Home > What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(11)

What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(11)
Author: Melinda Leigh

“I cannot change the fact that she is under arrest for the most serious of charges. Noah Carter’s murder was a heinous crime.”

“One that Haley is innocent of until proven guilty,” Morgan argued.

“The expedited DNA results came in,” the sheriff continued. “The DNA taken from the condom contained both the victim’s and Haley’s DNA, and the blood on Haley’s body and under her fingernails was Noah Carter’s. In addition, the preliminary autopsy cited his stab wounds and resulting exsanguination as the main cause of death. The case is solid.”

Disappointment twisted in Morgan’s belly. If the evidence kept piling up, soon it would be so far over Haley’s head, she wouldn’t be able to see daylight.

“But you can put her in the medical wing, where her vital signs can be monitored. An Addison’s disease crisis can be fatal.” Morgan paused. “I’m not exaggerating, Sheriff. She could die.”

Colgate’s sigh was long and brimming with the kind of bone-deep exhaustion that took decades to accumulate. “I’ll have her put in the medical wing tonight. But no promises on where she’ll end up after that.”

“Thank you, Sheriff.”

“You are welcome.” The sheriff ended the call.

Morgan lowered her phone to her lap, but the wave of relief was short-lived. “What is Haley going to do if the judge doesn’t grant bail? Jail is tough enough without a difficult medical condition to manage.”

“You can only handle one thing at a time,” Lance said. “Focus on the hearing tomorrow.”

“You’re right.” Morgan rubbed her non-swollen temple and willed the pain relievers to kick in. She needed a clear head. She needed to think. She gazed through the windshield, surprised that they’d left the parking lot already.

Morgan’s phone vibrated. “It’s my sister.” Morgan’s sister Stella was a detective with the Scarlet Falls PD.

She answered the call.

“How are you?” Stella asked. “I heard about what happened at the courthouse.”

“I’m OK.” Morgan closed her eyes.

“It’s all over the news,” Stella said. “Someone caught it on video on their cell phone and posted it everywhere. Esposito gave an interview outside the courthouse. He was puffed up like a male gorilla.”

“I’ll bet.” Discouraged and frustrated, Morgan rested her elbow on an armrest and dropped her head into her hand.

“You’re really OK?” Stella didn’t sound convinced. “It looked like he really tagged you.”

“Well, I’ve had better days, but other than the Rocky Balboa black eye, I’m fine.” Morgan opened her eyes and raised her head. They were almost at the office. “I have to meet with a client. Can you call Grandpa and let him know I’m OK? If you saw it on the news, then he probably did too.”

“Will do,” Stella said. “I have a call coming in. Gotta go. Call me if you need anything,” Stella said, and the line went dead.

Morgan lowered her phone and opened a local news media feed. She cringed as she read the headlines aloud to Lance. “‘Female attorney punched in face.’ ‘ADA Esposito saves female attorney from own client.’”

“Why does he get a mention and you only get referred to as female?” Lance’s tone was annoyed.

“Because damsels in distress are clickbait.”

“You are hardly a helpless female.”

“Drama sells.”

“McFarland sucker punched you,” Lance said. “No one would have seen that coming. I’ve seen you handle tougher situations, including saving my butt a time or two. You are a total badass.”

She couldn’t hold back the short snort of laughter. Her headache was making her punchy. There was nothing funny about the situation.

“Thank you.” She scrolled through the articles. “I needed to hear that.”

“Anytime. Unless you have a crystal ball, there will always be things you cannot predict.”

“I know.” She clicked through a link. A short article accompanied a video on the main page of the local news. “It seems the original video was taken on the cell phone of a reporter who was in the courthouse corridor when McFarland attacked me.”

“And chose to film it rather than help you,” Lance said in a harsh voice.

“To be fair, the only person close enough to help me in time was Esposito.” She turned up the volume and watched the ADA give his interview.

