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Authors: Laura Browning

Erin's Way (31 page)

BOOK: Erin's Way
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“What client would that be?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize your town was so rife with crime that you could possibly be confused.”
Well, more confused.
“Mrs. Quinn.” I didn’t even know her first name, for goodness sake.

He rolled his eyes and flipped a page. “Have a seat over there.” He nodded to a semi-stained seating arrangement that I wouldn’t risk my clothes to sit on. “I’ll let the detective know you’re here.”

The magazine crinkled as he brought it closer to his face, investigating something on the inside. He’d missed a button when he dressed and more of his lunch dotted his shirt than could possibly have landed in his mouth.

He ignored the long, huffy breath that billowed between my lips. I counted down the ten more seconds I waited by drilling my fingers against the counter for each one that ticked off.
Enough.
I snatched the magazine from his fingers and shoved it behind my back as he reached for it.

“I can charge you with assaulting a police officer.”

“Not until I smack you with it.” I slammed the flimsy paperback down in front of me. “Listen,
Einstein
. If your detective is in there questioning her and she’s asked for counsel, anything she says is going to get thrown right out of court, and who do you think is gonna get the blame? Hot shot detective or desk jockey?” I gave my most endearing and practiced grin as I mimicked his twang. “So, if I were you, I would get my big, lazy, too-many-biscuits-dipped-in-gravy ass out of that chair and let your detective know I’m here.”

His white cowboy hat tilted as he shoved a phone receiver to his ear and punched a single digit into the phone. “I know that, Detective. Her attorney is here.” He looked up at me. “Name?”

“Grace Wade.”


Miss
Grace Wade.” He took a pointed look at my ring finger, and I slid my hand off the counter to my side.

The sassy
miss
he added
to my name was in an accent that drew out the syllables.

“I’ll let her know.” He took his time, polishing the receiver with his soiled shirt, then replaced it in its cradle. “She’s in the interview room.” After extricating all seven feet of his body from the chair, he made his way around a wall to stand beside me.

At five-foot-seven with another four inches of heel, I barely made it to his shoulder. “Right this way,
Miss
Wade.” I didn’t have to ask how he felt about single women.

His white T-shirt hung beneath the tail of his button down as I followed him down the hall. He stopped in front of an unmarked door and turned to me. “She’s right in here.”

I hid my mental eye roll with a wink and walked past him, noting his name for future avoidance. “Thank you for your hospitality, Deputy Wesley.”

He grunted a reply and shut the door behind me, keeping her husband, Nathan Quinn, locked outside.

A plain clothes detective leaned across the table on his fists in front of a woman so shriveled I disguised my muttered “Whoa” with a cough.

He straightened, then looked me up and down, his eyebrows creeping up his forehead as his eyes made their way lower. A slow smile spread across his lips and he extended a hand. “I’m Detective Paul Roan, Texas State Police.”

After the initial handshake, he continued to hold on. His slimy palm sweat slithered onto my skin. I yanked my arm back to my side and wiped my fingers down the outer seam of my skirt. “Grace Wade.”

“You must be new in town. I’d remember such a pretty face.”

You’ll remember it now.
“Detective, I know you weren’t in here questioning my client after she asked for her lawyer.”

He cocked his head to one side and crossed his arms over his chest. “No, ma’am. We were having a little chat is all.”

“Of course, you were.” I nodded to the woman. “Looks like she was enjoying it.”

“She never asked me to stop.”

His eyebrows issued a dare and I smiled in return. The quiet recesses of my mind came to life, and I started mentally counting the piles of money I would earn suing this police department.

“Well, Miss Wade, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go get my paperwork in order and call the prosecutor in charge of this case to let him know that we’re booking your client on first degree murder.” Honey didn’t drip with such sweetness as his tone. He smacked his big, black hat on his head and grinned as though he’d won a war with his words.

I flipped a glance at the clock ticking loudly on the wall. Four o’clock, Friday afternoon. “Impeccable timing. I would expect nothing less.”

He twisted the knob and tossed a wink over his shoulder. “See you soon,
Miss
Wade.”

As soon as the latch clicked into place, I looked at the woman in the chair. “I’m Grace. Your husband hired me to be your attorney.” She frowned. “Rory wasn’t there, so I came instead. Right now, I want you to tell me everything that happened with your daughter, and I need you to do it as quickly as you can.” She didn’t move, didn’t seem to breathe. I wanted to shake her, show her the urgency of her situation. Instead, I pulled a chair around the table and sat close enough to smell her coffee breath. “Listen, detective tall-hat is gonna be back in a minute to book you into the jail. They’re going to fingerprint you, change your clothes, and put you in a cell. Because it’s Friday, and this is Backwater U.S.A., you won’t see a judge until at least Monday.”

