Lexi Blake Ruthless.jpg

Evidence of Desire

A Courting Justice Novel

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About the book

A fast-paced contemporary romance that sizzles from the New York Times bestselling author of Order of Protection where passion for the law isn't the only thing heating up the courtroom.

Isla Shayne knows she's in over her head. As former all-star linebacker Trey Adams's personal lawyer, she's used to handling his business dealings and private financial matters, not murder charges. She needs to find an experienced criminal attorney who speaks her client's language. David Cormack of Garrison, Cormack and Lawless is exactly what she needs in the courtroom—and the only man she wants in the bedroom.

For David, taking on the Adams case means diving back into a world he thought he'd left behind and colliding head on with tragic possibilities he's in no mood to face. There's a reason professional football is in his past and no matter how close Isla gets to the truth he intends to leave it there.

But long days working on the case together lead to hot nights in each other's arms. As their feelings grow, the case takes a deadly twist that could change the game between the two lovers forever.

EVIDENCE OF DESIRE is a story of heartbreak, secrets and lies; friendship, family and betrayal: second chances and falling in love. The premise is captivating and entertaining; the romance is seductive and sexy; the characters are colorful, engaging and lively. EVIDENCE OF DESIRE is a dramatic, moving and tragic story of passion, and the potential vulnerability for those unable to protect or defend themselves.
Sandy, The Reading Cafe
Evidence of Desire is a masterful piece of romantic suspense with added emotional torture just to mix things up a little bit. I am going to go out on a limb here and say Lexi Blake is for me, up at the top of the romantic suspense pyramid.
Book Angel Booktopia
Evidence of Desire is a finely tuned blend of sexy romance and dramatic suspense, with a deep lineup of captivating characters. Blake sets an exciting pace that twists and turns, and surprises the reader with an unexpected reveal late in the game. You’ll need to budget your time with this book, because it is un-put-down-able.


Chapter One

It was always the roar of the crowd he heard first. It came out of nowhere. Like the world was quiet and still, and then a joyous chaos slapped him in the face. How many times had he stood outside the locker room, waiting for that moment when he moved from the darkness and into the brilliant light? When he went from being something small to being the center of the world? 

It was odd though because now he wasn’t surrounded by laughing teammates, their camaraderie usually buoying him in the face of those questioning, demanding lights. He wasn’t bouncing in his cleats, pumping himself up by messing around with the running back or joking with his line. Sometimes they would bump hard against each other as though prepping for the hits to come, to remind each other—I am invincible. 

Now there was only him standing in the shadows, waiting for that moment when he would be called to glory. 

Why the hell was he in a suit? He looked down and there wasn’t a football in his hand. Instead he carried an elegant briefcase. He felt leaner, his body not as ripped as it was supposed to be. He needed the muscle, needed the strength. Here only the strongest survived. Only the most willing to sacrifice made it to the field.

The announcer’s voice shook the stadium, calling out number thirty-four.

This was wrong. He knew it deep in his gut. This was wrong and he wasn’t going out there. He would stay in the shadows. Being small didn’t mean being wrong. Except his feet were moving and there it was, the roar that seemed to shake his soul. Had he once thought that was the sweetest sound in the world? Now he could hear the hunger behind the cheers, the craving for something to take each fan away from their ordinary lives. Blood would do. Bones cracking and miracles performed, every player would feed the need of the crowd that jubilantly screamed now, but oh how it could turn when things went wrong. One misstep. One fumble. One missed chance and that jubilation would turn ugly and he would feel it in his soul. 

He found himself in the middle of the field, all lights on him. Blinding lights. He’d wanted this? He’d once needed this like he needed his next breath. These lights, that crowd, those voices proved he’d climbed out of the cesspool of poverty he’d been born into, lifted up through gift and discipline, through blood and pain.

He held his fists up, dropping the stupid briefcase. He didn’t need that. He didn’t need pads or helmets. He needed discipline and the ability to ignore pain. That was the sacrifice. What were a few broken bones compared to the glory he could find here? 

And then everything stopped. No more cheers. No more lights. He was alone and yet not because the crowd had gone, but something was coming for him. Silence and darkness, and he realized it was close. It was coming for him in that sullen night, a quiet locomotive that bashed past all precautions.

He waited, bracing himself for the final tackle.

* * * *

David sat straight up in bed when the phone rang, the sound splitting the deep gloom of his dream. His hands were shaking, and it took him a moment to remember that he was here in his nice Chelsea apartment that cost more than a thousand of the trailers he’d grown up in. He was safe and functional, and he was a lawyer not a Sunday soldier. 

