us sat on the edge of her bed and smoothed her pantyhose up her legs. Next, she thought woodenly, clothes. She stepped into the closet to retrieve a simple navy dress and a pair of matching low-heeled pumps. She would wear her pearls, too-elegant and understated.
She was not allowed in the courtroom. Witnesses were sequestered until they gave their testimony. In all likelihood, she would not be called to the stand today, maybe not even tomorrow. She was dressing up on the off chance that she might see Chris, even in passing.
Gus heard the water running in the bathroom as James shaved. It was as if they were going to a dinner party, or a conference with one of the children's teachers. Except they weren't.
And so James emerged from the bathroom to find Gus sitting on the bed in her bra and pantyhose, her eyes closed and her body bent, taking small shallow breaths as if she'd been running forever.
Melanie and Michael walked out of the house together. Her feet sank into the soft earth, mucking up her heels. She opened the door of her car, and without saying a word, got inside.
Michael got into his own truck. He followed his wife all the way down Wood Hollow Road, staring at the rear end of her car. There were two high brake lights on each side of the wide back window, and a low strip of lights across the bumper of the car as well. Every time Melanie stepped on the brake, they all flashed, making it seem as if the car were smiling.
BARRIE DELANEY'S CAT KNOCKED OVER her cup of coffee the minute she was scheduled to leave for the courthouse. "Shit, shit, shit," she muttered, pushing the yowling cat away from the mess and soaking it up with a dish-towel. It was not enough, the coffee was still running in rivulets beneath the kitchen table. Barrie glanced quickly at the sink, deciding that she did not have time to clean up.
It was not until days later that she realized coffee would stain her white vinyl flooring, that for the next ten years she'd come into her kitchen and think about Christopher Harte.
JORDAN SET HIS BRIEFCASE DOWN on the kitchen counter. Then he spun around toward Thomas, one hand flattening his tie. "So?"
Thomas whistled. "Looking good," he said.
"Good enough to win?"
"Good enough to kick some ass," his son crowed.
Jordan grinned and slapped Thomas on the back. "Watch your mouth," he said half-heartedly, and lifted the box of Cocoa Krispies, his face falling. "Oh, Thomas. You didn't." His brows drew together as he peered into the dark, empty recesses of the cereal box.
Thomas, in the middle of a mouthful, let his jaw drop open. "Isn't there some left? I swear, Dad, I thought there was."
Every morning before a trial, Jordan had Cocoa Krispies. It was a sorry superstition, one with no more meat to it than a baseball pitcher who didn't shave for consecutive wins, or a cardsharp with a rabbit's foot sewn into the lining of his jacket. But it was his superstition, dammit, and it worked. Eat the Krispies, win the trial.
Thomas squirmed under his father's glare. "I could run out and get some more," he suggested.
Jordan snorted. "With what vehicle?"
"So you'll be back in time for... oh, maybe lunch." Jordan shook his head. "I just wish," he said, trying to keep his temper in check, "that sometimes you'd think before you acted."
Thomas stared into his bowl. "I could go next door and see if Mrs. Higgins has some."
Mrs. Higgins was seventy-five if she was a day. Jordan highly doubted that Cocoa Krispies was a pantry staple for her. "Forget it," he said irritably, reaching into the refrigerator for an English muffin. "It's too late."
It FELT WEIRD, being in a suit. An officer had brought Chris the clothes with his breakfast; the jacket and slacks he hadn't seen since his arraignment seven months before. He remembered when he and Em and his mother had gone shopping for the suit. The store had smelled of money and worsted wool. He'd stood on the inside of the dressing room booth, hopping around to get the pants on, while Em and his mom chattered about ties, their voices coming through the door like the pipe of finches.
"Harte," an officer said, standing at the door of the cell. "Time to go."
He walked through the pod in his suit, sweat beading at his temples,
aware of the conspicuous silence from the occupants of other cells. It hit
too close to home, was all. You could not watch someone march off to trial
without thinking what might happen to you.
When the heavy door was locked behind him again, the officer led him to a deputy sheriff, one of several stationed at the Grafton County Courthouse. "Big day," he said, cuffing Chris and then attaching the links to a waist chain. He waited for the officer to unlock the jail's main door and led Chris out of the prison, one hand firmly on his upper arm.
It was the first time in seven months that Chris had stood outside, fenced in only by the mountains and the lazy strip of the Connecticut River. The farm beside the jail reeked of manure. He took a deep breath and lifted his face, the sun soaking his cheeks and the bridge of his nose, his knees buckling under the tentative weight of freedom.
"Let's go," the deputy said impatiently, yanking him toward the courthouse.
The courtroom was conspicuously empty, most of the players in the drama having been pulled aside as future witnesses. James sat stiffly in the row of seats just behind the defense table. Jordan, who had arrived a few minutes earlier, was talking to a colleague, his foot braced up on a chair. He stopped speaking when a side door opened, and James followed his gaze to see Chris being brought inside.
A bailiff led Chris to the defense table. James felt his throat close at the sight of his son, and before he could remember himself he reached over the divider and tried to touch Chris's arm.
Chris was directly in front of James, but a foot out of reach.
They built it this way, James thought, on purpose.
"I don't think so," Jordan was yelling, pointing to the handcuffs, which were horrible but had been expected. In fact Jordan had been the one to mention it to the Hartes, so James didn't see why he was so surprised. He gesticulated wildly, striding with the prosecutor toward the judge's chambers.
Chris turned around in his chair. "Dad," he said.
James reached out his hand again. For the first time in his life he was completely oblivious to an entire room of people looking on. He straddled and swung his legs over the divider, sitting down in the chair Jordan had vacated. Then he embraced his son, his body enveloping Chris's, so that the reporters and onlookers who poured into the courtroom to ogle the defendant could not even see that he was fettered.
In chambers, Jordan exploded. "For God's sake, Your Honor," he said. "While we're at it, why don't I put him in dreadlocks and have him grow a beard and-hell, let's put a skinhead tattoo on his forehead so the jury really forms a bias before we've even started the trial!"
Barrie rolled her eyes. "Your Honor, it's perfectly within precedent to have an alleged murderer brought to trial in handcuffs."
Jordan rounded on her. "What do you think he's going to do here? Start hammering someone to death with a Bic pen?" He turned to the judge. "The only reason for the shackles, as we all know, is to make everyone think he's dangerous."
"He is dangerous," Barrie pointed out in an undertone. "He killed a person."
"Save it for the jury," Jordan muttered beneath his breath.
"Jesus God," Puckett said, spitting an almond shell into his hand. "Is this what I have to look forward to?" His lids drifted shut as he rubbed his temples. "It may be precedent, Ms. Delaney, but I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that Chris Harte isn't planning to go off on a murderous rampage. The defendant can remain uncuffed for the duration of the trial."
"Thank you, Your Honor," Jordan said.
Barrie turned, bumping shoulders with Jordan on her way out the door. "Must be a pretty feeble defense," she whispered, "if you're already begging favors from the bench."
Jordan smiled confidently at Chris, who was still rubbing his wrists. "This," he said, nodding down at Chris's newly freed state, "is a terrific sign."
Chris didn't really see why, since even an honest-to-God murderer would have to be a total idiot to attack someone in the middle of a court of law. He knew and Jordan knew-hell, everybody knew-that the only reason he'd been brought in, cuffed, was to strip him of his dignity.
"Don't look at the prosecutor," Jordan continued. "She's going to say some awful things-you're allowed to do that in an opening argument. Ignore her."
"Ignore her," Chris repeated dutifully, and then some skinny guy with an Adam's apple as big as an egg told everyone to rise. "The Honorable Leslie F. Puckett presiding," he announced, and a man in a flowing robe entered from a side door, his teeth cracking audibly against something.
"Be seated," the judge said, opening a file. He plucked a nut out of a squat, square jar in front of him, and sucked it through his lips, like krill being drawn through a whale's baleen. "The prosecution," he said, "may begin."
BARR1E DELANEY STOOD UP and faced the jury. "Ladies and gentlemen," she said. "My name is Barrie Delaney, and I'm here to represent the State of New Hampshire. I want to thank each one of you for taking on a very important job. The twelve of you are here to make sure that justice is done in this courtroom. And in this case, justice means that you will find that man"-she raised a finger and pointed-"Christopher Harte, guilty of murder.
"Yes, murder. It does sound shocking, and it's probably even more shocking to you that I'm pointing at a good-looking young man. I bet you're even thinking, 'He doesn't look like a murderer.' " She turned to examine Chris with the other members of the jury. "He looks like . . . well, a prep-school kid. He doesn't fit the Hollywood image of a murderer. But ladies and gentleman, this isn't Hollywood. This is real life, and in real life, Christopher Harte killed Emily Gold. Before this trial is over, you will know the defendant for what he really is, beneath that fancy jacket and that nice blue tie-a cold-blooded murderer."
