Authors: Jerry B. Jenkins
Tags: #FICTION / Christian / General, #FICTION / Religious
Friday, February 5
Boone finally drifted off in the wee hours of the morning and slept till noon, rising famished and in need of a shower. He had not thought to ask for a supply of the plastic coverings for his shoulder, so after lunch he fashioned his own. Working one-handed made it slow, and the drape turned into a mess, but he made it work.
His entire routine took him twice as long as usual, and Boone wondered if he had been wise to dismiss his parents. It was way too soon in his relationship with Haeley to even consider involving her in his care. Postâshoulder surgery was bound to be even worse.
Boone turned on his cell phone and found messages from virtually everyone in his life. Pastor Francisco Sosa had called. As had Pascual Candelario, Jack Keller, Fritz Zappolo, his parents, Haeley, andâmost intriguingâDr. Duffey's office.
He returned that call first. The doctor was in surgery, but the receptionist read Boone a strongly worded statement from him, scolding him for leaving the hospital without informing the doctor, listing things to do and not do, symptoms to watch for, and how to get in touch with Dr. Valdez in advance of his surgery. Boone asked the receptionist to pass on to the doctor his thanks and assurances that he would behave.
And yet one of the instructions from the doctor was to not venture out into the weather. As Boone planned to accompany Haeley to Zappolo's office, he would not be obeying that one.
Sosa and Boone's parents and PC had been just checking in on him, though the pastor had spent more than two minutes reading Bible verses into the phone. That made Boone feel guilty. As faithful as God had been to him in the lowest valley of his life, Boone felt he had regressed again spiritually. It was as if he hardly gave God a thought. Sosa added, “Remember the survival of the spiritual life. It needs to be fed. That means Bible reading and prayer.”
Zappolo's message confirmed his appointment with Haeley and Boone for late that afternoon, after Haeley reported that her mother would arrive from South Carolina to watch Max.
Jack's message was an invitation to a farewell party for Fletcher Galloway on Monday, the eighth. Boone immediately returned that call.
“Wouldn't miss it,” he said. “I don't suppose Haeley is invited.”
“Yeah, very funny.”
“You sure you want
there?” Boone said.
“'Course. Fletch loves you.”
“He might not when he finds out I'm all over this case.”
“Just don't spoil the party by talking about it, huh? There'll be plenty of time toâ”
“You think I'm not going to try to get a minute with Pete?”
“That's not the time or place.”
“Boones, I got to think Pete wants to talk to you too, to assure you it's not personal and to advise you to stay out of it.”
“You want me to arrange a meeting?”
“I'll let you know.”
“Just promise you won't complicate the party. That wouldn't be fair to Fletch.”
“That's going to be one weird party with one of our own conspicuously absent.”
“Well, it will be a little awkward because significant others are invited. Margaret will be there, and so will Fletch and Pete's wives.”
“I suppose Haeley's replacement will be there. I'll be the odd one out.”
“It's not going to be a big deal. Cake and stuff and a few words. Fletch just wants to clear out.”
The last thing Boone wanted was a CPD tail when he went to meet Mrs. Lamonica and take Haeley to Zappolo's office. Though freshly mellow from his meds, he stood by his upstairs window for ninety minutes to get a read on when and how often a squad cruised the block to keep an eye on the place. Seeing them come around only twice in an hour and a half told him when he could slip out late in the afternoon.
He called Haeley. She sounded miserable.
“I thought you'd be perkier today, considering.”
“I'm scared to death this is temporary, Boone. You know the US Attorney wants to make this a federal case. I might wish I'd stayed at County rather than get sent to a federal facility.”
“Zappolo will never let that happen.”
“Is that a guarantee?”
Boone hesitated. The Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) at Clark and Van Buren was newer and had to be better than County, but he didn't want to see her sent there any more than she did. It had been a stupid thing to say. “IÂ mean, Fritz'll do everything possible to keep you and Max together.”
