Edge of Reason Ch. 02

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Without further ado, I present the concluding chapter of Heather Franklin’s biggest case to date. I would like to take this moment to thank all of you who take the time to vote and comment on my stories. As a hobbyist writer, your comments and feedback are all the returns I get for the time I invest in writing.

An extra special vote of thanks to my editor, beta reader and general story advisor, Bramblethorn without whose input, this story would read considerably worse than it does.

DISCLAIMER – There is mention of graphic violence against a child in this story. Don’t read further if such material makes you uneasy. There is also one scene of BDSM.

“Red: Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

* *

The room was dimly lit. Three men stood in front of a large machine with several valves and gauges. There was a stretcher where someone lay face up, strapped down. The man in the coat checked his watch once. He turned to his associate and nodded sombrely. The other man took a deep breath and flipped the switch.

All eyes went to the cylindrical vials protruding out of the machine. Gradually, the liquid level went down. They kept looking at it, because it was easier than to look at the still figure beside them. The light cast an oblique shadow over the eyes facing the ceiling. Somehow they still flickered with fear.

The eyes dimmed, gradually letting go of the light. The anticipation ended when the vial of anaesthetic had emptied itself. The condemned was numb and would not feel the slow drip of potassium chloride.

The doctor felt for a pulse. He turned to face the others and gave a silent nod of assent. The people watching from behind the glass pane were still frozen. Some of them said a small prayer.

Heather woke up with a start. Her hands felt clammy and her breathing was ragged. She sat up in bed, trying to soothe herself. It took a few seconds for her to calm her pulse. She looked to her right to see Natasha’s luscious naked body curled against the sheets. Her skin looked as white and fragile as porcelain in the moonlight. Her undulating skin rose and fell with every breath. Heather reached out and caressed her sleeping face.

Slipping out of bed, the lawyer grabbed a half-empty Marlboro pack and walked to the open balcony. The cool night air rippled over her skin. She saw the dark emptiness of Central Park, bathed in silvery moonlight. There was something so calming about the interplay of light and shadow.

She leaned on the railing and took a long puff. A thin stream of smoke came out of her lips and gradually melded into the night. There was a sense of a lull to the whole scene, foreshadowing a terrible storm.

* *

“Mr Markham, a word please?”

“Not now, Judy,” he said, ducking his head under the dangling microphone. Heather was right beside him, pushing Natasha’s face down from the cameras. The two officers with them cut a swathe through the throng of media personnel. The trio made their way to the front row and sat at the defence table. Seth Watkins and his team sat on the other side, whispering among each other in hushes tones. The seating area overflowed with media.

Judge Giles eyed the mob with condescension for a few minutes before he spoke up.

“Let’s get one thing clear. This is a murder trial, not fodder for your late night shows. Anybody disrupting the decorum of this court will be found in contempt and thrown in jail. Do I make myself clear?”

The crowd silenced somewhat. Natasha took looked at the table and Heather held her arm tightly. Tom turned in their direction and smiled.

“I’ve looked into the jury members. You’re in luck. You have a working single Mom, a housewife and a retired teacher. They’re guaranteed to love children. In fact, the fashionista on the second row also has a soft spot for kids – Cody was as old as her kid brother is now. Those two business types are neutral for now, but you can reel them in. Your main challenge will be juror number six.”

Heather glanced over at the surly looking old man. His white hair was neatly combed back and had a crucifix pendant glinting below his neck.

“Religious nut, so what?” Heather asked her boss, flummoxed. He lowered her gaze to her and pursed his lips. She gradually absorbed the hint.

“He doesn’t know I’m gay, does he?”

“He will soon enough,” Tom added. “The media will make sure of it.”

“Still, he’s just one guy.”

“Probably a preacher, he might influence some of the others if we rub him the wrong way. Tread carefully.”

“We will hear the opening statements now.”

All eyes turned to the prosecution table where there was an impromptu huddle in progress. Eventually, Seth emerged from the group. He stood straight, drawing himself to his full height before striding to where the jury sat. His ice-cold eyes immediately sought out those of the twelve men and women seated before him.

