Her blue eyes flashed, as condemning words were delivered with precision. She didn’t flutter or wave her hands at exhibits. Instead she gripped them as weapons, walking slowly in front of each juror as she met their eyes, dropped her voice, making it soft, senuous. "This was someone’s son. Someone’s father. Someone’s best friend."
The jurors averted their eyes from the gory picture.
Michael drew in a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he grinned, remembering how those same hands had earlier that morning roamed his body, finding places that delighted them both. There was nothing stiff about Cassie, in or out of the courtroom. She lived for passion whether it was prosecuting a scumbag like Mark Trevello, or making love. He didn’t need to stay to hear the jury’s verdict. Trevello had lost the second she dropped her voice, whispered those soft words ". . .someone’s son. . .someone’s father. . . someone’s best friend."
Shrugging his shoulders he met the gaze of Scott Harman, the young attorney that had taken his place on the case when Cassie was assigned as prosecutor. Their relationship wasn’t exactly public knowledge, but there was no way he would risk her career or his own for a lowlife like Trevello. He’d known Trevello was guilty from the first time he talked to him. He hated the loss for Scott, but he would be hard pressed to conceal his pride in Cassie.
Rising he caught her eye as she returned to prosecutor’s table to wait for Judge Moyer to deliver the jury instructions, and then the wait for the verdict. He caught the subtle wink, slight lifting of the corner’s of her mouth as her tongue flicked out for less than a second, a promise of things to come.
Michael raised his hand, running his fingers through the thick blonde hair, a silent salute as he headed for the courtroom door to answer the cell phone that had been vibrating incessantly for more than five minutes.
He cleared security, heading for fresh air and a much needed cigarette before he returned the call. The Honorable William Jefferson Elkins had summoned--six times. He wasn’t going to be happy about Michael’s refusal to answer the phone, even if he had been in court. Lighting the cigarette he took a deep drag and scowled. His father hadn’t called him in over six months, and now he’d called six times in the space of a half hour. Hitting the redial button he threw the unfinished cigarette into the street.
"Maria, it’s Michael. My father has been trying to reach me."
The silence on the phone was deafening. Michael felt the first tremors of foreboding.
"Hold please." The words were whispered, an underlying note of compassion, pain.
"Where the hell have you been? I’ve been calling you for hours." Judge Elkins bellowed into the receiver.
"I’ve been in court, dad." Michael didn’t bother to correct him that it had only been a half hour. No one ever corrected Judge Elkins. At least no one that still had a bar license.
"There’s been an accident." Anger still riddled the old man’s voice. "Your mother’s dead."