Home > What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(15)

What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(15)
Author: Melinda Leigh

The little girl looked up at Lance. “Are you hurt?”

“Not at all,” he said.

With a happy grin, she launched herself into his arms. He caught her, and she wrapped all four limbs around him and smacked a kiss on his cheek. Leaning back, she squished his face between her hands. “Will you put us to bed?”

“You betcha.” Lance shifted her to his hip and turned to the other girls. “Who’s ready for a story?” He knelt down and opened his arms. Sophie scrambled around to his back. He gagged as her forearm wrapped around his windpipe. Mia and Ava abandoned Morgan. Lance scooped the two older girls into his arms and carried the three giggling children down the hall toward the room they shared.

After the girls and Lance disappeared, Morgan shed her coat and set her tote on a chair. She removed her phone from a side pocket and went into the family room, where her grandfather, Art Dane, sat in his recliner. The smile that tugged at her face ached, but she didn’t care. Watching Lance with her kids always made her happy. She’d been dealt terrible tragedies in her life. She’d learned to appreciate the good moments, and tonight she felt very lucky.

She’d found love a second time. Her line of work showed her how rare truly good men were. Yet she’d been blessed with two of them in her life.

She plugged her phone into a charging cord on the end table and leaned down to kiss her grandfather on the cheek.

Make that three good men.

She wouldn’t have gotten through John’s death without her grandfather.

Grandpa set down his iPad and swore under his breath. Before he’d broken his leg the previous autumn, he’d have been on his feet to greet her. Extensive physical therapy had enabled him to walk with a cane, but he was never going to recover 100 percent.

“I’d like to get my hands on that creep that hit you.” He used the electric control to lower the footrest of his chair and sit upright. “My much younger hands.”

“I’m OK.” She tried to sound chipper to reassure him.

“You have never been able to snow me.” There was no fooling the retired NYPD homicide detective. He saw through her game face, just as he’d seen through every lie she’d attempted to tell in high school.

He shook his head. “I don’t know how you can look so happy with that black eye.”

“The man who gave it to me will serve time.”

“Small favors.” Grandpa huffed.

Morgan’s cell phone buzzed. Straightening, she went to the table and glanced at the phone. She didn’t recognize the number. Disconnecting the charger, she answered warily. Good news didn’t generally come at nine o’clock at night. The call would be harassment—or worse.

“Morgan Dane,” she said.

“Hello, Ms. Dane. I apologize for the late hour. My name is Max Garcia. I’m the district attorney of Eastbridge County in New Jersey.”

“How can I help you?” Morgan eased onto the couch.

“I won’t waste your time. I have two openings for assistant district attorneys. Bryce Walters and I are good friends. We went to law school together. He mentioned your name. Your recent work has been very impressive, even if it has been on the wrong side of the law.” Max laughed.

“Bryce Walters, the Randolph County DA, recommended me?” Morgan asked, floored.

“He did. He thought you might miss working on the state’s side of the courtroom.” Max paused. “I know my call is a surprise, but I’d like to interview you for the job. Eastbridge is a midsize county. We’re actually a suburb of Philadelphia. You’d be challenged here. I understand you have a family. Our schools are top rated, and”—he paused for effect—“we’re only a twenty-minute drive from the beach.”

“I’m in the middle of a big case right now,” Morgan said. “I’m not sure when I would be able to get down there.”

Although, at the moment, nothing sounded more appealing than scrapping her whole practice and becoming a beach bum.

“I understand. I have a decent list of first-round applicants to interview. You have some time. With your level of experience, I could move you directly to round two. We’re only two hours south of New York City. If you took an early-morning train, you could do the interview at lunchtime and be home for dinner.”

“Your offer is very flattering.” Temptation whirled through Morgan. What would it feel like to be back behind the prosecutor’s desk? No more worries about billable hours or paying her office rent.

Or having clients punch her in the face. Her client would be the state.

But her life, her new practice, her family—and Lance—were all here, in Scarlet Falls. This was her home. “But my plate is more than full right now.”