Haeley did not sound reassured. She told him her mother had left South Carolina at about three that morning, and she expected her at about three in the afternoon. “Come around four so you can get acquainted before we go.”
At about three Boone returned to the upstairs window to watch for the patrolling squad. As soon as it had left the neighborhood, he slipped out the back to his car in the alley. Again the frigid air pierced his damaged lung and slowed him.
Several minutes later, when he pulled to within a few blocks of Haeley's apartment, he parked on a side street in a long line of cars. Someone would have to be specifically checking every license plate to find him.
Boone covered his mouth for the walk to Haeley's, longing for the day when breathing would be second nature again. Seeing Mrs. Lamonica's car with its South Carolina license plate gave him an idea. That was the car they should take downtown.
Haeley's mother was pleasant looking with short dark hair and medium build, plain compared to her striking daughter. She greeted him politely and seemed shy, but that soon proved a mistaken impression. As soon as Haeley excused herself to get ready, Mrs. Lamonica said, “Max will be up from his nap soon, but we have time to talk.”
“Good,” Boone said, but her tone had been such that he wasn't so sure.
“Haeley tells me you're a Christian man.”
“That's good. And what does that mean?”
“Mean, ma'am? I thought she told me you and your husband were believers too.”
“So you just want to be sure I know what it really means to be a Christian?”
“Tell you the truth, Mr. Drake, I want to know it means you're not sleeping with my daughter.”
“Is that an answer?”
“No, sorryâyou deserve an answer. I appreciate someone who gets to the point. You know Haeley and I have just begun to get serious.”
She sat gazing at him with raised eyebrows, as if to say she still hadn't heard an answer.
“Rest assured I respect her too much to be sleeping with her. I believe that's wrong for a Christian outside of marriage.”
“I wish she'd always felt that way,” Haeley's mother said, “though I do love what came of that sin.”
“That's what it was, you know.”
He nodded. “She has said as much herself.”
“Her father and I raised her right. 'Least we tried to. Maybe we were a little too strict; I don't know. She knew better is all I can say.”
“Well, if it makes you feel any better, she seems to be a whole different person now, but of course I didn't know her back then.”
“Then how do you know?”
“She tells me she was away from God, away from church. Rebelling.”
“Against God or against us?”
“I don't think she was ever that specific.”
“Well, I took it personally.”
“She knows that.”
“I guess I should be more forgiving.”
“You haven't forgiven her?”
Mrs. Lamonica pressed her lips together. “Sometimes I think I have. Maybe I haven't forgiven myself. If we were too hard on her, too strict, you knowÂ .Â .Â .”
“She was an adult. And like you both say, she knew better.”
“It's just such a heartache. And that young manÂ .Â .Â .”
“Did you meet him?”
She shook her head. “Just what she said about him, and him leaving before he even saw his own son. I just hope she never sees him again.”
“I can't imagine.”
“Well, with people like that you never know. Families keep secrets and have histories, and sure enough someday, sometime, somebody comes out of the woodwork.”
“From what she tells me, he has no interest.”
Mrs. Lamonica sighed and looked away. “Sure, now. But when it suits himÂ .Â .Â .”
“Let me pledge to you, ma'am, that if I'm in the picture and he shows up again, he's going to wish he hadn't.”
Suddenly the woman who had appeared weary from her long drive seemed to sit straighter and life came to her eyes. “I might come to like you after all.”
“I hope so!”
She offered a weak smile. “I know you've had your share of tragedy.”
Boone hadn't been sure how much Haeley had said about him. “Yes, ma'am.”
“If it means anything coming from me, I approve of you and Haeleyâand Maxâgetting to know each other better.”
“It means everything. And excuse me if I'm out of bounds, but I do think Haeley really wants and needs your forgiveness and approval.”
“I know. I'll try.”
They both stood when Haeley emerged. “There was one other thing I was going to ask you,” Boone said. “Might we be able to borrow your car? No one will be looking for us in that model car with an out-of-state plate.”
