Home > What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(2)

What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(2)
Author: Melinda Leigh

“Ms. Dane isn’t in this morning. You should call and make an appointment.”

“I tried that.” Olivia slid her hand into a sleek black bag and withdrew a business card. “She hasn’t returned my message.”

Sharp read the card she handed him.

“You’re a reporter,” he said with disdain.

If she had told him that when she’d introduced herself, he wouldn’t have let her through the front door. Her small smile said she knew it.

Damn. He was too old to get fooled by a pretty face.

“Yes.” She nodded, completely ignoring the obvious contempt in his voice. “But at the moment, I’m working on a true crime book about the Chelsea Clark kidnapping.”

Several months before, Morgan had been hired by Chelsea Clark’s husband. In turn, Morgan had engaged Sharp Investigations to find the missing woman. The man who had kidnapped Chelsea had committed suicide in prison, so there was no upcoming trial that would prevent Morgan from discussing the case. But Sharp still doubted that Morgan would speak to a reporter. She respected the Clark family’s privacy, and frankly, the case had been horrific. Who would want to dredge it all up again?

A reporter looking to cash in on the suffering of others, that’s who.

Sharp reached for the door, anxious to get rid of her. “Look, Ms. Cruz—”

“Olivia,” she said.

Sharp ignored the correction. Reporters were best dealt with on a strictly professional level.

“I don’t interfere with Ms. Dane’s decisions,” he said. “I’ll give her your card and pass along the message.”

But she didn’t budge. “She’s currently representing Roger McFarland.”

Morgan had only taken the case a few days before, and it wasn’t very high profile. The fact that Cruz knew about it gave him pause. He remained silent, however. Once again, Morgan had hired Sharp Investigations to do the legwork. As her agent, he was bound by her client confidentiality.

“You don’t have to respond.” Ms. Cruz waved a hand. “I have some information on Mr. McFarland that Ms. Dane will want.”

Sharp gritted his teeth. “How did you come by this information?”

“I have my sources.”

Irritated, Sharp gave her his interrogation stare, a permanent byproduct of his long police career. But she was clearly not intimidated by his bad attitude.

Unfazed, she continued, her tone cool. “I am offering this information to Ms. Dane as a show of good faith.”

Suspicion rattled in Sharp’s gut. He had no love for reporters. They stuck their nose in cases where they weren’t wanted, publicized sensitive information, and generally mucked up investigations. As a defense attorney, Morgan had had her own share of difficulty with the media. It was no wonder she wasn’t taking any calls from members of the press.

“No strings attached.” Olivia caught and held his gaze.

He had a well-developed bullshit meter, and he didn’t sense any duplicity in her. But then she’d played him well enough to get in the door, hadn’t she? That didn’t happen very often.

And she was a reporter.

“McFarland lied during his arraignment.” Olivia grew serious.

Sharp kept his cop face firmly in place.

But shit.

Ms. Cruz’s head tilted, as if she were trying to see through his stony expression. “I know you frequently work with Ms. Dane. I also know you and your partner have been talking to Roger McFarland’s associates, so I am assuming you were therefore hired to work the case.”

“You seem to know a lot about us.”

Arrogance quirked the corner of her mouth. Then she grew serious again. “A client’s perjury creates a serious ethical dilemma for a defense attorney.”

Morgan took ethics very seriously.

Sharp sighed. “If you give me the information, I’ll relay it to her.”

Olivia pursed her lips, seemingly considering his offer. Then she nodded. “McFarland was convicted of felony battery six years ago in Florida.”

McFarland had neglected to list a Florida residence under previous addresses. Private investigators did not have access to the FBI’s national criminal databases and had to rely on regional sources. Sharp had run a search for criminal records on McFarland in New York State. He’d also checked for arrest records with the sheriff’s office and conviction records with Randolph County. Sharp would have eventually uncovered the residence gap and the felony conviction, but searches took time.

“He attacked his girlfriend in a jealous rage when she broke up with him,” Olivia said. “He beat her up pretty badly. Yet during his arraignment here in New York, he denied having any prior felony convictions.”

