“Defense attorney, you may make your closing remarks,” the judge said.
“Thank you, your honor.” Justin Adams stands and makes his presence known once again in the courtroom. It’s been a year since Justin and his now girlfriend, Sarah, survived the deadly attack at the Duncan Mansion and cracked a case that had gone cold five years earlier. Justin is now a personal injury attorney and is in the middle of a complicated trial. An elderly lady had been knocked down by a kid at an indoor inflatable center; the kid was jumping into the side of the inflatable, and the lady was standing too close. She was knocked down and suffered a fractured hip. After being attended to at a local hospital, she died before going into surgery.
The case is regarded as an unfortunate death, though the deceased lady’s family has since sued the facility for negligence. Their claim is that there weren’t enough staff onsite to ensure everyone’s safety. Justin is the defense attorney and must show that it was all an accident and not the responsibility of the facility.
After hearing both sides and a long deliberation by the jury, Justin has proven that it was all an accident. The jury votes in favor of the facility. Justin had just won his first case as a trial lawyer.
As people are filing out of the courtroom, Justin stays behind to privately soak in his victory while gathering his papers and notes.
“Good job, Justin!” he mumbles to himself with a smile. “The first one is always the most difficult. You’re well on your way now, kid!”
Out of the corner of his eye, Just spots a newspaper on the floor near one of the pews. He reaches down to grab it; it is the real estate page, and it has a large house on the front. He stops for a minute and places his hands on the desk while he is seeing flashes of images in his head.
He begins to daydream and sees a picture of a house with a For Sale sign. The images are foggy, but it’s a familiar site – the Duncan house.
“What is this? Why do I know this house?” he says to himself. “Maybe I need to get away and this is the perfect place. A seclusion getaway is just what I need to study.”
Mr. Adams? Mr. Adams, are you OK?” says a voice behind him. Justin is awaken from his brief daydream and realizes he’s still in the courtroom.
“Fine job in the courtroom today, Mr. Adams,” the voice says as he turns around to see that it’s his legal assistant, Linda.
“Yes, thank you! I guess that’s a good start. Did I seem nervous?” Justin asks.
“Well, at times, but you were great overall,” Linda says.
“Thank you, Linda. I do need to finish up and get out of here, though. My girlfriend is having her book signing right now at Mega Books, and I want to surprise her.
“Oh my, how exciting for the both of you! I can clean up; you get out of here.”
“Thanks, Linda. Yes, I will see you tomorrow.”
Justin finishes with Linda and walks out of the courtroom. His weird daydream is still running around in his mind, but he has no time to think about that now. He’ll be late if he doesn’t hurry.
Meanwhile, Sarah is having a great time at Mega Books a few blocks away from the courthouse. She’s already on her second book; it’s received rave reviews – just like the first one – and now it’s time for her first book signing. She has a table set up with signage and books all around her. Her agent is there to watch the crowd and answer any questions. Some customers just want a quick signing while others want pictures and personal notes written.
Sarah is eating it all up. People love her, and it’s a great feeling.
“There’s a wide variety of readers here, but I’m surprised with the number of teenage readers,” Sarah says to her agent in between pictures.
“I’m not. They love the suspense and drama,” her agent, Presley, says.
Sarah continues her signing and visiting with the guests. She’s still looking down to grab a fresh pen when a tall gentleman approaches and slides his book across the table in her direction.
“Who should I address this to, sir?” Sarah says while still looking down.
“Paul Duncan,” the man says.
Sarah immediately looks up with her mouth wide open. She looks over to Presley, who isn’t quite sure what’s going on but can see the terror on Sarah’s face and has called security just in case.
Sarah is at a loss for words but refuses to make a scene. Mr. Duncan slides a second book onto the table, and as Sarah looks back down, she can see that it’s both her first and second novels.
“I hope your second book gets just as much attention as your first one,” Mr. Duncan says with a wink. “Your first book was quite the success; I’m so glad I could help with it. After all, it was about my life … right?”
Sarah still can’t speak.
“How’s your boyfriend? Why don’t you ask Justin where he was on June 7, 2013. In the meantime, enjoy your little party, Sarah. I’ll be seeing you around.”
Mr. Duncan walks off slowly without incident. Presley is looking back toward Sarah and has security at her side, but waives them off since nothing happened. Sarah is following Mr. Duncan with her eyes until she can no longer see him. She turns to get up and talk to Presley, but Justin is right there.
“What the hell? You scared me,” Sarah says.
Justin grabs her to give her a hug. “I’m sorry. I was going to surprise you.”
“Yes, of course. I am sorry, hun. You just startled me.”
Sarah holds him tight until the next customer walks up. She sits back down to continue her signing, and Justin sits behind her. He’s as proud as ever for her.
“So, hey, how did your trial go,” Sarah asks as she continues to smile and sign autographs as if she is on autopilot.
“I won. I won my first trial,” Justin says smiling.
“Oh my gosh. That is so good, Justin. I am so proud of you.”
“Thanks, babe. I see that things are going good here. Anything interesting?”
“Umm. Yeah, kinda. Can we talk later over some wine to celebrate your win?” Sarah asks.
