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One False Move [Secure eReader]
eBook by Alex Kava

eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime
eBook Description: Melanie Starks and her seventeen-year-old son, Charlie, have been running one con job or another for as long as she can remember. Worried about Charlie, though, Melanie is ready to start over. Then her brother, Jared, reappears in her life. Released on a technicality, Jared Barnett is just out of prison and feeling more invincible than ever. He has the perfect plan to rob a local Nebraska bank, but he needs Melanie's and Charlie's help. Feeling that she owes the brother who saved her from an unspeakably violent childhood, Melanie agrees to Jared's plan. But within seconds, shots are fired and Jared and Charlie run out of the bank. They are empty-handed and four people are dead. When they refuse to tell her what happened in those few desperate moments, Melanie realizes her brother and son have formed a silent bond. And now they are all on the run from the police, taking a hostage with them and willing to do anything to survive.

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA
Fictionwise Release Date: March 2007


3 Reader Ratings:
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CHAPTER 1

10:30 a.m.
Hall of Justice—Omaha, Nebraska

Grace Wenninghoff hated waiting. The air in courtroom number five felt like a hot, wet towel wrapped around her neck. There were too many people, jammed inside, generating too much heat. The squeaking of chairs as people shifted in their seats and an occasional cough interrupted the silence, but that was all. Judge Fielding's presence kept the crowd agitated but quiet as he looked over the papers in front of him, taking his time, not a hint of sweat or discomfort on his face.

Grace reached for her water bottle, took a careful sip. Come on, let's get this over with, she wanted to yell, but instead tapped her pen against her blank legal pad to keep her foot from doing the same. The judge scowled at her without raising his head, his eyes looking at her through his bushy gray eyebrows and over the wire-rim glasses hanging at the tip of his nose. Her pen stopped in midair. He went back to examining the papers.

Rumor was that the maintenance crew had shut off the air-conditioning in the whole building over the long Labor Day weekend, not expecting the return of ninety-degree weather. Yet, Grace couldn't help wondering if Judge Fielding had purposely shut it off in his own courtroom, hoping to make them all sweat. It wouldn't be the first time. Fielding loved to make attorneys sweat…sweat and wait. That combination today couldn't be a good sign, though Grace tried to remain optimistic. As optimistic as a prosecutor could be with the humidity threatening to turn her usually straight, short hair into something worthy of a Chia Pet. She knew she'd need more than optimism today.

She glanced across the aisle at Warren Penn from the high-priced law firm of Branigan, Turner, Cross and Penn. No sweat visible there, either. How did he manage it in that three-piece suit? She had hoped to see his client, the defendant, Jonathon Richey, in shackles and an orange jumpsuit, reducing the city councilman to the cold-blooded murderer he really was. Instead, Richey wore a steel-blue suit and crisp white shirt with red-and-blue tie. The slick politician didn't look affected in the least by his arrest or the allegations against him. In fact, he looked rather smug, and Grace worried that some old-boy network had already taken care of the outcome of this case. Judge Fielding had a reputation of protecting his inner circle. Could he do it in front of a crowd of spectators and under the scrutiny of the media?

Beneath her own jacket Grace could feel her silk blouse sticking to her skin. She glanced down at it to make sure it didn't look as bad as it felt. What a day to wear silk. The blouse had been a birthday gift from Grandma Wenny, who had been trying to dress Grace in pink since she was six years old, although her grandmother had reassured her that this was fuchsia, her German accent making it sound like some erotic, slightly naughty color. Thinking about that made Grace smile.

She watched Judge Fielding, looking for signs that they'd be proceeding soon. He flipped over another page and started at the top with his index finger. Geez. This was only the bail hearing. At this rate, she couldn't imagine how long the trial would take.

She reached to rub the knot still gathered at the base of her neck. The three-day weekend had been too short. Her husband, Vince, insisted they could live with the stacked boxes everywhere. Easy for him to say, he was leaving for Switzerland tomorrow morning. Sure it was business—a new client insisting on meeting his American account rep face-to-face. Grace and Emily would be left to live with the chaos. But the boxes weren't the cause of the knot at the back of her neck.

She loved their new house, although it was far from new, a century-old Victorian with plenty of character and enough space for them to convert part of it into a mother-in-law suite—or in this case a grandmother suite—for Grandma Wenny. The renovations were a pain in the neck—yes, maybe even a partial cause for the very real pain in her neck. There'd been workers tramping in and out of their house, leaving mud and sawdust and holes where walls once were. Still, Grace knew all of this was the easy part. The real work, the real challenge, would be in convincing Grandma Wenny to leave her South Omaha home, the small drafty two-bedroom, mouse-infested bungalow where she had lived for over sixty years, where she had raised three children and one granddaughter, a granddaughter who had pledged—actually pinkie-swore—to take care of the stubborn old woman.

"Ms. Wenninghoff," Judge Fielding bellowed, grabbing her attention.

"Yes, Your Honor." She stood up casually, resisting the urge to wipe her damp forehead.

"Please continue," he told her as if they'd been waiting only a few minutes and as if she had been the one holding them up.

"As I was saying and as you can see from the arrest warrant, Mr. Richey was arrested at Eppley Airport. Mr. Richey is a flight risk and, therefore, should be denied bail."

"Judge, this is preposterous." Warren Penn drew the word out so slowly it sounded like four words instead of one. He also took his time standing up, then moved out from behind the defense table as if he required additional room to make his statement. Grace guessed it was more for the benefit of towering over her.

"Mr. Richey," he continued in the same drawn-out manner, "is a businessman. He was simply making a business trip. This trip has been on his calendar for months. I have his appointment calendar and phone logs available for Your Honor." He waved a hand at the pile on the defense table but made no effort to get them. "Jonathon Richey," he went on, "not only owns a local business here in Omaha, but he's a city councilman. He's a deacon at his church and president of the downtown Rotary Club. His wife, two of his three children and all five of his grandchildren live within this community. Mr. Richey certainly does not pose a flight risk. Taking all this into consideration, Your Honor, I'm sure you'll agree that Mr. Richey should be released on his own recognizance."

Copyright © 2004 by S. M. Kava.


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