She flicked a glance toward Jordan. "The defense is going to try to play on your emotions, and tell you that this was a botched double suicide. That's not what happened. Let me tell you what did." She turned around, her hands spread on the rail of the jury box, directing her attention at an elderly blue-haired woman in a flowered cotton dress. "On the night of November seventh, at six P.M., Christopher Harte went into the locked gun chest in the basement of his house and took out a Colt .45 revolver. He put it in his coat pocket and picked up his girlfriend, Emily. He took her to the carousel on Tidewater Road. The defendant also brought liquor. He and Emily drank, had sex, and then, while the defendant still had Emily in his arms, he took out the gun. After a brief struggle, Christopher Harte put the barrel of that revolver up to Emily's right temple and shot her."
She paused, letting that sink in. "Ladies and gentleman, you'll hear from Detective Anne-Marie Marrone. She will tell you that we have the gun, with the defendant's fingerprints all over it. You'll hear the county medical examiner say that the angle of the wound would make it virtually impossible for Emily to have pulled the trigger herself. You'll hear from a jeweler in town that Emily had bought a five-hundred-dollar watch to give to Chris for his birthday, which was the month after she died. And both a friend of Emily's and her own mother will tell you that Emily was not suicidal.
"You'll also hear Christopher Harte's motive: Why on earth he would have shot his girlfriend. You see, ladies and gentlemen, Emily was eleven weeks pregnant." At the quiet gasp of a juror, Barrie hid a smile. "This young man had big plans for his future, and didn't need a baby or a high-school sweetheart ruining them, so he decided to-quite literally-get rid of the problem."
She stepped back from the jury box. "The defendant is charged with murder in the first degree. A person is guilty of first-degree murder when he purposely causes the death of another, and when his actions toward that end are premeditated and deliberate. Did Christopher Harte kill Emily Gold on purpose? Absolutely. Were his actions that night premeditated and deliberate? Absolutely." She turned on her heel, her cold green eyes pinning Chris's. "In the Bible, ladies and gentlemen, the Devil comes in many disguises. Don't let his latest one fool you."
"Nice SPEECH. Ms. Delaney did a fine job, didn't she?" Jordan stood and sauntered toward the jury. "Unfortunately, she was right about only one thing: the fact that Emily Gold... is dead." He spread his hands. "That is a tragedy. And I'm here to make sure that you don't allow another tragedy to occur-that you don't let this young man get put away for a crime he did not commit.
"Imagine for a moment the terrible pain of losing a loved one. It's happened to you," Jordan said, looking at the same blue-haired lady Delaney had singled out. "And you," he said to a dairy farmer, with a face so creased it seemed again smooth. "We've all lost someone. And recently, Chris did too. Think of how you felt when it happened to you-the pain, the rawness of it-and then imagine the horror of being charged with that same person's murder.
"The State says that Christopher Harte committed murder, but that's not what happened. He almost committed suicide. He watched his girlfriend do it, then he fainted before he could do it himself.
"All of the evidence the State was talking about is consistent with a double suicide. I'm not going to bore you with contradictions. I'm just going to ask you, now, to listen very carefully to all the witnesses, and look very carefully at all the evidence ... because everything the State is using as proof of murder has been twisted.
"Ladies and gentlemen-in order to find Chris Harte guilty of murder, you have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the scene Ms. Delaney painted for you was the real one. But that's all the State has-a painted scene." He walked back to the defense table and placed his hand on his client's shoulder. "When this trial is finished, you'll have more than a reasonable doubt-and you'll know that this isn't about murder. Emily Gold wanted to kill herself, and Chris decided to join her. He loved Emily so much that life wasn't worth living without her." Jordan shook his head and turned toward Chris. "That's not a crime, ladies and gentlemen. That's a tragedy."
"THE PROSECUTION CALLS Detective Anne-Marie Marrone to the stand."
There was a slight buzz as the first witness was sworn in. She settled down with the ease of someone who's played a particular house before, her gaze level on the jury.
Anne-Marie Marrone was wearing a simple black suit; her hair was twisted up in a knot at the back of her head. With the exception of the holster peeking out from beneath her jacket, it was easy to forget she was a policewoman.
Barrie Delaney crossed in front of the witness stand. "Please state your name and address for the court." The detective complied, and Barrie nodded. "Could you tell us in what capacity you're employed?"
"I'm a detective-sergeant with the Bainbridge police."
"How long have you worked there?"
"Ten years." She smiled. "This June."
There was a brief exchange about her training, her work at the police academy, and her experience within the police force. Then Barrie stopped pacing, her hand on the railing of the witness stand. "Who was in charge of the investigation surrounding the death of Emily Gold?"
"I was," the detective said.
"Did you determine the cause of death?"
"Yes. A gunshot wound to the head."
"So there was a weapon involved in this case."
"A Colt .45."
"And were you able to retrieve the weapon?"
Anne-Marie nodded. "It was at the scene of the crime," she said. "Lying on a carousel. We took the gun and ran a variety of ballistics tests on it."
"Is this the gun you retrieved from the scene of the crime?" Barrie asked, holding up the Colt .45.
"That's it," Detective Marrone said.
"Your Honor," Barrie said, "I'd like to enter this as Exhibit A." She went through the customary procedure, showing the gun to Jordan, who dismis-sively waved it away. Then she turned back to the detective. "Did you determine where the gun came from?"
"Yes. It was traced back to its owner, James Harte."
James, behind the defense table, started at the sound of his name. "James Harte," the prosecutor said. "Is that any relation to the defendant?"
"Objection," Jordan called out. "Relevance?"
"I'll allow it," the judge said.
The detective looked from the judge to Barrie Delaney. "It's his father."
"Did you have a chance to interview James Harte?"
"Yes. He said that the gun was a collector's item, but still used for target practice. His also said his son was familiar with the gun, had access to it, and used it as well for target shooting."
"Can you tell us about the tests you ran on the weapon?"
Detective Marrone shifted in her chair. "Well, we determined that there was one bullet fired, which went into the victim's temple, exited the victim's head, and lodged in the wood of the carousel. We found the casing from that bullet still in the chamber of the gun, as well as a second bullet that had not been fired. Christopher Harte's fingerprints were on both of those bullets."
Barrie pointed. "By Christopher Harte, you mean the defendant."
"Yes," Detective Marrone said.
"Hmm." Barrie turned to the jury, as if she was deliberating over this tidbit for the first time. "So his fingerprints were on both bullets. Did you find anybody else's fingerprints on the bullets?"
"And what, in your expert opinion, does that suggest?"
"He was the only one who handled the bullets."
"I see," Barrie said. "Were there any other tests done on the weapon?"
"Yes, a standard ballistics test checked for fingerprints on the gun itself. We found both Christopher Harte's and Emily Gold's fingerprints on the gun. However, Mr. Harte's fingerprints were all over it. The victim's fingerprints were only on the barrel of the gun."
"Can you show us what you mean?" Barrie asked, picking up the Colt, with its new exhibit tag.
The detective easily palmed the gun. "Mr. Harte's fingerprints were here, here, and here," she said, pointing. "Emily Gold's fingerprints were only in this region." She scraped her fingernail along the blunt steel barrel.
"But to shoot this gun, Detective Marrone, you would have to have your hand where?" She waited for Anne-Marie to indicate the butt of the gun. "And Emily's fingerprints were not there."
"Yet Mr. Harte's were."
"Objection," Jordan said lazily. "Asked and answered."
"Sustained," Puckett said.
Barrie turned her back on Jordan. "Was any other testing done at the crime scene?"
"Yes. We did a Luminol test, a fluorescent spray that detects blood spatter patterns. Based on that, as well as the angle of the bullet that eventually lodged in the carousel, we deduced that Emily Gold was standing up when the bullet was fired, and that someone else was standing very close and slightly in front of her. We also know that she lay on her back and bleeding for several minutes before she was moved into the position in which officers first found her when arriving at the scene of the crime."
"Bleeding profusely with her head in the defendant's lap."
"And did the Luminol pick up anything else?"
"Yes. A large stain not tied to the spatter pattern of the bullet wound, where the defendant supposedly struck his head."
"Objection." Jordan gestured at Chris. "Would you like to see the scar?"
Puckett gave Jordan a measured glance. "Continue, Ms. Delaney," he said.
"From that stain, is it possible to determine how or why the defendant fell down?" Barrie asked.
"No," the detective said. "It only shows that he lay still there for about five minutes, bleeding."
"I see. Any other tests?"
"There was gunpowder residue found on both the victim's and the defendant's clothing. We also tested the corpse of the victim for gunpowder residue on the fingers."
"And what did you find?"
"There was no gunpowder residue on Emily Gold's fingers."
"In a suicide, with a victim holding the gun in her hand when she shot herself, would you normally find gunpowder residue on the hands?"
"Definitely. That's why I started to think Emily Gold did not kill herself."
