“If your client were smarter, he would’ve set up shop in Nevada.”
“He’ll cop to the tax evasion,” I offer. “But you have to take procuring off the table.”
“Ah yes, because financial crimes committed by the obscenely wealthy are socially acceptable. Sex crimes are frowned upon—at least when they get caught.”
Sometimes the best answer is no answer. I wait her out.
And she sighs. “You’re lucky I like you more than your client, Shaw. We’ll take the tax evasion. But I want jail time; he’s not skating on probation or house arrest.”
“Low-security facility and you’ve got a deal.”
She holds out her hand and I shake it. “I’ll have the papers sent to your office this week.”
“You’re the best, Angela.”
She pushes my shoulder playfully. “You say that to all the prosecutors.”
“Only the pretty ones.”
• • •
Back in my office, I open my briefcase and take out the pimp’s case file and yesterday’s mail I grabbed from the box on my way out this morning. I sit down, drink my coffee, and sort through it. Junk, junk, bill, junk . . . an envelope catches my eye.
Five by seven, white, addressed to me in handwritten calligraphy . . . with Jenny’s parents’ return address.
I open it and remove the flat ivory card.
And it’s like a nuclear bomb goes off in my head.
My brain must’ve turned to ash—making me illiterate—because I can barely decipher the words.
Honor of your presence . . .
Jenny Monroe . . .
James Dean . . .
June . . .
Wedding . . . wedding . . . wedding . . .
“What in the actual fuck?”
That gets Jake’s attention. He turns in his chair. “Problem?”
I grasp for understanding, for a theory that makes sense. “Did you do this? Is this a joke?”
He points to himself. “Have you ever known me to make a joke? On purpose?”
He’s right. Pranks aren’t his style.
Brent, on the other hand . . . This is right up his alley.
I spring out of my desk chair and stomp into Brent and Sofia’s office.
“Is this supposed to be fuckin’ funny?” I accuse, harsh and desperate.
He plucks the card from my fingers. “I don’t know why it would be. Ivory isn’t a particularly funny color.”
And then he reads it. “Whoa.” He glances up to my face warily, then back down to the invitation. And again mutters, “Whoa!”
Sofia stands from her desk. “What? Why are we whoa-ing?”
Brent flashes her the invitation. Comprehension dawns in her eyes.
Sweat breaks out on my forehead and my chest squeezes like I’m having a panic attack. I grab the card, and with Brent and Sofia right behind me, trudge back to my office—needing to fucking yell at someone.
And I know just the someone.
I punch the familiar numbers into the phone. But I’m brought up short by the voice that answers.
“Why aren’t you in school?” It’s an hour earlier in Mississippi, but she should still be in school.
“We got the day off—teacher trainin’.”
“Where’s your mother?”
“She’s gettin’ ready for work.”
“Put her on the phone.”
There’s a rustle, muffled talking and then my daughter’s back on the line. “Momma says she’s late for work, she’ll call you back.”
I don’t think so.
“Presley,” I hiss, “tell your momma I said to get on the goddamn phone right fuckin’ now.”
There’s a shocked pause. Then a hushed whisper. “You want me to say that?”
“Say exactly that,” I urge. “You won’t get in trouble.”
With a little too much enthusiasm, she yells, “Momma! Daddy said get on the goddamn phone right fuckin’ now!”
I can practically hear Jenny stomping to the phone. “Have you lost your mind?” she screeches seconds later. “Tellin’ my daughter to cuss at me? I will cut you!”
“You’ve already cut me!” I unleash. “What the hell am I lookin’ at right now, Jenn?”
Obviously she can’t see what I’m looking at—not my best opener—but it’s hard to be logical when you’ve been kicked in the nuts.