Chapter 3


Lucy's mother’s luncheon was a sit-down full-course lunch for nine guests seated at two tables and catered by a local restaurant by four staff.   Luke's place card was set next to Elizabeth, Lucy's sister, with Lucy in profile at the larger table a few feet away.

Elizabeth wore a tight-fitting print dress that exposed her full round arms and suggested the curve of her breasts.  She smiled frequently, at times inappropriately, and chatted nervously about trivia with an inoffensive gusto.  Before the entree was served, Elizabeth touched his hand to get his attention.  "Are you worried about Lucy's grand jury?" she said.  "It's all we talk about now."

"I hope I'll never have to go."

"The DA thinks he will have enough evidence," Elizabeth said. "Vehicular manslaughter.  Lucy's distraught."

Luke looked to Lucy who seemed bored but not distraught.  A servant placed the main course plate before Elizabeth.  Luke waited to be served.

Elizabeth picked up her fork pausing in midair.  "It must be awkward, Luke.  You were the only witness.  What will you say if you're subpoenaed?"

"I'd tell only what I remember," he said.  "But I can't make any judgments on whether alcohol influenced the accident."

"Do you think she hit that woman?"

"It was a surprise to me, Elizabeth.  I don't really know."

"The autopsy didn't conclusively determine a cause of death."

Luke had thought a lot about appearing before a grand jury.  It would be almost impossible to deliver accurate testimony without swaying the jury in ways not suggested by the facts.  Of course Lucy had been drinking, but there was no way to know if it affected her driving performance hours later.  A blood alcohol was never drawn--it was too late the day after--and there would always be suspicion that Lucy's never reporting the accident was deliberate to delay the test.  The jury would take those facts and interpret them in the emotional cloud of a judge's healthy wife dying without clear cause.  And they wouldn't like Lucy as a lawyer, whom they would see as privileged, and resent her success.

"We all know she had a lot to drink at the party," Elizabeth said.  She hates those parties.  It's the only time I ever see her drink too much."

Luke swallowed a piece of dry chicken.  "I don't think about it," he said.  But he did.  A lot. 

"Surely you know if she was drunk," she said.  "You're a doctor."

"I did not function that night as a doctor," he said. 

Elizabeth frowned.  "You got in the car for a two and a half hour ride.  You must have thought about it.  She was drinking when Mother introduced us to you."

"I'm not judgmental," he said.   Elizabeth abruptly turned to her lunch partner on her other side and asked about the weather.

In A.J.'s seasonal block of stadium seats, Lucy sat next to Luke. 

She leaned close.  "Mother thinks you're a perfect match for Elizabeth."

"What does Elizabeth think?"

"Don't look, but she's staring at you now.  She's willing to be a perfect match for almost anyone."

Luke smiled.  "I don't think that's true.  She didn't seem very friendly to me."

"She's desperate for children, Luke.  That's why she's teaching.  It's a way to be with the kids.  She certainly doesn't need to work.  She's got money for life."

He decided not to answer.  "The luncheon was fun," he said. 

She laughed.  "Don't bullshit a bullshitter."

He couldn't stay annoyed with her.  He smiled. 

She took his hand and he enjoyed the feel of her soft skin.  The crowd stood and the opening kickoff sailed into the air. 

He glanced at her beauty again.  The air made her skin radiant.  And as she sat close, he soon came to await the quick smile, warm and engaging, and her brown eyes, always in motion, as if searching for danger maybe, or opportunity.  She was so bright and so confident; he now believed she wasn't really afraid of anything.  He knew she was ambitious, but that seemed an asset.   And all his reservations about her submerged--her reasons for being with him, her quick temper, her bitterness about being adopted.  In that instant, he knew he cared for her more than any woman he'd ever known.

He feigned interest as the game progressed, but he cared little for the game itself or the teams.  It was difficult to talk with the noise, and Lucy stayed somewhat subdued among the rabid fans, gazing around into the stands and rarely looking at the field.       

After the half, Lucy's mother, Agnes, excused herself when she found someone whom she knew in another section.  She left saying goodbye to her guests just before the last quarter.

"She's going to the car," Lucy said.  "They drink sherry straight from the bottle.  It happens at every game I've ever attended."

Luke smiled.

Georgia was ahead thirty-eight to seven by the fourth quarter.  He leaned to Lucy.  "Let's go," he said.  "We could drive to Calloway.  We still have time to enjoy the gardens."

"Really?" she asked. 

He couldn't help but laugh.  "On my honor."

She tightened her grip on his arm.  "I'd like that," she said.

Amazing.  She really did seem to want to go and not just get out of the stadium.  He was beyond being suspicious. 

Outside the stadium they scuttled through the parking lot to the car, her hand in his.

Within weeks Luke was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury.  He hired a lawyer, but not Peter Townsend whom Lucy had recommended.  The lawyer promised to help prepare and said he might be allowed to counsel him outside the courtroom during the hearing.  No defense lawyers were allowed in the proceedings, however. 

Luke was careful during the proceedings never to offer an opinion about things he could not know.  He admitted to seeing Lucy drinking but was careful not to conclude she was under the influence at the time of the accident.  He emphasized that if a woman had been hit, dead or alive, the possibility never occurred to him until he was told days after the accident.  But the testimony must have seemed guarded.  Surely the jury thought his agenda was to protect Lucy, that he was unwilling to state the obvious.  And he felt bad for Lucy that he might have contributed to their decision. 

She was indicted and charged with vehicular manslaughter.


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