“Members of the jury,” he started. “I stand before you today with casino şirketleri a heavy heart. I stand before you today as an agent of the state, out to ensure that the laws are enforced and the guilty are punished. My heavy heart is because following that path requires me to prosecute Natasha Belvedere, the woman sitting over there.”

His arm outstretched in the direction of the slumped form. Heather clutched her arm even more tightly now. She didn’t even look up.

“My heart is heavy because of what this woman has been through. I know all of you sympathise with her, I do too. But we have laws, laws that you and I took an oath to uphold. The law is explicitly clear that murder is punishable with life imprisonment. The law is blind, it does not discriminate between the rich and the poor; the favoured and the common. It only recognises the guilty and the innocent, and punishes the former. No matter how we try to look at it, the fact is the defendant shot and killed a man. That is the ugly truth.”

He turned his eyes to look in the direction of the defence.

“Natasha Belvedere is a woman our hearts bleed for. Give her your sympathy, give her your prayers, give her your tears. but please, give her the apt punishment for her crime. Don’t be fooled by the guise of her being temporarily insane.”

Quietly, he walked back to his table. The jury sat silently, letting each word sink into them. Heather closed her eyes one last time, thinking about what she was going to say. All of a sudden, the words vanished from her mind, replaced by the picture of Natasha’s half-smile. She felt her hand being squeezed under the table and her eyes opened, only to see that same expression. Slowly, she rose from her chair and made her way to the jury. She drank in everything around her and began.

The jury looked on with bated breath. The cameras at the back rolled on, waiting for her to say something.

Only she didn’t.

Heather’s eyes widened and she stared at all standing around her, stupefied. Her mouth hung open, sullenly refusing to let out any words. The pall of silence faded a bit, giving way to a restless murmur. Something was grossly wrong. Her shifty eyes darted to Judge Giles, then to the curious prosecution, to Tom Markham, before finally settling on Natasha. An alien lump caught in her throat.

“Ms Franklin, can we have an opening statement please?” inquired Giles.

She couldn’t hear him, or see him. Her eyes were clenched shut and blood pounded in her ears. Her nerves shackled her in front of the jury. She could feel twelve gazes searching her, like spotlights scanning her face.

“Ms Franklin,” reiterated the judge slowly.

Too many thoughts flashed through Heather’s mind. A montage of images, from crystal clear to blurry and indistinct flew past her mind’s eye – a highlight reel of the precious few things she had cared about in her life. Each time, she had been powerless to stop them from leaving – her mother, her father, Norah. Something cracked within that ice-cold interior.

“Your Honour,” said Tom. “I need a moment to confer with co-counsel.”

“Look at her.”

Suddenly, all the chatter stopped. Tom froze mid-sentence, staring at his protege. She opened her glassy eyes to the jury and spoke once more.

“Look at her,” she screamed with conviction. “Look at my client. Do you see a killer? Do you see someone capable of even thinking of murder? Ladies and gentlemen, my client is not a monster. She underwent a tragedy, the scale of which beggars the imagination. She lost her only son, who was six years old.”

All twelve pairs of eyes followed her.

“The prosecution told you that the law is blind. That it does not discriminate. Sadly it does, as you can see. Child killing pedophiles can be let back on the street, but grieving mothers? They are a real menace to society and deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest. At least we have our priorities straight.”

“Objection, disparaging,” hollered a breathless Seth.

“Withdrawn,” Heather said brusquely. “The prosecutor’s objection, however, does not change the fact that we are here solely because his office failed to do their job. Natasha trusted them to punish the man who had so brutally robbed her of her son and they repaid that faith by letting him walk free. Can you imagine how she would have felt in that instant? That is the kind of grief that can make anyone go insane and do something they would never normally dream of.”

She took a break and walked right to them. Her right hand clutched the wooden railing and trembled, like her voice.

“Cody Belvedere was six years old. Only six years old. Imagine the pain you feel when you think of that tender life, snatched away so heinously. Now just try to imagine the pain his own mother would feel. If you look into your heart, I’m sure you will find the mercy to excuse her one lapse of sanity. You may be jurors who have taken an oath to uphold the law, but you are human beings first and foremost. I would beg you not to sacrifice your casino firmaları humanity for the law. Make the decision you yourself can live with. Thank you.”