Barrie was silent for a moment, assessing the faces of her jury. And they were hers now. Every single one of the twelve sat on the edge of his or her seat; several were taking careful notes on the provided pads of paper. "Was there anything else you found at the scene of the crime?"
"We found a bottle of Canadian Club. Liquor."
"Ah . . . underage drinking," Barrie said, smiling.
The detective grinned, too. "It wasn't my biggest concern at the time."
At this, Jordan objected. "Your Honor," he said, "if there was a question somewhere in there, I missed it."
Puckett rolled an almond about on his tongue, neatly tucking it into the pouch of his cheek. "Watch yourself, counselor," he warned Barrie.
"Was there anything that stood out in the autopsy report?"
Anne-Marie nodded. "The victim was eleven weeks pregnant."
The prosecutor walked the detective through the interviews she'd done with the friends of Emily Gold, her neighbors-with one glaring exception, her parents, her teachers. "Detective Marrone, did you also have a chance to speak to the defendant?" Barrie made sure to catch Anne-Marie's eye. The detective was good, a professional, but she'd been forewarned to not mention the conversation she'd had with Chris at the hospital. Ruled inadmissible, even its mention could be cause for a mistrial.
"Yes, I did. He came down to the police station on November eleventh. I read him his rights, and he waived them."
"Is this the police report transcribing the conversation on November eleventh?" The prosecutor held up a file, emblazoned with the logo of the Bainbridge police.
"It is," the detective said.
"How soon, Detective, after your meeting with Christopher Harte, did you write this report?"
"Immediately after he left."
"What was the gist of that conversation?"
"Mr. Harte basically told me he brought the gun to the scene of the crime, went to the scene of the crime, and watched Emily Gold shoot herself."
"Did that add up to the evidence you'd seen?"
Detective Marrone cocked her head, staring at Chris. He felt his cheeks redden, and forced himself to keep his gaze steady and direct. "If it was just one of those things, instead of all of them ... if it was only that the bullet traveled through the victim's head at a weird angle-"
"Or if there were bruises on her wrist, but everything else seemed consistent with suicide-"
"-or if even one person described her as troubled. But too much just didn't add up."
"Objection, Your Honor!"
The judge narrowed his eyes at Jordan. "Overruled," he said.
Barrie's heart was pounding. "So it wasn't a suicide, in your expert opinion, in spite of what the defendant told you. From what you had seen of the evidence-the fingerprints, the blood spatter patterns, the gunpowder residue, the liquor bottle, the interviews-did you form an alternative theory of what happened?"
"Yes," Detective Marrone said firmly. "Christopher Harte murdered her."
"How did you come up with that?"
Anne-Marie began to speak, weaving a picture that hung in the courtroom like a tapestry, rich in detail and impossible to ignore. "Emily was a happy kid that no one-not teachers, not parents, not friends-considered depressed in any way. She was pretty, popular, had a great relationship with her parents-a model daughter. She was eleven weeks pregnant with her boyfriend's child. And Chris was a senior in high school, about to go off to college, already applying-he was certainly at a point where he didn't need a baby in his life, or a girlfriend who was clinging to him."
Jordan considered objecting-this was all speculative-but realized that would only hurt him, and make the detective's testimony take on more importance than he wanted it to. He sighed loudly, hoping to convey to the jury how ludicrous he found Marrone's theory.
The detective lowered her voice, and the jury strained forward to listen. "So he arranged to go to the carousel for some kind of romantic rendezvous. He gave her something to drink, trying to get her intoxicated so that she wouldn't fight him when he pulled out the gun. They had sex, they got dressed, he pulled her into an embrace, and before she knew what was happening, there was a gun pressed to her head." Anne-Marie raised her own hand to her temple, then brought it down. "She fought him, but he was a lot bigger and stronger than she was, and he shot her. That," she said, sighing, "is how I see it."
Barrie headed back to her table, almost ready to relinquish her witness. "Thank you, Detective. Oh, one last question. Was there anything else important that came out of your interview with Christopher Harte at the police station?"
Anne-Marie nodded. "He had to sign a paper to agree to the interview, it's standard procedure. And he picked up the pen with his left hand. So I asked him about it, and he told me that he was indeed a lefty."
"And why was that significant, Detective?"
"Because we know from the path of the bullet and the pattern of the blood spatter that someone else was there, facing Emily. And if that person shot her in the right temple, he had to have done it with his left hand."
"Thank you," Barrie said. "Nothing further."
When Jordan stood UP for his first cross-examination, he smiled at Anne-Marie Marrone. "Detective," he said, "we all heard you tell Ms. Delaney that you've been with the police force for ten years. Ten years." He whistled. "That's a long time to be in the public service."
Anne-Marie nodded, too smart and too practiced at this to relax, as Jordan intended. "I like what I do, Mr. McAfee."
"Yeah?" Jordan said, grinning widely. "Me, too." In the jury box, someone snickered. "In ten years, Detective, how many homicides have you worked on?"
"Two," Jordan repeated. "Two homicides." He wrinkled his brow. "This is the second?"
"So you've only worked on one before this?"
"Well, then, why did they pick you to be in charge of this investigation?"
High color rose in Anne-Marie's cheeks. "It's a small department," she said, "and I'm the head detective. It falls to me."
"So. It's your second murder," he said, stressing the utter lack of this expert's expertise. "And you started off by looking at the gun. Is that right?"
"And you found two sets of fingerprints on it."
"And you found two bullets."
"But if someone was going to shoot you at very close range, he wouldn't need two bullets, would he?"
"That depends," the detective said.
"I realize this is somewhat new to you, Detective," Jordan said, "but yes or no will do."
He saw Anne-Marie set her jaw. "No," she gritted out.
"On the other hand," Jordan continued breezily, "wouldn't it make sense that if you and a friend were planning to commit a double suicide, you'd need two bullets?"
"And Chris's fingerprints were on those bullets?"
"Is it consistent with a double suicide that Chris's fingerprints be the only ones on the bullets if, by Chris's own admission, it was his father's gun and he brought that gun?"
"In fact, wouldn't it be unusual to see Emily's fingerprints on the bullets loaded into the chamber since she had no experience with guns at all?"
"I guess so."
"Wonderful. You also told Ms. Delaney you did some testing on that gun."
"You found Emily's fingerprints on the gun, along with Chris's, didn't you?"
"Isn't it true that you found additional fingerprints on the gun?"
"Yes. Some that matched up with James Harte, the defendant's father."
"Really. But he wasn't under suspicion during your investigation."
Anne-Marie sighed. "That's because his fingerprints were the only evidence that placed him at the scene of the crime."
"So you can't only rely on fingerprint evidence, can you? Just because someone's fingerprints are on a gun doesn't mean they happened to be touching it that particular night?"
"Ah. You found Emily's fingerprints on the top of the gun," Jordan said, walking over toward the display of evidence. "Any objection to me picking this up?" he asked, gesturing to the Colt. He lifted it in his hand gingerly. "And you found Chris's fingerprints around here, on the bottom."
"But you found no conclusive fingerprints on the actual trigger of the gun."
"No, we did not."
Jordan nodded thoughtfully. "Is it true that you need only a quarter inch of a fingerprint, a very small area indeed, to make a conclusive match?"
"Well, yes," Anne-Marie said, "but it has to be the right quarter inch. A particular spot."
"So fingerprints aren't as easy to pick up as it looks in the movies?"
"No, they're not."
"Can they get smudged by newer fingerprints?"
"In fact, Detective, testing for fingerprints is far from an exact science, wouldn't you say?"
"If I pick up this gun and fire, and then you pick it up and fire, is it possible that my fingerprints would not show up on that trigger?"
"Maybe not," Anne-Marie conceded.
"So is it possible that Emily pulled the trigger, and then when Chris picked up the gun he erased, if you will, her original fingerprints?"
"Let me recap: Even though Emily's fingerprints were not identified on the trigger during your testing, Detective Marrone, can you say without a doubt that she never touched that trigger?"
"No-but then again Chris could have touched it too, without it showing up." She smiled neatly at Jordan.
Jordan drew in his breath. "Let's talk about the Luminol," he said. "You said that the blood spatter pattern on the carousel indicated a spot where the defendant was bleeding."
"I assume so. He was bleeding from a scalp wound when officers arrived."
"Yet you say it's not proof that Chris fainted. So are you telling me," he said scornfully, "that Chris lay down on the carousel floor, smacked his head on the edge, and then lay there for several minutes to let a pool of blood form?"
Anne-Marie looked down her nose at him. "It's been done before."
"Really?" Jordan asked, with true surprise. "I assume that was during your one previous murder case?"
"Objection!" Barrie said.
"Sustained." Puckett glared at Jordan. "I don't have to warn you, Mr. McAfee."
Jordan walked to the exhibit table. "Is this the transcript of your interview with Chris Harte?"