Haeley said, “Good idea. And my car's here, Mom, if you have an emergency.”
“I'd feel better if the one of you with two good arms did the driving,” Mrs. Lamonica said.
“Me too,” Boone said.
On their way downtown Haeley said, “So how did you two get on?”
“Okay, I think. She liked that I promised to take care of your ex if he ever shows up again.”
“Don't call him that.”
“Sorry. Anything else I call him you might not want to hear.”
“I can't believe you got that far with her already.”
“She brought it up. The woman speaks her mind.”
“Daddy's even worse. And they wonder why I was so eager to get out on my own.”
“I'm sure they mean well.”
Haeley squinted at Boone. “That's easy to say from a distance. I still feel judged.”
“She loves you is all I know.”
“Conditional love is painful.”
“Believe me,” he said, “I know. Our mothers have completely different looks and styles, but I'm overparented too.”
Haeley parked in the garage in Zappolo's building, but before she got out she reached across Boone to take his good hand. She was shaking. “I need you,” she said.
“I know. I'm here.”
“Mr. Zappolo said to be prepared for a long session and lots of questions.”
“You'll do fine.”
“I hope I can remember everything. I don't even know what he wants to know.”
“Don't worry until he asks.”
“I have a feeling he knows stuff I don't even know yet.”
“We'll find out soon enough.”
“Will you pray for me, Boone?”
Friday, February 5, 5:00 p.m.
Despite being known for playing his cards close to the vest, Friedrich Zappolo appeared to have trouble hiding his unease. He didn't look either Boone or Haeley in the eye and seemed distracted even as he hung their coats.
They sat at his side table, and the attorney stacked next to him his notes and an overstuffed envelope. He tapped it. “Disclosure from the other side.”
“Disclosure of what?” Haeley said.
“We'll get to that. Now, Ms. Lamonica, I want you to know that it makes zero difference to me whether or not you are guilty.”
“I assure you I am innocentâ”
Zappolo held up a hand. “I don't want to hear it. It's irrelevant. My job is to defend you in every way possible and make the other side prove their case. There is no legal finding of âinnocent.' You're either guilty or not guilty. If you're guilty and I get you off, that's on you. If you're not guilty and I fail to keep the other side from making it look otherwise, that's on me.”
“I don't want a lawyer who doesn't believe whetherâ”
“What you want is the best lawyer you can find, and you have that. It doesn't matter what I believe. It's all about the defense I can construct for you.”
Haeley stood. “I want another lawyer.”
“No, you don't,” Zappolo said. “Another lawyer won't know how to work around the evidence the other side has against you. Please, sit down. If you decide after we chat that you would be more comfortable with other counsel, of course I can't stand in your way.”
“Fritz,” Boone said, “just tell her what you've found.”
Haeley turned to Boone. “You know what he's found?”
“No, but it obviously doesn't look good or he wouldn't have had to give you the guilty-or-not-guilty speech.”
Haeley sat. “Is that true? Something makes you doubt me?”
Zappolo sat back and sighed. “Let's just say they have a case, and we have a problem. But I like a challenge.”
“Just get it all on the table,” Boone said.
Zappolo opened the envelope and slid out documents and two photos.
“This is a copy of a cell phone photo of a classified document entrusted to you and which bears notes written by you in code, revealing the location and timing of the transfer of Pascual Candelario from the original safe house to a lockup near where the grand jury was to be seated. Is that your handwriting?”
Haeley leaned forward. “Yes. And after the last meeting, that went into a locked file.”
“The question will be asked, how was an outsider able to photograph this?”
“No need to answer now. This other photo is of you making a deposit at your bank on the same date stamped on the other photo.”
Haeley studied it, pulled a tiny calendar and her checkbook from her purse, and leafed through both. “That was payday. I deposited my check.” She turned her check ledger so Zappolo could see it.
“Mm-hm. When do you get your bank statement?”
“The end of the month in the mail, but I can see it online anytime.”
