Take Me To Court! Excerpt

By six o’clock on a chilly January Tuesday evening, an enormous white full moon had risen high into the dark blue sky over Dennis Lawrence’s large white and pale blue Moon Court house, which was situated within Sunny Brook, one of the main housing developments in suburban Keystone, California.  But despite the soft soothing rays of moonlight that were drifting through the slate-blue curtains that hung at the window in front of his brown wood bedroom desk, Dennis was feeling anything but calm as he sat in his matching desk chair nervously twisting the cord of his slate-blue phone around his finger while he listened to lawyer Kevin Darski provide the details of his agenda to defend his daughters in court the following morning.

“So all of that’s good, right?” asked Dennis as Kevin finally drew to the end of his plan.  “It means you have everything ready to go for tomorrow?”

A few streets over on Sun Road where he was sitting in his home office with his black-boot-clad feet propped up on his light brown wood desk, which was covered with piles of papers and file folders, Kevin nodded, a tight humoring smile on his face.  “Yes, Dennis,” he replied.  “As I told Keri Ann when she dropped by my office for a briefing about what to expect tomorrow this afternoon, I’m as ready as I can be to defend her and Jody.”  Shaking his head, he added, “But I have to be honest and tell you that winning this thing won’t be easy.  As expected, Sapphire is working to ensure that Cahuenga receives the smallest punishment possible.  In fact, rumor has it that she’s looking to paint her as merely an accomplice to the hit and run rather than the one who caused it. ”

Frowning, Dennis let the phone cord drop.  “But how can she do that?” he demanded, sitting up a little.  “How can she downplay her sister’s role when all of the evidence clearly places Cahuenga in the car that hit my daughters?  Not to mention the fact that we now know that, despite the steps that were taken to strip it of all forms of identification, the vehicle was registered to Sylvester, which means that Cahuenga was most likely the driver.”

           

Kevin shrugged.  “I don’t know what Sapphire thinks she’s going to do,” he replied, helplessly shaking his head as he toyed with the collar of the yellow long-sleeve button-down shirt, which had wide and thin black vertical stripes printed on it, that he was wearing open over jeans and a black turtleneck.  “But whatever it is, Keri Ann and Jody should be ready for anything and everything tomorrow.  Because I’ve witnessed enough of her courtroom battles to know that the woman always has some sort of surprise up her sleeve that inevitably throws the case in her client’s favor at the last minute.  And that’s why anyone who’s in major trouble always wants to hire her.  Because they know she has a knack for finding loopholes and little facets of evidence that can completely change an otherwise guilty party’s fate.”

           

Letting out a frustrated and defeated sigh, Dennis slumped back in his chair again.  “So once again,” he began, “even though the evidence clearly indicates that this whole thing was premeditated, it looks like the Riches family is about to get away with criminal activity.  Just like they get away with everything around here.”

           

Sensing the agitation in Dennis’s voice, a sympathetic look crossed Kevin’s face.  “I know how you feel,” he declared.  “Especially since the police are still saying that the evidence is too contradictory to outright prove that Sylvester plotted to have his daughter intentionally harm yours in the accident.”  Smiling a little, he added, “But the one piece of good news that I have for you here is that the judge who will be presiding is Jeremiah Miller.  He’s a recent transfer from the Sacramento court system, which means Sylvester most likely hasn’t had a chance to figure out a way to pay him off the way he’s done with any other judges who have made rulings in cases involving other misdemeanors Cahuenga has committed.”

           

His blond eyebrows rising in surprise, Dennis’s irritated expression slowly transformed into a tentative smile.  “So there’s still a chance,” he realized.  “There’s still a chance this just might be a fair courtroom battle after all.”

           

Kevin smiled.  “And I’m going to take full advantage of it,” he assured Dennis.  “As you know, it’s become a career goal of mine to one day beat Sapphire Riches at her own game.  And I can’t think of a better and more satisfying way to do that than by having the case I win against her involve your daughters, members of the family who the Riches clan hates the most.”

           

Smiling with satisfaction, Dennis said, “Thanks, Kevin.  No matter what happens, I know you’ll try your best to make sure my daughters come out of this mess with a fair deal.”  Suddenly hearing the sound of approaching footsteps, he looked over his shoulder to see his wife, Annie, entering the room with a large wicker laundry basket in her arms.  “Anyway,” he said, turning back to the phone, “I should go.  Annie’s here now, and I want to update her on what you just told me.”

