BOOK I. 1
“The Verdict is in! Anthony, the court just called; the jury’s reached a verdict!”
Laura’s words broke across Anthony Darren’s desk and crashed through his fugue. He had been staring out his office window, which offered a rather meager view of San Diego Bay five stories below—the waterfront a couple of blocks away. It was nothing like the dizzy perspective he’d had a few months ago from a different office, A much larger, much higher office, in every possible sense. He realized he’d been staring at the bay in deep distraction, not really seeing the tuna boats dragging white wakes through the etched waters, the aircraft carriers rising like steel islands along the Coronado Island shore. He glanced at his desk calendar: Thursday, February 10, 1980. So this is the day. Finally he turned and smiled at Laura. “Thanks. How do I look?”
“Great. But here’s your jacket.” She took it off the hook on the back of the door. “And I’ll let Andrea know you’re on your way to the courthouse.”
“Thank you.” He muscled smoothly into the well-tailored coat, but fumbled flipping back the collar. Laura was on it immediately, straightening the fabric out, squinting through her black-framed glasses. He caught her by the shoulders. “Laura, I need you there, too. Just switch on the answering machine and lock up the office.”
“Of course.” She smiled and then frowned. “Don’t say it like you’re uncertain.” He walked out between the shelves of law books lining each side.
Two blocks away and thirty stories higher, a mob of executives haggled around an enormous conference table in the Southern California Empire Bank Building. The only man not participating sat at the head of the table behind the only gold nameplate in the room. He wore the expression of a spectator about to win big money at a dog fight. He tugged a gray-flecked handkerchief from his pocket and blotted his forehead and drooping nose, then lifted a cup of coffee toward his lips.
A sharp double rap at the door made him halt the movement of the cup. The bickering among the executives instantly halted.
“Yes?” the man with the gold nameplate said.
An efficient-looking woman in her early thirties popped her head through the doorway. “Mr. Hooks, sorry to interrupt, but I just received a message from the Deputy DA. The jury is in.”
Hooks looked around at the assembled men, all of them now focused on him. He stood. “Excuse me,” he said, “while I go find out if I saved this bank or not.” Imperceptible to all but him, his hand trembled as he set down the cup.
In a red tile-roofed house resting high on Point Loma, a hill overlooking the other side of San Diego Bay, a man sat on the couch in his darkened living room. His trim, muscular arms, tanned bronze, lay limp at his sides while he stared up at an imaginary spot on the ceiling.
He heard the kitchen phone ring. Heard his wife answer in a soft voice. “Yes, Joe Cruz is my husband. I’m sorry, he’s…oh! Oh, it is? Yes, I’ll tell him…I understand. Right away. We’ll be there right away.”
Joe continued to stare at the ceiling.
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Genre – Legal Drama
Rating – PG13