What if you lost everything you ever wanted, and had just one chance to get it back? Hotshot attorney Cordelia Simms needs a do-over. She spent her whole life being perfect, and it nearly destroyed her — now she’s got a long to-do list, and “perfect” isn’t on it. She negotiates a minefield of old money and modern office politics while family conflict and dangerous secrets threaten to drag her down for good. Previously… Cordelia discovered some shady dealing with the missing $10 million. Richard demanded payback, in the form of dishing the dirt on Marj. Cordelia decides to hold back and find out what Richard is really up to.
Richard squeezes my elbow — hard enough to hurt, but not leave marks. He always was careful where it might show.
Whatever’s going on at Meaders & Rose, I sure can’t trust this bastard. I’m saying nothing until I know what his game is.
Really? sneers Trouble. Your poker face sucks. Everybody can see what you’re feeling.
Okay, right now I feel overwhelmed. That should work. “Wow. Yeah, sure. I barely got started, but I’ll keep my eyes open.”
Richard pats my arm. “Good girl.”
I manage not to shudder. I hand over the Ackerman report and scoot.
Richard’s secretary glares. She couldn’t have heard what we said. What the hell is her problem?
Down in the parking deck, I’m so busy GPS-ing the daycare, I miss that the car didn’t crank. When the gear shift won’t budge, I try again.
Okay, breathe. Maybe I just need a jump.
I flick the key and try the wipers. They’re perky as ever, plenty of juice. I step out and pop the hood. I have no idea what I’m looking for.
If I call the daycare, will they tell Anthony? I can’t afford one more emergency.
“Well, hey there!”
I drop the car hood. The slam makes Detective Joyner jump, too.
The copper highlights in his face turn umber as he steps under the deck. He gestures with a large manila envelope. “You okay?”
“Starter motor, or some damn thing. I gotta go pick up Bella.”
“Need a ride?”
“It’s a half-hour. Freaking Leeds.”
He checks his watch. “Sure.”
I throw my hands up. “I can’t — that’s too…”
He puts on his cop-face and points to his SUV. “Get in the car, Simms.”
* * * *
After I call the daycare, he glances over. “I meant to ask, any relation to Arthur Simms?”
Here it comes. My dad, the brilliant jurist. Me, such a letdown.
“He was my father.”
Detective Joyner grins. “My mom would pop a stitch trying to hug your neck.”
“She knew him from the Sixties, when he was working pro-bono, helping folks get bail money, all that.”
I can’t imagine what my face is doing right now.
He doesn’t even see. “Yeah, mom got arrested in the Children’s March. She was only thirteen, scared to death. Your dad came and got her. She idolized him.”
Finally, he notices my silence. “He never told you?”
“Not one word.” I idolized him too. Knowing him would be nice.
* * * *
The church ladies are sweet. They hand me Bella’s car seat and a packet of paperwork. “Later, later. You’re family.”
Bella babbles all the way home. And I babble all the way up the stairs. “Thank you so much. You’re really a life-saver.”
Does he notice how much the house looks like Tara? Is it worse to acknowledge it, or not?
Mom snatches the door open before we reach the porch. “There you are!” She weaves, slopping her highball. Her lipstick’s smeared. “I’ve been worried sick!”
“Sorry, Mom. Car trouble.”
Bella decides that Pickled Grammy is Very Bad. She wails.
Mom covers her ears and hollers, “Well, I don’t have a nickel, so you’ll have to pay the driver yourself.”
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