Fuck. He hated that dream. Why couldn’t he dream about serial killers stalking him? He was a damn criminal defense attorney. He’d met with some of the creepiest human beings on earth. Surely he could come up with a few nightmares about them. It would be less disturbing. 

He glanced at the clock. Barely five a.m. on a Saturday. Damn it. He had exactly two days to sleep in. Not to not work. He worked seven days a week, but at least on weekends he got a couple of extra hours of sleep. Everyone knew that. 

His cell trilled again, the sound not as close in proximity as it should have been. Had he turned the ringer down? 

His heart seized a little because everyone did know that he slept in, and that meant this was likely an emergency. He scrambled to get to his phone. 

Where was his phone? He could hear the fucker, but where was it? Why wasn’t it sitting on the nightstand where he always put it? 

What the hell had he done last night? 

He turned on the lights and walked into the living room, where the sound was louder. Yeah, now he remembered. He’d gotten together with friends and ordered takeout to celebrate the end of a case. Margarita and Noah had come to his place. They’d started out by going over the jury polling and ended up drinking way, way too much tequila. 

He was too old for that shit. How had he gotten talked into it? And Margarita could seriously drink some tequila. They’d laughed about it the night before, the amount of tequila going into their Margarita. Naturally she’d been the completely steady one. She was the one who directed him to go to bed when it got late, and promised to see Noah home. God, he hoped Noah hadn’t hit on her. That was the last thing they needed. Margarita Reyes was one of the single smartest legal minds he’d ever met. She split her time between his New York firm, Garrison, Cormack, and Lawless, and the software company 4L, owned by the incredibly wealthy Drew Lawless. David was almost certain Margarita had been initially sent by Drew to watch over the youngest of his siblings, Noah, as he embarked on his career, but two years in she was a part of the team and not someone’s watchdog. Either that or she was a terrible watchdog because she instigated most of the parties. 

Where the hell was his phone? 

It had stopped ringing. He was going to feel so damn bad if that was his mother and something had happened to his dad. With the way things had been going, it could be anything. Since the Alzheimer’s had progressed, his father had been known to wander off, thinking it was still the eighties and looking for his toddler son. 

He hoped things had changed since he’d started paying for a full-time nurse. He would do almost anything to help his mother out. She was aging herself and he wanted her to enjoy her golden years instead of worrying about a husband who was rapidly forgetting who he was.

There was a tapping on his door, lightly, as though the person knocking knew how pissed off New Yorkers could get when something interrupted their weekend sleep. 

It was Grand Central here this morning. Everyone wanted a piece of him. Without bothering to find a robe, he strode to the door and looked out the peephole. He sighed and started the long process of unlocking the door. 

Noah stood in the doorway, and David thought seriously about punching him in his perfect, nobody-can-tell-I-spent-the-night-finding-the-bottom-of-a-bottle-of-tequila face. He was dressed in a designer suit, his GQ-ready face all fresh and youthful. 

David was fairly certain he’d never looked that young in his life. “What? Do you have any idea what time it is? Did Margarita lose you on the way home? Did you find some model’s bed and now you need a place to hide?” 

The way Noah went through women, it was a plausible scenario. 

Noah’s eyes widened. “Is that any way to greet the man who is about to make your entire year? You said you wanted a big case, I’ve caught us a whopper. But seriously, you’re going to have to wear more than those boxers. Let’s get you dressed and moving, my man. I’ve got a car waiting for us.”

He strode in and David closed the door behind him. “What case are you talking about, and can it wait? I need to find my phone. I think my mother might be calling.”

“It was me. I thought I’d warn you I was coming up.” Noah set his briefcase down and moved to the kitchen. “Go and shower and change while I make you some coffee. I would have gotten some at Starbucks, but I know that’s too froufrou for you.” 

“I’m not trying to be a jerk. I just like plain coffee, and there’s nothing plain about theirs.” Why couldn’t coffee be coffee flavored? When he asked for coffee-flavored coffee, the baristas stared at him like he’d grown two heads. Which he kind of felt like he had today, and both of them were throbbing. Damn tequila. “Why am I getting into a suit on a Saturday morning?” 

“Because we’re going to have to wade through an army of reporters at some point, and you know you like to look your best,” Noah said from the kitchen, where he proved he’d spent far too much time here. He went straight for the coffeepot and started it brewing. “Seriously, we have to hurry. I want us there when they arrest him. According to his personal attorney, they’ve still got him at his place. They haven’t transported him yet, but that’s what you get when you’re a star. Kid-glove treatment.”

