roving reporter’s voice on television through his earbuds. Heather Brown and the BNN cameraman were standing just fifteen feet away from him. She was suddenly coming his way, speaking into her microphone.

“Faith, let me see if I can get a word with the man who brought defense lawyer Jack Swyteck to the courthouse today. Sir!”

Theo froze. “Me?”

“Yes, can I have a quick word with you, please?”

Being six feet six and black in this crowd had definitely proved to be a liability. “You must have me confused with someone else.”

“Wait a second, I know that man,” said Corso, and Theo could hear her in his earbuds. “Viewers may recall that, a few years back, I did a BNN special investigative report on capital punishment, and one case we featured told the story of how Jack Swyteck used his family name to pull strings and get Theo Knight off Florida’s death row.”

If by “pull strings” you mean DNA evidence. .

“Heather, ask Mr. Knight if he-”

“Gotta go,” said Theo as he broke away.

“Mr. Knight!”

Theo was off like a running back. It had taken Jack four years to prove Theo’s innocence. Twice he’d come so close to the electric chair that they’d served him a last meal, sent him to the prison barber, and shaved his head and ankles for placement of the electrodes. Theo had nothing to prove to anyone-ever again.

“Mr. Knight, please!”

The reporter tried to follow, but the crowd closed around her and the cameraman. Theo pushed all the way to the street in front of the courthouse, past clusters of angry onlookers, around several other reporters who were delivering up-to-the-minute reports. His cell rang, and he made the mistake of answering. It was Faith Corso.

“Mr. Knight, where will Shot Mom go from here?”

Theo did a double take. “Are we on the air? And how did you get my number?”

“There’s an app for that. Would you answer my question, please?”

“I have no idea where Sydney is going.”

“You’re the defense team’s driver, are you not?”


“Apparently you’re about as truthful as Shot Mom. We caught you on camera driving Jack Swyteck to the courthouse today.”

“That doesn’t make me his driver, Miss Daisy.” The film reference was probably lost on her, but Morgan Freeman was one of Theo’s favorites. “Are we on the air or not?” he asked.

She wouldn’t answer. “When Shot Mom is released, will you be the one driving her wherever she plans to go?”

“I got nothin’ to say about that.”

“Nothing at all?”


“Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t that the same thing you told police when they found a convenience- store clerk dead on the floor and your hands in the cash register?”

Theo held his tongue. “I’m hanging up now.”

“No, wait! People have a right to know. Where will you be taking Shot Mom? Hollywood for a movie? New York for a book deal?”

“You need to ask Sydney that.”

“What about your buddy, Jack Swyteck? What’s his cut of the blood money?”

“I got no idea what you’re talking about.”

“I’m talking about turning the tragic death of an innocent little girl into profit. Isn’t that the next move for Shot Mom and her lawyers?”

Theo almost hung up, but Corso’s hold on him wouldn’t allow it.

“Mr. Knight, people have a right to know the truth.”

“All right,” said Theo, “I’ll give it to you straight. But only if we’re on the air.”

“Of course we’re on the air,” she said, her voice rising with excitement. “And for my friends in the viewing audience, you’re watching another BNN exclusive. I am speaking on the telephone with one-time death row inmate Theo Knight, a close personal friend and former client of Shot Mom’s lawyer, Jack Swyteck. Go ahead, sir. Tell us what business deals are in the works now that this astounding verdict has left Shot Mom completely unaccountable for Emma’s tragic death.”

Theo wasn’t a news junkie, but Jack had told him how the Sydney Bennett circus had pushed BNN’s ratings into the stratosphere-and how, in particular, Faith Corso’s stature as a TV personality skyrocketed every time she uttered the words Shot Mom.

“I can only speak for myself,” said Theo.

“Yourself?” said Corso. “So even the driver for Shot Mom’s lawyer has his eye on a deal of some sort? This ought to be good.”

“Oh, this deal is beyond good. As soon as we hang up, I’m going straight to your Web site and I’m buying two of those ‘Rot in Hell, Sydney’ snuggies for just nineteen ninety-five, plus shipping and handling. And if I order in the next three minutes, I get a free ‘I heart the death penalty’ bumper sticker.”

Theo could hear the hiss of anger in her next breath. “That is so typical of the way the defense team has treated this entire tragedy,” said Corso. “A joke, a complete mockery of our system of jus-”

Theo hung up, reeling in his anger. He continued away from the courthouse, stepping outside the ring of frenetic reporters with way too much hair and makeup for the ninety-five-degree heat, beyond the reach of microphone-toting assassins who seemed eager to interview anyone who was willing to say something outrageous on camera. He stopped at the street corner and wiped the sweat from his brow.

Lashing out at Corso on national television wasn’t the smartest thing he’d ever done. Of course she wasn’t actually selling snuggies or giving away bumper stickers, but she’d pushed him, and it was Theo’s nature to push back. The exchange was sure to be replayed many times over, and the last thing Jack needed was to be coldcocked by the BNN broadcast. He knew Jack didn’t have a cell phone inside the courthouse, so Theo shot him a text for later.

Heads up. Thx 2 yer driver, they wanna kill us both.

Theo’s gaze turned back to the crowd outside the courthouse. No one was leaving. If anything, folks were only getting more worked up.

After they kill Sydney.

Chapter Three

Thursday’s sentencing hearing went as the pundits had predicted. Sydney Bennett was sentenced to time served for her conviction on one count of providing false information to police. Her release from the women’s detention center was set for some time after midnight the following Saturday, probably very early Sunday.

On Friday morning, Jack met with his client to talk logistics. It was just the two of them, as Hannah Goldsmith was delivering an opening statement in one of the other 143 murder cases pending in Miami-Dade County.

“How scared should I be?” asked Sydney.

She was seated on the opposite side of a small table, attorney and client surrounded by windowless walls of yellow-painted cinder block. Bright fluorescent lighting lent their meeting room all the warmth of a workshop. Sydney was a grown woman, but dressed in pajama-like prison garb, with no makeup, she seemed more like a teenager to Jack. It was hard for him to fathom that Sydney and Hannah were just three years apart in age. Light- years apart in maturity.

“I’m not telling you to be scared,” said Jack. “I’m just saying we have to be careful.”

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