"Can you read this line .. . right here?" He brought the papers to the detective and pointed.
Anne-Marie cleared her throat. " 'We were going to kill ourselves together.' "
"That's a direct quote of something that Chris Harte said to you."
"He told you outright that this was a double suicide."
"Yes, he did."
"And can you tell me what this says, on page three?"
The detective glanced at Barrie Delaney. "There was a pause in the tape."
"I had to shut the recorder off because the subject was crying."
"Chris was crying? How come?"
Anne-Marie sighed. "We were talking about Emily, and he got very upset."
"In your expert opinion, is that consistent with geniune grieving?"
"Objection," Barrie said. "My witness is not an expert on grief."
"I'll allow it," said the judge.
The detective shrugged. "I suppose so," she said.
"So let me get this straight. In the middle of this interview, an interview where Chris Harte waived his right to have me present and said, flat-out, that he and Emily were going to commit suicide together, he started crying so hard that you had to actually stop the tape?"
"Yes," Anne-Marie said pointedly. "But we didn't have a lie detector hooked up, either."
If Jordan heard her, he showed no sign of it. "You mentioned that in your theory, Chris was trying to get Emily drunk."
"Yes, I believe that."
"The idea being that she would be submissive," Jordan clarified.
"Did you, by any chance, have the coroner check Emily's blood/alcohol level?
"They do that automatically," the detective said.
"Did you find out what it was?"
"Yes," she said grudgingly. ".02."
"Which would be consistent with what, Detective?"
Anne-Marie coughed. "One drink. Maybe one shot for a small girl."
"She had one shot of alcohol out of that whole bottle."
"And the legal level for driving in this state is what, Detective?"
"What was Emily's, again?"
"I told you," Anne Marie said. ".02."
"Considerably less than the legal limit for driving while intoxicated. Would you say that she was drunk, then?"
"You mentioned evidence of gunpowder on both Emily's and Chris's clothes," Jordan said. "Isn't it true that if you find gunpowder on the shirt all it really proves is that the fabric was in close contact when the gun was fired?"
"Can you determine from gunpowder residue on clothing who actually shot the gun?"
"Not conclusively. But we didn't find any gunpowder residue on the victim's hands either. And the perpetrator of a suicide would have had some sort of trace of powder on her skin."
Jordan seized on that. "Is it consistent with a murder invesitgation to immediately bag the hands of the victim?"
"Ordinarily yes, but-"
"When was the gunpowder test performed on the corpse?"
Anne-Marie looked at her lap. "November ninth."
"You're saying you didn't test Emily's hands at the scene of the crime, and you didn't test her on the way to the hospital, and you didn't even test her in the morgue until two days after she'd died? Is it possible that during that block of time, someone had tampered with Emily's hands?"
"Yes or no?"
"It's possible," Anne-Marie said.
"Could someone have touched Emily's hands during the trip from the crime scene to the hospital?"
"Such as medics, or uniformed officers?"
"Either would be possible."
"In the emergency room of the hospital, might someone have touched her hands?"
"For example, maybe nurses or doctors?"
"I suppose so."
"In the emergency room might she have been swabbed down, since there were no instructions otherwise?"
"Yes," the detective said.
"So any number of people might have tampered with important evidence before you got around to collecting it from Emily's hands?" Jordan summarized.
"Yes," Marrone admitted.
"Wouldn't it also be consistent with a murder investigation to immediately test the hands of the perpetrator for gunpowder residue?"
"That's standard procedure."
"When you first saw Chris at the scene of the crime, did you test his hands for gunpowder residue?"
"Well, no. But he wasn't under direct suspicion then."
Jordan's eyes widened. "Really, Detective Marrone? He wasn't a suspect when the police got to the scene of the crime?"
"So when did it dawn on you that he was a suspect?"
"Objection!" Barrie called.
"Counselor, why don't you rephrase that question," Puckett said dryly.
"I'll move on. Did you test him at the hospital?" Jordan hammered.
"Did you test him the next day, when you went to gather more information?"
"Did you test Chris the day he came into the police station for that interview?"
Jordan snorted. "So he was never tested for gunpowder residue-not at first when he was not a suspect and not later, when you decided he was a murderer?"
"He was never tested."
"Isn't it possible that if you had managed to test Emily's hands before someone tampered with them, you might have found gunpowder residue on them?"
"And that would have indicated that she'd fired the gun."
"Yes, it would," Anne-Marie said.
"And if you had tested Chris for gunpowder residue right at the scene of the crime, you might not have found any on his hands, either?"
"And that would have indicated that he hadn't fired the gun?"
And then none of us would have to be here. Jordan did not have to say the words. He walked to the jury box, standing at the end as if he was one of its members. "Okay, Detective. Your theory is that Chris was at the scene of the crime. He put two bullets in the gun in case he missed the first time from an eighth of an inch away. He unsuccessfully tried to get Emily drunk, had sex with her, went for the gun. Emily saw him going for the gun, they wrestled, and then he shot her. You absolutely believe this is what happened?"
"Yes, I do."
"Not a single doubt in your mind?"
Jordan moved closer to the witness stand. "Couldn't the fact that there were two bullets in the gun that night have meant that there was going to be a double suicide?"
"It could," Anne-Marie sighed.
"And couldn't the Canadian Club have been there to take the edge off a suicide attempt?"
"And might there have been fingerprints on that gun that weren't in the right spot, or clear enough, to have been picked up by that test of yours?"
"And might another gunpowder test-one that for whatever reason, wasn't done-have shown that Chris Harte did not fire that gun?"
"So you're saying, Detective, that in your expert opinion, there might be another way to look at this."
Anne-Marie Marrone exhaled through her mouth. "Yes," she said.
Jordan turned his back. "Nothing further," he said.
The jury-not to mention the judge-was getting glassy-eyed; a common enough response to heavily detailed police testimony. Judge Puckett called for a ten-minute recess, during which the courtroom emptied.
Selena grabbed Jordan's arm on his way back from the men's room. "Nice work," she praised. "You've got Juror Five for sure, and I think Juror Seven."
"It's early yet."
"Still." She shrugged, rubbing his arm lightly. "On the other hand, your client is falling apart." She gestured toward Chris, visible through the courtroom's doors. Chris was still seated at the defense table, two bailiffs and a sheriff's deputy standing guard behind him with their arms crossed, a physical barrier to contact. "He's just spent an hour hearing what a sociopath he is, and there isn't even a friendly face in the courtroom."
Jordan peered at Chris, his body hunched slightly over the table. "His father's here," he told Selena.
"Yeah, but Ward Cleaver he's not."
Jordan nodded and ran a hand through his hair. "All right," he said. "I'll talk to him."
"You should. Unless you want him to pass out cold at the ME's testimony."
Jordan laughed. "Yeah. He'd probably crack his head open on Barrie Delaney's chair rollers, and she'd still find a way to make it look like Chris was faking." With a light squeeze of Selena's hand, Jordan made his way back into the courtroom. He nodded at the entourage surrounding his client. "Gentlemen," he said, slipping into his chair and waiting for them to disappear.
"It's going well," he said to Chris. "Really."
To his surprise, Chris laughed. "I hope so," he said. "Because it seems a little early to throw in the towel." Then the smile fell away from his face, revealing-as Selena had said-the tightly drawn mouth and pale countenance of a very frightened teenager.
"You know," Jordan said, "I realize it's hard to hear yourself described as a monster. The prosecutor is allowed to say whatever she wants ... but so are we. We just haven't had our turn yet, and we've got the better story."
"That's not it." Chris ran his finger over the blue lines of a legal pad. "It's that... the prosecutor's making it real. It's been seven months, you know? But there's all this technical stuff and the blood and where Emily was and where I was and-" He paused, burying his head in his hands. "She's making me live it all over again, and I could barely survive it that Jordan-who could confidently slay any prosecution's witness with his words, who had a thousand answers for any of Barrie Delaney's questions- stared at his client, speechless.
The medical examiner for Grafton County-Dr. Jubal Lumbano- was a thin, bespectacled man who looked far more suited to chasing butterflies with a large collector's net than rooting around elbow-deep in the innards of a corpse. It took Barrie Delaney a full ten minutes to get Lum-bano's credentials down on the record, and to make certain the jury knew that here, at least, was a witness with experience-the unprepossessing Dr. Lumbano had completed over five hundred autopsies during his career.
"Dr. Lumbano," Barrie began, "did you do the autopsy on Emily Gold?"
"Yes," the medical examiner said, his nose bumping against the microphone with a screech. Leaning back, he smiled apologetically. "Yes, I did."
"Can you tell us what was the cause of death?"
"All findings were commensurate with the cause of death being a forty-five caliber bullet fired against the skull into the brain; more precisely, entering the right temporal lobe-missing the frontal lobe-and exiting from the right rear occipital lobe."