There was absolute silence, punctuated only by Heather’s footfalls as she returned to the defence table. Cameras kept rolling and seasoned reporters looked on in slack-jawed amazement. She did not even look in their direction.

* *

“That didn’t go as planned.”

“I’m sorry, Tom,” Heather said. “I have no idea what happened.”

“What happened is you froze in front of the jury and spoke up only to make it personal with Seth,” he said. “You shouldn’t have done that. All you did was open a very dangerous door.”

She looked at her superior, her gaze laced with an uneasy dread. He made sure the door to his office was locked before he spoke again.

“You’re too close to the case. I shouldn’t have let you fight it.”

“I can still fight it,” she replied adamantly.

“For Natasha’s sake, I sincerely hope so.”

There was silence between the two of them for a few long moments, abruptly broken by a knock on the door.

“Who is it?”

A young paralegal opened the door. She looked like she had just seen a ghost.

“Sir, there is something you need to see.”

Tom and Heather exchanged quizzical looks before following her out. She led them to the main conference room where a lot of other lawyers stood, their eyes riveted to the TV.

On screen, Seth Watkins was trying to leave court when he was accosted by some reporters.

“Mr Watkins, can we have a comment please? Is it true that the victim of Natasha Belvedere’s crime killed her son? Is it true that he walked free? What are your comments on that?”

Seth turned angrily and swept away the cameras nearest to his face. His wounded pride glowed in his dark scowl.

“Yes, it is. But that is not what this case is about. This case is about Heather Franklin thinking she is above the system, that she can get anybody off. For a long time, she has bent, twisted and morphed the truth to suit her needs. Every time she takes a case, it’s to drive home the fact that she can prove the law is her plaything.”

He took a brief break before resuming.

“Just look at how many clients she has with connections to organised crime, drug trafficking, white collar crimes and more and you’ll see. All she cares is getting them off no matter what the cost. It’s the same here, a murderer dead to rights and she’s milking it for all its worth, just to get some face-time.”

Tom turned it off and turned to look at Heather. There was a look of anger heaving in every breath she took. Her eyes flashed and her hands were balled into quivering fists.

“Back to my office. Now.”

He escorted her back to the confines of his office.

“You should have expected this after what you said earlier today,” Tom reminded her. “He’s smarter than I thought – making this case about the lawyer rather than the client. He gets first blood.”

“Let’s push for a mistrial,” she spoke up. “This media appearance can be interpreted as prejudicial publicity.”

“No judge will ever give a mistrial for this. They have their reputations to maintain. It’s not slander, because it’s the truth. If you try it, then all those skeletons he hinted at will come tumbling out of your closet onto the front page. Do you want that?”

“How about a gag order?”

“Not yet,” he said. “We have to make our statement first before the judge shuts down all media contact.”

“Still, we have to do something?”

“Yes, go be with Mrs Belvedere. She needs you now more than ever. I’ll handle things here.”

She turned to leave.

“Oh and Heather, you might want to prep her for a press conference soon. We want the public to hear from her on TV, free from cross questioning before we make her take the stand.”

* *

“What were you doing all this time?” said Heather, leaning in for a kiss.

“Watching the trial on TV. Reruns are the flavour of the day,” Natasha replied. “The prosecution had some things to say about you.”

“Welcome to the trial of this century,” Heather said, walking to the bathroom to change. “Making it a media circus is the only chance we have.”

She sat on her couch, letting the tiredness seep out of every pore. The apartment had been her refuge, the one place where she found solitude. It was now refuge for both of them. She stirred, feeling a calm breeze filter in through the open balcony door. Heather sighed, feeling her client’s tender lips make contact with her hand.

“Natasha, I’m very sorry for what happened today,” she said, feeling the lips part and take each finger in. “I don’t know what came over me.”

She ignored what her lawyer was saying and finished her delicate treatment of her hand. Her lips kissed the back of Heather’s palm and slowly moved up.

“Stop,” said Heather, shaking her arm away. “Did you hear what I said? I screwed up.”

“And I don’t give a damn,” was all she replied, burying güvenilir casino her face into her lawyer’s shoulder.

“At least let me change out of these clothes,” said Heather.

“Maybe I can help the process along,” said Natasha sultrily, letting her fingers undo the top two buttons of her shirt before sliding her hand in. It crept over her bra-covered breast. Heather lay back on the soft couch, feeling the loving palm grip and knead her flesh.

