Jack Mayham placed the last of his personal items in a box and turned to take one last look out of his Manhattan office window at a cloudless blue sky. An IRS audit resulted in the Law Firm of Lark, Whim, and Fault having to pay $800,000 in penalties and back taxes. Within hours of the news, the managing partner of the firm had told him to vacate his office. It was the third law firm to do so in four years. Each had suffered the wrath of the IRS within months of his joining the firms. The continued punishment bought on as a result of him being caught naked while sharing a hot-tub with an IRS agent’s sister.
He turned to pick up the cardboard box. A blonde, wearing a Luis Vuitton low-cut red dress stepped into his office. Her diamond necklace alone, not to mention the Cartier La Dona watch, was probably valued at far more than he’d earned the past five years. She sashayed from the doorway to the front of his desk. Her hip movements appeared to be in slow motion, compared to his heart rate. The sunlight shone through the window behind him reflected off her diamonds. He shaded his eyes from the dazzling array of sparkle.
The woman appeared to be in her late twenties.
“Are you Jack Mayham?”
He lowered his hand and made his way around his desk to greet her.
“In the flesh.”
He studied every inch of hers that wasn’t covered by clothing, diamonds, and a Cartier La Dona watch. If there was a more beautiful woman in the world, he hadn’t seen her yet.
She extended her hand. “I’m Lisa LeRouse Bedford. I need an attorney.”
“Unfortunately, I don’t handle divorce cases.” He took her hand and gently shook it once before releasing it. “I’m a criminal defense lawyer.”
“Yes, that’s why I’m here. My husband, Earl, was murdered last week. The police think I had something to do with it. Unfortunately, the attorney I hired to represent me is missing.”
“That attorney wouldn’t be Harvey Hill Harmon?”
Her beautiful green eyes widened. “Yes, it was. How did you know?”
“I read about it in the morning paper.” According to the article, Harvey’s maid found a large amount of blood on the floor of his home, and his office on 42th street had been ransacked the previous night. This sounded like the type of case he might not want to touch. She, on the other hand was a different story. Unfortunately for him the timing was terrible.
“I would love to help you, but I no longer work for Lark, Whim, and Fault.”
“Good, that means I will be your sole client.” She opened her Marc Jacobs Carolyn Crocodile handbag, reached in, and pulled out a pen and checkbook. After filling in the blanks, she ripped the check out and extended it toward him holding it at eye level.
The check was made out to him and not the firm. $250,000 had a way of breaking the ice in any new financial relationship, especially when it couldn’t have come at a better time. In debt up to his blue and white necktie, he couldn’t resist the kind of opportunity that comes along once in a lifetime. He grabbed the check, folded it, and stuffed it into his inside suit pocket. “Lunch is on me. I know a nice place just down the street.”
After consuming a deli sandwich and a glass of tea, Lisa wove a sad story of lost love. Her husband, Earl, thirty-six years her senior, was found floating face down in their swimming pool.
Lisa pushed her paper plate to the side. “The autopsy report stated the bruising around Earl’s head and shoulders indicated force had been used to hold my husband under water.” She wiped a tear from her eye. “Who would do such a terrible thing to my sweet Earl?”
That was a job for the police. His was to keep his client out of jail. Why had the police focused on his client so quickly? Apparently, they believe she had a motive.
“Why do the police suspect you?”
She shook her head. “I told the detectives I was out shopping for a new pair of Jimmy Choo heels.” She stuck her foot out and pointed to her shoe. “But after they found out I’m the sole heir to Earl’s fortune they told me I was their prime suspect.”
He was still staring at her long slender leg with a Jimmy Choo shoe at the end of it, when she continued.
“With that mean prosecuting attorney out to get me, I did what any intelligent woman would do. I hired Harvey, but now that he’s missing, you’re my only hope.”