“Arrest who?” David knew he sounded irritable. He was irritable. “And if this is such a big case, why isn’t it Henry you’re bugging at this god-awful hour of the morning?”

“Because Isla requested you personally,” Noah replied.

“Isla?” He knew the name vaguely. A vision of a petite woman with brown and gold hair floated through his brain. She was a few years younger than him. He remembered her as smart and a bit on the somber side. “Are you talking about Isla Shayne? She used to work with the New York Guardians in the front office, right?” 

The Guardians were one of the state’s many professional sports franchises, this one a football team with a storied history of winning championships. 

Noah nodded. “Yes, that’s Isla. I know her from school. She was a couple grades ahead of me at the girls’ school when I was a freshman at Creighton. I knew her fiancé. He was a senior at Creighton.” 

Austin Kendrick, son of Guardians owner, Carey Kendrick. Austin had been an up-and-coming quarterback until he found out he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of twenty-three. Austin Kendrick was proof that money and privilege couldn’t always avert tragedy. Now he was curious. Isla was known for being a workhorse. She’d worked for her would-have-been father-in-law for years before she started her own practice. David had heard she was the go-to girl for wealthy athletes and celebrities who needed someone to look at every single item they signed. She was highly sought after. 

And apparently she had a client in trouble. If that client could afford to hire Isla Shayne, this might be a seriously high-profile case. Was his Armani clean? 

“Who are we talking about?” David asked, the smell of coffee ifting some of the fog from his brain. Be a basketball guy or a Hollywood actor. Be a baseball player or some dumbass reality star. Anyone but an athlete from that world he dreamed about. 

“It’s Trey Adams.” Noah held a mug in his hand, and his eyes were lit with ambition. Sometimes he was certain this was the real reason Henry had brought in Noah. They needed someone young and hungry, someone who hadn’t already been ground down by the system, who still thought that being king of the world would bring him some happiness. That kind of drive fueled a great firm. 

“Adams?” David’s stomach did a deep dive, and he once again wished he hadn’t partied with the youngsters the night before. Damn. He wasn’t even forty and he still felt old around those two. 

“Trey Adams, the quarterback saint of the football world, allegedly killed his wife in a fit of rage in the early hours of this morning, and we’re going to defend him. This is it, my man. This is the O. J. trial of our time and we’ve got the case. We’re about to catapult into the stratosphere. It’s everything we’ve been waiting on.” 

Trey Adams was a legend. Trey Adams had led the Guardians to three Super Bowl titles during his twelve years as a professional quarterback. He’d married model and activist Portia Adams, and they’d been the world’s power couple for more than a decade. After his retirement fifteen years before, they’d settled here in Manhattan, where he’d done color commentary for five years and then suddenly quit, saying he wanted more time with his wife and kids. 

But there were rumors. Rumors that he couldn’t remember where he was at times. Rumors that he could get violent. Rumors that he was addicted to pain meds. 

David knew what it all added up to. 

“Portia Adams is dead?” He felt a little numb even as Noah handed him the mug.

Noah’s eyes softened. “I’m sorry. You knew him? I should have thought of that, but you’ve been out of the game for a long time. You rarely talk about it.” 

“I’ve met him a few times. We were never on the same team. His wife was a lovely woman. She ran a lot of the charity works for the league. Smart lady.” He took the coffee. It looked like he was going to need it. “I’ll get changed. How bad is the press coverage at this point?” 

“David, maybe I should call Henry,” Noah said, sounding hesitant for the first time. “He’s out on the island with Win, but I can hold down the case until he gets here.” 

“I thought they wanted me.” He knew what Noah was doing, giving him an out. He wasn’t going to be cowardly enough to take it. Because Noah was right. If this wasn’t an open-and-shut case, it would be the case. Hell, he could make something of it no matter what the evidence showed. Even if there was clear proof that Adams killed his wife, there was likely a defense. A defense no one had ever used in a case this big. 

CTE. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Every athlete’s nightmare. 

Who better to bring it than a man who might suffer from it one day? 

“She does want you,” Noah replied. “She asked specifically for you. You’re perfect for this case. It’s not easy finding a Harvard-educated lawyer who also played in the NFL. And I don’t think the press coverage is bad yet, but the minute the sun comes up, you know the vultures will start to circle. I wanted to try to be there if they take him into custody.” 

“Don’t you mean when they take him into custody?”

Noah shrugged. “I’m trying to be optimistic.”