“Don’t think, Heather. Surrender.”

Heather switched off, feeling more of her buttons being undone. Her shirt loosely hung off her now. Natasha had manoeuvred her way until she sat on her thighs. She brought her face between her lawyer’s tits and began licking earnestly. Her hands made short work of the bra, allowing her mouth increased access.

The lawyer sank into the couch, closing her eyes. She felt layers of clothing peel off her body. Tender kisses went across the length and breadth of her bare torso. She squirmed and let out a low moan. Dainty fingers began traipsing over her skin, dragging fingernails over the most sensitive parts of her.

The sexual energy in the room was electric. Natasha continued her ministrations over Heather, caressing her skin with her slender hands. She put her lips near her navel and let her tongue dart in and out of the sensitive niche. Her fingers made their way to Heather’s nipples and gently pinched and pulled. Heather let her fingers interlace in Natasha’s hair and pulled her head so she could look down into her eyes.

“I’m sorry. I let my emotions get the better of me.”

“It’s okay.”

“I’ll make it up to you. I promise. I’ll fix this.”

“I know you will.”

“How can you be so unfazed, Godammit?” screamed Heather, clutching tufts of her client’s hair. “Because of me, your chances in court took a massive hit and you’re still smiling.”

All the fury failed to elicit any response from her. She put her arms around Heather’s neck and planted a wet kiss on her lips. Their lips parted and their tongues sensually duelled with each other.

“Heather, do you honestly think prison can be worse than what I feel right now? What I have felt every waking moment since I saw Cody’s body?” she replied. “Nothing would even come close. The fight was never about me. It’s about you now, all about you.”

“What am I fighting for then?”

“You are fighting for an idea, for hope. You are fighting to prove that the world is a better place than you think it is.”

Before Heather could ponder more on that, Natasha resumed hungrily feasting on her nipples. They were hardened to the point they stuck out of her breasts prominently. Natasha let her teeth graze over one of them before clamping down hard and stretching it outwards. The elongation made Heather’s eyes open wide and she gasped.

One of Natasha’s hands left her lawyer’s chest and surreptitiously slid down to he rapidly dampening pussy. She stepped back and waited for Heather to spread her thighs before planting herself between them. Her fingers worked her in tandem, one of them piercing her wet opening while the other gently tweaked her clit. Heather felt a spark ignite her senses. A delicious warmth crept through her being, spreading its tentacles to the remotest corners.

Her nerve endings lit up with a surge of pleasure coursing through her. Jolts of electricity shot out of her mons, feeling each thrust and pinch of Natasha’s novice fingers. Heather pushed her pelvis upwards, only to be met by her lover’s tactile tongue. It probed her insides gently, coaxing out a steady drip of liquid arousal.

Heather’s right hand held her client’s head firmly in place while the other clutched her couch for dear life. The stirring within her and become an unstoppable force, devouring every bit of logic and reason. Emotional weakness she had long eschewed flew out of the shadows and drowned her. She swam in the deluge, grasping for meaning in a world she had shut out so unkindly. Her brain hurt and reeled from impact, suddenly shot into a cloud of sexual ecstasy.

Her body jerked and thrashed and went limp. She felt so weak in the aftermath of a titanic orgasm. Natasha kept her lips glued to the source of the liquid satin that flooded out of her lover. She imbibed as much of the savoury sweetness as she could before she got up and kissed Heather.

“You get changed and I’ll prepare something for dinner.”

Heather waited until she was out of earshot before letting a solitary tear escape her impregnable defences.

* *

Very rarely did Heather not know what was going on in her cases. She was always two steps ahead of the others, pulling unseen strings and setting plays in motion which eventually led to her victory.

Yet, she didn’t have the foggiest idea why Tom Markham called her so late in the night. She briskly kissed Natasha and left in a rush of shirts and suits. Half an hour later, she stood at his office doorway, seeing him standing beside his desk while his chair was turned away from her.

“Heather, I want you to meet a friend of mine,” he said, turning the chair around. A woman sat on the recliner, several shades too pale to be human. She crossed her bony fingers and leaned forward, sizing up Heather from head to toe.

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