Home > What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(12)

What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(12)
Author: Melinda Leigh

“Thank you.” Morgan accepted it and glanced at the amount. Ten thousand dollars.

“Is that enough to start?” Eliza asked.

“Yes.” Morgan wouldn’t have turned down the case if the check had been written for ten dollars. “But it won’t be nearly enough for bail.”

Eliza put her checkbook back in her purse, then hesitated. “I never liked wearing makeup. It always looked awful on my pale skin. Ten years ago, I started a line of all neutral-toned cosmetics called Wild.”

“The stores in the mall?” Morgan was impressed. Wild kiosks and boutique-style stores seemed to be popping up everywhere.

“Yes. I started out selling online, but we branched into retail locations about eight years ago. There are currently forty-six stores. So far, we’re only in the Northeast, but we’re branching out into Seattle this year.”

“I don’t care how much money you have. I won’t take any of it.” Sharp stood square, his arms still folded over his chest, his posture determined.

“We’ll see.” Eliza sighed. She looked as stubborn as Sharp.

Morgan rubbed her forehead. “The last time I defended someone accused of murder, bail was set at a million dollars. This crime is just as violent. A million will be the lowest amount we should expect. It could go higher. You would have to produce ten percent of the bond. Can you do that?”

“Yes,” Eliza said without hesitation.

“Good.” In that case, all Morgan had to do was talk the judge into granting bail for a woman accused of a heinous murder.

She asked Eliza a few more questions to round out her knowledge of Haley’s life. There was nothing in her background that would suggest she was dangerous or a flight risk. It was the murder itself—and the strength of the evidence—that would present the hardest hurdles to overcome.

Haley would be unavailable during the jail intake. The process would take the rest of the day. The next opportunity Morgan would have to speak with her would be just before the bail hearing, and that would only happen if Haley’s place on the court docket allowed ample time. If they did get the opportunity, they would only be allowed a few minutes of relative privacy.

“Is there anything else I can do?” Eliza asked.

Morgan gave her the contact information for a bail bond service. “They’ll tell you what paperwork you’ll need to expedite the process tomorrow morning. If bail is set, it will take all day to get Haley released.”

Eliza paled. “If?”

“Yes,” Morgan said. “Unfortunately, there’s a chance that the judge will insist she remain in custody.”

Eliza’s hands trembled. She’d lost her husband and raised her daughter alone. She was tough. Yet Morgan knew, one widowed single mother to another, that a conviction for Haley would break Eliza.

“Thank you for trying.” Eliza stood.

“I’ll see you out.” Sharp followed her from the room.

Morgan leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes for a few seconds. Every beat of her heart felt like the strike of a tiny hammer to her temple on the spot where McFarland’s fist had landed. She wanted to lay her head down and not lift it for a week.

“Are you OK?” Lance asked.

Opening her eyes, she shifted forward to rest her elbows on the desk. “Yes.”

“Liar.” He rounded the desk to gently knead her shoulders.

“That feels good.” Morgan sighed. She could feel the impact of McFarland’s punch through her entire neck. Rolling a shoulder, she used her phone to check her email.

“Anything from the prosecutor’s office?” Lance’s thumb pressed a tight knot at the base of her neck.

“No, but I have the arrest warrant and the initial police report from the sheriff’s office. We can get started. The police interviewed eleven witnesses. Some employees of the club, a few random witnesses, three of Noah’s friends, and the girl that Haley had gone out with that night.” She turned her head to give him better access. “Esposito doesn’t like to rush the discovery process. I don’t expect to receive much from him until after the arraignment.”

The ADA would comply with the legal requirement to provide Morgan with all evidence in the case, but he’d hold back as long as possible. The less she knew, the less prepared she’d be for the hearing tomorrow.

“He’s such a jackass,” Lance said.

Her phone vibrated with an incoming text from her sister.

Lance leaned over her shoulder and read the message out loud. “‘Check social media.’”

