Home > What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(3)

What I've Done (Morgan Dane #4)(3)
Author: Melinda Leigh

“Agreed.” Sharp gave Lance a rundown on what the reporter had to say.

“I’ll go find her. Talk to you later, Sharp.” Lance ended the call.

Restless, Sharp paced his office. He had reports to type, invoices to send, and bills to pay. The sound of a car door closing caught his attention. He looked out the window.

A Mercedes sedan was parked in the driveway. A woman got out and walked toward the building. Her head was down as she looked at her phone, but something about her seemed vaguely familiar. He went to the foyer and opened the front door.

She slid her phone into her purse and looked up. Under short, spiky red hair, her face was pale and her mouth tight. Their eyes met, and recognition nearly tripped him.

It couldn’t be.

But he knew it was. After all these years . . .

“Hello, Lincoln,” she said.

Chapter Three

“I hired you to make this go away.”

In the corridor outside the courtroom, Morgan Dane stared at her client. Roger McFarland was the owner of McFarland Landscaping. Square from the flat buzz of his red hair to his fireplug body, he wasn’t a particularly big man, but he was solid in a way that suggested he’d moved plenty of earth in his thirty-five years.

She lowered her voice as three lawyers rushed past them. “I’ve told you that these charges are not going away.”

McFarland dismissed her comment with a wave of his meaty, calloused hand. “I’ll pay whatever fines are necessary. Just keep me out of jail.”

With a bank account that was nearly as inflated as his ego, McFarland was accustomed to buying his way out of trouble. When he’d first come to her office and she’d agreed to take his case, he’d seemed remorseful, almost ashamed of his behavior. In hindsight, she strongly suspected that had been an act.

“You are charged with attempted murder,” Morgan said. “We’re still in the discovery process, but the evidence I’ve seen so far is strong.”

How could she convince him that money wasn’t enough? He’d crossed a line.

“That’s why I wrote you such a big check.” McFarland folded his arms and narrowed his eyes. One thing was certain—McFarland would not be going on the stand. He didn’t have the sparkling personality to sway a jury. He looked like he broke knees for the mob.

And enjoyed it.

A former prosecutor turned defense attorney, Morgan had worked a couple of high-profile cases over the last six months, but she was still adjusting to working the other side of the courtroom.

“And it’s my job to tell you the truth,” she said.

“You got that kid off back in September.” McFarland shrugged. “Do the same for me.”

The kid had been innocent, while McFarland had been arrested standing over the unconscious body of his ex’s new boyfriend, whom he’d assaulted in full view of dozens of witnesses. With McFarland’s case, Morgan would be arguing admissibility of evidence and shades of guilt. She’d be examining every procedural element with a microscope to chisel away at the prosecutor’s case. Most of her clients swore they were innocent. McFarland hadn’t bothered. At least he’d known enough to clamp his mouth firmly shut when the police had attempted to question him.

“Your case is different.” Morgan shifted the wool coat folded over her arm to check the time. Nine thirty. McFarland’s case should be called within the next hour. She expected to be approached by the assistant district attorney before they went in front of the judge.

“Just do your fucking job,” McFarland snapped.

Morgan ignored his nastiness. She didn’t have to like McFarland to defend him. It was her job to make the ADA prove each charge. But it was a case like this that made her nostalgic for her time in the prosecutor’s office and the perception of moral high ground she’d once stood on.

However, she now recognized that concept had been an illusion. Working the defense side of the courtroom had taught her that the system was more flawed than she’d realized, and reinforced the basic tenant of American law: every person was innocent until proven guilty.

Movement at the end of the hall caught her attention. Private investigator Lance Kruger weaved his way toward her, his short blond hair a head above the crowd. He wore the dark-blue suit he usually reserved for court, and he wore it very well.

Despite her determination to keep their relationship strictly professional when they were working, she couldn’t help but marvel at what she felt for him after just six months. She’d never thought she’d find love again after her husband’s death. But her heart warmed as Lance walked closer.