Barrie admitted a chart into evidence showing the outline of a three-dimensional head surrounding a brain. Then she turned to the jury with a helpless smile. "Dr. Lumbano, for those of us not as-intimate-with occipital and temporal lobes, could you use this chart to show us where that bullet went?"
She handed the medical examiner a Magic Marker-blood red-and the doctor carefully set it against the drawing. "The bullet went in here," he said, making an X at the right temple. "Then it traveled this approximate path, and exited above the neck, here." Another X, behind the right ear. The line between them ran almost parallel to the side of the diagrammed head.
"Can you tell us how long it took for Emily Gold to die?" Barrie asked.
"It wasn't immediate," Dr. Lumbano said. "She was still alive when the medics got to her. She may even have been conscious for some of that time."
"Conscious . .. and able to feel pain?"
Barrie looked appropriately horrified. "So ... Emily lingered, possibly in pain, for how long?"
"I would say a half hour or so."
"Doctor Lumbano, did you find any other marks on Emily Gold's body?"
"Did they indicate violence?"
"Your Honor, she's leading," Jordan cut in. "It remains to be proved that any violence occurred."
"Sustained." Puckett nodded at the prosecutor. "Ms. Delaney, don't lead your witness."
"Were there any distinguishing marks on Emily Gold's body, Doctor?"
"Yes. There were bruises on her right wrist."
"What did that lead you to believe?"
"That some violence may have occurred."
"Might they have been caused by someone pulling at her wrist?" Out of the corner of her eye, Barrie saw Jordan open his mouth. "Let me rephrase that," she said, before he could object. "What would you, as a medical expert, attribute as the cause of those bruises?"
"It's possible that they were caused by someone who'd grabbed her wrist."
"How soon before death would you say those bruises were formed?"
"Within an hour premortem," Dr. Lumbano said. "The blood had just begun to rise to the surface of the skin."
"Was there anything else you discovered during the autopsy?"
"There was evidence of semen, which, with the condition of vaginal tissues, suggested recent sexual activity-approximately a half hour before death. And there was also skin under the victim's fingernails, cell samples of which did not match up with the victim's own skin."
"Which indicates what?"
"She scratched someone."
"Did you determine whose skin was under her fingernails?"
"Yes, the tissue samples matched those taken from Chris Harte and brought in by the detectives."
Barrie nodded. "Could you tell whether Emily was left- or right-handed?"
"Yes. All of the calluses were on her right hand, heavy calluses on the left side of the middle finger and the right side of the second finger. In my medical opinion, I would say the victim was right-handed."
"And the gunshot wound was through the right temple."
"Yes, it was."
Barrie nodded thoughtfully. "Have you seen a lot of suicides, Doctor?"
"Oh, a fair number. Sixty to seventy."
"Were any of those caused by a gunshot wound to the head?"
"Thirty-eight," Doctor Lumbano said. "It's a popular method, I'm afraid."
"Of those thirty-eight suicides, how many used a pistol or revolver?"
"Twenty-four," Dr. Lumbano said.
"And how did those twenty-four suicides shoot themselves?"
"I'd say ninety percent shoot themselves in the mouth, because that's what works. The other ten percent shoot themselves through the temple. Although I did see one strange case where a man shot a bullet up his nose."
"In the ten percent of people who point the gun at the temple, where is the exit wound?"
"On the opposite temporal lobe." He pointed at both of his temples.
"And where did Emily Gold's bullet exit?"
"From the same side occipital lobe." Moving his left hand behind his head, he pointed to a spot behind his right ear.
"Did you find that unusual?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact," the medical examiner said, his cheeks pinken-ing with excitement. "I've never seen anything like it. It would be very difficult to hold a gun to your right temple and have the bullet exit the right rear of the head. It requires the angle of the gun to be something like this." Dr. Lumbano lifted his right hand, pointed his finger like the barrel of a gun, and held it up against his right temple almost parallel to his head, twisting his wrist in a forced, unnatural position. "In my opinion, that's not-"
"-a typical position-"
"Sustained," Puckett said.
"Took your sweet time," Jordan muttered beneath his breath.
"What was that, counselor?" The judge slid a nut into his mouth. "Did you say something? No?" He turned to the jury. "Please ignore Dr. Lum-bano's last statement."
Barrie approached her witness. "In your medical opinion, Dr. Lumbano, what did that lead you to believe?"
"Speculative!" Jordan yelled again. "Come on!"
"Your Honor, request permission to approach the bench." Barrie said, nodding at Jordan, who joined her in front of the judge's high desk.
"Ms. Delaney," Puckett said, "the only way you could lead this witness any more would involve putting a collar around his neck."
Barrie bit her lip. "If my witness can't speculate on this, I'd like to be able to show the jury what I'm trying to get at... but I'll need the assistance of the defendant."
Jordan looked from Barrie to the judge. He had no idea what the hell she was going to do, and he wasn't about to give her free rein with his client. "I want to know what she's up to," he said.
Puckett turned toward the prosecutor. "Delaney?"
She spread her hands. "A little demonstration, Your Honor. I want to show the jury how Chris could have done this."
"Absolutely not," Jordan hissed. "That's completely prejudicial."
"Look, Your Honor," Barrie said. "I'm going to make my point. I'll use the doctor or a bailiff, if necessary. I just need a body-why not use the one allegedly involved?"
Puckett cracked an almond. "Proceed with caution, counselor, or we'll be right back up at the bench."
"What!" Jordan exploded.
"I've ruled," Puckett said firmly. And to Barrie, "Go ahead."
Jordan walked back to the defense table, thinking that at least now he had an appealable issue. Sliding into his seat, he touched Chris's shoulder. "I'm not sure what's up her sleeve," he whispered. "Just look at me and I'll nod, or object if she's out of line."
At this point, Barrie was walking toward Chris. "Okay, Dr. Lumbano. I'm going to have the defendant help me out here." She smiled at Chris. "Would you please stand up, Mr. Harte?"
Chris glanced at Jordan, who nodded imperceptibly. He stood.
"Thank you. Could you come over here?" She gestured to a spot directly in between the jury box and the witness stand. "Now, Mr. Harte, if you'd extend your arms out in front of you." She gestured, like a Frankenstein monster, until Chris hesitantly raised his arms.
And Barrie Delaney walked right into them.
Chris started as she embraced him, her hands coming around to the tails of his jacket and her body flush against his. He stood stiff as a board as her head tucked onto his right shoulder, falling onto the same spot Emily's had when he used to hug her. What, he thought, is going on?
"Mr. Harte," Barrie said, her voice slightly muffled against the weave of his blazer. "Could you put your arms around me?" Chris looked at his lawyer, who nodded tightly. "Now, could you take your left hand and put it up to my right temple?"
With his eyes trained on Jordan, who for all his recent objecting was now sitting as still as a damn stone, Chris complied.
They were facing in such a way that the jury had a clear view of Chris leaning back maybe eight inches, just enough to put his left hand up to the right side of the prosecutor's head, while his right arm still embraced her. "Now Dr. Lumbano," Barrie said, "if there was a gun in Mr. Hart's hand right now, how likely would it be that the trajectory of a bullet fired at my temple at this point might exit at the right rear occipital lobe?"
The medical examiner nodded. "I'd say there's an excellent chance that would happen."
"Thank you," Barrie said, her arms falling away from Chris, her brisk footsteps leaving him standing alone in the middle of the courtroom.
"JESUS," CHRIS HISSED, his face red as a beet as he slipped into the seat beside Jordan. "Why didn't you do something?"
"I couldn't," Jordan said through his teeth. "If I jumped up, the jury would think you had something to hide."
"Oh, well, great. As opposed to what they think now-that I'm a fucking murderer?"
"Don't worry. I'm going to take care of it on the cross." He stood, assuming that after that debacle there was little else Delaney could want with her witness, but was stopped by her voice.
"One more question," Barrie said. "Was there anything else about Emily's physical condition that you noticed during the autopsy?"
"Yes," Dr. Lumbano said. "On the night Emily Gold died, she was eleven weeks pregnant."
Jordan closed his eyes, and sat back down.
"We all appreciate you being here today, Dr. Lumbano," Jordan said a few minutes later. "And we all know you've worked on thirty-eight suicides. We heard you say that there was evidence of semen, evidence of bruising, and skin beneath Emily's fingernails. Now let's put that into perspective. The semen, that shows there was intercourse, right?"
"Do you know whether or not Emily bruised easily?"
"No," Dr. Lumbano said. "Aside from the fact that she was rather fair, which suggests she might bruise easily."
"Could these bruises have occurred during . . ." He coughed delicately and smiled at the jury. "A particularly ardent point in intercourse?"
"They could have," the medical examiner said, straight-faced.
"And the skin beneath the fingernails, Doctor. Is it possible that you can get someone's skin cells beneath your fingernails by gently scratching his back?"
