Authors: Antoinette van Heugten
Tags: #Mystery, #Suspense, #Adult, #Thriller
The lights come up slowly. Danielle looks at Hempstead. Both have tears streaming down their faces. As Danielle turns, Sevillas and Doaks rise to meet her, while Max and Georgia enter the room. She puts her arms around them all. They walk her to her seat.
Hempstead clears her throat and recovers sufficiently to nod at the court reporter. Her fingers prepare to take down the record. “Mr. Langley?” says the judge.
He looks as if someone has thrown a grenade into his foxhole. “Yes, Your Honor?”
“Does the State have a motion it would like to make?”
She taps her pen impatiently. “On your feet. You have a motion to make.”
He scrambles to comply. “I—uh—the State hereby moves to dismiss all charges against Max and Danielle Parkman.”
Hempstead nods grimly. “Ms. Parkman, please rise.”
“Ms. Parkman, the Court hereby dismisses all pending charges against you and your son. You are both free to go.” She stands and clasps her hands before her. “Before you do so, however, I must offer you the abject apologies of this Court and the State of Iowa. You have been subjected to a most terrible ordeal—one I most fervently wish could have been spared you. Unfortunately, when confronted with the evil and tragedy we have seen today, apparently nothing is as
it seems.” She sends a small smile to Sevillas. “The contempt charges against Mr. Sevillas are, of course, also dismissed.”
“Thank you, Your Honor,” he says.
“Although I could still make that one stick,” she mutters. She gathers up her robes and sweeps from the bench. The bailiff puts his hands on his hips and bellows. “All rise!”
Doaks jerks his head toward the door. “Let’s get the fuck outta here.”
“Amen,” says Sevillas. Tony wraps his arm around Danielle’s shoulders to shield her from the onslaught of the press and well-wishers who swarm the aisle. She buries her face into his neck as exhaustion and emotion finally overcome her. She sobs as she realizes that Max will be all right. Although she never let herself believe it, a wave of relief so intense washes over her that she realizes how profoundly in the dark grip of that diagnosis she has been. Georgia hugs her hard—her eyes brimming with tears. Danielle releases her and holds Max so close, he grins up at her. “Hey, Mom, I’m not going anywhere.”
She smiles through her tears. “And I’m not letting you out of my sight.”
Tony holds her closer, his voice gruff. “Thank God it’s over.”
She looks up at him. “But Marianne got away with it.”
“For now,” he says. “They’ll find her.”
She shakes her head. “I don’t think so.”
Doaks tugs on her arm. “Hey, cookie, ain’t you had enough? I need a goddamned drink.”
She smiles. Shoulder to shoulder, the five of them march down the aisle. Danielle walks through the door. She doesn’t look back.
Danielle leans back in her deck chair and shades her eyes from the blazing afternoon sun. She waves at Max, who has returned from a long hike through the wooded hills near their new home—just north of Sante Fe. The wind has whipped a healthy glow into his cheeks. The sun glints in his hair. He stops and waves back, a big grin on his face.
She left the firm a year ago and put out a shingle in this small town. Her practice is now low-key—wills and estates. Tony spends every free moment he can with them, shuttling back and forth from Iowa. Max has recovered from Maitland, although it took months to undo the harm Fastow’s experimental chemicals wreaked on his system, much less the trauma he suffered as a result of the entire experience. After the hearing, Danielle learned from Reyes-Moreno that Fastow was finally found in an isolated fishing town in Mexico and that Maitland is pursuing criminal charges against him.
She watches Max—so strong and happy—and can’t believe her good fortune. Once the poisons were cleansed from his system, Maitland confirmed that he was not psychotic, not violent, not crazy. Reyes-Moreno correctly diagnosed him as bipolar—which explained his wild mood swings and anger—and gave her back her boy.
Danielle gives him another long look and checks her watch. It is almost time to leave for the airport to pick up Tony. He just accepted a partnership with a firm in Sante Fe. She looks
at the antique band on her left hand, the diamonds afire in the bright sunlight. Soon he will never have to leave her again.
She picks up her wineglass and makes the short journey to the mailbox. Inside is an envelope, forwarded from her old New York address. She opens it. A postcard falls out, the postmark smeared and illegible. Danielle holds it up. It is an African scene of bolting antelope and wildly colored birds flying across a veldt. She turns it over. A flowing, elaborate script fills every available writing space.
God moves in mysterious ways.
Adopted adorable twin girls.
Love and kisses,
I would like to thank all of my family and friends who have steadfastly supported and encouraged me. They have read my manuscript ad nauseam—and still love me. For my brilliant agent, Al Zuckerman, for taking a chance on a new writer and for his insistence on excellence; for Donna Hayes and Linda McFall, for loving the book and making this happen. For Glenn Cambor, who first told me to write and then kept my head on straight while I did. For Beverly Swerling, my reader, without whom this novel would still be in a box under my desk.
My heartfelt thanks to Jim and Jeanine Barr, who provided their judicial and criminal-law expertise; Wayman Allen, for his police and private investigator savvy; for Cynthia England and Dawn Weightman—for their steadfast devotion and love; for Lane, Tom and Kelly—who made me laugh every day.
For Jim Sentner, my other father, who has supported me in every wild endeavor with love and patience. A special thanks to my three sons—Brendan, Sam and Jack—who have inspired me and given me the privilege of being their mother.
And for Bill—my editor, my love, my life.
We hope you enjoyed
To further enhance your reading experience, please see the discussion questions below.
Copyright © 2010 by Antoinette van Heugten.
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher, MIRA Books, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
MIRA and the Star Colophon are trademarks used under license and registered in Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, United States Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.
For questions and comments about the quality of this book please contact us at [email protected]