I still can’t believe I’d never read Brenda Jackson before. I loved her new contemporary romance A Brother’s Honor. Click HERE for my review. I am eagerly waiting for the 2nd book in her Grangers series. Take a closer look with this excerpt *points down* and add this book to your list… better yet, add it to your shopping cart! 😛
The Queen of Tarts
A Brother’s Honor
2013 © Brenda Jackson
“Foreman, has the jury reached a verdict?” the judge asked in the still, quiet courtroom, packed to capacity.
The trial of the State of Virginia versus Sheppard Granger had lasted for five weeks, and the eight men and four women had deliberated for sixteen hours.
“Yes, we have, Your Honor.”
“Will you hand the verdict form to the court, please?”
Within seconds, the bailiff presented the form to the judge, who took a moment to read the document before handing it in turn to the clerk who faced those in the courtroom.
Sheppard Granger showed no emotion as the clerk began reading what would be his fate. At one point, he was tempted to glance over his shoulder to look at his three young sons—Jace, sixteen; Caden, fourteen; and Dalton, who would be turning twelve in a few days. He hoped and prayed that, no matter what the jury decided, they would believe he was an innocent man. There was no way he would have killed the mother of his beloved sons.
Instead, he listened as the clerk spoke the words… “Of the charge of first degree murder in the death of Sylvia Granger, we, the jury, find Sheppard Granger guilty.”
Sheppard suddenly felt his knees weaken, but he refused to go down, and he refused to glance back at his sons. His father, Richard Granger, would know what to do now. Richard would now become responsible for his grandsons, and he would be there for them since Sheppard would not.
The judge was talking, addressing the court. But whatever he was saying Sheppard couldn’t hear for the pounding in his head. As far as Sheppard was concerned, nothing else mattered. Only one thought repeated itself in his head with blinding clarity—his life as he’d once known it was over.
We do not remember days; we remember moments.
Fifteen years later
Hoping it wasn’t obvious that he was watching the time, Jace Granger took a sip of his wine and looked straight ahead at the huge clock hanging on the wall, directly above the entrance of the upscale Los Angeles restaurant. He’d been there for exactly one hour and twelve minutes, and was biting at the bit to call it a night.
He appreciated his friend Alan Carter’s concerns about his solitary life, but blind dates had never been Jace’s thing, and he had known after the first ten minutes that he’d made a mistake by letting Alan talk him into one tonight. No doubt Angela Farlow was a looker—he would give her that, but so far it had been one hell of a night. For starters, she talked too damn much. She had a lot to say…a lot about practically nothing.
Jace took another sip of his wine and listened…or at least pretended to do so. The last couple of times he had tried interjecting his own thoughts and views, she had unabashedly cut them down, letting him know what she thought of any opinions other than her own.
Noticing a lull in the conversation, Jace shifted his gaze from the clock back to her and saw the sultry pout that touched her lips.
“Why do I get the feeling that I’m boring you?” she asked in a low tone.
Because you are, he was tempted to say. But being the gentleman that he was, instead he said, “On the contrary, I happen to find you anything but boring,” plastering a smile on his face. “In fact, I find you simply fascinating.” Now, that wasn’t a lie. He doubted there were many women like her. Hell, he hoped not.
“Well,” she said, smiling all over the place at the compliment. “I’ve talked enough about me. Now I want to hear about you. Alan tells me the two of you went to law school together and that, as a government attorney, you’re in charge of making sure the great state of California stays on a straight and narrow path.”
She rested her chin on her hands. “What made you want to work for the government instead of going into private practice? Alan said you graduated from UCLA at the top of your class.”
Jace forced his body not to tense, something that usually happened whenever he was questioned about his decision to work in the public sector instead of the private, where he could have become a millionaire if he’d set his mind to it. Little did she know he had been groomed for just that kind of life and had intentionally walked away a long time ago.
His shoulders mimicked a careless shrug before giving her the same spiel he gave anyone who had the audacity to inquire. Briefly and thoroughly, with a not-so-smooth edge, he basically told her that he preferred working for the people instead of kissing asses for any amount of money. He really didn’t expect people to understand and didn’t really give a damn if they didn’t.
He took a sip of his drink and smiled inwardly. The woman was finally at a loss for words, and he understood her dilemma, honestly he did. She thought the same way his ex-wife did. Eve’s belief had been that the more money you had, the happier you were. All he had to say to that theory was bullshit.
It didn’t surprise him when his date suggested they end the evening. That was fine with him, since the last thing he wanted was to become involved with another woman who had the same mindset as his ex-wife.
An hour later, he was entering his condo, grateful the evening with Angela had ended and that his path wouldn’t cross hers anytime soon. He figured she was probably on the phone with Alan at that very moment, giving him a piece of her mind about setting her up on a blind date with a man who evidently hadn’t any plans of making anything of himself.
Jace pulled off his jacket and was about to take it to the closet and hang it up when his cell phone rang. He wondered if it was Alan calling him already. He checked caller ID and saw it wasn’t Alan but his grandfather.
It had to be past midnight in Virginia, and he wondered why the old man was calling so late. “Yes, Granddad?”
He frowned. It was not his grandfather’s deep, authoritarian voice but that of a woman. A woman whose voice he recognized immediately as the family’s housekeeper’s. “Hannah?”
“Yes, it’s me. You need to come home immediately.”
His heart nearly stopped at the thought of returning there, a place he hadn’t thought of as his home for years. “Why? What’s wrong?”
“It’s your grandfather. He’s had a heart attack, and it doesn’t look good. It’s serious, Jace.”
Jace drew in a deep breath. His strong, robust grandfather?
Heart attack? But he knew Hannah. She had been housekeeper to the Grangers for years. She wasn’t one for theatrics or drama. If she said it was serious, then it was. He rubbed his hand down his face. “All right, I’m on my way.”
“What about your father, Jace? Can you get word to him?”
“Yes, I’ll contact Warden Smallwood right away.”
“All right. I tried calling Caden, but I couldn’t leave a message. His voice mail box is full, and I have no idea how to reach Dalton. He changes phone numbers probably more than he changes his underwear,” she quipped.
Jace couldn’t help but smile. Hannah was still Hannah.
“I’ll get ahold of them, don’t worry.” He pushed to the back of his mind the memory of the heated argument between him and his brothers when they were together last year.
“But I am worried, Jace.”
He knew she was and he could hear it in her voice. The usual no-nonsense tone was diluted with distress. Something that was uncommon for his grandfather’s unflappable housekeeper. “Okay, just take it easy. We don’t need you in the hospital, as well. Granddad’s at St. Francis Memorial, right?”
“Yes, on the Ava Granger wing.”
“Okay,” he said, trying not to think about the fact that his grandfather was in the part of the hospital that had been dedicated to Jace’s grandmother over twenty years ago. Jace could remember that day well, especially the ceremony. They’d all been there. His grandfather, his brothers, his father…and his mother.
He immediately pushed the thought of his parents from his mind. To think about his mother meant remembering how she had died and that the law had decided his father had been the one responsible for ending her life.
“Jace, it will be good seeing you again, although I wish the circumstances of your coming home were different.”
He wished the circumstances were different, too. “I’ll catch the next available flight out, Hannah. Hold down the fort until I get there.” He clicked off the phone and immediately called the airlines. He knew how to reach his brother Caden, but getting in touch with Dalton would be a challenge.
Moments later, after securing a flight, he went into the bedroom to pack.
© Brenda Jackson 2013 – All Rights Reserved
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