"How about by raking his shoulder in a frenzy of passion? Could that produce skin beneath your fingernails?"
"And what if you caressed someone's cheek and jaw?"
"So you're telling me that there are a number of different ways that Emily could have Chris's skin under her fingernails, and that many of those different ways could be consistent with nonviolent, passionate lovemaking. Is that right?"
"You can't tell me with any certainty that there was any violence that night between Emily and Chris, can you?"
"No, not precisely. But there was a bullet wound in the victim's head."
"Ah, yes," Jordan said. "We all saw what Ms. Delaney did with Chris. But a lot of things could have happened that night, right? Let's work through a couple other scenarios to see how else that wound might have been inflicted." He turned suddenly toward his client. "Chris? If you don't mind ... again?"
Bewildered, Chris stood up and walked toward Jordan, to almost exactly the same spot where the prosecutor had brought him before. Then Jordan walked over to the exhibit table and picked up the gun. "All right if I use this?" Without waiting to see if Barrie had agreed, he casually carried the pistol back toward Chris. "Now." With a grin at the jury, he took Chris's hands and settled them on his waist. "You're going to have to use your imaginations here, because I don't make quite as convincing a female as Ms. Delaney." He nodded to Chris, whose neck turned crimson as he loosely embraced Jordan.
There was a murmur in the gallery as Jordan pressed the gun up against his own head. He smiled, knowing he'd just presented the jury with an even more shocking mental image than the one of Chris with Barrie Delaney.
"What if, Doctor, Emily was holding the gun like this, like someone would normally hold a gun, but since she had no experience with guns she sort of twisted the barrel toward her?" Leaning back slightly in Chris's arms, Jordan directed the gun at his temple in the same uncomfortable angle the medical examiner had posited earlier. "If the gun was up against her head like this, would the bullet trajectory have been consistent with what you found in the autopsy?"
"Yes, I believe so."
"Doctor, what if she was holding the gun like this, to the side of her temple like all those other ten percent of pistol suicides you've seen, but then her hand was shaking so badly that it jumped as she pulled the trigger? Is it possible the trajectory might change?"
"It is possible."
"And what if Emily was so uncomfortable with the very idea of holding a gun that she picked it up like this?" He wrapped both hands around the barrel of the gun and held it up to his head, almost parallel against his temple, thumbs dangling at the trigger. "If she'd held the gun like this and used her thumb to pull the trigger, could the bullet match that odd trajectory?"
"So you are saying, Doctor, that there are a variety of possibilities that might have accounted for the strange path of that bullet."
"I suppose so."
"And Doctor Lumbano," Jordan finished, turning in his client's embrace, "in any of these alternative scenarios, have you seen Christopher Harte's hands on the trigger of that gun?"
Jordan broke away from Chris and set the gun back on the exhibit table, his fingers resting on the metal for a moment. "Thank you," he said.
THE BLEACHED BLONDE ON THE WITNESS STAND looked longingly at the jar of almonds in front of the judge, and raised her hand. Startled, Barrie looked up from her notes. "Um .. . yes?"
"I was wondering, if he can have those, maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I could just have a little piece of gum? I mean, I know what you said and all, but since a cigarette's out of the question, and I'm a little freaked about this whole thing. ..." She blinked owlishly at the prosecutor. "So?"
To everyone's surprise, Judge Puckett laughed. "Just maybe, Ms.DiBonnalo," he said, "I'll take you up on that cigarette." He signaled a bailiff to carry the jar of nuts toward the witness. "I'm afraid that chewing gum might make your testimony hard to understand. But I'm willing to share."
The woman relaxed a little, until she realized there was nothing to crack the nuts with. But by that time, Barrie was ready to question her witness. "Could you state your name, address, and occupation for the record?"
"Donna DiBonnalo," she said loudly into the microphone. "Four-fifty-six Rosewood Way, Bainbridge. And I work at the Gold Rush."
"What sort of establishment is the Gold Rush?"
"A jewelry store," Donna said.
"Did you ever come in contact with Emily Gold?"
"Yes, she came into the store to buy a birthday present for her boyfriend. A watch, she wanted to have it engraved."
"I see. What did she want engraved on it?"
"The name Chris," Donna said, her eyes sliding toward the defense table.
"And how much did it cost?"
"Five hundred dollars."
"Wow," Barrie said. "Five hundred dollars? That's a lot of money for a seventeen-year-old."
"It's a lot of money for anyone. But she said she she was really excited about it."
"Hearsay," Jordan objected.
"Did she tell you why she was making the purchase?" Barrie asked.
Donna nodded. "She said that the watch was for her boyfriend's eighteenth birthday."
"Did she leave any specific instructions?"
"Yes. They were written on the receipt. If we had to call to tell her anything about the watch-like when it came in-we were only supposed to ask for Emily and say nothing about the jewelry store or the watch."
"Did she tell you why she wanted to keep it a secret?"
"She said it was going to be a surprise."
"Again," Jordan called. "Hearsay."
The judge nodded. "Approach the bench."
Jordan and Barrie stood shoulder to shoulder, jockeying for position. "Either you find another way to get that in," Puckett told the prosecutor, "or it's stricken from the record."
Barrie nodded and turned back to her witness as Jordan sat down again. "Let me rephrase that," she said. "What exactly did those instructions say?"
Donna furrowed her brow, thinking. " 'Call to the house-ask for Emily. This is private. Don't say what it's about.' "
"Did Emily tell you when her boyfriend's birthday was?"
"Yeah, because we had to get it done in time. It came special-ordered from London. We had to have it finished by November."
"Any specific date?"
"Well, the watch was supposed to be engraved with the birthday, too. November twenty-fourth. She wanted me to have it in the store by November seventeenth, to give us a week just in case anything went wrong, because she planned to give it to him on the twenty-fourth."
Barrie leaned against the jury box. "Were you expecting Emily to pick up that watch on November seventeenth?"
"Did you find out why not?"
Donna DiBonnalo nodded gravely. "She died the week before."
JORDAN SAT AT THE DEFENSE TABLE for a minute, after the witness had been turned over to his cross-examination. There wasn't a hell of a lot he was going to get out of her. He stood up slowly, knees creak. "Ms. DiBonnalo," he said pleasantly. "When did Emily Gold place her order?"
"On August twenty-fifth."
"And was that the first time you saw her?"
"No. She'd come in to look around about a week before."
"Did she pay you when she placed the order?"
"Yes, in full."
"How did she seem to you when you met her in August-happy? Cheerful?"
"Sure. She was psyched about finding the watch as a birthday present."
"When did the watch come in, Ms. DiBonnalo?"
"On November seventeenth." She smiled. "Nothing went wrong."
Depends on your point of view, Jordan thought, but he smiled back evenly. "And when did you call the Gold household?"
"On November seventeenth, for the first time."
"So you had no contact with Emily between August twenty-fifth and November?"
"When you called the Gold house, what kind of response did you get?"
"Well, actually, her mother was really rude to me!"
Jordan nodded sympathetically. "How many times did you have to call?"
"Three," Donna sniffed.
"On the third time, did you finally tell Mrs. Gold about the watch?"
"Yeah, after she told me that her daughter was dead. I was shocked."
"So Emily seemed perfectly happy in August... and then you didn't have any contact with her until November, which was when you found out she had died."
"Yeah," Donna said.
Jordan slid his hands into his pockets. It looked like a pointless cross, but he knew better. He'd use the testimony in his closing, to point out that three short months before her death, Emily Gold did not appear suicidal. In fact, it might have been fairly sudden. Which was only a short step away from explaining why Emily's teachers, her friends-her own mother-- hadn't seen it coming. "That's all, ma'am," Jordan said, and sank back into his chair.
Judge Puckett's scheduled dental cleaning brought the testimony to an end shortly after two o'clock. Jurors were dismissed with a reminder not to speak about the case to anyone; witnesses who had not yet been called to the stand were told to return tomorrow at nine A.M.; and Chris was handcuffed again and led to the sheriffs offices in the basement of the courthouse.
James met Gus in the lobby of the courthouse. He knew that legally, he was not supposed to talk to his wife about what had transpired in the courtroom that day. He also knew that Gus would not let a little thing like the justice system stop her from finding out how the trial was going so far. So he was surprised when Gus fell into step beside him, deep in thought and oddly silent.
It was raining outside. "I'll get the car," James said, with a glance at Gus's high heels. "You wait here."
She nodded, standing with her hand pressed up against the wide glass window of the entrance as James leaped over puddles. At the feel of a hand on her upper arm, Gus whirled around. "Hi," Michael said, his touch making her skin tingle, and making her want to draw away at the same time.
She forced herself to smile. "You look as bad as I feel."
"Thanks a lot."
Gus watched James unlock the car door. "I saw you with Melanie." They'd been sitting in the lobby, sequestered as she was, a few rows away.
Michael placed his hand against the window beside Gus's. "It's hard, isn't it? Trying to imagine what's going on inside?"