“Excuse me for a minute.” She stepped away from McFarland to join Lance on the other side of the wide corridor. At nearly six feet tall in her heels, she was just a couple of inches shorter than him.

She leaned close to his ear. “Any luck with the witnesses?”

Several people had stated that McFarland had threatened to kill the victim. Morgan was hoping a few of them would backtrack on their statements.

“Not yet.” Lance’s blue eyes were grim. “They’re all sure he said he was going to kill the SOB.”

At the moment, her only line of defense was a clerical error on the search warrant affidavit. Police had found evidence that McFarland had fashioned his weapon, a homemade blackjack, in his garage, along with a cash receipt for the raw materials indicating he’d planned the attack several days before carrying it out. Premeditation was the key to the attempted murder charge. Without the evidence uncovered during the search, the case was less cut-and-dried.

A tiny worm of doubt wiggled in Morgan’s belly. Before he’d been killed in the line of duty, her father had been a cop. Her grandfather was a retired cop. Her brother was NYPD SWAT. One of her sisters was a Scarlet Falls police detective. The other was a forensic psychiatrist, and before her life had imploded with her husband’s death, Morgan had been a prosecutor in Albany. Generations of Danes had devoted—even sacrificed—their lives to put criminals behind bars. Her feelings on being a defense attorney were definitely mixed.

She shook it off. She’d incinerated her bridges with the prosecutor’s office last fall by defending her neighbor. This was the only career open to her now. She’d represent McFarland to the best of her ability and put her trust in the legal system. The courts would decide his guilt or innocence.

“Sharp just called.” In a low voice, Lance told her about her client’s lie.

Before she could wrap her head around Lance’s announcement, Assistant District Attorney Anthony Esposito came around the corner and crooked a finger at her.

She strode ten yards down the corridor to confer with the ADA.

Esposito’s dark eyes were smiling and smug. “Your client is going to jail.”

“We’ll see about that,” Morgan bluffed.

He looked slick, from his gelled black hair to his shiny wingtips. Usually, she was struck with a twinge of sliminess when they were close, but this morning, the look he shot Morgan was filled with disappointment, and she felt as if their situations had been reversed.

Did he know her client had committed perjury?

“McFarland is as guilty as guilty gets,” Esposito said, opening negotiations. “He isn’t your usual underdog. He’s a dirtball. Why would you even take on a client like him?”

“Because it’s my job.” She and her three little girls lived with her grandfather, so they’d always have a roof over their heads. But she would like to have some savings. She couldn’t limit her practice to pro bono work. “And everyone is presumed innocent.”

“Your client put a man in the hospital with a skull fracture. I have more witnesses to the attack than I can fit in a courtroom. I have a weapon with your client’s fingerprints on it that matches the dent in the victim’s skull and proof that he planned the attack days in advance.” Esposito gave his head a slow shake. “I’ve been wanting to beat you in court for months, but honestly, this case is so black and white, I can’t even take much pleasure in the win.”

The glee in Esposito’s eyes disagreed. Morgan had bested him multiple times. Each loss had battered his ego. He licked his lips as if he could taste victory.

But he clearly didn’t know about McFarland’s prior conviction. Yet. But he soon would.

“He never intended to kill anyone,” Morgan said.

Esposito lifted a you-must-be-kidding eyebrow. “Your client saw his ex-wife and her new man on Monday. He stopped at a hardware store on the way home for materials to make a weapon. He made said weapon in his garage, waited two days, until Wednesday, when he knew his ex and the new man would be at her favorite bar for happy hour. Then he knocked him out cold from behind and stomped on his unconscious body until three bouncers pulled him off. As he was dragged away, your client stated that he wanted to kill the man. The attack was premeditated, cold-blooded, and violent.”

Morgan didn’t argue with the facts. Instead, she pointed out the error on the search warrant.

Esposito shrugged, but he couldn’t completely conceal a grimace of irritation. “It doesn’t matter. Judge Marlow won’t throw out the warrant, and even in the very unlikely event that he does, I have plenty of other ways to demonstrate premeditation without the evidence uncovered in the search.”

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