Forbidden Night Sample: Chapter One

Chapter One

Michael Tucker

I represent innocent people. Michael’s Rule, I called it, an edict I thought would be simple to follow.

I’m dressed down from my usual monkey suit, instead wearing a pair of jeans, an Abercrombie and Fitch green polo, and the latest addition to my beloved sneaker collection, a pair of Givenchy high-top Tysons. I’m not wearing a suit and tie because as I enter Erica Stark’s law office, I don’t do so as a lawyer, but as the client.

Four years ago riding the Long Island Railroad into Manhattan I stumbled upon Sara Goldstein, the Long Island heiress accused of murdering her Uncle Charlie to get the family fortune. One look, and I believed she hadn’t done it. Maybe it wasn’t a signal from my brain, no one could deny her beauty. I agreed to represent her, a decision I wish I could say I regret today.

“Michael.” Erica greeted me in the waiting room with a warm hug. “I’m surprised you called.”

“I’m surprised you’re willing to represent me.” I tightened my grip on the thick folder squeezed between my fingers.

“I prosecuted Sara, you were her defense attorney, and now you want me to defend you against her, that’s unusual.”

Erica was my babysitter when I was growing up, yet as I followed her it was as if I walked into the principal’s office.

The small, dark waiting room occupied by an empty desk led to a moderate-sized rectangular space. Her interior office appeared similar to what mine looked like when I first started in private practice five years earlier, a hand-me-down couch and two chairs angled around a scuffed coffee table set on a throw rug. She splurged on her desk, a handsome solid-oak table with ornate legs. She had no bookshelves, since lawyers no longer carried or kept statutes or tomes on evidence and civil procedure. Now all of that information was digested in smart phones and tablets. Bookbinding was out. Hyperlinks were in.

“Nice.” I smirked at a rip in the cloth couch.

“Still a smart aleck?” She threw a scarf over the tear.

“At least your desk is new. I bought all of my furniture at the Salvation Army.”

“You don’t need to do that anymore.”

She referred to the inheritance I received from Gertrude Tucker, my grandmother, and the uptick in my practice since I represented Sara. I didn’t mind the ribbing but the thought of Gram brought a profound sadness. Two days before Sara’s murder trial, Gram died. That was three years ago, not only had I lost my grandmother, but also my best friend, mentor, and idol.

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