Gus didn't answer. In the parking lot, the Volvo pulled out of its spot.
"Tomorrow," he said, "let's wait together."
She did not let herself look at him. "I have to go," she said, and she ran into the chill of the rain.
SELENA HURRIED THROUGH THE DOOR while Jordan shook out the umbrella they'd been sharing. "Got to get a bigger one of those," she laughed, her hair soaked.
"Got to get a smaller investigator," Jordan countered, grinning at Selena. "It took me years to find an umbrella that I liked."
They stumbled together from the small mud room vestibule into the living room, where Thomas was waiting with his arms crossed. "Well?" he demanded.
Selena grinned. "Your dad's a master," she said.
A wide smile split Thomas's face. "Knew it," he said. He high-fived Jordan and flopped onto an overstuffed chair. "This means you're in a good mood, right?"
"Why?" Jordan answered guardedly. "What did you do?"
"Nothing!" Thomas said, affronted. "I'm just hungry, is all. Can we order in a pizza?"
"At three-thirty? Isn't that early for dinner?"
"Call it a snack," Thomas suggested.
Jordan rolled his eyes and walked into the kitchen, still wearing his mackintosh. "Get a snack out of the refrigerator," he said, swinging the door of the appliance door open. "Oh. Or maybe not," he said, throwing a Saran-wrapped package into the trash. "Isn't there anything else in here?"
"Beer," Thomas said. "And milk. Everything else is growing penicillin."
Selena slung her arm around Thomas's thin shoulders. "You want pep-peroni or sausage:
"Anything but anchovies," Thomas said. "You going to call?"
Selena nodded. "I'll let you know when the pizza guy gets here."
Thomas, taking his cue, retreated to his room. Selena reached past Jordan into the refrigerator and pulled out a beer. "Consider yourself lucky he didn't just drink these. You want one?"
Jordan looked at his watch, thought better of it, and then watched Selena wrench the twist-off top from her bottle. "Sure," he said.
They settled down in the living room after calling the pizza place. Jordan took a long pull of beer and winced. "What I really need," he said, "is Tylenol."
"Here," Selena said, patting her lap. "Lie down."
He did, gratefully, setting his bottle of Samuel Adams on the floor. Selena's long fingers brushed the hair off his forehead and sleeked over his temples like waterfalls. "You're being awfully accommodating," he murmured.
Selena gently rapped his skull. "Gotta keep that brilliance flowing."
He closed his eyes, letting her hands travel over pulse points. When Selena stopped, he reached up and touched her wrist, urging her on, and immediately pictured Barrie Delaney lifting Chris's hand to her own temple.
Jordan groaned, his headache returning with a vengeance. If he was still thinking of that, what could he expect of the jury?
CHRIS WAS STRIP-SEARCHED, his good clothes taken away for safekeeping until the next morning. As he pulled the drawstring pants on, and the soft short-sleeved shirt, he relaxed. These clothes, worn and faded and smelling of jail, were a thousand times more comfortable than the restricting pleated pants and noosed necktie he'd been forced to wear all day.
But then again, it had been seven months. Today he'd discovered that there were many things he was unaccustomed to: direct sunlight; human contact; even Pepsi. The can that Jordan had bought for him-the drink he'd craved so badly for so long-had fizzed up in his stomach and given him the runs.
Chris crawled into his bunk, with the unwelcome realization that even if he was given leave to rejoin the real world, he might no longer fit in.
In THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, with the shades drawn and the bedroom an airless cocoon, Gus turned to James. Like her, he'd been lying in bed perfectly still, as if immobility might segue into sleep, but Gus knew that he was every bit as awake as she was. She took a deep breath, thankful for the darkness that kept her from seeing his face and knowing whether or not he was lying.
"James," she said, "is it going all right?"
He did not pretend to misunderstand, but beneath the covers, blindly reached for and covered her hand. "I don't know," he said.
The NEXT MORNING, Jordan showered and shaved and dressed. He walked into the kitchen, his mind already running through his cross-examinations of the day. Heather Burns, a friend of Emily's, he could do in his sleep. Melanie Gold was a different story.
It was not until he sat down that he noticed Thomas smiling at him from across the table. And at his place, a clean bowl and spoon, a jug of milk, and a brand new box of Cocoa Krispies.
Heather Burns trembled so badly on the witness stand that the slightly uneven legs of the chair beat a quick tattoo on the floor. Seeking to put the girl at ease, Barrie Delaney walked toward her, blocking out Heather's view of everything but Barrie herself. "Relax, Heather," she said in an undertone. "Remember? We've already been through all the questions."
Heather nodded bravely, her face a stark white. "Heather," Barrie said, "I understand you were Emily's best friend."
"Yes," she said in a tiny voice. "We've been friends for about four years."
"That's a long time. Did you meet in school?"
"Uh-huh. We had a bunch of classes together. Health, and Calculus. And some art classes, too . . . but Emily was a lot better than me when it came to art."
"How often did you see her?"
"Every day, at least in class."
"And did she tell you what her plans were for the future?"
"She wanted to go to college and learn to be a better painter."
"Did you know Emily when she began to date Chris?"
Heather nodded. "She was dating Chris when I met her. They were, like, always together."
"Well, one time sophomore year they broke up for a couple of months. Chris was seeing someone else, and Emily got really upset about it." "So there wasn't always perfect harmony between them." "No." Heather looked down. "But they did get back together." Barrie smiled sadly. "Yes. So they did. Can you tell me, Heather, what Emily was like this November-her personality?"
"She was usually pretty quiet-she always had been. But she certainly wasn't, like, crying all the time or saying she was going to kill herself. She was just acting like Emily, and hanging around with her boyfriend. That's why ..." Her voice trailed off, and her eyes, for the first time during her testimony, drifted toward Chris. "That's why it was such a shock to hear what happened."
JORDAN SMILED ENGAGINGLY at Heather Burns. She was a little sparrow of a girl, with brown hair hanging midway down her back and a silver ring on every finger. "Heather, thanks for being here. I know this is difficult," he said, and then grinned. "But at least it gets you out of school."
Heather giggled, warming toward the defense attorney, looking nowhere near as close to fainting as she had a minute before. "You saw Emily every day in school," he said. "How about outside of school?"
"Not so much," Heather said.
"You didn't run into her at the Gap, or at the movies on weekends?"
"You didn't you make plans to go hang out together?"
"Hardly ever," she said. "It wasn't that I didn't want to, but Emily was always with Chris."
"So even though you were her best friend, you really didn't see her often outside of school?"
"I was her best girlfriend," Heather admitted. "But Chris knew her better than anyone one else."
"Did you see Chris and Emily together?"
"What was their relationship like?"
Heather's eyes clouded. "I used to think it was really romantic," she said. "I mean, they'd been together forever, and it was sometimes like they couldn't hear anything but each other's voices or see anything but each other's faces." She bit her lip. "I used to think that Emily had what all of us wanted."
Jordan nodded gravely. "And Heather, based on the relationship you saw between Chris and Emily, can you picture him ever hurting her?"
"Objection," Barrie called.
At Jordan's nod, Heather looked directly at Chris, her eyes wide and liquid. "No," she whispered. "I can't."
Melanie Gold was wearing black. On the witness stand, with her hair pulled back severely and the padded shoulders of her suit jacket stretched wide, she looked like an implacable mother superior, or maybe even an archangel. "Mrs. Gold," Barrie said, laying a hand over her witness's. "Thank you for being here. I'm so sorry to put you through this formality, but I need a few facts for the record. Could you state your name?"
"What was your relationship to the victim?"
Melanie stared directly at the jury. "I was her mother," she said softly.
"Can you tell us about your relationship with your daughter?"
Melanie nodded. "We spent a lot of time together." She began to talk, her words brush strokes, bringing Emily back to life with the same artistic elegance that Emily had possessed. She would spend time with me after school, when I was at the library working. We'd go shopping together on the weekends. She knew she could turn to me.
"What sorts of things did Emily talk to you about?"
Melanie started, and directed her attention back to the prosecutor. "We'd been discussing college a lot. She was getting ready to apply."
"What were her feelings about going to college?"
"She was very excited," Melanie said. "She was a wonderful student, and an even better artist. As a matter of fact, she was applying at the Sorbonne."
"Wow," Barrie said, "that's impressive."
"So was Emily," Melanie said.
"When did you first find out that something had happened to Emily?"
Melanie wilted in the chair. "We were called in the middle of the night and told to come down to the hospital right away. All we knew was that Emily had gone on a date with Chris. By the time we got there, Emily had died."
"What were you told about the death?"
"Not very much. My husband went in to identify ... Emily. I. .." She looked up at the jury. "I couldn't. And then Michael came back out and told me that she'd been shot in the head."
"What did you think, Mrs. Gold?" Barrie asked gently.