“Stop,” he shot back as he started for the bedroom. No time to shower. That would have to wait, and he needed to get into battle mode. He would be stepping into those lights today and there would be nowhere to hide. “I don’t need Suzy Sunshine as my second. I need Dour Dan.” 

Noah frowned in a way that looked silly on that matinee-idol face of his. “I can be that. And they’re definitely hauling his ass down to the station. The question is how they do it. We should hurry if we intend to mitigate the damage.” 

“All right, then. This is my case.” He said the words, allowing them to sink in. “I’ll get dressed. You figure out what kind of shit storm we’re walking into and have Margarita start writing some statements about the victim. I want her to get the clerks working on everything we know about Trey Adams and his state of health, both physically and mentally. If he’s popping pills, I want to know where they came from. If he’s seeing a shrink, I want the phone number. And everything on their marriage. If there’s a single rumor of someone cheating or even thinking about leaving, I want to know. Go through every gossip rag for the last two years. They suck, but there’s sometimes a kernel of truth to those stories and they’ll give us a place to start. But the medical records are the key to this case. You understand?” 

He would need all the medical records, and there would be tons of them. Over the course of his career, Trey Adams would have been injured many times. But it was the head injuries that David was particularly interested in. Could decades of small traumas to the brain have turned a hero into a killer? 

Noah was already on his phone. “Margarita, I need you to get up. What do you mean? You’ve already made breakfast and been to the gym? What’d you make?” 

He opened the closet and started pulling on his new uniform. It was still a form of armor. He was going to need a very thick skin to come out of this one whole. 

* * * *

Isla Shayne glanced at the clock. Five forty. How much longer would she have? How much longer could she stand here in this apartment where she’d come for parties and dinners and remain calm and cool? 

How in all that was right with the universe could Portia Adams be dead? 

A hand reached down for hers, a slender body leaning, and she felt a silent sob go through Miranda Adams’s body. Isla squeezed her hand. Miranda was barely twenty but she was holding up like a champ. She’d been the one to phone Isla after her father had called her at her dorm at Columbia University. Miranda had been the one who met her in the lobby of her parents’ building. 

But it had been Isla who made the long ride in the elevator, who’d used Miranda’s key to get in, who’d walked into a bloodbath. 

“When will they take her out?” Miranda asked. 

Her. Her mother. When would they take her body away? “It could be a while, sweetie. The medical examiner just got here a couple of minutes ago and the district attorney isn’t here yet.” 

“Should Dad be talking to the detective?” Miranda straightened up, her shoulders squaring. 

“I’m trying to keep things civil right now. I don’t want to risk them hauling in your dad. If we play the game right, we might be able to avoid parading him in front of the press, but I need his defense attorney here.” 

“Why can’t you handle it? Isla, we trust you. You know us.” 

“I do, but David Cormack knows criminal law and I think he’ll be very good at talking to your dad,” she replied quietly. “I’m good at handling a lot of different legal situations, but I have no experience with this.” 

None, or she wouldn’t have taken a single look at the scene and ending up vomiting in one of the elegant large planters that decorated the penthouse. Yeah, she’d had to explain that to the police. She glanced across the room to where the detectives were speaking to her client. 

“So you woke up and she was dead?” Detective Campbell was a tall man in an elegant suit. He had midnight skin and eyes that had seen way too much of the world. And yet his voice was soft as he stared at his subject. 

Trey’s eyes were unfocused, bleary. “Portia? Portia’s dead?” His face went blank for a moment and then his jaw tightened. “I knew that. I knew she was dead.” 

They hadn’t allowed him to clean up yet. Trey Adams still had blood on his hands and his shirt. He’d tried to get up and hug his daughter, but the police weren’t allowing him to do anything but sit in the living room. 

He had gotten bad. Much worse than the last time she’d seen him, and she had to wonder what they would find in his tox screen. “Detective, I would prefer to wait for his attorney.” 

Campbell turned his stare on her. “I thought you were his attorney.” 

“She’s a good lawyer,” Trey said, nodding her way. “If you’re looking for one, you can’t do better than our Isla. Known her since she was a kid and now she looks out for us. Doesn’t she, Randi? Isla’s the best. For me and…I know she’s dead.” He ran a hand through his hair. 

Miranda moved in closer to her father, speaking to him in soothing tones. 

The detective drew Isla away, taking her out of earshot of Miranda and Trey. “I thought you told me the antianxiety meds would make him better.” 

