He shouldn't have given in to Jolene, all those years ago, when she'd begged for the house on Liberty Bay. He'd told her he didn't want to live so far from the cityor that close to his parents, but in the end he'd given in, swayed by her pretty pleas and the solid argument that they'd need his mother's help in babysitting. But if he hadn't given in, if he hadn't lost the where-we-live argument, he wouldn't be sitting here on the ferry every day, missing the man who used to meet him here...
As the ferry slowed, Michael got up and collected his papers, putting the deposition back in the black lambskin briefcase. He hadn't even looked at it. Merging into the crowd, he made his way down the stairs to the car deck. In minutes, he was driving off the ferry and pulling up to the Smith Tower, once the tallest building west of New York and now an aging, gothic footnote to a city on the rise.
In Zarkades, Antham, and Zarkades, on the ninth floor, everything was oldfloors, windows in need of repair, too many layers of paint but, like the building itself, there was history here, and beauty. A wall of windows overlooked Elliott Bay and the great orange cranes that loaded containers onto tankers. Some of the biggest and most important criminal trials in the past twenty years had been defended by Theo Zarkades, from these very offices. At gatherings of the bar association, other lawyers still spoke of his father's ability to persuade a jury with something close to awe.
"Hey, Michael," Helen, the receptionist said, smiling up at him. He waved and kept walking, past the earnest para legals, tired legal secretaries, and ambitious young associates. Everyone smiled at him, and he smiled back. At the corner officepreviously his father's and now hishe stopped to talk to his secretary. "Good morning, Ann."
"Good morning, Michael. Bill Antham wanted to see you."
"Okay. Tell him I'm in."
"You want some coffee?"
He went into his office, the largest one in the fi rm. A huge window looked out over Elliott Bay; that was really the star of the room, the view. Other than that, the office was ordinarybookcases filled with law books, a wooden floor scarred by decades of wear, a pair of overstuffed chairs, a black suede sofa. A single family photo sat next to his computer, the only personal touch in the space.
He tossed his briefcase onto the desk and went to the window, staring out at the city his father had loved. In the glass, he saw a ghostly image of himselfwavy black hair, strong, squared jaw, dark eyes. The image of his father as a younger man. But had his father ever felt so tired and drained?
Behind him, there was a knock, and then the door opened. In walked Bill Antham, the only other partner in the firm, once his father's best friend. In the months since Dad's death, Bill had aged, too. Maybe they all had.
"Hey, Michael," he said, limping forward, reminding Michael with each step that he was well past retirement age. In the last year, he'd gotten two new knees.
"Have a seat, Bill," Michael said, indicating the chair closest to the desk.
"Thanks." He sat down. "I need a favor."
Michael returned to his desk. "Sure, Bill. What can I do for you?"
"I was in court yesterday, and I got tapped by Judge Runyon."
Michael sighed and sat down. It was common for criminal defense attorneys to be assigned cases by the court it was the old, if you require an attorney and cannot afford one bit. Judges often assigned a case to what ever lawyer happened to be there when it came up. "What's the case?"
"A man killed his wife. Allegedly. He barricaded himself in his house and shot her in the head. SWAT team dragged him out before he could kill himself. TV filmed a bunch of it."
Excerpted from Home Front by Sarah Hannah. Copyright © 2012 by Sarah Hannah. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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