That got his attention back above the table top. Harvey is missing, blood found at this home, and a ransacked law office. How did that tie into her husband being murdered? Maybe it didn’t. Those events might not have anything to do with Lisa’s case.
“I hope you’re as fearless in the courtroom as you claim to be on your Facebook page.”
What was he thinking? Mental note to self, never post on your timeline after drinking heavily. First things first, he needed to find out the results of the police investigation. Those shoes looked like a pretty good alibi, if the time of death occurred during her shopping spree. If the shoe fits, you must acquit. It worked for Johnny Cochran. It might also work for him.
“I’ll speak with the prosecutor this afternoon. Once I know what the DA’s office has in the way of evidence against you, we can plan our next step.”
“Thank you for believing I’m innocent.”
He hadn’t said that, but until he knew otherwise, his job was to defend her as if she was. If it turned out she was guilty of killing her husband, he’d still mount the best defense possible.
After leaving the deli, she led him to her car, a Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren. When he opened the driver’s side door for her, she placed her hand on his arm. “Will you give me a full report at dinner tonight? I would like to know what you find out.”
Her touch was as powerful as the $450,000 automobile she drove. Even if she wasn’t paying him, he’d find it difficult not to give her anything she asked of him.
“Of course, around seven o’clock?”
“Perfect, I’ll meet you at Jean Georges.”
Apparently, his deli cuisine diet was about to change. Dinner for two at Jean Georges, housed in the Trump International Hotel and Tower, would set him back close to five hundred dollars, if her taste in wine was anywhere near her tastes in clothing and automobiles.
After seeing her off, he hailed a taxi which took him to the bank where he deposited the check into his account. He withdrew a thousand dollars in cash for walking around money.
A second cab took him to city hall. Getting pieces of information, from the prosecutor’s office, turned out to be a lot like trying to pull shark’s teeth. From the evasive answers Eli Shenall gave to his questions, he guessed the evidence the prosecutor had against his client was all circumstantial. Every time he tried to extract any evidence the state had against Lisa, Shenall slammed his mouth shut with the force of a man-eating Great White.
The rule of law demanded every piece of evidence the state had against his client be turned over to defense counsel. He had no desire to do a slow dance with Eli.
“If you make me go before a judge, you are well aware what the outcome will be?”
“Give me your card Mayham, I’ll have everything sent to your office tomorrow morning.”
“My office is in the process of being moved. While I’m here, I’d rather pick up what you have.”
“That’s not going to happen. As you can see, we’re rather busy today.”
At that moment, a young attractive female stepped into his office doorway and tapped on the door jam with the finesse of a tooth fairy.
“Sorry to interrupt, Eli, but may I have a word with you.”
The prosecutor waved her into his office. From the smile that spread across Eli’s face, either he was having sex with the tooth fairy, or he hoped to some day.
He wondered if Shenall would have been so forgiving if a short fat guy had interrupted their conversation.
She handed him a sheet of paper and whispered something in Eli’s ear.
Eli glared at him. “Mayham, are you aware your client’s late husband is connected to organized crime?
Organized crime? Lisa’s sweet Earl, no way. He shook his head. “That is news to me.”
The prosecutor lifted the computer printout. “Read it for yourself.”
After reading what one of their investigators had uncovered, he knew the case against his client had a taken a major turn, as in U-turn.
The police had discovered Earl’s fingerprints were none other than those of Tony Delonzo. Known as The Cleaner, Delonzo washed dirty money for the mob by investing it in large CAP international securities. Five years earlier, The Cleaner had withdrawn sixty million from the mob’s Swiss account and vanished. He became the subject of the mob’s largest manhunt in history.
Not wanting to ruin an expensive meal, he waited until he and Lisa had finished the main course at Jean Georges before giving her the news about her late husband’s true identity.
Appearing to be unshaken, Lisa picked up her glass and sipped all that remained of the $180.00 Latour before setting it back on the table. “That would explain why the name Earl didn’t fit his personality.”
At least she had taken the news well.
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