“He is better. He’s talking and not crying. We managed to get him to let her body go,” she replied. And that had been a close thing. She’d had to talk him down because she couldn’t let Miranda see her mother’s body, couldn’t let her know how much blood had spilled. She had to hold it together until David Cormack got here. That was all she had to do. Keep things from falling apart until the big guns arrived. Her job was to not screw up and let her client incriminate himself. 

And not break down because it was truly tragic. 

What happened to him?

That’s not the Adams I know.

The cops were all whispering. These were New York’s finest, career cops who rarely blinked, but it was easy to see that even the most hardened officer was off his game today. Being in the presence of a living legend was bad enough. When that living legend turned out to be a fragile, broken version of the man they’d once called the greatest to play the game, it seemed to have thrown some of them for a loop. 

“Gentlemen…” Campbell’s deep voice had them scrambling to get back to work. The detective gestured for her to move with him, slightly out of Trey Adams’s earshot. Two officers took up watch on the suspect—how could he be a suspect? 

“I’m trying to handle this as delicately as possible,” Campbell said. “But I need you to explain his situation right now. Will I be able to question him?” 

“Yes. He has good days and bad days. You’ll absolutely be able to question him. But I can’t promise you he’ll remember what happened.” 

“I think we can come up with some ways to help him along,” a deep voice said. 

She turned and was facing a blond-haired man in a superexpensive suit. One she knew well. “Hello, Royce. I don’t suppose you’re here for a social visit.” 

Royce Osborne was born to work in the district attorney’s office. He had Superman good looks, the ability to convince people he cared, and the dark soul of a true amoral demon. He was all about the win, and his record showed it. If he thought he couldn’t win, he would drop the case no matter how desperate the victims were.

She couldn’t believe she’d dated that walking hairpiece, but then she’d let herself be set up on a blind date, and at first he’d seemed nice. That had changed over the course of their relationship. It was two months of her life she wouldn’t ever get back, and she was fairly certain at some point he’d stolen her moisturizer. She was never again going to date a guy who spent more time getting ready than she did. 

Royce smiled, his teeth definitely too white to be natural. “Not at all. I’m here to lay the groundwork and to talk to the public. This is going to be a big case. I want to make sure no one screws it up, but it looks like you’re not doing the same, sweetheart. You’re not a criminal lawyer. Decide to play with the big boys, have you? Do you think that’s smart?” He looked around the room, his face becoming a mask of disgust. “What the hell happened? Jesus, he looks like shit. Are we sure he’s the perp and not the victim?” 

“Keep your voice down, Royce. His daughter is here,” she said under her breath. She looked over and it seemed like Miranda hadn’t heard him. 

The assistant DA shrugged. “Should she be here? Shouldn’t we clear all the nonessential people out? Speaking of that, should he still be here? Detective, is there a reason you haven’t arrested this man?”

“Well, ADA Osborne, I tend to prefer to figure a situation out before I rip apart families and force potentially innocent suspects to do a perp walk in front of a thousand cameras,” Campbell replied laconically. “Tell me something. Did you smile for your closeup? I bet you didn’t come in the back way.” 

Royce smiled dismissively. “The public needs to know they have the best representing them. My talking to reporters reassures the people of New York that the DA’s office can handle this. Now, Detective Campbell, I must insist that you do your job. Arrest this man. I want him outside in handcuffs in thirty minutes. We can do this down at the station.” 

Campbell frowned. “There is no point in humiliating the man. I’ll be honest. I’m not convinced that he has the mental capacity to know what he did, if he did it. I’ve been trying to get him to cooper-ate with processing, and I think he’ll do that more readily if he’s in a familiar place.”

“Force him,” Royce insisted. 

“He’s not trying to be uncooperative,” Campbell replied. “He’s confused and scared. I’m trying to do this in a way that doesn’t further the trauma.” 

“I don’t care about his trauma,” Royce replied. “It’s an election year and my boss is running on a law-and-order platform. We care about the victim. I’m not going to allow this to turn into fucking O. J. Simpson, do you understand? We will show the world that New York doesn’t care if you’re a celebrity. You come here and kill someone, you get treated like the thug you are.” 

“Whatever happened to innocent before proven guilty?” Isla asked. 

“The fact that you can even ask that question with a straight face proves my point,” he replied. “You shouldn’t attempt to represent this man, Isla. I’ll tear you apart and I won’t think twice about doing it. I would rather we did something more pleasant. Why don’t you call in one of the big boys and let them handle this, and when I’ve got some free time, maybe we can go to dinner and I’ll fill you in.” 

