Midnight Intentions by Michele R. Bardsley
Callie O'Brian was running from a brutal past, but she hadn't run far enough. Someone didn't want her to forget what happened ... and they wanted blood for blood.
California Criminal Court
"Madame Foreman, have you reached a verdict?"
The Honorable Judge Raymond T. Conroy boomed the question across the courtroom. From long habit, Callie O'Brian flinched, then straightened, her fingernails digging into the chair's vinyl arms.
A man's loud voice did not mean anger. A man's loud voice did not mean violence. A man's loud voice did not mean blows would follow. Callie's nails dug deeper as she silently repeated the mantra.
Emma's cool hand rested briefly over hers. "Relax," she whispered.
Swallowing back the knot of dread lodged in her throat, Callie looked at her lawyer. Emma's brown eyes offered reassurance before she nodded toward the jury box. Callie's attempted smile trembled as she watched the jury foreman pass a small white paper to the bailiff, who then gave it to the judge. The judge—a big, gruff man with bushy eyebrows—glanced at the paper then refolded it carefully.
Callie stared at judge's hands. Her future rested between his thick fingers. A wave of despair crashed over her. What if ... she pressed her lips together, blinking back the hot tears threatening to escape. The judge handed the slip back to the bailiff who returned it to the thin, pale woman responsible for verbalizing Callie's fate. The words, once spoken, would be recorded forever.
"Ms. Tyler, would you and your client please rise?"
Emma stood and Callie slowly followed. Legs shaking like palm trees in a hurricane, she steadied herself by grabbing the table.
"Madame Foreman, would you please read the verdict?"
Silence doused the filled-to-capacity courtroom. Callie knew reporters from all over the country, her husband's coworkers and friends, her father, and dozens of curious courtroom watchers waited to see how this infamous case would end.
Whatever happens, Callie thought, I made the right choice. I made the only choice.