Prelude (An Alec Winters Series, Book 1)

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Chapter 13

During the first month of her incarceration, Catalina remained in the parish hospital’s secured ward. She could have supervised visitation once a week. She would remain there until a suitable place could be found for her. She’d confessed before a court of law with a myriad of witnesses. There would be no trial, no time to spend at home with family because her sentence had already begun.

Alec was heartsick, but he didn’t give up. While visiting Cat, he begged and pleaded with her to recant her confession. She refused. She was happy to see her angel freed and joyfully bid her brother goodbye. As far as Catalina was concerned, the issue was settled and there was no reason to discuss it further.

At such a young age, there weren’t many places that could accommodate Catalina Winters as a prisoner. When it was finally decided that she would be remanded to a women’s wing at the state mental institution, Cat went willingly, taking her art supplies along. As long as Alec was free, she was content with the outcome.

“Don’t worry about me, Alec,” Cat cheerfully assured. “I’ll be fine and you’ll be free to protect others. Please, finish school and follow your plans to join the army. I’m exactly where I need to be and that’s where you need to be too.”

After Buck Winters’ death, his family was ostracized in general. However, Alec was out of favor the most. Everyone was sure that he had killed his father and that his poor, little sister had taken the blame. He got the brunt of the community’s hatred and exclusion. He suffered an even more painful situation at school.

With only a few months until graduation, Alec was asked to leave the athletic department. Then, LSU rescinded his scholarship. As a final blow, Lang’s Market fired him. The school’s judgmental atmosphere made his life so unbearable that he was tempted to quit, but he didn’t. He held on, determined to graduate. Other than Sabrina and Chaz, only one other person at school stood by him—Danaé Chisholm.

Danaé became his most staunch supporter. She was often overheard arguing with other student body members in an attempt to influence their opinions, “How can you believe that Alec Winters killed anyone? Look at that face! I’ve seen murderers before. I’ve picked up my dad from the precinct more times than I can count. I’ve seen some crazy stuff and some evil men capable of murder. Believe me when I tell you that Alec is not one of them. He’s not a murderer!”

Still, as far as the general population was concerned, Alec was, not only a killer, he was a pariah, an outcast. Amid such hatred and animosity, he relished the time when he could join the army. In fact, he counted the days until graduation. With only thirty days left, he was surprised when Principal Evans called him into the office.

“Alec, here is your diploma. Your teachers have averaged your semester grades as your final exam scores. You have graduated with honor, magna cum laude, but the staff believes, and I agree with them, that it would be best if you didn’t continue to come to school each day. Your presence agitates the student body. Now that you have your diploma, there’s no longer any need for you to walk across the stage either. We don’t need the ceremonies to erupt into a riot. I know you understand. Good luck to you.”

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