Or she could punch him. She was pretty good according to her self-defense teacher. This was sort of self-defense. He was offending her greatly with his mouth and she could shut it with her fist. 

“Well, well, look at that, Noah. You see, that is what we call a triple threat,” a new voice said. “He’s managed to violate our client’s rights, sexually harass the females, and bring into question his own police department’s competency. This one’s going to be easy, brother.” 

“I love it when the DA does our job for us,” Noah Lawless said. 

Noah was an old friend and a welcome sight. If he’d been irritated to be called to work early in the morning, it didn’t show on his face. Noah looked young, his blue eyes shining as he smiled her way. David Cormack was different. He didn’t look young and shiny, but there was a competence about the man that called to her. His dark hair was cut ruthlessly short. His suit was fashionable, but she could tell this wasn’t a man who spent endless hours on his skin care regimen. Nope. He spent that time in the gym. No amount of expensive suit could cover those muscles. 

She held out a hand, welcoming Noah. “I’m grateful you’re here.” She caught Miranda’s attention, calling the younger woman over. “Miranda, these are the men I was telling you about. They’re very good.” 

The cavalry was here. Thank god. Noah looked like a knight on a stallion, swooping in to save the damsel in distress. Normally she didn’t think of herself that way. She was strong and smart and able to handle almost anything thrown at her. 

Except blood and death and heartache. 

“It’s nice to meet you, Miranda.” The man who’d spoken to Noah stepped up. Now there was a white knight. “I am sorry for your loss. My name is David Cormack. I’m going to be looking out for your dad.” 

Isla watched as Miranda shook his hand. It was startling how he changed from the man who’d stared at Royce with a hint of disdain. Now he looked down at Miranda with the kindest eyes. He wore a suit to rival Royce’s, but the difference was already apparent. He hadn’t said I’ll be representing your father like almost any other lawyer would. He’d said he would be looking out for her father. This was a man who knew that words mattered, that intent was important. 

“Thank you,” Miranda said quietly, releasing his hand. She looked back up at Isla. “I should go soon. I hate to leave Dad, but I have to get to Oscar’s place in Brooklyn. He’s not answering his phone. My brother sleeps in most weekends and nothing wakes him, but I don’t want him to open the door when he goes out for coffee and get besieged by reporters. I need to get there before they find out where he’s living.” 

David looked over his shoulder, but Noah was already on the phone. He nodded Miranda’s way. “You can take our car. It should be ready for you in five minutes. He’ll pick you up in the parking garage and go out through the service entrance. The herd is thin there.” 

Noah hung up. “He’ll also stop and pick up an associate of ours. Her name is Margarita Reyes. You don’t need to be alone right now. She’ll keep reporters off your back, but she’ll also give you all the space you need.” 

Miranda looked up at Isla, an expectant look on her face. 

Isla nodded. She trusted Noah. They hadn’t been close, but Austin had liked him and she liked his sister, Mia. They’d met at social functions and charity balls. “I need to stay here to monitor things with your dad. You go on. They’ll take care of you—and, Miranda, I’m so, so sorry. We all loved your mother.” 

Miranda sniffled and started to turn. She moved over to where her father was sitting, tears streaking down her face as she spoke to him. 

“Are you letting her go?” Royce asked. “We should probably question her.” 

Detective Campbell frowned. “A few minutes ago, she didn’t matter. Make up your mind. And do you think I haven’t questioned her? She’s given a full report on everything she knows. She wasn’t the one who found the body.” He called over a female officer. “Benson, please escort Ms. Adams down to her car. She needs to inform her brother of their mother’s passing and she would like to do it before the press does.” 

The blonde nodded and then put a hand on Miranda’s shoulder. “Come on. Let’s get you out of here.” 

At least someone was showing some compassion. 

“Detective.” David held out a hand. “How are the wife and kids? Last time we talked, Devon was sweating his SATs. How’d that work out?” 

A genuine smile crossed the detective’s face. “Top five percent of the country, Counselor. My boy’s heading for the Ivies.” 

“Could we deal with the situation at hand? I love a good reunion as much as the next person, but I would like to know why the suspect isn’t in custody.” Royce had puffed up, like an overstuffed peacock trying to get the attention back. “I want the suspect cuffed and carted out of here in less than half an hour. Do I make myself clear?” 

“This is my crime scene,” Campbell shot back, staring the ADA down. “I understand this is a big case for you, but I don’t walk into your office and tell you how to handle juries. There is something wrong with Trey Adams both physically and mentally and I will handle him as I see fit.” 