“Come for an interview, then think about it.” Max had a persuasive voice. “You only need to spare one day. You have nothing to lose. I’ll even buy you lunch.”

“Thank you for the offer, but I’m not interested in relocating.”

Lance walked into the room. His amused expression shifted to concern as he scanned her face.

“I’m not taking no for an answer until you meet with me,” Max said. “Just think about it. I’ll call you again in a few weeks.”

Morgan tapped “End” and lowered the phone to her lap.

“Is something wrong?” Lance asked. Despite his curiosity, he clearly wanted to respect her privacy.

Grandpa had no such concerns. “Who was that?”

“A DA in New Jersey.” Morgan summed up the call.

“Maybe you should think about it,” Lance said. His mouth had tightened, and the amusement had faded from his face.

Morgan shook her head. “I don’t want to move to New Jersey. I’m just getting my life on track. I don’t want to move anywhere.”

“Bryce will never hire you after you turned on him,” Lance said in a serious voice. “If you want to be a prosecutor again, you’ll have to move.”

“I didn’t say I wanted to be a prosecutor again,” Morgan protested.

“You didn’t say you didn’t either.” Lance pulled his keys from his pocket.

Grandpa snorted. “Walters just wants you out of the way. You keep making him and Esposito look like chumps.”

“Not on my last case, I didn’t.” Morgan let out a breath. “Esposito looked like a hero.”

“He’s a grandstander.” Grandpa rolled his eyes. “In my day, a man did his duty without gloating about it to the press.”

“Still, it might be a good opportunity.” Lance’s gaze lingered on Morgan’s eye for a second, then he backed toward the door and opened it. “You shouldn’t blow it off without talking to him.”

Morgan stood and followed him outside to the front stoop. “I don’t want to move.”

Though she had to admit, the offer was attractive.

Lance nodded. “I love you, and I want you to be happy more than anything else. Just promise me you’ll think about the job before turning Garcia down.”

“It won’t change my decision.” Morgan rose onto her toes and kissed him on the mouth. So why did the offer still feel tempting?

He kissed her back, then his hands went to her arms, rubbing them. “It’s cold. You shouldn’t be out here without a coat. I’ll see you in the morning.” He nodded toward the house. “Get some rest. Big day tomorrow.”

“Goodnight.” Morgan kissed him again, then walked inside. She went to the kitchen and took an ice pack from the freezer. She wanted to prevent as much swelling as possible. The hearing would be difficult enough without her looking wounded.

She went to bed with her computer and notes and spent the next few hours researching case precedent, reviewing her arguments for Haley’s bail, and praying she could convince the judge. Come morning, Haley’s fate was entirely in the hands of Hard-Ass Judge Marlow.

Chapter Eleven

Morgan set her tote on the defense counsel table and removed her legal pad. Her private case notes were written in her personal shorthand on the second page, covered by the blank top sheet.

Not that she was paranoid or anything.

She didn’t bother to sit. The hearing would be over in minutes. The courtroom hummed with low voices as she waited for her client. Judge Marlow set a pair of black-rimmed reading glasses on his nose and lifted a sheet of paper. He was reading the charges, no doubt.

The rattle of metal signaled Haley’s arrival. A bailiff led her into the room. Her stunned gaze flitted around the courtroom, as if looking for a safe place to land. Haley seemed to decide the floor was her only option and dropped her head. She shuffled as she walked. The shackles around her ankles seemed to weigh her down, and her orange jail uniform hung loose on her tiny frame. She could have been a child dressed as an inmate for Halloween.

Her hair fell in a disheveled curtain around her face, and Morgan wanted to smooth it. The young woman looked wild. This was not the steady, stable impression Morgan had wanted to make on the judge. But then, the jail intake process was humiliating and dehumanizing. For Haley, it must have been even more traumatic.

The bailiff steered her to the table. Haley lifted her gaze to Morgan’s. The girl’s face was pale and freckled. She looked unbearably young and vulnerable.

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