“Checked it lately?”
“I have been given a copy of your current balance.”
“It shows the deposit of your check.”
“And a separate deposit the same day.”
“To my account?”
“Not by me.”
“And yet it appears in your new balance. Five thousand dollars.”
“Well, the deposit slip won't have my signature on it. How does someone deposit money into my account without my knowledge?”
Zappolo raised a brow. “You tell me. The deposits were both processed by the same teller.”
“I'm telling you I made one deposit,” Haeley said. “So what is all this?”
“Here's their case,” Zappolo said. “Only someone familiar with CPD lingo would understand your notes. Former detective Garrett Fox has an acrimonious relationship with Mr. Drake due to a previous Internal Affairs investigation that cost him his job. Plus he had been in line for the job Mr. Drake was awarded. He had a personal relationship with you, Haeley, that went sourâ”
“Ms. Lamonica, I'm telling you what the US Attorney believes, based on his staff's discovery, which included lengthy interviews with all the subjects.”
“Except you, of course. That will happen in court.”
“I never so much as even ran into Garrett Fox outside the office. I couldn't tell you where he lives, and we never, ever, socialized.”
“He's claiming an intimate relationship.”
“His testimony is that it went south and you expressed a desperate wish that knowledge of it never reach Mr. Drake. Your new relationship becomes another motive for Mr.Â Fox.”
Haeley shook her head, and her voice grew quavery. “They'll never be able to prove something so far from the truth.”
“Fox's testimony will be that he assured you he would never reveal the truth of your relationship if you would merely leave on your desk the file in question, just for the duration of your afternoon break.”
“And five thousand dollars?”
“I never took money. I never would.”
“Naturally it will need to be retrieved from your account.”
Haeley looked as if she were about to explode. “What did I ever do to Garrett Fox?”
“It was more likely what you wouldn't do with him,” Boone said. “Didn't you tell me he was always after you?”
“Yes, but how will that look now? Like he wore me down? My own lawyer doesn't believe me, soâ”
“Please, ma'am,” Zappolo said, “we need to be clear about this. It isn't that I don't believe you. It's that what I believe is wholly irrelevant.”
“I need you to believe me.”
The lawyer shrugged. “I've never liked Garrett Fox. So I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, if that makes you feel better.”
“That's more than most of my clients get. 'Course most of them
Haeley shook her head. “Boone swears by you, but let me ask you something. If you're known for defending guilty people, doesn't that make me look guilty?”
“He gets most of them off,” Boone said.
“I want to be acquitted because I'm innocent, not because of a tricky lawyer.”
“You don't mean âinnocent,'” Zappolo said. You mean ânot guilty.' Big difference. But it's your call. Let me tell you where I think things stand. You're going to have a tough time explaining away the deposit.”
“Keller has been trying to talk me into direct-depositing my check as it is. This sure makes that an easy decision. If I ever get my job back.”
“That's my goal. But then there's the matter of explaining the relationship.”
“I've told you, there's never been a relationship.”
“He's claiming otherwise and may come up with corroborating witnesses.”
“They'll have to be lying.”
“If we can prove that, and if you'll let me, I'd like to sue the City of Chicago for false arrest and myriad other things, which may result in a settlement that would keep you from ever having to work again.”
“Oh, no you don't. That's not me.”
“Don't be silly. There are all kinds of reasons to accept a settlement.”
“Because someone tried to make me look bad?”
“Because if you're right, the CPD didn't determine you were somehow set up.”
“So now you believe me, when a settlement would get you a hefty fee?”
“Whether I believe you or notâ”
“Yeah, I got that.”
“If I can get you a settlement, provided they don't prove their case, let me have my percentage and you can give away the rest, if that'll make you feel better.”
“And what's your percentage?”
“A third is standard, though if the settlement were in the high seven figures, I might reduce that to a quarter after a certain level.”
Haeley looked gobsmacked. “
“Potentially high seven figures.”