Back in his study, Kevin nodded.  “All right,” he agreed.  “I’ll see you in court tomorrow at ten AM sharp.  So have a good night.  Well, as good as you can anyway.”

“You too,” said Dennis.  “Bye.”

As her husband hung up the phone, Annie, who had set the laundry basket down on their queen-size bed, turned to him and gave him a quizzical look.  “So,” she said as she crossed her arms over the aqua green short-sleeve top, which had a notched jewel neck collar, that she was wearing with jeans, sneakers, and an open white flannel long-sleeve button-down shirt, which had silver buttons and thin teal vertical stripes and thin salmon-pink vertical stripes that were trimmed in gray printed on it.  “What did Kevin have to say about our chances of having this whole thing end in a fair outcome?”  

           

Sighing, Dennis slowly turned around to face her.  “Well,” he began as he nervously pulled at the collar of the dark red button-down long-sleeve shirt, which had khaki buttons and khaki crisscrosses printed on it, that he was wearing with belted dark blue jeans and brown boots, “on the one hand, we’re getting a judge who Sylvester hasn’t managed to pocket yet, so that’s something.  But on the other…”

Knowing exactly what her husband was about to say, Annie grimly nodded.  “We’re still up against an opposing side led by Sapphire Riches,” she finished for him.  “The most sought after lawyer in this area.”

           

Defeatedly nodding, Dennis folded his arms on the back of his chair and looked down at them.  “Exactly,” he agreed. 

           

“Well,” said Annie, a thoughtful look on her face as she tried her best to come up with another factor that would positively impact their odds of winning, “as clever as Sapphire is, I really don’t see what kind of holes she can poke in Kevin’s case this time.”

           

“Nobody ever does,” declared Dennis, a dismal expression on his face as he looked back up at his wife.  “Like that whole Fourth Amendment card she pulled when she was defending her father for kidnapping Prescott Drake and committing election fraud.  Nobody saw that coming.”  He shook his head.  “Not even the police.”

           

Annie gravely nodded.  “True,” she agreed.  Shaking her head after a moment, she added, “But this time, there are witnesses who can give strong testimonies.  Ones that she can’t convince the jury to write off as hearsay the way she did with practically every testimony that was made in Prescott’s defense.”

           

“Testimonies like whose?” asked Dennis.  “Johnny and Caterina’s?”

           

“Well,” Annie hesitantly said, “yeah.  They can help prove that Cahuenga was at La Barra Loca throwing a party and drinking on the night of the accident because they were there too and saw her.” 

           

A slight smirk crossing his face, Dennis shook his head in bemusement.  “I still can’t believe that,” he said.  “They lie and go to a wild party instead of spending the night studying for finals at the Yardley house like they said they were going to do, and it actually turns out to be a good thing.”

           

Annie shrugged.  “Well,” she said as she reached up and brushed her loose layered brown hair back from her face, “all’s well that ends well, I guess.”  Dropping her hand to her side, she added, “And in the case of this situation, I’d say that any help we can get in proving that Cahuenga Riches was totally in the wrong is a good thing.”

           

Dennis pensively nodded.  “Yeah,” he admitted with a sigh.  “I guess.  So where are those two anyway?  Being that Sapphire will most definitely try to find a way to use the fact that they were at a party at a place that is notorious for serving alcohol to underage people to discredit them, we should probably help them get their stories straight before they’re called up to the witness stand tomorrow.”

           

“Caterina’s downstairs griping about having to help Kaitlin finish the salad for dinner,” replied Annie.  “And Johnny’s supposed to be setting the table, but I think he’s moping in his room instead.  Just like he has been for over a week now.”

           

“Mm,” said Dennis, nodding again.  “Well, maybe we should wait until later tonight to talk to them then.  Because at least after they’ve eaten, they should be in better moods, right?”

           

“I hope so,” replied Annie.  Giving her husband a wry smile as she crossed her arms again, she added, “And I hope the same is true for you too.  So are you ready to come downstairs for dinner?”

 

Forcing himself to nod despite the fact that both he and Annie knew that he wasn’t likely to stop worrying until the verdict of the court proceedings had been read by the jury, Dennis slowly rose to his feet.  “Yeah,” he replied as he stretched his arms over his head.  “I guess so.  Because after all.  If we’re truly going to win this battle tomorrow, then we’re all going to need every ounce of strength that we can get.”