She opened a social media app where she never posted but maintained an account simply to see what clients and others did. As soon as she logged on, a GIF appeared in her feed. She’d been tagged. “Morgan Dane gets what she deserves.”

Someone had made a GIF from the video clip of McFarland’s attack. She watched in horror as McFarland punched over and over on a continuous loop.

She checked a few other web pages. The video was going viral on social media.

Lance glanced over, his face reddening with anger. “Son of a—”

“It’s OK. I should have expected it.” But Morgan had been preoccupied with her client’s troubles—and her own. “Everything ends up on social media these days.”

“But the message is a threat.”

“Not technically. I’ll contact the social media site and report it, but when something goes viral like this, there will be no stopping it.”

The clip would be posted everywhere.

Social media swayed public opinion, and part of Morgan’s job was to use her own reputation to defend her client. It was nearly impossible to find an unbiased jury pool. The internet spread real and false news across the globe far too quickly. Changes of venue had become moot, at least in regard to big cases.

Morgan’s colleagues considered her a tough lawyer. McFarland had damaged her reputation. She viewed the video again, stopping it just as McFarland raised his boot over her head. There she was, cowering on the floor. Her hands were in front of her head to block the blow, her face turned away.

She looked weak and helpless.

In her brain, she knew that wasn’t the case. She hadn’t had any time to react. But the video clip left her looking fragile and less than competent.

She ripped her eyes off the screen. “This isn’t going to help the case.”

“Did someone post this because they have a sick sense of humor?” Lance asked.

“Could be revenge on McFarland’s part.” Morgan watched the clip again. “Though he’s in jail and didn’t have access to a computer.”

“And he doesn’t have any friends that we could find. We tried for days to locate a single person who would testify in his behalf. Maybe someone wants to interfere with Haley’s case,” Lance suggested.

“But who would want to do that?” Morgan drummed her fingers on the desk. “Even if Noah’s family is convinced that Haley killed him, would they want to jeopardize the trial? Biased pretrial media coverage provides grounds for mistrial and appeal.”

“We won’t know until we investigate.” Lance shook his head. “Maybe my mom can trace the origin of that video or GIF.”

Lance’s mother was an online computer science teacher with her own business in website design, maintenance, and security. Unfortunately, she also suffered from agoraphobia and severe anxiety. She worked out of her home and sometimes helped with any computer forensics necessary in their investigations.

“Are you sure she’s ready for the extra work?” Morgan asked.

Last fall, his mother had been attacked, and the incident had exacerbated her mental illness.

“I hope so,” Lance said. “We managed without her over the winter because we didn’t have any big cases. But we’re stretched thin on Haley’s investigation. Background checks take time, and my mother is the best.”

Morgan sighed. “Maybe it’s a friend or relation of the victim.”

“Wonderful. There’s nothing like vengeance for motivation.”

Chapter Nine

Anger burned a slow path down to Lance’s gut as he watched the clip of McFarland hitting Morgan. Taking her phone, he turned off the display. “You don’t need to keep watching it.”

She sighed.

Lance studied her face. If he could have changed anything about that day, he would have stayed next to her in the courthouse hallway. McFarland wouldn’t have done what he’d done if Lance had been there. McFarland had surprised him too. “I didn’t see it coming either.”

But Lance should have been prepared for McFarland to lash out, especially if events weren’t going his way. McFarland had demonstrated his violent nature in the bar. He’d attacked his ex’s boyfriend in full view of dozens of witnesses too. He’d exhibited no remorse. No regret. No conscience.

And being a psychopath made him an excellent liar.

“I shouldn’t have left you alone with him,” Lance said.

Morgan shook her head. “I was hardly alone. I was in the middle of the courthouse. I should have been safe. You can’t possibly stand next to me 24/7. I have a job to do.”

But she hadn’t been safe. McFarland’s actions had been crazy and unpredictable.

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