GRACE BROOKSTEIN PLAYED WITH THE BUTTONS on her Chanel boucle jacket as the jury filed back into Court 14. She was nervous, but not about the verdict. She knew she would be found innocent. Frank Hammond had told her so.
"Just do exactly what I tell you, Grace, and leave the rest to me. The jury will acquit you."
When Frank spoke, it was like listening to the voice of the prophet. Grace had followed his instructions to the letter, even down to her courtroom attire.
"It's not your job to look contrite. You're innocent. I want you to walk into that courtroom proudly, with your head held high. Remember, you're representing Lenny as well as yourself."
Lenny. Darling, Lenny. Are you watching, sweetheart? Are you proud of me?
No, Grace's nerves were not about the verdict. They were about what would happen once the case was over. How am I going to find out who framed Lenny? So far the FBI had conspicuously failed to track down more than a few million of the missing Quorum money. If they can't find that money, what hope do I have? But she had to do it. She had to clear Lenny's name. He'd been gone six months now. It was already December, almost Christmas. My first Christmas as a widow. Despite being Jewish, Lenny had always loved Christmas, the present giving, the parties. He had such a generous spirit.
The judge's voice sounded distant, unreal. He addressed the foreman of the jury.
"Have you reached your verdict?"
I suppose I'll spend Christmas with the Merrivales.
Christmas was a time for family, but both Grace's sisters had let her down badly. Neither of them had called or visited since she'd been arrested. Grace had half hoped, half expected to see them in the public gallery when the trial started, but Connie and Honor were both conspicuous by their absence.
Once I'm found innocent, I'm sure they'll come back to me. When they do, I'll forgive them. I'm going to need their support if I'm going to put things right. If I'm going to find out who really stole that money. Who framed my darling Lenny.
The foreman looked at Grace and smiled. Grace smiled back. He seemed like a nice man.
"How do you find the defendant, on the charge of securities fraud?"
District Attorney Angelo Michele punched the air. So there wasn't a strategy! Big Frank Hammond just screwed this thing up. He's not so invincible after all.
Grace started to feel the first stirrings of panic. She looked at Frank Hammond, but his eyes were fixed on the judge.
"And on the charge of money laundering?"
No! I'm not guilty. This is a mistake! I did everything Frank told me to.
"On the charge of perjury...wire fraud...mail fraud..."
The words tore into Grace like razor blades.
"This is wrong! Please, Your Honor. This is all a mistake. I'm innocent and so is my husband! We were framed!"
The boos and catcalls from the public gallery were so deafening, Grace could barely hear her own words. It took a full minute for the judge to restore order. When he did, he turned to Grace with chilling anger.
"Grace Brookstein. Between you, you and your husband robbed your investors of an almost unimaginable sum of money. The human suffering brought about by your actions has been profound. Yet at no point have you shown the slightest remorse. You seem to have taken a view that because of your privileged position in society, the laws of this great nation do not apply to you. They do."
The gallery roared their approval. Grace could hear the muffled cheers from the crowds gathered outside, watching the proceedings on specially erected screens.
"Your decision to plead not guilty in this courtroom, knowing the overwhelming evidence against you, compounds an already despicable crime. It is this utter disregard for the law, as well as for the pain your victims have suffered, that has informed my decision with regard to your sentence. I do not doubt that your denial of any knowledge of your husband's business practices is a lie, a lie you have shamelessly repeated both to this court and to the authorities struggling to repay your husband's victims. For this, I intend to see to it that you spend the remainder of natural life deprived of your freedom."
The judge was still speaking, passing sentence, but Grace no longer heard him. What the hell happened? What went wrong?
Frank Hammond sat beside her slumped over the table, his head in his hands.
As she felt the bailiff's grip tighten on her arm, Grace looked up at John Merrivale. He mouthed the words "Don't worry," but his stricken face said it all. Even Caroline, who'd been cold and unsupportive in the run-up to the trial, looked shocked.
Grace felt sick, not for herself but for Lenny.
I've failed him. I've let him down.
How am I ever going to prove his innocence now?
ON THE STEPS OF THE COURTHOUSE, Angelo Michele was being mobbed. Throngs of people pressed forward to shake his hand and pat him on the back. He had avenged them, avenged New York, avenged the poor, the dispossessed, the homeless, avenged all the victims of the Brooksteins' avarice and greed.
A reporter pulled Harry Bain aside. "Look at Michele. They love him. It's like he's Joe DiMaggio back from the dead or something. The guy's a rock star."
"He's more than that," Harry Bain said. "He's a hero."
For Angelo Michele, the show was over. But for Harry Bain and Gavin Williams, it had barely begun.
They still had to find that money.