Fern Michaels

Tuesday’s Child

© 2012


July 2000

Dunwoody, Georgia

MIKALA AULANI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, SITTING FIRST CHAIR IN the case of State of Georgia v. Sophie Lee, couldn’t believe what she had just heard. She felt like she was carved in stone and in a time warp all rolled into one. She wanted to say something, but her tongue wouldn’t work. She saw the foreman of the jury holding the paper he had just read from. She had seen the tremor in his hand and known immediately what he was going to say. And that it was not going to be good for her client. She had seen his blank expression. Now she heard the words ricocheting around inside her head, over and over and over.

Her legs were wobbly, and she was soaked with perspiration because the air-conditioning in the courthouse was broken. Overhead, a paddle fan moved sluggishly, barely stirring the stale air. A fly buzzed dangerously near her nose. She wanted to swat at it.

She risked a glance at Ryan Spenser, the prosecutor, bastard that he was, and saw the smug expression that he tried unsuccessfully to hide. Why was she even looking at the son of a bitch? She should be looking at her client, the client who had just been convicted of a heinous crime. A conviction of first-degree murder that would get her a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole-for a crime she didn’t commit. Twenty-four-year-old dedicated nurses simply did not kill their patients, and yet that bastard Ryan had convinced a jury of seven men and five women that she had done just that. Bastard.

Mikala felt a hand on her arm and looked down, then up. Again, she heard the words but didn’t comprehend them. “Is today Tuesday, Kala?” Mikala nodded. “Every single thing, bad or good, has always happened to me on a Tuesday. I guess that makes me Tuesday’s Child. Thank you, Kala, for everything,” Sophie Lee said quietly.

Mikala Aulani wanted to cry. She wanted to hug her client, but she was being led away. The judge was thanking the jurors for their service and discharging them. The courtroom was emptying at the speed of light. The trial of the decade had finally ended, and the reporters wanted out to report on the verdict.

Mikala-Kala to friends and peers-sat down and stared at nothing. Jay Brighton, her second chair, started to pack up their briefcases. Across the aisle, Ryan Spenser’s staff was doing the same thing.

“Tough break, counselor,” Spenser said. “Guess this breaks that winning streak you’ve been on, huh? You know what they say-the best man wins. You put on a hell of a defense, Kala, I’ll give you that. I’ll give you something else, too. Your client handled the verdict well. Guess you coached her for that. Just out of curiosity, what did she whisper to you before they took her away?”

Kala finally turned sideways and looked up at the spit-and-polish prosecutor, with his designer suit, power tie, pristine white shirt, and gleaming porcelain-capped teeth. He looked like an Adonis, and the media loved him. It didn’t hurt that his father was the Speaker of the House in Washington, something Ryan Junior traded in on every day of his life.

Later, Kala would pat herself on her back for her comeback. The words came from God only knew where, but she said them with conviction. “She told me to put a hex on you. You know how good us Hawaiian people are at doing that. She asked me to do it tonight at midnight. You know what, Spenser? I’m going to do it, too!”

Kala loved, absolutely loved, the expression that crossed the prosecutor’s face. First he turned white under his tan, then red, a feat unto itself. He made a sound that caused Kala to laugh.

The courtroom was empty except for the two of them, Spenser’s people the last out the door after Jay Brighton.

All Kala had to do was sling her purse over her shoulder, and she could walk out of the room ahead of the barracuda. Defeated. She squared her shoulders and took a step across the aisle. “We both know Sophie Lee is innocent. We both know Adam Star killed his wife, Audrey, and that the two of you pinned it on my client. I’m going to appeal this verdict, and I’m going to nail your ass and Star’s ass if it takes me the rest of my life… But not until I get that hex going. See you around, dirtbag!”

And then, with all the aplomb she could muster, Mikala Aulani turned and walked out of the courtroom, her head held high, her shoulders squared. She didn’t falter until she was outside the courthouse, where Jay Brighton waited for her.

Jay Brighton was young, young compared to her fifty-two years, young enough still to believe in the justice system. He linked his arm with Kala’s, and said, “We’ll get him, Kala. I’ll work for free for as long as it takes. Sophie did not kill Audrey Star. She did not.”

Kala’s shoulders slumped even more. “We had six months to try to prove it, and we couldn’t, Jay. The horse is out of the barn, and the door’s locked now. Sophie will almost certainly be going to prison for the rest of her life with no possibility of parole. What makes you think we can do something now that we didn’t do before?”

Jay forced a laugh that came off as more of a bark than anything else. “Well, for starters, you didn’t put a hex on him. So, let’s get that out of the way and get down to the business of Sophie’s appeal. I want to see that winning streak of yours reinstated. And I want to see you chop off that bastard Spenser’s balls. Maybe you can work that into your hex.”

In spite of herself, Kala laughed, even though it was a bitter sound. “I wouldn’t know a hex if it slapped me in the face.”

“Then make one up. Come on, I’m buying dinner.”

“It’s only three o’clock,” Kala said. “I don’t think I can eat anything.”

“Who said anything about eating? I’m thinking we need to drink our dinner, then have someone drive us home. Come on, Kala, we have a lot to talk about, and what better way than over a few drinks.”

“Okay, okay. I think we should both go see Sophie tomorrow and prepare her for her sentencing next month. We need to tell her what we’re planning to do. Bright and early, Jay.”

“Works for me, boss.”

“Yes, but will it work for Sophie Lee? That’s the question, isn’t it?”

Chapter 1

Dunwoody, Georgia

Ten years later

MIKALA AULANI LOOKED AROUND HER OFFICE FOR THE LAST time. Now that her thirty- five-year professional life was packed up in boxes, and the pictures, diplomas, and photographs were off the wall, her personal space looked huge. Jay would have to paint the walls to cover up the telltale signs of where all the plaques had been hung. She eyed her old leather chair, which swiveled and rocked. She really had meant to have the crack in the leather repaired; it had been on her to-do list for years and years. She wondered now why it was she’d never taken the time to do it. But, then, she found herself wondering about a lot of things lately, not that it made a difference.

Jay Brighton and Linda Carpenter, husband and wife and newly minted senior partners, carried the packed and

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