“And if the detective does as you ask and hauls my client out in front of that sea of press, I will have great grounds to move the trial to someplace less media obsessed,” David pointed out. “I’ll make sure the judge knows that the DA himself wanted to taint the jury pool.” 

“Taint the jury pool?” Royce asked. “By arresting a suspect? Wow, you are really digging deep, aren’t you, Cormack?” 

Watching the new guy stand up to Royce made her spine straighten. She was Trey’s advocate. She needed to stop being emotional and get her head in the game. “I assure you a judge will not look favorably on the fact that you chose to take an incredibly famous man who is struggling with mental illness, keep him in blood-soaked clothes, and parade him in front of Manhattan’s press corps, and you chose to do this knowing you are sensationalizing a crime that doesn’t need any help. If you perp-walk him covered in blood, that will make the cover of every magazine in the country. No one will care about the facts of the case. That picture will seal the verdict. All you’re doing is putting it in people’s heads that he’s a monster. And we will move for a change of venue.” She looked at her new partner. “Perhaps the suburbs.” 

David shook his head. “Too close to the city. I was thinking upstate. Someplace rural, where they don’t much care for the press and a man can get a fair trial.” 

She liked the way he thought. 

Royce’s cold eyes rolled. “Yes, that’s also where the yokels think football players are gods and anyone in a suit is suspicious. Very clever.” He turned to Campbell. “You make sure Adams is cleaned up after you get him through processing and take him out as quietly as possible. I want this trial happening right here in the city. I’m not having it moved because of some photos. Do I make myself clear?” 

“As crystal,” Campbell replied with a long sigh. “I’ll start processing his clothes now. Johnson! Let’s get things moving. The press will have us surrounded in a few hours.” 

Royce leaned in, lowering his voice as he spoke to David. “And you are here on the sufferance of my boss. The only reason you’re allowed to walk in this place is because we don’t want you outside talking to the press. Watch yourself. One wrong move and you’ll be the one hauled out of here.” 

Royce moved away, marching toward the back of the house, likely to get an idea of the crime scene. 

“Giant ass,” Campbell said with a shake of his head. “He’ll be giving a press conference before he even reads the initial reports.” 

“And that would be a good time to get Trey out of here,” Isla pointed out. “He needs to be in a hospital not a prison.” 

Campbell held up a hand. “He’s not going anywhere but the station. I need to question him and I can’t do it here. We’ll process his clothes and body and then transport him. I’m sorry, David. You know what a football fan I am, but this isn’t looking good. Adams is on some serious drugs, but we’ve got no signs of an intruder. They kept separate bedrooms and hers was the only room in the house that got trashed. She was killed with a knife. I won’t know how many stab wounds until we get the ME report, but it was a lot. This was a rage killing, and I would bet a lot of money the person who killed her also loved her. Nothing professional or cold about this one.” 

David nodded. “Noah, would you please stay with Mr. Adams while they process him. I want everything documented. We’ll need to move somewhere private.” 

“Of course.” Noah followed the detective. 

David turned to her, holding out a hand. “Ms. Shayne, it’s good to see you again, though I hate the circumstances.” 

She’d met him before. Somewhere in the back of her brain she realized that, but she’d never noticed how handsome he was, how warm his eyes were or how broad his shoulders. Of course, she’d been in a deep freeze for a few years following Austin’s death. She seemed to finally be coming out of it and her hormones were working overtime. But this was not the time or the place to flirt. “Thank you for getting here quickly. Obviously I’m in over my head. I handle Mr. Adams’s business and minor legal issues. I’ve never practiced criminal law. I hope you’ll help me keep up. This family is important to me.” 

“What do we know? Noah wasn’t able to tell me much. I can easily see the DA’s office is already salivating,” he said with a frown. “That might make my job easier. They’re going to be impatient, and Osborne is more politician than lawyer. Speaking of getting everything in order, does Mr. Adams know he has new representation?” 

“I have power of attorney in case of…” It felt wrong to say the words. She should be colder than this. 

“In case of Portia Adams’s death, you have Mr. Adams’s power of attorney, so you have the legal right to retain me.” 

She nodded. “I’m sorry. I’ll pull it together.”

He reached out and put a hand on hers, squeezing slightly. “Relax. I’m here and you are no longer an attorney. You’re a family friend and you’ve suffered a terrible shock. What can you tell me?” 

“Ms. Shayne?” Noah was back and slightly out of breath, his eyes trailing to where he’d come from. “We’re having trouble with Trey. He’s having a hard time understanding the officers and it’s upset him. I think you should come in here and try to calm him down.” 