“Sure, no problem!” Justin says. He can tell something isn’t right with Sarah, but he chalks it up to the stresses of the book signing. There are a ton of people; more people than Justin would ever want to deal with.
He stays for a few more minutes and then leaves to go to his office to finish up on a few things before meeting Sarah back at home. They live together now in a condo in the city.
After Justin leaves and the lines begin to die down, Sarah pulls Presley aside to talk about the Duncan visit and figure out what to do next. Presley has heard all she ever wanted to know about Mr. Duncan, but she didn’t realize it was him until afterward. She’s apologizing for not doing something sooner.
“Nevermind that, Presley. Just don’t say anything to Justin about Mr. Duncan being here. It will only confuse Justin and make something out of nothing,” Sarah pleads over and over again with Presley.
“No problem, Sarah. Calm down; I won’t say a word. But what did he say to you? I was grabbing security and couldn’t hear a thing with the crowd noise.”
“He was just here to annoy me. He didn’t say anything of value. He’s just upset about his brother and wants to blame me for his wrongdoings,” Sarah explains. “Blame the novelist, right?”
“OK, but let me know if you see him again or something weird is going on,” Presley interjects. “I need to go; today was a success, though! I will see if there are anymore signing dates we can book together. Talk later?”
“Yes! Let’s talk later. Everything is OK.”
As Sarah watches Presley leave, two familiar faces come walking up.
“Wasssss up, ladies!?” Sarah yells out.
“Hey, girl! Look at you! You are famous; I’m surprised you want to have anything to do with us common folk!” Denise says as she playfully pushes Mandy out of the way she she can pick up Sarah’s book first.
Sarah gives them both a giant hug, and they exchange greetings.
“You all look nice and clean,” Sarah adds.
“Yeah, we are on our way to formal station meetings with the Mayor,” Mandy says while rolling her eyes. Denise is giving blow job motions with her hands and mouth to show she agrees with Mandy.
Sarah laughs while Mandy turns to see her partner’s gestures.
“We just wanted to see you in action and at your signing. It’s all exciting,” Mandy says while giving her best friend a hug.
“Well, thanks for stopping by. It means a lot. This is almost over.”
“Well, how did it go? Did you have a good turnout?” Denise asks as she sits down to take in her surroundings.
“It was good. I had a bunch of teens, adults, and then … there was …,” Sarah says with a weird pause. “Well, Justin came by, too. I’ll tell you more later. I need to start cleaning up around here.”
“Well, OK then,” Mandy says. She can tell there’s a lack of excitement in Sarah’s voice, but she doesn’t mention anything more. “We’ll get out of your way.”
“I am really glad you hot ladies came by; it means a lot. We need to schedule lunch soon,” Sarah says while cleaning up her station.
“OK, hot stuff. We can do that, for sure. In the meantime, we are out. Let’s go pick up some donuts before we make it to the station. Everyone will love us,” Denise says smiling.
Sarah laughs. Mandy just rolls her eyes as they both leave.
Mandy and Denise make it out to their car; Denise is driving.
“Wow. You two are totally different, but I like it. How did you stay friends for so long?” Denise prods Mandy while starting the car.
“We were roommates … we almost had to be best friends,” Mandy says with a smile. “Sarah is her own person, but she’s very nice and very loyal. We actually had a good time in college as roommates and now she’s much more fun.”
“Really? She’s nice to look at,” Denise says jokingly. “But she looks the part; she looks like an author. But you … you don’t look like a cop. Come on, officer Bailey. Tell me. How did you get to this point?”
Mandy rolls her eyes and leave a bit of silence before responding.
“OK. It’s a personal story, so please keep this between us,” Mandy says while looking sternly over at Denise.
“Shit! OK, girl. No problem,” Denise says.
When Mandy was 17 and in high school, she and a friend went to a concert without their parents’ permission. On the way home after the event, her friend’s car broke down, and they had to stop at a gas station. At that point, the girls had to call for a ride home. Mandy’s friend did not want to leave the car or call her parents because they would find out about them disobeying and get in a ton of trouble. Clarissa, Mandy’s friend, wanted to stay with the car and get it fixed before returning home.
The battery was dead; that’s all that needed to be fixed. A gentleman said he would help her with the battery and then send them on their way. It was late, and Mandy was in trouble already, so she got a separate ride home. To make a long story short, Clarissa was raped and left to die. She somehow survived, called her parents, and was taken to a local ER. She was fine in the end, but the traumatic even has always been with both girls. Mandy blames herself for leaving her friend alone with a strange man. The guy who raped her was never caught.
From that day forward, Mandy has been motivated to become a police officer and a detective. It’s something she swore she’d always do.
Denise stares at Mandy as she’s finishing the story and can see the guilt all over her face – even after all these years.
“It wasn’t your fault, Mandy. Don’t keep that shit bottled up in you forever,” Denise said. “Damn, Bailey, I thought you were going to say something like you wanted to pop a cap in someone’s ass. Shit girl, now I’m all heartbroken. It’s cool, though, because I am right there with you. I want to take down those assholes.”
“Thanks, Denise. Although, yes, I would like to take target practice on some dirtbag’s ass,” Mandy says with an evil laugh.
Denise laughs along with her as they pull up to the station for their meeting.”