"I thought, Oh, my God-who did this to my baby?"
The stillness that comes on the heels of true grief settled over the courtroom, so that the jury could hear the scratch of Jordan's pen, the tick of the bailiff's watch, Chris's labored breathing. "Did you ever think for a moment, Mrs. Gold, that it might have been a suicide?"
"No," Melanie said, her voice firm. "My daughter was not suicidal."
"How do you know?"
"How wouldn't I know? I'm her mother. She wasn't sad; she wasn't depressed; she wasn't crying. She was the same wonderful young woman we'd always known. And she'd never used a gun in her life; she didn't know anything about them. Why would she have tried to shoot herself with one?"
"Did a jeweler start calling you after Emily's death?"
"Yes," Melanie said. "At first I didn't know who it was. The woman just kept asking for Emily, and it seemed like a bad joke. But then she finally told me about a watch that Emily had bought for Chris and I went down to pick it up. It was a five-hundred-dollar watch-fifty dollars more than she'd made the entire summer working at a camp. Emily knew we would have been very upset to find out that she'd spent that amount of money on a surprise birthday gift for Chris; it was far too extravagant, and we would have made her return it." She took a deep breath, then continued. "After I went to the jeweler's, I took that watch home and I realized it was Emily's way of telling me to look more closely at what happened." She stared at the jury. "Why would Emily have bought a watch to give to Chris at the end of November, if she knew they were going to kill themselves before then?"
Barrie walked toward the defense table. "As you know, Mrs. Gold, the only other person at the carousel that night was Christopher Harte."
Melanie's eyes flicked over him. "I know."
"Do you know the defendant well?"
"Yes," Melanie said. "Chris and Emily grew up together. We've lived next door to his family for eighteen years." Her voice thickened, and she glanced away. "He was always welcome in our house. He was like a son to us."
"And you know that he's here because he's charged with murder? The murder of your daughter?"
"Do you believe that Chris could have been violent toward your daughter?"
"Objection," Jordan said. "This witness is biased."
"Biased!" Barrie sputtered. "The woman's child is dead and buried. She can have any bias she pleases."
Puckett rubbed his temples. "The prosecution has the right to put on any witness it wishes. We'll give Mrs. Gold the benefit of the doubt."
Barrie turned back toward Melanie. "Do you believe," she repeated, "that Chris could have been violent toward your daughter?"
Melanie cleared her throat. "I think he killed her."
"Objection!" Jordan yelled.
"You think he killed her," Barrie restated, letting Melanie's words settle, a gauntlet thrown. "Why?"
For a moment, Melanie stared at Chris. "Because my daughter was pregnant," she spat out, forgetting the prosecutor's warning to stay calm. "Chris was going off to college. He didn't want his career and his education and his swimming future ruined by some baby and a hometown girl." Melanie saw Chris startle, then begin to shake. "Chris was the one who knew about guns," she said tightly. "His father had his own arsenal. They were hunting all the time." She pinned Chris with her gaze, her words solely for him. "You put two bullets in the gun."
Jordan leaped to his feet. "Objection!"
"You thought the whole thing out. But you couldn't keep her from bruising when she fought you-"
"Objection, Your Honor! This is inappropriate!"
Melanie stared at Chris, unstoppable. "You couldn't guarantee the angle of the bullet. And you couldn't do a thing about the watch, because you didn't even know about it." Her hands flexed on the railing of the witness stand, knuckles white.
"Mrs. Gold," the judge interrupted.
"You killed her," Melanie shouted. "You killed my baby, and you killed your baby."
"Mrs. Gold, you will cease immediately!" Puckett yelled, banging his gavel. "Ms. Delaney, control your client!"
The tips of Chris's ears were flame red. He shrank down beside Jordan. "Your witness," Barrie said, offering up the sobbing, heartsick woman.
"Your Honor," Jordan said tightly. "Perhaps we should take a short recess."
Puckett glared at the prosecutor. "Perhaps we should," he said.
When Melanie TOOK THE STAND again, her eyes were red and high flags of color rose on her cheekbones, but for all intents and purposes she was again composed. "It sounds like Emily was quite a daughter, Mrs. Gold," Jordan said, still seated at the defense table, as casual as if he'd invited the woman over for lunch. "Talented, beautiful, and she confided in you. What else could you possibly want in a child?"
"Life," Melanie said coldly.
Momentarily flustered-Jordan hadn't expected her to be quite so sharp-he mentally took a step back. "How many hours a week did you spend with Emily, Mrs. Gold?"
"Well, I work three days a week, and Emily was in school."
"So ... ?"
"I'd say two hours at night, on weeknights. Maybe more on weekends."
"How much time did she spend with Chris?"
"Quite a lot."
"Could you be more specific? More than two hours at night, and some extra on weekends?"
"So she spent more time in Chris's company than in yours."
"I see. Did Emily have high expectations for her future?"
Surprised at the change of topic, Melanie nodded. "Very."
"You must have been very supportive parents."
"We were. We certainly praised academic success and helped her further her interest in art."
"Would you say it was important to Emily to meet your expectations?"
"I think so. She knew we were proud of her."
Jordan nodded. "And you said that Emily confided in you, as well."
"I've got to tell you, Mrs. Gold," he said. "I'm a little bit jealous." He turned to the jury, inviting them into confidence. "I've got a thirteen-year-old son, and it's not that easy to keep the lines of communication open."
"Maybe you don't make yourself available to listen," Melanie said sarcastically.
"Ah. So that's what you did, those two hours every weeknight? Make yourself available to listen to whatever Emily had to say?"
"Yes. She told me everything."
Jordan leaned against the jury box. "Did she tell you that she was pregnant?"
Melanie's lips pressed together. "No," she said.
"In her eleven weeks of pregnancy, during all those heart-to-hearts, she never mentioned it to you?"
"I said no."
"Why didn't she tell you?"
Melanie smoothed the fabric of her skirt. "I don't know," she said softly.
"Might she have thought that being pregnant would mean not living up to your very high expectations of her? That she might not be able to become an artist, or even go to college?"
"Maybe," Melanie said.
"Might she have been so upset about not meeting your expectations, about not being the perfect daughter anymore, that she was too afraid to tell you?"
Melanie shook her head, tears coming easily now. "I need an answer, Mrs. Gold," Jordan said gently.
"No," she said. "She would have told me."
"But you just told us she didn't," Jordan pointed out. "And Emily isn't here to answer for her reasons. So let's look at the facts: You're saying that Emily was so close to you she told you everything. But her pregnancy-she didn't tell you about that. If she hid something that important from you, isn't it possible that she could have hidden other things as well-for example, the fact that she was thinking of killing herself?"
Melanie covered her face with her hands. "No," she murmured.
"Isn't it possible that the pregnancy triggered the suicidal feelings? That if she couldn't live up to your expectations, she didn't want to live?"
The blame squarely set on Melanie's shoulders, she began to crumble. She sank in the witness stand, curling into herself the same way she had when she'd first found out that her daughter had died. Jordan, realizing he could not push any further without looking bad, walked toward the witness stand and put his hand on Melanie's arm. "Mrs. Gold," he said, handing her his own clean handkerchief. "Ma'am. Allow me." She took the paisley cloth and wiped at her face while Jordan continued to pat her on the shoulder. "I'm very sorry to upset you like this. And I know how devastating it must be to even consider these possibilities. But I do need you to answer me, for the record."
With a supreme effort of will, Melanie drew herself upright. She wiped at her nose and tucked Jordan's handkerchief into her clenched fist. "I'm sorry," she said with dignity. "I'll be all right now."
Jordan nodded. "Mrs. Gold," he said. "Isn't it possible that Emily's pregnancy was what caused her to feel suicidal?"
"No," Melanie said firmly, in a voice that carried. "I know the kind of relationship my daughter and I had, Mr. McAfee. And I know that Emily would have told me everything, in spite of the lies that you're trying to spread. She would have told me if something was bothering her. If she didn't tell me, it was because she wasn't upset about it. Or perhaps she didn't even know for certain, herself, that she was going to have a baby."
Jordan tipped his head to the side. "If she didn't know about the baby, Mrs. Gold, then how could she tell Chris?"
Melanie shrugged. "Maybe she didn't."
"You're saying he might not have known she was pregnant."
"Then why," Jordan asked, "would he want to kill her?"
There was a stir in the courtroom as Melanie got off the stand. She walked slowly down the center aisle, escorted by a bailiff. As soon as the doors closed behind her, a volley of questions and comments broke out among the gallery, as pervasive and quick as the spread of a fever.
Chris was smiling as Jordan took his seat again. "That," he said, "was awesome."
"Glad you liked it," Jordan said, smoothing his tie.
"What happens next?"
Jordan opened his mouth to tell Chris, but Barrie did it for him. "Your Honor," she said, "the prosecution rests."
"Now," Jordan murmured to his client, "we put on a show."