She turned. She should have expected this when she’d sent Miranda out. Portia could cover for him, make him appear almost normal. Without Portia’s steady hand, Isla had no idea what Trey would do. “He has trouble remembering where he is sometimes.” 

She walked down the hall, her heels clicking on the marble floors. David and Noah were behind her. The detective had been patient and shown some compassion, but he could only go so far. Now that Royce was here, he would have to move a bit more quickly. 

“Mr. Adams, I need you to calm down,” the detective was saying. 

She turned and found herself in the downstairs office. It looked like they were trying to process his clothes. They’d managed to get his shirt off, but now Trey paced across the floor. 

“Where is my wife?” Trey asked, his eyes bloodshot. 

“Mr. Adams, if you do not comply, I’m going to have to make you comply,” Campbell was saying. There were three officers surrounding Trey. All of them had their guns out. 

Isla stopped, taking in the scene and the fact that there was something in Trey’s hand that shouldn’t be there. 

Oh, god. They would kill him or he would kill himself. 

“Why does my client have a gun?” David asked. He reached out as though he was going to pull her back. 

If he got a hand on her, he would likely haul her away. She could already tell she was dealing with a save-the-women-and-children kind of guy. Noble, but it wouldn’t solve the problem. She stepped away before he could get hold of her. 

“Trey, it’s me. It’s Isla,” she said, giving him a hint of a smile. It was all she could manage. “I need you to calm down.” 

“He grabbed the gun when my officer was trying to take his shirt, and don’t think someone’s not going down for allowing that to happen,” Campbell said, his voice tight. “Ms. Shayne, you better get him on board and fast, or I will tase you and have you hauled out of here if you get too close.” 

Behind her, she could hear a crowd gathering. Royce was saying something about taking the problem out. She had to ignore everything but the man in front of her. 

“Where’s Portia?” Trey asked. 

Her heart ached. She remembered when this man had been a god walking the earth. He’d been the darling boy of the Northeast and now he was ruined, his mind in tatters. “Trey, I’m sorry. Portia is dead. Please give me the gun. The police need to do their job. They have to find out who killed Portia.” 

Her heart was breaking because he was obviously confused. This giant of a man had been brought so low in the last few years that she couldn’t imagine he could go lower, but here they were. 

He stared at her, his eyes seeming to clear for a moment. “Who killed Portia?” 

“We don’t know. We have to find out, but her blood is on your clothes and the police need them. I need you to cooperate with them.” Her voice sounded tiny in the big room, so shaky. It couldn’t stand up to the tension of the place. That tension was a living, breathing thing and it felt like it was growing. She had to find a way to beat it before it burst and took down all of them. “They need your clothes as evidence.” 

“Isla, did I kill Portia?” Trey asked. 

She could hear David Cormack curse under his breath. Oh, he might curse her name at the end of this. Royce likely had his phone out, recording everything. He would use this all against them. Every word that came out of Trey’s mouth would make David’s work harder. 

But she couldn’t think about that now. This situation was visceral, and nothing would matter if she couldn’t find her way out of it. She shook her head. “No, Trey. You couldn’t have hurt her. You love her. Please don’t say anything else. Please.” 

His once handsome face grimaced in pain. He was still big and muscular, still capable of destruction. She was worried he was going to destroy himself. 

“I’m nothing without her. Without her I am nothing. Nothing.” The words came out of his mouth in a hard monotone. 

“Ms. Shayne, please back up,” Campbell said, his voice hushed. “I’m going to try to bring him down.” 

“Please don’t hurt him.” She wasn’t sure his children would survive losing them both. 

“I love you, Portia,” Trey said.

The gun came up and chaos broke out.

Every cop in the room tensed. She watched in horror as he brought the gun to his forehead. And then she was whirling, her body twisting and turning, not of its own accord. She found herself pressed up against the wall, David’s big frame covering hers, ready to take a stray bullet for her if he had to. 

A loud bang crashed through the room, and David went rigid above her. 

She heard shouting and then the unmistakable sound of electricity going through a body. The air around seemed to crack and fizzle as the Tasers did their job. 

“He’s going to be all right,” David whispered. “But don’t move until we’re certain. I don’t want you caught in some adrenaline-fueled crossfire.” 

“He’s alive?”

“The shot went wide.” David’s voice was calm in the storm. “He’s alive, but this is bad for us. We need to talk.” 

She understood exactly what he meant. Her client was alive, but the fight had begun and they were already behind. 

Copyright 2018 Lexi Blake