She could feel the cloudiness in her head clearing a little, although she knew it would come back. It always did. But at this moment she could understand the way everything must seem to the people in the courtroom, especially to the jurors. "How much longer will the trial last?" she asked.
"About another three weeks," Matthews told her.
"And then I'll be found guilty," she said matter-of-factly. "Do you think I am? I know that everybody else thinks I did it because I was so angry at him." She sighed wearily. "Ninety percent of them think I'm lying about not remembering anything, and the other ten percent think I can't remember that night because I'm crazy."
Aware that they were following her, she walked down the hall to the study and pushed open the door. The sense of unreality was already closing in again. "Maybe I did do it," she said, her voice expressionless. "That week at the Cape. I remember walking on the beach and thinking how unfair it all was. How after five years of marriage and losing the first baby and wanting another one so terribly, I'd finally gotten pregnant again, then had a miscarriage at four months. Remember? You came up from Florida, Mom and Dad, because you were worried that I was so heartbroken. Then only a month after losing my child, I picked up the phone and heard Annamarie Scalli talking to Gary, and I realized she was pregnant with his child. I was so angry, and so hurt. I remember thinking that God had punished the wrong person by taking my baby."
Ann Carpenter put her arms around her daughter. This time Molly did not resist the embrace. "I'm so scared," she whispered. "I'm so scared."
Philip Matthews took Walter Carpenter's arm. "Let's go into the library," he said. "I think we'd better face reality here. I think we're going to have to consider a plea bargain."
Molly stood before the judge and tried to concentrate as the prosecutor spoke. Philip Matthews had told her the prosecutor reluctantly agreed to allow her to plead guilty to manslaughter, which carried a ten year sentence, because the one weakness in his case was Annamarie Scalli, Gary Lasch's pregnant mistress, who had not yet testified. Annamarie had told investigators that she was home alone that Sunday night.
"The prosecutor knows I'll try to throw suspicion on Annamarie," Matthews had explained to her. "She was angry and bitter at Gary, too. We might have had a crack at a hung jury, but if you were convicted, you'd be facing a life sentence. This way you'll be out in as little as five."
It was her turn to say the words that were expected of her. "Your Honor, while I cannot remember that horrible night, I acknowledge that the state's evidence is strong and points to me. I accept that the evidence has shown that I killed my husband." It's a nightmare, Molly thought. I will wake up soon and be home and safe.
Fifteen minutes later after the Judge had imposed the ten year sentence she was led away in handcuffs toward the van that would transport her to Niantic Prison, the State Women's Correctional Center.
Copyright © 1999 by Mary Higgins Clark. Published with permission of the publishers, Simon & Schuster
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Southern Gothic fantasy with a contemporary flare set in Savannah
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