“I only did what any man would do,” Esposito said. “Being a defense attorney is a dangerous job. I don’t know why anyone is surprised this happened. Ms. Dane represents criminals.” His tone and expression implied When you lie down with dogs, what do you expect?

Someone called him a hero. Esposito denied it, but he preened like a rooster.

Morgan wanted to crawl under the vehicle seat.

“Turn that off,” Lance said. “He’s just being a jerk.”

“Everything he’s saying is true. He really did save me from my own client.”

Lance scowled. “The deputies were on McFarland in seconds.”

“His boot was one second away from my head.” Morgan gingerly touched her face. Pain swelled from the point of contact. If one punch had done this much damage, she couldn’t imagine what a full kick to the face from a man the size of McFarland would have done to her. “Is it shallow of me that I don’t want to be in debt to Esposito?”

“Not at all. He will likely lord it over you every chance he gets.” Lance reached over and turned the phone away. “There wasn’t anything you could have done to prevent what happened.”

“You’re right.” All Morgan could do was move forward and help Haley.

Lance parked at the curb in front of the office, and they went inside. Sharp and Eliza arrived right behind them. Sharp settled Eliza in his office.

Morgan went into her own office to hang up her coat and stow her tote. She brewed a cup of coffee in the small machine on her credenza. When she entered the kitchen, Sharp was busy at the blender.

“What are you thinking?” He reached for her cup. “Caffeine will only make you feel worse.”

She curled her fingers protectively around her cup and held it closer.

Sharp raised his eyebrows. “Do you want to get better faster?”

Yes, but enough to give up my coffee?

“Fine.” Morgan sulked and loosened her grip.

He turned to the blender. Its whir drowned out most of his short lecture on anti-inflammatory compounds and vitamins. He poured the pale-orange smoothie into four glasses and handed her one.

“What’s in it?” She sniffed it.

“It’s easiest just to drink it.” Lance walked into the kitchen. He’d changed from his suit into his usual attire: tactical cargos and a plain black T-shirt. “You know there’s no point trying to stop him once he goes into full mother mode.”

They gathered in Sharp’s office. Eliza paced. Sharp gestured for Morgan to sit behind his desk. She eased gratefully into the chair. Her head swam, her belly flip-flopped, and her efforts to concentrate just made her feel worse.

“Haley didn’t do this,” Eliza said. “She wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“And we’ll try to prove that. But tomorrow’s hearing will strictly be about bail, though the strength of the prosecutor’s case will impact the judge’s decision on bail.” Morgan sipped her shake. “I’ll need to mitigate the strength of the evidence and heinous nature of the murder.” She paused. “Tell me about Haley. Has she ever been in trouble with the law?”

“No.” Eliza shook her head. “She’s never even had a speeding ticket.”

“Where does she live?” Morgan asked.

“With me.” Eliza gave them a Grey’s Hollow address.

Morgan wrote the address on her file. “Carranza Road. Why does that sound familiar?”

“It’s off Route 47 in the foothills of the Adirondacks,” Eliza said. “Haley had her own apartment, but after I moved to Grey’s Hollow last summer, I convinced her to move in with me. I travel quite a bit, and Haley house-sits for me. There’s plenty of room, and she gets to save the money she would pay in rent.”

“That’s good.” With additional questions, Morgan filled in Haley’s background with basic personal information. “One thing we haven’t discussed is money. A solid defense will be expensive. We’ll need expert witnesses and many investigative hours. I know it sounds intrusive, but what is your financial situation?”

“I have money,” Eliza said. “I can pay.”

“My hours are on the house.” Sharp crossed his arms over his chest.

“No. I insist on paying your usual rate.” Eliza lifted her chin. “I haven’t contacted you once over the past twenty-five years.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Sharp frowned at the reminder, and regret filled his eyes. No matter how much time had passed, he clearly had feelings for this woman.

“It does to me.” Eliza opened her purse and pulled out a checkbook and pen. “I won’t take advantage of Ted’s death. Or our past. You’ll need a retainer.” She wrote a check.

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