I walked over to the couch and tossed the silk tie in my fist over the back of it, this time hitting the target. I bent to pick up the computer and scowled when I noticed the toss had dinged the corner. That meant I would have to buy a new one even if this one still worked. It wouldn’t do to have a damaged Mac. It wouldn’t do to have a damaged anything even if it meant throwing good money away.
I scooped up the scattered file on Avett Walker and plopped myself back on the couch. I looked at the expensive watch on my wrist, yet another prop that was nothing more than a waste of money considering I had a cell phone with the time on it, and then back at the file. It was still early enough in the evening that I could call the young woman’s father, letting him know that without someone to pay her bail and without a permanent address for her to be released to she was looking at a decent amount of time behind bars until we had a preliminary hearing date. The system didn’t take kindly to one of their own being threatened, and since the robbery had involved an off-duty police officer, I wouldn’t be surprised if paperwork got lost or misfiled along the way to us getting in front of a judge.
I tapped the edge of my thumb on the black-and-white mug shot photo and couldn’t stop the grin from tugging at my mouth.
She tried to fire me.
She was five-foot-nothing, a lifetime younger than me, had multicolored hair that had seen better days, wild eyes that couldn’t decide if they wanted to be green, gold, or brown, while dressed in convict orange and obviously scared out of her ever loving mind, yet she still tried to fire me. If it had been any of my other clients—the cop accused of sexual battery, the frat boy accused of manslaughter over a bet on a football game gone wrong, the middle school teacher accused of pedophilia and having an inappropriate relationship with several of her students, or the pro football player accused of domestic abuse—I would have tipped my proverbial hat, wished them luck while I cut my losses, and walked away without a backward glance. People always committed crimes. People always needed a good defense, so it wasn’t like I was hurting for clients, but there was something about the girl. Something about the defiant tilt of her chin and the raw desperation in her tone when she begged me not to call her father.
“I don’t want your help. I don’t want anything from you.” She sounded like she meant it when she said it, but I figured she was too young and too scared to know exactly what she wanted or needed. Regardless, it was still refreshing to hear.
Everyone always wanted something from me and my help was usually the least of it.
I tapped the picture again, wondering why I found it so easy to believe that she really hadn’t been a part of the boyfriend’s plan to rob the bar. She wasn’t anyone’s idea of a model citizen and she had the shady track record to prove it. She was too young, and frankly too adorable, to have a file this thick. From what I could see, she also had a set of parents always willing to ride to the rescue when she got herself into trouble. She looked like some kind of colorful woodland fairy from a Disney movie with her odd hair and delicate features. None of it added up, but the sincerity in her tone when she said she would never have gone with the boyfriend if she knew his intent and the fear in her eyes when I mentioned her father seemed genuine.
I learned long ago to treat everyone like they were guilty of whatever it was I was paid to defend them against. I didn’t want to know the truth. I didn’t want to know the circumstances. I wanted my clients to listen to me and let me do my job as I tried to convince the rest of the world they were innocent, regardless if they were or not. But this girl with her faded, rose-colored hair and turbulent eyes oozed innocence through the cracks of her very guilty façade.
Because I was intrigued and actually believed the girl might be innocent, I wasn’t going to let her fire me. I was going to call her father and hope that he would help me keep her out of the slammer while I figured out how to plea bargain her charges down or get them dismissed altogether. Again, because a cop was involved in the robbery and because the boyfriend, junkie or not, was offering up a pretty plausible explanation for Avett’s involvement in the crime, nothing was a slam dunk, yet. I was going to help her whether she wanted me to or not.
I found the father’s contact information in the file and dug my cell phone out of my pocket. If he wasn’t willing to help the girl out I was going to call Asa and see what my former client thought the next best course of action should be. I didn’t often take on cases based solely on referral, but I truly liked Asa Cross and he was another one of my clients that I actually believed was innocent when I was hired to help him out. If he was willing to pay my admittedly hefty fee to help this young woman out, I knew he would want to know if she was going to end up stuck behind bars if dear old dad didn’t step up to the plate.
I pressed the number into the screen while continuing to stare at the grainy mug shot and wondered why I wasn’t letting my assistant or one of the paralegals at the firm make the call instead.
A deep voice rumbled a curt hello in my ear and I tilted my head back on the couch so I was looking at the exposed ductwork that crisscrossed the ceiling of the loft.
“Is this Brighton Walker?”
There was a grunt and then, “Who wants to know?”
I almost laughed. It was so far removed from the way the people I usually dealt with on a day-to-day basis interacted with me that it was startlingly refreshing.
“My name is Quaid Jackson, and I’m calling because I am currently being retained to represent your daughter.”
There was a beat of silence followed by a heavy sigh that could only come from a frustrated parent. “One of my boys hired you.” It wasn’t a question but rather a statement of fact.
“I don’t know if Asa Cross is one of your boys or not but we worked together in the past on a situation involving the same establishment. He called me as soon as the police read your daughter her rights and told me if I agreed to take the case that money was no object.”
A soft curse hit my ears followed by another deep sigh. “I was waiting for Avett to call. She always calls me first when she gets into trouble. They charged her?”
I shifted on the couch and tucked the phone against my cheek. “They did. Accessory to armed robbery, aiding and abetting the commission of a felony involving a firearm, and accessory after the fact. Some of the charges are throwaway charges simply because they wanted to book her fast and hold her in lockup. The fact that there was an off-duty police officer involved in the crime is going to complicate things for the duration.”