Because McFarland knew the prior conviction for a similar violent crime would diminish his chances of being granted bail. A battery charge in Florida was the equivalent of assault in New York. Bail would be revisited after this morning’s preliminary hearing. Prior convictions were one of the court’s main considerations when granting bail. Sharp knew that Morgan would not lie in court, but her job was to do everything in her power to defend McFarland. Telling the court about the previous felony would harm her client. Ethical dilemma indeed.

“Did he do time?” Sharp asked.

She shook her head. “He made a deal, got probation, and paid a fine. The girlfriend refused to testify.”

She’d probably been too scared.

Since both prosecutor and defense had only been working McFarland’s case for a few days, neither side had completed their investigation. Morgan didn’t even have all the discovery documents yet. Ninety percent of cases were plea-bargained. No one would bother with the substantial effort involved in preparing the case unless it appeared they would go to trial. The sheriff’s department or prosecutor’s office should have discovered the Florida conviction, but occasionally, details got lost in the county’s massive caseload.

“Do you have anything else to add?” Sharp asked.

“Only this.” Her mouth tightened with resolve. “I cannot in good conscience sit on this information. My source at the courthouse says McFarland’s preliminary hearing is on the docket for midmorning and will probably be heard between ten thirty and eleven.”

Sharp glanced at his watch. Nine o’clock.

She continued. “I will give you until ten o’clock, and then I will call the prosecutor’s office. ADA Esposito will know about McFarland’s perjury before today’s hearing.”

Which meant that Sharp couldn’t table Morgan’s ethical dilemma by simply not telling her about her client’s lie. She’d be ambushed in court.

“So considerate of you,” he said dryly.

A flash of anger lit her eyes. “Think what you want of me. McFarland lied to the judge knowing the truth would likely come out before his trial. Do you really think he intends to show up for it?”

Sharp brooded. She was right, not that he was going to admit it to her. McFarland’s case wouldn’t be tried for months. He had the money and motive to run.

“He’s committed two violent felonies.” She tied her belt around her waist with an irritated snap. “Repeat offenders don’t change. He’ll do it again. I don’t want any future victims on my conscience.” Her chin came up, and their gazes met. She searched his eyes, her face smoothing out again. “And neither do you.”

Damn. She was right about that too. Working for the defense had its drawbacks.

“I will pass the information along to Ms. Dane.” Sharp opened the door, signaling that their discussion was over. He didn’t have time to waste. Morgan needed to know the truth, after he had verified that it was accurate. “Thank you, Ms. Cruz.”

“Olivia,” she corrected. The corner of her mouth curved. She pivoted on a skinny heel, stepped over the threshold, and turned toward a white Prius parked at the curb.

“Goodbye, Ms. Cruz.” Sharp closed the door on her low laugh.

He hurried into his office. Two phone calls and ten minutes later, he had verified that Roger McFarland did indeed have a felony battery conviction in Florida.

Morgan’s new client was a perjuring scumbag with a capital S.

Maybe she would fire him. The last thing Sharp wanted to do was play an active part in keeping McFarland out of jail. The dude deserved to be behind bars. But Sharp understood why Morgan had taken him on as a client. He’d produced a fat retainer. Her fledgling practice had already represented several charity cases. She had three kids to send to college. She both deserved and needed to be paid for her work. Why did it seem like only guilty people had enough money to pay for a good lawyer?

But then, in his five years as a private investigator, Sharp had worked more than a few distasteful cases. But somehow it seemed worse for Morgan to defend scumbags. She was too classy to deal with slime like McFarland. But now Sharp needed to pack away his judgy attitude and let her know that her case was in the crapper.

He dialed Morgan’s number. After she didn’t answer, he called Lance.

“Where are you?” he asked as soon as Lance answered.

“Outside the courthouse making some calls.”

“Where is Morgan?”

“Inside, talking to McFarland before the case is called. I passed the ADA in the hallway. He was headed toward Morgan. If they wheel and deal, we might be able to get out of here early. The sooner she finishes with McFarland, the better.”

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