She didn’t look up from the table.

When she continued to ignore me, my guilt-o-meter got confused. In my experience, guilty clients either gave me
the stare
or shouted too many details of their innocence like chirping fools. Catatonia was new, though. I had no expertise to call on to deal with that kind of response.

“Mrs. Quinn, I know this is awful, but I need you to focus on what I’m saying.” I snapped my fingers in front of her. “What happened to your daughter?”

“My husband can tell you.” Her voice wavered on the words.

“No.” The sharpness of my tone caused her to look up while simultaneously becoming smaller. I softened my voice. “I need you to tell me.”

“We went out to a movie and for a couple drinks with some friends. When we came back from Dallas, I checked on the kids while he drove the sitter home. Emily was already asleep, all tucked in, so I went to bed. When Nathan got home, he came up, and we went to sleep. Emily was fine.” She broke into a sob.

“Okay. She was sleeping. Did you touch her or cover her or anything that told you she was okay at that moment?” I checked the clock as minutes sped past during her silence. She needed to move this along. “We don’t have much time.”

“No. I looked in and she was covered up. She liked to sleep with the blankets over her head. I could see her hair and I didn’t want to take the chance of waking her up.”

“What happened in the morning?”

“When I woke up on Sunday, I got our boy dressed and went in to take a bath.” She twisted the fingers of one hand in the fisted grasp of the other. “I liked having some time before Emily woke up. She was difficult in the mornings and I thought if I could just get myself ready without her wanting me to hold her and… And I heard Nathan screaming. I ran down the hall, and he was holding Emily. She was dead.” She shook her head and a wave of tears brimmed over her lashes. “So much blood.”

“Okay. What happened to her?”

“Someone killed my baby.” Her voice cracked, then shattered on a sob.

I ran a hand over hers, gave it a squeeze. I needed five more minutes of coherency. “Who could have stabbed your daughter?”

The withering continued. Mrs. Quinn slunk farther into her chair and fat, sloppy tears streamed down her cheeks. “I don’t know.” She mumbled the phrase three more times.

I covered her hand with mine. I didn’t usually coddle my clients, but she needed contact, a sympathetic touch. “Okay. We’re going to figure this out, but you have to listen to me. They’re going to put you in a cell. Whatever you do, don’t speak to them, at all. If anyone asks you anything, or tries to start a conversation, you ask for me. Do not say anything to them.” I couldn’t stress that enough. “To anyone. Especially if they put you in a cell with someone else.” She continued to sob. “Do you understand?” Her body shook as she ignored my question. “Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“What’s your first name?”

“Gabrielle. My husband calls me Gabby.”

“Okay, Gabby, listen. Because of what they’re charging you with, I probably can’t get you out on bail, but I will do everything I can to make your stay here as short as possible.”

A bubble of something I hoped was only gas formed in my stomach. In law school, it was drilled into us that asking the wrong questions limited our ability to defend our clients, but in this case, I had to know. Even if the answer meant I could never put her on the stand, a fire burned in me to get the answer. “Did you kill your daughter?”

She looked around the room, at the floor, the paint peeling from a far wall, the doorknob, a mirror that doubled as a window. Everywhere but at me.

“Gabby, did you kill your daughter?”

“No. Nathan didn’t do it either. He’s a wonderful father.”

Oh, for him she was willing to spearhead a defense
?
In the words of William Shakespeare,
the lady doth protest too much
. I made a mental note to launch a little investigation into wonder daddy. I had a tingling feeling her case would live or die by whatever I discovered about him. Her shoulders slumped forward as she lifted her gaze to slide over me and finally land on a spot in the center of the table. She wouldn’t meet my eyes, wouldn’t look up again. That bubble in the pit of my stomach expanded.

“Okay.” For the moment, I couldn’t care about her husband or whether the world believed he did it. He wasn’t the one holding down a chair in the interrogation room. I cared about this broken woman, thin and aged beyond her years. “Then let’s figure out how to make sure a jury knows you didn’t do it.”

 

 

 

Meet the Author

 

After a long career in journalism, Laura Browning changed gears and began teaching English. The change in pace allowed her to ramp up her love of writing fiction. After a push from her hubby, her hobby morphed into a book contract. When not teaching or writing, you can find her on her farm or in the woods with camera in hand. Visit her website at: www.laurabrowingbooks.com.

BOOK: Erin's Way
6.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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