“Hold on,” Boone said. “Where is Fox in all this? Out on bond?”
“Yes, awaiting trial. But he's in deep trouble and he knows it. He's ready to tell of his involvement with Ms. Lamonica in exchange for a lighter sentence.”
“Something's not adding up,” Boone said. “Haeley never left that file out, which means Fox had to be working with someone else inside. And what was in this for him, anyway? Just getting our star witness killed to ruin the case and my major collar? He had to be getting big bucks.”
“Want to know what I think?” Zappolo said. “I think he takes a reduced sentence, trying to take down anyone he can in the process, serves his time, and then still gets a big payday on the other end. The one hole in your sting case is that you have not rounded up all the cash the gangs have hoarded over the years. Millions? Billions? You realize they brought in so much cash it was easier to weigh it than count it to know how much they had? Anyway, we know why Jazzy wanted Pascual dead. That had to be worth quite an offer. The question is, how did Fox get connected with people like that?”
“He was undercover for a few years,” Boone said.
“Well, there you go.”
Haeley said, “How do I prove Fox is lying about a relationship with me?”
“The burden of proof is on him,” Zappolo said. “But be prepared. Your reputation is going to be dragged through the mud. Do I understand you have a child out of wedlock?”
“Tell me Max won't figure into this.”
“I can keep his name out of it, but no, I can't get that fact excluded. It speaks to your character and lifestyle, which will be under attack.”
“What it speaks to is a period of my life that is long past.”
“That may be, but the other side will try to make you look like a bed hopper. Sorry.”
Haeley buried her head in her hands.
“Rethinking the idea of a settlement when this is all over?”
“Maybe,” she said quietly. “If they really do this to Max and me.”
“Before you decide you're dead set against profiting from a debacle like this,” Zappolo said, “think of your son. You could set him up for life: college, the whole thing.”
“You're pretty confident you can win.”
“I'd better be. If I just get you off, Boone's five grand pays a few of my expenses. We take it to the next step, my third can more than pay off my boat.”
Haeley stood and paced. “How ugly can this get?”
Zappolo shrugged. “Everything's fair game. It wouldn't surprise me if they called the father of your son to testify.”
“You have got to be kidding.”
“And if they're smart, they'll get him to paint you in a pretty bad light.”
“You sure you want to hear this?”
“Better from you than in court for the first time. I can't believe I might have to face him again.”
“Maybe they won't want to go to the expense of flying him in. Where does he live?”
“He works in a casino in Hammond.”
“Then you can bet he'll be here. If I were on their side, I'd get him to portray you as a loose woman.”
“It won't be hard for you to impugn his character, Fritz,” Boone said. “He's still never seen his own son.”
Zappolo shrugged. “They'll get him to say it was because he wasn't allowed and that he isn't even sure the baby wasÂ his.”
Haeley shot him a double take.
“I'm just telling you what you're facing.”
As they headed back to Haeley's mother's car, Boone was exhausted. At times like this he was reminded of the trauma done to his body and how much worse he was bound to feel ten days hence when he would come out of surgery. He had the feeling he had a lot to accomplish before rehab.
The parking garage was cold and drafty, and Boone was eager to get in the car. But as he stood there with his good hand on the door handle, Haeley seemed paralyzed on the other side of the car. “I can't leave it like this,” she said.
“I need to tell him.”
She marched off toward the elevator.
“Could you leave me the keys?” Boone said.
“You're not going with me?”
“I guess I am.”
They met Friedrich Zappolo in the foyer of his law firm, dressed for the weather. “Forget something?” he said.
“You need to hear this from me,” Haeley said. “That's all.”
She got in his face. “I don't care about the legal mumbo jumbo, whether I'm innocent or not guilty or whatever you want to call it. And I don't care whether it's relevant or you want or need to hear it, but I need you to. I never had any kind of a relationship with Garrett Fox, and I never would. I never left any classified documents out where anyone could see them, least of all an outsider. And I never took money to do anything wrong.”